31 October 2011

Book Nook

Now that we're settling in, I can finally start up my Book Nook series again!  This week I took the children to the library to get library cards.  Both have been talking about the Gruffalo a lot (he's evidently hiding in the house), so I thought I'd see if they actually had any books by Julia Donaldson.  To my surprise and joy, they did!  So we picked up Tyrannosaurus Drip, by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by David Roberts (I admit it's a little weird for me not seeing Axel Scheffler's name there). 

Source: http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-07-27/books/17173736_1_crocs-rexes-silly-goose
The book is cute, and follows a duckbill dinosaur who is raised by Tyrannosaurs.  Of course, the little duckbill dinosaur, named Tyrannosaurus Drip, doesn't fit in and isn't accepted by his "family", but he eventually finds other duckbill dinosaurs and is overjoyed at fitting in.  Not only that, but he becomes a hero through some clever thinking.  It's a nice story, as I'd expect with Julia Donaldson, and I love the rhymes and rhythm she uses.  Since Charlotte was demanding that we all read it to her, I'm thinking she's a fan, too.

30 October 2011

Rosary Musings: Fifth Luminous Mystery

The Fifth Luminous Mystery: the Institution of the Eucharist

Matthew 26:26-8:

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples. 'Take it and eat,' he said, 'this is my body.'
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them saying, 'Drink from this, all of you,
28 for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

And John 6:53-6 (I recommend reading the whole passage, though)

53 Jesus replied to them: In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
54 Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day.
55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

source: http://www.maryourmother.net/Rosary.html
I think this might be my favourite of the Rosary mysteries, to be honest.  It absolutely amazes me that Jesus not only died and rose for us, but allows us to participate in that one, eternal sacrifice by giving us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. 

I remember before I was Catholic, how I'd talk to a Catholic friend down the hall of my dorm.  I tried to convince myself that I was right and that she was wrong when it came to the Eucharist.  After all, didn't the OT forbid the consumption of blood?  So how could Jesus command it?  But it nagged at me, the "what if?" until I finally looked at it more.  I found that the consumption of blood was forbidden because the life was in the blood; Jesus brings home this point by declaring that we don't have life unless we eat His Body and drink His Blood.  Wow!  And if you read the rest of John 6, you see that the people gathered there understood Him to be speaking literally and were very offended.  But instead of correcting their misunderstanding (as He had about baptism/being born again just a few chapters earlier), He reiterates the point until many leave.  He doesn't tell His Apostles that those who left misunderstood or explain it as a parable, as was His wont in other cases, but just asks if they're leaving, too.  Seems fairly clear when I finally looked at it without my preconceived notions of what it should say.

Looking at Eucharistic miracles also helped convince me, especially the miracle at Lanciano

Sometimes I find that I take this amazing gift for granted, but with God's grace I hope to keep the freshness and wonder of it.  For truly, if I'm thinking about it, how could I not be amazed at this total gift of self, for someone such as me?!  This humbling of Himself just so we can approach?!  It's truly amazing, and I thank Him for it.

27 October 2011

Crafty Thursday

That's right - I'm back to knitting!  The kids and I have gone to my mother's knitting group the past two weeks, though I find I'm not really able to knit there since I have to chase the kiddos around.  But that's OK.  I have gotten to knit a fair amount, though, working on Kieran's and my sweaters.

I finally finished Charlotte's tunic, too.  While it had been listed as a tunic dress, I think it's a bit short for a dress; it works great as a longer, tunic-style sweater, though.  It's supposed to be a Christmas present for Charlotte, but it might end up being a bit tight by then.  I made the 2-3 year size, but she's wearing 24 month/2T clothes already (at 19 months), so I don't know.  I did find another sweater I want to make for her, and I have the yarn, so if I get a move on, I could do that.  We shall see!

How My Children Play

I love watching and listening to my children play with each other.  While they sometimes get upset with each other, they often play well together.

They're also enjoying the new (to them) toys at their grandparents' house.  Charlotte's new favourite toy is a small doll that I think was my sister's; Charlotte refers to this as "baby".  Kieran's new fave might be the rather large alligator puppet that he insists is a crocodile.

There can be friction, though, between Kieran and Charlotte when playing with these toys.  Take this interaction the other day.  Charlotte was sitting in my lap and had been holding "baby".  Suddenly she sat up and said "baby back to me!".  I asked where "baby" was, only to have Kieran answer "I think the crocodile ate it".  Yeah. 

25 October 2011


My children had their first experience carving pumpkins this year.  It's not really a big thing in England, so we just didn't do it.  They'd seen me cook with pumpkins, but nothing else.  So on Friday we went to a pumpkin patch and let them pick out some pumpkins.  Charlotte immediately gravitated towards a white pumpkin.  Kieran at first went for a large orange pumpkin, but it had spots on it, and since I wanted to be able to cook with the pumpkins, too, I asked him to look for another one.  He then went for the beautiful carnival squash.  He also picked out a couple of orange pumpkins for my parents. 

So we brought the pumpkins home and took them out to the deck. 
Charlotte tried to help with the actual carving of her pumpkin, though that didn't last long.  Both kids enjoyed helping with the "goop", though. 

While carving the white pumpkin, I scooped out as much flesh as I could so I could make a pumpkin pie.  I also used the small orange pumpkin Charlotte's holding in the above photo.  Between the two we had enough for 1 pie and a batch of muffins (I saw the recipe in a Penzey's magazine and just had to try it).  The carnival squash and other pumpkin will be used for soup.  I'm personally quite pleased at being able to use most of the pumpkins.  I didn't save the seeds from these, but I think I'll roast the seeds from the other orange one and serve them with the soup.  Should be delicious!

24 October 2011

Fun at the Zoo

Something we've been enjoying here is the zoo.  We purchased zoo memberships so we wouldn't have to rush through and so we can go back whenever we want. 

We've been quite pleased with it.  The children are very fond of brushing (and hugging) the pygmy goats.  In fact, the second time we went to the zoo, that was what they begged to do. 

The zoo itself is lovely, as far as I can tell.  They have benches and picnic tables in various locations, so it isn't necessary to go far to find a place to sit and eat.  I was a little confused with this sign, though, because it was placed in the midst of some trees, with no seating in the vicinity.  That seemed slightly odd.  I had the mei tai, so I could easily feed Charlotte on the move, and I don't really care about finding designated nursing spots anyway.  We'd just happened to see this sign off a path in the play park part, which I found odd.  But our overall experience with them has been great.  I know we'll go back soon.

23 October 2011

Rosary Musings: Fourth Luminous Mystery

The Fourth Luminous Mystery: the Transfiguration

taken from The Lamb on the Altar blog
The Scripture, from Mark 9:2-9 (New Jerusalem Bible):
2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain on their own by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: 3 his clothes became brilliantly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. 4 Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.
5 Then Peter spoke to Jesus, 'Rabbi,' he said, 'it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' 6 He did not know what to say; they were so frightened.
7 And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and from the cloud there came a voice, 'This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.'
8 Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus. 9 As they were coming down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of man had risen from the dead.
I have to admit that I sometimes wonder how Peter, who not only saw Jesus face to face but beheld Him in His glory, could still have denied Him, but then I think of all the wonders I'm shown and yet I still don't pray as I should.  There are times when I wish for a Eucharistic miracle so I could see the glory behind the veil, but then I'm reminded of St Louis' words when a Eucharistic miracle was occurring in his city.  When someone came to get him to come and see it, he simply stated that he didn't need to see it because it wouldn't change his faith or beliefs any - he already knew Jesus was in the Eucharist and didn't need to see a miracle to prove it.  I do not doubt it, either, though I still think a Eucharistic miracle would be awesome to behold.  Of course, the Mass itself is a miracle and is awesome to behold, so should I not feel the same way about that as I would about seeing, say, Lanciano?

This passage also reminds me to ask God to help me see others as they truly are, for appearances can be deceiving.  I have to often ask to see others as He does, so I may learn to love as He does.  I'm definitely a long way off from being there yet.

19 October 2011

Vaccine Against Propaganda

When I opened the paper this morning, I was met with a nearly full-page, bold article on the flu jab.  It was in a Q&A format, but was clearly designed to convince everyone 6 months and older to get the flu jab.  I was somewhat taken aback by the outright propaganda and scaremongering to convince everyone that the flu is the worst disease ever and that they're sure to get it if they don't get the jab. 

I later discussed the article with my husband, who commented that what we need is a vaccine against propaganda, so people can easily recognise propaganda and not be swayed by it.  Let me be clear that I have nothing against the flu jab for those who need it, but I do object to using propaganda and scare tactics to try to convince everyone to get it, as that seems a bit too much like advertising for the purpose of making money on the flu jabs. Just my opinion, of course.

In lieu of such a vaccine, I'd instead recommend looking at the actual data for the disease and the vaccine.  Look at the vaccine inserts and read them.  If you're given the package inserts for a prescription you pick up from the chemist, why wouldn't you look at the one for the vaccine before getting it?  I know from experience that they happily give you the insert if you ask (at least they do in England).  Examine whether the benefits outweigh the risks for you (whether you get the vaccine or not).  Don't be swayed by emotional appeals, but look at the actual data.  That last one is easier said than done, I know.  I've been swayed by the emotional appeals more than once, and then kicked myself later. 

Adjustment Period

Well, we've been in the US for a week now, and the adjustment seems to be going fairly well.  It is difficult explaining to Kieran that we can't go back home, that this is home for now.  He's happy being here, but he does still insist that it isn't his home, which I understand.  I try to explain that we're living here now, so this is home, and I talk about the fun things we can do.  I do need to make sure I let him understand that it's OK to miss Liverpool, for I miss it, too. 

Another adjustment we're having is one of transportation.  I'm so used to being able to walk everywhere, or hop on the train or bus if I can't/don't wish to walk, but that doesn't work here.  Our parish is technically within walking distance, but the footpath isn't finished.  When I took the children to the library yesterday, Charlotte asked to get in the buggy, and I had to explain that we were driving because it was a bit far to walk (at least in this humidity, which none of us are used to yet). 

Speaking of our parish, I think it's great that they have daily Mass, as we were used to going to daily Mass in Liverpool.  It's nice that part of their daily routine can be transplanted here.  We've also encountered a fairly large home education community at the parish, which is wonderful.  While my children aren't actually school-age yet, I think it's good for them to be around these other children, and it's good for me to talk to other home educators, exchanging ideas and support and such. 

Perhaps the best part for the children is the zoo.  We purchased zoo membership so that we can go any time without feeling rushed.  We went there last week and saw a few exhibits before the kids became tired, and will be going back tomorrow.  Charlotte's been insisting on seeing the elephants for days now, so I'm sure she'll be happy to go.  Maybe we'll even feed the sting rays this time. 

Overall, I think we're doing well with the adjustment.

16 October 2011

Culture Shock

As strange as it may sound, I've been going through culture shock.  Yes, I'm from the US, but I've lived overseas for over 5 years and hadn't been in the US for over 2 years before returning last week.  Here are some of the shocks I've had:
  • accents - It really threw me off at first to not hear Scouse accents everywhere
  • left/right - When I'm walking, I always look right for cars instead of left.  I don't do that when I'm driving, which I think is because I didn't drive in England and therefore never developed new driving habits there.
  • sales tax - I've become accustomed to it all being included in the price, so if something said 2.50, it was 2.50, not 2.50 plus tax.  
  • the weather - Not necessarily a culture thing, but I'm definitely not used to the heat and insects.  The insects must have missed me, though, because they've taken every opportunity to bite me.  I did learn that breastmilk helps take the sting out of red ant bites.  Yes, I am that person.  But hey, it's available and a panacaea. ;-)
  • language - It's really hit me that my children don't actually know American English all that much.  For example, they call it a "pavement" instead of a "sidewalk" and speak of biscuits in the British sense of the word.  Of course, it makes a bit more sense for them to have culture shock, because they've never lived in the US. 

Rosary Musings: Third Luminous Mystery

The Third Luminous Mystery: the Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Call to Repentance

It's harder to list just one passage for this, for we see Jesus and the Apostles preaching this at various times throughout the Gospels, and it's something that we are called to continue preaching.  It's one of the harder ones for me to meditate on, at least in part because there isn't just one specific event that jumps out to me.  Well, and because it's not always a comfortable topic on which to meditate.  I know I need to examine myself more and also need to live out my faith more.  I wish I could always follow the quote attributed to St Francis of Assisi, to "preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words".  Lord, help me to follow You.

14 October 2011

Back to Blogging

I must apologise for the hiatus, but it was just too mad with preparing for the transatlantic move, and then the actual move, to blog there for a while.  I'm so proud of how my children have done with this huge change.  I'm experiencing culture shock, and I've lived in the US, so I know it has to be hard for them, too.  They seem to be adjusting to the time change, as well.  They were certainly happy to see our cats again, and to see their grandparents.

I must say that I highly recommend Virgin Atlantic.  They took very good care of us before, during, and after the flight.  I love that they provide a child seat so I didn't have to worry about whether I could adequately anchor Charlotte's car seat or if it would fit properly.  We'd accidentally left Kieran's sweater on the plane, and they found us in the baggage claim afterwards to return it to us.  Another one helped us pack up the contents of one box that had broken pretty badly, and then helped us push the carts out through customs.  Talk about going the extra mile! 

The children really did well on the plane.  They did get a bit bored towards the end, but so did I.  I really appreciated the lady sitting next to me, too.  One of the times that I was feeding Charlotte, she just told me that I was doing the right thing and to do it as long as I could.  That really meant a lot.  She'd commented that she'd returned to work when her child turned 1, and how difficult it was to continue breastfeeding after that, so she was very pleased to see that I was breastfeeding my children.  She also appreciated my children wearing their Liverpool kits, since she and her daughter are Liverpool supporters.

I think that covers the basics of the update for now.  I'll try to get back into blogging more regularly, though I'm sure that won't happen immediately. 

9 October 2011

Rosary Musings: Second Luminous Mystery

The Second Luminous Mystery: the Wedding at Cana

From John 2:
1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,d each holding twenty to thirty gallons. 7Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. 8Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. 9And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
 A few things stand out to me here.  For one, we have Mary's faith.  It's like the parable of the widow who won't take no for an answer and keeps pestering until the judge listens.  Only Mary sees someone else's need and takes it to Jesus and trusts that He will act (as she continues to do).  We have her last recorded words here, telling the servants, and us, to "do whatever He tells [us]".  I wish I could say I were that obedient and trusting all the time, but I'm not. 

I also find it interesting that it's because of this sign that the disciples begin to believe in Him.  Not at His baptism, where His Sonship was so dramatically revealed, but here, in providing more than enough wine at a wedding.  Providing wine at a wedding feast also looks towards the Eucharist and the wedding banquet of the Lamb.  It seems somewhat ironic that many first believed here, but many turned away just a few chapters later when Jesus teaches about the Eucharist (John 6). 

4 October 2011

When Did We Have to Start Defending the Physiological Norm?

This has been on my mind a lot lately.  Recently in conversation I've found myself having to defend/justify my decisions in which I've simply not taken action.  In other words, I've gone with the physiological norm.  For example, I refuse the Vit K injection at birth (given a normal delivery and delayed cord clamping), refuse a managed delivery of the placenta (again, provided all is going well), only allow some vaccinations (and I'm not entirely sure I'll even continue that unless I see them as truly necessary, we'll see), am very opposed to routine circumcision, prefer natural childbirth (preferably at home), breastfeed full-term, etc.

For each of these, I've met with horrified expressions at one point or another, with people in disbelief that I would do that.  At first I just brushed that aside, but as I've thought more, it's struck me about how we've come to see the physiological norm as the thing that must be justified as being a deviation from the societal norm.  Somewhere along the way we've been told that the physiological norm isn't good enough and must be altered somehow, to the point that most go along with these interventions without even thinking about it.  Societal expectations are such that choosing to forego these interventions is met with derision or curiosity, and there are even times when we have to fight just for the right to not take action!

Shouldn't it be the other way around?  Shouldn't it be that the physiological norm is the societal norm and that any action taken must be justified?  I'm not saying that choosing Vit K, managed delivery of the placenta, vaccines, etc are necessarily bad, but I do think there's a problem when these things are done for all as standard, routine care, without consideration of whether it is necessary or helpful for that individual.  As I'm sure is obvious, I would much prefer for the standard to be the physiological norm, with these interventions being limited to when they're truly necessary.  And there are times when such measures are necessary, I'm not saying otherwise, but I just can't see how everyone needs all these interventions.

Edited to add: I just want to make it clear that I'm in no way saying the above interventions are necessarily bad, for they do serve a purpose.  My beef is in saying "these things help in these cases, so let's use them with everyone".  I'm very thankful for the advances in medicine, but, to quote from Ecclesiastes, to everything there is a season.  

2 October 2011

Rosary Musings: First Luminous Mystery

The First Luminous Mystery: the Baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3:13 (from the New Jerusalem Bible)
13 Then Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. 14 John tried to dissuade him, with the words, 'It is I who need baptism from you, and yet you come to me!' 15 But Jesus replied, 'Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that uprightness demands.' Then John gave in to him. 16 And when Jesus had been baptised he at once came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. 17 And suddenly there was a voice from heaven, 'This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.'
I will always remember that Kieran was born on a Thursday, for I was trying to pray the Rosary during labour and it was the Luminous Mysteries, which are prayed on Thursdays (OK, so I kept forgetting which mystery I was on, but I was in labour, so I think I'm excused).  I see in the baptism of Jesus another way in which He is glorified in humbling Himself. He humbled Himself to be baptised, though He had no need of baptism, and in doing so the Trinity is revealed, along with the revelation of His divine status. It is amazing to think of.  I so often take the belief of the Trinity for granted, but what a revelation that must have been, for the Trinity to be truly revealed in that way!