30 November 2011


This guy would appreciate American cuisine.
Salt!  It's everywhere and in everything!  I hadn't realised how much salt was in American food until we returned and were inundated with it.  It's in everything!  I know those who went to undergrad with me won't believe this, but I'm sick of the salt!  It overpowers the natural flavours (a little is fine, but this is overkill) and makes me feel generally blah.

I understand that salt is a natural preservative, and it is therefore more desirable to use salt than an artificial preservative, but surely they can use a bit less to achieve that effect?  Surely we don't need ridiculous shelf lives for our food items and could therefore get by with a lot less salt in the items?  

I tend to make most things from scratch, but even then I find it difficult to avoid the high salt content.  I really must make sure to get unsalted butter next time, and hopefully that will help a lot.  I'm rather tired of all the salt, though.  I can't help but think that the high salt content in our food plays a part in the higher levels of obesity and heart disease, too.  A little salt is nice for a little flavour (though I find it's rarely needed, personally), but surely no one needs this amount of salt.

30th Day of Thankfulness

I'm so very thankful for my children.  I love seeing how they grow and change and interact with each other.  I love the snuggles, the "I love you"s, the imaginative play.  I'm thankful I can be there for them.  I thank God for every day, every moment I have with them.

29 November 2011

Happy Birthday to my Kieran

I'm so thankful God gave me Kieran on this day 4 years ago. He continually amazes me. He's a wonderful kid, and I can't wait to see how he grows.

28 November 2011

Book Nook

I'm thankful my parents have saved so many books from our childhood.  Kieran discovered the book Mr Puffer-Bill - Train Engineer by Leone Arlandson.  It's rather beat-up by now, having survived my siblings and me and then the grandkids, but that just shows how well-loved it is.  I should have known Kieran would love it given his love of trains.  You can still buy used copies on Amazon, but I don't think it's being printed any more. It's a fun book, though, following Mr Puffer-Bill as he tries to find a hat that will stay on his head to protect him from the rain.

Imagination is More Important than Knowledge

from The Guardian
Albert Einstein once said "Imagination is more important than knowledge." it is that statement that continually echoes in my mind as I watch Kieran play.

 As he nears his fourth birthday, it seems his imagination has soared, and he takes us along for the ride. If he gets out his Brio train sets, he'll create an amazing track and then make up stories for his trains. He'll take story elements from Thomas the Tank Engine, English rail stations, and places and events of his own creation and weave them together into a single story. Or he'll take some Playmobil sets or Lego and create objects and stories.

 Always wanting to be like her brother, Charlotte enthusiastically joins in, entranced by the stories. In fact, she now creates her own scenarios, though these usually consist of giving a toy or herself a new name or title, such as when she decided she was a "serious doctor".  I can't wait to see what they'll imagine next.

27 November 2011

Day 27 of Thankfulness

Happy Advent! I love Advent. It's a special time of year for me: my son's birthday is often during Advent, I entered the Church during Advent, and I was married during Advent. In a way, all these things heighten the sense of waiting for the Second Advent of Jesus and the marriage supper. We have a taste of that now in the Eucharist, of course, but now is the time we look for the fulfillment of that.

I am also thankful for the new translation of the Mass. We'd started using in Liverpool before we left, but we didn't start using it in the US until now. As Fr. Barron points out, the language is elevated, more regal. This is appropriate, for we are in the Prescence of the King of Kings at Mass.

Rosary Musings: Fourth Sorrowful Mystery

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: the Carrying of the Cross

Luke 23:26-31
26 As they were leading him away they seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus.27 Large numbers of people followed him, and women too, who mourned and lamented for him.28 But Jesus turned to them and said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children.29 For look, the days are surely coming when people will say, "Blessed are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne children, the breasts that have never suckled!"30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, "Fall on us!"; to the hills, "Cover us!"31 For if this is what is done to green wood, what will be done when the wood is dry?'
Try as I might, I find it difficult to put my thoughts on this mystery into words. I suppose what comes to mind is the Stations of the Cross. Despite wishing to do it before, I never did the Stations of the Cross until last Lent. It's a wonderful devotion, helping to truly unite ourselves with Jesus: to take up our crosses with His.

26 November 2011

26th Day of Thankfulness

As per my previous post today, I am thankful for amber necklaces! I'm also thankful for the friends I have who've told me of such things.

Do Amber Necklaces Really Help?

Ever since Charlotte first started acting like she might be teething, I put an amber necklace on her, determined to naturally alleviate her pain and avoid the nightmare of teething as much as possible.  She's therefore worn a necklace since she was a few months old, long before she cut her first teeth at 10 months, and has worn it constantly since then.  People ask if it helps, and I usually laugh and respond that it either helps, or she's the most laid-back teether ever.

Now, she's a pretty laid-back girl about many things, so I really didn't know how much the necklace helped.  For the most part, she's gotten teeth without much fuss, and without taking medicine.  She likes to chew on ice or a cold, wet cloth, but hasn't needed anything more than that.  Was it the necklace, or was she just one of the lucky ones?

I think I can answer that question now - it's the necklace.  The night before last, she pulled off her necklace and I didn't put it back on.  The clasp is wearing out and I wasn't sure if it would hold.  She's been working on her canines, but I thought maybe she wasn't actively teething right now.  I do have another necklace somewhere, but couldn't tell you where offhand.

Yesterday, though, she was a beast.  It was obvious that her teeth were bothering her, since she had her fingers in her mouth and one pink cheek.  For some reason, though, it didn't dawn on me that that was the problem until the evening.  I took off my own amber necklace and put it on her.  I then put her old one back on her, since I got the clasp to hold for now.  Within 10 minutes or less, she was back to her happy self.  It was amazing to see the difference.  I know she was also hungry, but that wasn't all of the problem, and in fact she was refusing to consider food until I put the necklaces on her.

My conclusion: the amber necklace definitely helps Charlotte with teething pain.  I will continue to use and recommend them.  They are well worth it.

25 November 2011

25th Day of Thankfulness

Today I'm thankful for airplanes, for my husband is on an airplane coming home!  I hate being away from him, so I can't wait for him to get home.

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This has always been my favourite food holiday.  I love turkey and all the fixings and always have.  I'd love to go to Mass and celebrate the Thanksgiving of the Eucharist, but my children are a bit ill.  Nor horribly so, but enough where they should stay home and just veg out.

Back to the food.  I'd planned to brine the turkey, but then couldn't find a turkey that hadn't already been injected with a brine solution.  I instead marinated it.  If it turns out as delicious as I hope, I'll tell you what I did. ;-) (Update: the turkey was delicious.  I'd marinated it in a mixture of 1 cup of cranberry juice, juice of 1 medium orange, a few splashes of apple juice, 2-3 cloves of garlic, fresh rosemary, and fresh thyme).

 Here's our menu:

23 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 23

I'm thankful my husband passed his viva!  He's been working on this for ages, and I'm very proud of him.

22 November 2011

Day 22 of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for God's grace.  I mess up time and again, and He picks me up.  He gives me the grace I need, when I need it, even though I often fail.

Full-Term Breastfeeding in the Bible

When I was fairly young (somewhere under 13 years old), I undertook to read the entire Bible.  My grandfather had inspired me to do that, so I duly started reading Genesis and working my way through.  I admit I got a bit bogged down in Numbers, but I eventually got through that and made it to 1 Samuel.  In that, I read about Hannah's desperate wish for a child, and how God heard her prayer.

For those unfamiliar with the story, she was despondent in her desire for a child, and wept at the temple, begging God for a child and promising to dedicate said child to God.  Her prayers are heard and when she returns home, she conceives.  The following year her husband is going to Jerusalem for the festival, and she opts to stay home with her newborn son, Samuel.  She promises to bring the child to the temple when he is weaned, and that at that time he will stay there, serving God in the temple as a perpetual nazarite.

Now, given that I'd never seen anyone breastfeed past the age of one, to my knowledge, this passage confused me.  I wondered how such a young child could possibly be left at the temple, for surely the child would still be quite small and dependent upon his mother.  I'd never heard of women breastfeeding past that age, so this passage didn't make sense and, frankly, made Hannah seem a bit coldhearted in my eyes.

Now that I'm a breastfeeding mother and tandem-feeding my (almost) 4-year-old and 20-month-old, I see it in a different light.  I know that historically breastfeeding was continued much longer than most do today, and so I see that Hannah didn't leave an infant or very small toddler, but a preschooler who was likely somewhere between 3 and 6 years old.  Still difficult, I'm certain, but a far cry from what I'd thought it meant before I understood full-term breastfeeding.

I'd honestly not thought much of that passage since becoming a mother, though.  It wasn't until I was looking at one of the daily readings for Mass recently that it came back to me.  The reading was from 2 Maccabees 7 (a book I'd obviously not read in my original quest to read through the Bible, since I was not Catholic at that age; it might have helped me make sense of Samuel's case, though, had I read it).  In the passage, seven sons are tortured and killed for their refusal to disregard God's laws, all in the sight of their mother.  When they reach the seventh son, she mentions how she breastfed him for three years.  Suddenly, the story of Hannah and Samuel came back to me, and made so much more sense.  I suppose this is just another example of how we can lose the true meaning of things when we do not realise the historical customs or biological norm, as the case may be (both come into play in this example).

21 November 2011

21st Day of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for breastfeeding, and the boost to the immune system that comes with that.  Charlotte came down with a sniffle in the night, and as annoying as it is, it's a rare occurrence for either child to be ill and it's usually milder and short-lived.  Not to mention that it's an easy way to comfort an ill child and means I don't have to worry as much about dehydration if the child isn't drinking much else.

20 November 2011

20th Day of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for the gift of motherhood.  While I knew I wanted children, I never knew how much I'd love being a mum.  Yes, there are times when I get irritated or just want a break, but those times don't last for long.  I love the giggles, the silliness, hearing "I love you, Mummy!", the snuggles, the adventures.  I thank God for giving me my children.

Rosary Musings: Third Sorrowful Mystery and Christ the King

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: the Crowning with Thorns

Caravaggio's The Crowning with Thorns, found on Wikipedia
Matthew 27:27-31

27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet cloak round him, 29 and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' 30 And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. 31 And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucifixion.
interior of Liverpool's cathedral
 Since today is the Feast of Christ the King, I find it very apropos that today's Rosary Musing is the crowning with thorns.  This certainly isn't the image most have of a king, and I find I have to really focus in meditating on Him as King.  It requires rethinking our ideas of kingship, and seeing here the King who willingly sacrifices Himself for us.  As much as the general architecture of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool may grate some, I do love the imagery of the crown of thorns over the altar, visually declaring that our King is there on the altar, in the Eucharist.  Viva Cristo Rey!

19 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 18 & 19

Yeah, I missed writing this again yesterday.  Such is life.  I'm very thankful for the cooler, more autumnal weather we had yesterday.  I suppose it's obvious I grew accustomed to English weather since I thought the breezy cooler day yesterday was absolutely perfect.  It now seems hot to me if it gets much above 70F.

17 November 2011

Milwaukee Co-Sleeping Adverts

I was going to blog about how the adverts aren't actually helpful, and how parents should be given guidelines on safe bed-sharing as well as safe cot-sleeping, but I think other bloggers have done a wonderful job of this, so I'm linking to a couple great posts I've read.

Bellies and Babies: Sensationalism and Sleeping Arrangements

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 16 & 17

I forgot to post one yesterday!  I'm thankful for old friends.  Yesterday I got together with a couple of friends whom I'd not seen in years.  It was nice to get together again and catch up.

And then there's my best friend. We don't get to see each other very often, but we keep in touch and can still talk about anything and everything.  Such friends are a gift from God, in my opinion.

Crafty Thursday

I feel I've accomplished quite a bit of knitting in the past week.  I started that cardigan for Charlotte, using a light blue bamboo yarn.  There was only one size option for it, age 2-3, and it looks like it'll be too large for her right now, so I'm putting it aside for now.  I'll finish it for her birthday, I think.  The weight will be better for that time of year, too.  The ruffle took quite a while, but I don't think the rest of it will take nearly as long.

Since that one was going to be too large, I started a tunic sweater for her that I saw in the book Brave New Knits.  It's just a plain tunic, with a contrasting colour at the bottom that is folded up to make pockets, using different buttons for it.  I'm not generally a fan of pink, but I saw a watermelon pink from Saucy Sport (another yarn that has been, unfortunately, discontinued) that looked really good when I put it next to Charlotte.  I love the way this tunic is made.  It's knit in the round from the top down, so there are no seams.  The increases after the sleeves are put on holders are really great, and I wish I'd seen them in more patterns.  It calls for left and right lifted increases there, so you don't end up with those pesky holes you get from making stitches, and it looks quite nice.  I've not decided yet whether to use a beige at the bottom, or a green so it really looks watermelon-y.  That partly depends on what buttons I find for it.

15 November 2011

15th Day of Thankfulness

I'm extremely thankful for books and the ability to easily get books.  I'm constantly reading, for enjoyment and learning.  I love to read and can't remember a time when that wasn't the case.  We read to and with our children, as well as reading on our own.  I can take my Kindle with me if I don't want to carry a larger book, and I can pick up books at the library at any time.  I'm thankful for my literacy and access to books, things that are easy to take for granted, but that haven't been as ubiquitous in the past as now.

14 November 2011

Book Nook

image from Amazon.com
We love the old school Sesame Street.  So when Kieran saw The Ernie and Bert Book by Joe Mathieu at his grandparents' house, he wanted to read it.  I'd forgotten about the book, even though I'm sure I'd read it before.  The story involves a long, convoluted explanation from Ernie as to why Bert needs to wear a pot on his head instead of his cowboy hat.  It's a great story with these classic, lovable characters.  I think any child who likes Sesame Street will also like this book (and as a bonus, the parents will also have fun reading it to them).

14th day of Thankfulness

As I sit here enjoying a scone with blackcurrant jam and a cuppa, I'm thankful for blackcurrant.  I'm really thankful I can find it here.  It's delicious and should be everywhere.  I'm also thankful I know how to make scones.

13 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 13

I'm thankful for priests.  Our pastor is on pilgrimage in the Holy Land right now.  Normally we attend 8.00 Mass, but Kieran didn't wake up until around 7.30, so we ended up going to 9.30 Mass.  A visiting priest was scheduled to celebrate Mass, but at 9.30 he wasn't there and so our two new deacons decided they'd have a communion service.  I admit that I was a bit bummed about that, but I was thankful I'd still get to receive the Eucharist.

After the deacon's homily, though, it was revealed that the visiting priest had arrived.  So, although he was late, we still got to have Mass!  I was reminded of how blessed we are to have the priests we do.

I've posted this prayer invoking the intercession of St Jean-Baptiste Vianney before, but I think it's appropriate to post it again:

Most gracious Heavenly Father, We thank you for our faithful priests and bishops, whose spiritual fatherhood and example of fidelity, self-sacrifice, and devotion is so vital to the faith of your people. 

May our spiritual fathers be guided by the example of St. John Vianney. Give them valiant faith in the face of confusion and conflict, hope in time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast love for you, for their families, and for all your people throughout the world. May the light of your Truth shine through their lives and their good works. 

Assist all spiritual fathers, that through your Grace they may steadily grow in holiness and in knowledge and understanding of your Truth. May they generously impart this knowledge to those who rely on them. Through Christ our Lord. 

Rosary Musings: Second Sorrowful Mystery

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: the Scourging at the Pillar

Mark 15:15:  So Pilate, anxious to placate the crowd, released Barabbas for them and, after having Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.

from The Passion of the Christ
Ever since I watched The Passion of the Christ, I've pictured that part of the film when meditating upon this mystery.  I also cannot help but think of Isaiah 52 and 53, with the line that tells us "by His stripes will we be healed".  It's amazing to think of His great love for us, to endure that for us.  I'll admit it's difficult for me to truly meditate on, because it's not an easy thing to think of.  I can't really put into words my thoughts and feelings on it, to be honest.  

I do understand how Mary's soul was also pierced with a sword in all this, for now that I'm a mother, I can imagine her anguish when Jesus was brought out after the scourging.  Behold the Man.  Indeed, we behold Him, but how often do I turn the other way or just ignore Him?  

12 November 2011

12th Day of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for knitting.  My mother taught me to knit when were on holiday in Colorado when I was 7.  I picked it up fairly quickly and usually enjoyed it.  I didn't do much knitting at that age, but I periodically came back to it.  Now that I have children, I tend to knit a bit more, actually.  I love that I can make things for them, things that will last a long time and look nice.  My children have worn knits that my siblings and I wore as children, and I look forward to being able to pass these knits on in the future, too, God willing.

Gruffalo Crumble

"Well," said the Mouse, "you see?  Everyone is afraid of me.  But now my tummy's beginning to rumble.  My favourite food is. . . Gruffalo crumble!"

My children love The Gruffalo.  They loved the book so much that it literally fell apart, so we'll have to get a new copy (we have a plan for that, too).  They frequently pretend that the gruffalo is hiding in the house, or at Mass, or wherever we are.  Last night, though, Kieran then said he wanted to eat the gruffalo.  Being the incredibly cool mum I am, I asked if he wanted gruffalo crumble, to which he readily agreed.  Right, that was the easy part.  Then I had to figure out what gruffalo crumble should be.

I turned to the description from the book.  The book may have been destroyed, but I still have it memorised from all the times I've read it to the children.  The description goes like this:
He has terrible teeth and terrible claws and terrible tusks in his terrible jaws.  His eyes are orange, his tongue is black, he has purple prickles all over his back.  He has knobbly knees and turned out toes and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose.
We had apples that needed using, and some bananas.  One apple was part yellow and part orange, so I figured that would work for the orange eyes.  The banana, though ripe, still had a little green bit at the end, so I used that for the poisonous wart.  My mother picked up some blackberries, which worked for both the black tongue and purple prickles.  I used oats with the crumble topping, which also worked for prickles.  I think it turned out well.

11 November 2011

Does Having a Vaccine for a Disease Make Us Fear It More?

The title question is something I've been mulling over lately.  When I was a child, I started getting the flu jab.  I didn't know much about the flu, but I figured it must be something horrible if I needed a vaccine to protect me, so I dutifully got the jab every year.  That continued until after I went to England, and one year I just didn't get the jab.  Yes, I got the flu that year, but it wasn't all that horrible and was nothing to fear since I don't have any respiratory issues that would make flu more serious for me.  I found that my fear of flu (for me, personally) was rather unfounded.  It might be different if I fell in one of the higher risk groups for it, but I don't.

Recently I've come across people who seem absolutely terrified of chicken pox.  I don't recall encountering such reactions prior to the chicken pox vaccine being available, and I certainly don't remember encountering such reactions in England, where they do not give the varicella jab.  Again, I could see the fear for those who are in a higher risk group with it, but in general I just don't see it.

So why the fear?  Can these diseases be serious?  Of course.  Are they usually, for the majority of the population?  Not that I'm aware.  And so I wonder if part of the fear isn't because of the vaccine being available, in a way.  Having a vaccine for something seems to render the disease more serious in the minds of people, or maybe that's just me.  As fewer cases of the disease are seen, it seems it would be easy to begin seeing it as worse than it is, since it's not just another common childhood illness.  So I suppose the reaction can make sense, even though I think it isn't the logical conclusion to make.  Of course, my musings on this could be completely off, too.  What do you think?

ETA:  Just to be clear, I'm not saying one should never get vaccines, but just wondering if some undue fear has been created due to the fact that we don't see these things regularly.  One should always look at all the facts and weigh all risks and benefits when making these decisions, and the decisions that are right for one may not be right for another when it comes to medical decisions.

Day 11 of Thankfulness

I am thankful that I've never personally experienced combat/war, and am thankful for those who work for peace.  And because it's Armistice Day, I'm posting "In Flanders Fields" by Dr John McCrae.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

10 November 2011

Crafty Thursday

Not a lot to report today.  I'm still working on the first sleeve of Kieran's sweater, and have found a nice cardigan to make for Charlotte.  I'll have to post a photo.  Right now I'm trying to decide which yarn to use.  I have some bamboo, which is what the pattern calls for, but I'm not sure any of the colours are right for her.  So I'm also looking at some Bernat Softee Baby in a brighter pink, or unraveling a sweater that doesn't fit so I can use some red.  Hmmm.

I've discovered that while the pearl snaps loo nicer, they are coming out, so I'll just have to go with the other snaps as I continue converting my bumGenius 2.0 stash.

With Remembrance Day coming tomorrow, I'm reminded that I've put off crocheting a poppy too long.  I'd planned to make one to wear.  I'll definitely have to make one for next year.

10th Day of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for all the opportunities I've had.  I went to amazing universities for undergrad and graduate school.  I was able to study abroad for a semester of undergrad, and for my MA, remaining in England for a few more years after that.  I've been spoiled with wonderful (free) museums, the ability to travel in England and Europe, to study under some of the most renowned Egyptologists of today.  It's really amazing, and I thank God for these opportunities.

9 November 2011

Day 9 of Thankfulness

Today I'm thankful for two remarkable people: my grandmother, whom we called Baba, and a Benedictine monk and priest, Fr Theo.  Today would've been my grandmother's birthday, and is Fr Theo's 90th birthday.

I grew up living next to my grandmother.  I won't say I always enjoyed it, but I know I was very lucky to live so close and know her.  When I was contemplating being baptised, she's the one who spoke with me about what it meant.  She talked to me about guardian angels, sent me silly cards when I was studying abroad, and even learnt how to work Skype so she could see Kieran.  She was an amazing woman, and I pray I'll see her again in Heaven.

Fr Theo is one of the priests at the parish we attended in Liverpool.  One of my neighbours there declared him to be a living saint, and I have to agree.  While 90, he's still going strong, still celebrating Mass and hearing Confessions and staying active, despite having a lot of back pain.  He once scolded me for not sitting in the front row, as he said Kieran couldn't see.  He made sure to tell me that I should always bring the children to Mass.  He's an amazing confessor, always knowing what to say.  I pray I'll get to see him again, as well.

If You Can't Say Anything Nice

Why is it so much easier to criticise than to edify?  I am really bad about this, being quick to speak negatively about someone or thing, instead of trying to see the good first or just keeping silent.  When I'm reading things, I find myself reading through things that anger me and getting irritated with comments, leading me to join the fray, if only in my mind.  What's more, that negativity seems to infect my interactions during the day, too.

When I'm writing, too, I find it easier to be negative than positive at times.  There are legitimate times for criticism, but it can be done in a way that isn't demeaning or so negative.  Unfortunately, I struggle with that as well.  So in thinking about this, I'm thinking that I should be more careful to refrain from reading and writing things that do not edify at all.  I'm not talking about just going with sappy/happy things, for that isn't realistic, but ensuring that my tone isn't so negative/condescending/etc.  I also pray that I can follow this in my conversation. With God's grace, all things are possible.

8 November 2011

Thankfulness Day 8

I'm thankful for new friends.  My mother and sister both suggested that I meet up with someone who lives nearby and has children of similar ages to my children.  Today we met up and had a really nice chat.

I've also been making the acquaintance of other homeschooling mums at our parish.  I'm hoping we can meet up more, so the children can play and we can chat.

Full-Term Breastfeeding is Normal, not Sexual/Abusive/Weird

One of these days I'll learn not to read the comments under stories online.  I keep telling myself that, but it hasn't happened yet.  I saw someone else post a link to a bit about whether breastfeeding helps with bonding.  I'd thought that was pretty much settled by the science of breastfeeding, to be honest (that's not to say that those who bottle-feed don't bond with their children, especially when they incorporate lots of cuddles/skin-to-skin with it, as my mother did, but we do know that breastfeeding releases oxytocin which is linked to that bonding).  I was happy to see that the video was respectful and dealt with this fairly well given the time limits.

But then I read through some of the comments, and I was appalled!  There were so many declaring that breastfeeding past the age of x (it varied) was solely for the mother, had no benefit for the child, was actually child abuse and/or incestuous!  Oh my word!  First, I'd really like to meet these mothers who force their over-two-year old children to breastfeed, because I don't know how they'd do it.  If Charlotte (age 19 months) doesn't want to breastfeed, it would be nigh impossible to make her do so.  I certainly can't see getting Kieran to breastfeed if he didn't want!

And incestuous?!  Really?!  Breastfeeding isn't sexual (in that context of the word)!  Yes, oxytocin is released, but this doesn't mean the mother gets all hot and bothered when breastfeeding!  Nor does it mean she's addicted to it or breastfeeding just to get a "fix".  Yes, I saw someone claim that.  I'll be honest - I don't really enjoy breastfeeding that much right now.  Charlotte's teething and therefore wanting to be latched on more; Kieran's still adjusting to being in a different house/country and wanting the comfort, though he is starting to ask to snuggle more.

I really don't see how it could be labeled as abusive, either.  The argument for that went like this: the mother is forcing the child to remain a baby and stunting his emotional growth.  Never mind that it's nigh impossible to force the child to continue breastfeeding if he's ready to stop and that full-term breastfeeding actually has been a positive effect on the emotional health for the child.

I guess the frustrating thing is really that these myths are still believed and perpetuated.  It just seems incredible given all the information out there on the benefits and normality of breastfeeding.

7 November 2011

Book Nook

When I was little, I loved the book Magic Growing Powder by Janet Quin-Harkin.  As it turns out, my parents kept that book, so now that we're back with them for now, I can read it to my children.  The story tells of a very short king who is obsessed with getting taller, and nearly falls for the scam of magic growing powder.  It's a cute story, one I read a lot when little, though I'm not sure my children are as enamoured with it. 

Day 7 of Thankfulness

This might sound a little silly, but I'm really thankful for ease of access to information.  I love that I easily find information about almost anything.  Yes, you have to know how to evaluate sources and weed out the inaccurate things, but it truly is amazing how much we can find.  I also love that I can connect with people all over the world to learn more, chat, exchange information, etc.  It really is amazing when you think about it!

AP as the Norm

I love that my children see Attachment Parenting as the norm.  I know they're mimicking what they see and experience. 

The other day both of them insisted on wearing their stuffed animals.  Both love being worn and just see that as the norm.

They also see breastfeeding as the norm.  Today Charlotte was asking me for milk, and asked for "regular milk", to differentiate it from cow's milk.  I love it!  After all, it is the regular milk she gets, especially since she still has some issues with dairy.  Kieran offers "Kieran milk" to his toys, or even his sister!, when he thinks they're in need of comfort (no, Charlotte hasn't actually taken him up on this).  The point, though, is that he sees this as the normal way of feeding and comforting, and therefore mimics it.  Love it!

6 November 2011

Day 6 of Thankfulness

I read this post from the Ranter's blog and it reminded me of how thankful I really am for the Mass, when I am really thinking about it. I'm glad I read this prior to going to Mass this morning, as it really reminded me to truly pray the Mass, even with the children needing my attention at different times. As an aside, it was rather humourous that Charlotte told Father and Monsignor to focus during the homily (Father had talked about how we needed to focus on the prayers and responses, so his homily was very apropos with the blog post in mind, too). So go on over to the Ranter's blog and check it out for a nice reminder about praying the Mass and how thankful we should be at every Mass.

...the hell with it: Absurdity of Mass: Do you ever have a conversation with someone who isn't engaged? You know they're just waiting for you to get done flapping your gums so they...

Rosary Musings: First Sorrowful Mystery

The First Sorrowful Mystery: the Agony in the Garden

El Greco, source: http://www.myfreewallpapers.net/artistic/pages/el-greco-the-agony-in-the-garden.shtml
Matthew 26:36-45
36 Then Jesus came with them to a plot of land called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, 'Stay here while I go over there to pray.'
37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And he began to feel sadness and anguish.
38 Then he said to them, 'My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and stay awake with me.'
39 And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed. 'My Father,' he said, 'if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.'
40 He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, 'So you had not the strength to stay awake with me for one hour?
41 Stay awake, and pray not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing enough, but human nature is weak.'
42 Again, a second time, he went away and prayed: 'My Father,' he said, 'if this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!'
43 And he came back again and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy.
44 Leaving them there, he went away again and prayed for the third time, repeating the same words.
45 Then he came back to the disciples and said to them, 'You can sleep on now and have your rest. Look, the hour has come when the Son of man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.
 This truly amazes me.  I know how anxious I can get about things at times, things that are nowhere near as agonising as this.  I know how much I can waver in the face of hardship and pain and fear of ridicule, but Jesus didn't waver.  He shows how united He is with us in His humanity, and also His divinity in being able to to make that sacrifice.  I can relate to the Apostles, for all too often I do not "watch and pray", but fall asleep or get distracted with my own things.  I continue to pray to be given the grace to persevere.

5 November 2011

Day 5 of Thankfulness

Two things for today.  First, I'm thankful for my in-laws.  I am truly blessed in them and love having such great family. 

Second, seeing as today is Guy Fawkes' Day in England, I'm thankful to live in a place where I can practise my faith openly.  I just pray that I can be a better witness, that I can allow God to shine through.  He must increase, I must decrease.

4 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for my family.  We are currently living with my parents after our move from England back to the US, and I really appreciate that they are allowing us to live with them for now.  While of course it is an adjustment to be back in their house after having my own place, in a different country no less, they make it a bit easier on me by the fact I don't feel like I'm intruding.  My mother was more than happy to give the kitchen over to me, and they're both great about not overstepping bounds with the kids or anything.  I'm very thankful for all this. 

3 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness

Source: olphla.org
Today I'm thankful for the opportunity to go to the shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  Prior to leaving Liverpool, I started asking Our Lady of Perpetual Help to pray for us.  After that, I discovered that there was a shrine for her in St Augustine, and so I promised to go there when I could.  Today we got to go, and it was quite nice.  The shrine that is better known there is the shrine to Our Lady of La Leche, so I'd been unaware of this one, which is on the same grounds.  It was dedicated by the Byzantine Catholic community, if I remember correctly.  Knowing Fr Theo was turning 90 soon, I'd also told him we'd pick him up something from the shrine, so we were able to do that today.  I'll have to post it soon.

Crafty Thursday

I've been working on Kieran's sweater this week, and I've finished the body up to the armholes.  Since this is made in a seamless fashion, I put those stitches on waste yarn and started one of the sleeves.  I'm really liking the way it looks thus far.  I do get annoyed with double-point needles at times, though.  Oh well.

I also finally got some snaps so I could start converting our beloved bumGenius 2.0s to snaps.  These have been in use for nearly 4 years and are still going strong.  However, the velcro is really wearing out, and Charlotte can escape from them quite easily, and has been able to do so for some time now.  So I'm slowly taking those that are still good (the PUL has worn out on a couple) and converting them after finding a tutorial.  I've only finished one thus far, and while it doesn't look that nice, being the first one I've done, it does work well.

2 November 2011

All Souls' Day/30 Days of Thankfulness

Today is All Souls' Day and also the second day of the 30 days of thankfulness for this month.  Once again I'm combining these two things.  I am thankful for the opportunity to go to Mass daily, though I don't always take it or don't always pray the Mass as I should.  I am thankful for the reminder that death does not sever the ties with the entire Body of Christ.  There is always hope, and we remain connected with each other.  I am also thankful for Purgatory.  That final cleansing, that final application of Jesus' sacrifice, is really a wonderful, merciful gift from God.  What love to give us that final cleansing so we can stand before Him in our wedding garments, without any attachment to sin (wish I could say I have no attachment to sin now, but that's definitely not true).

I also like to pray the St Gertrude prayer on this day (and whenever I remember to do so).  I only just learnt that St Gertrude was a Benedictine (Benedictines rock!); she was promised that 1,000 souls would be released from Purgatory with this prayer.  I know we're not required to believe private revelation, but it is a beautiful thing to contemplate and the prayer itself is a wonderful way of remembering the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

1 November 2011

Litany of the Saints/30 Days of Thankfulness

Today is All Saints' Day!  And since the American Thanksgiving is in November, many are also posting something for which they are thankful for every day in November.  I think these two can overlap today, for I am truly thankful for the "great cloud of witnesses" we have, who provide us with examples and pray for us before the throne of the Most High God.  I was also overjoyed that I got to hear the Litany of the Saints at Mass today, for I've not heard it in a few years.  So here it is, for your enjoyment: