29 December 2011


One month ago, I was given my iPad, and one of the first things I did was to download the iBreviary app. When we were in Liverpool, we attended a Benedictine parish and I would sometimes make it there for morning prayer. Because of that, I'd been wanting a missal and/or prayer book for the Divine Office, but both are rather expensive. I'd also wanted to wait for the new translation before getting a missal.

So when I started looking at the App store, I looked for a breviary and was thrilled to fine that they had it and hat it was free! I love having it. I don't pray all the hours yet. My plan is to first get in the habit of Lauds, and then add more as I go. It also came in handy when we were at my in-laws', as we used the app to pray Vespers together.

The app also has the daily Mass readings, and various prayers. It's really a wonderful resource, one I highly recommend.

28 December 2011

We Survived!

The road trips with the kids, that is. They had never been on a long car ride, given that wedding drive in England. They'd been on a long flight, and plenty of train journeys, but they could also move around and nurse on those trips, so it was with a bit of apprehension on my part that we set out on the first leg of our journey. The first leg was the longest, as we drove what would've been an 8-9 hour trek without the children. Add a couple of hours with the children because of all the stops. After a couple of days, it was time to drive another 5 hours to get to the grandparents' house for Christmas. Finally, there was the 10 hours of driving time back, which we divided over two days. We survived it all, and I learnt a few things in the process.

- No matter when Charlotte last nursed, or for how long, she will ask for more Mummy milk within 30 minutes of being in the car. The interval between getting in the car and asking for Mummy milk becomes shorter with each stop. I suppose that's the downside to her habit of "grazing".

- we didn't factor in Kieran's ongoing phobia of hand driers, nor his more recent phobia of automatic flushing toilets. The result was a lot of screaming at the first couple of rest stops until we just started finding bushes for him. Forcing the matter wouldn't have solved anything; he'll et over these fears in his own time.

- Chocolate + curve = sick toddler and wardrobe change. We'd give Kieran something for his carsickness, but I couldn't find anything for Charlotte since she's under 2. Thankfully, she was fine after that.

- On a related note, Murphy's Law states that the one time I don't have towels on the kids's seats is when such sickness will occur.

- I used to think nothing of driving 12 hours in a day, but I'm clearly out of practice. I'm very thankful my husband helped with the driving. Today I drove the 5 hours, and was fine, until I got home exhausted. Where are Virgin trains when I want them?

All in all, it wasn't bad, and i'mvery glad we got to see my husband's family for Christmas. The kids had. Blast with their cousins, especially, but also had fun with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and great-grandmother.

26 December 2011

Book Nook

On our latest visit to the library, when I was trying to find a book for Charlotte, Hilda Must be Dancing by Karma Wilson caught my eye.  Growing up, my grandfather had a stuffed hippo named Hilda, so I was immediately drawn by that.  As I thumbed through the pages, I thought it looked like a fun book, and so we took it home.

I'm so glad I did!  It's a cute book about a hippo who loves to dance, but who, in dancing, wreaks havoc in the jungle.  The other animals try in vain to get her to choose another hobby, until they find a solution that is agreeable to everyone.  The illustrations, too, are great.  I'd recommend picking it up if you happen to see it.

25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas celebration. This is the first year we've traveled for Christmas with the kids, but they've done well. They've certainly enjoyed being with grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. I wish everyone a very happy Christmas, and at you continue to have a wonderful Christmas.

19 December 2011

Book Nook

Whenever we head to the library, Kieran often already has a type of book in mind.  The last time we went, he'd decided he wanted a couple of books about Thomas the Tank Engine.  This came as no surprise, since he loves trains and has been happily watching and playing with Thomas trains lately.  So we went and looked down the aisles and happened upon some Thomas books.  I was holding Charlotte to keep her from running off, so I didn't look through them, unfortunately.  Instead, I had Kieran put them in the bag while we went to another section to get a book for Charlotte.  Let this be a lesson to always look through the books before checking them out.

Now, the books he chose (Blue Train, Green Train and another one whose title escapes me) aren't bad books, just way too young for my children.  They were in the older kids' section and were written for children who are starting to read independently.  However, my children are used to books that are a bit more complex, and so something of that sort didn't keep Kieran's interest.  I maintain that books can be written at a level that beginning readers can read while still being interesting for them (The Cat in the Hat comes to mind).

Nor does the subject matter mean the books must be overly simplistic, since I've seen at least one Thomas book that is written at a higher level and thus should better keep Kieran's interest.  I'm sorry that Kieran didn't get books he liked at the library this time, but next time hopefully we can look through them a bit more beforehand.

18 December 2011

Follow Me

Six years ago today my husband and I were on our way to the Bahamas for our honeymoon.  Yesterday we had our anniversary, and our first ever kid-free date since Kieran was born.  I'm very thankful that my parents were able to watch the children while we went to a film.

At our wedding, my cousin sang John Denver's "Follow Me".  I've always loved the song, but today I started thinking more about it.  We had no idea six years ago that we were going to move to Liverpool nine months later, or that we'd end up living there for five years.  We'd no idea that we'd have two wonderful children at this time, nor that I'd choose to be a SAHM and NFP instructor.  And now we have no idea where we'll be next year, but we continue on, trying to follow God and each other.  I can't wait to see where we will go.

16 December 2011

Act of Charity

This post isn't easy for me to write.  On different occasions, in reading about other peoples' experiences, I've heard of something that, frankly, angers and saddens me.  It is that sometimes breastfeeding mums are admonished for openly breastfeeding at church, being told that it is an act of charity to others if they will cover or go to another location to breastfeed.  I've been ruminating over this, over the implications of it.  An act of charity to cover or move.  Is it really an act of charity?

For one, it ignores the fact that the child needs to eat when he needs to eat.  He cannot always wait, and it sometimes will create a scene to force the issue.  Yes, some can wait as they get older.  I would expect my four-year-old to wait, for instance, but would not expect the same of an under-two-year-old.

So what about using a cover?  I used a cover with Kieran until he was about 5ish months old, when I got tired of the hassle and he wouldn't tolerate being covered.  I figured out that I could actually be more discreet by nursing without a cover, since I could feed more-or-less instantly and without an obvious indication that I was breastfeeding (the covers ensure no skin is revealed, but make it obvious what you're doing, in my opinion).  I really don't know many children who like being covered to feed, to be honest.  At least not when they're older than a few months' old.

What is it really saying to tell a mother that it is an act of charity to cover or go elsewhere to nurse?  I think it says that many, many people have forgotten the primary purpose of breasts: nourishing a child.  Unintentionally or not (and I try to give the benefit of the doubt and say it is unintentional), it tells mothers that they are not being discreet or modest, I  think.  I can't help but think of Our Lady of La Leche, then.  For a less stubborn or self-assured mum, it could even result in her dropping some breastfeeds or going to a different church (or ceasing to go), none of which are good options.

Finally, is it really an act of charity to cover or move for the sake of the adults who may be uncomfortable?  It would make them more comfortable, but is that the same as being an act of charity towards them?  There are times when we need to be made to feel uncomfortable in order to truly confront something, and this can in fact be an act of charity.  Charity doesn't mean we ignore our issues, or others' issues, but that we help them.  In the case of breastfeeding, I personally don't think covering or moving is an act of charity for others, for it perpetuates the skewed perception of breasts as being strictly provocative and sexual instead of being the normal way mothers nourish and comfort their children.  Again, this doesn't mean purposefully drawing attention to oneself or being belligerent about it, but simply feeding one's child when and as needed.

It should also be noted that not using a cover or moving doesn't mean exposing oneself, either.  Nursing without a cover can be done modestly.  I've stood face-to-face with a priest whilst breastfeeding my daughter, and the priest only commented that she was sleeping, so I don't think it was obvious that she was also breastfeeding.  Or maybe he just didn't care.  I personally have no problem with wearing something that can be easily pulled down at the neck, but another way of doing it is to wear a camisole under a shirt and pull the top shirt up.  While I prefer the former, simply due to ease, I could compromise and do the latter.  Another option is to feed the child in a carrier like a mei tai or wrap, though this is easiest if the child is already in the carrier and is a bit smaller.  I can still do that with Charlotte, but it isn't as easy as it once was, and since I don't usually wear her on my front, it would probably require more time and distraction.

In the end, I just honestly can't see covering or moving to be a true act of charity, for the mother, the child, or the other people.  I know I'm a lactivist, and thus my views will be biased in that direction, though I've tried to think and talk this out with an open mind.  I just wish it weren't an issue at all, especially not in a house of worship.  Our Lady of La Leche, pray for us.

15 December 2011

Gender Stereotypes and Children

When we were checking out our books at the library this morning, a kind librarian came up and asked if the children wanted stickers. Of course, they answered in the affirmative. Shen then proceeded to give Charlotte a pink princess sticker, and gave Kieran a choice between monsters (left-over from Hallowe'en) or Christmas stickers. I had the children thank her, and that was that.

But I was a tad irritated at the assumption about what my children would like purely because of their genders. Before I continue, I am not saying that gender distinctions are nonexistent or completely arbitrary, but there's also a lot of room for individual taste.

Perhaps I am sensitive to this because I've never been very fond of pink or dolls. Kieran and Charlotte both happily play with dolls and trains, though Charlotte is fonder of dolls than Kieran. Kieran insisted on a pink cake with pink candles for his birthday, and asked for a pink truck on a sweater. Of course, it wasn't that long ago that pink was considered to be a masculine colour.

So, yes, boys and girls are different and have different interests and ways of playing, but it isn't always along stereotypical gender lines, and I think this is important to remember.

Crafty Thursday

I found the camera!  It was where I'd remembered putting it, but pushed way back in the drawer, thus why I'd not found it before now.  Unfortunately, I don't have anything to take nice photos of, as I've not been able to continue working on the Guernsey sweater for my husband.  I really thought I had enough of the navy yarn, but I don't.  So that will be frogged now, sadly.  It was really a perfect sweater for him, though, because it was plain with the exception of some pattern stitching on the hem and around the armholes.  Ah, well, another time perhaps.  The upshot is that I can actually work on my sweater now!  It's a novel idea, I know.  I still have quite a bit left on it, though.

14 December 2011

"Don't Shout, Mummy"

"8.42.  How'd it get to be so late?  Come, on, kids, we need to go right now!  No, Kieran, get in on this side instead of climbing over!"

"Don't shout, Mummy."

How humbling when my four-year-old is reminding me not to shout.  How much does that make me stop in my tracks and reevaluate what I'm doing?  The above scenario happens all too often, and what's worse is that it's usually when we're on our way to Mass.

It's my own fault for not getting out of the house earlier (most of the time), and in my frustration at this fact, I lash out by shouting at my children to hurry up.  This lands my in Confession more times than I care to admit.  As humiliating as it can be for my own child to say "don't shout, Mummy", it is a great grace that God has given, to give me this reminder in the voice of a child.  Yes, it's important to be on time to Mass, but I can't blame the children for my inability to get out of the house with time to spare.  I pray that God continues to give me the grace I need, and that I will be open to receiving that grace.

13 December 2011

New Blog Title

As you've probably noticed, I've changed the title of the blog.  "Why?", you ask?  Well, I'd noticed that, as much as I love archaeology, I don't actually blog about that here, with very rare exceptions.

Instead, my life right now focuses more on the idea of the domestic monastery, and thus my writing also focuses on my faith and my home life.  My goal is to "work out [my] salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12) in the living out of my vocation as a wife and mother, thus the pun in the title (I hope it's not too groan-inducing; I liked it).  Because that is what is at the forefront of my mind, that tends to be my focus in writing, and I thought the title should better reflect that.

11 December 2011

Gaudete Sunday

It's Gaudete Sunday! That Sunday during Advent when we rejoice in anticipation of the coming of our Lord. Last night friends of ours had a lovely Gaudete Sunday party, and even had St Nicholas make an appearance, along with a family Rosary. It was very lovely.

I have an additional reason for rejoicing today, for today is the seventh anniversary of my Confirmation and First Communion! It's amazing to think back on it. I continue to be amazed atGod's goodness.

9 December 2011

Noise, Noise, Noise!

Noise, noise, noise! Sometimes I feel that finding quiet and solitude is nigh impossible. Now, before you think I'm being a grinch, hear me out. I don't think it need always be quiet, for that would certainly be taking things to the other extreme. No, it is simply that I think we've almost come to fear silence and being alone with our thoughts. The first thing many do upon turning on the car is to turn on the radio or other music. I'm as guilty here as any, so it's been nice that my car radio was broken. My thoughts were still drowned out when I went to a large open-air shopping centre to find that they were piping music through speakers along the walks, though, when all I wanted was a bit of silence. It's not that I hate music, far from it, but must we have background noise at all times?  And honestly, it wasn't necessarily silence I wanted, but my own noise, I suppose.

And yet, even with my aversion to lots of noise, how often am I truly still and silent?  How often do I really allow myself to be alone with my thoughts?  No, I, too, seek to drown out my thoughts and prayers by remaining busy.  Not that busyness alone accounts for that, for I can and do pray and think when I'm doing housework or walking or whatnot.  It's more when I'm sitting that I can't seem to be still, paradoxically.  It is then when I suddenly need to be online or reading, instead of having a conversation, thinking, or praying.  I'm not doing anything that is noisy, and yet I drown out my thoughts and prayers just the same, instead of listening for that small, still voice.  I know I should endeavor to allow myself to be still and silent more, but it's something with which I struggle.

8 December 2011

Crafty Thursday

Well, I still can't find the camera, so the photos aren't the best.  I've been quite busy this week, though.  First, I finally sewed the buttons on Charlotte's tunic sweater.  I really love how it's turned out and can't wait for her to wear it.

I also finished Kieran's Twisted Tree sweater.  I had to bind off the neck twice because I forgot to do a stretchy bind-off the first time.  So I redid that part and tried it on Kieran to make sure it fit, and it's perfect.  I'd altered it so that I used the width for the smaller size and the longer length, seeing as he's tall and slender.  I think it worked out really well.

Last night I started working on a Guernsey sweater.  Since we'll be traveling over Christmas, I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish it in time if I did it completely by hand, so I did the hem by hand and then put it on the old Brother knitting machine.  It only gets one gauge, and can't do things other than stockinette, but it works for what I need for now.

5 December 2011

Book Nook

from Amazon
When we visited the library this last time, I saw a book by Ian Whybrow that I'd not read before, and so I picked it up for the kids. We've read the Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs series by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds, so I figured this book would also be good.

 I was not disappointed. The children love Russell Ayto's illustrations and the various animal noises in the story. I personally found it obviously British in sentence structure, despite Americanised spellings, which made me miss England a bit.  We might have to pick up a copy of the book to own, since the children keep asking us to read it over and over again.  Pick it up - I don't think you'll be sorry.

4 December 2011

Rosary Musings: Fifth Sorrowful Mystery

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: the Crucifixion

by Salvadore Dali
1 Corinthians 1:17-24
17 After all, Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel; and not by means of wisdom of language, wise words which would make the cross of Christ pointless. 18 The message of the cross is folly for those who are on the way to ruin, but for those of us who are on the road to salvation it is the power of God. 19 As scripture says: I am going to destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of any who understand. 20 Where are the philosophers? Where are the experts? And where are the debaters of this age? Do you not see how God has shown up human wisdom as folly? 21 Since in the wisdom of God the world was unable to recognise God through wisdom, it was God's own pleasure to save believers through the folly of the gospel. 22 While the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, 23 we are preaching a crucified Christ: to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is both the power of God and the wisdom of God.
 Having been raised in a Christian home, I grew up seeing the cross.  Seeing it so often, it was,. and sometimes still is, easy to forget how venerating the cross really does look foolish.  After all, it's an instrument of torture and death for criminals - hardly something that would normally be venerated.

Similarly, the mystery for today, the crucifixion, is hardly an event one would think of commemorating in other circumstances.  But for us, it is an amazing event, with Jesus our Paschal Lamb sacrificing Himself for us.  It seems counterintuitive, it is beyond full comprehension.

1 December 2011

Crafty Thursday

Back to crafting after Thanksgiving last Thursday. I'm keeping busy with my various projects. I couldn't find triangular black buttons for Charlotte's tunic sweater, but I think these round ones will work. Now to sew them on. I'll post photos as soon as I find the camera. I think Miss Pickle ran off with it.

I've also been working on Kieran's twisted tree sweater. I've now joined the sleeves to the body and am doing the raglan decreases.