30 December 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy 6th day of Christmas! Check out the full carnival at RAnn's.  My posts this week:

- the feast of the Holy Family
- Crafty Thursday
- you know you're AP when
- my Christmas gift

Feast of the Holy Family

Today is the feast of the Holy Family. The Bishop celebrated the vigil Mass last night, and since my husband sang at that Mass, I decided to go to that one instead of our usual Sunday morning Mass.

Mass was, of course, beautiful and holy. Given the feast day and the fact that our Bishop is very welcoming of families and breastfeeding mums, I wasn't at all nervous about Leo's screaming in pain, then feeding and cooing.

Our Bishop spoke of the importance of the family and how all aspects of family life should be supported and encouraged by the parish. He quoted Pope Bl. John Paul II on that, too. What struck me the most, though, was him talking about Jesus' hidden life of obedience to his Mother and foster father, a life wherein He preached the Gospel simply by living family life. We don't have to go to the ends of the earth to live and preach the Gospel, but should be doing this in our own families (of course some are called to be missionaries, like St Paul, but most are called to live the Gospel in a more ordinary way). This is something good for me to remember as a mother. And I ask Jesus to help us live as we should, leading each other to holiness, and I ask Mary and Joseph to pray for us.

27 December 2012

Crafty Thursday

I've not been able to do as much craft-wise since Leo's birth. His digestive issues mean that he wants me to hold him most of the time. While I love the cuddles, it does make it difficult to knit or sew. Nevertheless, I have been able to work a little of late. I've been using the newer knitting machine for the plain bits of Kieran's backpack. The machine is broken, so I have to feed the yarn by hand, but for this project it's ok.

The robot parts have all been knit separately by hand, to give a 3D effect. I sewed it on upside-down at first, unfortunately.

26 December 2012

You Know You're AP When. . .

You find yourself analyzing Christmas carols and critiquing them for their views of children. Take "Away in a Manger", for example:

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed,
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head;

The stars in the heavens
Looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing,
The poor Baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus,
No crying He makes.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus;
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle
Till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus;
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray!

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven
To live with Thee there.

When we came to the line about Jesus not crying when disturbed from His sleep, my thought wasn't "how sweet!", but "ugh, again with the association of a "good" baby not crying. I bet this carol is Victorian!"  I therefore had to look it up and found that it was composed in the US in that time period.  

I suppose I should just listen to it as a sweet little song, but the idea that a "good" baby being one that doesn't cry has always irritated me.  People ask me if Leo is good, and I say "what else would he be?" Once, when I said that, a lady retorted that she got the criers, molding that her babies hadn't been "good".  I would argue that point.  Of course Leo cries - he has gallstones and is in pain!  But he is also good, because he cannot choose otherwise. Jesus, of course, has always been good, but I'll also bet that even He cried as a baby. 

25 December 2012

My Christmas Gift

Although we normally attend the morning Mass on Christmas Day, this year we attended the earlier vigil so we could all go together (my husband was singing at the midnight Mass and thus wouldn't feel up to going to a morning Mass, and I didn't think I could handle all three on my own for the midnight Mass).  The parish was absolutely packed, but because of friends we were still able to sit in the front.  It was a beautiful Mass full of chanting (in English) and incense, and music from the children's choir.

The entrance hymn was "O Come, All Ye Faithful", a song I know quite well. I quelled my urge to sing it in Latin and think of Bing Crosby, instead allowing myself to just focus on the moment and the lyrics. At the refrain, I was given a great gift. I nearly wept for joy at the thought of being able to adore Jesus, and I could barely take my eyes off the Tabernacle, where He dwells for love of us.  That he humbles Himself to appear before us in a lowly manner, just as He also came as a lowly infant, and does this just to be near us - it amazes me!  While I know this all the time, for Christmas God gave me the gift of truly feeling that truth.  I'm sure if people had looked at me, they might've wondered what was wrong to make me cry.  Yet nothing was wrong, and everything was absolutely right.  It was the perfect start to celebrating the Feast of the Nativity. I hope everyone has as blessed a Christmas.

23 December 2012

22 December 2012

Reasonable Sleep Expectations

I think most people, at least most people I encounter, have unreasonable expectations when it comes to their child's sleep.  This then leads to frustration and maybe sleep training (not that parents can't be frustrated even if they don't have unreasonable expectations, but knowing something is normal certainly helps for me).  I won't get into my rant on sleep training - suffice it to say I abhor the practice.  Instead, I'd like to look at some of the expectations.

Many expect that their children will fall asleep on their own and remain asleep all night, or, if they wake, that they'll be able to settle themselves.  I won't get into the part about initially falling asleep alone, but would like to look at the expectations with night waking.  I can't help thinking of my own sleeping patterns.  Even without a child waking me, I don't sleep straight through the night.  I wake for the toilet, or a drink, or a snack, or because of a bad dream, or because I heard a different noise.  So I get up for the toilet, or to get a snack or drink, or to calm myself until I can sleep again.  Sometimes I just need to snuggle with my husband.  In all these cases, I know what is needed and how to get, and I have the ability to do it.

But can a child under the age of two, let alone one (sleep training is often done with children under these ages), do those things?  If my two-year-old gets hungry, she cannot reach the snacks. She cannot refill her water if she already has a cup, or reach the cupboard if she needs a cup.  When she needs the toilet in the night, she needs help.  Both of my older children get us if they have nightmares or just need the comfort of another person.  All of this is normal, so why shouldn't I expect it and, if they need help, provide help?

Sure, learning to settle themselves is a good skill, and they'll learn it when they are ready and capable of  taking care of those needs on their own.  I know this because Kieran is able to do most of these things.  He gets his water when he gets thirsty in the night, and goes to the loo on his own.  Usually if he wakes and has trouble settling, he'll just get on the couch, though sometimes he wants to snuggle.  He has naturally done these things as he's become ready, without us forcing it.  We didn't get discouraged, because we knew he needed food or water or the toilet or reassurance and that he wasn't ready/able to do those things on his own yet. Now he's quite independent, day and night, but he know we're there if he needs us.  I think us having reasonable expectations and responding to his needs play a large part in that.

21 December 2012

A Mother's Figure

I'm currently reading a series of books called The Queen's Blade, by TC Southwell.  In one of the books, a character has recently given birth.  A comment is made that, in just five days' time, she's completely regained her old figure.  This, then, reminded me of another book I'd read (The White Queen, by Philippa Gregory) wherein the main female character remarks that, despite having numerous children, she still has a flat tummy.

These literary references have gotten me thinking about how society views mothers.  Women strive to get their old figures back, and fast, without considering that the different figure may be here to stay.  It certainly isn't reasonable to expect to be back in pre-pregnancy clothes so quickly; some are, but most aren't.  It is nevertheless a point that causes stress for many mothers.

The thought that the new figure may even be desirable or preferable is rarely considered.  Why not?  Surely the changes wrought by the miracle of nourishing a life within one's body are to be valued, not scorned. But perhaps this is just part of the lack of value placed on motherhood anyway.

The irony in all this is that our society does value the look of milk-engorged breasts, but not breastfeeding.  Women are told they should have breasts that occur naturally with breastfeeding and are sold various things to achieve that look while simultaneously being told that breastfeeding will somehow ruin their breasts.  This part of a mother's figure is then divorced from motherhood, relegating breasts to being purely "sexy" and not a sign of motherhood/fertility.

I wish I could say I've been immune to these thoughts and influences, but I haven't.  I am trying to remind myself to see my figure in light of the gift of motherhood and to take joy in it.

19 December 2012

Believing the Confiteor

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

I pray this nearly daily, depending on if I get to daily Mass and who is celebrating. Recently, though, the bolded portion has struck me.  What an amazing thing, to be able to ask all the Angels and Saints in Heaven to pray for us! Even death cannot truly separate the members of this Family.  It is an amazing display of God's love, too.  And if I truly believe all this, surely we should never despair, for we are supported by the prayers of those who have gone before and overcome the struggles we now face, by the grace of God. I am continually amazed.

13 December 2012

Adventures in Cooking - Living with Food Intolerances

Because of Leo's sensitivities, I'm having to relearn how to cook, almost, as I have to abandon or greatly change many recipes that were part of my regular repertoire before his birth.  Thus far I have figured out that he cannot tolerate me eating dairy, beef, pork, tomatoes, soy, eggs, and alcohol (even in cooking).  Before his birth, I ate eggs for breakfast and lunch, had dairy at nearly every meal, made a lot of sausage dishes, and often cooked with wine.  Now, those things are out (please note that this is the exception to the rule, as very few women need to change their diets when breastfeeding. I didn't have to restrict what I ate when breastfeeding Kieran, even though he had a dairy intolerance if he ate it directly). In addition, I can't eat very spicy things, and I have to limit the goat cheese.

With all this in mind, I'd like to occasionally post recipes, if for no other reason than to encourage me to continue in this diet (not that there's a danger of me stopping - if it helps Leo, I'll do it).  First up, then, is chilli.  Months ago I learnt that true Texas chilli contains no tomato, according to this recipe.  I didn't want to give up the beans, though, so I include them. Besides, I need the protein.  So here's my recipe.  My family agree that it's quite tasty.

4 dried New Mexico chiles
Cumin, to taste
1 bell pepper, diced
1/4 - 1/2 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2" chunks
1/2c quinoa
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
12-14oz chicken stock (I use homemade, as I find canned stocks too salty, and often contain forbidden foods)
1-2 lbs ground turkey

Soak chiles in hot water until softened (30+ minutes).  Remove stems and seeds and put in blender with cumin and a bit of water. Purée.

Cook turkey in large pot, breaking it up as it cooks. Add onion, celery, garlic, bell pepper, and carrots as turkey is cooking.  Add chicken stock, sweet potato, beans, quinoa, and chile paste. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours.  Serve over dairy-free cornbread.  Chilli can also be made in the crockpot.

6 December 2012

Doctors, Doctors, and More Doctors!

Over the past week we've had to take Leo to a doctor's appointment almost daily.  Last week he started projectile vomiting during or right after feeds.  At first I thought maybe it was a stomach bug, but he didn't have a fever and the vomiting seemed random.  So it was that I phoned the doctor last Thursday and took Leo in to be seen.  We saw the NP, and she was quite concerned, since his symptoms could be indicative of pyloric stenosis.

Seeing as it was late afternoon, nothing could be done that day, but the following day found us at the children's hospital for a pyloric ultrasound.  The worst part with that was that Leo had to fast beforehand, but thankfully he was napping and so wasn't too bothered.  We had to wait until evening for the results, where we learnt that he doesn't have pyloric stenosis but does have multiple gallstones!

The NP phoned the following day (I love that our doctor's office is open 24/7) to check on Leo. After consulting with the specialists, she had us come in for a weight check and to discuss the action plan.  The specialists didn't think surgery was warranted, but instead opted to try a medicine to break up the stones. We left with orders to get lab work done the next day while the prescription was called in.

Because they wanted the labs done so soon, we went right after Mass on Sunday.  I hated putting Leo through that; about halfway through I managed to nurse him during the rest. Although the lab tech insisted it didn't hurt him, I beg to differ. Thankfully it is done and hopefully he won't need more.

Monday and Tuesday didn't see us at a doctor's office, but I was on the phone with nurses, schedulers, and pharmacists a lot. His prescription had to be compounded, so it was slightly more difficult to get. We did get it, though, and also got an appointment with the specialist for Wednesday.

The specialist appointment went well, and he confirmed that Leo doesn't need surgery at this point. He is confident the stones will dissolve without much of a problem.  While there isn't a quick fix, this eased my mind considerably.  Hopefully we needn't visit so many doctors in such a short time again.

26 November 2012

Book Nook

Looking for a birthday present for Kieran, I stepped into the parish gift shop after Mass and instructed Kieranand Charlotte to play in the narthex. Well, of course they followed me in after a bit, so my plan to get the book in secret failed. Therefore, Kieran received A Children's Book of Virtues by Kay McSpadden early.

Rich Pianka / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
As those who know me know, I'm very particular about children's books; I think I'm even more particular when it comes to religious books for children.  This one met with my approval, though. It contains abridged versions of various fables, myths, novel excerpts, and historic persons.  Each excerpt is included to teach about a certain virtue and can either be a stand-alone story or used as a starting point for the parent to teach more on that topic.  I love that it includes some classics such as excerpts from The Odyssey, Don Quixote, and Les Miserables.  Historical events include St Martin de Porres' life and Roland fighting for Charlemagne (an excellent reason to break out "The Song of Roland", though that chronicles a different battle).

25 November 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

I know I've missed the last few of these - I'm enjoying my babymoon, adjusting to being a mum of 3, and sorting out Leo's health issues. As a result, my posts, when I've made them, have been mostly about Leo. So here are the most recent posts. Be sure to check out the full carnival at RAnn's.

- Two posts (here and here) about natural childbirth
- A post about my eldest
- The saga of Leo's tongue tie
- Dealing with food sensitivity
- My mother's influence
- Leo's hazelwood necklace

23 November 2012

Hazelwood Necklace

Desperate for relief for Leo's reflux, I found myself wondering if his amber necklace would help at all.  I searched online and came across many sites telling me amber wasn't the answer for reflux - but that a hazelwood necklace could help.  Well, I'm all for natural, non-invasive treatments whenever possible, so I did some more searching.  Some friends work for/with a small company called eLeMeNo-Pee. Since I like utilizing smaller, local companies when possible, I asked if they had hazelwood necklaces, and they do. Even better, though, is that they have hazelwood/amber necklaces.   I was sold, so I ordered one.

The kid has style
It arrived within two days, and I put it on Leo immediately. Now, I don't know how much is the necklace and how much is my dietary changes, but his reflux is loads better.  I can't say the same for his eczema yet, but he's only had it about a week.  I still use eggs in some things, too, so that could explain the eczema.  I'd certainly recommend trying the necklace, though. After all, it can't hurt, and it can help.

21 November 2012

A Mother's Influence

Our mother's help shape us in ways we wouldn't imagine. Now that I'm a mother, I can see my mother's influence more clearly.  There are things I do differently, of course, but also similarities.  Perhaps the biggest influence she's had on my parenting is in the area of breastfeeding.

I was born in the early 80s, the youngest of three children, the youngest grandchild on my fahter's side and almost youngest on my mother's side.  I grew up in a State that still has abysmal breastfeeding rates, with under 60% ever breastfeeding.  I don't know what breastfeeding rates were when I was born, but I imagine that number was much lower.  Being the youngest means that I never saw my mother breastfeed, and I only have a vague memory of my aunt breastfeeding.  I can't remember seeing anyone else breastfeed until my nephews were born, though I saw plenty of babies and volunteered in the nursery at our congregation.

While I didn't see breastfeeding much, I often heard my mom talk about it. She talked about how much she'd wanted to continue breastfeeding my brother, but stopped after a short time because he wouldn't latch on.  She talked about how she had longed to breastfeed my sister, but was on a medication that made doing so impossible.  And she talked about how she loved being able to breastfeed me and how I never had a bottle.  Because of that, I grew up hearing the beauty and normality of breastfeeding, and so I never even considered choosing a bottle instead.

Her influence goes beyond just the desire to breastfeed at all, to also influencing the length of time.  M mother breastfeed me for an entire year.  While that doesn't seem long to me now, it is absolutely amazing.  Even now, the majority don't carry on that long; it was even rarer then.  Not only did she carry on, but she did so in the face of people questioning when she's stop. Her mother was a nurse and advised full weaning at 6 months, and still my mother continued.  Hmm, wonder where I get my stubbornness.  In doing that, she taught me that I needn't worry about people's questions when it came to how long I breastfeed.  I certainly received questions when breastfeeding a 2-year-old, but, like my mother, I carried on happily.  I am very thankful for the influence she's had, just by being vocal about her own breastfeeding experiences.  Thank you, Mom.

20 November 2012

When Baby Has Food Sensitivities

You may have noticed I haven't been posting lately. Besides enjoying my babymoon and adjusting to having three littles, we've been trying to sort out Leo's issues.  He's doing well after having his tongue tie sorted, but he still had trouble with silent reflux, eczema, and watery poo. After spending almost n entire night up walking with him, we knew we had to do something.

As a baby, Charlotte had had some food sensitivities, as well. The biggest for her was bovine protein. It had taken me a long time to figure out the problem, but I finally cut out dairy and beef nd noticed n improvement.

Thanks to that experience, I spotted the signs of sensitivity in Leo much earlier (helps that his symptoms were also more pronounced).  My wonderful husband went out to pick up goat and rice milks for me, and I set out to craft a dairy-free, beef-free, tomato-free (I have a tomato intolerance) menu.  I discovered I dislike goat milk on Weetabix, but it's fine for cooking. I think Leo has a slight sensitivity to the goat milk, too, but not as bad as with cow milk.  In fact, we noticed a marked improvement from the beginning, even though all the dairy wasn't out of my system. I also discovered that airy-free isn't as hard as I'd thought it would be, though I would like a good vanilla ice cream.

At that time, I replaced my cheesy sandwiches with egg salad sandwiches, figuring that was healthier anyway. And I just love eggs.  Unfortunately, it seemed that also made Leo quite unhappy, so I cut out eggs. I still bake with eggs, but I avoid plain eggs and mayo.

He's been much better since making these changes.  The eczema is clearing up, his diapers are normal, and the reflux is better, though not completely gone. I sometimes wish I could have eggs or cheese, but it's worth the sacrifice for him to feel better.

I've certainly learned to read labels better, since dairy is sometimes "hidden" in things. I knew from my experience with Charlotte that even some vaccines, namely the DTaP, contain bovine proteins, and I know some are also contraindicated for those with egg allergies.  I suppose I should've always been good about reading labels for everything, but now I really have a reason to improve.  I do hope he outgrows his sensitivities as Charlotte (mostly) has, but if not, so be it, and at least I've found them early.

7 November 2012

Posterior Tongue Tie

When it comes to breastfeeding, my first two children were pros. They latched on well the first time, which was immediately after birth for Charlotte.  Even with his more traumatic delivery, Kieran took to it immediately.  Both were above birthweight within six days of birth.  Yes, there were some problems (thrush, mastitis, biting, oversupply), but the children never had problems, really.

Because of that, I knew something was off almost immediately with Leo.  He had trouble latching at first, and feeding him hurt.  At first I assumed this was just because he was newborn and because I hadn't nursed a child in months, so I didn't think too much of it.  But then the same thing happened with every feed, and I could hear his tongue clicking during feeds.  He also developed reflux.  Thanks to various friends and blogs, such as Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths and The Analytical Armadillo, I knew some of the signs of the posterior tongue tie and I began to suspect that was the problem.

So at 3 days old, I expressed my concerns to the midwife.  She wasn't surprised, and told me to discuss it with the pediatrician.  The pediatrician appointment was at 6 days old.  Leo was 5 ounces below birthweight, which worried me given that the other two were above birthweight at that age.  I mentioned my suspicion of a posterior tie.  Unfortunately, the doctor wasn't familiar with posterior ties, just with the classic, anterior tie.  Since Leo could move his tongue, she didn't think he had a tie. I should note that I really like the pediatrician; sadly posterior ties aren't spotted as easily and so many doctors miss such ties.

Unwilling to accept that answer, I contacted an IBCLC.  When I enumerated the symptoms Leo had, she thought it sounded like a posterior tie and warranted further investigation. She gave me the name of a pediatric ENT.  It was a Friday afternoon, though, so I had to wait until Monday to speak to them.  In speaking with the receptionist, I discovered that the doctor doesn't take Medicaid (I hate that we're on it!), and suggested Nemours.  I immediately rang them and set up an appointment for Wednesday morning.  In the meantime, I went through a list of symptoms to note down I was seeing; incidentally, I ended up with a page-long list.  I was optimistic going in, but then the doctor looked in Leo's mouth and declared that he didn't have a tie because the frenulum didn't extend to the tip of the tongue and Leo could extend his tongue past his bottom teeth.  While those things are true of the classic anterior tongue tie, it isn't true of a posterior tie.  He then said he could snip it, but only under a general, which of course isn't recommended for such a young child.  Since he wasn't convinced Leo even had a tie, I wasn't exactly confident.  I was also none too pleased when he just suggested bottle-feeding, admittedly with my own milk, instead of resolving the problem.  The appointment ended with me in tears and him suggesting that we just wait and see.  I fed Leo and then wept the whole drive home, praying for relief for Leo and begging Mary to pray for him, too.

Once home my husband and I decided to phone the first ENT again and just pay out of pocket.  Amazingly, the receptionist said they could work in Leo this afternoon, so off we went to another appointment.  I didn't know what to expect, but the doctor came in and immediately recognized Leo's posterior tie.  In addition, he also spotted a slight anterior tie that I hadn't spotted.  He gathered the necessary instruments and, after applying a local, snipped the posterior tie and cauterized the anterior one.  He was pleased with the results, and we went home.  One of the first things we noticed was the absence of hiccups! Usually if he gets upset or in on his back, he gets violets hiccups, but he hasn't had them since the division.  His latch isn't perfect yet, but is definitely better.  Praise God!  I'm so glad the doctor could do it, and that I knew enough to keep looking for a doctor who would listen.

5 November 2012

The Big Brother

This post is just to brag about my firstborn. Kieran is an amazing big brother.  Towards the end of my pregnancy this time, I was having a hard time keeping up with Charlotte.  More often than not, if she said she needed the toilet at Mass, she'd run away from me when I was washing my hands.  Kieran hates going in that toilet because there are hand dryers, and the sound bothers him.  Even so, he offered to start going with us so he could make sure Charlotte didn't run.

Now that Leo is here, Kieran's really shining as big brother.  His first words to me after Leo was born were that he wanted to see his brother.  He helps me with things as needed, too.  Today I'd asked him to get his socks and shoes so we could go.  I found him sitting on the couch, holding his socks, and just watching over Leo as he napped on the Doomoo seat.  It was the sweetest thing.  Truly Kieran was made for this role, and he is a wonderful brother.

2 November 2012

On Having a Natural Birth

After three births, I've learned a few things, at least about myself.  One is that no two births are the same, and another is that a natural childbirth isn't something that just happens (usually), but must be prepared for (and of course one can't prepare for everything, and sometimes a natural birth just isn't possible).

Perhaps the most important factor, in my opinion, is having the proper support.  My husband has been invaluable at my first and third births (he was unable to be with me during Charlotte's birth because he was taking care of Kieran).  Even so, I did not have the completely natural, drug-free delivery I wanted with Kieran because I was not supported by my midwife.  When giving birth in a hospital, it's impossible to know if you'll get nurses/doctors/midwives who are supportive, so I wish I'd had a doula for Kieran's birth.  I'd like to think that I would be able to stand up for myself now, given my confidence now, but I can't say for certain since I never know how much I will be able to express when in labour.  Besides, I'd rather not have to fight anyone when in labour.  The midwives I had with Charlotte and Leo, though, were very supportive and ensured I had the birth I wanted (ie: as hands-off as possible).

Support, while invaluable, isn't necessarily enough.  One must be mentally prepared and know about various techniques, I think.  With Kieran, I had the relaxation/breathing down, but hadn't looked into various positions to help with the back pain and such.  I'd gone in fixated on having a water birth, only to find the pool wasn't available until I hit transition, when I no longer wanted it.  With my other two, I've had ideas about what I'd do for relief, but I didn't lock myself into that. I really thought I'd want to labour under the shower with Charlotte, only to find that I didn't want to leave the birthing ball.  I'd planned on trying for water birth again with Leo, to find I once again wanted the birthing ball until transition, when kneeling on the bed seemed like a good option.

I think the mental preparation is also good if you don't want the drugs. I know I can't have the epidural, so it's not on my register at all.  With the home birth and birth centre birth, I knew other drugs weren't available, so I didn't wish I had them.  Also with the birth centre birth I knew I couldn't ask for nitrous, so again it wasn't in my mind.  Instead, I knew I had to get through it using various positions and counter-pressure, and so I did.

An option I've not considered but which others have liked is hypnobithing.  I don't know enough about it to discuss it in detail, but I have heard good things about it.

While not strictly necessary, I'd also recommend having red raspberry leaf and nettle teas in pregnancy and labour and after; red raspberry leaf tones the uterus, and nettle tea helps with bloodless, being hi in iron and vitamin K.  Coconut water is fab for balancing electrolytes after, and I'd imagine is good during labour, especially with a longer labour and/or if a woman's eating is restricted (another reason I'm thankful for my midwives, as I was eating throughout labour).

So to sum up: research different positions and coping strategies. Don't lock yourself in to just one strategy. Get a birthing ball, because even if you don't use it in labour, it's good in pregnancy and after.  Find a supportive provider.  And realise that every birth is different, and that sometimes circumstances don't allow for our plans.

30 October 2012

Why Go Drug-Free?

After reading Leo's birth story, some might wonder why a woman would choose to give birth without drugs.  I cannot speak for all women, but I can give my personal reasons.

I should start by saying I'm allergic to -caine drugs, the most common local anesthesia, and so an epidural has never been an option for me.  Even if that weren't the case, my low blood pressure would possibly make the epidural unwise, since it can further lower blood pressure.  My fast labours also make it a non-option for me, as it can't be placed until a woman is dilated 4cm, and when I reach that stage, I'm in transition and soon to give birth.  But even if those things weren't true, I wouldn't want the epidural.  In the majority of cases, it confines the woman to bed, instead of allowing freedom of movement. I know for me being confined to bed isn't ideal.  It also necessitates an IV and continuous monitoring, further limiting mobility.  While few studies have compared those who receive epidural a with those who go natural, there are indications that the epidural may negatively impact early breastfeeding, which means it also affects overall breastfeeding success.  Breastfeeding is extremely important to me, so I don't want to jeopardize that.  It also increases chances of instrumental delivery.

Ok, so the epidural is out, but what about opioids that are either injected or placed in an IV?  For one, it can lead to a similar problem with early breastfeeding, since it can make the newborn tired at birth.  I know from experience that such drugs are highly effective with surgical pain, but the pain of labour is not at all like surgical pain, not even during the raw, primal pain of transition.  But I also know from experience that receiving those drugs in labour didn't lead to decreased pain.  An outside observer wouldn't realise that, though, as it gives the appearance of decreased pain and of being calmer; in reality, I was simply unable to respond to the pain, while still acutely feeling everything.  My friends who had opioids in labour have reported the same feeling. It's anecdotal, I know, but it's enough for me to decline such drugs in labour again.

Then there are things like gas and air (sadly not widely available in the US).  I personally didn't like it in labour, as it made me feel nauseated (I take pain over nausea), which is a common side effect.  I say "sadly" in regards to its being unavailable, though, because any effects are short-lived and it doesn't adversely affect the baby, to my knowledge. I did like having it for getting stitched up after birthing Kieran, though.  Thankfully I've not required stitches after the others.

My main reasons for going natural? The ability to move as I wish and the absolute euphoria after birth.  The birth isn't a haze, but is something I experience completely, not just feeling the pain but the endorphins.  Baby and I are both alert after, so the baby can breastfeed immediately before we both sleep.  It's an amazing thing.  I will say, though, that it doesn't just happen.  But how to accomplish it is another post.

28 October 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

My posts this week:
- Book Nook
- On Voting My Conscience
- Leo's birth story

Be sure to go to RAnn's for the rest of the carnival.

Crazy Intense Birth

You know those birth stories where the mother speaks of a peaceful birth wherein she breathed her baby out? This isn't one of them. (if any reading are pregnant with the first, note that most don't have such fast labours!)

On Thursday, I was exactly 38 weeks pregnant and had a midwife appointment. I'd been having more Braxton-Hicks, and the midwife actually saw one, but nothing more.  Baby was lower, but not engaged, and all was well. I told her I'd see her next week.

When I got home, I started having niggly contractions that didn't go away with activity, but also weren't really painful. I installed the car seat, filled a Doomoo seat (they really need to sell those things in the US), and was happy my birth kit had finally arrived. The contractions stopped by evening, and I figured it would be at least a few more days, minimum.  My husband and I hung out a bit after the other kids were in bed, then I decided to try to sleep.

As usual, I was up and down in the night, moving to the couch at one point.  I'd wake periodically with back pain, change position, and go back to sleep.  By 6.25, it finally dawned on me that the back pain was back labour, and I decided to take a shower for relief.  I had to step around Cosmo, which should've been another clue, as he watches over me when in labour.

The shower helped, and I was convinced I was in early labour. My husband was awake by the time I got out, so I told him I thought it was baby day. Charlotte wanted to snuggle, so we did, and then went up for breakfast.  Strangely for me, I wasn't very hungry, and just had some Weetabix and sat on the birthing ball.  I also decided to start timing things and found they were 10-15 minutes apart, lasting 30-45 seconds. I could easily breathe through them, though counter-pressure helped.

Knowing this was likely it, I told my mom she needed to cancel her lunch plans so she could take the kids for us.  I also told the kids they'd get to spend the day with Grammy and PowPow.  Charlotte seemed concerned and wanted to be held, and I actually ended up leaning into her for a few contractions. I was starting to vocalize, softly.  Kieran asked me what I was doing and I explained that I was in labour. His eyes got huge and he said "you mean we're getting a baby?!".  It was precious.  He also tried showing me a book, but I was getting in the zone. I was also getting annoyed with noises, so I asked my parents to take the kids. I hugged them and they left. It was 10.00.

My contractions were then 5-7 minutes apart, lasting 50-70 seconds.  I wondered if the jacuzzi would feel good, so I asked Bart to check on it while I phoned the midwives, as Ashley, knowing my history of fast labours, had given strict instructions to phone when they came at 6 minutes or less.  There was soap residue, so he set about cleaning that, which further irritated me and made my contractions slow a little.  The receptionist phoned and said I needed to come into the birth center, which meant I was even more annoyed (if two women are in labour at once, you have to go to the birth center).  We got things in the car and went, and my labour, predictably, stalled.

Upon arriving, Ashley greeted me and apologised for making me come in. The other lady had given birth, but would be there another hour or so, and Ashley wasn't comfortable telling me to wait that long (it was 11.00) - she was right.  She checked me and got me in he room, and I requested a bath.  The hot water was nice, but after 30-45 minutes, I'd had enough and wanted the birthing ball.  Shortly after that, the larger room was available, and we moved in there.  My contractions were getting more intense, my vocalizing less controlled, all with my wonderful husband providing counter pressure each time.  Ashley requested that I get on the bed, so I alternately leaned on the headboard and went on all fours.

It was around noon, and I was definitely in transition.  I couldn't help screaming, roaring even, declaring "I can't!", and crying in pain.  Sometimes I'd notice my crucifix and miraculous medal and try to focus, remembering that I was offering the pain up for some friends who were in emotional pain.  After a couple of those, my body started bearing down, but there was no relief from the raw agony of transition like my other births.  Because I was bearing down, Ashley requested to check me: 8cm (which I knew because I'd seen the second bloody show), and baby was still high.

Another contraction took me as I got back on all fours.  My body was bearing down with everything I had, while I continued to scream.  I knew things were close, but wasn't expecting to feel the "ring of fire" right then!  Baby was crowning!  Ashley asked if I wanted to go onto my side, and I said no, so she just asked me to go slow.  On the next contraction, the head was nearly out, and Ashley thought baby was posterior.  She had me flip over real quick, and the labour assistant helped hold my leg while I pushed him out in one or two pushes, roaring all the while.

Immediately there was relief and euphoria, as my son, Leo Vianney, was handed to me.  It was 12.34.  The labour had been intense, but the euphoria was equally intense, and the tears were now tears of elation.  I was, and am, overwhelmed with love.  I stayed like that, holding him and nursing him, for an hour or two.  The cord wasn't cut until the placenta was birthed, and, even though he had a nuchal hand, I had no tearing!  I sipped coconut water and took in my son and thanked my wonderful husband and the midwife.  It was amazing.  Once Leo unlatched, I showered and dressed, and all the checks were done before we headed home.  It may not have been the home birth I'd planned, but it was perfect.

23 October 2012

On Voting My Conscience

I cannot wait for the election to be over! I have long been tired of the political adverts.  Part of my frustration, though, comes from the difficulty in voting my conscience.  I am absolutely pro-life, meaning I am against abortion (no exceptions), for programmes that support pregnant women and help with after the birth, against the death penalty, against torture, for affordable health care (minus coverage for abortion, contraceptives [which are potentially abortifacient], and IVF), against embryonic stem cell research, etc.  Finding a candidate that fits that bill is nigh impossible, it seems.

Even so, many tell me I must vote "the lesser of two evils" and therefore must perpetuate the two-party system.  In fact, I was convinced to do just that in the last presidential election, since I live in a swing state; this is a decision I've regretted every day since then. See, my one vote doesn't make a huge difference in a national election, but it does affect me.

This is why, this time, I insist on voting my conscience.  I need to vote in a way I can live, both in protest of the system and for my own soul.  I'm tired of candidates promising to let us live our faith and then reversing once we get them in office, too.

So what will I do? Well, I am heartened in reading the USCCB's guide "Faithful Citizenship".  Paragraph 36 states, "36. When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods "

I personally don't like or trust either Obama or Romney, and so will not vote for either of them. I know no candidate is perfect, but I don't think Romney's record matches his current promises, and cannot in good conscience vote for him.  I will continue looking at third party candidates to see if there is one I can live with.  While I am not a single-issue voter, I do hold abortion and embryonic stem cell research at he top, for if we do not protect the most vulnerable among us, little else matters.  That being said, I'd love to find someone who also holds the other views I do, but that is unlikely.  If I cannot find an acceptable candidate, it is possible I will abstain from voting for president, though I will more likely write someone in instead of doing that, if none of the other candidates is acceptable.  I do not see such an action as throwing away my vote, or an implicit vote for either Obama or Romney, but as a vote for that candidate.  And yes, it is also a protest of the system, which is in need of changing.  Most of all, however I vote must be compatible with my conscience.

22 October 2012

Book Nook

Today we have another Julia Donaldson classic!  When my parents returned from a recent trip, they brought my children the book Room on the Broom, which we'd seen but hadn't read.  As with her other books, this one was an instant hit with the kids and with us.  It tells the story of a witch who takes in various animals, who in turn help her.  With Hallowe'en coming up, you should pick up this book immediately!

21 October 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Posts of the week:
- a children's book incorporating Renaissance art
- a brief post on St Ignatius of Antioch
- a look at our latest butterflies
- my latest crafting, complete with photos

Be sure to check out the rest of the carnival a RAnn's blog.

18 October 2012

Crafty Thursday

This week has been more of the same as far as projects go, but I actually have photos this time.  Here is the diaper stash (ignore the leopard print, as I didn't make those).  I finally timed myself, and it takes me about 30 minutes to sew one of them.  Obviously that doesn't include the time in cutting out and placing the snaps; the snaps probably take about as long as sewing, just because there are 21 snaps that have to be placed before sewing.

Here is a sample of the breastpads I've been making.  I've mostly used scraps, with some being flannel, some knit.  Some have fleece on top, some have it in back; some have PUL backing and some don't.  The hardest part is sewing in a circle!

Mama cloth!  I did some of the bases with PUL in between two pieces of fabric, but then decided to start backing them with fleece instead.  I wanted to make them similar to LunaPads in that the absorbent pad is then put on using some straps on the base.  I used scrap fleece for the straps.  The absorbent pads vary in composition, depending on how absorbent it is, so some are flannel, some are knit, some have fleece on top, some are backed with PUL and some with fleece.  I just zigzagged around the outside and then did some topstitching to make a well, as it were, for more absorbency.  I used snaps on the wings of the bases, too.  I made bases and pads of different lengths and thicknesses, of course, though only the heavy ones are shown here.

Finally, here's Kieran's sweater!  I just need to finish working in ends.  I love the way it turned out.

17 October 2012


Our butterflies have emerged!  Every day or two for the last week, a butterfly has emerged from its cocoon, with the last two emerging today.  My sister happened to be here with her new camera, so she got some good photos of the second butterfly. We ended up with three females and one male.  The kids, and the rest of us, loved watching the caterpillars and butterflies, and I'm so glad we had this opportunity.

Ignatius of Antioch

"Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread." From Ignatius' letter to the Romans

Because St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and martyr, is my patron Saint for the year, and today is his feast day, I thought I'd post a little something about him. Tradition holds that he is one of the children whom Jesus blessed.  On his way to his martyrdom, he penned several letters which show his amazing faith and also reveal much about the beliefs and practices of the early Church.  I recommend reading more.

15 October 2012

Book Nook

I'm a firm believer in exposing kids to culture. Kieran used to only nap if listening to Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons", and we've taken them to art, science, and history museums.  So when I saw a book that had the Mona Lisa on the cover, I had to examine it further. When I did, I was pleased to see that Katie and the Mona Lisa, by James Mayhew, explores various Renaissance paintings in a way in which children will relate and be interested.  In fact, the children love it, and I love that they're becoming familiar with these paintings (my only complaint is the editing of Botticelli's Primavera).  I would definitely recommend this book, though, as a good introduction to Renaissance art.

14 October 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

After a blogging break last week, I've been back to blogging this week. First off are my standard posts of the Book Nook and Crafty Thursday.  I also wrote about how one shouldn't assume all pregnant women are miserable, followed another homeschooling post and the best pumpkin pie ever. I hope everyone has a wonderful week, and be sure to check out the rest of the carnival at RAnn's blog.

12 October 2012

Crafty Thursday - a Day Late

36 weeks and nesting is in high gear.  Consequently, I didn't get around to taking photos of all my craftiness by last night (still haven't).  But I've certainly been busy. I've made more diapers, as well as cloth pads for postpartum, and breast pads. Thus far, the breast pads have all been made out of scraps. Waste not, and all that. I made one set with darts for shaping, but then decided that wasn't necessary, so the rest have just been circular.  I never knew I'd become quite so crunchy, or crafty.

10 October 2012

Best Pumpkin Pie Ever

When we loved in Liverpool, I didn't know where to find canned pumpkin, but I did manage to find a sugar pumpkin at the farmer's market.  So I asked my sister-in-law what to do, and she helped me.  It was delicious.

Now that I'm back in the US, I can get canned pumpkin, but I'd rather not.  When shopping the other day, Kieran spotted the pie pumpkins and asked to get one, so we did.  However, I'd forgotten exactly what my sister-in-law said to do, so I did a search and found this.  I found the suggestion of scooping out the seeds with an ice cream scoop to be ingenious! It works so well, and I wonder why I didn't think of it before.  I chose to cook he pumpkin in the oven (I think I steamed it last time); while this takes longer, it's incredibly easy.

 Once it's cooked, the flesh literally falls out of the skin, so I just plop it in the blender.  From there, I followed the recipe on that link.  It tasted good, but I found it to be too clove-y, so I've now altered it to use 1/2 tsp cloves and a dash or two of nutmeg. I also used 1c whole milk instead of evaporated milk, as I forgot to buy any.  And it's absolutely perfect like that.  As for the crust, I take the easy, and delicious, way out and used Penzey's no–roll pie crust.  If you haven't made a pumpkin pie from scratch before, don't be intimidated. I really is easy, and it's easy for kids to help.

Myth of the Truant Homeschooler

Of all the myths of homeschooling, the most infuriating and scary, for me, is the myth of the truant homeschooler.  What I mean by that is the myth of parents claiming to educate their children at home but in reality neglecting the child's education, or, even worse, neglecting, exploiting, or abusing the child.  This myth is used to paint all homeschoolers in the same light, even when it is acknowledged that the vast majority of homeschoolers do not fall into this category, by requiring registration and/or evaluation of all homeschoolers.

Some may question why registering or testing is a problem, since most parents have nothing to hide. The problem, though, is that it presumes that all homeschoolers are guilty until proven otherwise, when we should have the right to be presumed innocent, regardless of choosing an educational model that is in the minority.

Exceptional cases, such as that of Khrya Ishaq, as then used to bolster such attempts at mandatory registration, despite the fact that she was in fact registered, and the proper authorities were notified of the neglect and abuse while she was still enrolled in school.  Such cases cannot be used to condemn those who home educate.  In fact, such cases show that being enrolled in school is not a safeguard for the child.  This is something I know firsthand from my time as a teacher in a public school, in fact.  Just as the educational choice of the parents is not relevant to the abuse of a child in public school, it also isn't relevant in the case of the homeschooled child, since the incidences in the media are not related to actual home education.

I have issues with how many standardised tests are designed and used, in and out of the schools, as well.  It also places a burden on homeschoolers that is not placed on those in private schools, who are exempt from state testing. It especially becomes a burden when the parents choose to follow an educational model that isn't "traditional", even though they'd encounter no such problem if they enrolled the child in a Montessori school.

Homeschoolers have the luxury of being able to tailor the education to the child, instead of the other way around.  This means that a child educated at home may in fact span a few different grade levels in different subjects, which would make accurate testing more difficult.  That's not to say that all evaluation is bad, but that the tests may not be the best tool for that, and of course I question the need for the state to control that.

I think it's easy to see why I said this myth infuriates me, but why does I scare me? I scares me because stories such as Khyra's become ingrained in the public image and conflated with your typical homeschooler.  It scares me because you then end up with innocent parents being reported to the authorities because their children happen to be educated at home.  This fear isn't unique to me, but is in act shared by other homeschooling families I know.  Some even go so far as to purchase school uniforms for their children to avoid arousing suspicions lest another be tempted to report them, even though they are doing nothing wrong.  This is why this myth must end. Somehow.

9 October 2012

Miserable? Hardly!

I'm nearly 36 weeks into my third pregnancy, and the comments I get are interesting at times.  I seems people expect me to be miserable and ready for the baby to be born, but I'm not.  Don't get me wrong - I understand feeling that way, as I was miserable with Charlotte (even subclinical hyperemesis gravidarum is miserable), though I still didn't want her to be born early.

But surely I'm not the only pregnant woman who isn't miserable or ready to have the baby a full month before the due date?!  I enjoy the baby kicks, though I sometimes ask baby to move a little.  Sure, I could do without the indigestion, heartburn, and inability to sleep, but I feel pretty good overall.  I know the baby needs more time, and, honestly, I need more time to get organized!  I'm excited to get to meet the baby I feel I already know in many ways, but I'm content to wait a bit longer.   So please, random people I meet, don't assume I'm miserable, need pity, or wish to give birth early.  I promise I'm fine with waiting.

8 October 2012

Book Nook

Even better than library day is being given a bunch of books! A lady at our parish went to a library sale and brought us some books, so the kids and I excitedly picked through them after Mass and came back with a backpack full of books. One of the books was Zack's Alligator by Shirley Mozelle.  In the story, Zack receives a tiny alligator in the mail from his uncle in Florida. The alligator grows and grows, and causes some funny scenes as Zack takes her with him wherever he goes.  The kids love this cute book, and it's fun for us to read, too, so it meets my approval.

30 September 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Sorry I missed last week, but be sure to check out the full carnival at RAnn's blog. I haven't blogged quite as much this week.  I have my standard posts of Book Nook and Crafty Thursday, as well as a post on our new caterpillars (swallowtails this time).

27 September 2012

Ugly Little Caterpillars

Monday afternoon I went out on the deck to water the plants and saw loads of ugly little caterpillars eating my parsley!  I counted over a dozen!  I wavered between being irritated that they were eating my parsley and intrigued by what kind of caterpillars they are.  I came in and went online, but I had trouble finding a match at first.  While site upon site told me about eastern black swallowtails eating parsley, the photos I found didn't match what I saw.  I finally stumbled across a photo of an eastern black swallowtail in its first instar, and that was a match.  It's amazing how much the appearance of the caterpillar changes over time, as these small ones look nothing like what they will look like.

they already look quite different
That night, and again the next morning, I cleaned out our caterpillar enclosure that we'd used with the Monarchs.  I cut off some of the parsley and put it in jars of water inside the enclosure, bringing in a total of six caterpillars.  I didn't want to bring them all in, since there were so many, but I also didn't want to leave them to destroy my parsley.  The benefit of knowing other homeschool families, though, is that I was able to give the other caterpillars to one of them.  However, I had another problem, in that the parsley wilts rather quickly.  So I just went out and got a small parsley plant to put in the enclosure with them.  Now we're all enjoying having caterpillars in the house again, and I hope we have success with the butterflies.

Crafty Thursday

Well, I have 8, I think, diapers completely made, with another ready to sew up, and more cut out, but without snaps, not to mention the scraps to make more patchwork ones.  I need to get more snaps, though.

In the meantime, I'm working on other projects, like Kieran's sweater (can I mention how much I love Ravelry?).  He helped choose the colours for the ribbed stripes.  I decided to do this on the old Brother knitting machine, even though it can only knit stockinette and not rib.  This means that every so often I had to take out half the stitches and work them back up by hand with a crochet hook to make it ribbed.  It was also tricky to decrease stitches evenly across a row with the machine, since this means moving all the stitches.  But it still went a lot faster than doing it completely by hand.  Now I'm putting the figures on with duplicate stitch, and then I'll do the sleeves.  I'm going to make it short-sleeved since it's rather warm here.

24 September 2012

Book Nook

This week's book is a fun storybook that doubles as a science book.  Oscar and the Moth: a Book About Light and Dark follows Oscar the cat as he learns about light and dark from a moth.  Both children have enjoyed reading about this cute little cat and his moth instructor.  Being a storybook, children will love it, and the bonus is that it is a good introduction to the science of light and dark.

20 September 2012

Crafty Thursday

I'm very happy to be past the barn on the playmat!  This means I only have one colour (two strands still, since I'm double-stranding the yarn to get the right weight).  Now if my mother's cat would stop chewing the yarn. . .

The majority of my time this week, though, has been spent making diapers.  I ordered more PUL from Diaper Sewing Supplies after someone else told me she'd gotten her PUL from there.  I also ordered some microfleece from them, as I think that'll be much better than using flannel for the lining - it'll definitely be softer.  And since I ordered a chocolate brown, it won't show stains, which is a bonus.  Because I spent over $15, I qualified to receive a free gift.  They gave me some choices, and I chose the scrap PUL.  The blue with farm animals on it is the scrap I received, and I love it.  I can't quite get a whole diaper out of it, but I can easily sew some of the red with it (I've become quite adept at French seams in piecing together the two patchwork diapers shown above).  I can get almost four complete diapers out of the red, with lots of scraps left over.  I think I can get three of the cow print.  And of course I'll piece together the scraps to make more.  Waste not, want not, in my opinion.

I also decided to go with KAM snaps instead of the metal ones I was using.  The metal ones were driving me insane, as only 50% of them were going in correctly, and some were even tearing the PUL.  But I didn't want to get the Babyville snap pliers or snaps, as I'd heard they weren't as good.  So I went on Amazon and found a seller in their marketplace and got their snaps and pliers.  They allowed me to choose two different colours, so I got green and brown, and I'm quite pleased with them.  I've had absolutely no problems with them working, unless I make a mistake, which is rare, as they're easy to use.  Honestly, before doing this my sewing skills weren't the best.  I wasn't a complete novice, but neither was I a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination.  While sewing with PUL does have a learning curve, I've found these to be fairly easy, and I'm learning new tricks with each one, it seems.  I'm quite pleased with how they're turning out.

19 September 2012


When it comes to clothing, I've never had much of a problem with self-expression. In fact, on my wedding day, my father reminisced about how I'd go to school wearing trousers, a skirt, and mismatched shoes and socks.  I enjoyed my unique style, and I still do.

My children seem to have inherited the knack for self-expression in their clothing.  Kieran often intentionally wears his shirts backwards and/or inside-out.  Charlotte refers to certain shirts as "styles".  She may not be able completely dress herself without help, but she is very opinionated about what she wears.  I enjoy seeing their personalities expressed in this way.

However, it seems some don't appreciate it.  When out-and-about, people sometimes comment about Kieran's choice of how to wear his clothes (Charlotte, being younger, doesn't seem to get the comments).  My motherly desire to protect my child means that I can have a hard time with such comments.  I don't want my child to become self-conscious or uncomfortable about his unique sense of style, but neither would I want him to conform just because of comments.  I don't want to fight his fis for him, but I need to give him the tools needed.  Perhaps I can stick with saying something simple like "that's how he wishes to dress" and telling him I appreciate his unique sense of style.

Actually, this reminds me of walking with Kieran through Liverpool.  For a while, he'd suddenly declare that we needed to do a silly walk or a dance walk.  So there we were, turning heads with our silly walking (we could've been on the Monty Python sketch).  I know we got funny looks, and I'm sure people wondered about us, but I have to say that it was more fun than just walking normally, and I will cherish that memory.  We no longer walk everywhere, which I miss, and now he's moved on to a new form of self-expression.  I will cherish this moment, as well.

17 September 2012

Book Nook

Today was library day, oh exciting day! It was made even more exciting by a certain 2-year-old running off a few times . . .

After she got that out of her system, though, we settled in to search for books. I randomly chose an aisle, and we started looking.  A book caught my eye, because we have the first book in that series.  In fact, I had no idea there were more books in the series until today.  What I did know is that our children have greatly enjoyed Melanie Watt's Chester, and so I figured they would also enjoy Chester's Back by the same author.  I may even like this one more than the original. Chester, the silly cat who is determined he can make a better story than the author, is back in this book with more of his own ideas, which inevitably backfire.  It's another fun read.

16 September 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Be sure to check out RAnn's for the full carnival!

This week I looked some at how education is perceived, the problem of trying to give solutions without identifying the problem, and I have more crafts to show. Have a blessed week!

13 September 2012

Crafty Thursday

 The diaper I made tested well on an adorable little girl I know, so I went ahead and cut out two more.  The only suggestion I was given was to change the snap layout on the tabs a little, and I agree, so I did change it on the one I made today.  I am going to be switching to KAM snaps after this diaper, though, as I'm having problems with these snaps not working well with the PUL.  I love this print and could easily make more like it.  Now that I'm used to the pattern, the sewing itself went faster, and even the leg elastic went fast.  I have hope that the other snaps will go faster, too, since I expect them to work a bit better. 

I'm still working on the playmat, too.  I'm very happy to be past the red part of the barn, as the red was annoying me some with its penchant for tangling.  I still have plenty of green and so I can make it as long as I wish after the barn, really.  

I can't take credit for this last one, but I want to show off my mother's handiwork.  She saw this pattern some time ago and got the yarn just because she wanted to try it out.  Charlotte decided that it's a fairy dress (she gets rather offended if you call it a skirt, in fact).  The skirt turned out well, as you can see (and yes, she takes orders).

12 September 2012

Giving a Solution Without Identifying the Problem

It seems to me that, when it comes to certain things, people (including some medical professionals) are quick to give a "solution" without first identifying the problem.  Here are just some examples that come to mind:

- Baby isn't gaining weight? Supplement! Yet the cause of the problem, be it tongue tie, lip tie, poor latch, insufficient glandular tissue, etc, isn't always identified before giving the "solution" of artificial milk. Yes, artificial baby milk has a place and can be necessary, but surely the underlying problem should be identified first, if possible, so the mum and baby can get the help and support needed.

- Baby isn't sleeping well? Sleep train, which usually involves cry-it-out (CIO) or controlled crying.  But why is the baby not sleeping? Are the parents' expectations of infant sleep appropriate, does the baby have reflux, night terrors, is the child too warm or cold, etc? Those who know me know I'm absolutely against CIO/controlled crying at all times and think there is always an alternative.  I do know there are times when we have to help our children learn proper sleep behaviors, but there are other resources available, such as The No-Cry Sleep Solution or Dr Jay Gordon's site.  Even then, though, the underlying problem needs to be identified.

- Have irregular/painful/wonky cycles? Go on the pill! Nevermind that this doesn't fix the problem if the problem itself isn't hormonal and doesn't require that specific combination/dosage of hormones.  There are problems which require hormonal treatment, but it seems to me that using bioidentical hormones at the specific levels needed would be better, but of course I'm not a doctor, so this is just my opinion as a laywoman. There are other underlying causes of cycle issues, though, that aren't hormonal.  For some, diet and exercise can help. Red raspberry leaf tea is supposed to help with cramps, and nettle tea with bleeding, but these aren't given as ideas to help.

What other examples do you see of this? I know there are medical professionals who do seek to find the underlying causes before treating, and that is wonderful. I also know that a doctor' time with a patient is limited, and therefore finding the underlying cause can be more difficult in these circumstances. Nevertheless, I wish all did, and I think we should expect this.

11 September 2012

A Narrow View of Education

When most people think of education, an image of rows of children sitting in desks, listening to the teacher is conjured.  For this reason, many are thrown off when a parent says he is home educating.  This is reflected in the requirements many states have for those who are home educating.  For example, a state may require standardised testing or submission of a portfolio.  Such requirements, though, presuppose that the home school will follow the same model as the average public school, with a set curriculum, set hours, and set lessons.

In my opinion, such requirements reflect a narrow view of what constitutes education.  I follow the unschooling model, for example, which clearly isn't what is in mind with the state requirements.  Instead of having a set curriculum or set lessons, I seek to make the most of the educational opportunities that present themselves and to expose my children to various things.  This is the approach we took with the Monarch butterflies, where we learned what we could about them by observing and by seeking out resources to learn more.  And yet there was never a formal lesson, just our life.  Or there's the fact that, without formal instruction but with constant exposure, Kieran can read some - considering he's not yet 5, I find that to be of significance.

If people ask if he's in school, though, I'm hesitant to answer in the affirmative, because I know the usual image people have is of formal schooling, be that in a school or at home.  At the same time, I could very easily answer in the affirmative, because my children are constantly learning through our everyday activities.  If they help me cook, they learn math and science; whenever we read, which is multiple times a day, they learn more about language, as well as the subject matter; when we go to the zoo, they learn science; when they build with Lego or Brio, they learn engineering and develop their imaginations.  Those are just some examples of how my children are learning, and of why education shouldn't be confined to formal lessons.  Perhaps one day the state will not cling to just that one narrow definition of education, and will recognise that education can and does take many forms.

9 September 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy Sunday! (and happy feast day for my Kieran!) make sure you check out RAnn's blog for the full carnival. This week I've looked at a book, mused about the spiritual significance of the length of pregnancy, updated our Monarch caterpillar watch, and done a lot of crafting. I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

6 September 2012

Crafty Thursday

 My apologies for missing last week.  The day just got away from me.  I have lots to show off this week, though.  First up, my sweater.  It's finished!  I regret that I can't model it, as it doesn't quite fit over the bump, but I'm pleased with how it looks.  Can't wait to wear it!

Speaking of clothes not fitting over the bump, even my maternity clothes aren't covering the bump these days, and I still have approximately 9 weeks to go!  So my mother and I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics to see if we could find any patterns.  Unfortunately, the selection is rather slim, but I finally found a Butterick pattern that claimed to be easy (I dispute that claim.  Granted, this is the first time I've sewn from a pattern like this, so maybe my definition of "easy" is different).  We found a nice ribbed knit, and I like the colour, so we went ahead and got it, not paying attention to the fact that it wasn't a 60" width like the pattern required.  This meant that I couldn't do the pattern I planned, but was able to do a different pattern in the pack.  Overall I like the shirt, though I think it could be a little wider/more flared, and I think the armholes are a bit large.  I wore a camisole under it, though, and it was fine.  Now to try making more maternity shirts!

When we were getting the materials for the shirt, I spotted a pattern book for cloth diapers and was intrigued.  I remembered that someone I know had made some diapers, so I decided to ask if she used the Babyville Boutique patterns or not. It turns out that she had used those patterns and had a good experience with it, so I decided I'd go back and try it out. After all, my bumGenius 2.0 diapers are wearing out pretty fast, and I'll need something else for the baby once he outgrows the Lollipop diapers I have (I have to say that we're pleased with the bumGenius overall, as they've lasted through potty-training two children; some are still fine, but the velcro, elastic, and PUL are starting to wear out on others).  Making my own diapers would also be a lot less expensive than buying a new stash.  So I returned to Jo-Ann's and picked up the pattern book and a pack of their PUL.  I saw their snaps, but thought they looked less durable than I'd like, though they're really cute, so I got some metal snaps and snap pliers from the notions section.  And then I found some soft flannel for the inner part.  Since I'm used to pocket diapers, I decided to try that.  The PUL pack I got came with two prints and one solid, but I decided to start with the solid one for my first try.  I really like the way it looks.  I used the medium template, and it looks to be the same size as my Fuzzibunz medium.  Since Charlotte's no longer wearing diapers during the day, I asked a friend to try it out before I make more, so I'll have to update once I hear back from her.  

Last for this week is a cute playmat I'm making for a Christmas present for the baby.  I found the pattern when browsing through my mother's Knitting Today magazines (now called Your Knitting Life, I think).  I figured it couldn't hurt to see if I could find the yarn for a good price, and I found a steal of a deal at Herrschner's.  While the yarn is thinner than what the pattern requires, I figured that even with double-stranding it, it would still be less expensive to get their chenille yarn than to buy the bulky chenille elsewhere.  While it can be annoying working with double the balls of yarn, especially when I'm using multiple colours, it's worth it.  It's also interesting how different colours of the same yarn feel and act differently.  For example, the blue is noticeably thinner than the green; the red is the only one that sheds, and it also tangles the worst of the three colours I've used thus far.  In case you've noticed the gap with the red, this is because the pattern calls for binding off stitches then casting on the same number the next row to make the barn door.  So right now I'm working the two sides separately, at the same time, and then I'll rejoin for the top of the barn.  This way, once the playmat has been lined with fabric, the barn door will be able to open and close to store the farm animal toys that will go with the mat.  Ingenious!  

5 September 2012

Monarch (caterpillar) Watch!

Well, our watch has come to an end, unless we happen to find more caterpillars on our milkweed plants.  The first caterpillar built a cocoon and emerged as a butterfly this past Sunday.  It was then taken outside and put on a milkweed plant.  The day started out nicely, but then a torrential rain hit.  While I was able to bring the plant (and butterfly) inside during the storm, without being in the sun the butterfly's wings didn't harden and he was unable to fly.

The second caterpillar started acting like he was going to build a cocoon, but he sadly didn't make it to that point.

While we didn't have the best of luck, I'm so glad we were able to do this.  Kieran absolutely loved watching the caterpillars and talking about their progress.  We had found a good book on them at the library, and we all learned a lot from reading it.  It also enhanced our appreciation as we watched the caterpillars.  I can't wait to try this again.