29 February 2012

When Doctors Give Misinformation About Breastfeeding

Let me start by saying that I'm very thankful for doctors and know many wonderful doctors. Most of us put a lot of trust in our doctors, which isn't bad. Like all humans, though, they can occasionally get something wrong, especially if the subject in question is not covered extensively in their training. I don't know if doctors are required to have training in breastfeeding in the US, but they aren't in the UK, to my knowledge. A dilemma can arise when a doctor unintentionally gives incorrect information about breastfeeding, then.

I have experienced this firsthand, both times when I was breastfeeding Kieran during my pregnancy with Charlotte. One GP advised weaning him at 2, but when I questioned why, his only answer reason was because of the arbitrary age. It didn't really matter since I knew I needn't wean him at an arbitrary age. Another was a midwife who told me I wasn't allowed to breastfeed during the pregnancy. I argued the point, for I'd researched and knew that breastfeeding during pregnancy isnot normally a problem (there may be times when weaning is indicated, but it is not always, or even usually, necessary). Again, it wasn't a problem for me, because I had researched enough to know otherwise, but do other mothers know?

I recently spoke with a young mother who asked me what kind of water her infant needed. She's breastfeeding. I told her that her daughter doesn't need anything other than breastmilk for 6 months. That was when she said that the pediatrician was the one who told her to give water! While I told her that wasn't the case and went to print off the relevant information, I didn't know if she'd believe me over her pediatrician. I told her that doctors sometimes do not know much about breastfeeding, and I know he isn't intentionally misleading her. But I also wonder about the other mothers trying to breastfeed and getting misinformation from that pediatrician. I wonder if some even stop breastfeeding earlier than they planned due to this misinformation. Again, the doctor wasn't intending to give misinformation, but since he wasn't given much training in breastfeeding, he unwittingly perpetuated a breastfeeding myth (even though the AAP policy statement on breastfeeding explicitly states that breastfed children should not be given anything other than breastmilk). Please note that I am not advising anyone to disregard everything his doctor says, for doctors are experts in their particular fields of medicine. I am simply bringing up that breastfeeding isn't generally given much time in their training, and so it is little wonder that some are not experts in that. I advise asking about their breastfeeding training and/or experience, and asking for references for any information. It never hurts to be informed, especially when it affects you and your child.

I also wonder about the bigger picture. In both the UK and the US, breastfeeding rates are rather grim. Surely this is a matter of national health? And so surely these mothers and babies would benefit from their doctors receiving breastfeeding training? Sites like Kellymom certainly help, but a mother needs to know about the site or to search for that. Of course, it would also help if breastfeeding were more accepted in society as a whole. If more women saw mothers breastfeeding, and heard it discussed openly, then some of the questions and myths would be taken care of in that way. There needs to be more information/education about it for everyone.

28 February 2012

Children Pray in Their Own Way

As much as possible, I attend daily Mass with my children. We sit in the very front so the children can see. I had someone comment that my children must be good if intake them to daily Mass. They are good, but I don't define them being good by whether they are quiet or sit still or whatnot. They are good because they are made so by God. Charlotte is very loquacious and is rarely quiet during Mass unless she is breastfeeding. Kieran is usually quiet, but sometimes isn't, and he doesn't always sit and stand and kneel with me. I simply think that taking them daily is good, and that they will learn as they go.

Nevertheless, I do sometimes become self-conscious about Charlotte being noisy and disrupting others and hampering my own concentration, as well. In the past, I've discussed this with a wonderful Benedictine monk, who told me to keep bringing them, since Jesus said to let the little children come to Him (incidentally, it was the same monk who instructed me o sit in the front so the children can see, and I really do notice a difference if we sit where they cannot see). Even with that encouragement, I am prone to forget. God sends me little reminders, though. One time it was the Gospel reading the monk had referenced being read at Mass.

Most recently, though, it was Monsignor commenting at the end of Mass, after the final blessing, that it was wonderful to see and hear the mothers and children at Mass, and how children pray in their own way. Him saying that meant a lot tome, but also helps me think of things differently. My children may not say all the responses or use the correct postures, but they do pay attention. Charlotte is likely to loudly talk about where Jesus is, and mention the statues of Mary and Joseph. They sometimes follow my lead and kneel with me when I'm receiving the Eucharist. Kieran has said that he can't wait until he can receive, and Charlotte kept repeating the prayer for her spiritual communion after Mass one day. They're getting it, but they also have their own way of understanding and praying. Wile I continue to show them how things are done at Mass, I also try to encourage their curiosity as they make the connections themselves. I'm glad Monsignor said what he did, bot the remind me, and because I then don't have to worry about comments from others. ;-)

27 February 2012

Book Nook

Readers have no doubt noticed our love of Arnold Lobel's books. On
a recent trip to the library, I saw the book Mouse Tales, by Arnold Lobel. After a quick look through it, I thought it looked cute and asked Charlotte if she wanted to get that as her library book. She replied in the affirmative and we duly took it home, where it was read many times. In a similar style as the Frog and Toad books, this book contains seven short stories, one for each mouse child in the book. The premise is that the father is telling one bedtime story per child,provided they all go to sleep afterwards, which they do. The stories are silly and fun, as one would expect from Lobel. When it was time to return the book, Charlotte wanted to find another just like it, so it seems it was a hit.

26 February 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy 1st Sunday of Lent! I hope you are having a blessed Lent thus far. As always, thank you to RAnn for hosting the carnival. This week I've written about Owl Moon and some small knitting projects. I've also realised that I'm leaning more towards unschooling, at least when it comes to reading, and have mused some about how we view our children.

Manipulation and Conflict

I sometimes wonder about, and am saddened by, those who believe and/or teach that children are ultimately manipulative and that every time they do not do as we wish, that it is a power play. Unfortunately, this view is widespread thanks to some books, about which I've ranted previously. It saddens me because I think it convinces parents to see their child as an enemy of sorts, someone who is out to dominate the parents and must be dominated instead.

Now, don't get me wrong, I expect my children to listen and follow directions, but I do not do so in a dictatorial manner, nor do I think they are trying to manipulate me or being deliberately antagonistic. Most of the time, they are simply exploring their abilities and boundaries. Charlotte has absolutely no fear of anything, so I must insist on some boundaries for her safety. When she runs farther than she should, she isn't being disobedient really, but wants to explore. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself, and I explain that I'm trying to keep her safe and scoop her up. Some could perhaps interpret her behaviour as defiant, but I do not.

If I did subscribe to that view, though, I can only imagine the stress I would feel at constantly believing myself to be undermined, contradicted, manipulated, etc. I would imagine that my relationship with my children wouldn't be as strong, for I would see myself as working against them, and not with and for them. And maybe I'm wrong and those subscribing to that view don't feel like that, but it seems the logical conclusion in my mind. At least, it's what I think I would feel if I believed my children were manipulating me all the time. I will instead continue to try parenting with respect, especially when I need to correct a behaviour, and working with my children. In short, I will try to parent according to the Golden Rule, by the grace of God.

23 February 2012

Crafty Thursday

It seems this week has been devoted to smaller projects for others.  Our neighbours are having twins, so my mother and I thought it would nice to make a little something.  Well, the last time I went to JoAnn's, Charlotte picked up the colourful yarn (Serenity Chunky Sprinkles, by Premier Yarns) and took off the label, so I went ahead and bought it.  I thought it was perfect for the little snuggle bunny, which is the pattern on the label, actually.  I also had the red yarn (Oh My! by Plymouth; if you felt it, you'd understand the name, as it's so, so soft) in my stash, so I went ahead and made that one up, too.

My mother and I also looked around at Michael's to see what we found.  I was actually looking for buttons for Charlotte's cardy, but was unsuccessful in that venture.  However, I was intrigued by the Loops & Threads Pom-Pom yarn I found and decided to get a couple of skeins.  The pattern on the label said to cast on 8 stitches and use two skeins, but I thought that made the scarf too wide.  So with the first one, I cast on 4 stitches, and with the second I cast on 5.  I thought both of those worked out well.  It took a little while to get in the rhythm of it with the pom-poms (and we won't even talk about how long it took me to untangle one of the skeins after the kids decided to "knit" me a sweater with it), but I like the end result, and they're super soft.

21 February 2012

Individuality and Education

My son is four. If we were still in England, and I wasn't going to home educate, he would be heading to reception in September. Thinking of this fact had led to me musing about the lack of individuality in a lot of schools. In fact, that is one of the reasons I chose to home educate. However, in some States, that lack of indivuality carries over into home education, since some States require portfolios or standardised testing or a teacher looking at the work and certifying that it is the appropriate grade level. And of course the pigeon-holing begins before the child reaches school-age, with the developmental checks that apply to all children, regardless of education plans, as I've discussed previously.

And therein lies the problem. Who decides what all children of a certain age-range should know? Why is there little or no accommodation for children doing different things at different levels (ideally this is accommodated, and some schools manage to do so, but many do not due to lack of time and resources)?

I had all these thought in my head this week, as I wondered how I will handle it if we remain in a State that does require the portfolio or standardised test or whatnot. I told Kieran that if he wants to learn to read, to let me know. I actually think he can read certain words, but he's never been one to display his knowledge, and I know that pushing him in things backfires. He will do it when he's ready.

With this in mind, it is perhaps coincidental that I read this article this morning. It reminded me of something my father, a man who has worked in education for over 40 years, said to me. He said it is impossible to keep a child from reading if he is simply exposed to books and reading. The article seems to say the same thing. It also matches my own experience. I know I could read prior to going to school, though I have no memory of learning to read. I know I have always loved books and had my parents read to me. I share that love of books with my children, taking them to the library and reading with them. My husband, having degrees in Creative Writing and French literature, also shares that love of language and reading with them. So I have no doubt our children will learn to read when they are ready.

The question, though, is how to quantify that and demonstrate it to others. That is more difficult, and it is harder to explain that a child not reading at x age does not necessarily indicate a problem. Children are individuals, too, and needn't be pigeon-holed, in my opinion.

20 February 2012

Book Nook

Ages ago, my father sent the book Owl Moon by Jane Yolen to the kids.  At the time, they didn't show much interest in it, but lately they've enjoyed reading it.  I quite enjoy the book, too.  It is the story of a father and child, going out late one night to look for owls.  Maybe it's because I have a little experience with a certain great-horned owl named E.T., but I just love the search for the owl and finally seeing the owl at the end. In fact, I even tear up a little when reading it, which is unusual for me.  I highly recommend picking up this book.

19 February 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

It's Sunday again! The last Sunday before Lent. Seems like it's come up quickly, even though it's actually a bit later this year. So on to the highlights of the week. First, thank you to RAnn for hosting. This week I've talked about going to the Basilica and shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe in Orlando. My own thoughts on being a mother, inspired by the fact that some friends have recently given birth, formed the basis of this post. I knit a sweater for my husband for his birthday. And finally, I gave a few thoughts on how I feel abortion and contraception degrade and insult women. Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.

17 February 2012

Proud to be a Woman

It seems the news has been abuzz with stories of abortion and contraception of late. I'm not going to talk about the specific debates going on right now, for others more eloquent than I have spoken on it. Instead, I'd like to talk a little about a comment I've heard. It's that women need this access to abortion and contraception in order to have the same opportunities as men.

Now, even leaving aside my views on the morality of contraception and abortion (I'm a faithful, orthodox Catholic, so there ou have my views), I find such a statement to be offensive. Why? Because, intentionally or not (and I think not, or will at least give the benefit of the doubt), it insinuates that I, as a woman, must suppress my femininity and maternity in order to have the same opportunities as men. Think about it. Instead of telling women they're great the way they are, with their cyclic fertility and capability for bearing and nourishing another life, women are instead given a pill to shut down their healthy reproductive system and are told they can kill their children in order to not be burdened and not have to put a career or education on hold. Instead of ensuring women know about their bodies and cycles and are supported with adequate maternity leave (and even better, being able to work from home or bring children to work, as I was blessed in being able to do), we're told to forget that and be more like men.

How is that respecting women? I get that people think it's respecting women, on some level, but it isn't. We don't need to change ourselves to be like men. Men and women are different and unique and equal in dignity, but we needn't be exactly the same to have the same opportunities, in my opinion. No, what is truly respectful is to acknowledge those differences, celebrate them, and ensure that those differences do not translate into a difference in opportunity or respect. At least that's how I feel.

16 February 2012

Crafty Thursday

I'm almost finished with my husband's sweater!  And just in time, since his birthday is coming up soon.  I've been using the old Brother knitting machine to do it, otherwise it wouldn't be finished on time.  I still have to do all the detail work by hand, as this machine only gets one gauge and only works in stockinette stitch.  So I had to do the garter stitch and ribbed edges by hand, and then put it on the machine, which was thankfully behaving itself - mostly.  There was one incident where it took all the stitches off, but it was on the last row of the first sleeve, so it wasn't too infuriating.  When I got to the armholes on the front and back, I added a ribbed detailing, so I had to periodically take stitches out and work them back up by hand with a crochet hook.  I'm pleased with how it's turned out.  I've changed the pattern somewhat, first in doing a ribbed detailing instead of garter stitch detailing, and second in doing the three-needle bind-off for the shoulder with the right sides facing so that the seam is on the inside instead of on the outside like the pattern states.  So now all I have left is to finish the ribbing at the neck, make the sleeve gussets, and finish sewing up the sleeves and sides. While it's mostly plain, the detailing make it more interesting and striking.  I'm quite pleased with it.

15 February 2012

We Are Mothers

We are mothers. When we became pregnant, we were transformed forever, and not just in our bodies. We worry about things we never even considered before. We second guess our every decision, even when following our instincts. There are things we do, decisions we make, that we regret forever, but we cannot beat ourselves up for ignorant decisions we made with the best of intentions.

We are mothers. We have super powers. Our kisses can heal scraped knees and hurt feelings. We can fight dragons and hunt 10,000 Volt Ghosts. Mother's milk fixes everything. We can feed one child and read to or play with another simultaneously. we can wrestle and snuggle, build train tracks and play with My Little Pony.

We are mothers, and we will never be the same as we were before motherhood. Every day is an adventure and a blessing to be treasured. Every moment is magical. Yes, we will doubt ourselves, we will make mistakes, we will have off days, but we will also bask in the moment of a snuggle, nearly cry when we hear our children say "I love you", and gaze at them in amazement. We are mothers, and we are blessed.

14 February 2012

A Nice Surprise

Last week, we drove down to Orlando for a couple of days. My father had a conference there, so we thought we'd meet up and just hang out. We didn't plan on going to Disney, as I think the kids are still a bit young to actually enjoy it, but they had a blast just going to the hotel pools.

one day we headed to the outlet mall, and on the way, we passed the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Talk about a nice surprise! I hadn't know of the shrine's existence, much less that it was so close to our hotel! So the following morning we drove over to the shrine. For some reason I hadn't brought my camera, so I couldn't take any photos. It was nice, though. They have adoration and confession daily, Monday-Saturday. Kieran loved the statues and the stained glass. We didn't stay very long, as Charlotte wanted to run, but I'm glad we stopped.

12 February 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

In a flash it's Sunday again, and time for the weekly carnival over at RAnn's blog. I've not been as prolific in my writing this week, in large part because of some horrible allergies that have had me feeling pretty miserable at times, and because of a little mini-holiday. As usual, I've knit some this week. While I've not spoken directly about the furor over contraception, I have related a priest's homily that touches on the subject. I hope you've all had a wonderful week. God bless!

Following God and Good Intentions

At Mass today I heard an amazing homily, which I'm sure I won't relate nearly as well as Father did. He began with talking about Eli Manning (he's a Giants fan), and how he was asked after the game if the plays came from him or the coaches; Eli's response, from what I gathered,was that the coaches made the calls and Eli trustd them in that. Father went onto say that it must be a temptation to be onth field and think you know better than the coaches.

From there, Father talked about how most people want to do good and have good intentions, but that our good intentions can backfire. As an example, he spoke of today's Gospel reading (Mark 1:40-45), where a leper was healed and then told not to speak about it. Here is the full reading:
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,    touched him, and said to him,    “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,    but go, show yourself to the priest    and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;    that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad    so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places,    and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

The leper wasn't trying to cause trouble. I'm sure his intentions were great, but his actions meant that Jesus couldn't move openly and perhaps couldn't heal as many as He wanted. Father then brought up how often we think we know better than what God is telling us. It isn't that we're trying to do wrong - our intentions are usually good. Even so, we aren't trusting God, but ourselves when we do that. While Father was tying this in specifically with all the statistics about how many Catholics use contraception despite Church teaching (which is truly lamentable), it can be applied to all aspects. It is truly humbling to submit and not trust my own understanding. I'm not talking about abandoning all intellect, for that would be ignoring our God-given reason, but recognising that God has give us the Church and we are to submit to God instead of trusting ourselves.

I hope I've not butchered the homily too much. It was very wonderful.

10 February 2012

Without Words

Thanks to some lovely allergies, I've had a couh for a few days. On Thursday, I awoke to find that my throat felt like I was swallowing razors and I had no voice. I could manage a whisper in the mor ing,but even that was beyond me by afternoon. I have to admit it was interesting and challenging to effectively communicate wi my children when I was robbed of my voice.

With my husband or any oer adults, I could write out what I needed, but that obviously wasn't an option with my children. I couldn't answer their questions or sing to/with them or just have a conversation ith them, and I missed those things terribly. I wanted to comfort Charlotte and tell her we were almost at our destination when she awoke just a few minutes before got where we were driving. I wanted to be able to just be silly.

I also learnt something from this. I had to listen more. I had to be more physically present with my children instead of just staying to the side doing something else and talking to them. I had to be more conscious of my facial expressions and gestures to communicate with the and reassure them. I must remember this when I next grow tired of the incessant questions or being told to sing.

9 February 2012

Crafty Thursday

I'll have to apologise for the lack of photos this week. Life's a little crazy. This week I had to take out and restart Charlotte's cardy. Unfortunately I'd neglected to do a gauge swatch, and I hadn't looked at their gauge well enough. Still not sure how they got only 22 stitches with size 3 needles. So the cardy was going to be too small, so I ripped it out and began again on larger needles. I'm now back to where I was, I think.

then I finished the front, or back, of my husband's sweater. The front and back are the same. I then began the other side. It's goi fast since the knitting machine is behaving itself, though there was nearly a crisis when Charlotte moved some of the needles.

Most fun, though, has been teaching a friend to knit. After Mass on Tuesday, we headed to JoAnn's to get some yarn and needles. She went with a self-patterning yarn from Bernat, and then we let the kids play while we knit. I think I have a habit of having my knitting students start with something more challenging. The first person I taut to knit started with a fish toy, and had to learn to increase from the very beginning. This time, she had to learn to do a picot edging first thing. I'm impressed. And th kids nada blast playing together while we had fun hanging out and knitting.

5 February 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Sorry I missed out on doing this last week. As always, thank you to RAnn for hosting this on her blog. This week I've looked at another book by Arnold Lobel, been amazed at how we're designed, plugged a budding company for a Catholic work-at-home-mum(please help her out if you can!), and knit quite a bit. May you have a blessed Sunday!

2 February 2012

Crafty Thursday

Well, I finished the project I was doing and sent it off, so I can finally post a photo!  Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo with my camera instead of just with my iPad, so the picture quality isn't the best, but it gives you a pretty good idea.  I found the pattern in the book Warm Knits, Cool Gifts and used some Mission Falls 1824 Cotton.  I love the way it turned out.  I did alter the pattern a little bit, though.  Instead of knitting the button band with the body, I picked up stitches and added that later.  I think it ties it together better that way, since otherwise I'd have had to sew the button bands from the lower body and upper body together.  While I'm usually good at making seams fairly invisible, the fewer seams, the better, in my opinion.  I found the buttons at Joann's Fabrics, and I just love them.  They have a little bit of orange in them, so they matched perfectly with the yarn.

You may remember the sweater I was making for my husband before Christmas.  After completing the back and half of the front, I'd discovered that I didn't have enough yarn to complete it.  The yarn, Wildflower DK, has been discontinued, but a local yarn shop had looked to see if they could find any more.  They couldn't.  I then turned to eBay, where I found someone selling 20 skeins of the navy yarn.  It was a different dye lot, but I figured I'd try it anyway, and if it was too different, I could always start over, since 20 skeins would be enough for the sweater.  The part on the needles is the new yarn, and the other is the old.  Quite a bit different, I'd say.  Good thing I got all 20 skeins of the new dye lot.  I've finished the garter stitch and ribbed edge for the back, so now I just need to put it on the knitting machine.

 I also picked Charlotte's cardigan back up.  That pattern comes from Cute and Easy Baby Knits by Susie Johns.  What's pictured here is the lower back.  I'm not quite halfway through with the back.  I love the bamboo yarn, too.  

1 February 2012

This Cloth House: Announcing: 15 days, 15 Hundred

Check it out!

This Cloth House: Announcing: 15 days, 15 Hundred: I'm so excited to announce the start of my kickstarter project . First, let me tell you a little bit about what kickstarter is! Kicksta...