30 March 2012

Reusable Menstrual Products

I've mentioned cloth pads before, but a friend created this post going into detail about all the options. I highly recommend checking it out!

Weaning: Mother-Led or Child-Led?

When I had Kieran, I learnt that breastfeeding can be a contentious subject. One of the many debates centers on whether weaning should be mother-led or child-led. The former states that the mother should direct weaning, often starting with schedules and limits on time. The other end of the spectrum is child-led weaning, which states that the child should have complete control of weaning.

For a younger child (say, under 18 months or so, definitely under 12 months), I firmly believe in letting the child call the shots. Those numbers are purely my opinion, of course.

That being said, I also think that the debate over mother- or child-led weaning is a false dichotomy, at least when they're a little older. In some cases, this is due to other circumstances that make it more difficult for the mother to continue breastfeeding. For example, Kieran was still primarily breastfed when I fell pregnant with Charlotte. For one who haven't breastfed through a pregnancy, let me tell you that it wasn't pleasant for me. I didn't want to cut him off completely, but I felt like I was crawling out of my skin every time he latched on. So I started limiting the length of time he was on a little, and the decreased milk supply from pregnancy did the rest. I talked to him about it, and overall it was a smooth transition. Once the milk came back, he actually picked it right back up, though I found I had to again limit for my sanity (tandem feeding is great, but can be draining).

When Charlotte was 19 months, I felt no need to try to wean. I wasn't pregnant, and breastfeeding wasn't a problem, so I continued letting her feed. As she neared two, I did sometimes impose limits, mostly by asking her to wait a little if I was busy, and she could understand that. This is just to show that each breastfeeding relationship is a bit different, as are the other circumstances.

So what's my end take on this? I think there can be a balance between mother- and child-led weaning when the child is a bit older. This can be due to the mother being pregnant again (note: breastfeeding during pregnancy is fine, and I'm glad I have done this, but breastfeeding during pregnancy can be uncomfortable for some) or just needing a little more space. I think when done in a balanced way, where there is a lot of respect for the child's needs and wishes, too, it is ok. But then, I'm just hashing out some of my thoughts based on my experiences.

29 March 2012

Crafty Thursday

On Tuesday, Charlotte turned 2 and she wore her brand new cardigan. I also made a matching headband, but she wouldn't keep it on.

I didn't make the tea set, my mother and one of her friends did, but it's too cute not to include.

I seem to have misplaced my mantilla, so I'm now making a snood. I do have some scarves I wear, and even got a compliment on my pashmina today, but that one can get a bit warm. I hope I like the snood once it's finished.

26 March 2012

Book Nook

One of Charlotte's favorite books of late is Henry's Awful Mistake by Robert Quackenbush. Henry the duck is cooking a nice dinner for his friend, Clara. All is going well until he sees an ant! Unfortunately, his overzealousness in destroying the ant has dire consequences for his evening plans, but thankfully he learns from the mistake in the end.

25 March 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Thank you to RAnn for hosting the carnival. I'm sorry I missed out on posting last week; I wasn't feeling well, so blogging hasn't been high on my priorities. I'm therefore listing the posts from both weeks (there aren't many). Last week I only had my standard posts of the Book Nook and Crafty Thursday.

This week I didn't even get to those, but have two other posts, one on homeschooling and one on the benefits of making food from scratch. God bless!

24 March 2012

What We've Lost

We live in a world of convenience, and this is nowhere more evident than the grocery store, I think. One can easily procure a variety of breads, tinned soup and stock, and even precut vegetables. While those options are great for when they're needed, such as when a working parent hasn't the time for the prep work, I do think we've lost something with all the convenience.

I know, that may sound silly. How have we lost something when our technology has allowed us to have all these products of convenience? I'll admit that I didn't even know I'd lost anything until I was an adult. My first glimpse of what I'd lost was when we were visiting my husband's family. One of his parents made some great soup - from scratch! I truly had no idea how to make soup! Now, of course, that seems incredible, for soup isn't exactly difficult. In fact, I made some for lunch recently. Before that encounter, I was content with tinned soup, but after that, I just wanted to learn to make soup. My mother-in-law sent me a recipe for French onion soup, and away I went, happy in rediscovering the joys of homemade soup.

Over the years, I've started making my own bread, jam, stock, puff pastry, pasta, etc. I will note that I always made cakes from scratch, and did grow up helping my mother make sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls, but I hadn't made sandwich bread, baguettes, stock, etc. Now, I much prefer making them from scratch, not just because they taste better and don't have all the preservatives and salt that most foods seem to have, but also because I think knowing how to do these things is important. OK, so I use a bread maker for the sandwich bread and jam, but I do the rest by hand. I can do the others by hand, but don't always make the time.

Why is this knowledge important? For one, I think we gain a better understanding of and relationship with our food when we make it ourselves. We grow to understand the processes and nuances and flavours. I vaguely remember my grandmother standing over the stove making grape jam, so I at least had a rough idea of the process when i decided to make plum jam (even if i did end up cheating).

I think it's healthier, for we can omit the high fructose corn syrup and scale down the salt and omit ingredients that we simply don't like. Most important: it tastes better and is more fun! My children enjoy helping in the kitchen, and I usually enjoy having them help. And when I taste homemade lasagne (with homemade pasta and sauce) along with homemade garlic bread, there's nothing better. There's nothing wrong with the convenience products, but I do think we lose something when we use them exclusively.

23 March 2012

Adventures in Autonomous Education

At this point in our home education journey, with my eldest child just four years old, I follow the path of autonomous education, or letting the child direct what is covered and when. At this age, I don't believe in rushing him, especially since I know that pushing him causes him to refuse to do what I'm pushing, sometimes for months. I certainly don't want that to happen with learning, so I don't use, but offer to teach and provide opportunities for learning. This can be through reading (something we do quite a lot), talking about various things we see, going to the zoo, attending Mass, or just playing at home or with other children.

I am occasionally asked if I've started school with Kieran. It's an interesting question, really. No, I haven't started formal school, as most would define it. However, if one uses a broader definition, then I have started school with him, and did so years ago, for every day provides an opportunity to learn. I tend to believe that by exposing my children to various things and trying to instill curiosity, they will naturally want to learn.

Today Kieran proved that for me. This morning he declared that he was looking up words in a book. I think he can recognise certain words (he isn't one to show off his knowledge, so I'm sometimes taken by surprise by what he knows). I asked if he wanted me to teach him to read, and he said he did, though he then asked to play a game. This evening, though, both kids were drawing when Kieran suddenly declared that he'd drawn a seven - and he had! After that, he wanted to draw an H, but was having trouble, so he asked me to show him. He proceeded to draw a few more before asking me to show him how to draw an F and a C. He lost interest after that, so I let it go, knowing he will come back to it when he's ready.

So far, autonomous education is working with us. I won't lock myself into one educational philosophy or style, for his needs or learning style might change, or we might find that it doesn't work as well with certain topics. And of course Charlotte is her own person, so a different approach might be needed with her. But for now, I'm enjoying this adventure.

15 March 2012

Crafty Thursday

With Charlotte's birthday approaching fast, I've just been working on her cardigan.  I like to put things together as I go instead of waiting until the end, partly to see the progress and partly to make sure it's working as it should.  Thus far I have the fronts, back, one sleeve, and button and buttonhole bands completed.

For the second sleeve, I've decided to knit it in the round using magic loop so I don't have to sew up the seam.

12 March 2012

Book Nook

We had all the Little Golden Books as children: The Poky Little Puppy, The Tawny Scrawny Lion, etc. However, my mother hasn't been able to locate them. She was ather excited, then, when someone gave me The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey. It's a cute story of five little puppies who keep escaping from the fenced-in garden to go on adventures. One puppy, though, lags behind the others, alerting them to the fact of their mother making dessert. The speedy puppies rush home only to be tod they can't have dessert for escaping, while the poky little puppy comes home late and eats it. The tables are turned, though, when the speedy puppies fill the hole back in. . .

11 March 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Thank you, RAnn, for hosting the carnival. I haven't blogged a lot this week, but have continue my Book Nook series, this time with a book about Sesame Street's Grover Monster. I also mused about the power of words, and how I need to be more careful with my own words. Lastly, I gave a few comments on Scott Hahn's The Lamb's Supper. I hope your Lent is blessed.

10 March 2012

The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn

Let me start with a bit of background information. I'm a convert to the Church; I was raised Southern Baptist. Some Southern Baptists can be quite taken with studying eschatology using one of the visions in Daniel and the book of Revelation. Such was certainly the case with an interim pastor we had, who ran seminars on that. I don't remember the exact details (I attended said seminars when I was in late middle or early high school), I seem to remember them laying out fairly specific time lines for the end times. Not that he gave an exact year, but a fairly exact timeframe once things got started. I enjoyed the seminars, for they seemed to make the book a bit less scary, for I certainly didn't understand Revelation.

By the time I went to college, I'd pretty much dismissed the rapture theology that was such a centrepiece of that pastor's eschatology. I took a New Testament class, and Revelation was covered in the class. Far from using the book to explain/predict the end times, the professor provided a letter from some early Christians (for the life of me I can't remember the details now) to show that they regarded the book as a sign of hope because we win in the end. S that was that, as far as I was concerned. My fascination with the book remained, but in the background.

With that background, I was intrigued by the description of Scott Hahn's book The Lamb's Supper, for it said it looked at Revelation being a description of the Mass. As it turns out, Hahn's description of his background concerning the study of Revelation somewhat parallels mine. Since he was a pastor, his education and background in it was more extensive, of course, but it seems he also focused on the end times. So I could relate to his experiences to an extent.

What he said shouldn't be news to cradle Catholics who have received good catechesis (or at least that was my husband's take on it). But to me, it was wonderful. I agreed with Hahn that the other approaches/interpretations I mentioned above felt unsatisfactory because they were temporally limited, and Scripture should be applicable to all times, in my opinion. It's not that those interpretations are invalid necessarily, but that Revelation is more than just about the end times or providing comfort. It is both of those, and more.

I was really struck by the liturgical elements in the book. Other than readings at Mass, I haven't read through Revelation since my conversion, but I need and want to reread it now. I was amazed at looking at the ties between the liturgy and the book of Revelation. Turns out the early Christians saw this connection, too, from what I've seen thus far. It certainly gave an added dimension both to the book and to Mass. I highly recommend giving it a look. I really don't feel I can do justice to describing it, so you'll just have to read it. ;-)

7 March 2012

The Power of Words

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me". Or so the rhyme goes, but I don't believe it. Years later, it isn't the skinned knees I remember as much as the careless words spoken by various people, either malicious or not. Words are powerful, and leave lasting impressions, for good or ill. I can remember becoming self-conscious about my voice and appearance as a teen due to comments from others (at least one was just careless, and at least one was manipulative).

I can also recall the kind words people have said, so words do not only have power to hurt, but to build others up. Of course, as a Catholic I am well aware of the good power of words, given that we believe God spoke the world into existence.

Having been a teacher, and now having children of my own, I am more keenly aware of the power of words. All too often I have hurt with my words, albeit unintentionally. It is usually a careless comment, too. I am aware now that I rarely out enough thought into my words to ensure they do not hurt. I pray I can be given the grace to do better with at, for, contrary to the rhyme, words can hurt, and their scars can last a lifetime. I do not wish to be the one through whom such hurt comes, but instead wish to speak charitably, kindly, making my words build up, not tear down. I fail a lot, but with e grace of God, it is possible. And I know I would give just about anything to keep from hurting my children.

5 March 2012

Book Nook

The kids and I had a real treat last week. A lady at our parish approached me after Mass and asked if I'd like some books for the kids. As it turns out, she'd gotten a bunch of books from a library sale, and she let us go through them and take what we wanted. Among the books was the treasure of Down on the Farm with Grover. My children love Sesame Street, so I snatched that up immediately. I'm so glad I did! Grover is, as always, hilarious. Kieran and Charlotte both love the book and ask to read it frequently. If you can find it, I recommend nabbing a copy!

4 March 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Sunday again, so time for the weekly carnival over at RAnn's blog.  As usual, I discussed a book my children have enjoyed recently.  Attending daily Mass with my children can be an adventure, but I was given a nice reminder of how they pray in their own way thanks to our wonderful Monsignor.  I've also ranted a bit this week, lamenting the misinformation about breastfeeding that even comes from the medical professionals who should be supporting mothers.  And finally, I've worked more on Charlotte's cardy.  Only a bit more to go now.  I hope everyone is continuing to have a blessed Lent.

1 March 2012

Crafty Thursday

This week has been spent working on Charlotte's carry, since her birthday is next. I've finished the left front and started the right front. I like to put things together as I finish the pieces, so I can see how it's looking, so I went ahead and attached the left front to the back and sewed part of the side seam. While their instructions say to bind off all the top stitches for front and back, I chose to put the back stitches on holders and then do a three-needle bind-off for the left shoulder. Today I got some cute buttons to go with it, too.