28 June 2012

Crafty Thursday

I've been on a sewing rampage this week, it seems.  I'd had one more shirt tucked away that I wanted to turn into a maternity dress, and I finally went to get the material.  I wanted this one to be shorter, but got the same amount of material (it was half off!), so I would have enough to make a skirt, too.  I must apologise for the poor quality of the photos.  I have no idea what keeps happening to our camera, but I couldn't find it today.  I ended up using a different shirt than I'd intended.  This one was a maternity t-shirt that I cut off just below the bust.  The dress falls to just below the knees, and it's perfect in this hot weather.

As it turns out, when I got down to measuring for a tiered maternity skirt, I didn't have quite enough of the turquoise material.  However, I still had enough of the black and white material for the middle tier, and that left me with more than enough of the turquoise for the rest of the skirt.  I just have to get the elastic and finish the top.

What actually started the sewing rampage was my daughter's insistence that I make her a fairy costume.  My mother and I had taken her to Joann's with us when we were looking for other things.  Mom and Charlotte spent a lot of time looking at the patterns, as Charlotte saw the fairy costume pattern and didn't want to leave.  I then went back to Joann's another day and got out the pattern with the intention of getting the materials needed.  However, the pattern was rather confusing for me.  I chalked it up to me being a bit of a novice still until the lady who cuts the cloth also couldn't easily understand it.  She did tell me how I could alter it, but I'm not quite that confident yet.  Instead, I had an epiphany that I could find a onesie or leotard and then make a fairy skirt and get some wings.  I found a onesie, and then my mom reminded me that I still had a tiered skirt that I'd made for Charlotte but that needed altering (I'd actually cut it down from one of my skirts).  So I cut out some triangles and zigzagged the edges.  I still need to get the elastic. I think I'll get some chiffon for underneath to make it more flow-y and fairy-like.  And I'll just buy wings.

24 June 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

The carnival is hosted by RAnn.

I started out slow, but then blogged quite a bit towards the end of the week. I gave a blurb about another great children's book that I'd definitely recommend, and also wrote about my latest knitting project.

The start of the Fortnight for Freedom prompted two posts: one with the prayer listed on the USCCB website, and one on Saints John Fisher and Thomas More.

Finally, I also have two posts on bringing children to Mass and dealing with the negative attitudes and comments from some people: Nonconformity and Mothers with Young Children at Mass.

Have a blessed Sunday and week!

23 June 2012

Mothers with Young Children at Mass

Taking young children to Mass regularly can be daunting. I've seen a number of online debates on whether the children should even be there, even though they are baptised Catholics! Those who take their children anyway then have to contend its the stress of knowing the slightest sound may elicit negative comments, so it can be rather stressful and daunting when the children are quite young. This is even more the case when the mother is having more children, and thus is trying to bring older children and younger children.

As the mother to a growing family with children of varying ages, I know that the negative comments can leave me in tears, but the positive comments can truly encourage and make me smile.

So if you see a mother bringing her children to Mass, might I suggest commending her for bringing them, even if she's right in front of you and the kids were noisy? Or even just smile at her. After all, maybe the crying child is teething or didn't sleep well. Maybe the mother is exhausted and upset about something at home but managed to make it to Mass anyway. And maybe she has no option but to bring all the children if she wishes to attend Mass And receive the much-needed graces. I can guarantee that if the child is noisy, she's nervous about negative comments, so hearing a positive one instead will mean a lot.

Above all, remember that the mother is just trying to follow Jesus' words to bring the children to Him so they can learn the Mass and learn to recognise and love their Echaristic Lord. Even if you find it difficult to concentrate at first, the graces are still there; besides, as adults, it's our role to teach the children, not condemn them for being who they are. A visiting priest once told me that something that is acting according to its nature is praising God. I hope we can all remember that the next time we see a child being a child, especially at Mass.

22 June 2012


I'm just a nonconformist.  I'm told I've always been like that, as my father sometimes reminds me of how I insisted on wearing trousers and a skirt and mismatched shoes to school.  I've always been happiest doing what comes naturally to me instead of trying to fit someone else's mold.  It should come as no surprise, then, that this spills over into my parenting.

The past few days I've found myself being harsher with the children at Mass, trying to be more forceful about keeping the kids extremely quiet (no small feat with Charlotte), only to feel horrible about it the entire time.  Normally, I take a more laissez-faire approach to parenting, and yet also have very high expectations of my children.  While those positions may seem contradictory, they aren't really, at least not in my mind.  My high expectations refer to things that I know they can do, and then I just relax about all the age-appropriate behaviour.  I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that trying to force myself to parent a different way has just stressed me and upset them needlessly.

As I realised this, in the middle of Mass, I prayed about it and asked God for wisdom.  The words that came back to me were from my conversations with Fr Theo, who told me never to worry about bringing the children, but to bring them and sit in the very front, remembering that Jesus said to bring the children to Him. And then I had peace about that.  I realised that being harsh wasn't helping any of us, and certainly wasn't instilling a love of the Mass or showing them the love of God.  Thus I resolved to go back to what I'd been doing, reminding myself that Charlotte's still having a bit of a hard time with my pregnancy and the lack of milk and that I should therefore go easier on her.  I firmly believe that they will learn if I just keep bringing them, reminding them of expectations, setting the example, and, most of all, loving and trusting they will receive grace by being in the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

I know my take on it doesn't conform to the ideas that many have that children shouldn't be heard at all at Mass, but I needn't worry about others' opinions, just God's.  I must continually remind myself of this, as I'm all too aware of the negative opinions of others when Charlotte is louder.  Since she's only two, this is quite often, though most of her exclamations are quite Catholic, actually. This actually reminds me of a post I read a few days ago, and I recommend you read it, too. 

I have to remind myself, too, because sometimes I can get caught up in the attitude of believing I'm not getting anything out of Mass because I must police the children, but, really, if I'm not getting anything out of being in the very Presence of my Lord, then that's my problem, not theirs.  Yes, others matter too, of course, but at the same time, children are learning what to do, while adults can control their attitudes and reactions to distraction.

In the meantime, I'll continue with parenting in the way that works for us, for the good of my children and myself, and trust that they will learn from observing.  I will also remind myself of the graces we all receive from being with Jesus in the Eucharist when I start forgetting what I'm doing and why.

Feast of Saints John Fisher, Bishop, and Thomas More, Martyr

Today the Church remembers the witness of Saints John Fisher, Bishop (right photo), and Thomas More, Martyr (left photo). Both were martyred by King Henry VIII for refusing to sign the Act of Succession, as they could not in good conscience agree to declare Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon null, nor could they accept Henry as the Head of the Church in England.

These men stand out for their willingness to remain firm in their faith and standing for Truth, even when their peers abandoned them and when the penalty was certain death. They serve as a reminder to stand for what is truly important, no matter the cost. I have to say that I love St Thomas More's last words: "I die the King's good servant, but God's first". And it's true. While he may not have answered the way the King wanted, he did serve the King well by telling him the truth, instead of being a sycophant. Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, pray for us.

21 June 2012

Fortnight For Freedom Starts Today!

Join the Bishops in praying for religious freedom:

O God our Creator,

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,

you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,

bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel

to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us

in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.

Give us the strength of mind and heart

to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;

give us courage in making our voices heard

on behalf of the rights of your Church

and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,

a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters

gathered in your Church

in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,

so that, with every trial withstood

and every danger overcome—

for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,

and all who come after us—

this great land will always be "one nation, under God,

indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Crafty Thursday

My main project this week has been to make a cute little flower purse for a little girl I know.  Of course, I can't seem to keep a pattern the way it was written, so I tweaked this a bit by knitting in the round using the magic loop technique once I made the individual petals. I also switched to stockinette instead of garter at that point, mainly just for convenience.  I'm now to the point of making the I-cord for the handle, and then I'll put a button closure on it instead of a zipper.

19 June 2012

Book Nook

Forgive me for being a day late with this post. After the hit of Brave Charlotte, I was even more excited to find that there's a sequel: Brave Charlotte and the Wolves. Charlotte is all grown up in this one, and there's a new generation of lambs who wonders why Charlotte's considered so brave. These lambs are boastful, but get out in their place when a real threat arises and it is again Charlotte who comes to the rescue. Stohner and Wilson again have a wonderful book on their hands.

17 June 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy Sunday, all! Be sure to check out the full carnival at RAnn's blog. I've been more prolific this week, so in addition to my usual Book Nook and Crafty Thursday posts, I've also blogged about this silly monkey in my womb, listening (or not), and whether there must be a connection between the home birth and abortion debates.

16 June 2012

Home Birth and Abortion: Both Pro-Choice?

Until recently, I hadn't heard the argument that those who support home birth and a mother's right to give birth where she chooses means the person should also support abortion.  As readers of my blog may have noticed, I am very much a fan of home birth, having birthed Charlotte at home and planning on giving birth at home again, and am also very much pro-life, in every sense of the term.  So how can I hold these two positions simultaneously?

Well, I don't see the choice of where to give birth as being solely beneficial for the mother.  If the mother is having a straightforward pregnancy, then study upon study shows that having a planned home birth is perfectly safe for both her and the baby.  I know of no mother who chooses a home birth thinking it will be detrimental to the health of her baby, and if it would be, I don't personally know a woman who would choose that option knowing it could be dangerous.

When I chose to give birth to Charlotte at home, I did so after extensive research.  Kieran's birth had been somewhat traumatic, and had involved interventions that wouldn't have been necessary with a good supportive birth attendant.  To ensure I could be in a relaxed environment (which of course helps with the labour overall), I planned a home birth.  I knew that the midwives would transfer me at the slightest sign that something could even possibly be wrong, and so I wasn't worried.  Her birth was calm, peaceful, and without the interventions I wanted to avoid unless absolutely necessary, such as immediate cord clamping.  She was absolutely healthy, and all was well.  Far from being an aberration, this is the norm for low-risk mothers giving birth at home.

It is true that it is the mother making the decision on where to give birth, and with whom, but she makes this decision taking the baby's well-being into account as well.  Hopefully she also makes this decision after discussion with her husband and care provider(s), and after looking at all the facts so she can make an informed decision.  Similarly, the parents make health decisions for their children until the children are old enough to make their own informed decisions.  These decisions, though, are made not based just on what the mother wants, but on what is best for all involved, with a high emphasis on the impact on the child.

Abortion, however, doesn't allow the child to have a voice.  Science has proven what many already held to be true: that a unique human life begins from the moment of conception.  Any other demarcation is arbitrary, really, for the unique life started at conception and merely develops further from then on.  Of course, I'd also argue that abortion doesn't truly help women, for it hasn't improved support during pregnancy, especially for those who know the child may have a birth defect, hasn't improved maternity leave in the US, and generally has removed sympathy and support for women who find themselves pregnant in less-than-ideal circumstances and yet choose to continue the pregnancy.  Not to mention that it doesn't celebrate the unique role of women in bearing life: this is something that should be celebrated, supported, and honoured, not seen as a handicap.

So I see a definite difference, because choosing home birth is also taking the child's well-being into account, where abortion is touted as being just for the woman's well-being, since the child's life is ended.  I'm not trying to sound harsh, but it is what it is.

So, can a person support a woman's right to give birth wherever she feels safe and supported and simultaneously be against abortion without their being an inherent contradiction?  Absolutely.

14 June 2012

Crafty Thursday

Well, I've not been the most productive. I've worked a little more on the sleep sack for the baby, and have knit some snuggle bunnies for friends. I found some super cute child purses on Ravelry, but haven't started them yet, nor am I certain I will. I just like looking at patterns sometimes.

As for sewing, I've been lax in that, too. I need to finish making the cloth pads, but I have time. I did find a new project I'd like to try, since I don't have maternity skirts.

12 June 2012

Listening the First Time

Getting the children ready in the mornings can be an ordeal.  More than once I find myself repeatedly telling Kieran to get his clothes on and reminding him that I expect him to listen the first time.  Whenever I say that, though, it strikes me that it is rare for me to listen the first time.

Now, don't get me wrong, I still think listening the first time is a laudable goal, though I do try to impress upon the children that they are free to question why I'm saying what I am.  I do not want blind obedience, really, though I do want them to listen.

However, I also know that I do not listen the first time.  If someone asks me to do something, I don't always drop everything and do it right then.  Sometimes doing so isn't possible, other times I simply don't wish to do it right then.  Even worse is if my children ask something of me and I could comply at that moment, and don't.  How can I teach my children to listen, truly listen, and act in a timely manner if I do not do that?

So, should I just abandon the ideal since I'm not following it?  Hardly.  Instead, I should pray for the grace I need to follow the ideal myself to the best of my ability, thus setting an example for them that they can follow.  I know they won't get it right away, and that's fine.  It is something that takes a lifetime to truly learn, I think, for selflessness does not come easily.  And really, isn't that what it is?  Learning to set aside ourselves for what another is asking?  I've a long way to go, I know that much.

11 June 2012

Do Not Disturb!

When I was pregnant with Kieran and Charlotte, they hated ultrasounds and the Doppler.  They would invariably move away from it, which led me to research more to see if those were necessary, since it seemed my children didn't like them.  With this pregnancy, therefore, I decided not to have an ultrasound unless necessary (ACOG actually recommend only having one if medically necessary, in fact, something I didn't know before; I personally decline the anomaly scans/tests) and to have the midwife use a fetoscope.  At the first couple of appointments it was too early for the fetoscope, so I did allow the Doppler, and, sure enough, the baby moved away from it.

Monkey #3, 18w4d
Well today, at 18.5 weeks pregnant, I had another midwife appointment and I was quite excited that the midwife would be able to use the fetoscope today.  After the appointment today, though, I think perhaps I should just put a "do not disturb" sign on my bump, as clearly my children do not like being disturbed in utero.  As the midwife tried to find the heartbeat, I informed her where the baby normally is so she wouldn't have to search too much.  She then put the fetoscope where I'd indicated and pressed down to find the heartbeat, when the baby kicked the fetoscope - hard.  This quite surprised the midwife and the midwifery student, and amused me, even though it did actually hurt - this child can kick!  The midwife was finally able to hear the heartbeat a bit, though of course after having seen the child move around, we weren't exactly that concerned.  I guess my children just don't like to be disturbed.

Book Nook

from Amazon
On the most recent trip to the library (can you tell we go there a lot?), Charlotte pulled Millie Waits for the Mail by Alexander Steffensmeier off the shelf and began looking at it.  I thought it looked cute, so I thumbed through it to make sure I approved before we checked it out.  It's not just cute: it's precious and funny.  It takes the cliche of the dog chasing the mailman to a different level, as in this book, it's the cow who chases the mailman!  What can make Millie change her ways?  You'll have to read the book to discover that answer.

10 June 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy Feast of Corpus Christi! Thank you, RAnn, for hosting the carnival. this week I looked at a precious children's book, lamented having to wean abruptly, and mused on how we use language. I hope everyone has a blessed week.

Corpus Christi

(photo source) Happy Feast of Corpus Christi! This is the day we celebrate the fact that the Eucharist truly is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. Why do we believe this? Quite simply, because Jesus tells us this (see John 6), and the early Christians also believed this to be true.

I cannot help but be amazed at how Jesus loves us and deigns to lower Himself just to be with us every time I contemplate the Eucharist. When I was researching Catholicism to see what they truly believed, it was when I came to see that their beliefs on Eucharist had to true that I knew I had to convert. I've never looked back, and I cannot even begin to describe the joy and intimacy of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. Truly, it is amazing. And so I pray all are having a blessed day this day, and I once again thank Jesus for the gift of Himself to us.

9 June 2012

How We Use Language Matters

Annorax from "Year of Hell", Star Trek: Voyager

"Sir, you were correct. The Zahl homeworld was the focal point. Its erasure has produced a complete temporal restoration."
"Yes, sir."
"If I told you to count the stars in the cosmos, would the task ever be complete?"
"Our attempts may be sufficient; they may even be relatively successful, but they will never be complete. Choose your words with more precision."
"My apologies."

When my husband and I first started dating, I'd sometimes get irritated at the precision of his language, not because he was precise, but because he expected it of me, too, and impressed upon me the importance of that precision. More and more, I see how very important this is. One area in which this is seen is the breastfeeding debate, as Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths and The Analytical Armadillo show.

Today, though, I was thinking of this in another area. It stuck me today how we speak about those with psychological disorders. We tend to say that someone is schizophrenic, depressed, bipolar, anxious, as if his entire identity was wrapped up in his diagnosis. We do not speak of someone being cancer or heart disease (an exception to this is if a person has diabetes, so this isn't a hard and fast delineation).

I cannot help but wonder, though, if how we speak about psychological disorders doesn't add to or even help create the stigma associated with them. Such things are often spoken of in hushed voices, and seeing a doctor or trying to get some help for, say, anxiety, can be seen as a sign of weakness. Yet we wouldn't dream of telling a person with cancer to just be strong and get over it, and psychological disorders are every bit as real and can be just as insidious.

This post isn't just about how we speak about breastfeeding or illness, but our language in general. Orwell obviously understood this, since in 1984 he notes that language shapes our reality. Our language matters, and is something where precision is warranted.

5 June 2012

Crying Over Vanished Milk

Cries of "I want Mummy milk!" are common in my house, especially when Charlotte is tired. Unfortunately, I've no longer any milk to give. Now 17 weeks pregnant, my milk has suddenly dried up over the last week, something I don't think happened when I was pregnant with Charlotte.

To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure the milk was completely gone until today, and maybe there are still some drops there. I noticed a marked decrease in supply last week, when I instinctively went to out milk on a cut on Charlotte's foot, and had a hard time expressing any. However, I know that isn't necessarily indicative of milk being present. Yesterday I still noticed some swallowing when she'd nurse, but not much. Today, however, I never noticed her swallow. When Kieran asked for some, as he occasionally still does, he told me there wasn't any milk. I'm still surprised, really, since Charlotte was still nursing a fair amount.

Truthfully, this saddens me as well as upsetting them. I hadn't expected to completely lose my milk, since I don't recall having done that before. While I can't say I've enjoyed breastfeeding during pregnancy due to it hurting and me sometimes feeling like I'm crawling out of my skin, I'm still saddened, as I enjoyed the snuggles. I enjoyed the ability to calm them in that way and knowing I was giving them antibodies if they were ill. I knew feeds would be cut down, as happened with Kieran when I was pregnant with Charlotte, I just expected it to happen more gradually and later in the pregnancy.

Now, during the day the cries for Mummy milk are often quickly replaced with asking for something else. At night she still asks, but no longer frantically and I can either snuggle her or give her water or a snack. I still nurse her for naps if she wishes, even with no milk being there. I'd started night-weaning around the time my supply suddenly dipped. Perhaps once the milk returns she will go pick right back up, just as Kieran did, though I have always redacted that she'd wean at an earlier age than he. I just wanted it to be completely her idea. Our relationship is changing, maturing perhaps. It's a natural step, but a bittersweet one.

4 June 2012

Book Nook

When I saw the title of this book, I had to peruse it right then.  See, my daughter, Charlotte, has no fear.  She announces this fact as she climbs and jumps and goes on her adventures.  Not content to go along with everyone else, she dances to her own rhythm and follows her heart.  So a book entitled Brave Charlotte sounded like a winner to me.

I'm so glad we found this book, as it is priceless.  Stohner's story is wonderful, telling of the brave little sheep who saves the day, while Wilson's artistry is such that you think you should be able to feel the wool if you touch the images of the sheep.  I could certainly see my Charlotte in the story, and she loves the story as well.  I'd recommend it for anyone, especially for those who tend to stand out from the crowd.

3 June 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Sorry I've missed the past couple of Sundays. Thank you, RAnn for hosting. I've not blogged much this week, so I only have two posts: a short discussion of The Chocolate Cat and an update on my crafting.