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.