26 July 2013

NFP When There Are Cycle Issues: Still Pro-Woman

Given my personal history, I really don't know why I didn't address this in my previous post.  A comment on that post mentioned using the pill to treat PCOS, which reminded me of how often the pill is prescribed to treat gynaecological problems.  In fact, whenever a discussion of forgoing the pill arises, there are the inevitable comments of "but my doctor prescribed it to treat my x; I need it!"  I encounter this a lot in teaching NFP, actually.

Now, let me begin by stating that I am not a doctor.  I cannot give medical advice and am not intending to do so.  

Now that that's been said, let me share my own story.  It is my biggest regret that I allowed my doctor to just prescribe the pill at 17 when I complained of dysmenorrhea, menorraghia, and irregular cycles.  My doctor did perform an ultrasound and test hormone levels, and all was normal.  Narcotic pain medication was tried without success.  So she put me on the pill.  I stayed on it for the next 7 years, trying different formulations and always afraid to consider anything else because I didn't want the pain again.  Even the fact that my cholesterol was high whilst on the pill didn't dissuade me from using it.  I had no other choice, or so I thought.

Then I got married. I encountered the Billings Ovulation Method.  I knew I didn't want to be on the pill if there was an alternative.  During my engagement I'd asked my doctor (a different doctor by that time since I'd moved house) about alternatives, but she didn't want to try something different since the pill was "working".  She also suggested that I omit the sugar pills so I wouldn't have to worry about bleeding at all during my first year of marriage, which honestly freaked me out.  Discouraged, I just pushed the question aside, assuming there wasn't really much I could do.

But the question wouldn't go away, thankfully.  I searched online for alternatives.  I finally broke down and asked my uncle, an OB/GYN, if he knew of an alternative.  He did.  So I went to my doctor (a different one, again) and said I didn't want to take the pill any longer and I'd been told of this alternative medication.  She agreed to let me try it.  

That hurdle jumped, I sought out a Billings instructor and been charting.  For some women, it can take a year before fertility begins to return.  I was lucky and started noticing fertile signs within weeks.  When I started charting the mucus, I remembered that I'd noticed that before, before being put on the pill.  In fact, I'd mentioned that to my doctor, who dismissively told me "oh, that's normal" without telling me what it was or what it signified.  Within a month of being off the pill, my body ovulated, and I found the answer to my irregular cycles: I bled at ovulation and menstruation.  This is actually fairly common and is considered a normal variation. 

For years I'd thought the pill was helping me by taking care of the pain and heavy bleeding.  In looking back, it wasn't empowering me, but enslaving me.  It suppressed my fertility, and my knowledge of it.  I felt much more empowered once I started charting and could see what my body was doing and why.

Now, there are certainly hormonal conditions that may require hormonal treatments.  I am not saying all hormonal treatments are bad.  But I am saying that all women with concerns or gynaecological problems would benefit from charting to see exactly what is happening, and that hormonal treatments should be used more sparingly than they are. It doesn't strike me as pro-woman to suppress our knowledge of our bodies in this way (though, to be fair, I've found most of my doctors have been unaware of what one can learn from charting, so it would be great if more were trained in this).

24 July 2013

Pro-Woman: Natural Family Planning

We're in the midst of NFP Awareness Week, and the theme this year is "Pro-Woman, Pro-Man, Pro-Child, Natural Family Planning". I'd like to look at that a little.

Pro-Woman: Believe it or not, saying no to the pill doesn't enslave women, but is pro-woman.  Instead of treating her unique physiology as something to be suppressed or "fixed", NFP recognizes a woman's cyclic fertility as normal and seeks to identify the fertile times accurately.  Where contraception can only be used to try to avoid pregnancy, NFP can be used to postpone or achieve pregnancy, or simply to know your cycles or for health reasons.  It really is amazing what you can learn from a chart. For example, Dr James Brown's and Dr Henry Burger's work showing the close relationship between cervical mucus and hormones means that one can graph the oestrogen, progesterone, LH, and FSH patterns just by seeing a woman's chart. Maybe I'm just a geek, but that's amazing. Women should have this knowledge! Or at the least know they can know that easily enough if they choose to chart.

Charting also provides a more accurate due date than LMP or ultrasound (while ultrasound is useful for dating purposes, it can be off by quite a bit, I assume because of different methods of calculating gestational age; my ultrasounds have always been at least 6 days off).  Having an accurate due date means women are less likely to be induced unnecessarily.  I was irritated during my second pregnancy because the midwife was discussing induction.  The ultrasound had given a date a week ahead of when my chart did, so the midwife thought I was further along than I was. I was very glad when Charlotte was born at 39+6 (according to my chart; the midwife had me at 40+6) so that I didn't have to fight too much. 

Now, lest I make this sound like NFP is all rainbows and lollipops, I'll fully admit that it can be difficult and that I can get frustrated with charting at times.  But it is important to remember that charting rigorously isn't always necessary, and charting to avoid is only for when a couple has discerned that they have just cause to do so.  There are also methods that I suppose fall under the NFP umbrella though they aren't necessarily intended to suppress fertility and require no charting, such as ecological breastfeeding. Personally, I feed that way because I find it easy and best for both of us, not to suppress fertility although that is a "side effect".  When a couple do have jut cause to postpone pregnancy, NFP is effective.  While it can be difficult, so is anything that requires sacrifice.  To quote Dumbledore, "we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

I've written more than I intended on that, so perhaps I will leave discussion of how NFP is pro-man and pro-child for later.

23 July 2013

My New Slogan

When I teach NFP, Leo goes along with me (and, on rare occasions, one or both of the others also go).  My comments for this is that it shouldn't be a problem to have children be there as a reminder that it's natural family planning, not natural how-to-avoid-ever-having-a-family planning.  My friend said I need to use that line, so I think I will.

Really, though, I was thinking about how we perceive NFP.  When I told a mother of five that I teach NFP, she laughed that she obviously wasn't good at family planning.  But such a statement assumes that the right kind of planning means planning on not having children.  Isn't that rather backwards?

When we talk about the methods of NFP, a lot focus on "effectiveness".  Effectiveness at what? At avoiding children, of course! While it is good that modern methods of NFP are effective in that way for when it is needed, focusing on that aspect alone I think gets it backwards.  

And when I teach couples coming to me for their required NFP instruction during their engagement, I find myself needing to be reminded that it is used for conceiving as well.  All too often, the default mode seems to be one of avoiding pregnancy, when we aren't to use NFP for that purpose without a just cause.  Such just causes haven't been defined (wisely), so I cannot assume a couple's reasons, but neither should I approach their instruction under the assumption that they will be avoiding.  With the limited time for instruction, this seems to be what happens, but being aware of this hopefully I can amend my approach.  I should simply discuss how it is a tool, a tool that provides information on a couple's fertility and allows them to make decisions accordingly.  Even I sometimes need the reminder that "it's natural family planning, not natural how-to-avoid-ever-having-a-family planning".

21 July 2013

18 July 2013

Crafty Thursday

I feel I'm really making progress on this blanket! Because I hate sewing it up and working in ends, I'm doing that as I go. If I make another, I'll make five vertical strips and then graft them together when I pick up the side stitches, I think. 

16 July 2013

No Magic Number

Over the years, a lot of data have been collected on when babies and children master certain things (like walking) or start certain things (like eating solid food).  This data then show the average ages for mastering these things and can then be used to provide a comparison for babies and children.  So far, so good.

Sometimes, though, these averages are then taken as being some magic numbers for when these things should be done. When this happens, the fact that these numbers are averages, meaning that there were babies on either side of that number, is often ignored.  Instead of just giving a general comparison benchmark, it becomes a ruler by which a child must be measured and declared advanced, average, or behind.  To an extent this can be done well, such as if a child isn't just an outlier, but off the chart in one direction or another, but if it doesn't allow for variation, it is flawed.

At the infant stage this is perhaps most evident in the benchmarks for starting solids.  With the exception of BLW literature, most things I've seen have had a specific age at which solids should be introduced without considering developmental readiness.  The guidelines vary, but the idea of some specific age being ideal is usually present.  This becomes obvious at well checks, when parents are asked about solids but aren't asked about the child showing signs of developmental readiness in most cases. I do realise time is short at such appointments, but it doesn't take that long to quickly go over the signs of readiness instead of just saying "start solids at x months".

I suppose my point is that such charts of averages are helpful for the purpose of comparison, but they shouldn't be taken to mean there's some magic number for when a child should do x, y, or z.

15 July 2013

Book Nook: Saint George and the Dragon

As you may have noticed, Kieran is fond of dragons of late, due in large part to The Hobbit. Thus every trip to the library has meant searching for dragon books.  Lately I've taken to looking on the library catalogue before we go and placing the books on hold to make the search easier.  Doing this helped me to find Saint George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges after Edmund Spencer's The Faerie Queen.  I'd hoped to come across a children's book with St George's story in it, so I was thrilled.  Hodges presents the story very well, and the illustrations are beautiful.

14 July 2013

Backwards Thinking

"Would you consider sitting in the back? Your children are distracting." 

I have, unfortunately, heard this a number of times after Mass. Such statements anger me, in large part because I think they reflect backward thinking about things.  (I should note here that I try not to get angry with the person who says it, for I know they aren't intending to be hurtful at all.  I should also note that I sit in the front so my children can see, on the advice of my former confessor, a very holy Benedictine monk.) 

Like I said, I sit in the front. It can be a challenge at times, as Leo is at an age where he wants to explore, especially now that he's walking.  He can sometimes get overly excited and let out a squeal (which would be very audible at any location in the sanctuary) and sometimes he has gallbladder attacks.  I get up with him if necessary, leaving the other two (I am always where I can see them).  Charlotte wants to follow me in those cases, but I try to get her to stay in the pew.  My husband is in the choir.  When I'm sitting in the pew, then both Kieran and Charlotte are usually joining in as they can, especially if we've gone over our expectations beforehand; Kieran of course can do as he should with or without me sitting there. I keep distractions to a minimum as much as possible, but some Masses go better than others in that regard. After all, they are young children who are sometimes tired or hungry or just having a hard time.

Now for why I think telling a family with young children to sit in the back to minimise distractions is a bit backward.  An adult or teen can, presumably, continue to focus on the Mass even with children near.  An adult or teen should know the Mass well enough to continue praying it even if he cannot hear everything.  After all, if that adult or teen were to attend a Tridentine Mass, he wouldn't hear every word by design, since many of the prayers are said by the priest alone in a soft voice.  I suppose an exception would be someone who is visiting or converting, but such a person is also capable of looking up the information and should, again, be able to ignore distractions for the most part.  When I was converting I usually sat in the back, where I could both observe other people and the altar, as I hadn't the benefit of knowing other Catholics with whom to attend Mass, and sitting in the back didnt impede my seeing the Mass.  I will admit that I was distracted by children at times, and even complained about them, but that was my problem and not the child's or his family's. 

A child, however, is still learning the Mass.  He also has less self-control and so is not as able to ignore distractions.  Sitting in the back would make it impossible for the child to see, thus making it more difficult to learn the Mass and increasing distractions for the child.  While one person doesn't trump another, I think being mindful of the impact these things can have is important.  Surely it is important to give the children the best start possible in their faith by accommodating them in this way.  Obviously I don't mean one should give in to their every whim and let them run wild, but accept that, in teaching them the proper behaviour, there will be blips and distractions.  

I suppose part of this is my parenting philosophy, too. I've no doubt I could get the kids to all be silent (or at least nearly so) and still(er) if I allowed toys and snacks, but I don't.  The only books I allow are prayer books or books about Mass or Mary or the like, though it is rare that we take even those to Mass.  I want them to learn that this is a special time and place, and that playing or looking at other books isn't really what we should do in Mass. Snacks would end up all over the place, and besides, our pastor has asked that we not have food in the sanctuary, so unless it is absolutely necessary I will not do that. I also try not to be overly harsh, so i do allow some leeway, in that they can move some in the pew, but not get out of the pew without permission, for example. 

 I know sitting in the back wouldn't ruin them, of course, but it does make it more difficult in my experience (I used to sit in the back until told by my confessor to move for the sake of the children).  I can already see fruit in this approach; it may not be for everyone, but for my family it is the best option. It certainly makes it easier on the children. 

5 July 2013

On Sheldon and Paula Deen

Most have, I think, heard of the controversy surrounding Paula Deen of late. I can't claim to know the entire story, but what I've read somehow reminds me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.  Deen has admitted that she has used and heard racial slurs without considering it a problem, and has orchestrated events where she sought to evoke old plantations, including the slaves, by having an all-black waitstaff.  She maintains, though, that she isn't racist, and I can believe that she is not consciously racist, but these attitudes are, in fact, racist.

Compare that to Sheldon.  Sheldon is very sexist, without even recognizing that he is.  His use of sexist language got him in trouble, even though he had no idea that what he said was wrong, nor why.  This doesn't stop him from being, in fact, sexist.

In both cases, bigoted views are held subconsciously, and are not recognized for what they are.  When the person is reprimanded, the reprimand is met with disbelief and protestations of innocence.  It is true that the intention was not to be bigoted, and intention is indeed important, but the action itself remains bigoted. We all have our biases and prejudices, but hopefully we can learn to recognize them and therefore move past them and instead see others as God sees them.

4 July 2013

Crafty Thursday

Not much to report today - I've just been working on the monkey blanket. I really am leaning towards making one for each child, but we'll see.

2 July 2013

Ignoring Reality

Whenever I see comments about how parents should tag-team Mass I can't help but think how recommending that across the board ignores reality.  I especially think this when the suggestion is coupled with telling the mother to leave a baby at home with the father so she can go to Mass.  Now, of course there are times when tag-teaming or one parent staying home will happen, such as when a child is ill. I am not speaking of such times, but of doing this habitually.  (Before I continue, if you tag-team and it works for you, that's fine, you'll get no judgement from me; this is simply to address how that may not always be a feasible solution.) 

Why do I think it ignores reality? For one, we Catholics are known for having larger families in the eyes of the world.  If the parents must tag-team for as long as there is a baby or toddler, then there will be years where the family do not attend Mass as a family.  There's a family in my parish where the mother is currently pregnant with child number fourteen.  Telling them to tag-team or telling her to stay home to care for the youngest means they wouldn't have attended Mass as a family for roughly 20 years, which surely isn't ideal.  Instead, they are there daily - a beautiful sight. 

Tag-teaming also assumes there are multiple Masses accessible, and at times that are conducive to one parent driving home before the other leaves.  While that would be possible for us, it isn't for many. Even if it is possible time-wise, rising fuel costs could make that cost-prohibitive for many.  Also cost-prohibitive for many is hiring a sitter for Sundays, which also causes someone else to do unnecessary work on Sunday. 

Suggesting a mother can attend without her baby ignores the realities of breastfeeding and separation anxiety.  Breastfeeding is regulated by supply and demand, which requires feeding on cue instead of scheduling feeds.  While going a couple of hours might sound like a short time, if the child needs to nurse then he should be fed.  Using a bottle is not the answer, either, as it can interfere with the milk supply (some can successfully do this, but definitely not all).  Breastfeeding just isn't meant to work like that, though.  I know that few in Western society are truly familiar with the mechanics of breastfeeding, so I know the people suggesting this aren't aware of the effects such a suggestion could have.  

Even were these things feasible for my family, I personally wouldn't do it.  For me, it is important that we go to Mass as a family.  During the week the kids and I go daily whenever possible.  They may not be old enough to be required to attend yet, but they are learning (brag: Kieran sang "Tantum Ergo Sacramentum" at Benediction before Mass Friday).  Ok, so Leo rushes the altar whenever my attention is diverted, but he will learn.  And we all get graces, which helps me be a better mum.  I think we'll keep doing it as we are.

1 July 2013

Book Nook: The Loathsome Dragon

I can't promise to make this a weekly post again, but when I find a book my children and I love, I can't resist sharing.  Instead of just perusing the shelves at the library, I decided to take my cue from a friend who always puts the books on hold.

I therefore asked Kieran what kind of books he wanted, and one of his suggestions was a dragon book.  I searched the library catalogue and found The Loathsome Dragon by David Wiesner and Kim Kahng.  It's a fairy tale of sorts set in Bamburgh Castle.  Instead of being a typical tale of a ferocious dragon who must be defeated by the brave knight, the dragon is an enchanted beast who must be helped by the knight.  The story and illustrations are wonderful, and the children love the humorous ending.  I'd definitely recommend it.

30 June 2013

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely Sunday. Lately it seems our pastor's homilies were written just for me.  Obviously God wants to make sure I get the message. Here are my thoughts of the week:

Just Be
Indulge Me
Crafty Thursday
What Do You Do All Day?

Have a great week, and be sure to check out the full carnival at RAnn's.

28 June 2013

What Do You Do All Day?

If you're a stay-at-home-mum, chances are you've been asked what you do all day.  Well, here's a look at my typical day:

6ish wake and pray the Angelus before making breakfast for the kids and myself (and my husband if I'm nice, but he usually wakes later and isn't a breakfast person).  If by chance I get up before the kids, I actually get to shower. Put a load of laundry in to wash.
7.30ish sit down to eat breakfast because I've already had to change a couple of diapers and hold Charlotte who doesn't like mornings.  On a good morning I've been able to pray the morning office, but this hasn't been happening lately. 
8.00ish get everyone dressed and brush teeth. 
8.30 rush trying to find the shoes that are supposed to be in the shoe basket by the door so we can leave
8.45 pack everyone in the car and drive to Mass
9.00 Mass
9.30 play with other kids after Mass if they're there, followed by errands if needed then home; Rosary in the car if running errands or later at home
10.30 snack time if home; put wet clothes in dryer and get second load ready if needed; check email; knit or sew if I'm lucky (easier on One of the two days I allow the kids to watch a little something)
11.30-12.30 lunch
12.30-14.00 clean up from lunch, fold laundry (maybe), play/learn, make dough for any bread for dinner
14.00 afternoon snack for the kids, smoothie for me, little bit of down time
14.30-16.00 try to keep Charlotte awake, help Kieran practice violin
16.00 start prep work for dinner
17.30-18.30 dinner
18.30 clean up
19.00 help Kieran practice if we didn't get to it earlier, roughhouse with the kids, run second load of laundry if needed
19.30 baths
20.00 start winding down play time, fix snack for myself if time
20.30 get older two in pjs and send down to bed, do family prayers, put clothes in dryer
21.00 get Leo in pjs and eat snack if hungry
22.00 put Leo to bed
Rinse, repeat.

And then we add in:
Tuesdays 15.45-17.00 group violin lessons (on break until August)
Wednesdays 15.30-16.00 private violin lessons (on break until August)
Thursdays 9.30-12.00 play date
Fridays 10.00 library

And then we add in Leo's various doctor appointments (thankfully there have been fewer lately), helping Charlotte with he toilet, changing Leo or taking him to the toilet if I'm on top of things, reading to the kids, feeding the ducks and/or caterpillars, sweeping up after Leo's crumbs, etc, and it's a very full day. 

27 June 2013

Crafty Thursday

I finished the bodice of Charlotte's "Sprite" dress.  I really like the way it's looking thus far!

I did decide to go back to working on the monkey blanket for a bit, though. I haven't blocked these squares yet.

Indulge Me

After hearing it praised many times, I finally decided to read St Therese of Lisieux's Story of a Soul.  In it I found a beautiful story of her love for Jesus and His for her.  Something that really struck me was when she spoke of how God indulged her, even spoiled her at times. While I cannot claim to be as holy as St Therese, I can see how God has often indulged me (not always, of course).  Indeed, our God likes to indulge us, I think, though we must be willing to receive such attentions and the ways we are indulged or tried may not be outwardly obvious.

I was thinking of this when I visited the shrine of Our Lady of La Leche recently.  There is an indulgence for visiting the shrine (though I'd actually forgotten that when I decided to visit).  I hadn't thought before of the root for indulgence being indulge, as I'd only focused on the strict definition of an indulgence.  While it's good to know how the word indulgence is used by the Church, I can't help thinking now of how an indulgence really is another way in which God indulges us and draws us closer to Him if we allow it. Even at Mass this morning, as I was gazing at the Tabernacle, I couldn't help thinking of how He indulges us: the fact that I can go to Mass daily is indeed a way in which I am A bit spoiled, since many do not have that luxury.  I thank God for being so indulgent. 

25 June 2013

Just Be

Today was a special day at my parish, for our Bishop was coming to celebrate Mass in honour of Mary, Queen of Peace.  Before Mass, there was Adoration and Confession.  I definitely didn't want to miss those, and so I took Leo and went.  I always love Adoration and am frequently in tears as I kneel before Jesus.  Today, I came with a lot of things on my mind, a lot of worries, and I immediately launched into prayers of petition.  As I started that, I felt Jesus saying "Just be. Don't fret, just be with Me." I started to protest, only to feel Him say that again. So I slowed down, I just knelt there for a bit before bringing my petitions to Him.

As I knelt, I reflected how it seems I am rarely "just there" with God or others. There is always something to distract, something that needs doing.  Yet when I allow myself to "just be", with God or others, I never regret it and instead must tear myself away unwillingly.  I wanted to just stay there, to just "look at Him [while] He looks at me," but I had to get home to finish making dinner.  Of course, I can be present when doing household tasks as well, but those times when I'm just there, those are the ones where I can get a fleeting glimpse of eternity. 

22 June 2013

Say "Please"!

All too often I find myself telling Charlotte to do something, only for her to refuse.  All too often, I then find myself raising my voice and repeating the directions, this time as an order.  Often I am then chagrined as my eldest pipes up and says, "You should say 'please'. Maybe then she'll do it". 

Talk about a good lesson in humility! When Kieran says that, I can only agree, apologise for shouting, and continue in a better way.  While I certainly expect them to follow directions, I know this is much likelier (and more enjoyable for all) when I do so in a nice and/or playful way.  I also know that Charlotte often just needs my attention. It's true that I cannot always give her all the attention she wants when she wants it, but if I take the time to give that attention when I can, she will respond better.  Speaking politely in a softer voice, as I would want to addressed, also helps. 

I suppose I'm doing something right if my son can remind me of this. By the grace of God this is improving. I thank God for letting my son remind me to follow the things I expect of my children.  I wish I were perfect in this, but I trust in God's grace that I may improve.

13 June 2013

Crafty Thursday

On Saturday there was a Hawaiian-themed family dance at my parish.  Ever resourceful, I decided to make clothes for the kids for the event.  My dad was getting rid of some old Hawaiian shirts, and so I thought they were perfect to turn into dresses for Charlotte. I'd turned button-down shirts into dresses before, but I wanted to do something just a little different this time, and so I smocked the top. I'd never done smocking before, so that was an adventure, but it turned out to be easier than I expected.  And it turned out to be absolutely adorable.  I basically made the dress like a pillowcase dress after I smocked it.

My little brother had had a Hawaiian shirt that matched one of my dad's, but he'd outgrown it. So I cut it down for Kieran. The only fiddly part was the collar, really. I used the existing hem and button band and sleeve hem, and even the existing collar, just cut down a bit, but I definitely could've placed the collar better. As long as you aren't too near, it looks great.

9 June 2013

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

I hope everyone had a lovely Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, and of the Immaculate Heart.  Check out >RAnn's for the full carnival. I've only had one post this week, about NFP, since my life right now seems to consist of doctors appointments for my baby and teaching NFP.

8 June 2013

The Misnomer of Family Planning

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "family planning"? Maybe you think of the WHO definition of it simply being a way to plan the number and spacing of children through contraceptive means or treating infertility.  I think most, though, focus on the first part and not the second, and never consider that it might include a woman who is fertile choosing to add to their family either through NFP or just by letting things happen.  

Now, of course there are times when a couple might decide that it is best if they postpone having a child for a time, and that certainly can be a part of family planning.  My objection is that, for most it seems, family planning denotes avoiding children and nothing else.  Even though the WHO includes treating infertility in their definition, the main page on family planning focused on limiting the number of children.  The local family planning website didn't mention help with conceiving at all, only stating that they provided pregnancy tests, contraceptives, and counseling.  Another health site described a typical visit at their family planning clinic and again only discussed contraceptives along with STD prevention.  So whatever the official definition, the connotation is one of preventing conception through contraceptives.

Unfortunately, this mindset then enters the view of NFP.  When people ask about NFP or want to learn about it, many do so meaning that they want to know how to avoid conception.  Some, of course, recognise that NFP is, at its core, about knowledge of one's reproductive health and potential and learn it for that reason, and some are seeking to conceive and learn for that.  Most of the couples who come to me, though, wish to avoid conceiving for a time. As an instructor, I find I have to be careful in how I talk about NFP, too, so I don't focus on that one aspect alone, so pervasive is this view. 

I don't know exactly what to do to combat this view and get people to start viewing "family planning" as truly talking about planning one's family.  I hope that talking about it and ensuring I use it in this way could help slowly change that view.  Sometimes I'm unsure how I feel about "family planning" as a term even then, since it inevitably implies that one should plan a family instead of taking things as they come.  That's not to say that planning is bad, for it isn't, but I think we sometimes obsess about planning for everything.  There is certainly a time when more rigid planning is needed, but I'm not convinced it should be the default or that it is bad if a couple chooses not to plan as such.  In fact, I'd lean towards the default being to do nothing, and then use NFP as needed. (Note: I differentiate between charting in order to know one's cycle for general health reasons and identifying a more accurate EDD and charting to avoid conceiving).

I suppose all I can do is be a witness through my own family, and watch how I talk about it when I'm teaching NFP. And maybe I'm just weird in even thinking about it like this. Even with my complaints I am glad my diocese requires NFP instruction during marriage preparation so couples can perhaps start thinking about this more.

30 May 2013

Crafty Thursday

Knitting has taken a back seat with all the stress of late. Nevertheless, I have managed to start a new project. I decided to make Sprite for Charlotte's Christmas present.  I found some Saucy Sport in the stash and thought it would work well. The yellow isn't permanent, as it's a provisional cast-on. That will allow me to knit the skirt down from there.  I did slightly change the pattern by waiting until the second pattern repeat to divide for the armholes so the armholes won't be overly large. 

As for the monkey afghan, I've been knitting the seed stitch borders and sewing the squares together before I knit more squares.

26 May 2013

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy Trinity Sunday! I've only had two posts this week:

Merida - What's the Fuss?

Check out the full carnival at RAnn's, and have a blessed week.

25 May 2013


So I was working in the kitchen and singing to myself (please tell me you do this!), and the song was The Beatles' "Something". I love that song.  I've heard and sung it countless times, but this time I started thinking more about the lyrics.  Part of the song goes "You're asking me will my love grow/ I don't know, I don't know".  This made me think about how love is often treated. (See, you can have deep thoughts from listening to the Fab Four)

My thoughts actually turned to gardening. If you just leave the plant, it might grow, but it might not. Some take more tending than others, but even the ones that will grow untended are likely to have at least some issues with bugs or weeds, and so mightn't grow to their full potential.  A good gardener, though, regularly checks on his plants, removing weeds at the first sign, ensuring the soil is optimal for the plant, protecting the plants from insects and adverse weather. In short, a good gardener doesn't leave things to chance, and his beautiful garden is the result of his hard work.

Similarly, love requires tending and not just leaving things to chance. It seems to me that leaving it to chance is a good way for things to fail. A plant might weather a bad storm or freeze without work, but its death is also quite likely.  A couple might weather a crisis without working on their relationship, but many couples split when such crises arise.  But if both parties commit to working on their relationship, success is much more likely. I would argue that love will definitely grow if both are committed to work on it, so one needn't answer that question "I don't know".

19 May 2013

Merida - What's the Fuss?

You may have seen posts about Merida, the main character from Disney's Brave, entering the Disney princess lineup. In doing that, she was redrawn, and looked vastly different.  There was an uproar, a petition was circulated, and Disney withdrew the modified image.

Once that was done, I saw someone ask why people were upset about Merida being dressed up and converted from CGI to a hand-drawn image. If indeed it had just been about her dressing nicely, fixing her hair a bit, and such, I doubt anyone would've cared, for surely one's coronation is a good occasion to look one's best. While some disliked her being shown without her bow and quiver, I didn't care about that since it was, in a sense, a coronation portrait.  But it appears she isn't really dressed very differently, for it appears to be a hand-drawn rendition of the same dress she normally wears with just some added embellishment to the hem and sleeves.  The main changes are to Merida herself, not her dress.  She is suddenly slimmer, bustier, has a lower neckline, and a paler complexion.  Her expression has changed from one of playfulness to one that is, well, sexy. (To be fair, it seems the other Disney princesses also have a sexier look and the same figure, and I object to that, too).

So why do I object? I object because I don't want my daughter to think she must have that "perfect" (improbable) figure.  I object because I want her to know she is beautiful by virtue of being her, the person God made her to be, and not because she happens to fit some preconceived mold.

I also object for my sons.  They also see these images, and that can form how they view women. I want them to see the true beauty of everyone that comes from them being who they are.

I have also been asked why I don't just shun Disney. Even if I didn't get any Disney products or go to Disney, it is impossible to avoid them.  If you stand in the queue for the tills, you see Disney princess balloons (not to mention all the magazines, but that's another rant).  In short, it matters not if I try to shun Disney, because the images are everywhere.

And that is a large part of why I object to changing Merida's image.  My children are already bombarded with sexualised images.  I try to counter that by ensuring my children see me be comfortable in my far-from-perfect (by societal standards) body and by finding princesses who are also strong characters on their own. Merida was one such princess, and her image reflected that, so why change it? 

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy Pentecost! What an exciting feast.  Kieran made up for my lack of voice by singing twice as loud at Mass today.  :-). Here are my recent posts:

I'm Back
On Naaman and Home Remedies

Be sure to go to RAnn's for the full carnival.

18 May 2013

I'm Back

At least for now, I am back. I can't guarantee I'll post very often, as things have been rather crazy, and that isn't going to end yet.  Leo had a bad gallbladder attack a few weeks back, so it looks like he'll need it removed.  Or so three different medical practitioners (2 doctors and 1 ARNP) tell me, so we meet with the surgeon in a few days. I waver between being absolutely at peace and freaking out. 

On Naaman and Home Remedies

Maybe it's the sinus infection I'm fighting, but for some reason tonight I was thinking of Naaman and his reaction to Elisha's direction.  Naaman had leprosy, and his servant, an Israelite, told him about Elisha and how Elisha was a holy man who could surely heal the leprosy.  When Naaman arrived, though, Elisha told him to bathe in the Jordan to be cured.  Naaman became indignant, but one of his retinue said, "Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, "Bathe, and you will become clean.’" (2 Kings 5:13, NJB).

It occurs to me that this is often the case when speaking of alternative remedies.  For example, few parents question giving acetaminophen to a teething babe, but many are skeptical of trying amber first.  The same could be said of trying hazelwood first for milder eczema and reflux (or in conjunction with medicines for more severe forms).  To be fair, though, many are simply unaware of these alternatives.

Now, let me be clear that I am not against medical treatments. Far from it! I simply prefer to try natural remedies first, and then use medicines if needed after that.  For example, with this sinus infection. My ears and throat are sore from the drainage (the forehead sinuses only seem to really hurt if I bend over, so I avoid that).  I've been able to combat the ear pain through a natural remedy, and tea helped some with my throat, but I finally decided I needed acetaminophen to help with that.  

And not all home remedies are always appropriate.  My father offered a hot toddy for my throat; if I weren't nursing Leo, who cannot tolerate me ingesting any alcohol, I would've accepted, but it isn't a possibility right now.  I've a friend whose son has an allergy to garlic, so using garlic oil for an ear infection wouldn't be appropriate for her. Really, these are things that should be common sense, though. 

But the next time you hear of a natural remedy and shy away from it, ask yourself why.  :-)

23 April 2013

Taking a Break .exe

I've decided to take a blogging break. Besides being busy, I've noticed a tendency to only write when I'm ranting. I also tend to read the rants and then become irritated by people I've never met. Such is hardly healthy for my spiritual life. I am therefore taking a break. In the meantime, enjoy take-a-break.exe.

18 April 2013

Not Why I'm Catholic

Here are various things that don't explain why I'm Catholic:

1) My husband. Once people realise I'm a convert, many ask if i converted because of my husband. While I must admit that dating him was the impetus for me examining Catholicism, I did not convert for him. He never asked me to convert and didn't even know I was considering it. Converting for a person just wouldn't be worth it, in my opinion.

2) The people. As anywhere, the Church is full of all sorts, since She is a "hospital for sinners" - and I thank God for that. Fellowship with other parishioners has varied from one parish to another, but that's tue anywhere, too.

3) The music. Ok, I'm being a bit facetious, but music by Haugen certainly didn't make me run to the Church. Neither did Gregorian chant, for that matter, though I love chant. If I were choosing based solely on aesthetics I might choose high church Anglican. Or maybe I'd go with Byzantine Catholic. I love being Latin Rite Catholic, and I love the Latin, the chant, etc, but aesthetics aren't enough reason to convert.

4) The food. What can I say, Baptists have great potluck dinners. ;)

5) Family. I do have one aunt who is Catholic, which means I also have 5 cousins, her children, who are Catholic. While I grew up playing with them and was exposed to the Rosary through them, I really didn't examine their beliefs or consider becoming Catholic because of them. My immediate family was Southern Baptist, so that certainly didn't contribute to my conversion.

No, the reason I converted has nothing to do with those things and everything to do with the Eucharist. Once I came to realise the truth of that, nothing else mattered. I ran to the Church and I've never looked back. To quote St Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life." (John 6:68).

Crafty Thursday

This week has flown! I finished another square of the monkey blanket and locked the other two squares. Isn't it amazing how much of a difference blocking makes?!

Then I cut up some old jeans with the intent of making a skirt.  My dad was getting rid of the Hawaiian shirt, but I think it'll make a nice dress for Charlotte.

15 April 2013

Book Nook: The Knight Who Took All Day

When I find an author I like, I tend to look for more books by that author. So when we go to the library, I often look for books by James Mayhew. On our most recent visit, I found a book of his that isn't in the Katie series. Knowing that we like the Katie series, though, I decided to pick it up. It's a very cute book that turns the standard knight/dragon/princess story on its head. The knight wants to fight a dragon to impress a princess, and sends his squire on numerous frivolous errands so he can get ready. In the meantime, the princess takes matters into her own hands . . . It's no Zog, but it's still a nice story.

11 April 2013

Crafty Thursday

The astronaut monkey square is finished! Well, nearly so, as I've not blocked it yet, nor have I done the seed stitch on the sides. I'm really having fun making this.

10 April 2013


Like many, I recently read the article in the Daily Mail where the author stated that she regretted ever having children.

When I saw the headline, I was prepared to be angered and to read of a selfish, narcissistic woman. What I found, however, was different. Instead of a woman who hated motherhood and children and so neglected the children, I found a woman who loved them but resented the loss of freedom and time. While not demonstrative in her affection, she nevertheless ensured they knew they were loved and was a hands-on mother. In fact, she is personally caring for her disabled adult daughter without complaint.

What I noticed, though, was the contradiction between what society says is important and what parenting requires. Se said she regretted and resented the loss of her freedom - the freedom to spontaneously go on holiday, to curl up with a book at will or have alone-time with her husband.

Feeling that way is hardly surprising, and I'm sure we all have our moments like that. After all, society generally tells us we can, and should, have these things and that children get in the way. I well remember chatting with fellow graduate students at a welcome reception when I was heavily pregnant with Kieran and having a colleague tell me he'd never have children because then he couldn't do what he wanted.

I admit I was shocked by the statement. I'd simply taken it for granted that life would change and would cease to be about me. Oh, I'm not perfect, and there are times when resentment can creep in: days when I've not had 10 minutes to myself, for example. Thankfully, he resentment doesn't last. I know this time of extreme neediness isn't forever. Dying to myself isn't easy, though, especially when society says I shouldn't have to do so.

So really, what I see isn't a woman who truly hates being a mother, but the contradiction that arises when our cultural expectations meet the natural demands of parenting. Even though the author said she wished she hadn't had children, I think her love for her children says otherwise.

Sense of the Sacred

This past Sunday I finally made it to my second Traditional Latin Mass after we woke too late for the early Novus Ordo Mass at my parish. It had been nearly two years since I'd last attended the TLM, but I figured we'd do we'll enough. Kieran insisted on sitting in the front, but it went well.

What I noticed most, though, was the sense of being in a sacred place. Before and after Mass, there was near silence. There were no idle conversations, and what was spoken was in a whisper. When I then went to the NO at my parish again yesterday, the loudness after Mass was jarring. I went back to the other parish this morning, only it was a NO this time, and there was a lot of talking after Mass there, too.

Why is there this difference? Jesus is present in the Eucharist at both Masses. The Tabernacle is in a central location behind the altar at both Masses. The only difference in layout is that the moveable altar is moved so only the high altar is there.

While some say they notice a difference in attire between the two Masses, I didn't really. Some women wore mantillas, but not all. Some women even wore trousers (shocker, I know). The men didn't wear suits. In short, there wasn't a substantial difference in dress between those at the TLM and those at the NO.

Even if there had been differences in dress or the layout of the church, there shouldn't be a difference in attitude. After all, Jesus is present in the Eucharist whether the Mass is in Latin, the vernacular, or Greek. While we should feel perfectly comfortable and at home at Mass, shouldn't we also have a sense that we are in a holy place? Shouldn't that affect our deportment in the sanctuary? (Before anyone thinks I'm perfect or judging, I, too, am guilty of talking in the sanctuary. I often tell myself it's ok because everyone else is, but that doesn't make it right. I need to work on this.)

8 April 2013

Enough Already!

There's a measles outbreak in Wales. Even though I live nowhere near Wales now, I feel affected by this. Oh, I'm not affected by the outbreak itself, but by the reporting of said outbreak. See, I refuse the MMR based on moral grounds since the rubella component is made using aborted foetal cells (from an abortion years ago; the cell line used in the vaccines stems from that abortion). But in reading the news you'd get the impression that anyone who refuses the MMR is an ignorant, dangerous person who listens only to Jenny McCarthy and Wakefield and who is single-handedly responsible for killing children.

Think I'm exaggerating? I wish I were. Because this is in the news, it's been showing up in debates on social media sites. I've seen accusations saying those who don't vaccinate are a danger to everyone. I've seen people say those who don't vaccinate should quarantine themselves completely because they might kill another (reminds me a little of leper colonies and how lepers had to say "unclean" so everyone could avoid them). Even when other reasons for refusing vaccinations are listed, such as moral or medical reasons, these reasons seem to be ignored in favour of continuing to say it's because of a fear of autism. While I've no doubt such people exist, none of the people I know who refuse vaccines would fall in that category.

The anti-vaccine crowd can be just as bad. (For the record, I don't consider myself anti-vaccines, as I am not against vaccines at all. I simply have objections to some for moral reasons, must avoid some for medical reasons, and see some as unnecessary for us at this time [eg: influenza or HepB].). I've certainly seen people in the anti-vaccine group insult and demean those who vaccinate as hurting their children. This isn't right.

And what is the result of all the insults, mischaracterisations, and vitriol? Two sides that distrust and even hate each other. Two sides that certainly can't have a reasonable, respectful conversation. Two sides digging in their heels ever deeper instead of trying to truly understand the other side and engage in true dialogue. Well enough already. Having the opposite views on this is fine, but let's remember respect. That person who disagrees with you is still a person worthy of respect.

Book Nook: Princess Chamomile's Garden

Despite us not having anything princess-y or watching such things, Charlotte has decided she is a princess. When we went to the library, she insisted she only wanted princess books, and so I searched for books that had princesses who were strong characters, not just pink and frilly.

I came across Princess Chamomile's Garden by Hiawyn Oram and thought it fit the bill. Princess Chamomile is a mouse princess. While helping Melchior, the palace gardener, she is inspired to design her very own garden. In the process, she not only designs it, but convinces her parents and nanny that she can work on it herself.

7 April 2013

The Next Time

The next time you see a mother openly breastfeeding and wonder why she isn't covered, in another room, at home, or using a bottle or dummy, here are some things to consider.

First, breastfeeding isn't obscene and thus doesn't warrant covering. Even so, maybe the baby has a hard time latching and the mother needs to correct the latch during feeds. Being under a cover would make that more difficult and would not be conducive to successful breastfeeding in that instance.

Or perhaps the baby simply dislikes being covered and won't feed that way. Breastfeeding works by supply and demand, so the mum needs to feed on cue. If the cover is hampering that, ditch the cover. The child may also be going on a nursing strike, and anything that will hinder breastfeeding should be avoided.

Maybe her baby has health issues. Breastfeeding is by far the best choice for all babies, but especially when there are health issues.

Parenting can be isolating, and telling a breastfeeding mum to stay at home adds to that and could lead or contribute to depression. Besides, it isn't practical. She may have older children who need to be chauffeured. She may simply need to run errands, meet with a friend, or be spiritually recharged at daily Mass.

So the next time you see a breastfeeding mother, think of these things. Of course, even if none of these things applied, it shouldn't matter, since a woman should be ale to openly breastfeed her child whenever, wherever. But it is also good to recognise that we rarely know the whole story. (No, I haven't had any negative comments of late, but have had problems with nursing due to Leo's tongue and lip ties and possible nursing strike that started recently.)

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! I hope everyone's had a lovely Easter. Here are my posts:

Book Nook: Claire and the Unicorn
Crafty Thursday
My Own Private Triduum
Book Nook: The Highway Rat
What Would I Do?
Crafty Thursday

Be sure to check out the full carnival at RAnn's.

4 April 2013

Crafty Thursday

I've just been working on the afghan for the kids this week. I finished the fist square and have started on the second one: a monkey astronaut. I'm having fun with the pattern and can't wait to finish it. Of course, I'll probably start another project before this one is finished, but we'll see.

3 April 2013

What Would I Do?

There have been many times when I've wondered what on earth I'd do if I couldn't breastfeed Leo. Besides the emotional wreck I'd be, how could I find something he could eat without problems? He can't have bovine protein, which rules out most formulae. He also can't tolerate soy, even soy lecithin, so there go more formula options. Anything really fatty is also out, thanks to the gallstones. Any formula that meets the criteria, if there is one, is bound to be expensive and therefore out of reach for me.

Some give recipes for homemade formula, but I would run into the same problems since most recipes call for raw cow's milk. Others call for goat milk, but he can't tolerate me having that, either.

I don't even know how much donor milk would be an option given the dietary changes I've had to make. That would be my first choice, though, if I couldn't breastfeed. Maybe I'd find someone who was at least avoiding bovine proteins, since those bother him the most.

I know there are some who can't breastfeed for some reason, and I feel for them. I've certainly had problems feeding Leo due to his tongue and lip ties, which have all been clipped. I've had people commend me for sticking with it and changing my diet, but to me it doesn't seem extraordinary. I've simply done what had to be done to continue breastfeeding. What else could I do?

1 April 2013

Book Nook

I don't know about you, but I have fond memories of reading "The Highwayman" in school. Those who know me or read here also know that I'm fond of Julia Donaldson's books for my children. Combine these two things and you get The Highway Rat. It keeps some of the story elements and rhythm from "The Highwayman", and weaves those elements into a captivating tale of the rat thief. As always, Axel Scheffler's illustrations are wonderful (be sure to look out for the Gruffalo, who manages to sneak his way in to most of their books. If your children are like mine, they're sure to love this book.

Easter Monday

It's still Easter! Let the celebration continue. He is risen, Alleluia, alleluia!

30 March 2013

My Own Private Triduum

Lent this year has been, for me, a private thing in many ways. I've had dietary restrictions beyond the norm (I've joked that I'm just following the old school fast, or the one still used by many Eastern Catholics and Orthodox) and have been dealing with Leo's health issues, among other things. I suppose, then, it is only fitting that I should have a private Triduum, too.

And so Holy Thursday found me alone with the three kids. My husband was singing in the choir, but Charlotte was just too exhausted to go. So I prayed the Rosary with them and put them to bed.

I held out hope, though, that I'd get to go to the Good Friday service. Veneration of the Cross is an amazing, humbling experience that I wanted to do. When my husband needed to leave, Leo was sleeping. I hate waking him for the car, as he hates the car and being awakened like that. Instead, I strapped him on and walked with the kids, praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as we went. We got to our seats, and Charlotte fell asleep within 5-10 minutes of it starting. Leo did well for a little over an hour (at least he got through Veneration), but then he started getting upset and I knew I needed to get him out. This meant I had to wake Charlotte (a difficult task that usually involves screaming). I told a friend to tell my husband I was leaving, and packed them into the car. Since Leo fell asleep and Charlotte stopped screaming, we just sat in the car until it was over so my husband didn't have to walk home.

Then there's today - Holy Saturday. I love the Vigil, but I haven't been to one since Kieran was a baby. I don't imagine this year will be different unless Charlotte happens to nap. We shall see.

28 March 2013

Crafty Thursday

I finished Charlotte's dress in time for her birthday. Overall I'm pleased with it. I only put eyes on one of the Hello Kitty faces, in part so Charlotte can easily tell the front from the back.

With that finished, I've now started a cute monkey alphabet afghan. The patterns are found in five issues of Knitting Today/Your Knitting Life. Thankfully my mother already owned four of the issues, and I was able to get the last one online.

25 March 2013

Book Nook: Claire and the Unicorn

When I saw Claire and the Unicorn Happy Ever After by BG Hennessy, I had to investigate. After all, Charlotte's second name is Claire. When I opened it up and saw that there were fairies, I knew we had to borrow it, since Charlotte loves fairies. The book fits her well, to the point that I said it was about her.

Claire wonders what makes someone happy ever after, and in her dreams she visits various fairy tale characters and asks what would make them happy. Follow Claire and her unicorn on their fairy tale adventure in this book.

It can also present a good teaching opportunity about our Catholic beliefs, for the fairy tale characters wish for transitory things, not things that will truly bring lasting happiness. In contrast, we believe that true happiness comes only in following God.

23 March 2013

Advanced, Delayed, or On Target?

At Leo's last well check, his doctor was amazed at the things he was doing and considered him to be advanced. When we're out, others are often amazed at him and are surprised to find he's younger than they expected. To us, though, he seems normal. After all, Charlotte did the same things around the same time, as did Kieran (with some variation, of course).

Because we don't follow societal norms, I can't help wondering if that at least partially explains the difference. We don't use playmates for longer than a few minutes, and there's almost always someone interacting with Leo when we do. He's often in my arms or being worn, both of which work his muscles and provide stimulation since he can see what I'm doing. We talk to, not at, our children. While we're far from being alone in these things, those of us who do these are still a minority subset of society. Many still put babies down instead of carrying or wearing them, and don't speak to them really.

I suppose it's similar to the difference between those who do elimination communication (ec) and those who don't. Those who do ec have children who are (at least mostly) diaper free. The child gives signals and the parent responds; the parent also cues the child. While it may seem advanced for Western society for a child to be diaper free from such a young age, those who do ec will tell you it isn't that the child is advanced, it's that this practice allows a child to do what is in fact normal. (One of these days I really am going to get with it and do ec).

I'm also reminded of how the differences between breastfed and formula fed babies are viewed. Those who are breastfed are spoken of as having certain benefits, when in reality this is the norm.

So, are my babies advanced? I'm not so sure.

(This is not intended to be a judgement on anyone's parenting, just me musing about societal expectations)

21 March 2013

Crafty Thursday

I'm almost finished! With just under a week until Charlotte's birthday, I'm glad the end is in sight. I'll have to duplicate stitch the faces on.

19 March 2013

I'll Save This Photo

As a breastfeeding mum, one who openly breastfeeds wherever whenever, including at Mass, I was delighted to see this photo of our new Pope Francis. I think I'll carry it with me in case I ever get more comments about my public breastfeeding.

18 March 2013

Book Nook: Tabby McTat

It's been awhile since I've written about a Julia Donaldson book. I was surprised to see another of her books at the library since she's a British author, but there was Tabby McTat the Musical Cat on the shelf. Knowing that we can't go wrong with one of her books, we picked it up. Tabby McTat and his owner, a busker, make lovely music together until they get separated. Time passes and they wonder about each other and search for each other until they are finally reunited, but does McTat still want to be a busker's cat? Filled with Axel Scheffler's lovely illustrations and Donaldson's rhymes, you and your children are sure to love this book.

17 March 2013

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Céad míle fáilte! We aren't having corned beef since I can't eat beef, but I'm hoping to make sausage and mushroom pie and colcannon. I hope everyone has a blessed day. Here are my posts from the week, and thanks to RAnn for hosting.

Book Nook: Sailor Moo
Is It Charitable?
Habemus Papam

14 March 2013


I'm scarred - literally. Between knee operations and running into the evil tea cart, my legs are scarred, but I don't care. I was just thinking about it, though, because this week the inevitable happened: we took Charlotte to the emergency room for stitches after she fell and hit her head on the corner of the stair. I phoned the pediatrician first, who said if I went to the children's hospital, they'd get someone from plastics in to ensure she didn't have a scar. I don't live close to them, and there's no way I was going there in rush hour traffic when there were other options closer.

But the statement that stuck with me was that they'd call in plastics specifically because she's a girl. That was when I was reminded of my second knee operation. My orthopedist told me that he would just do one long incision if I were a boy, but being a girl he wanted to leave a prettier scar and so would do two smaller incisions. I honestly didn't care about the scars. As it was, his plan to leave nice scars backfired when I had an allergic reaction to the steri-strips. My scars definitely aren't thin little lines, but they don't bother me.

No, what bothers me is the idea of treating the injuries different purely because of one's sex. We focus enough on the appearance of girls. I feel an injury should be treated the same, whatever the gender. I wish they could've used the dermabond on her, but only because it's easier than stitches, and less painful, but it just wasn't closing well enough with that. That it often leaves a neater scar is incidental, to me.

13 March 2013

Habemus Papam!

I've been out of the house all day, so I was glad I signed up with PopeAlarm to be alerted when there was white smoke.  At Kieran's violin lesson I heard our pope is Francis.  May God bless him.

12 March 2013

Is It Charitable?

I'm having trouble with something. Is it charitable to "give in" because others have a problem with something, and, if so, in what cases? I've had the charity card pulled on me before in regards to breastfeeding openly at Mass, and now it's being played in regards to where I sit and how my children act at Mass.

So, for example, if you find out the priest gets distracted easily, is it uncharitable to continue sitting in the front? Is it uncharitable not to remove my three kids at the slightest noise? (Edit: my priest has not said anything to me, so it's just a question)

If I know people around me are distracted by my children, is it uncharitable to continue sitting there? If a recovering alcoholic is going to be bothered by someone drinking alcohol, I try not to drink in front of them out of charity, but is that at all the same thing?

And what about my children? I sit in the front specifically so thy can see and learn; if they aren't with me, I don't usually sit in the front. Their behaviour is worse if we sit where they can't see the altar, so then they'd disrupt people still. Their behavior isn't bad, and certainly not atypical for their ages. They are mostly quiet, though Charlotte moves around and talks, because that's how she is able to process things. They may not always appear to be paying attention, yet this past Sunday Kieran sang the Sanctus, in Latin, and Charlotte wants a statue of Mary and her own mantilla, so obviously they're getting it.

And then I wonder about humility/pride and obedience. I think of some of the Saints who obeyed their superiors even when what they were doing wasn't bad (thinking specifically of Padre Pio obeying the order not to celebrate Mass publicly for a time). But then I've taken no vows like that, and the Church as a whole has made no declarations about my predicament, but instead gives us great freedom in such things. I have enlisted the help of another parishioner who has agreed to sit with me when we're both there, because I feel I should accept appropriate help when available. I declined the offer of another to help by watching Kieran so I could remove Charlotte, as I don't feel the need to remove her unless she's actually throwing a fit (rare) and because Kieran is fine on his own for a few minutes.

Someone also point out Jesus' silence before His accusers, which some took as giving up or a sign of guilt. Does that apply here?

I know I'm stubborn to a fault at times - am I just being stubborn here? If it were something about me and that just affected me, I'd willingly comply, but it isn't. My children are affected, and if I know they do best and learn most when sitting where they can see the altar, should I move? I know I can't be stricter and expect perfection, because when I do that we all get stressed and they beg to miss Mass; when I don't do that, Kieran gets upset when we miss.

So what's the answer? I really would appreciate feedback, please.

11 March 2013

Book Nook: Sailor Moo

Who doesn't like a whimsical book about cows? At least that was my thought when I glimpsed the book Sailor Moo, Cow at Sea by Lisa Wheeler. In this book, you follow a sweet dairy cow named Moo as she dreams of a life at sea. On the way she finds adventure with rough sailing cats, manatees, and bovine pirate before settling back on land.  A very cute book - I never knew cows could be such fun. Perhaps the author is a Gary Larson fan . . .

8 March 2013

The Way God Works

I've made it no secret that I dislike living in Florida (too hot and humid!). While I enjoy seeing family more, I am an Anglophile and miss Liverpool and our friends there. I hold out hope that we'll be able to return, but lately we've been shown that God's had a reason for having us here.

That reason is Leo. When we needed his posterior tongue tie divided, we were able to find a doctor near us. I know that isn't true for all in the US, but it was for us right now. I also know there are many places in England that can help with this.

More than that, though, is the matter of his gallstones. When he was first diagnosed, I of course searched online for information. One of the top hits was for a US children's hospital that said the treatment for symptomatic pediatric gallstones was removal of the gallbladder. Surgery isn't something we wanted unless absolutely necessary, and of course scared us. Obviously we would've done it if necessary, but the specialist (who is close to us) wanted to try medicine first. When it was clear the medicine wasn't working, the specialist didn't then run to surgery, but ordered labs. We had an appointment today, and his labs were normal (Deo gratias!) so the ARNP agreed there was no reason for surgery. We are thankful that we've found doctors who will take action as necessary, but are also conservative in that. I'm sure that could be done elsewhere, too, but right now I know God's put us here for Leo, and so I will say glory be to God.

7 March 2013


Isn't it ironic that Catholics are (rightly) renowned for being pro-life, yet many parishes are less-than-welcoming of families with young children unless those children are robots? Isn't it ironic that many parishes have statues of/devotions to the Holy Family and/or the Infant of Prague, yet don't welcome the babies and toddlers in the pews? And then, when these families find it too stressful to continue attending Mass or bringing their children to Mass, everyone complains that people are leaving, the parish is dying, and vocations are decreasing. That should hardly be surprising, though. Those who remain despite the sometimes-daily looks and comments end up being stressed at times. At least I do. The children also sense it and can dread going to Mass, which is not good at all.

While not an exact parallel, I cannot help thinking of this passage from James 2:1-5 (New Jerusalem Bible):
"1 My brothers, do not let class distinction enter into your faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord.
2 Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, well-dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes,
3 and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, 'Come this way to the best seats'; then you tell the poor man, 'Stand over there' or 'You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.'
4 In making this distinction among yourselves have you not used a corrupt standard?
5 Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who were poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him."

When it comes to families with young children, the distinction isn't between rich and poor, but one of outward behaviour. If your children can be perfectly still and quiet, you are welcome to sit in the front, but if they cannot, you are told to sit or stand to the side or back. Thus sitting where the children can actually see becomes okay only if those children are not audible or visible, in some people's opinions. (Note: I don't ascribe evil intent to any such person, and so I harbour no ill will. I blame societal views, personally).

Mixed in with all this is the idea that a "good" child is one that is not seen or heard - in other words, one who doesn't act like a child. Yet Jesus was a child, and He surely cried and played like any other child, since He is like us in all things but sin. And babies and young children are incapable of committing personal sin. That's not to say that parents don't or shouldn't direct their children, but that children crying, talking, and moving is normal and not bad. And the child's parents also aren't bad parents. Can they be distracting? Yes, but so can lots of things. I've been distracted by cell phones and the lingering smell of cigarette smoke, but that's my problem. I'd never suggest such people move for my benefit, because it isn't about me - it's about our Eucharistic Lord!

All this sometimes makes me wish I were Byzantine Catholic. I've been told that in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, children move around and look at the icons. This is expected and encouraged, because they are then being taught about their faith. Unfortunately walking around looking at the stations of the cross and statues isn't usually encouraged in Latin parishes, though I do point them out during Mass at times.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that we can't just welcome certain people. We can't restrict our welcome based on appearance, age, etc. We must live the Gospel. I'm far from perfect at this, believe me. But also believe me that I know firsthand that it is extremely hurtful to receive negative comments about my children, or to see the angry looks shot at them and me, and I wish everyone would think of this when they see a family with young children at Mass. And if they bother you so much, offer to help (and by help, I don't mean offering to watch an older child while the mum removes younger ones).

Crafty Thursday

I'm plugging away on Charlotte's dress. I have everything joined to work in the round, and I've just started the Hello Kitty faces. I decided to add the whiskers later with duplicate stitch. Now I just hope I finish it in time! I have until Holy Week, but it's slow going right now.

6 March 2013

Easter and Ishtar

Every year around Easter I end up seeing posts about how Easter is supposedly a pagan holiday worshipping Ishtar. According to the argument, Easter and Ishtar are pronounced the same, and so are connected (thank Alexander Hislop's spurious "scholarship" for this one).

Are they pronounced the same? No. If they were, would it prove that Easter is a pagan festival to worship Ishtar? No. Ishtar is a Semitic word, while Easter is Germanic. The two languages are not etymologically related. There are many false cognates between languages, where words look and/or sound alike but have different meanings. For example, take the word "me" in English. It sounds like the Hebrew word for "who", which is transliterated "mj" or "mi", but the two words have dissimilar meanings. No, sounding similar isn't reason to make a connection between the two.

Some then say that the word Easter actually derives from the Germanic goddess Eostre instead (Hislop claims Eostre and Ishtar are in fact the same goddess). Easter (or Ostern in German) started being used because the month in which the Paschal feast often fell was named Eostre. Whether there actually was a goddess named Eostre remains a matter of debate; if there was, though, her worship had ceased by the time the Venerable Bede was writing. Never did he, or anyone until more modern times, claim that Easter was a pagan festival worshipping Eostre or that the two were at all related.

Such arguments as these rely on looking exclusively at the English terms instead of looking at the big picture. In other languages, the word used for this holiday is similar to the word for Passover. The Hebrew for Passover is Pesach; the Latin for this holiday is Pascha. Even in English, we often refer to our Paschal feast. In earlier times, it was not unusual for English speakers to use the term Pash or Pace. The term Pascha was chosen because of it being the word for Passover, and so is etymologically related. It was chosen because of Jesus' Passion and Resurrection being at the time of Passover, showing that He is our true Paschal Lamb. We celebrate His Passion and Resurrection every year at the Paschal feast, more commonly called Easter in English. It certainly isn't pagan.

5 March 2013

Home Remedies

Whenever possible, I prefer to use home remedies, though of course we use medicine whenever needed. Last week my daughter developed a cough. After a restless night, I decided to try a home remedy I'd heard. I took an onion and chopped 1-2 tablespoons. I put that in a small container and added enough local honey to cover the onions. I then let it steep for a few hours (I keep it in the fridge) before giving Charlotte a small spoonful of the honey.

It worked! She didn't cough for hours - I found it was needed twice daily. Better yet, she didn't object to taking it. My mother also had a cough and decided to try it and was pleased with the result, too. I'll have to remember this the next time I have a cough, as I hate cough syrup and refuse to take it unless there's a dire need.

What are your favourite tried and true home remedies?

4 March 2013

Book Nook: St Francis and the Wolf

When we were looking for books about dragons, I thought we could look for a book about St George and the dragon. Unfortunately I didn't see such a book at our library, but we did see Saint Francis and the Wolf by Richard Egielski. Seeing as my children all have Franciscan second names (we evidently like Franciscans), I thought we'd pick it up. We weren't disappointed, as Egielski does a great job of telling the story for children. It certainly kept the interest of all. I'd definitely recommend it: it's a good story in an of itself, but it's also a good way to learn more about St Francis of Assisi.

28 February 2013

Crafty Thursday

I've been working on Charlotte's dress. I just need to do the garter stitch for the other sleeve. Then the rest will be done in the round. The yoke will have Hello Kitty on it.