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.