Monthly Archives: March 2009

March Update

So, rather than folding laundry, I thought I would spend a few minutes updating you on the goings-on around here, other than my haphazard reading, which is taking up disproportionate amounts of blog space.

Samantha has a tooth, on the bottom in the front.  I have not seen it yet, as she guards it jealously with a strange tongue-curling manoeuvre which makes her look like a turtle.  She is happy to chomp on anything near her mouth, however, so we have established that it is sharp.

Samantha has also learned to grab.  Hair is one of her favorites, right up there with whatever happens to be on my dinner plate.  This led to our finding out she is allergic (apparently only a little, so don’t worry) to eggs.

Lucy is getting very verbal, as her grandparents are learning from repeated (semi-intelligible) phone calls.  She also “wrote” her first story a couple of weeks ago, which went something like this:

“Once upon a time, I had a doggie, and cows, and mommy.  Samantha.  The end.”

Various permutations of this involving the store, birds, etc., have followed over the last two weeks.  Samantha is also getting more verbal, but she mostly says different versions of “blah”.

Lucy is enjoying spend as much time as possible outside, particularly on her slide.  I enjoy spending this time in the hammock with Samantha.  She also likes to make “snails” out of play-doh and put various stuffed animals (and other inanimate objects) to bed in various parts of the house.  Furthermore, she can now do somersaults.

We only thought Lucy was into her independent phase.  Now we are getting more “I do it by self!” statements every day.

Exams finished at Chapelle, which means I am one quarter away from official stay-at-home-momdom.  I have not started a countdown calendar, unlike our seniors.

The garden is, sort of.  We have tomatoes, bell and jalapeno peppers, cucumber, okra, and onions so far, as well as mint and basil.  Something is already eating the basil.  I suspect slugs.  We’re planning on some beans, melons, squash and whatever else sounds good at the time we go buy plants and seeds, as well.  The iris are blooming in front of the house, apparently the “lollipop” and “Sunday morning” varieties which Fr. R.B. gave us after we moved here.  If we ever get new batteries for the digital camera, there will be pictures of some of these exciting things for your visual enjoyment.

Craig got a new lawn mower in the mail today.  It’s the reel variety, which doesn’t require a motor or gasoline.  He is very excited.

We had a wonderful visit from Taylor and Rob recently, for those of you who know Taylor.  Lucy still asks for “Aunt Taylor” every day or two.

Housework and sewing are pretty much on hold, although I make an attempt  at each once or twice a week.  I have been decluttering by giving one thing away each day of Lent, which I’ve been fairly consistent with.  But I think I need Lent to go several hundred more days for that to do much good around here.

I guess that’s pretty good for an update.  And the little natives are getting restless, so I guess it’s back to the laundry…or more likely chasing Lucy around while Samantha drools on me.  The laundry can wait, it’s hammock time.

Another reason we forgo “Baby Einstein”

“Adults have taken it for granted that children are sensible only to gaudy objects, bright colors, and shrill sounds, and they make use of these to attract a child’s attention.  We have all noticed how children are attracted by songs, by the tolling of bells, by flags fluttering in the wind, by brilliant lights, and so forth.  But these violent attractions are external and transitory, and can be more of a distraction than boon.  We might make the comparison with our own way of acting.  If we are busy reading an interesting book and suddenly hear a loud band passing by in the street, we get up and go to the window to see what is happening.  If we were to see someone act in this way, we would hardly conclude that men are particularly attracted by loud sounds.  And yet we make this conclusion about little children.  The fact that a strong, external stimulus catches a child’s attention is merely incidental and has no real relation with the inner life of the child which is responsible for his development.  We can perceive evidence of a child’s inner life in the way he immerses himself in the fixed contemplation of minute things that are of no concern to us.   But one who is attracted by the smallness of an object and focuses his attention upon it does so, not because it has made a striking impression upon him, but simply because his contemplation of it is an expression of an affectionate understanding.”

-Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

Reverence before the mystery of creation

“Our attitude towards the newborn child should not be one of compassion but rather of reverence before the mystery of creation, that a spiritual being has been confined within limits perceptible to us.”

“But if in the child are to be found the makings of the man, it is in the child also that the future welfare of the race is to be found”

-Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

I often find myself amazed that the great respect and awe Montessori had for the child.  This respect informs and underpins her whole philosophy of growth and learning, which I like more and more as I read through it.  I’m looking forward to implementing some of these attitudes into my homeschooling over the next few years (although much of her work applies more to child-rearing than “schooling” – good thing I don’t have to draw a clear line between the two!)

Peter Maurin

So I just finished The Long Loneliness which is a kind of autobiography Dorthy Day wrote back in the fifties.  I highly recommend it, first of all.  The first section about her early life is fascinating, the section about the birth of her daughter is moving (and should be required reading for mothers), and her depiction of Peter Maurin, who practically drove her to start the Catholic Worker movement, left me wondering why he hasn’t been canonized yet.  There will be much, much more on The Long Loneliness as I re-read it in the coming months, but we started looking again at Maurin’s Easy Essays, and here is one for a taste.  I suspect a similar feeling of unconnectedness to my experience in the world is what has caused me to drift away from my interest in formalized theology.  (No offence intended, studiers of formalized theology, it’s just that I have found God more easily in my garden than in Aquinas lately.)

BLOWING THE DYNAMITE

Writing about the Catholic Church, 
a radical writer says: 
“Rome will have to do more 
than to play a waiting game; 
she will have to use 
some of the dynamite 
inherent in her message.” 
To blow the dynamite 
of a message 
is the only way 
to make the message dynamic. 
If the Catholic Church 
is not today 
the dominant social dynamic force, 
it is because Catholic scholars 
have failed to blow the dynamite 
of the Church. 
Catholic scholars 
have taken the dynamite 
of the Church, 
have wrapped it up 
in nice phraseology, 
placed it in an hermetic container 
and sat on the lid. 
It is about time 
to blow the lid off 
so the Catholic Church 
may again become 
the dominant social dynamic force.

Dinner

“The focus of our days is the dinner table, whether, as often happens in the winter nowadays, it is just Hugh and me or I am cooking for a dozen or more.  When the children were in school I didn’t care what time we ate dinner as long as we ate it together.  If Hugh were going to be late, then we would all eat late.  If he had to be at the theatre early, we would eat early.  This was the time community (except for the very small babies) gathered together, when I saw most clearly illustrated the beautiful principle of unity in diversity:  we were one, but we were certainly diverse, a living example of the fact that like and equal are not the same thing.”

-Madeleine L’Engle, Glimpses of Grace (emphasis added)

I don’t have much time to write lately because of a swamp of school work, but I found this worth sharing.  This is sort of the ideal I hold up of my family in ten or fifteen years – gathered around dinner, discussing sports, theology, nature, literature, and whatever interests my children will quite literally “bring to the table” of which I now have no concept.  It is a daunting goal, but the beauty of this “unity in diversity” makes me want to strive towards it. 

More on this as relates to communal living beyond the family later, perhaps.

Somehow a Frog Finds a Pond

So I have found a new almost-all-consuming pastime. (!)  Searching for kid-friendly, good music which does not involve Disney or the same fifteen songs over and over.  Or anyone licking up baby bumble bees.  That’s just weird.

And I should profess again my love for NPR.  Last weekend we were driving to Baton Rouge and happened to hear the music review at the end of the Friday edition of All Things Considered.  Lucy was dancing in her car seat, and I was cracking up.

So apparently Stefan Shepherd‘s review has catapulted the South Carolina band Lunch Money to semi-stardom.  We ordered the CD almost as soon as we got to Baton Rouge.  And I love it.  And Craig doesn’t mind it.  And Lucy dances to it, and is already singing “Are You a Rabbit” around the house.  The lyrics are witty, without sacrificing good vocabulary (reticulated python!).  I love the fun, fast sound that dominates the CD, and the slower and calmer songs just make me happy.

So Samantha is no longer sleeping, so I guess I’m done, but if you are looking for some fun, clean music, check out Lunch Money.  Goodnight all!

Body talk

There are schools of thought which encourage children be fed by having several different foods (including dessert!) set before them at the beginning of a meal, and the child will naturally choose the foods which his body happens to need at the moment (and not necessarily dessert).  The thought is that a small child, not yet driven by mere routine, not having been taught simply to finish his plate, is still connected to voice of her body.  We haven’t implemented this totally into Lucy’s world, but we don’t force her to make a “happy plate” either.

I bring this up not because of our eating habits, but because of what I’ve been seeing from Lucy the last day or so.  She is coming down with a head cold, and last night the girl who never goes to bed without screaming curled up next to me saying, “I going to sleep.”  Then she let me get up and leave the room and went to sleep without a snuggly parent.  Unheard of.

This morning she slept late and even when she woke up, didn’t want to get out of bed but claimed, “I going to sleep.”  And she laid there for close to an hour by herself.  My rambuncious two-year-old does not spend extra time in bed.  But today, she recognized that what her body needed most was rest, and made sure she got it.  

So I guess my job now is to stay out of the way in hopes that she will keep being able to respond to her body’s cues like this when she’s five, and fifteen, and thirty-five.  And maybe along the way I can learn a little from her (and Samantha) about listening to my body well, and trusting what I hear.