Friday, September 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 5

Linking with Jen and the other fantastics.

ONE:

My computer is still not back from being repaired. However, my phone is proving so useful.  I actually wrote a fairly lengthy post this week.  

It's fairly heavy. Basically, my oldest asked me about rape, which got my mind spinning. Give it a read if you're up for it.

TWO: 

Today we got crafty!

Well, as crafty as you can get with 3 and 1-year-old boys, and limited no-mess supplies. This is a cereal box turned inside out and some dollar-store foam stickers. Our cute mini-clothespin came from Michael's and is probably the most expensive part of this little project. I had Patrick trace the "To Dad," for a little impromptu letters practice. He doesn't quite know the lowercase letters yet, but he wants to know (otherwise I wouldn't bother),". He's always interrupting stories to point to the letters and ask what they are, which makes me super-proud. 

THREE:

Carter gets inventive with "'ats".  He loves to put anything on his head and plays with his hair all the time. He was devastated when I cut off the beginnings of a mullet two weeks ago.

FOUR:

In Jen's 6th take, she touched on people who are isolated, or without "their own village."
I'm neither, but I'm realizing lately that I'm an extremely passive friend, and therefore, very bad at building and contributing to the existing village of lovely friends our family has. Example: I've been meaning to call several friends over the summer to get together, but summer has ended and I've seen 3 of the 6 or 7 on my proverbial list. If they've called me, we've gotten together, and its been great. I always leave those teas and chats and play dates feeling uplifted and like it should happen more often.  
The problem is that I keep myself busy and far from bored at home.  Besides things that need to be done, I have lots of little projects that have been sitting on the back burner for a few years (while I was a student/having two babies), plus, major renovations to our fixer-upper home.  The days just slide by, and I suppose my introversion keeps me from longing for actual adult conversation and contact.  But I have to admit, the little village we have of lovely Catholic families is too good not to put some time into.  Hmmm.

FIVE:

Hate me, fellow Canadians, but when I'm pregnant, winter is my best friend.  I am hating any day where the temperature is over 20 (so basically the entire summer). The crisp morning air of Autumn has brought sweet relief to me, and significantly longer playground stays for the boys.


However, I still languish in the shade.

I just keep thinking to myself that I'll be toasty warm all winter between pregnancy and cozy breastfeeding time with a newborn come December or January.

SIX:

Potty training begins next week for Carter.  I think he's going to do great.  I'm anticipating a couple months with no diapers before the baby, which will perhaps be my first diaper-free time in almost 4 years.  Pray it goes well, please.
Carter drives me nuts, running away every time I need to take him for a change. I've started bribing him with gummy-bears and marshmallows (judge away, I am not proud of this) so I don't have to hunt him down, tackle him and carry him to the change table, kicking and giggling. He thinks its a game, no matter how displeased I get. 
I never imagined I'd be thinking up ways to enact sneak attacks on 2 year olds just to meet their basic needs (and my need not to wash 20 pairs of pants each week).

SEVEN:

These people.
http://www.calgaryherald.com/touch/story.html?id=8885430
I don't know them, but I read their story and cried my eyes out. Mom, with six kids lost husband/father in recent Alberta floods, and now may have to sell their beautiful home.  Please pray. And donate, if you can.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rape, sex and my three-year-old's questions.

My three-year-old Patrick sometimes has questions about things my husband or I watch on the news.  The other night, as I was setting dinner on the table, a story about rape on university campuses came on.

"What's rape?" Patrick asked, after an interview with a campus advocate for sexual harassment and rape prevention. 

I turned off the TV.  Hesitant. Wanting to give him a good answer, but not wanting to open his eyes to the actual horror of such an act.

I said, "It is something that a person does that hurts another person a lot. It is very bad."

Patrick responded, "Like when people hit and take toys."

I replied, "Yes. But it is even worse than that."

Patrick left it at that, his three-year-old mind moving to something else.  It's been a couple of days, and he hasn't asked about it again. But I have given it quite a bit of thought.

As a mom to three sons, I often mull over how to teach them about their sexuality, especially in regards to how they will view and treat women. I know they're only 3, 1.5, and still unborn, but it really does begin the moment they notice that, hey, they have a penis - they are boys. 

I was somewhat surprised to be discussing rape with Patrick the other night, but it made me realize the need to think about what I want to be telling my sons in regards to sex, sexuality and becoming men.

I knew what rape was at 5 years old. Thankfully, it was not because it, or anything remotely similar had happened to me.  It was because I had heard adults talking about it, and asked.  I was told, "It's when a man touches a woman's private parts when she doesn't want him to."

That definition stuck with me for a very long time.  It is inaccurate and incomplete at best, but it also contains the narrative that it is primarily something that men do to women. I have never heard of a rape case where a  man was not the aggressor, but somehow my five-year-old self perceived rape as a common occurrence, which made me deeply afraid to be a woman.

This not what I think about rape now, having had 22 more years to learn about it, but that first encounter with the word and its meaning was impactful on the way I viewed sexuality, men, women, and myself. Though I don't begrudge the person who said that to me in the least, it left me with the impression that men were not to be trusted. That is certainly not what I want my sons to come through life with. 

But, what do I want them to know? This opens up a whole slew of questions I don't yet have the answers to.

Children are being exposed to aspects of sexuality from birth.  Their understanding is limited, but as a parent, I feel like its my job to disseminate the messages so that my sons (and possible future daughters) a. don't hear inaccurate or harmful things from elsewhere, and b. have enough knowledge for their stages of development to have and maintain a healthy outlook on sexuality and what it means for them.

As a practicing Catholic, my own understanding of sexuality, both general and personal, is basically this: that the sexual act is an amazing, holy, covenant between married men and women and God. But with a three-year-old, you can't go tossing around words like "covenant".
These are things I myself am still grasping.

My husband and I grew up in fairly conservative Christian/Catholic homes. We attended youth groups and retreats and both ended up dabbling in youth ministry. And, we both came away with a view that it is a woman's job to guard men from their uncontrollable desires.  If she did not dress modestly or if she flirted and showed any interest in men, she was automatically a first-rate whore. 
Joseph has told me that he was convinced that good Catholic women do not desire sex, and that sexual desire existed in men, but must be stifled until marriage.  Thankfully we became more enlightened to the beauty and mystery of men, women and sexuality before we began dating one another (thanks, in part to John Paul II's Theology of the Body).  However, Joseph has said to me several times that it still surprised him that I like and desire sex.  For my part, it surprises me just how beautiful and dignified a sexual relationship with one's spouse can be.  It's nothing like the reckless, wild, irrational love we see in movies, it's better.  We want our children to know that they, and their sexuality is amazing, beautiful and holy from the get-go.

I want my boys to view themselves in a positive light when it comes to their sexuality.  They need to know that they were made good, and that their sexuality is good.  I want them to practice self-control, and know that they are real men when they do so.  I want them to appreciate feminine beauty, intuition and intelligence. I want them to be aware that though a woman's clothing and behaviour may not indicate that they want respect, that they are to be treated with Christ-like love and that their dignity as human beings is something to be cherished. I want them to be surrounded by men and women who show this kind of love to one another inside and outside of marriage.

I want them to know that they'll be happier if they don't buy in to the narrative that says lust is a hobby that all men take up.  The narrative that says its okay to treat a woman as an object, because she has willingly objectified herself for the pleasure of men.  The narrative that not only paints men as defilers and deflowerers and slaves to their desires, but glorifies it at the same time. 

Boys and men need to know they are good and worthy as much as girls do - and I've seen a lot of finger pointing from men to women and women to men.  It's a challenge to find some balance for myself.  My fervent prayer is that I can help my sons to navigate the world with their innocent eyes and instil in them their own goodness and worth, and the value and beauty of the women around them.



Friday, September 6, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 4

See Jen over at Conversion Diary for more lovely posts.

ONE:

On Wednesday night Joseph came home early.  Usually a good thing.  This time? 
He'd been working on a window install all day feeling awful. 

When this man gets sick, which is pretty rare, he gets it bad.  When I asked him if I could do anything for him once I'd put the kids to bed and came back to the couch where he lay under a blanket with his feet sticking out (he's tall - the couch throw just won't do), he said, 
"Just shoot me."
To which I replied, "Can't. I have a moral issue there, and I like you. A lot. Also, we own no guns."
"Just go out to the shop and get a nail gun or a drill then," he said. 

Morbid. I know. 

I dragged a mattress upstairs, made him a bed and got a proper blanket.  

He's alive and semi-feeling better. I however, have whatever he has.  At one point yesterday, I felt the nail gun sentiment very acutely.

TWO:

More cheerful thoughts... 


When Joseph was down and out, I made homemade Nutella.  Since I got sick the following day, I feel like it's contaminated. But it was fairly easy, so if I throw it out and make it again, it won't be so bad.

Recipe:

1 c. Hazelnuts
1 c. Semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
2 tbsp. coconut oil (canola would work)
Evaporated milk (enough to almost cover the chocolate chips) 

1. Toast the hazelnuts at 350 for 12 minutes or until the skin is blistered and the but meat is golden brown.  Pour them into a dish towel, fold it over them and roll them around on the counter until most of the skin has come off. Some leftover skin is not a big deal.

2. In a food processor, grind hazelnuts till they form a dry paste.

3. In a microwave-safe dish, pour the chocolate chips and almost cover with milk. (Leave the top layer of chips uncovered).  Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring till mixture is smooth.  Let it cool a little before mixing with nuts.

4. Add oil to nuts and process.  It will be a runny consistency.  Add the chocolate when just warm and process till everything is smooth.  

5. Strain through a sieve for ultimate smoothness, or leave as is. Makes about 1.25 cups.

This will keep on the countertop in an airtight container for about a week.  If refrigerated, it solidifies but will still melt on toast.

THREE:

We spent Labour Day Monday with my in-laws.  We've established a 3-year tradition of attending the CFL (Canadian Football League)  Labour Day Classic between the Stampeders and Eskimos. Over 3 years I've become a bit more of a fan.  This year I even wore a "Fan on Board" T-shirt with an arrow pointing to my baby bump.  The boys ate copious amounts of sugar and salt (as did I), and we even sent in their picture for the "Get your game face on," prize (a Tim Horton's gift card). They didn't win but they were pretty thrilled to see themselves on the big screen.


I just re-read and realized how stereotypically Canadian this all sounds to possible American readers.  Eskimos... Stampeders... Tim Horton's. 

Interesting fact about Canadian football: 3 downs instead of 4.  As a new sports fan, I'm kind of unclear about what this does to the game... But to me, it sounds like players have less chances to score on a larger field in the Canadian game. Correct me if I'm wrong.  If I am, then I can make Joseph think I'm savvy next time it comes up in conversation.
Joseph, Carter and I. 

FOUR:

I don't know about you, but it does me a lot of good to be married to someone who thinks I'm beautiful.

This morning, while I was curled up in bed, thinking about that nail gun, Joseph came in and said to me,
"I know you feel terrible, but you still look really good."  He does tend to be very honest so I don't doubt he actually thought that.


A selfie I took to confirm whether or not he was lying.  I look pretty bad in my mind, but it just goes to show that love does a lot for appearances.

FIVE:

I may have found some pregnancy workouts that actually work with the crazy changes that are going on right now.

I have been feeling, shall we say, rotund. But also just plain unhealthy. So I decided I needed to get out in these final days of warmth and see if my body has what it takes.  

Walking leaves my hips very sore, so you can forget about jogging.  I'm not in love with the gym concept either, or exercising in front of other people for that matter.  So swimming is for sure out (my allergy to chlorine has a lot to do with that one too).

So what's a self-conscious preggo with a need for movement do?

Exercise videos yes... But on Tuesday, I actually hooked up the bike trailer and took the boys to the library. Why this didn't leave me sore, I don't know, but it was fantastic.  The library is about 2.5 km away, so not overly ambitious.  The route is also fairly flat. V for big victory here.  There's hope for some pregnancy fitness after all.  

It also solves that exercise in front if people dilemma because I ride by people too fast do them to actually observe my million body insecurities.  They probably don't see what I see, but I'm still working on that concept.

Two weeks in a row where my body issues have come up.  Maybe a post on body image is in the making.

SIX:


That's an oldie of Carter at 2 or 3 months.  First smiles.  
Looking at my boys' baby photos makes me super excited to meet little guy #3!
Newborns and little babies are my favourite.  Yes, they don't do much, but I relish the opportunity to hold and snuggle.  Patrick and Carter grew out of that way too fast!

SEVEN:

Quite a few of my friends and family members are expecting their first baby this year.  I am so excited for them! Not just because babies are cute and lovely, but because of the amazing changes in the mothers themselves. 

When I became a mom, I had a rapid learning curve that required me to change so many things about my life, and my heart.  I became softer in a way, more pliable. I suppose that happens when you no longer think so much about your own needs, and when there's a helpless little person who needs everything from you.  Some days you think you're not going to make it through, but somehow you find a way, some inner strength, or just some much needed help.  The first baby makes and breaks you in ways you've never experienced. I witness these changes more in other women than in myself.  It is nothing short of a miracle.  

So, prayers and love to those new mamas today!