Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blessed Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I'm very sorry it has been over a week since I posted. Two weeks ago Cecilia got sick with a cold. Last week James got sick with a cold that is quite persistant. And I've been sick since Christmas with some fever/cough thing. So, basically, we have been sleeping in and taking it easy as much as possible. My fever seems to have gone away and Cecilia is better but James and I are still working through the coughs.

We do hope everyone is having a very Blessed Christmas Season though and we will try to get some pictures of Cecilia's first Christmas on her website within the next couple of weeks. When you are sick, everything goes slower.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Airport HELL

First, let me clarify that I am NOT speaking of the BWI airport, which was most accomodating, nor Ft. Lauderdale's airport which we also had no problem at.

However, when we flew out of Orlando's airport this morning, it was a nightmare I never would have anticipated. Lines and chaos seem to be the two most prized things in the airport. For out 11:10am flight back to BWI we arrived at the airport at 9:15 - almost two hours beforehand.

We got to the ticketing area and there were two lines - one from each entry way - both ending in the same spot. We waiting in one of these lines until we got to the front where an employee was listening to each person's situation and then directing them to the correct line. So, then we waited in a second line. (Ingenius system wouldn't you say?) By the time we finished checking in we became worried about time since James still hadn't returned the rental car. So, knowing security would take longer for Cecilia, the stroller, the car seat, the diaper bag, the camera bag and whoever had them, we decided to split up - James left to return the car while I pushed or carried Cecilia and all of the forementioned items on a cart to security. Oh if only the saga had ended there.

I waited in one line only to be told when I got to the front of it that my cart could not come through (at BWI they did permit the cart through and the only sign to tell me it was not permitted I later saw on the far right of security) and if I needed help I would have to go back to ticketing and ask for help there. So I got out of line, pulled over and put Cecilia and everything else either in or on the stroller or myself. So I was now pushing Cecilia in the stroller, my purse and the camera bag hanging one off each handle bar, all of our coats and her blanket and a towel draped over the stroller, the diaper bag on one shoulder and carrying the car seat with the one arm not pushing the stroller. I got back in line at security. After waiting in one line and nearing the front by only a few people, they closed that line and I had to get in another. I finally got to the front of that line where they checked my ID and our tickets and let us pass into a mob of people who were pushing for the next found of lines to get through the X-ray machines. Eventually, we got up to the counter on which to put everything. I put up the diaper bag, the car seat and the camera bag and my purse while I took off my shoes. I got a bin and places my shoes BESIDE the bin. A security employee commented that my shoes had to go through security on the belt - not in a bin and then took the bin. By now I was ready to lose it. I picked up the jackets and blanket and towel for which I had gotten the stupid bin in the first place and threw them on the counter. The employee wasn't even't paying attention and just pushed everything through on the belt. I finally got Cecilia out of the stroller but, not familiar with folding the stroller without shoes on, I couldn't do it. I had to set her and our IDs and tickets on the floor and she began crying. Finally, an employee saw me struggling, and came over to help with the stroller. She asked how to fold it, I explained, and she got another employee to fold it and put it through. While getting everything together after security was not too difficult, Cecilia was scared and crying hysterically. Having been surrounded by so many people and mommy struggling and going from out of the stroller to in to out to in I finally took her out and held her putting the car seat in the stroller.

Now, completely forget for a moment that we are in Hanukkah or that Christmas is a week away and this is a season to be kind and joyful and generous - ignoring all this, I was still a paying customer by myself with an infant struggling and it took until Cecilia broke down screaming on the floor before ANYONE - employee OR passanger helped me. And for the record, in the end I received far more help from other passangers than from employees.

P.S. - get this - while going through security at the BWI airport, the guard told me that it would be easier for them if I placed the ziplock bag with Cecilia's peaches and juice separate from the other things. So, in Orlando, I did this ... they never even checked them.

The Orlando airport has to be the slowest, stupidest, most idiot run airport when it comes to ticketing and security I have seen in years. And to think this is an airport that sees an especially high number of tourists with small children!

It will be a frozen day in Orlando before I ever fly out of there again.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Birthday Meme

The Rules:

1) Go to Wikipedia.
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday.
4) List two important birthdays and one death.
5) One holiday or observance (if any).

3 Events:
1. 4004 BC - On the preceding eve of this day (in the proleptic Julian calendar), the universe was created, according to the archbishop James Ussher in what is now called the Ussher-Lightfoot Calendar.
2. 1930 - The first miniature golf tournament was completed in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
3. 2001 - Apple Computer releases the first iPod.

2 Birthdays (and 2 for added fun):
1844 - Sarah Bernhardt, French actress (d. 1923)
1925 - Johnny Carson, American television host (d. 2005)
1942 - Michael Crichton, American writer
1959 - "Weird Al" Yankovic, American musical parodist

1 Death (plus 2 for fun):
42 BC - Marcus Junius Brutus, Roman senator (b. 85 BC)
Giovanni da Capistrano, Italian saint (b. 1386)
1950 - Al Jolson, American singer and actor (b. 1886)

R.C. Saints - Saint Giovanni da Capistrano; Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
Hungary - National Day (revolution of 1956 and the proclamation of the Republic of Hungary in 1989)
Astrology: First day of sun sign Scorpio in Western tropical astrology.
Chemistry: Mole Day

Friday, December 08, 2006

Another Hot Topic - Crying It Out

A topic so controversial on mother message boards so as to be placed on their "Great Debate" boards along side Circumcision and Vaccination is whether or not to let a baby CIO or Cry it out.

Now, let me first say, that, at least for the purposes of this post, I am not speaking about when a parent is on the verge of losing it and prudently chooses to set the child down and walk away for a few minutes to regain control of themselves. In such a case, it is a prudent decision for the parent to do so so as to prevent any greater harm from coming to anyone even if it means the baby cries for a bit. I am also not speaking of an incrimental or gradual CIO method where the parent would leave the child and when the baby began crying, the parent returns to the baby, calms him and then leaves again.

I am speaking of when a parent makes sure as best as they can that there is nothing wrong with the baby and then leaves him in his crib and does not return even if the baby cries for over an hour. I've heard some parents let their infants cry for 3 hours or more, persistantly hoping the baby will just get the point, give up and go to sleep. I have heard mothers say that they use this method because their baby "deserves the opportunity to learn to sleep on their own."

Over the course of Cecilia's 10 months now, Cecilia has been anything but a great or easy sleeper. She has been attached to me since we brought her home, she fusses very easily, has been a very light sleeper making moving her almost impossible, has struggled greatly with teething, and indeed, has at times woken up 8 or more times a night. Indeed, it can be very tiring for her and me. I don't think I've ever had a Diet Coke with breakfast before simply to get the caffeine. Cecilia still sleeps in our bed, beside me. Some nights she is fantasic and will not wake more than once. Other nights it seems she is awake more than she is asleep. And more than one or two people have advised James and me to simply "let her cry."

It is however, a completly natural instinct to hold and comfort your child when they are crying. No parent should ever wish to see their child cry and, indeed, God has built us with an innate desire to wipe away all their tears. So it is reasonable that there should, indeed, be a very good reason, to simply ignore a baby's crying as well as our desire to calm that baby.

Personally, I cannot bring myself to do this for two reasons:
1. When God entrusts his innocent and completly dependent creation of a baby to me such that I become everything to that baby, yes, indeed, even becoming a representative of God to her and she is psychologically and intellectually incapable of intentionally trying to manipulate me but rather seeks only to fulfill her needs of nourishment and comfort, how can I morally and with justification ignore her cries? When we are sad or angry or in pain or lonely and we cry unto God, he is ALWAYS there. He never ignores us or abandons us or lets us wallow in sadness or pain so we can "have the opportunity to learn on our own," but rather he is always there guiding, comforting, enlightening, caressing, and wiping away our tears. As we are so gently and lovingly treated by Our Father, how could I justly choose not to strive to treat my daughter likewise?
2. Everyone, including her pediatrician, makes the defense, "they won't remember it." I grant you I don't know anyone who remembers such an event, but can anyone provide absolutely proof positive evidence that when a baby is left to cry and her whole world - her parents - ignores them, it has absolutely no negative consequences, especially psychologically? I am not saying there is proof positive evidence that it does cause harm, but without evidence to the contrary, shouldn't we always err on the side of caution?

I am certainly not saying not letting a baby CIO is easy. Heaven knows it isn't. There have been about 4 or 5 nights in the last two weeks where I have barely slept. But I simply cannot justify leaving Cecilia to CIO. I have been and will continue to work with her regarding her sleep (which has improved quite a bit I must say over the past month or so - The No Cry Sleep Solution has been helpful) but beyond that it is one more sacrifice my vocation calls me to make, as every vocation demands sacrifices.

I am certainly open to discussion on the topic, but I have explained my reasonings and would need those to be addressed before even considering such a course of action. Regarding any responses, please remember to be respectful and consider seriously my objections such that they be regarded in a thorough manner in any response. Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Santa, Part II

It seems the Santa Question is a hot topic on more than one Catholic website or blog.

Here is Rod Dreher's Blog (he writes for the Dallas Morning News) where, if you scroll down, the debate continues.

So I just thought I'd expand a bit more on the topic from my perspective. Please feel free to comment below but do remember to be respectful.

There seem to be three approaches to Santa:
1. There is a man at the North Pole with flying reindeer and elves, etc. as real as you or I or the Incarnation is.
2. There is a myth of a man at the North Pole who symbolizes the spirit of Christmas or a characture of a real Saint that has been embellished but continues to capture the spirit of Christmas.
3. Santa who?
Regarding Option 1, there have been several arguments made against it as well as several made in favor of it.
1. It is a pleasure to believe in Santa not to be denied to a child.
2. It encourages fantasy and wonder.
3. It accents and emphasizes the Spirit of Generosity and of Christmas.

1. It is a lie and we should avoid lying to our children.
2. It distracts children from Christ - the reason for the season.
3. It isn't necessary to celebrate Christmas.

Now, I hardly think the whole thing to be a serious moral issue, so I would respect any parent's decision on the subject with regard to their own children. However, here are my comments on both arguments.
In Favor: 1. It may be a pleasure, but there are many pleasures in life. Pleasure by its very definition is enjoyable but is not a necessity nor a right. Many children and adults alike took pleasure in Christmas long before there was the modern version of Santa Claus. So, granted it is a pleasure, but not a necessary one, and the question becomes, is it a pleasure that is worth it? 2. I would certainly grant that it does encourage fantasy and wonder. So does the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. And Charlotte's Web and the Chronicles of Narnia and Bing Crosby's White Christmas and Harry Potter and playing dress up and having tea parties without real tea, Lincoln Logs, etc. ad nauseum. Santa certainly encourages fantasy and wonder, but so do many many things. So my question now becomes, is telling a child the myth of Santa is a reality worth the pleasure and the fantasy and wonder? 3. I think Santa CAN accent the Spirit of Christmas depending on how it is treated. Secular society shoves him down our throats proclaiming him the national mascot and representative of Christmas itself. By the same token, a family certainly can treat him in a way where he would accent the meaning of Christmas. But he isn't necessary in this capacity either. So my summary of my comments on the arguments in favor are, "Telling children the man at the north pole with the flying reindeer and elves is as real as you are does give pleasure, does encourage fantasy and wonder and can accent the spirit of giving, but at what price and is that price worth it?"

Against: 1. I am not going to debate if there are ever times it is okay to lie to our children, but I will say that to consider it I'd have to have a very good reason. Consider what happens when they find out I did lie. Some people are hurt. Some get angry. As for myself I felt like a gullible idiot for having believed it until I was in the 5th grade. Could a child resent their parent for having lied to them? I don't, but it is a possibility worth considering. Would they then doubt other things they have believed because this "reality" that they have held so long has turned out to be a lie? There are several risks in lying to children. Are those risks worth their pleasure and a source of fantasy for them? Depending on the parents, the family, the children and how the whole thing is handled, some might say yes, some no. 2. The reason Christmas exists at all is quite simply that the Almighty and Most Merciful God humbled Himself to become human and was born to save humanity from sin. Does Santa detract from this amazing reason to celebrate? Personally, for me, I believe it did. I don't remember any of my Christmas masses growing up. I remember wanting stuff. I remember going through the entire Pennys catalogue and writing out over 2 pages on a yellow legal pad stuff I wanted from it. In my naivite, I simply figured since Santa didn't need cash, I could ask for as much as I wanted. It was very easy to focus on stuff I wanted rather than sitting through Church for an extra long mass. Now as an adult, I see secular society working all the harder to force the Stuff angle to be all the easier and easier to fall in to. This argument really is the most crucial, for, if anyone is distracted away from Jesus at Christmas, then the entire celebration is hollow. To tell a child that Santa with his reindeer and elves is just as real as the birth of Christ is to put them both on the same level of truth as they share the same holiday. For me, this is the critical point, for I would see no pleasure, no source of fantasy or wonder, no risk to faith or trust and no accent to the spirit of the season as being worth even risking (no less putting another subject on the same level of view) the failure to gaze in relentless joy at the Christ Child and celebrate His birth and the source of our redemption. 3. I think I've already commented enough above to simply state that Santa is not a necessity but a luxury that I don't believe to be worth the cost when he is treated as a complete reality.
Regarding Option 2:
Santa, as I stated in my previous post, is originally based on a Catholic Saint - St. Nicholas. And, as my previous post stated, I have no objection to Santa Claus as a symbol of a truth and as an embellishment of St. Nicholas, provided children know that it is a myth and a symbol and an embellishment and are not really told that there is in truth a chubby guy at the north pole with flying reindeer and elves. In this manner, the objection regarding lying ceases to exist, Santa is not placed as a reality along side Jesus but rather, as simply a reflection of the Spirit of Christmas, directs our focus not at himself, but directly at Christ, removing the second objection. In this way, he can still provide pleasure and a sense of fantasy even while the children know it to be a fantasy and truly highlight and accent the spirit of Christmas.
Regarding Option 3:
I suppose circumstances could one day arise such that I would consider completly erasing Santa (not St. Nicholas) but I cannot say I am in them now, don't see them arising anytime soon, and, indeed, am not even sure what they would be.

I hope this post has further elucidated my thoughts on the Santa argument which seems to be a bit of a hot topic in some areas. I would certainly respect other parent's making any of the three options above and I would likewise expect them to respect our choice. As I said above, I'm certainly open to comments or discussion on the subject, but I am not sure how much more I can say on the subject. If anyone should choose to comment, please remember to be respectful. To not be so would not only be rude, it would hurt any argument you would make. God Bless and Blessed Advent!

Since when is being a flirt a good thing?

I am certainly open to comments on this, but I am wondering when and where it became a compliment to refer to someone as a flirt?

Last night, James, Cecilia and I went to dinner with Cecilia's Godparents, Kristen and Andy. We went to a local, family run restaurant - a very nice quaint place. Cecilia, true to herself, from her high chair began waving and smiling at anyone and everyone within range. She loves to wave at people - at Church, any store, and yes, in restaurants as well and she loves when they wave back.

Well, she waved at 3 or 4 tables near us and most people simply waved back and smiled. A couple asked how old she was and what her name was. She simply likes interacting with people and is a very friendly baby provided no one tries to hold her.

One man, at one table with another woman who I assumed to be his wife and two young girls (about 12 and 14) I assumed to be his daughters, to whom she waved and smiled responded by waving back and pointing back in what seemed to be a very friendly manner. And then he began to call her a flirt and tell me that my daughter was "a little flirt." Now he may very well have simply meant to be cute or funny, but I must say I took offense. Not only is the sheer idea of a girl as little as she is flirting with a grown man with his wife and daughters disturbing, but it is hardly a compliment in my book to tell me my daughter is a flirt. If anyone told me that about my teenage daughter and I found it to be true she and I would have to have a little talk.

Perhaps I am simply old-fashioned but I was neither amused nor flattered by such a comment.