The Gift of the Annunciation

Many women in my situation hate the Feast of the Annunciation, it’s just another reminder to them that God has not given them a baby.  Sometimes we’re even bitter towards Mary for what she got the same way we feel the pangs of jealousy when another friend or family member in a less than ideal situation announces a surprise pregnancy.  You gave *her* a baby, perhaps someone, like Mary, who’s not married, or very poor or very young, and not me… again.

It hard sometimes to see the struggle in the blessing and the blessing in the struggle.  More so because so many of us feel judged for our small families; the sideways looks that tell us a person is wondering if there’s something wrong with our bodies or our marriages, if we’re being selfish.

The Annunciation is seen as a gift, the gift was Mary’s fiat and it was given to the world.

Today I ask that you give a gift as well.

The next time you see one of us –

  • the family in the traditional church with “only” a few children
  • the married couple who is celebrating another anniversary and not pregnant
  • the family with that only child whose just getting older with no sibling
  • the family who might be carrying the hidden pain of medical issues, financial burdens or anything that is keeping their family from being what it isn’t
  • and so many more families that just don’t fit the perfect big family mould
Say thank you for the miracle that are our children – no matter our circumstances, no matter the choices we’re struggling with.  Give us the gift of seeing our children or our families as the struggling, holy example they are.  Give us the gift of seeing our children as amazing gifts no matter whether we struggle with our own fiats or not.  Give us the gift of prayer whether you know our struggles or not – ask that our prayers are answered or our circumstances changed.  Give us the gift of assuming the best of us not the worst.
Thank you.

Money Tight Montessori: Movable Alphabet

If you’re new here you might not know yet that I’m a fan of the Montessori Method of education.  While I’m not trained by any scope of the imagination I do like to take bits and pieces of what I read and see and try to develop it in my home.

Since my son doesn’t go to consistent daycare I try to incorporate learning activities into the time we have at home, which usually means disguises learning activities as games and toys.  Currently I’ve been finding ways of interesting my son in writing and solidifying his knowledge of the alphabet and these are the tools that have been most helpful.

Large Flashcards

We were gifted these for a birthday a while back, My Favorite Things Flash Cards, and they’re pretty perfect.  Plain letter on one side, and an illustration on the other.  Big enough to trace with a finger too.

Cookie Sheets

Just your run of the mill cookie sheet straight from the pantry.  We’ve been using ours for “salt letters” and other games.

Movable Magnetic Alphabet

This is a find I’m quite proud of.  I love the look and the idea of real Montessori moveable alphabets, but dropping $50 on just lowercase letters alone is not in my budget.   After days of searching for a reasonable alternative I finally found what I was looking for at Lakeshore Learning.  Originally I found this company through, but Amazon didn’t have exactly what I was looking for so I searched for the company directly and was more than pleased with what I found.

I was looking for upper and lower case letters, but still in the blue consonant/red vowel color scheme that a real moveable alphabet comes in.  Lakeshore had just that, for about $7 a pack for each upper and lowercase (I got two lowercase and one uppercase pack, so just over $21 for a complete set)

I also picked up a set of the word building tiles as well – for three dollars it was great price to try them out.  They’re a little on the small side, and only lowercase, but not a bad tool to have around and probably the cheapest way to get a movable alphabet at $3 for the set.

Lakeshore also offers, what appears to be (I do not own these), a nice resource for “Tactile Letters” or sandpaper letters, but I haven’t added these to our collection yet because our large alphabet flash cards have been doing the trick.

That’s what we’re using so far!

Wait and Be Rescued? : Thoughts on Heroic Boys and Damsels in Distress

Once when I was a little girl I got separated from my parents while on vacation.  I was rather soft-spoken and in the hustle and bustle of leaving a restaurant no one heard me say I was going to the restroom.  Each parent left thinking the other had me.  I came out of the bathroom and didn’t know where anyone was.  After searching the restaurant high and low I did what my parents had always told me to do in this situation.  I found the front of the restaurant, where an adult in charge could see me (in this case the hostess) and I sat and waited for someone to get me.

It didn’t take long for my parents to meet back up and realize I wasn’t with the other and I was “rescued”.

When I took my son to see the new “Cinderella” this week I couldn’t help but think of this little bit of my life.  It struck me as odd that this memory would come back while watching this movie and it took awhile to see the correlation.  But I need to back up a bit.

After hearing many rave reviews I took my son on a special trip to see “Cinderella”, if nothing else I knew I’d enjoy see the spectacle of the show from a design standpoint if nothing else.  My son, in his four year old innocence, declared that in order to see a princess movie we need crowns.  So the night before I crafted pipe cleaner crowns that we wore, proudly, through the whole movie.  He, Henry declared, was my prince and princes wore crowns.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie, the story was simple in many ways.  No complex back story or clever “true story of …” (Ever After I’ll always love you though I swear).  It was just “Cinderella” much as I had enjoyed it as a child.  Ella was rewarded for her goodness, her thoughtfulness, her fortitude and, most importantly, her ability to forgive.  The Prince was charming because he too was good, kind, loyal, and intelligent.  Relationships with parents were good, with even the Prince, though disagreeing with his Father obeying (that is until he could prove his point and change his mind in a non badgering way that is refreshing).  It was simply a good fairy-tale.  Good is good, bad is bad and one is rewarded and the other is not.

Though the story-line can easily be called classic, there were subtle, modern hints that answered some good questions.  The Prince would marry the girl who fit the slipper… if she wanted to wed him that is.  The stepsisters ugliness had nothing to do with outward appearances, but inward character and why Ella didn’t make a ruckus in the attic when the shoe made its way to her house.

But it struck me as odd how much I enjoyed this simple story-line where the girl is rescued from her lonely tower.  After all, haven’t I been raised to rescue myself?  Strong women don’t need handsome princes to rescue them.

And that’s when the time in the restaurant sprang into my head.  Sometimes it’s okay to be rescued.  Not because I’m a girl and girls can’t rescue themselves, but sometimes people aren’t equipped to do so.  If we tear down a story like Rapunzel or Cinderella, are the titular characters really capable of rescuing themselves?  Poor, abused women with no resources or skills.  Sometimes, maybe, it’s okay to wait for the person to arrive who can rescue you; perhaps it’s not wrong – as my parents did – to teach our girls that, as strong and capable as they may be, that sometimes it’s okay to sit and wait to be rescued.

The movie also got me thinking about my son and fairy tales.  While classic fairy-tales don’t really flesh out the character of the heroic prince charging the thicket of brambles or facing off with evil stepmother, I do think they have something to offer young boys.  I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving my son a role model such as the Prince in the movie.  “Kit” is humble, loyal, clever and respectful to his father.  When he and his father disagree on the topic of his bride, instead of storming out of the room announcing that he will do as he pleases, the Prince respectfully agrees to his fathers’ wishes, while offering a clever compromise.  He stays committed to his ideas, proving his point through diligence rather than annoyance.  While the character doesn’t have the screen time to develop true depth as a character, what we see is still admirable and I’m glad to have that particularly in the age where the braggadocio is the go to male movie trope.

The thing is… I want my son to grow up wanting to be the hero.  I want him to grow up with fairy-tales and stories that encourage him to be loyal, brave and true – not after he’s had his wild life and developed his wry sense of humor and penchant for vests and tight pants – but from the beginning.  I would love to see more characters like Kit in children’s movie for my son to see; not because women are weak, but because some are in situations that make them weak.  That some people, men and women, find themselves in situations where it’s best to sit and wait for someone to help, to be rescued and that it’s okay to be the hero, it’s okay to be brave, true and good and to aspire to be the hero when someone needs you to be.

This is not to say I would teach my daughters to always sit and wait to be rescued, as a real life parent there are many things I can do to give them the skills not to be helpless – how much rescuing would Cinderella have needed with a separate bank account or legal protection? Or if Rapunzel had learned some survival skills before being walled up?  It’s just that this movie has me thinking about heroic boys and good role models and young girls who might also need to know that sometimes it’s okay to sit and wait to be rescued, as long as we’re training other girls and boys to be heroes.

***This post isn’t perfect and it can be a sensitive subject.  If I’ve riled you up, let’s have a good conversation about it.  This is just my spot to spill my thoughts when it’s hard to get my friends in one place.***

Still Life With Ray Guns

The squirt guns really have nothing to do with this other than my sincere wish that it finally warms up and stays that way.  We got a hint of beautiful weather last week and then the temperatures dropped again.  Something knit, but in more spring like colors, was in order so I pulled out my Vberry yarn in the Sherlock themed “The Game’s …..Something” colorway (worsted weight).  It was delightful and there was just enough for a pair of mitts and a nice cowl.

The mitts are a favorite from the book Weekend Knitting.  The cowl pattern is the Cobbled Cowl from Annie Yarn.

  and the KCCO over at Frontier Dreams

Deep Down

I’ve been praying for acceptance and for peace.  Whatever happens, I’ve been saying, I just want to be able to handle it.

Acceptance and peace.

These are the two things I also dread.  I feel them creeping around in the back of mind.  They whisper in pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo; you’re already thirty-two, and you’re not very fertile to begin with.  Just be happy with what you have.

The truth of the matter is that I dread being happy with what I have.  I dread the day I proudly proclaim that my only living child is a miracle and that I’m at peace with the size of our family.  It feels like settling and it feels like giving up.

I dread the day I’ve accepted all of this and am at peace with it because I know when that happens it will be over.  Everything I currently want with every fiber of my being, every hope and dream I have will be over.  Knowing that I will regret many things about the last four years if it turns out that this was the only chance I’ll ever have at this.  How cruel it will seem that the job I took to keep my depression and anxiety at bay after my pregnancy, that my mental health, robbed me of my only chance to fully experience my child as a baby and a toddler.

I try not to say this very often, but it’s just not fair.

I don’t actually want acceptance and peace.  I don’t want to go through this no matter whom I’m helping or inspiring.  I want what I don’t have, what I may never have.

Accepting a will and a plan that is not yours is so hard and so frightening and deep down, I don’t want to.

This Is What Today Is

I thought today was going to be easy.  Another due date come with no baby to usher it in.  After all I’ve done this twice before, right?  No, it’s just as hard as the first time; just as sad and painful.

Just like the last two times I’m surrounded by expectant mothers, new babies and announcements.  Even my next door neighbor got to come home with a perfect baby boy this weekend while I’m left awkwardly side stepping the issue when my four year old keeps announcing at random, “I don’t have a sister!” and “I don’t have a brother” all across town.  It feels like it it’s getting harder.

A rational part of my brain tells me it shouldn’t be.  The rational part of my brain tells me I’m over reacting and really shouldn’t be so attached to something that was around for such a small amount of time, that I never really saw, touched or heard.  That grieving should be reserved for those with physical interaction or some such.

My mind has been telling me many things today.  That I’m over reacting, that I’m worthless, that I’m stupid and foolish, that I’m over emotional and irrational.  That I was an idiot to give up everything I did to be parent.  That my worth in my circle of friends is dependent on my experience as a parent, and without experience I have nothing to contribute and no place among them.  That I if I had made different choices, tried sooner, sacrificed something else or just been better that things would be different.  That my beliefs, my faith and ideals are all a pile of meaningless, stupid fantasies.  That not only am not good at anything tangible – no career or defining skill – but that my own body fails at doing that one thing it’s made to do.  That I’m no just no good.  That I’ve been forgotten and ignored, over looked while others receive prayers answered and miracle attained.

I can’t even sit here and wrap this up a shiny bow, with a lovely, inspiring defense of myself.    Today is the day that I can do nothing but believe everything my mind tells me, to see every choice and failure in stark contrast to those around me.  This is the day I’m laid bare with nothing to offer.

This is what today is.

Squid + Boy

Squids are the thing right now.   A de-stash project netted us this new friend who is currently battling ever sea creature in the house and attacking all boats.

Made from this pattern on Ravelry.

For my next trick a Sperm Whale has been requested.  You know, so they can battle, like sperm whales and squids do.

What have I started?