Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lactivism, aka I'll Teach YOU How to Feel About Nursing

A couple of weeks ago, in a Sunday post about Kids and Modesty, I made kind of a throwaway mention of the fact that I consider nursing in public without a nursing cover to fall into the category of immodest.

Since you guys have such excellent reading comprehension, it spawned a couple of comments, then I saw a post on another blog (hi Christine!) on the same subject. So I thought that today I'd revisit the topic.

There seem to me to be four camps. A: do not nurse in public. B: use the cover when nursing in public. C: would use the cover but it's too much trouble or baby doesn't like it. D: don't use the cover when nursing in public because other people shouldn't have a problem with it.

Obviously we're all grownups here, and it's a free country and all that, so you get to make your own decision. But I choose B over the others, and I'd like to share why.

I think (A) just doesn't work because it isn't practical. Babies need to eat. A lot. Our society isn't set up to allow mothers to keep to the house while we have breastfeeding babies. Perhaps if we had milkmen and produce carts and butcher's boys and servant girls and school buses, a case could be made for being a homebody while we have a new baby. But most of us don't have those things. Moms need to be out of the house doing things and they need to bring their babies with them and their babies need to eat. I think people in America understand that.

Thanks Ryan Gosling. I think I'm okay for now.

Apparently some cultures have strongly held beliefs against breastfeeding at all in public. I think that is a bummer. If you live in one of those cultures, perhaps it just isn't possible for you to be out and about with a new baby. To me, that sounds extreme, but that's because I live in a culture which I believe to be very accepting of the idea of nursing in public, but not the sight of it. 

And (jumping to (D) here) I think that's OKAY. I do not believe that it's my job, or even that it's appropriate for me, to go around trying to teach a lesson on the beauty of breastfeeding to a bunch of people just trying to go about their day and not see any breasts in public at all.

Are there inappropriate photos of women on billboards and bus stops all over the place? Yes. But is the answer to that problem to sit in a coffee shop showing a bunch of businessmen some side-boob? I think it is not.

It's not just businessmen and people from earlier generations who are uncomfortable viewing breastfeeding. Even I have occasionally been caught off guard by a friend nursing in a way that shows skin.

It's fine, I'm not scandalized. But I could certainly understand if someone in a store or on an airplane was discomforted by such a thing.

Well, now I just think you're trying to be difficult.

The lactivists want to remind you that this is a natural thing and that it's not sexual and that it's what's best for babies. I couldn't agree more. But just because something is natural and not sexual doesn't mean it isn't private. There are plenty of things that would fall into one or all of those categories, like childbirth, or going to the bathroom, or picking your nose, or changing your clothes, or taking a rectal temperature. I'm totally great with people doing all those things, but unless it's an emergency, I'd rather not watch them happen. 

Now on to (C) . . . I used to have the problem of baby protesting against the nursing cover because he wasn't used to it. For me the solution was obvious and quickly became unavoidable. I pretty much always use the cover, even at home. 

We are fortunate enough to get to hang out with my parents and in-laws a lot, especially when there's a new baby in the house. With my first baby it was all I could do to nurse my baby and remember to breathe at the same time, so not much use of the blanket. (This was in the dark ages before nursing covers existed!) My poor father and father-in-law probably had to excuse themselves from the room more than once. I didn't notice -- like I said, I was concentrating. Now I have an eleven year old son and while I hope that he will grow up with a healthy respect for breastfeeding, I'd like there to remain a bit of mystery between the two of us. 

There are dozens of photos of me in this nursing cover in interesting places all over the world. They are on my home computer. But since I'm not home, you get this iPhone photo of Gus and I and a baby (I'm thinking Frankie) at the Rose Parade that I found on the husband's laptop.

My last couple of babies have been completely used to it and never protested a bit. I've even had babies who would go and get the drape and bring it to me, because they knew what it meant. I've bought the cheap one, I've received the expensive one as a gift, and I've made one myself. All work great.

And you would not believe the stuff I can do while nursing now. It would boggle your mind. I am a pro-fessional. Cooking, cleaning, schooling, composing epic poetry, going on rides at Disneyland, operating heavy machinery, bring it on. 

But I do it all with the nursing cover. Because giving my baby the best and most convenient nutrition available is my job, but being all up in everybody's business about it is not. 

I do not believe that there should be laws against public nursing, or that there should be laws about where in public women should be allowed to nurse, relegating them to locker rooms and changing areas and nursing stalls, or even that there should be official rules about covering up when nursing. If I forget my nursing cover and my baby is hungry, I'm going to nurse him anyway and do the best I can to be discreet. I just don't see any reason NOT to do all I can to make both my baby and the people around me as comfortable as I can.

It just seems like the nice thing to do. 

update: Thanks to everyone's thoughtful comments, I think I need to add two categories that I hadn't considered before. (E) don't like the cover because it draws attention to the fact that you're nursing under there, and (F) are unable to use a cover for physical reasons or because of nursing issues and discreetly nurse other ways.

I don't personally see the logic of (E) since I have never experienced myself or heard of anyone else experiencing someone objecting to just the IDEA of someone nursing in public. The news stories I've heard of women being confronted about their breastfeeding in public have (to my knowledge) ALL been cases where they weren't covered. 

That was really the inspiration for this post.

But Lissy and Haley brought up point (F) which wasn't something I had considered or have ever had to deal with myself. So if that's you, you're doing the best you can in your circumstances. And if anyone bothers you, call Ryan Gosling. Or me, and we'll stage the most pleasant and modest nurse-in the world has ever seen.

And hey, it's Sunday again. Here's what I wore to Mass on a brisk 65 degree June day in Chicago! It did not involve that nursing cover, but give me a few more months and it's sure to make an appearance.

Dress: Old Navy, Sweater: Anthropologie, Belt: Mod Cloth, Espadrilles: Zappos, Wedding Ring: a gift, Bump: 18 weeks

Thanks to the ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for hosting the What I Wore Sunday blog link up. Head on over to see what everybody else was wearing.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

I Changed My Mind, the Internet is Awesome: 7 Quick Takes XVIII

Two weeks ago, I had a quick take about how the internet can bring out the worst in people. But this week, oh THIS week, the internet has brought out the best in us. The fundraiser that Cari is running for Dwija is hands-down the awesomest thing I have been a part of since I joined the blogging world almost seven whole months ago.

I keep clicking back over to the update page to smile and smile and smile as the total keeps going up and up and up.

And it happened because, on the internet, people from all over the world and from all walks of life can find each other and share the things we love: like parenting, and books and movies, and our Catholic faith, and stories about poop (about that, would you guys all please stop, please? . . . where was I? oh yeah . . .), and the best things in our lives, and the hardest things. And somehow, just sharing it makes it better. But when that's not enough, sometimes people will send you $7,000 so you can fix your laundry room.

Three cheers for the blogosphere: hip, hip, hooray! 

And if you haven't donated yet, there's still time. The fundraiser ends on Sunday, so don't delay. You don't want to miss this chance to be a part of the awesome. It's okay, you can go over there now. I'll be here when you get back.

this is exactly what it looks like when 
I'm writing, except for everything

I'm on track with my writing goals for the novel, which really feels great, and it's due in no small part to the advice I got here, from Rachel Aaron, thanks to Jennifer's spectacularly-timed 3rd quick take last week.

The bad news is I have nothing new to report on Netflix streaming, since I haven't watched anything in as long as I've been an aspiring novelist (nor have I made much progress on either of the two books I've been trying to read, North and South and Kristin Lavransdatter) because I am trying to do some non-Wikipedia-based research for once.

So . . . I am currently in the middle of all of the following books:

Martha Washington: An American Life
Well written, well researched, but
never manages to become a STORY rather
than just a list of THINGS THAT HAPPENED.

Charlotte Temple
Perhaps the story of Charlotte Temple
is an interesting one, but I feel like I 
might never find out because of the
near-constant preachy interruptions 
of the author. SOOOO bothersome.

The Infortunate
Written in a wry style, this one is
a surprisingly entertaining and
interesting peek into the lives
of lower-class colonists.

The Travels of William Bartram
Good details about eighteenth century travel,
but aargh, so. many. descriptions of plants,
I think there's a reason this guy traveled

George Washington, Boy Leader
A fun, easy read for early grades,
probably too propagandish to appeal
to most adults.

Some are definitely more readable than others, but so far I don't think I'll be recommending any of them to your summer reading list.

And now, I have some news to share about a book I wrote that is going to get published! It's a non-fiction book for kids about the Sacrament of Confession and it's going to be published jointly by Ignatius Press and Magnificat, so you'll be able to buy it on the Ignatius website and your grandma will be able to mail order it from the Magnificat catalog. Everyone wins.

I'm working on revisions now, which is super-exciting to me and feels very professional. If I didn't do all my writing in the middle of the night, I'd hire Betty to be my secretary and answer my cell phone for me and go get me lattes because THAT is how professional I feel.

It is supposed to be coming out in 2014 in time for First Communion season. I'll keep you posted.

Speaking of First Communions, Bobby had his in Rome a couple of months ago, but we hadn't had our family party yet. So, last weekend, I whipped up some First Holy Communion Mac & Cheese (yes, that's a thing, well it is now, anyway):

and we got an ice cream cake from the Original Rainbow Cone, a south side of Chicago tradition since 1926:

for those of you scoring at home that's: Orange Sherbet, Pistachio, Palmer House (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), Strawberry, and Chocolate. That's what a Rainbow Cone is. No substitutions.

Sounds crazy, tastes delicious.

In other celebration news, our oldest son, Jack, celebrated his eleventh birthday on Wednesday. 

Jack: you made me a mother and you test me everyday to make sure it's still so. Our temperaments are so similar -- my journey of self-awareness and self-improvement was mostly kicked off when I began reading a bunch of books trying to figure out why you were so darn difficult and stubborn, only to realize that while the stuff in the books might be true about you, it was just as true about me! You are rough-and-tumble with big kids and gentle with babies. You are smart and loving and sincere. You are an enthusiastic leader and an invaluable asset to our day to day operations around here. It's freaking me out a bit that I don't have to look down very far to make eye contact with you anymore, but I look forward to seeing what God has in store for you and what you've got in store for us from here on out.

Okay, back to writing for just a minute. Is there anyone out there who would be interested in creating a blog-based critique group with me? I can start us a dedicated blog (okay -- I already did, just in case) and we could post chapters or stories on it and members would read them and comment on them.

It wouldn't be open to the public, just viewable by the blog authors and invited guests.

I'm sure there would be details to work out, but it seems to me like it could work.

OR, is anyone reading this a colonial history buff who enjoys reading and commenting upon unfinished YA novels? 

--- 7 ---

And finally, I wrote a post inspired by some Facebook friends yesterday. Check it out, if you're so inclined . . . 

An Open Letter to My Facebook Friends Who Have This as Their Profile Picture

The post was, by this blog's standards, insanely popular. By mid-morning it had made it into my all-time top ten, and isn't slowing down yet. I've been fortunate with the comments so far too, everyone is being nice.

But, here comes the take . . . the last post that got more than my normal number of views was my discussion of Sherlock. Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas recommended it to her readers, and I got a bunch of new visitors.

In that case, about 10 percent of the people who clicked over from Haley's blog started following my blog. But even though my Facebook post has been shared all over Facebook and it got three times the number of views in a day that the Sherlock post got, I got ONE new follower. And even though it was a Facebook-themed post, I think I only got four or five new likes on Facebook.

Which isn't to say I would change anything about either post. And I'm not making money from the blog, so it really doesn't matter. But a few new followers or subscribers are a lot more important to me than a bunch of one-time page views. I'm going to get to share ALL my future musings with those new followers, whereas all those people who saw this post were just here and gone. So the lesson, I guess, is that I should try to write fewer posts that appeal to Facebookers, and more posts that appeal to established bloggers.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure I know what that would entail. I'm kinda winging it here.

Happy weekend everyone!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Open Letter to My Facebook Friends Who Have This as Their Profile Picture

Especially the "Catholic" ones (oh yes I did)*.

I intended this to be just a Facebook post, but you know me, it got long. So it's here.

I've been pretty silent about the gay marriage debate on Facebook, not because I don't have an opinion about it, but because I know the flash of heat I feel when I see a friend post something in support of gay marriage, and my lingering discomfort as it sits there on my timeline until my other friends have made enough posts that I can't see it anymore.

I hate that feeling and I don't want to make you have it by posting something that you will find confusing and troubling, as I find your posts to be. I still like YOU, but that's how I feel about those posts. So I just haven't done it. Because I don't want to make you uncomfortable.

But on today of all days, I've decided that I'll take just a few moments to explain why I disagree with you. So maybe you'll still be troubled, but maybe you won't be as confused.

I'm guessing that what exasperates most of my gay-marriage-supporting-Facebook friends the most about someone like me not supporting gay marriage is this:

And here's where we agree: Gay marriage does NOT directly affect my life. 

But guess what: My lack of support for gay marriage was never about ME. I don't support gay marriage not because it isn't good for me but because it isn't good for the people who WILL engage in it.

I cannot support gay marriage because I love people who have same sex attraction enough not to lie to them and say that society becoming accepting of the particular sin to which they are drawn will take away that feeling of emptiness and un-fulfillment that turning away from God and towards yourself creates in a person's soul.

Not in gay people's souls specifically, mind you, in ALL people's souls. Each person has a dominant flaw (or two or three), a sin or temptation to sin that keeps coming back again and again. For some people, it's same sex attraction.

Let's say, just for argument's sake, that my dominant flaw is impatience. Let's say I struggle every day to not lose my temper with my children, to not consider myself entitled to the last cookie or the best seat, to not begrudge people my time and attention because of all the super-important (to me) things I'd rather do with my time.

I confess this sin as often as I go to confession (which is usually every month). I pray about it often, and try to pay close attention to situations in which I'm likely to succumb to it. And with the help of prayer and grace I have made progress. It's still there, it's still a temptation for me, but I'm getting a little better all the time, and I'm so much happier for it. I'm a better wife and mother and human being for it.

But what if, instead of me getting to work on it, the state of California just passed a law that said that, actually, the Catholic Church is wrong and impatience and selfishness are actually good and to practice them will make me happy.  If I believed them, I would stop struggling against the thing that is my near occasion of sin, I would start indulging it. I would distance myself from the Church and from God and I guarantee you I would be less fulfilled, not more.

That is my biggest problem with gay marriage. It's not because I don't want people with same sex attraction to be happy, it's because I really, really do want them to be happy. I want them to have the joy and peace and contentment that I have found by admitting that I am a sinner and that I need some work. I am never made happier by indulging my sinful desires, I am always made happier by fighting against those desires and surrendering to God's graces, especially those I find in the sacraments.

When a government makes legal something that is immoral and bad for you (see: birth-control, abortion, pornography, divorce), it ceases to seem immoral and bad for you to that government's citizens. When something no longer seems immoral and bad for you, people stop struggling against it. But we must never stop struggling, we need the struggle. The struggle and God's grace are our only hope for heaven.

So, gay-marriage-supporting-Facebook friend, I hope you made it this far. If you did, thanks for your time, and I hope you understand me a little more, even if you still don't agree with me. 

In conclusion, I won't be changing my profile picture to this:

not because I don't agree with it, but because I'm confident that my current profile picture already says it all:

 * Especially the "Catholic" ones: a braver and/or less concerned about other people's feelings Facebook friend recently posted the following:
Some reminders to my so called Catholic friends and family.
1.) Taking part in or procuring an abortion results in an automatic excommunication from the Church.
2.) By supporting gay marriage you protest against the teachings of the Church. That makes you protestant.
p.s. This post isn't meant to represent a comprehensive look at the teaching of the Catholic Church about same sex marriage. If you are looking for that, Catholic Answers is a great resource. For the perspective of a faithful Catholic young gay man, check out Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine

Update: Hey all, this post seems to have grown legs and run off. This is a small Catholic blog. Most of my posts are about parenting techniques and book and movie reviews. 

This post was written not to try to change your mind about this issue (although you are free to change your mind if you'd like), it was written to explain my beliefs to my friends who disagree with me.

You are welcome to comment whether you agree with me or not, but I will delete any mean-spirited comments (on either side) because that's not what this blog is about.

Thanks for stopping by . . . 


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Charity That Kids Can Understand

Among our many goals for our kids is that they would grow up to be generous and charitable.  We figure the best time to start laying that foundation is . . . now.

But it's easier said than done, right?  

I started my kids' charitable giving by secretly cleaning out their toys after they were asleep and carefully hiding the stuff in the back of the car so we could drop it off someplace and hope they were never the wiser.

It's a great way to reduce clutter and avoid conflict, but it's a terrible way to teach kids about giving.

So here's how we do it now:

We get our kids as close as possible to the kids they are making sacrifices for.

Even once I had the kids helping with the clean out, dropping toys off with some dude at a dumpster behind a thrift store was pretty anti-climactic.

I know this isn't possible for most people, but my favorite moments of giving with my kids have been our trips to Tijuana to a day care center run by the Missionaries of Charity.  When the kids heard what we were going to do, they were so excited about it that I actually had to stop myself from rescuing toys from the "give" pile.  They chose to donate some of their absolute favorite things.

The kids helped the sisters to unload everything and fill up their nearly empty storage room, then we got to see what life was really like for these kids.  We saw their struggles, but also their joys.

My older daughter and I got to feed ramen noodles to the babies for lunch, while my boys (who do not speak Spanish) played for an hour in a parking lot with a bunch of Mexican boys with just the little bouncy ball my oldest son had in his pocket.  And he thought to leave the ball with one of the boys when we left.  We also got to sit and play with the toddlers in their play room.  And on our second visit, two years later, the kids ran around the room, excitedly finding the toys they had donated on our first trip, and pointing out kids who were wearing clothes that had been theirs.

It was a meaningful experience for our whole family, but it is quite a to-do, and we're not able to make it happen as often as I'd like.  

Fortunately, we have another option now.  There are pregnancy resource centers in almost every town now, that help women dealing with crisis pregnancies, women who often have other children as well.  Now we usually donate our unneeded clothes and toys to one of these centers (my mom happens to volunteer at one) so we know that our things will go directly to a child who really needs them.

And when we're visiting San Diego, my kids get to go with my mom to see the families that need their help and play with the kids and babies while their moms get counseling and the items they need. 

Sometimes what people need is money, not stuff, but we have found ways of getting the kids involved in that too.

When we decide as a family to make a financial gift we always try to tie it to something we can DO, because kids don't do that well with the abstract.

So, we always try to make a trade.  If we want to write a check for a Christmas dinner for a needy family we will make a point of eating simple meals as a family for a week to save up the money, and we'll talk about it as we are shopping and while we are eating.

The kids get to pick the gifts we put under the giving tree at church, and they know that they are giving something to those kids instead of getting another present for themselves.

This week we wanted to send money to help a family who needs their laundry room repaired.  (More on that in a minute.)  We are away from home for the summer, so we decided as a family to prayerfully do all the jobs that our housekeeper at home usually does, and donate the money we've saved. 

If it doesn't feel like a real sacrifice to them, giving is going to be meaningless for my kids.  And it's unlikely to become a habit.

So, want to actually get your kids involved in active charity right now?  Here are two ideas:

I'm thinking that the number of people who read MY blog but do not read Clan Donaldson or A Knotted Life is really, really small.  My mom probably (hi Mom!) and maybe Keeley and Jason (hi guys!).  

But just in case you missed it:  Awesome blogger Dwija has five kids and is currently one week further along with her next baby than I am, but her pregnancy this time has come with serious complications that are being exacerbated by an unlivable laundry room situation.  One of Cari's readers suggested that we do a fund raiser to help, and she stepped all the way up, and set up a donation link here.

So, now you can get creative with your family to help someone else's. 

Hey, maybe you were going to take the whole family to see Monsters University.  Great news, it's not very good!  You can make some microwave popcorn and pop in the DVD of Monsters Inc that you already own and if you happen to have a bunch of kids you've just saved $40-$1000 that you could send Dwija's way, AND you don't have to sit through a very mediocre movie.  If you explain it to your kids, they just became active participants in giving.  Everyone wins.  Go here to donate to Dwija.

Another cause worthy of your consideration is the recent flooding at Lourdes, a place that is very dear to our family for reasons that I'll have to write up for the blog sometime.  My parents returned home from their annual week of volunteering at Lourdes just before it was damaged so severely. Pilgrimages have been cancelled for the remainder of the season and perhaps beyond. You'll find sobering photos and information about how to help here.

Happy giving everyone!



Friday, June 21, 2013

Monsters University: Meh

The husband and I left the thundering herd at home tonight and went to see Monsters University, just the two of us.  

In the past, we've always run right out as a family to see new Pixar films, but I was worried that the college setting of this one might prove too tempting for the filmmakers to avoid a whole lot of stuff that wouldn't be appropriate for a kids' movie.

The good news is that really wasn't an issue.  No drug/drinking jokes, no hooking up, no love interests at all.

But the bad news is that it just wasn't a good movie.  It didn't have the heart or the charm or the creativity of Monsters Inc or the other Pixar movies we love.  The plot felt disjointed, like it was three or four episodes of a TV show rather than one movie.  They took two likeable characters and made them unlikeable to us and to each other so that, finally, in literally the last three minutes of the movie they can learn their lessons and redeem themselves.

The ending montage is terrific, but for me it was too little too late. 

Also, I had high hopes for the world of Monsters University after reading an article based on interviews with the creative team in which they talked about all the care and detail that went into creating the university itself.  Even going into it looking for those charming details (like doors within doors for monsters of varying sizes) I really didn't notice any of it.  But I remember loving so much of that stuff from the original!

They don't fall prey to the lowbrow college stuff, and nor do they take the "corrupt the earnest college freshman" route.  They also avoid the "if you just want it enough, anything is possible" schtick.  All of which I appreciated.

If you want to put it in a genre, it's an 80s teen movie, and if you'll take a moment to recall those, they pretty much espouse the worldview that everyone is either a jerk or a loser (loveable or otherwise).  That's how it feels at Monsters University, and I just don't like that worldview.  In my experience there are always plenty of nice and cool and pleasant people mixed in with the jerks and losers out there.

There were precious few laugh out loud moments, and until the bitter end, it was really hard for me to find anyone to root for.

If the grandparents desperately want to take your kids to see this, I guess I can't see any real reason to say no.  But if your kids' seeing this movie would require you to pay for it and/or sit through it yourself I honestly wouldn't bother.  Just make them some popcorn and watch an encore presentation of Monsters Inc.  That's what we're going to do around here.

p.s. I also thought the short beforehand was derivative of and inferior to Disney's Oscar-winner Paperman.  Why not just watch that right now for free? 

You can find it here.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Am Mr. Darcy: 7 Quick Takes XVII

New and Improved: now with awesome updates!

I set out to begin my quick takes this week with a zippy little analysis of Season 2 of Sherlock . . . but it really got away from me, quickness-wise. So it got to be it's own post.

Check it out, if you're so inclined:

Sherlock Gets Its Celibacy Right and Its Irene Adler All Wrong


North and South: how had I never heard of this?  And I am a total regency-period nerd.  Enduring thank yous to Kristen, Erica of Boys, Books, and Balls, and my friend Jeannie for the recommendation.  I really enjoyed it.  And by "enjoyed" I mean "cried through."  

Seriously, when she turns down his proposal (sorry if you haven't seen/read it yet, but I don't think I'll ruin it too much when I tell you that it's a nineteenth century book so there are rejected proposals AND misunderstandings), anyway, when she turns down his proposal I was heartbroken.  And, really, I'm not a big crier usually.  So I was wondering why it affected me so much.  At which point I had a pretty mind-blowing revelation.

I was heartbroken because I wasn't identified with poor sweet Margaret, who had every reason to reject the proposal.  I was identified with scowling misunderstood Mr. Thornton, who thought he had found a girl who could love him anyway.  But she wouldn't.  (Also, I am pregnant.)

And I further realized that (in my favorite book Pride and Prejudice) I don't heart Mr. Darcy, as I have always believed, I am Mr. Darcy.  Grumpy on the outside, nice once you get to know me, not excellent social skills, willing to take a ridiculous moral stand on just about anything, and in need of a spouse who can stand up to my nonsense and love me despite my flaws.  (Thank goodness that both Mr. Darcy and I got our happy endings.  And I will say I consider myself MUCH less grumpy on the outside than I was in my teens and early twenties, and slightly better in social situations.)

If you can think of a book with a heroINE like Mr. Thornton or Mr. Darcy, please let me know, but I certainly can't.  Would a female character saved from a life of self-righteous moodiness be so unpleasant to read about?  Hmmm, perhaps so.

Anyway, I have downloaded North and South the book onto my iPad, and I'm really excited to spend more afternoons crying over Mr. Thornton and Margaret.

Update: Thanks to Jessica's 7 Quick Takes today at Housewife Spice and her fab take on all things Meyers Briggs, I remembered the Harry Potter Personality Quiz I took, that told me that I was INTJ (Snape!) Then, like the crack reporter I have recently become (see take 4) I headed over to Wikipedia to find out more.  It turns out that not only are Snape and I INTJ, so is Mr. Darcy (and some of the Doctors Who).  AND, hooray (!) so is Elinor Dashwood, so there's at least one girl and she's an Austen girl, so I'm good.

And it doesn't bother me a bit that I'm doing it in the wrong order, according to . . . pretty much everyone.  Because, brace yourselves people, I actually prefer to see the movie first, then read the book. 

Perhaps it's the fact that I'm not particularly visual combined with the fact that I AM very detail oriented and also that I tend to get my hopes up.

If I watch the movie first it helps me keep the characters straight and gives me a visual on them that I just wouldn't ordinarily have, and it gets me interested in the story and wanting to know more.

If I read the book first, then I just spend the movie getting mad about the scenes they chose to leave out or how they changed something for the worse.  And I find a good book to be enjoyable whether or not I know what's going to happen, but I prefer to be in suspense when watching a movie.

Okay, enough with all the TV watching.  I do also sometimes get out and get some exercise.  And my exercise of choice is running.  Even when I'm pregnant.

the husband, the father, me, and tiny unborn baby Betty running the 2003 San Diego Marathon

I have heard people saying you shouldn't run while you're pregnant, but since I had always done it since before I heard people saying that, I just ignored them.  But I never really knew why they said it.  So, since I'm a blogger now, and a reader whose name I can't remember because I accidentally deleted her email, had asked me my opinion about running while pregnant, I decided that perhaps I should do some crack reporting and ask the OB who was doing my ultrasound why his info packet says no running.

For you guys.  Because I care.

And I was surprised by his answer.  He said the concern isn't for the baby at all; baby is pretty well protected in his amniotic fluid from jostling or overheating (argh, amniotic fluid: quick prayer for Dwija!).  The problem is that progesterone stimulates a pregnant woman's joints to loosen in preparation for giving birth, so you are more likely to sustain a joint injury if you run while pregnant.

So that's why.  But I'm going to keep running anyway, because really it's the only exercise I like/have time for and I've never been prone to joint injury and the only time I didn't exercise much while pregnant I gained a ton of extra weight and had an over nine pound baby.  I'd really rather not do that again.  

I also don't run nearly as far or as fast as I used to, and first thing in the morning so it's nice and cool, and I wear this shapewear thing to keep my belly from bouncing about too much.  And once that doesn't work anymore, I just walk.  But walking is sooooooooo boring.

But don't take my word for it, chat up your own OB during an ultrasound, it's fun!

I have officially started writing my YA novel.  

My goal to to write 1000 words per day, and I've managed it for three whole days so far.  I am daunted by the idea of spending so much time on something that might turn out to be rubbish, but the priest I spoke to about it on my retreat was awesome and reminded me that if I have been encouraged to do it by people who have my best interests at heart, and it's something I feel called to do, and I'm doing it for God, then it couldn't possibly be a waste of time.  Even if it never gets published.  

So that's how I'm trying to approach it.  I still have 700 words to write today once I get these takes finished.  Discipline don't fail me now.

Update: I got yesterday's words done and only have a few to go for today, but things are about to get a whole lot more productive up in here thanks to Jennifer's spectacularly-timed 3rd quick take which introduced me to Rachel Aaron and her awesome writing tips. Jennifer recommends the amazon e-book, which I'm sure is terrific, but since I don't have a kindle on which to put it, I looked around a bit and found the blog post which inspired the e-book, read it, and loved it.  Check it out here if you've anything to write, but especially a novel:

How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day

Rachel Aaron’s ebook 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love - See more at:

So, apparently a sixty-year-old woman in India was surprised to give birth to her fourth child after going to the hospital with stomach pains.  Perhaps this will give hope to my friends with zero to two children.  It may give ME night terrors.  

Or . . . Isn't that a lovely example of God's goodness and I would gratefully accept what would probably be my seventeenth baby at age sixty (if I keep having them about every two years).  But mostly the night terrors thing.  

When counting my chickens before they hatch, I used to always stop counting at age forty.  But pretty much everyone I know has just had a baby past forty.  So I may need to recalculate my utterly pointless speculating, but sixty?  Really?  Sixty?

And hey, while we're on the subject of scary propositions, I actually learned something from one of those baby shower games we all love so much.  

One of the trivia questions we had to answer was: What is the largest number of children born to one mother?

I think I guessed something like 26, because I knew that St. Catherine of Siena was the 23rd of 25 children.  But I was waaaaaaaay off.

Apparently the Guinness World record is held by a Mrs. Vassilyev:

Feodor Vassilyev and his first wife, whose name is unknown, hold the record for most children a couple has parented. She gave birth to a total of 69 children: 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets between 1725 and 1765, in a total of 27 births. 67 of the 69 children born were said to have survived infancy.
This woman gave birth to over eleven times the number of children that I have.  Can you imagine the comments she must have gotten whenever she tried to go to whatever was the eighteenth-century Russian equivalent of Trader Joe's?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sherlock Gets Its Celibacy Right and Its Irene Adler All Wrong

I'm pretty sure I read a quote somewhere to the effect that you shouldn't read a book that promotes immoral behavior no matter how well it's written, since that would basically be the mental equivalent of drinking poison just because it was in a particularly beautiful cup.  But google can't find it, so if I said I made it up, who would know?

Anyway, Sherlock Season 2 . . . prettiest cup ever.  Drinker beware.  I still think it's a brilliant show and I loved every minute of it.  But if you're going to watch it be forewarned, there is some serious racy-ness in Episode 1, and Episode 3 has some very unnecessary bloody gruesomeness involving a character we care about.

I'm going to focus on Episode 1 here, because I think it had the best and worst moments of the season.

Warnings . . . 

There will be spoilers from here on out.  Lots of 'em.  You should also know that I am unable to judge the show on its own merits, since I've read the books and am therefore compelled to compare the shows to the stories as they were originally written.  It's just how I roll.

The good news first: Despite the general increase in edginess from Season 1 to Season 2, the characters continue to be written in a way that is very faithful to the original material, but cleverly updated for a modern era.  Perhaps Moriarty is an exception to this, since he's pretty much your run-of-the-mill evil genius professor/criminal mastermind in the stories.  But I can't bring myself to mind because his re-imagining as an utterly psychopathic "consulting criminal" is such an improvement.  The voices!  I love the voices.

The thing I was most scared of them messing up was Sherlock's lack of interest in women.  It is an integral part of his character as described in the stories: 
All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer.
The issue here is that our hero does not separate the physical act of love from the emotional one, which is hardly the prevailing opinion of our culture.

But I loved the way writer Steven Moffat described the concept to the world when Sherlock insists to Irene Adler, "I'm not hungry.  Why would I go to dinner with you when I'm not hungry?"  Perfect. 

And now the bad news: While I am thrilled that they preserved Sherlock's asexuality AND his celibacy they just didn't seem to get Irene Adler or quite grasp Sherlock's relationship with her.

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler...yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory. 

It is Sherlock himself who calls her "the woman" after she has bested him intellectually.  But in the show, she is a dominatrix with a website in which she calls herself "the woman" before she's ever met Sherlock Holmes.  What the heck?

And . . . yeah.  Despite her real (if denied) attraction to Sherlock (he can tell because he took her pulse while she was trying to put the moves on him, loved that) she's actually a lesbian dominatrix.  While the dominatrix thing is obviously morally problematic, I can get how they arrived there from who she is in the book.  And while we get no moral judgements against Miss Adler from anyone in the show, certainly not Sherlock, nor do we in the book.  Nothing but respect all around for the feisty young lady (who's American in the original, by the way, but the Brits can claim her if they want her, it's fine with me).  

There's a similar lack of "judgmental-ness" (not a word, I know) for Moriarty.  Sure, he murders and threatens and cheats and deceives people, but he's just so clever.  It's here that I try to remember that while Watson is usually the one actually giving us the information (at least in the books) it's all filtered through the lens of Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes just doesn't have the same standards of judgement as most people.  He cares a lot more about "interesting" than he does about "right and wrong."

So, I'll just count on the fact that we're not supposed to trust Sherlock's ability to judge people's character and hope that those of us playing at home are supposed to disapprove of both Moriarty and Irene Adler.  And even if we're not, I will.  I certainly don't get the sense that the creators are encouraging us to pursue either character's lifestyle, and both of them suffer appropriately negative consequences as a result their choices, which is why I'm still drinking out of the cup.

Unfortunately, there's a bigger problem with the characterization of Miss Adler on the show.  The reason for Sherlock's respect for and captivation with Irene Adler is that she bests him.  That's the whole reason.  In the novel, she tricks Sherlock and gets away (with her precious photograph and her new husband).  But on the show, it's Sherlock who has the last laugh.  He figures out her code.  He keeps the phone.  He wins.  And she doesn't escape, Sherlock just lets her go.  In every other case, that's the point in which he moves on completely to the next new challenge, leaving others to tidy up the loose ends.

But with Irene Adler, Sherlock maintains an uncharacteristic interest in her that seems almost romantic, but never makes sense.  It is completely out of character that after he has defeated her he would retain any interest in her whatsoever, let alone take the trouble to go halfway around the world to save her life.  

I doubt it was their intention, but in letting Sherlock crack the code on her phone, the show's writers robbed Irene Adler of the thing that made her remarkable.  It was never her charm or beauty or sexuality that made her memorable, it was her intellect and resourcefulness.  And while we know at the beginning of the book version of events that she's dead -- she's described by Watson as "the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory," Sherlock didn't have anything to do with either her escape or her death.  But on the show they take away her victory over him and show him later saving her life, like she's just another damsel in distress.  They didn't get what made her special, and they took it all away.  On the show she was nothing more important than a naked lady in a chair.

Overall, I can't help but be excited to see what's in store for the show since apparently Watson and Sherlock have finished making all those Hobbit movies and are in the middle of shooting Sherlock Season 3.  But I am really worried that they will continue to ratchet-up the levels of sex, violence, and disregard for key plot points.  Especially because they totally don't need too!  They have something really special happening, an amazing combination of great writers and actors and stories.  I hope they'll recognize that before it's too late.