Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Feast Day, St. Gianna!

CNS photo

Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me; make me only know Your will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms. Amen.

My dear friend, happy feast day. Keep the prayers of all HG mothers close to the throne of our beloved Saviour. Love you.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

On spiritual attack

When Big I. was a newborn baby, his grandfather, my husband's adopted father, was dying. Cancer had riddled his body, and as he died, my husband C. and I could not go to him; I had had a C-section and couldn't get on a plane for six weeks. C. managed to visit before the baby was born, but 13 days after I. came into this world, B left it.

A few months later, I. was baptized and his godmother gave us the gift of a CD of Christian lullabies by Michael Card. Every night, I would nurse I. to sleep in the rocker while we listened to Unseen Warriors. I often felt B.'s presence there, watching over the grandson who carried his name (I.'s middle name is B.'s name.)

One night, I started to feel the presence of someone else. And no matter how hard I tried to convince myself it was just my imagination mixed with postpartum hormones, I couldn't get rid of the feeling.

There was something evil on my front porch, watching us. Wanting my baby. Even writing these words six years later, I can feel my flesh crawling. There was a demon on my front step, and every time I called for the protection of our angel friends, our Unseen Warriors, it became seethingly furious.

After a week of this, I had had enough. I went out on the porch during the daytime, scattered holy water and holy salt, prayed, and then went inside. At bedtime, I sat in the rocker, looked at the window, and said out loud, "Lord, please send B. to go get rid of that thing." And it was gone.

When I think of spiritual attack, it is this instance that springs to mind in all its weirdness. It's like something out of a novel, or the thoughts of a crazy lady. It doesn't quite seem real. In its frightening absurdity, it shelters and hides other forms of demonic attack -- such as the one I have been experiencing for months.

Anyone who knows me well will tell you I have a terrible fear of non-existence. I used to think of it as fear of death, but dying doesn't frighten me. It's the possibility of nothing afterwards that really gets to me. It's been bothering me so much lately that I've been having little panic attacks, so much I sought some help. That help has greatly reduced my panic, but the very thought process, the doubt, still lingers. I thought I was just having doubts, even as I believed. But I think it's more than that. I think I'm being attacked again, just much more subtly.

An excellent article tonight on the way a demonic attack feels gave me a lot of perspective. It reminded me of my spiritual mentor, G., who always says, "Satan attacks any time you are in the process of a great spiritual good, especially if it has trials (which most do!)" So he attacks during that first year after a baby, when everyone's tired; or when a family is considering one more soul; or when you are trying to increase your prayer life; or when your children are sick and you are making great sacrifices of sleep and time and personal need for them; or when you are helping the poor, visiting the imprisoned, loving the sinner. He attacks seminarians and novices; he attacks people who are considering Jesus; he attacks people doing great and small works for God, neighbour, stranger and friend.

He always attacks me on my three greatest weaknesses: my fear, my pride and my gluttony. And for some reason, I always forget this happens.

In his great work The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes about the reality of demonic attack through the fictional demon Screwtape, who gives his "nephew" Wormwood advice. At one point Screwtape addresses humans and our non-belief in the demonic:

"Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all he pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy."

I think we've reached that time. I wonder how many people reading this (if anyone still reads at all) will believe my story of the demon at the window, while denying the possibility of Christ crucified and risen? And why do I, who has experienced both this and the visitation of a saint, accept the frightening experience and question the sublime one?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


This language echoes in my soul, even as I never learned to speak it. My grandfather spoke Gaelic as a young man, but never taught his own children. I still remember him calling me "di dunn broayagh" or "little brown maiden" as a child.

I sometimes think it is a shame my children know little of their heritage as half-Cape Bretoners. Instead, they are wee Canadians to the core.

Minimize the window and just listen to Mary Jane Lamond sing my heritage.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

From a stone to a fish

More than three years ago, I blogged about (then) Little I.'s near drowning experience during a swimming lesson. The experience left him with an enduring fear of water over his head, and a reluctance to be in the swimming pool. He was so reluctant that I pulled him out of lessons several months afterwards; he was not passing the first level after months and months, and he had asked for "a break."

However, last summer all of the older children asked to start swimming lessons again, so I enrolled them. I. and A. were in the same class in September; in January, A. moved up to Swim Kids 2, while I. repeated Swim Kids 1.

I took the boys to their last lesson of this set tonight. I.'s lesson is first, then A.'s. so I decided to bring the baby and swim with whichever boy was not in a lesson while the other practised.

I. had his lesson first, then received his swimming report card. He walked up to me, beaming, clutching the swimming badge in his wet fist. He had passed, with only two tries!

He hopped into the pool with me and Baby E. and we started to play in the water. As I watched him swim, splashing and kicking, confidently swimming underwater, I could feel my eyes pricking and my throat clenching. He was having fun, fearless fun, in the very pool where I nearly lost him. This was wonderful!

Fear is a terrible emotion to harbour; it's like a stone in your stomach, or like fluid in the lungs. It pulls you down, steals your air. And now Big. I. is free of it, free and floating. I've never been more proud of him.

New column: Back to work

Here's this week's column!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help for Japan

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, by iconographer Daniel Mitsui
Dear Mother of God, I humbly ask you now to help all your children in Japan. Mother, please console them as they weep for their dead, search for their missing, and care for each other in this time of need. Protect them from further harm, from the dangers of radiation, aftershocks, and any other tsunamis. Especially, give them the strength you showed as you watched your Son die on the Cross. I ask this all through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The  Red Cross is accepting donations for Japan, as are other organizations. Please, even if it's only $10, give when and what you can. The Japanese are a testament to fortitude, bravery and calm in this multitude of disasters. We all need to support them through these enormous trials.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead

Wow, oh wow, have you heard Adele's new album? Total aural bliss.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

29 days to go

I go back to work in 29 days. How I am going to leave this beautiful, funny and gregarious little guy, I have no clue.

Monday, February 28, 2011

What she said

Oh, man, I love me some riled up feminism on the Interwebs this week.

If you don't want to read about motherhood and the impact of private life on the public sphere, go away and read something really stupid instead.

Here in the Love of Christ I Stand

Just really discovered the Newsboys. I wish most contemporary Christian music was this thoughtful. Lots of it is just some dude singing "Jesus, halleluia, holy" over and over.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Hoover

Baby E. likes to explore the world around him, just like most nine-month-olds. But he has a prodigious talent for finding things that could hurt him, and promptly sticking them in his mouth.
Stuff we've fished out of his gob this week include:

  • three pieces of LEGO;
  • dirt;
  • a hot banana pepper;
  • many, many pieces of paper;
  • the front page of the National Post;
  • a bottle cap;
  • a plastic bag;
  • wires;
  • a crayon;
  • a magnet.
Yes, I know this shows an appalling level of baby-proofing at my house. But come on, I have three other kids, and they have to live their lives, too. They try their best, but now that E. can crawl, he sometimes saunters into their rooms and helps himself to the bounty of forbidden objects.

My trusting swiping finger is getting a workout, at least.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another (terrifying) parental milestone achieved

Mr. Sicky-pants, in all his snotty glory.

A. brought home a cold last week, which, for him, involved a whole lot of nose-blowing and a very red and sore upper lip. It was starting to resolve on Friday, much to his relief; I was just glad no one else had caught it.

I put baby E. to bed at nine, and crawled in half an hour later. It had been a long and busy day, and we soon were both snoring.

At midnight, I woke to a strange, almost hissing sound, and a flailing baby. I sat up and looked at E.; in an instant I knew he had croup. He was gasping for each breath, his whole chest coming in. He could barely breathe at all.

I picked him up and ran for the bathroom, thinking a hot, steamy shower would do the trick as it had for his siblings, so many times before. Instead, his breathing became worse. Then he wasn't really breathing at all. His mouth started turning blue.

"C.! Call 911! Call 911! He's not breathing!" I admit it, I was hysterical.

The 911 dispatcher told us to take him outside in the cool air and to wait for the ambulance. His breathing improved a little, but not much.

Just as the ambulance pulled up to our house, E. started to cough and then threw up an enormous amount of phlegm. He started to cry. It was the sweetest sound I've ever heard.

He spent the night at the ER, getting breathing treatments and steroid shots. We've spent the week since dealing with mild dehydration, a stuffed-solid nose, suction and Tylenol and saline drops. He's finally on the mend, but is now, joy of joys, teething his two front teeth.

This is the first time, I think, I've taken a kid to the hospital via ambulance. I'm hoping to never have to repeat the experience.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wherever we go. However we dress, part 2

Here are some shots of me breastfeeding...

E.'s very first latch:

E. and I on the couch:

Here's E. and I all dressed up for dinner in Tofino on my tenth wedding anniversary (photo by Hubby). Yes, I nursed like that in the restaurant, but used a scarf to cover the top of my breast:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wherever we go. However we dress.

Forcing a woman to cover up while breastfeeding is an oppressive act. I never cover up while nursing in public because I want to make the point it is acceptable and normal to breastfeed in public, covered or uncovered. The choice is the mom's.

HT to Annie -- great job!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stay tuned this Saturday!

I begin a new freelance gig this week as a parenting columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist. Link love requested this Saturday!

Wow, I still have a blog?

Yes, I do!

And here is the reason it has been neglected:

Edward is almost nine months old. We adore him. Even when he chews on us.