Julia's Guardian Angel Fund

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tears That Make a Mom Happy

Today we made a long overdue trip to the library.  We got there late due to several extenuating circumstances such that we only had 30 minutes to pick out books and check out before the library closed.

Now, I had told all six children we were going to the library this morning.  We had planned for other errands we were running today before the library, but no one remembered their library cards.  So, with 3 minutes left before the library was going to close, six children lined up behind me to check out their items on my card.  By the time we got to the sixth, we had reached the 30 item limit.  My twelve year old daughter only got one book.  She went and put her other books back and met me in the parking lot, eyes full of tears.

She said she felt so ridiculous for crying.  But, I hugged her and told her I was happy that she was crying over not being able to check out books.  That not being able to get new books makes her cry makes me happy because this is a girl that thirsts for knowledge.  Our home library is large, but never large enough for my darling daughter and I'm happy about that.   I'm happy the library is one of the most sought after destinations on our days out.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

TV Viewing

I post this risking that I will be viewed as Puritanical.  So be it! But we are not.  We have two TV's.  But we make very specific choices about how we use them.

Parental choice is just that, choice.  We made a choice over 12 years ago to not let our kids watch live TV.  Even way back then, in 2000, we were seeing things on TV that made us, the parents of a toddler and an infant, cringe.  Now sometimes, yes, we do watch live TV, like when there are weather events that require our attention. 

Then comes this report:
New Study Nudity on Prime Time TV Up 6,300% Over Last Year

Nope, that is not a typo.  6,300%.

My daughters recently attended Schoenstatt Camp, a Catholic Camp for girls run by a beautiful order of secular Catholic Nuns called the Schoenstatt Sisters.  One topic they cover is "Media Choices."  One thing they provide to the girls is a nice little tent to put next to the TV that says, "What Would Jesus and Mary Watch?"  There were some camp missionaries there that reminded the girls that watching things that might be "just a little" offensive desensitizes our brains such that eventually, the kids can't remember what was offensive in the first place.  A lot of things work that way.

Pornography also works that way with boys.  They become desensitized to girls in bikinis.  Then, that's not offensive anymore and they move on.  And on.  At our last local homeschool conference, the keynote speaker also talked about this.  I was pleased to see that psychologists, two of them, who commented on the results of the research in this article agreed and even commented how pixelating body parts and bleeping swear words was just not enough.

She stressed that the pixilated or blurred nudity does not give the networks a free pass.
“The impact is virtually the same as actually showing it. Just as ‘bleeping’ an ‘f-word’ or ‘s-word’ is virtually the same as airing the actual word,” Henson continued. “It just calls attention to the thing that has been edited out.”
L.A.-based therapist Dr. Nancy Irwin agrees.
"Simulated or blurred nudity can be just as titillating as real nudity in the human brain. Upon any stimulus, the brain searches for anything remotely similar or familiar, and reacts in a similar manner," she said. "If something is missing -- as in pixelization -- the brain will fill in the blanks from the existing storehouse of knowledge. Indeed, it will work harder to do so than if the real image were there. This explains why fantasy is many times better than reality. It triggers our imagination, which is endless."

Isn't a girl wearing a bikini, in essence, just pixilating out certain portions of her body?  But I digress...

The truth is, there isn't much left Mary and Jesus could watch.  What we, as parents, consider worse are the commercials.  Live sports are wrought with commercials geared at young hormonal men.  It's not just the shows.  The commercials are just as bad or worse. So we hold fast to using the TiVo and prerecorded content to control our kids viewing because our choice is not to expose them to that.  Again, there are exceptions, but they are very few.

The sad part is, that when innocence of any kind is lost, it is lost forever.  You can not replace it, correct it, restore it.  It is replaced by experience.  Not all of those experiences are good or appropriate.

One of the great things about reading great literature and Great Books is that their meaning is timeless.  William Blake, a poet and artist from early 19th century England wrote a beautiful poem.  I hope you can appreciate it's beauty and truth.

From Songs of Experience
By William Blake

A Little Girl Lost

Children of the future age,
Reading this indignant page,
Know that in a former time
Love, sweet love, was thought a crime.

In the age of gold,
Free from winter's cold,
Youth and maiden bright,
To the holy light,
Naked in the sunny beams delight.

Once a youthful pair,
Filled with softest care,
Met in garden bright
Where the holy light
Had just removed the curtains of the night.

Then, in rising day,
On the grass they play;
Parents were afar,
Strangers came not near,
And the maiden soon forgot her fear.

Tired with kisses sweet,
They agree to meet
When the silent sleep
Waves o'er heaven's deep,
And the weary tired wanderers weep.

To her father white
Came the maiden bright;
But his loving look,
Like the holy book
All her tender limbs with terror shook.

'Ona, pale and weak,
To thy father speak!
Oh the trembling fear!
Oh the dismal care
That shakes the blossoms of my hoary hair!'

Thursday, August 23, 2012

When Pride and Prejudice Marries Sense and Sensibility

Edward Ferrars
Meet Edward Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility, the sensible and friendly third child of his family. Edward develops a close relationship with Elinor Elizabeth Bennet and ultimately marries her, after he is freed from a four-year relationship to someone else.

In the real Sense and Sensibility, he loves Elinor, the sensible one.  He is honor-bound, however this Mr. Ferrars is far more articulate.  In this story, he loves Elizabeth Bennet.

Elizabeth Bennet
The second daughter in her family, Elizabeth is the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice. Her admirable qualities are numerous.  Nevertheless, her sharp tongue and tendency to make hasty judgments often lead her astray; When Pride and Prejudice Marries Sense and Sensibility is essentially the story of how she (and her true love, Darcy Mr. Ferrars) overcome all obstacles—including their own personal failings—to find romantic happiness. She must  overcome her own mistaken impressions of Darcy humankind.  As she gradually comes to recognize the nobility of Darcy’s character kindness of the human heart, she realizes the error of her initial prejudice against humanity, thanks to Mr. Ferrars.

This is a love story, really.  So, now you know the two main characters, here's a summary.

Elizabeth finds she has some medical conditions (several, actually) that require her to have major surgery.  Unfortunately for the last year, Elizabeth has been suffering from a great deal of medical maladies, underwent batteries of tests.  Finally, she was referred to an OB/GYN.

Ch. 1:
Elizabeth finds out from her OB/GYN after more tests she has several conditions which need to be addressed.  Many of those conditions can have the symptoms relieved, to some extent, through the use of Artificial Contraceptives or other methods of sterilization.  However, there is one condition for which the only correction was major surgery.  Elizabeth tells Mr. Ferrars of the diagnosis, the medical advice she's been given and his response?  Pray.  Very typical Mr. Ferrars type advice.  He does, after all want to become a clergyman!  So, pray Elizabeth did and she consulted her parish priest. This recommendation feels like it is in conflict with her faith, feeling that this will result in her turning away from the Church's teachings on being open to life.  She and Mr. Ferrars are the happy parents of six beautiful children aged 3-14. The gentle priest, whom after listening to the medical diagnosis and advice of the doctor for a total hysterectomy, advises her to follow her doctor's recommendations.  That given the conditions she has, the procedure was medically necessary.  The priest also thanked Elizabeth and Mr. Ferrars for her openness to life, which she really needed to hear.

Ch. 2:
Scheduling such a procedure with a very busy Mr. Ferrars and so many children caused Elizabeth to delay.  Partly because she was still working through all the mental issues with no longer being able to have another child that she had to resolve and partly because the very handsome Mr. Ferrars would be away for a week in July because he's a Scoutmaster, Elizabeth delayed scheduling the procedure.  After many heartfelt conversations with Mr. Ferrars and a very few close family members and friends, Elizabeth scheduled the surgery, trying to balance family commitment with the need to have recovery time.

Ch. 3:
As summer progresses, Elizabeth secretly harbors prejudices that she will be judged on her and Mr. Ferrars decision to have a total hysterectomy.  She begins to feel judged, even for other things, which is her weakness.  Her sharp side comes out and she declares to Mr. Ferrars that the information about her surgery should be on a need-to-know basis.  He, because he is best husband in the world, respects her wishes.

Ch. 4:
As the surgery date approached, Elizabeth lived her life to the fullest, enjoying every moment, mostly because she harbored fears of not living through surgery.  She did everything she could to enjoy every moment with Mr. Ferrars and the children and didn't regret a moment of it.

Ch. 5:
The surgery date approaches and Elizabeth can't bring herself to kiss the children in the morning for fear it would be the last time and she didn't want to give into that horrible fear niggling at her.  She and Mr. Ferrars arrived at the hospital and went through all the motions.  The physician met with them prior to the surgery explaining all the procedures that would be taken and gave Mr. Ferrars an estimate of the time it would take for the surgery, two hours.  The anesthesiologist met with Elizabeth and Mr. Ferrars and discussed the possibility of trying a medication during surgery to which Elizabeth previously had an apparent allergic reaction.  They agreed that in this environment, it was the best medication to use and Elizabeth was in the safest environment should a reaction actually happen.  Elizabeth secretly feared she was done for.  Mr. Ferrars, ever the cool husband, kissed Elizabeth.  That is the last thing she remembered as they wheeled her to the OR.

Ch. 6:
Elizabeth wakes up in recovery desperately itchy and struggling for breath.  Gasping, she tells the nurses she can't breathe and the regular routine happens, benedryl, oxygen, close monitoring.  She still can't tell what time it is and feels so groggy she can't come up out of the medication.  Finally, she wakes up and is told that her Mr. Ferrars will be waiting for her in her room.  She barely remembers the ride up to her room.  He's there smiling, with a card.  Ever the comedian, the card says, "Thank You" on the front.  Inside it says, "For pulling through..."  Laughing hurts.  He explains that the reason it is 3:00, much later than she expected to be out was not because of the medication or allergic reaction, but because the two hour surgery lasted over five hours, not two.  He explained, as best he could, all the reasons for the delay, then explained that the OB/GYN's parting message was this was something that really, really needed to be done.

The good doctor knew that a part of Elizabeth, the prideful side, was still hanging on the the possibility that this was not a medically necessary procedure.  The same prideful side of Elizabeth that also had worried so much about what others would think of her having a total hysterectomy at the age of 45, so much that Elizabeth wasn't willing to tell many close friends.

Ch. 7:
Mr. Ferrars took the week off to help Elizabeth recover, and even when he went back to work, made sure he took on all the extras, from removing the children from Elizabeth's room when they were annoying or tiring her, to removing them from the house when she just needed quiet.  Mr. Ferrars has gone on countless errands after long, long days at work because Elizabeth, while cleared to drive now, still has NO energy and was told by the doctor that it will take another three to four weeks for that to return.  Mr. Ferrars has accommodated his schedule to run errands and switched vehicles so she doesn't have to climb into a full sized van, while recovering from major abdominal surgery.  Mr. Ferrars, the real hero of this story, understands that Elizabeth will probably not be able to lift more than 20 lbs for at least the next eight weeks and possibly forever.  And he has never complained.  Not even once.

While Elizabeth has snipped about her children not helping quickly enough with chores because her pride insisted her house stay the way she kept it.  While Mr. Ferrars did everything she asked and more, she sniped about how she doesn't know or can't guess how she'll ever get ready for school.  He never has complained.  Not even once.

Perhaps it is because he said that their love, sex life, marriage can withstand anything. Perhaps it is because he reminded Elizabeth there is always adoption.  Perhaps it is just because they were meant to be.  So, here Elizabeth, in the final chapter, is remembering and thanking the good Lord above for her beloved Mr. Ferrars and hoping she can learn to be more like him. 

Partial credit for the character summaries goes to Sparknotes.com.  The rest of the credit goes to Jane Austen for creating two characters I love and to whom I can relate.