Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Dangers of Techno Pacifiers

For most modern families living in apartments, townhouses, or even the suburbs, it takes a conscious effort to ensure little ones connect with nature and animals and, as a result, connect with God. Nature is suffused with the Presence of the Creator because God sustains and controls nature.
It seems to me children need to go outside where they can delight in the smallest details because their hearts senses the Spirit of God and His joy when they are in nature. Even adults are growing increasingly discontent with the hectic pace of the 21st century because it is an existence more plugged into technology than to people.
Many are more comfortable texting each other than speaking face to face or even talking on the phone. This disconnect has devastating repercussions, also affecting our relationship to nature, but most especially our relationship with God. Man is losing the ability to even engage in authentic prayer because prayer is all about communion, the ability to relate.
Children are especially vulnerable to the toxic influence of technology. It is so easy to switch on the television or hand a tiny child an iPhone when they are distraught and parents are busy. One of the creators of the television show Sesame Street once said that any activity is better than watching television, even an educational show like Sesame Street. In our home, we went a year without any television when we had seven children. After this, we limited their time in front of the television as well as the computer — not too difficult when kids of all ages are clamoring for their thirty minutes of allotted time.
The Canadian scientist David Suzuki also believes children must be given the opportunity to connect with animals. The inner drive to bond with animals is so strong that, if they haven’t the chance to connect with real animals, children will turn their attention to stuffed or cartoon animals. Suzuki calls these substitutes for real animals a “grotesque” substitution.
While watching my own kids interact with our pets and farm animals, I discovered children do have a deep seated need to relate to animals. I was as fascinated as my kids with the arrival of tiny balls of fluff called chicks, cute piglets and tiny kittens. The whole family gathered around in the barn when the chicks and piglets first arrived, not wanting to miss anything.
In the coming weeks, the smaller children clambered for one of the older ones to take them to see the chicks. Sitting among the little birds with the warming lamp, holding or simply watching them was an almost magical time filled with quiet joy.
Mary was and still is my most fervent animal lover. Before she could even walk, she exhibited an obsession to find, crawl after, grab and squeeze any and all animals. This was a passionate love for animals, I would say. She could barely talk, so to communicate her wish to hold the hamster, her hands would frantically open and close and she would utter soft little grunts as she pleaded, with big chocolate-brown eyes, for someone to open the cage. When Mary realized that she would finally get to hold the hamster, her hand would literally shake with excitement and anticipation.
Needless to say, either one of the older siblings or I had to supervise Mary, because she would tend to squeeze Hammy till his eyes started to bulge out. Then the cry would arise . . . “Mary’s squeezing Hammy again. Come quickly!” Once she could walk, Mary would haul the disgruntled cat around, but she was happy with her eyes shining with joy. Mary was in heaven, so I couldn’t bear to deny her access to her beloved pets.
At least the rabbits in the hutch on the covered porch were more placid than Kitty and tougher than the hamster, and she was content to simply stare at the goldfish. Though she did tend to over feed them. I’d scoop out food from the top of the water to use for the next few feedings. Spring provides the perfect time to build memories like these.
It really takes minimal effort to encourage little ones to connect with nature and animals, and, as a result, with the God who sustains them.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

I’m Batman Foevaaaa….

Our second youngest child was born with a zest for living. This was obvious with even a quick glance at my baby’s face. With his eyebrows raised in surprise, eyes wide open to see everything around him and lips smiling with glee. Anthony was a delightful infant, toddler and young child. Actually his temperament at twenty has not changed much at all!
Anthony was a delightful infant, toddler and young child. Actually his temperament at twenty has not changed much at all!
Anthony had a marvellous imagination, creating dramatic play scenarios like intense sword fights with invisible villains. By the time he was two and a half, he insisted on wearing one of two batman sweatshirts every morning. Anthony needed to wear his batman sweatshirt, so I just acquiesced and washed one of the sweatshirts every night.

By four-years-old he had added a black cape, felt fedora hat and black  barn boots to his daily uniform. His outfit was my little guy’s salute to his three heroes Batman,Zorro and the Canadian Mounted Police.

 He tried to imitate Batman’s ability to fly. I caught  Anthony just in time when he was three, as he slung a leg over the banister, so he could sweep down and save a hapless victim of crime. After that incident, I convinced him to jump off the fourth step of the front hall staircase. Honestly that little boy jumped countless times every day, black cape billowing behind him. One afternoon, a doctor passed us in a hospital and smiled at Anthony’s outfit,
“Oh my, what do we have here, Batman?”
Anthony took a flying leap, cape billowing behind him again and answered,
“Oh no, I’m Batman Foevaaaa….”

Another time, as we sat in a doctor’s waiting room, four-year old Anthony backed up and then crouched low like a runner’s preparing to sprint towards the plate-glass window. Shocked, I called out,
“ANTHONY, what are you doing?”
My four-year old son adjusted his tense stance and said,
I am going to run and leap and smash that glass with my feet! Then I’ll fly through the air.”
However, Anthony did get a few chances to really fly when his older brother’s friends came out to the farm.  Matthew’s friends would play catch throwing Anthony instead of a ball. With his little legs tucked, arms clutched tightly around his bent legs, the strong teenagers would toss my son between each other!!
It was teenage sleepovers that provided Anthony with his most memorable flying feats. On early Saturday mornings, he would run from our big farm kitchen, down the hall and then launched himself into the air to land on all the teenage bodies strewn about the family room. A series of groans and moans joined Anthony’s gales of laughter as he yelled,
“Come on guys, it’s time to get up!”

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Coming Soon- Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood

I am part of an upcoming anthology of five other Catholic mums due to come out in about a month. All the women are great writers, each writing from a completely different perspective. Roberta Cottam is the creator and editor for this project. It started out as a project for a class but with her mother's illness and the death of one of the contributor's full term baby, the book was put on hold. Now Roberta is working on this book because she is passionate about it. strictly pro bono along with designer  Laura Wrubleski  Here is Roberta's initial vision in her own words
I feel deeply inspired to create a book specifically featuring five writers, with the focus being Catholic writers/bloggers. I find there is a current theme around the courage to parent as your faith supports you to do versus what is the current trend in our culture, and I find this very inspiring.
I envision a beautiful print book and eye-catching eBook. As a designer and author, I am really passionate about creating a stellar print book. I believe that having a physical incarnation sampling each of your work honours what you have to share as mothers, and is a celebration of your talents.
We will be self-publishing under my new publishing logo, Village Acres, which Roberta has designed for me  to use individually as well as for this book. It will be available through Amazon both as an ebook and a paperback.
Praise for the Authors of Love Rebel
“Full of earnest and joyful contributions that inspire and affirm, this exuberant anthology resonates with love and authenticity. It serves as an earthy and affectionate antidote to a world that suggests that motherhood should be considered an afterthought instead of a priority.” — Dymphny Dronyk, Q. Med., Senior Consultant & Manager atCommunica Public Affairs, President of the League of Canadian Poets Council, and Editor/Publisher at
“Pope Francis challenges moms and dads to dream about their children...and this little book is a great beginning. I’m a big believer in affirming what is good and in this short work, five spiritually alive mothers make the case brilliantly.” — Father Julio Lagos
“Motherhood shared — whether the ups or the downs — is pure joy, as Melanie Jean Juneau proves again and again in her delightful and insightful writing — Allison Gingras, host of A Seeking Heart on Real Life Radio
“There are no cultural boundaries when it comes to love, faith and motherhood. Echoed with laughs and tears, I got inspired by each love rebel’s own experiences, honest reflections and ordinary yet spirit-lifting deeds!” — Odilia Lee, monthly columnist of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Evergreen News
“Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood gives comfort and encouragement to ts readers by reaffirming the value of their roles within their families, and as a child of God in their own rite.”— Lisa Whelton, Made Just for You By Lisa Designs
"Bonnie Way has a way with words in which you can’t help but feel like you are actually there. This book took me back to when my child was small and made me miss all of those things that makes raising a small child so memorable.” — Kristy-Lea Tritz, Personal Coach