Sunday, August 24, 2014

happiness is having a scratch for every itch

Hello everyone! How have you been? I trust all of you are keeping well and happy! While not actively aiming to, it does seem that I am posting about once a month now, and am finding that frequency the most comfortable at present.

Sourced from T.E.R.R.A.I.N

So -- I debated which picture should grace the top of this post, and decided that the dolly was significantly more pleasant to look at than this. For those of you who don't know, this thing -- this ****ing execrable, accursed thing -- is a sandfly. The reason I am giving it any attention at all -- which, trust me, it does not deserve -- is because my legs are covered in ****ing bites which itch like the ****ing.. Sylvanians.

Yesterday, in a fit of exuberance, the kids and I decided to go to the beach, where we displayed our joie de vivre in watching the ships, hunting for seashells, building sandcastles, and yes, feeding sandflies. It was idiotic of me to go despite not having repellent on, but the kids were so keen, and we hadn't had any trouble with the bugs for quite some time; I thought it would be alright.

Well, the upshot of it is that Ro and I pretty much fed the entire sandfly population there; the one comfort is that Jake came away completely unscatched, while Becky only got a bite or two. As anyone who's ever been bitten by sandflies knows, it's not till later than you really start clawing at yourself, which was where I was at about 4am, and where I still am now. Needless to say, I've tried everything I know how to quell this insane itching -- which far surpasses anything a mosquito can come up with -- and am now just trying to relieve myself by blogging.

For what it's worth, I thought I'd share with you what I did try, so you might know what works and what doesn't (honestly though, this is pretty much going to be a list of a whole bunch of things that don't work at all). Here we go anyway:

1. Apple cider vinegar. Despite the cure-all this stuff is purported to be, it didn't do **** for the bites. We only ended up smelling funky.
2. Zyrtec Allergy. I can only say it tasted quite nice.
3. Mopiko. This is a Japanese menthol-based ointment used by generations of people here for bites; while it does work pretty decently on mosquito bites, it couldn't conquer the sandfly.
4. Savlon. This is an antiseptic cream often used in first aid for wounds, nappy rash, and "bites". While that might even have included rattlesnake and rabid dog bites, it had no effect on the 15 ****ing *@#!&s dotting my legs.
5. Steroid cream. Not sure what that did, despite the ominous-sounding literature that accompanied the tube.
5. Hand sanitizer. This I just did out of desperation. Pointless of course, except for that two seconds of hope.
6. Hot metal. Useful only for burning yourself in a fit of misdirected anger and loathing.
7. Ice. Possibly the only slightly effective thing. It may well work for more than five seconds if you encase your legs in an entire tub of cubes. For a whole day.

So there. That's everything I've tried so far. Any other suggestions? I had wanted to try tea tree oil applied neat, but someone had left my completely empty bottle in the bathroom without saying a word... If you have any ideas, even half-baked ones, please feel free to share. There is of course a plethora online, including toothpaste, garlic, lemon juice and urine -- I will probably try them all; well, except perhaps that last.

But on to something more pleasant. Dollyland is always fun (though, admittedly, even working on a new doll today did not help distract me). I'll just quickly share some dollies who went up for adoption. That little one up there is Oisín, my little deer girl. She's quite different from my other dollies obviously! She wears needle-felted deer ears, and I like the idea that she might be both a therianthrope -- half animal, half person -- as well as a little girl playing a game of make-believe. She was a big step out in faith for me, and I'm happy with her colouring, and sweet, gentle expression.

This little minx is Juliette. I was thinking of Miles Davis and beatniks and smoky little dens where groovy hepcats wore stripey sweaters and spouted poetry. I gave her plenty of eyeliner, and eyebrows too! Juliette's mommy writes atmospheric stories about her dollies, in segments avidly followed by her readers, so I'm thrilled that Juliette has joined her cast of Jazz Age characters.

This curious thing is a Blythe doll faceplate; well, specifically, it's Persis' faceplate. I took a picture of it because I wanted to remember my first attempt at carving an actual open mouth -- not one that appeared open, but one that actually is. The opening in her mouth was made all the way through, and I fit little teeth in inside. This too was another big step out in faith -- thank you Lord!

Persis made me think of peacocks and fruit punch and tropical islands; I gave her a very bright, vibrant faceup. I really love her, so I'm glad she's been adopted by a wonderful lady in the States.

So little Nova here is still waiting for her mommy or daddy. She is a sort of sister to Electra, with her galactic eyelids and star cluster tattoo. Her blue-lilac hair is really lush -- the thickest I've ever come across. She's hoping she'll find her home really soon! Bloggy friends, feel free to make an offer if you like :)

I'm off now to meditate/scream silently/pee on the *@#%ing bites -- I'll catch up with all of you really soon! Keep well, dear friends, and use repellent!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

just another little update :)

Hi everyone! How have you been? Yes, it's another weekend! Thank you so much to everyone who's still faithfully sticking with me :) I shan't be writing much this time round, as I'm under the influence of some meds that are making me really drowsy. It's quite miserable really, but I'm trusting God for complete healing in His perfect timing, so I'm pressing on (but will talk with the doctor about getting on a different med)! Your prayers would also be greatly appreciated :)

Well, this here is Electra, one of two little girls up for adoption in the shop now; she was inspired by my love for stars -- Electra is the name of a giant blue star in the constellation of Taurus. She is one of the nine brightest stars in the Pleiades open cluster; I even "tattooed" the cluster on Electra's body -- it runs down the side of her neck and across her chest.

And this is Elodie, my sweet little hippie. I had the song San Francisco by John Phillips (and sung by Scott McKenzie) running through my head the entire time I was carving and painting; needless to say, I had to make her a floral head wreath! Again, both girls are looking for forever homes now; bloggy friends, feel free to make an offer if you like :)

In other dolly news, Tova's hair finally came! It suits her so perfectly I think; she looks so adorable and naughty and loving and playful all at the same time -- just like a real child. Here she is with her best friend, Rufus the bear.

Several people did ask me about Rufus; they'd never seen a teddy quite like him before. Indeed, Rufus was a kind of "holy grail" for me as an antique and vintage bear collector; he is a 19" Tru-to-Life American Black Bear made by Dean's Rag Book Co. in the 50s. Happily, Rufus' fur and rubber molded parts are still in lovely condition; being unjointed and stuffed with excelsior and kapok, he is wonderfully floppy and weighty, and feels just like a real cub might if you were to carry him. His legs are sewn to the front of his body, so that he is always in a sitting position, but he is perfect for Tova to lie on. Doesn't he have the sweetest expression?

Well, that's all for now -- but o! before I go, a few long-overdue shots of little Jakey. He's just turned one; how time flies! He can walk now and is such a bundle of adorableness -- he makes any post-childbirth ailments worthwhile. Sorry these pictures are so dreadful in terms of lighting and composition -- I grab what I can, when I can lol! (and yes, that unholy mess you see in the background is part of my tiny "art studio").

And one last thing -- have you heard of Moo is an award-winning online printing company -- they help customers print business cards, postcards, stickers, letterheads and so forth. No, I am not being paid, or even asked, to write this lol, but I have personally had good experiences with them, and would recommend their services. They're having a sitewide 25% off sale at the moment, but it'll be over come the 21st. If you'd like to get 10% discount off your first order (and help me earn some money off my next one!) just follow this link:

OK, happy, blessed weekend and new week everyone!! See you again soon!!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

just a little update :)

Ah, another weekend. And I just realised my last post was over a month ago -- a first for me, excepting perhaps that time when I had morning sickness. The blog has always been in the back of my mind though, but I'm really coming to that point of acceptance that I will not be blogging as regularly as I did before; in fact, I'd be content to post perhaps once a month, at least till Jakey is a little older. In truth, the thought did cross my mind to leave off blogging altogether, but remembering the friends I've made and who have been so supportive -- as well as those who would bother to leave comments or email me telling me how helpful or encouraging something I'd written was -- gave me pause.

So as I've a bit of free time today, I decided to write a bit. Warning though -- this post is decidedly dollyish in tone haha.. but after all, that is part of what I do to earn my keep now! Thanks to my work, I was able to bring the girls on a little staycation at the start of this June holiday -- the hubs was away on a lovely European business trip for two weeks and I felt the girls deserved a bit of time away as well. We had a splendid time of course, but I think the girls would agree one of the really high points was going to see Maleficent! Did you all manage to catch it too? If you didn't, you really ought to. Angelina Jolie was just perfect, and the film was really so lovely -- and of course, as Disney would always have it, I teared up.

But now -- on to dolly business! First a couple of girls who came and went over the past month -- Starling, right at the top there, and redheaded Poppy here.

In the shop now is Skylar, whose hair I spent a great deal of time dyeing violet, pink and blue. Dyeing, especially synthetic materials, is a tricky affair, but that's part of the fun I think! Plus it definitely guarantees the OOAK nature of the doll.

Skylar's eyelids :) 

Since getting more involved in the Blythe community, I've come to learn more about other kinds of collectible dolls, in particular, the kind known as ball-jointed dolls, or BJDs. BJDs are articulated dolls, and their parts are strung together with elastic, giving them the ability to "move" and pose. Some of them are quite tiny, about 4" tall, while others tower at 24". Pandora here is a 16" BJD, and my first!

The fun thing about many BJDs is that they're easy to customise -- well, easier than  Blythe at any rate, I think. You can paint them, and change their eyes and hair. I deepened Pandora's faceup and gave her new eyes and hair. The girls love her pale, but I personally have a thing for redheads :)

Pandora is from a line of what I consider "mature" BJDs -- as in, I feel they look like young adults. They have very well-developed figures and some are very busty, quite different from Blythe. In this picture, Pandora is wearing what I call her "mature" hair haha..

And so, because I was loving working on Pandora, I decided to explore other BJDs as well. The next one that captured my attention was this little Secretdoll Person. Persons are funny little BJDs measuring only about 7 1/2" (as a reference, Blythe is 11"), with distinctive pouts and a Yoshitomo Nara-esque face. Here, I've opened up the Person and stripped off the original faceup.

I learned soon enough that they were fiddly little beasties -- the tiny face made the carving and colouring quite a delicate, tedious affair.

I finally got Tova done after a great deal of futzing. Persons are sent with random wigs, but since we hated the one they sent us -- something resembling a dried bush -- I had to leave Tova sitting about like this. Which did look a little pathetic.

So Pandora has let her borrow her "mature" hair till her own arrives. Pandora's head is a good deal larger than Tova's, so she looks like a teeny tiny disco queen haha..

Well, that's all for now -- I mean to catch up on my blog-reading while I still have some time now, so I'll see you again.. in awhile! Have a super lovely weekend, dear friends!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

on being happy regardless

Ah, the weekend at last. Though Jakey has no respect for the sanctity of weekend R&R -- he literally knocks on my door every single morning at 6am (or earlier!) -- I do get to sleep a little more while the hubs goes pick him up, and I'm spared the rigours of french-braiding the girls' hair.

Anyway, I did want to share with you this book I discovered a few days back. I was catching up with a neighbour of mine who lives down the street -- she was lamenting the increase in her and her daughter's allergy sufferings ever since major construction work began behind our houses, on which daily meds have had no effect. I totally sympathised, because I've been observing the irritating effects myself -- smarty eyes and Ro's stuffiness and sneezing.

Unfortunately, the work is happening on the side where our bedrooms are, which necessitates keeping the windows perpetually shut -- while that may be keeping outdoor crap at bay, it's also keeping indoor crap in. I've decided to open the windows when it rains, but then they don't call it a drought for nothing.

Anyway, while we chatting, I saw this book on her table -- Stop Being Your Symptoms And Start Being Yourself, by Arthur J. Barsky, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of psychiatric research at Brigham and Women's Hospital; and Emily C. Deans, a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a practicing psychiatrist in the Boston community. Opening it at random, I was struck by the point the authors made about how, in our modern world, we are "doing better and feeling worse" -- or the paradox of medical progress -- i.e., while we've now overcome many of the diseases that used to cause sudden or untimely death, like pneumonia or TB,we've had more limited medical progress with the "chronic diseases and frailties that come with a longer life...

"The result of these medical advances is that while they enable us to live longer, the proportion of life spent in ill health has actually increased. Our dramatic gains in lifesaving treatments have increased the proportion of people living with chronic ailments. Dementia is a vivid and omnipresent example. The incidence of dementia is rising because we can now treat the pneumonia, kidney failure and heart attacks that used to end people's lives before they grew old enough to become demented..."

"Trends in contemporary American society aggravate our distress and make coping with symptoms more difficult. They influence our personal psychology by heightening unrealistic expectations and supplying idealised images of good health, coaxing us into making upward comparisons. This in turn amplifies symptoms and makes them harder to live with... Our standard for judging good health has been elevated so much that we are now more bothered by symptoms and infirmities that in the past we were able to tolerate better".

My friend was reading the book because, as all sufferers of chronic ailments know, it's easy to sometimes get depressed, overwhelmed or anxious about one's symptoms. Well, of course I asked to borrow the book. According to the synopsis, the book explains the six-week program designed by Dr Barsky to overcome the symptoms of chronic illnesses.

The program "teaches patients to master the five psychological factors that make chronic symptoms persist through hundreds of exercises, worksheets, and patient examples. You may not be able to completely eliminate your medical symptoms. But it is possible to control your symptoms rather than letting them control you—to manage your pain, fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety. You can minimize your symptoms, learn new coping skills, and do more to make sure that your symptoms are not robbing your life of meaning and pleasure". Sounds good right?

Well, I'm still in the first couple of chapters, but thought I'd share a bit with you. "Two very important psychological factors determine how much our illnesses bother us and how satisfied we are with our state of health: our expectations about how healthy or ill we should be; and the health of those to whom we compare ourselves. In general, our satisfaction with a situation depends in large measure on what we think that state of affairs should be... Your dissatisfaction and distress with your health are relative and determined by comparing yourself to some standard -- that is, some imagined ideal of how healthy you should feel... We view our own situation in a more favourable light when we become aware of others who are in more difficult situations and confronted with worse problems".

And then from Chapter 3, or Week 1 of the program: "The attention you pay to a troubling symptom is one of the most important factors in how you perceive it. The more you concentrate on an unpleasant or uncomfortable sensation, the worse it becomes over time... If concentrating on a symptom increases sensitivity and discomfort, it follows that lessening the attention you pay it will decrease discomfort... you have the power to improve symptoms by distracting yourself and learning to ignore them".

In asking readers to track their focus on symptoms, the authors write, "Are you surprised by how much time you spend thinking about your discomfort, fatigue or pain? Were there times in the day when you did not think of the symptoms? What were you doing during those times? Wht did you do that made you think about the symptoms more? Is there a way to increase the amount of time spent in activities that help you decrease the discomfort from your symptom?" And then, in the "List of Distractions": "Spend time on an enjoyable craft project" -- yay! (all extracts from Stop Being Your Symptoms And Start Being Yourself, by Arthur J. Barsky and Emily C. Deans).

Of course, this book is written from a secular standpoint, and the Christians among us should already know and trust that Jehovah Rapha -- the Lord our Healer -- is always with us and wants to bless, heal and restore us, in His perfect way and timing. We need to always walk in faith, and speak positive words over our lives, however things may seem or appear. As Joyce Meyer writes, "After praying for healing, at least give God the same opportunity as you would a bottle of medicine! Keep taking your medicine, the Word, and continue leaning on God in absolute trust and confidence (Col 2:5)" (from Be Healed In Jesus' Name, by Joyce Meyer). But this book looks to be a promising read, and I know many of you do live with chronic discomforts and ailments that can be quite trying, to say the least. It's a great comfort to know you're really not alone though, isn't it! Do feel free to email me if you want to know more, or just need a shoulder :)

But on to some other fun-ner stuff. First off, I was really tickled by the reactions to my last post on the fwooarishly droolworthy Morten Harket -- friends even messaged me on my phone and FB haha.. So I thought I'd just share this little gem I'd found some time back; unfortunately, it's cut off quite abruptly, but it's certainly pleasant eye candy nonetheless.

And just before I go -- remember poor little Rila who was just stuck at her face? Well, my chips arrived and I finally put her all together. Here she is!

I renamed her Ryuko when everyone agreed that Rila was too soft a name for someone like her, and streaked and dyed her hair a funky, vibrant purple. I love her punky, edgy attitude -- I'm certain she's listening to 80's rock here!

I think she's softie at heart though, and she's looking for her forever home now. How can you say no to this face?

Have a blessed, restful weekend everyone! See you again soon!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

go ahead and say it

Just taking a break from the black-and-white hotties to go on this little trip down memory lane -- remember A-ha? Well, if you were like me, a teenager in the mid-1980s, you might recall marvelling at the artistic wizardry of their Take On Me video, or swooning over the perfection that was Morten Harket, A-ha's lead singer. Harket was known for his vocal range, which apparently spans five octaves; out of curiosity, I looked him up and found this very recent video -- I think he was about 54 at the time, and wow -- his voice still has what someone once described almost 30 years ago as "this incredibly strong falsetto and almost choir-boyish clarity".


Busy with mid-terms at present, but back with a fairly decent update soon. Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

just because...

... you know I need a picture of Scout in a dinosaur suit before she goes to her new mommy!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

just a little update

Hi everyone! How have you been? I trust you are all doing super and enjoying a lovely, blessed Easter season. We certainly have, praise the Lord, though today I got a little tantrum-y with the new girl I'm working on. The eye mech cracked and had to be replaced, then the chips I'd painted were too big to fit, yada yada yada ya. So now while I wait for new blank chips to arrive, my poor little Rila is just stuck like this, twiddling her invisible thumbs.

In the meantime, I've been intrigued by the comings and goings of erstwhile bloggy "friends". Of course I haven't been blogging at all regularly, but those of you who have become close know the reason why, and I truly thank you for your continued presence, friendship and support. I actually do know who disappears from my bloggy list -- having a memory for wordy things like that -- and, having not significantly changed the nature of my posts, I can only conclude they either got tired of my irregular posts, or my irregular visits to theirs, or both. So again, I truly do thank you for your faithfulness, patience and support.

But on to more cheerful things (i.e. a trip to Dollyland)! Here are a couple of recent little girls I was working on. This is Rowan, and I think it's obvious why haha (well, in case it isn't, Rowan means "little red one" in Gaelic).

I really love redheads, and felt inspired to do her faceup as flushed and ruddy as possible. As with real-life redheads, I love how the flaming hair complements light-coloured eyes. That's two layers of eyelashes per eye there, by the way -- lush!

I actually treated Rowan's blonde hair to become the flaming red it is now, and there's a lot of it too -- it's right down to her feet! Rowan has already been adopted -- thank you so much new mommy!

And this is Scout! She actually had fairly long hair, but I felt a short bob would suit her cute little face better, so I cut it. Here she is with Flossey the cat.

The super fun thing about Blythes, or dolls in general, of course, is dressing them up. There are so many amazing, talented Blythe clothes and accessories designers from all over the world. Here's Scout showing her handpainted left-facing eyes, and wearing a linen dress by one of my favourite Japanese designers.

And here she is wearing her kitty helmet and a wool dress by a designer from Spain -- it's completely hand-knitted, wow! I actually find Scout really adorable, but the poor little thing has been waiting in the shop for over a week now -- I guess her mommy has yet to find her. Whenever I take her out for photos though, I find myself really taken with her -- I just might, maybe, possibly, actually keep her!!

Have a wonderful new week everyone! See you again soon!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

when to laugh

I don't know much about Ricky Gervais beyond whatever I've seen of him on Graham Norton. There, he's funny, but not excessively provocative, and so I'd shrug and laugh along. But then some friends ("friends") on Facebook posted some FB posts of his, and they were funny too, so I popped over to his page to have a look.

I was scrolling happily along and chuckling to myself, when I came upon a post showing a picture of some men in front of a huge painting of Christ on the cross. I won't go into too much detail (lest I be guilty of sharing the joke!), but suffice to say that the caption at the bottom read, "Blasphemy -- A ticket to hell has never been funnier".

And you want to know the truth? I giggled. In fact, I think I did one of those snorting sort of laughs. I mean, it really was quite funny. And looking at it again now, I'm laughing again. But the thing is, I'm really bothered by the fact that I'm finding it funny. Well, I think I know why I find it funny -- I'm tickled by the fact that those men could actually think of such a thing, and actually pose like that, and then put it all together like a motivational poster.

But whether I should find it funny -- there's the rub. I mean, it's clearly sacrilegious -- that was Jesus, the son of God, dying on the cross. But the three fellows were being so shamelessly inane! I felt so troubled by my amusement that I actually prayed about it, and I did feel God reassuring me that I was not doomed for being unable to help my sense of humour. The Christian life is meant to be joyful, not dull and humourless.

At the same time, however, I did feel Him cautioning me against indulging too much in that sort of thing -- there is a fine line between good humour, and irreverence and mockery. Something that gets laughed at often enough gradually loses its value, its importance, its dignity -- one easily becomes flippant and disrespectful.

It's like the blonde jokes, you know? I don't like them. Some of them aren't too bad, but some really are, perpetuating terrible, belittling stereotypes which do great injustice to blondes everywhere, including millions of little blonde girls who will have to grow up under such an insulting stigma. So I try not to encourage such jokes, by listening to them, sharing them, or laughing with others.

I decided to see what other, wiser heads than mine had to say on the subject. I didn't know how to look such a thing up, and in the end Googled, "Is sacrilegious humour a sin?" Oddly enough, there wasn't much on the topic. I did find this (which, yes, made me chuckle), but it didn't strike me as being really downright SACRILEGIOUS. I did find a couple of the comments below it relevant though, such as this one by Fatima: "I don't think there is anything wrong with this. It is okay to laugh. God is not being mocked. It's people that are being mocked. and It's FUNNY!!! Lighten up guys lol".

That's the key I guess -- how mocking is the joke? Whether about blondes or almighty God, how scornful or contemptuous is it making me when I laugh? As Paul writes to the Galatians: "Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God]".

While on the topic, I decided to find out exactly what Ricky Gervais' stand on religion is. And this was the first thing I came upon. Now, this isn't a post about atheism, or bigotry, or fundamentalist anything, but I do object strongly to anyone mocking Christ publicly, on the cover of a magazine, knowing perfectly well that their celebrity would make it widely circulated. People don't need to see this sort of jeering and insult, our young people especially, who are trying to grow and find their way in an increasingly profane, immoral world.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't object to a person's atheism, but I do question the wisdom of treating godly or moral values with scorn; however idiotically the human followers of a particular religion behave, the principles to which they theoretically hold should be universally upheld -- principles such as love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control and so forth.

For Christians, the cross in part represents the theoretical upholding of such values, values which surely are in dire shortage in this fallen world of ours. Why mock or denigrate it? Make fun of some of its followers, maybe; sneer at them even if you must, but steer clear of what is inherently good, pure and holy. I believe this applies to all religions. Certainly, human failings might be deprecated and disaparaged, but not the ethics or credo which makes those humans strive to reach higher and overcome those failings.

So, I think giggling at my mom's comic on the fridge is okaaay (Moses is leading the Israelites through the Red Sea and rolling his eyes because they're saying things like, "Are we there yet?" and "I should have used the bathroom before we left"), but laughing at three immature fellows having fun with the crucifixion -- not so ok. (Also not ok -- What do you call an intelligent blonde? ...).

Trust you're all having a happy, lighthearted week!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

just a little update :)

Hi everybody! Just a quick little dolly post today. This is my new little girl, Miette! My last girl was quite serious and melancholy, so for Miette, I gave her a bit of a smile.

The kids helped me decide on her name. They felt she had a kittenish quality to her. Here you can see Miette's lovely side eye chips. Eye chips are a huge deal for Blythes -- when your eyes are that big, they are rather a central feature haha.. put in the wrong ones, and she can look quite deranged!

This is Miette in her original Sherlock Holmes outfit. She was originally a Blythe Lorshek Molseh -- get the anagram lol! Miette is up for adoption in the shop now :)

And here's a quick look at Marine, the little girl before Miette. Marine sort of looks like she's thinking about all the world's problems, don't you think?

She does have wonderful hair. I streaked it with highlights and dip-dyed it green.

I love her edgy street style. She looks very New Yorky I think. Marine has already been adopted and is on her way to her new mom -- yay!

I'll be posting some thoughts on body shape issues next I think, when I've a free moment. In the meantime, have a restful weekend and a lovely, blessed week, my friends. Thank you so much again to all of you who pop by -- it means a lot to me :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

go ahead and say it

Now in case you think I've forgotten about my little swoony trip down memory lane, I haven't! It's a bit hard to when you watch vintage Alfred Hitchcock every night lol!

So, next on my list, an unexpected charmer, and someone you might not even have heard of -- George Grizzard. George was in fact a brilliant, prolific actor, appearing in numerous films, TV shows and Broadway plays; in some ways he reminds me of Ewan McGregor.

"Cute, but this isn't his best look is it".

Not being, I suppose, typically gorgeous, his pictures aren't readily found online; this was the best I could do, and it certainly doesn't capture his suave coolness. So, to make up for it, I thought I'd share this entertaining episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1962, featuring Grizzard and the wonderful Dennis King -- a quick half hour of fun for a peaceful Sunday afternoon.

Have a lovely rest of the weekend everyone!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

on deception, and mercy

Random Jake pictures because I didn't have anything more suitable.

Hi everyone! How have you been? I know it's been awhile, and I truly thank everyone who is still faithfully sticking with me! I was just telling a good bloggy friend the other day that I had a nagging consciousness that I hadn't posted for some time, but that I'd have to wait till Jake is at least a year old before I got back to writing regularly again. And she said, "Don't be stressed out about blogging. Family is far more important!" How true!

Still, sometimes there are things I really want to share or talk about, and so I do it in bits till a post finally comes together haha.. Like this. It has bothered me enough to want to get it off my chest and hear your thoughts on it as well.

Some nights back I was at my cousin's place; the kids were all playing together when my aunt came in asking who had throw a can of pop into the wastepaper basket in the study. Now obviously she meant someone in my cousin's household, and most likely, one of my cousin's kids, who apparently had done the deed a couple of days prior. Because the wastebasket is in the study, it's clearly not meant for edibles, and a trail of ants had appeared there.

Well, everyone automatically started saying it wasn't them, and so my cousin's wife narrowed it down by saying she had given the pop to Marine, one of their daughters. So of course the family started accusing her, saying it was so typical of her, etc etc.

The thing is, Marine kept insisting she hadn't done it; on being pressed further, she said she only remembered leaving it on my aunt's table (which is also typical) (and would also have created a trail of ants). Well obviously, now the whole thing started shifting from the thoughtlessness of throwing foody crap in the study, to whether Marine was actually lying.

Finally, my cousin's wife took Marine aside to where we were sitting, and sternly asked her point blank whether she was telling the truth. Again and again, Marine insisted she was -- this was when it came up that she remembered just leaving it on her grandmother's table. One last time, my cousin's wife asked Marine to promise her -- before God -- that she was telling the truth. Having helped take care of the kids for many years, I knew this was the ultimate; usually if the kids really were fibbing, they would admit it at this point, if not earlier.

Marine was already crying by this time (she is nine, by the way), but declared again that she was telling the truth -- she only remembered leaving it on my aunt's table (for which thoughtlessness she did apologise). She said she had drunk some pop in the study, then drifted over to her own room to offer her brother some, then drifted back to the study, where she left the pop. Knowing Marine as well as I do, I felt sure she was telling the truth -- as in, she honestly believed she'd left the can on the table, and did not remember chucking it in the basket.

Well, my cousin's wife was quite prepared to leave it at that, saying either she or someone else, possibly my cousin or even my aunt, had absentmindedly done it. But, perhaps because he'd been somehow vaguely brought into it, my cousin took Marine to the next room and for the next 20, 25 minutes at least, subjected her to a barrage of interrogative questions, in his most blustering tone, from where exactly on the table did she leave the can, to how long she had waited for her brother to drink from it.

At the start of this interrogation, I could hear Marine stoutly sticking to her story, but as it went on, I could hear her tearing up, and getting increasingly confused, stressed and worn out. She couldn't remember exactly on which corner of the table she'd left the can, or how long she'd waited for her brother, or what exactly she'd drifted off to do next after she'd left the can. Well, surprise -- this was like two days ago.

I felt so bad for her, but then I got really upset when I heard him telling her that she was a liar -- he knew her, and he knew she was lying -- she could fool us, but not him. After Marine left us (crying), I told him frankly that I was very dismayed with how he had handled the whole situation -- that no good could come from bullying and intimidating a child like that, and more than that, believing the worst of the child and accusing her without concrete proof.

Well, needless to say, he got all riled up and defensive, and started blustering at me about how he could just see it in her eyes -- he knew. All the circumstantial evidence pointed to her being the guilty person, he said. He went on and on about how she couldn't remember the facts clearly, like where exactly on the table she'd left the can. He reasoned that that showed she was making it up -- how could she possibly remember leaving the can there, and not be able to remember the specifics. She was just coming up with that story to explain what she'd done with it.

I said it was perfectly possible to do that, especially absentmindedly -- I myself continually think I've left crafting stuff somewhere on the dining table for instance, but find later that they're not there, and I'd actually left them somewhere else altogether. When one is distracted, or has a million ideas preoccupying one, one can easily do things like that.

My point was that it was possible that she sincerely did not remember throwing the can in the basket; that as far as she could remember at all, she had just left it on the table. Did that mean she wasn't the one who threw in the basket? No, of course not -- but it did mean that she wasn't lying about it, which was the main thing right? A lie, after all, is "a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth".

I felt it was wrong to accuse her based on circumstantial evidence and a "gut feeling"; if there was any chance at all of her not lying, I felt we should believe the best of her and just take her at her word. I believe browbeating her in some cop-movie attempt to trip her up and catch her in her guilt is just futile and damaging -- trust me, I know the long-term effects of unmerciful harshness and negative labels. Harsh parenting is connected to low self-esteem in children, and is one of the surefire ways to, over time, cause serious rifts and even total alienation. "Do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them]" it says in Colossians, "lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit]".

Well, the next thing I knew, we were getting into some stupid debate about criminal culpability -- he actually brought up how a person with dementia who murders someone is still a murderer, even if they honestly don't remember doing it. I couldn't quite follow this parallel at all, and could only say, yes, the person is a murderer, but one can't actually say they lied about not remembering.

In sum, several relational and parenting rules became reinforced in my mind. 1) Always be compassionate, and believe the best of people; 2) Avoid negative assumptions and labels; 3) Don't abuse your position of power; 4) Be firm, but kind; 5) Don't yell; and 6) Temper justice with mercy.

I also read up on dealing with kids when they lie -- because all our little angels will do it, at one point or another; heck, all of us do. I found these points in a great article by Dr Victoria Samuel, a clinical psychologist who works within a specialist child team in the UK's NHS:

1. Calmly name the issue but don’t demand confessions
Don't ask questions about behaviour if you already know the answer! Trying to force your child to confess is rarely effective: most children (and adults) will lie to protect themselves when put on the spot...

If you know your child is lying to avoid getting into trouble calmly describe the problem: "I see you got pen on the wall, how can we sort that out?" If possible, avoid lecturing or criticising your child as this tends to be counter-productive, leading to defensiveness and more lying...

Never call your child a liar; negative labels such as this can erode self-esteem and lead to self-confirming behaviour. Similarly, it is not helpful to bring up past transgressions "This is the third time you’ve lied about this".

If you catch your child telling a blatant lie, tell them you know they're not being honest: "I know that isn't true. It's normal to worry about telling the truth if we're afraid we've done something wrong, but lying isn't helpful. Let's see what we can do solve the problem".

2. Try to understand why your child is finding it hard to be honest
It's important to think about why your child feels she needs to lie. Perhaps your child lies about the marks she get at school because she is feeling overly pressurised to achieve. Or if your child repeatedly lies about their actions to avoid discipline, perhaps the consequences you are using are so severe that your child is too afraid to tell the truth. Remember that consequences are about teaching a child, not inflicting distress.

3. Teach your child about why lying doesn't work
Teach your child about the importance of telling the truth and how lying can stop people believing them even when they are being honest. A good way to do this is to read books with your child which give a clear message that lying is not helpful; 'The Boy who Cried Wolf' is an obvious example. It helps to take time after reading the stories to chat with your child about what he has learnt. Remember this should be relaxed and fun, not a morality lecture!

4. Respond with clear consequences
By around the age of six, children are able to know the difference between truth and lies. So if they lie to try to cover up something they've done, it may be helpful to give consequences, both for the lying and for the behaviour they are attempting to conceal. Make it clear to your child that honesty will get your approval and mean they get off more lightly.

This approach means that if your child does something wrong they're less likely to take the risk of covering up with a lie. Again, remember that consequences should not be overly severe as this may push your child to lie to protect themselves.

5. Set a good example
Remember that children learn more through watching other people's behaviour than through any other form of direct guidance or discipline. Unfortunately this means that if you're prone to being economical with the truth, be it mouthing "I'm not in" when your mother-in-law rings, or by taking a few years of your child's age when buying a bus ticket, you will inadvertently be teaching your child that lying is acceptable.

6. Praise honesty
Always be encouraging and positive whenever your child tells the truth and praise them for being honest: "Thank you for telling me you broke the glass. I really like it when you’re honest". (extracted from How to deal with lying and encourage honesty; italics mine. Read the article in full here).

Have a kind, loving week, my friends -- catch up again real soon!


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