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!

Monday, March 3, 2014

all's well that ends well

Remember that little upset with Ophelia?  "When we get disappointed, then immediately get re-appointed... We're letting go of the causes for the disappointment and pressing toward what God has for us. We get a new vision, a plan, an idea, a fresh outlook, a new mindset, and we change our focus to that".

In a classic case of God knowing best, taking care of the situation, and always working things out for my good, the sweetest lady came along a couple of days later and adopted Ophelia -- right off, without layaway. Yay! Thank you so much God! Thank you so much new mommy! Thank you so much everyone for your kind words and encouragement!

So, Ophelia got lots of good bear advice before packing up. 

Such as, always have a doughnut handy.

Here's Ophelia with her new pulls. The pulls control the eye mechanism and also allow for sleep eyes, which Blythes in their original condition don't have. New pulls are always fun because you get to play with all sorts of beads and trinkets.

Now that Ophelia is happily on her way to her new home, let me share with you my new little girl, Eponine (I actually reeeeeeally wanted to call her Scampi, but everyone said "No").

I cut and curled Eponine's hair and love how unruly it looks. It makes her look a bit of a minx I think.

A good friend of mine said she looked like a little starlet straight out of the 50s. That was really sweet praise :)

The inevitable hood. Eponine is up for adoption now :)

Have a super lovely week everyone!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

on envy, and contentment

Sadie takes Orso just the way he is.

I was sitting with my aunt's church group the other day and talk turned to a certain church member, Lauren, whose life was apparently perfect. It seems she has four grown daughters, all of whom have successful, well-paying careers, and more than that, they all "married well"; i.e., they married husbands who also have successful, well-paying careers. Lauren herself is a well-off retiree and so the upshot of it is that she and her husband are leading very comfortable lives, regularly posting pictures on Facebook of the family on holiday, eating at expensive restaurants, and wearing expensive things.

"Wow, great huh?" my aunt said. "Lauren and her husband don't have to worry about anything; her daughters are doing so well". There was a chorus of agreement. And then, she added what was clearly in everyone else's mind: "You can't help but envy

I was silent the entire time, but at that, I felt I simply had to speak up. It wasn't just that I'd heard that kind of senseless dross before, but I felt so bad for my cousin (my aunt's daughter), who was also there, and flashed me a stricken, exasperated look. Because obviously, if you envy someone else's life, you're clearly dissatisfied with your own; and if you think someone's else's children are successful and have married well, you clearly think your own aren't, and haven't.

"Why do you say these things?" I said. "Success isn't defined by wealth. And you don't know what their private lives are like, or what's going to happen to any of them in the future. Why can't you just be happy with what you have?" Now my cousin isn't a highfalutin career woman, but a full-time mom with two wonderfully decent teenage sons. But heck, when was the last time you heard someone going, "Gee, she's a full-time stay-at-home mom raising kids -- you can't help but envy her"?

Needless to say, the conversation swiftly went off on a pointless tangent, with my aunt going, "I didn't say Constance didn't marry well" and me going, "But you just said you envied Lauren's daughters' marrying well", and my aunt retorting, "Well, they did -- they're doing great; they lead such comfortable lives", and me replying, "Which means you don't think you're doing great!"

Of course, I don't think my aunt had really given much thought to what she was saying. And many of us are guilty of much the same thing, looking longingly at someone else's whatever, and at the very least thinking, "If only...". But these feelings of discontentment often have insidious effects, and only keep growing if left unchecked.

Ever since I was a kid, I've been witness to this sort of thing -- people envying other people; parents envying other parents; moms comparing their daughters and making their kids feel bad about themselves. Never mind that my aunt is actually living quite comfortably, has several gorgeous grandchildren, and a daughter who's happily married (which in this day and age of divorce and rampant philandering, is an achievement in and of itself). The fact that she's not raking in big bucks and coupled with a millionaire husband somehow seems to make her life, at best, lacklustre, and at worst, a failure.

As a stay-at-home mom who's not raking in big bucks myself, I can imagine what my cousin is feeling. But while my aunt -- contented-Christian-who-ought-not-to-covet though she is -- is not entirely happy with her lot, I hope my cousin has not let it affect her. For surely being made to feel a failure, or like you've fallen short, is one of the worse things to go through life with. I hope she knows that being a fulltime mom makes her just as valuable, and as much a success, as Mrs Lawyer or Mrs Director at the office.

"Thou shalt not covet" is one of the ten commandments -- clearly, envy has been a problem since time immemorial. In fact, the commandment in full reads thus: "You shall not covet your neighbour's house. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour". God was obviously trying to cover all the bases -- knowing people, He had to! Today, it could just as soon read, "You shall not covet your neighbour's car, your neighbour's job, your neighbour's straight-A kid -- indeed, your neighbour's life".

I think God knew that envy and covetousness would not only breed misery in one's own life, but in the lives of those one is close to as well. Nowhere does envy cause more grief I think than in one's own family, among one's own children. Almost every child starts off with an innate desire to be pleasing to his or her parents, to make his or her parents proud. But of course every child is gifted differently, and unfortunately, not always to his or her parents' tastes. Dissatisfied, discontented parents quickly make their children feel inadequate and unacceptable, and is simply a recipe for disaster. "Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?" it says in Proverbs.

The perfect scenario of course is where parents, already confident in themselves, transfer that confidence to their children. These are the parents who are supportive, who celebrate their children's unique strengths and abilities, and truly love who they naturally are -- whatever stage of life they're at. Expressing envious dissatisfaction -- whether to an eight-year-old or a forty-eight-year-old -- only wounds and tears down, and does no one any good. "Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that" Oliver Stone (of all people) once said.

The key I think is to simply stop comparing oneself to other people! And to start focusing on, and truly appreciating, all the blessings and positive things in one's own life. I strive to be very careful of my words around my own kids, steering clear of such phrases as "If only you..." or "Why can't you be more like...". I am so conscious of the fact that enviously comparing -- whether children, or belongings, or entire lives -- essentially implies that I wish my own were different. I think going through life like that only leads to despair.

Which reminds me of a devotion I read not too long ago. It was entitled Start enjoying you. "...Scripture says that we have the mind of Christ. We can think. speak and learn to behave as Jesus did, and He certainly did not ever compare Himself with anyone or desire to be anything other than what His Father had made Him to be. He lived to do the Father's will, not to compete with others and compare Himself with them.

"I encourage you to be content with who you are. That does not mean that you cannot make progress and continually improve, but when you allow other people to become a law, you are continually disappointed. God will never help you be someone else. Remember that being "different" is good; it is not a bad thing. Celebrate your uniqueness and rejoice in the future God has planned for you. Be confident and start enjoying you!" (extracted from The Confident Woman Devotional, by Joyce Meyer).

Here's to celebrating our own unique selves, lives and successes! Have a blessed, contented weekend everyone!

P.S. Ophelia found her mommy -- without layaway! More about that soon :)


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