Monday, December 31, 2007

Bloggy Tips

I thought about making a new category for these, but I don't really have THAT many of them, so I decided to just make a single post about it and then link it from my sidebar. ☺ Truthfully, I found all these things by googling, so you can find them too...but hey, I'll give you a shortcut.
(this post will be updated if/as applicable)

--->This is where I got directions for making a 3 column layout OR a wider 2-column layout (there are others, but this is the one I used) (This is another one that I came across just recently...) It gives the step-by-step directions for changing the html code to change the layout on your blog. It looks a little overwhelming but just remember to make a backup like it says, and that way if you ruin it all it's easy to go back and try again!

--->This is where I got directions for putting margins between my columns (I didn't need it on this page, but I did need it for my shop blog, which is much more complicated!) Once you've done the 3-column thing, this is a breeze!

--->This is where I got directions for making my labels into a word cloud (so that the more-used topics have bigger text and all that) This does involve getting into your html code, but it's a copy and paste thing, rather than making changes, so it's pretty easy--just pay attention to the directions!!!

--->This site has all the info for making a scroll box for text, graphics, or code (To do code, go to his FAQ for directions)

--->This post has VERY EASY instructions (much easier than the last site) for posting a button with the code to copy it. I have been through lots of sites with complicated directions (like the one above) but this one has simple copy/paste (and replace) code. It's only applicable for buttons (which is why I've left the previous link), but it's very user friendly. ☺

--->Blogger Buster has a bunch of neat widgets, such as the top commenter one or the most popular posts (as determined by how many comments they have). They are extra easy to use because all you have to do is enter your URL into the blank and they will send the code over to your blog--no cutting and pasting or even following directions! Once they shoot it over to you, you can move it around in your layout just like any other widget.

--->This has weather widgets for the USA and Canada. Just enter your zip code and it will give you the code to copy and paste!


A basic note about html (if you are not familiar with it): every code has to have an opening and a closing tag. The opening tag has the information about what to do with the text, and the closing tag uses a slash / to indicate the end of the designated code. SO to make something bolded, you put <"b> in front of it, and <"/b> at the end (no " but if I left that out then it would actually function as the tag, bolding my text there and not showing the tag!)
The html used in web layout is more elaborate, but the same rules apply--everything has to open and close. So if you get an error message of some kind when making changes to your layout, just go back to your saved version, and try again--paying attention to make sure that when you copy/paste code around you are not missing any critical little < or } or anything like that!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Right On Brother!!!



(From Sunstone Magazine, Oct 2007 issue)

On Fire

You know what really really bugs me? Offends me to my very core?
Rude Smokers.
Do people have a right to smoke? Sure. I think it's gross but if they want to do it, the law says they can, so ok, go ahead.
BUT, the law also says you're not supposed to do it in public buildings, nor in the doorways of such... In other words, when I walk to the store, and hang my raincoat on the outside hook before going in (as per the request on the sign), then I should be able to come back outside and put my coat on again without having to be subject to a cloud of smoke. To say nothing of the smoke of THREE people like happened to me last week.
I am offended by the people who choose to smoke in doorways like that. It is against the law in a lot of places--it may not be here in Alaska, I'm not sure, but it is rude regardless.
And if you don't mind forcing your secondhand smoke on me, can you at least respect my baby and not force it on him?!
Seriously, do what you want to yourself, but don't touch my kid. One of these days I'll go all 'mama bear' and smack you.

My 7yo son always coughs loudly and says things like "He's smoking mom, that's bad for you," or "smoking is yukky" when we walk past a smoker. I never shush him. I don't often have the guts to speak up about it, but I should, and I'm glad that he does!

Going There Again

I've recently read some more things on this subject, and feel the need to preach it again...(last time was here). Circumcision hurts boys and men, yes. It also hurts their wives. And their mothers. In other words, it hurts everyone. How did this ever get to be considered acceptable, let alone 'normal'?!


I will tell you here and now that if you think circumcision is ok, you will probably be offended by this site.
I also highly recommend going there.
The more I learn, the more I am thankful that my baby is intact...and the more I wish I had known more sooner, and that I could have somehow spared other babies...and thus I try to spread the word to whomever I can, in the hopes of teaching one mother, one father, and sparing one more baby...

Monday, December 10, 2007

How We Met--Boy Scout Trip

Another installment in the 'how we met series'
(if you don't know what this is, go here)

Hubby was leader of the 11yo boy scouts in his area. One weekend he took them on a hike up the canyon--into National Forest area. I was working for the Park Service as a ranger, and I was the one in the little booth who took his entrance fee. Well, his check bounced, so he had to come back the next week to re-pay the fee, and he intentionally came to my booth so that he could ask me out...

Disclaimer: this approach would not really have worked in real life, because the entrance fee for that canyon is about $3. I don't think I would have agreed to go on a date with someone who bounced a check for $3!!!

Just Be Nice Already

This may turn into a series...things that bug me...
but life is just too short to be nasty to folks all the time.

I recently met someone whom my husband had discribed as 'crusty.' When I actually met this person, I realized that 'crusty' didn't even begin to discribe it. This person was rude, vulgar, and just plain mean--to everyone. Family members, utter strangers, it didn't matter--this person was terrible.
I typically try to be polite and civil to everyone, although I fall into curt with those who are rude. But with this person, I was about ready to start shouting...I don't think I've ever been so glad to see someone walk away.

Really now, I understand that everyone has days when they feel down, or something upsetting is going on in their life, or they're hurting... Sometimes events or other people are making life difficult. I appreciate that we all have moments or days when we're not the sweetest of company...but to be that way all the time? That's just pathetic.
Grow up! Realize that life is only 10% what happens to you, and is 90% what you do with it! Take responsiblity for your choices, behaviors, and mood. Being crusty and crabby all the time is immature and unacceptable. Furthermore, being cranky doesn't even bring any satisfaction to the crankpot--but being happy does.
So be happy! You might live longer...and even if you don't, you'll certainly live better!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Don't You Wish Your Diapers Were Cute Like Mine?!

Another good reason to cloth diaper--cuteness!!!

Straightforward...standard colors...

What fun one can have with a patterned PUL!

I'm particularly proud of these two, as I custom created them. Let's hear it for SuperBum and NorgeBum!!!

(If you still need more reasons, check out THIS! The toxins in disposable diapers are now linked to causing asthma!!!)

Getting Knitty with It

So I've been learning to knit. At this point I'm pretty good at keeping my stiches even, but I can't handle switching between knitting and purling stitches without referring back to the book (or having someone show me). My friend KnittingFisher is going to help me learn to strand (work in two colors, carrying strands of the secondary one on the inside). My original goal in learning to knit was to eventually work up to making Hubby a full blown norwegian sweater...I knew I would need to make a number of things so that I could learn each technique and work up to the sweater (After all, the professionally hand-knitted ones in Norway sell for $1000!) KF is helping me figure out a logical sequence of projects and techniques. Right now I'm making a plain, uncomplicated hat for S. Mostly to get me in the rhythm of knitting... My next project will be a stranded hat (KF has pictures of some of her recent ones here, but I don't think mine will be quite like that...I'm thinking pale blue and grey with a simple band of snowflakes...sortof scandinavian). Anyway, I will probably need to make a couple of stranded things to get the hang of it, so maybe I'll make a few more hats or something to sell or gift... At some point I will need to practice following written knitting patterns (which I have not done yet) so I may make a pair of socks too, as KF makes lots of them and they are so cute I want some! Then I will push into this:
"Baby Norgi" (from knitty.com)a norwegian sweater of the simplest sort--and in a child's size. So I can work on technique in a smaller scale. Huzzah for the invention of washable yarns (even washable wools!). I would probably make a couple with different panel patterns across the yoke, and sell them...or maybe make them in the sizes of my various children so we could all match...and THEN finaly move into making Hubby's sweater.
While looking around at various patterns for norwegian sweaters, I also looked at some russian and icelandic and scottish sweaters...wow, these cold-climate dwellers know how to make a beautiful thing out of a practical need. I think I can safely say that I'm developing an addiction here. Thankfully I have an inclination towards useful addictions! LOL!
I LOVE sewing, but I am really enjoying knitting. The downside of sewing is that I need my machine...knitting is perfectly portable, and that is really nice! I can just keep my needles and a ball of yarn in the end pocket of my diaper bag, and whenever I get a chance I can do a few stitches...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Walking and Talking

To clarify...yes, S is walking like crazy. This surprised me, as I had heard that those who are verbal early (which he is) are usually later on the physical milestones, and visa versa. Well, by 6months S said 'mama' and clearly knew what he meant. He has since added 'nurn' 'dada' and 'dah' (dog) to his vocabulary. "Mama" includes asking for food (perhaps confused with 'mmmm' or 'more'?) and "nurn" includes cuddles and comfort as well as actual nursing. But yes, he talks. He also grunts, growls, clicks his tongue, and 'sings' when he's tired.

He hit all his other physical milestones on the later side...rolling over, sitting up, crawling...and then WHAM he decided to walk. I have no idea what got into him...perhaps it's our hard pergo floors--nobody wants to crawl on them, so might as well get up and walk! :-)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Baby Humor

Tonight Hubby and I were laying on the bed, wishing that Bear (11mo) would act a little more tired since we were ready for sleep. Bear, on the other hand, was walking around our room being anything but tired. Hubby looked at him and said "NURN" (which is Bear's word for 'nurse') and then pretended to nurse. Bear laughed so hard he lost his balance and had to sit down!

So Hubby made up some more baby jokes.

Two guys walk into a bar. In the bar they see a bear. NURN!

There was a priest, a rabbi, and NURN!

Why did the chicken cross the road? NURN!

Hey Bear, NURN!

Bear was in stitches.
And so were we.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

November 28, 1989

Eighteen years ago today my baby sister died of SIDS. I mentioned her a while ago, but on the anniversary, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my memories of that day.
Thanksgiving fell on the 23th that year. We’d had a lot of family in town, and once they all went home, the weekend was quiet. We always liked to get into the Christmas spirit right away, and in that particular year we got our tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. After leaving it in a bucket to hydrate for a couple of days, we brought it in and decorated it on Monday the 27th. Amy loved looking at the decorations and touching the twinkling lights. That night she said her first (and only) word: “lii” (light).
Mom had a meeting Tuesday evening, so we five kids (myself, age 8, then my sister, two brothers, and of course Amy-9mo) were home with Dad. I don’t remember anything particular about the evening, so I’m sure it was quite routine. Amy was always a mommy’s girl, and she struggled to calm down for anyone else. That night, she finally fell asleep in Daddy’s arms. When Mom came home, Amy was not breathing. Dad began CPR, the ambulance arrived 4 minutes later. Shortly afterwards someone (I don’t even know who) arrived to stay with us older (sleeping) kids, and Mom and Dad went with Amy to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The official cause of death: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (which is the medical term for “we don’t have a clue why she died”).
Mercifully, the older four of us slept through everything—the ambulance sirens, the paramedics running past our bedroom doors, everything. In the quiet of morning, our parents came and gathered us all into their room. We all sat on their bed and Dad said “we have something we need to tell you.” I knew what it was before he told us. All my siblings have told me that they also knew before being told. Amy had died in the night. Children have perfect faith, and while we knew we would miss Amy, we also knew that she was in Heaven, with Jesus…so what’s to mourn?
I remember sitting in the rocking chair next to the wood stove. Neighbors and people from church came and went all day. Mom was weepy I guess, although I don’t concretely remember that. I do remember that it was raining (typical for November in western Washington), and the day was cold and grey. I had just begun reading a novel, so I continued (and finished) reading it that day…that novel (“Summer of the Swans”) is not very happy to begin with, and now that I associate it with that day, I will always consider it depressing.
Someone from church offered to make a burial gown for Amy. She made a long white dress trimmed in pink ribbon. There was a matching slip and bonnet. (Thanks to the bonnet, we were able to take locks of Amy’s hair for each sibling to keep.) Mom said she was relieved when Dixie called and said she would make the dress—Mom could not have handled doing it herself. There was some leftover fabric and ribbon, so Dixie made a little pillow for mom to have for remembrance.
Mom had been breastfeeding Amy of course, so there were physical pains to go with the emotional ones. Her body continued to make milk, and without a baby to feed, she became very engorged. (I have experienced some engorgement as my body adjusts to my baby’s varying feeding needs, and it is very uncomfortable.) Of course, my nursing baby relieved the pressure on a regular basis, and I could also pump away extra milk to ease the pressure. With no nursing baby, Mom needed her milk to dry up, so could not even pump. She has told me that she would stand in the shower, letting the milk drip with the warm water, as though her body were weeping too.
Amethyst, “Amy” was our family’s precious jewel. She lived 9 months and 3 days. She has now returned to the Father* who sent her to us. We miss her here, but know she has work to do on that side of the veil. In her baby blessing, she was told that she would be a missionary to millions. Mom originally thought that phrasing was born of Dad’s penchant for exaggeration, but we now realize that it was not. Her tombstone reads “The Crown Without the Conflict.”

*We believe that little children are pure at birth, and remain so for the first eight years of life. During this time they learn right and wrong, but are incapable of true sin. At 8 years old, they are baptized, and then become accountable for their choices. If a child dies before the age of accountability though, they are still perfect, and therefore return directly to Heavenly Father’s presence.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Want to Believe…

If you’ve ever seen the X-Files, you’ve probably seen Mulder’s poster. It’s a classic. In fact, Hubby even got a copy of it for his classroom.
Well, I want to believe. Not in aliens (I think the whole alien thing is goofy); but I believe in other things.
I believe in Sasquatch. No, I’ve never seen him, but I think that with millions of acres of wilderness, even a moderately intelligent creature could avoid ‘discovery’ indefinitely. I also read Rawitz’ book “The Long Walk” and his description of his sighting of a Yeti (the Himalayan Bigfoot) left me with little doubt as to the likelihood of such a creature.
I believe in Nessy. This one isn’t so much a realistic belief, I guess it’s more of a ‘want to believe’ belief, but I just love the idea of the Loch Ness Monster. And, after all, they found a coelacanth, so why not a plesiosaur?!
I believe in ghosts and angels and conspiracy theories.
I don’t believe in leprechauns, gnomes, trolls, minehooni, fairies, or other little people (although I pretend to!)
But Bigfoot, yeah, I definitely believe in Bigfoot. Go ahead, make fun of me. Hubby does. But I still believe, because I want to believe.

Dr Weil’s “Shot in the Dark”

From Dr Andrew Weil’s column at www.aarpmagazine.org/health
I wanted to post this here because I respect Dr Weil as “a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine.” I don’t agree with him 100%, but I think he is widely respected, and thus his opinions carry some weight even in mainstream culture…

Italics are mine.

Q: Some say that vaccines—or the chemicals used to preserve them—can be risky. Should I avoid them?
A: My opinion is simple: the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks. And yes, there are risks, mostly of immediate adverse reactions. But these are much lower than the risks of the diseases that the vaccines prevent. If we still lived with diphtheria, polio, and tetanus, no one would question the wisdom of preventing these diseases.
Immunization facilitates a natural process by simulating encounters between the body’s immune system and killed or weakened viruses and bacteria (or pieces and products of them). In early life, such encounters can enable the immune system to defend us against these pathogens. I understand some people’s resistance to the idea of injecting toxins and germs into children (or themselves) but I think they have not considered immunization’s very favorable ratio of benefits to risks. The risk varies from vaccine to vaccine, but it always a miniscule fraction of one percent. And I take very strong exception to those who believe that febrile illnesses of childhood are necessary for optimal lifelong health. That is nonsense.
That doesn’t mean I’m in favor of every vaccine though. I’m not sure universal vaccination against Hepatitis B is a good idea. The people are risk are in well-known subgroups, so the shots (and the small risk) should be limited to them. Nor am I sure we should vaccinate all children against chickenpox. For most people, getting chickenpox confers lifelong immunity, but the vaccine does not. And catching the disease as an adult is more dangerous than getting it overwith in childhood.
I’m glad that mercury preservative has been nearly phased out of vaccines, though I have not seen credible evidence that it causes autism, as some claim. I hope that genetic engineering will bring us better (and even safer) vaccines.
Finally, for the record, I keep current on my own immunizations—I had the pneumonia vaccine along with my flu shot—and my 15-year-old daughter has had all of hers.

Of course, he neglects to mention a couple of things:
1--vaccines have imperfect efficacy, meaning that they may or may not provide the promised protection, and that outbreaks actually frequently happen among fully vaccinated populations.
2—he makes the common mistake of referring to vaccinations as ‘immunizations’ which, of course, they are not. The actual shot is a vaccination. Immunization may result from vaccination, but immunization can also come from natural infection, and with some things (such as tetanus) actual immunity is not possible (although the vaccination seems to bring some degree of protection).

I find that he is very pro-vaccine BUT even he feels that some vaccines are not appropriate for everyone (or even anyone). The two he mentions (Hep B and Varicella/chickenpox) are both on the ‘required’ list for most schools, and yet he points out that mass administration of those particular vaccinations is pointless and even harmful. (For what it’s worth, those were the first two vaccines that I knew I didn’t want either.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sweet!!!

I just ordered one of these:



A babywearing poncho! It has a little flap that lets out a hood on the front OR the back (perhaps I should say AND the back!) so I can hang a kid on either side (or both!) and have a hood for each of us on the rainiest of days!
Oh I'm so excited. This was the one thing that was missing for a nice winter here in the rainforest...I walk everywhere, so good raingear is essential!

Monday, November 19, 2007

What "Natural" Means

A dear friend of mine recently gave birth to her second child via c-section. Her first child was born this way after a long and unproductive labor, and she dearly wanted an HBAC (HomeBirth After Cesarean). She found a midwife who had experience with HBACs, who was a master herbalist and able to supply her with herbs that would help tone and prepare her body to labor better this time: but after 32 hours of labor and only minimal dialation, they realized that a second surgical birth was the only option. She is an advocate for homebirth and natural birth, so this has been a major blow to her.

A year ago another friend of mine gave birth to her second child. Her first birth experience had been traumatic, and she ended up not being able to breastfeed her child. The subsequent years left her feeling that her failure to breastfeed stemmed from lack of education and lack of support, and she was determined to not repeat those things. She studied extensively, and when birth time came she surrounded herself with lactation consultants and experienced breastfeeders. In the first hours after birth, the baby struggled to nurse. In subsequent days, my friend pumped to try to bring in her milk and boost her supply, friends tried nursing the baby to help her (the baby) learn proper technique, and my friend referred to everything she had learned in her her studies. By a couple of weeks old, the baby was losing weight and becoming sick, so my friend finally relented and began to feed her baby formula. Many of us donated breastmilk to her, but that baby has hever been able to really breastfeed.

Are these mothers failures? NO! Are they less natural than the mother who has a successful homebirth or who breastfeeds for 3 years? NO! Because occasionally (very occasionally) nature doesn't allow 'natural' to happen. So one of my friends nurses her baby with a bottle...she holds her little one close, rocks her, talks to her, looks in her eyes, bonds with her...and feeds her the best things she can via a bottle. My other friend chose a hospital that would support co-sleeping and skin-to-skin contact, had a spinal rather than a general so that she could be awake to see her daughter immediately when she was born, and nursed her soon thereafter. These mothers are not any less 'natural mothers' than the uber-crunchy hippie moms who give birth unattended in the woods or breastfeed two or three kids at a time. They are mothers who have been dealt a harder hand, but who are still doing everything they can for their kids, based on what they've got to work with.

My hat goes off to you ladies, Alisa and Chandelle. It's a hard thing to take, but you are handling it beautifully. I hope I can continue to support you however I can.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Resume of a Baby

Official Resume of S
living in the bush of Alaska
age 10 months

EDUCATION
I'm a baby. I was born knowing how to nurse and grab stuff. I have now progressed through rolling, crawling, sitting, and am a walking intern.

EXPERIENCE
**Nursing
**Eating
**Pooping
**Peeing--in diaper or toilet or mommy's freshly-laundered jeans
**Splashing--in tub or doggie's water dish
**Smiling and laughing
**Playing with dog

SPECIAL SKILLS
**Pinching when and where least expected
**Nursing from any angle, including upside down, sideways, and while standing on my head with my bottom way up in the air. I am a genius at this.
**Getting into everything.
**Stealth pooping: this is exactly what it sounds like. I can poop without anybody realizing I have done it. This leads Mommy to be utterly unprepared when she opens the diaper to change me. I usually giggle a great deal about this.
**Making anybody fall in love with me with just one smile.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How We Met--Peru

Here is another installment in the "How We Met" series:

Hubby was doing a special 2 week study abroad program in Peru. He had wanted to do somthing longer, but because he had a toddler son, and couldn't bring him to the backwoods where he was going, he had to settle for the short trip, and leave the little guy with grandma. I was there with the peace corp, and was one of the leaders for one of the projects his class was working on. We became friends, started writing emails, and when I got back to the states a few months later, we started dating...

How We Met--Library

When we met, Hubby was living in Utah (going to school) and I was living in Washington (also going to school). There was no logical reason for our paths to cross, ever.
We met online.
That's the truth.
However, it's not exciting enough, so we tell stories.
It started one day when we were engaged, and attending a church gathering where most of the folks were the age of Hubby's parents. We knew the internet story would probably freak them out, so when it came up that we'd been in separate states, the inevitable question came up "oh, so how did you meet?!" Hubby, being the fast-thinking mastermind that he is, made up a story on the spot. Since then, it has been our tradition that whenever someone asks how we met, I defer to him, and he makes up a new story, on the spot. Some of the stories have been a whole lot of fun, so I thought I would share them with the world!
Today, I share the one he told that first night...

I was a student/teacher in Washington, but I was in Utah attending a conference at the college where Hubby was a student. He was working as an intern in the library. I came into the library during a break, and asked him if he could show me where to find the books on dating. He intentionally took me to the wrong part of the library, indicated an empty shelf, and then said that all the books were checked out, but would I go out with him instead...

(other stories will follow, I promise!)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Vaccines--Polio--update

In the interest of accuracy, I wanted to share that I recently learned that the US government (the FDA I suppose?) is no longer saying that they expect to see polio eradicated by 2010... eradication is (at this point) not in the forseeable future.
Of course, polio still exists almost exclusively in just a few small geographic areas (none of them in the western hemisphere)...but that whole eradication thing, yeah, no longer accurate...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Costumes

Wolf aka Harry Potter


Me and Bear, as kangaroos


Hubby as Adam Savage from Mythbusters. Yes, he bleached his hair...it's pretty wild.


And our pumpkins...the one on the left is Bear's--made to look like him with smiling eyes, one tooth, and dimples. The one on the right is Wolf's, his own design...I don't know what it is except that it has fangs.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nine In, Nine Out, Now What?

Nine months gestating inside, nine months gestating outside...and now that my baby is nine months old, what does that mean?
Do I stop wearing him? He's certainly heavy enough at 20lbs that I can't carry him as easily as I used to. He loves to crawl and stand, and is trying to walk, so doesn't need me for mobility as much as he used to. But he's still such a baby! I still love to cuddle him and hold him, but he often wiggles and squirms out of my grasp. Of course, when he's tired, or hurt, or scared, he still wants to be with me. Inevitably, when I really need to set him down (to make dinner or go to the bathroom) he desperately wants to be held.
For halloween, we are going as kangaroo and joey...he likes being in my pouch, so might as well play that up, right? After all, it probably won't last much longer.
I guess he's done with his external gestation, but he's not done being my baby.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Houston, We Have a Tooth!

Last night we finally saw S’s first tooth! He’s acted like he was teething since he was about two months old…I was sure that he was going to get teeth early, but no, he’s 9 1/2 months old and has just now finally gotten a tooth. I suspect that others are close behind of course, but who knows! S has been standing unsupported for a couple of weeks now—the last few days he has stood for as much as 30 seconds, and once he was reaching for a chair and moved his foot before sitting back down…walking is in the very near future for this kid. I had honestly begun to wonder if he would walk before he got any teeth!
Of course, this is compared to my sister’s baby, a mere 10 weeks younger than S. He is 7 months, and not crawling yet, but he has 7 teeth! I wouldn’t trade though…apparently his precocious dental achievements have made for rough nights for him (and his parents), so I’ll stick to my gummy baby, thank you!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Me and the Hubby

Since I haven't done it before (and now I've posted a poll about it, and not all of my readers know us in person...)

Here is a picture of me




Here is Hubby (with W--on the way to school)
closer-up pic coming soon, but if you click on the photo itself, it will open a new page with a big version of this photo, and you can see better from there!

For what it's worth, most people tell me that S looks like me...except all my family, who say that he looks like Hubby.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What SIDS has Taught Me

Today my baby is 9 months and 3 days old. This is the age that my sister Amethyst was on the day that she died of SIDS. I realized this about a week ago, and it has helped me remember to treasure all the little moments with my baby. I certainly don't expect anything to happen to him...then again, we never expected anything to happen to Amy.
Some days motherhood can be so frustrating, and yet it is so precious. I need these little reminders to cherish my babies--at all their ages.
So hug your kids, look at your babies (even the big ones), and remember to show them your love--in the way that they need to be loved. (My older son needs me to spend TIME with him, whereas I feel loved through being served, and so I serve him and sometimes forget to just read to him and hug him.)
If Amy had lived, she would be starting college this fall. 18 years we did not get to spend with her...only 9 months to remember. You never know what life will bring, so don't forget to enjoy the here and now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

W at Play


W was "so tired" that he just had to rest "right now" on the way home from a walk. Yes, he was on the ground when he made the announcement...apparently hanging in the air allows one to rest more efficiently, as he recovered very quickly.



One front tooth gone! (W wiggles, thus the blurring)

Monday, October 15, 2007

S at Play


S keeps busy next to me while I sew...

I swear I only turned around for a minute!

Empty Bellies, Empty Arms




Today, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. On the one hand, I think it's a bit corney that they make official remembrance days for just about everything...on the other hand, it's a good opportunity to talk about something I feel passionate about.
I believe that miscarriage is a largely unnoticed tragedy. Most miscarriages happen in the earlier parts of pregnancy--before the woman 'shows' and before many people know that she was even expecting. When the baby is lost, there is rarely a body to hold or bid farewell. Even if the mother sees her fetus, those beyond the family do not, and so, the baby is not real to them. As outsiders have no object for grief, they do not grieve...leaving the parents (especially the mother) very very alone. For some reason, our culture does not recognize a miscarriage as a valid loss (as they would with a stillbirth or especially an older child). Even the medical term "spontaneous abortion" is heartless. Our culture does not accept our grief, and so we are left to grieve alone. In silence.
That is wrong.
Statistically, one in four pregnancies results in miscarriage. With earlier and earlier pregnancy detection, that ratio is decreasing. If we could detect pregnancy at the moment of conception, I suspect that actually only about one in four pregnancies makes it past the first 5 weeks of gestation (3 weeks past ovulation). But let us just go with the "one in four" ratio. That means that 1 in 4 women that you pass on the street has suffered a miscarriage. If you have 3 sisters, then one of you probably has (or will) miscarry. If you have 4 members in your book club, playgroup, or carpool, one of you has (or will) miscarry. If you have more than three children, you will probably have a miscarriage. If you have 7 children, you will probably miscarry twice.
I have miscarried at least three times. Three times I reached at least 12 weeks gestation, only to lose my baby. The first time I had a spontaneous micarriage, at home, and held my tiny son's body in my hand. He was only a few inches long, and his tiny hands and perfect little feet could all four fit on my thumbnail together. My husband's wedding ring could have fit around his head like a crown.

(if you click on the picture you can see it larger)

So tiny, so perfect...and not ours to keep. My subsequent miscarriages, unfortunately, involved D&Cs, so there was no baby to hold, no one to bid adieu, and no closure. Holding my tiny baby was the hardest thing I had ever done...until I had to say goodbye to babies I couldn't even hold.
Miscarriage is overlooked the vast majority of the time, yet it is so common. Following my miscarriage(s), women 'came out of the woodwork' and shared their own miscarriage stories with me. My mother said that the same thing happened to her after she miscarried. Why is it that we do not tell our stories except to other women who miscarry? By doing so, we are promulgating the cycle of silence. Mothers, you who have suffered with empty bellies and empty arms, be silent no longer! Speak up! There is no shame in having miscarried, only in refusing to acknowledge how it changes us.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Right to Know, The Responsibility to Act

Some things shared by apostles in our last LDS General conference

First, Robert D Hales:
Personal revelation is the way we know...God’s purpose and direction for us.

In other words, personal revelation is the ONLY way to know what we are supposed to be doing.

[P]rayer provides a firm foundation for personal revelation. But more is required... [As] the Lord taught Oliver Cowdery: “Behold...you must study it out in your mind.” We pondered our assignment, counseled together, and listened to the voice of the Spirit. When we went back, we prayed and studied further, and then we were prepared to receive revelation.
Revelation comes on the Lord’s timetable, which often means we must move forward in faith, even though we haven’t received all the answers we desire.
As faithful children, youth, parents, teachers, and leaders, we may receive personal revelation more frequently than we realize. The more we receive and acknowledge personal revelation, the more our testimonies grow.

The more you do it, the better you will get at it, and the more will be given to you.

Our responsibility is to seek personal revelations for ourselves and for the responsibilities the Lord has given us.

Seeking this personal guidence is not merely convenient, it is obligatory.

I testify that...the Savior’s words to each of us will be fulfilled: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” While we are commanded not to seek after signs, we are commanded to “seek . . . earnestly the best gifts.” These gifts include the Holy Ghost and personal revelation. That revelation will come “line upon line, precept upon precept,” as the Savior said, and “unto him that receiveth [the Lord] will give more.”

I call upon each of us to seek more and receive more of the Spirit of God.

So go and DO!


And from Richard G Scott
Since truth is the only meaningful foundation upon which we can make wise decisions, how then can one establish what is really true? Increasingly more people are finding that making wise decisions is becoming more and more difficult because of the ultra-interconnected world in which we live. Constantly forced into our consciousness is an incessant barrage of counsel, advice, and promotions. It is done by a bewildering array of media, Internet, and other means. On a given subject we can receive multiple strongly delivered, carefully crafted messages with solutions. But often two of the solutions can be diametrically opposed. No wonder some are confused and are not sure how to make the right decisions.
To further complicate matters, others try to persuade us that our decisions must be socially acceptable and politically correct. Some pondering of that approach will reveal how wrong it is. Since social and political structures differ widely over the world and can dramatically change with time, the folly of using that method to make choices is apparent.
There are two ways to find truth—both useful, provided we follow the laws upon which they are predicated. The first is the scientific method. It can require analysis of data to confirm a theory or, alternatively, establish a valid principle through experimentation. The scientific method is a valuable way of seeking truth. However, it has two limitations. First, we never can be sure we have identified absolute truth, though we often draw nearer and nearer to it. Second, sometimes, no matter how earnestly we apply the method, we can get the wrong answer.

Always consider your sources when seeking truth.

The best way of finding truth is simply to go to the origin of all truth and ask or respond to inspiration.

Not to ask your doctor, or your friend who also has a baby, or your neighbor, or your nosey Aunt Whoozie.

The process of identifying truth sometimes necessitates enormous effort coupled with profound faith in our Father and His glorified Son. God intended that it be so to forge your character. Worthy character will strengthen your capacity to respond obediently to the direction of the Spirit as you make vital decisions. Righteous character is more important than what you own, what you have learned, or what goals you have accomplished. It allows you to be trusted. Righteous character provides the foundation of spiritual strength. It enables you in times of trial and testing to make difficult, extremely important decisions correctly even when they seem overpowering.

We didn't say this would always be easy...only that it was important...and worth it.

I testify that neither Satan nor any other power can weaken or destroy your growing character. Only you can do that through disobedience.

See there, you are in control here. So long as you follow the revelations you are given, you will continue to receive more revelation. It is only when you wilfully disobey that God witholds additional knowledge.

Understand and apply this vital principle to your life: Your exercise of faith builds character. Fortified character expands your capacity to exercise greater faith. Thus, your confidence in making correct decisions is enhanced. And the strengthening cycle continues. The more your character is fortified, the more enabled you are to exercise the power of faith for yet stronger character.


Anybody feeling inspired? These two apostles spoke back to back (in this order) on Sunday morning last week. It was awesome in the most literal sense of the word.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Throwing Away My Vote?

Hubby and I discussed this at some length during the last presidential election. We were living in a state that always swings the electoral college one way. There really isn't even a point in holding an election there, because everybody knows Utah will go republican. It's beyond frustrating actually. The electoral college is also frustrating to me...but I am not even going to go into all that right now.
What I do want to address is the idea that someone can 'throw away their vote' by voting for the little guy.
Well, here are my thoughts:
I despise the two-party system. Too many Americans think they have to vote for one of the parties because nobody else has a chance. So long as they keep thinking that way, they are right. Additionally, the two-party system has allowed voters to become lazy--many do not even look at the candidates nor their platforms, they just vote by the party that they think they agree with more. Or, at least, the party they disagree with least. Not all candidates are exactly in alignment with their declared party. Many voters don't even know what the parties' official platforms are either--they just fixate on a major issue or two, such as abortion, gun rights, or health care.
Now that we're clear on the problems with the two-party system, the next question is, of course, what can we do about it? Well, we need to get a third party to break in--that seems the logical first step to having a multi-party system, or even a non-party system. If we want a third party to break in, then we're going to have to vote for that third party! Not only that, but we need to try to get many people to vote that way. Now, in a 'swing state' I can see the argument to make sure that your vote goes towards the electoral college decision. However, in a 'one party state' like Utah or Washington, then voting for a third party (like Nader, for example), is not going to affect the electoral college results. On the other hand, voting for the little guy IS making a statement, and if enough people will do it, I believe that it can be the beginning of real change in the rediculous political patterns of this country.
So, is it 'throwing away your vote' to vote for the little guy? Well, it depends what you want to accomplish. If you genuinely believe that your vote for the big guy will make a difference, then vote for him...but if you know that it won't, then why not make a statement about what you really believe?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Thoughts on Candidates

So, it's hard to keep track of who says what, and with so many candidates out there, each trying to make himself look grand, how do I know who I agree with anyway? I don't know that this is necessarily the pefect answer, but it does go through all the big issues, asks whether I support it or not and how important it is to me, and thus helps me find the candidate who at least seems most like me. What fun! At least it helps narrow the field a little.

I am a 70.37% match with Joseph Biden, D.

the other high hitters:
D Mike Gravel 62.96% (he's from Alaska!)
D Hillary Clinton 62.96% (Oh my gosh, I'm shocked!)
R Ron Paul 59.26%
D Christopher Dodd 59.26%

and the other big names:

D Barak Obama 55.56%
D John Edwards 48.15%
R Rudy Giuliani 48.15%
R Fred Thompson 44.44%
R Mitt Romney 40.74% (only one came in lower...see, toldja I wasn't a fan, even if he is LDS)

You can try it out by clicking on this:

A Few Facts about my Faith

Leaders of my church have recently exhorted us to write up some brief statements about our religion, for the purpose of dispelling myths and informing the curious about our faith. I thought that this would be a good place to do that.

FACTS
**I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also referred to as LDS (latter day saints) or Mormons. The term 'saints' refers to believers, just as it did in the new testament.
**We are Christians
**There are over 13 million members worldwide, with about 6million in the USA.
**We believe that Christ's true church was lost from the earth following the martyrdom of the original apostles, and was restored through Joseph Smith in 1830. Joseph's telling of the events is here.
**Joseph Smith was a man, as was Mormon, and both were called to be prophets, just like Abraham or Moses or Noah. Joseph Smith also served as the president of the church, as did Peter in the New Testament.
**We have prophets, apostles, and seventies, as outlined by Christ in the New Testament. They speak to us in conferences twice a year.
**We do not have a paid clergy.
**Women do not have the priesthood, nor do they serve as clergy. Women are involved in leading and serving in other areas of the church. The church does not suppress, repress, or abuse women.
**We hold our weekly worship meetings in chapels, and they are open for anyone to attend. Temples are for worthy members, and are places for meditation and renewing of commitments to God, as well as for ordinances such as marriages. There are currently 136 temples worldwide (you can see about them here).

FAITH
**We believe the Bible to be the word of God so far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
**We believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as three separate beings.
**We do not believe in original sin, nor infant baptism. We believe that we are responsible only for our own sins.
**We baptize by immersion. We believe that baptism is essential for salvation, and thus use our temples to do vicarious baptisms for those who have died without this ordinance.
**We believe in ongoing revelation, both for individuals and (through prophets) for the world.
**We believe that we are "saved by Grace, after all we can do" meaning that repentance and good works must be ongoing, but that we know salvation is a gift, and can only be given, not earned.
**Additional information can be found here in our Articles of Faith.

FAMILY
**We believe that the family is the basic unit of both church and society. We work hard to support and strengthen home and family.
**We believe that a marriage is ordained of God and is between one man and one woman. Polygamy was briefly practiced by some church members in the mid 1800s, but has not been practiced nor church-endorsed since 1890.
**Additional information about our teachings on families can be found here.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Yummm!!!

So, S is most definitely in the 'eat everything' stage. The most serious issue on my mind now is, what things do I take away, and what things do I just let him go ahead and chew on?!
Here are a few of the things I've found in his mouth this week:
*shoes/shoelaces
*the dog's bone (a real bone)
*paper
*newspaper
*a rock (his brother keeps interesting things in his room!)
*a broom (yes, a regular 4 ft broom--he knocks it over and goes for the bristles)
So, I take away the doggie bone, shoes, and newspaper...but I confess I just let him keep the rock. He really really wanted it, and it was too big to choke on. He was already chewing on it, so it's not as though taking it away would spare him some germs, you know?
Am I a terrible mother?!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In Case You Ever Wondered

I solemnly swear that I answered the questions honestly. All of them.

You Are 14% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!


And this is why, when I was 14, and bid a friend farewell with "don't do anything I wouldn't do," she looked me in the eye and said "I don't think I can be that good."

Who knew?!

A Few Films

In the last month I have seen a lot of movies. There are not a lot of entertainment options here, but the library has lots of videos, so that’s what we do here. Rather than writing out full reviews for each of these, I’m just doing the Readers Digest version…

Movies I am glad I saw
I Am Sam rated PG-13 for subject matter and one brief outburst of language. This is one of the most moving films I have ever seen. Sean Penn deserved an oscar for this performance as a mentally challenged father battling to keep custody of his daughter.
Cold Mountain rated R (if unedited) for language, violence, and sex. Based on a book, I imagine the book is fantastic! A civil war story, intriguing and well-told.
The Guardian rated PG-13 for intense scenes and language. About the coast guard rescue divers (in particular off the Alaskan coast); I have no idea if this story has any basis in truth, but it was a good film. It was predictable to some degree, but we still enjoyed it. And for once Kevin Costner didn’t stink.
Dreamgirls rated PG-13 I think. Somehow I had gotten it into my head that this was some sort of ‘documentary’ about The Supremes but that is not the case. I suppose it might be somewhat based on their story (I don’t know their story) but the movie is actually made from a broadway musical! I had no idea! There are not a whole lot of musical films made anymore, and it caught me very much by surprise. It was a great surprise, however, as it was very well done, and Jennifer Hudson ABSOLUTELY deserved her oscar for best supporting actress. It was one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.

Movies that took up hours of my life I will never see again (in other words, utter wastes of time!)
World Trade Center. I know it’s a touchy-feely subject, and it’s based on a true story, and Nicholas Cage is a great actor (really he is) but good grief, the movie is nothing special.
Ultraviolet Oh my poor brain cells. I skipped parts of it, and should have skipped the rest. There is no acting, no characters, not much plot, and a terrible script. There are a couple of scenes with cool cinematography (such as the one where the focus turns from one character to another by focusing in on their sunglasses), but that alone hardly warrants sitting through this travesty.
Memoirs of a Geisha yeah yeah yeah, based on a bestselling book, romantic and whatever…the romance is twisted (as she says, a geisha can never be a wife) and we found it altogether disturbing. I did find the DVD special feature about the hair, makeup and costuming to be fascinating…although they did take a great deal of artistic license on all counts, so it’s not very authentic.

And one which I can’t decide if I liked it or not…Georgia Rule PG-13. It had a lot of language, and dealt with some very harsh content (alcoholism and a girl who had been molested by her stepfather)…on the other hand, it had funny moments, and I think it did a good job of bringing heavy issues into public awareness. It also had some bits of Mormon culture; not disrespectful, but still somewhat amusing when contrasted with the hard lives of the other main characters.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Books and Guts

Yesterday someone gave me a whole lot of grief for not vaccinating my baby according to the recommended schedule. It's a convoluted story about how it all came up, but she knew that I was only doing one vax at a time, and asked how often I was doing them "every two weeks?" I said no, I was doing them a couple of months apart. She got a shocked and condescending look on her face and said "but then you'll never be able to get them all done by the time he's two."
"I know, but he'll have them before he starts school."
"Oh, but he really needs them by two."
I launched into an explanation of how I have done my research, from authoritative sources such as the CDC (Betcha *she* hasn't read the pink book cover to cover, even though she's an MD!)
She looked at me as though I were insane, and said "Well, I can see you've done your research, and you have the right to make those choices for your children, but I'm glad that other parents aren't making those same choices or we would lose the herd immunity. Other parents don't ask as many questions, they just accept. You are lucky that they are getting their shots, because they are helping protect your child."
I could have hit her. She's glad that other parents don't take the time to research for their kids? That they don't question? That they don't CARE?! Oh, and I should be greatful to those uncaring parents because they are 'protecting' my child?
*deep breaths*
After the fact, I came up with a number of great retorts for her, but in the moment I was just so overwhelmed with her staunch insistence that I was doing my children a disservice by caring enough to be educated. I've spoken with other doctors who may not have agreed with me, but they at least respected that I was trying to make educated decisions.

I make my parenting choices based on three things: education, intuition, and prayer. I would venture to say that the prayer actually overlaps into the intuition, because much of the intuition is actually inspiration. I 'go with my gut,' be those feelings based on Divine guidance or on instinct. Book and Guts people. That's how I mother. I'm far from perfect, but the method is not flawed, and I think we'd have a better world if more people tried it.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Edited to add:
A few of those responses I thought of later:
"Oh, have you read the CDC's book cover to cover? Because I have..."
"Herd immunity? Are we talking about children or sheep?"
[after she asked if family members had had reactions, and why I was worried about them] "It's not just about reactions. Giving multiple vaccines at once, or close together, gives a child toxic levels of aluminum."
[after "you'll never get done by two"] "Well thank heaven for that!" (this was my dh's response when I told him. Yay Hubby!!! He's pro vax too, but at least he has the sense to want them spread out!)
"Oh, so you're saying that good parents don't ask questions? Have you ever read 1984?"
[after "what if he got measles out here in the middle of winter"] "Well, hallelujah if he gets the real thing and can develop real immunity, that's so hard to do nowdays!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Neighbor

Here he is!

Doggie loves Baby

My happy kids
(look at how patient and good that dog is with him!)



I dont' know why sound isn't working...I'm trying to figure that out. In the meantime, enjoy the visuals. :-)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Friday, September 7, 2007

Photos of Home

Here are some pictures taken from the ferry on the way out to Pelican




Here is the Lisianski Inlet (our fjord) on the way into town


Here is town


Here is my neighbor, taken from my porch.


(He is a great blue heron. When I took this picture I thought it was a rare sighting...but now I have seen him up there several times, so I believe it is his nest.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Vaccines—Polio/IPV

The IPV is recommended at 2m, 4m, 6-18m, and 4-6y. Doses must be given at least 4 weeks apart, and while 4 doses are on the recommended schedule, 3 doses is considered sufficient vaccination so long as the final dose is given after age 4. The IPV is not recommended over the age of 18years unless the person will be traveling to certain regions with high rates of polio. The MTC does not have this on their list of recommended vaccines (although it might be recommended for specific missionaries if they are going to those areas).

Polio gets a bad name because of cases like FDR, who developed lifelong paralysis. Many people know someone who was paralyzed by polio…what they do not realize is that millions of other people had polio and were NOT paralyzed. In fact, only around 5% of cases of polio resulted in any kind of paralysis, and fewer than 2% of those had lifelong paralysis. In other words, only something like 1 of 2000 infected people had residual paralysis, and not even all of those were para- or quadriplegics. The truth is that polio just isn’t as dangerous as we have been told. Now this is not to say that it’s no big deal—the risks were and are real, but they are just not terribly common.

That said, there have been NO cases of wild polio reported in the western hemisphere since 1991. In other words, the only cases of polio in the USA in the last 16 years have been those caused by the vaccine. Polio IS still found in SouthEast Asia (58%), Africa (21%) and the eastern Mediterranian (21%). However, researchers believe that polio will be fully eradicated from the planet by 2010. Polio is a ‘posterchild’ for vaccination, just as smallpox was. (Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, and the vaccine has not been administered since that time, although small samples of the virus do still exist in laboratories.)

For decades the oral (live) polio vaccine was given. As with any live vaccine, it was quite effective, but also very dangerous (it caused paralytic polio in about 10 people each year). Now the USA uses only the injected Inactivated Polio virus (IPV), but since this is a relatively new vaccine here, we don’t really know how effective it is. Doctors believe that 3 doses provides about 99% immunity, but we don’t know if that is accurate, nor how long it lasts. France has been using the IPV for years, and gives boosters after the initial series. However, the CDC believes that polio will be completely eradicated by 2010, and at that time polio vaccinations will be unneeded, so they have not pursued the matter.

SO, it’s entirely possible that this vaccine will be outdated by the time my next child is born…but, in the meantime, it is here, so I will write up the remainder of my research about it.

IPV contains formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol (ethanol—toxic, depressant, tranquilizer), and neomycin, streptomycin, and polymyxin B (antibiotics—Included to prevent germs in the vaccine cultures!)

The vaccine serum is grown in cells taken from monkey kidneys. There are documented cases of monkey viruses spreading to humans via polio vaccinations, and there is current suspicion that SV40 (another monkey virus) may be being transmitted, and may be causing certain cancers in humans. Some experts even believe that early HIV/AIDS transmission to humans came via contaminated polio vaccine serums. Of course this cannot be proven, but the spread of AIDS among humans occurred at around the same time and in the same areas as the increasing usage of the polio vaccine, so the theory is not unfounded.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My Conclusions
Polio can be a dangerous thing, with lifelong side effects. The oral polio vaccine was scary, but the IPV seems relatively safe…on the other hand, if we are truly within a few years of fully eradicating this disease (and it has been gone from our area for over a decade) then what is the genuine risk to my children? If eradication is not successful, or if we travel to infected areas, then the vaccine makes sense…but if it really is on the way out, then what is the point of exposing oneself to the risks of a vaccine when there is no risk of exposure to the disease?

Vaccines—MMR

The MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine is one of the old standards. It is given sub-cutaneously (meaning just under the skin, but not into the muscle). As this is a live virus vaccine, reactions are quite common, and it is possible for the vaccine to actually cause the disease against which it is supposed to protect. While the combined form is standard, it is worth considering getting the three vaccines in separate shots—at least for the first dose of each—so that if a reaction occurs, you can tell what the reaction is to.
With many vaccines, the adverse reactions are difficult to define. Meaning that while one person may be certain that the symptoms are effects of the vaccine, it is difficult to prove that the two are linked, and (in these days of multi-vaxing) it is even more difficult to determine which vaccine caused the reaction. HOWEVER, studies have PROVEN that the MMR vaccine—the rubella portion in particular—can cause arthritis or arthritic symptoms which may be temporary or permanent. This happens in about 25% of cases, and it causes by chemical confusion (the molecular structure of some components of the vaccine are extremely similar to some components of natural joint fluids, and the immune system becomes confused and while it is attacking the toxins from the vaccine, it also attacks the joints…) There are innumerable reactions attributed too vaccinations, but this is one that is proven. I repeat, this reaction is NOT speculative, it is proven. Furthermore, it is common.

MMR is a famous ‘bad guy’ vaccine, because it is commonly said to cause autism. (The other infamous link is DTP and SIDS.) I have two things to say about that 1—causality cannot be proven, but neither can innocence. 2—you won’t find something if you refuse to look for it. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Personally, I am fascinated by Stephanie Cave’s chart showing the parallels between the symptoms of autism and the symptoms of mercury poisoning. I strongly suspect they are the same thing, and that thimerosal-free vaccines will help enormously in reducing the rates of autism. Additionally, primary brain development slows down by age 2, so waiting until that time to give this vaccine may help reduce the risk of adverse reactions, including autism.

Schools require 2 doses of the MMR, and the MTC recommends the same. Doses should be administered at least 4 weeks apart. The recommended schedule is 12-15m, 4-6y, and then a rubella booster (although the full MMR is usually given) especially for girls around 12y or the onset of puberty. Note that doses given to a child under 12months don’t count for anything.

The MMR vaccine contains gelatin (allergen), sorbitol (allergen), neomycin (an antibiotic), and in the measles and mumps portion, it contains egg (allergen). The original serum for the rubella vaccine was made in 1964 with aborted fetal tissue (the mother got Rubella). While I appreciate that that is an effective way to acquire the virus, there are moral considerations about the fact that it was aborted human fetal tissue that was used.

So, what are these diseases? Well, they are not really as scary as we are led to believe.

Measles is no fun. On the other hand, it’s not usually that big a deal either. The patient gets spots and feels yukky for a while, but that’s about it. Once it’s over, they have natural lifelong immunity. Primary treatments include doses of vitamin A (suggesting that this would also be helpful with the live vaccine). It used to be most common in children 4-5years old, but since the introduction of the vaccination it is most common between ages 10-14y, and is seen as young as 6m and as old as 20y. About 1 in 1000 cases is fatal. Most cases of measles in the USA are in people who were vaccinated. Recent outbreaks have been in vaccinated populations, and weird strains of measles are appearing, suggesting that the virus is mutating and the vaccine is clearly losing efficacy. In decades past, women had childhood measles, and then their natural antibodies protected their (breastfed) infants during the first 12-15months of life. However, now that most mothers have been vaccinated, they do not have those natural antibodies, and so cannot protect their children. The result is that infants are catching measles during their first year of life, when they are too young for the vaccination, and too small to cope with the actual disease. In other words, mass vaccination of one generation has now put the next generation at increased risk.

Mumps is an all around mild disease, and natural immunity results. For years people have feared it because of the rumors that it can cause sterility. While it is true that about 25% of cases do include infection in the reproductive organs, it is rare for that infection to cause sterility. Even if sterility of the organ does result, it is VERY rare for the infection to attack both testes or both ovaries, so while fertility might be reduced by half, it is almost never lost entirely. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the mumps vaccine is questionable. Some doctors theorize that it is 75-95% effective, and lasts for around 30 years, but not everyone agrees. The one thing that is certain is that there has been a 600% reduction in mumps infection rates since introduction of the vaccination.

Rubella is also called ‘German Measles’ because it causes spots like measles does, however it should not be confused with regular measles. Rubella does carry some danger, but only to unborn babies. In fact, the vaccine is recommended for children to protect the pregnant women around them rather than to protect the children themselves, for whom the disease would be no big deal. The danger to a fetus is so extreme that a pregnant (or potentially pregnant) woman should NEVER get a rubella vaccination, and no one living in a household with her should get the vaccination. A woman receiving the rubella vaccination should be careful to not become pregnant for at least 3 months (the advice used to be 6 months, and before that they said 12months…actually no one knows how long the live virus remains in the body, but 3 months seems to be the shortest anyone is willing to go). The danger is this: if a woman contracts rubella in the first half of a pregnancy it can cause deafness, bone defects, heart defects, glaucoma, mental retardation, cataracts, poor growth or death to the baby. Miscarriages and stillbirths are common results of rubella.

I have personal experience with a reaction to the rubella vaccine. I was fully vaccinated for rubella as a child, but at age 25, my titers showed that I did not have the antibodies. Whether they had worn down, or whether I had never developed them, we don’t know. Since I was pregnant, the doctor recommended getting the vaccine immediately after delivery. I chose to do so.
Within a couple of days I developed SEVERE itching all over my body. I am one who can usually resist scratching, but this was so severe that I developed rashes on my arms, legs, belly, and breasts, and even broke the skin in a few places due to scratching. I called the doctor’s office to ask what they recommended I do, and the nurse told me that they usually recommended a benadryll cream. Usually? Meaning that is kind of reaction was common?! Yup. So I got a benadryll cream, and applied it…I used almost the entire tube in 4 days, and that was trying to use the minimum possible because the label warned against using it on large areas! So, the itching subsided after about a week, although the rashes took at least another week to clear up. Then came the joint pain. My wrists began to be sore. At first I thought it was from holding my baby—that I was inadvertently putting my wrists at bad angles and thereby hurting myself. So I paid careful attention to not bend my wrists, but to keep them straight while holding my baby. The pain continued. I wondered about carpal tunnel, but the symptoms didn’t quite match. The soreness came and went a little, but I always noticed it at night, especially when I lifted my baby to feed him. He was a small baby, but just picking him up caused such excruciating pain in my wrists and hands that I had to grit my teeth to do it. This lasted for several months.
Finally, all the symptoms faded away. I now sincerely regret having chosen to get that vaccination though. I had never had a reaction to any vaccine before then, and certainly did not expect to have one this time. But I’m now a little wiser for the wear I suppose, and I cannot think of any circumstance where I would recommend that a mother get this as I did.


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My Conclusions:
Well, following my rubella experience, I don’t care what future titers may say about my immunity or lack thereof—I will not get that vaccination ever again. Mumps seems hardly worth protecting against, and measles, well, who is to say that the vaccine will hold up to the new mutations of the virus?! This vaccine has been around a long time, and until my recent experience and research I would never have thought to question it…but I must say, it’s definitely worth questioning.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Vaccines—DTaP

The DTaP vaccine is recommended for missionaries entering the MTC. “Full vaccination” for school consists of 4 or 5 doses, administered into the muscle, a minimum of 4 weeks apart for the initial series (3 doses), with subsequent boosters at least 2 years apart. (The CDC states that giving boosters too often will increase negative reactions, and frankly the potential reactions for this vaccine are scary enough already!) Most vaccination schedules recommend giving this vaccine at 2m, 4m, 6m, 15-18m, and giving a booster at 4-6y. However, so long as the final dose (the booster) is given after age 4, only 4 doses are needed. Efficacy for the combined vaccination is 80-85%.
The DTaP is NOT approved for use in children over 7y. However, both the tetanus and diphtheria vaccines require boosters to maintain efficacy, so the Td or Tdap are approved for children over age 10. Boosters should be given every 10 years throughout life. Be aware that there is no approved vaccine for diphtheria or tetanus for children between the ages of 7-10 years, and that there is NO pertussis vaccine approved for children over age 7. (A pertussis vaccine for older children was recently approved in Canada though, and may be in the USA soon.)

The DTP has been generally agreed to be one of the more dangerous routine vaccines on the market. More than half of reported vaccine reactions have been to the DTP, with fever and prolonged inconsolable crying topping the list. Many people also attribute *SIDS to this vaccine. The new version—the DTaP (with acellular pertussis, rather than the whole-cell pertussis of the original)—has fewer side effects, but inevitably still carries risks. The vaccine contains aluminum (toxic), formaldehyde (eww!) and thimerosal (mercury—toxic). To my knowledge, there is NOT a thimerosal-feee version of this vaccination like there are of all the others. However, unlike some other vaccinated diseases (such as chicken pox), these diseases have risks of their own, and can be extremely severe.

The highest risk group for diphtheria is children between the ages of 2-5years. Diphtheria is transmitted via touch or respiratory droplets, so is highly contagious. It is considered treatable, but the current treatments cannot mend the damage caused by the disease—they can only stop additional progression. Diphtheria can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages because it often looks like a simple cold; in the later stages however, heart damage is common, and often a tracheotomy is needed to allow breathing. [Does this scare anyone else? You can’t catch it early, can’t fix the problems it causes, and may end up with a busted heart or a hole in your neck just to survive the thing.] There is a 5-10% death rate in diagnosed cases. There is no telling what the actual infection rate is. Getting diphtheria will NOT provide immunity against getting it again. The vaccine is considered about 95% effective.

Tetanus bacteria cannot live in oxygen (they are anaerobic), so they thrive in deep wounds. One fairly effective way to protect yourself against tetanus is to be sure to thoroughly wash any deep wound—flowing blood will oxygenate the area, and substantially reduce the risk of developing tetanus. This is not always possible however, because potentially infectious wounds include burns, dental infections, crushing wounds, puncture wounds, and ear infections. If acquired, the tetanus bacteria produces a poison which blocks the nerve signals that relax the muscles. The result is strong and painful muscle spasms which can even break bones. In the United States, 30% of tetanus victims die, usually from suffocation when their chest muscles become rigid. Getting tetanus will NOT provide immunity against getting it again. The vaccine, although it requires boosters every decade, is considered over 95% effective.

Pertussis, also called Whooping Cough, is not a pretty disease either. Its name results from the fact that heavy mucous in the airways inhibits breathing, often causing the victim to ‘whoop’ as they cough. The disease usually lasts 2-4 months. Children under the age of 1 year have the greatest risk, with 75% of cases occurring in children under 10. A case of Pertussis often will include nosebleeds, bruised ribs, pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infection, and hemorrhaging in the eyes. The virus is transmitted by respiratory droplets, so even brief exposure to an infected person can lead to infection. Natural infection will provide the patient with immunity.
The CDC says that the pertussis vaccine is 70-90% effective (meaning that is the percent of people who develop antibodies and immunity), and it has reduced infection rates by 98%.

It seems to have been the whole-cell pertussis portion of the DTP vaccine that caused most of the negative side effects. These effects included convulsions, shock, high fever, swelling of the brain, brain damage, cardiac distress, and respiratory distress. In 1996, the switch was made to using the DTaP, which has acellular pertussis, and the number of negative reactions has dropped drastically. The pertussis toxin remains the most dangerous portion of this vaccine, but vitamin A improves the body’s response to it.

An interesting study showed that infants die at 8x the normal rate within the first 3 days after receiving this vaccination. *SIDS is more common within the first 3 weeks after any DTP (the original or a booster). Both apnea (stopped breathing) and hypopnea (shallow breathing) are documented reactions to the DTaP vaccine, and some doctors feel that is the reason for the increased death rate.

*SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the label they use when they don’t really know why the child died. There are theories ranging from uneven growth of vital organs (with one causing another to stop functioning) to toxins in old mattresses to sleep apnea/stopped breathing. Personally, I think that the apnea/hypopnea theory makes a lot of sense.


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My Conclusions
These are three REALLY ugly diseases. The vaccine carries risks, but so do the diseases—and in my opinion, the diseases are worse than a wisely administered vaccination (meaning dosing up on vitamin C, vitamin A, etc). Diphtheria and Tetanus do not even bestow natural immunity, so there is no benefit whatsoever to acquiring the disease. These all have fairly high rates of severe side effects or death.
This is a vaccine I do believe in. As always, it should not be combined with other vaccines, and should be preceded and followed by immuno-boosting vitamins and herbs.

Fire Insurance

I solemnly wear that this is 100% true. I am not making any of it up. I typed this up minutes after completing the phone call because I didn't want to forget it.


We rent a little apartment over the fire hall. In other words, when I go downstairs to do laundry, I walk past a covered pickup truck with a medical sign on it (the town ambulance), and a tiny fire truck.
After we moved in, I called our insurance company to sign up for renters insurance. We owned a home in Utah before we came up here. When we moved, we rented out that house, so we switched from homeowners insurance to something called a ‘fire policy’ (meaning that it protected the actual house, but not the contents, since the contents were not ours). In order for them to provide that policy, however, the company insisted that they also provide our renters insurance. So, as soon as we got settled in, I called them to set it up.
I gave the agent all the information, and he said he would run the numbers and call me back in thirty minutes.
An hour later, he called. “We can’t cover you,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we can cover classes 1 through 9, but you are a class 10…” [here began a long explanation which may or may not have been in English]. “So, we’re not going to be able to provide renters insurance for you. Our underwriters just won’t do it. Do you think maybe you can find a company in your town that could give you coverage?”
“This town has a population of under 200 people. I’m pretty certain there’s no insurance agent here.”
“Is there a larger city nearby where you could go?”
“Well, Juneau is about 90 miles away…by seaplane. I really don’t have access to any larger cities.”
“It sounds like you’re pretty remote then…that’s what the problem is with the underwriting; they’re concerned that in the event of a fire, you’re too far from the nearest fire department.”
“Fire?!”
“Yes, there’s no fire department near you, so that makes you a higher risk.”
“Our apartment is over the firehouse.”
“What?”
“Our apartment—it’s built over the firehouse.”
“Oh, like a volunteer fire department?”
“I’m sure it is, but in a town this tiny, it’s not like it takes long to get anywhere…and, as I said, we LIVE at the firehouse...if the bell rings, they all come straight here. Furthermore, we live in a rainforest, and there is ocean on three sides of the building. I don’t think fire is much of a risk to begin with, and if somehow one managed to break out, I don’t think it would get very far.”
“Hmm, that is very interesting. You know, let me give that additional information to our underwriters. We may be able to work this out.”

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Some Things You Never Knew You Never Knew

Thoughts extracted from the thoroughly enjoyable book “The Book of General Ignorance: Everything you think you know is wrong” by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson.

Goldfish actually have a memory of three months (not three seconds or three minutes). And they lay eggs, rather than get pregnant, so a pregnant goldfish can’t be called a ‘twit’ because (ahem) they don’t get pregnant.

The tallest mountain in the world (from base to tip) is Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, at 33,465 ft (although only 13,799 are above sea level). Everest is the highest mountain (with its tip at 29,029 ft above sea level), but it cheats by already being on the Tibetan Plateau.

Antarctica is the driest place on Earth (places there have not seen rain in over 400 years). It is also the wettest (with 70% of the world’s fresh water), and the windiest (with recorded windspeeds of over 200mph).

The European Earwig has two penises. This was discovered when a couple of gentlemen in Tokyo were watching a pair of mating earwigs, and playfully pinched the male back end. The bug’s penis snapped off, but he calmly brought out a backup. Apparently this is not an uncommon occurance.

In other weird penis facts, barnacles’ penises are seven times their own body length.

Tigers cannot abide the smell of alcohol, and will attack anyone who has been drinking.

The surface of Mars is roughly the color of butterscotch. The red is dust.

Eskimos only have four words for snow; maybe only two. (There are several related languages spoken by the Inuit peoples, thus the confusion…most Eskimo groups only give two words, but consideration of various root words leads to the possibility of as many as four.)

The Canary Islands are not named after the bird; rather, the bird is named after the islands. The islands were named Insula Canaria after the many dogs found there (both wild and domesticated). Canaria, you know, like canine…not canary. People sure are weird. Kinda like Nome, AK got named when some explorer saw a villiage, and put a dot on his map with the notation “Name?” and somebody couldn’t read it and concluded that it was a town called Nome. Or like Sequim, WA (pronounced “Squim”) where the mapmaker was feeling fancy and added a flourish to his ‘S,’ and the printer thought it was an ‘e’ and so now the town name is spelled stupidly. Really, people, get a brain here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Pelican Has Landed

Or, rather, we have landed in Pelican.

Well, we are all safely here now. (49th state for me!) Yesterday we had beautiful sunshine as the ferry landed--almost unheard of out here. Everyone keeps telling me that it usually pours as the ferry unloads and everyone comes down to get their groceries etc...murphey's law I suppose. Anyway, yesterday it didn't rain.

Thanks to the prayers of many, I am sure, not one piece of our baggage got lost by the airlines, in spite of having three legs to our trip and on three different airlines. 4 large suitcases and 10 boxes all made it through safely. The biggest mishaps were that a couple of my food storage packages leaked...so the clothing in one suitcase is full of powdered milk, the clothing in another has some hot cocoa powder in it, and the third has a generous sprinkling of cornmeal...but hey, reletively minor stuff. We have our own washer and drier here, so I just need to put everything through a couple of rinses and we should be in good shape.

Oh yes, and security took away my liquid cod liver oil which I had thoughtlessly left in my carry-on. Apparently a sealed bottle of CLO poses a great threat to the other passengers... I might make them all take a dose or something!!! (or, wait, I could sneak into the cockpit and dump it all out on the captain...yeah, that would make us crash for sure!!!) So I am out one $26 bottle of lemon CLO. Thankfully it was on sale, so I'm out less rather than more...and I have capsules too, I just prefer the liquid. I guess now i will have to see if I can mail order it from somewhere.

We don't have internet to our apartment yet, and I'm not sure when we will...I need to make some calls. In the meantime, I have sporadic access here from the school, but I don't know how often I'll utilize it.

From my bedroom window I can look out to the mountains rising out of the water on the other side of the fjord, They have snow on top and waterfalls cascading down the front. Places like this are where God began creation...places like Orem are what got tossed together at the end when He was tired. We are delighted to be all in the same place again (for only the third day of the last three weeks!)

And now I'm off to visit the grocery store and the post office and get myself a library card. :-)

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