Monday, March 30, 2009

Equasions of Travel

Exhibit A:
Mt Redoubt (near Anchorage, but over 800 miles from me) decides to blow some ash around this week.

Exhibit B:
The route which was (for some reason) on Hubby's itinerary for coming home from his 12-day European trip with his students. (They begin in Rome [A] and then fly to Atlanta [B] and then Salt Lake City [C] far so good...but then the route sends them 800 miles out of their way to Anchorage [D] before bringing them back down to Juneau [E].)

If A, then C
C = the Anchorage airport being closed
C + B = why Hubby got stuck in Salt Lake on Saturday night, and why he did not get home to me on Sunday morning as planned
C = why every flight to Juneau is booked for the next four days, and why Hubby is still stuck in Salt Lake City.
#$^&*(&^%$#$R%^$ = My thoughts about the fact that, even though he left on March 17, I still don't get to see my husband until April 2nd (at best) and maybe April 3rd (depending on when they can catch the seaplane).

*deep breaths*

The only silver lining of which I am aware is that while down there Hubby will (hopefully) be able to pick up my maternity clothing, which will mean that my mother-in-law won't have to go spelunking through our stuff to get them out and mail them up to me. I tried to pack them on top, but another row of boxes ended up in front of them, and I hate to ask her to dig them out if I don't have to.

Prenatal Nutrition

I've been thinking I wanted to write a post like this, and then last week Jenn at BabyMakinMachine wrote a post full of questions about prenatal vitamins, so I figured I should get this thing finished up and published asap.

Prenatal vitamins are typically recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as for women who might become pregnant (or are trying to become pregnant) and really for any woman of fertile age. I think one main reason for this is that prenatal vitamins have extra iron in them, and that is beneficial for a woman who is losing iron to menstruation every month.

As I said in my post on vitamins, the human body needs certain nutrients to live, and needs extra of some things when growing a second little human body. For centuries women just ate whole foods straight from their gardens and had perfectly healthy children. Unfortunately, in our modern world most of us eat comparatively lousy diets, so we rely on prenatal multivitamins. But as I pointed out in the vitamin post, multivitamins are a very poor substitute for real food.
SO, do you need a prenatal multivitamin? Probably not. But you do need certain nutrients, and while whole foods are the ideal source, it's nice to know that if you have severe morning sickness and throw up everything you eat, then an appropriate prenatal vitamin can be a saving grace.

If you do choose (or need) to take prenatal vitamins, here is something to remember: not all prenatal vitamins are created equal. Next time you're at the store (or if you have a bottle of inexpensive vitamins on your shelf), pull out the bottle and read the ingredients. Does it sound like a list of chemicals to you? That's because it is. In fact, it's highly processed forms of all those vitamins, and since it's not in it's natural form, your body is going to have a hard time figuring out what to do with it. The majority of it is going to get routed straight back out of your system. Yep, you got it, the average multivitamin is little more than expensive urine.
The one form of prenatal multivitamin that seems to really be good is a whole foods based one, such as Rainbow Light or Nature's Plus. On the one hand, they can be quite pricy, on the other hand, the ingredients are nice pretty things like "spinach" and "pineapple." I can pronounce those words! And my body knows what do do with those foods! As I said before though, if you are able to eat the actual foods, that is always better than even the best vitamin.

SO, assuming that I've convinced you to forgo the prenatal multivitamin, what do you need, why do you need it, and how can you get it?! (ahh, this is my favorite part!)
(see end for source info/links)

Folate aka Folic Acid aka "B-9"
This may be one of the most important nutrients to worry about, at least in the first couple of months. A lack of folate can lead to problems with brain stem and spinal cord development (problems such as spina bifida), and because that development occurs in the first month after conception (including those two weeks before you even take a pregnancy test) it's important to have a good source of folate in your diet when you are trying to conceive.
**The recommended daily dose for pregnancy is 600-800mcg of folate, however daily consumption of over 266mcg of folic acid (the synthetic form) can cause problems with metabolizing all forms of folate in the future (possibly for years)
**Some good food sources of folate are: asparagus, okra, spinach, avacado, liver, chickpeas, beans, lentils, broccoli, yeast, wheat germ, strawberries, and orange juice (see source links for details on the benefits and sources of folate: link, link, link)

A pregnant woman should be drinking at least a half gallon of water a day. The guideline I have heard most often is to take your body weight in pounds, divide in half, then that is how many ounces of water you should drink in a day. So, if I weigh 140 lbs, then half of that is 70, so ideally I should be drinking 70 oz of water per day. (A half-gallon is 64 oz, in case you forgot, so I should have 6 12oz glasses, or 9 8oz glasses of water every day.) I know that probably sounds like a lot if you're not used to drinking water--it used to sound overwhelming to me too. But proper hydration is extremely important for health, especially in pregnancy. (Here is a post with tips for drinking more water)

During pregnancy a woman's blood volume will increase by 50%, so nutrients that build blood are vital, and protein is one of those nutrients. In my own experience, eating protein keeps morning sickness at bay better than anything else.
**Some practitioners advise trying to get 100grams of protein a day, but that can be very difficult. A more moderate recommendation is 60-100grams.
**Good sources of protein are: beef, chicken (which actually has more protein per oz than beef), milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs peanut butter, wheat germ, and beans.

Iron is another nutrient that contributes to blood-building (iron deficiency is called "anemia" and is a common concern following miscarriages or other situations involving blood-loss). Trust me that anemia is not something you want to deal with, so make sure you get your iron!
**The daily recommended intake for iron 30-60mg, although this is partly due to its poor absorption rate (as low as 10%), so if you are getting it from good food sources you can probably get by with the lower end of the range. Most of the sites I've visited point out that there are two forms of iron--heme and non-heme, with the former coming from meat sources and the latter coming from all other sources. All the sites seem to agree that the heme is better absorbed, and that for full benefit of the non-heme forms, it's best to consume them either with a heme iron; or with a vitamin-C-rich food (like citrus fruits); or at least cooked in an iron pan.
**Some especially Iron-rich foods include: artichokes, blackstrap molasses, nuts, lean red meat, salmon, clams & oysters, beans, lentils, currants,egg (yolks), chicken (especially the liver), quinoa, pumpkin seeds, spinach, tofu, wheat germ, sesamie seeds, seaweed (hijiki is best), and foods cooked in a cast-iron pan. (source links with additional info on iron: link, link, link, link)

This is another nutrient that contributes to building blood volume in pregnancy--as with our other bodily fluids, both blood and amniotic fluid contain sodium. Sodium also helps maintain balanced fluid levels in your cells, as well as the health of the nervous, muscular, blood, and lymph systems. A diet low in sodium can lead to a decrease in blood volume as well as elevated blood pressure and swelling. Sodium deficiency can also cause impaired kidney function, decreased urine volume, and other signs of toxemia. (I am aware that a lot of doctors feel that restricting salt is the solution for toxemia, but based on my own experiences, plus those of my midwife who gave me the advice in the first place, I think that advice stems from fear of and misinformation about salt rather than from really understanding how sodium works.)
**While there is no daily recommended intake for salt, pregnant women should not hesitate to salt food to taste. If you crave salty foods (such as potato chips or french fries) then get yourself some healthy salt-containing foods, such as celery, dairy products, seaweed, or other seafoods.

Pregnancy is not the time to be afraid of fats. Your baby's developing cells (especially brain and nervous system) need a certain of fat in order to grow properly. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluable, meaning that you must have fat in order to digest (or use) them. Essential fatty acids are most readily available via fats. Cholesterol is necessary for the formation of sex and adrenal hormones, among other things.
**Now obviously not all fats are created equal, and balance is important (that is a whole other post). You do NOT need any form of trans-fats (partially hydrogenated oils), but you should seek a balance of saturated, mono-unsaturated, and poly-unsaturated fats, because each supplies your body with different essential things. Also a balance of omega 3s, omega 6s, and omega 9s. (Like I said, there will have to be another post about that all soon!) You should feel comfortable with around 60grams of fat per day.
**High quality sources of fats include: nuts, seeds, unrefined, cold-pressed vegetable oils (refined ones tend to be partially-hydrogenated aka trans-fats), butter, dairy products, and the fats in meat. Essential fatty acids are found in salmon, mackerel, herring, cod liver oil, and the oils from evening primrose, black currant, flax seed, walnut, and borage. (link, link, link, link)

In the near future I'm hoping to put up a post with a list of some pregnancy keep an eye out for that. ☺

There are other vitamins and nutrients that are important, and I'm sure I'll get a chance to talk about them...potassium is good for tight muscles (I often get muscle spasms or cramps when pregnant), magnesium and calcium contribute to good bone development...but the ones mentioned above are the key ones to focus on. Most veggies contain many vitamins (as you can see from the repetition on the lists above), so if you are getting a good diet you can feel pretty safe that you are getting what you need.

In case you didn't know (although I hope you did!) pregnancy is not the time to be thinking about your waistline, but it also is not the time to just eat twice as much. Remember that even though you are "eating for two," that second being is pretty little, and does not need adult portions! Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Focus on eating healthy foods. Don't be distressed if you gain 40lbs...and don't be distressed if you gain only 20. Don't be distressed if this pregnancy is totally different weight-wise than the last one was. Don't worry if you lose a few pounds due to morning sickness (though more than 10 is cause for concern), and don't worry if you don't gain a pound until 22 weeks along (I didn't last time). So long as you and the baby are both healthy, pounds on the chart are just one more thing that doesn't really matter.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Take THAT Bill Maher

The other night Hubby and I watched Bill Maher's Religulous (it's 'religious' combined with 'ridiculous' in case you haven't heard of it). He has a very obvious intent with the film: to show that religious people are hung up on unsubstantiated fairy tales because they are too weak to stand up and ask questions, and that this blind devotion to silliness is destroying the world (via holy wars, religious terrorism, etc). OK, so obviously I disagree with him across the board, and frankly the film would be offensive to almost everyone I know, so I don't recommend it. However, I wanted to take the chance to give my responses to some of the questions he threw at his interviewees. You see, as any intelligent documentary-maker would, he choose to interview people who would help him make the point that he wanted to make; in other words, he choose nice people who felt strongly about their faith but didn't know how to carry on a good debate, or how to give a strong answer to a hard question. (Or, in the case of his sequence about Mormons, he chose to interview a pair of apostates; and everyone knows that a former-member will always paint a different picture than a faithful-member.)

So here are my responses to some of his questions (in no particular order):

The Bible says a snake talked to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Can an intelligent person really believe in talking snakes?
No, I don't believe in talking snakes. I believe that's a metaphor for the devil. Surely you've heard the term "he's such a snake!" [I might say that Bill Maher is a bit of a snake!]

Scientists tell us that evolution is fact. So how can you believe in a creation story like the one in the Bible?
I have two thoughts on this. First, science is a growing and changing field. 600 years ago science told us that the world was flat and that Earth was the center of the universe, then folks like Columbus and Galileo came along and proved otherwise, so everyone adjusted their theories to match the newly-found facts. I'm not convinced that science can ever give us a final answer about anything, it can just tell me what our best guess is right now.
Secondly, I don't think that evolution and creationism are actually in conflict. I believe that God created the world and put a multitude of creatures in it, but that over time many of those creatures and plants have changed and evolved. Do I believe that men came from apes? No, I believe we are created in the image of God just like the Bible says. But I do believe in evolution.

How do you explain that the same stories (virgin birth, miracles and healings, resurrection on the third day) were told around the Mediterranean and even across the world for centuries before Christ?
Cultures around the world also have flood stories, and creation stories, and first man/first woman stories. I believe that the same stories come up all over the world because they are all based in one truth. I believe that that one truth is most accurately described in the Bible, but I think the very fact that cultures around the world are telling the same stories is a very good indication that somewhere up the line the stories were true. Of course they vary a bit from one area to another, because each society is going to adapt the story to fit their culture and way of living, but that doesn't mean they didn't start as one story.

If God wants us to be happy, then why would he let the Holocaust happen?
Because God will not interfere with our free will. He wants us to be happy, and He wants us to be kind to each other, but he does not and will not force us to do things. I think He did and does weep at many of the horrible things that men have done to each other, but He won't interfere because that would not be fair. The fact of the matter is that some people are going to choose to do good kind things, and some people aren't, but a fair God has to treat us all equally, so he allows us all our choice.
Incidentally, I think that the periods of intense evil--times such as the holocaust--also serve to bring out intense goodness. There is opposition in all things, and I think of people like Corrie Ten Boom or Eli Wiesel, and I see that the worst situations can often bring out the best in people. So even those terrible things are giving people a chance to choose who they want to be.

"Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking... The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions, is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble and that is what man needs to be..." [yes, that one is an actual quote from the movie]
I actually agree that the only appropriate attitude is to ask questions. I think that some religions hold a lot more water than others on the logic front, and that 'blind faith' is never a virtue. Yes, I consider myself a woman of faith, but it's not blind. I have studied the tenants of my faith and frankly I find that they explain a lot of things in what I find to be a very logical way. My faith is not about feeling comfortable or taking anybody's word for anything, it's about having logical explanations for life, the universe and everything. ☺ I find that the more I learn of science and the world, and the more I understand my religion, the more they fit together beautifully.

Too bad he didn't interview me, huh?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Following up with Jane

So, I finished reading my book by Jane Austen. Before getting too far into this though, I'm going to mention the official tally of the recommendations you all gave me for which book to read as my official trial run of Jane:

3 for Pride and Prejudice
2 for Sense and Sensibility
2 for Emma
2 for Northanger Abby
1 for Persuasion

So now I guess I had better tell you which book I actually read, right?

Based on which character I liked most (or related to most) in the Jane Austen Book Club movie, the book I chose to read was Persuasion. Interestingly, although not surprisingly, it was the book least-recommended by my readers. I have a theory about why this is, which I will share in a moment...but first, my thoughts on the book.

The last four or five chapters were quite exciting! The penultimate chapters (right before those last four or five) were interesting enough, as I could see the finale coming together. However the first 25 chapters were so slow and dull as to make my eyes water. I would probably have set it down were it not for my stubbornness and my whole public promise to all of you to actually read one entire book. ☺ When it finally did start getting good, it ended. Pow. Just like that.
My conclusion is that I feel no need to pick up any more of Jane's books, at least not for another couple of decades.

Here is something curious--BEFORE reading the book (although after choosing it), I went and took that quiz that so many of you feature on your sidebars... (remembering that I don't know any of the books well enough to have cheated in any way, as if I would do that anyway, geeze!)

I am Anne Elliot!
Take the Quiz here!

Well, it seems that I chose the best book for me after all--a book with a heroine to whom I could relate. ☺ (Although, on an unrelated topic, I recently read that apparently it's ok to end sentences with prepositions, so perhaps I could have said "with a heroine I could relate to" and it would have been acceptable even for that uptight little editor in my head who always makes me fix those things!)
I mentioned that I thought I knew why almost no one recommended this book... Well, every time I've ever seen this little feature on one of my friend's sidebars, it always shows one of the Dashwoods, or maybe Emma...I am certain that I've never seen Anne Elliot before. I think that perhaps we like the books with the characters that we relate to...and that's why I don't like the books that you like.
It's a good thing we can still be friends anyway, eh?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


(click the image to see other Tiny Talk Tuesdays with Mary at NotBefore7)

Bear is in the stage where he wants me to kiss everything better. One time a couple of weeks ago he came for a kiss and I gave him several (just to make sure). He said I was "kissing it too big" and gave me a dirty look.

Skip ahead a week, and he comes to me to have something else kissed all better...I laid on the required kiss and he stuck the injured part back in my face and said "Kiss it too big mommy, kiss it too big!"

He also likes to pour his own juice--he's become a real juice-aholic lately--and I've discovered that it's because apparently I don't put enough in the cup. Several times now he has told me that I need to "pour it too big."


You may remember the Twinkle Potato incident of a few weeks ago... well, for about three weeks that was the only song he wanted at bedtime. I told him I didn't know how it went, so he sang it for me.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Potato [giggle]
Swimming in the Doggy Dish
[giggle giggle giggle giggle]

Now every version of "Twinkle twinkle" that he sings involves swimming in the doggy dish. I keep asking myself if I ever sang "twinkle fish" that way, but I can't remember...I probably did, but I don't know!


Bear has decided to be a potty-user. He's been very self-motivated about this, and within the last couple of weeks has more or less finished the job.
A couple of days ago I was sitting on the bathroom floor next to him as he sat on the toilet, and he explained to me that he had just made "sheen-gun poo" (that's "machine gun poo" for those who don't speak Bearish). Um, he wha?! (I know I didn't teach him about 'sheen-guns, but I guess Wolf did, because Bear says most anything is a sheen-gun. Sticks, legos, tiny crystals of snow...)
So I asked him "why is it sheen-gun poo?" "It's shee- gun poo mommy!" "Well, does Wolf make sheen gun poo?" "No" (as though it were obvious). Mommy? no, Daddy? no!, doggy? No, no, no. Only Bear makes sheen-gun poo. And apparently he always makes it--because he always tells me about it.
Oh well, at least he always makes it in the potty. ☺

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Secret Life of Synthetic Vitamins

The human body needs certain nutrients to live, I think we all understand that part well enough. For most of the history of the world humans (like every other creature) have eaten whole, unprocessed foods straight from nature, and they got plenty of vitamins in their natural forms. As people moved away from the land (into cities), and stopped raising their own food (relying on grocery stores etc), their nutrition suffered. Currently, in spite of improvements in access to healthy foods, we also have increased access to garbage foods, and the sad truth is that most of us have very poor eating habits, so we take multivitamins in an attempt to make up for it. The problem is, vitamins in pills (or as additives in food, as in "vitamin A and D added") are not the same as the vitamins in their natural food forms. The molecular structures are not even similar [link] (scroll down for photos).
In spite of years of recommending multivitamins to the masses, recent science has officially reached the same conclusion that some of us believed for years: vitamin supplements are "next to worthless" and people should just "eat real food." (Yes, those are direct quotes from the article--it's a good article, just published last month, go read it!)
"It is not possible to get a US patent on naturally occurring vitamins as found in food--anytime a health professional hears that some vitamin is patented, that should set off warning signals that it is not real food." [link]
(in other words, if it's in a jar with a brand name or 'patented formula' on the label, then it's probably not appropriate for consumption)
It is worth noting that there are vitamins that are made from whole foods--they are made from ground up spinach and carrots and so on rather than from chemical powders, and they therefore have the vitamins in their natural forms. They tend to cost a lot more, and my own feeling is that eating real food is always preferable to a vitamin--even a good vitamin, but there's more information below about how to find whole food vitamins.

This article is excellent, and packed full of well-referenced information, including going over each vitamin one by one, explaining both its natural food sources and how the synthetic version is made. Just so you are aware, some of those synthetic vitamins are made from cattle brains, hydrogenated sugars, coal tar, petroleum, formaldehyde, or acetone (aka nail polish remover). Mmmmm, even if you didn't like broccoli and spinach before I bet they sound pretty good now, don't they?!
I'll conclude with a quote from the conclusion of the article:
There are really only two types of vitamins sold: food vitamins and non-food vitamins. Food vitamins will normally state something like “100% Food” on the label. Sometimes the label will also state “No USP nutrients” or “No synthetic nutrients.”

Non-food vitamins...are somewhat less obvious. First of all, no non-food vitamin this researcher has seen says “100% food” on the label and none of them state ‘No USP or synthetic nutrients”—thus if none of these expressions are present, it is normally safe to conclude that the vitamins are not from food. If a label states that the product contains USP vitamins or ‘pharmaceutical grade’ nutrients, then it should be obvious to all naturopathic practitioners that the product is not food. Also, if a multi-vitamin or a B-complex formula states something to the effect that it “contains no yeast” that is basically a guarantee that it contains synthetic nutrients.

However, just because a company uses the term ‘natural’ or ‘all natural’ as a description of its vitamins does not make them, in fact, natural—this is because the US Government has no definition of natural! Also, just because a company may have a reputation for having natural products, this does not mean its vitamins are not synthetic—carefully check the label for proof that the product is truly 100% food.

Some companies seem to confuse the issue by using the term ‘food-based’ on their supplement labels. ‘Food-based’ vitamins are almost always USP vitamins mixed with a small amount of food. This mixing does not change the chemical form of the vitamin, so it is still a vitamin analogue and not a food vitamin (this differs from food, as true food vitamins are not simple mixture).

Most vitamins sold are not food--they are synthetically processed petroleum and/or hydrogenated sugar extracts--even if they say “natural” on the label. They are not in the same chemical form or structural form as real vitamins are in foods; thus they are not natural for the human body. True natural food vitamins are superior to synthetic ones. Food vitamins are functionally superior to non-food vitamins as they tend to be preferentially absorbed and/or retained by the body. Isolated, non-food vitamins, even when not chemically different are only fractionated nutrients.

...[It] seems logical to conclude that for purposes of maintaining normal health, natural vitamins are superior to synthetic ones. Unlike some synthetic vitamins, no natural vitamin has been found to not perform all of its natural functions.

The truth is that only foods, or supplements composed of 100% foods, can be counted on as not containing non-food vitamin analogues. Natural health advocates are supposed to build health on foods or nutrients contained in foods. That was the standard set for the profession in 1947—that standard—that commitment to real naturopathy should remain for natural health professionals today.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Concerning Spanking: starting on my path to Gentle Discipline

I was spanked as a child. Spankings were not common, but they were painful. They occurred only as the consequence to two infractions (lying or direct/defiant disobedience), and everybody knew how to earn one and how to avoid one. In spite of that, we feared them. Looking back I suppose it was irrational to fear something that was instituted only as the consequence to an action over which I had complete control--but fear I did. Often.
Nevertheless, it was effective. My siblings and I were (and are) very honest people. We are very obedient people. While I hated the few spankings I did receive, I certainly never thought of them as abuse. They were simply discipline: a harsh consequence designed to enforce a pair of non-optional behaviors.
It is only now, years later, that I remember something that happened one night when I was about 11. Brother A had smacked brother B in spite of repeated warnings, and so he got spanked. I asked my dad "If you hit him as a punishment, then how does that teach him to not hit?" My dad told me that my logic was wrong and that the idea came from Satan, and that the difference was that brothers are equals but that parents are in a position of authority and sometimes needed to use force. It didn't sit well with me at the time but apparently I eventually accepted it because as I entered adulthood, I had no problem with the occasional spanking of a child.
When I met Hubby, Wolf was 3 years old and more than a handful. He'd had a lot of upheaval in his early years and was a master of testing boundaries. Hubby did not believe in spanking, and I felt that Wolf's wild behavior was a direct reflection of that. Every "gentle discipline" or non-spanking family I'd ever met had wild (ie, undisciplined) children, and I concluded that Hubby should be glad that I'd come along when I had, so that I could teach him how to parent and teach Wolf how to obey.
So for a few years there was some spanking. Not terribly often, and not as severe as what I'd been raised with, but it definitely happened. And do you know what? It didn't make a lick of difference. That was the first thing that made me start to think. I had never questioned whether it would work--it seemed so obvious that it had worked with me and my siblings--but Wolf just didn't care. He would get mad about it, but he didn't change his behavior. Unfortunately, my initial conclusion was that the solution was to be more consistent--to discipline more often and (sometimes) more harshly.

Then I started associating with a group of "natural LDS moms" (on a yahoo group). Spanking came up a number of times, and was always a hot topic. There were moms who were staunchly for it and moms who were staunchly against it. For a long time I fell into the former category--still relying on the firm belief that there was a time and a place for spanking: usually as a last resort, but still, an appropriate place for it. I shared this opinion a number of times. The story is somewhat longer than this, but for the sake of the privacy of those involved, I'll just say that one mother mentioned (privately) that whenever spanking came up she always skipped my posts because she knew that I supported spanking, and it broke her heart to see that kind of message from someone whom she otherwise respected. She said that she just couldn't imagine Christ spanking someone, and she didn't feel like it was a Christlike way for us to treat our children.
A lightbulb went on for me that day. I think I have thanked her for that message, but if not, she knows who she is, and I know she reads this blog, so at the very least she's hearing it now.

"If you hit him as a punishment,
then how does that teach him
to not hit?"

Yes, I have spanked my children, well, that is to say, I have spanked my older child. I have not spanked the younger one and have every intention of not spanking either one of them in the future. Unfortunately, when a person is raised with something it is usually very difficult to change the habit. Even if you want to be different, it's very likely that you'll fall back into certain familiar things. And so even since making the decision to not spank, I have done it once or twice. I yell more than I mean to as well. BUT I am not giving up, and I continue to try to find better ways to teach my children.

I am learning that "gentle discipline" does not have to mean "undisciplined," but that it really can mean teaching children discipline through gentle means. In fact, the more I have thought and read and talked with others and pondered about it all, the more I realize that gentle discipline is Christlike discipline. So now every time I am faced with a problematic behavior from my children I try to think of what Christ would do. Christ never hit anybody, and he never yelled, so I figure those two things are out. What is in, well, that's something that everybody has to work out themselves. I lean toward a combination of natural consequences, imposed logical consequences, and a lot of distraction for little ones and discussion for older ones. I am planning to write more about my ever-developing philosophy of parenting.

For what it's worth, regarding my own childhood and the things my father told me... My father was raised in what I consider to have been a terribly abusive and unloving home, and as I said, old habits die hard, even when you're trying to overcome them. In college he also studied behavioral psychology (which is based on drooling dogs and pecking pigeons and focuses on rewards and punishments to teach behaviors). Since it's based on animals (and doesn't allow for free will) I believe that it's inappropriate for humans, but the behavioral psychologists say otherwise, and dad trusted his professors...and that's a whole other post. ☺ Anyway, the point is, my dad's parenting style was imperfect but was unquestionably better than what he grew up with. Over the years he has continued to work and improve, and from what I hear my younger siblings are having quite a different childhood from what the first few of us did.
I love and respect my father on many fronts, and believe that most of the faults with his parenting stem directly from what he was taught by his own parents. On the other hand, what kind of a person would I be if I were content to maintain the status quo? No! I have every intention of continuing to improve. Maybe my children or grandchildren will be perfect parents...I know that I never will be, but at least I'm making a conscious effort at making each generation better than the last one.

Friday, March 20, 2009

HBs, UCs, CNMs, and DEMs

(is that enough acronyms for one day?!)

Today I want to answer a couple of questions that came up following my post about birth centers, specifically comments about HomeBirth, Unassisted Childbirth, Certified Nurse-Midwives, and Direct-Entry Midwives.

From the comments:
"I'm wondering why would you choose a center and not have a baby in your own home??"
"A big reason to me NOT to choose a birth center, is precisely because they are under OB supervision. They are subject to protocol and liability issues, and usually have a strict set of requirements for using their services....Birth centers are great for a perfect birth, but then, if the labor and delivery are that easy, you should just stay home."
"I am in favor of the unassisted homebirth [intentionally birthing without any trained professional present]. I just like the privacy of it. I feel like birth should be more intimate, with family. I also think that a woman should be able to act upon her own intuition. And that is HARD to do when there is someone trained there (be it a midwife or an OB)."

Hmm, I thought I had explained this the first time. ☺
I grew up with homebirth. In fact, my mother's hospital experience with her firstborn (me) was such that she chose to have the other 8 kids at home. (Well, one was was born in the car...but that's another story!) Anyway, I was present for several homebirths during my childhood and teen years, and when we were engaged I told Hubby that I wanted to do that too. He thought it was a little out there but figured if I was doing the birthing I was entitled to call the shots. However, during my pregnancy with Bear we both just had the feeling that I should switch away from the homebirth midwife I had begun seeing and instead see a particular OB. I could speculate all day about why we were led to do that, but the point is that it was the right thing for us at that time and with that birth.
I feel that birth is a deeply spiritual event--we are partners with God in giving a body to a spirit (and getting a body is one of those eternally important things), so I do think that the choice of where and how to give birth is important. A lot of people focus on two people when making their birthing choices (mom and baby), but I include a third. I figure that if I want dad to be part of it all (and I do) then his feelings should matter as well. My Hubby is not comfortable with birthing at home at this point, and since I do have the birth center option, I don't think it's worth disagreeing about. I think it's entirely likely that I will birth at home one day, but I don't think it will be this time.
Also, as I pointed out in the original post, I do not have a jetted tub. I want to labor in a jetted tub darnit!

As for my thoughts about UC (Unassisted Childbirth) here is my response from the comments:
I know that proponents of Unassisted Childbirth feel that the presence of any outsider is a detriment, but I don't feel that way. I actually feel safer knowing that someone is present who is not emotionally attached to the situation--I don't care how much we've studied and prepared, if something goes wrong neither Hubby nor I can be fully objective because it's family. That's why surgeons don't operate on family members. That's why I never want a UC.
In all fairness, I do have to admit that every birth dream I have ever had was a UC. Not just a UC with no professional, but a UC with nobody--not even Hubby--in the room with me. So maybe I'm being prepared for something someday... Maybe at some point I'll plan a homebirth and the midwife won't make it and I'll have an accidental UC, but at least from where I stand now I have no desire to ever plan one.


Now onto the second topic!
My cousin left this comment:
Can you explain your preference for a direct-entry midwife, versus a CNM? I had CNMs for my two births and they were wonderful and helped me so much--and they were there for almost the whole labor both times.

I do not actually prefer DEMs over CNMs. (DEM= direct-entry midwife, CNM= certified nurse-midwife) I have no preference whatsoever. However, in many states the law has a great deal of preference, so that is why I was so pleased to hear that here in Alaska DEMs can get as much respect (ie, birth center privileges) as the CNMs can.
Here are the basic differences:
A CNM certifies as a nurse (2 years) and then becomes a midwife (around another 2 years). In her nurses training she spends time changing bandages, emptying bedpans, and doing other things that have nothing whatsoever to do with pregnancy or birth. CNMs almost always work under the supervision of OBs, and as such are subject to their policies (or the policies of the hospital), including forced timelines for laboring and so on. Due mostly to their background in nursing, many CNMs have a fairly medicalized view of birth. Many women find comfort in the CNM's more extensive training, and/or in the fact that she works in a facility with access to medications, interventions, and OB oversight.
A DEM does not go to nursing school. She goes directly to midwifery school. (Actually some 'granny midwives' do not attend any school at all, but just apprentice with a practicing midwife and sortof pick things up over time--some women are comfortable with this but I'm not.) DEMs focus all their study on pregnancy and birth, so on the one hand they do finish their training sooner, but on the other hand they usually spend much longer as 'interns' or 'assistant midwives' before taking the lead role at births. I feel that their more specific training as well as the longer time assisting is of great benefit in a caregiver. In my understanding DEMs are more likely to have a knowledge of herbs (some are trained herbalists), and they almost always have a more wholistic view of birth (rather than a medicalized one). DEMs attend homebirths and sometimes birth center births, and are more likely than CNMs to have experience with handling "high risk" situations such as vaginal breech or twin deliveries (CNMs are commonly required to hand those cases off to their supervising OB). In a number of states DEMs and homebirths are illegal.

I do not have a particular preference about being attended by a CNM vs a DEM. I do have a preference about where I give birth though, so depending on where I choose, that will dictate somewhat about who can attend me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Great Expectations

The other day in a comment Becky asked:
Hey, do you have any posts or opinions (and if I know you at all, you definitely have opinions! :)) about eating habits? Both of my kids' grandmothers like to tell me I'm starving my children. My rule is if you're playing at the table or throwing food, you get one warning, and then you're done. Mealtime should not be a time that people (meaning me) dread every single day. Some days we do well and some days not so well, but my children know the rules. And we try very hard to be consistent. Boy, do we try! What's your take on mealtime?
Well, I've never posted about it before, but I have been thinking I wanted to write a series about my philosophy on discipline and parenting, and this is as good a place to start as any!

The short answer is
I believe that kids will live up to whatever is expected of them.
Please note that that may or may not be the same thing as what you say you expect of them. For example, if you tell your teenager that he had better not miss curfew again, but in your heart you figure he'll miss it because he has so often before, then I believe he'll miss it. Because he knew that you expected him to anyway, so why bother to try. On the other hand, I have seen impeccable behavior from very small children because they knew what was expected and they simply did it. (Apparently I was one of those children--my parents tell the story of a time when I was not yet 2, and they were at a social function being held outdoors at a park. Apparently I had done something inappropriate, so my father stood me on a storm drain cover for a time-out and told me I needed to stay there for a few minutes until he came to get me. Everyone else at the party looked at him in shock: how could he expect that of such a small child?! But I stayed until he came back for me.)
And so I repeat, it's not just about obedience, it's about genuine expectations. It's about what you truly believe your child can and will do. Kids have a remarkable way of living up to precisely what we expect of them.

In regard to the specifics of mealtimes...
Obviously it's still important to teach our children, and personally I think that a rule establishing food for eating (not for throwing or playing) is entirely rational, logical, and fair. I add to that rule that if someone leaves his chair (other than to get a drink or run to the potty or that sort of thing) then he is done. I don't care if he is still hungry, I don't care if he had food left on his plate, he needs to stay at the table until he's done. (So, Becky, apparently I have one-upped you in the 'mean mom' contest, and you can let your mother and mother-in-law know that you're terribly laid back compared to some people you know. ☺ ) I believe in being gentle with children, but I do not believe in letting them run the house. Mom's needs are a valid consideration in the equation, and I've never met a child who starved from eating only half a meal.
I should add that we do have a few foods that are allowed for snacking almost any time. When a child gets himself booted from the table and subsequently complains of hunger, I do let him eat something...not during dinner time of course, but a little while later, when he's had a chance to feel hungry and develop a little motivation to follow the rule next time.
Incidentally, I understand that my kids may not love every food I prepare. They are required to taste something before they are allowed to have an opinion, but once they have a validly-formed opinion I will respect it and not make them eat something they don't like. I am not willing to be a short order cook, but when Wolf doesn't like sweet and sour chicken then I don't mind if he makes a peanut butter sandwich. Applesauce and yogurt are always available, and "peanut butter spoons" (a spoonful of peanut butter) are very popular with my boys. As before, I'm not forcing them to starve, and I don't force them to eat something they don't like, but they do need to respect the notion of standard mealtimes, and eating with the family.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

I think this is valuable information, so I am sharing it at this week's WorksForMeWednesday (click the link to see what works for other people!)


A few people commented that it was interesting that I knew my date of ovulation, or was aware enough of my cycle to know to take a pregnancy test at scarcely 4 weeks along. I've also heard over and over that "Natural Family Planning" only works "sometimes" or isn't very reliable.
So today I'm here to set the record straight.

Myths about the Fertility Awareness Method / Natural Family Planning

FAM/NFP is based on your past cycles, so if your cycles vary from month to month, or if you have cycles that are longer/shorter than 28 days, it won't work.
I think a lot of people have heard of the old fashioned "rhythm method" which involves counting days from the beginning of your last period, and then making assumptions about when you'll ovulate. FAM does no such thing. FAM relies on observing (and then writing down) your fertility signs in this cycle, and determining on a day-to-day basis whether you are fertile or not. So your cycle can be different every single month and FAM will still work for you.

FAM/NFP fails a lot as birth control
Only if you are intimate on days you are fertile. There are two ways to practice NFP--one is to determine potentially fertile days and then abstain on those days--this always works. The other option is to determine the fertile days and then use condoms or something of that nature on those days--this has the same failure rate as the condom or other method.

Is is a lot more effort than something simple like the pill or just using condoms
I happen to really like using NFP for my family planning, because it means that if we change our minds one way or the other, we can switch from 'preventing' to 'trying' (or visa versa) on a moments notice. No devices to remove, no waiting for hormones to clear out of my system, nothing. I find it superior to long-term use of condoms because, let's be honest, who likes using condoms all the time? With NFP I know whether or not I'm fertile, and the rest of the time we don't have to worry about using 'protection.' Also, NFP has absolutely no side effects: no weight gain, no mood swings, nada.

Charting is a big hassle and takes a lot of time
I put in around 2 minutes a day. It's faster than my morning shower or brushing my teeth, and I don't know anyone who says that those are too much of a hassle!

There is no point in charting unless you are specifically trying to get pregnant/avoid pregnancy
I have found it enormously helpful even in months where I didn't care if I got pregnant or not. I happen to have irregular cycles--they might be 26 days or they might be 36. Usually it's somewhere in the middle, but it is different every month. But when you start charting you'll learn a secret: the follicular stage (between your period and when you ovulate) can be of a different length, but your luteal phase (from ovulation until the next menstruation) will always be the same. SO, if I know which day I ovulated, then I know precisely which day to expect my period. Every month. For someone who HATES to be caught off guard by good old aunt flow, this is awesome and oh so empowering.

I can't chart because I wake up in the night (baby, bathroom, etc), or I work a night/swing shift
This one is somewhat true. In order for a temperature to be accurate for charting purposes, you should have completed 3 or more hours of sleep prior to taking your temperature. If you often wake at 3am though, it's ok to take your temp then. If you sleeping during the day and wake at 5pm, you can take your temp then. The point is not so much about what time it is, as it is about being consistent. If you are often consistent, but just have occasional off days (sleeping in on a holiday, or when a child is sick for example) then you can just skip temping on that one day, and use the overall pattern of the rest of the days.
My 2yo Bear is still waking in the night with some regularity, and that has affected my own sleep patterns of course. So even though I had begun temping, and was able to see somewhat of a pattern, it was a little bumpy. It helped me narrow things down, even though I wasn't always sure quite to the day, I did know within a couple of days.

(if you have other questions/things you've heard, please leave them in the comments and I will add the answers to the post here)

So what are these fertility signals that we charting ladies monitor?
  1. Take a BBT (basal body temperature) each morning upon awaking. The hormonal surge at ovulation causes a sharp jump in BBT, so on the morning after you ovulate your BBT will show it.
  2. Observe the cervical fluid (CF) that is excreted over the course of the cycle. During fertile times, the CF increases and has a stringy consistency much like eggwhite--this is because the body is trying to facilitate conception by making the route easier for the sperm.
  3. Take note of other symptoms such as cramping, breast tenderness, increased/decreased libido (the hormonal shifts affect this--libido usually surges in the most fertile days).
  4. Some (not all) women take note of their cervical position. This involved sticking a finger in there and feeling your cervix. During fertile times, it gets softer and opens up a bit. (Yes ladies, your body wants to get pregnant each month, even if you don't.)
  5. For those who are trying to conceive, we also make a mark to indicate which days we "baby danced" or BD. This way when we do get pregnant we're better able to pinpoint the actual day of conception, which is darn handy.

If you think all this fertility awareness stuff is worth looking into, I strongly recommend getting your hands on Toni Weschler's book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It is the quintessential FAM book. There are others that teach pieces of the method, but this is the most complete one I know of. It has extensive information about using FAM for birth control, pregnancy achievement, and just plain reproductive health and awareness.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mom Wars: Making Choices

I've been thinking recently over the way that many parents (especially moms) get into 'wars' over certain parenting topics: breastfeeding vs formula; co-sleeping vs crying-it-out; mom staying-at-home vs working; vaccination; circumcision; methods for discipline; even things like labor induction or epidurals.

On the one hand I very much understand why these are such hot topics: the parent is making a choice that affects another person's life, a choice which may even have lifelong consequences. That's a lot of responsibility, and I would hope that none of the choices would be taken lightly.

Inevitably people get defensive when someone else questions their choices. I have two basic thoughts on that:
One--if you have to be defensive about it, then are you really that sure about it?! If you truly believe in it, you shouldn't feel the need to defend your decision. Stand up for it, sure, but defend it? If it's so good and right, then won't it speak for itself? (I recently had this realization in regards to nursing in public. Either you do it or you don't, but if you do it then don't be apologetic about it, you know?!)
Two--I've always said that I can respect a person who makes an educated choice (even if I don't agree with the choice), but I cannot respect an UNeducated choice, or the choice-maker. Especially in this age of information, I think there's really no excuse to trust anybody's word on anything, parents should be able to learn things for themselves and make their own decisions. Nobody should just take the word of their doctor, or friend, or neighbor, or mother, or the author of some book...every decision should be based on study, thought, and (at least in all the cases I mentioned above) prayer.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why a Birth Center?

I've been looking at birth centers. I plan to deliver this baby at a free-standing birth center, and have been looking at my options so that I will have a little time to make my choice. If we do end up in Juneau (which is possible, although not as likely) then there is only one there, but if we do get up to Anchorage as we've planned, then I will have FOUR to choose from!! I've been talking with other women from the area and have already ruled out one of them, but the others look very appealing. I've also learned that several DEMs (direct-entry midwives--meaning they were not nurses first, but went straight to midwifery) are allowed to deliver at the birth centers. Ahh, the laws of Alaska are SO much better than the ones in Utah!

So, why a birth center? Well, I don't really believe that birth belongs in a hospital unless something has gone pretty wrong. Hospitals are for fixing problems, and birth is not typically a problem. Hospitals are also full of sick people, and I don't care what their handwashing rules are or that the really sick people are on another floor or wing, I don't think it's a very bright idea to bring a baby into the world in the middle of one of the dirtiest environments known to modern society. Yes, I did have my last baby in a hospital--there were reasons for that--but my ideal was and is a birth center, and now that we're in a place where my insurance will pay for it, that's what I am going for!

Delivering at a birth center is a lot more like delivering at home--if you have a jetted tub and someone to do all your cleanup and laundry for you at home. ☺ So why not deliver at home? Well, for one thing being at home makes my Hubby a little nervous. I was raised with it (all of my younger siblings were born at home), but if he's uncomfortable that's going to affect my emotional state too, and that's never good for labor. I confess that I really like the idea of somebody else handling all the cleanup. Also, since birth centers are designed to facilitate birth, they have the tubs and beds situated in such a way that the midwives can access the mother easily, no matter where she decides to be. (Most home bathtubs I've seen would get pretty cramped if 2 or 3 people were trying to get at them at the same time!) Many birth centers also have birth balls, birthing stools, squat bars, and other convenient tools for the laboring mother to use if she chooses. Midwives, being accustomed to undrugged mothers, also tend to have more experience with helping mothers work through labor via things like position changes, counter-pressure, and massage.
Since a birth center is all about birth, there are no sick people and I feel that makes it much safer than a hospital. On the other hand, the midwives are under an OBs supervision, and are able to administer some medications and other things which the average homebirth midwife might not. Also they have good relationships with the local hospitals and OBs, so if there were an emergency, the transfer process would likely be smoother than with a homebirth.

Honestly, as I look at these websites I keep thinking to myself "why would anyone not choose a birth center?!" I know, some people prefer home--and I do understand that. And some people prefer hospitals and their drugs...but nope, I really truly don't understand that.

(the photos are from the website of the MatSu Birth Center, which is one of the ones I'm considering)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ways to Get Pregnant

Please note that this post is written in a lighthearted manner and intended to be humorous...I realize that those who have struggled with infertility may find it a bit flippant and so I thought it best to just say something right off the top so as to avoid hurting feelings...

I'm not saying these things are guaranteed, but let's just say I know more than a few cases where these held true...
  1. Spend the money/time to get a diva cup or buy/make a bunch of new cloth pads. Pregnancy commonly follows the next month.
  2. Move. This is especially effective if the moving date is the same week as ovulation.
  3. After months of charting and trying to conceive, get busy and take a month off. You'll probably get pregnant that month.
  4. Buy some new skinny jeans--you'll only get to wear them once.
  5. Finally lose all the weight from the last pregnancy and/or get back into your clothes from several years ago.
  6. Buy really expensive, non-refundable tickets to some concert/show/event around 9 months in the future to which you won't be able to bring kids.
  7. Give up trying to conceive; accept that you are 'done having kids' or 'won't be having kids this way.'
  8. Give away all your baby clothing/gear because you're done having kids.
  9. Adopt. Pregnancy often follows within weeks.
  10. If all that fails, try the guaranteed recipes from Daring Young Mom or my friend Alisa (hers worked twice!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I feel lousy this afternoon. And a little bit nauseous.
With the pregnancies where I knew my exact date of ovulation, I always got sick at 5 weeks to the day, so if that is true of this pregnancy as well, then I was one day off in my guess of my ovulation day. (It's a little hard to be 100% sure on those things when you have a night-nursing toddler plus post-miscarriage hormones throwing off your charts.)
So let's go with this:
"The changes to your growing embryo are not quite as drastic this week as they've been in the last few weeks. Growth is now largely focused on their little head, which is starting to develop much more rapidly than the rest of their tiny body. This is because their amazing brain is undergoing some very crucial and rapid development in order to effectively regulate their heart rate, blood circulation, and other vital functions. As for the rest of their miniature body, what were simple limb buds last week are limb flippers this week and the tail is more expressed. Amazingly, within a mere five weeks your little miracle is already developing the rudimentary forms of their liver, pancreas, lungs, stomach and nasal pits while their little heart is already increasing its circulation. Your baby is now a whopping 4-6mm in length."

Ladies and gentlemen, my little one is only as big as a grain of rice, but he/she has a heartbeat. That just blows my mind. ☺

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Question of the Day: Picking Birth Months

So I've made it clear on more than one occasion that I have not had much control over the timing of my children. They have come to me when they (and God) planned, not when I did. HOWEVER, a lot of people seem to be able to have a baby whichever old month they choose.

So, if you could pick what months your children were born in, what would you choose? Why?

I have several criteria, some logical, some silly:

1--I like February, May, September, and October because they have pretty birthstones and I have a mother's ring so I'm allowed to care about stuff like birthstones

(amethyst, emerald, sapphire, and opal respectively, if you didn't know) you have to admit they are pretty stones! (but of course my kids were born in June and January and this one is due in November. Oh well!)

2--I think it's nicer as a kid to have a birthday that is around a half-year away from Christmas. It makes it easier to get through the year when the two present-getting days are spread out rather than right next to each other. I have a July birthday and always found it satisfactory. Hubby said his January birthday was rather lame in that regard.

3--I think spring/summer babies are nice because then by the time winter and cold/flu season rolls around they are older and have a stronger immune system.

4--Once you have a kid or two, I think it's nice to spread out the birthdays...have everybody in different months. One of my sisters-in-law has 3 kids with birthdays in May. She planned that because she feels that May is the perfect month to have a baby. Well, be that as it may (no pun intended), it means that she's got three birthdays in a two week period every year. There's potential for financial strain for presents, stress over multiple parties, and the risk that the poor kids will end up having their celebrations combined. It's almost as bad as having your birthday on Christmas Day. So let's hear it for spreading out the birthdays! (It also keeps the mother's ring more interesting!)

5--A baby at the end of the year is nice for financial purposes (dare I confess that I'm thrilled that this one is coming within the year? Because for us it's not just the tax deduction, it's also the PFD--that oil dividend that Alaskan residents get. It's a lot of money!)

Monday, March 9, 2009


When do you tell people? You know what I mean—you get the pregnancy test: you know, your spouse knows, your chosen baby-catcher knows (or will soon)...but do you wait to tell your family? Mom, dad, siblings? What about your older kids (the soon-to-be-big-brothers and sisters)? Friends? Neighbors? Do you bring it up? Do you mention it if the topic comes up? Do you wait for them to notice the belly (or the morning sickness) and ask? Do you tell everyone right away? Or are you one of those women who even waits a while to tell the new daddy? (Once I waited a whole day to tell Hubby--I will definitely not do that again!)
With my first pregnancy we told our immediate family within a few days of when we found out, but we held off on telling anyone else. We figured that the smart thing was to wait until the end of the first trimester—after all, that’s when the danger of miscarriage is past, right? So at 13 weeks gestation I finally, gleefully, sent an email off to the extended family and friends, telling them our happy news…and less than a week later I had to send them another email telling them that I had miscarried. Few of them had time to share our joy, and some congratulations even arrived after they were obsolete. Since almost no one had known about the baby, almost no one was there to grieve with us.
With my second pregnancy I had a different perspective. After all, it’s not as though there are degrees of pregnancy—either you are pregnant or you are not—and if you are, then it should not matter whether you are 3 weeks or 13 weeks or 30 weeks along when you tell people. It should be whenever you want it to be—because when you make the announcement has no bearing on whether you are going to miscarry! (This seems so obvious in theory, but when you’re in the situation somehow it’s a lot fuzzier.) Anyway, with my second pregnancy I started telling everyone right away. At 13 weeks along I miscarried, but this time I was not alone.
Based on those two experiences, I have concluded that I am definitely in the “tell everybody early” camp. I may not tell everyone the day I get the test, but they’ll hear about it within a few weeks. There are those who will argue that telling the world sooner will make the pregnancy seem longer. Um, a pregnancy is going to be the same length whether people know about it or not. I also think that the family and neighbors are going to feel like those weeks go by a lot faster than mom is, and mom already knows!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Motherhood Part III: Quiverfull

If you missed the other posts about motherhood, you can see them here:
Part I (on not delaying childbearing)
Part II (mother staying at home)
Part IV (for those who are childless)

Today in Part III you get to hear my thoughts on family planning. (Aren't you lucky?!)

Part I has a comprehensive list of links to my sources, but I've tried to include links for each individual quote as well. ☺ All italicized/indented portions of the post are quotes, boldfacing of course is mine.
I posted once before about the religious reasons behind having large families, but today's post has more depth, and lots more quotes.


Whenever someone asks us how many kids we hope to have, Hubby smiles and says, "well, at least one more." This is because we don't know how many children we want. We know we'd like several, but how many that means we don't know. We have decided to just take it one child at a time, and see what feels right at the time.

"Children are an heritage of the Lord and . . . happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them" (Psalm 127: 3-5 ).

There is a recent movement, or rather, there is a recent name for an old movement, and it's called "being quiverfull." It comes from the scripture in Psalms that I quoted above. Being a quiverfull family does not mean that you have to have 20 children, or even 8, rather it means that you do your family planning with the Lord, and are open to accepting and raising as many children as He sees fit to send you. I know quiverfull families who have 4 children and families who have 23. I know quiverfull families that are growing slowly via biological means, and families that grow 2 or 4 children at a time via adoption. The point is not about how many children one has, but about the attitude with which one approaches family planning.
The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. [link]
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations. [link]
Whereas parents are obligated to teach their children, I would suggest that having several children can be a great help. Children learn by example, and having lots of examples is very helpful. (Might the older child teach the younger one something naughty? Well of course they might, but trust me that we oldest kids teach the younger ones a lot of good things too.) Also, I think that when the microcosm of your family has the diversity of multiple ages and personalities, it's a better preparation for life in the real world.
I have always loved the words of Solomon: "Children are an heritage of the Lord and . . . happy is the man [and woman] that hath [their] quiver full of them" (see Psalm 127: 3-5 ).
I know the special blessings of a large and happy family, for my dear parents had a quiver full of children. Being the oldest of eleven children, I saw the principles of unselfishness, mutual consideration, loyalty to each other, and a host of other virtues developed in a large and wonderful family with my noble mother as the queen of that home. ~ETBenson [link]
I come from a family of 9 children. I loved always having a sibling around--sure, sometimes they get on your nerves, but on the other hand when there are lots of siblings to choose from, it's pretty easy to just go away from the annoying one and play with somebody else instead. I had often thought that only children must be lonely, but I never realized it fully until my own son was an only child for over 6 years. Of course the first 3 of those were before Hubby and I met and married, but then it took us 3 years and several miscarriages before we moved up to being a two-kid family. I watched my son develop into a lonely child. He was accustomed to being the only kid in the house, and became pretty self-centered and demanding (more than I ever remember being at his age). In some ways he did not really grow up, because he was still 'the baby.' When we finally did have a second child, the transition was really hard for him. Obviously the spacing between our children was not of our preference, but if I had ever doubted the wisdom of having children closer together, my experiences suggest to me that having kids two or three years apart is easier on them than if they are 6 years apart.
Do not curtail the number of your children for personal or selfish reasons. Material possessions, social convenience, and so-called professional advantages are nothing compared to a righteous posterity. In the eternal perspective, children--not possessions, not position, not prestige--are our greatest jewels. ~ETBenson [link]
For anyone who argues that having a large family is just too expensive, I will tell you that the largest families I know are usually the most frugal. And no, that doesn't mean that everyone wears thrice-patched hand-me-downs and lives on beans and rice. It does mean that they grow gardens and take care of their things and learn to work hard....but I've always considered hard work, frugality, and carefulness to be virtues. I know lots of big families who live comfortably enough on one income, and often that one income is not particularly large. My dad is a school teacher. The question of 'affording children' is not about dollar amounts so much as it is about willingness to take what you have and just figure things out.
Kids from big families also learn how to get along with other people--it's a survival skill. They learn to be generous and considerate of others. They learn to be friends with people of a variety of ages; in other words, they learn what real life is like while they are still living at home. There are enough of them to help with fixing the meals and cleaning up the messes that they make--more important life skills. There are enough kids to form teams and play games or sports without having to wait for friends/neighbors to come over. Children from large families have built-in life-long friends no matter where they go or how often they move.
Kids from big families also get to be part of fun things like this.
Brigham Young emphasized: "There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?--To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can" (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197).
Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice. ~ETBenson [link]
Now please trust me that I know from experience that some families will not be able to have as many children as others. Some may not be able to have any at all. Some of us miscarry, or have physical limitations or complications which prevent us from having many children (or any at all). Some have mental health issues which affect their ability to be parents. The point is not about how many children we have or how they come to us, no, the point of all these quotes is that we should not avoid children for selfish reasons like money, education, or social position. We should be open to having children, and to having as many as we are able (physically, mentally, etc).
We should make God part of our family planning--and we should plan to have families!

In Which I Change My Mind and Knit Something I Never Thought I'd Knit

Last fall I traded on etsy to get this gorgeous handspun yarn called "Autumn Fire" (the photos really don't do justice to the brilliant colors).
I knew I wanted to use it to make something for me, but I couldn't decide what...first I was going to make a scarf, but being handspun yarn that bulky ball didn't have that much yardage on it (only about 100yds between the two balls), and I was only a couple of inches into the scarf when I realized that I would run out of yarn long before I had the length of scarf I wanted. So I frogged that and went back to thinking...
Finally I settled on this:
It's just a simple 1x1 rib knit in the round (for those of you who understand knitting lingo) and voila, warm ears even when my hair is up! Hats always seem to pull up and leave the lower half of my ears exposed and cold, but this keeps the entire ear warm. Plus it is ever so pretty. ☺

So, I have to confess, pretty much right up until this last month when I started making this thing I always thought they were kinda corney. I mean, why make a hat with no top, right? But then I was getting frustrated with hats not working when I wanted to put my hair up and realized that this sort of thing has a place.
I still don't get fingerless gloves though. I mean, really, isn't the point of a glove to warm your fingers? So why make it with no fingers? And if you're going to do it, why call it a 'fingerless glove' shouldn't it be called a 'wristwarmer'?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Musings on Home Pregnancy Tests

They have all these fancy home pregnancy tests now… “no need to try to decipher what the lines mean” they advertise, “our test shows you the words ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant!’” Um, huzzah? Hubby made the excellent point that if someone is too dumb to be able to read the directions and understand that one line means no and two lines means yes, well, they’ve got no business having kids.
Yeah, I’m snarky. I’m allowed to be—I’m hormonal.
Also I am smart enough to understand one line verses two lines. So there!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Heart Attacks are Different for Women

Do your self breast exam!

(don't you just love all the little sites out there for breast cancer awareness and research? They have all these fun little buttons and slogans... ☺ )

I appreciated all your input last month about which topics you'd like to hear more about. I'll get to them. ☺ But I recently received the following story via email and felt it would be a good idea to share it here.
Hopefully by now most women are aware that when we have heart attacks, we usually do not have the same symptoms as men--the stabbing pain in the chest, cold sweat, pain in the left arm... here is a firsthand account from a woman who had a heart attack, including excellent descriptions of how it felt.
I had a heart attack about 10 :30 PM with NO prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma that one would suspect might've brought it on.

I was sitting all snugly & warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat in my lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually thinking, 'A-A-h, this is the life, all cozy and warm in my soft, cushy Lazy Boy with my feet propped up.

A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when you've been in a hurry, grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a dash of water. That hurried bite seems to feel like you've swallowed a golf ball going down the esophagus in slow motion and it is most uncomfortable. You realize you shouldn't have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its progress down to the stomach. This was my initial sensation--the only trouble was that I hadn't taken a bite of anything since about 5:00 p.m.

After it seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my SPINE (hind-sight, it was probably my aorta spasming), gaining speed as they continued racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses rhythmically when administering CPR).

This fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out into both jaws. 'AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening -- we've all read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of an MI [Miocardial Infarction aka Heart Attack] happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself and the cat, Dear God, I think I'm having a heart attack!

I lowered the footrest dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself, If this IS a heart attack, I shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else ...on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up in a moment.

I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the next room and dialed the Paramedics... told her I thought I was having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum and radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, if so, to unbolt the door then lie down on the floor where they could see me when they came in.

I unlocked the door, laid down on the floor as instructed and lost consciousness. I don't remember the medics coming in, their examination, lifting me onto a gurney or getting me into their ambulance, or hearing the call they made to St. Jude ER on the way. I briefly awaken when we arrived and saw that the Cardiologist was already there in his surgical blues and cap, helping the medics pull my stretcher out of the ambulance. He was bending over me asking questions (probably something like 'Have you taken any medications?') but I couldn't make my mind interpret what he was saying, or form an answer, and nodded off again, not waking up until the Cardiologist and partner had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery into the aorta and into my heart where they installed 2 side by side stents to hold open my right coronary artery.

I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the Paramedics, but actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire station and St. Jude are only minutes away from my home. My Cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going on restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my arrival and the procedure) and installing the stents.

Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because I want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I learned first hand.

1. Be aware that something very different is happening in your body not the usual men's symptoms but inexplicable things happening (until my sternum and jaws got into the act). It is said that many more women than men die of their first (and last) MI because they didn't know they were having one and commonly mistake it as indigestion. They just take some Maalox or other anti-heartburn preparation and go to bed, hoping they'll feel better in the morning when they wake up ... which doesn't happen.
My female friends, your symptoms might not be exactly like mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is unpleasantly happening that you've not felt before. It's better to have a 'false alarm' visitation than to risk your life guessing what it might be!

2. Note that I said 'Call the Paramedics.' And if you can take an Aspirin.
Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER - you are a hazard to others on the road.
Do NOT have your panicked husband who will be speeding and looking anxiously at what's happening with you instead of the road.
Do NOT call your doctor -- he doesn't know where you live and if it's at night you won't reach him anyway, and if it's daytime, his assistants (or answering service) will tell you to call the Paramedics. He doesn't carry the equipment in his car that you need to be saved! The Paramedics do, principally OXYGEN that you need ASAP. Your Dr. will be notified later.

3. Don't assume it couldn't be a heart attack because you have a normal cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a cholesterol elevated reading is rarely the cause of an MI (unless it's unbelievably high and/or accompanied by high blood pressure). MI's are usually caused by long-term stress and inflammation in the body, which dumps all sorts of deadly hormones into your system to sludge things up in there. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know, the better chance we could survive.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one life.
And now I will tell you my own story.
I woke up one night in the middle of the night with intense pain in my chest. It felt as though I was being compressed and I found it difficult to breathe. I also knew that womens risk factors are not always the same as mens, so in spite of being in my early 20s, at a healthy weight, and with a fairly good diet, I genuinely wondered if I was having heart attack. It was one of the scariest things that's ever happened to me. After a little while it dissapated, and I went back to sleep, but the following morning I couldn't get it out of my mind, so I made some calls...I finally concluded that it would be a good idea to go into the doctor's office and be checked out (thankfully our insurance covered this). They did a chest x-ray and an EKG and concluded that I had not had a heart attack. It was all a bit embarrassing after the fact (because, you know, it was probably just bad indigestion...), but I think about the tragic results that occur so often when a woman who IS having a heart attack passes it off as indigestion...and I don't think I overreacted. We need to know what our symptoms are, because if we have a heart attack, it's probably not gonna look like the ones on the movies.

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