Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Yep...that's me. "Why, oh why do you say that?" you plead. Well, I'll tell you why.

When I was coming up with my new-and-improved I'm-gonna-be-more-disciplined-and-start-whipping-the-house-into-shape plan, I left out one small detail.

The kids have 10 days off from school starting Friday.

So, instead of 19 hours per week of time to be oh-so-very-productive, next week I'll be spending my afternoons herding small people to nap time, making/serving/cleaning up lunch for 7-8 people, and generally basking in the fun of having all the kids home.

That's ok. I won't have to get up before the crack of dawn, either! No Homework From Hell, like Jake the Great had this week. Nope. It'll just be me hanging out with my home boys and girl. Fun a-plenty.

Speaking of fun a-plenty, I'll tell you about a little bit of fun that's been cooked up around here.

The other day the kids (with help from the hubby) rigged up a zip line of sorts. They had a long rapelling rope tied from one tree, at about 4 feet off the ground, to another tree, tied approx. 12 feet off the ground. Then there was a dog leash that they had tied to make a second handle on. They were climbing the tree to the point where the rope was tied and then wrapping the dog leash over the rope, holding onto the handles, and then jumping out of the tree and making a somewhat-less-fast-than-normal decent to the ground while zipping along the rapelling rope. This rigged up entertainment actually worked quite well, although it wasn't the type of thing that I enjoy witnessing my children do. (Well, I enjoy it just fine once they get through it and aren't hurt. I cheer very loud and clap when they are unscathed at the end of an adventure like this. It's the watching them climbing the tree and knowing what they are about to do, and seeing how far from the ground they are that gives me the willies.....)

They did have one little problem when Jake the Great got up there and instead of just holding on to the handles, actually roped the handles around his wrist. I guess he was afraid that he might not be able to hold on. Great plan, except that for some reason, once he jumped away from the tree, he stopped sliding, so was just hanging from the tree by his wrists. The kids were calling for help and so of course I went racing out there and got to do a little circus act, balancing Jake on my shoulders while Sullen climbed up the tree to try to release his brother's wrists. What a hoot.

Do we know how to have a good time, or WHAT?

If I Lived All Alone

Do you other mothers ever fantasize about what it would be like if you lived all alone? I have never ever lived alone. I went from my parent's home to college roommates to my husband. In the last few days it has occurred to me that there would sure be some nice things about living alone.

If I lived all alone

my bed would never be gritty from sandy little feet

I would have tools and would have a place for them so that I always had a hammer or drill when I needed it

there would be no half eaten apples under my couch

I would know where my 3 pound weights are. Nobody would have run off with them.

I wouldn't have to hide my Three Musketeers Minis

my keys would always be where I left them

nobody would take my water and spill it all over the floor

stuff I do would stay done unless I undid them

I would sleep in a bed with nobody else sticking their feet into my back, their armpits in my face, or their teeth trying to gnaw at my boobs

Well, I won't just sounds too good. I'm not even going to end this post with one of those obligatory statements such as "But of course I'd also be SO LONELY and would miss all the pitter patter of little feet running to kick the crap out of their siblings....." Nope. I'm just going to admit to a little fantasizing today. :)

Go ahead, join me. What would YOU enjoy about living alone? (tell it with no apologies!)

Oh, the places you'll go

You never know where life is going to take you.

Even though we know this, it still seems to surprise us when we or others end up in places we never expected.

I got thinking about this yesterday when I got an alumni newsletter from my high school. In it was news about a couple that I knew. He was a friend of my brother, and they were boyfriend-girlfriend through many years of high school and then married during college. They were one of those beautiful couples, she especially lovely. The type that seem like life will probably be charmed for both of them. I knew he was a youth pastor now and that they had a few kids. What I hadn't yet heard was about where life has taken them.

Last year their oldest child, a little girl who is now 6, was in a car accident. She got a spinal cord injury which has left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Oh, the places you'll go.

This couple also has a 3 year old and a 7 month old. I was thinking that there is a strong chance that the wife was pregnant with the baby when her oldest child got so badly injured, because of the time frame involved.

Can you imagine going through something like this? The difficulties of pregnancy, the grief and fear and worry for your oldest child, plus a toddler at home to take care of as well?

Life can change in the blink of an eye. Are we ever ready?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Sunday, September 26, 2004

OH Boy, Supercool!

Well, I tried to go to bed at the responsible time, but I just couldn't sleep. So, I'm up tending to my blog while I wait to get tired. I have just gotten set up for Audioblogging. What's that? you ask. Well, let me tell you! It means that I can make a phone call, leave a message, and it will be added to my blog and then all of you can listen to it! Yessirree, folks, you'll soon be able to hear cute things that my kids say, crazy songs that we sing, and who knows what else. Should be fun! I'll try to add an audioblog post tomorrow (Monday) and see how it goes. Let me know if it comes through nicely for ya.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Let's Talk Politics!

Haw haw..... Somebody made the comment awhile back that if I was looking for a topic to heat things up around here that politics would be the way to go. :) Well, I'm actually not all that into politics, but I do have a few things to say.

One of the political things I dislike the most is the Christians who think that the Republican party is THE PARTY of Christians. They seem to think that
Republican= Good
Democrat= Evil

What I dislike even more is the Christian homeschooler-types who are super hyperly into Republican activism and they think every other Christian homeschooler-type should also make super duper Republican activism one of their top priorities. Furthermore, if these types even caught a sniff of a fellow Christian homeschooler-type NOT pledging alliegance to the Republican party, then they lose respect for them, add them to the prayer chain, and seem to think they've gone to hell in a handbasket, or at least they're headed that way.

I've observed and experienced some of the most obnoxious, rude, hateful, snotty, persistent politicking by Christian homeschooler types. It seems that when it comes to politics with them, that the Republican party can do no wrong, and the basics of Christianity go out the window. (Things like kindness, love, you know--just small stuff....)

Now, all of this doesn't mean that I'm some super Democrat or anything. I'm not. I've never voted for a Democrat for president, although I have for other things. I think George W. Bush has done a decent job as president, and I think he seems like a genuinely nice guy and I'd probably very much enjoy having him and his wife over for dinner. We could play a few rounds of Dutch Blitz and tell stories. But, you know, I'm really really not naiive enough to think that GWB is all about being a Christian and isn't greatly influenced by many varied powers-that-be in the government and beyond. There's no way a guy gets to be president and really, truly gets to follow his vision and his conscience every step of the way 100%. No way. Selling out and survival is part of the game and I cannot imagine that someone whose political roots go as deep as someone from the Bush family does, can escape that.

So, sorry friends, but I am not going to sit around getting teary-eyed with you about how blessed we are to have such a wonderful Christian president. Yes, I think he really is a Christian. Yes, I like him fine. But I'm not going to lose perspective on it.

Next thing:
It's time for the Electoral College to go. Yes? What a cruddy system. I think if we're going to tell people that it matters if they vote, let's have it actually be the truth. The truth is that your vote matters very little while the electoral college is still in place. If you're a Democrat in a widely Republican state, guess what--your vote is merely symbolic. It isn't going to do a darn thing for the person you voted for. Let's get to the point where every vote counts equally, regardless of where you live. That's the only fair way. I can't believe such a stupid system has lasted so long.

Now, enough about that. On to another aspect of politics:

Haven't we all had ENOUGH of the 2 party system in this country? Aren't you sick of so often getting to vote for the lesser of two evils, or for someone who has no new ideas and no innovation and nothing really and truly FRESH to try? Well, I have. I think we've heard all there is to tell about social security, medical insurance, taxes, defense, public education, and so on. There's only so many ways that Democrats and Republicans are going to try to package it. After awhile, it's all just a variation on the same thing.

WHAT IF people started to do some serious research about third party candidates? WHAT IF you went to their web sites and started reading? WHAT IF you decided to spend a few minutes or maybe an hour or more being open minded to some new ideas? Maybe you'd find something you could really get excited about. Maybe you could find someone to vote for that you really believe in.

WHAT IF in this election 15% of the people voted for a third party candidate? Maybe in 4 years it would be up to 22%..... And in 4 more years maybe 30%.... over time maybe people would start to believe that it is NOT a waste of a vote to vote for someone they really believe in! Maybe we could turn this ship around, and get some more valid competition in the political arena. Maybe we could get some leaders who would not be afraid to try some new things. it could be very exciting! It also might be scary and some of it wouldn't work, just like lots of things don't work very well right now. Still, I'm sick of this country basically split into 2 political groups, when I don't think that the majority of people are actually truly represented by either.

Here is a little quiz you can take to find out what candidates actually share your views on politics. You might be quite surprised at your results:

And here's another one:

Here are some links to check out in case you'd like to learn more about WHAT ELSE is out there:
Libertarian Party

Constitution Party

Green Party

Reform Party

These are just a few. There are actually quite a lot of different political parties in the USA and you can find them all by doing a basic search on the internet for "political parties" or something along those lines.

I don't like it when people try to tell me how to think about politics, and I'm not interested in telling you either. I just thought you might enjoy a little food for thought. :)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Today's Trauma

It's been a rough night here. My hubby is out of town for work and so the kids and I have been on our own here. After dinner my 3 year old was playing in his room. He had a long pole/stick thing that one of the older kids had been using for something. Unfortunately, the 3 year old hit his ceiling light fixture with it and it broke, sending large sharp pieces of broken glass to the floor. I heard him scream and KNEW it was NOT GOOD. I ran in to him and there was his lower leg sliced open about 6-7 inches long, and rather deep. YIKES! I grabbed him up and got something to wrap around it and put pressure on it. I got one of my kids to go see if our neighbors could help us by watching the other kids while I took the 3 year old to the emergency room. I had them organized and out the door to neighbors within probably 4 minutes, and took my 12 year old along to the hospital since I needed someone to help hold the cut leg and keep pressure on it.

Of course, I do all this rushing only to get to the ER where they let us wait for hours before getting the poor child stitched up. They had a lot of other people in there and I was told that since my kid's situation was going to take more time and concentration, the doc wanted to deal with all the other people first. Yeah, great. I managed to keep my little patient patient happy by drawing little pictures on index cards. He was such a good little buddy, with only the occasional comment, "Ouch! My leg hurts!"

The doc decided to give him a shot of something that was both a sedative plus has amnesiac qualities, so supposedly he won't remember the trauma of the whole thing tomorrow. (I asked if I could get a shot of that too, since I was feeling rather traumatized myself!) After the shot he fell asleep which I thought was great for him, but unfortunately, he woke right up once they got down to business with the shots of lidocane (to numb the area) and the stitches. They probably gave him 10 shots of the lidocane in various places and it sure didn't seem to help much. My poor baby was screaming and crying and his lips were quivering in pain. It was terrible. He needed a layer of stitches on the inside, plus 10 more on the outside.

So now he's all bandaged up and snoozing. The neighbors took good care of my other kids. We don't have any relatives nearby, and in times like these I sure am thankful that I at least had some good folks next door who were willing to help me out.

So, that's what I did on my Saturday night. How about you?

Friday, September 17, 2004

More on the Great Poop Battle

Last night my whole family gathered 'round the computer screaming and laughing as I read the latest news from Very Mom's Great Poop Battle. Since I don't have any hilarity to share today, at least go read hers:

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Kind of Freaky Mom I am

First, the results of the Freaky Mom quiz I couldn't help but take and share..... Those of you who know me will find the results nothing less than laughable. Yes, my kids have the dirt under their fingernails, but I'm not the outdoorsy type much at all. My sibs and mom could tell you that I spent the years from 7th-10th grade basically holed up in my bedroom with a bad case of obsessive solitaire. (Way back before computers...I used real cards and cheated so that I won every time....)

Maybe some of you would like to go find out what kind of freaky mom you are, or aren't.....

Earth Mama
You're an earth mother! Your friends sometimes
call you Gaea, because you're the original
earth goddess! You and your kids both have
dirt under your fingernails, and you spend as
much of your time as possible out of doors.
Your kids have an incredible appreciation for

What kind of a freaky mother are you?
brought to you by

One other note of interest:
Just about a week ago I was hoping to get up to 100 hits here, and now we've gone over 400! Pretty cool! I love my hit counter and the cool stats that go with it. Looks like I have a good amount of new people coming over here every day, plus people who must've liked me because they keep on coming back. Hi! (waving happily) Thanks for coming! Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Churches Reaching Out

From the NYTimes today:
Rappers Are Raising Their Churches' Roofs
(full article copied below)

Here is an interesting article about how inner-city churches are utilizing hip-hop culture to reach youth with the message of Christ. I love stuff like this. LOVE it. For so long churches have maintained this "We're up here, they're down there. They have to come up to our level" kind of thinking. For a long time the issues were things like "What kind of music can we have in church? Does it all have to be hymns and piano and organ? Can we have drums and electric guitars? Do we all have to wear our suits and dresses and horrible pantyhose and high heels, or is it ok to come to church in something less formal?"

I think it's so cool when people look around at the people in their culture and decide to make a way to reach out to those people by speaking their language and being where they are and taking an interest in their lives. Basically, by letting go of their Christian Ghetto culture, and getting out with the people who will probably never take a chance at rejection by coming to their church.

Jesus didn't hang out in the synagoge wearing his church clothes, smugly waiting for people to come to him. Nope. He was where the people were. He was at their homes for meals, at their weddings, at their funerals, in the towns and in the country. He wasn't dressed in clothes that set him apart from the rest of the culture. He was an ordinary looking guy who loved people enough to let go of rules and tradition and just go reach them on their own turf. I love it when I see churches following His example.

There seems to be a lot of concern today about churches that want to be "seeker friendly." I am not sure that I understand all of what that implies, but I do know this: There is a way to be friendly to seekers, to not make church so foreign that newbies have no idea what's going on and what is going on isn't connecting to them, to give people the true gospel in lingo that they understand, and still have it be effective and true and life changing and completely NOT WATERED DOWN. Know how I know? Because Jesus did it. He hung out with them. He fed them. He told them stories. He reached out to their educational and economic and cultural level. And do you know what kind of results he got from this kind of ministry angle? People flocking to him, following him, wanting to hear more, wanting to learn, coming to be healed, coming to follow. Why be afraid of this today? What have we got to lose?

Here's the article:

Rappers Are Raising Their Churches' Roofs

At Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens, on a recent Friday night, Adam Durso, the church's youth pastor, raised a microphone in exaltation. "Yo, God is so ill," he shouted, using a hip-hop term of praise.

It was more than two hours into the weekly service, and neither the pastor nor his congregation, a multiracial group of about 350 teenagers and adults, was ready to quit. The D.J. played a hip-hop beat, and shouts of praise rose from the pews. "Come on," Mr. Durso encouraged, "tear the roof off this place in praise to God."

Eleven years after the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem ran a steamroller over rap CD's, in what has come to symbolize the antagonism between hip-hop and the church, the two worlds seem to be inching closer together. The singer R. Kelly and the rapper Mase, who left the music business for five years to become a minister, have new hit albums filled with gospel messages, and one of this summer's most popular songs was "Jesus Walks," an overtly Christian rap by Kanye West.

From the church side, a growing number of ministries are adopting both the rhythms and the bluntness of hip-hop culture. Mr. Butts remains critical of some rap music, but younger ministers like Mr. Durso are using its attitudes and beats to spread the gospel. In the New York area alone, at least 150 churches or ministries use hip-hop in some form, said Kim Stewart, a booking agent for Christian rappers. These include many storefront churches or campus ministries, she said.

"Hip-hop is the language and the cry of this generation," said Mr. Durso, 27, who mixes guest rappers and videos with conservative evangelical preaching in his Friday services, which are called Aftershock. The results are part revival meeting, part Friday night out.

"In today's terms, the apostle Paul would be living in the projects saying, 'Grace and peace to you, a'ight,' instead of 'amen,' " Mr. Durso said, using the hip-hop contraction for all right. "Don't get stuck on the word 'amen.' 'Amen' just meant 'I agree.' Well so does 'a'ight' to this hip-hop culture." The sometimes bumpy rapprochement between the church and Christian hip-hop reflects changes in both. Instead of meeting in the middle, each is adapting to the rougher norms of commercial rap.

Christian rappers, who once presented themselves as squeaky clean alternatives to their secular peers, are increasingly spinning graphic tales of urban life, with little aroma of church sanctimony. Corey Red and Precise, a New York duo that performed at Aftershock, rhymed about their pasts as drug dealers, lacing their rhymes with sexual frankness and references to gunplay. Strutting the stage in a do-rag and football jersey, Corey Red rapped, "I put the heat to your knot," pointing a finger to his head like a gun, even as he talked about being saved.

For churches, making peace with hip-hop is a matter of survival, said Ralph Watkins, who teaches African-American culture and religion at Augusta State University in Georgia. "Mainline churches have identified hip-hop culture as an enemy, and that's their problem," he said. "If you walked in to 90 percent of your mainline churches who have not embraced this culture, you're going to find an absence of young people."

He added that even at its crudest, hip-hop flourished by telling truths that churches ignored. "The church really doesn't want to hear the true stories," he said. "They want the made-up stories, 'I was broke on Thursday and God came and I got paid on Friday, ain't he all right, he's an on-time God.' Well, sometimes God don't come on Friday. Hip-hop says, that's the deal. So I'll start selling weed or selling crack, because that's the only choice I had. And that's where the church can't embrace the honesty of what hip-hop tries to get us to understand and deal with."

In "Jesus Walks," Kanye West cites a comparable unwillingness on the part of the rap business to address matters of faith. He rhymes, "They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus/ That means guns, sex, lies, videotapes/ But if I talk about God, my record won't get played, huh?"

Mr. West, the son of a Christian marriage counselor, said that when his father heard the song, he said, " 'Maybe you missed your calling.' I said, 'No, maybe this is my calling.' I reach more people than any one pastor can."

He likened "Jesus Walks" not to church teaching but to his secular songs, which celebrate the high life without moralizing. "I don't tell anyone they have to do this or that. I never said, 'You better have your Louis Vuittons on or something's going happen to you.' I just said, 'This is what I want.' Same with Jesus."

The resistance that many churches have shown to hip-hop culture resembles previous battles over gospel music or drums in church, said Alton Pollard III, the director of black church studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.

"This is just the latest version" of the battle, he said. "It's about the continuing need for new expressions of what it means to be human, and the church oftentimes is not able to keep up, whether we're talking about jazz, the blues, soul or gospel music."

But unlike gospel and soul, "hip-hop didn't start in the church," said Phil Jackson, a youth pastor who last year started a hip-hop ministry called The House in one of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods.

"So there still exists some antagonism. But for this generation, the only way to make the gospel relevant to them is through hip-hop. In my neighborhood we don't need another church on Sunday morning. We need something to speak to young people."

Corey Red and Precise, who call their style hardcore gospel, are emblems of the uneasy crossover. Corey Red, whose surname is Sullivan, rejected the church as a teenager, turning to hip-hop and small-time crime. "I didn't know anybody Christian my age," he said. "The ones I did know, there was so much religiosity that we wouldn't be able to talk. That turned me off." When he was stabbed in a street confrontation and critically injured, he said, he felt Jesus in a way that he never had in church.

"It took God to visit me outside the four walls" of the church, he said. "That's why I love the Lord, because he came into the street and met me where I was. Even though the people inside the four walls wrote me off, like 'He's finished, he's not going to see 25 years old.' "

The experience put him at odds with both his secular and his Christian peers, he said. Even now, he uses the word "religion" as a pejorative and sees his faith as tangential to the business of churches. "I'm not Christian by following the institutionalized religion of Christianity," he said. "I'm Christian like what the word really means, a follower of Christ."

He and Precise occupy a precarious niche, recording for Life Music, a Christian label started by Derek Ferguson, the chief financial officer of Bad Boy Entertainment, Sean Combs's company. Bad Boy stars who rap about sex and material excess earn instant fortunes, but Corey Red and Precise say they struggle to make ends meet. Unlike Christian rock bands, Christian rappers are rarely played on religious radio stationsand get little support from churches or the music industry.

Mr. Ferguson said he struggles to justify the music of some Bad Boy acts. But their Christian alternatives, he acknowledged, can barely support a small business.

"The church has these soldiers at their disposal," said Precise, whose real name is Robert Young. "But a lot of brothers, after a night of risking their life, they can't even keep their lights on in their house. We're here for the church. But any army poorly funded is going to struggle."

At Crossover Community Church in Tampa, Fla., Tommy Kyllonen has built a thriving ministry around hip-hop and runs an annual festival of Christian rap. Like Christ Tabernacle, Mr. Kyllonen's church is loosely affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination.

Mr. Kyllonen, 31, who raps under the name Urban D., teaches pastors around the country to use hip-hop in their ministries. With the success of Kanye West, he said, churches and the music industry are looking at the potential reach of Christian hip-hop.

But if churches simply add a D.J. or a little slang to their services, the audience will not be fooled, he said.

"Hip-hop is the hook that might draw them in, but what keeps them is building a relationship with God and with other people that are here,'' he said. "Because if they don't have that, and that doesn't become authentic, we would just be another place to come hang out, like a club. A club gets old after a while. Then there's a new club that opens up down the street that the music is better, they got a better D.J., that's where everyone's going now. The difference with us is that spiritual aspect."

At Aftershock, the crowd lingered long after the beats went silent. A plexiglass box onstage brimmed with items that people had turned in at previous services, including secular CD's, pornography and gang insignia.

Leamon Richardson and Richard Dauphin, who arrived well before the doors opened, embodied the complicated messages of holy hip-hop. Both are rappers. Mr. Richardson, 19, who lives in the South Bronx, called himself a "walking testimony," and wore a T-shirt celebrating 50 Cent, a secular rapper who rhymes about dealing drugs and killing people.

Because of the shirt, Mr. Richardson said, "You might see me and have a bad perception." But he added: "I don't take nothing from 50 Cent because he's not talking about anything godly. I pray for him."

Mr. Dauphin said that people who cannot understand this apparent contradiction are blind to the prophetic powers of hip-hop. "We're street disciples," he said. "You can be the greatest preacher in the world and not reach the street. That's where we're at."

Before Sunrise

Well, I promised movie reviews (of sorts) so here is the very first!

Last week the hubby and I watched Before Sunrise, which is the movie that comes before Before Sunset that is out right now. When I found out that Before Sunset was a sequel, I decided I wanted to watch the first one first. In Before Sunrise, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play young travelers who meet on a train in Europe. They strike up a conversation and realize they have a special connection, which leads to Ethan Hawke's character inviting Julie Delpy's character to spend his last night in Europe with him. She takes a chance and agrees.

The conversation they share is unlike any other movie I have watched. It was extremely real, much more like listening in to a real life conversation, rather than a made-for-a-movie conversation. I would not be surprised at all to find that much of the conversation was improv. Although at times the conversation is a little boring, what held my attention was the very realistic way that these two characters were growing in their connection to one another.

As the story progresses this couple discusses the future of their relationship. Will they stay in touch? Say they will try to stay in touch but inevitably drift apart? Or will they see the relationship as a short little serendipitous day, and leave it at that? What caught my attention here was that they seemed to think that although they felt something very special, they felt like time had stopped and they had something that could not be continued on in real life, even though they wanted it to. So they decide to not even try.

I have experienced moments and days where time seemed to stand still and everything was perfect. I think lots of people probably have. What do we do with those experiences? Do we just decide, "This is great but real life won't let this go on, so why try?" or do you do everything you can to try to keep it alive, to hang on, to recreate it even in the mundane?

And, if we do not take those awesome time-stopping moments and hang on, what is it that we are trading them for?

If we are not inclined to follow our heart, even if the odds seem against us, what good is a heart? (oh boy, it's getting late and I'm getting a little sappy....)

Seeing the magical way this ficticious relationship came together reminded me of past wonderfulness that I shared with my husband, many of which were before we got married. I remember that many people seemed to have a low tolerance or even distain for the romantic cloud we were on. Even at a "young marrieds" Sunday School class at a church we visited a few times when we were newlyweds, the sentiment seemed to be that all too soon we would be off our happy little cloud, and down to good old fashioned hating each other. I didn't buy that crap then, and I don't buy it now.

Yes, life can be boring. Things get routine. Hardships can make it difficult to be happy and at peace. We've been married for 13 years and I think that our feelings have run a pretty wide range of emotions, both good and bad. Know what made us the strongest? The hardest stuff. The worst times. The scariest times. The times when we didn't know what else to do besides hang on to each other and stick it out. Those are the threads in the tapestry that are the strongest and hold the rest together. The We Made it Through threads. And somehow, all of that weaves into more opportunities for living on Cloud 9. For bliss every now and then. Even if we can't have it all the time, it's worth all the rest to have it some of the time. :) And we do.

At the end of the movie the characters face their feelings with passion rather than at arms' length. Now I am really looking forward to seeing Before Sunset.

Profanity: Who decides?

A conversation I had today with my dear friend SiouxsieQ (I usually refer to her as Sooz since it's quicker and easier to type) reminded me of something I've been thinking about: Profanity. Bad language. Swear Words. You know what I mean.

Well, Sooz was commenting on having surfed around the blogosphere from my links here, and how she had found so many bloggers using Very Bad Language. I've noticed it too. (How could I miss it?) In fact, a few of the blogs that I find most entertaining are also the most potty-mouthed. Unfortunately, I'm thinking that I may just have to give up reading some of those because I'm picking up too many of the words I'd rather not be saying (or thinking). I have 6 kids to bring up into being Fine Upstanding Citizens, you know.

Sooz also said that she has sort of a Bad Word heirarchy, if you will. Some words are just merely *bad* while others are Bad and still others are BAD and then the VERY BAD. Can you identify?

It's fine with me for you to say what you say on your blog. That's the beauty of a blog. It's your place to say your stuff. Maybe some people vent their Very Bad Language on their blogs since it's safer that saying it in Real Life. (Comments, potty-mouthed bloggers?!) But that's not my point.

My point (and question) is: Who gets to decide what is a Bad Word? Obviously, I know that taking God's name in vain is a Big No, straight from the 10 Commandments. But other than that, how does this get sorted out? Why is it that in polite company I can say Heck but not Hell? How on earth did Hell get to be a Bad Word? What about Darn and Damn? Don't you think that some things do indeed deserve to be Damned, not just Darned? So many other ones.....just makes me wonder. How come some words get The Brand and others are OK? Do you suppose that Bad Words are just as evolving as the rest of the English language? Meaning--do you think that some words get downgraded (or would that be upgraded?) from Bad Words to OK words after some period of time or after being commonly spoken for so long? Or OK to Bad? I can't think of any examples, but I'm thinking that surely this is the case. (**I thought of an example: ASS)

In my thinking about The Bad Words I have found myself feeling kind of resentful. Not that there's some Bad Words that I'm just dying to use all the time. It's more that I'm annoyed that some one or some force or some thing has decided that there are certain Words I should not say, and that there is no intelligent or suitable use for these Words, and if I say these Words then I have done something Bad and I should feel Guilty. I will have been a Bad Christian Witness, for example, which is something I take seriously. But still, I want to know what the rhyme and reason is for this. Anybody know? I want your comments, people! :)

Hello My Dears!

The past couple of days have been busy and yet void of amusing news to share, hence the sparse personal stories. The baby had a really rough night Sun-Mon with his breathing. He was coughing and coughing, and I had tried
cough medicine
sitting in the steamy bathroom with the shower on
propping him up
and finally started digging deeper in the medicine box and found that I had (hallelluia!) a little bit of steroids left (which is the big gun that always saves the say when nothing else will. I thought it was all gone, or else I would have given him some right off the bat) so I gave him that which bought us 3 hours of sleep before it was time to get up and start the day.....

Had to take our 3 year old for a speech/language evaluation at the school in order to see if he qualified for preschool. (They can automatically go when they are 4, but have to qualify as needing a service in order to go when they are 3) We knew he would qualify, but it is a formality that has to be gone through. It's kind of funny to have your child taking a test that you actually hope they will fail.

Indeed, he showed a moderate speech and language difficulty, so I put on my Super Advocate for my Kid hat and asked to get the final meeting done ASAP so that the kiddo could get going to preschool right away. His 4 year old brother has been going to preschool for a month and the 3 year old cries most days and wonders why he doesn't get to go. I figured he has waited long enough. So, we scheduled the meeting for this morning so that he could go to school this afternoon.

Had to tough it out by taking the kiddos ages 1, 3, and 4 to the meeting with me since the hubby is working today. Endured screaming, kicking, and crying by the 3 year old during the meeting. (Greatly humiliating...) Sent the two preschoolers off on the bus at 10:30, and celebrated by taking a nap for almost 3 hours with the baby! (After all the sleepless nights I have had over the past 2 weeks, I figured I deserved it.)

I couldn't help but get kind of misty-eyed and sentimental as I watched the bus drive off with my two preschoolers. I felt like I had crossed some sort of threshold..... Having 2 babies only a year a part was one of the hardest transitions I have gone through. It has been intense beyond description (at times) to have 2 babies, and then 2 toddlers...... They are wonderful, fun, sweet, funny, busy, naughty, adorable little boys and I am SO GLAD that I have them. (But it was hard!) It is really neat to see how close they are. Quite a lot like twins, I think. Definitely cool to have them so close, *if* you can survive the first couple of years.

So now I have made it through 3 years of having these two little rascals, and now I get 4 half days a week of respite (if you can call it that, since I still have my little 18 month old buddy to hang out with). I'm excited for them to have something new and interesting to do. I'm excited for me to have a little more wiggle room in my life. The baby sleeps in the afternoons so maybe I'll do some amazing stuff with my "free time." So many to choose from----how will I decide?? :)

Did any of you read Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind? If so, go ahead and leave your comments here. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, early on I invited my blog readers to join my reading group. You can go back about 10 days in the archives and read all about it. if you just want to jump in, in 2 weeks we can discuss A Child Called "It" by David Pelzer. It's a chilling true story of child abuse, written by the survivor.

That's all for now. Gotta serve up the dinner for the troops. Til next time--

Monday, September 13, 2004

More on: Power to the People!

This article in the New York Times this morning, by William Safire:
(full article included here after my comments)

I was thinking of something from the book I recently read (The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue--I wrote about it several days ago) in relation to this blogging power and the forged memos.

In the Goddesses book there is a young woman who is an aspiring writer who has a lot going against her getting to write. Her writing mentor encouraged her to keep on writing at any cost, and basically tells her that the world needs her to write. Nobody else will ever write the stories you will tell. Nobody else will ever share your same perspective. If you don't write your stuff, the world will go without it, and be missing the piece that you would have contributed.

I've really been enjoying having this blog to say what I have to say. It's fun to be in charge of what goes onto this site, and to have a place to share my thoughts and ideas and experiences. This article by W. Safire and the whole forged-memo drama is another good reminder that the world is a better place when people are empowered and able to be heard.

Having your own blog can be a great way to do that. Maybe there are some people reading this post who have thought about getting their own blog but haven't done it yet. Let me tell you, it's very easy. Click on the button on the top of this page to get you started. You can set up a blog in less than 5 minutes and then be sharing your thoughts with the rest of the world. After all, you are the only one who can tell your stuff. Don't make the world do without it. :)

Leave me a comment here with your new blog address and I will spread the word that one more person has stuff to share with us!

Those Discredited Memos

Washington — Alert bloggers who knew the difference between the product of old typewriters and new word processors immediately suspected a hoax: the "documents" presented by CBS News suggesting preferential treatment in Lt. George W. Bush's National Guard service have all the earmarks of forgeries.

The copies of copies of copies that formed the basis for the latest charges were supposedly typed by Guard officer Jerry Killian three decades ago and placed in his "personal" file. But it is the default typeface of Microsoft Word, highly unlikely to have been used by that Texas colonel, who died in 1984. His widow says he could hardly type and his son warned CBS that the memos were not real.

When the mainstream press checked the sources mentioned or ignored by "60 Minutes II," the story came apart.

The Los Angeles Times checked with Killian's former commander, the retired Guard general whom a CBS executive had said would be the "trump card" in corroborating its charges. But it turns out CBS had only read Maj. Gen. Bobby Hodges the purported memos on the phone, and did not trouble to show them to him. Hodges now says he was "misled" - he thought the memos were handwritten - and believes the machine-produced "documents" to be forgeries. (CBS accuses the officer of changing his story.)

The L.A. Times also checked out a handwriting analyst, Marcel Matley (of Vincent Foster suicide-note fame), who CBS had claimed vouched for the authenticity of four memos. It turns out he vouches for only one signature, and no scribbled initials, and has no opinion about the typography of any of the supposed memos.

The Dallas Morning News looked into the charge in one of the possible forgeries dated Aug. 18, 1973, that a commander of a Texas Air Guard squadron was trying to "sugar coat" Bush's service record. It found that the commander had retired from the Guard 18 months before that.
The Associated Press focused on the suspicion first voiced by a blogger on the Web site about modern "superscripts" that include a raised th after a number. CBS, on the defense, claimed that "some models" of typewriters of the 70's could do that trick, and some Texas Air National Guard documents released by the White House included it.

"That superscript, however," countered The A.P., "is in a different typeface than the one used for the CBS memos." It consulted the document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines of Paradise Valley, Ariz., and reported "she could testify in court that, beyond a reasonable doubt, her opinion was that the memos were written on a computer."

The Washington Post reported Dan Rather's response to questions about the documents' authenticity: "Until someone shows me definitive proof that they are not, I don't see any reason to carry on a conversation with the professional rumor mill" and questioned the critics' "motivation."

After leading with that response, Post media reporter Howard Kurtz noted that the handwriting expert Matley said that CBS had asked him not to give interviews, and that an unidentified CBS staff member who had examined the documents saw potential problems with them: "There's a lot of sentiment that we should do an internal investigation."

Newsweek (which likes the word "discredited") has apparently begun an external investigation: it names "a disgruntled former Guard officer" as a principal source for CBS, noting "he suffered two nervous breakdowns" and "unsuccessfully sued for medical expenses."

It may be that CBS is the victim of a whopping journalistic hoax, besmearing a president to bring him down. What should a responsible news organization do?

To shut up sources and impugn the motives of serious critics - from opinionated bloggers to straight journalists - demeans the Murrow tradition. Nor is any angry demand that others prove them wrong acceptable, especially when no original documents are available to prove anything.
Years ago, Kurdish friends slipped me amateur film taken of Saddam's poison-gas attack that killed thousands in Halabja. I gave it to Dan Rather, who trusted my word on sources. Despite objections from queasy colleagues, he put it on the air.

Hey, Dan: On this, recognize the preponderance of doubt. Call for a panel of old CBS hands and independent editors to re-examine sources and papers. Courage.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Time for a Public Service Announcement

So often people in the general population make assumptions that can get them into trouble. Today's PSA will address one of these assumptions:
The Assumption that a hairdresser:
-knows how to cut hair properly
-will follow the style you already have if you say you just need a trim, but want to keep the same style
-does not want to take people back about 20 years in hairstyle with the cut she will do on your head

I have experienced an unfortunate reminder of this concept yesterday after I tried to fit a much-needed haircut into my already busy day. Neither of the 2 hairdressers that I usually see were available on short notice, so I took the only appointment that was available, with someone new. The basic hair-doo that I went in there with was one of the typical ones of today: the medium length chunky layers that flip out at the bottom. You know the look, I'm sure, since every other woman in society has that cut. Mine was grown out of shape and needed to be trimmed up, so that's what I told her I wanted. I figured it was a no-brainer for her since she probably does a lot of these cuts. (most of the women that work at this salon have some form of this style)

She proceeded to chat and cut and things weren't looking quite right but I couldn't quite figure out why. Usually I get my hair washed before the cut but that day she and I were both in a hurry so we decided to cut it dry. I figured it just looked different because of that. Also, I took my glasses off while she was cutting, so that rendered me basically blind.

Toward the end of the cut I could tell that she was having some trouble knowing the right stuff to do. I had to point out that she had only layered one side of my head, for instance. (An important clue that this was *not* going to be one of my favorite haircuts) Finally, after she had worked and worked at it, I figured it must be right, so off I went back home where my husband tentatively asked me one of those guy questions that went something like, "So.....are you happy with your haircut?" Very diplomatic of him, don't you think?? Smart man!

Well, as I looked at my hair, washed it, played with it, and tried to make it look right I realized that she gave me a haircut that is partly what I wanted, and partly a circa-1984 "bob." That's right--she hacked all the bottom hair off in a nice, neat, non-in-style straight line, rather than leaving my nice flippy layers. Not a happy situation.

So, now I'm looking very seasonal, starring as a human scarecrow.....

My hair doesn't do a bob very nicely, I'm afraid. And the length she cut it at (chin length) is, I fear, too short for her to fix it. My husband really likes my hair to be medium length or longer, so I don't know if I want to try to fix up this mess and have to go even shorter.... Plus, if a hairdresser at the hippest (well, it is a small town....but still) hair place in town doesn't know how to do what I needed, wouldn't I be a fool to go back to her on Monday and ask her to try to fix it? My hair does grow pretty fast. 6 weeks of humiliation wouldn't be the worst thing that ever happened to me.....

So, a word to the wise: Don't let it happen to YOU!

Power to the People!

I found this article about how the power of the information highway has made a Big Impact (just yesterday!) on mainstream media and news. If you haven't heard about it, here's a link:
The internet has changed everything. Regular people now have access to more information, and therefore more power, than they ever did before the internet came along. I can't help but wonder what kinds of great things could (and will) happen in the future as people learn to use this resource even better.

Power to the People! (do you see my fist raised in the air?!)

Here's Why You Should Thank Me For Having Six Children

Found this article the other day:

It talks about how falling birth rates are a threat to the world economy. This wasn't a completely new piece of information for me. I believe that in Italy the birth rare was below replacement level for quite awhile that the government realized that there was going to be Big Trouble if people didn't get producing some more citizens, so they started urging their people to do so.

It's a refreshing change to the Zero-Population bandwagon, at any rate. And now I can hold my head up high when people want to act all snooty-falooty that I have 6 kiddos. "At least I've contributed to the economy!" :)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Ouch! Stop It! You're Hurting Me, Very Mom!

My sides are aching from launghing while reading Very Mom's retelling of
The Great Poop Battle of 2004.
You *must* go check it out, my lovelies.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Isaac's Birth -or- An All-Natural Momma Trapped in a High Tech World

This is my Blogging for Books entry. I wrote this a little over 3 years ago.

Let me tell you a little about my husband and me and the way we are as parents. We have always been close to our children. We hold our babies a lot. We do not leave them to cry. We do not leave them with babysitters when they are babies. We carry our babies in a sling. Our babies have all slept with us, and so have our toddlers and older ages who feel the need to be close to us at night. We try to be careful in our considerations of how to do things with and for our children. They are very precious to us and we see our role as parents as a Holy commission from God. With our 4th pregnancy and birth, we were about to find out how hard it would be to have so much of what is important to us disrupted and threatened.

When our third child, JP, was 15 months old we were thrilled to become pregnant again. Hubby and I had talked a lot about having an unassisted birth this time around. We felt very confident in our abilities to work together and have a baby without outside help. Hubby had caught babies #2 and 3 and loved that, and I never felt that I needed any other support than that from him. He was the only one I could be real with and that brought me peace.

When I was 2-3 months along I suddenly had some bleeding. I was alarmed at this and immediately began to pray for my baby. I did everything I knew to do to help, and the bleeding did slow down and by the next day had stopped. I was very careful after that to do no heavy lifting, etc. It was right before Christmas and I let a lot of errands and activities go undone. Two weeks later I had an odd episode of a sudden blood pressure surge. After that we went in to see our family doctor. He had no idea what to think of the blood pressure surge, but was able to put our minds to ease about the health of our precious baby, since we were able to hear his heartbeat.

One other puzzling thing at this visit was that I was measuring 4 weeks farther along than I thought I was. The doctor suggested we come back in a few weeks for an ultrasound to check for twins. Although we did not normally consent to ultrasound, because of the bleeding, blood pressure thing, and my much larger than expected self, we decided to go ahead. What we found was that I was actually a month farther along than I thought I was! I would have been less surprised to find that I was carrying triplets! But, still, not many women get to shave a whole month off of their pregnancies in a day, so I wasn't about to complain! One other odd thing we found was a sort of strange blood bubble right over my cervix. The doctor was not sure what it was all about, but supposed that could be the cause of my periodic bleeding. (I had bled 2 or 3 times between our first visit with him and the ultrasound.)

In the weeks to come I had more bleeding episodes. It usually happened on a Friday, so it was not a time when I could get in to see my midwife from my third pregnancy or the doctor she works with. By Sat. or Sunday it was usually stopped again. I felt very precarious about things. Then, at 21 weeks I started bleeding on a Friday and it did not stop. I went in to see my doctor on Monday, and we decided to do another ultrasound. The blood bubble looked a little different, and at that point my doctor thought I may have placenta previa. He sent me on my way to a high-risk OB that had a more advanced ultrasound. On my way there I felt like I was in a fog. I had never been healthier going into a pregnancy than I was for this one. I had been eating a whole foods diet, no sugar, no meat, no dairy. I felt great. I was expecting to have the very best pregnancy I had ever had. So how could this be happening to me?!

My husband and I went on to the high risk place and had very kind treatment by the staff and doctor there. The baby looked great and healthy in every way. We were asked if we wanted to know the baby's sex. We had never done this before and I immediately said no. But my husband said to me, "Let's just have some good news right now. OK?" We have never had a preference about the sex of our babies, and we would have been thrilled with a boy or a girl. Somehow it seemed that it would be encouraging to know who we had inside there. It was very clear that we had another precious son!

We could not tell for sure what the blood bubble was about or if I had placenta previa, but clearly there was a problem and the doctor recommended that I go on full bed rest until further notice. What a shock! Bed rest?! I had 3 children at home, ages 1, 3, and 7. I homeschoolled then. My husband works 24 hour shifts! Oh my...

The drive home was surreal. I was in shock. I was suddenly in a high risk pregnancy. Wow.

We had been considering a few different names for our baby. Once we knew we had a son, there was no doubt in my mind what his name was. Isaac Elijah. Isaac means laughter, and when facing a scary pregnancy, I felt we should name him on faith that he would bring laughter to our lives. Elijah means gift from God. No need to explain that, eh? So, Isaac Elijah was his name.

I was on bed rest for 7 weeks, during which I experienced hemorrhaging 3 different times and was rushed to the hospital. In the hospital I was put on magnesium sulfate and turbutaline to keep my uterus calm. Uteruses are very smart. When they have something foreign inside of them they contract in order to expel it. Unfortunately for me, I kept bleeding, it kept irritating my uterus, and my uterus kept contracting.....which was putting my baby in jeopardy.

When I was 28 weeks I made my final emergency trip to the hospital for my worst hemorrhaging ever. I was found to be dilated to 4 cm. and was bleeding all the time (as I had been for the entire bedrest). We were told it was best for me to plan to stay in the hospital for the duration of my pregnancy since I lived nearly an hour away and things were so precarious. If I had thought bed rest at home was bad, being separated from my children was worse! I had never been away from my children until these hospital visits, and I missed them so badly and was just aching thinking of 3 long months of hospitalization and separation. I had already had to wean Jacob abruptly because of all the contractions I had been having. Now I could not even share cuddles and security with him throughout the day and night. When the children would come to visit me, Jacob refused to sit with me, touch me, or let me touch him. I am sure that all of my tubes and wires looked pretty scary to him.

I had to have the external uterine and contraction monitor belts on me at all times in order to keep tabs on my baby and whether or not I was having a placental abruption. I was told that this was the single most helpful indicator of danger. I hated knowing that my baby was constantly being bombarded with ultrasound. But I felt I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. It was getting to be a familiar feeling.

I was given steroid shots in order to help my baby's lungs develop quicker. I had reservations about the wisdom of such shots, but with no time to research this, we felt we had to go with this recommendation in the hopes that it would help our baby.

Because of all the bleeding I continued to have, I ended up with a catheter. They did not want me to get out of bed at all, as any movement I had seemed to make the bleeding worse. It was such a humiliating and painful experience to have the catheter put in, and it was so very uncomfortable to have in. But, once again, it really did seem to be something reasonable that had to be done.

After a few days (maybe 5 or so) I started having contractions that I recognized as real ones. Despite all of our efforts, labor could not be stopped. We had increased the medications all that we could, and yet it was happening. Our baby needed to be born. My uterus could not hold him in any longer.

Once the doctors realized what was going on, they told me they wanted me to have a c-section. WHAT?! A c-sec for a 2 pound baby? I was indignant! My third baby had been almost 10 lbs. But, they explained to me that my baby was breech (which I already knew) and for preemies, their heads are more disproportionate to their bodies than full term babies. Apparently, sometimes when a preemie is breech, they will begin to be born before the mom is fully dilated, but then their head gets caught. I did not feel at all convinced that this was a big enough risk that I should submit to a c-section. I had done enough reading to know way more than I wanted to about the risks of the surgery, plus the risks of whatever pain relief I would choose. The doctors stressed that the combination of the breech risks, plus not knowing what other issues my baby might be facing at such an early gestation, that a c-sec would be the best thing. They were very respectful of our concern about having unneeded surgery. We told them we needed some time to pray about this and think it over. They left the room.

We called a few friends (at 5am!) and asked them to pray for the baby to turn out of his breech position so that I could have a vaginal birth. We prayed. Hubby and I decided that if the baby had not turned within 15 minutes that we would go ahead with the c-sec. The baby did not turn. We got the doctors back in and told them we would accept the c-sec. I made it clear that I was very concerned that I get a low transverse incision and that I hoped to go on to have more children and so they better be careful of me! The doctor was very kind and said that they would definitely do all they could to keep my body in good condition for future pregnancies.

The room went into a whirlwind of activity. I was getting an epidural, having my IV redone, signing papers, drinking nasty sour stuff to neutralize the contents of my stomach. Oh...and having contractions. The OR was brightly lit. I hated being in there and going numb and not having my husband with me. They were shaving some of my pubic hair. Everyone in masks. It made me feel like I was in outer space or something. But I had to do this for my baby. Hubby was then allowed into the room and the surgery began. It wasn't long before Isaac was out. Hub exclaimed, "He's breathing, honey! He's pink! He looks great!" Then our baby was passed off to the NICU team without anyone having the decency to even let me look at him.

That was so painful. I was so saddened by that, I couldn't even form the words to ask to look at my son. It seemed like it should have been so obvious to one and all that I needed to see my baby---the one I was sacrificing myself for! And yet nobody seemed to notice.

Isaac Elijah. 2 1/2 lbs. 13 inches long. Miracle baby.

Hubby went along with Isaac and ran back and forth to tell me what was going on. He was breathing and surpassing the NICU teams expectations. He did not need a ventilator or a central line. He was going to be a low-maintenance preemie.

The surgery was finished up with me being given some heavy drug that knocked me out for hours. I had never consented to such a thing and am still really bothered by that to this day. I can remember being so desperately thirsty and not being able to ask for water or ice, nor to reach for it myself, nor to find the call button to get help. My husband was off to the NICU to supervise what was happening with Isaac (which is exactly where I wanted him to be).

I later found out that when the doctors removed the placenta they found the real source of our problems in the pregnancy. I had a 50% abruption. It was along the back where I guess it could not really be seen by the ultrasound.

Knowing about this abruption has brought me peace about having agreed to the cesarean. If I had gone on to labor and attempt a vaginal birth it could have cost me my precious baby, and possibly even my own life.

The following pictures were taken when Isaac was about 1 week old.

I Posted by Hello

Kangaroo care Posted by Hello

Feeding through a tube Posted by Hello

Isaac spent 40 long days in the NICU. I could tell you a lot of things about those 40 days.

I could tell you how awful it is to be in so much pain after surgery that you can't even hitch yourself up to see your tiny baby who is inside of a plastic incubator.

I could tell you how bad it is to not be able to hold your baby for the first 5 days of his life. And I could tell you of the joy of finally getting to hold my baby and getting to feel **just a little bit** normal during that short first hold.

I could tell you how utterly sad it is to have strangers determine how long you can hold your baby for....and how soothing it is to get an experienced nurse who knows that my baby does best next to my skin for as long as possible.

I can tell you about the outrage we felt as so-called experts wanted to inject our just-born 2 1/2 lb, baby with a hepatitis shot because I did not have labs proving that I did not have it. (My husband battled this one while I was unconscious, and our son did not get poisoned by those people.)

I could tell you about pumping my breasts around the clock to be able to feed my baby. And the joy of having way more milk than he could possibly use.

I could tell you how I felt to be on a death walk every day as I left my 3 older children with friends, to go to the hospital, and then felt like dying again as I had to put my baby back in his box so that I could go home again. I could not be what I wanted to be to any of my children! Misery.

I could tell you how utterly awful it feels to have to walk away from your baby and leave him with a nurse who has been referring to other tiny babies as "spoiled brats."

I could tell you how sad it is to not have been able to protect your baby from someone giving him the wrong medication.

I could tell you about the day that I decided to keep on trusting God only because the alternative was too painful for me to deal with.

I could tell you of the joy of walking out of that hospital with my tiny 4 lb. son and bringing him home where we could give him love and protection all day long.... Of the joy of seeing my older children meet their baby brother for the very first time....

Together for the first time. Posted by Hello

I could tell you about the joy of finally getting my baby to nurse after 3 months of pumping....and the sadness of losing my milk supply completely when I became pregnant a few months later.

And now Isaac has been with us for 15 months. He is a wonderful, healthy, happy, smart, and loving boy. Despite his hard start in life, I do believe that he is as secure and happy as any of my other children. Our new baby is due at any time now, and I am hoping to reestablish my nursing relationship with Isaac once I have milk again.

Going through this experience with Isaac has given me a whole new understanding and appreciation for life and for understanding that things do not always go as we think they should. I am sure that I am now a much less judgmental person and more compassionate to those who have found themselves in situations where they were stuck choosing between two very poor alternatives. I don't think I will ever be quick to assume why someone is bottle-feeding their baby ever again. I know I will never experience pregnancy the same way again, as I now have seen and held a tiny little guy who should not have been in my arms for 3 more months. My husband and I have grown so much through our experience with Isaac's pregnancy and birth. I hope we never have to endure anything so difficult again.

I am so thankful to have laughter each day with my precious gift from God, Isaac Elijah.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

You know, it never ceases to amaze me the things that government agencies seem to think need lots of research and money and time put into them in order to come to a completely logical conclusion. Here's one more example of this: (My shrewd comments in red)

Proposed U.S. Dietary Guidelines Stops Short of Urging Less Sugar
By Randy Fabi
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Aug 27 - A U.S. panel of nutrition experts on Friday proposed new federal dietary guidelines that acknowledged a link between soft drinks and weight gain, but stopped short of recommending that overweight Americans eat less sugar.

**WHAT'S THIS? Acknowledging a link between sody-pop and sugar and being fat? You're joshin' me.... (Hand me another Twinkie, Mabel....)

The 13-member panel, commissioned by the Bush administration to recommend changes to the government's dietary guidelines, also said "social changes" in America's super-sized lifestyle would help shrink the country's waistline.

I wonder how much tax money is being spent to pay 13 people on this panel to tell the American public that you can't live off of junk and be healthy. (Let's see...... 13 "experts" X $90,000 a year= $1,170,000)

Consumer groups had hoped the panel would bluntly recommend that Americans limit their consumption of soft drinks and other sugary foods, a view sharply opposed by beverage makers and the sugar industry, who say weight gain is due to many factors.

Yes, beverage makers and sugar industry people. Many factors. Lessee....what could they be??? Um, eating. Sitting. Eating. Sitting. Maybe we should go after the couch manufacturers instead of the food? (Don't everybody write me and tell me about your fat genetics either. Try changing the eating and sitting routine and then let's see how things go. I know genetics can play a role, but you aren't helpless against it.)

The federal dietary guidelines form the basis of the well-known food pyramid printed on breakfast cereals and other food packages. The guidelines are updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Health and Human Services Department.

The recommendations included non-controversial language advising consumers to choose their fats and carbohydrates "wisely" and to limit salt and alcohol.

Non-controversial! Hilarious! Where's the controversy? Who are they trying not to offend? The manufacturers of Coke and Doritos and Little Debbie and her friend Sara Lee? (See the end of this article to find out who they really care about)

"A reduced intake of added sugars (especially sugar-sweetened beverages) may be helpful in achieving recommended intakes of nutrients and in weight control," the report said. The experts stopped short of directly urging Americans to cut down on soft drinks, cakes, cookies, pies, candy and other sugar-filled food, saying more research was necessary.

Yes, it *may* be helpful, but of course that's no guarantee..... If you find that your present diet is working to keep you from being obese and in good health, well then, ok. If not, um, maybe it's time for a change. You think?

"We were still hoping that in the final document the public sees a more direct and clearer message that most of us should be consuming less added sugars," said David Schardt, senior nutritionist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Soft drink makers and the sugar industry contend it is unfair to link diabetes to soft drink consumption. They said an unhealthy lifestyle, not a particular food or beverage, increased an individual's risk of developing diabetes.

Is soft drink consumption now considered to be a part of a healthy lifestyle? I think I missed that memo.

"The concept of sugars being in unhealthy foods or only being in foods that you should eat in moderation is kind of misleading. There is sugar in a lot of healthy foods," Cheryl Digges, director of public policy for the Sugar Association.

Oh Cheryl of the Sugar Association, we can see right through you, babe.... (Raise your hand if you think that the sugar in an apple is the same as the sugar in your Mountain Dew. If you raised your hand, smack yourself with it.)

The federal nutrition panel also urged Americans to balance food intake with their activity level to avoid gaining weight.

See? I was onto something with that eating and sitting observation.

The panel's final report advised Americans to be more physically active and to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The USDA and Health and Human Services Department will review the report and finalize new guidelines in 2005.

Consumer groups have expressed concern in the past that the USDA, which promotes agricultural products, has a major role in developing federal dietary guidelines. Last year, they requested the government remove seven of the 13 panel members because of their close ties to the food industry. None of them were removed.

Gee, that's a surprise. No wonder they're using such non-controversial language and are not willing to call a spade a spade.

Alright people, listen up! I am going to save this country a mint RIGHT NOW by telling you what these overpaid non-controversial sugar industry insiders will not tell you. Ready?

If you want to be healthy you should start by:

Eat lots of raw fruit.

Eat lots of raw veggies.

Eat raw nuts and seeds too.

Start increasing how much of these you eat, and keep increasing it every week until you get to at least 50% or more of the food you eat being raw foods.

Learn what a whole grain is and eat that instead of Wonder Bread and regular pasta. Whole grains are NOT Roman Meal bread at the store. Sure, you made a small step in the right direction, but you haven't arrived at the party yet. If you have a Great Harvest Bread near you, go buy some Honey Whole Wheat bread from them and taste the difference that is delicious, healthy carbs.

Cut out the soda. Don't buy a 2 liter and keep it in your fridge and pour it out for the kids to drink with their dinner. (For goodness sakes, DON'T feed it to your baby, as I have seen people do.) Know what they should drink? WATER. Yes, cheap, hydrating, life-giving, zero-calorie, no carb WATER. Not milk. Not soda. Water. At our house we have juice available in the mornings, and water all day after that. Cheap, easy, healthy. Voila!

Yes, junk food makes you junky and clunky and funky and chunky. Sugar slows down your metabolism and helps you get fat faster. Yep, it's true. And I didn't even have to do lots of expensive bogus research to figure it out. If you can cut sugar our of your diet completely you will probably be very surprised at how much weight you will lose, how much more energy you will have, how much clearer your thoughts. (of course, that all comes *after* the withdrawal symptoms subside....that can be rough)

Some great resources for any of you who might be inclined to make some positive changes in your diet:

The Healing Power of Whole Foods by Beth Loiselle. A great book at explaining what foods actually nourish your body and which work against it. Lots of recipes, too. A web site with information and products about eating more raw foods. Even if you don't want to go all raw, there's a lot of good stuff here. I have her recipe book and use it a lot. Raw foods doesn't just mean carrot sticks and salad. There is a lot more you can do. Some of the most delicious stuff I have eaten in recent history has been raw foods. *The* vegetarian resource on the web. You can find bulletin boards here for vegetarians, vegans, raw foodists, recipes, information on the Atkins Diet, weightlifting, weight loss, quitting smoking, and lots more. I'm not a vegetarian, but I still find this to be a great resource. The workouts I do when I actually get up and do them. Her emails are a bit annoying, but the workouts are excellent. You don't have to spend a ton of money to go to a gym to get fit and be strong.

As I stated in one of my earliest posts, I'm an on-again/off-again health nut. I don't always have the energy to do what I think is really The Best in regards to what we're eating around here. I don't always care. But when I'm being Good and doing what I think I Should, what I have written here is what I do. I'm overweight right now and I know it. I have work to do and I'll get there eventually. Now that I've said my piece, I feel a stream of conscientiousness coming on.....

Rough Night.....

When's nap time?

I'm struggling this morning because of a rough night. First off was the issue that there is a desperate criminal on the loose here in our small town. So hubby and I got into bed and then he got up to go close and lock the kitchen window that we had slightly open. Gets back in bed.

Then he gets up to go double check all the windows and doors.

Then after he gets back in bed he starts realizing that there are house keys in the van in case we ever need a spare. So, knowing that the criminal is very likely to come over to our house and go hunting through our van and come across these keys and know which door to use them on, he gets worried. Except of course he's too tired and not dressed for going outside. So after he tosses and turns and worries about that I suggest he could just lock the screen/plexiglass door and then nobody could easily get to the front door locks. Good idea! So he hops up to go do that.

Then after a long while he thinks better of it and decides that he's got to go get the keys out of the van. You never know if the criminal with our keys might also know some tricky silent way to break open that outer door as well..... So he gets up again, gets dressed, and goes and gets the keys.

Then about an hour later a fire tone goes off for a structure fire, so off he goes to fight fire.

About an hour or so later he comes back.

Shortly thereafter our 18 month old starts with bronchial spasm coughing (which means he has a hard cough about every 45 seconds) so this wakes me up and I realize he needs breathing treatments. So I get out the inhaler and give him several treatments of that about every 5 minutes for the next who knows how long. He hates the inhaler and gets very upset when I put the mask on his face. So, imagine the coughing, the forcing the inhaler mask onto his face while he is rudely awakened and starts to scream, struggle, and cry. Then calm him down and let him fall back to sleep, and repeat it in about 5 minutes.

Eventually I decide that he needs the nebulizer for a longer, stress-free breathing treatment. So I get up and start trying to assemble the nebulizer. It's been so long since we needed it that I am surprised to find that it is missing the essential parts, and I don’t know where they are. As I am hunting through the meds cabinet I notice the mullein (herb) that I have had on hand. It is supposed to help with all sort of respiratory stuff but since I got it we haven't needed it. So I got some of that out and got set up to use it. What you're supposed to do is put some of it on a plate or in a bowl, get in a small room (the bathroom), and burn it. The inhaled smoke from the mullein is supposed to be just as good as the albuterol. Well, guess what--it was BETTER! After sucking up smoke, we went back to bed and I didn't get another cough out of the baby all night long. wow! Very cool. (Never mind that both he and I and the whole bathroom now smell like we've been at a campfire. It's worth it!)

So as you can imagine, 6:20am (get up and get kids ready for school) arrived far too quickly for me today. I had plans to go do some errands and visits today, but I can barely keep my eyes open and it is raining and dark out, so I'm staying home and shooting for a De-Luxe nap. Wish me luck!

A Contest! A Contest!

When I got into this blogging business a few days ago I had no idea how much fun stuff there was out there. There's contests, people! With real prizes! I still haven't figured out what the Haiku Smackdown is all about, but it sure sounds cool, doesn't it? :)

Well, the contest I want to tell you about today is Blogging For Books, and it's sponsored by The Zero Boss. It seems that every so often Zero Boss gives a blogging assignment and bloggers from all over the place get to work doing his bidding, all for the chance to win a book. I think that if you clickety-click in the little Blogging for Books tag you can go over to Zero's and read all the fine print.

I'll be working on my entry. How about you?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Looks like I'm not the only one having some parenting struggles....

An article at MSN:
The Power of No
It's an unanticipated legacy of the affluent '90s: parents who can't, or won't, set limits. Now a growing number of psychologists are warning of the dangers of overindulgence and teaching how—and where—to draw the line

Funny thing is, I'm not even affluent and I'm having some of this trouble (not so much with saying no to buying stuff as it is just saying NO and making tough enough consequences for disobedience), as you learned in my post "No More Mrs. Nice Mom." I wonder if the issue isn't so much affluence as it is the modern idea that we want to be friends with our kids. I am pretty sure that none of my grandparents gave a rip if their kids liked them or wanted to hang out with them. They didn't give big gifts unless it was birthday, Christmas, or graduation from high school. And I'm positive that none of them allowed their kids to get any sort of input into what their rules should be or what the consequences would be for not following the rules. Somewhere along the line it seems that there is a blurring of the lines between parents and children. A shift has taken place.

On the one hand, I wouldn't like the parenting style of the 1960s to come back into vogue, because the descriptions I have heard seem to lacking in respect for the personhood of a child, and seem to foster the parents not having much of a clue about who their child really is.

On the other hand, it seems like parents today are spineless, and the kids know it. I think it's part guilt (the buy-them-so-much-stuff-that-they-won't-notice-we're-not-paying-any-real-attention-to-them type), part not wanting our kids to feel "different" from other kids (Keeping up with the Joneses), part because so often nowadays having kids is more of a fashion accessory for the parents than anything else, and part having some need for our kids to like us.

I have an 18 year old cousin who is a sad example of the spoiled kid that comes from this kind of parenting. She lived with us for most of a year back when she was 14, so we got to see up close and personal the kinds of things she felt she was due. Both of her parents had always worked full time, which I assume was because they felt they had to financially. Yet this child had more toys, books, games, and stuff in her life as a little kid than seemed sane. I remember when she was cleaning out all of that stuff and she offered it to my little girl. I could not believe how many dolls and toys she had. It looked to me like she had gotten one of everything at the toy store during her lifetime.

As a teenager she thought nothing of expecting the $50 daisy duke shorts and $50 teeny t-shirts from Abercrombie. It had never occurred to her that this might just be too much money to spend on those things, and it definitely wouldn't do to wear something that was the same style but without the same brand tag. She had more shoes than I have owned in 13 years combined, and she had sneakers that once you could tell they had been worn (as in, they did not look store-shelf-white anymore) she would refuse to wear them, yet she would also not give them away to Goodwill or anything like that. But she had to have NEW SNEAKERS...couldn't be seen in those ones that had touched the earth!

When she was 14 what she thought was reasonable was that her father set her up with a bedroom that had a futon couch, coffee table, large TV, VCR, stereo system, cool lamps and accessories, her own phone line (not just phone, but her own phone number), a cell phone, big bed (not twin sized), dorm size fridge, a little microwave, and of course permission to do whatever she wanted to do. She actually thought that having her bedroom set up like her own apartment was reasonable at age 14!!!

What a contrast to my life. I never had a bed bigger than a twin size until I got married. My parents wouldn't let me have a phone in my room and wouldn't let me keep the cordless handset in my room over night. I had limits on how long I could talk on the phone. It never would have occurred to me to get treated like an adult when I wasn't...

This same cousin dropped out of high school in the middle of 11th grade with the approval of her mother. She promptly moved into an apartment with her 23 year old boyfriend, got pregnant, and got married. She now has a baby registry filled with Eddie Bauer baby stuff, and seems to have the idea that her baby couldn't possibly be expected to wear or use anything:
-from Walmart
-from a yard sale
-given to her by a friend or relative that had been previously used
-not Eddie Bauer brand

You get the idea. And the saddest thing of all is that her mom and aunts and relatives continue to encourage and support this mentality. They are buying her all the stuff she wants, throwing her baby showers, and generally convincing her that she can and should only live in high style.

My mom's comment was that this cousin of mine would eventually need to realize that she is not the Queen of Somewhere, but that she is an 18 year old high school drop out with a husband with a sketchy work ethic and a baby, and that she may need to lower her standards a bit like most of the rest of us who have babies when we are young and living on a shoestring. The thing is, this is not likely to happen. Her mom will continue to buy designer duds both for the cousin and the baby. This kid will want for nothing. It will be getting the same kind of material goods that my cousin got, except even moreso because now the mom/new Grandma has more money to blow.

My sister and brother each had to put themselves through college without help from my parents. Our parents divorced after I left home and got married, and my father ditched and never paid child support. So, they were on their own to achieve their goals. They worked. They struggled. They waited. They worked some more. They took out student loans. They did what they had to do to take responsibility for their own lives, and they've done an excellent job. My brother graduated from a prestigious (read: expensive) 4 year college, traveled around the world, and is now a talented musician continuing to make his dreams a reality. My sister not only put herself through college but is now finishing up grad school (and in less time than it is supposed to take!). I am very proud of both of them.

But do you know what they have seen all along the way? Fellow students in their 20s with affluent parents who not only foot the bill for school, but also for their apartments, new car payments, car insurance, plus send spending money!!! If their precious little Junior or Princess does actually get a job, it's either a kooshy one that doesn't pay anything but feeds their soul or is a hobby, or it's something they do because Mom and Pop just don't send enough beer money every month...

WHAT KIND OF ADULTS ARE WE RAISING, PEOPLE????? When you've got a 26 year old son with a college degree, WHY ARE YOU STILL PAYING HIS LIVING EXPENSES? What is going on here?? How can this be good for these children, let alone for our society?

My husband is a professional firefighter and every day he sees grown men who have been so coddled and babied by their parents that they have a very hard time with the idea of WORK. Most days he deals with the same kinds of character issues while at work that I am dealing with at home with our children.

My own in-laws are supporting their overeducated idiot son-in-law who refuses to get up off his rear and make a living. He's 33 years old with both a college and graduate degree and part of his PhD (poor guy had to drop out when life got too real--ie:get a job), and all he's willing to do is teach on a college level. So, he's teaching 2 classes as an adjunct professor at some small college, making some whopping sum like $9000 a year, with a diabetic wife and child to support. He's just not willing to do anything else, though, and for some reason, the in-laws are paying through the nose for it, despite their own need to get things settled for their retirement, which is only a couple of years off. What is wrong with this picture???

I think FEAR is a main motivator in these situations. Fear of your kids not liking you. Fear that your child may have less than others. Fear that your child may have to struggle or do without. Fear that they may suffer a little without your help. Well, guess what? You gotta go through some scary stuff in the adult world. If you never do anything for yourself you have nothing to be proud of. None of this coddling is doing anybody any favors in the long run.

Be strong, my fellow parents! Be strong and give your kids the opportunity to work hard, to fall, to fail, to get strong, and stay strong, too. They need it and our society needs it. But it starts with YOU.