Category Archives: Scary stuff

Pain, apprehension, and joy

This isn't her birth story... but I love this picture.  Baby Jean is so peaceful, and well-attended.  Pictured are the hands of 4.5 year old daughter, Fiala;  my midwife, Pam; my sister, Robin;  my husband, Martin; and my 7yo daughter, Audrey.

This isn’t her birth story… but I love this picture. Baby Jean is so peaceful, and well-attended. Pictured are the hands of 4.5 year old daughter, Fiala; my midwife, Pam; my sister, Robin; my husband, Martin; and my 7yo daughter, Audrey.  Jean’s chest, by the way, was 15 1/8″.

Tomorrow, baby Jean Marjorie Joy will be two weeks old.  I am somewhat anxious about tomorrow;  she has a follow-up visit with a pediatrician to do a weight-check and assess the possible need for clipping a tongue-tie and upper lip-tie.

It has been almost three years since my children have been to a pediatrician.  Longer, in fact…  We were in the care of a family doctor, a DO, but after we stopped vaxing, she dropped us.  I was not eager to re-establish care with a medical doctor.  I’m still a bit apprehensive about it…  But, the particular pediatrician comes highly recommended by my midwife — which means a lot to me.  As long as the parent is educated about vaccination choices, they do not give any guff about not vaccinating;  if they were concerned about me declining Vitamin K or Hep B, it wasn’t apparent.  They didn’t blink an eye about my baby being born at home.  Or that she is my sixth child;  the woman who did the initial assessment had five children, in fact.

Giving it some thought just now, I just realized that how I feel about pediatricians is the same way I feel about hospital birth, and why I chose to birth at home:  I know my rights as a patient in a hospital.  I’m well-educated as to the pitfalls of birthing the standard American way.  I know what I want for my birth.  I am confident in my ability to birth.  While I truly try to be kind to those caring for me in a hospital, I am not afraid to put my foot down and refuse a certain kind of treatment, or sign AMA waivers, or what have you.  But, with this birth, I didn’t want to do that.  I didn’t want to be put in a position (perhaps literally!) where I had to endlessly justify my decisions and where I had to advocate for myself.  I just wanted to relax and birth a baby in peace, without having to weather confrontation.

I felt the same about finding a new pediatrician, especially after the DO dropped us.

So, last week, going into baby Jean’s “72 hour” first check-up, which was really at one week, I was quite apprehensive about how the staff would treat my baby and me, especially since the actual doctor, the one recommended to me, was on vacation, and I’d be seeing the nurse practitioner.

However, it was an altogether successful visit.  The only thing that made it difficult was that I was in physical pain…

I had some concerns (Lordy, this post is filled with apprehension and concerns!) about birthing a baby at 40, and the recovery from that.  I am happy to say that the actual recovery has been amazing.  Now thirteen days postpartum, I actually feel about 95% recovered.  I think much of that is due to careful following of my midwife’s instructions — which has a heavy emphasis on chilling out — and the tender care of my husband, who took a week off of work, and served and fed me better than I would have for myself.

Despite baby Jean’s enormous size — 10 lb, 7 oz;  22″ long, 14.5″ head — and the fact that she had a nuchal hand (she was born with her hand next to her face… and since the midwife couldn’t push the hand back down, she pulled it out, so that baby was born arm-first), I sustained only a superficial 1st degree tear.

I have, however, had weird and painful OTHER things happen since her birth.  First, I had to go to the emergency room when Jean was only three days.  I have varicose veins — which I knew about — and one on the back of my leg had become puffy, red, hot to touch, and very painful.  My midwife was concerned that, even though she couldn’t feel a thrombosis, that there might be a clot deeper in the tissue of my leg.  After a phone call to her consulting physician, they both felt like I should go in, immediately, to the ER for an ultrasound of my leg.  That was stressful.  I think the most difficult part was actually bringing my baby to the germ-filled emergency room.  My husband Martin came with me, and even though it was about 110° out, we decided that it was better to use the outside as a “waiting room”.  The staff at the hospital was all unfailingly accommodating of me having a brand-new infant, and found us a private room almost immediately.  Everyone was kind and attentive, and fairly rushed us through.  We were in and out in just about two hours, and the better news was that a) no clot was found, and b) Jean doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects from our trip.  The tentative diagnosis was “phlebitis” — irritated veins.  Sitting for three days in bed is great for recovery from birth, but the staying stationary is less than helpful for varicose veins.  In any case, the phlebitis, or whatever it was, seems to have resolved itself.

Then… from about day 2 until day 7, we were treating what we thought was a clogged milk duct.  The protocol for that is soaking in hot water, using a heating pad, massage, and nursing on the clogged side as much as possible, using a variety of odd nursing positions, all to help clear out the clog and to ensure that it doesn’t turn into mastitis:  a breast infection.  Well, nothing seemed to help.  I cannot describe the pain.  It was, I do believe, the worst in my life, and I include birth in that list.

On Tuesday early morning, a week ago, I was massaging my “clogged duct” and to my absolute horror, saw the side of my nipple gape open.  Hidden at the base of the nipple in the wrinkly and folded skin, what had presented as a clogged duct was actually my nipple, detaching.  It was entirely sliced through, from about 6:30 – 11:00, a good 3/8 of my nipple, completely cut through.  It looked like someone had actually sliced it.  Someone had, in fact:  my darling newborn, with her powerful but inefficient, tongue- and lip-tied suck.

My salvation was a Medela nipple shield.  I am old-fashioned.  There just seems to be something wrong with putting a piece of silicone between baby and mama.  Historically, I haven’t been a fan of nipple shields.  However, it was about my only hope for nursing on that side…  With literal shaking and tears from fear of pain, I put it on and attached little Jean Marjorie.  Not only did she latch on with no difficulty, but the pain was reduced a good 97%.  The pain was still present, but completely tolerable.

So, for five days, I nursed using the shield.  It was an annoyance but a blessing.

This morning, she nursed successfully without the shield, and there was virtually no pain and no further damage.

I can tell that she is still not latching on quite correctly.  Also, she nurses for a good hour at a time, yet doesn’t seem to ever fully empty the milk from my breasts.  She is perpetually hungry.  She is wetting an adequate number of diapers;  I don’t think her life is in danger from malnutrition.  However, for all that I am spending 1/3 to 1/2 of my time nursing my baby, I don’t think she is gaining any weight, and may, in fact, be losing weight.  We’ll find out tomorrow.

So… we may end up having to get her frenulum clipped.  Her upper lip is tied, as well.

Theoretically, I don’t mind spending so much time nursing my baby.  It is a precious, precious time.  But logistically, at some point, I need to be more available to my family, and my baby would benefit from being able to adequately get the milk she needs in a much shorter amount of time.  She is spending so much time nursing that I don’t think she’s getting quite enough sleep.  Her need for sleep and her need for mama’s milk are in conflict with each other…  I can tell she is both exhausted and hungry.  Poor sweetie.

So, while I don’t relish the thought of anything getting clipped on her — for all everyone’s assurances that it barely hurts and that she’ll heal very quickly with no disruption of nursing — it does seem that it would be best for both her and me to get the procedure(s) done.

Other worries that were a waste of time:

  • Homebirth itself.  It was, despite some challenges in the birth itself, absolutely perfect.  My husband is a new convert to the benefits of homebirth.  Better late than never.  🙂
  • Too many people in the room.  We had my midwife, the midwife’s assistant (who is nearly a licensed midwife herself), a student midwife, and a friend who was acting as doula… No one was intrusive, everyone cared for me magnificently, everyone had their place.
  • The children.  My husband was more concerned about this than I was.  Our boys just kind of checked on me periodically, and the girls were present for most of the birth — exiting on their own when things got too intense — and it was just right.
  • Our family adapting to #8 in the home.  This has been so smooth.  So very smooth.  My husband is abundantly smitten with baby Jean.  The girls are wonderfully gentle and attentive big sisters.  The boys slightly less so, but no less loving, and what they lack for in personal attentiveness, they make up for in their general service to our family and to me and baby in particular:  they are definitely picking up the slack.

Anyway… now that I’m no longer in continual pain and that there is hope on the horizon, I’m much… happier.  Not that having a baby is all about my personal happiness.  But, with the difficulty of the birth (difficult for me, that is), I felt more relief than joy at her birth.  Then, when the nursing issues started on the second day, the leg vein issues on the third day, etc., I feel like I’ve been somewhat on edge and not able to fully participate in the JOY of a newborn.  There have been moments I relish, and my heart is absolutely filled with love and ZERO regrets;  I can’t imagine life without Jean Marjorie Joy.  But, I’m looking forward to the coming weeks even more.

THIS, only moments after birth.  So perfect.

THIS, only moments after birth. So perfect.

 

American politics, farming, charming visuals, and becoming recentered…

I think that one of my greatest frustrations with how the U.S. government works is that really awful riders can be attached to otherwise apparently-necessary bills, acts, laws, etc.  Earlier this week, when many folks were consumed (pro or con) by the conversation surrounding same-sex marriage being debated in the Supreme Court, the Agricultural Appropriations Bill was signed into law by President Obama.  In it was a rider that has been called “the Monsanto Protection Act” because it specifically protects that one giant chemical company — nearly single-handedly responsible for the chemicalization of American farming, and its resulting current and future destruction of environment and personal health — from litigation.  It passed the Senate and the House with many legislators not even knowing such a rider was included.  The way these giant bills frequently slip through the cracks is that a Senator might say, “Well, I agree with 80% of what is in this bill, so I will vote for it.”  Or, a Representative might have his or her own “attachment” that they’ve managed to slip into a detailed, hundreds-of-pages bill, and that one attachment is specifically important to the rep’s corner of their own state.  So, they say, “I can’t tell my people that I voted against this measure which is so vital to our state’s interests.”  So, even if they disagree with 98% of the bill, if there is a tiny corner of that bill which is of specific significance to that Representative, they may vote to pass it.

And, so the Agricultural Appropriations Bill with its enclosed “Monsanto Protection Act” passed this week.

Here’s where my thoughts have been going:

In a way — a small way — I’m kind of pleased.

Not about the “Monsanto Act” in particular, which I find horrid, gut-wrenching, and worrisome, but because my Facebook feed has been abuzz with, “HOW COULD OBAMA DO THIS???”

I’ll admit:  I’m a Republican.  However, since issues of the environment, food production, health, and farming are near and dear to my heart, there are a number of political websites I frequent which are, shall we say, not friendly to the general Republican cause.  I’m OK with that.  I don’t need to identify with the entire Republican platform.

Actually, I’ve felt for quite a while that there is no political “slot” into which I neatly fit.  Not the Republican Party, not the Democratic.  Not Libertarian.  Not Green.  Not the Tea Party.  No where, really, that I’ve been able to find.  I’m too liberal for the Republicans.  Too conservative for the Democrats.  Too convinced by the general goodness of the rule of law for the Libertarians.  I’m not angry enough — or Socialistic enough — for the Green Party.  Not fearful enough for the Tea Party.*

And, to an extent, I’m pragmatic like the Legislators I vilified above:  If I agree with, say, 60% of what the Republican Party generally stands for, I’ll often vote along with them…  I do see the irony.

Anyhow, in the more liberal edges of politics, to which I pay at least some attention, the consensus seems to be general, heart-broken disappointment with our President.

And, I’m OK with that.

From the very, very beginning of his campaign, back in 2008, the thing that bothered me most — more than any political stance, more than any stated goal, more than his “Democrat-ness” — is that he set himself on a pedestal as the HOPE for our nation.  It was his campaign slogan, for crying out loud!

Obama is not the hope of our nation.

Hope in a person routinely leads to disillusionment.

I’m OK with folks becoming disillusioned to the Obama administration.

I saw this, this morning in my Facebook feed:

Now, I’ll admit:  If you put a grassy field, a blue sky, and some freshly shorn sheep on a picture, I’ll probably like it, no matter what the words attached may be.

But the verse — John 10:11 — brought me back to the main and plain, the core of my existence:  My hope is in the Good Shepherd.  And He’s a good leader who does not disappoint.  He doesn’t do stuff that is 40% awful and heartbreaking and 60% good.  HE IS GOODNESS ITSELF.  And what’s more:  He’s a peaceful, but powerful and sacrificial leader.

He’s the one whom I follow.

There are some practicalities with being involved in the political system;  I’m not saying that I’m going to stick my head in the sand and never call my state Senator, never sign another petition (I favor real-life petitions, by the way), and quit voting.  I’m not even going to stop speaking out about issues that are important to me.

But, since a bit of doom and gloom and fear for the future of my country has weaseled its way into my mind and heart this week, I did need the reminder this morning of my Good Shepherd.  My GOOD Shepherd.

And may His peace, His goodness, His faithfulness, His wisdom be a comfort to you as well, my friends, as you contemplate your own future, and that of your own country.

——————–

*I’m sorry if this offends;  it’s my opinion and perspective of each party as it relates to my own beliefs and convictions.

From this past week…

After a flurry of almost daily blog posts, this last week, I’ve ground nearly to a halt.

This week…

  • A friend's pic of this week's produce, in her kitchen. And you can't even see everything!! LOVELY. YUMMY!

    A friend’s pic of this week’s CSA produce, in her kitchen. And you can’t even see everything!! LOVELY. YUMMY!

    …has been consumed by the CSA — the farm share I’m coordinating for Crooked Sky Farms.  It is wonderful, and I’m glad I’m participating.  I’m certainly not regretting agreeing to be the coordinator — largely because I got two HUGE crates of produce out of it.  Literally:  Nine heads of Romanesco; four bags of baby lettuces; four huge (probably 2 lb each) bunches of carrots;  two bunches of Swiss chard;  about four lbs of red potatoes; 13 tangelos; three bunches of baby Hakurei turnips; and four bunches of “grilling” onions (onions with small white bulbs and very large but tender green tops).  Part of this was my share, and part of it was — I think — people just not taking all eight of the bunches of produce allotted to them… Or something.  I think the farm threw in some extra produce, just in case.  And all those leftovers were even with me finding buyers for the produce that should have gone to two people who didn’t show!  Anyway, that’s a good probably 40 lbs of fresh, organic, local produce, all for me — for my family.  Ah-MAY-zing.  Some of it we’ve eaten, some is in the fridge, and some is now in the freezer.  However, it has been a lot of work, especially when one person canceled beforehand, and then the aforementioned two people didn’t show…  I was supposed to have a minimum of 20 paying customers in order for the farm to deliver to me.  I ended up with 16.  Ack!  But my contact at the farm has been very gracious and they haven’t dropped us or anything.  But I am being encouraged to try to drum up more business.  I’M TRYING!!  I really am.  Since Wednesday, I actually found two more full-time members (one is an airman from Luke AFB who calls me “ma’am”), and then another guy who wants to sign up for only the 2nd half, and two or three more week-to-week people, and at least a couple more potential CSA members…  Plus the eggs.  So many people wanted eggs, and I’ve found two people within a mile and a half who have eggs that I’m selling.  Again, that’s GOOD, but it’s more work.  More bookkeeping.  More keeping track of this and that…

  • And the seed giveaway.  That took a lot of time, just regulating!!  Especially on the second day, I had a lot of comments…  I was trying to respond to everyone who asked questions, send e-mails to folks who hadn’t followed the instructions…  Um, I gave that up after a while.  But, the seed giveaway was fun!!
  • My heart has been worrying me.  I have Wolfe Parkinson White syndrome, where there is an extra nerve connecting the left (I think) atrium and ventricle, which produces a wonky feedback loop.  It is benign — though I just can’t help but thinking it CAN’T be good, long-term, for one’s heart to beat wrong — and normally, I have 5-10 episodes (weird/hard/thumpy heart beat, heart stops for a few seconds, or it races for 10 seconds or so, etc.) while my heart resets itself.  But, while I’m pregnant, it happens… I don’t know… 30?  50? times a day, sometimes for multiple minutes on end, especially when I’m just sitting down (after standing) or just lying down.  At my midwife’s insistence, I saw my cardiologist (whom I really love — he’s my favorite doctor for anything, ever), and I wore a 24 hour Holter monitor a few weeks ago.  I finally got the results this week.  And they essentially said, “Why, yes, you are having quite a few PACs, but it’s OK.  See you again in April.”  And that made me feel a lot better.
  • My pregnancy is going well.  I am now 21 weeks along.  All-day “morning” sickness finally ended about three weeks ago, to my great relief.  I’ve gained 20 lbs already, which is not good… That’s more than I gained with my whole pregnancy with Fiala.  In what is a recurring theme in any weight gain I typically incur, I do eat good food — not junk;  I just eat too much of it.  Even if my midwife doesn’t suggest it, I think I’m going to do a counted-reduced-carb diet — herder-gatherer Paleo — which is almost how I eat anyway… just that from weeks 28 – 40 (or whenever), I’ll be extremely careful.  After about week 28, nothing new develops in the baby;  she will simply put on weight and whatever is already there matures.  So, it’s less critical that a mother gain weight.  In case it sounds worrisome that I’m planning on “dieting” while pregnant, I did this with my last pregnancy (Fiala):  I gained a total of 17 lbs and she STILL came out at 8 lbs 13 oz.  I would have felt badly if she was scrawny…  But she wasn’t.  And I became a bigger believer than ever in eating high-protein and low-carb in the last trimester.  With my first two pregnancies, I gained nearly 50 lbs, so I know that, left unchecked, that’s probably where I’d end up.  I just feel better and recover faster when I’m not toting an extra 20-30 lbs, postpartum.

Words of “wisdom” on homeschooling an autistic child

Grant and me on a recent, early-morning hike. He’s my best hiker, always willing to go further, faster, higher.

Some days, I almost forget — ALMOST — that I have an autistic child.  My son Grant will be 13 in August, and was diagnosed more than nine years ago with Nonverbal Learning Disorder, which many consider to be on the autistic spectrum.  It is very akin to Asperger Syndrome, but with fewer of Aspies’ fixations, and with added fine and gross motor skill problems.  (An EXCELLENT article, differentiating between NLD, ADHD, and Bipolar Disorder, concentrating on NLD can be found here — it’s a PDF.)

From the bottom of my heart, even though we have ongoing difficulties with Grant (see below), I believe he is so, so, so, so, so, so, so much better than he could be, as a 13-year-old*, and the biggest reasons for that are:

  1. The presence of God in Grant’s life, and
  2. We homeschool.

A reader just asked me a question on an old post.  I don’t know if anyone really tracks comments via the sidebar on the right, so I thought I’d turn it into a full-on post.  I’ll quote her first, then quote my response.  What I replied is kind of sloppy;  not as carefully-written as if it were a “real” post… But I thought it merited its own blog entry.

From reader Canadian Mom:

I am in Canada and stopped hs’ling my son after 3 months of grade 1, before that Kindergarten. I found a sweet country school to place him in with just over 100 students and he is just finishing grade 2. He has NLD, ADHD and DCD (developmental coordination disorder). I love him dearly but he is a handful, he’s not diagnosed with but I think he is ODD. He fights me and resists me on nearly everything. It’s very challenging, I’ve had to do a lot of personal growth just to handle him.

I did put him on med’s and his teacher thinks he is doing great at school in reading and related subjects, however math is his great weakness. In grade 4 they do the PsychEd tests so I am thinking of keeping him in until that test is done and we have a really clear picture of what we are dealing with. Ideally I would hs and if I have the guts to eventually I will take him out to hs again but I’m kind of waiting for him to “hit the wall”. He gets a lot of support at school and seems to enjoy it. However, because of his DCD he stays away from sports so is alienated from other boys at recess and lunch and plays with another girl who has some learning disabilities. I would love to know more about your methods for hs’ling your NLD boy. I want to hs my boy but am afraid of all the resistance I get and it effecting our learning outcomes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thx

My really long response:

CM ~ I’m not sure I have any amazing words of wisdom. I will confess that with my five children, aged 3 – 15 (my NLD boy is almost 13), he is my most challenging on just about every issue. Things are so much more peaceful, and everything — I mean EVERYTHING — goes so much more smoothly when he is not here. So, I’m not saying, “It’s SO EASY to homeschool your NLD child!!” I do maintain, though, that it is most often better for the child. This past school year, I came VERY close to putting my son in a special, advanced program, like a school-within-a-school, very hands-on, very science-oriented, low teacher-to-student ratio. I gathered all the info, talked with admin at the school, and they were VERY supportive of me sending in our app. In fact, when we didn’t, they called often to ask why we hadn’t. But, my husband said, “We’re not going to throw him to the wolves.” Meaning, for all his brilliance, and for all the difficulty he causes at home, and all the literal heartbreak and distress I go through…. he’s still so vulnerable. I finally had to agree with my husband’s statement. It would be throwing him to the wolves. Socially, he’s just not adapted to a school atmosphere. I could see the huge likelihood of us sifting through issues with children, teachers, admin, just the “system” of school, and coming up bloodied in every way. Know what I mean? For all that it would be a huge relief for me NOT to have to homeschool him (and I’m being really honest here), I just couldn’t, for his emotional and physical health, do it.

Grant isn’t diagnosed with ODD, but I’m sure I could obtain such a dx. His operational outlook is, “I’m right, you’re wrong,” and it doesn’t matter who the other person is — parent, pastor, friend’s parent, policeman, whomever. He — deep in his heart — thinks that he is the most brilliant, best person in the whole world, and that his outlook is the only one right, and the only one valid. He’s certain that his ideas trump mine, and has no value, respect, or even acknowledgement of authority.

He’s not dx’ed with DCD, but he was in OT for YEARS due to fine and gross motor skill problems, and he is very uncoordinated. We’re more likely to call it PDD, here in the States, although I think that name was changed recently… But, same thing: He can’t do team anything. He’s eager and willing, but a liability to teams.

So. With that bleak picture, why do I homeschool? I still think it is his best chance to learn from someone who truly loves him and is FOR him. I can let him study ahead in some areas, and supplement him in areas where he lags. I can provide the structure and discipline he needs. I can help bring out his BEST and weed the garden of his heart to help his character develop, something that schools don’t really do; they just want kids to be functional within a classroom setting. I want him to be much better than “functional”. I want him to flourish. AND, while I will say that we still very often struggle with his lack of respect and his preschool-like behavior, we have had LOADS of break-throughs this past year, and he’s doing better in many areas in which I had previously nearly despaired. He is *healthy*, emotionally. He has lots of friends. Most of them are younger than him, but still, lots of friends. He truly loves God. He is eager and willing in so many areas, and is so often an encouragement to me. He TRIES in many areas. For instance, he’ll often ask me, “How are you doing Mom?” with a rub on my shoulder, and a soft face, and cocked head. Now, he’s asking that because I’ve taught him that people like others to care for them, and he needs to take time to be attentive to others. I can see him mentally go down the check list: Ask Mom how she’s doing; give her a soft smile; rub her shoulder; look into her eyes. Check, check, check. IOW, it doesn’t come naturally to him. But, in many ways, that makes it MORE valuable, because the things we’ve taught him — often repeating it THOUSANDS of times, to no effect — are finally bearing fruit. I can actually look at his future, and see some hope and if we can keep his shoulders pointed in the right direction, he’s not going to self-destruct; he’s going to be a tremendous asset to his future family, to his community, to the Body of Christ, and to the world in general.

Please don’t wait for your child to “hit the wall”. It’s so much easier (not that it’s easy) to practice “preventative medicine” than to rehab hearts and behaviors.

—————

*Nonverbal Learning Disorder has the highest rate of suicide of all learning disorders, and it spikes radically higher in the teen and young adult years.  I can’t find numbers on it right now, but I’ve read that the rate is as high as 60%.  By the grace of God, and with the wisdom He has given to my husband and me, and through love and understanding, that WILL NOT be my child.

Easy fruit fly trap (plus thoughts on poisons and alarmism)

I’m eating my lunch as I type this, sopping up the last of my homemade caesar dressing with some raw broccoli.  Mmmm…

Yesterday, I was (semi-unwillingly) in a Walmart, picking up some 9-volt batteries for my hubby.  And some Larabars for him.  For the record, Walmart Neighborhood Market carries TWO flavors of Larabars.  Two.  I’m not surprised.  They are only $1.15, though.

On my way out, I passed a clearance rack, and saw a fruit fly trap.  It caught my eye because, well, we have fruit flies.  This is due to poor compost management (my fault) + gloriously beautiful weather (God’s fault) + children who are prone to leave doors open in fine weather.  Ugh.  I’ve been swatting those suckers for a couple of weeks now.  So, I stopped in my tracks, and picked up the trap.  It was $5.48.  For one trap.  On clearance.  I’m a tighter wad than that.

Now, the trap was a fake plastic apple with a small plastic container of red liquid.  I turned the package over to see what the ingredients are.  The active ingredient?  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.  Chances are high that you have the poison (truly!) in your shampoo as a main ingredient.  The second ingredient?  Acetic acid.  This is the acid in vinegar.

A couple of days ago, I read a truly alarmist post about the dangers of Simple Green.  Now, perhaps I took offense, since I have some in my home.  I use a concoction of mostly white vinegar to clean nearly everything in our home, but sometimes, one just needs a degreaser.  It does appear that Simple Green is not quite as “natural” as I had previously thought, so perhaps that bears some consideration.  HOWEVER, the article (not on the Livestrong link in the sentence previous) went on for quite a while on the dangers of butoxyethanol, an alcohol found in Simple Green.  It quoted extensively from the Material Data Safety Sheet for the alcohol, highlighting its more alarming properties.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Simple Green is The Best Ever and you should go out and buy a gallon.  There are better cleaning alternatives.  Here’s what bothered me, though.  ALMOST EVERYTHING, in pure form, is dangerous if taken into our bodies.  Even water.  You can overdose from water.  Or salt.  OR ACETIC ACID!!  In fact, according to their respective MSDSsssses (or however one should spell that), acetic acid is MORE DANGEROUS than butoxyethanol!!  And why is this so ironic??  Because on the post about how dangerous Simple Green is, virtually everyone chimed in to say that they cleaned with vinegar.  You know, that liquid that is nearly entirely water and acetic acid?!??

DUH!!!

The reason that neither Simple Green nor vinegar are harmful is because of the concentrations of the chemicals within.  Simple Green contains less than 4% butoxyethanol.  Vinegar is diluted, as a standard, to 5% acetic acid.

Grrrr….

So, really, the people who are campaigning against Simple Green may wanna do a little more homework first, before getting caught up in the frenzied tide.

Just sayin’.

Most things are at their best in moderation.  🙂  Some things warrant some passion and to jump in with both feet and start swinging punches.  However, before you do that, you may want to ensure your passion is well-placed.

Anyway.

Back to the fruitflies.

Mine looks like this, but I used a small plastic funnel. It works.

I figured I could take a small jar (a half-pint glass canning jelly jar), mix some apple cider vinegar and some sodium lauryl sulfate-containing dishwashing detergent (yes, even Seventh Generation has it!) in the bottom of the jar, take a funnel and turn it upside down in the jar, and wait for the fruit flies to be attracted to the smell of vinegar, wander into the funnel, and drown/be poisoned in the mixture within.

Voila!

This morning, there were eight dead fruit flies in my trap.

Turns out I’m not as original as I had thought, though.  Seems like everyone and his brother have blogged a tutorial on this, and I’m behind the times.  I guess if I would have had the foresight to Google this, I could have had my problems solved weeks ago.

Oh, well.

 

Feminism, marketing, raising little girls, plus a bit of homeschooling

From the couple of articles I’ve read, and the excerpt of her book, I can tell I’m not nearly as feminist as Peggy Orenstein.  But, I still put her brand-new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter:  Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, on hold at the library.  We seem to think very similarly, at least on some things.  In one article, Orenstein recounts how her daughter’s tastes radically and immediately changed, upon entering “preschool” at the age of two, discarding her formerly beloved pin-striped overalls and love of Thomas the Train and taking on a new, rabid adoration of pink tulle and Disney Princesses.  For now, let’s skim past the part where people feel compelled to SCHOOL THEIR CHILDREN AT THE AGE OF TWO, to the part where marketing and peer pressure have so adversely affected our society that our two-year-olds reject their “first loves” in lieu of what’s being shoved down their teensy throats by Madison Avenue!

You think I exaggerate?  I do not, fair reader!  It starts even earlier than that!!!

Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.

In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product’s bells and whistles — extra soft! durable! better sizing! — and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com.

The above excerpt is from a New York Times article dated February 6, 2011, my emphasis added.

Another disturbing tidbit:

Disney estimates the North American baby market, including staples like formula, to be worth $36.3 billion annually. Its executives talk about tapping into that jackpot as if they were waging a war. “Apparel is only a beachhead,” said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.

For those who may wonder about Disney’s intentions to further infiltrate your home,

Beachhead:

1. A position on an enemy shoreline captured by troops in advance of an invading force.
2. A first achievement that opens the way for further developments; a foothold.

I am stridently opposed to marketing directly to children.  I praise the likes of my cousin, Romney, who has campaigned to rid her own preschooler’s school of its McDonald’s affiliation, in which the school receives money in exchange for “events” where children attend mandatory pep rallies with Ronald McDonald, and are given Happy Meals, all without parental consent, all built into the school day.  (And people wonder why homeschooling school days are so short.  Why, because we actually LEARN STUFF during our school day — apparently trivial, outdated stuff like math, and literature, and grammar, and history — and don’t attend baldfaced marketing sessions given by the McDonald’s corporation!!  But, I digress.)

Well, maybe I’m not digressing.  One of the unintended benefits of homeschooling is that my children feel much more free to develop into the people God made them to be.  They’re not mocked (at least, not regularly!) for their interests, nor pressured away from something — anything, be it their Christianity, to their choice of clothes! — just because The Herd does not endorse it.

So.  I’m sure Orenstein, in her book, is not trying to make a case for homeschooling.  But, since that’s a passion in my heart, I can’t help but see that part of the problem might be the pressure to place our children in preschools as early as the tender age of two, schools which aren’t so much a center for real learning, but a hotbed of social conformation, where our wee ones are unknowingly being sucked up into the “invading force[s]” of the likes of Disney Baby!

ALL OF THAT SAID…  Part of me is really pleased that my four year old, Audrey, feels very free to be a girl.  I was startled when she began exhibiting true girlie-girl behavior — coyly flirting with Daddy and having a passion for shoes — before she could even crawl!!  And, I’m glad to give her a home in which she feels confident in her super-girliness.

Just this morning, I laughed delightedly over the Pillow Princess she made.  Onto the floor, she laid a (hand-me-down) Disney Sleeping Beauty dress-up dress, under which she placed various throw pillows, to give it a plumped-out appearance.  Another pillow, fringed, formed the Pillow Princess’s head, onto which she placed an Ariel tiara (also hand-me down), and cut-outs, made from white paper, colored with Crayons, which formed the eyes, nose, and very pink mouth.

There’s a fine line there…  I know I’m treading it with care, trying to give my daughters the freedom to express their femininity — even if it does include an excess of pink frilly stuff! — without exposing them to so much marketing that they feel like they’re “supposed” to love Disney Princess, and they need to discard anything not-pink.

~sigh~

Something really pretty (a jewelry giveaway!) and something really NOT (ammonia-treated beef)

  • A fellow homeschooling mom, much craftier than I, has a contest going until 10/22/10, a giveaway of two separate gift certificates — one for $25 and one for $10.  You can enter in a wide variety of ways.  She doesn’t require a purchase, but I went onto her Etsy shop (she has a second one, here), and I liked *EVERY SINGLE THING*.  I recently sold some curriculum, and used some of the PayPal balance to purchase three things.  I could easily have bought about fifty things, but I restrained myself.
  • On a totally different note, as I was researching the use of ammonia (for in my home), I read the Wikipedia entry on it.  Color me SHOCKED when I read a blurb about large fast-food chains using ammonia to disinfect beef for its burgers.  The meat (or should I say, “meat”)  is obtained using a process that liquefies the fat in fatty trimmings and then centrifuges it out.  The fine sludge that remains is then treated with ammonia to kill e-coli and other pathogens.  Now, it appears that only a portion of each patty from McDonald’s and

    Beef Products Inc.'s ammonia-treated beef

    Burger King uses the low-quality ammonia-treated beef, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.  I can honestly say that it has been…  I think… two years since I’ve had any beef from either of those two places, but suffice it to say that — IF YOU HAVE TO pH TEST THE LEVEL OF YOUR MEAT TO MAKE SURE IT’S NOT DANGEROUSLY ALKALINE FROM HAVING IT TREATED WITH AMMONIA, then it’s not really anything I want to eat.  Ever again.  EVER.  Sounds too crazy to be true, right?  Too gross??  Sadly, no.  Do read the whole October 2009 New York Times exposé — it’s really interesting.  The focus of the article was primarily on the SAFETY of the meat, and all I could think about was, “THEY’RE TREATING FOOD WITH AMMONIA AND DISCUSSING THE SAFETY AND THE ODOR!!!  THIS IS NOT RIGHT!!!!!!”  Lordy.  Maybe this is one reason why Americans are having such trouble with food pH that is too high, too alkaline…  That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms, I guess.  😦

    • By the way, on the rare occasions when I have a burger, I really like In-N-Out.  I visited their website, and sent in an e-mail, asking about ammonia in their beef.  They replied, asking me to call their toll-free number, which I did.  Turns out, they do all of their butchering in-house (they have one butcherhouse which is the lone supplier of their meat), and they do not use ammonia in their beef.
    • Beef Products, Inc., the primary producer of this ammonia-treated beef also is a MAJOR supplier for public school cafeteria lunches.  (Add that to the ever-growing list of reasons why I’m happy we homeschool.)

Driscoll on teen fiction (it’s more interesting than that title sounds, I promise!)

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church reads my blog!

Just kidding.

However, we must have the same Spirit at work within us, because two days after I posted on the deplorable state of teen fiction, the Mars Hill Church posted this ten minute excerpt of a sermon… all about what??  The deplorable state of teen fiction.  He specifically ties it to the popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s fiction, in the last three minutes or so of the video.

It’s really funny, and really true.  And, I really saw several of those books on my library’s shelves…

Hat tip to Mrs. Gombojav… Thanks, friend!!!

Oh!  P.S.  I’m working on a post on GREAT fiction for teens, mostly recommended by my friend, Kathy.  However, it’s taking a while, because there are 50+ books, and I’m making links for all of them… Hang tight!

Sad things.

  • My mom has been ill.  After five days in the hospital (week before last), she told the doctors, “I will be going home at 6 p.m. tonight.  You have 12 hours to do whatever it is you need to do.”  She’s very stubborn.  I could write reams about my concerns about my dear mother, but it all boils down to this:  She does way too much, which is terribly hard on her body, but keeps her mentally sane and emotionally balanced.  ~sigh~  The tables are indeed turned, with me checking in to see if she called the doctor on this, or the insurance company about that, and chastising her for turning down her portable oxygen tank to 3 lpm instead of 4, even though it “lasts longer” that way.  ~heavy sigh~
  • My hubby and I went on a date night on Saturday, which was cut short by us rescuing a doggie.  Big ol’ guy — 60 lbs at least — with short legs and a bully chest… maybe an English Bulldog/Lab mix.  Or, Mastiff + Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  Dunno.  He came right up to our truck, loved on us, rolled on his back and let us rub his tummy, gratefully ate the food we got at PetsMart for him, willingly submitted to a much-needed bath at home.  I quickly jumped onto the lost & found listings on Craigslist, and submitted a report on http://www.pets911.com, and trolled the last 4 months of lost dog reports.  However, I secretly hoped, those first few hours, that we wouldn’t find the owner, because I wanted to keep him forever, and had warm and affectionate feelings for his chocolate brindle messy self.  Until he attacked our dog.  Golly, my priorities, upon the really frightening event of breaking up the two dogs in our family room, which left mom and five children all shaking and crying, were really solidified:  New dog — danger to our family dog, and potential danger to any small child wandering in/nearby a dog fight — is out the door.  😦  On Monday, after an hour of driving around the neighborhoods in about a mile radius from where we found him, I took him to the pound.  They keep him for “a minimum of 72 hours” and assess his adoptability, at which point they either euthanize him, or put him up for adoption.  😦 😦 😦  It’s still heavy on my heart, and it has me wondering why God appointed that responsibility to us, and if we did the right thing.
  • Sort of related to the first thing up there, I find myself REALLY wanting to be in a house into which we could invite my mom & stepdad to live.  I’ve already talked with my stepdad about it (a while ago, after another medical scare from my mom), and he does want to live with us should my Mom pass… That was both a hard and a beautiful conversation.  Joe has only been my “Dad” for 12 years;  I was already married and with my first child when he and my mom got married.  However, I love him dearly, and he is the most involved grandfather my children have (though my “real” dad and my hubby’s dad do love our kids, and they do see them regularly), and it KILLS ME to think of him on his own, after my mom dies.  My hubby and I have talked a bit about selling this home and buying one more appropriately outfitted for a “guest,” but, obviously, this is a BAD AWFUL time to be putting a house on the market, and it would really, really, really have to be OF GOD for it to happen.  So, I’m praying.

Is this it??? (SSSS)

I have a friend named Elizabeth… She and I were fairly good friends, then the two of us got married at roughly the same time, then she moved to Alaska.  Both our marriages and the move slowed down the friendship quite a bit.  But, I’m happy when I see her, which is about once a year, when she visits family in town and visits our church, too, where she used to attend.  (She also married a cousin of my pastor.)

Facebook has increased our contact of late, which has been nice.  In fact, when Elizabeth and I were talking after church, her daughter appeared to be listening intently to our conversation, then she burst out, “Are you Karen?”  I admitted to that fact, and Elizabeth explained, “She recognizes you from Facebook.”  🙂

Elizabeth is a doctor.  She used to be Ethan’s pediatrician when he was a baby, and I — for selfish reasons — mourned her move, because not only is she a fabulous, brilliant doctor, but I could always trust her to tell me the TRUTH, and to give me a perspective that is Godly-wisdom-based, not just medically-based.  (For instance, she was the first doctor to tell me straight out that the pill is an abortifacient, which most all doctors will pussyfoot around or flat-out deny.)

Yesterday, after church, she came up to me, telling me that she had had a vision of me during worship.  She almost didn’t tell me, and, oh!  I’m so glad she did!  She saw me with a hobo’s bag full of tin cups that I kept messing with, and God was standing off to the side with a gold, jewel-encrusted goblet, that was full of healing.  The idea was that God had the goblet for me, and I kept messing with the tin cups.

In other words, I keep TINKERING with things, when He has HEALING.

I totally took that, on behalf of Fiala.

What made that especially significant is that yesterday was the day that some specific ministry prayer was to be done over Fiala!  Such timing.  We did get some prayer, though the team (for one reason or another) was only half its originally-intended size, and it was hard to pray because Fiala was VERY fussy and just wanted to go run.

Elizabeth only got a brief look at Fi, and now she and her family are off to California for a couple of days, but she also saw my pastor’s family for quite a while yesterday, and she told my pastor’s wife that she is quite certain that Fiala has Staph Scalded Skin Syndrome.

I started to Google it, but stopped, because the fear started to creep back in when I read that, often, in babies less than a year, SSSS is fatal.  Fiala is now 14 months, but this is the same thing — if it is it — that she’s been struggling with, in one form or another, since she was two months old.

Although this little girl, in England, who was diagnosed with SSSS, has patches that appear IDENTICAL to Fiala’s:

Again, this is NOT Fiala, but her patches look identical. Currently, her skin is even worse than the above baby's!

I still have lots of questions for Elizabeth-the-doctor, for some of the things that Fi has doesn’t quite fit the symptoms of SSSS, from what I can tell.  (Especially that patches from SSSS are supposed to heal in 5-7 days, and Fiala has had some of the same patches for literally months on end.)

Still, when I was praying this morning, I felt very confident that I am to trust Elizabeth, and that God gave her that vision of me, in order to increase my confidence in both her ability to hear from God, and in her medical advice, because right now, my trust-level in doctors is pretty low.

I’m not going to hunt her down in California to talk about it, but she did suggest (through our pastor’s wife) that I

  • stop breastfeeding and start her on goat milk (she suggested a 2-week trial, in which I also pump, to keep my supply up, and store the milk) — this is because it’s likely that I am the continuing source of staph bacteria
  • give her warm baths to which 2 cups of white vinegar have been added, as Staph (and other bacteria) can’t live in an acidic environment

I have done the second, but not the first yet.  Before I stop breastfeeding, I want to talk directly with Elizabeth about that.

She is also convinced that while Fiala may indeed have some underlying food allergy issues, it is extremely unlikely that she is allergic to EVERYTHING, which is where she’s currently at — reacting to EVERYTHING.  Elizabeth believes that staph in her body (maybe bacterial enterocolitis?) is interfering with the digestion process, and it’s the staph that is causing most of her symptoms.  Interestingly, people with bacterial enterocolitis can develop carbohydrate intolerances, and it’s to various carbohydrates that Fiala has always reacted most violently, which is why her (no-longer) allergist thought she may have some sort of sugar intolerance.

Elizabeth also said that while antibiotics might be needed, there are other things we can do to eliminate the staph and treat the symptoms.  It’s the “other things” that I’m really interested in right now… It’s hard to wait until we can talk!!

Part of me doesn’t want to get my hopes up, but the other part — especially due to the circumstances — is quick to think, “This is itThis is the answer to our prayers!  This is what Fiala’s been struggling with, her whole sweet little life!!!”

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