Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish I had time to list even just some of the things I am grateful for this year. Most of all, of course, I thank God for my husband and children, and for the health, safety, and wellbeing of us all. And I am thankful that the kids are all still young and home for all the holidays!

Hope you all have a wonderful and blessed day with your loved ones.

"And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God." - Ecclesiastes 3:13

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
- James 1:17

"Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock."
Psalm 107:41

"God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land."
Psalm 68:6

Miriam, my beautiful daughter and enthusiastic kitchen helper, made apple pie with me last week. Can you guess which one is hers and which one is mine? She thought the apples were added after the crust was baked, and was a little disappointed when she realized her mistake. Becky and the boys were happy to eat her "lattice top" though, so she was happy with it after all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sewing fun

On Saturday, I bought a new sewing machine, a first in my life. I learned how to sew as a child from my mother, who is a seamstress. My mother-in-law gave me one of her sewing machines shortly after I got married, but it broke on our last move. I then bought a used sewing machine for like $10 at the thrift store. It worked well most of the time, but it was frustrating me in that the bobbin thread and the tension control would have a mind of their own.

So this Saturday, while I was working on the girls' matching Christmas dresses and opening another seam that the machine had messed up on, I was thinking how nice it would be to have a new, reliable machine. My husband, the wonderful guy that he is, said "Sure!" when I called to tell him that I would really like to buy a new machine.

Off I went with five kids in tow. There was a Singer machine at the store that was on sale for $349 instead of the regular $399, but the lady said I should wait until this weekend (the post-Thanksgiving sale), when it would be only $199. There are many things I would rather do than go shopping the day after Thanksgiving with five kids in tow. So she suggested I put it in lay-away, and they would adjust the price. I asked her if I could buy it right now, and just bring in the receipt and have them adjust the price, as some stores do. She told me she would just give it to me for the sale price that day, so I only paid $199 AND I didn't have to go out on THE WORST day to go shopping. Nice!

So yesterday, I finished sewing Miriam's and Becky's matching Christmas dresses. It was so much fun; I can't wait to get started on the next project. Making time to sew with lots of little kids that are with me 24 hours every day can be challenging. I just remind myself that if I can eek out 20 or 30 minutes at a time, it all adds up to get lots of stuff made.

Taking the girls' pictures was the next challenge. Miriam was so eager to pose with Becky that she accidentally knocked Becky over, who started bleeding from a cut she got on her finger. I quieted her screaming by giving her a lollipop, but then Miriam started crying because she was sad about hurting the baby. I promised her a lollipop after we were done with the pictures. They both did great for the photos, but when I downloaded them to the computer I realized the shutter hadn't opened all the way and I had to crop the pictures to try to salvage them. There was no way I was going to redo the whole photo session!

Anyway, here are the pictures of my beautiful daughters. They are such a blessing; I cannot imagine life without them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sad but true


The efficiency of the Postal Service,
the sustainability of Social Security,
and all the compassion of the IRS.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Farm Fresh to You

I just wanted to give a shout-out to a great organic farm in Northern California called Farm Fresh to You. They deliver boxes of their locally grown produce to households in the surrounding areas. Most, but not all produce in the box is grown directly by them or other neighboring organic farmers in the region, although they do use some produce from other parts of the country to keep fruit in the boxes throughout the colder months. They do, however, also offer a box of 100% locally grown fruits and veggies.

Price for the regular box including delivery is $31.50, which will feed an average family for one week. They offer lots of other options, too, depending on your family's individual needs.

I am not affiliated with this farm in any way. I just stumbled across them and was impressed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Important information regarding miscarriage

First of all, I would like to say that I will make every effort to be very sensitive about such a painful subject. I myself have spontaneously miscarried twice, once just days after finding out I was pregnant, and once around 8 or 10 weeks. The second time, I actually passed a little sac with the baby and all, and it was heartbreaking. I understand the heart of a mom who has suffered miscarriage, and I am in no way trying to be insensitive. I did not need a D&C either time, and suffered no ill after-effects.

This subject has weighed on my mind since a young lady (an old school acquaintance of my husband) contacted me through my blog to ask my advice. She had been told by her doctor that she had a blighted ovum, and needed a D&C. Her question was whether I would recommend the procedure or not.

Ever since then, I have wanted to share the information I found on my blog here, because I think this affects many women. Every time I set out to write about it, someone would write to me saying they either were having or just had a miscarriage, asking for my advice and/or prayers. I receive about a dozen emails a day from readers all over the world asking me all sorts of things, but the last thing I wanted was for them to think I was singling them out and addressing them indirectly through a blog post. Nothing could be further from the truth. My goal with this post is simply to present information so that women who find themselves in this situation in the future can make their own, informed decisions.

Before I responded to my husband's childhood friend, I spent several hours that night researching the subject on the internet. What I found was shocking. I had never been in favor of routinely performing D&Cs after miscarriage. A friend of mine once was thought to have miscarried, because she was early on and had a period just a few days after finding out she was pregnant. She was told by the doctor that there was no heart beat and that she needed a D&C because her body was not naturally expelling the baby, but she waited for weeks for it to happen naturally, thinking her baby was dead that whole time. Lo and behold, weeks later it was found out that she was still pregnant, and the baby is now a healthy 4 year old.

When faced with a miscarriage, a woman has three choices, called expectant management, medical management, and surgical management. Expectant management means the mother does nothing and waits for her body to spontaneously expel the baby, which in very rare cases could take weeks. Medical management is taking certain drugs to induce labor and/or cause the shedding of the uterine lining (these are higher doses of the same drugs as "morning after"pills and birth control pills). Surgical management is usually carrying out a D&C - the cervix is mechanically dilated and the womb scraped out. It is the same procedure as early abortion. In cases of an ectopic pregnancy, sometimes the fallopian tube is surgically removed.

Even in cases of absolutely certain miscarriage, a routine D&C is dangerous business. It could lead to severe complications such as a punctured uterus, but even when it goes well, the uterine lining will have been stripped to the point where another pregnancy is not safe for several months following, after the uterus has had a chance to build a layer thick enough to sustain a new pregnancy. Unless the mother has a fever and is showing signs of infection, or is losing dangerous amounts of blood, there is no reason to do a D&C, and it is only every risky. Of course, doctor use fear to try to push this procedure, as they do with most anything relating to obstetrics. There just isn't a whole lot of work or money in doing things naturally.

That aside, I do not believe that most cases of miscarriage are really "absolutely certain". During the first trimester, no ultrasound or doppler can ever with 100% certainty say that the baby has died based on the fact that no heart beat was detected. A much more reliable test would be to check the mother's hcg levels twice within a span of several days, and see if the levels have dropped (which would indicate a miscarriage).

What I found so shocking in my research into this subject is how many times women are wrongly diagnosed with a blighted ovum. Sometimes, it is just because the person doing the exam does not know how to use the equipment very well, the dates are off, or the woman has a tilted uterus (this is very common), all of which could lead to there being "no heart beat". In other cases, doctors are simply misinformed, such as telling a woman that a blighted ovum means she was never really pregnant and there never was a baby, when in reality there was a fertilized ovum, but for whatever reason it did not survive. This may seem like an insignificant detail, but for Bible believing Christians it means that they had a child whom they will meet when they get to Heaven.

In fact, there is a whole website dedicated to this subject, The Misdiagnosed Miscarriage. There is much great information, and stories of women who were diagnosed wrongly.

I am sure that most women are diagnosed correctly. Nevertheless, I have felt greatly urged to share this information. If your feelings were hurt or you are upset by this post, I sincerely apologize. Every mother who has miscarried struggles with guilt and the question "Did I do anything to cause this?" The last thing I want to do is contribute to that. At the end of the day, all any of us can do is try our best, to the best of our knowledge.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ideas for Thanksgiving

As much as I like to blog about the children, I like playing with them even more, which means that this week I may not have time to write much while I spend extra time making crafts with them.

Here is a link to lots of fun activities to do with your kids this month.

The kids and I are making Tiny Toms tonight.

Book report

I am writing a book report on Babar’s Birthday Surprise. The author is Jean De Brunhoff. I thought it was interesting to read about his birthday surprise (and to burn Mom!).

This book is about elephants building a statue for Babar as a birthday present. It talks about Babar’s birthday. It happened in Celesteville, in 2009, and the main characters are Babar and Celeste; the other characters are :
-Pom, Flora, and Alexander
-the birds

It is a good book, and I recommend you to read it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Great article on VBAC

This is a great article I stumbled across about VBACs. If you have had one or even more C-sections in the past, and would like to have a natural birth, please take the time to research this subject and your options for future pregnancies.

Sadly, some states (including Arizona) would like to stamp out and even criminalize VBACs altogether.

I am not saying that everyone who wants to have a VBAC can or should have one. I am just saying that you should inform yourself rather than trusting your OB to give you the right advice (he/she won't), and then pray about it.

Psalm 22:9,10 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.

Flu Vaccine

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Veteran's Day

I woke up on Monday morning thinking it was Veteran's Day, and planned a hiking trip up north with the kids. At some point I started doubting if it really was a holiday that day, and after looking it up online, realized Veteran's Day wasn't until Wednesday. Still, I thought it was observed on Monday, as is often the case with holidays that don't directly fall on either side of a weekend. I successfully convinced my husband, who had a lot of business errands to do that day, of the same. I really wanted him to come along, and I "knew" he wouldn't be able to get his errands done on a holiday anyway.

We headed up to Payson, and went hiking in the woods along the Mogollon Rim. It was so fun. The weather was perfect, the air was so fresh, and everything so lovely. I carried Becky in a carrier on my back, something she loves, and the whole time she kept leaning her head forward, nuzzling up to me and hugging my neck, saying "Hi! Hi!" She is such a little sweetie.

The photos are a little fuzzy because I forgot my camera and took them with my phone instead.

Notice the dirt on Miriam's face

Becky got just as grubby and dirty

My husband goofing around with the boys

These two are so funny. Miriam is such a Daddy's girl. Not sure who came up with the idea to walk like this so they could look at each other.

Yesterday, when it was really Veteran's Day, the kids didn't have to do any school work and almost no chores. While they were playing, I sewed a nightgown for Miriam. Then the girls took their nap in the afternoon while the boys and I built a cardboard castle to go with this week's theme for school, Great Britain. We are covering everything about medieval times, monarchy, Shakespeare, etc. There is so much to read that I think we might stay on this part of our unit study for another week or two.

After the evening service at church last night, we went to see a special preview of ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo, the annual Christmas lights display. Best of all, the carousel was free! We didn't get back home until shortly after 10 pm, but it was so much fun and so worth it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Praying for the Chicken

Miriam was watching me today as I was using a whole chicken to make chicken soup. She looked fascinated, so I showed her where the neck and feet had been, what the heart, liver, and other organs looked like, and then explained to her that the chicken was dead and we were going to eat it. She looked a little alarmed and proclaimed: "I don't want to eat that!"

Then, to her horror and amazement, I started cutting up the chicken with my big butcher knife, and she yelled: "Don't do that! You are killing the chicken!" I again explained to her that the chicken was already dead, that God made animals for us to eat, and that she had eaten chicken many times and that she loved it. She was satisfied with that, but added: "I am going to pray for the chicken."

With that, she walked off to her big brother's bed, and sure enough, spent several minutes in prayer for the chicken, in spite of the fact that her brother kept telling her the chicken won't be coming back to life.

Little girls are so precious! I am certain that I am the most blessed mama that has ever lived.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another Q & A

I know you said you do not have a television in your home, but I know you read the news, and I was wondering if you had an opinion on the John and Kate plus 8 happenings. I for one have no respect for a mother who uses her children for her own personal gain, but I wanted to know if you had an opinion on it, and what it was.

I do indeed have an opinion, but it is just that - an opinion. Since I don't know practically anything about the family, and what I do know about them I got through the public media, I really don't know anything at all. Having been on the receiving end of how deceptive the media can be, I am cautious to believe anything they say about any subject.

Having said that, I think it is sad that their family has fallen apart, although I would not try to play the blame game. Both parents seem to have their own set of issues, and the kids are caught in the middle of it. Ultimately, though, I think that the husband has the role of taking charge in the home and making sure the ship stays afloat.

As far as using children for financial gain, that is an interesting subject. We own a business, and as our kids get older and more able (i.e. young teenagers) I am sure that we will expect them to help and pitch in without being paid, or paid as much as an employee would. Children the world over throughout history have been expected to help the family. I read that the Amish say a child is a liability until they are 7, that they pull their own weight until they are 14, and bring the family profit after that, and I think there is a lot of truth in that. I think the question should rather be, would anybody want cameras filming their children regularly and plastering their personal lives on TV for financial gain? I for one certainly wouldn't. But I think it is a better option than to leave the kids to rot in daycare while both parents go to work to pay for a family of ten. I do not watch the Jon & Kate episodes, but I do watch the Duggar shows on Amazon every week, and find them entertaining/encouraging/informative. But would I do it? No.

I was just curious, after I read the bit about China, do you ever discuss other religions with your children?

I don't mean this is a 'nasty' way or anything, just wondering. When I was in school I was always fascinated by other people's religions and what they believed.

I've known several families who would discuss other religions and how it was different from their own, etc etc.

That's a good question. Yes, we do touch on the major world religions as we learn about different countries. We don't waste our time doing any in-depth studies, just a brief synopsis and then tie it in with the Bible, talking about how the religion differs from God's word and making it clear that they are false religions.

The world's religions are not that different from one another, as they all have one major common theme: What must man do in order to go to heaven or reach some other state of higher existence? True Bible Christianity says that God has already done everything, and offers it to us as a free gift that is simply received by faith.

Other cultures have always fascinated me, and back when I was in college (before I was a Christian) I studied Cultural Anthropology.

I have an unrelated question for you - as a new mom and baby-wearer I have been very thankful for your post on different slings/wraps/etc. I remember you saying that you were in the process of making a mei-tai though. Did you make one? How do you like it? I am getting one soon so I'm curious what you think of yours. :)

Yes, I made one, and yes, I like it, but I didn't end up using it much. When the baby was very little, she was more comfortable in a wrap. By the time she was big enough to be comfortable in the mei tai, I usually would use the ring sling because it was faster and more convenient for me. The mei tai is not my first choice of favorite carrier, but everybody has different preferences. Maybe you could borrow different slings and see which type you like best.

I remember reading somewhere on your blog that your kids rarely get sick or have to visit the doctor. Recently i've been catching colds left and right, and I was wondering how to you keep your family so healthy? My mom usually buys organic/"healthy" foods at the grocery store and I stay pretty active so what's your secret? I really hope you respond because I can't take another runny nose!

Your best chances of avoiding a cold/flu is sufficient rest, lots of vitamin C from fresh fruits (not vitamins or ready juice), and washing your hands frequently with mild (not antibacterial) soap.

I think the number 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 reason why we rarely get ill is due to life style. It is NOT because we are isolated (we are not), never go in public (we go to several public places every single day), or are just a rare exception of health. Diet plays a huge role. We always ate mostly at home, cooked from scratch, with whole foods ingredients. We would all get a mild cold about once a year.

Several months ago, we switched to 100% organic foods, and have tried to eliminate eating out as much as possible. I also try to use all natural body care and household products in an effort to eliminate toxins. Organic foods have not been genetically altered, and are grown without pesticides, herbicides, and artificial fertilizers. We only consume raw dairy products, which are much easier on the immune system. I am currently working on a blog post about how to afford organic without spending a fortune.

None of us has become sick in over a year in spite of people all around us being ill frequently. I have lots of energy and feel great, even on limited sleep and working with 5 young children every day with little help from anyone (including my busy husband). I have no family living nearby, so while other moms cannot even function unless they can pawn off their children on Grandma regularly, I am planting a garden, replacing the flooring, or working on some other major project almost all of the time with all the kids there with me 24 hours every single day. On average, I work from 5 or 6 AM until 9 or 10 PM every single day, with few breaks in between, yet I am in perfect health. It's not because I'm supermom, it's because I eat well. Even one meal eaten out at a semi-decent fast casual place will make me tired and sluggish for the rest of the day, and fast food makes me downright ill.

A great book to read to learn about nutrition is "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. Two great documentaries about what is wrong with the food in the US, most notably genetically engineered food, are "The Future of Food" and "Food Inc.". Both are available for purchase or online viewing on Amazon.

This is the link to the trailer for "Food Inc." (embedding has been disabled on YouTube). Below is a clip of the first few minutes of the film. I saw it at the theater this summer when it first came out, and just like it promises, I never looked at dinner the same way again. I walked out of there and immediately made changes to switch us over to all-organic foods as quickly as possible by shopping and eating differently. Since then, I have not set foot in a supermarket ever again for more than a couple of minutes a handful of times to pick up an organic staple that I ran out of unexpectedly. Food Inc. was just released on DVD this week, and I highly recommend it.

What is your opinion about dental care for yourself and your children?

As with everything pertaining to medicine, I think prevention is the key. Proper nutrition and hygiene will prevent most if not all dental problems in children and young people. Of course, we do see a dentist if there is a need. The one we use was highly recommended to us by my midwife, and it's worth the 1 hour drive each way to have a trustworthy doctor who is not just trying to make business for herself.

Thank you to all who have written and asked my opinion. This is just what I think, and I make no claims to have the right answers and views on any and all subjects.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Infant Mortality in the United States

The CDC just released data from the United States’ Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set and the European Perinatal Health Report.

Their findings? In 2005, the latest year that the international ranking is available for, the United States ranked 30th in the world in infant mortality, behind most European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Israel. This in spite of the fact that we spend more than any other of these countries on medical care and equipment, and have the most sophisticated facilities.

  • Infant mortality rates for preterm (less than 37 weeks of gestation) infants are lower in the United States than in most European countries; however, infant mortality rates for infants born at 37 weeks of gestation or more are higher in the United States than in most European countries. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that 1 in 3 children are born via Cesarean in this country, and that almost all "natural" labors are "managed" with induction, epidurals, pitocin, etc. These procedures are not just unnatural, but also place great stress on both the mother's and the baby's body, and endanger their wellbeing and obviously also their lives.
  • One in 8 births in the United States were born preterm, compared with 1 in 18 births in Ireland and Finland. There are many underlying causes of prematurity, some of which are preventable and some of which aren't. One major cause is preeclampsia (also called toxemia), which is almost 100% preventable and in most cases reversible through following a healthy diet that included plenty of protein. I am a very strong believer in following the Brewer Pregnancy Diet.
  • If the United States had Sweden’s distribution of births by gestational age, nearly 8,000 infant deaths would be averted each year and the U.S. infant mortality rate would be one-third lower.
I mean, I have been to the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, and their hospitals are somewhat like you would expect to find in Mexico. Even Cuba ranks better than the US. The more Western countries on the list that I have been to (ten of them) have newer hospitals and better equipment (although Britain, who has had socialized health care for the longest, is the worst of these by far), but the fanciest and most modern hospitals I have ever seen are those in the United States. Most maternity wards are made to look like a hotel, but looks can be deceiving.

The best gift any expectant mom can give her child is that of a natural, unmedicated birth that is allowed to progress in its own timing. Midwife-attended home birth is the safest and most satisfying option for low-risk pregnancies.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Solomon's birthday portraits

Solomon's birthday was back in September. He had his birthday portraits done the same day that we took Becky for hers, and also had our family picture taken.

This is the latest family portrait, although you have probably already seen it in the side bar.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The lost episodes

Since all the hype surrounding our personal life has died down, I have again published previous blog posts that include more personal information and/or pictures of our family. If you look through the archives of the last couple of months, you may find posts you have not yet seen before.

Update on Legal Case

*** Update below ***

Many have written asking if there were any news on my husband's court case, but there hasn't been any. For months, the prosecution has delayed the court hearing again and again. Back in August, the hearing was vacated because the judge assigned to this case was called into question. The hearing to rule on whether or not that particular judge should handle this case, or else which judge should, is scheduled for this morning at 9 AM, two and a half months later. Obviously, the prosecution is in no hurry because they get paid to harass people in court all day long.

Of course, several weeks ago we exceeded the 180 days that the prosecution has to bring charges against my husband. He has never once filed for a continuance or caused any other delay. My husband's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case because it exceeded the requirements for a speedy trial, but this motion cannot be ruled on until they settle on who the judge assigned to this case is.

Hopefully, they will come to some conclusion about that today, as well as ruling on the motion to dismiss. We'll keep you posted later on today. Thank you for your continued support!

Update: The court ruled to leave the judge that has been assigned to this case, against the prosecutor's motions. As it stands, this is the third judge handling this case, after the first one recused herself, and the second judge then passed the case off to this third one.

After that was decided, the judge did not rule on the motion to dismiss the case based on it having been more than 180 days without a trial because the prosecution has until tonight to file their response to our motion. She should be ruling on it later this week.