Friday, July 31, 2015

July Birthdays

My husband and our seventh child, Stephen, share the same birthday - July 24th - though they are separated by 31 years. You can read about that here

At age 3, Stephen is into boy stuff, and likes dressing up as a racecar driver, a construction worker, or a fireman - or sometimes a bit of all three at once. Sometimes he demands, "Don't call me Stephen, call me [insert pretend character of the day]!" It's so cute, and it brings back memories of when the older boys were little. 

 That face!

  Becky got him this tool set, which he loves

  Playing with the toy cars from John

 Typical Becky...

  Miriam sewed this book for him by herself. He loves it and takes it to bed with him every day.

 This construction themed set of plate and cutlery was another huge hit. 

 Birthday breakfast of pancakes, syrup, fresh strawberries, and maple syrup. 

This racecar driver costume used to be John's, but is currently Stephen's favorite.

 My two handsome men


 Ticket to Ride is one of our favorite games, and my husband is all about India these days, learning one of their languages and such. So I figured he might like this extension set. 

(Please ignore the box of school supplies to be donated under the table...)

That night, we had a board game night at church, which was great fun. Many thanks to those who sent birthday wishes, cards, and even gifts. It was a great day all around. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Nakedness, Modesty, and Breastfeeding

This sermon my husband preached yesterday is spot on and full of biblical truth, cutting through opinions and worldly views commonly shrouding these topics in today's society. 

I am thankful that at our church, we do not have a problem of breastfeeding mothers being persecuted, simply because we started the church and have taught the people we have reached right from the start. I do feel bad for ladies and mothers being confronted with these issues virtually everywhere else, though.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Body weight and fertility

Disclaimer: As if you didn't already know this, I am reminding you that I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am sharing what I have learned in hopes of helping someone who struggles with infertility. 

As the mother of a large family, and married to a pastor who preaches against birth control, sometimes people get the idea that I am surrounded by nothing but ladies having one baby after another. And while it is true that many of my Christian friends and acquaintances likewise welcome all children as a blessing, and consequently have large families, there are almost just as many ladies who wish they had a(nother) child,  but struggle with infertility.

You see, trusting God with your family size does not equal having a large family. It simply means that you put God in charge of your fertility, whether that means not preventing children by way of birth control,  or likewise also not using assisted reproductive technology to artificially grow your family.

Modern technology and medicine can be a blessing, but it can also be used as a tool to play God. How can we tell where to draw the line of what is acceptable, and what is not? In regard to infertility, our test has always been: does this measure simply restore health, or does it go beyond that? Does it save, or does it destroy life? If a lady has medical issues that can be fixed, which prevent her from becoming pregnant, then by all means, address the underlying problems in hopes of becoming pregnant. Examples could be: hormone balances are off, the body is not producing enough progesterone, there are cysts/fibroids etc.  All these issues, when addressed, restore a normal state of health. Whereas if we think of other options out there today, such as IVF, using a surrogate, sperm/egg donation, etc., these all go beyond restoring natural health, and fall into the "playing God" category. 

To recap so far, I am not a stranger to counseling ladies regarding infertility, and I believe measures that restore normal health are morally acceptable.

With all that being said, I believe the vast majority of ladies struggling with infertility fall into two categories: they either weigh too much (BMI greater than 30), or they weigh too little (BMI less than 20). Both seem to be equally prevalent. 

That is the quick assessment. The BMI thresholds are not necessarily accurate for every individual. On a deeper level, it really is not so much body weight, as the underlying diet that is to blame, but for most of us diet/health and weight go hand in hand, so using body weight is a good indicator for most. I mention this because there are some people within normal weight ranges who struggle with infertility due to their diet, while others eat too much healthy food and are very overweight but fertile. However, the majority of people struggling with infertility tends to be either over- or underweight. 

For those on the underweight end of the spectrum, a lack of consuming healthy fats in adequate quantities is a huge part of the problem. The right kinds of fats are absolutely vital to proper hormone production, which in turn control every process in our body, including reproduction. However, skinny people often believe the once prevalent but false notion that fats are unhealthy, when the truth is that natural fats are very healthy, whereas man-made fats are what is destructive. 

Also, simply not eating enough will not provide the body with enough nutrients to grow another human, which is why the rates of miscarriage are much higher in severely underweight and anorexic ladies. 

For those on the overweight end of the spectrum, either an over-consumption of bad fats, and/or of sugar and simple carbs, will wreak havoc on health and reproduction. While fats often get the bad rap for being destructive to health, this blame should really be placed on sugar and simple carbs. These simple sugars, when consumed regularly even in moderate quantities, are stored by the body as fat, and in the long run cause insulin resistance. Ultimately, this can lead to type II (acquired) diabetes, which simply means that the body is no longer able to produce enough insulin to even convert this excess sugar into fat. In the case of uncontrolled diabetes, excess sugar remains in the blood stream, where it can lead to diabetic shock, coma, and death.

Simple carbs that should be all but eliminated include sugar, white flour and other simple grains, starchy foods like potatoes, sodas, other high-glycemic index foods such as fruit juice, and for those struggling with insulin resistance, even sweet fruits like grapes, melons, and the like.

Healthy fats that should be consumed daily to the tune of at least 2 tablespoons per day include butter, tallow/lard from pasture-fed animals free of hormones, antibiotics, or GMO feed, and some naturally saturated plant fat like palm and coconut oil, as well as unheated olive and avocado oils. Some foods that are naturally high in healthy fats are fatty fish like salmon, nuts, eggs, whole milk products, and avocados. People struggling with infertility would do well to consume these daily.

Fats to be avoided at all cost, even in small amounts, are: vegetable oils such as corn, canola, or soy etc, man-made fats like margarine, store-bought "lard" or shortening, or any other hydrogenated fats. This also includes any ready-made foods and snacks that contain these, which includes virtually all conventional, packaged goods (e.g. cookies, chips, cakes, fast food, anything fried, etc.)

Further avoided should be simple sugars and carbs, especially in liquid form. These will destroy your metabolism and hormone balance, in turn preventing you from being able to become pregnant.

In a nut shell, my advice to those struggling with infertility is: If you are underweight, seek to gain weight and achieve a BMI of over 20 by daily consuming healthy fats, in combination with complex carbs. If you are overweight, switch to only consuming healthy fats, and drastically reduce your intake of sugar and simple carbs, while aiming to lose about 5-10% of your body weight. If there is no known underlying cause of your infertility, this will almost certainly allow you to become pregnant.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hodgepodge Post

Please pardon the unusually long blogging absence. This blog has collected quite some dust since my last post I'm afraid. With summer in full swing, there have been some special activities and outings going on. Just typical summer bucket list stuff. The kids also go to bed later than usual, for which they make up by getting up earlier than normal. As a result, my quite alone time, especially on the computer, has pretty much ceased to exist. I have taken to going on early morning walks by myself at the park every day for that little link to sanity. The weather at that hour is cool and mild - some mornings, I have even enjoyed a bit of rain showers.

Most days, Boaz cooperates, and goes back to sleep after I nurse him whenever I wake up, typically around 5 a.m. Other days, he won't go back to sleep, but is too tired and crabby to actually enjoy being up. For these times, I just purchased a new soft-structured carrier that I really love, and want to recommend: the Lillebaby. Putting him on my back or front in it is a snap, and I can bring him along on my morning walk, which sends him back to dreamland where he is supposed to be at that early hour. Very comfortable even for extended walks!

That look! :)

Anyhow, the long days and extra activities have left me with virtually no computer time, but it's summer, so it's all good.


There was a gastrointestinal virus that made its way pretty much through the entire state, and also brushed us. None of us got seriously ill, but because no two of us were sick at the same time, it really, really dragged this thing out over the course of almost two weeks. Just as one person would get over it, the next person would start. Fun, fun!

In a little more serious of a medical incident, I took little Stephen to the pediatrician after having a somewhat severe reaction to a bee sting on his hand (red, hot, considerably swelled, and a rash over his body). Since all his symptoms involved only one system (the skin), this was not considered an anaphylactic reaction. But clearly, he must be allergic to some extent, and his reaction this time was quite a bit more severe than that after his first sting last year.

 It doesn't look so big, until you put it in relation with my hand under his.

The pediatrician was concerned the severe swelling on the hand would cut off circulation to the fingers, especially since the swelling had not yet reached its peak. So on we went to the children's ER, where Stephen was subsequently admitted to the hospital after several hours of observation, when IV steroids had failed to reduce the swelling significantly.

He took it all in stride. When they moved him up to his own room, I told him it was like staying at a hotel on vacation. So for the rest of his stay, he kept telling everyone he was on vacation in California :) He never cried once, not even when they laid the IV, but when I went home that night and he stayed behind with Dad, we wailed and really wanted me to stay instead. Since Bo still nurses, and I didn't want to keep him overnight at the hospital, me staying there was not really an option. 

 Watching the helipad and the arriving ambulances.

To my local readers, I just want to give a huge shout-out to Cardon Children's Hospital. This has been our second experience with them, and both stays have been excellent in service and care. (By comparison, every experience I have had with Phoenix Children's has been awful.) The nurses and doctors at Cardon are very friendly, respect their patients and their parents, and generally go out of their way to make everything as pleasant as possible. Some examples: Stephen was showered with new, in the box, age-appropriate toys and activities in the ER, while they fed me fresh deli sandwiches that are kept on hand just for parents. The inpatient rooms offer comfortable, spacious rooms, and made-to-order meals, hotel room service style (minus the price tag, since it's all included). There are tons of play rooms, therapy dogs, interactive displays etc. that make this hospital a beautiful and fun place to be for patients as well as siblings that are visiting. A few days after we were back home, Stephen received a card that had been hand-signed by all his doctors and nurses. Last but not least, because we do not carry medical insurance, the hospital automatically deducted about 2/3 off our price as a cash discount, making this stay cost only about what most people pay for their health insurance premiums in a couple of months. 

On that note, another huge shout-out to Samaritan Ministries, a Christian medi-share program that allows members to help each other bear such unexpected medical bills by sharing funds. We joined them last year, after a short and disappointing stint with "real" health insurance (which made as little financial sense then as it did ten years ago when we first cancelled it). Until this incident, I had enjoyed reading Samaritan's monthly newsletter, being able to put a real name along with my share each month and send it directly to whoever needed it, along with a Get Well card, but the way they have handled this need is truly just a testimony to how wonderful it is to join together with other believers in such an undertaking. We wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone as a fabulous alternative to medical insurance. This medi-share program is acceptable under the new mandatory health care laws, so between not paying the fines on taxes and the inevitable maternity and child-related needs being covered, this is a great fit for us.

Stephen now has to carry an Epi-pen (well, I do), but otherwise has no lasting harm. We have a lot of bees around here, so much so that I suspect a backyard urban hobby beekeeper must live close by. People always think of scorpions or rattlesnakes being the deadly animals here in Arizona, but they kill less than 1 person per year in the US. By comparison, bees are the deadliest animals, killing more humans in the US every year than any other animal (approx. 55/year).

Anyhow, if you think of it, please pray that Stephen does not get stung again anytime soon, and that if he does, his reaction will not be severe.

One last shout-out for my local readers to a place we discovered a couple of weeks ago: Shakes and Cones in old-town Scottsdale.

An all-organic soft serve ice cream place. Think Dairy Queen, minus the weird aftertaste and questionable ingredients. So, SO good!!! Price-wise, very reasonable, especially since the portions are humongous. Service is outstanding. What's not to love?  That they are not closer to my house. Or maybe that's a good thing.

Hope you are all enjoying summer with your loved ones!

(No affiliate links in this post, I really just like everything I have recommended above.)