Sunday, August 30, 2009

She Will Not Sleep

I am watching Sadie, who is fourteen months old, bounce of the walls and 8:15 at night. She doesn't seem to believe in sleeping. I think that she's afraid that if she falls asleep she will miss something and she doesn't want to miss anything.

I have managed to get quite a bit done during her constant waking hours. I finished a baby sweater (pink... now one of my pregnant friends will hopefully have a girl!) and the bear for Greg and Kerry's baby. However I keep coming up with more knit gifts that need to be finished. At least it keeps me busy when she's playing!

Now I have to convince one tired baby to go to sleep.

Eeeeeeyyyyyyyyyhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! (Sadie's Favorite Sound)

Sadie has this little sound that she makes when she's annoyed. It's a very high pitched "ehhh" sound that starts and as a squeal and gets louder and clearly expresses that she disagrees with whatever is going on. She makes it numerous times throughout the day. Today she made it when I told her that she couldn't lift a heavy metal flap to touch a power outlet outside. She made it when I tried to get her to eat her lunch. And she made it when it was time to get out of the bathtub. It's a funny little sound and it's hard not to laugh when she makes it.

Bath time has now become one of the funniest times of the day (and also the time when she makes her "annoyed" sound the most frequently). Sadie knows that she is supposed to sit down in the bath tub. It is the main bathtub rule. It is also the bathtub rule that has to be enforced the most frequently (every ten to fifteen seconds on average). The scene plays out in this way. Sadie stands up. I say "okay so are you ready to get out then?" Sadie squeals. I say, "if you don't want to get out you need to sit down." She sits down. Sometimes. Other times she pretends to sit down by bending her knees and not really sitting down. Apparently she doesn't think that I can tell the difference between real sitting and fake sitting. It doesn't really matter whether it's real sitting or fake sitting though, because within ten seconds she's going to be standing up again and I'm going to be giving her the option of sitting down or getting out. The cycle continues. It's amazing how many times we can have the same conversation during a fifteen minute bath!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Teeth Hurt!

Sadie is clumsy, stumbling around, falling frequently. She is absolutely exhausted and I've been trying for the last forty-five minutes to get her to go to sleep. She has been squealing and thrashing and making it clear that she does not want to close her pretty little eyes. That behavior, in combination with biting me twice today while she was nursing (and biting Nani once today on the finger) let's us know what's going on. Her fourth tooth on the bottom is coming in (eighth total tooth). She is one unhappy camper. So tonight my blog will be short. Sadie needs Mommy!

Outfit of the Week

This short sleeved sweater is from Old Navy (a few years back) and the skirt was on clearance at JC Penny's last year when I was looking for post pregnancy clothes that were comfortable and flattering. It was perfect for our trip to see the Birds and Butterflies at Turtle Bay!

The Great Dress Experiment: The Result

When I started my Dress Experiment (wearing a dress every day for thirty days) I wasn't sure what the result would be, or even if there would be a result, other then sticking to something that might be kind of uncomfortable, for an entire month (like a shortened version of Lent). When I started the Experiment I was definitely still more comfortable in pants. I usually threw on a dress before we left the property, but at home I could usually be found in a skirt or dress.

For the first two weeks I was slightly inconvenienced, from time to time, by wearing a dress. I just wasn't totally comfortable. For the second half of the month I didn't notice the skirts. And then the experiment ended and I pulled my pants back out of the drawer...

...a couple of hours later I changed back into a skirt and put them back in the drawer. They had suddenly become hot and restrictive and more then a little annoying. I now feel more comfortable in a skirt. I guess what I feel comfortable in really does depend on what I'm used to.

I do pull my pants out each morning when I get filthy working with the horses. I wouldn't want to put any of my dresses through that kind of a workout!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Animals, A Carousel and a Big Bath Tub

We've been making an effort to keep Sadie busy each day, because she seems to get reckless when she's bored. Today we drove the hour over to the county fair and Sadie was absolutely astounded by seeing the actual animals that she points out and makes us name in her books. We saw (in no particular order) cows, sheep, goats, pigs, roosters, chickens, turkeys, ducks and bunnies (I'm sure I'm leaving some animal out). Sadie scared the goat when she rushed up to the fence, but was a bit overwhelmed when we got our picture taken with the Best In Show Steer, which belongs to one of the girls who goes to our church.

After we saw the animals we headed over to the rides and Sadie and I went on the carousel. It was a little scary. The carousel we rode on in Boston was very slow compared to the super fast carousel today (I've decided that I prefer slow). The carousel operator stepped onto the carousel next to us when it started and said that he would stop it and let us get off if she got scared. He definitely seemed to think she would be scared (I would have too if I had known that it was going to be trucking along at 25 mph... my humble estimate.). The carousel started and Sadie's beautiful blue horse started bobbing up and down, as I clung to her to make sure that she didn't fall off, and I felt Sadie start to shake. I was trying to see her face when the carousel operator said "well, I guess she's not scared" and stepped off. Finally I managed to see her face and she was laughing. Hysterically. The super fast carousel was the high point of Sadie's day.

At dinner Sadie made another leap in communication when she signed the word for "more" when we were having rice pudding for dessert. She's so smart!

Another first today was having a bath in the big bath tub instead of in the baby tub. Instead of getting bored after five minutes she refused to get out. She kept standing up and then Nani would say "okay, are you ready to get out. If you aren't you have to sit down." and she would squeal (in a very annoyed tone) before sitting back down. Finally we had to drag her out because she would have stayed in their all night. And now she is safely asleep. We had a long day!

Religion in School

I have been reading "The Well Trained Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise and I love the method of learning that they describe. I have been making my way through book after book on homeschooling and so far this method, which is based on the idea of a Classical Education, is my favorite. I wish my education had been based on this method. I was my high school valedictorian, but I spent most of my education sitting in class, daydreaming and bored. While education concerns aren't the reason we decided to homeschool (social concerns are, which is funny since everyone asks "aren't you worried you children won't be 'socialized.'") I'm really excited about this particular method. I'll be writing more about it as I go along, but today this section, on religion, really jumped out at me:

"Public schools, which have the impossible task of teaching children of many different faiths, must proclaim neutrality. We don't deal in matters of faith, the teachers explain. We're neutral.

Think about this for a minute. Arguing for the presence of God is generally considered "biased." Assuming His absence is usually called "neutral." Yet both are statements of faith; both color the teacher's approach to any subject; both make a fundamental assumption about the nature of men and women.

To call this neutrality is intellectually dishonest.

Education cannot be neutral when it comes to faith: it is either supportive or destructive. The topic of education is humanity, its accomplishments, its discoveries, its savage treatment of its own kind, its willingness to endure self-sacrifice. And you cannot learn- or teach- about humanity without considering God.

Let's take biology for example. Mammals are characterized by, among other things, their tendency to care for and protect their young. Do mothers love their babies because of sheer biological imperative? If so, why do we come down so hard on fathers who neglect their children? It's a rare male mammal that pays much attention to its young. Do fathers love their babies because of the urge to see their own genetic material preserved or because fathers reflect the character of the father God? How should a father treat a defective child? Why?

We don't blame the public schools for sidestepping these sorts of questions. In most cases it's the only strategy they can adopt.

Yet this separation of religious faith from education yields an incomplete education. We're not arguing the religion should be "put back" into public schools. We'd just like some honesty; an education that takes no notice of faith is, at the very least, incomplete."

On a different note, I was very excited today at dinner when I asked Sadie if she was all done or if she wanted more food and she made the ASL sign for "more." She's like a little sponge, always learning and then using what she's learned. We bought the Signing Time DVDs when she was very small but we haven't watched them much lately. Occasionally, when I remember (like tonight) I'll make the signs I know. Babies are so amazing!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One Bruised Baby

Sadie's legs look likes she's been in a fight. We went on a walk this morning and she refused to hold my hand. She strolled down the driveway and she headed over to Nini and Gigi's house (with me trailing behind her to make sure that she stayed out of trouble). Two crashes later she had arrived at the bottom of their staircase. At least when she goes up stairs she reaches for my hand.

After watching Grumpa work with one of the horses, Nani walked with Sadie back up to the house to get her stroller. Sadie refused to walk up the driveway and instead headed over to Nini and Gigi's even though Nini was in town and Gigi was sitting with me down at the horse corral. Nani started to walk down the driveway, thinking that Sadie would follow her (and keeping a close eye on her to make sure she was with her). Sadie stopped and smiled her sweetest smile. Then she pretended to follow Nani, but at the last minute she took off at a sprint down the dirt road. Nani caught her.

While I've been writing this blog Grumpa brought Sadie's car seat in to make a few adjustments. After lengthening the bottom strap Grumpa put Sadie in it to test the length. After sitting in it for a minute Nani came over and asked Sadie if she wanted up. Sadie said "up" (a new word!). Since the adjustments were finished Grumpa put the car seat on the ground. Sadie walked over, sat in it and started working to put her arms through the straps. After Grumpa helped her get her arms in she started trying to snap the buckles. Now she's getting in and out of it, laughing. We're going to have to get her one of those little cute chairs at Target. Still, knowing Sadie, she would still prefer the car seat (only when it's in the house... not in the car!).

Music for Little People

I just have to write a post about my experience with Music for Little People. It's an amazing store and twenty years ago, when I was little, we lived near it and my mom used to get tapes and other fun musical stuff from them. My favorite was a red tape recorder with an attached microphone. When I was trying to figure out what to get Sadie for her birthday I thought of the company and googled it. I was excited to find that the little company was still in existence and over the course of the last two decades, had grown. After exploring their website I found the perfect present: a baby proof MP3 player.

I figured it would help keep Sadie busy during all the traveling we were doing this summer. And it did. For one whole week. Then it mysteriously stopped working. We've been so busy that I hadn't done anything about it other then put it back in it's box. When I checked their website I saw that they only accepted returns for 45 days after a product was received. So I sent an email explaining what had happened and waited for reply.

It arrived yesterday in the form of an email that said we didn't need to return the broken one and that the new one was in the mail. They have great customer service! So check out their site next time your shopping for a little. Sadie recommends the Raffi CD with the Baby Beluga song on it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sadie's Schedule

Busy, busy, busy. Sadie is always moving and always wants to be playing. Yesterday I was feeling industrious and made a little schedule. We managed to stick to the schedule until 10:30 when Sadie, the baby who does not take morning naps these days, curled up and went to sleep. When she woke up we had lunch and went swimming, before going into town. We stopped at the library, went to the new ice cream parlor in town for sorbet and then walked around the farmers' market in town.

The schedule was helpful in one way; it gave me ideas of what we had done and what we hadn't done and she stayed very busy (and is now passed out on my lap). The to-do list went something like this: Breakfast, Nature Walk, playing outside, playing upstairs in the play room, nap, snack (which she refused to eat), playing with toys, lunch, a visit to Nini and Gigi's, swimming on the porch in the little pool (for an hour!), driving in to town, returning books at the library (Sadie did not want me to put the books in the slot and tried to grab them out of it), picking out new books, ice cream at Johnny's, the Farmers' Market, driving home, reading the library books, playing, stealing Nani's hand towels from the kitchen, making a fort behind Grumpa's chair and hiding the towels and library books there, dinner, bath, stories, bedtime.

On the nature walk Sadie, who is getting very steady on her feet, actually walked most of the lap on the dirt road loop that goes by the cabin. It's a third of a mile and I think that's what tired her out so that she took a morning nap!

Worst Case Scenarios...

I'm not one of those mom's who is obsessed with germs. One of my friends has a cousin who made everyone, including her ninety year old grandmother from China, wash and sterilize their hands before going near the baby. While I certainly kept Sadie away from people who were sick I have, for the most part, figured that excessively sterilizing everything that she comes into contact with would only mean that she wasn't being exposed to germs and wouldn't develop immunities and would get sick more often. In the past when Sadie's binkie fell on the ground we would pick it up, wipe it off, and give it back to her...

Then the swine flu came into the spotlight. I still wasn't all that worried. We started using more hand sanitizer and paid more attention to washing our hands frequently when we were out of the house, but our little county has been largely untouched, so we hadn't thought much about it.

However, after watching the today show the last few mornings and the news each night, I've started to feel a bit panicked (I can't imagine how mom's who usually worry about these things feel). And then Nani announced that while I was out of the room some news program said that they expect little kids to be hit harder than any other group. I started to feel a little sick! Maybe it's all the worst case scenarios I keep hearing. It's like being told over and over again "don't panic... but..."

So I will continue buying copious quantities of hand sanitizer from bath and both works and making sure everyone washes their hands. And if worse comes to worse and the worst case scenarios play out, we'll probably be spending a lot more time on the property and praying that Daddy (the one person who has to go out for work and school), doesn't get sick.

The morning and nightly news is turning me into a stressed mom!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rules, Rules, Rules

Sadie can now climb up onto one of the chairs in the living room by herself. She thinks that this is one of the greatest developments in the history of her entire life. There are so many things that a chair can be used as. She can pretend to ride it like a horse. She can use it to get to the table that is behind the chair that she can't reach on her own, even on her tippie toes. And of course, the chair is the greatest launch pad that she's found yet. She can fall of the chair in a number of different ways. And Mommy is always diving to save her. So far Mommy has been successful and Sadie hasn't hit the ground. Mommy is also being impossible and insisting that Sadie sit when she's on the chair. What Mommy just doesn't seem to realize is that that takes all of the fun out of chair sitting.

Sadie is discovering that Mommy takes the fun out of a lot of different activities in that way. No jumping off the stairs. Instead Mommy insists that Sadie hold her hand all the way down the stairs. No playing on the hearth. No pulling the kitties tails. There are so many rules and so few hours in the day to find new ways to break them.

Of course Mommy doesn't say "no" straight out... she finds tricky ways of saying it! Like that makes it any better!

Natural Family Planning: Part 6: Gaudium et Spes

The baby is asleep so I will hopefully have time to finally write another NFP post before she wakes up and demands to go outside to play in the little pool. I thought the best place to start (after finally slogging through all the artificial birth control methods) would be with the Church's teachings on marriage and contraception.

Gaudium et Spes (Second Vatican Council)

50.2 Parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love.

These days it's seen as entirely normal, even among most Catholics, to obstruct this process artificially. By chemically altering our bodies we attempt to take God out of the process and control our lives. Parenting becomes a secondary occupation, and the education of children is left to those who spend most of their time with the child, primarily day care workers and baby sitters.

Thus they will fulfill their task with human and Christian responsibility, and, with docile reverence toward God, will make decisions by common counsel and effort. Let them thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God.

Unfortunately we live in a secular culture that would love to push religion as far out of sight as possible, while embracing all types of self gratification. Even those of us who believe in God may find it difficult to see how that relates to our day to day life. The decision to have children is seen as just that, a decision that we make and control by whatever means is the most convenient. For many people God isn't even a part of that decision. Other factors, some of which may even seem to be very important, come before God's will.

Some of my friends from college can hardly wait to have children, they just need to get their ducks in a row first. They want to buy a house and pay off their cars. They need to be further along in their careers first and have a larger paycheck. While financial security is a great goal it can easily be used to postpone any and all children indefinitely. We can always find excuses and reasons why we aren't ready.

The decision must be made by the couple in God's sight and they must strive to be open to God's will, even when that will doesn't seem to match our five-year-plan.

But in their manner of acting, spouses should be aware that they cannot proceed arbitrarily, but must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church's teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the Gospel.

This is where it gets tricky. The Church has been very clear on artificial birth control. It's a definite, resounding, "no." And as Jesus promised, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church that Jesus established with Peter. We must submit to the teachings of the Church. Sometimes I get the distinct impression that some of the most difficult teachings end up being some of the most important in our day to day lives.

That divine law reveals and protects the integral meaning of conjugal love, and impels it toward a truly human fulfillment.

In other words, not an artificial or chemically blocked "fulfillment" in direct disobedience to the Church's teachings.

Thus, trusting in divine Providence and refining the spirit of sacrifice,(12) married Christians glorify the Creator and strive toward fulfillment in Christ when with a generous human and Christian sense of responsibility they acquit themselves of the duty to procreate. Among the couples who fulfill their God-given task in this way, those merit special mention who with a gallant heart and with wise and common deliberation, undertake to bring up suitably even a relatively large family.(13)

I think this is actually the part that makes the teaching so difficult today. It isn't a fashionable way of looking at marriage these days. It certainly isn't the norm. Artificial birth control enabled many women to separate the idea of marriage from the reality of having and raising children.

Marriage to be sure is not instituted solely for procreation; rather, its very nature as an unbreakable compact between persons, and the welfare of the children, both demand that the mutual love of the spouses be embodied in a rightly ordered manner, that it grow and ripen. Therefore, marriage persists as a whole manner and communion of life, and maintains its value and indissolubility, even when despite the often intense desire of the couple, offspring are lacking.

And now, the baby is awake and has major plans to chase the cat (while holding the plastic sticks that her stacking rings usually go on). I must intervene before either one is injured. Hopefully I've made some sense. My husband is usually the one concerned with abstract theological teachings, while I tend to be more interested in their implementation and how they apply to day to day life. Sometimes I'm not sure the connections I make, make sense outside of my own head!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Busy Day at Turtle Bay!

We took Sadie into town to see the birds and butterflies this morning at Turtle Bay. The highlight of the trip was driving through three construction stops, where we waited and waited and Sadie was able to stare at excavators and bulldozers to her hearts content (and we've learned so many of the names of the different tractors from her books). Tractor and truck books are still very high up on her lists of favorite things. The other day I actually thought she was playing with her fischer price doll house and was shocked. Then Nani pointed out that she was sitting in front of the doll house with her back to me, but she had her toy taxi on her lap. As you can see, Sadie is really into cars, trucks and tractors these days.

Back to our day... The highlight of the trip was supposed to be the bird area at Turtle Bay. We were the only ones in the bird area (other then staff) when we walked in and there were dozens (if not hundreds) of birds in the netted off enclosure. They give you a little stick of bird food to hold, so very quickly I had a thirty pound baby on my right hip and two birds fighting, attached to my left hand. Sadie was only slightly impressed. A giant red bird landed on my shoulder and Sadie watched with evident disinterest.

After visiting the birds we headed over to the butterfly house. Sadie watched the butterflies and then I stopped her from stomping one that made the mistake of landing too close to her foot (they discourage that). According to the little sheet with butterfly names it was (and luckily still is) a buckeye butterfly.

She was ecstatic about the fish in the main area. It's always her favorite exhibit. She gives the fish kisses through the thick glass. And now she is refusing to go to bed! So I need to convince her that it really is time for bed!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not the Baby Spoon!

Tonight at dinner I figured out a new way to get Sadie to open her cute little mouth. I just need to put her food on a grown up fork (or spoon). When she sees her little baby spoons these days she clamps her mouth shut and refuses to eat. Apparently the brightly colored plastic lets her know that it's baby food, and she doesn't want to have anything to do with baby food. The best disguise for baby food seems to be... big people utensils.

She is a big fan of milk and insists on drinking an entire glass of organic whole milk with every meal. How can something so small drink so much milk?

Now I need to convince her it really is bedtime. She was asleep but she realized Mommy wasn't, so she's up now.

Wives Should Be...

Here's what I saw when I opened my missal today...

Second Reading
Ephesians 5:21-32 or 5.2a, 25-32

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

(included bracketed text for Long Form and text in parentheses for Short Form only)

Brothers and sisters: [Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.] (Live in love, as Christ loved us.) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, ht he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

Obviously this is a controversial reading. These days the idea of submitting to anyone (even God's will) is not popular. Many women would rather be "empowered" and make every decision, neutering their husbands and ignoring God's plan for marriage.

I was thankful when the entire reading was read in our parish this morning. I would have been upset if they'd hacked it in two to appease a loud contingent that want to pick and choose the verses that fit their views, ignoring or labeling irrelevant the parts that they don't agree with. There's beauty in this verse if we can put aside our rebellious wishes and embrace God's will for our lives!

Did they read the entire reading at your parish? I'm curious as to how many churches decided to avoid the topic by rending the verse in two.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oh the Horror!

Oh the horror. We came home from an trip to get ice cream at the new pizza place in town this afternoon and Sadie started to run around Nani and Grumpa's living room. She headed out into the hallway and turned to the right. And then I heard it. The most terrifying shriek. It wasn't a "hurt" type of cry. For a moment I wondered if Sadie had come face to face with the brown bear that ran in front of our car halfway down the driveway yesterday. But he couldn't be in the house! Sadie came barreling around the corner, past Nani who had come out of the study and stopped in the middle of the hallway. Then she shrieked again.

And now to uncover the trauma of all traumas. The gate that leads up the stairs was (gasp)... Open. We had left it open when we went into town to make it easier for the cats to go up and down. When I came home I forgot to close it (there are also gates on the den, bathroom and back porch, but they're pretty much always up). Sadie knows that it's supposed to be up when she's in the house and panicked when she saw that it was down. At least she didn't decide to head up the stairs by herself! She is definitely at an age where things are supposed to be a certain way and the gate is apparently one of those things!

Outfit of the Week

My husband bought this dress for me for my birthday the week before I was confirmed in the Church. It fit perfectly at the time and I wore it for my confirmation (with a teal button up sweater). These days it fits somewhat less perfectly. A pregnancy and a fourteen months of nursing a baby have changed my body significantly. Even with the baby weight gone, it's not the same.

I'm not sure why I tried to squeeze into this dress the other day, because I was pretty sure that the zipper was not going to zip. I was surprised when it did. I did need to add a few pins to keep the dress in place (it kept slipping down, which was not the problem I was expecting to have with it). I added my pink maternity sweater (which has become so much more then a maternity sweater!) and voila, a new outfit from old clothes! Sadie is wearing Paul's favorite dress in this picture for his birthday (August 15th)! We've had a busy week!

Friday, August 21, 2009

What Makes for Happy Wives?

A giant brown bear just raced in front of our car, halfway down our driveway. It was quite a surprise. We see foxes, deer, ground squirrels, coyotes and rabbits and even an occasional mountain lion around here, but bears aren't usually around at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

It is still too hot to think straight, as we enter into our second month of three digit heat. Sadie is asleep right now, which means she isn't begging to go out and swim in her blow up pools and play with the hose. All she wants to do these days is stumble around the pools, while I make sure she doesn't hurt herself. Lately she seems particularly accident prone.

While I was sitting here, enjoying nap time, I stumbled across an interesting study. It was done by W. Bradford Wilcox and Steven Nock and is titled "What Makes Women Happy in Their Marriages." There are ten factors that Wilcox and Nock found in marriages in which the wife described herself as "happy."

Amazingly a high paying career and spending time away from your kids and husband doing your own thing, didn't make the list. Here's what did.

The top predictors of women’s marital happiness, in order of importance:

A husband’s emotional engagement.

Women who are married to men who make an effort to listen to them, who express affection and appreciation on a regular basis, and who share quality time with them on a regular basis (date nights, frequent conversations focusing on mutual interests and one another) are much happier in their marriages than women who do not have emotionally-engaged husbands.


Women who think that housework (and other family responsibilities) are divided fairly are significantly happier than women who think that their husband does not do his fair share. Note, however, that most wives do not equate fairness with a 50-50 model of equality. Only 30% of wives in this study think their marriage is unfair, even though the vast majority of wives do the bulk of childcare and housework. Why is this? In the average marriage, husbands devote significantly more hours to paid labor than do wives—especially when children come along. So, in the average marriage, husbands and wives devote about the same amount of total hours to the paid and unpaid work associated with caring for a family.

A breadwinning husband.

American wives, even wives who hold more feminist views about working women and the division of household tasks, are typically happier when their husband earns 68% or more of the household income. Husbands who are successful breadwinners probably give their wives the opportunity to make choices about work and family—e.g., working part-time, staying home, or pursuing a meaningful but not particularly remunerative job—that allow them to best respond to their own needs, and the needs of their children.

A commitment to marriage.

Wives who share a strong commitment to the norm of lifelong marriage with their husband—e.g., who both believe that even unhappily married couples should stay together for the sake of their children—are more likely to have a happy marriage than couples who do not share this commitment to marriage. Shared commitment seems to generate a sense of trust, emotional security, and a willingness to sacrifice for one’s spouse—all of which lead to happier marriages for women. This shared commitment also provides women with a long-term view of their marriage that helps them negotiate the inevitable difficulties that confront any marriage.

Staying at home.

Wives who stay at home tend to be happier in their marriages than wives who work outside the home. This is particularly true for women who have children in the home. Women often find it difficult to juggle kids, a career, and a marriage all at the same time. In fact, the study finds that working women are less likely to spend quality time with their husbands. They are also more likely to report that the division of housework is unfair. So time pressures and role overload help to explain why working wives are typically less happy in their marriages.

Shared religious attendance.

Wives who attend church or some other worship service with their husbands tend to be happier than wives who do not share religious attendance with their husbands. Religious attendance may give wives a sense that God is present in their marriage, a sense that their husband seeks to please them by attending church with them, and/or access to other married couples who value marriage and can provide them with guidance and moral support for their marriages.

Traditional gender attitudes.

Wives who hold more traditional gender attitudes—e.g., who believe that wives should focus more on nurturing/homemaking and husbands should focus more on breadwinning—are happier than wives who hold more feminist attitudes. One reason this may be the case is that traditional-minded wives probably have lower expectations of what their husbands can and should do for them emotionally and practically. We also find that more traditional-minded wives spend more quality time with their husbands, perhaps because they are less likely to argue with their husbands about housework and childcare.

Four Key Questions:

A. Does this study apply to more feminist-minded women?

Yes. In a companion study , W. Bradford Wilcox looked at marital happiness among women who had more progressive gender attitudes about the division of work and family, and who expressed support for working wives. Even women in this sample tended to be happier if they did not work outside the home, had a husband who took the lead in breadwinning, and/or shared a strong commitment to the norm of lifelong marriage.

B. Does this study apply to less-educated women?

For the most part, yes. Married women who have a high school degree or less are happier when their husbands are emotionally engaged, when they think housework is divided fairly, when their husbands take the lead in breadwinning, and when they share church attendance with their husbands. However, less-educated wives' employment does not affect their marital happiness nor does a shared sense of marital commitment.

C. Does this study apply to every married woman?

The study's findings are averages and they do not apply to every married woman. There are, of course, feminist-minded women in egalitarian marriages who are very happy, just as there are traditional-minded women in traditional marriages who are very unhappy. For instance, 41% of working wives in our study report they are "very happy" in their marriages. So just because a woman does not have one or two or even three of these predictors does not mean she is necessarily unhappy in her marriage. But if she is missing all of these predictors, she is much more likely to be very unhappy in her marriage.

D. Are wives likely to be happier if they have more of these predictors?

Wives who have more of the above predictors tend to be the happiest wives. So, for instance, 61% of married women whose husband's earn the lion's share of their income and go to church with their husbands and share a commitment to lifelong marriage are very happy in their marriages, versus 45% of women who do not have all of these predictors.

Me, Me, Me, Me, Me....

I just read this story on Inside and loved it.

The Death of 'Me-Church'
by Steve Skojec

This past Sunday, as I attempted to get my wriggling, squeaking, squirming children settled in our pew for what usually amounts to a liturgical rodeo -- see if you can keep them on their best behavior for eight seconds without getting thrown out of the church -- I noticed the arrival of two women in their sixties who clearly looked like they did not belong. Processing up the aisle in search of a seat, they were dressed very casually, with the short-cropped, boyish, almost intentionally unattractive hairstyles that seem to be de rigeur for the aging members of America's post-feminism movement. They stood out in a sea of suits, ties, dresses, and chapel veils.

Far be it from me to judge based solely on appearances, of course: I may be a Trad, but when I know I'm going to be wrestling with toddlers for the duration of an hour-and-a-quarter-long Mass in the heat of the summer, I'm the first to arrive in a polo shirt instead of an oxford. Even so, sometimes it's just true: "By their fashions you will know them."

This daring duo of anti-patriarchalism might have been guests in from out of town and staying in the hotel across the street, unaware that the 9 a.m. Mass at this particular parish is, in fact, a throwback to the glory days of Catholicism, before the option existed to replace all the masculine pronouns for God in the liturgy with gender-inclusive ones. Might have been, I say, but for the fact that they gave themselves away with their refusal to kneel during such unimportant moments of the Mass as, say, the consecration. They stood like Amazon warrior priestesses at attention, forming a phalanx to defend the rear guard of fruit-loopy Catholicism's last hoorah.

As I looked at them (they were partially blocking my view of the altar, so I couldn't help it), I felt not my usual twinge of irritation at the guardians of "Me-Church," but instead a kind of amused pity. They couldn't perform their non-conformist schtick, mad-libbing their way through responses that, in Latin, they couldn't understand. Hindered by the liturgical language barrier and unfamiliar with the posture of the priest, they were also unable to determine when to hold hands inappropriately during the "Our Father" and were ritually deprived of the showy displays of human affection afforded them by the Sign of Peace.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Accident Prone

Sadie took a nap today, but after hours of playing hard, she probably needed another. However, these days she resists naps as if her life depends upon it. She will fight tooth and nail to keep her little eyes from closing. I think she's afraid that she's going to miss something crucial while she's asleep (like Grumpa using his tractor to clean the horse corrals). However today a second nap would definitely have been a good thing. Before dinner her large motor skills went downhill fast. She picked up a pillow (that was one of four pillows blocking the hearth) and proceeded to fall, headfirst against the hearth. After the crying stopped I sat down with her to read one of her library books. She sat and listened and then stood up and grabbed her bunny blanket. She pulled hard on the blanket, but it didn't come free of the chair and she toppled over again, this time smacking headfirst into the corner of the wall. Ouch! So she has two matching red marks, one on either side of her forehead. Poor little thing!

We did spent at least an hour cooling off in the pool, which is probably why we're so tired. But she's still resisting bedtime, so I need to convince her that, after 8 hours of bouncing off the walls, it's time for bed!

Second Class Citizens?

Here is the latest email update that I've gotten from the Catholic League. Since I've been on an anti-feminism kick for the last couple of weeks I thought I'd tie this in as well. It never ceases to amaze me how "pro-choice" feminists can feel that their "rights" are being violated, while completely denying the very basic human rights of their unborn child. If women who are denied abortions are "second class citizens" then what are the children they murder in their wombs. At least even "second class citizens" are usually protected from being ripped limb from limb. Of course I disagree with the idea that women are treated as second class citizens at all by the Church, who at least understands that there is an inherent dignity in all of her children and would not think of denying the sanctity of human life, something abortion proponents do every day.

When I was gigantically pregnant with Sadie and one of my best friend's brought up how important it is to make sure abortion legal right up to the end of the third trimester (my response was quite passionate). I should stop being amazed at the idiotic statements I've heard from the pro-choice side, but so far I keep being caught of guard by just how twisted a person's moral compass can become in the name of defending what they feel are their "rights."

August 19, 2009


Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments today on remarks made yesterday by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood:

Planned Parenthood is getting restless knowing that its abortion-happy health care reforms are on the skids. Cecile Richards is now accusing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops of seeking to make “American womensecond-class citizens.” And that’s just the danger they are doing at home. Abroad, “their hard-line opposition to women’s rights also endangers millions of women around the globe.” Why they haven’t been locked up, she does not say.

Richards was recently summoned to the White House to discuss health care reform. Is this the kind of advice she was given—to lash out at Catholic bishops? If not, then someone needs to rein her in before the whole health care package blows up in their face.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bad Mama?!?!?

Sadie is a wild woman today. She is still bouncing off the walls. It is long past her bedtime. She was wild when this picture was taken earlier today and the wildness has continued, unabated, right up until this moment (it is, as I type this, 8:33pm... An hour past bedtime). Sadie no longer has a concept of bedtime. She is a baby who does not need sleep.

She did burst out with a new phrase today. After her swim she did not want to get dressed. I was wrestling her into her clothing when she burst out with a new phrase. She said "bad mama!" Nani and I both looked at each other in disbelief. Where did she even learn that word?!?!

I have a suspicion, but I'm not sure it's right. Sadie has a book that has a character in it named Bad Little Bunny. That's the only time I think she's even heard the word "bad!"

Now I better convince her to go to bed. It's getting late!

Gender Inclusive Language

We are back into the triple digits and it's just too hot. Sadie wants to spend all day in her blow up swimming pool. We started with one pool, but it's now up to three. Two of the pools are tiny, blow up pools that were on sale for two dollars at CVS. We picked up two because we wanted to fill one with sand to make a sand box. But it's just too hot, so right now both of them are filled with cold water. The third pool is one I got at Target a few years ago and never took out of the box. I spent the morning dragging tarps around to create a spot for it, and it is now set up in the shade under an oak tree, right next to Grumpa's tractor. It's 1o feet by 6 feet and Sadie thinks that it's the greatest thing that she's ever seen. As soon as she wakes up from her nap we're headed back out for more swimming! We swam a little this morning, but it was so cold (the water) that I had to drag her inside kicking and screaming before she turned into a tiny ice cube.

It's almost too hot to think...

Except I'm pinned under a sleeping baby and there's not much else to do. So I might as well think about something that's worth thinking about. And this is the topic that keeps popping into my mind. I hate gender neutral language. It drives me crazy. I'm a writer and words are important to me. It sounds unnatural and forced when a story or song or essay is essentially neutered so that no over sensitive person will be offended. You can probably tell that it's a huge pet peeve of mine. It probably doesn't help that feminist ideology in general irks me, Here's how the issue first came to my attention.

We were singing Christmas Carols at Mass (I think it was the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass) and my book was folded in the seat back in front of me. I sang in our the Community Christmas Choir in the town I grew up in and I loved singing carols and acting and singing in the pageants at my church each year. I didn't need my hymnal because I knew all the words. Or at least I thought I did. In fact, I didn't because the gender inclusive language feminists had hijacked our Christmas carols. We can't possibly have "peace on Earth good will to men" because someone might be offended by the word "men." Now the song reads "peace on Earth good will to us." In my ears the verse falls flat. We can't have "mankind" anymore either but "all of us" should sound just as elegant.

My husband has even run into it at his nominally Catholic University. He has been told that gender inclusive language is the language of The Academy and he will be graded down if he uses non-inclusive language in his papers.

I think it's all a little ridiculous. As a child I understood that mankind included me, even though I was a girl. I have the distinct impression that anyone who is offended by the word "mankind" in a Christmas carol has some major hang-ups. I guess it bothers me because I hate to see century old songs butchered so that misguided feminists can feel good about themselves.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Great Dress Experiment: The Dresses

My Favorite Skirts

Great for working outside, gardening and playing on the floor with a wild baby.

My Favorite Dress

I like the thick, sturdy material on this dress. It's nice enough that I feel dressed up in it (I wore it when I left my wedding), but it's also comfortable enough to wear all day!

My Favorite Target Maxi Dresses

The top one is cotton and comfortable. The second dress has a peacock blue built in slip that is beautiful, but slippery and uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. And while it's modest when it stays in place (I add my pink sweater most of the time) it doesn't tend to stay in place very well. That's why I wear the top dress most of the time.

The Least Comfortable Dress

One word: Netting.

Fairly Comfortable Dresses and Skirts

These weren't as comfortable as my favorite skirts, but they are close. They're pretty good for all day wear.

Best Maternity Dresses

While these weren't part of my experiment, they were my two top maternity dresses!

Dresses that Pass the Modesty Test when Traveling


Now it's not just the sun parading around as the moon that is upsetting Sadie's reading time. It's bubbles too. Tonight, while we were reading one of Sadie's favorite bedtime books (which she's actually had a bit of an attitude about recently because it only has tiny pictures of a crescent moon and Sadie prefers giant full moons) she became very excited. There was a picture of a mommy and a baby fish. And there were bubbles. Sadie got a huge smile. She pointed to the bubbles.

I had a choice. I thought about saying moon. That was what she wanted.

She pointed again. Mommy is so slow sometimes. Finally I said "bubble Sadie. Those are bubbles." There was a pause. Sadie raised her little hand and pointed a second time. Clearly I hadn't understood what she was pointing at. She tried again. "Bubble." A third time. "Bubble." And once more, "A bubble." I turned the page quickly. She turned it back. I held the book up and continued to read it. Sadie tried to climb my arm. I managed to speed read the rest of the story while she continued to hang on my arm to turn the page back.

Then we went back and looked at the moon.

I mean bubbles.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Great Dress Experiment

I did it. I wore dresses and skirts every day for one month. Before this experiment I usually wore pants half the time. If we were leaving the property during the course of the day I would wear a dress. If we weren't leaving I'd wear pants.

This experiment will definitely cause me to look at new dresses in a different way (during the once a year dress buying expedition that usually takes place after my birthday). Dresses that are fine to wear for a few hours when we go into town for Mass may not be comfortable to wear all day, particularly if I'm going to be working outside in the garden or hiking through the hills. Certain dresses also proved much easier to wear when I am down on the floor playing with Sadie.

The dresses and skirts that were the easiest to wear were all cotton. They were mostly on the longer side. I also ended up wearing the skirts that were wider at the bottom more often because I could take longer steps when I was chasing after the little one.

Interestingly enough, the two skirts that I spent most of my time in cost me a grand total of $1. One was a yard sale find and the other was a hand me down from my mom. Also at the top of the list was a blue Maxi dress from Target.

Dresses lost comfort points for all day wear when they had a non-cotton liner. I noticed a lot of the liners would have annoying static cling after the first hour. I don't have time to deal with static cling when I'm chasing a toddler all day long.

I wanted to post a picture of my favorite skirts, but that will have to wait until tomorrow when our satellite internet will, hopefully, be working at full speed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Be Gentle!

We love cats. We really do. It's just that we have a hard time being gentle with them. We want to touch them so much that sometimes we try to touch them with our feet. And our feet are seldom gentle.

So Sadie basically spent the day chasing Delilah around, with Nani and I intervening whenever Delilah got cornered. When we tell Sadie to be gentle she gets really upset, and then tries to be gentle, for about ten seconds, until she forgets and gets excited and starts giggling in a hysterical tone. Then she tries to grab the cat, or poke her nose and has to be told to be gentle again. No matter how softly I say it she acts like she's in trouble and her little lip starts to stick out and her eyes are sad.

After several hours of this Nani took Delilah upstairs to rest. Once Delilah was out of sight Sadie's lip started to tremble. Next she collapsed on the ground in a heap. I picked her up and tried to cuddle her, but she didn't want to look at my face and only screamed louder, so finally I set her down. She immediately got up and walked over to her giant Tinkerbell blanket. She picked it up, and charged across the room to the front door. Then she grabbed the door knob and twisted and pulled. I heard the lock click. Hysterical tears. A pile of crying baby on the floor. I walked over and tried to pick her up, but she was not having it.

I tried another strategy. I went back into the living room and pretended to cry. I said "I don't know where my baby is! She's trying to run away!" Less then ten seconds later a little hand touched my cheek. I looked up and saw Sadie with a huge smile on her face.

More on Headcovering

The veiling argument is a little like the pant wearing argument. Somehow you are either for it or against it. There's no middle ground (on the forums at least). I usually start out talking with other women who veil, and it's a bit like a support group (after all, there aren't many of us and we're usually one of the only women who veil at our parishes. It's nice to hear from other women who have the same beliefs.). And then there is inevitably a post, that usually sounds a bit snooty, where someone says something along the lines of "You feel called to veil? Well, I feel called not to veil, so there!"

I don't believe it is a sin for a woman not to veil. The Church has allowed the teaching to become ambiguous at best. But I typed the first thing I thought of in response to the above (paraphrased) sentence and it apparently angered quite a few women. Here was my thought.

St. Paul is pretty clear on veiling. He was very specific when he wrote the Corinthians. Why would God (who is outside of time) "call" you to do something that goes specifically against a Biblical teaching? If I felt that I was "called" to go against something that was specifically laid out in the Bible, I would be very worried (specifically when the Church and magesterium have remained silent on this issue). I would speak with my confessor.

You would think that I had just called the woman a blaring heretic who deserved excommunication. And unfortunately it put me on the side of the argument where I must argue that everyone must veil (I believe that everyone should veil, but that it should be out of love and obedience to God's word, not because it is forced). Eventually I was accused of going against the teaching of the Magisterium (by claiming that women should cover their heads while praying and when approaching Jesus in the Eucharist) and of disobeying the Pope and all of the Bishops. Seriously? Because I said that I would question the "call" if I were "called" not to veil? Maybe I forgot how heated this topic actually is! But I did do some research and here are some of my favorite sources.

From the Catholic Knight

"The chapel veil was part of the code of canon law for centuries within the Catholic Church. Under this canon, women were compelled to wear a head covering whether they wanted to or not. The Church eventually decided that this custom had no place in canon law, and so it simply deleted that particular canon. The Church DID NOT remove or reverse the custom itself. It simply deleted the canon. This made it so women could not be disciplined for refusing to wear the veil. There is much debate as to whether this canon should have ever been part of the code to begin with. As the Biblical instruction should be enough."

"The chapel veil is a voluntary custom, but that doesn't mean it's optional. By this I mean Christian women cannot ever be compelled to keep the custom against their will, but at the same time this does not mean it's okay for women (or anyone for that matter) to "pick and choose" which apostolic customs to keep and which to ignore. The word "Catholic" means universal, complete and whole. To be Catholic is to accept ALL of the customs of Christianity, not picking and choosing customs, as if Christianity where a salad bar. The term "Cafeteria Catholic" is an oxymoron. If one approaches Christianity with a "cafeteria" (pick and choose) mentality, one cannot be "Catholic" by the very definition of the word. Catholic women should keep this in mind. Refusing to wear a veil (head covering) in no way harms one's status in the Church, because women can no longer be disciplined for refusing to veil, now that the code of canon law no longer requires it. However, it does reflect a mentality which "might" become potentially harmful to one's Catholic faith eventually. If one chooses to "pick and choose" on such a little thing as the chapel veil, it's not a far step from "picking and choosing" on other more important issues, such as artificial birth control, modest dress, gossip, complaining, mass attendance, regular confession, etc. etc. etc... Please don't misunderstand, the chapel veil in no way "protects" women from these other issues, it's just that refusing to keep one apostolic custom, "could perhaps" lead to ignoring other more important customs. Both men and women should consider this carefully."

"The authentic Catholic reason for wearing the chapel veil is the Biblical reason. It's just something that all Christian women (regardless of denomination) are supposed to do, not because they have to, but because they're supposed to want to. The Catholic Church has decided to no longer enforce this Biblical custom through Canon Law, and in doing so, the Church is saying it does not want to be our nanny. The chapel veil is a custom for women to do voluntarily, because they want to, not because they are being forced to. The idea is that women are to read what the Scriptures have to say, and be convicted according to what is contained therein. In order for a chapel veil to be an authentic sign of humility and holiness, it must be voluntary. Indeed, Christian women are supposed to wear one, but it is never to be forced."

And from the St. Louis Catholic

"In order to ascertain the truth of the matter, I decided to consult an out-of-state canonist on the question in 2007. The following is an excerpt from the opinion he gave me:

“From the point of view of qualifications, it appears that only Dr. Peters is licensed by the Church to give a professional opinion in Canon Law.

The first author, Rev. Zuhlsdorf, summarily dismisses the obligation of head-covering for women in church, stating, “[A]ccording to Church law you are not obliged.” He bases his conclusion on an apparent reductionist equating of the Code of Canon Law of 1983 with any other Church law. For him, because 1262, par. 2 of the Code of 1917 has been abrogated, the matter is “fertig,” “finished,” as the Germans would say: no obligation for women to cover their heads in church. In sum: can. 1262, par. 2 CIC 1917 is abrogated, therefore the obligation is non-existent.

The second author, Dr. Edward Peters is in agreement with Fr. Zuhlsdorf. He writes, “Leafing through my sources, it seems that the canonical requirement that women cover their heads in church is almost completely unattested until the appearance of the 1917 Code, specifically, in canon 1262 […] [T]here is no canonical requirement that women cover their heads in church today.” In sum: abrogation of obligation due to abrogation of can. 1262 CIC 1917.

The third author, Jimmy Akin, writes the most on the topic. First, he concludes that because “the revised liturgical documents do not contain it [mention of the obligation], and neither does the 1983 Code […] men no longer need to remove their hats as a matter of law, and women no longer need to wear them.” Second, he excoriates Catholics invoking the obligatory nature of the practice as making a “category mistake […] this matter did not belong to the category of custom prior to its abrogation. It was not a matter of custom but a matter of law. The 1917 Code expressly dealt with the subject, so it was not a custom but a law that women wear head coverings in church. That law was then abrogated.” Finally, he writes that “[O]ne cannot appeal to the fact that, when a law was in force, people observed the law and say that this resulted in a custom that has force of law even after the law dealing with the matter is abrogated.” In sum: no obligation for women to cover their heads in church because: 1) the liturgical texts of the Ordinary Form do not reference the obligation; 2) the legislative texts introducing the Ordinary Form “integrally reordered” the liturgy, thereby abrogating the norm; 3) the head-covering of women was a law, and not a custom, which was abrogated in 1983; and 4) the custom of head-covering of women cannot continue in time for the law mandating it has been abrogated.

After consideration of their opinions, and the conducting of some research, it appears that all three of the above authors are mistaken in holding that women are no longer obligated by canon law to cover their heads while in church – even when attending a celebration of Mass offered according to the liturgical texts of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

In conducting a proper analysis of the question, one must retrace the scriptural, patristic, and canonical history of the practice in order to determine properly its value. This brief analysis – by no means exhaustive – attempts to address the canonical issues raised by the three referenced authors.

To begin, in I Cor. XI, 5, St. Paul declares: “[E]very woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven.” As it is not known when St. Paul confirmed the Jewish and Roman practice of women wearing a head covering when praying, it qualifies as a true immemorial custom, because the exact date upon which it became binding upon women in the Church is beyond the memory of anyone. As St. Paul declares that his teaching is not his own, the custom could even have been confirmed by Christ the Lord Himself. Cf. 1 Cor. XIV, 37."

You should really check out the rest of the article here.

These sources really are gems!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Birthday to...

Happy Birthday to Daddy!

Today is Sadie's Dad's birthday! We had cake and opened presents. I'm not sure that Sadie understood that it was Daddy's birthday. I think she thought it was her birthday again. After all, the cake was right next to her high chair and it only had one candle on it. And everybody knows that Sadie is one year old! She was pretty sure that it must be her birthday! She even wore a ruffly dress and tasted some of the whipped cream on Daddy's birthday waffles.

And Sadie now has a favorite movie. When I was trying to get her down for a nap I turned on the TV to see if there was a kids show that might convince her to sleep. I do this when she's on the verge of falling asleep and just doesn't seem to be getting over the edge. Sometimes it wakes her up and sometimes she passes out. Today there was nothing on! I finally saw that Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original) was on ABC Family. I put it on. Sadie laughed hysterically when the Oompa Loompas came on. She laughed herself to sleep! It's on and when we came downstairs from bath Daddy was watching it, so Sadie is now watching it again. I better peel her away so we can go to bed!

Natural Family Planning: Part 5: Vasectomy

I want to finish my section on the various harmful side effects that are associated with various methods of birth control before I begin to examine the moral and religious reasons that motivate people to use NFP. This last ABC section I will cover (for now at least).

A vasectomy is a surgery that is performed to make a man sterile. The doctor cuts out a portion of both ducts through which sperm passes through from the testes then ties or coagulates the ends that were cut. It's the male version of "having your tubes tied."

Here's what the Couple to Couple League has to say about the risks associated with the surgery-

What are the health risks of vasectomy?

Although the final verdict on the health risks of vasectomy is not in, suspicions are rising that the long-term effects on a man’s immunological system can pose serious health problems. Criticism is mounting within the medical community about the uncritical way in which vasectomy has been declared medically safe. Between 10% and 15% of adult men in the U.S. have been vasectomized3and yet, as Dr. H. J. Roberts has written, "I know of no other operation performed on humans that induces responses to such a degree by the immune system."4

What happens to the sperm?

After a vasectomy, sperm production continues as before, around 50,000 spermatozoa per minute.5Lacking a normal anatomical passage, these cells are either consumed by destroyer cells (macrophages) or degenerate and produce antigens that cause antibodies to be produced.6

At least eight of these sperm antigens have been identified. These antigens frequently infiltrate into the bloodstream and induce other cells throughout the body to manufacture antibodies against the sperm. These are called "anti-sperm autoantibodies."

What is autoimmunity?

Antibodies are the way we immunize ourselves against specific diseases in our environment. Antigens are the triggering mechanism the body needs in order to produce the right antibodies for its defense. An example of this effect is the allergic reaction that occurs when the body is highly sensitive to a certain food cell.

When the body gears up its defenses to destroy cells of its own making, as after a vasectomy, then the body becomes "auto-immune" — allergic to itself.

Has this been linked with vasectomy?

Several studies confirmed this linkage in the l970s, finding antibodies to sperm antigens in 55% to 75% of patients within two years after vasectomies.7 In a 1982 study, investigators pointed out. "...the incidence of sperm antibody following vasectomy may have been underdetected."8 It is so common to see this reaction among vasectomized men that an absence of such antibodies has become an indicator of hormonal malfunction.9 With more advanced methods of detection, it has been possible to detect the antibody response within two weeks after vasectomy.10

What are some auto-immune diseases?

Auto-immunity has been suspected to cause diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, some types of hepatitis, Addison’s disease (malfunction of the adrenal glands), and lupus erythematosis.11

A landmark study by Nancy J. Alexander and Thomas B. Clarkson concluded that "the immunologic response to sperm antigen that often accompanies vasectomy can exacerbate atherosclerosis" (hardening of the arteries).12 Subsequent studies have lent support to their finding.13

What about the risk of cancer?

In the early 1980s, Dr. Richard Ablin, researcher at the Hwektoen Institute in Chicago , hypothesizes that prostate cancer could be caused by unejaculated sperm. A decade later, epidemiologists reported an "unexpected association " between vasectomy and prostate cancer. One study found the risk of this cancer increased between 3.5 to 5.3 times;14 a separate study found an overall risk 1.7 times greater beginning 12 years after vasectomy, rising to 2.2 times (more than double the risk) between 13 and 18 years later.15 Two large studies of vasectomized men were conducted through the Harvard Medical School and published in 1993. They found the overall risk of prostate cancer increased between 56 and 60%, increasing to 89% for those who had vasectomies 20 or more years earlier.16

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American men, claiming some 30,000 lives per year. Although these studies did not prove any conclusive link between vasectomy and prostate cancer, the American Urological Association urged that patients be informed of the risk on the basis of these papers.17

Increased risks of lung cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma were noted among men 20 years after vasectomy.18 The Coronary Artery Surgery Study, analyzing 1106 men, found a two-and-a-half times higher risk of kidney stones among vasectomized patients 30-35 years old.19 An association with testicular cancer has also been noted.20 A healthy immune system is our day-to-day defense against cancer. The authors of the Harvard studies hypothesized "the immune response to sperm antigens following vasectomy may enhance tumor growth by blocking of antibodies of tumor suppresser cells by sperm antigens."21