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!

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!

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!

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.

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

Friday, August 14, 2009

Outfit of the Week

This weeks outfit was one of the first new things that I got after I had Sadie. My Mom had gone to JC Penny's and it was on clearance and fit my expanded pregnancy waistline. I had to add a sweater and a camisole to make it pass my own personal modesty test.

I also bought a "as seen on TV" product yesterday (it was at CVS and we get the CVS employee discount and I couldn't help myself!). I actually had the page bookmarked on my computer and when I told my husband that he said that it's less then 10 dollars, so you might as well just get it. You can see it in this picture. I bought the Bumpit (I think that's what it's called, I've already forgotten) that makes it look like your hair is teased. I was very excited and put it in and made Paul take this picture... and then Nani got home and started to laugh hysterically. Definitely not the impression that I wanted to make! I like it though! And today, with a little more practice, it looked better (at least in my opinion... and Nani showed a lot of restraint by not laughing).

The Giant Excavator

Sadie loves tractors. She has sat on Grumpa's tractor twice, but really, the first time she saw the old red Yanmar puttering around the horse corral, it was love at first sight. However, Sadie's love of tractors isn't limited to Grumpa's tractor. It extends to tractor toys, to the tractors in books and to the tractors and heavy machinery that we drive by that are parked, or working, at the side of the freeway.

And that is why today was a very good day. We drove into Redding for the first time in over a week. Sadie was excited to be in the car (I think she can see better in the subaru because the car is up higher and the dashboard is narrower). She started giggling before we made it to our little town, and was pretty hysterical by the time we started to go past the major freeway reconstruction that's going on up on the summit. When we came to a stop for road work Nani gave Sadie the book that I had packed in her bag: and it was a tractor book.

That's when I found out that Sadie had a favorite tractor (it happens to be the tractor that I told her was my favorite). Nani explained that Sadie was repeatedly opening the book and pointing to a particular tractor called an excavator. But when Nani would say "excavator" Sadie would get upset and slam her little finger at the picture over and over again, like she does when we say "sun" when she points to the sun, when she wants us to say moon. I knew what the problem was as soon as Nani told me which tractor it was.

Sadie has two "truck" books by Roger Priddy. The "Giant Excavator" is in both of them. It's a hulking blue excavator that dwarfs the ones that we saw by the side of the freeway today. In one of the books it says "Giant Excavator" and in the other it only says "Excavator." When Nani started saying "Giant Excavator" Sadie stopped pointing over and over again and switched to closing the book and then reopening it to the page with the excavator and laughing and pointing again. It's amazing that it can be as hysterical the fiftieth time as it was the first.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Adventures in Knitting

I've promised to upload pictures of the projects I've been working on for a while, and while I haven't pieced the teddy bear for Greg and Kerry's baby together yet, here are shots of the sweater I'm making (this is the back panel) and Sadie's Christmas Blanket. I am knitting like crazy and going into town tomorrow (3 hours round trip) to pick up more yarn (there's a sale at Michael's and I have a coupon!).

There are so many babies being born right now! I want to make at least one small thing for each one, so I've been mentally coming up with a list of babies (or their parents, since we don't have any names yet) and presents.
I'm trying to keep from getting ahead of myself. If I start thinking about all the baby presents I need to make I may start thinking about the Christmas presents that I should already have started on. And there is never any way that I will finish all the projects that I will come up with. I never do. I buy the wool. I have the best intentions. And then I end up with a handful of presents and a bunch of leftover wool (and a bunch of presents I need to rush out and buy). It's best to focus on the babies right now and not get ahead of myself. Here's what I need to knit/crochet in the coming days.

2 (and a half since the one isn't finished) teddy bears
2 baby blankets (one is already finished)
1 penguin (the theme of my new nephew (or nieces) bedroom)
3 sweaters (I just have a think for making maybe sweaters)

That ought to take up a bit of time (particularly if you add the sweater that I am determined to finish, the big girl baby blanket for Sadie, that looks like it could fit a queen sized bed, the sweater I would like to make Paul for Christmas, and the additional sweater I'd like to make Sadie). See now I've started making the Christmas list, which I promised not to. So I better stop now before I get carried away.

Baby Sadie Loves Her Veil

A few weeks ago Bishop Soto visited St. Patrick's in Weaverville. I gave Sadie her veil towards the end of this Mass (she usually only wears it for part of Mass, so I usually give it to her around the consecration). That evening she was apparently in a mood to wear her veil and after Mass she didn't want to take it off. I got it away from her before dinner! Here are the pictures! It looks so huge on her!

The Moon

Sadie is a little obsessed with the moon. She finds it in books. She constantly looks for it in the sky. And when we’re reading a book, if it’s daytime in the book, she gets upset if she points to the little circle in the sky and I say “sun.” She will keep pointing to it, over and over again, with a serious little frown on her face.

I explained it to her by saying that the sun is in the sky during the day and the moon is in the sky at night. Then we went outside yesterday and Sadie was shocked by what she saw. The sun was in the sky, but so was the moon. She pointed at it on her entire walk. Then today, when we went outside, she nearly fell over after every step, because her head was straight back and her little arm was flung up, pointing at the half moon. She now knows that it is out during the day… which means that Mommy was wrong when she said the sun is out during the day and the moon is out at night… completely justifying her insistent pointing when I label the little circle in the book the sun instead of the moon. Clearly it is the moon.

What First Ammendment?

Yesterday I posted the link to the Catholic Online Story about the EEOC violating the religious liberty of Belmont Abbey College by demanding that the college provide contraceptive coverage as part of their health plan. Here's a story along a similar line, only this time the rights that are being violated are the parents of children that attend elementary schools in the Alameda Unified School District. I am so glad we are going to homeschool.

Alameda Parents File Suit Over Denial of Opt-out Requests
Contact: Brad Dacus, President, Pacific Justice Institute, 916-857-6900

ALAMEDA, Calif., Aug. 13 /Christian Newswire/ -- A group of parents filed a lawsuit yesterday against Alameda Unified School District after the District denied their requests to excuse their young children from controversial lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) instruction.

In late May, despite strong opposition by parents at school board meetings, AUSD approved a supplemental curriculum that will promote LGBT alternative families to kindergarten and elementary-age students. Since AUSD adopted the curriculum, numerous parents have sent letters to Superintendent Kristen Vital, requesting that their young students be opted out of the controversial instruction. The District recently sent form letters denying all of the parents' requests.

While the District has claimed that a LGBT curriculum was necessary to address bullying and harassment in elementary schools, documentation from the District obtained by Pacific Justice Institute through a public records request shows that the vast majority of reported incidents on AUSD campuses involve racial tension and opposite-sex sexual harassment, not sexual orientation. In fact, school incident reports show that there were no complaints of harassment due to sexual orientation in AUSD elementary grades.

Today, staff attorneys for Pacific Justice Institute filed suit in Alameda Superior Court, seeking enforcement of opt-out provisions in the California Education Code. Kevin Snider, PJI Chief Counsel, commented, "Alameda parents believe all children deserve safe schools. Parents do not support LGBT indoctrination that fails to address the main causes of bullying and harassment in the District and intentionally omits children belonging to the other five protected classes," Snider stated, referring to race and ethnicity, gender, disability, nationality and religion. "It is their right to remove their children from this highly controversial program, and we intend to vigorously defend that right," he continued.

EEOC Violates Religious Liberty of Catholic College - Catholic Online

Here's what happens when a Catholic College stands by the Church's teachings and refuses to provide insurance that includes contraceptives. The courts rule that following their religious beliefs is discriminatory and violates the female employees rights...

EEOC Violates Religious Liberty of Catholic College - Catholic Online

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Did You Break, Sadie?!?!

Sadie and I were playing upstairs in the playroom at Nani and Grumpa's house when she started to flip through the pages of a board book that has poem prayers on the left hand side and puzzles on the right hand side. She's still much too little for the puzzles, so we've never taken them out of their spot in the book. I was sitting on the glider, knitting, when I noticed that Sadie was being particularly quiet. This is usually a sign that she is doing (or thinks that she is doing) something that she isn't supposed to do. I looked more closely to see what she could have possibly gotten into. She was sitting with her back to me, but I could see her reflection in the mirror on the closet doors. In her hand she had two puzzle pieces. The expression on her face was very serious. One puzzle piece was facing towards her, and the other was facing away and she was trying to force the pieces together. After watching her for a few seconds it was very clear what had happened. She seemed to think that she had "broken" the puzzle and she was trying to put it back together before I could see.

When I said her name she looked up with a huge smile (although I should note that she still kept her hands in front of her so that I couldn't see the puzzle piece). I tried to explain that it was a puzzle and then showed her how to put it back together so that it wouldn't look broken. She immediately lost interest (and worry) and was on to bigger and better things.

Funny Thing of The Day that Sadie Can Identify (by pointing): The Air Freshner Plug In in the bathroom. You say "where is the air freshner" and she can point to it.

Natural Family Planning: Part 4: Tubal Ligation

Before I get to the actual theory and implementation of NFP (I will, I promise!) I need to slog through all the disturbing ways that women and men try to tear apart what God has put together.
Tubal Ligation is basically an operation that makes a woman sterile ("she has her tubes tied"). There are two procedures that are commonly performed. One is called a minilaparotomy. This is carried out after a small incision is made in the abdomen. The fallopian tubes are located and drawn outside the body where a portion of the tubes are removed and the ends are tied. During laparoscopy a woman's abdoman is inflated with either carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide gas. Next a fiberoptic light is inserted through the abdominal wall (sounds like fun... ouch...) and another instrument either coagulates the tubes with an electric current or places a band or clip on the tubes.

Alan Guttmacher Institute says that during the operation between 800 and 2,000 women, out of every 100,000, experience a major complication. Minilaparotomy patients suffer from infections, bladder injuries, bleeding from major blood vessels and burning of the bowel. And there are always the risk of anesthesia during operations.

Of Laparoscopy, Dr. H.P. Dunn states that patients have died from cardiac failure during the inflation procedure and that there is always a risk of hemorrhage or infection. Some women have suffered wounds to the bowel, bladder and large blood vessels and there have even been intraperitoneal explosions.

And then there are the long term risks. 22-37% of sterilized women report complications. These complications are apparently so common that they have their own name, "post tubal ligation syndrome." Dr. Vicki Hufnagel, a surgeon whose speciality is restoring women's reproductive organs, writes, "Many post tubal patients who come to my office seeking relief complain bittery of more severe cramps, heavier, longer periods, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, pain with intercourse and pelvic pain or pressure." In a British study it was found that 40% of women had an increase in menstrual blood loss and 26% had an increase in menstrual pain. Women who had been on the Pill before their operation had more complaints about pain then their non-Pill using counterparts.

A study by James G. Tappan looked at 8,000 women five years after their tubal ligations. 49% had heavier periods and 35% reported an increase in severe menstrual cramps. The risk of cervical cancer in a frightening study of 489 women was 3.5 times the normal rate.

There is also an increased risk in women who have had tubal ligation of a subsequent hysterectomy. In one study of 374 patients, 18.7% underwent a hysterectomy as a result of severe menstrual problems.

All of this sounds pretty terrible. I wonder how many women truly know what they're getting into when they sign the waiver to undergo this procedure. It's amazing how much pain and suffering men and women are willing to go to avoid the natural consequences of sex.

Natural Family Planning: Part 3: Extreme Birth Control

I remember being baffled by a conversation with one of my best friends shortly after we graduated from college. She had a good job with good health insurance and she had made an appointment to speak with her doctor. She came home outraged. She had gone in and demanded the doctor schedule a hysterectomy (at the ripe old age of 22). She said that she knew that she would never want kids and she was tired on dealing with monthly cycles. Her doctor said no, because of the side effects and because she might change her mind. My friend ranted and raved. It was unfair. If a man wanted a vasectomy she wouldn't have a problem with it. It was sexist to deny her the procedure.

I wasn't particularly religious at this juncture in my life, but I did think a hysterectomy was more then a little extreme. It wasn't something that you could take back! And I was pretty sure the side effects of not having a uterus, weren't worth the trade off of not having a menstrual cycle (with the elective surgery she was begging for). Now I know a bit more and it definitely wouldn't be worth it with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, fractures and bladder function problems like urinary incontinence (I would think that last one would be worse then dealing with a monthly period).

Something that struck me as very odd when this conversation occurred was that this friend was a self proclaimed feminist. Another friend with feminist views told me, after seeing my one month old daughter nurse (in my bed in my bedroom) that breastfeeding was the most disgusting thing ever. I think it's tragic that so many women who have embraced this extremely misguided ideology seem to be ashamed of their own anatomy and, in seeking to make women "equal" seek to make them the same as men. Feminists should embrace the unique God-given gifts of femininity, which make us women and set us apart from men. If my friend had done this she may have been less angry...

Of course few women would go such a radical route and if I hadn't personally heard the idea bandied about when living in the SF Bay, I wouldn't have included it in my discussion of NFP. However since some women apparently do consider it, it's here. Up next, tubal ligation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Twelve Hours

I've spent the entire day running around getting everything ready for the interview tomorrow. I'm going to let Paul do as much talking as possible since they seem to like him so much! I just hope that after tomorrow we have insurance! Only twelve hours until the interview!

Hopefully I'll have time for an NFP post tomorrow! So much to do...

The Incredible Exhausted Stair Climbing Baby

Sadie took one nap today. It lasted for less than half an hour. I begged her to take a morning nap. I pleaded with her to take an afternoon nap. She giggled (with a hint of hysteria shaping the sound) and arched her back to get up. After a brief wrestling match I decided that we weren't getting any nearer to sleeping, and let her get up. She raced around the room, falling frequently, and bumping into things. When she's even the tiniest bit sleepy she losses the little coordination that she has and becomes a walking disaster.

Later in the day we walked over to see Nini and Gigi. Nani was already over at Nini's visiting. Sadie loves going next door to visit. Every time we go on a walk she spends every bit of energy trying to drag us over to their stairs, even when no one is home. Then she makes sure that we know on the way back that she absolutely did not want to leave. On our walk back home today she stopped Nani three times and tried to drag her back to Nini and Gigi's house!

She is also very interested in learning to climb stairs. She doesn't want to crawl up them. She insists on walking. And she doesn't want to take a step and bring her feet together. She wants to walk up stairs like a grown up, one foot on one step and then the next on the next step. It's funny to watch (and cling to her hand) because her legs aren't long enough to walk up the steps like that and after the first step she'll barely be able to reach the next on with her toe. Instead of bringing her feet together and taking a step, she pulls on my arms to balance and puts her weight on her toe while flinging her other foot at the next stair in a dramatic kick that barely makes it.

I am so glad we have sturdy gates on our stairs. She would just be scary on her own!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mommy the Comedian

Sadie was just sitting on my lap nursing and she thought it was hilarious to stop nursing suddenly and shove her foot in her mouth. I would give her a look like she was being very silly and she would laugh hysterically. Then she put her foot close enough to my face that I pretended to put it in my mouth, but just when it got there I would blow on it and say "ewwww, baby foot, ewww!" This is apparently the funniest thing that she has ever seen or heard in her entire life and she laughed hysterically for about five minutes. It's so easy to make a thirteen month old think that you're the greatest comedian on Earth.

My Experience with State Run Health Insurance:Medi Cal

I have spent the last thirteen months of my daughter's life trying to get health insurance for my family. We lost our insurance four weeks after my daughter was born and paid out of pocket for her appointments and vaccines. It drained our savings pretty quickly.

I had heard wonderful things about California's Healthy Families Program. Our doctor accepted the insurance and said that the coverage was great. So we applied and waited... and waited... Months passed. Finally we got a letter that said that we didn't make enough money to qualify for Healthy Families. They were forwarding our application to Health and Human Services because we may qualify for Medi-Cal (one would hope that if we didn't make enough for one type we would qualify for the other... imagine hearing, you don't make enough for a type of public assistance... it defies logic!).

Thus we began to deal with the bureaucracy put in place by the great State of California to ensure the well being of its citizens. In September we received a giant packet of paperwork that needed to be returned immediately. I rushed to make copies of pay stubs and bank statements, loan statements and car bills. Our income had fallen from $26,000 a year to $12,000 a year. I was sure we would qualify. I returned the packet.

December came and we hadn't heard anything back from HHS. I went to the office to see what I could find out and was told to call my social worker. When I said we hadn't been told we had a social worker I was given a name and a number. I called and the phone rang through to voice mail. The message told me what information I should leave and then informed me not to call back. My case worker would respond in writing or over the phone.

A month passed with no call (we had now been waiting for five months). I went back to the office. I was told to call my social worker. I bit my tongue hard to keep from yelling (I was very frustrated and had no idea that the waiting was just beginning). I said I'd called a month earlier and that I hadn't heard anything. I was given a piece of paper to write a note on and handed it back, filled out, under the bullet proof glass. I now understood why it was there. This process could drive someone crazy.

Two weeks later a friend of my father who worked in the office of HHS told me to call to speak with her. I explained what had gone on and she was horrified. She told me that she would transfer me to the case worker and that I should say that if I didn't hear from her I would call back and ask to speak to her supervisor. I received a call an hour later from our apologetic case worker. She had been out of the office for a while and things had piled up. She was very sorry. She would send another packet with more paperwork for us to fill out.

I got the packet, with a list of included forms. They weren't all there. I filled out what I had and went down to the office. I showed the list and asked if I could get the forms or if I could speak to my Social Worker. I was told that she wasn't picking up her phone, and they didn't know which forms were on the paper I'd showed, so I could, you guessed it, leave her a note. At this point I nearly lost it. I refused to leave. My voice got louder. I was holding my eight month old daughter and had spent most of her life trying to get someone in this office to call me back. No one would call if I left. I was told to sit down. Amazingly, someone found the forms. I filled them out and turned them back in.

This spring our application was denied. We had $1000 too much in savings when we applied, but if we could prove that we had spent that much on medical bills we would qualify and our application would be reprocessed. I scrambled around the house. I easily found more then a thousand dollars in bills. I took them in to the HHS office. And waited.

The next letter that came claimed that I had never turned in my husband's pay stubs for the month of November. I had, but apparently they were no longer with our file. The letter said that if the office didn't receive copies of the stub by the next day, our application would be denied. I drove down to my parents storage locker and ripped apart our belongings until I found a box with last years pay stubs (when you live in a 10x15 ft cabin there's not a lot of room for storage). I found them and we took them to the office the next day. My husband said he would take them in because he was afraid I might snap if I went in.

This July, 11 months after our application arrived at HHS, we received a letter saying we had been denied. It explained again that we had too much in savings, but that if our savings had been drained by medical expenses, we could reapply.

I didn't take more copies of the bills in, because I didn't trust myself to explain that we had already given them over a thousand dollars in medical bills, without bursting into tears in the middle if the office.

Today my husband went into the office. He says he just acts like a big dumb guy and everyone is helpful (and a little flirty). They gave him papers to fill our and had him watch a movie about all the services they offer. Then they interviewed him and set up another interview for Wednesday morning. I need to fill out all the paperwork again and get together all the various statements to take in. It seems that things might finally be going somewhere.

Still, I'm afraid to get my hopes up... I have lost all faith in our state's health system. And I see no reason to believe the federal government would do any better...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Natural Family Planning: Part 2: The Pill

It's funny that so many people disregard NFP because they think that it doesn't work. I know a number of women who became pregnant while on the pill (actually I know more women who became pregnant on the pill than I know that use NFP) but I've never heard complaints that the pill doesn't work. Pill manufacturers claim a 1% failure rate. In practice it tends to be between 1.9% and 18% during its first year of use.

If the pill fails people are willing to place the blame on the woman taking it, because there is an automatic assumption that it must be some sort of user error (was she taking antibiotics that made it less effective, or did she take it inconsistently?). If a couple avoiding using NFP fails, it must be because the method is ineffective, or even impossible.

I also find it odd that so many of my friends who are so concerned with buying organic food products, because they wouldn't want to put chemicals or hormones into their bodies, have no problem popping a pill, to change a basic function of their bodies, without giving it much thought.

That's why today's NFP post is dedicated to The Pill (and why you don't want it going into your body).

Here are some basics: The pill generally works in three ways.

First they are designed to suppress ovulation. The pill is supposed to interrupt the hormones that the pituitary gland emits that stimulate an egg to ripen and be released from an ovary. A woman is thus chemically sterile (this is generally not the case with the progestin only pill).

If that doesn't work they are supposed to inhibit implantation. The progestin in both the combination pill and the mini pill cause the uterine lining to become thin and shriveled so the egg can't implant. If an egg is fertilized this causes an abortion.

Lastly the pill impedes sperm migration, by making the mucus in a woman's cervix thicker and more difficult for sperm to travel through.

These are the most common ways that the pill works... Now, for some ugly side effects (or, why I wouldn't put the pill into my body even if I were an atheist):

Heart and Blood Abnormalities- including blog clots, which can block the flow of blood to critical organs and systems. Possible results can include heart attacks, a stroke or brain hemorrhage, a pulmonary embolism, renal artery thrombosis, and blindness. Studies have showed that low dose pill users are twice as likely to have a heart attack as non-pill users (it is projected that the risk would be even higher with the regular dose pill. For smokers on the pill the risk of heart attack is twelve times greater.

Breast Cancer- has also been linked again and again to pill use. A study in Swedish women found that those on the pill were five times more likely to develop breast cancer. It isn't a coincidence that as younger women have begun taking the pill more incidences of breast cancer have been reported in young women.

Cervical Cancer and Cervical Dysplasia- rates increase among women on the pill although it is unclear whether it is the pill or the high risk behavior that is more common with pill users that causes the increase.

Live Tumors in women 15-40 years has also increased as pill use increased, along with a higher occurrence of other types of cancers.

Here are some other side effects from the Couple to Couple League Website:

Headaches, migraines, mental depression (even to the point of suicide and/or suicidal tendencies), a decrease or loss of sexual drive, abdominal cramps, bloating, weight gain or loss, and water retention; nausea and vomiting(in about 10% of users); symptoms of PMS, vaginitis and vaginal infections, changes in vision (temporary or permanent blindness, and an intolerance to contact lenses); gall bladder disease and either temporary or permanent infertility, when discontinuing the Pill, in users with previous menstrual irregularities or who began the drug before full maturity. Several of the symptoms, such as migraine headaches, contraindicate the use of the Pill because of life endangering complications.

These seem like some major risks to take to separate sex from the act of possibly creating a life, maybe because they aren't supposed to be separated. Our culture would like us to believe that popping a pill can solve every, real or imagined, problem. In the case of the pill, more problems are created then could possibly be "solved." And we haven't even looked at the moral aspect of the subject.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Natural Family Planning: Part 1

I've been thinking of writing a post, or a series of posts, depending on how much I have to say, about Natural Family Planning (NFP). It is such an incredibly important topic for married, practicing Catholics, yet because of the subject involved, it doesn't get much attention. I don't remember it coming up at all in RCIA (maybe it was one of the classes I had to work during) and I shockingly didn't know about the Church's teaching on contraception until my husband and I began researching on our own. I really should have caught on earlier, when a nurse came in and taught the method in a Catholicism and Sexuality class I took during college, but I was too busy arguing with the Professor on every single point (even if we had agreed on the various subjects, as we probably would today, I don't think that we would have gotten along) to actually learn anything. I do remember thinking that people who used NFP were crazy and would probably have several dozen kids.

Fast forward to the present. My feelings have changed dramatically. I was a bit panicked when we started using NFP. I could have come up with a dozen "just reasons" for us to avoid pregnancy. Looking back I don't feel like any of them are "just" anymore. As I've grown in my faith my perspective has changed. I've realized that reasons that can seem "just" at the moment, can definitely be relatively unimportant in hindsight. Where we needed to be financially has changed. If we kept waiting until we had a house and our car and student loans paid off we would still be waiting (and would probably be waiting for another decade). Sometimes you just have to trust that God knows what he's doing, even when it doesn't follow our carefully laid out plans.

Once I was off of artificial birth control (abc) pills I noticed a huge difference in my temperament. I had dramatic mood swings as a result of the hormones, along with frequent migraines. Even when the doctor prescribed the low dose pills I felt horrible. Looking back it makes sense. God has masterfully created our bodies. Messing around with the hormones is bound to do just that- make a mess.

Of course, I haven't even gotten to the reasons behind using NFP, from the Church's teachings to the science behind the damage that can be done by ABC... which is why this is only Part One.

My husband and I decided that if we were going to be Catholic, we were going to truly follow the teachings of the Church that Christ established on Earth and that included following the Church's teachings on birth control. It seemed like a huge step at the time and it wasn't easy (or at least it didn't seem easy at the time). But it was one of the best decisions that we've made.

Now I need to organize everything I've learned about NFP, just reasons (that'll just be opinion), the Church's teachings and the science behind NFP and ABC. And of course, the abortion issue is bound to come up because many women don't realize that most birth control pills can actually cause abortions. But putting all these subjects into words (or at least starting to) will have to wait until Sadie's next nap!