30 December 2006

The New Year's Eve Curse

New Year's doesn't become a very important holiday until one is a bit older. I remember reading my diary from the year that I was eight. I wrote on December 31 that my parents said I was allowed to stay up as late as I could and then on January 1 that I didn't make it past 10:00pm. But once I hit high school, I was able to stay up late and sleep in late, an area of life in which many teens show talent.

New Year's Eve was never that great for me in the first place, but I think the Curse really got going when I was seventeen and my then-boyfriend, Steven, dumped me. It was either New Year's Eve or the day before. Either way, he was The Plan for New Year's Eve. All my other friends had made plans without me because I was planning on my Big Date {at church, mind you!}). I ended up spending New Year's Eve taking my friend's little brother to see Toy Story at the theater.

Throughout college, New Year's Eve wasn't particularly bad for me, though I was prone to {a} not have plans, {b} get incredibly lonely, and then {c} torture myself with guilt-inducing resolutions and reflections in my journal. I suppose I can be terribly morbid when I put my mind to it.

When the Millenium came, my parents requested that I stay home, just in case the world fell apart. Of course, since I spent the afternoon chatting online with a friend of mine in Hong Kong {one of the first countries to reach the New Year}, I knew hours and hours in advance that the world would be fine, and so the whole thing was somewhat anti-climactic. I think a part of me actually wanted something bad to happen because it would be interesting.

And then there was the Very Good Year. On December 9, 2000, Si proposed. This means I was engaged on New Year's Eve, and having a ring on one's finger and love in one's heart makes every day seem joyous. Our date that year was simple. I think we went out to dinner, and then strolled along checking out the sites at the street fair in downtown Fullerton. I remember watching the ball drop on TV and toasting the New Year with a glass of sparkling grape juice. Like I said, it was a Good Year.

But the Curse followed me into my marriage. Our first New Year's Eve as newlyweds, I had terrible morning sickness. I don't think Si was miserable, but I wasn't exactly the life of the party. The second year, we were at Si's dad's place and I contracted horrible food poisoning at Red Lobster and spent the evening throwing up and leaving Si to care for the baby alone. The third year, I was still in the process of miscarrying our second child {which began on Christmas Eve}, and there were a lot of tears for us both. The fourth year, I warned Rebecca about the Curse, but she didn't believe me until inviting me over resulted in her having to cancel her own party due to a horrid migraine {it was my fault}. I also still had horrible morning sickness in the fourth year because A. made me miserable until the day she was born. The fifth year was last year, and we all contracted the stomach flu and spent the day throwing up and feeling feverish. Has anyone noticed the vomit trend?

This year is the sixth year, and I am optimistic and predicting a Very Good Year. This is not just because I am guaranteed some morphine sometime that day, but also because we will have a brand new baby in our arms, and nothing could be better than that! In fact, this little child will give us something to celebrate every New Year's Eve for the rest of our lives. And we really could use the help around here.

29 December 2006

Now We Are One

Today is an anniversary of sorts. It was exactly one year ago that Grace convinced me to start a blog of my own. I wrote my first post, and Afterthoughts was born. I'm not sure where I ever expected blogging to take me, but I knew it would be an outlet for my desire to write while thinking...or think while writing.

I think this year's highlights include the Birth Control Series, in which I inadvertently explored a subject that changed our family life forever. So much for mere intellectual pursuits. And what a blessing to have a new baby to show for it in just a couple more days!

Another highlight would definitely be the Darndest Things category. Before the blog, I was never organized to keep a written account of the children's antics in one place. Now I have almost an entire year of our strange and exciting adventures in print, and the best entries are being copied by hand and placed lovingly into our family scrapbooks, a wonderful addition to our recorded family history.

But I suppose my favorite part of this endeavor is how it has brought me back in regular contact with old friends. The busier our family life becomes, the harder it has been for me to write each person individually. And most people know that I avoid the phone like the plague out of personal preference. But here I am, feeling back "in touch" with so many people I love.

So Happy New Year one and all. Thank you, my faithful readers, for all that you have added to this year.

28 December 2006

My Life as a Human Time Bomb

I remember how about a month ago I told Rebecca I didn't have any stretch marks this time. I think I also told her I'd have the baby 9.5 days early. There was a lot I thought I knew that I really didn't know. But I suppose life is like that sometimes.

I am bigger than I ever imagined possible now, and a few faint stretch marks have appeared as my skin strains to cover this presumably gigantic baby. I am also 3.5 days {and counting!!} overdue. And I suppose that, even if one cannot view said stretch marks {and one absolutely cannot}, I still look overdue. Or at least Due.

At church on Sunday, one of the ushers made comments. "Oh, no! She is not at church today." And then he started figuring out where all the doctors were sitting. Just in case. Because I have The Look.

At my grandma's on Christmas, my own relatives stared at me strangely every time I had a contraction. As if I hadn't been having them for the last four weeks! But now that I have The Look, they take me more seriously.

Today, when I went to the doctor because I had the first False Alarm of my life {really, I thought Baby wasn't moving, but she was and is}, the little old lady waiting for her GYN appointment smiled at me every time I looked up. Because I have The Look. And I think she felt sorry for me.

However, my body seems not to have gotten the message that is so very apparent to the people around me. I feel as if I'm going backwards. This week, the contractions actually slowed down and got farther apart. It's like labor in reverse. At some point I'll just join Weight Watchers and it'll all be like a weird dream.

Oh well. I have that amputation scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Something to fall back on, I suppose.

And I promise this isn't turning into a Mommy Blog. I'm just slightly focused right now. Give me six or eight weeks, and I'll be back to tackling all the philosophical and ideological problems I can get my hands on.

27 December 2006

The Scoop

The baby saga continues, and I thought perhaps I'd share since that is about all that is on the mind of a mommy who was due two days ago.

Today I went to the OB. Last week he had agreed with us that if labor did not occur by Friday we would go for a repeat C-section {inducing labor is too dangerous with a repeat C-section, and because of my health history the chances of a successful VBAC go down with each passing day}. We were really hoping for a VBAC, but we also prayed that God would prevent us from making a mistake if it would be dangerous. We are starting to feel that there is a "NO" staring us in the face here.

So, as I said, I went to the OB. I had to see his nurse practitioner, which was fine because there is still no sign of progress. I went to the scheduling authority at his office to schedule a C-section on Friday, just as I was told to do. She called the hospital to schedule me. The hospital tells her they are booked until January 5.

Did I mention I am already overdue? And did I add that my feet are so swollen that one might mistake my toes for little tiny sausages? I'm getting that overdue angst, I think.

And then I remember that tax deduction and credit, and how we thought we had it in the bag, and how that was supposed to help us afford the baby. January 5? I shuddered to tell Si.

So I calmly ask the woman if there is a way to do it earlier. I remind her that overdue women who have had two prior C-sections are not usually in a good situation. She promises to try her best and call me later.

Well, I can now breathe a sigh of relief. Rather than having the first baby of the New Year, we will be have the last baby of the Old Year. Which is kind of unique, if one thinks about it. Especially considering the New Year's Curse. {I'll have to write about the Curse sometime. I thought I had written about it before, but I can't find anything in the archives, so I suppose I was wrong. For now, I will just state that I have had in my life perpetually bad New Year's Eve experiences, and they have followed me into marriage. Last year, I believe, it was the stomach flu.}

If that last paragraph didn't make sense, here are the basic details: preop on Friday, C-section at 12:30 on Sunday, December 31. Baby Q. should be in our arms for every single day of 2007, and all should be right with the world, or at least our little corner of it.

26 December 2006

Receiving

I know I'm not a big gift person. I don't HAVE to have a gift. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy them when they show up. I am HUMAN, after all. Many people were quite generous with us this season. In fact, if anyone sees my daughter out and about and thinks that she is the best dressed toddler on the block, well, I must confess that it is entirely Auntie Grace who should take credit for that.

At the end of the day, what I love about Christmas gifts is the way they expand our library. Some years the impact is far greater than others. Though I have a goal of reading all the books we already own {so many of them are Si's; I think I've read all of the books I brought into this marriage}, there is nothing like the crisp, virgin pages of a new book.

This year, we also collected a couple new books from unexpected sources. There are that many more pages for us to look forward to. Allow me to share the highlights:

For E.
E. is currently finishing up the Bob Books. He is on the very last one. I've been dragging them out until we got the next set of books for him. I told him that next he would get to read Big Boy Books. He wasn't sure what those were, but he was pretty excited. And with good reason! For the next three months {at least!}, E. will be working his way through C.W. Anderson's famous horse series: Billy And Blaze, Blaze And The Forest Fire, Blaze and the Gray Spotted Pony, Blaze and Thunderbolt, Blaze and the Mountain Lion, Blaze and the Lost Quarry, Blaze Shows the Way, and Blaze Finds the Trail.

It will be interesting to see how he does with this type of book. He should be able to read the majority of the words on his own, but Bob Books are written so as to use phonics rules repeatedly in one sentence. E. is accustomed to those patterns. This will be a whole new ballgame for him. With that said, last year at this time, E. could read only three books, and knew only the basic of short vowel sounds. It is utterly astounding to think that fifteen minutes per day, three or four days a week {sometimes five}, made all the difference. Slow and steady wins the race every time.

Si's Triple Play
First, being that he is a Centurion's graduate, the Wilberforce Forum sent him a copy of a new book on the topic of discipleship we had never heard of: Choose the Life. A review {or response}) to this book should appear on this blog sometime in 2007.

Secondly, Si is being trained for church leadership together with some other young men in our church. The first two-thirds of their training is intense in theology, and the text he was given to read from is Grudem's Bible Doctrine.

Lastly, Si was given a book that has been highly recommended to us by many people in our lives. I think it's been mentioned here at Afterthoughts in the comments section more than once. Having a newborn coming soon {as in, should have been YESTERDAY} will mean that it takes him an eternity to read the book. If one hasn't already guessed the title, it is Pearcey's Total Truth.

Brandy's Newest Gem
How can a husband express love for his wife? Let me count the ways! This season, Si proved how well he knew me by not just buying a book from my wishlist. He also made sure it is beautiful. I love beautiful, hardbound books. I just can't help myself. And I will enjoy every moment as I sip Starbucks {oh, yes, he bought me a giftcard so that I could read while drinking the elixir of life} and read my gorgeous copy of Chesterton's Orthodoxy.

New in the Bookstore
I am always fiddling with the Bookstore when I think of something. I added an Early Science category recently. It, naturally, has only two titles in it because I only include books we actually own and use, and we are a little bit light in the science category. I plan to change the main page monthly, highlighting different books we are reading or wanting or something.

Though I do not blog for money, the Bookstore seems to be a creative way for me to contribute a bit around here. Usually, I just produce people who cost money, so the idea of earning money is a bit different. With that said, if any readers remember me, using the search box from this site, or linking to Amazon.com through the Bookstore when making purchases makes a small, yet significant difference around here.

Oh, Yes

STILL PREGNANT.

Just in case anyone was wondering.

Remember that day I mentioned that both my other children had been born early? Well, apparently two pregnancies does not a rule make.

22 December 2006

Family Traditions: We Three Gifts

I like to give gifts. I love the moment when I find that perfect gift for a recipient. Christmas, however, makes me a bit uncomfortable at times. What I happen to like about Christmas has more to do with people, traditions, and food than the gifts involved {though the gifts are nice and much appreciated}. Christmas has become an opportunity for marketers to turn the hearts of children away from their parents and their God and toward materialism and consumption, and like a lot of parents we tried to embed some traditions in our life that functioned as preventative measures.

Our children receive three gifts from us. Thus far, these gifts have never been large, though they have always expressed our care for them. We tell them that Jesus received three gifts, and so we give them three gifts to help them remember that special time long ago.

Each of the three gifts falls into a category.

The first gift is a book. Not just any book, it is a big, thick, illustrated, collectible, beautiful, makes-one-just-have-to-read-it book. This year, E. is receiving Treasure Island while A. will enjoy a historically accurate and beautifully illustrated tale about Noah's Ark. As a child, beautiful books enchanted me and beckoned to me to read them over and over. This is the type of library we are building for our children for now. And we are committed to reading these books aloud to them until such a time as they can read them alone.

The second gift is an article of clothing. This is usually something nice that they will enjoy, but also meeting a need. We are giving E. a warm, fully lined shirt that is nice enough for church. Because he had some additional needs, I also threw in a casual T-shirt. We would never give the children "just underwear," but we wouldn't hesitate to throw such a necessity in and simply make the gift larger. We are giving A. a pretty pink shirt that she will love {she loves clothes} and matches a few pairs of pants she was recently given as hand-me-downs.

The third gift is a toy. We try not to give a toy for toy's sake or even for the sake of entertainment. We put a lot of thought into it and hope the toy reveals an appreciation for an area of their development that we have been working on, or some new interest the child has discovered. This year, E. is getting his first "gun." It is the perfect gun for a four-year-old. And A. is getting the game Elefun. She will have a blast, E. will play it with her when I cannot, and it will encourage her development of motor skills, balance and coordination.

So there it is, our traditional way of keeping Christmas simple and meaningful. Meaning enriches life in a way that "stuff" never can.
The "products" don't always exclude "the process," but they can steal the show if we're not careful. Mothers, we are the family memory makers. It is up to us to build traditions, not just buy them. {Like Merchant Ships}

21 December 2006

The Nonnegotiable Christmas

This Christmas season has been bare-bones for us. The checking account is slimmer this year, and Mommy is quite the opposite, a combination that means we had to simplify on many levels. We are doing what I call the Nonnegotiable Christmas. These are all the traditions and goodies we simply don't want to do without because they are part of what we think of when we think of Christmas. For instance, there are some decorations that went up because the time and energy spent taking them down will be nominal. But there are others that take time and were put up anyhow...because we love them.

Specifically and in no particular order...

  1. Our real Christmas tree
  2. Homemade fudge
  3. Driving around to view Christmas lights in a nearby extravagent neighborhood that spares no expense on decorating
  4. Hot cocoa and pancakes on Christmas morning {obviously, this won't happen if we are at the hospital}
  5. Three gifts per child {I will explain this someday soon}
  6. Trying to remember Advent devotions in the evenings
  7. Attending our church's Christmas Eve service
  8. Wrapping gifts with real paper and tying them tight with beautiful glittery ribbons {bought on clearance after Christmas last year, of course!}
  9. Listening to Christmas music
  10. A little box of presents mailed across the country to our far-away family members
That's all I can think of right now. Any other readers want to share some nonnegotiables?

20 December 2006

Lewis on Contraception

I promise I'm not really obsessing over contraception. It just happened to be that my most recent reading project was C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man, and it contained some thoughts that I couldn't resist putting into a post, since I am always compiling the Birth Control as an Idea Resources Page. So, please humor me.

Lewis discusses contraception in the context of the bigger idea of the applied sciences and Man's quest for power over nature. He says {emphasis mine}:
What we call Man's power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by. Again, as regards the powers manifested in the aeroplane or the wireless, Man is as much the patient or subject as the possessor, since he is the target both for bombs and for propoganda. And as regards contraceptives, there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive. By contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer. From this point of view, what we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.

It is, of course, a commonplace to complain that men have hitherto used badly, and against their fellows, the powers that science has given them. But that is not the point I am trying to make. I am not speaking of particular corruptions and abuses which an increase of moral virtue would cure: I am considering what the thing called 'Man's power over Nature' must always and essentially be. No doubt, the picture could be modified by public ownership of raw materials and factories and public control of scientific research. But unless we have a world state this will still mean the power of one nation over others. And even within the world state or the nation it will mean (in principle) the power of majorities over minorities, and {in the concrete} of a government over the people. And all long-term exercises of power, especially in breeding, must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones.

Later, Lewis relates more thoughts on science. He is not specifically speaking of contraception, though he obviously considered the subject one of the more telling sciences {technologies, one would call it now} of his day. I thought it was interesting to spend some time considering the subject of contraception within this mental framework:
For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique...

This reminds me of the AIDS post that I ended up needing to take down {hopefully some readers remember it}. The idea discussed was that abstinence really is the best {and most logical} solution for AIDS and other "social" diseases. And the "wise men of old," as Lewis refers to them, would have seen that the diseases would be abolished in a short time using "self-discipline and virtue." But the prevailing wisdom of today screams "no!" to self-discipline, and seeks for a technique that will allow Man to circumvent the Natural consequences of his behavior.

Lastly, Lewis makes a comment about Bacon, who he claims "condemns those who value knowledge as an end in itself: this, for him, is to use as a mistress for pleasure what ought to be a spouse for fruit." Again, Lewis is not applying this comment to contraception. But I did in my mind. And I found the contrast interesting: "a mistress for pleasure" versus "a spouse for fruit." I considered for a moment that perhaps contraception inadvertantly turns one's spouse into a mistress for pleasure because it necessarily denies the union's ability to be fruitful.

I know that early in our marriage, our plans to be childless {for a time, at least} were directly tied to our enjoyment of one another and a desire not to have that enjoyment interrupted. Though I think that this is a natural feeling to have, taking the step and actually forbidding the fruit of the marital act seems, according to Lewis' dichotomy above, to change one's mate from spouse to mistress, at least in some senses.

15 December 2006

Birth Control as an Idea {Resources}

Si brought to my attention a recent article published by World Net Daily which got me thinking. I have decided to add a "resources" section to the Birth Control as an Idea series, and I plan to expand it as I find articles, or even simple web postings, that I think contribute to the discussion that has already taken place. I would also like to take this opportunity to invite any readers to leave articles/postings/etc. that they have found in the "comments" section.


  • Lewis on Contraception: Here is a compilation of musings on contraception using thoughts from C.S. Lewis' great work The Abolition of Man.


  • No Room for Contraception: I just found this website today. The founders are Catholic, but apparently the organization is not specifically Catholic. It does, however, promote NFP, which, as I have mentioned before, I believe violates one specific passage in Scripture. With that said, the site has a blog covering current news on the contraception front, as well as some interesting articles, including one that explains the link between birth control and abortion.


  • And The Beat Goes On: This is a posting over at Dominion Family that quotes Mark Steyn. I quoted Steyn a lot in Part III of the Birth Control as an Idea series. Now, Mr. Steyn has written a book entitled America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. This book is focused on anti-Americanism worldwide, but there are some priceless quotes concerning demographics and fertility rates.


  • God's Protection: Evangelicals embrace the "contraception culture": This article, written by Christine Gardner over at Wheaton College appeared in OpinionJournal, but I have yet to determine exactly what her opinion on the issue is. The article is, however, a fairly thorough summary of the debate raging within Christian circles in regard to the regular and typically unquestioning use of birth control.

    We felt quite alone almost a year ago when I originally wrote this series, and now here we are, delightfully surprised to find friends of ours asking the same questions. Times, they may be a'changing.


  • Old-fashioned preachin': Amy at Amy's Humble Musings shares details of a message she listened to by evangelist Voddie Baucham. Though it doesn't sound like antinatalism was the exclusive topic {maybe more like "family life" in more general terms} this comment struck me as insightful:
    We despise children in the Southern Baptist Convention. You don’t believe me? Find a woman who has six or seven children and follow her into a Southern Baptist church and watch the way we mock her. Watch the way people who don’t even know her come up to her and say, ‘Haven’t you guys figured out how that happens yet?’
    The assumption behind questioning if a couple has "figured out how children happen" is that birth control is {or should be} a given within the church.

    Our culture says that having more than 2--maybe 3--children is insanity. Our Bible says much that is different. In fact, it says that fertility is a glory to a people and the life that birth control strives for {a childless life} is a curse:
    As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird--
    No birth, no pregnancy and no conception!
    ...
    Give them, O LORD --what will You give?
    Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
    {Hosea 9:11&14}

  • Why childless people hate me: I have seen this Slate article {by Emily Yoffe} quoted on a number of sites, most notably A Gracious Home and Spunky Homeschool. This is an opinion article in response to demands for apologies that were made in regards to advice that Yoffe gave in her Dear Prudence advice column. She quotes one of the letters she received, which I will include here, because I think it illustrates that our culture is moving from considering children a choice to full-blown antinatalism:
    My husband and I are childless by choice and I heartily encourage all younger friends to consider it. It is the most wonderful lifestyle, free of whining and sniveling and mini-vans.

  • Roe attorney: Use abortion to 'eliminate poor': This article draws attention to a letter written to then-President Clinton by Ron Weddington {one of the attorneys who represented "Jane Roe" in the Roe v. Wade Case} that reminded me of those old accusations against Margaret Sanger as wanting to dispose of the black race through abortion. When children become a "choice," their value does not seem to be inherent any longer. In this letter, I learned that poor babies are worth much less than middle-class or upper-class babies in the eyes of some people.


  • Amnesty's impact on future of U.S.: This article is a commentary written by Yeh Ling-Ling on immigration, but it had a couple interesting quotes I thought worth mentioning. Here is my favorite, verbatim:
    Also in 1995, Jose Angel Gutierrez, a political science professor, a former director of the Mexican-American Studies Center at the University of Texas-Arlington, and the founder of the political party, La Raza Unida, said: "We have an aging white America. They are not making babies. They are dying. It's a matter of time. The explosion is in our population."
    This reminds me of Part III where I discussed the power of demographics, but in that instance it was more in regards to the high reproductive rates among Muslims. The Bible says:
    Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
    So are the children of one's youth.
    How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
    They will not be ashamed
    When they speak with their enemies in the gate. {Ps.127:4, 5}
    I have always found it interesting that there was this use of war-imagery in regards to children, and until recently I would say I had an almost-total mental disconnect on the purpose. But I think that the less industrialized cultures better understand the role of demographics in regards to conquering or keeping a territory.

14 December 2006

Scripture v. Personal Experience

One can always find a controversy out there in the internet void if one looks hard enough. I only find them intriguing when I have the energy for them, otherwise I find them tiresome. Just this morning, I hopped on the Dominion Family site and learned that Tim Challies wrote yesterday about why he doesn't homeschool. Actually, he pretended to write about not homeschooling on Tuesday, but the post was really about why Christians should consider this an area of personal choice, where all options {public, private, and home education} are considered equally valid.

Cindy also linked to a posting by John Rabe that I thought was a good response.

But I don't really want to talk about homeschooling today, even though I am quite opinionated about it.

Dominion Family has been specializing in controversy this week. For instance, should homeschool moms be obligated to dress like professional teachers? Has Veritas Press gotten a bit too big for its britches in its recent epistula articles?

But I don't really want to talk about how a mom should dress while homeschooling or whether or not Veritas does or doesn't put on airs.

What I want to talk about is the idea that Christians often resort to personal experience when attempting to argue a point. In fact, it seems to me that the more passionate one is concerning a matter, the more likely one is to relay those personal experiences. But just as having once heard a woman give a rousing and inspiring sermon should not be the issue when one discusses whether or not a woman preaching from the pulpit is Biblical or appropriate, other personal experiences should not be entered as evidence when engaging in public debate.

For instance, if one reads most of the comments in the Challies debate over homeschooling, one will see that there is a striking lack of Scriptural evidence in the conversation. Most of the comments are pure, unadulterated opinion based on the commentors' personal experiences with homeschooling or homeschoolers or public schools or what not.

Now, Challies mentions that he sends his children to public school for the purpose of "missions." Regardless of what I think about this reason, I must say I was disappointed in how the comments dealt with it all. Most of what I read {and I didn't read it all because last I checked there were almost 150 comments} was some form of personal experience. Either, "I went to public school and there are people who are Christians because I went." Or maybe, "I know someone who went to public school who left the faith and didn't minister to anyone."

But what does the Bible say? Why is it that so many are so quick to dispose with God's Word {including myself--I often jump to my own opinions and experiences, too}? Why not search to see who Scripture calls to be missionaries, if there are any Scriptural examples of children being missionaries and if they are normative, what God says the job of a child is within His kingdom, etc. The Bible is there, and it is not silent on the nature of a child, who has responsibility for him, who is to train and teach him, who is accountable for him, how and when he should be protected, etc.

And though I think that how a mom at home chooses to dress is a bit more of a side-issue compared to how a family educates its children, the Bible isn't silent in the matter either. There is much that is said in the Bible about how a woman dresses, how she shouldn't dress, and what underlying qualities make her beautiful. And I think that reading all of the verses in this area would probably make Veritas' assertion that women should dress like a teacher seem a little silly when the Bible calls women to so much more than dressing for a job.

I would much rather debate over how verses should be interpreted rather than how my personal experiences should be interpreted. God's Word is accessible to us all. My personal experience is my own, and therefore off limits to the critiques of others in all the ways that matter when attempting to discern truth.

13 December 2006

Tics, or Involuntary Movements

This summer, we had a very strange incident with E. He woke up from his nap, and he was overwhelmed by tics. I'm not talking about a simple shoulder shrug here. As I attempted to document them, I counted at least fifteen separate involuntary movements. He had difficulty functioning normally because of them--it was next to impossible for him to talk or eat or run or play or anything because the tics were so disruptive. This was very hard for me to watch, and very hard for E. to handle.

Because he just woke up with this problem, right out of the blue, I didn't call the doctor on the first day. Besides the fact that it felt very unreal to me that my child could have such a severe problem, I think part of me naively thought that something in his brain became disorganized during sleep and would fix itself during the next time he slept.

But that's not what happened.

On Day 2, I called the doctor. He couldn't get us in until the following day, and the appointment was with the doctor that I believe overmedicates while underdiagnosing. I was disappointed, but I felt at that point he should see a doctor regardless in case this was a major health problem.

On Day 3, we went to the doctor. I had done some major research before we went, so even though this doctor, predictably, wanted to give the poor boy a tranquilizer and send him to preschool {seriously, this was what he thought would fix the problem}, I was able to get a number of blood tests ran. I knew from my research that issues with copper and magnesium, as well as a couple infectious diseases, needed to be ruled out, and the doctor was willing to run the tests I asked him for.

All the tests came back within normal ranges.

I never gave him the tranquilizer because I didn't have a diagnosis. I mentioned in the fever post that I'm not a huge fan of medication, and certainly not without a diagnosis. Also, as hard as it was to watch him and worry with him, I didn't want to cover up symptoms. What if, underneath the tranquilizer, he was really getting worse, but I didn't know? I couldn't take that chance.

Day by day, the tics lessened in severity. A week later, we were able to see the doctor I had hoped to see initially. She told me that had she seen us on the first day, she would have run a full toxicity scan because she has seen excessive tics come on suddenly due to children getting into medications. She specifically mentioned Benadryl or other antihistamines. Apparently, the first doctor might have been encouraging me to continue to poison my son, because the tranquilizer was a relative of Benadryl.

The tics are controllable now. More importantly, he can run and play and be a little boy. What I have noticed is that they seem to increase if I am not careful with his diet. I do not know what brought them on in the first place, but I have figured out how to keep them under control. What is required of me here is a lot of discipline. I find that everytime I let up in areas of food especially, I start to see him displaying tics, and I realize that the whole thing was probably avoidable.

Here is what we avoid and other changes we have made:
  1. Antihistamines: Benadryl especially...we just don't give him anything at all. Thankfully, he doesn't have any known environmental allergies.

  2. Food additives: We discovered that E. should not have excess sugar {like candy}, Red 40 {this is probably the biggest issue}, citric acid {which also affects his kidneys and makes him go to the bathroom too often}, and dairy. Red 40 is in EVERYTHING {it is used to make purple and brown also}, so I pretty much cook from scratch. It is in cereals, crackers, most snack foods, and even most strawberry and rasberry yogurt. Red 40 is also in lot of cough syrups and liquid kid medicines, so ask for dye free at the pharmacy. Tylenol has a dye-free line of OTC meds. We try not to use medications at all, but dye-free would definitely be our choice if we felt we had need of something.

  3. Household toxins: We are careful about exposure to bug spray, weed killer, fertilizer, and I also recently switched to a laundry detergent called Charlie's Soap that is the only detergent on the market I've found with no known toxins {it was also cheaper than what I was already using}. The average detergent does not rinse completely from the fabric and gets on the skin when the garment is worn. Skin is permeable, and the toxins enter straight into the blood stream through the skin. Perfumes and dyes that are in soaps are actually poisons, so our fabric softener is unscented, and we are careful about the soaps we buy, etc.

  4. Lotions: I've mentioned before that I think sunscreen is bad. The first post I wrote on the subject dealt primarily with the fact that sun is beneficial to one's health, and so though there is a need to be reasonable about sun exposure, blocking sun doesn't make much sense. Consider this the other side of the coin. As I mentioned above, skin is permeable. There are many toxins in sunscreen, as well as in the average bottle of lotion. E. never wears sunscreen now, and we are also careful about the types of lotion he uses when he has dry skin.

  5. Epsom Salt Baths: I have learned that a great way to help a child detox is to put them in a bathtub of warm water and add 1/2 to 1 cup of Epsom Salt. Let the child play in the water for 15-20 minutes while the salt soaks into the child's skin. Epsom Salt releases a type of magnesium into the blood stream that aids in detox. If the child is hyperactive after such a bath, he does not need the treatment.

So I might sound a bit crazy, but apparently all or some of this is having an effect because our little boy's average day is now very normal. And really, though processed foods pumped full of Red 40 can feel quite convenient, they really aren't very healthy. And being unhealthy is very, very inconvenient.

__________________________________

Want to read our story of recovery? My series of posts Tics: There and Back Again tells all. Start with Part I.

11 December 2006

A Perspective on Fevers

Fevers are on my mind this morning because E. had quite a high one yesterday evening. And of course, the immediate question from our elders was, "What have you given him for it?" This question has been known to apply to teething, coughs, colds, sniffles, and stomach flu. One elder suggested we give him some aspirin. I suppose this person is unfamiliar with Reye's syndrom and the new medical advice {from doctors no less} that no child be given aspirin for a fever--ever. I didn't know about it until E. was born and my pediatrician gave me strict instructions concerning the use of aspirin.

Anyhow, I think most readers know that my first instinct when a child is ill or in pain is to do nothing. I firmly believe that medicine is poison. To give an extreme example, take chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a known poison. There are warning labels on it. When cancer is bad enough that it is killing the patient, doctors often administer chemotherapy treatments, which kill not only cancer, but the body as well. Being treated by chemotherapy is essentially running a race to see which dies first--the cancer or the body. I am not saying that one should not take chemotherapy. There are good reasons to do so {though I firmly believe that it is overused}. I am simply explaining the idea that we often fight disease with poison.

Or take Tylenol. Doctors have said for years that Tylenol is mild and gentle on one's system, and yet it has now been learned that Tylenol has the ability to overwhelm the liver.

In the instance of mild illnesses like colds and flus, or minor pains like headaches and teething, I believe that one should think carefully before administering a poison.

So to be more on-topic, repeat after me: The fever is not the sickness. Chant this like a mantra.

Treating a fever is not unlike trying to "treat" a swollen lymph node. The swelling of the lymph nodes is a common side effect when the body is fighting a sickness of some kind. The swelling is good and indicates that the body has successfully trapped some of its "enemies" inside the gland, where they will be systematically destroyed. Fever is just like a swollen gland.

Let me explain by quoting Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn's book How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor:
If your child contracts an infection, the fever that accompanies it is a blessing, not a curse. It occurs because of the spontaneous release of pyrogens that cause the body temperature to rise. This is a natural defense mechanism that our bodies employ to fight disease. The presence of fever tells you that the repair mechanisms of the body have gone into high gear.

The process works like this: When an infection develops, your child's body responds by manufacturing additional white blood cells, called leucocytes. They destroy bacteria and viruses and remove damaged tissue and irritating materials from the body. The activity of the white cells is also increased, and they move more rapidly to the site of the infection. This part of the process, called leucotaxis, is stimulated by the release of the pyrogens that raise body temperature. Hence the fever. A rising body temperature simply indicates that the process of healing is speeding up. It is something to rejoice over, not to fear.
Even the American Academy of Family Physicians admits that the primary motivation for treating a fever is to provide the child with comfort:
Fevers are a sign that the body is fighting an infection. The main reason to treat your child is to make him or her feel better. When your child is achy and fussy, you may want to give him or her some medicine.
And Dr. Lisa Buenger has written:
Many people believe that fever in and of itself is a disease. Rather, a fever is a response to illness occurring in the body. Fever works to protect people during infections, most commonly caused by viruses or bacteria. The fever itself doesn't harm, but it can make a child uncomfortable. And when a child is not feeling well, there can be fear and anxiety in parents and patients.

My philosophy is that I refuse to administer a poison to my child to make the child feel better, or, even worse, to make myself feel better. It is hard to watch a child feel badly, and so easy to want to relieve the pain. But the fever is a beneficial protection created by God, and therefore we choose to have the standard treatment be love, lots of liquids, and pep talks.

As an aside, I will note that Dr. Mendelsohn's book suggests calling one's doctor if the fever lasts more than three days, was caused by a heat stroke or poison, is accompanied by severe nausea or any difficulty breathing. Notice he doesn't say to treat the fever. He says these are signs that medical care needs to be sought after. Please do not think that I would suggest depriving a child of necessary medical care. I simply don't consider fever reducers necessary.

So there it is: my perspective on fevers. If anyone out there wants to gain an appreciation for God's handiwork, I would highly suggest studying the lymph system of the body. Not only does this knowledge help one make better decisions in regards to the treatment of disease, it also shows how miraculous is this body that God created.

09 December 2006

Teaching Reading: Bob Book 7 of Set 5

I've had a lot of interest in how I use the Bob Books to teach reading {check the books out in the Afterthoughts Bookstore Early Readers category if interested}, so I thought I would give an example of the book I am currently working on with E. As a background, I suppose I should mention that each Bob Book tends to build on the last one. E. didn't just magically end up "ready" for Book 7 of Set 5 {entitled "Chickens"}. He spent hours and hours on Book 1 of Set 1, and then hours and hours on Book 2 of Set 1, etc. And he spends extra time on his own. I leave words up on our white board, and he stops during playtime to review them {without my prompting; it's just something he likes to do}. I have gotten big enough at the end of this pregnancy that the white board is a bit awkward, so this week I wrote everything on a piece of paper. That paper is now in his room so that he can review before and after naptime.

Who says kids can't like homework?

Lesson One
The first lesson always requires some guess work. After all, there a lots of words in the book that I can assume E. already knows because of previous reading lessons. There are others that follow major phonics rules so completely that he should be able to sound them out as we read, and not need them to be included in the lesson. But sometimes I'm wrong, and something trips him up (like the fact that "was" and "saw" are visual opposites), and so I have to add them on to the lesson after we've read through the book the first time.

So, as I was saying, I go through the book alone and guess what he needs to learn. I explained this in a former post, but I'll review it real quick. There are two columns on our white board. The first is for sight words. I will talk more about sight words at the end of this posting, but for now just know that they are there. The words I thought E. needed to learn or review for this particular book were: two, who, said, across, she, friend, another, there. After reading through the book with him, I also found I needed to add sitting and still.

The second column is for phonics-based learning. It is hard for me to type this the way it would look when I write it, but I will try. Here is the list for the first lesson:

ch: chicken, chair, checked

a-e: game, chased, bravely

oo: room

ee: cheered

ea: creaked

oa: croaked

o-e: broke

ou: ground

When E. reads through this list, he must first tell me the special sound, and then try to read the word. For a-e, he says, "The e is silent, but it tells us that the a says a." He says a similar line for the o-e rule. E. has already learned all of the above sounds, but there is a need to review every time, and to learn to apply them when endings like -ing or -ed are added.

We end Lesson One by reading through the book. If it turns out extra hard, we may only read the first five or seven pages. The point is not for him to read it perfectly, but for me to know what else I need to teach him in order for him to be able to read the book.

Lesson Two
The second lesson reviews all of the first lesson, but I might add what I learned by hearing his first attempt to read the book. For instance, in this particular book, E. had major trouble with the words creaked and croaked. So for lesson two, this will be added to the phonics list:

ea: creaked, speak, lead, smear, etc.

oa: croaked, boat, moan, bloat, etc.

Which additional words are used don't particularly matter. The point is to reinforce the phonics rules that are a bit fuzzy in his mind.

After reviewing all the sight words list and all the phonics rules lists, we sit to read the book again.

There is no set number of lessons. We simply keep going, reviewing, and refining, until it is learned. Remember, we try to keep this around 15 or 20 minutes, so it may take a whole week for a short book. The end result should be nothing short of mastery of the book. Taking the extra time to master each book before moving on will be of great benefit down the line when new rules and applications of rules are being added to the lessons.

A Note on Sight Words
Eventually, for a child to be a great reader, every word must become a sight word. Phonics empower a child to learn words on his own. As he becomes able to break a word down into its parts, it becomes a sort of puzzle for him to figure out alone. This assures that the parent will not have to hand-hold him through every new word. But phonics alone can make it hard to decipher the meaning of the text because constantly sounding words out breaks of the rythym of the sentences.

Sight reading is the way a true reader reads. I don't have to sound out words (unless they are new), because I have literally thousands, if not millions, of words memorized. This is the way that reading works for every good reader. For this reason, E. is encouraged to go beyond the phonics. I am known to tell him, "See this word? You just sounded it out. Do you remember it? Try to remember it. It is going to appear on almost every page of this book, so you need to know it. Remember it."

It is good to learn phonics. It is empowering a child to teach himself a few words. But becoming able to sight read is what will guarantee a child reading success.

The Darndest Things {12/06}

31 December 2006: Beginning the New Year With a Blessing
At 9:18am this morning, Baby Q. was born. The New Year begins with our family becoming a family of five. E. is adjusting better--no one would guess how hard becoming a big brother was for him last time around. And A. has become a big sister for the very first time. She looks a little scared, but she will be fine in the long run.


26 December 2006: Vocabulary Lessons
In honor of the holiday season, A. revealed to us that she has learned to say "cookie" very, very clearly. This way grownups don't accidently feed her something healthy instead.


25 December 2006: Overheard
We could only hear E.'s side of the conversation. It was Christmas morning, and E. was on the phone with his grandfather in Sacramento. I'm not sure what Grandfather thought about this response, but we clearly heard E. say, "Who is Santa Clause??"


20 December 2006: Twins
E. has been trying to figure out the concept of twins ever since he discovered that his dad and uncle are twins. So far, "twins" seems to mean being the same age at the same time, and he still doesn't get that the babies are supposed to have been in the same mommy's tummy at the same time. So when a friend of ours brought over an invitation to her son's third birthday party, E. grew a slow smile on his face. I knew some misrealization was dawning. He exclaimed, "Now J. and M. are twins!"

J. is the little boy who will turn two next week. M. is E.'s cousin who turned three back in September.

Oh well.


16 December 2006: Si and Sean Connery
Si has always looked to Sean Connery when thinking of royalty. I don't know if it's how debonair the man can be {on screen, at least}, or just the appeal of the accent, but this is something I've noticed about Si for a long time. However, I never expected it to have such great impact on our home. Lately, Si has been reading The Kidderminster Kingdom Tales to our kids {sorry, no link; they are out of print}. And you will never guess who Si chooses to imitate when doing the voice for King Leonard. That's right! Sean Connery. Now, King Leonard is representative of God in these books. Perhaps our children will expect God to have a Scottish accent?


15 December 2006: Their Taste in Music
About a week ago, A. sang along with the radio for the first time. Of course, it happened to be when I was listening to some really unsophisticated Top-40 station. {This reminds me of when E. was about her age and fell in love with the remake of Paved Paradise and would sing "Oooooooh, bop bop bop" over and over.} Well, A. likes this song that is being played right now. I don't even know the official name of it, but I know the most oft repeated line is "You're not the one for me." Just like Paved Paradise, there are lots of "whoa whoa whoa" and "no no no" lines, and these are the ones she likes best, singing them at the top of her lungs.

And now E. has a favorite Christmas song, if it can rightly be called a Christmas son. We own a slowly dying CD player that plays only one CD at a time, so if I don't have the time to play DJ, we just listen to the local Christmas station. Well, one of the favorites on this station is Dolly Parton's rendition of "Baby it's Cold Outside." Out of all the beautiful hymns they play, E. decides he likes "Baby it's Cold Outside." Of course. Oh, but he's cute when he sings it. He lowers his voice as deep as he can and sings {adding in his own words}:

Baby, it's cold outside...
Baby, you need a jacket outside...



9 December 2006: Self-expression
It was raining outside when we put A. to bed. It hasn't rained in months, and she certainly didn't seem to remember what rain was, moreover what it sounded like outside her bedroom window. A. is typically the type of child a parent can kiss goodnight, give a big hug, and then leave to fall asleep on her own. But tonight, as we closed the door, she screamed at the top of her lungs. Knowing this was out of the ordinary, Si and I took turns visiting her to try and deduce the cause of the outbursts. Each time, we could calm her down, only to have her cry out again after we were gone.

The last time I entered her room, she was huddled under her covers, crying real tears all over her sheets. I asked her what was wrong, and she babbled something that sounded like she wanted to say she was sorry. I grabbed her up, thinking that she somehow was under the wrong impression and believed herself to be in trouble. But then she pointed at the window, and this time I understood her better. "It is so scawy {scary}."

The rain was making some unusual noises, and she was scared out of her wits. I talked with her about rain {"wain??"}, and assured her she was safe, and told her I would leave her door open so that she would have a bit of light. I was also hoping the sounds of the house might drown out whatever was scaring her.

Not only was this one of the first times that she has seemed truly frightened, it was the first time she was able to express herself so clearly. A. seems to have taken some big steps tonight.


9 December 2006: The Little Mommy
Tonight was so precious to me, and I never would have anticipated that it would be because I was never much for playing with dolls compared to other little girls I knew. My daughter has mainly played with her brother's trucks and cars and balls, and I've never considered that masculine. She is very girly in the way she does it, but she is having fun with "boy" toys. Even when she "plays" with dolls, it is for a short time and she mainly drags them around. I think dolls have mostly been too young for her. She wasn't mature enough for pretend play until tonight.

We were at my parents, and she toddled into their play area and grabbed a doll and a bottle. She held the doll in a new way, the way a real mommy would cradle a baby in her arms. She climbed up on the couch, hugged the doll, placed her on her lap, and commanded the doll in baby talk to drink her milk. She spent a good deal of time toddling around with the doll, acting as a mommy would. And I thought it was adorable.

Just in time for her transition to Big Sister, she gains a bit of maternal instinct. And I am breathing a sigh of relief.


9 December 2006: Not a Color
It's been a constant battle around here. Si told E. that white is not a color, all based upon the fact that standard paper is white and so white crayons don't show up. I, on the other hand, was taught that the idea of color is based on the refraction and reflection of light, and that if any color is not a color, it would be black, which is technically the absence of color.

But then we could analyze these things linguistically. For instance, if I ask someone what color my sock is, they would answer white if it was white and black if it was black, and so according to common language usage, both white and black are colors.

I, for one, believe that white is definitely a color.

E. now loves to tell me it is not. I tell him {and Si} that I am going to buy some black paper just so they can see the white crayons "work." Then I will ask them what color that line is and they will say, "white." And maybe that will silence them.

Is this our first homeschooling war??


6 December 2006: And She Slept
I just love the feeling of a baby sleeping on my shoulder. A. has not been much for public sleeping because of her social nature, so at about six months of age, she quit it entirely. Tuesday night, A. ate some uncooked food in our kitchen and became ill. She was cooking with Mommy, and apparently Mommy wasn't watching as well as she thought. It was just a teensy tiny bit, but I remember thinking that I hoped she didn't get sick. And she did get sick, but thankfully food poisoning doesn't typically last longer than 24-36 hours. So she was miserable, but I was in heaven a couple times. The sickness overwhelmed her enough that I got to hold her sleeping self Tuesday night, and again during lunch on Wednesday. And even when she was awake, she desired almost constant holding and cuddling. I am about to say goodbye to the stage where this precious girl is my youngest. Even though I hated to see her suffer, I was glad that circumstance forced her to slow down enough that I got to give her a lot of last-minute loving.

08 December 2006

An Anniversary of Sorts

Six years ago today, Si took me on a Very Long Drive. We started in O.C. and drove all the way to his dad's house in the Sacramento area. I spent a lot of the drive studying for my finals at Talbot, which were scheduled for the next week. In fact, I almost decided not to go because I felt irresponsible skipping the chance for uninterrupted study time to go off "lollygagging," as the old folks say.

I am so glad I didn't listen to my conscience, because Si proposed the following evening! And I didn't study a bit. And it didn't matter because who cares about grades when getting engaged?

The following morning, I awoke to a little trail of rose petals leading me down the hallway. We had breakfast at Si's dad's, lunch in Reno, got engaged in Lake Tahoe {after a ride in a one horse open sleigh!!}, and then had a fabulous dinner at the Chart House in Lake Tahoe. Oh. And then it snowed on us on the way back down the mountain. We stopped to make snow angels. It was the perfect day.

And who would have thought that here I would be, exactly six years later, expecting our third child? I never did get that Talbot degree, though I like to brag that I have "more education" than Si. I did get an Mrs. and an Mo.M., so all is not lost.

07 December 2006

On Overprotecting

I can be a downright fierce mommy bear at times. Other times, I let little old ladies walk all over me, handing my son an evil red sucker {he's sensitive to Red 40} without a word of protest on my part. But in my mind, I'm always fierce. Really. I let that lady have it, but only in my mind.

So what does it mean to overprotect a child? Or is even the word overprotect a judgment call, meaning that someone is being excessive in the area of protection? I protect my children from a lot of wordly influences, that is for sure. They don't watch TV. They don't read books I haven't read first. We screen their friendships {for now}.

Si once made a comment to someone who asked us about such things that we "incubate the soul." There is a time to protect from evil and allow good to flourish, to allow certain strengths to be built, certain weakness to be identified and dealt with, before setting a child free in the world.

The "Real World"
Often, people {the ever-illusive they out there that never has a name} will criticize the homeschooling movement saying that it is overprotective of the children, that they are never able to experience the "real world." And usually the question that pops into my head is something along the lines of, "Why, with the state of public schools as they are today, would one wish them to be at all representative of the real world?"

There is a little boy at our church that is most likely being pulled from the public schools in the next couple of weeks. It has been a horrible experience for him. Besides being bullied and learning, I'm sure, millions of derogatory terms for any known human flaw, he has also seen other children stripping and exposing their private parts in public. He is in the first grade, in one of our better school districts. Is this the real world that one's children need to experience in order to grow up and fulfill their responsibilities as adults?

A Need to Define Protect
Even though I am, as I claim, downright fierce at times{especially since my babies really are babies}, I think there is a need to clarify what it means to protect, or really what the aim of the protection is, and what it is appropriate to protect from.

The Trivium Pursuit blog recently posted an article from The Homeschooling Minute concerning protection. The point is made that "sheltering" means to guard or protect while its opposite is to expose or endanger. Now, granted, this is from the Homeschooling Minute. In other words, it's not exactly meant to be a thorough analysis of the idea of protecting a child and all that this might entail. However, I do find the concept of sheltering=good, not sheltering=bad to be a bit simplistic without making sure there are some common definitions in place.

Sheltering a child from the influence of the world is "good." But sometimes this is extended into nonmoral areas. In our family, for instance, we choose not to protect from average pain. We do not use pain killers for every bump, bruise, headache, and teething incident. If pain is excessive {like someone breaks an arm}, that would be an exception. But reality is that the world hurts sometimes. If one runs without watching where one is going, one is going to get a bruise, and allowing the child to experience the pain is part of the lesson {rather than teaching him to pop a Tylenol for every ache}. We often treat teething with hours of hugging and reading stories rather than teething tablets and medicine. I am not saying every family must choose this approach. I am simply explaining an area in which we choose to comfort and bear with rather than protect.

And sometimes parents protect children from the consequences of their sin. Is the child truly being bullied on the playground? Or was he playing violently and refusing to share, and so the other children decided to socially punish him? If the root problem is one's own child's behavior, the solution is not to protect the child from those horrible children at the playground, but to root out the character flaws that caused the problem and deal with them.

The Eventual Goal
Romans 16:9 speaks of one becoming wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. I think the book of Proverbs has a great practical example of how this would work out. First of all, though, I must explain that there is a difference between being innocent in what is evil and being ignorant of what is evil. A naive young man, unaware that there really are Proverbs 7 women out there, will eventually die from her flattery.

So what does the Proverbs Teacher do? What is his methodology? First of all, he does not set his son free in the world to experience all of its "reality." Instead, he walks with him, teaching him as they go. He explains how evil men work, how evil women flatter. He prepares the son to avoid evil and keep his feet on the path of goodness. He does not shelter his son to the point where he doesn't know that these evils exist, but he also doesn't offer any more gory details than are necessary for his son to learn how to avoid evil on his own.

And that really is the point. Eventually, they have to be able to avoid evil on their own. Immersing them in evil in the name of helping them along in the "real world" is not Biblical. But neither is sheltering them to the point of ignorance. I always go back to Genesis, and the idea that my son, especially, must someday leave and start his own family.

Perhaps what I am really looking for here is a process where we shelter our children so that we might be have fertile soul soil to cultivate when it is time to train them in their youth, so that they are prepared to be full-grown followers of God as adults.

05 December 2006

Childrearing #13

Assess an individual child's maturity before moving them from a crib to a big bed. There was a time when I would have rushed my children {or, conversely, held them back} because I had predetermined the way I expected our family to progress. Having a miscarriage between E. and A. gave E. a lot of extra time to grow up before a sibling finally arrived, and I learned a lot from that. I would have wanted him in a Big Boy Bed before the baby arrived, but if I had forced the issue, it would have been too much for him.

As it worked out, E. graduated to a big bed when he was exactly two-and-a-half. At that stage, he was almost done with potty training, which meant he had a need to sometimes get out of bed and use the facilities. He was taller and more able to help with making his bed {able to take some responsibility for the new privilege}. He had also stopped sleeping up against the crib rails, which I took to mean that he wouldn't fall out of bed all night long. The most important part was that he was trained in obedience to the point that our word alone could keep him in bed. He has never gotten up at night without permission.

Many people expected us to move A. to a Big Girl Bed as part of our preparations for the new baby. And we seriously considered it. But this time we assessed the situation based on whether A. could handle it, rather than whether it was convenient for the rest of us. She would definitely get out of bed without the crib holding her in, I think. Freedom tends to distract her from the sleep she needs. She isn't potty trained enough to worry about using the restroom. There really aren't any indicators that it is time to leave the crib behind.

So we have two cribs. Now, if we were in the business of buying very expensive cribs, this would have been a major issue, but both of our cribs have been given to us, and this second one was actually one I picked out second-hand for only $75, and then a family member purchased it as a gift for us. Some folks in our position could probably even borrow a crib because it is likely the need for two cribs {this time around} will last less than a year.

Some children are ready for big beds earlier than mine have been. Some are ready later. There was a time in history where the crib was called the "Five-Year Crib," so one can imagine how long some children once slept in cribs.

Really, this philosophy of making decisions based on the individual child can apply to many areas, like potty training, graduating from the high chair, getting to eat without wearing a bib, etc. Sometimes, life's details will stand in the way {like when I had to delay some of E.'s potty training because I was on bedrest to preserve my pregnancy with A.}. Each child is ready in their own time, and as long as the family is able, I find it much easier to defer to wisdom and insight into the child's readiness rather than my own personal vision of how I thought it all would go.

03 December 2006

All Ready Ready Already?

Well, December is here. I can't believe it, but it's here just the same. So, naturally, we flew into a frenzy around here preparing for the baby. Nesting? Me? Perhaps. Regardless of what one calls it, there was so much accomplished this weekend that I cannot help but be pleased.

This time around I have learned a few lessons and find myself asking the question, "What can I do to make things easier after the baby comes?" There are a number of things I put off last time because I thought of them as After-Baby Projects, when really all or most of those projects could be completed in advance, leaving me more time for recovery. I figure if I am a little bit more prepared every time, someday I will have mastered preparing for a baby.

So what did we/I actually do this weekend? For starters, I addressed and stamped the envelopes for the baby announcements. Then, I wrapped the remaining Christmas gifts. As long as there are no surprises {as in, surprise, I forgot to buy a gift for someone!}, then we are ready for Christmas to go off without a hitch. I also bribed a friend of mine into finishing a project I started and then didn't have the time or desire to finish so that I could get out from under the procrastination {thanks, Jennie!}. I got my Amazon store up and running {see the sidebar for the link if you're interested--clicking through this blog to Amazon instead of going direct will help us feed the three kids, so keep it in mind, if you please}. Most importantly, Si solved the garage door mystery.

The biggest challenge of the weekend was the exciting combination of baby laundry and the Major Furniture Shuffle. The laundry required five loads. And maybe I am nesting, because I did them all this evening {between 4:30 and 11:30, in case anyone was wondering}. So now baby has clean laundry, clean sheets, clean bumper, clean crib ruffle, clean boppy cover, clean blankets, clean changing pad cover, clean everything anyone could imagine. Don't worry, I'm throwing an extra sheet over it all so that it doesn't gather dust if she tarries.

The Furniture Shuffle was also a fun ordeal, though it was mainly Si who did the work {I was too busy laundering and folding and organizing the five loads}. Baby Q. is going to be in our room for at least the first six months. This is standard procedure in our home. But where the crib was going was where I typically have my scrapbooking table. So, I had to pack up all my supplies and put them in a closet in order for Si to be able to work his magic.

A.'s room has become wall-to-wall furniture over the course of the last two months. First, there was her crib and changing table and plastic tower of drawers to keep things in and hamper and little toy cradle where she rocks her dolls. Then, some friends gave us a daybed with trundle for when A. is mature enough to graduate to a Big Girl Bed. Then, we received a second crib as a shower gift. The second crib happened to match the daybed, while the original crib matches the changing table.

So we did what all people who appreciate matching furniture do. We disassembled A.'s crib and moved it to our room, along with the changing table and plastic tower of drawers. Then, we assembled the new crib for A. to sleep in next to her matching daybed. The "new" crib was actually purchased second-hand {quite a bargain, I might add}, so there weren't any directions accompanying the piles of strange-looking parts. This added some zing to the challenge for Si.

The Furniture Shuffle took a lot of time, but then again, so did folding all that laundry and making up the two cribs, etc. But it was so worth it! A. has some room to breathe. Our bedroom now has a nursery in it. We are already ready for Baby Q. And good thing, too, because these contractions are getting frighteningly close together...

Did I ever mention both my kids were born early?