29 September 2008

What's Cookin' In My GFCF Kitchen

I haven't posted a GFCF meal plan in oh so very long. Our stomachs have been at the mercy of kitchens belonging to friends and family these past few weeks. One of the most difficult parts of C-section recovery for me is standing for long periods of time, so having members of our community prepare meals for us was greatly appreciated.

This is my first week fully back in business. The friend of mine who organized a meal schedule was kind enough to wean me off the system by having meals arrive every-other-day last week. It really did keep me from overdoing it.

Anyhow, like I said I'm back in the kitchen. And I thought I'd share what's cooking. After all, since I'm no longer pregnant, I'm able to reacquaint myself with pulses, which are used worldwide to sustain life at a low cost. {I just can't digest them while pregnant.} So our grocery budget should reflect the change. At least I hope it does.

Breakfasts

Last week, we ate a lot of GFCF hazelnut scones {I substituted crushed hazelnuts and dried cranberries for the walnuts and currants called for in the recipe}. I found the recipe via the Frugal Granola blog's constant referencing of a website called SCD Recipes. When I finally clicked on it, I discovered that this is a whole website devoted to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is another dietary approach to recovering children from autism, among other things. The SCD diet is much stricter than GFCF, which means that the recipes are usually appropriate. I am loving this new resource.

Anyhow, I can't cook breakfast for at least the next six months because between nursing Baby O. and doing basic morning chores like packing Si's lunch, there isn't time. Unless I get up even earlier. I might be willing to do this once we're getting more sleep, but I'm running on low these days as it is.

On weekends, Si usually whips up a fruit salad or scrambled eggs. On weekdays this week, we are eating a Nourishing Traditions style GFCF multigrain hot cereal inspired by The Nourishing Gourmet that is cooked overnight in the crockpot. It is wonderful to awaken to a home already smelling like breakfast!

I took the recipe containing gluten and tweaked it. I doubled the brown rice {and will triple it next time as my kids are big rice fans} and then used millet, milo {also called sorghum}, amaranth, and teff. I might skip the teff next time as it is so tiny that some of it was lost through the strainer. The original recipes lists a number of serving options, and I plan to try a few through the week to add some variety.

Lunches

Our lunches are almost always leftovers. I make more than we need for every dinner so that I can heat up lunch with ease. This has always been useful {especially since GFCF can be tricky with traditional lunch foods}, but it is almost imperative with our new busy life. Adding in nursing has meant adding over eight extra hours of activity to my day. Granted, some of that activity is at night, but eight hours is a lot nonetheless. I just don't have time to make lunch right now, and using leftovers means I don't have to.

One of our lunches this week will be leftovers of a soup that I made this weekend. This is a money-saver indeed! Courtesy of the infamous Lentils and Rice blog, this recipe of Lentil Soup is also a Nourishing Traditions recipe. Substitute Spectrum Shortening for the butter and it is GFCF. {I cannot emphasize enough the great benefits of soaking grains and legumes. If you want to understand the process, try reading this and this.} We served it in the same manner as the author--over perfectly prepared Nourishing Traditions Brown Rice.

Dinners

I might not make all these dinners. Sometimes I just cook until the refrigerator is packed, and then we eat leftovers until I need to start cooking again. How long it takes to pack the fridge varies along with the appetites of teething toddlers or sniffly children.

This week I am planning on these options: Summer Red Sauce over brown rice pasta with a side salad, taco salads {a regular salad topped with refried beans and also this Spanish Rice that I'll be presoaking and making with some homegrown jalapenos from the freezer}, baked chicken with homefries and side salads, and also breakfast-for-dinner {a favorite of the children}.

26 September 2008

Hometown Bank Run

Last week, Si very quietly went and withdrew all of our money from our various accounts at our bank. We have appreciated this bank over the years, but we had reason to believe that it was no longer solvent. We had a number of different accounts {savings for each child in which we put money they receive as gifts, checking, regular savings, and checking for each of our small business ventures}. Though we don't necessarily have a lot of money, it was quite the process for Si to get all of it out because each withdrawal required a separate transaction.

Si then ran over to a new bank that we had reason to believe was fine. Or at least better than our current bank.

Did I mention why we made this decision? First, my dad, who is "in the business" in a way, told us that our bank's products weren't selling well on the secondary market. I don't know exactly what this means, but it sounded like a bad thing. Then, Si did the math. He basically figured out that our bank had more "insured" desposits than the FDIC had in funds to pay out if something went wrong. Though the government likes to print new money and give it out with wild abandon, Si was justly worried about the interim.

Basically, if our bank failed, would we be able to pay our bills while we waited for the insurance to kick in? And since there wasn't enough money to cover all deposits, would the insurance ever kick in?

It wasn't a risk we were willing to take.

Well, our personal bank run was divided into two parts. Apparently, I had opened a couple of our accounts on my own, so Si wasn't able to close them without me. So on Saturday morning, all six of us packed the Suburban and headed to the bank.

"Why are you closing your account?" asked the sweet little teller.

I looked at Si. He looked at me. "Oh," he said, trying to sound nonchalant, "solvency."

The blank look on her face was slightly frightening. I know that tellers aren't exactly in charge of the bank, but I suppose I expected that people who work in banking would understand basic concepts...like the idea of solvency.

I felt bad for her and I feared she wouldn't be able to spell it when she wrote it down, so I said, "We are just trying to find a bank that feels more secure."

This teller was fine with that. Her manager, though, had some major ruffled feathers. The manager tried valiantly to be polite, but it was plain to see she was upset. Near the end of the approval process, the manager looked at me and said, "Maybe when all this media nonsense dies down, you will come back."

Oh, how I bit my tongue. Media nonsense? It was all I could do not to tell her to call me when her bank's CDs were again good on the secondary market, even though I only had a vague notion of what that actually meant. Instead, I forced a smile and tried to sound sweet when I said, "Well, we have enjoyed banking here."

And it was true. I was already annoyed that "free checking" at our new bank only applied to one account, and all subsequent checking accounts would have a monthly fee. So, naturally, we combined all our money and are trying to keep it mentally separate using a spreadsheet. Of course, this new bank seems to be healthy so maybe there is something to charging for some of the services.

And our old bank? Well...I have to say I feel a bit vindicated. After all, my impression was that the manager thought that Si and I were simply blown around by the winds of the drive-by media instead of making an intelligent and informed decision.

Last night, our old bank became the biggest bank failure in the history of the nation.

25 September 2008

The Money Jar

I use my credit card for just about everything. I confessed this a couple years ago. I use it in order to accumulate points that I can then exchange for gift cards to my favorite stores. In the past, I have bought gift cards to Target to use for necessities like toiletries, to Home Depot for pseudo-necessities like supplies for making small home repairs, and to Pottery Barn for luxuries like a king-sized quilt set with three matching shams. This made all of these things {the fun stuff and the necessary stuff} free to us.

It was free to us because we have never, ever paid interest on this credit card.

I know that this wouldn't work for everyone. For some folks, credit cards aren't "real." Some people need cold, hard cash for their purchases to be concrete enough for them to keep track of their finances properly. However, Si and I have never found this to be a problem. It probably works because we don't call him Depression-Era Dad for nothing, and I don't enjoy shopping all that much.

Recently, though, I started wondering how all of this was impacting the children. They are still small enough that I'm not sure what their spending tendencies are going to be. E. seems to be disciplined enough in general, and he has saved up and paid cash for toys in the past, so I find that encouraging. But the other children are a complete mystery.

Even though we have never paid interest on our credit cards, our children are watching and they don't know those details. All they know is that Mom needs something, pulls out a card, and poof! the deal is done.

This is not the healthiest view of finances to cultivate.

So I started trying to think of a solution that would give them a concrete example, without my having to give up my precious points.

Enter The Money Jar.

I put a number of items on Craig's List when we moved. They weren't going to bring in a whole lot--around twenty dollars here and there. But we saw it as an opportunity. After all, we have the backyard microhomestead project making its way into our lives. What a great chance for the children to learn to save and pay cash

One evening, we sold one of our items. Si brought out a Mason jar and put it on the dining table during dinner. He asked the children if they could guess what we would use it for. And then he explained our family project. The children already knew that there were plans in the works for an orchard of around fifteen trees. Si told them that the jar was going to contain our tree money. Each time we sold an item or came across extra cash, we would put it into the jar. When we were ready {we still need irrigation before we can plant}, we would take that cash and buy whatever trees we could afford. We would keep saving what we could until we had purchased all the trees for the orchard.

A benefit of making trees the goal is that it doesn't take all that long to save for one. The average sapling costs between twenty and twenty-five dollars.

The children got excited when we put money in the jar and explained that we already had enough to buy one apple tree. Within a couple days, we saved for two more trees {Craig's List has been good to us}. Our oldest got excited, went to his room, and donated nine cents to the project. We had told the children that they could put their own money in the jar if they liked, but they are little and the focus of the project is really for them to witness Si and I saving for something.

They say that the lessons children learn are often caught rather than taught. What I am hoping is that as we use the Money Jar {we plan to have new goals once the orchard is in}, the children catch the concepts that make up proper financial management. In time, maybe they will have their own money jars where they separate out some of their own money to save for something extra-special.

24 September 2008

The Reading Project

A couple years ago, I read on Cindy's blog that she kept track of each child's first books read. When they finished reading their first 100, they earned some sort of special outing. I thought this was a great idea. E. was just beginning to read at this time, and so I jumped on my computer and made a cute little chart with 100 of squares on it that each had just enough space for me to jot down the date and title of the book read.

We started at the very beginning of 2006, and here we are, more than halfway through 2008, and he is almost finished.

My plan was for E. to read each book aloud to me so that I was sure he was reading properly and also comprehending what he read. This worked well as we began with the very easiest Bob Book in existence, which contains approximately four words arranged in various orders.

I required, however, that each book be challenging for him. This meant that each book increased a tiny bit in difficulty. {We did hover at a few levels because he needed the reinforcement...and who minds hovering long enough to read all the Frog and Toad Books Arnold Lobel ever wrote?}

This spring, it got more difficult for E. to get books finished. As he went from Bob Books, to easy readers, and finally to chapter books, I just didn't have the time to listen to every word. And, frankly, he was anxious to find out what happened. Having to wait for Mom to find time to sit and listen was holding him back.

So I decided to cut him loose.

However, I spent most of the summer struggling with how to make sure his reading resulted in actual improvement in his skills. After all, I wasn't there to correct a word if he read it wrong. It was obvious to me that he was understanding the books. He talked enough about what he was reading that I could see his comprehension of the overall plot was fine. But what about individual words? My hunch was that my son was just like me at that age: understanding enough to enjoy the book, but in such a haste to complete the story that he simply brushed over the occasional confusing word.

Having him read aloud a couple times recently proved to me that my hunch was right. There were definitely words in his books that he didn't know.

What I needed was a way to build his vocabulary. He had already proven that his comprehension would naturally follow.

I have now given him an assignment to go along with his reading. He is to keep a pad and paper next to him while he reads. When he comes across a word that he doesn't know, or isn't completely sure of, he is to write it down. He doesn't have to stop reading, he just has to pause to write it. At the end of the day he has to bring his list to the dinner table and we will go over them as a family.

This can become quite amusing when we all try to use them in sentences over dinner.

So...problem solved. We build vocabulary without interrupting the flow of the reading process too much. We make sure that he's improving his skills without me having to listen to every single word of every book he's reading. So far, it works for me!

22 September 2008

Post-Industrial Marriage Rituals

Always before, Laura had helped Pa with his work. When she was very little, in the Big Woods, she had helped him make the bullets for his gun; in Indian Territory she had helped finish the house, and on Plum Creek she had helped with the chores and the haying. But she could not help him now, for Pa said that the railroad company would not want anyone but him to work in the office.

-Laura Ingalls Wilder in By the Shores of Silver Lake
This weekend someone was telling me about some suggested dating patterns: a date night once a week, a whole day once a month, and a weekend quarterly. I think that was it. Naturally, I crustily replied that this sounded like post-Industrial marriage to me and that, amazingly enough, no one ever did such things for the past four thousand years and marriage has managed to survive.

Tactful, I know. This is why I should avoid speaking out loud and stick to writing, where I have a chance to think a bit before pressing "publish."

Ahem.

So now that I have had time to think, I stand by my knee-jerk comment that this was post-Industrial marriage in action, but I've lost the accompanying negative vibe.

If there is one thing Industrialism has done, it is divide the family. In this, I mean that the family is physically divided, which, over time, leads to other sorts of divisions, and ultimately the building of separate lives.

When families were more agrarian, they were unified in ways that are foreign to most of us today. They worked together, meaning that they had shared work. There was still division of labor, to be sure, but because the work was centered in the home {for the most part}, the work offered the family a chance at a shared vision.

Churches tended to be more unified as well. There was less separation of ministries. There weren't such clear lines drawn between Men's Ministry, Women's Ministry, and Children's Ministry. The family could sit together in church, and the children could all be together in Sunday School {instead of being divided by age}. We have only to look at the age-division within Sunday School classes for children to be sure that the church is merely reflecting the culture with all of these divided specialty ministries.

I cannot emphasize enough what this sort of physical unity does for a family {and for a marriage}.

For a few beautiful years, we were blessed to have Si working from home. He kept office hours, so there were definitely times when the children and I were not physically with him. For the most part, his work wasn't like farming where the children could help or accompany him. Even I wasn't able to help all that much. But just having the work taking place in our home was unifying in a way. We understood his days {what made them good or bad}. We knew who his clients were. We knew the nuances of his job because we saw them ourselves. We ate three meals a day together. We took his breaks with him. On slow days, he grabbed his cell phone and we all headed to the park.

I look back on those days with nostalgia. I have already mentioned that I do not believe absence makes the heart grow fonder. In fact, I think that the more time we spend separately, the farther our hearts are from one another. Si and I were close in those days in a way we cannot be in our current situation. I can't keep up with who his coworkers are or what he does throughout his day. We don't have many lunches together because the gas to get there costs more than the meal we'd eat. The way that the children and I are during the day {i.e., our attitudes and behavior, even the volume of our voices in the house} no longer impacts Si's job success.

The Job divides one member of the family from the rest.

In a word, the post-Industrial economy makes our lives less intertwined. This is not to say that I resent my husband leaving and heading out to work every day. On the contrary, I have a deep appreciation for my Magic Checking Account {which is replenished every-other-week without fail}. But we as a culture cannot pretend that there is no need to make up for lost time.

In my opinion, this is what Date Night is about. It is our culture's attempt to make up for the time together that we aren't getting. It is an expression of our drive to reconnect and try to recapture what has been lost.

In my opinion, it doesn't make up at all for a life lived together. I think I will always long for the days when our family lived together the majority of the week. But for me to have disparaged Date Night was really for me to miss the point, that the Ties Which Bind have been loosened by so many aspects of our culture. Who am I to criticize one sort of attempt to tighten them a bit?

18 September 2008

Economics as a Form of Community

On Saturday morning, Si spent at least thirty minutes trying to get our lawnmower running. It was to no avail. That engine was determined to stall out. Did I mention the lawnmower is a front-thrower and weighs more than one man can lift? It's true. So Si searched the neighborhood for a bit of help with loading the mower into the Suburban, and headed to a nearby repair shop, which happens to be owned by my aunt's brother.

Today, the shop called with the bad news {as in our mower needs some major repairs if we still want its service in our yard}. My mom answered the phone {she was helping me with my life as I'm still not fully recovered from surgery, but the four children seem to think I am}, and she and the owner spent some time catching up before she gave him Si's work phone number. In the course of doing business, community was reinforced.

It reminds me of how Wendell Berry wrote in Jayber Crow that a community, in order to remain a community, has to do a certain amount of business with itself.

I found this same concept nestled in the pages of my new read {which entertains me during the fifteen minutes after every single feeding that I spend making sure that Baby O. remains upright in order to keep his meal in his tummy where it belongs}, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

At one point in the book, which is a memoir of sorts, Kingsolver's family takes a road trip, and on the trip they find a little diner that epitomizes the spirit of building community through economic activity:
Tod Murphy's background was farming. The greatest challenge he and his farming neighbors faced was finding a market for their good products. Opening this diner seemed to like a red-blooded American kind of project. Thomas Jefferson, Tod points out, presumed on the basis of colonial experience that farming and democracy are intimately connected. Cultivation of land meets the needs of the farmer, the neighbors, and the community, and keeps people independent from domineering centralized powers. "In Jefferson's time," he says, "that was the king. In ours, it's multinational corporations." Tod didn't think he needed to rewrite the Declaration of Independence, just a good business plan. He found investors and opened the Farmers Diner, whose slogan is "Think Locally, Act Neighborly."

For a dreamer, he's a practical guy. "Thinking globally is an abstraction. What the world needs now isn't love sweet love--that's a slogan." What the world needs now, he maintains, is more compassionate local actions: "Shopping at the hardware store owned by a family living in town. Buying localy raised tomatoes in the summer, and locally baked bread. Cooking meals at home. Those are all acts of love for a place."

We don't really know my aunt's brother personally. But from the very first time our mower needed fixing, his shop was where we went. We didn't call around to find the best price. It just seemed right to us to go to a place owned by a person to whom we were vaguely connected.

We've experienced this ourselves. Back when Si was in business for himself, we had friends that utilized his services just because of the friendship. And because of the friendship, they also learned they were entitled to substantial discounting! It wasn't so much a scratching of each other's backs. It was simply relationships in action, being as good to one another as we could.

A lot of folks see the big box stores come into a town and destroy it, but they don't really understand how it happens. Business is business, we say. But it isn't, in some ways. It is so much more than that. Or, at least, it should be. Business is one more tie in a community. When we send our economic activity outside the community, it is to the detriment of the community. It is one lost opportunity to be good to one another.

Now, I'm not about to start criticizing folks for shopping at Target, but this is definitely something to think about. Kingsolver goes on to explain:
The Farmers Diner does not present itself as a classroom, a church service, or a political rally. For many regional farmers, it's a living, and for everybody else it's a place to eat. Tod feels that the agenda here transcends politics, in the sense of Republican and Democrat. "It's oligarchy vs. non-oligarchy," Tod says--David vs. Goliath, in other words. Tom Jefferson against King George. It's people trying to keep work and homes together, versus conglomerates that scoop up a customer's money and move it out of town to a corporate bank account far away. Where I grew up, we used to call that "carpetbagging." Now it seems to be called the American way.

[snip] "We have the illusion of consumer freedom, but we've sacrificed our community life for the pleasure of purchasing lots of cheap stuff...We often have the form of liberty, but not the substance."
This seems a bit more important today as I watch the so-called oligarchy begin to perish due to their financial irresponsibility, only to be resurrected by the power of the Federal Reserve's life-support system. Since every dollar the Fed pumps out diminishes the value of the real money I have in the bank, it seems like buying from small family businesses, even if it cost me a couple dollars more in the short term, might have been the cheapest route over the long term.

_________________________
Other Posts Concerning Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Quote Selection One
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Quote Selection Two
What to Look For in a Rooster
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Final Review

16 September 2008

The Drinking Gourd

The folk song for this term of school {we have three terms per year, a new folk song for each term*} is called The Drinking Gourd. I had never heard of it before, but when I researched it, I found the story fascinating. The Drinking Gourd isn't only a song; it's also a map.

Back in the days of the Underground Railroad, there was apparently an old man named Peg Leg Joe who traveled around the South, teaching slaves to sing The Drinking Gourd. Hidden in the words were directions to Joe's own raft, where he would be waiting to ferry them across a large river and take them to the first house in a chain of houses making up part of the Underground Railroad.

The Drinking Gourd, in other words, was a song that led the slaves to freedom.

How in the world was I to explain this to my children? My precious children who have no clue that slavery even ever existed.

I have to admit that I was unsure about introducing them to the subject. After all, they are effectively color blind. They don't seem to notice the difference in skin color or other racial characteristics. I suppose there was that one time when we had first begun reading about Indians (the American kind) and E. saw someone at the grocery store and pointed them out. But he was simply excited. It was innocent and childish and it was fine.

But how to tell them that once people of one color used to own people of another?

Ack.

Enter a beautiful book that tells the story of The Drinking Gourd, and also of the Underground Railroad, with beautiful illustrations and words that gently introduce the children to these concepts without assaulting their senses with the ugliest parts of slavery.

Instead of dwelling on slavery and all its evils, it covers a successful and inspiring journey to freedom, making it appropriate for even my tiniest children:





Follow the Drinking Gourd


Highly suggested.


*In 2012 this changed to one new song per month.

14 September 2008

Saturday Weigh-In

I promise not to detail Baby O.'s growth past about eight pounds. Why eight? Well, that is approximately what I expected him to weigh when he was born. He measured the largest of any of the children so far up until about seven months along. If he had been the largest, he would have been over 7.5 pounds, which is what our biggest baby weighed.

Basically, I've been expecting him to reach what I thought would be his birth weight before he is four weeks old. If he continues at this rate, that is exactly what will happen.

So the important part is that he weighed in at 7 pounds 0.5 ounces! He also began outgrowing his preemie sleepers, so last night I washed a bunch in newborn size in preparation for the switch. {It's funny how, at my little family shower, newborn size looked so tiny, and now it looks so big!}

Developmentally, he is right on target. He is beginning to have a bit more awake time {how I wish the bulk of it wasn't at 3am}. But the best part is that he smiled at me on Friday!

12 September 2008

Sarah Palin Roundup

I've been debating about whether or not to discuss the Sarah Palin Issue here at Afterthoughts. There are two good reasons I shouldn't. The first is that I don't really have the time to moderate any sort of discussion, should one result from such a post. The second is that Si and I haven't decided 100% where we stand.

But I have decided to go into this nonetheless. However, I don't want to discuss this from a political point of view. What I want this roundup to focus on is what some folks call The Mommy Wars, but what I really believe to be the Church's view of women.

You can probably tell from reading here that I'm not an egalitarian {meaning that I don't believe that men and women are completely interchangeable in roles or responsibilities}. I don't really label myself in this area because I don't feel comfortable with either of the resulting labels, which would be complementarian or patriarchal.

But enough of that.

Before I start, I want to say that I really want to approve of Sarah Palin. When I heard her speech at the Republican National Convention, I felt like I was hearing another Reagan. She {or at least what she said} was the sort of politician I could believe in: fighting government corruption, lowering extravangent government spending, and also pro-life and pro-marriage {I mean actual marriage, between one man and one woman for one lifetime}. She was, in a word, so sensible.

But she is a woman. I have always, always sworn that I would never vote for a woman for any high office. When I read Proverbs 31 and saw that it was the husband of the virtuous woman sitting with the elders and leaders at the city gates, and not the virtuous woman herself, I always thought that meant something.

I still do.

But I won't say Palin isn't tempting me here. Of course, the worst thing about voting for Palin is that it's really voting for McCain, and a vice president can have lots of power or very little depending on the will of the actual president. It will not be Palin choosing justices or deciding on policies. As Doug Wilson wrote:
[T]he Democrats are driving us toward the cliff at 80 miles an hour. The Republicans want to go 50. McCain, a maverick man, wants to go 65.

So enough of this. Let's start the roundup.

There are a lot of folks discussing this, so I'll try to narrow it down to what I have found helpful in thinking this Issue through so far.

Al Mohler sounds like he's in favor of Sarah Palin's candidacy. Central to his thinking is this:
The New Testament clearly speaks to the complementary roles of men and women in the home and in the church, but not in roles of public responsibility.
His complementarianism seems to translate into egalitarianism in the public sphere.

David Kotter, at the gender blog for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, has a perspective similar to Mohler's. He writes:
[W]e must be careful to not go beyond the teaching of the Bible. The Bible calls women to specific roles in the church and home, but does not prohibit them from exercising leadership in secular political fields.
It's a four-part series, and I think it is worth reading.

Pastor Bill Einwechter wrote a rebuttal to Mohler and Kotter. His logic seems better to me than Mohler and Kotter. Here is a sampling of his very thorough {and lengthy} article:
First, every Christian should recognize that the Bible does give explicit teaching on the qualifications for civil magistrates. The two primary passages are Exodus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 1:13...There are a host of other passages that teach what God requires in civil magistrates (Deut. 16:18-20; 17:14-20; 2 Sam. 23:3; 2 Chron. 19:6-7; Neh. 7:2; Prov. 29:2; Rom. 13:1-6), and in every one of these texts men, not women, are in view.
The Bible is clear that man’s headship over the woman is an essential and all-encompassing part of God’s plan and part of His established order of government in the world. This fact is made explicit in 1 Corinthians 11:3: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” By its very nature, this order must apply in all areas of life; it is an essential order that knows no exceptions. Complementarians would agree that in every area of the divine government God is the head of Christ, and in every area of life the head of man is Christ. But, incredibly, they argue that the order of male headship has only limited application, and that there are many areas of life where it does not apply, and one of them is the civil sphere.

Denny Burk tries to take a look at the charges of complementarian hypocrisy. He seems to have Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 rightly interpreted, but, as is pointed out in the comments, he is drawing a distinction between the Church and public life which is most likely inappropriate.

Si, by the way, pointed this out to me. He said that the acceptance of Palin by so many evangelicals who claim to hold to the Biblical designs for manhood and womanhood is likely revealing a sacred/secular divide in the minds of believers. This is one of the mindsets he tried to combat in his book.

As an aside, I think I'll mention that Amy blew away the notion that wifehood and motherhood is a woman's highest calling. This is something that often gets mixed up when the Church discusses women's roles. Amy rightly points out that saying such things would leave out women who remain unmarried and women who are infertile and childless, just to name a few. Can a woman's highest calling really be so unattainable for some women? Not so!

However, it is important to mention that such things are the callings of those who have been given them. I cannot follow some other calling at this point in my life. In fact, I would say that God would never give me another calling, as it would contradict His written Word. As Cindy sometimes says, I have already planted the flag.

Doug Wilson came up with a list of pros and cons concerning Sarah Palin. Wilson seems to be seeing the election primarily through the lens of abortion and who will do the most to combat it. Of course, he also seems to agree with Voddie Baucham when he says that:
Evangelical Christians are overwhelmingly hostile to feminism, and so what is with that? I have argued before from Isaiah 3:12 -- "children are their oppressors, and women rule over them" -- that feminism is one of the things Scripture uses as an indicator of God's judgment on a culture. I still believe that, and also believe that we are in fact under this particular judgment in our culture.

Lastly, if you want to see Voddie Baucham's debate with Margaret Feinberg on CNN, click play below:





For the record, I think interviews like this can cause division amongst believers, and I almost guarantee you that was part of the point {at least on the part of CNN}. However, I thought Baucham and Feinberg did a good job of being gracious with one another.

11 September 2008

Little Blessings

We've been so blessed lately, I could probably turn this blog into a gratitude journal and have fodder for at least a month, perhaps two, without anything additional happening to us. I'm not saying all of life is perfect, but we have had so many good people and circumstances happen to let that get us down!

One extra surprise happened today when Si brought home the mail.

You see, last week we received a bill from a laboratory for $261.50 {lovely prenatal blood tests}. I gasped when I first saw it, but then I realized that the lab hadn't billed our insurance. That comforted me. I figured that our insurance would at least pay 30% or so {my figuring wasn't based on actually reading the plan, just the audacity of hope}.

So I filled out the little form that said "please bill my insurance" with all the pertinent information and sent it in.

Today, the form came back.

On it was written a little note. It said:
[Your insurance company] paid this! $0.00 balance.
She even added a smiley face at the end.

08 September 2008

Update on Our Little Miracle

For those of you who are wondering, Baby O. is growing fast. We weighed him on Saturday, when he was exactly two weeks and one day old. He's packing on the pounds now and is a whopping 6 pounds 3.5 ounces! That's a total gain of one and a quarter pounds! He is still the sleepiest baby on the block. He even eats with his eyes closed, for the most part. We aren't positive what color his eyes are, since we don't see them very often, but we're hoping for blue like Dad.

06 September 2008

Weekend Reviews

I've had more than my fair share of down time lately. Actually, that's not true. I mean, it's true that I've had a lot of down time, but it's not true that this is unfair. Some folks deliver their babies the old fashioned way. Me? I have major surgery, just to make it fun.

So between my recovery and the fact that we typically don't do much until the baby is a month old, we've been watching more movies than normal. But only one was really worth reviewing...

The Movie

Oh yes. This is a must-see, if ever there were one.




The Lost City
5 out of 5 stars


This was an independent film. And it was rated R. If you know me, you know that it is a very, very rare occasion that I watch a film with such a rating. But this film came highly recommended by my father, so we decided to take a risk.

And we're glad we did.

This film has it all in the artistry department: good acting, good cinematography, good costuming, good music and dance {yes, dance!}. But it also packs a punch with it's excellent script. I don't want to give too much away, because I want you to see it. Let's just say that this is a great alternative to watching that horrible little film The Motorcycle Diaries, which is nothing but a leftist attempt to glorify Che Guevara, the Marxist revolutionary who brought the likes of Fidel Castro to the throne in Cuba and was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Did you know that Guevara has become a symbol of leftist ideals, due to his relentless pursuit of the revolution and forwarding of Marxist thought? Just something to think about.

Ahem.

So anyhow, The Lost City focuses on the fall of Havana to Fidel Castro and his cronies, but it does so through music and dance, adding beauty and artistry to an otherwise dark film. In the interview with the director {Andy Garcia}, I learned that Garcia was born in Havana and came to the US as a refugee. He spent almost two decades working on this movie, his life's project, exploring the loss of his hometown and a beautiful culture.

Of course, the critics hated this movie because it wasn't one of Hollywood's usual glowing reviews of Cuba under Castro. Garcia had the courage to depict the actual truth about what Marxism can do to a country.

So watch it. But be warned. This is a movie about a revolution, and the rating is due to violence. Of course, we ladies know we can turn our eyes away when necessary.

The Book

The children and I have been reading a lesser-known collection of fairy tales:




The Wonder Clock
5 out of 5 Stars


I know, I know. Two five-star reviews in one post? Can it be? Yes it can!

This book is truly excellent. It has everything a fairy tale should have: dragons, knights, poor peasant men who rise to greatness, rich brothers, poor brothers, people under witch's curses, sly foxes, magic, talking animals, the ends of the earth and beyond, and more. The writing is superb {and who would expect any less from the likes of Pyle, the great author and illustrator from the late-1800s who, among other things, wrote a fabulous four-volume set on none other than King Arthur himself}, the illustrations are simple yet beautiful, and the stories not only live and breath, but each has a moral without being preachy.

If you have a little boy or girl in your home that loves to hear tales of adventurous men trying to win the hand of a lovely princess, this book is one to add to your library.

05 September 2008

Nursing and Supplementation





A couple nights ago, the older kids had Awana, so Si took the opportunity to run a few errands since he would already be near the stores we patronize. One of said errands was to take one of our handy dandy Babies R Us giftcards and get some disposable liners for Baby O.'s bottles.

Those boxes of fifty liners don't last long when a baby is cluster feeding in the evenings, which translates into around ten feedings per day! Thankfully, such days don't last forever. And really, there is reason to savor them. Soon enough, Baby O. will be big enough to act like Q. and leave Mommy's lap in pursuit of High Adventure in the playroom.

Anyhow, while Si was searching Babies R Us' meager inventory for what we needed, he noticed a young couple trying to make decisions about what sort of bottles they were going to use. He watched them spend a lot of time staring at all the brightly colored packaging. And he offered to help. Even the man of the house is a bottle expert, it seems.

We here know more than we care to know about bottles due to my perpetually low milk supply. With every baby, I have had to supplement. And I've tried a few of the bottles on the market {not all, mind you}, and I have a favorite, which is what you can see in the photo above.

The Avent Tempo Nurser replaces the old Avent nursing system and I am having the same success with it as I had with the original. The Tempo system is bulkier, but it still fits in my diaper bag, and so I am satisfied.

Let me explain why I like it.

I was introduced to the Avent bottle line by my very first lactation consultant, back when E. was less than a month old. This consultant was a fan of Avent because the nipples required the baby to latch on in a manner very similar to breastfeeding. This significantly lowered the chances of nipple confusion.

The regular Avent bottles, however, sometimes require venting. They build up a bit of a vacuum and the baby must stop drinking in order to let a little air in. This changes the rythym of the feeing, and, if your babies are like mine, you will begin to notice that the bottle rythym carries over into their regular nursing and causes some problems.

A nurser {any nurser with a collapsible liner, not just Avent} will solve the rythym problem.

But Avent has one advantage over all: four nipple flow options rather than two. In my area, the Playtex nurser is by far the most popular. But Playtex only offers slow flow and fast flow. I used Playtex with my third baby {long story}. When the slow flow became far too slow for her, I reluctantly switched to fast flow. She weaned herself within the month, and I was devastated. She had been my best nurser, and yet she weaned the earliest. I truly believe it was because of the flow issue. The bottle now gave milk so fast, and nursing was such a contrast, that my daughter simply got impatient.

I tried and tried, but I was unable to woo her back, and our nursing relationship was over.

But Avent has four options, like I said: newborn {which often comes with the bottle}, slow flow, medium flow, and fast flow. If you have a low milk supply like me, chances are you also have a slow flow when nursing. Keep your baby on the slowest flow he will tolerate, and chances are you will delay weaning longer than if you moved up quickly.

To review, the Avent nurser takes care of all the problem areas of supplementation: latch, rythym, and flow. This makes it a great choice for moms who do not want to choose between bottle and breast feeding. There are cheaper options {though remember that cheapest isn't always the best} for moms who solely bottle feed, but that is another post entirely.

One last frugal suggestion: Skip buying the four-ounce bottles. If you are pressed for cash, four-ounce bottles, no matter which bottle brand you are buying, are a waste of money. Big bottles can be filled with whatever amount you choose. Eight-ounce nurser bottles will hold the four-ounce collapsible liner without a problem. The little four-ounce bottles are cute, no question. And if someone buys them for you {or you have a very healthy checking account}, then fine. But if you are trying to find ways to trim the cost of bringing up baby, cut out the little bottles. In the instance of the Avent system, this will save you to the tune of seven dollars per bottle. I like to have four bottles on hand, which means I saved didn't spend an extra twenty-eight bucks. Not bad.

03 September 2008

A Mother's Instincts

Sometimes, a mom just knows. She knows that a child just lied to her, she knows that a decision is a bad one, and she knows that her child isn't just normal ill, but seriously ill. Sometimes, moms just know.

This is something I've been learning along my mothering journey. When E. was first born, I knew a few things early on, but I allowed doctors to talk me out of it because of the fact that they were experts and I was a young just-turned-twenty-four-year-old who didn't know much about children at all. For instance, I really thought I knew that my milk supply was less than what it should be. I mentioned it to my then-OB, who brushed me off with "all women doubt their milk supply." I told my family practitioner, who simply offered me free formula. I was right, and I might have saved us a lot of pain {and money}, but I didn't know that I should trust my instincts.

Now, this is not to say that a mother's instincts are always accurate. That would be akin to saying that moms can, to some extent, tell the future. There have been times where I had that instinct, where worry becomes a sick knot in my stomach coupled with this amazing sense of urgency, and it turned out to be nothing at all. {Like that time I thought A. had a brain tumor. Ahem.}

But I think that it is worth listening to our instincts, especially when they are urging us to err on the side of caution.

It was primarily instinct that drove me to get a nonstress test the day O. ended up being born. In fact, I had almost called the doctor at 2am that morning when I rolled over in bed and thought I felt a limp little body slowly float to the other side. I remember thinking that wasn't what a live baby inside the womb was supposed to feel like. I was convinced something was wrong, and I remember telling Si that morning to pray for our baby because I was sure there was something wrong with him.

While I was on the monitor at the hospital being prepped for surgery, my nurse told me another, even more dramatic story that I thought I would share. She said that there was a reason why she took every mother seriously. Apparently, a couple years ago, a mom came into the hospital. She told this nurse that she didn't really have any reason to be there. She was showing no signs of labor, she was not in pain, and her baby was moving normally. This mother simply had a bad feeling. My nurse was assigned to this mother, and put her on a monitor.

Nothing happened. Everything appeared normal.

So, keeping the mother on the monitor, the nurse began packing this woman up to go home.

And that was when the baby's heart stopped.

For five minutes.

They rushed the mother into surgery, and thankfully her baby survived. The baby was so caught in his cord that his own movements would deny him the oxygen and nutrition he desperately needed.

And somehow his mother just knew.

So although I don't think that mothers should fret and worry about every possible tragedy that might occur, there is definitely a place for listening to the prodding of our instincts. I truly believe they are given to us by God as a form of protection for our children.