Topics of Crunching

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Selective Prejudice

It's amazing to me the level of discrimination you can get away with against certain groups. For example, if someone refers to a 17 year old black male as "boy," the historical context makes the statement incredibly cruel and prejudice (and rightly so). But on the other hand if one calls a 35 year old white male a "cracker," few people even understand that this statement refers to a whip-cracker, aka a foreman - the often white, often poor men hired by land owners in the old south to manage their slaves with force and dehumanization. Most people, if asked, know that "boy" is a term that historically kept a slave in his place, a subservient and inferior piece of property. No wonder it's a hurtful term. But very few people when asked would have any idea that "cracker" is essentially calling the white man a heartless monster. Why? I would argue that because of the unending injustice that has been done to african-americans through the practice of slavery, we have all made ourselves sensitive to their understandable needs for equality and respect. A white man, on the other hand, has never been a part of such a large group that was so clearly discriminated against. Because he belongs to the majority, his feelings need not be treated with the same delicacy. Is this selective prejudice really fair?

I present, for your analysis, that there is a large, long-standing institution that has also become the victim of selective prejudice. Just as a white man is assumed to be immune from wrongful opinion, the Catholic Church currently exists in a time of extreme and unfounded prejudice against her. There are many reasons, the greatest of which happens from within. Her own children rarely follow her precepts (3 out of 4 Catholics don't go to Mass weekly, and only 1 in 10 follow the church's teaching on artificial birth control), making them terrible representatives of their faith. On the outside, there are misconceptions and historical prejudices galore. Evangelical protestants in America came to this country to seek freedom from tradition, automatically pitting them against a large hierarchy (literally: "holy order"). Protestants, in the days of Luther and Calvin were in accord with Catholics on the issues that they find themselves at odds over today (infant baptism, elevation of the status of Mary Mother of God, transsubstantiation). Today, however, protestant churches teach that they could not be more different than Catholics on these same issues, as though their founders made a move away from the Church for these very reasons.

The misunderstandings and outright lies that are perpetuated about the Church are innumerable, even today. I stumbled across this article entitled "What Presbyterians don't believe" when a childhood friend of mine, now the wife of a Presbyterian Minister, posted it on Facebook. I read through it, thinking it would tell me more about Presbyterian dogma, and found instead that it is simply a list of why Presbyterians are not Roman Catholic. It's also filled with deep misunderstandings of what Catholic's actually believe. For example, there is a discussion of why it's wrong to pray to Mary and the Saints, citing that prayer is an act of worship, and therefore should be directed only to God. This is a limited and (in my opinion) superstitious view of prayer. Prayer is not worship. It is communication. As the article itself explains, praying to a Saint is no different than turning to your friend in the pew next to you and asking that he prays for you on a particular issue in your life. When you kneel at your bed at night, you are not worshiping your bed. When you ask your friend to keep your husband in their thoughts and prayers while he is ill, you are not elevating your friend to the status of God. This strikes me as a shallow, irrational and almost-medieval way of thinking of the gift of prayer. If a person's soul is eternal, logic tells us our ability to request their prayer and counsel also goes on. Let's not complicate, or worse - make the mistake of overly elevating, the power of this kind of prayer. Only God is God, and the Saints will never be worthy of worship.

Much like St. Paul, I must refer to myself as "chief among sinners." I get so upset about the false perceptions about Catholicism because they were once my own. A protestant for 10 years, I believed what I was told by ministers and bible study teachers about Catholics without bothering to investigate. And I, of all people, should have investigated. Two generations back in my family there were a host of Catholics, both from birth and through conversion. Only recently in my family tree did a lapse in practice result in a lapse in faith. In my husband's family, it's the same story, as with so many of our families: good Catholic grandparents were not prepared by pre-Vatican II catechism to strengthen their children against the dangers of an increasingly liberal and secular world, leaving a generation of confused and lapsed Catholics to raise our generation. I refer to this as Vatican II growing pains.

But when our first child was born, my husband set out to find a true faith, instead of the non-denominational Christianity we had practiced, believing that "not everyone can be right." His journey brought him right back to the doors of the Church. I was appalled; I was resistant; I want to destroy his rosary and rip those blasphemous extra books out of his new bible. But, praise God, out of love for him, I began to study and read and reflect. I discovered a disturbing truth. From the outside it appears that our parents wised up and properly distanced themselves from the false practices of an antiquated Church, but almost all of what is told to good Protestant Christians about Catholicism is at best an oversimplification, and at worst an elaborate lie that repels the listener from the original, universal church of Christ. In April of 2010, my family returned to the faith of our grandparents. I know what it's like to believe the worst of Catholics. The reality is, as Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said, "Not 100 in the United States hate the Roman Catholic Church, but millions hate what they mistakenly think the Roman Catholic Church is."

I write this not to convert but to defend. My allegiance to the Church was purchased at a great price. I lost friends and betrayed family, but I did it because the facts left me no other choice. To perpetuate the misconceptions of what Catholics believe is irresponsible. Just as you owe it to african-americans to understand their struggle and defend their right to equality, owe it to your Catholic brothers and sisters to understand what they believe before you criticize and discriminate against them. We are not idol worshipers. We are not re-sacrificing anything. We don't worship anyone but Christ the Savior. I could write novels on the things we don't do. But instead, I'd just ask you to find out what the truth is before you assume it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Date Night In

What do mean, "do I wanna
watch some TV?"
We all know that I think highly of stay-at-home parenting for a gazillion reasons. But the other side of the coin is that some things in your life are bound to suffer, right? Here's my analysis: Three things happen when you are a stay-at-home parent. 1 - The family has considerably less expendable income (because there is only one salary) 2 - The homebound parent becomes desperate (to the point of annoyance) for adult contact, but too exhausted to do much about it, while the working parent feels like they are in too much demand at home, with all the kids and their spouse hanging off them every waking moment. 3 - The parents spend all their time together tending to little ones, and can spend hours in the same room without touching, or even looking at each other.

Solution time! Everyone needs more time for themselves - that much is obvious. And luckily, with communication, this can happen. A 45-minute trip to the supermarket by myself can do wonders for me, even if it's at 8:30, once the kids are in bed. My husband understands that I need those few minutes, and he makes it happen all the time. And he's always developing hobbies that keep him...him! Sports with other guys have (strangely) become a key factor in our happy marriage. As it turns out, making time for ourselves has been relatively easy. But what about that other person that you share a bed with. What's their name again?

In the last week, I caught myself thinking "I just miss my husband." How can this be if I see him every day? What exactly is quality time? How can we make the most of the 1.5 hours we get together (on a good day) before we pass out from exhaustion at 9:30? Here's what we came up with: Date Night In.

I'll change his diaper once I can feel my legs.
Money is tight, time is tight, and we can't do anything that goes further than our baby monitor can reach, but what are these obstacles in the face of love? Well, they're pretty brutal, actually. So I turned to my good friend Google for the answers and found a great list of suggestions that I've adapted and added to. I thought I would share some of the ideas. My husband and I plan to spend one night a week together, focused on each other, so that we make the most of our time. It makes it easier to devote time to ourselves, our kids and our tasks without guilt or regret (or in my case, a pity party). I hope you find these ideas helpful! I'll let you know how it goes for us.
  1. Spend an evening thinking up things to do on your evenings in.
  2. Do a cooking project together - bake your favorite cookies or try your hand at a specialty bread.
  3. Read a book or scriptures together. Or, read a book apart, then come together to discuss it on your night in. Some recommendations: The Good News about Sex and Marriage, Rome Sweet Home, The Book of Us.
  4. Plan the future. Make a list of goals for one, five, ten years from now. Seal them in envelopes and store them somewhere safe with a "to-open" date on the outside.
  5. Plant a garden! If you don't have daylight on your side, do your gardening at the dining room table in small pots to take outside later, or just sketch out a garden to work on when the kids are playing outside.
  6. Dance together! Don't know how? Learn! Use youtube to learn a new step, or just dance to an old favorite.
  7. Exercise together. A calm evening session of yoga for the eastern-minded couple. I think you see where this might go.
  8. Treat the kids to pizza or chicken nuggets then plan a special "midnight meal." Go crazy - eat on the porch (without the high chair) or in the living room in front of your favorite move. Something that would cause a huge mess when the kids were awake.
  9. Make popcorn. There's some easy flavored recipes out there (here's a great Christmas Popcorn recipe). Romantic comedy and action flic double feature - let the man choose the girly movie and vice versa for a change.
  10. Make something for the house or for each other. Think, friendship bracelet for grown-ups. Here's a couple man-friendly crafts I love: PVC Pipe Storage Shelf, Bleached T-Shirts, Manly Paracord Bracelet.
  11. Take a stroll (or sprint, if the kids gave you trouble) down memory lane. Read old love letters, pour over journal entries, laugh at old photos. Maybe even organize them into a book together as you go.
  12. Plan a second honeymoon—even if it’s only imaginary. Go crazy. Use the internet and pick out your hotel, the sites, the restaurants. 
  13. Check out a library book about the constellations, then stargaze in the backyard.
  14. On a hot summer night, wash the car together. Think Mariah Carey.
  15. Sketch out your dream house, bonus room, porch, yard, whatever. Bounce ideas off each other. You could stay grounded or spend thousands in imaginary currency on things like DVD players in the ceiling and 7 foot fish tanks.
  16. If you play instruments or sing, have a jam session. Learn a new song together.
  17. Use the internet to trace your family history and make a detailed family tree for your kids.
  18. It may not sound too fun, but many hands make light work: Combine efforts to finish one some monumental task you've been procrastinating: paint a room, organize the garage, sort through your closet for goodwill. I bet the next time you look at your sparkling clean pantry or new recycling area, you'll think of doing it together. And it leaves you free of some stress, to better enjoy each other.
  19. Find your wedding vows and go through them line by line. Compliment each other on sticking to them, and maybe take a minute to pick one to really focus on. Finish up by cruising through your wedding guestbook and photo album. 
  20. Teach each other something new from something you're good at. Self defense, a little bit of a foreign language, how to shoot a lay up, etc.
  21. Make chalk drawings on the driveway. Draw caricatures of each other. Be embarrassed that the neighbors will see it in the morning, but rest assured you can blame it on the kids.
  22. Watch the sun set. You might find yourself talking about something other than strained peas and school supplies.
  23. Pick an unfamiliar country and make a night of it. Prepare their local food, rent a documentary or foreign film from the library and learn how to say “I Love You” in the native language.
  24. Make a "loved" list. Write down AT LEAST 25 things your spouse has done for you in the last year that made you feel loved, then read and discuss with each other. It will inspire repeat performances.
  25. Learn each other's love languages! Here's a quiz. You might be shocked at how much your spouse has been loving you lately - in their own way.

Friday, August 5, 2011

National NFP Week: Part 4 - Top Ten Reasons (3-1)

Finally! The last installment of my Top Ten Reasons I love Natural Family Planning. Enjoy!

3. Rebellious   
Ok, I'm embarrassed to admit this, but the truth is that there is a rebel factor that really fuels my love of NFP. When I think about the masses, falling off cliffs of birth control like lemmings, it makes my little punk heart go all a flutter. It's really quite bad of me, but I feel so smart for figuring it out - except that I didn't.

This sticker was just too
appropriate to pass up.
You can buy it here.
Really, I'm just lucky. When I was thinking about becoming Catholic, I knew that the Church's teaching on Birth Control was the deal breaker. Like so many converts, I was not going to go through the long and arduous process of becoming Catholic (not to mention the confusion and sometimes even alienation of my protestant friends) if I couldn't go "all in." And how on earth could I go all in? They wanted me to have a million babies, loose all control of my body, and throw away any chance of being the independent success-driven woman that I was meant to be!

It takes about 30 seconds of REAL research (ie, not just talking to a cradle Catholic about birth control - since only 1 out of 10 of them follow this teaching, and certainly not listening to anyone who isn't Catholic - since I have never ever encountered so many myths about one subject before investigating the Church) to understand that the teaching that the Catholic promotes has nothing to do with a million children or a sexist agenda. In fact, when you actually bother to find out what the teaching is, rather than relying on hearsay, it's a very natural extension of a non-hypocritical pro-life, pro-feminity, pro-family viewpoint.

But I digress. As much as I would love to say that I'm superior to all those victims (and their well meaning healthcare providers) out there who are still falling for the lies of the fat-cat pharmaceutical companies, I just happened to be blessed to find out the truth. You actually don't have to take a pill that could kill you. You don't need to have surgery to stop your body's natural function. It's not neccessary, but more importantly it's downright unpleasant. And I choose not to. Stick it to the man, baby. Down with the machine.

2. Moral
"The Good News About Sex & Marriage"
by Christopher West is based on JPII's .
Theology of the Body.
This one is way too big for me to tackle on my own. First of all, people will believe I am condemning them, or at least condemning their friends. I understand why they think that; it seems like tolerance and acceptance have become inaccurate synonyms nowadays, but that's neither here nor there. Please remember that to condemn those who use birth control would be to condemn myself, since I used artificial birth control for a very long time. The only "condemnation" would be a self-imposed one: to fully understand what exactly you are doing by blocking the whole purpose of sex fully and intentionally, and continue to do it. Very few people understand it, and that's not their fault. However, if you are smart enough to want to know what's actually happening when you use contraception, then you do have a moral responsibility to learn more.

"The Good News About Sex and Marriage" is my favorite resource for information about the morality of NFP. The author, Christopher West, offers talks geared at Catholics, Evangelicals, Agnostics and more. YouTube it. It will be worth a listen - if for no other reason than to open your mind a bit to what God actually intended for sex. It's certainly not the Puritanical leftovers that most American Christians believe, nor is it the totally open agenda that our culture is pushing - it's quite refreshing and liberating. Sex can be both moral and fun. Who knew?
1. Pro-Life
There's a lot to this one, so I'll focus on the one aspect of it that I think will be the hardest to swallow: that using birth control within a committed marriage relationship to control the size of your family is anti-life.

I struggle so much to understand how someone can be pro-life and still take birth control. Forget the fact that it's an abortifacent it's also completely contrary to the attitude that welcomes life. If the myth that sex without birth control always results in an eventual pregnancy was true, I would understand the need for taking those measures. But it's simply not true. See reason #10. I suppose that's why they do it - they think that they must in order to be responsible parents and citizens. It goes back to what I said about your number of children exceeding your ability. If that's the case - kudos for trying to be a good mom or dad, and for considering the rest of the world when you make your decision. But you've been sold a bunch of junk. Return to sender.

The truth that I've discovered is that to be truly pro-life you have to really redefine sex all together. It's not about you. It's about the person your with. To quote JPII, sex is the free, total, faithful and fruitful union of a man and woman. You can't give yourself in a way that fits all those criteria without being void of anything that would block the giving. That includes cheating (the potential for current or future partners, ie, monogamy!), mental withholding (pornography and fantasies about someone else), and the intentional blocking of the miracle of life that results from the natural union that sex is. Anything less that a full giving of self objectifies your partner instead of honoring them. It makes them a thing of pleasure instead of a person of value. That's not a good marriage folks. That's not even a good lay.

How is that for a finish?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

National NFP Week: Part 3 - Top Ten Reasons (6-4)

Yes, I know. It's confusing. Part 3 of NFP Week is Part 2 of my countdown. So sue me. Anyway, on with the show! Here are reasons 6, 5, and 4 that I <3 Natural Family Planning.

6. Marriage-Building
Even though I looked up tons of great statistics on the success of marriage when practicing NFP, including divorce rates that are as low as 3% and usually cited at at least 5% in comparison with 50% for the average couple, I think that this is a more subjective point, so I'll just share my experiences on this. There are countless reasons why this method strengthens the bond between man and wife, but I'm going to focus on only one: abstinence as a positive thing. Say what?

Times of abstinence observed during fertility can be very frustrating to be sure, but the surprising thing is how profoundly they change your heart. You don't realize the difficulty of showing love outside of a single physical act until that act is not available. Sex often becomes a crutch to keep us from actual closeness, real intimacy. Eliminate that option, even for a little while, and you discover that the ability to show physical affection without sexual contact has all but disappeared. In the beginning of a relationship, a young couple can't seem to keep their hands off each other: holding hands, making out in public, constantly flirting. How many couples maintain that? You might argue that it's due to time passing and passion naturally waning in the wake of a mature relationship, but I would argue that we have used the "crutch" of sex to excuse us from everything else.

Monotony or Monogamy?
Here's the best way I can think of to describe it: simple and straight forward. You love Starbucks. You love it so much, that you decide to declare in front of God and all your loved ones only to drink only Starbucks Coffee all the days of your life. You move in next to a Starbucks, and every day you go in and get your coffee. Sure, there may be some variety: flavor shots, iced drinks, maybe even a little whipped cream (coffee, folks - get your mind out of the gutter!). But it's all really the same. After a few years, Dunkin Donuts is looking pretty good. Shoot, even a good pot of joe at home sounds pretty nice. Then Starbucks announces it's new hours of operation: they are closed for business from the 15th to the 22nd each month. Because you vowed not to stray, this means no coffee at all for that week of the month. It's gonna be a long week for sure, but tell me you aren't going to hug your barista when the doors open on the 23rd!

I know that the concept of abstinence during fertile times sounds horrible, but in my experience both the husband and the wife look at this time as a time of growth, love, and most importantly, appreciation. If you'll pardon the pun, I would say "Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder."

5. Healthy
I've already written a couple posts of the constantly-ignored and ever-present dangers of hormonal birth control and sterilization methods (see "Are you NovaSure about this?" and "Beyaz: It's Good (?) to have Choices"). The fact is that anything outside of a simple barrier method has terrible side effects that we tend to ignore. Why? I'm really not sure. I know that personally, when I used it, I played down the risks because I thought that they were worth it in order to not become pregnant (side note: did you know that 49% of unplanned pregnancies in the US occured while using contraception?).

Prevent Breast Cancer: Stay off Hormonal BC!
So what are the risks? Well, for all my ladies out there, there's what I refer to as the Big Four: greatly increased risk of Cervical, Ovarian, Uterine and Breast Cancer. (Note: a reader graciously pointed out that I have fallen into one of my least favorite traps. My source here was not up to date or accurate. Better information with reliable sources on the links between oral contraceptives and cancer will be available in a new post. I will update here. Thank you reader!)  In other words, this stuff attacks your reproductive system's ability to ward off cancer. Geez o petes, folks, leave my lady parts alone! There's also the abortive nature of some of the most popular methods of birth control. As I've mentioned before, IUDs (hormonal and the non-hormonal copper version), birth control pills, rings, shots, patches, and some forms of sterilization are known to not only prevent ovulation or the meeting of sperm and egg - they simply make it impossible for a fertilized egg (aka growing life) to implant in the uterus or to survive there. To make a metaphor, rather than locking your house to prevent the riff raff from entering, you leave the door unlocked until they are inside, then starve them to death.

And for a second, let's talk about body function. If the big pharmeceutical company came out with a new pill that you take every day that keeps you from ever having to pee again, would you take it? I mean, sure it would make car trips nice, and the bathroom would make a great walk-in closet, but come on. Wouldn't that strike you as incredibly unnatural, and probably unsafe? Would you listen a little closer to "fine print" at the end of the television commercial for this miracle drug? Something about stopping a function of your body just for convenience seems really wrong to most people, but that's what we are doing. Whether or not your birth control stops menstruation, it is stopping the function of your reproductive system entirely. A complete halt of something that our bodies have been doing since the beginning of time. That's just creepy.
4. Unifying (between Partners)  
I talked about the benefits of this method on marriage a little, but I don't think I really discussed the cooperative nature of the method. I have begun to realize that there is a real inequality in how we think about pregnancy prevention. We say that a woman has to right to declare, "my body, my choice!" Woo hoo! Except that, as Spiderman once put it, with great power comes great responsibility. And that responsibility, like the choice, is not also not shared.

Why does the man's half of the
responsibility resemble fruit candy?
When a teenager becomes sexually active, we tell them it's their responsibility to protect themselves. For a girl, this means a trip to the free clinic for birth control pills (accompanied by a lecture in safe sex, an education in options and possibly an STD screening) followed by a nearly endless pressure to keep up with that medication until menopause. For a boy, it means a trip to CVS for a couple rubbers that he'll keep in his wallet. No lecture, no education, no long term commitment - really not much of anything. His involvement is limited to the same actions as buying a comic book.

Not that I think this is man keeping woman down. I am not so sure that man is the awful, sex-crazed caveman we make him out to be. Maybe he wants to take some responsibility. Maybe, out of love for his partner, and appreciation for her natural responsibility to carry a child should she become pregnant, he wants to be a real man, and take action. But what choice have we given him? Just go get your rubbers, you cad.

NFP is completely unique in that it takes equal commitment and understanding of both partners. They are both in tune to their own fertility (since his doesn't vary, the focus is on hers, but the responsibility is shared). It would be unfair to ask a woman to do all the housework, or a man to do all child rearing. Fertility is a big job - it takes two.

Coming Soon:
3. Rebellious   
2. Moral 
1. Pro-Life

Sunday, July 31, 2011

National NFP Week: Part 2 - Top Ten Reasons (10-7)

Call it what it is, I always say. That's the premise behind the title of today's post. True, it's not National National Family Planning Week anymore. Missed the boat on that one. But I promised a Letterman-style breakdown of the what I love about this crazy Natural Family Planning mumbo jumbo, so we'll cut to the chase.

10. Accurate
There are so many medical professionals who would argue with me on this, and I see their point. I have seen "failure rates" for natural birth control methods range from as low as .5% all the way up to 25%. What would cause this disparity? Measuring failure of this method is tough, since the majority of those who use it are happily married and could welcome more children with no real objection - most of the "mistakes" are what I would call "slip-ups." For example, I have a friend who, after 22 months of successfully using this method after her first child (through turbulent breastfeeding, mind you) got pregnant. A doctor would call this a failure, but my friend wouldn't. If you ask her, she says that she was growing "intentionally more lazy about tracking everything." In other words, she wanted a kid before she thought she would, and let her "slip up" take the fall. To me, that's a planned pregnancy, not a birth control failure. I also have a friend who truly wanted to space her children, and used this method without so much as a scare for 3.5 years before conceiving their second child on the very first try. I have a similar experience. I've only tried to get pregnant twice, and both were one shot one kill. I can not only tell my OBGYN the date of my last period, I can tell her the date of conception (down to the hour...TMI!). In between our kids, we had no scares. To me, accuracy of NFP is dependent on 2 main factors: what method you use, and how devoted you are to it. If you are using a "lazy" method, or are "lazy" in practice, well - who's surprised when the pee stick has two lines? So here's a simple answer from an unexpected source. The Department of Defense lists both condoms and NFP as equally effective, providing the woman practice correctly.

9. Economical
I spent $5 on my thermometer, $14 on my "how-to" book, and that was pretty much it. If I replaced them every year (I won't replace them that often, but just for argument's sake), and I used them for 30 years, I would spend $570 in my whole lifetime. If you have insurance, based on average co-pays, a woman on typical birth control will spend nearly $18,000 in her life (source). Here's a visual breakdown from the same site:

8. Natural 
This is not what I mean by a well-planned family.
We all know the green movement is...well...moving. What could be more natural than refusing to fill your system with chemicals to stunt a natural cycle of the female body? After all - how did they do it before birth control? It's a relatively new idea, right? When thinking about this before I started looking into NFP, I remember thinking that the reason my great-grandparents had 12 children was because there was no modern birth control. But then again, the pill wasn't perfected until the 60s, and what about people in the 20s, 30s, 40s? Didn't they have reasonably sized families? It seems that the trend of giant families in the 1800s was an American thing, more a product of necessity (more hands on the farm) than fertility. So what did our ancestors know about having babies that we don't? Mmm hmm.

"Sex= No connection needed with babies"
7. Enlightening
Raise your hand if sex-ed failed you (insert ridiculous flailing of author's arm here). I left high school understanding about as much about my body as I did about the body of the frog I dissected in 9th grade bio, and rest assured that wasn't much. A few simple facts that no one bothered to put together for me: Men are always fertile. Women are only fertile 3 days of the month, on average. Coincidence, or providence? My point here is that I have learned more about what's actually going on inside me and why from NFP than I ever thought possible (and the truth will set you free).

More to come in Reasons 1-6:
  • Marriage-Building
  • Healthy   
  • Unifying (between Partners)  
  • Rebellious   
  • Moral  
  • Pro-Life  

Monday, July 25, 2011

National NFP Week: Part 1 - Why Artificial Birth Control is Wrong

This child is clearly a
product of NFP and some seriously
crunchy parents.
Hello again! After my light-hearted and approachable post on the growing epidemic of juice-loving toddlers, it's time to reach deep into the heart of what makes me crazy again! This is an extremely Catholic, extremely pro-life, extremely crunchy post. Be warned. Still reading? Huzzah!

Of all the things I do, my choice to avoid all forms of artificial birth control is by far the most shocking to most people. In honor of National NFP (Natural Family Planning) Week, I'm going to talk a little about why. What? No birth control? At all? That's right - I don't take the pill, I don't use condoms, and I am against vasectomy and tube-tying. In fact, I think all of these things are immoral. To me, it's the most obvious and honest extension of the pro-life mentality. Almost all forms of birth control are abortive at least some of the time, meaning that they cause a fertilized egg to be unnaturally expelled or create an environment in the womb that makes it impossible to continue growing. If you believe that life begins at conception, that means that these kinds of birth control end life*. Abortive forms of birth control include hormonal pills ("the pill" in all it's forms) and hormonal IUDs, to name just a couple.

*If you don't think of conception as the beginning of life, I would really like to talk to you about why. Maybe you think of it as life, like a parasite has life. My question then is: when does that life progress to the point of having the same rights as a human? Or simplier even, when does it have a soul? Is it when the heart starts beating? When the embryo moves? When the baby is born? I have heard them all, and I can't for the life of me (pardon the pun) understand any of them. Biology says that conception is the beginning. Anything else seems to just be half-hearted unresearched personal philosophy.  But I'll save that for another day.

So what about other forms that don't allow fertilization? Barrier methods (condoms, cervical caps) and sterilization (vasectomy, tied tubes) have some really horrible cultural side effects: they make sex purely recreational, create a false sense of security, and foster an attitude of pregnancy as a disease. The more you look into it, the history of our society and how it has thought about sex for the last 100 years, you see that birth control has caused a breakdown in our understanding of our place in the world. We are sexual creatures. But we are also moral, logical, reasonable creatures. That's what makes us different from, say, a bonobo monkey.

The Duggar Family has become famous
based on their "quiver-full" mentality.
Do they have the right idea? I say no.
This does not mean that I want, or even plan to have, 15 children. Though couples that embrace pregnancy in this way (by not taking any measures to space or avoid pregnancy) have grasped the basic idea of "life is good," they are, in my opinion, missing the point. The whole idea is to love children, from the moment of conception on, and to treat them as gifts to be treasured and nurtured. Having too many children can hurt them all. They may not get the resources they need - financially, emotionally, or even physically - to grow up in the best possible environment. For example, if a 6 year old girl spends most of her day caring for the basic needs of her younger siblings, she is not being allowed to learn, experience and grow in a way that will give her the best chance at a great life. The key is to balance it. Love life, love children, welcome them as the gift they are, but value the ones you already have enough to not "crowd them out."

I realize that I'm simplifying this so much that if this is the first time you've heard of this line of belief, it probably sounds like complete malarkey. It goes against absolutely everything that our society teaches about sex, love, babies, marriage, etc. It took me a long time to get to the point of even understanding - much less believing - this school of thought, often referred to as the "culture of life." I'm not here to convince you of these thoughts with just a few paragraphs. I'm just hoping to open your mind a bit.

Enter NFP. Natural Family Planning is a deep subject. I'm just going to have to write a whole new post on this one. Sufficient for now to say that it's not your mom's rhythm method, it's so medically-minded that it will make the pill look elementary, and it will change your life for the better. How? Here's a fun fact: the divorce rate for couples that practice NFP? 5%. No, I didn't forget a 0.

Got you hooked? Stay tuned - my next post will be a simple top ten reasons why I love NFP. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

No, you can't have more juice.

Adorable, isn't she?
Too bad that's her
14th juice box of the day.
My oldest is 2 now, and I'm blessed with a bunch of great friends who are also the moms of 2-3 year olds. Toddlers are a varied bunch, but of course there are some things that are the same among all of them.  One common ground that will make any mom groan knowingly is that all toddlers don't want to eat. They want to drink juice. All day. A million gallons of it. Did I say all day?

If you've read anything on this blog at all, you know I like to be well-educated on just about anything that effects me. I don't promise that I am well-educated, but I certainly give it the old college try. Lately, thoughts of juice have become an embarrassingly central point in my life: do I have enough to last until the store opens? Did I pack some extra in my bag before I left the house? And the most constant question: how much have I given her today?

Standard reaction to:
"No, you've had enough
juice for the day."
The last time I was at the pediatrician with my daughter, she asked me what she drinks on an average day. Because I'm a freak, I actually had my answer prepared. I told her some approximations, and she was actually quite impressed. She said, "good!" That was her only feedback. C'mon, reader. You know that's not enough for me. I need research!

After wondering if I am being a healthful mother for about 3 months, I finally broke down the other day and looked it up. Surprisingly, there was actually a solid answer on the internet, courtesy of the Institute of Medicine. Here's my admittedly over-simplified sum up:
About how much should a toddler (age 1-3) drink in a day?
MILK: 16 oz (under age 2, whole milk; over 2, low-fat/skim)
WATER: 8+ oz (include what you use to cut juice)
JUICE: 4-8 oz (100% fruit juice only)
OTHER BEVERAGES: tea, coffee, soda, sweetened fruit juices and sports drinks should not be a part of his/her regular diet
They also emphasized that more can keep them from eating enough. Now, getting them to stick to that is another thing all together. But it seems most moms have already perfected the art of cutting juice with water (start them on 2/3 juice to 1/3 water, then 1/2 and 1/2, then sometimes more, depending on how much of a hog their kiddo is for the stuff). Cutting it works well, and it also gets them some actual, non-fructose powered hydration. Of course, cut it too much, and you'll get what I got earlier this week. "Yuck, mom. Yuck juice." Sigh.

Now I'm sure this is exceedingly boring to most people, possibly even the moms of toddlers, but it was news to me, so I thought I'd share. Remember, momma. Keep strong, and don't give into the adorable and ill-timed pleas for more juice. I'm not saying you're gonna keep it to 8 oz or less every day, but it's worth the effort, at least. Right? Oh I hope so.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Follow Up on those Crazy ZPGers

I have found a new blog that I love. This lady is amazing. Even the name of the blog is classic: The Feminist Breeder. Thanks to Amber - you've improved my life by sending me to this site.

One of my favorites on this blog was about how having more than 2 children is greedy. GREEDY. Seriously? Didn't I cover this? Oh yeah. I did.

Actually, to be specific, I covered those in favor of Zero Population Growth, and how they are killing off the industrial world, one delayed pregnancy at a time. This particular blog did a fantastic job of talking about the microcosmic effects of having more than 2 for an individual family. But of course, in the comments, someone had to go there. Someone had to talk about how we're over populating the world, and the responsible thing to do is to sterilize ourselves (so that we can enjoy our mochajavachinos at the local coffee haus without annoying the other patrons with our toddlers).
Honestly? Must we always promote our pseudo-knowledge and push our under-researched ideas onto others? Just because some associate professor said something to your buddy's mom in 1979 about population growth, and she loved it and repeated it a zillion times (loosing accuracy with every occurance), and he told you about it last week, you are now an expert. Knowledge fail.

But back to the comments section of the blog. If you ever want to have a good-hearted, jovial laugh at the ignorance of the average anonymous internet-user, just find a popular blog with slightly controversial ideas and read the comments. Here's how this one went down:

Note the light-hearted smiley face. Just a little witty banter between a mom and her doctor.

Way to take it to blows! Clearly, this blogger is both a doctor and a mathematician.

Yes. Awesome blog burn.

One more time, here's the link to the blog I wrote in March on this subject: "ZPGers may not have a leg to stand on" (Soon, they may not have kids to pay for their nursing home either, but that's a whole different subject...)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

That Fourth Day in July

lib·er·ty/ˈlibərtē/n1. The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life.1


free·dom/ˈfrēdəm/n1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. 2. Absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.2


in·dep·en·dence/ˌindəˈpendəns/n1. a condition of a nation, country or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory.3


I was listening to the radio yesterday (EWTN, of course. What else is there?) on the 4th of July. One of the talk radio hosts said that he believes that one of the biggest problems we have with our attitude about Independence Day is that we misunderstand the difference between liberty and freedom. He said that we use them as synonyms, that we think they mean the same thing, but they do not. Enter my confusion. I guess I had never thought about it. Are they really that different? What is the difference?


I have a friend who is very "intense" on facebook. I know, I know. Hello pot, I'm kettle, and you're black. But this guy makes my posts look like marshmallow fluff. Of course, I love that. I relish the chance to stir the pot right back and comment on the things he posts, most of which are about religion (note that we don't agree here, but maintain a friendship - go Ecumenicism!) but also include some of my favorite subjects like Irish Heritage and least favorite subjects like partisan politics. In honor of our "nation's birthday," he made multiple posts on the subject of that anniversary. Because I know he won't mind, here they are, verbatim, but in no particular order:


Rock on, friend. Stick it to the man.

1. FYI- Did you know that the "Star Spangled Banner" was written aboard a British ship, and the tune was composed by a British composer? It wasn't adopted as the National Anthem until 1931.


2. If Jesus died to set men free, why do we behave as if it took Him 1776 years to do so? 


3. "When will Mankind be convinced that true Religion is from the Heart, between Man and his creator, and not the imposition of Man or creeds and tests?" -Abigail Adams


4. (My personal favorite:) Jesus Saves From Patriotism.


And you think I like to stir up trouble! Of course he makes an excellent point, perhaps several. But I think there's something to be said about the theory of the EWTN DJ here: If people are confusing what Christ did for mankind and what the Declaration of Independence did for Americans, bad definitions are the source of the breakdown. Therein lies the rub. Shall we discuss? I include a cited glossary at the top. It doesn't do as much to illuminate as I would have hoped, but it's a good jumping off place. Let's start at the bottom and work up. 


Independence refers to a country's political ability to govern itself. It doesn't really relate to  the individual, but remembering that the official name for the 4th day in July is "Independence Day," that sheds light on the idea of why we shoot fireworks and drink too much. Because on that day, 235 years ago, we made an official statement to the British government that we were going to govern ourselves and fall under our own sovereignty alone. Boo-ya Mama England. (Please note that this is not the anniversary of when we actually began governing ourselves. A lot of good men died for the cause before that happened.)

That leaves Freedom and Liberty. From the definitions I found, it seems like they both relate to the individual, but freedom is more dependent upon the idea to which it refers, while liberty is more of an abstract,  broad-spectrum concept. 

Give me liberty or give me death (P. Henry). Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (T. Jefferson).
Let them revere nothing but religion, morality and liberty (J. Adams). When these guys talk about the ultimate goal, they don't talk of being free. Freedom is a word the founding fathers reserved for specific rights. Freedom of Religion (not from Religion, mind you). Freedom of the press. To bear arms. Etc. Freedom is a, forgive me, lesser concept. Liberty is the great pie in the sky that we strive for as Americans. The idea of freedom can be lofty, I suppose, but the word itself mostly is just functional.


Going back to my friend's point, I would say that Jesus didn't die to set us free in general. His sacrifice didn't make us free to write blogs without fear of government reprisal. The Bill of Rights did that. It didn't make us free to abort pregnancies if we so choose. Roe vs. Wade did that. What Christ did freed us from the consequences of our own sin. That's what makes it powerful. Not the word "freedom." The word "Sin" immediately following the word "freedom." 


Specificity! The best thing since sliced bread. After all, that pretty lady at the top with the eagle and the Captain America sheild is Lady Liberty. I doubt she'd answer to anything else.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Restless Mom: The Stay at Home Diaries

Sometimes it becomes very clear to me why I'm bad at being a stay-at-home mom. I really admire women who are good at it. It's a skill. It's an art. And a very desirable one! It's one of the best things you can do for your family - hands down. Your children will benefit in their development from the hands-on contact with a doting parent, your husband will find that he can work harder and progress more in his career as a result of the extra home support, and you will have a deep and abiding level of satisfaction that you are delving into the most important aspect of your life: family. For those blessed enough to have the financial option of only one income, I completely understand why someone would choose to stay home while their children are pre-school. Go for it! By all means!

Unless you're like me. Being at home even 4 hours a day during the workday is tough for me. My mom always said that I love to burn the candle at both ends - I don't feel complete (or even satisfied) unless I'm doing a million things, all of which have measurable results and result in outside praise. It's downright narcissistic. I get a truly ridiculous amount of joy from working on a project, focused and determined, then standing back and admiring the tangible products of my work. If I don't have another project to throw myself into immediately, I will fuss over the last one, checking on it, looking at it from multiple angles, pouring over every detail. I know how unhealthy it is, but of course, that has no effect on my behavior. I am trying to change - trying being the key word.

Being at home is like wifely purgatory to me sometimes. Housework is thankless and never ends, WAHM projects seem like a money pit, and a good day is one where the living room ends up looking like it started. I know, I know. How ungrateful. I'm a pig, and the pearls thrown before me are just getting in the way of my slop. But a girl's gotta vent - so here it is. Take today for example. There's PLENTY to do, but my dissatisfied cabin fever has kept me from doing any of it. I don't want to accomplish any of these tasks, and since I don't have a supervisor to dock my pay, I'll just sit here and write this blog. Maybe I'm restless b/c I didn't get to exercise that much this week - it feels a little like that. Mostly it feels like how I remember getting bored toward the end of summer break as a kid. Just restless. And overheated. And whiny. Oh the whining.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Irish Famine? Not so much...

Like so many of my entries on this blog, this one will not even begin to scratch the surface of the topic. I'm only trying to give you a diving board - the pool's there if you feel like a dip. I'll try to include some quick links at the bottom, in case you're feelin' froggy. I'll also link some of my references (sorry if you think wikipedia is a bad source...look somewhere else, and you'll probably find the same info, less concisely stated.)

Who remembers middle school history? I recently found out that someone I know teaches 7th grade Texas history. She told me that when most people find out what she does for a living, the standard response is "Oh, I'm sorry." I have caught myself saying that exact thing before, so I wasn't too surprised (poor middle schoolers - as if life isn't hard enough for them, they are automatically written off as the most challenging age group). Regardless of whether or not it's an unfair stereotype, I think it would be quite an uphill battle to teach some of the standard history curriculum, because I am beginning to notice that "standard" doesn't necessarily mean "accurate."

I grew up in North Carolina, where the history of the horrors brought upon the Cherokee during the tail end of the "Trail of Tears" was downplayed until high school. Not exactly fare for a 4th grader, I suppose, but it was very confusing to feel that everything I was taught was so insufficient when I learned the whole story a few years later. After all, no one spared me from the evils of the Nazis during the Holocaust. There are other "misleadings" of our education. I was scandalized to find out that my Government teacher in 9th grade didn't believe that the lunar landing had ever happened (as it turns out, some estimates state that 1 out of every 4 Americans think the film was made on a sound stage). And let's not even going into the whole "magic bullet" discussion.

I think I first heard about the "Great Potato Famine of Ireland" in 5th or 6th grade. I remember political drawings of starving mothers with countless children and a lot of talk about the word blight (look it up in the glossary in the back, then answer the questions on pg. 67). Oh shoot, I'll do the busy work for you.

Irish Famine Cartoon, pretty standard.
blight. n : a disease or injury of plants marked by the formation of lesions, withering, and death of parts (as leaves and tubers)

famine. n : an extreme scarcity of food

I recently stumbled across a Facebook page called "Irish Holocaust- Push to Educate the Facts." Although the info section is clear that the forum is not tolerant of any bigotry or racism against the British, they have made it their mission to change the way we think about and remember this aspect of history. I think they put it best when they say, 
"Is i gcás ina mbeidh neart bia ann, ní fhéidir go mbeadh aon ghorta ar chor bith."
Where there is plenty of food, there can be no famine at all
Another drawing. They're countless. 
To put it very quickly (see my italicized paragraph at the top), here's how to break down the miseducation:
The "Great Famine" was not caused by blight. The disease that struck the potato crop was not the sole, or even main, contributor to the 750k deaths and 1 million forced emmigrations (by the most conservative estimates). If the Irish people had other sources of food, they could have relied on those crops. They simply did not. Why?

No other food. The penal laws placed on the Irish by Colonial England essentially made it impossible for Irishmen to grow any crop other than potatoes. If the plant/livestock wasn't prohibited by law, another law forbade anything but the export of the goods. The limited land the Irish actually had was devoted to the one crop that could grow at 3 times the rate of others. When the potatoes failed, Hunger simply had to sweep in and take what was hers.

No right to land to grow food.  Because 95% of Irish land was owned by the British Ascendency Class, those who worked the land were forced into poverty in the deepest sense of the word. Their absentee landlords paid their Irish tenants rock-bottom wages to grow crops and raise livestock for export, while they retained all revenue. Men worked the land and yielded a product that they could never eat. The Irish farmer was already set up for failure long before his potatoes were rotting.

Left: British Protestant, Right: Irish Catholic
No place in civilized society. Though 80% of the Irish population at the time of the "famine" were Catholic, the bigotry against this demographic both locally and in Mother England was atrocious. When the colony was in trouble, there was no sympathy from the only source of help. On the contrary, the workhouses provided as aid to the dying Irish actually account for an estimated 26% of Irish deaths during this period.

Obviously, if this is a point of history where there are differing opinions on the cause, there are a lot of biased sources out there. What I have found leads me to believe that, for the most part, what I was taught about the Irish dying because of a fungus on their crops was only the final checkmate on a long and painful chess match between the poor Catholic farmer and his British landlord, who believed him to be less than human. There are some really angry sources of information out there - but can you blame them? I am not in any way promoting a British hatred, vengeance, or retribution. They were probably equally victims to the structure of their society as the dying children of Eire. But if it's true - if it was an inevitable genocide after years of suppression and the worst kind of discrimination - I think it's worth a second look. After all, we all have our dark times (American's Trail of Tears and the Nazi-driven Holocaust barely scratch the surface). But what is that old cliche about history being doomed to repeat itself? Perhaps we need a re-education.

I'll end with a lyrical conclusion, from a popular song during this dark time:
Weary men, what reap ye? Golden corn for the stranger.
What sow ye? Human corpses that wait for the avenger.
Fainting forms, Hunger—stricken, what see you in the offing
Stately ships to bear our food away, amid the stranger's scoffing.
There's a proud array of soldiers—what do they round your door?
They guard our master's granaries from the thin hands of the poor.
Pale mothers, wherefore weeping? 'Would to God that we were dead—
Our children swoon before us, and we cannot give them bread.

Some resources for a quick touch on this subject:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Sheer Magnitude of the Belly

I'm back in the saddle again. After a long hiatus from this blog (and many other things) I am returning to the keyboard. I'm going to blame the ever-expanding belly and the sweet baby growing inside of it that I'm currently hosting. After all, nesting is hard work, and quite time consuming. But it's "my delicate condition" that is inspiring this post today, and since I mainly use this blog to rant, buckle up.

When I think about newborn mammals, some of the more amazing come to mind. A newborn colt, taking it's first steps within minutes of birth. An infant giraffe, standing up to nurse his first meal from his tall mother. Amazing little creatures. And then there's the brand-new baby human - squishy, wrinkled and UTTERLY HELPLESS. Oh don't get me wrong. They are 100% precious, but stand up? They can't hold their head upright for months! As my husband aptly put it, "we are designed to rely entirely upon God from the very beginning."

So where's the source of the issue? This seemingly under-developed baby must be that way for a reason - all it's other mammalian counterparts arrive decidedly more mature and more prepared for the rigors of earth. I propose, for your reading enjoyment, this humble theory: the gestating human mother simply runs out of room, and the child must be ejected. 

I have a most personal reason for believing this. It started about 7 weeks out from my projected due date with baby #2, and even earlier with baby #1. The well-meaning, ill-timed, fateful comment that every pregnant woman dreads: "You must be due any day now."  Pause. Deep breath. Regroup. "No ma'am/sir, I have several weeks to go. Thank you for your concern." Read: "No you moron, I'm just whale-sized already. Despite my size, my child's undeveloped lungs and immune system are far from ready to face the cruel world. And I will continue to grow and grow and grow until I can't move, sleep or breath. Until I am doing everything in my power to induce the most painful thing I will likely ever go through. Because anything will be better than staying so mammoth at that point."

A concession must be made at this juncture. I understand fully that it is impossible for any stranger, friend, or even spouse to conceive of the gianticism that will overtake a woman in her 40th week of pregnancy. In other words, who'da thunk it? I don't blame you! When I am not pregnant, even by just a few months, I will forget entirely how large I was. At least I hope I will. Maybe the mind just isn't capable of remembering such bodily proportions. Either way, I don't blame you. But you must understand: even speaking of the blessed day when you will be rid of "the fat suit you can't take off" is a heartless tease. We want out - we want out bad. I know I do. Of course, in the naturally doting and matronly fashion that is fitting, I wouldn't dare rush the baby out before she's ready to handle the world without any health problems, but the INSTANT that full-term is reached (a good 3 weeks prior to the finish line) every mother I know is praying for early labor. To trade in all that pain and weight and swelling for a beautiful (allbeit restless and demanding) infant is one of the best deals there is. Don't remind me how far away that checked flag is!

This brings me right back home, to the point (you thought it was lost forever, didn't you?) I believe that babies embark on the life journey so dependent on the care of others because they must! God has squeezed as much gestational growth into the abdomen of a human as he can - and it just comes down to that favorite hide-and-seek phrase: "Ready or not, here I come!" In many ways, I am baffled by animals that give birth to litters - 9, 10, 11 puppies at once! And she was still walking a few hours before! Not to even BEGIN to touch on the subject of multiples (twins, triplets and beyond...). It's no wonder to me that more than one baby means early birth almost without exception. There's just no vacancy left at the inn.

You may say this rant was earned, and I wouldn't put up too much of a fight. After all, if you think the wrath of a woman scorned is bad, trying messing with a woman impregnanted. But despite every comment about how the baby has obviously dropped (I had a sonogram yesterday - no she hasn't) or how I'm "nothing but belly" (I know you're trying to say I'm skinny otherwise, but it's hard to hear anything but the word "belly") - I know that it comes from a place of excitement for me. That's so genuine - so welcome. So please disregard my rage, or (if I'm feeling a big more self-controlled) my eye-roll and giant sigh. You're awesome, and thank you for caring. Seriously. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sweet Little Lies

Don't be manipulated by the mean mom down the street! High fructose is just as harmless as the safety rating on the Land Rover driven by the lobbyist who thought this up!

Well, that's one way to begin, right? Start off strong. I have been, once again, scandalized by a television commercial, and you get to read the fallout. My goal here is to try to, in my own way, summarize all the conglomeration of facts and opinions about corn syrup into a easier read. It was painful, and I'm sure I've left a ton of important stuff out, but you can easily track it down if you want to. If you don't, here's a quick blitz on what you should know before you trust the messages put out by the Corn Refiner's Association.

First, here's some fun clips from our friends atthe Corn Refiner's Association. I recommend them ALL!

BURN! - A brother is reminded what a "doofus" he is with these corn-friendly factoids.

SIZZLE! - A man is put in his place by his corn-loving girlfriend.

ICED! - An awesome remake of the last commercial. That's how smart you and I are going to sound after this blog.

Radhia Gleis, a certified clinical nutritionist out of Austin, gave a highly enlightening talk on this subject (see it here, though it takes a hot minute to watch it). She contributes the rise in obesity during the 80s with the replacement of cane sugar with high fructose corn syrup (here refered to as HFCS). She insists that it does, in fact, affect your body very differently than typical white granulated sugar, derived from sugar cane. She points out that HFCS is a "synthetic food" because of (1) the chemical process used to create it and (2) the genetic modification used to produce most HFCS corn, both of which equal health problems. She refers to the introduction of HFCS in our diets as the start of a "veritable epidemic of obesity and diabetes" and talks briefly about the links between the amount of HFCS ingested and type 2 diabetes.

She also talks about the Farm Subsidy Act of 2002. Wait, what's that you said? "What this means, guys, is that our government is paying farmers to produce more corn." To boil it down, way down, our tax dollars are being spent on producing more and more corn to be used in HFCS and ethanol, even though we already have more corn than we know what to do with. Why? It's cheaper, easier, and it lasts longer on the shelf and can travel further without spoiling. Small farmers are put out of business, corrupt food monopolies are supported, and once again our health and well being is ignored as we consume corn in practically everything we eat. Don't believe it? Check out the ingredients on, say, the first 5 things you pull out of your pantry or fridge. Government subsidies may mean that our food becomes much more affordable, but our bodies - specifically our livers and fat cells - pay the consquences.

Or so they say. The American Medical Association says that HFCS is an unlikely cause for obesity and other conditions - or at least is as likely as sucrose (sugar). So maybe Ms. Gleis and the King Corn documentary have it all wrong. It's certainly possible. Nutrition is, by it's very nature, a guessing game, and the truth seems to change with each new study. I just hate to see this kind of shameless propoganda on my television and let those slimey promoters get away with it.

"Maze Commercial" (My personal favorite, but unfortunately, I cannot display it here it b/c it's been disabled by request of the Corn Refiners Association. Possibly because of all the spoofs on youtube from their last botched campaign.) If you only watch one video, watch this one!

Seriously? Do you think they are getting off on squeezing every last ounce of patriotic fervor out of us? Don't you think this could have been improved with some fireworks, apple pies, a 21 gun salute and a 20 foot American flag waving in the background? Bring out the marching band! Go Corn!

Please folks. Don't buy this nonsense. I'll leave you with a couple quotes from my wittiest source:

"Watching the food channel, I recently heard that the most delicious pork comes from Spain, where the swine are fattened up on an all-corn diet. This little tidbit reminded me of we Americans. Surely Americans are often enough referred to as pigs, but who knew we held so much in common with this lowly animal? It seems we and they are being fattened up for some strange slaughter yet to come." (Independent Lens)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Are you NovaSure about this?

This will be my second post about drug ads this week...think of it as a series about  pharmaceutical advertisements. They provide me with all sorts of fun.

I just saw this ad for Nova Sure.  Even through the misty haze that the pharmaceutical company's ad campaign, I could see that this procedure was causing a whole lot of trouble. It was the diagram of a woman's uterine lining being magically thinned out that made the "warning" light start flashing. All I know about that is that a thin lining means a fertilized egg can't implant and grow - which means that life is created only to be immediately flushed out. So I googled. I started with "Is Nova Sure abortive?" (why not get right to it?)

10 minutes of reading, and I cannot believe that this procedure, also known as endometrial ablation, is being advertised as a treatment for heavy bleeding. This is serious stuff guys! What I read tells me that this procedure was experimental about 10 years ago, and since then has only been offered as an alternative to a complete hysterectomy. Once you've had this procedure, you should not ever get pregnant again - not only for the sake of your potential children, but for your own health's sake. That means you will have to sterilize yourself even though you can still conceive for the rest of your fertile years.

And don't mistake the procedure for being much less than a hysterectomy either. To summarize (while attempting to use graphic language), a triangular heating element is inserted into the uterus to cauterize the lining permanently. If you don't know what that means, please look it up. Or watch this video, and look up the definition of cauterize.

Other potential risks and side effects:
- Fusing of one side of the uterus to the other
- Undiagnosed cancer (makes it nearly impossible to do a future biopsy)
- Terrible cramping - "take me to the ER" level pain - immediately following
- Tearing, burning, or infection of the uterus

I'm not saying that there aren't people who need this procedure. When faced with EXTREME menstrual bleeding because of clotting issues, there are all kinds of life threatening conditions that can result (I read about one lady who lost so much blood monthly that she was passing out at stop lights). In cases like that, this can keep you from the dangerous procedure and long recovery associated with a hysterectomy. However, there is no mistaking that this procedure is serious! Read this "enlightening" testimony from a very well spoken Canadian woman from 2001 (when this was but an experimental procedure). But I just can't believe that this is being advertised as a way to deal with heavy periods - for a normal menstruation that is simply inconvenient and otherwise uncomplicated.

And yes, it is abortive. To quote the promotional website for the procedure: "Because NovaSure treats the lining of the uterus, your chances of getting pregnant after the procedure will be reduced. However, it is still possible to get pregnant if you’re sexually active." Right, because didn't treat the ovaries or fallopian tubes, so you can still GET pregnant, but you just can't grow that life in your body, and the baby will be flushed out (best case scenario).  "After the NovaSure® procedure, it is still possible to get pregnant. Since pregnancy after any endometrial ablation procedure is dangerous for both the mother and the fetus, you’ll need to rely on long-term birth control after the procedure. " Great guys. Nicely put.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ZPGers may not have a leg to stand on

Let me begin by wishing you all a holy and fruitful Ash Wednesday. I will be marking this Lent with additional prayers and required abstinence from meat on Friday - but not with fasting. One of the nice things about being pregnant (though I understand why it's not required of me, since I was starving by 11 am after a huge bowl of oatmeal at 6).

Did the title of this post confuse you? ZPGer is a new term to me. I found it in a book I'm rereading: "Rome Sweet Home," by Scott & Kimberly Hahn (incidentally, the story of an anti-catholic Presbyterian couple who slowly comes to believe that the Truth is in the Catholic Church). You know I love to be cryptic so that you will ask a question, so today's question should be: What's a ZPGer? Answer: Zero Population Growth Advocate.

I like kids - so much that I hope to be able to have 4, maybe 5. Not exactly typical. A big part of this desire is the NFP that I practice (see last post, "Beyaz...") and how it's changed my view of life as a whole, but particularly the value of a child. Most people think this is a lot of kids - too many, in fact. I have been told that I shouldn't have so many children because I will contribute to the "overpopulation of the earth." I have two words in response to that: "Oh brother."

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying this because I'm being selfish about it. This is not a "I can have as many kids as I dang well please" kind of thing. I believe (very much) in being responsible with my family choices - and I assure you, reader, that I will not have more children than I can handle. If two is where I stop, I will chalk it up to a prudent decision based on the emotional, financial and mental needs of the children I have already been blessed with. I say Oh Brother because this whole myth of our shrinking earth is malarkey. It's time for an episode of myth busters, semi-crunch style.

I want to share another video with you, but it's super controversial. Here's my disclaimer: This is not a sign of my hatred or disdain for Islam, Muslims, or any other population represented. These views are the views of the videos creator, and not my own. I share only to let you see a few numbers, because they helped bring the "population grown problem" into an entirely new perspective when I first saw this. Watch the whole thing, and remember that an implication that the video makes is just that, an implication. Try to see the good in this, not the bad.

My opinion of this video? It's taking a lot of liberties with these facts, and it has all the symptoms of a classic scare tactic. But it makes an excellent point, don't you think? I think the major "take home point" for me is that the ZPGers have already won over anyone who's culturally surroundings don't supersede their new idea. In other words, if your religion, creed, culture, or society doesn't demand you have more children, you're going to have less. Much less. So telling your college roommate, neighbor, or future spouse that having 6 kids is contributing to the over population of the earth is really quite ridiculous. Take your message to Niger, Mali or Chad (highest birth rates). Leave poor Minnesota alone.

Here's a persepective I stumbled across on Yahoo Answers that I find particularly interesting:

T. Seal, editorialist for the Arctic Times
Underpopulation is a problem where the economy is set up for growth. Of course it threatens a community if the population loss is great. That community will no longer thrive, nor will the economy. However, nature will be glad. Overpopulation is killing the environment through pollution and destruction of resources we depend on for survival, such as our atmosphere, clean air and water, good farming land, healthy ocean fish, etc. Nature tends to thin the overpopulated, but not the underpopulated. So, the ecologically correct answer is reduction of population is good and I'd like to see a significant reduction before we take out any more species' ability to survive in a world with us.

Sincerely, a seal.
Besides the fact that the seal can write better than me, I think he's a bit biased (not being human and all). I couldn't agree more - overpopulation is certainly contributing to the death of our precious ecological balance. But is the answer to stop procreating? Or maybe - crazy thought - maybe we should focus on raising ecologically responsible children?

I won't go on, because my posts almost always border on the ridiculously long, but here are a list of other (superficially and seemingly less biased) sources that say the same thing. View if you'd like.

If you like this post, check out "Follow up on ZPGers"