Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Baby Sleeping Recommendations

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics altered their SIDS prevention recommendations to include the use of pacifiers. This infuriated some breastfeeding advocates because pacifiers discourage breastfeeding. This infuriates me, not so much as a breastfeeding advocate, but as a co-sleeping advocate. The AAP will go out of their way to avoid condoning co-sleeping - even if that means telling a mother to use a pacifier. In their recommendation it even admits the weakness in their position saying to wait a month to make sure breastfeeding is established and also admitting that it increases the risk of ear infection. GET REAL AAP! Pacifiers are just a bad substitute for breastfeeding (which, by the way, REDUCES ear infections). I would estimate that more than half the time that a baby breastfeeds he is just sucking and not actually eating anything. The comfort of the sucking is the most important part of breastfeeding. Why is the AAP denying what nature obviously intended?? A mother and child were meant to be together at all times for the first couple of months. It is completely unnatural to put your baby in another bed for hours at a time. It is even more unnatural to stick a plastic breast replica in their mouth for hours at a time instead of the real thing.

The AAP needs to be completely honest. They need to admit that co-sleeping increases the risk of role-over death (duh) but DECREASES the risk of SIDS!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New tricks for and old dog

I have two brand new skills. Art and music. Painting is my new hobby. I've done some beautiful murals for the babies room and also some for friends' rooms too. Next I might do some sports moments in New England history on my brother's walls.

Now I have a piano too and I've been playing like crazy! The music just flows out of my fingers. I'm learning all sorts of Christmas songs for the upcoming season. It makes me so happy.

I never considered myself an "artsy" or "musical" person before this year. It's a whole new identity for me. It's changed my perception of myself.

Homeschoolers in particular like to encourage learning when the interest arises. This is a perfect example of that. I'm learning so much more now than I would have with more effort in the past. (Of course there are exceptions to this rule. As I have previously explained, Dyslexic children need extensive tutoring to teach them to read and write. They will not just "pick up" this skill when the interest peaks).

Now adays there is so much pressure to get your kids involved in extra-curricular activities: soccer, karate, ballet, tap, violin, gymnastics, Spanish. What if you don't sign them up for lessons? Then horrors! -they'll fall behind! They'll lose the opportunity to be the genius they were meant to be! They won't get into their college of choice! I declare that all of this is wrong. Your opportunity to learn NEVER ENDS. So you can't miss your opportunity! Of course there are some things you do "age out of" like gymnastics. I love gymnastics. I also understand the mental benefits of music lessons. And if your child truly is exceptional, you'll know, and you should provide them an outlet for their talent. All that being true, it does not explain the mad rush to teach children EVERYTHING. I think it boils down to parental competitiveness and insecurity.

Learning never ends. Enjoy the ride.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I love Craigslist

Have you ever been to It's the best. I've had so much success with it, especially the "free" catagory. I figured out the key to getting anything good is to be the first to call/email, so I made it my homepage, so I always catch the good stuff first (and now I share my secret with you). I got the kids swingset that way - those are hard to come by on Craigslist. I sent the woman a nice thank you note after.

One time a friend and I wanted to do mosaics, but we need tile/broken glass to work with. So I kept my eye out on Craigslist and sure enough, art supplies were left on the curb in Chelmsford and I got boxes and boxes of tiles.

One time I saw a posting from a woman in Lowell. She said she needed craft supplies to entertain all the neighborhood girls. I wrote her and said that, like her, I'm always entertaining the neighborhood kids, except boys not girls. Since my kids have no interest in crafts I brought her a whole bunch of good stuff from my basement - a mini sewing machine, a quilt making kit, batting, crayons. It felt good to share.

One time I got a couple of wardrobe boxes which I use to hang up future clothes for the kids in the basement.

Pianos make a regular showing on Craigslist "free" catagory. People need to get rid of them and they're hard to move. I've always wanted one, so my husband got me one for my birthday (Saturday). We LOVE it.

This weekend I cleaned through all my books and put four boxes of old books on the curb. I put a note on "free" craiglsist and they're almost all gone!

I love Craigslist!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Fathers and the onset of puberty

In preparation for the coming years I've been reading a book called "Adolescence Isn't terminal, It Just Feels Like It". (Excuse the quotation marks, I can't underline in this blog for some reason). I found this information about fathers and the onset of puberty to be fascinating. I will just quote from it for your reading pleasure...

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states that having a biological father in the home, having and attentive father who demonstrates warmth and love and living in a home where there is a close relationship between the mother and father actually delays the onset of girls' pubertal development.
Think about this. Girls who live with caring fathers actually enter puberty at a later age. Why is this a good thing? Reaching puberty too soon can result in numerous societal problems, including early sexual experimentation and teenage pregnancy. Blankenhorn goes on to say that, according to an article published in the March/April 2000 issue of Child Development, the absence of the biological father speeds up a young woman's biological clock.

Although this next conclusion is just a hypothesis, researchers suspect that a fathers pheromones("pheromones are chemical substances secreted by the body that serve as stimuli to others of the same species for one or more behavioral responses) actually slow down a young woman's sexual maturation. A young woman's exposure to adult males who are not related to her (whether the male is her mother's live in boy-friend or second husband) does the reverse, actually speeding up the maturation process. In the Child Development study the younger the girl was when the unrelated male arrived in her home, the earlier she experienced the onset of puberty.

The researchers writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology article explain that the quality of the fathers' investment in the family emerged as the most important feature of the proximal family environment relative to daughters' pubertal timing.

Isn't that interesting? It reminds me of another interesting mystery of the body. Why do the menstrual cycles of women who are close start to synchronize? This happens in families, at college dorms and among friends. Could this also have to do with pheronomes? I've also noticed that the woman with the strongest will seems to lead cycles. It's all so interesting to me. I've always wanted to be an epidemiologist and study things like this. But I don't have time to get a PH.D/MD. Perhaps I could study it without a degree.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Parenting young

Today I turned on my computer and found a headline article about unconventional ways to save money and one of the suggestions was to have less kids. This may be true, but I found it offensive. THEN I flipped on the TV to "The View" where an actress was claiming that she was a much better mother because she waited a long time to have children. The women of "The View" were agreeing with her emphatically and praising her. The youngest one, even commented that you can just freeze your eggs nowadays anyway. THIS was offensive too.

So in a situation like this, I take out my anger by blogging. So I just want to say that I was no better and no worse a mother at 18 than I am now. Yes, I have a lot more experience now, which helps; but that comes with practice, not age.

I have clear memories of mothering Brandon at that young age. I was a very good mother; full of love. He had my fully devoted attention for the first tender years of his life. I breastfed him. I read him psalms over lunch. I walked him to the park and pushed him on the swing. I slept with him (as I think all mothers should) and rarely handed him over to another caretaker.

This actress on TV was saying that she was better now because of all the psychology books out now that she reads, that weren't out before. That's really funny. There's a heck of a lot more to parenting than reading psychology books. Now that Brandon is 8 years old and I'm facing the challenges of an 8 year old, I can assure you that my status as a 26 year old has not affected my parenting abilities. I stepped up to the plate and successfully homeschooled him when he was faltering in the public school. I advocated for him to get his tonsils out, against the wishes of his physician, which has saved him from recurrent strep infections and sleep apnea. I teach him to love Jesus and obey his elders.

For an even more extreme example, my sister in law had an arranged marriage at 16 which has been a successful happy marriage. Soon after getting married she got pregnant and had a baby girl. I'll admit, there was a period of a few months in which the mom seemed a little distant to her baby, but the baby was fine, due to the love and attention she got from her Grandma. (They all live together). I can't say if that was caused by the maternal age, or just the maternal personality. Nevertheless, she is a wonderful mother of two now.

I don't think that one age is better than another for raising children. I think God already determined the proper age range... something between the ages of 13 and 45. (The ages of menstruation) I'm sure most people would disagree with a 13 year old having a baby. And yes, I'll admit that it is unhealthy, physically speaking (on both ends of the spectrum). I'll also admit, that our society has changed. We no longer have the close family bonds that support a young mother. Also, to provide properly financially in this society, it takes many years to get on your feet. But if the proper support system is there - a husband, an extended family - AS IT SHOULD BE - then age makes absolutely no difference in parenting.

In response to the article about saving money... Yeah, it's tough, it's real tough. BUT, my kids will be adults when I'm still in the prime of life. Also, I am sure they will care for me like I intend to care for my parents as they age - lessoning my necessity for extensive retirement savings. Also, we bought our house at a younger age than we would have without kids - which is a good investment for our money. And as for college, I'm working my way through it without help from my parents. I don't have to put my kids through college at an exorbitant expense. That's a myth.

I do my best and I have to say it's not too shabby. So enough stereotyping young mothers!!! As my parents like to say "There's no teen pregnancy crisis. There is an UNMARRIED pregnancy crisis".

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Science of the soul

I watched an interesting program about chimeras [kie- mare-uhs]. A chimera is created when twins' cells fuse in the very earliest stages of a pregnancy. This one person now has the DNA of two distinct people. If both twins were the same sex then the chimera will go undetected unless DNA testing of the chimera's child reveals them not to be their parent. To prove that they are the parent you must search through many different organs to find the less dominant DNA that was passed on to the child. In this one interesting case I learned about, the child's DNA looked like a perfect combination of his father and his mother's brother. Funny huh?

If the fused twins are different sexes than what results is true hermaphoditism.(A person with both sexual organs.

Ok if you're following me so far than it gets better. The show ended there, but this is where I think it starts to get really fascinating. If a chimera is a person with only ONE soul, then what happened to the other soul? Did the less dominant twin "die"? Because scientifically speaking, it did not. So then, perhaps the soul
isn't breathed into the person at conception. Maybe it is breathed into a person at implantation. I once heard this argument based on Leviticus 17:11 which states that life is in the blood. Actually, it is a recurring theme in the Bible, the symbolism of life in blood. So that's one theory, but one I hate to be quick to accept because that would make fetal stem cell research justifiable, since they aren't "alive" yet. Have you ever wondered how they could freeze them indefinitely? Maybe there is no soul in them yet.

Or what if the less dominant twin's soul DID die? Suppose the soul somehow exists in the brain. Then whichever twin's DNA became the blueprint for the brain was the twin who "lives". To me, this theory is supported by Microchimerism. An example of Microchimerism is a mother who has some of her fetus' cells floating around in her body. Obviously, that doesn't mean her soul is connected to her babies... or does it? Maybe that shows the unexplainable maternal bond.

There was one instance of a scientific experiment involving a rabbit and a human. They mixed a human skin cell and rabbit egg. The resulting embryo was only allowed to develop a few days. So did it have a soul? Under theory A) it wasn't implanted so it wasn't a person. Under theory B) it depends on which DNA went to the brain. I'm sure there are many other plausible theories. So feel free to share yours in the comment section.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sense of smell

Of the five senses, the sense of smell has the strongest link to memory. The summer of 96 was a memorable one for me. Timmy and I were young lovers then; spending all our time together. He had his first apartment. So instead of cooking the boys just had barbecues every day. We drove around in his sports car listening to La Bouche or Ace of Base "Its a beautiful life" or Selena. One evening as we hung out in his room a skunk let out a stink right outside the apartment. Since it was a hot summer day all the windows were open. I've never smelled anything so powerful. The neighbor dog howled in misery. It was nauseating. We shut the windows and wondered at the power of the smell. Years later... Now whenever I smell a skunk I am immediately taken back to that time in my life of carefree life and young love.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Nice Halloween

Sunday night as the hours drew near to Halloween I quickly tried to pull together the Halloween traditions that I hadn't yet accomplished due to busyness and bad weather, namely pumpkin carving and caramel apple making. Unfortunately, all the local supermarket's were out of pumpkins so we just did the caramel apples. Monday was Halloween and strangely enough the boys also had a field trip to the zoo that day. While they were at the zoo I was chit chatting with my neighbor who said that he had a whole trunkful of pumpkins to give away! So I took a wagon-full of them and surprised the boys when they came home from school. The weather was gorgeous so we carved pumpkins in the driveway. Both boys actually carved their pumpkins by themselves with no help which is a big achievement. I was so impressed with Wolfie.

When that was done we waited for Dad to come home and then went trick or treating with some friends. It was lots of fun. What a happy day.
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