Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
A friend of mine made her this AWESOME winter hat, so I took the opportunity to mark her 9 months with some photography.
Friday, November 26, 2010
I was just looking at my planner at work here, where I write everything down. This year, in 2010, I have only had 2 days off: January 18th and July 9th. This does not count my [unpaid] maternity leave (which my boss may or may not consider to be "vacation") or the three days I took off for Andrew's surgery (for those of you taking notes, that was NO vacation whatsoever).
I have decided that I do deserve some time off. I have worked here over six years now and all of the other department heads take off much more than I do and I never complain that I have to answer phones more or anything. The receptionist, whom I supervise, is off quite often, or she leaves early, and it's never a problem because she works 5.5 hour shifts, so if she is gone, I am just out at the front desk, covering it, rather than in my office.
I filled out my request and put it in my boss' mailbox and hopefully I get off. I happened to glance at my calendar and the receptionist is, in fact, working just until 2:00 next week which means there is a 2 hour gap (until 4:00) when there is nobody out there -- this will come up in conversation when my boss sees my request, but I am going to talk to the evening receptionist and see if he can come in 2 hours early. This will also mean that the day receptionist will have to put in a full 8 hour shift on Thursday, but I hope my boss remembers that back in July, when we were supposed to all get off the day after the 4th (typically when a holiday falls on a weekend, we get either the Friday or the Monday off), I came in and worked it so there was coverage out at the desk. I was the only one who had to work that day (besides nursing staff, who have holiday rotations and can also trade) and no, I didn't get holiday pay.
So there you have it. I am taking off because I am a good person and I deserve it.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I love my children so much. I have so much to be thankful for, today and every day.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I have the best eater I have ever seen: my three-year-old son, Andrew. We eat very healthy: nothing that is pre-processed, and nothing containing GMOs, high-fructose corn syrup, or partially hydrogenated soybean oils.
He will eat everything: every kind of vegetable you can think of, including brussels sprouts (which he actually will request, out of the blue), fruit, any kind of meat, fish (including smoked and regular salmon), yogurt, any kind of dairy product, and whole grain noodles and breads. There isn't anything that he won't try or finish.
We aren't so restrictive that we don't allow treats: ice cream is a treat in our house at least once or twice a week, after supper or before bed.
I have had well-to-do friends inform me that by being restrictive with him, we are setting him up to binge someday, but I disagree. One of my husband's friends grew up in a similar house, and to this day, he still eats healthy and leads a healthy, active lifestyle as an adult.
As for me, I was raised to always clean my plate. I cannot leave a plate with food still on it. However, I am at a healthy weight for my height and I don't see anything wrong with continuing to clean my plate. It as as much a part of me as my eye color.
And now, for some pics. I took these 2 weeks ago of Elise for her 8 month photo session. She will be 9 months on Saturday -- it's so hard to believe! Enjoy.
As for Elise, she is hitting all of her milestones ahead of time. Lately, she's been letting go of the couch or me whenever she can, and standing alone for 5-10 seconds at a time. She seems to be unaware that she's doing it, and when I try to set her down on the floor and let her stand, she doesn't want to. I have mentioned that she is my independent girl, and she certainly holds true to that attribute. I have a feeling she will be taking her first steps by Christmastime, if not before.
I am still going home twice a day during my work day to feed her (and she breastfeeds on demand the rest of the time). She now has six teeth, and we started solids just after she turned 7 months. We started with 1 TBSP. and she now takes in about 1.5 TBSP. once a day. She is a little piggy and verbalizes this whenever she eats by saying, "m-NOM, m-NOM". It's very cute.
To you and yours, have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! I really love this holiday: it's an excuse to eat anything and everything all day long!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
We get the joy of putting plastic over our "lovely" window in the living room -- it's a huge picture window facing north -- whoever designed this house should be shot -- although, it was built in the early '60s, when the heating expenses were no big deal. People probably opened up their doors when it was twenty below and heated their front yards for all I know. All of the other windows were replaced at some point, but this big one was not, and even though it is double-paned, if we don't get plastic over it soon, we definitely lose some heat through it.
If this isn't the most boring, detailed post about weather and windows, I don't know what is!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Breast Milk Sugars Give Infants a Protective Coat
By NICHOLAS WADE
Published: August 2, 2010
A large part of human milk cannot be digested by babies and seems to have a purpose quite different from infant nutrition — that of influencing the composition of the bacteria in the infant’s gut.
The details of this three-way relationship between mother, child and gut microbes are being worked out by three researchers at the University of California, Davis — Bruce German, Carlito Lebrilla and David Mills. They and colleagues have found that a particular strain of bacterium, a subspecies of Bifidobacterium longum, possesses a special suite of genes that enable it to thrive on the indigestible component of milk.
This subspecies is commonly found in the feces of breast-fed infants. It coats the lining of the infant’s intestine, protecting it from noxious bacteria.
Infants presumably acquire the special strain of bifido from their mothers, but strangely, it has not yet been detected in adults. “We’re all wondering where it hides out,” Dr. Mills said.
The indigestible substance that favors the bifido bacterium is a slew of complex sugars derived from lactose, the principal component of milk. The complex sugars consist of a lactose molecule on to which chains of other sugar units have been added. The human genome does not contain the necessary genes to break down the complex sugars, but the bifido subspecies does, the researchers say in a review of their progress in today’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The complex sugars were long thought to have no biological significance, even though they constitute up to 21 percent of milk. Besides promoting growth of the bifido strain, they also serve as decoys for noxious bacteria that might attack the infant’s intestines. The sugars are very similar to those found on the surface of human cells, and are constructed in the breast by the same enzymes. Many toxic bacteria and viruses bind to human cells by docking with the surface sugars. But they will bind to the complex sugars in milk instead. “We think mothers have evolved to let this stuff flush through the infant,” Dr. Mills said.
Dr. German sees milk as “an astonishing product of evolution,” one which has been vigorously shaped by natural selection because it is so critical to the survival of both mother and child. “Everything in milk costs the mother — she is literally dissolving her own tissues to make it,” he said. From the infant’s perspective, it is born into a world full of hostile microbes, with an untrained immune system and lacking the caustic stomach acid which in adults kills most bacteria. Any element in milk that protects the infant will be heavily favored by natural selection.
“We were astonished that milk had so much material that the infant couldn’t digest,” Dr. German said. “Finding that it selectively stimulates the growth of specific bacteria, which are in turn protective of the infant, let us see the genius of the strategy — mothers are recruiting another life-form to baby-sit their baby.”
Dr. German and his colleagues are trying to “deconstruct” milk, on the theory that the fluid has been shaped by 200 million years of mammalian evolution and holds a wealth of information about how best to feed and defend the human body. Though milk itself is designed for infants, its lessons may apply to adults.
The complex sugars, for instance, are evidently a way of influencing the gut microflora, so they might in principle be used to help premature babies, or those born by caesarean, who do not immediately acquire the bifido strain. It has long been thought there was no source of the sugars other than human milk, but they have recently been detected in whey, a waste byproduct of cheesemaking. The three researchers plan to test the complex sugars for benefit in premature infants and in the elderly.
The proteins in milk also have special roles. One, called Alpha-lactalbumin, can attack tumor cells and those infected by viruses by restoring their lost ability to commit cell suicide. The protein, which accumulates when an infant is weaned, is also the signal for the breast to remodel itself back to normal state.
Such findings have made the three researchers keenly aware that every component of milk probably has a special role. “It’s all there for a purpose, though we’re still figuring out what that purpose is,” Dr. Mills said. “So for God’s sake, please breast-feed.”
Link to the article
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I'm a naturalist. Everyone who knows me knows this. At my work, it's the annual push for all staff to get flu shots (they provide them free of charge and they are aiming for 95% this year, up from 80% in the past).
I decline it every year; it's my right as a citizen and as a human being. I have many reasons, but I'll just go through a few of them:
The flu shot not only contains the dead flu virus (not what I'm concerned about), but also:
- Aluminum (a neurotoxin widely associated with Alzheimer's, which happens to run in my family -- early onset to boot)
- 25 mcg of mercury (which, when injected into the muscle as a flu shot is, is not processed the same in the body as it is when ingested, via fish, for example)
- Polysorbate 80 (which is associated with infertility in animals)
- Ethylene Glycol (antifreeze)
- Formaldehyde (a preservative)
- Gentamycin, Neomycin, or Streptomycin (antibiotics)
- Nonoxynol (used to kill or stop growth of STDs)
- Octoxinol 9 (a spermicide)
- Betrapropiolactone (a disinfectant)
(Click on this link to see any vaccine insert if you would like to see the ingredients: Vaccine Ingredients).
The flu shot is not as effective as presented. In a review of more than 51 studies involving more than 294,000 children, it was found that there was "no evidence that injecting children 6-24 months of age with a flu shot was any more effective than placebo. In children over 2 years of age, it was only effective 33% of the time in preventing the flu". (Source: "Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy children" -- The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: 2 (2008).
As for adults, In a review of 48 reports including more than 66,000 adults, "Vaccination of healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza by 6% and reduced the number of missed work days by less than one day (0.16) days. It did not change the number of people needing to go to hospital or take time off work." Reference: "Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults." The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1 (2006).
In the elderly (where the push comes in at my work), a study done between 1970-1980 demonstrated that those who had 5 or more consecutive flu shots had an 11-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimer's compared to those who had 2 or less vaccines. In 1980, only 15 percent of elderly people in the US received flu vaccination. Today, the rate has increased to 65 percent. Yet two studies published in early 2009 - in "The Lancet" and "American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care" both noted that there has been no decrease in deaths from influenza or pneumonia during the period.
The decline of disease for all diseases was already on the downslope before vaccines were introduced. This is due to public sanitation and nutrition. It is hard to believe that there was a time where we didn't know about proper handwashing, but it happened (doctors used to go from cadaver to patient, even pregnant women, without washing their hands -- gross, I know!).
The chance of dying from influenza is lower than dying from leprosy. The oft-quoted "36,000 people die every year from influenza" includes the combined "flu deaths" as well as "pneumonia deaths".
Vaccines are linked to autoimmune diseases such as asthma, allergies, eczema, and Crohn's Disesase.
I have a hard time trusting the CDC, which recommends vaccinating newborn babies with Hepatitis B, which is primarily transmitted sexually and via intravenous drug abuse. Why would I give any merit to any advice they may have? I am one who cannot trust anything if one major thing is blaring at me. The mere fact that we have gone from 10 vaccines on the routine childhood immunization schedule in 1983 to 38 on today's recommended vaccines is enough to cause alarm. There is so much money to be made in this industry and doctors are pushed to recommend whatever vaccine is next to roll off the production lines and I am not one to say, "how high?" when they tell me to jump.
This all is, of course, my opinion, and I will not push any of my readers to go in one direction or another. It is your right as a citizen and a human being to make your own choices. The Director of Nursing here at my work talked about mandating shots in the future, and it comes to that, they can fire me. It's pretty silly because they'd be losing a good employee over a flu shot, but they do not have the right to tell me that I must be injected.
What can you do to promote good health? Eat right, exercise, don't smoke, drink moderately, and get your Vitamin D. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. For too many years, we have been indoors and sunblocked to the point where we are deficient. The current levels of recommendation are not enough. Vitamin D functions like a hormone in the body, so it's definitely not a "piddly vitamin" -- it is absolutely essential for good immune health. I take 5,000 IU daily year-round, unless I get out in the sun for 10 minutes or so in the summer. From November - March, anyone living above 37 degrees latitude cannot get Vitamin D through the skin (yes, even in the winter when you are outdoors snowboarding and you get sunburnt -- it's not the same process). On the map below, if you live above that red line, you are not getting Vitamin D transdermally from November - March. Take your supplements. 5,000 IU a day will help prevent illnesses, yes, including cold and flu. Since I began taking it at that dose over a year ago, I have only had a minor cold. When I am sick, I up the dose to 10,000 IU and I also take Sumbucol (elderberry extract). Don't worry, Vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare and you would have to be taking an insane amount to become ill -- in fact, patients with weakened immune systems receive very high doses, higher than available for purchase over the counter, for many ailments. Vitamin D is also proven to help prevent SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), so that is just another benefit to keeping on top of your Vitamin D in the winter. Anyway, there is a ton of information/research out there on Vitamin D and it's only been newly discovered that it plays a huge role on health (and why would a doctor tell you that, when there are so many pharmaceuticals available to treat anything and everything?).
In conclusion, yes, I am "one of those" who refuses the flu vaccine. I have a working immune system and I let it do its job. I'd rather be one who questioned everything than one who went along with the flow, anyway. I stood up to my doctor last year, when I was pregnant with Elise. She gave me a "talking to" and made me feel bad about refusing the shots (you all remember last year with the H1N1 push), telling me that they would "take my baby away from me" if I came in to deliver with any flu symptoms. That's when I switched providers to a midwife -- no pressure at all from her, and she ended up being wonderful, so I'm kind-of glad it all happened that way.
Have a great day and a healthy flu season!
Monday, November 8, 2010
She was tired of being beaten up, pushed around, choked, yelled at, and beaten mentally to the point where she felt she truly was worthless. She lived for being a parent to her five children, loving them and providing them with everything she could. It was all about the day-to-day survival. We walked on eggshells, all of us, so as to be as perfect as possible so he wouldn't become upset with us.
We were model children. We were in band, and we excelled academically. My sister and I were always on the honor roll, me not always the "A" honor roll, but at least making the "B". My sister had a 4.0. In high school, while other kids were out partying or having sex, we spent our weekends baby-sitting for close family friends. We vowed to our mother not to touch alcohol until we were 21, and both of us kept that promise. He didn't know us, so he didn't trust us, so he would send my mother into our room when we got home and she'd tuck us in, as she always did for years, and make sure there was no scent of alcohol on us (there never was, because for us, it was about not disappointing our mother).
When we did eventually date (late onto the scene on that one, for fear that he would make fun of us, which he did anyway), he didn't trust us and told us we were "whores" and "sluts". Little did he know, this was the furthest from the truth. All three of us, my mother, my sister and me, were called those names, and my brothers were also called names, particularly the oldest of the three boys, who from a small age was referred to as "Boy" or "Bonehead", and not by his given name, Michael.
He used a leather weight-lifting belt on us as punishment, but oftentimes, we were punished for things kids do on a regular basis, like playing too loudly. I have blocked so many of these memories out, but I do remember that noise the belt would make, the jingling metal sound as he pulled it off the back of his weight-lifting bench. Then, he'd come out into the family room and I would run. I would run around the pool table with him chasing me, yelling at me to stop. I'd think to myself, how long can I go?, but ultimately, I knew that I should just stop and take it and get it over with because the longer I ran, the worse it would be. As he whipped me, I'd place my hands over my bottom, but the stinging of the belt would hurt more there, so then I'd just move my hands, screaming for him to just stop, crying for someone to just help me, wishing the windows were open enough for the neighbors to call someone to help me, praying that he would just drop dead forever and ever so I'd never have to see him again.
Sometimes, I ran away. I didn't get very far. We lived near an apple orchard, and I would run there and hide in the tall grasses, but eventually, I'd get scared that there were snakes in there (there probably were), and after a half hour or so, I'd head back up the long driveway and go in my room. I hated my life. I kept myself busy by drawing for hours on end, and also by reading. I dreamed of a life where I had a father who adored me, and honestly, any song about a father and a daughter I hated, because I thought it couldn't possibly exist. It was all lies. There was no way a father would love his children and display affection.
As a little girl aged 6 or 7, I remember lying in bed, under the covers, tucked in as tight as possible, surrounded by my stuffed animals, and praying that Mary Poppins would just come adopt me. I loved my mom, of course I did, but I was jealous of my friends who got seemingly endless attention and affection. I was afraid of authority for years and always felt awkward at friends' houses. They didn't have to ask before opening the fridge or getting a snack out of the cupboard. We had no snacks, except saltine crackers. For all those years, the only snack was saltine crackers and even those, we only ate when he was at work.
We would get off the bus just before 3:00, and he would be home at about 3:10. We had 10 minutes to run around, play, laugh, do cartwheels, and whatever else we wanted to do before he got home. The garage door would open and we'd scatter off to our rooms, not to be seen until suppertime. Supper was interesting. My parents ate in the dining room but we were not allowed out there (carpeting, you know, is more important than a quality family dinner spent around the table), so the kids ate in the kitchen. What a sad sight that was. There were three barstools at the counter, then a place at the desk (where I sat), and another small table (where my sister would sit, with her back facing the boys). We ate in silence, always making sure to clean our plates. I dreaded the days when bread was part of the meal. You see, when I was about 4 or 5, I was eating a hamburger and suddenly realized I had too much bread in my mouth and it started getting all mushy and disgusting so I spit it out. My dad then force-fed me and made me swallow it down, all the while with me crying. From that point on, I could not eat bread without gagging. I begged to have my hamburger plain -- I'd just dip it in ketchup, I said. "No. What do you think you are, a dog? You gonna eat like a dog?! You will EAT the bread", he said. Well, I didn't want to eat the bread. I was 8 or 9 when he shoved the bun down my throat until I gagged, pouring milk to "help it down". After that, I would just sneak the bread into my hand and flush it down the toilet, otherwise, if my mom came to the kitchen, I'd sneak it into her hand and she'd hide it for me. This went on for years. I didn't touch another bun/bread until I was 18 years old and out of the house, and even now, I still cannot eat it plain. I'm 30 years old and this still affects me.
When I was in 5th or 6th grade, my mom was not home and my brother and I were sitting on the couch, just joking around (you know, like kids do). Dad came home from work and said, "you kids fighting?? Here, you think it's fun?" Then he threw me across the living room (10 feet or more?) and threw my brother, who landed on top of me, and then started banging our heads together saying, "fight! fight, if it's so much fun!"
When we were in public, he would talk to us like we were such wonderful kids. It was all an act. All an act to prove to all of his friends that he was a fucking awesome dad when he was anything but. He'd put his arm around my mom's waist and say, "isn't she lovely? My lovely wife? She's so great", and he'd kiss her. My stomach would turn, knowing that on the way home, he'd call her a whore and tell her that she was after his friends or some bullshit like that. He'd drive like a maniac, swerving and speeding while we held onto our seats and prayed we'd get home safely.
Kids forgive. That's what we did. He'd beat us up or say something horrible and in that moment, we would hate him so much that we would wish him dead. But after we had a good cry, we'd forgive him and hope that maybe that was the last time. Maybe he'd come around and tell us he loved us. Maybe a miracle would happen and he'd see the light.
But he never did.
We all just lived for the moments of happiness in between the bad days. It wasn't worth trying to fight him; after all, he bragged that he could bench-press 350 pounds. He was very good at not leaving marks in visible places, so nobody would notice. We were never brave enough to call the police. I once got as far as picking up the phone and threatening to dial when he was beating up my mom, but he yelled at me that I was so stupid, and I thought about it for a second, agreeing that I was, before hanging it up. This is why there were no records -- no evidence -- nothing to prove that any of this happened. But we all know it did. The bruises on our bodies may have faded, but the ones on our minds have not. The police did not believe my mother -- this was a small town with cops with a "good ol' boys" mentality, and my mom eventually moved after the Chief of Police testified on my dad's behalf, saying what a wonderful guy he was -- the judge dropped the restraining order and my mom no longer felt safe living over there.
This is just my perspective. My four siblings will tell you similar stories. It was even worse for my mom. I am so glad she got out and is able to live a normal life. I am over all this, and nobody would know it looking at me, I don't think. I am always positive, always happy, happier than most people I know who had far brighter upbringings. I think it's because when I was a little girl, I just decided that I hated him and that he didn't matter. There was always something to look forward to, so I did just that (I still live my life looking forward to the weekends, or to the next holiday, or to someone's social event -- it doesn't matter what it is).
Now that I'm a mother, I am a different person. I don't remember the "me" that was before who I am today. My family means the world to me, and I love providing them with a safe and happy home. I will enjoy seeing them do things that are fun. They will not have to walk on eggshells or be silent and not seen. My children will not know what it's like to be unwanted and unloved.
For the record, this is not a sympathy post in the least -- it always bugged me when people tried to feel sorry for me. It's more like, I need to deal with these feelings once in awhile and my blog is a good place to do that. Every once in awhile, I feel guilty that my dad has two grandkids he has never met, but I need to remember what he did to us. He really doesn't deserve any of us.
I apologize that this is long and somewhat disorganized. I am not very good at organizing my thoughts when it comes to THIS part of my life, the part that is in the past -- the part I should forget but cannot because it reminds me of the fact that what I have today is so wonderful.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
He said, "spilled syrup on rug". I said, "oh, it's okay -- I'm sure it was an accident". He said, "accidents happen".
Then he pointed to his sockless feet and said, "Squeaky peed on floor". And I said, "so you stepped in it?" "Yes", he said.
Then he wrapped up the conversation with, "Spilled syrup on rug . . . Squeaky peed on floor -- lots of things for Mom to get mad". I just smiled and told him I wasn't mad.
Some days are harder to come back to work. As I was putting my jacket on to go back, he grabbed my hand and said, "No, Mom, don't go back to work. Play with me!" I picked him up and hugged and kissed him but he didn't want to let go of my hand. "Hold my hand, Mom!" I told him I'd be home at 1:00 and at 4:00 for good, so we can play later.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
My mom made this costume for Andrew. After the initial fear of putting it on because it was "too scary", he very much enjoyed wearing his costume.
I told him to "show me scary", and this is what I got.
Guess he is more Casper the Friendly Ghost than anything scary.
And here is my little calf . . .
She loves my mom's dog. If she could wag that tail in excitement, she would. ;)
We had a nice Halloween. We handed out candy at our house for about an hour before heading over to my mom's house. We took the kids around her neighborhood and after the first house, Andrew got the hang of what was going on and ran to the next house to ring the doorbell. He would always say, "thank you", and when they would say, "you're welcome", he'd yell, "you're welcome, too!" over his shoulder as he ran to the next house. It was very cute and he was just adorable in his costume. Elise just enjoyed walking with us and it's funny because she's at that age where she really doesn't understand, so it's cute because she probably just thinks that was just another outfit I put on her and it's just a random day where we go outside. I love the innocent obliviousness of babyhood.
Monday, November 1, 2010
I decided to do something about it. I picked up some CD/DVD books with the sleeves -- 2 of them, because each of them holds over 100 (105, I think?). I took all the DVDs out of the cases and filled these binders up. I put all the romantic comedies, comedies, and dramas into one of them and all the "kid movies" in the other. I did have to combine some other movies in the second one because the other one actually filled up (that does kind-of bug me that it worked out that way, but I will survive).
I put all the cases in the basement, even though the hubby said we should just toss them. The Type A in me can't do that, because if I am going to loan out any of the DVDs, which I commonly do, I need to put them in the cases.
The only thing I left out of the binders were all of the Seinfeld seasons because the discs themselves are non-descript so I just thought having 9 seasons' worth in there would be a little much. Plus, the seasons do make a nice arrangement on the top shelf, and they add color. But the rest of my DVDs are now neatly arranged into two DVD binders and that makes my life a whole lot more organized. And when guests come over, they don't see a huge mess.
Messes really stress me and if I can sit at work and know that something is clean at home, it makes my day a whole lot better. I am hoping some of you understand my sickness.