Saturday, June 28, 2014

BubbleBum Review and Giveaway!



When it comes to a tight fit or traveling, carseats tend to fail. Most of them are bulky and heavy, making it difficult to use every seat in a vehicle, or to even use some vehicles at all.

I have the same frustration as many others. With a Frontier 85 and Radian XTSL in the 3rd row of my minivan, I was unable to find a booster that fit between the two so that my little sister could safely ride with us. Everything was too wide.

So, I was excited to learn about The BubbleBum, an inflatable booster that stores in a bag. I looked it over and quickly ascertained that it's a real, tried and true booster seat, made of high quality materials and smartly designed. This is not a redneck hack. This is a very well thought out answer to a long standing space problem.

But, whenever I discussed this creative product, parents around me would express fear or dismissal. They heard the word, "inflatable" and instantly decided it was cheap and unreliable. I think the novelty of this technology drives some people away, and that's why I decided to specifically review this product and to offer a giveaway on my blog. I want parents to take a few minutes to learn about this option, because a properly fitting booster is much, much safer in that tough spot in your car than no booster at all.



This FMVSS213 approved device (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) has passed the same safety standards as other boosters. It has also been tested through the deflation process and passed as well. So for the parents who are immediately worried about this booster being damaged and deflating, the researchers prepared for that and tested for that.

It arrives in a bag about the size of a medium cloth diaper wetbag with a belt positioner and manual. It has a drawstring to close it. Thankfully, it's very simple to inflate and deflate. This is not a magical folding puzzle, like when you open a tent and spend an hour fitting it into the bag just right lol! When you're finished using The BubbleBum, you just squish it in half and shove it back into the bag. The bag can then go right into a large backpack, suitcase, under the vehicle seat, in a coat closet, etc.

When you're ready to use it, you simply pull it out, twist the black valve, and blow to inflate. It only takes a few blows. Then you twist the valve closed. Connect the shoulder belt positioner, thread the vehicle belt through the clear, red guides and you're ready to roll. These red guides seemed pesky to me at first, but when using it in the tight 3rd row, I realized they were much better than the bulky arms of a conventional booster as I had to jam my hand down between carseats to buckle the booster.

You could potentially leave this seat partially threaded through the guides to use again and again. I think for younger children or in really tight spots, threading the belt through will be difficult. (Then again, a very young child really shouldn't be in a backless booster anyways.)

The BubbleBum isn't magical, and it still needs to be threaded, but it is quite the problem solver for tight fits and traveling. If you're looking for a way to make that split seat, smart seat or middle seat accessible without sacrificing safety, this is the product for you. And if you want something that you can shove in the diaper bag to take for the taxi, Grandma's car, or keep under the seat for that extra passenger, this is it.

Testing Experience


I tested the neon pink BubbleBum as pictured above. I used this seat in three vehicles with three different children. For privacy purposes, only my own child is shown here. I tested in a 2013 GMC Acadia with a 10 year old, 76 pound, 52 inch child. I tested in a 2009 Subaru Outback with a 7 year old, 51 pound, 47 inch child. And I tested my 2004 Honda Odyssey with my 5 year old, 45 pound, 46 inch child.

Feedback from the children:

"I like the squishy feeling. It's softer than the [vehicle] seat."
"Cool, it's not even a booster!" Translation: it's cool enough for Mr. I Hate Little Kid Carseats.
"I like the red holders because they keep the belt from hurting my tummy." Mommy LOVES that part, too!
"I need help!" They did all need help. With time, some children can use this independently. The assistance issue was something I'm willing to put up with for the ability to safely transport, though. The thing is, no matter what goes into a hard spot, assistance is probably needed to get hands down between the seats for the buckle.





The BubbleBum is definitely on my list as a firm recommendation for trouble spots in vehicles and for travelling. It could also be useful for older children who reject boosters and for children with sensory issues who would find the softer seat more appealing.

Please remember to use backless boosters responsibly. Always ensure the vehicle belt is on the thighs, not stomach, and in the middle of the shoulder, not falling off or against the neck. Ensure the child is old enough and heavy/tall enough to meet the minimums and that there is an available headrest. And teach the child to sit correctly in the seat at all times.

Where to buy: The BubbleBum is available at some large retailers such as Walmart and Target. You can also find it on Amazon. Visit their store locator here for more options.

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OMG! OMG! It fits! WOOOT! LOL.


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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Get those filthy, unvaccinated kids away from my kids!

I think I’ve pieced something together based on an observation I had recently.

 Recall that common response in the vaccine debate where parents promote vaccination by saying, “Your unvaccinated kids are going to spread disease to others!” Similar statements include, “Your dirty, unvaccinated kids are going to get mine sick!” And, “Keep your germy kids away from mine!”

Setting aside the stunningly obvious issue of their children being vaccinated and therefore theoretically protected, and setting aside the super duper stunningly obvious issue of our country maintaining herd immunity thresholds long enough to theoretically eradicate disease so that the few vaccine free people shouldn't have it,  I’ve always been a little confused by this particular talking point.

I was raised in a family where if you were sick, you rested up, cleaned up your diet if applicable and focused on healing your body at home until well. We didn’t take medications to obscure or repress symptoms unless necessary for pain management. My mom didn’t “treat” a fever simply because it was a fever. She didn't try to combat the body, working against it by filling it with OTC meds routinely. We certainly weren’t dragged out into public or to hospitals and doctor offices while actively sick.

So, it took me until recently, as a mother in a peer group, to finally realize where this vaccination-disease-paranoia is coming from and why it persists. Here's what happened. A mom was holding her crying, sick child, squirting a dropper full of infant-version OTC meds down her throat. She looked up at me and said her daughter would be really unhappy if she didn't make it to this event and she had to go pick up her other child at camp.

When I saw this mom intentionally medicating her sick child so that she could attend a social event without looking sick, my mind flashed through all of it…the marketing, the products, the shelves filled with bottles and pills at the store…suddenly I realized what I had been missing all this time.

Parents today deliberately purchase products and give them to their sick children to disguise their illnesses. They deliberately medicate their children to hide the disease so that they can purposefully put their children into public places: school, daycare, camp, birthday parties, etc. Parents hide the signs of disease in their children, knowingly exposing other children to disease.

And those parents who do this are paranoid. They think parents who decline vaccination will try to “hide” measles, or chickenpox, or flu, or whatever. They think that when a vaccine-free child starts a fever, or starts to cough, or gets a rash, the parents will dope them up and send them back out to infect all the vaccinated children [who are somehow still at risk but that's another topic.]

They think if my kiddo gets sick, I will pump him full of dyed chemicals and shove him out onto a playground or into a classroom so all the other fully vaccinated children are exposed to the skeery disease. They force their sick children to do this, so they are terrified of it happening to them.

As the adage says, the liar is always paranoid of being lied to by others.

Despite being fully vaccinated on schedule, these children seem to get sick,
a lot. And their parents medicate them to put them back into the public sphere
so that we can all be unknowingly exposed to their diseases. You'd think there'd
be a national outcry or something. 

Discussion Notes on Toddler Hitting, Repressed Emotions, Boundaries

These are some notes from a parenting group that I'm tossing up here to save for future threads and in the hope that they might benefit others. The notes touch on normal hitting stages, setting boundaries instead of evading toddler hitting, repressed negative emotions, reconnecting to release emotions, and the normalcy of experiencing negative emotions and negative behavior even in a non-violent home.

Although some slapping and head butting are fairly normal by about age 1 and most children go through a brief biting phase around age 2, it is age 3 that can present a critical stage of using limbs on other people. The time is filled with slapping, shoving, hitting, pushing, etc. They have learned that their bodies can exert influence on other bodies, but their impulse control and social skills still need development. This slowly continues to age 4 where it tends to turn into an emotional battle instead of physical. (Age 4 is often all about saying "I hate you" and pushing relationship limits to learn about love.)

Saying that a behavior is normally expected or part of a developmental stage is not condoning permissiveness. When it comes to harming others, it's important to understand why the child is doing it and how to best help the child without adding to the hurt, but simply ignoring the situation will deprive the child of necessary life skills to move past the stage successfully. If you can equip your child with skills on processing emotions and on healthy social behavior, you'll pave the way for a happy, self-actualized life where he can interact with himself and others transparently and peacefully. Additionally, using shaming and punishing techniques frequently might add a twist of pathology to the situation that stays with the child for life.

For young children attempting to hurt others, the key is to prevent the hitting when possible (e.g. hold hands, stop the foot, hold the body away) and firmly say, "No _____." Then quickly address whatever the underlying issue is with brief, clear discussion. It's not a long winded lesson, it's a brief, tailored statement.

Examples:
"When you feel angry, then you can stomp your feet like this. We don't kick people."
"Pushing other people hurts them. If you want him to move, tell him to please move. Let's practice."
"I know you feel upset about leaving the park, but we don't others. Use your words and tell me how you feel. Let's work together on this problem."
"You're super excited, but you can't slap at people. Jump up and down! Show me how excited you are with jumps!"

Encouraging the development of healthy social interactions while discouraging the use of force requires patience and consistency. Some children are able to catch on sooner, especially if their verbal development happens sooner or their personality is calmer. Other children will require many reminders and lots of social work, especially if social anxiety or verbal delays are present. If you the parent feel frustrated, acknowledge that with other parents, but work on keeping it safe and calm when it comes to guiding your child, over and over and over and over.

If you feel yourself losing control, take a parent time out as long as your child isn't in any danger. Step away, calm down. Get a drink. Eat a piece of chocolate. Walk to the mailbox and get the mail. Just a little change can help you regain emotional clarity and patience.

That's not to be confused with the evasive behaviors parents sometimes fall into when their young children are hitting, kicking, biting, spitting at them, etc. Trying to ignore it or somewhat feebly flapping your arm in their direction or letting it go on blurs boundaries and expectations. Walking away and ignoring the child (outside of times when you must have a parent time out) also deprives the child of discipline. Remember, although people tend to use the word discipline to describe punishment, discipline is about self-mastery and learning and is a practice that needs to be in the gentle parenting method.

If someone is hurting you, it's good to stop them if possible, and I want to communicate this concept to my kids. So, if one of my kids hits/kicks/bites/slaps, whatever at me, I try to stop the behavior immediately. Restrain them firmly but gently, get down to their level, make eye contact and talk to them in a brief, clear way. "No. That hurts me. I don't like it when you hit me. Please stop now. I will not let you hurt me. What is wrong? What do you need? Use your words." This is a good option for siblings hurting each other, too. "No, I will not let you hurt your brother. I know he took your toy, but we don't hit people to get back toys. Look him in the eyes and ask for your toy back." Getting the confidence, boundaries, and assertion skills right at this age will help your children to succeed through later milestones.

The process of restraining is not for intimidation or punishment, nor is it intended to harm the child. Just as you would hold the hand or stop the foot of another person trying to attack you, convey this to your children as well. It's not okay to hurt others and people have a right to stop force. It provides a point of physical contact that can often bring children out of the moment so they are ready to listen. And it gets you near them, down to their level, making eye contact and working in the situation as opposed to "armchair parenting."

Sometimes the child will laugh and resist your guidance or try to ignore that you are changing the tune of the interaction by starting over again. Laughing and continuing could mean a few things so you have to discern what your child needs in that moment to resolve it.

One important thing to note is that laughter is often mistaken for defiance when it is more likely to indicate embarrassment, insecurity, and negative self-feelings. I see a lot of laughter in toddlers who are developed enough to understand they are hurting someone but not developed enough to control impulse.

DS2 (age 2) is in this stage right now. He has developed a way of indicating his impulse by saying, "It was an accident." He will also become sad in these cases. For example, he might hit someone and then cry because he did not WANT to hit the person, but hasn't developed enough skills yet to control it and to choose something else in the heat of the moment.

Some kids turn this stage completely inwardly, hitting themselves, pulling their hair, head banging, biting their arms, or hiding. These behaviors can and most likely will happen in any household, including non-violent homes. They are not exclusive indicators of fear of punishment, but typically a sign of frustration, disappointment, shame, or any other mix of normal emotions that all people feel at some time.

When you hear laughter, it is a sign that physical re-connection is necessary. Let's use an example. Say your 3 year old walks up behind you and just silently kicks you in the legs. You turn around, get down to her level, make eye contact and say, "We don't kick people. Please use your words and tell me what you need." She laughs, backs up to get away from your connecting cues and then darts in to kick or hit you again. She refuses to make eye contact or ducks her head as if she's about to cry, but to others it looks like she's being stubborn, "bratty" or defiant.

Each person is different when it comes to handling failure, embarrassment, or mistakes. Some people will make facial expressions more classic to this situation, that most of us recognize as "embarrassed." Some people hide their faces or leave the situation quickly. Others pretend nothing happened, or outright deny events. Some people cry. Some people get belligerent. And, if you think about it, there are people who laugh, whether for acceptance or deflection. This is true for little people, too.

Also, I want to emphasize that just as kids can hit even in a non-violent home, they can and will experience the full spectrum of human emotions, including the negative and uncomfortable ones. In a household without shaming or punishing, children will still experience these normal human emotions and they still need parental guidance and boundaries to learn normal social interactions.

So when you see this conflicting behavior of laughing and attacking, prioritize these interactions. It means the child has something underlying that she cannot handle. Perhaps she doesn't understand it. Perhaps it feels new, big, or scary. Perhaps she has no verbal definition for it or doesn't know the accepted social cues for it. And ultimately, she might feel you don't know what's happening or don't understand her.

Stop everything. Sit down with your child and have a "time-in" where you spend several minutes re-connecting. Don't keep going on and on about the altercation. This isn't a longwinded lesson. Make sure you don't fall into the temptation to hold your child hostage for a verbal punishment. Just hold your child close and provide whatever gesture you know he appreciates. Stroking hair. Singing a silly song. Holding hands. Breastfeeding. Whatever is most comforting, do that for a minute or two.

As the child stops the violent behavior, begin asking simple questions to start to pinpoint what caused the altercation. If you do this method regularly, it is easier to figure it out as the child is more likely to begin stating needs. "I'm hungry." "I need you to hold me."

If you haven't done this pattern before, you will probably go through some stages and might need to do this several times throughout your daily routine. Resistance, anger, and then the true, hidden emotion will finally come out. You might hear something frightening or depressing. "You hate me!" "No one loves me!" "I'm so angry I want to kill my friend!" Whatever it is...this is all about finally getting to the real emotion, so let him get it out, acknowledge it, and be there to prove that you are a safe place for sharing. Once things die down to a sniffle, you can then reiterate no hitting and quickly put your resolution in place. "Hitting hurts my heart and my body. Next time, please tap me like this. Give it a try."

Things will not change quickly if the child has been habitually using force to communicate. My general rule of thumb is an equal time of healing for the time it was used. So, for example, if your daughter was used to smacking you when she was unhappy and that has continued for 2 months, expect constant practice of the new methods for at least 2 months before seeing improvement. I say this not to sound discouraging but merely to provide a realistic timeline and to emphasize how important it is to spend time consistently creating new habits.

Habits are hard at any stage of life, so for a child new to the world with a limited vocabulary and rudimentary social skills, habits become a foundation. As with any habit, it's all about stopping the hurtful one and replacing it really consistently with a healthier option. This is especially vital for little kids because they are using habits as life skills. An unpleasant behavior *to the best of their knowledge and ability* is meeting a need, communicating, interacting, getting them something. To our adult eyes, it might seem fruitless or counterproductive, but to them, it might be the only thing they know how to do and they might view it on par with survival.

Figuring out what's going on underneath the surface is what will give you the key to resolving conflicts with your children. Everyone tends to act poorly when they feel poorly. Be that physically or emotionally. If you can see what's happening internally, you can acknowledge it, help resolve it and guide them on skill building to handle those emotions, leading to successful situations as they get older.


Related on the blog:

Seeing your child in a positive light

Spanking Resources

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tandem Nursing and Post-Partum Trouble

© Bess

Bess shares valuable insight about the potential for complications in the bonding process after birth due to hormonal imbalances. She shines light on an area that's hard to discuss due to the rarity of tandem nursing and the stigma of post-partum struggling.


When my firstborn, a daughter, was 10 months old, I got pregnant with her little sister. I was thrilled and dove right into research on tandem breastfeeding, where you breastfeed both children instead of weaning the older one.

I continued to breastfeed and cosleep with my daughter through my entire pregnancy. When she was 19 months old, I gave birth, a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section) to her baby sister. I didn't realize it in the moment, but my hormones went haywire at that time.

I didn't know what was wrong with me. I'd feel strong anger. Not at the new baby as some women report. Rather, at my firstborn. When just before the birth of my second daughter I couldn't see my oldest as anything but a sweet baby, my postpartum state made it nearly impossible for me to identify that she was still little!

The months that followed were really rough. Every time I nursed my oldest, I felt my anger rising. I felt like a ticking bomb. I couldn't stand having her on me. And she sensed it because she would just cautiously watch me and nursing became high stress for her. After 3 months of tandem nursing, I weaned my eldest cold turkey.

She never asked to nurse again after only one time of telling her it wasn't time. She was only 21 months old and by that time, I had become so hardened and unattached, it was as if she wasn't even my child. I cried every night because I didn't know how to fix it and was mad at my body for destroying my relationship with my daughter.

Once she weaned, things did slowly start to get better. And we slowly began to mend our relationship. Now, she is 5 years old and you would never know that went through such a rough patch. I found out that I had been suffering with a postpartum mood disorder, combined with a pre-existing anxiety disorder with mild depression.

Later on, when I was preparing to birth my third daughter, when my second was only 23 months old, I was terrified it would all happen again. Thankfully though, my hormone fluctuations were milder. I had my placenta encapsulated, which really helped during moments where I did start to feel myself flooded by hormones and being overtaken by motherhood with 3 young kids.

When I look back at photos of my oldest daughter during that time, my heart breaks. She was a baby in every way shape and form. She needed her mom. The entire experience has made me realize just how much hormones can effect us and our families. Now my girls are 5,4, and 2 years old. I have wonderful relationships with all of them and adore being their mommy.



Resources

Tandem Nursing Articles

Post Partum Support

Saturday, June 21, 2014

If you have MTHFR, put DOWN that glass of wine!

I just wanted to give a basic summary to my friends out there both WOMEN AND MEN who might be dealing with genetic polymorphisms, most notably MTHFR defects. I was researching Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) after Dawn mentioned the crude facial features commonly noted with it and realized there had to be an epigenetic aspect to this issue.

Sure enough, I found this article, which specifically focused on epigenetics and fetal alcohol exposure. The researchers provide discussion about mutations and how they might be encouraging damage from alcohol exposure. It's also important to note that the researchers found alcohol exposure during the pre-conception stage and the implantation stage can cause damage to the baby, too.

Not only did researchers confirm that alcohol use in women leads to birth defects. They've also found the same for men. The most recent study notes:

" Studies have shown that
paternal alcohol consumption has epigenetic
effects on sperm DNA, suggesting a role in the
development of congenital disorders in offspring.
Up to 75% of children with FASD have
biological fathers who are alcoholics, suggesting
that preconceptional paternal alcohol consumption
negatively impacts their offspring
[36]. It has been shown that teratogens such as
alcohol significantly reduce the activity of DNA
methyltransferases, leading to increased CG
hypomethylation and subsequent activation of
normally silenced genes [37]. Chronic paternal
alcohol consumption alone hypomethylates his offspring’s genes even in the absence of maternal
alcohol consumption before or during pregnancy
[36, 37]. This epigenetic hypomethylation
alters gene expression dosages required
for normal prenatal development, resulting in
offspring with characteristic symptoms of
FASDs [37]. Here we examine the effects of
paternal alcohol consumption on the prevalence
and symptoms of FASDs and related congenital
defects" (You can read the full PDF of the review here.)

Also, based on the similar issues of polymorphisms combined with other environmental assaults such as toxins, chemicals, heavy metals, etc, it seems that FASD is yet another syndrome to place under the umbrella of polymorphisms. Meaning, similar to the way someone with certain epigenetic markers is predisposed to mitochondrial damage and might show mito disease after vaccination, someone with certain epigenetic markers who consumes a little alcohol during key developmental times in the womb might cause or worsen FASD. Alcohol (ethanol) then, is the toxin, yes. But, it's the mother and her baby with polymorphisms like MTHFR that are especially sensitive to the toxin, more than the average population.

I also researched the nutritional mechanism behind FASD and sure enough, found this study, which looks at... (SURPRISE) Vitamin A, folate, and choline as three nutrients that can prevent or lessen FASD. For those in the epigenetic field, you recognize right away that these are the 3 common MTHFR deficiencies.

Based on the available medical literature, any woman preparing to conceive or already pregnant who has or suspects she has a polymorphism or suspects that the father contributed a polymorphism to the baby might want to consider avoiding ALL alcohol sources and research ways to ensure adequate levels of vitamin A, vitamin B9, and choline.

Another topic not addressed in the medical literature I found: breastfeeding. Will exposure to minute amounts of alcohol from breastfeeding cause problems for babies with genetic polymorphisms? This is a theory that needs its own blog post and scientific research. It is reasonable to speculate that alcohol consumed by a baby with genetic issues might cause additional neurological damage! In the meantime, I mention it here to give parents a heads up so they can think about it and decide on their own.

Also, based on the findings in the medical literature, I would encourage women to proceed with extreme caution when it comes to mildly alcoholic beverages, that might or might not contain varying levels of alcohol such as fermented juices and kombucha. Whether or not these beverages contain enough to cause damage is not even speculated in the medical literature, but depending on the severity of your epigenetic issue and other factors, you might decide that the risk is too great.

If you're reading this and trying to figure it all out, here's a take away list:

1. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder includes a variety of congenital defects, both physical and neurobehavioral, severe and mild, even misdiagnosed or overlooked. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is not simply the most severe form that people are familiar with from headlines.

2. Based on your genetics and your baby's genetics, your baby might be highly sensitive to the damage from alcohol exposure. So, it's not that FASD is caused by "bad mothers" getting drunk every night. Someone who sips a small amount infrequently might have a genetic weakness that amplifies the danger of alcohol.

3. This sensitivity to damage is set in motion before conception and during implantation. Those trying to conceive or preparing for a baby with potential genetic polymorphisms might want to strongly consider eradicating alcohol sources even before conception.

4. Vitamin A, folate (NOT FOLIC ACID), and choline are three nutrients that can help prevent damage or heal some of it if damage has occurred. These nutrients are vital whether that damage is from alcohol exposure or other toxins in the environment in combination with polymorphisms.

5. For vitamin A, consider Fermented Cod Liver Oil from Green Pastures. (Encapsulated with butter oil might be the best form for pregnancy because it does taste bad.) Remember that some women with MTHFR complications, a history of PPH, or women on blood thinners should be careful with DHA/EPA as it can prevent clotting. Read this for more info and use a different source of vitamin A if you cannot take DHA/EPA!

6. For folate (b9), remember that many food sources contain b9 such as most green vegetables, beans, meats, etc. BUT if you suspect MTHFR polymorphisms, synthetic folic acid could hinder your b9 intake and cause more problems. Avoid synthetic folic acid! Also, if your MTHFR polymorphisms are severe, you might not even be able to process natural folate and might need an already converted form, often called 5mthf or "bioavailable" b9. Talk with someone educated on this topic for individual recommendations.

7. Choline can be obtained through eggs. Lecithin, the precursor, incidentally, is associated with decreased pelvic and sciatic pains during pregnancy. It's part of my pain-eradication program listed here. If you get unbearable back, pelvic, pubic, or leg pain during pregnancy, this could be a sign of choline deficiency.

Hopefully you found this information helpful. If you have any questions or additional medical literature, please contact me or comment to expand on the topic! Remember to talk with a care provider who is informed about epigenetics and polymorphisms so that she or he can individually assist you. The above information is just a heads up to my fellow polymorphism parents, since the alcohol issue is controversial and typically doesn't include special consideration for those with genetic differences.


Notice that many of the facial features for FAS are also related to genetic polymorphisms.
I would suspect the thin upper lip could be influenced by upper maxillary labial ties, too.
Other physical signs might include a boxy or indented rib cage, webbed or partially webbed digits,
sacral dimples, tongue ties, foreskin defects, a large gap between the big toe and 2nd toe, enamel hypoplasia, etc. Genetic testing might be prudent if your child shows any of these signs. 



Friday, June 20, 2014

The War that Never Ended


The War that Never Ended
            Most people are taught that Americans slowly came out of their isolationism in the 1930s and ended up joining the fight in the second World War, eventually ending years of blood and violence with an ultimate act of attack. Ask any American and he or she will quickly tell you that our country is at a fair level of peace and that the World Wars ended, guiding us into not only a baby boom, but also a higher level of prosperity. In many ways, our entire population is in denial as to the effects and long term influence of going to war. We are, summarily, still stuck in a post-war period without healing in sight.

            The elite, the scientists, the followers of Hitler’s regime in that time, instead of surrendering in Germany, appear to have simply crawled over to our country and slowly influenced the values and behaviors of our population to this day. A popular point of contention in this topic is Margaret Sanger’s American Birth Control League, which she founded in 1921. This league included prominent members of euthanasia and eugenics groups, and was focused on passing laws in America to restrict the sexual freedoms of races or individuals deemed unfit to have children. The American Birth Control League was later changed to the name we now recognize today, Planned Parenthood

In 1938, The Montreal Gazette printed a list of prominent scientists and researchers of the time who were expanding the league to include euthanasia:

Mrs. F. Robertson Jones, honorary president of the American Birth Control League. Dr. Clarence Cook Little, managing director of the American Society for the Control of Cancer. Dr. George H. Parker, professor of zoology in Harvard University (Montreal Gazette, 19).

The cold, clinical science of the time rolled right into the industrial mindset, the two becoming a force against nature and gripping every part of our culture. We met it with open arms, indeed, it was an integral part of our fighting, unleashing plane upon plane into battle and putting every citizen to work. But, once the last bomb had dropped and the last soldiers lie prone on the ground in surrender, our assembly-line detachment towards other human beings had only just begun. 

With the Baby Boom spreading across the country, doctors and hospitals hurriedly turned the medical field into a cold and efficient industry. Women rushed out of their homes to work during the war and now men rushed in to an area that up to this time in history was almost exclusively reserved for females. Judith Rooks, in her book, Midwifery and Childbirth in America, points out the change:

Early in this century American obstetrics became committed to a path that has led to a highly medicalized approach to the care of women during pregnancy…robbing many women and their loved ones of a powerful, potentially life-enhancing experience. Highly medicalized pregnancy care is based on a view of pregnancy that focuses on its potential for pathology (Rooks 1).

Just as factories had taken raw materials and pieced together planes and ammo for the war in a speedy, efficient manner, doctors were now lining women up and delivering babies as if creating products on a tight deadline. And it took some marketing to persuade women to abandon their private homebirths and move into the assembly lines at the hospitals.

First, midwives and doulas needed to be discredited and scorned to restrict women’s choices and have women turn to the hospitals more readily. This was easy enough to do with carefully placed smear campaigns, utilizing the immigration politics and racism of that time. Keith, Reynolds and Brennan explored the use of photography to manipulate feelings about midwifery and physicians in their article, In Defense of Lay Midwifery: The Visual Culture of Midwife Education. 

The authors analyze one such photo, pointing out that the midwives were positioned in a particular way around state officials to portray a certain hierarchy of authority. In addition to tearing down the authority of midwives and the population’s trust in them, these and similar images, “also work to convince physicians that midwives pose no threat to the advancement of obstetric medicine (Keith, Reynolds, Brennan 2013).” War no longer involved Allies and Nazi soldiers, but had moved to the battle ground of wombs.

            While pushing a heavy campaign to change public opinion on care providers, the scientific approach leftover from the wars became the primary obstetrical behavior towards birth. Women were viewed as obstacles at best, tied to their hospital beds and blinded with head wraps for days, suffering on the Nazi invented Twilight drug. Medical interventions were used before establishing safety and effect on the mother and baby, resulting in several historical embarrassments. 

             For example, obstetricians began using x-ray technology on pregnant women to view inside the womb, unaware of the long-term detriments of this intervention. A drug called Thalidomide, derived from a chemical used for war crimes during the Holocaust, is heralded as the worst drug scandal in our history. It was heavily promoted by Nazi doctor Heinrich Muckter and another Nazi, Otto Ambros, who was convicted for war crimes. Heinrich was given large monetary bonuses from the drug’s company, Grunenthal, to promote it as a morning-sickness relief drug despite knowing its potential for birth defects. 

            Grunenthal patented the drug in 1954 as a sedative, claiming it was safe for pregnant women. Thousands of stillbirths and severely deformed babies resulted. The scandal sounds old, yet it was only in 2012 that the head of Grunenthal made amends, offering only a public apology, something Thalidomide survivors found offensively paltry. As Geoff Adams-Spink says, “Thalidomide has deprived us of the lives we should have had and many more of any life at all (Adams-Spink 2012).”

            The desire to innovate and intervene before considering the humanity and safety of the mother and child has continued to this day. Similar to a stealth battalion invading foreign ground for the upper hand, surgeons today speak of “going in to remove it” from the womb, extracting babies in a needlessly rough and detached way, without scientific evidence to prove the benefits of their methods and despite some scientific evidence pointing to great harm. 

            Cesarean surgery skyrocketed and continues to climb, posing increased risk of morbidity and mortality to the baby and mother. Inductions, which frame the birth in a controllable, timed context as opposed to waiting patiently or following the individual mother, are blamed for causing a 50% increase in c-sections and for increasing the risk of pre-term birth and birth injuries. The battleground in the womb has turned mother against child, using doctors as soldiers and medical instruments as weapons of war.
  
        Caution, patience and striving for humane standards fell to the side of the road as doctors donned their armor and entered the war in hospitals. As the American Medical Association boldly states:

In many U.S. hospitals today, the management of labor and delivery doesn’t look very evidence-based. Many well-intentioned obstetricians still employ technological interventions that are scientifically unsupported or that run counter to the evidence of what is safest for mother and child. They do so not because a well-informed pregnant woman has indicated her values contradict…They do so out of tradition, fear, and the (false) assumption that doing something is usually better than doing nothing (Sousa, Dreger 2013).

          Despite how Americans feel about previous wars, it’s clear that we as a society still need to acknowledge and process the experience of back to back war in our country, in addition to the ongoing wars in our current time. In some kind of twisted way, the trauma of war imbedded itself in the Baby Boom, carrying on the cycles of violence not out in a battlefield, but inside what should be the most peaceful and private area of our species.

            We must somehow address the overbearing themes of war and violence that took hold of the obstetrical industry before it is too late. Other developed countries have steadfastly improved their childbirth mortality and morbidity rates annually, while the U.S. stands alone in continuing to drop down the list. We are dead last for infants and mothers compared to our western counterparts. 

           The CIA ranks us at 136 out of 184 counted countries, meaning 135 other countries have better outcomes, horrifying, seeing as our country is in first place for amount of money spent on healthcare in the world. For the sake of our children and our country, it’s time for us to end the war.

Works Cited
"Move to Legalize "Mercy Killings"." Montreal Gazette, 17 Jan. 1938. Web. 1 May 2014. 

Rooks, Judith. Midwifery and Childbirth in America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997. Web.

Keith, Katherine, Marcia Brennan, and Preston Reynolds. "In Defense of Lay Midwifery: the Visual Culture of Midwife Education." University Of Virginia School Of Medicine, n.d. Web. 1 May 2014. 

Adams-Spink, Geoff. "Opinion: Why Thalidomide Apology Is Not Enough." CNN. 6 Sept. 2012. Web. 1 May 2014. 

Sousa, Aron C., and Alice Dreger. "The Difference Between Science and Technology in Birth." Virtual Mentor 15.9 (2013): . Web. 1 May 2014. 

"Maternal Mortality Rates." The World Factbook (2010): N. pag. Web. 1 May 2014.
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Are you strong enough to survive the cabbage diet?

Today, someone was telling her girlfriends about her new cabbage diet at the park and I couldn't help but overhear them all chatting about it. She said this was going to be the one. She said this was finally it, the change in her life, the diet that works, the thing that turns everything around for her.

Her voice faded away as I had a flashback to my college years, when I was working in a retail store with some other women. A very large, very dear coworker of mine was eager to show me her new method as she called it. She opened up the mini fridge in our back office and waved her hand dramatically over a tupperware bowl holding pale, soggy cabbage.

"They call it the cabbage diet," she told me. "You just stay on this for lunch and dinner and the pounds melt away. I so need this, Gug. I'm so done with where I am right now."  Her eyes had that misty look, the conviction and emotion raw and sincere.

I remember a lot going through my head at the time, but she was my friend and I cherished her dearly. So I nodded my head and told her she was super strong to follow a cabbage diet. Oh, how I wish I could go back to that moment! How I wish I could have put my hand on her shoulder, and looked into her eyes, and told her much more than "best wishes."

I would tell her that she is already strong. She doesn't need to be even stronger. She doesn't need to deprive her body MORE. She doesn't need to attack herself MORE. She has been through too much already.

I would tell her that the physical damage, the pain, and the excess body weight was a sign not of someone who is weak, but of someone who has been strong for too long.

I would tell her that as a mother wearing ALL the hats at home and at work and at school, she was already depriving herself of too much. I would tell her that her body was carrying weight not because of luxury, but because of grief, loss, and sacrifice.

I would tell her that I love her, and that because I love her, I won't say something fake about the hurting in her heart that was displayed on her body. Because I love her, I won't tell her she looks fine and should just accept her current state and learn to live with it.

Because I love her, I won't tell her that she should count her blessings or that she isn't "as fat" as others. I would tell her that because I love her, I fully support finding ways to nourish, to love, to heal, and to enjoy her body, so that she could finally be the receiver instead of be the one always giving.

I would tell her that she doesn't deserve punishment, but rather great rewards. I would tell her that what we call a "reward" when it comes to food is a lie. I would tell her to try a new vegetable, an exotic cut of meat, a colorful side dish with a yummy salsa. I would tell her to blend fresh fruit and pour it over a homemade icecream. I would tell her to feel those foods, to taste them, to sit down and slowly savor them, to open herself up to all that is good because SHE is good.

Mama friend...wherever you are...I'm sorry we lost touch. I'm sorry I didn't say the truth.

The truth is, your body was hurt, as was your heart. Your body reflected your experiences in life and the pain inside. The truth is, you had given to everyone, to children, to aging parents, to an abusive ex-husband, to your company, to your church, to your children's school fundraisers until you were alone and hurting and no one came back for you.

The truth is, you deserved a delicious, nutritious, satisfying, nourishing meal. I'm sorry I wasn't the one to tell you. Wherever you are, I hope with all my heart that you stumbled over this truth and have found ways to shed the pounds representing loss, fear, insecurity, loneliness, abandonment, and deprivation. I hope you are somewhere loving your body and nourishing it deeply. You deserve it.


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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You Sure Have Your Hands Full! Guest Post by Amanda

© 2014 Amanda Plouzek

I have four kids, ages five, three, two, and 20 weeks. They are two years apart, 16 months apart, and two years apart. And I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. Harder than I bargained for, harder than I considered.

I’ve had three in diapers at the same time a few times over now. It takes at least over an hour to get everyone ready to leave. Almost everything I do, I do four times in a row. Put shoes on, put shoes on, put shoes on, put shoes on (ok, socks for the baby). Wash, rinse, repeat. By the time I finish doing one thing, something else comes up that needs my attention.

If I’m nursing the baby, you can be sure the three year old needs something at the same time. I don’t go to the bathroom alone ever, I don’t have (much) time to read, I don’t usually get showers or even get dressed until later in the day. When I do get a shower, a fight will occur right at the moment I really can’t help.

The dishes are a non-stop mountain and the laundry could probably stretch around the world at least once. My two year old called four different people yesterday on my cell phone. It’s loud and chaotic and bustling here all the time. I’m not complaining. This is just life.

Recently, it’s dawned on me that somehow, some moms have gotten the impression that I have it all figured out, that I’m supermom, that I can do it all. This is not true and I want to dispel this myth. My husband works long hours and a good portion of his time is also spent on the commute to work and back. So for much of the daily work, I fly solo, although thankfully my husband jumps in to help when he is able.

I go through cycles, and at the present moment I am burnt out, worn out, exhausted, whatever you want to call it. How do I (usually) do it? I let things go. I (re-) organize. I breathe. I simplify (more). I re-evaluate priorities. I LAUGH. I pray. I cry. I ask for help; no shame, no guilt. I make time for self-care.

But mostly, I try to lean into life as it is happening NOW. I’m not always successful. I get frustrated and have to reel myself in and seek a different path for that day. Practically speaking, I focus on what is causing me stress, and I attempt to solve the problem. So, I keep clothes pared down to a few things so laundry isn’t too much, and I regularly go through toys and put some away to rediscover later or give them away.

I involve the children, asking them to help sort clothes, and they put away some of their own items (and they love helping). I recognize when we all need to get outside, or lie down, or snuggle on the couch. We live in a smaller house and utilize our space wisely. We are switching to a family closet soon.

I don’t cook elaborate meals regularly and I use a slow cooker and rice cooker often. But I will tell you I wouldn’t change it if given the chance. My kids have given me a chance to grow, to s-t-r-e-t-c-h myself, to learn important skills that I lack.

When I see my kids playing together, holding hands, or learning together, I am filled with such joy I wish I could take it out and box it up to share with others. Since they are close in age, they sometimes go through similar phases at similar times, which can be helpful and special. They teach each other skills without knowing it. They play together quite well. Having them close in age is difficult at times, no doubt about it, but it’s also wonderful.


Jesus, the Gentle Parent Review and Giveaway!


"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, 
so that we may receive mercy and 
find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16


I've had the honor of reading each of L.R. Knost's parenting books. She is an experienced, natural, homeschooling mother of six children, several of them now adults. So, she has been there, done that and she knows that peaceful, gentle parenting is something we can all have in our lives. Her advice in her previous 3 gentle parenting books is practical, simple, and sincere. 

So, I was extremely excited when she announced her newest book, Jesus, the Gentle Parent. As many child advocates know, religion is one of the biggest excuses used to promote punitive parenting, especially spanking and striking children in other ways. Cultural references to misinterpreted scriptural passages and long-standing perceptions about God and religion have led to a deep-seated belief that God wants us to harshly and strongly subdue our children.

Yet, nothing could be farther from the truth, and The Truth, the God of unconditional love, mercy, tenderness and forgiveness. In this book, L.R. Knost provides a clear and easy to understand analysis of the biblical concepts pointing us towards a non-punitive family. She gently breaks down passages, discussing Greek and Hebrew translations that were tangled up in our current language and culture.

This book isn't only valuable for the scriptural and historical information. She also includes a collection of techniques on firm, effective, loving parenting. As an experienced mother, she provides what many parents ask for as they begin their gentle parenting journey: Exactly WHAT do we do? And not only does she include tangible steps for early childhood, she also reaches all the way to young adulthood, providing plenty of ideas and exercises to address a myriad of parenting concerns.

If you have ever read God's word and felt conflicted, this book for you. If you're familiar with the biblical passages commanding you to punish your child, but have heard the Spirit whispering in your hear, this book is for you. If you're sure that non-violent parenting is the answer, but are worried your faith is at odds, this book is for you. It is a great aid to begin undoing any hardness of the heart and darkness of the mind, to equip you with God's tools of mercy, forgiveness, and above all: love.

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
 as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32




Best-selling parenting and children’s book author, L.R.Knost, is an independent child development researcher and founder and director of the advocacy and consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, as well as a monthly contributor to The Natural Parent Magazine. She is also a babywearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, homeschooling mother of six. Her children are a twenty-six-year-old married father of two; a twenty-four-year-old married Family Therapist working with at-risk children and families; a nineteen-year-old university pre-med student on scholarship; fifteen- and eight-year-old sweet, funny, socially active, homeschooled girls; and an adorable and active toddler.

Other works by award-winning author, L.R.Knost, include 'Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages,' 'Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood,' and 'The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline,' the first three books in the Little Hearts Handbook parenting guide series, as well as her children’s picture books, A Walk in the Clouds, the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series, and Petey’s Listening Ears, the first in the Wisdom for Little Hearts series, which are humorous and engaging tools for parents, teachers, and caregivers to use in implementing gentle parenting techniques in their homes and schools

L.R.Knost/Parenting and Children's Book Author Website: http://www.littleheartsbooks.com/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littleheartsbooks 
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lrknost/ 
Twitter: LRKnost_Author 
BUY Jesus, the Gentle Parent here: http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Gentle-Parent-Christian-Parenting/dp/0988995840 


GIVEAWAY TIME!

Now! Are you ready for a giveaway???! I would fully recommend buying any of her books, but who wouldn't want to get one for free? One lucky winner within the U.S. chosen by random.org with a valid email address listed will receive his or her choice of L.R. Knosts available books.

To enter, follow the rafflecopter instructions below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Famous Jews Make the Case for Intactivism


Famous Jews Make the Case for Intactivism 
Famous celebrities such as Rosanne Barr, Howard Stern, and Alicia Silverstone are breaking the mold as a new kind of Jewish Intactivist.

Alicia Silverstone, a Holistic and Jewish Intactivist.
Actress Alicia Silverstone is Jewish. She had a usual Jewish childhood going to Hebrew school three times a week and celebrated her Bat Mitzvah. Her family lit candles on Friday nights and celebrated important Jewish holidays. As a child she went to Temple Beth Jacob, a Reform synagogue in San Mateo, California. But she broke with tradition in an important way. She chose not to circumcise her son, Bear, who remains intact at three years of age.

As well as being a 
Jewish Intactivist and actor, Silverstone is a vegan activist, blogger, and writer on parenting issues. For Hanukkah this year, she released a vegan recipe for a Jewish holiday food on each of the eight days. The movie actress and parenting writer hasn't said if she chose a non-cutting welcoming ceremony like the well-popularized Brit Shalom, a new Jewish ceremony for Jews who choose to keep their sons intact. She has said that she chose to keep her son intact for medical, moral, and sexual reasons.

Celebrities are not the only Jews to begin questioning circumcision. These days more and more young Jewish parents are keeping their sons intact. This phenomenon has gained the attention of the 
New York Times and Jewish press. Jewish Intactivists are bloggingmaking religious cases for a shift in tradition, and are holding their own peaceful covenant blessings. Almost 200 Jewish leaders, mostly Rabbis and Cantors in the Reform and other progressive Jewish movements, are performing and celebrating such covenants.

Jewish Intactivists are 
active in Israel, where they are making their case in the mainstream mediaKahal is a community group for parents of intact sons in Israel. In the ten years since its founding more than 1,000, mostly Jewish parents have been members.    




Rosanne Barr, Jewish Grandmother and Intactivist
Talking about the state of someone’s foreskin is a delicate issue for some, but not for Rosanne Barr. The Jewish grandmother, comedian, and actress is known for being ahead of her time. From her bold feminism and advocacy for gay and lesbian rights, to running for president on the Peace and Freedom party, Barr is used to being on the forefront of social movements.
Rosanne has taught Kabbalah at Jewish women's retreats, and is active in many progressive Jewish activities. The actress is not known for subtlety. She has argued against circumcision with Rabbi Boteach on the radio. In 2012, Rosanne tweeted the following about circumcision: “It is a barbaric & backward cult mind control technique that produces ill effects in adults.”
Candid Intactivist: Jewish Shock Jock Howard Stern
Controversial shock jock Howard Stern is used to generating big attention with his frank talk about sexual body parts. Stern is Jewish and is an adamant Intactivist. As reported on BeyondtheBris, while talking with a leading Intactivist on his Sirus radio show, Stern said that “men should not be circumcised… I don’t know where this circumcision came from, some people feel it’s a religious thing, it’s about health, it’s about cutting off the foreskin makes your penis less likely to get cancer. There’s been all kinds of myths. I think it’s nonsense. That if you’re born that way [with a foreskin], it seems to me it’s a mutilation to cut it off.”
The Jewish radio host compared the circumcision of men and women and asserts that both are mutilation. “The same way in Africa they sometimes cut off a woman’s clitoris and they think that’s justified. I think our foreskins were cut off in order to desensitize us, and I think it was a bunch of religious nudnicks who decided they didn’t want us going around fornicating so they cut off some of our penis skin.”
Intactivism among Jewish Artists, Scholars, and Intellectuals
Howard Stern isn't the only Jew who thinks that circumcision should be outlawed. A variety of Jewish writers and scholars have argued that surgical circumcision should be against both Jewish and secular law.
There is a long record of Jewish intellectuals who've used ethical and psychological reasoning to urge for a shift in practice. Jewish thinkers including writer Franz Kafka and psychologist Wilhelm Reich and were critical of circumcision. Jewish intellectuals including Sigmund Freud and French philosopher Jacques Derrida deliberately kept their sons intact for such reasons.

Jewish Rabbis and Cantors Advocate Peaceful Naming Ceremonies
Some Rabbis think that it is time for the covenant to be interpreted in a symbolic way, as Judaism already treats many other biblical commandments. The Jewish Humanistic movement is the most advanced in this regard, but Reform Judaism also welcomes intact male babies into the Jewish covenant.
Increasingly more young Jewish parents are choosing to keep their new sons intact. Instead of a traditional circumcision, families who wish to keep their Jewish sons intact are choosing to celebrate with a covenant blessing called a Brit Shalom or Brit B'lee Milah (peaceful covenant without cutting). The Brit Shalom Celebrants list is a worldwide resource for families listing almost two hundred Jewish Rabbis, Cantors and leaders available to lead these blessings. Run by Dr. Mark Reiss, a Jewish doctor, the list has increased by more than 100% in the previous two years.
Influential Jewish studies scholar Rabbi Howard Schwartz has long held this view. In an article for the influential journal Tikkun, he wrote “The issue of circumcision, in my view, is whether we want submission and wounding, as a symbolic act, to mark a man's relationship to God and to the community in general. I no longer believe such a wounding is defensible.”
“There is more emotion about eliminating circumcision than perhaps any other traditional practice. But it is time to find a different symbol of a boy's entrance into the community. Instead of cutting our sons, we might celebrate their masculinity. A more appropriate symbol would be a nurturing act, one that would affirm a boy's relationship to a loving father, both his own and that of his God. We might, for example, feed our sons, since a meal is also a traditional symbol of covenant. Indeed, in one text, Moses and Aaron and the elders go up to the top of the mountain, and when they see God, they eat and drink. Feeding our sons, rather than wounding them, would be a symbol of our nurturing relationship to them.”
Other vocal Jewish Intactivists include psychologist and writer Ron Goldman, PhD., and novelist Lisa Braver Moss.Orthodox-raised, Intactivist Jonathan Friedman is involved year-round in protests and activism on the subject.

If these prominent Jewish Intactivists are a sign of where popular opinion is heading, then many members of the next generation of Jews can look forward to remaining intact!