Thursday, December 10, 2009
I haven't been posting as much these past several months because I have been knee deep in reading abstracts, studies, and writing chapters for my next book targeted for the college crowd. Jackie Hilgert will once again edit this book for me and make it printable; then I will take it to the U of St. Thomas (first) . I will present the book as the major cornerstone for a course that studies the college culture and it's effect on the well being of students. It will be entitled Social Capital at Catholic Colleges. I would like to teach it within the Catholic Studies program. It may be a pipe dream but let's see if I can turn it into reality. I would appreciate your prayers that it becomes real.
Also, whenever you see a blog that you like please share it with others. I hope to increase my followings from 7 to 70 this year. With your help that may be possible.
Secondly, I unearthed the following poem written by Mother Teresa which I would like to share with you today. It seems so perfect for the Christmas season. I hope you enjoy it. I also hope that you and your loved ones have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (2011).
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is a sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Let me know what you think!
Have a great Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 2, 2009
1. No person has any right to indulge in a pleasure or demand a liberty that could ruin another brother or sister.
2. What is a safe activity or pleasure is not necessarily safe for another.
3. We are to judge from the basis of love and not mere knowlege.
If we all operated on these universal truths we would have a grand world. Did I make these up? Never- check out 1 Corinthians for these universal truths
Sunday, October 25, 2009
We went on a mini college tour with our number six child! Time truly does fly. He was impressed with my alma mater: the University of North Dakota. He loved the Fighting Sioux mascots even though their name is under scrutiny for lack of political correctness. If I were of the Sioux nation, I might rather be known as the fighting sioux than the sissy sioux but that is probably rather unwise to write publicly.
Also, it is interesting to think about the possibilities for the nation to have a national Press Corps that is in the tank for President Obama. He apparently doesn't know how to handle those who aren't in the same think tank. I guess most power seeking people believe that they know best and the rest of us are just too ignorant to see the big picture. So when a renegade news organization doesn't see it his way, President Obama questions their authenticity as a news organization.
I wonder if Catholics have been in the tank for the Democratic party as well? Would the pro-life cause be struggling as it is if they weren't? Look at what happens when US Bishops rightfully express concerns about the health care initiatives- Patrick Kennedy dares to ask them how dare they question the health care proposal! Guess he doesn't know how to handle those who think for themselves either. Maybe he also viewed Catholics as being in his same think tank.
We must all dare to ask some real hard questions of those in power.
I thought we lived in a nation that cherished freedom of press and speech and independent thinking? I guess that is also under advisement at this time. What do you think?
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wisconsin (Bill 253.16) and North Dakota (Bill 2344) legislators have been debating public breastfeeding and recently passed legislation ensuring mothers of their rights to breastfeed in public as long as they are in an “authorized” location! Do you know mothers who prefer to sneak into unauthorized areas to breastfeed? Perhaps, if you know such a mother, she is merely trying to avoid the breastfeeding buttinskies that stare, worry about decency standards, and just don’t get breastfeeding! Thus far, Wisconsin has left out any modesty clauses to the bill; unfortunately North Dakota did not follow suit! ND legislators inserted this clause: "If the woman acts in a discreet and modest manner, a woman may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the woman and child are otherwise authorized to be." Is anyone thinking? How and who are going to enforce “modesty”? The breastfeeding buttinskies- right! ?
I would have loved to have been a part of these debates! What are these legislators thinking? Does anyone bother to debate modesty standards for television, public places, or the fashion industry which puts out seductive clothing for young girls, teen girls, young women, and even older women?
Related to this is the “Support the Boobs Campaign”- no I am not inserting my own words. Recently such an ad appeared on UTube (http://mediablips.dailyradar.com/); it was followed up with a lively but one-sided discussion on FOX News. The ad is supposed to raise awareness for breast cancer; it's purpose is to bring in money for breast cancer research which works to eradicate breast cancer. It’s almost impossible to connect the dots between what you see and the ad’s intended purpose and message. The ad features a buxom, scantily clad (two piece – white- bikini), blond sashaying around in a public area – I think Wisconsin and North Dakota better get into the debate about the appropriateness and modesty of this ad! Anyway, the ad shows men smiling hugely at the passing blond whereas the 'watching" women are either expressing surprise, bewilderment, or jealousy; it was hard to judge their precise emotions. Meanwhile, the model bounces around the ad displaying a self confident smile that only a model in a white revealing bikini could pull off. By the way, I really can't remember what the model looked like! I mean her face!
Several female guests were asked by Bill O’Reilly whether the ad was offensive; unfortunately their responses clearly missed key reasons why the ad IS offensive to women. First, both women acknowledged that few men would be able to connect the ad with its appropriate message (reducing breast cancer); yet both thought it would be an effective fund raiser for breast cancer research since the men will enjoy watching the UTube ad and send in a few bucks! And they seemed to think that was ok! Enjoying the video for all the wrong reasons but sending in money – why? To save boobs? Whose boobs? Save the boobs For whom? The ad signals once again that it is ok to sexualize women's body parts while selling things or messages. This does nothing to raise the dignity of women - we are the ones most often exploited by porn and sex businesses.
Next, is anyone thinking about the breast cancer victims who have had to undergo mastectomies in order to survive??? Are these women now supposed to feel less attractive that the woman featured in the ad? Are they suppposed to feel less of a woman because of the treatment they had to undergo in order to stay alive? Are the husbands supposed to compare their wife to this model? The ad is out and out insensitive and hurtful to these women especially.
Third, why isn’t a breastfeeding mother used in the ad? Breastfeeding is a much more important reason to “save the boobs” campaign than sexualizing breasts for "girl watchers." Did you know that only western societies regard the breasts as sexual?
Fourth, why the ad didn't feature sick women fighting breast cancer as a reason to save the boobs campaign is beyond me! The campaign should have been dubbed " save the woman campaign featuring healthy but “boob-less” mothers and wives in loving relationships.
By the way, I cringe inside everytime I write boob- that is such a crass word for God's handiwork! Ok – now that I have gotten really worked up about this campaign, I want to tell you that this campaign is not going to get a nickel of my money! Even though gifts might fund research the way I look at it, it also sells the wrong message about the dignity of women. I won't be a part of such campaigns. I say we boycott donations to breast cancer research using these ads until and unless they get it right regarding why we really should save the "boobs". Readers, tell me where I have gone off the rails.
Friday, September 25, 2009
"Let us humble ourselves before the Lord, our God asking through Christ the forgiveness of our sins, beseeching the aid of the God of our forefathers in the defense of our homes and our liberties, thanking Him for His past blessings, and imploring their continuance upon our cause and our people.
Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make to this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray - to really pray.
Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight - all through the day. Let us pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for the churches.
Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word concern out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and His redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice." General Robert E. Lee 1863
Christian concerns at this hour should include:
The concern that: we have lost the practice and the passion of prayer.
- That we have lost respect and concern for all life - pre-born, pre-conceived, newborn, and the aging; futhermore that we have replaced the belief that life comes from God with rhetoric.
- That while we once believed that all life comes from God, we now suffer from the notion that life is man-made and disposable if all is not "perfect". This fails to account for the soul - the essence of human life and certainly not man-made.
- That we have divorced life from authentic love.
- That we have given up on the right to life and replaced it with the notion of it's "time to die".
- That we are giving up on the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by looking to a government rather than God to help us through difficulites.
- That we have discarded Jesus' example of sacrifice for others and replaced it with entitlement, expectations for handouts and easy living.
- That we value humans for what they have not who they are. For instance we value superior intellects, giftedness, rhetoric, human "wisdom", wealth, the ability to earn distinction, physical beauty. At the same time we fail to see these same virtues in those given less fortune, less ability, and less opportunity. We fail to see the whole person.
General Lee's exhortation is still timely; it is time to pray and time to live like we believe that God is God of all creation and we are merely His creatures.
Monday, September 21, 2009
If all these men continue with what seems to be their calling - we will have 29 more priests ordained in this archdiocese over the next several years. The numbers are astonishing! May God bless each of them! Please pray for this group as they study, discern, and decide. As the Bishop of Crookston said: "there are very few events in our lives in which we place our lives deliberately and solidly in the hands of God and tell God that we pledge to give Him our all. That night twenty nine men stood up, announced their presence in strong solemn tones, walked to the front of the Church and pledged to give God their all over the next several years! May He bless them abundantly.
If you hold two magnets with like poles facing the other the result is that they repel each other very strongly. In other words two positive poles repel each other. Even very weak magnets exhibit this same phenomenon. It is part of the natural law; it is also very obvious to whomever is experimenting with the magnets. Imagine this is two people in life - at times we seem to naturally repel the other. It can also be imagines as sin in our lives repelling us away from God.
Now put the two magnets with the opposite poles together Now they attract each other very strongly. This should represent God and us. The closer we are to God - the Supreme Positive Pole - the stronger the attraction and the desire we have to cling to Him; however the further we pull our magnetic self away from God - the less of an attraction we have for things of His. Finally, we might even end up without any attraction at all. Sin and the corresponding lack of grace affects us like the two magnets that are pulled apart from their natural attractions - from their sphere of influence. As we become grace-filled we eagerly cling to things of God; as we orbit out of His pole - or sphere - due to sin, temptation, etc. we gradually feel less and less of an attraction to Him. As we leave His attraction, we are pulled further and further away from all that is good. Just like the little magnet finally leaves the sphere of influence of the big magnet as it is pulled away, we also leave God's grace as we are pulled away. I think this is why God made magnetism - don't you agree?
I hope you like this analogy - it was God's little message to me today.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
1. Estrogen from the Birth control pills are flooding into the water systems - they are not removed by our waste water sewage systems. (Dr. Karen Kidd, University of New Brunswick in conjunction with the Canadian Rivers Institute)
2. Over 100 million women use a hormonal contraceptive - either combination or single hormone products.
3. Estorgen ends up in the water systems. "Pollutants are metabolized in our bodies as estrogen. And it is the lifetime exposure to estrogens that has increased world cancer rates by 26% since 1980.... We live in a toxic soup of chemicals" according to Dr. Susan Love (cancer surgeon)
4. Hormonal pollutants can affect human health by increasing the rate of breast cancer and other endocrinological diseases. (Carnevali & Mardonna, 2003; Davis et al. 1998)
5. These are the effects of excess estrogen comtaminants found among various fish populations:
- reproductive impairment and altered behavior
- feminaization of male fish
- depressed serum testosterone levels
- decreased egg and larval viability
- altered enxymatic activities
- decreased embryonic development and cellular damage
- damaged fish create a threat to the ecosystems by eliminating fish populations (specific) and eventual contamination of human beings via the food web dynamic. (Lascombe et al 2000; Davis et al. 1998)
6. High concentrations of estrogens in water ways are directly proportional to population sizes and degree of urbanization.
7. Brittany Kimball, Univ. of Washington, May 30, 2008 wrote that "public notification of this accumulation has been limited due to a lack of comprehension of the implications by the scientific comunity". So, who is responsible for squashing public notifications? Are the culprits the pharmaceutical companies who stand to lose billions of dollars of revenue as women discontinue using harmful birth control products? Is it the AMA? Will they ever acknowledge their complicity in having duped women into believing that the Pill is harmless when in fact it isn't. Where is the green movement or interest regarding our water ways when hormonal contraceptives are indicted as the pollutants?
8. The estrogen and progesterone compounds are not removed via the waste water treatment policies; nor are they removed with your kitchen sink drinking water filtering systems.
The real question becomes: Are human populations evidencing signs of contamination by excess estrogens? Hmmm, let's think whether there is an increasing feminization among male populations; increasing behavioral problems among both male and female populations; decreasing fertility rates; increasing fertility problems; increasing breast cancer rates (this used to be an old-lady disease but now younger and younger women are diagnosed with breast cancer); increasing incidence of PCOS and other endocrine problems; increasing diagnosis of low testosterone levels in men (requiring treatment with Viagra-like products); early age onset of puberty among girls; or early age onset of menopause among women?
Creeping evidence of all of the above is readily observed. Yes, it is true that younger girls are evidencing abnormally early breast development and early age onset of puberty. Yes, Viagra seems to be in great demand according to the TV ads. Yes, there are increasing fertility issues. As a NFP teacher, I see way more PCOS cases than in previous decades . Are these normal incidences which just show up as blips or are these abnormal blips becoming the norm due to over-exposed -to-estrogen populations?
Herman-Giddens concludes "it's virtually impossible to study since there is no place to find an unexposed population." Creepy! Is it time to protest what's in your drinking water? Just don't drink the tea they serve you at the rallies.
Thoughts & comments?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Some argue that the President is trying to indoctrinate the children - I would suggest that it takes a lot more than one speech to do that. Society in general is doing a pretty good job at that and not enough parents are concerned about the general indoctrination going on in schools, among peers, by the medical community, and others. So it seems a bit disingenous to worry about a 20 minute speech rather than worrying about the steady indoctrination of television, Hollywood, schools, school based clinics, etc.
Some parents worry about what the President is going to say. I'm not too worried; while he has made many recent blunders I think he will be careful here and not because the kids will be listening but because the parents will be. Another thing; any television address that lasts 20 -25 minutes is too long to hold the children or young adults captive. Their attention to detail will be long lost.
Let's take it to a practical level - even though many of us disagree with the President on many points I am sure that none of us disagree with every position or statement that he makes. In this light, let's be careful and fight only the worthy fights - the ones which affect faith and morals and leave the nagging aside when issues are frivolous or more worry than substance. We lose credibility when we constantly nag about frivolous or less significant matters. Most of us are wearied by nagging - even if we are the ones doing the nagging. We certainly are wearied when we are nagged against. The Biblical wisdom teaches us not to nag " our children lest they lose heart."
So regarding today's speech, I say the President should tell the kids to listen up, study, and graduate. He should have picked an evening forum rather than school time but he didn't and that is a privilege obtained from his election. I think we have far bigger issues to challenge the president about- for example selecting Czars with power who haven't been vetted by Congress or the American people; the financial affairs of the country; the effort to have the federal government fix life rather than letting states determine the well being of their citizenry; the right to life of all Americans - born and unborn; right to have and hold a job; and more. When we nag about every single issue we lose sight of the bigger fights. We also lose momentum.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
1. Mothers should practise exclusive and long term breastfeeding for their infants. Evidence shows that this practise gets infants off to their best start in life: physically, emotionally, cognitively, health-wise and for optimum growth. There are benefits for Moms as well. To know more read the Art of Breastfeeding.
2. Sex ought to be confined to loving, marital relations between a man and a woman. Promiscuity - a lost word - is proven to cause cervical cancer, STD's, emotional damage, divorce, and more. God's reason for inscribing the Sixth Commandment & the notion of marriage as permanent, loving, monagomous, and faithful.
3. Marilyn Shannon writes in her book Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition that the 80/20 rule will keep most of us very healthy- this means 80% of the emphasis on health needs to address eating right, getting exercise, and getting adequate sleep; it is essential to maintain a healthy BMI through eating properly and getting exercise.
4. Smoking and unhealthy alcohol consumption is bad for one's health. Just say No is important here as well. Illegal drug use is obviously a detriment to one's personal and public health. What happened to the war on drugs?
5. NFP is the ticket to maintaining health. Wonder what NFP is? Check out http://www.ccli.org/ for more information.
6. Forget about delaying pregnancy until the late 30's and early 40's. There are many complications, harms to health, and heavy medical costs associated with any combination of the following: delayed marriage, delayed pregnancy, birth control use, promiscuity, and artifical conception techniques such as invitro fertilizations, sperm donation. Wonder how much each invitro fertilization costs insurance companies? Zillions! Consider this piece of information found on the internet: "As the average IVF cycle charges are between $10,000 and $15,000, analysts have reported costs of about $35,000 per delivery in younger women, while medical costs per delivery are over $132,000 for women over 40. " The medical costs for the eight "octo" babies are many more times the costs of 8 healthy, term babies conceived naturally!
Some natural things to consider!
Curious to me was the fact that there was more rancor displayed while standing in line than displayed inside as various opinions were expressed. We were surprised by the fact that more people expressed either outright concern, caution, or reprimands in a heavily Democratic-leaning congressional district. All comments - regardless of position - were interesting and thoughtful and their stated opinions were well worth listening to! We are glad we attended.
We felt there were several noteworthy observations:
1. It was obvious that organized efforts came from the Democratic party - they had their perfectly coifed signs saying Thank you and We need Health Care Reform Now. Didn't see any "right wing" organized efforts as so often reported in the various media.
2. Our sign suggesting that the unborn, the elderly needed protections, and term limits for all politicians raised a number of "snotty" & off-based comments from people. One elderly man said he isn't worried about anything - a woman suggested the plump man beside me (who was obviously supporting our sign) "lo0ked like he needed an abortion!" It definitely brought out the worst in people - including myself. I left with less than a positive opinion about many fellow Americans! Mea Culpa.
3. Betty stated her opinion on the medical care bills but failed to explain what Obamacare covers. She stated "no one was trying to ram something through Congress; in fact there wasn't even a bill to consider yet". What was the 1000 page deal then? She also stated we don't need language regarding citizen benefit only because that's the way it is. She also stated that abortions would not be covered because it is like Medicare coverage right now. I am willing to bet that most politicians want to avoid the abortion debate & the citizen issue - they are satisfied in leaving it "temporarily understated" only to be tackled and pushed through another day. I hope my readers know that this is very similiar to the creation of school based clinics - they were never created to deal with sex issues according to the infamous Jocelyn Elders at a Senate hearing I attended years ago! Surprise, surprise - today they hand out contraceptives, do sex counseling, and more without parental notification - it is legal in the state of MN for minors to provide their own consent in areas of drug, alcohol, and sex matters!
When I questioned one woman about the details of the bill, her reply was that's the way of the legislature- details come later! Woe to us if that's the truth! Who of us would write a contract with the details later after securing the $ and the signatures!
Betty suggested that insurance companies were crooks - she didn't read the paper which stated that they are lobbying blue-dog Democrats hard, giving them money more than any other group for their war chests and the blue-dogs are accepting this money from these so-called crooks. Doesn't that make them a "crook" also? Is this calling the kettle black?
There were many more contradictory statements which leaves me wondering why? I left knowing nothing more!I still don't know what the heck this debate is really all about - is it economics, health care, insurance companies, medical care? Facts are few, emotions run high. Sales people know that they need a straight, clear message when selling a product - it's called the elevator talk. Politicians need this as well. One man summarized it well last night: while Corporations make money they can't take your home, your property, your money, only the Government can do that! Let's make sure the government takes from us what we want them to and doesn't take what we don't want them to!
On a brighter note- go see Julie and Julia; it's a great movie!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I would like to capture a short "sermon" I recently heard - it should help drive home the most important reason for modesty. Modesty of dress, mannerism, behaviors, speech, and thought is included in this discussion.
God created man and woman to be different from each other in a very complementary way! A very easily understood example of this obvious complementarity is loving, marital relations. however, original sin caused sexual tension! Today, the sexual, emotional, psychological differences between the two sexes are most often portrayed in a negative way (Men are from Mars and Women from Venus) rather than highlighted as the manner in which men and women are attracted to each other, bond, and love each other. Few of us are interested in talking to ourselves each day - rather different personalities, thought processes are interesting, engaging, and worthy of debate.
The Fall of Adam and Eve were the original reason why tension exists between and among the sexes. The original design of man as protector, defender, explorer, and lover can easily erode to predator, attacker, user, and dominator. The orginal design of woman as nurturer, protector, queen and lover virtues are also easily eroded to opposing vices.
When man leans toward vice, it is the modest woman who helps pull him back toward virtuous living. If she has begun to lean toward vice, she will join him in surrendering to the flesh rather than the spiritual. When a woman respects herself, she does not give in to the siren call that suggests she allow herself to be used by a predatorial male.
Some women suggest that she should be able to dress anyway that she wants - if a man has a problem with cleavage that 's his problem! These women are assenting to disrespect and being used because that's what the predatory male does regardless of her feelings! Furthermore, she may even be using herself as a weapon against male weaknesses - to her advantage.
We are never to use each other or ourselves - we are to act as if we are (and we are) made in the image and likeness of the Creator. He is a lover not a user! And this is the reason we are to instruct our daughters in modesty - so they are respected and treated with dignity by all males.
A good litmus test of modesty is this. As a girl enters the room- what is the first thing the male looks at? If it's her face- that is a good sign regarding her dress. If he notices a body part first- other than her face - then she is inviting, inciting, and encouraging lust, disrespect, and being used. Most young girls do not understand that males are more visual than females - girls are more emotional and intuitive than males. This doesn't make one better than the other- it just makes them different. We are not to use the differences to divide, disrespect or coerece; rather we are to understand the differences so we can help each other get to the final destination- Heaven.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Now, regard the stained glass windows as pre-figuring the Church itself. When having an outside vantage point, people fail to see the beauty within the Church. In fact, the Church may appear overly imposing, dark, unfriendly, cold, uncaring, certainly out of step with the outside world's point of view. The windows certainly don't look very special from the outside perspective! The Church opens its wide "portal" doors in hopes of attracting those who get a glimmer of its beauty (from the stained glass windows -figuratively and literally). It attracts the curious, the interested, and the open.
When someone steps inside the Church - both figuratively and literally - he or she sees the beauty of the stained glass windows for the very first time - the light streams through them re-creating them. The windows look incredibly different from the inside than they did from the outside. While light may surround the outside of the windows, it fails to expose the true beauty of the windows. A person with new faith will see a newness and a new-found beauty; they begin to appreciate the depth of the light within the Church. One never fully appreciates the Church's beauty when remaining on the outside looking in; it's only from the inside can we wonder in awe at God's truth and creation.
Until we have the opportunity to see the stained glass from the inside - where the light is allowed to re-create the windows - where the light underscores the imagery and reality of the Church, we fail to see and seek truth. When we remain on the outside, we will only see the "window's" flaws, the cracks or chinks in the windows, the need for tuckpointing, it's broken panes. But when inside the Church, we see things never before possible; we see depth, beauty, variety of colors (gifts), importance, significance, intensity, and necessity. It's from the inside that we can be awed by the stained glass; it's only from the inside that we can fall in love with the stained glass imagery and vibrancy. (sacraments, grace, moral and spiritual teachings, liturgical life, formation). We are all invited in to stay and experience the beauty and richness of the Stained Glass (the Church).
Think of this reflection the next time you go to Mass; study your Church's stained glass windows, regard them as God's invite to you to deepen your relationship with Him. He wants us all to grow in our faith, to renew ourselves, to unite ourselves to the Church. We are asked to draw in others as well. May we all be refined, renewed, re-stored to the Will of God.
Much of this reflection came from a homily I heard this past weekend; I thought you all may enjoy it as much as I did - just wanted to share it with you.
Check out my new release entitled: A Book For All Seasons. This book features beautiful, stained glass pictures which divide the various Liturgical Seasons of the Church Year. The readings and Gospels for each Sunday are given along with reflection questions, space to take homily notes so we can recall them later with family discussions. Finally, space is provided to reflect on the readings and the homily and write spitirual goals for the upcoming week. Check out http://www.fortifyingfamiliesoffaith.com/ for more information. This will make a great gift for yourself and your family and friends.
For instance, last week we went up north and spent a week on a lake. Getting there meant we had to plan and pack our way up north. We had to make endless trips in and out of the house stuffing the car and boat. Once we were there, our kids spent the entire time beating their brains against their skull while flying over lake waves on a tube and skis. Finally the effects of motion sickness began to take over. In fact, headaches were common.
Isn't it interesting, how headaches, mosquitos, bugs, nasty biting flies, sunburn, water & waves, help us to relax and enjoy each other's company just that much more!
While it may seem like I am complaining, I am not! Several years back we hear a talk at a convention which emphasized the wisdom of boating with teenagers. It allows boys to assume that wholesome "piracy role and adventure. After hearing the talk, we looked into buying a boat - an older one fit our pocket book. We found one perfect for a family with three kids - ok we settled! While our old boat is certainly not the cadillac on the lake, it has not let us down! The speaker 's assessments of boating with teens was right on!
It has allowed out teens to defy gravity and catch the big ones - fish and waves - OK, the fish are not really that big but big enough. Our son enjoys feeling like the skipper and a pirate! (well sort of). My husband enjoys the thrill of speeding and turning fast - similar to feelings he had while riding his motorcycle years ago! I love being on the water rather than looking at it from the shore. We have all had a great time bouncing over waves, and then stopping to jump in and swim. Tubing is like one giant roller coaster which goes for hours and hours without stopping!
Vacations are great - however I remain skeptical about their ability to empty us. Instead I think they re-fill our "gas tanks" with positive energy and mood!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The movie gave us some talking points but it would have been better to have had the talking points without the visual imagery burned into our memories. Afterwards, it is fair to state, we all felt like we had walked through a garbage dump; it's stench and slime clinging to our memories. The movie was like porn - it's images remained long after we left the theater.
The very next day, our blunder was highlighted by our son's friend's parent when she asked me about the movie. Our mistake had indeed been discovered! Her son had been told by my son that "Mom laughed during the movie" implying I enjoyed it! Yes, I did laugh- parts of it were funny; needless to say, my son and I had to have a second discussion! The parent was interested in knowing about the movie because her son had been asking to see it; she was more diligent than us in that she had read the reviews, saw the ratings and had concerns about the movie. What followed was a great discussion; we each got to know the other much better! Unfortunately I felt convicted as I should have; my reputation deservedly received a bit of a tarnishing. Yes, it is a contradiction to promote chastity and take your kids to this movie!
All parents will make an occasional mistake here and there. We will need to pick ourselves up afterwards, reaffirm why that was a bad decision, make the decision to not repeat it again, and ask God's forgiveness for weakness and poor judgment. But there will be consequences as well to our mistakes.
It brings to mind a recent story about a young woman who decided to become a sister (she lives in Italy). After making her decision, a jilted boyfriend posted nude pictures/poses of her on the internet for a number of reasons. His motives and actions are notably ugly for a variety of reasons; nevertheless, they cause us to also question the motive and reputation of this young woman.
The moral of the stories are: truly we are our brother's keeper. We are all called to help each other stay on the straight and narrow path to our heavenly Father. Our sins will be revealed in either this lifetime or the next! I am indebted to the mother who asked about the movie - I appreciated her investigation into our decision. I was relieved that she didn't just write me off as a bad parent! I appreciated her remarks! She taught me an important lesson that I need to remember. I appreciated the reminder that our sins have a ripple effect- they extend to people we can't even imagine would be affected!
Thank you God for placing people in my life to remind me of you! thank you for trying to make me a better person. Help me be strong for my children.
Ok, I will finally admit to you the title of the movie: The Hangover! Yes, we are that stupid sometimes! Mea Culpa.
Friday, July 17, 2009
So I decided to submit the books - after publication - to the censorship process and take my lumps. I wanted to know if the books contained any substantive errors with regard to faith and morals - a slip of one word here or there can impact this scrutiny. The Great News - which I am greatly relieved about - is that Daughters Forever, Sons Forever has received the Nihil Obstat certifcation! It's a relief knowing that I will not have to retract any paragraphs or sentences in this program.
I believe and understand that the Catholic Church has been given the authority by Jesus in matters of faith and morals. It is important that the Church scrutinize works which discuss faith and morals in order that they profess the true faith without error. (Catholic Catechism 890)
Each diocese in the Catholic Church has one or more censors which carefully review books such as mine - without charge - and give them the certificate if nothing therein is found to be contrary to the Faith (relevant Canon Law: "Title IV: The Means of Social Communication," ¶ 822-832)
The procedure should work like this: write a book, submit the manuscript (pre-publication) to the Diocesan Censor. A phone call to the Chancery office will help you determine who this person is. When the Censor gives his stamp of approval for the works , he notifies the Diocese who then notifies the author. If there are objections to parts or paragraphs, the author will have to change the work, resubmit the refreshed manuscript, and the review begins all over again.
After receiving the Nihil Obstat, the book is also sent to the Bishop for review. When a Bishop finds nothing objectionable in a work, he awards the "Imprimatur" which means, "let it be printed." When the book is written by a person who is a member of a religious order, the manuscript is first sent to his religious superior before going to the Diocesan Censor. The religious superior will give the book the stamp of Imprimi Potest; this means that the book can be printed. The work is then passed onto the Diocesan Censor.
The "Nihil Obstat" and "Imprimatur" are official declarations that a book is free of doctrinal or moral error. This in no way implies, that the Diocesan Censor or the Bishop agrees with the content, opinions or statements expressed in the book. It does not mean they necessarily like the book or that the book is without error regarding secular information. It certainly doesn't mean that the book is infallible! Rather, Nihil Obstat means that the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church are not undermined, attacked or taught with error.
I am happy that Daughters Forever, Sons Forever has been given this certificate - now I can promote it with even more assurance. For those thinking about writing a book that will be promoted within the Church, take the time to have it reviewed by a Censor before getting it published.
Monday, July 6, 2009
We must not let their "ignorance" or negative emotional outburts prevent that next stop! When they least expect it, a dreaded stop suddenly becomes the most interesting, the most challenging, the most rewarding place our children have ever seen!
This past weekend we were driving along Lake Superior aka Gitche Gumee and made "that one more stop" which created a thunderstorm of protest by a certain teenager of ours - he thought it would be the most boring ever. Our thick parenting hides refused to give in to his protests. Is he ever glad we didn't listen to him! It turned out to be the most adventurous stop "he has ever had" including the opportunity to jump off at least a 20 foot rock into the cold waters flowing into Lake Superior. We even captured it on video. Stunningly beautiful for all who visit the shores along Lake Superior! Refreshing for those who dare to enter its waters. An obviously God-made world to all who look with eyes and hearts that are open to His Creations.
Parents present their children with so many learning opportunities as they travel along the highways and biways of this great land. Stop to visit those historic sites & religious shrines including old, barely recognizable presidential centers, Civil War battle sites, Revolutionary War Sites, shrines, cathedrals, and other civic sites your kids thought would be boring! Don't give into their whining and pre-visit complaining. They never know what is truly around the next corner or stop that fuels their interests, peaks their thirst for knowing more about this country, their faith, or their ancestry.
As parents we can appreciate the fact that it is actually fun to learn new things every day. Parents, kindle that love of learning that is all too often lost upon many of the young people around us because it's going to be boring!
Fuel their sense of adventure by letting them learn about lives from long ago - have them hike those same trails, live those same simple lifestyles. And above all, know that many times our kids "doth protest too much" about things they simply do not know.
Monday, June 22, 2009
While I don't have answers for these questions, you may be interested to know that it's natural that just about right now many families begin to have adjustment problems with their home-bound students even while loving the fact that they are home once again. Furthermore, the "key lecture" we give our returning students during these adjustment periods often center around the following: reminding him/her that the world does not revolve around them, reminders to consider a "family" schedule, reminders of how to act appropriately around younger brothers and sisters; reminding our college-bound student to be "others" centered, rather than primarily self centered and self focused; reminding them of the importance of family; orienting them back to the family rather than self; reminding them to be helpful around the home rather than to be dependent on other's attention, care, and efforts; reminding them of their spiritual roots, the importance of prayer, Confession and the Church rather than being free-spirited.
These reminders seem especially important around 3-4 weeks after their arrival home. Are lectures orchestrated to occur at this time? No, but the timing of parental lectures is oddly similar; as parents we can "take" a bit of self-centered attitudes from our kids. However; as time goes on and the attitude doesn't "re-adjust" to include others, parents must rise to the occasion and "knock the student off their self-imposed pedestal" by reminding them they are not the center of the universe. This humbling of our students is necessary for their own sake. While we want our children to grow up and become "independent", it is important that we remind them that true freedom and peace comes from discovering and living according to God's will for their lives; peace does not generate in and of the world but from God.
Summer becomes just one more teaching opportunity for parents and one more learning experience for our young adult children who come back home to live. May you all have a great summer. Enjoy those children- life is short. May God Bless you and keep you all safe.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Scientists discovered that progesterone rises or falls depending on whom and what we are talking about. Neutral discussions do nothing for our female moods; in fact, the study showed that progesterone actually falls during such discussions. On the other hand, when women feel emotionally connected to someone via talking, then our hormone levels rise elevating mood and reducing stress.
Progesterone, a marker used to measure oxytocin levels, was studied. Oxytocin is often dubbed the love hormone because it is released during breastfeeding, during intimate times, and even during eye to eye contact. It is essential for building relationships and strengthening human bonding. This is partly why breastfeeding enables closer mother- baby bonding. It also helps explain the strength of the human bond between husband and wife.
Interestingly, the study demonstrated that increased progesterone levels predicted a increased willingness to risk one's life for another. It is important to note that progesterone elevates significantly during pregnancy; naturally this is the time when mothers must be willing to put their own well being secondary to the well being of their unborn baby in order for a successful outcome to the pregnancy.
Of interest to me was this statement: "the hormonal basis of social bonds enable people to suppress self interest* " This should beg further investigation into whether or not the artificial regulation of women's and men's natural hormone levels (via the Pill, hormonal contraception, hormonal growth therapies, sexual dysfunction therapies) pre-empt good social bonding and the suppression of self interest. Do these therapies stymie bonding? Do they increase self interest? Take a look around. It wouldn't be that far fetched to wonder if the effects of the Pill are much more than simple birth control measures! Perhaps they limit bonding. Perhaps these hormonal birth control measures drive down authentic love. Perhaps they increase self interest! This is what JP ll taught in the Theology of the Body discourses. This brilliant observation by the Pope years ago seems to be confirmed by hormone science studies.
What say you?
*Hormones and Behavior by Stephanie Brown reported in www.twincities.com
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Menopause research could quickly and erroneously conclude that menopause causes negative aging; however, is this the proper order of events? The medical-pharmaceutical industries are betting big bucks on this as they search for ways to medicalize (control) menopause.
Different research sources regard menopause quite differently. Some research positions the menopuase state as unnatural due to longevity of women in today's post-modern generations. Previously, large groups of older women simply didn’t exist because many died prematurely- due to childbirth, illness, infection, and other causes. Today's women, in large measure, live up to one third of their lives after menopause! Our improved longevity is due to modernized childbirth and post partum care, better nutrition, antibiotics, superior sanitation measures, and enhanced health. Women live longer than before and they live longer as older women – therefore menopause is more apparent to the medical arena.
To assume that living longer is the problem or that menopause is unnatural because of longer life spans is simply faulty reasoning on top of faulty reasoning. It is faulty to presume that because menopause wasn’t "wide-spread” in previous eras, women weren’t meant to live for many years beyond natural menopause. Menopause is not a cruel joke for women who happen to have outlived their ancestors by several generations. Some scientists have remarked, very off point, that women are the only species to outlive fertility and thus menopause is unnatural! Their solutions to this problem are to control and over- medicalize menopause.
Medicalization of menopause attempts to stave off menopause or its effects & symptoms to an even older, unnatural menopausal age. If the medical arena assumes that menopause is a disease they look for therapeutic and medicalized treatment plans. As a result, hormone replacement therapies are considered the way to ward off menopause. However, the therapeutic paths forward are less clear to many women and doctors given the evidence from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and the Heart Estrogen Replacement Study (HERS).
The results of these large menopause studies will be considered in a future blog.
Before detailing the events of the graduation, let me take you down my memory lane. Over 40 years ago, my grandmother worked as a civilian at Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, SD. One day, she delighted us with tickets to the air show of the mighty Thunderbirds – little did I imagine then that today my son would have hopes of flying fighter jets. Furthermore, as little girls, my sisters and I would swing wildly back and forth while singing the following at the top of our lungs (you may recall this song was sung to the tune of the Air Force Song): “They took the blues from the skies/ and the pretty girls eyes/ and a touch of old glory too/ and gave it to the men /who proudly wear /the US Air Force Blues.” Today our son wears these blues.
A decade later, I came very close to joining the Air Force ROTC while attending college at UND – Grand Forks, ND. The physical and preliminary testing & paperwork were well underway; however a week prior to signing the papers, I received an offer from 3M Co. for a Student Co-Operative employment opportunity as a process engineer. It was during this co-op stint that I met my husband, Dave; following graduation, we married and both worked at 3M as engineers. Thus, today’s connection to the Air Force actually was obtusely aligned a long time ago.
Graduation Week flooded me with these memories and established new ones. Graduation week also re-emphasized how opportunities and life choices are often more momentous than we appreciate at the time. I know that Michael is a far better choice for the Air Force than I would have been! We are thankful for the path that God continues to provide for us all.
What was Graduation Week like? Well, it began with almost our entire family camping at the FAMCAMP on base of the USAFA; friends, aunts and uncles, nephews, cousins attended as well. While the weather was cold, rainy and troublesome, we endured. Not only did we endure, we enjoyed the moments filled with pomp and circumstance.
The week began with Sunday Mass in the Cadet Chapel. In place of the homily, the Catholic Chaplain welcomed Dr. Thomas Jones as a baccalaureate speaker. Dr. Jones is a scientist, pilot, author, former NASA astronaut, and Catholic. He was able to witness the beauty of the whole of creation- including the stars, planets, asteroids, and the earth while on his four space missions into orbit. Dr. Jones talked about his gratitude for the prayers for the safety of the flight prior to launch. Before one mission, he was particularly consoled by a mass reading from Jeremiah which promises that God protects us from danger… He also related a memorable moment during one space mission in which he and the two other Catholic astronauts (3 of the 5 astronauts on board were Catholic) received the Holy Eucharist at the moment when daylight suddenly flashed into the shuttle windows. The sudden brilliance underscores the nature of the Eucharist according to Dr. Jones and all Catholic believers. Furthermore, the beautiful blue earth underscored to him how the Blessed Virgin protects us with her blue mantle.
His mission walk in space reinforced how insignificant man is compared to the cosmos and to God’s glory; nevertheless we are lovingly created in the image and likeness of Almighty God. Dr. Jones ended with the caution that certain risk taking is necessary in a world fraught with problems and challenges; however, the risks and the benefits must be considered cooperatively. Jones feels we are in a risk averse culture but repeats the philosophy of JP II: be not afraid.
We were able to talk to several officer professors in the Physics/Meterology Department. They threw a wonderful open house for the graduating cadets who majored in these areas. Our son is now a meteorologist – he has wanted to be one for over a decade! We were also blessed to have the presence of a priest friend –Father Scott Carl-who said several daily masses during the week.
We had fun at a party thrown by our son and two other cadets: David Abraham and Joseph Atherton. Members of the different families were in attendance and it was a creative mix of good food, slide show, and conversation. The next night we were grateful to pin the shoulder boards on Michael during his commissioning ceremony. His commissioning ceremony took place at the Superintendant’s residence. This historic compound was built by Albert Carlton – a pioneer who made a fortune from the gold mines of Cripple Creek, Colorado.” After retiring to the Broadmoor, the Carlton’s wanted a summer home; they purchased property and built the home in 1930. The home was completed in 1931 and Albert died shortly thereafter. Mrs. Carlton added onto the property and made it her permanent residence. After her death, the property exchanged hands becoming a country club prior to being purchased by the federal government in 1954.
The compound features a number of exquisite, stucco structures built according to the “Spanish Colonial Revival Style; this includes classical iron work decorating the windows and balcony; harmony with the surrounding environment, gently sloping tile roofs, and continuity between the interior and exterior of the structure.” It was originally outfitted with furnishings from Mrs. Carlton’s European trips. We ventured into the dining room, the sitting room, the grounds, the game room, and more.
Graduation day felt like a festivity with tightened security. We witnessed the obvious presence of secret service agents, police dogs, and military police all around the grounds. This heightened security was due to the presence of Vice President Joseph Biden and the Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley. VP Biden delivered the Graduation Address; the address was a mixture of politics, personal witness, and encouragement to the newly commissioned officers. He made a few blunders during the address; for instance he commented that while visiting Afghanistan the previous week he descended to 900,000 feet- none of us thought that was possible! He also poked fun at the President regarding Teleprompters. It was encouraging to learn that his son, Bo, is also serving in the military and is currently positioned somewhere in Afghanistan. Hopefully, he will be watching our sons and daughters backs as promised in part due to increased awareness of the needs of military personnel via his son’s experience.
Over 1000 cadets were called forward to receive their diplomas, shake the VP’s hand, and swear an oath to the country. This process took over 2 hours but was never boring! Within a split second of throwing of the hats, the mighty diamond formation of the Thunderbirds roared overhead without prior warning or sound. Their thunderous engines were clearly heard as they passed the stadium. The crowd cheered almost as loudly. The air show followed graduation; it was choreographed to wonderfully patriotic American songs. It was a grand finale to a wonderful day. My brother Kevin so profoundly questioned how these beautiful machines could also be so horrendously deadly. The F-16’s have delivered many bombs and missiles to enemy combatants.
These were the memories of Graduation Week. Fun, excitement, fatigue, cold, memories, pride filled the week. We are proud of Michael. Thanks to family and friends who have supported him over the years. Thanks to Kathy, Kevin, Patty, Brandon, Kaydance, Fr. Carl, Michelle & Kaan, Jackson, Kristian, Lindsay & John, Matthias, Kelly, Patrick, Kyra for coming to Graduation Week!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The curriculum is perfect for every student; it is especially appropriate for those students who are preparing for Confirmation. It is an excellent tool for stamping/imprinting the Ten Commandments on our children's hearts.
Black and White and its parent/teacher guide are available on my website: http://www.fortifyingfamiliesoffaith.com/ and select Catholic bookstores around the country (including One More Soul.com.). I would like to invite those who are attending the MN Home School conference, May 28 & 29th, to please feel free to stop by my table, introduce yourself and browse through my books designed to fortify families.
For your information, this is an excerpt from the introduction of Black and White:
"Organizations need fundamental, basic constitutions in order to grow and thrive. These provide foundation, basic structure, purpose, mission, and vision. These documents give an institution’s “followers” – i.e. their members - reason to belong, support, and subscribe to the organizational directives.
The Church also has charters, constitutions, and working documents. Most of these are divinely ordained rather than humanly crafted. God has provided the Church with the Ten Commandments, the inspired Bible, and its ecclesiastical structure. Parish communities have sprung up from these basic foundations.
People need structure and organizational directives – especially moral ones - for their personal, social, and spiritual well being. Without direction, anarchy and decadence become likely. All of society needs moral laws to dampen natural selfishness and to provide direction.
Black and White examines God’s moral codes found in the Old and New Testament and the Church’s instruction in the principles of Christianity via the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This book in effect blends God’s moral code found in the Bible with contemporary Catholic instruction. It considers what the commandments and the Church bid us to do as believers. Often people consider what the Ten Commandments forbid rather than considering what we are called to do as Catholics and Christians. As disciples of Christ we are to arm ourselves with virtue and avoid vice and temptation. This book provides a tool for that type of reflection. Black and White is also a type of an examination of conscience booklet. It focuses on what we should do rather than what we should not do. It takes a good hard look at the sins of omission. You will learn more about the sins of omission in the pages to come. "
The Black and White curriculum teaches the Ten Commandments in a new way; too many of our teens don't know the Ten Commandments even though it should be stamped on every Christian heart. This curriculum attempts to change that! This book is designed for students enrolled in CCD or Confirmation classes, or other religious education programs. This curriculum can be used in the home or in class room instruction. It has the Nihil Obstat Certification.
the curriculum can be ordered online at www.fortifyingfamiliesoffaith.com. For those attending the MN Home School Conference at Macalester College May 28 - 29, 2009, I will be there to showcase this work and Daughters Forever, Sons Forever. See you there.
Monday, May 18, 2009
This week’s blog will focus on breast problems and Ultrasound technology. Identifying a breastfeeding problem is the necessary first step toward its resolution.
1. Lumps in the breast are never considered normal - even during pregnancy and lactation. They should be investigated properly - if the reason is unkown - using Ultrasound technology; in fact Ultrasound screening is now considered the first choice of methods used for investigating unknown breast lumps. Ultrasounds can differentiate between a cyst or fibroadenomas (tumors) even during lactation.
2. Breast tumors are uncommon - yet identifable - during pregnancy or lactation. Biopsy of the tumor is necessary to learn whether it is benign or malignant; ultrasound technology cannot pinpoint whether a tumor is benign or malignant.
3. Breast cancer is rare among pregnant and lactating women – the reported rates vary from 1/3000 (0.033%) women to 1/10000 (0.01%) women. Symptoms usually begin before or during pregnancy; increased mammary blood flow during pregnancy and lactation is thought to accelerate the growth of tumors that are present.
4. Galactoceles (dilated terminal ducts (ductules)) are the result of an obstruction of a milk duct- this obstruction may be due to a lesion or inflammation. Aspiration of the ductile using ultrasound guidance is both diagnostic and therapeutic.
5. Plugged ducts normally show up as a tender lump on the breast - usually it is not accompanied by redness or fever. Suspected causes include abrupt decreases in a breastfeeding baby’s feeding pattern, underwire bras, restrictive clothing or scarring due to an earlier breast surgery or infection. Recently, selective secretory immunoglobulin (SSI) A deficiency has been identified in women who have recurrent blocked ducts - further research is needed. Treatment of plugged ducts include massage of the lumpy (nodular) area and increased frequency/length of breastfeeding. Ultrasounds can be used to follow the plugged duct; needle aspiration of the plugged ducts is used when it is necessary to speed up the resolution of the problem and pain.
6. Abscesses can be identified via ultrasound; furthermore, ultrasounds are frequently used to help guide physicians drain abscesses, and for followup after breast procedures. Abscesses rarely (3%) occur after a bout with mastitis.
7. Breast Engorgement normally occurs within 2 – 5 days after giving birth. The treatments to be used to alleviate engorgement include cold compresses and frequent breastfeeding. Severe engorgement may compromise a mother’s milk supply by causing nipple trauma or mastitis.
8. Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast; an infectious case of mastitis can occur due to the entry of pathogens including staph, strep or e-coli or it can be the result of a non-infection. Pathogens enter the breast via the nipple fissures - these fissures are often the result of having sore nipples or other nipple trauma. Non infectious mastitis is also possible due to blocked ducts, engorgement, or physical injury to the breast; these problems can lead to localized inflammatory response of the breast tissue. Monitoring mastitis with ultrasound technology is helpful; the monitoring is helpful for showing resolution of the problem.
9. Ultrasound imaging is considered to be the most appropriate, initial, investigative tool to use to evalutate problems such as those listed above. If any of you have unresolved or ongoing breast problems after birth, consider "getting thee to an ultrasound.”
Friday, May 15, 2009
Last week you learned that the Ultrasound Technology has greatly improved making it a viable option for identifying breast related-breastfeeding difficulties.
Ultrasound imagery has also revealed the following:
1. Breast tissue changes are significant during pregnancy and lactation. Previously it was believed that the glandular breast tissue - rather than adipose (fat) tissue- became the dominant tissue during pregnancy/breastfeeding. Studies show that proportion of glandular tissue increases more than adipose tissue; however, it is not necessarily true that a pregnant/breastfeeding breast has more glandular tissue than adipose tissue. Evidence shows that the proportion of glandular tissue to adipose tissue varies greatly among women; in fact, only 20% of a select group of women had more glandular tissue than adipose tissue.
2. Breast investigation requires using the highest resolution of the imaging technologies.
3. Ultrasound research does not need to compress the lactating breast; in fact, compression interferes with the ultrasound results. Compression is a major discomfort of mammograms.
4. Ultrasound technology should first survey the entire breast for any abnormalities. When an abnormality is detected, targeted ultrasound zeroes in on the problem area.
5. Nipple piercing and nipple surgery can affect the milk flow; these procedures can reduce the necessary blood flow within the lactating breast. In fact, research demonstrates that mammary blood flow, necessary for milk production, can decrease by 66% of what it should be. Ultrasounds of the nipple- areola can reveal reduced blood flow.
6. Lactating mothers should breastfeed her baby or express milk prior to an ultrasound; an “emptier” breast produces better results.
7. Mammary blood flow doubles by 24 weeks into a pregnancy; this blood flow continues to be elevated throughout full lactation. The average mammary blood flow varies with women.
8. It is normal to experience mammary blood flow variation between the breasts of one woman. Breasts are frequently asymmetrical in size, shape or milk production.
9. The 24 hour mammary blood flow required to produce one liter of milk is believed to be similar to other mammalian species. The ratio is 500:1 (500 liters of blood flow per 24 hour period to is required to produce 1 liter of milk).
10. Milk ejection signs include: sensations of pins and needles in the breast, milk leaking from the nipple, pain pressure, and the maternal feelings of warmth or nausea.
11. "There has been little investigation of the lymphatic drainage of the lactating breast despite its importance in engorgement and mastitis. "
Stay tuned for more next week....
Monday, May 11, 2009
The pastor’s words during the funeral homily are worth noting - I will try to capture some of them in this posting.
Giselle spent her whole life serving God and the family that He helped her "co-create" with Andy. She lovingly, joyfully, and willingly served her family and God - she knew that this mattered. She knew how to love and trust. While we frequently and erroneously try to canonize people at their funeral- her pastor believed that in this case it was ok - he believed that Giselle is already enjoying the presence of our Lord. I think so too. Why? There were many signs…
Giselle exuded joy, peace, love, faith, charity, fortitude, temperance, self control, and, patience in life and also during her battle with cancer. She readily offered up her suffering- and it was real- for some very special intentions. She didn’t look back when asked to forfeit her life despite leaving behind a loving husband and five young children who will miss her greatly. Regardless of her undying love for them, she loved God more. This is the life of a saint.
Furthermore, Giselle died with great dignity, acceptance and peace. She understood what it meant to offer up her suffering - she commented that if it helps anyone or anything (and she believed it did) she would gladly do it all over again. The last hours - when told there was nothing else they (doctors) could do - she wrote down that she was ready to see God face to face. When asked if she was afraid, she wrote that she wasn’t – and she wasn’t! She welcomed death knowing that in dying she would be born to eternal life.
Her battle against cancer was mounted courageously even while accepting the fact that death was highly probable. Giselle told us that she could accept God's plan whatever it was ; furthermore, she accepted His plan without asking "why me?"
Giselle painstakingly wrote thoughts and love notes in a journal after learning that her odds weren't that great. She did this for several reasons- she knew that her words would provide a testimony to her faith, a lasting legacy to her husband and children, and an encouragement to her family after she wasn't there to talk to them directly. She loved Andy and the children.
Giselle had a devotion to Our Lady- she died in May - the month traditionally dedicated to Mary.
It has been said that God asks mothers especially - to not look back- to let go of their babies. Giselle did that - she let go because she loved God. She also was able to let go because she had fully experienced authentic love on earth with her husband and children - she had no regrets. She had learned to love with her whole heart, mind, and will. She had learned to love righteously – her love and life became ordered by faith-filled priorities.
The priest issued a warning to all of us who grieve her passing – but especially to Andy and the children. He reminded the children that they have received the faith from their mother; they are now responsible for growing this faith in the days, months and years ahead despite bearing enormous loss and the pain of separation. They are called to be saints like their mother. Surely, they will be tempted by Satan to despair of God’s love in the days ahead. They will be tempted especially on days when the loss hurts so badly. Surely, Satan will tempt all of us by reminding us that God took Giselle when she was young and active - we will be asked to consider why God couldn't have waited. Satan will paint God as missing in action (MIA) or AWOL (absent without leave) or even selfish for taking Giselle to Himself before we were ready to let her go. He will remind the children that God took Giselle before their graduation, their wedding day, the birth of Giselle's first grandchild.... He will tempt them to be angry with God for taking her before they were ready to let her go.
In truth the real question is this: are we ever ready to let someone go? Truth be told, the answer would be no. God, in His wisdom, took Giselle when she was ready. The rest of us need to get ourselves ready.
God will ask all of us in the days and months ahead: do we love Him? Do we trust Him? Will we honor Him? Only God understands why Giselle died May 3, 2009 and was dedicated to Him on May 8, 2009. May none of us despair or grow bitter with her departure. May God Bless Andy and the kids with grace and hope during their intense mourning. May they grieve like St. Peter. May we all mourn with righteousness.
Andy and Giselle demonstrated authentic love- they helped countless marriages with their NFP instruction in class, in person and on the air waves. What they did mattered to God. He blessed Giselle with countless gifts of grace that enabled her to endure the suffering and accept her death.
Andy and the kids can surely know God's love because He graced them for a little while with a saintly wife and mother. What more could they ask for or have received?
On a final note, after the reception we were gently reminded by a faith-filled old man (he describes himself as old- he's 85) as he witnessed to the beauty of marriage. Dr. Busam told us that we will not be able to fully experience Andy's pain unless we have also lost a spouse. He went on to say that " it is true - when we marry, we become one body. When our spouse dies, we are literally cleaved in half! Oh the pain is tremendous and the suffering untold. Furthermore, we never really heal from the loss. "
So let us all pray for marriage which is under attack today. Let us pray for all widows and widowers. And let us pray especially for Andy and the kids in the days and months ahead.
The Art of Breastfeeding advocates that breastfeeding is best for baby, mother, father, and society. Nevertheless, some women will encounter difficulties with breastfeeding due to either mechanical or behavioral problems as outlined in the book- what about them?
Mechanical breastfeeding problems can involve the breast itself including engorgement, mastitis, or other situations. The International Breastfeeding Journal recently published an article, dated April 29, 2009, on the effective use of ultrasound technology to identify breast problems while lactating. The title of the article was Ultrasound Imaging of the Lactating Breast: Methodology and Application.
The article points out the problems of using Mammography or Galactography to analyze breast/lactation problems. In the first case, increased glandular tissues and secretion of breast milk during lactation make radiographs difficult to interpret accurately. Furthermore, Galactography – which involves injecting contrast material into the duct orifices of the breast nipple- offers only limited information / views of the ductal system decreasing its usefulness. Also, Galactography; which injects foreign "dyes" into the breast; increases the possibility of breast infection. Previously, Ultrasounds weren't any more helpful for investigating lactating breast complications. Increased breast densities and accumulation of the milk during lactation rendered the older ultrasound images useless. Today however, improved ultrasound image resolution makes it possible to identify breast problems -even for lactating women.
The article cited many interesting facts that I thought you might be interested in reading. For example, recent breast research has revealed the following :
1. Many women may have far fewer main breast ducts than previously thought- most text books cite that women normally have at least fourteen.
2. Furthermore, dissections of breasts of women who had died while breastfeeding did not support previous assumptions made about the lactiferous sinus ; rather, the dissections revealed that the ductal branches merge into one main collecting duct very close to the nipples.
3. Milk ducts only distend at the time of milk ejection accommodating the transport of milk to the infant rather than storing milk for removal.
4. These new findings provide clarity to the operation, anatomy, and purpose of the various parts of the breast. You may wonder why this type of information is important. It is important that the various pathways of breast milk be identified and understood in order to accurately assess lactating breast problems. Furthermore, this information is necessary when reading and interpreting mammograms or ultrasounds; this furthers disease identification and resolution of breast problems. In the next several blogs about ultrasounds, you will read how ultrasound technology has helped identifty problems of the breast during lactation.
Monday, May 4, 2009
President Obama obviously believes in one's ability to have a fully informed and operative personal conscience - this is not an uncommon philosophy today. But, let's really examine women's ability to personally assess the ethical and moral nature of abortion when experiencing a crisis pregnancy.
First, crisis pregnancy infers that it (the pregnancy) occurred under less than ideal circumstances; either a contraceptive method failed, the mother is unmarried, a woman was raped, or she is involved in a relationship in which pregnancy is feared and/or unwanted by herself, her husband or boyfriend, or casual acquaintance. In any case, there is pressure to abort the newly conceived life by the one who fears or dreads the pregnancy. This could easily include the mother -to-be herself, her boyfriend or husband, co-workers, fellow students, or parents of the pregnant woman.
Overt pressure clouds someone's ability to reason properly. Sin also clouds our ability (conscience) to reason properly. It is fair to state that a "sin(s)" was involved in the resulting "crisis"pregnancy. When a woman is unmarried but sexually active, she and her partner commit sins against chastity. Married couples who resent a pregnancy fail to love each other authentically. Rape is an aggression against an innocent person. Therefore, most will agree that some type of unloving action occurred between two persons when a woman winds up with a crisis pregnancy. This doesn't mean that good can't result from the pregnancy, with God all things are possible.
Recently, a commentary reminded me how sin clouds our intellect and our ability to reason properly while disposing us to further sin. Pope Benedict teaches that we see Christ - not with our eyes - but with our souls and our hearts. Only when our souls are pure, are we able to see Him clearly. Only when we see Him clearly, are we able to reason properly. Sin calcifies (hardens) our hearts making it difficult to see or respond to God as we should.
Therein lies the problem with President Obama's statement. None of us are able to see or reason clearly while in the state of sin. While it is nearly impossible for the Courts or Congress to make truly righteous judgements or laws, I disagree when Obama states that a mother facing a crisis pregnancy is best equipped to make the right decision.
When faced with a crisis pregnancy, the mother- to - be must first look to the wisdom of the Church and the righteous example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who faced pregnancy as an unmarried woman. Although Mary had a holy pregnancy, she nonetheless had to face many of the social pressures facing today's unmarried mothers. Only when we depend on God and His Church, can we rest assured of finding the right answers in the right places.
Pass this article on to someone who you think may benefit from it.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Attitude is all important – when we fear something it will likely be more worrisome than it needs to be. Research has shown that young girls who fear menarche (the first menstruation) are more likely to suffer from painful menses and other negative symptoms. It seems likely that women who dread or are unprepared for menopause may experience more negative menopause symptoms as well. One researcher points out that “women process information internally and in relation with others.”  I recall the words of my doctor as we discussed menopause. He wisely advised me to age gracefully whatever the circumstances. His advice struck a chord with me; it invited me to explore the concept of aging gracefully.
How does one age gracefully? The late Pope John Paul ll’s summoned us to not fear; his appeal resonates for those trying to age gracefully.
Aging gracefully means learning to set and balance realistic expectations and goals for one’s state in life using appropriate tools and knowledge. It means living healthily; keeping one’s eyes fixed on God; maintaining hope, faith and trust in God; and accepting our aging as part and parcel of living. When we are not aging, we are not living! Our energy needs to be focused on re-balancing our psychological, spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological and cognitive dimensions whenever we face a disrupting force or transition stage in life. To age gracefully means aligning our whole self in a positive fashion. The menopause experience must be examined in light of all the dimensions which wrap up and are part of our human person.
Couples must face the adventures of life together – including aging. Most studies fail to examine how spousal attitudes, experiences, questions, fears, or, hopes impact the menopausal woman. Readers discovered in my other book, the Art of Breastfeeding, that the husband is his wife’s most important support and ally to help her begin and continue breastfeeding with success. Similarly, women approaching menopause need supportive and informed husbands willing to help her investigate, problem solve, make sound decisions, and stay positive about life in general. Husbands are often the key to getting necessary support when wives are struggling with severe or complicated menopausal symptoms, problems, or, misconceptions. Husbands also need to understand the basics of menopause and it’s consequence to fertility as it relates to their mutual commitment to Natural Family Planning.
Similarly, wives need to understand what is happening to their husbands as they age. Women will be called on to help their husbands face male aging. The husband needs a supportive and informed wife just as she needs a supportive husband. Both must be willing to help the other investigate, problem solve, make sound decisions, and, stay positive about life in general.
Understanding the journey through fertility to pre-menopause, perimenopause and menopause is fairly complex . Menopause is not a one-day event; it is a journey, a process, a transition due to aging. It impacts fertility permanently. Most women live one third of their lives beyond menopause.
Menopause has become over-medicalized for a number of reasons; these will be explored in a later blog.
Menopause is part of God’s plan and design; it allows women and men to take a moment, to pause and think about their lives before plunging ahead into the next developmental stage called middle age. This pause gives people time to consider things like what they have accomplished thus far, what their values are, how influential they are with those they love, and other important matters Pondering these questions allows us to think about what we would change if we could. It allows us to question our entire life experiences.
Aging actually begins the instant we were created. While aging seems to speed up over time, it doesn’t. We age steadily and constantly. Use the menopause experience to examine your faith, your hope and your love for God. Use this menopause to examine how well you love your spouse. Consider where you have been and where you want to go in life.
Thoughts or comments? More next week.
 P. 47 Journey to Cessation p. 47
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Consider the number of "test-tube" babies who will never know their biological brothers, sisters, or "parents". Eventually, two may meet, fall in love, and plan to marry without realizing their in-vitro connection.
What do we do about the myriad of frozen embryos awaiting an open womb? Perhaps the only moral resolution is allowing the "forzen' life to naturally decay in the frozen state; however, when does that occur? How long?
Did you know that a baby was artificially produced with the intention of using him for treating an older sibling's health problems? (Nash, 2000)
The advances in artificial reproduction have gone beyond servicing life - these artificial advances service opportunity, materialism, and consumerism.
Dr. J. Steinberg- a designer baby doctor- recently stated the following: “Many countries do not allow designer babies; the US has no legislation prohibiting these scientific procedures… What do you think I see when I visit those countries? I see a bunch of people with Down Syndrome walking around!” Take his statement at face value. Steinberg obviously thinks that babies born with Down syndrome are a liability. He is talking about our beloved youngest daughter - and many other wonderful individuals.
InVitro fertilization is a vice and it invites additional vice; it is no wonder the Church declares it to be an illicit procedure.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Breastfeeding studies prove over and over that breastfeeding is best for baby - but not just babies. The mothers benefit as well as shown by a new large study showing that women who breastfeed have decreased risk for developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease decades after discontinuing breastfeeding.
As with other studies, the length of time a woman breastfeeds is important - the longer she breastfeeds the greater the benefits.
Naysayers suggest that the breastfeeding benefits may not be directly related to breastfeeding; rather, they suggest that women (who breastfeed) may lead more healthful lives- they take better care of themselves. If it is true that breastfeeding mothers take better care of themselves, good for them! Perhaps they intuitively understand that what and how they eat affects the quality of their breastmilk - therefore, they eat better because it is best for baby!
Either way, breastfeeding benefits mom and baby. But guess what, it also benefits dad and the whole of society as well. Breastfeeding is really the gold standard for feeding - everyone is better off practicing exclusive and continued breastfeeding.
Monday, April 20, 2009
You may be interested to know that several years ago, I was invited to subscribe to Sage Pub - this is a great online resource for writers and researchers. It gives people like me easy, unfettered access to journals, papers and abstracts, and other publications for a variety of areas and disciplines. Having access to this online "library" has opened up information for me that I would not otherwise have easily obtained. It has been great having this access! It helps me blog more intelligently about the topics of interest.
The source of "scientific" information facilitated the publication of my first two books: Daughters Forever, Sons Forever & The Art of Breastfeeding. I have begun collecting research for another book entitled: Daughters Forever, Sons Forever Off to College! The box-full of information awaiting me is getting ever deeper and wider! A full list of my books can be found on http://www.fortifyingfamiliesoffaith.com/.
Please let me know if you have any particular questions or curiosities with regard to menopause, breastfeeding, or parenting, or any other related subject - I will try to get a discussion going on that point as well. Hope you join in the discussions! Please feel free to forward any blogs to family or friends. Let's get some great discussions going!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Designer babies are here! While other nations ban sex selection except for “medical purposes,” couples are taking advantage of America’s morally neutral stance with regard to artificial fertilization, reproduction and designer babies. There is a rush of couples from other nations - which prohibit sex selection except for medical reasons - to facilities like Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg’s Northridge Hospital Medical Center. They come to this clinic to get their boy, their girl, or their “perfect” blue-eyed, blonde baby. They come from here and abroad; some come to Steinberg’s clinic from China, Canada, Australia, Mexico and some European nations. They come because they afford to be picky about their progeny.
Steinberg is proud to offer sex selection services to infertile couples; he is happy to sell consumer eugenics to his conditional parents-to-be. They are conditional because they don’t want certain babies. He offers embryo selection, sex selection, and the prevention of sex-linked or inherited disease to these couples. He offers services that need to be confronted and contended with.
The Caiphas effect is readily obvious when proffered opinions state: “sex selection of embryos is clearly ethical when the method is used to prevent genetic disease but not the choosing of one gender over the other!” Designing babies fails to respect all life - it also dishonors the natural human reproduction processes. The immorality of these artificial reproductive processes should be obvious when the clinics also offer low interest, 100% financing complete with discounted travel packages which include dining, and hotel reservations. This should bother even the conditional parents-to-be - but it doesn't seem to.
Artificial reproduction crossed the bio-ethical line when it moved from assisting natural fertilization to replacing natural fertilization. It crossed the fine moral line when it failed to support and respect all human life.
Artificial reproduction is designed for a very small group of infertile couples who demand and expect pregnancy and view pregnancy as a right rather than a God-given privilege that needs to be safe-guarded and respected.
Artificial reproduction attacks the very entity it is trying to create: new life! It uses Caiphas’ logic to justify certain actions. It treats the creation of human life as a commodity, a consumer good, a profit- making endeavor or a manufacturing process. Soon quality control laboratories will spring up to monitor the “quality” of the designing baby techniques.
In an article from Reason Magazine, Greg Beato ask (3/24/09): “could it be that parents determined to micro-manage their progeny’s eye color are the ones who care the most?” His question is really just an empty pundit because it fails to ask a full question. The real question would ask what these parents care the most about! Could it be that parents determined to micro-manage their progeny’s eye color are the ones who care the most about the intelligence of their baby? Their baby’s looks? Their baby’s height? Their baby’s physical, mental, health characteristics? Could it be that parents determined to micro-manage their progeny’s eye color are the ones who care about – are the most picky about - who they are willing to love? In other words, are the parents, in fact, conditional parents-to-be or caretakers? Is their quest to find the perfect baby because anybody less than perfect just isn’t worth loving and caring for?
These are the real questions that haven’t been asked.
Everyone needs to know that design-a-baby procedures, like design the teddy bear in the shopping malls, occur at $20,000 per procedure. Meanwhile, babies, like my daughter, are especially targeted for extinction! Couples are practicing sexism without being called on the carpet for this prejudice when they only want a boy or a girl. Individuals or couples are hoping to create “genetically superior” offspring by using pre-selected sperm and /or eggs without realizing that even superior offspring can fail miserably in the game of life. More next time...