Monday, February 28, 2011

How I Feel About Birth Control

When I was pregnant with Jathan, the doctor I was seeing asked me if I planned on having a tubal ligation since I would have both a girl and a boy. I was kind of taken aback by his question because I felt so young and had always pictured having a big family. I got the feeling from the doctor, however, that this was pretty commonplace. After all, who wouldn’t want the boy-girl set—part of the American dream, right?

When I became pregnant with our fourth child, people became more forthright in their questions about our sex life. I was surprised at the number of people who actually asked me, “Was it a surprise?” (Thank goodness no one said ACCIDENT!) In my mind, no, she was not a surprise because God had her planned since the beginning of time! Equally disturbing were people’s seemingly light-hearted question usually directed at Jackie, “Don’t you know how THAT happens?” I’ve always wanted to respond, “Why, yes, we do. I see that you’ve only managed to have one child…do you need some pointers?”

I wish it weren’t so but many times I’ve allowed other people to get me down. I try to think, instead, about how God views children. When speaking of children, the Bible uses words like “blessing” and “reward” and “glory.” People in Bible times desperately hoped for children sometimes so much so that they were willing to do immoral things to obtain them. Think of Abraham and Sarah--Sarah put her handmaid directly into her loving, godly (but all too willing!) husband’s arms. Think of Tamar who went so far as to disguise herself as a prostitute to have her children. Think about Hannah and how distraught she must have been over being barren that she appeared drunk. Yes, there was a time when children were highly prized! What happened?! Now over a million abortions are performed each year in the United States alone. The CDC reports that “98% of women who had ever had sexual intercourse had used at least one method of birth control” and that about 11.6 million women use the birth control pill in the U.S.

Our culture has changed, yes. But do you think God’s views have?

I confess that when Jackie and I first married, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. I got on birth control and we waited until we had been married for a couple of years before trying to conceive. At that time I tried to choose the easiest form of birth control for me which was the Mirena IUD. I loved that I never had to think about it. I didn’t have to take a pill every day. I didn’t have to stop and do anything that might kill the mood. And halleluiah—it completely stopped my periods! It was the form of birth control that I choose after Jathan was born as well. Sadly, I didn’t research it very much either time. And truth be told, I never truly wanted to be on birth control. I spent a lot of time kind of hoping it would fail. Just ask Jackie, I’ve driven him crazy wanting babies! I’ve longed for children and enjoy being pregnant. How’s that for counter-cultural?!

I can’t exactly remember what led me to research how Mirena works but when I did I was surprised to learn that it has abortifacient properties meaning it didn’t always work by preventing a pregnancy but by causing a fertilized egg to be expelled from my body (which fits the definition of abortion—the termination of a pregnancy—to me!).

I was all too happy to have my IUD removed and was overjoyed to find that I was expecting Ryland. While I was still pregnant with him, Jackie and I began looking into other forms of birth control that wouldn’t interfere with our ethics because, you know that’s what married couples do: They use birth control! But the more and more I researched birth control the more troubled I became. Not only did their websites contain long lists of the potential side effects—everything from weight gain to DEATH—I found that every form of hormonal birth control has the capacity to prevent a fertilized egg from being able to implant successfully and continue to live. On each official website it was stated that that method caused changed in the lining of a woman’s uterus thereby making it an inhospitable environment for a newly fertilized egg. Every one—the Mirena IUD, the ParaGuard IUD, the pill (ortho tri-cyclen lo), the patch (Ortho Evra), the shot (Depo-Provera), and the implant (Implanon)—all say that part of how they are so effective is by thinning the lining of a woman’s uterus to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Now personally we believe in the sanctity of life and consider life to begin at conception (although I think it begins BEFORE that in God’s eyes since according to Jeremiah 1:5 He knows us BEFORE we are even formed in our mother’s womb.) so I just couldn’t live with taking a pill or shot or putting on a patch and just hoping that it didn’t work that way. I don’t want to play Russian roulette even when the gun is pointed at someone else. Why, I wonder, do so many Christians pitch a FIT over Plan B, the morning after pill, when their birth control method works THE EXACT SAME WAY?! I hope to goodness it boils down to a simple lack of information and it’s not a true reflection of what lengths we are truly comfortable going to to have life conform to our plans. That’s really all birth control ever is—a matter of convenience so that children don’t get in the way of what we want to do with our lives. Isn’t that a dangerous thing in itself since the Bible says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” (Philippians 2:3)

I’m not saying that having children is easy (worthwhile things seldom are) and I’m not saying that other forms of birth control (barrier methods or sterilization) that actually prevent conception are necessarily immoral (although I’m still prayerful on that subject). What I really want to convey is that children, all children, are STILL 100% blessings from God and they deserve us to value them in such a way that we are not so concerned with making our lives easier that we are willing to accept an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude when it comes to literally disposing of them.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chuck E. Cheese's!

Saturday was a busy day for us! Jathan and Ryland were invited to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's at 9:30 a.m. You know, the time when we're usually just waking up. At first I thought it sounded crazy but once we got there I understood. It was awesome being almost the only ones there! The boys had an absolute blast playing games and riding rides and Jathan was completely enthralled with the costumed version of Chuck E.

We left just before lunchtime when everyone else was piling in and we were worn out. Jathan had won 52 tickets and got some glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth with them. He thinks they are so cool and even wore them to church today!

So glad that Victory shared her special day with us!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gearing Up for Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is drawing near and I say when in Rome, do as the Romans! So we've decked the house out in green, purple, and gold.

I used some Christmas decorations, Keeleigh's mask, and some beads to spruce up our table.

We are using Keeleigh's boas on the wall over the table and I'm so happy to have my little Lucky Doll from the French Market hanging out on my shelf this month!

We used our beads from years past on the balcony where we also put up some colored lights.

I hung the rag wreath that I made on the front door.

And I made the boys some Mardi Gras shirts out of the leftover fabric.

Now if only I could find a maternity tutu to wear to the parade, we'd be good to go! = )

Thursday, February 24, 2011

25 Weeks!

I am 25 weeks pregnant today! That means I only have 15 more weeks to go. Give or take, of course, since I've never actually made it to a due date. I end up counting down differently--like, only 8 more weeks and Jathan was born, only 10 more weeks and Ryland was born, only 12 more weeks and Keeleigh was born! I am ever prayerful that baby sister will be 42 weeks gestation and I'll be desperately hoping for her to come out already. = P

If something *should* happen though, I'm taking comfort in the fact that many babies survive being born at 25 weeks. My little one's lungs are capable of working and she's getting stronger each day!

I feel her move often now and try to picture what part it might be protruding. It usually feels like she's sideways in my tummy but whether it's an elbow or foot poking me, I don't have a clue. I'm just thankful for each little movement. There just aren't many things better than feeling your baby move inside of you. I never cease to be amazed that God lets me in on His miracles.

Ryland kept wanting to be in the pictures as I was trying to get a good bump shot so ^ here's one of me and my two little babies!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

President's Day

In New Orleans people will use any excuse to party. At my house I will use any excuse to craft. President's Day passes without so much as a glance at the calendar for some but I'd been making a long list of ideas for quite a while, scanning the holiday pages of my February Family Fun Magazine half wishing I did have a kid born of February 21st so I could have one of the cute theme parties they feature. Yes, I am THAT dorky.

So I checked out a few books from the library. I really wish I'd done my homework before I went but I didn't so I just had to settle for what I could find in the short time I was able to hold Ryland down in between the aisles before he started screaming. I got one book based on the song This Land is My Land and one based on America the Beautiful. I also got one that I thought was really cute called Grace for President. It was about a young girl who couldn't believe there had been no girl presidents. Her teacher proposed a class election and she decided to run. I loved that it highlighted integrity and hard work and I also loved it's simple explanation of the election process including electoral votes.

I worked on learning some new words with Jathan this week including president and honesty (two words that seem to get further and further apart, huh?). We studied about the lives of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and learned to recognize them on flash cards as well as President Obama. Then we crafted! Want to see pictures? I know you do!

Here's our calendar for the month (made from A beka Book's Art A book). We decided to tuck our presidential flash cards inside the heart so George, Abe, and Barack are hanging out together this month.

We did coin rubbings which not only reinforced recognizing the presidents from our flash cards but also helped in learning the different coins which is one of my goals for Jathan this year.

We also cleaned up some old pennies.

Using ketchup. Am I brave, or what?

Jathan thought it was totally cool.

And they actually came out pretty shiny!

We made a George Washington "wig."

And talked about the legend of Washington's cherry tree incident. We talked honesty while Jathan decorated a arm and handprint cherry tree.

Then we read a book about Abraham Lincoln that I had to completely paraphrase. Anyone know how to tell a three-year old about slavery and assassins? Yeah, me neither. Log cabins? We can handle that!

What I want to know is how Jathan perceived that I left out the part where Lincoln's mother died. "Where's his mom?" he asked.

"She died," I told him, "But he had a stepmother that loved him very much." Then he talked about dying FOREVER because that is one of his favorite subjects right under which animals we eat.

And here's our President's Day wall complete with the silhouette that Keeleigh did of Jathan's head!

Oh, yeah! President's Day was awesome! = P

Friday, February 18, 2011

And We Haven't Even Gotten to the Terrible Twos Yet!

While he's certainly not the first free-spirited child I've had (ahem, Keeleigh!), Ryland does have a very unique personality which includes a precocious ability to climb and "explore" in other ways that make his mama want to scream.

Here he is halfway to the freedom I was trying to keep him from! I swear, he scales ANYTHING he can get a foothold on. I've since turned the gate around so that he can't get onto that bar. Here's hoping that keeps him!

And here is his latest conquest--lifting the toilet seat all by himself!

Honestly, shouldn't someone be watching this kid? = P

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ryland's 12 Month Checkup...

Was actually a bit late since he was almost 13 months old at the time. Better late than never, huh? Perhaps not since he was running a fever within a few days of being in that surely germ-infested waiting room! Moving on, however.

Ryland was found to be in excellent health! He weighed 20 pounds and was in the 10 percentile for both height and weight. Yes, he's small but I'm glad! I really don't know how I could carry around a chunky baby. Plus all of my children have been small and have caught up. Keeleigh was petite (5 pounds, 12 ounces at birth) and is soon to surpass me in height. She's already got me beat on shoe size!

We chose not to have Ryland vaccinated this time for the first time. I know its a controversial issue and that not all people think it was the wisest choice (including his doctor). But many factors contributed to our decision and I wanted to share some of them in case you are deciding whether or not to vaccinate or are just curious why people like us choose not to.

First of all I do not think all vaccinations are definitely bad. The good affects they've had are obvious! It's the bad affects I worry about and the unknown ones. I feel like there's so much we, including doctors, simply do not know. Since the government started mandating childhood vaccinations, studies show that illnesses like allergies, cancer, diabetes, leukemia, autism, SIDS, and ADD/ADHD have absolutely sky-rocketed. Even if you or your child don't have an immediate reaction to a vaccination, are you certain that there won't be a long-term one come up? We can't be certain. No one is.

Why might these vaccines which were created to bring about great good cause so much damage? I think it might be because their human creators were determined to find something that worked at any cost. Do you know how they make vaccines? Most are grown using things like monkey kidneys, mice brains, and chicken embryos. Some rabies, some mumps, all rubella, all chickenpox, all hepatitis a, some smallpox, and all ipv are grown using aborted fetal tissue which we definitely have a problem with since we are Pro-Life. And that's nothing new, either. These are being made from abortions performed in the 1960s so if you received vaccinations as a child, you were injected with this material along with things like formaldehyde, mercury, and other carcinogenics. Why do we worry about feeding our babies from bottles made with BPA (a cancer-causing chemical found in plastics) if we're just going to inject this stuff into them anyway?! (BTW: You can request the package inserts from your doctor if you'd like to research exactly what's in the vaccination your child will be receiving.)

Vaccines are often made using the very the sickness we're trying to prevent so guess where it has to grow? In the same stuff it would grow in if it were trying to inhabit your body...urine, blood, feces, pus, (cadaver) organs, etc. If your child picked dirt-covered food up off the playground and tried to eat it, you would naturally stop them and yet we're putting pure filth into their blood streams on a regular schedule!

Jackie and I just did not feel like it was the best choice for our children. Of course I would not judge you if you choose to vaccinate because I know how much a mother can love her children and that we're all just trying to take the best care of our children as we know how. But I do think we should all try to make informed choices which is why I wanted to share this information with you!

I also wanted to note that yes, I said the doctor did not agree with our choice (thank God we do have a choice!) but out of the last five times I've taken our children to the doctor, not one of them could diagnose what was ailing them at the time. "It must be viral," we've been told time and again over fevers that did indeed clear up on their own. I also took Jathan to see what the little bumps on his leg were and what to do about his eczema. The doctor said there was nothing to be done about the bumps besides burn them off (even though there is a homeopathic remedy) and prescribed a steroid cream for his eczema which dried his skin out even more. So, no, I don't believe doctors have ALL the answers but they, like us parents, are just taking good-intentioned, educated (hopefully) guesses. So don't be afraid to disagree with doctor if you've done your homework and feel strongly about something.

And if you've actually read this far down, I am totally impressed. = *

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunday in the French Quarter

After weeks of chilly weather, the sun finally has decided to shine again! Sunday was the first day of beautiful weather so we decided to head to the French Quarter to enjoy it. Judging by the crowds in the streets, we weren't the only ones!

We've lived here almost 3 years and I found myself wondering how long you have to live here before this gets old. I just love the Quarter (give or take a couple of streets). The architecture, the music, the food, the interesting characters you're sure to pass!

Here are a few shots from our afternoon.

See how blue the skies were?

Decorating for Mardi Gras! I think I know what I'm going to do with all of our extra beads now!

The Louisiana Supreme Court Building. Sunday was the first time I'd even noticed it!

Keeleigh lookin' all urban chic!

Jathan and his balloon animal made by one of the clowns wandering around.

Ryland and his ill-fated balloon animal. There's a reason they call balloons choking hazards, you know. = P

Keeleigh's French Market purchase: a cool new hat.

Ryland hanging out being a good little boy!

Keeleigh, our little free climber, and the statue she conquered.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sweetening Things Up

It's always a sad thing to take down the Christmas decorations for me. Though you regain some sense of order and normalcy, I do love having things look festive. So we decided to try to do at least a little decorating for each holiday beginning with Valentine's Day this year. It was so hard for me to wait for February 1st to sweeten things up around here!

Back in January (told you I was an eager beaver!), I made my first ever rag wreath after I was inspired by a Facebook friend (thanks, April!). I would much rather craft something that just go out and buy it and I think it looks really cute on our door!

Then we bought some of the little dollar clings at Walmart and the kids enjoyed decorating our balcony door and homeschool window with them.

Then we took a craft idea from this month's Family Fun magazine and made some yarn hearts. (Follow the link for directions.)

Keeleigh made some "stained-glass" hearts to hang on over our dining room table and in our school room window. They are super easy to make. You shave some old crayons--a great way to use up old broken ones!--onto some wax paper using a pencil sharpener; put another sheet of wax paper on top and iron it on low heat until the crayon melts.

Then when the wax paper cools, draw your heart (or any shape you want) design on it and cut it out.

We then punched holes in the top of the hearts and strung them on ribbon to hang.

So pretty!

Keeleigh also cut out some paper dolls which we used as a sort of garland for our Valentine's "tree."

For the tree I just stuck a couple of branches in a vase with some pink, red, and white Mardi Gras beads in it. We hung the yarn hearts on the "tree" as well and tied little left-over rags (from the wreath) onto random branches.

And see the heart garland up on the wall? My buddy Nicola and I got together and crafted that from some scrap fabric and cereal boxes!

I had wanted to buy some wooden letters and paint them but then I saw this glittery word at Big Lots for $3 and knew I couldn't beat that. I love it on my newly painted shelf.

And that's how we've sweetened things up around here! = )

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Red Beans and Rice is Mighty Nice

Monday is traditionally red beans and rice night in Louisiana (because Monday was wash day and it was a no-fuss meal to cook) but we had it last night as our Tuesday night meal (incidentally after a full day of washing!). It simmered on the stove while our Mexican cornbread cooked in the oven and I waited anxiously for Jackie to get home to eat because it all smelled SO GOOD!

Being one of our favorite meals, we all (except Keeleigh, our "discriminating" eater) scarfed it down. I just think it's adorable to see Jathan scooping big spoonfuls into his eager mouth and little Ryland in his highchair grunting for more and more. No baby food at our house! Pretty soon they'll be asking us to pass the hot sauce.

I'm so glad that I found a great recipe that we enjoy so I wanted to share it with you guys.

Here's how I make red beans and rice:

1. Go make groceries. Buy:
  • 2 cans Blue Runner cream-style red beans (You're out of luck if you don't live in LA on this one, I think, so just cream some regular red beans in your blender!)
  • 1 can regular (meaning not creamed) red beans
  • 2 cans chili-ready chunky tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • Smoked sausage
  • Rice
2. Cut your onion and bell pepper into long, thin strips. Cut your sausage into 1-inch slices. Put them in a large skillet and cook them over medium heat until your sausage brown and your veggies are tender.

3. Add all the beans and the tomatoes, bring the mixture to a boil, then let it simmer while you cook your rice. Contemplate how utterly delicious this in going to be.

4. Serve the beans over rice. I like mine mixed in with some turnip greens (I just buy the Glory brand in the can.) but Jackie likes okra with his. Whatever floats your boat. We all like cornbread so last night I made some yummy Mexican cornbread to go with our meal.

Here's how I make Mexican cornbread:

  • 1 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • few shakes garlic powder
  • 1 c cream corn
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 c grated cheddar
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
Crush the jalapeño pepper in the cornmeal. Add the garlic powder, corn, eggs, bell pepper, buttermilk and oil. Heat and grease a large skillet. Pour 1/2 of your mixture into the skillet; sprinkle 1/2 the cheese on it then pour the rest of your mixture and top it with the rest of the cheese. Bake 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Try not to burn your tongue because you're going to want to eat it right away!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Keeleigh's Campground

Check out Keeleigh's new campground! She and Jathan had fun hanging out playing in the new tent on the breezeway today. Shhhh, no one tell housing we're violating fire code!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jackie's Busy Birthday

Alternately Titled: I'm Really Excited That We Saved a Boatload of Money Today.

Today was a super busy day! First off I took the boys to the doctor--more on that later. Then we went to Target to get Jathan some church shoes (and a Barrel of Monkeys). When we got home we left almost immediately to go to Mellow Mushroom for Jackie's birthday. Yep, he's another year older today but don't worry, he hasn't shown any signs of growing up yet. = P

We had gotten a couple of gift certificates to Mellow Mushroom, one of our favorite pizza joints, through New Orleans Perks where you can get 1/2 price certificates to different restaurants. So
instead of spending $30, we spent $15 and filled up on some DELICIOUS cheesy garlic bread and the house special.

After Mellow Mushroom we went to Academy Sports so that Keeleigh could look around. She's been wanting a tent to play in and they had a 7x7 one on clearance for $16! She's so excited that she wanted to set in up on the breezeway and sleep in it tonight but I thought 45 degrees w
as a bit chilly to be camping out. Mean ol' Mama, I know!

Then we were off to Kohl's where Keeleigh was in bargain heaven. They had a huge clearance junior's section that was 70% off. She picked out several things to try on and ended up getting a some really cute pieces all for the same price that she paid for a single pair of pants yesterday at Old Navy. Her receipt said she saved a total of $78!

Jackie also found some great deals at Kohl's. He got some much needed pants and a couple of shirts and his receipt said he saved a total of $77! You've just gotta love Kohl's.

Yep, we shopped 'til Jathan and Ryland dropped but it was worth it.

I resisted the urge to go to Hobby Lobby mainly because it was getting late and we still had to travel all the way across the causeway (Did you know it was the world's longest bridge? I just learned that today!) but Keeleigh and I did hit Kirkland's where I finally bought the rooster lamp I've been thinking about buying forever. It was marked down to $10 and looks totally cute on my baker's rack.

So, even though it was Jackie's birthday, we all had a wonderful time and got some great goodies!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Our Date

Some couples make it a priority to have a regular date night. Jackie and I have not been so great about doing that. In fact, last night was the first time we'd been out alone in about 2 years! So I was very happy that we're blessed with wonderful friends who volunteered to keep our kids for a few hours while we went out to eat.

Jackie got reservations for Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (unfortunately the one downtown was booked up so we went to Metairie) and we headed there for some yummy, yummy steak, garlic mashed potatoes, and sauteed mushrooms. The only thing that could have made it better was if they'd had Dr. Pepper, ha ha!

It was so much fun, I hope it's not another 2 years until we do it again!