Monday, August 31, 2009

Did You Watch Nightline Last Evening?

I wanted to throw bricks at the TV.

Perhaps if I explain my own personal views/opinions on autism, you, fair reader, will understand why I wanted to throw bricks at the TV.

Ok, this is complicated, but since I'm the parent of at least one, if not three (still waiting on official diagnosis, but I know what I know) kids on the autistic spectrum, I've been around the block, read a thing or two and have lived with the realities for the past fifteen years or so. And I thank God that my kid's symptoms are on the very mild side of autism (Schizphrenia excepted which isn't autism, but which mental illness is found at a higher rate in the autistic population than the "normal" population).

The question someone posed to me on facebook yesterday was whether or not I thought autism is caused by vaccines. Hmmmm. How do I answer this?

Since I'm not a doctor, or a scientist, all I can do is share my own experience in this teeny tiny laboratory that is my own family.

At our house, only ONE of our children got their vaccinations on schedule, and that was our oldest and worst affected. The other three all received delayed vaccines, starting when they were two. The only one of our children to have very strong autism spectrum symptoms is our oldest. Score one for a vaccine connection. The others' symptoms are milder and more subtle, but there nonetheless. And I do wonder whether, if they had been vaccinated on schedule, they would be more severe. I'll never know.

Now, my husband is an un(officially)-diagnosed self-identified Aspie as well. So, score one for genetics, eh?

And here's the kicker: We never had a moment, after a vaccine when we felt like our child "went away" or was lost to us. Score one against vaccines being the cause.

Rather, the signs and symptoms sort of grew slowly over the years or were always subtly with us, and have gotten slowly worse over the years.

B was the kind of baby that never took a nap on her own. She was very difficult to settle. I nursed her until she was three. Even at that age she was already talking in a very high pitched voice with a funny accent. At the time, her tantrums seemed age appropriate, but they lasted for years beyond what would have been normal. I thought I was a bad mom. I was being told I was a bad mom. That I needed to discipline her better.

B was very precocious and was reading by age 3. Hyperlexia is a symptom. So is bedwetting, and that runs in families doesn't it? There are so many things that I just dealt with, and didn't run to the doctor about, that many moms would have. In so many ways I was isolated and on my own, without support. And by the time B was a pre-schooler, I KNEW she was different enough from other kids that I was afraid to send her to school. I felt like she would get diagnosed as ADHD (very popular at the time) which I instinctively felt was the wrong diagnosis. I remember saying that I did not want her to get "pidgeonholed". So we started home schooling but then I was too sick and exhausted to make that last, so she was put in public school. Because she was so smart academically, she never even got an IEP even though it was discussed, whether or not she should. To make a long story short: When B was in 3rd grade we had her evaluated by a psychologist, who said: "She's on the spectrum but I wouldn't call it Aspergers". For some reason, my brain was so focused on "whether or not she has Asperger's" that I did not even HEAR the "she's definitely on the spectrum" part of the evaluation. Duh, me! Fast forward three years when the pyschosis started and I kept pushing for an Aspie diagnosis from the psychiatriast, who finally gave me one, but I think his real assessment would have been what the psychologist had said: On the spectrum but not apsie. Now that I am aware that two of my other kids DO fit the aspie bill better, I tend to agree. Spectrums are strange things and no two kids are alike.

But the thing that makes me think that Dr. Wakefield is on to something is that I don't think I knew what a normal diaper ever was. And I did not realize that my kids' poops were not "normal" but now that I read up on the subject, I realize that they never were...things were too squishy, too loose. Couple that with constant butt rashes, and well, I think the gut has a lot to do with autism. But I never ever made the connection at the time.

The actual work of Dr. Wakefield is the work of a gastroenterologist. He found that when he started examining the guts of kids with autism that they had gut disbiosis. Dr. Wakefield gives it a name: Autistic Enterocolitis. And the AAP, or whomever was cited by Nightline, says Autistic Enterocolitis does not exist because it's not "in their book" of official diagnoses. Well, that's a circular argument. Sort of like, before the mid-nineties Fibromyalgia "did not exist".

When Dr. Wakefield examined the intestinal lymph nodes of these autistic children, what he found was the measles germ. Loads of it. And the presence of this in the gastro-intestinal lymph nodes DOES have the ability to create even worse gut disbiosis than was present before. Nightline barely touched on the gut-brain connection. The focus, to them was on vaccines which automatically translates into the mercury poisoning theory. And we all know that thimerasol has been removed from vaccines for years, and yet the autism rate still climbs.

But what if it's not the ingredients in the vaccine that is causing autism, but the vaccination itself: the introduction of the germs (using this term because I can't remember if it's virus or bacteria) into a kid's system that throws their intestinal flora further off balance? What if investigating the connection between thimerasol and autism is asking the wrong questions?

Another Doctor in England, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride cites Dr. Wakefield's work in her book: Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dispraxia, ADD, Dyslexia, ADHD, Depression, Schizophrenia.

Based on her own research and medical practice, going along with the same theory on the illness that Dr. Wakefield has, Dr. Campbell-McBride has helped thousands of patients. And any time I see the terms Autism and Schizophrenia in the same place, I sit up and pay attention. The only other place I've seen it mentioned together was in a book called Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottshall. This book was saying the EXACT same thing about what the cause of mental symptoms are.

So, at our house, the gut disbiosis theory is one that is very much worth paying attention to.

And here's the kicker: As soon as we took Bethany off grains and put her on the GAPS diet, she stopped hearing voices. She's more conversational, more chatty, less stimming. She hits herself less often. She can focus on her school work. She's more cheerful and less depressed. In our family experience, there is something to this.

As a parent, it's my job to find what is working for us. GAPS is working for us and because of that, I would say that my take on Autism and Schizophrenia is that it is complex, that it has something to do with genetics, something to do with gut flora (which are shared in the family and passed along primarily from mother to infant), and that vaccinations play a role in the sense that they add more stress to an already stressed out system and can be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.

I would LOVE to see someone do a study on the kids whose parents say they were damaged by the MMR vaccine to see whether there's any heightened incidence of occasions in these childrens' lives pre-MMR that might have contributed to gut disbiosis...such as antibiotics for childhood ear infections, or a mother with symptoms of systemic yeast infection.

But in my mind, it's all about: Who is getting the results and actually helping people to recover?

Nightline sounded to me like it was in the pocket of big usual. Check out the links and see what you think. And if you are a parent with a kid on the spectrum, I really really really urge you to look into the GAPS diet.

Now I'm going to go read more about Dr. Wakefield's work at the Thoughtful House in Austin, TX.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

After the Hamburgers...

...and a rather trying evening, after finally tucking the kids into bed, I go to the kitchen and find that someone (one of the kids) has doodled a cross into the congealed beef fat in my skillet.

This makes me smile.

How To Darn A Sock

Here's the video! It thinks its cute that the first pair of socks I darned today were in a similar pink and brown color, except I used brown to darn the brown heel.

Also, instead of a darning mushroom, I used a baseball, which worked just fine to stabilize my work area.

Darned Socks!

Today I learned how to darn socks, thanks to a youtube video and necessity. I learned how to knit socks last winter, and became rather addicted to them. Well, two wearings after having made the most delicious Noro Wool socks, they got worn through thanks to my horrible dry scratchy heels/hooves. So there they sat.

Additionally, the mess in my knitting basket (I'm a creative type, I have a messy knitting goes together) meant that some random scissors accidentally snipped the heel of a newly knitted sock. Darn it!

I am rather proud of my rescue efforts, and very pleased with the results. I suppose I should post the youtube video while I'm at it.

Thoughts on Staying Home From Church when Ill

Lately, I've been suffering from lots of fatigue. I HATE that. I want to be busy, and get things done. Instead, I am exhausted. During the week, I force myself to get things done anyways, because various kids may have appointments, I don't have another adult to help me, necessity demands it.

And then the weekend comes, and I crash.

And what often happens, is that I get to Saturday evening, or Sunday morning and I simply don't have the energy to go to Church.

And I HATE that. Yes, I realize the inconsistency. I realize the fact that I somehow dig deep and find a way to do all the other stuff, and then not attend Church? How horrible.

I think it's really a matter of rhythm and degree. Like, I push and push and push, and after about five days of pushing, I just don't have it in me to push any more. And the cycle continues.

Next week I don't have as much running around/appointments to do, and I'm glad about that. Hopefully I can take care of whatever it is that is going wrong in my body better, and have energy next weekend. Perhaps there will be a mid-week liturgy I can manage to attend. Perhaps.

Yesterday evening, I crawled into bed and put on a tape of the Psalms. I listened to that for a while, and stared at an icon of Jesus, while the rest of the family went to vespers. I drifted off to sleep for a few minutes, and when I woke up, I really did feel a bit a came out to the living room and found a Lecture by Fr. Thomas Hopko on Ancient Faith Radio to stream while I knitted a sock.

Wes brought Pizza home for supper and B made herself a GAPS pizza. I was that tired. And there's the irony. What I really needed was a meat broth and vegetable soup, or something similarly nutritious. What I got was a cheese pizza.

I did get to bed early. Woke up this morning with all-over-body aches and more exhaustion. So I decided to see if eating a bit would give me the energy to get to Church. It did not. So, home I stayed. B stayed with me because she wasn't feeling well either. So we listened to the Fr. Hopko lecture again (I wanted her to hear it) and I added a bunch to my blogroll, while cleaning up my bookmarks file.

I think I'm entering into a season of battling fatigue again. And I don't really understand why except that I was sort of off the guai protocol because I got distracted from it during the move and adjustment to living in a new town, and now it has caught up with me. Having that (the energy which I was starting to take for granted) stripped from me, and now again being off the Guaifenesin Protocol temporarily while I work on my peridontal disease with medical mouthwash that blocks the guaifenesin's effectiveness, knowing it will make the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue worse, not better, is a real blow.

I have to surrender it to God. I must. I pray for healing, but it seems that my body is just a cross to bear and no matter what I try or how much I try to improve my habits, lifestyle, choises...nothing ever changes, and nothing ever helps. And I keep bumping up against my own physical limitations and find that I can't get past them.

I really want to find peace, joy and contentment in all of this. God have mercy on me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Larry Norman - The Rock That Doesn't Roll (1977)

Wrong cover art. But this is the song that started it ALL. I was eight. I remember dancing around the living room to this song. It was on the Album "In Another Land".

Rich Mullins - If I Stand [with lyrics]

Another one of my all time favorite ever songs.

"The stuff of earth competes with the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of All Good Things..."

Isn't that what I was just writing about in my last post?

Egads! Not Another Saturday Liturgy! Auuuugh! (or...After the Smells and Bells Lose their Glamour)

I have to admit, I like reading the thoughts and reflections of catechumens, or those who have recently decided to become Orthodox Christians. There's a freshness in their thoughts and devotion, and it's good for me to keep my finger on that particular pulse within the life of the Church. I always want to encourage others.

Today we are celebrating the beheading of St. John the Forerunner. It is a strict fasting day, and we had the opportunity to partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ this morning in the Eucharist. What a treat! What a feast! Ascending into heaven!

And my flesh, for a little while yesterday, was rebelling at the thought. I wanted MY Saturday morning. I had visions of sipping coffee, perhaps a stroll through farmer's market, catching up on the Laundry and grading some papers. I was full of justifications, about how "Saturday is a work day" for me, and so I need to skip Divine Liturgy, stay home and do stuff. I am, after all, perpetually behind on everything due to my low energy levels.

But then, I thought about what Father Alexander always tells us. He's always saying that if we have the opportunity, we should prepare ourselves and come and partake of the Holy Mystery. We should want Jesus more than anything, and we should seek Him in the Sacrament.

And it is in preparing to take the Sacrament, in approaching the Chalice that I realize how very spiritually weak I really truly am. (Although I like to delude myself into thinking I'm all hunky dory on that path because after all, I've been a Christian for X number of years). But my flesh rebells, so I think there's a reason why the Orthodox Church prescribes (yes, in prescritpion...medicine for our souls) fasting and the praying of certain prayers to us: It is to strengthen us. And to show us where we really are.

I'll be honest and admit, taking Communion once a week is fairly standard. Routine. Habit. Gotcha covered. (It's good to have and develop spiritual habits.) Twice a week, I usually feel like I can do. Three times a week, I'm feeling stretched. Physically, spiritually, even emotionally stretched. This is where the rubber meets the road and I realize how spiritually weak I really am. Sort of like a fitness routine, where you hit the edge of the envelope of your abilities. Four times in one week...I don't think I've ever done it. I could have this week, but I didn't. God have mercy on me, because ultimately all of this reminds me that approaching the Chalice is NOT about my own strength, it's about abiding in God's grace, mercy and LIFE.

And it is the pull between the LIFE OF GOD and the pull of worldly things, the cares and concerns of daily living on planet earth (which I do give to God as an offering) and the sins and temptations that are always with me (for which I do beg for mercy and forgiveness but which do noticeably pull me away from God) that I really feel when I have a week like this when there are multiple opportunities for extra prayers, extra spiritual exertion, extra fasting and then Communion, the grace of God.

So the quesiton I've been mulling for perhaps the last year in the back of my mind is this: How do I get stronger? How do I consistently practice the spiritual life at a better level than I already do it? Perhaps I should talk to my priest. Or perhaps I should do more consistently what I already know to be doing.

God have mercy on me a sinner.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Superman - Five for Fighting

Gosh, I love this song! Sometimes I like to imagine it was written just about me. Except I'm not a man in a silly red sheet. But the rest of it, I sure can relate to. I think it speaks to most of us...I suppose that's what makes it such a great song.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Yes, I am that Fabulous--I got picked!

Amber over at Little Steps Home listed my blog here as one of her top five picks, so now I'm participating in a fun meme. I guess I will have to out myself, on what blogs I check the most eh?

But first, my top five obsessions in no particular order and not including Orthodox Christianity, which is my Faith, not an "obsession":

1. Food. I've been doing lots of Weston A. Price foundation type of reading lately, and trying to get healthier with the food our family consumes. Nourishing Traditions, GAPS diet for B, all that sort of thing. Have to get back to reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, even though it's preaching to this choir and I'm already convinced. Also in this category: I recently watched Food, Inc. That movie will give you the shudders if you aren't already familiar with the food industry. A good introduction to that topic.

2. History. I love history. I'm currently reading three, count them...THREE different History books. One is very almost-current, called The Coming Storm...about global warming and the history of the political response to that phenomenon. It was published in 2001, so it's a bit dated, but it's interesting to get a macro-overview of the weather weirdness in the 1990's, knowing that since then we've had lots MORE global warming related weather weirdness, like hurricane Katrina, etc. I'm also reading The Great Upheaval..1788-1800: USA, France and Russia during that time period. Very interesting. Third history book that I have going: The Copernican Revolution. It's sort of on the back burner, but I'll get back to it.

3. Classic Literature. A new interest. Currently reading Jane Eyre. Have plans to read Middlemarch next, as I really am enjoying this author. This goes along with homeschooling my kids and me needing to educate myself a bit so that I can help them along.

4. I have a fascination with plain dress and/or headcoverings as a means of spiritual expression, and what it means for various religious groups and various persons who practice that. It is interesting to me that what the doers of these practices say about it, and what others who are interpreting their practices say about it are very often diametrically opposed.

5.The Louisville Zoo. I just love going there. I think I go there almost every week. If I had time, I'd go more often. I like the walk, there are some nice hills there, and I love seeing the animals. Something is new and different every time we go. Very refreshing.

Ok, now what are my top five blogs that I visit?

Well, there is Food Renegade. See point number one, above. And in the same vein, there is Organic and Trifty. Those are my top two favorite food blogs, and I do check them often.

I visit Veiled Glory quite a bit because Anna has become a dear internet friend. I hope to meet her in person someday. I like reading what she thinks, and hearing her perspectives on things.

I have for years enjoyed sneaking regular peaks at Paradosis. An Orthodox blogger who lives in a part of the country that's so far away it almost doesn't seem like America, and which therefore fascinates me. I seriously would like to live in the Northwest someday and so I peek into the mists, winds, waves and tall pine trees of the greater Seattle Area through the window of that blog. The fact that his posts are intelligent and thought provoking don't hurt, either.

And my list would not be complete without confessing that I do love me a good sewing blog now and again, so on that note I will put up Cheri's blog, A Joyful Handmaiden. Such delicious aprons! Such pretty fabrics! Such skill she has! I visit her blog to get inspired with my sewing yens. Currently am teaching my two teenagers to sew. Must get my machine serviced soon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So Tired I could Cry

5:40 pm. stardate 8262009. Fatigue. Computer...make dinner. No? Computer not responding. Big...shuddering...sigh.

Please tell me I'm not the only person who gets so tired at this time of day? At about 2:30 or 3 pm each day I get bone crunchingly (yes, that's a word. Because I said so) tired, and just want to lie in bed and read. But instead, I do things like take people to the doctor, drive my car, help people paint models of the planets and the sun, do laundry and catch up on e-mail.

Oh, and cook dinner. Still have to do that.

now. I go. Getting off the computer to go make a yucky dinner that no one( read: E and maybe A) will want to eat.

All I want to do is climb into a big plate of spaghetti, and some chocolate. But I don't do that. Oh no.

Did I mention that I'm so tired I could cry?

The Week of Too Many Appointments

Yesterday was two appointments, one of which took all afternoon. One of the kids for one, another for the other. M's psych testing for her Autism diagnosis done all in one afternoon, though, so that is good.

Today: all four kids to the dentist (two and a half hours, not including driving time) and B has an appointment with one of her doctors.

Tomorrow: Me and Wes to the dentist, Me and all four kids to the chiropractor.

Friday: Piano Lesson for E, and Milk pickup.

It's only Wednesday, and I'm already exhausted. But I'd best get off here, get my shoes on, so I can take B to her next appointment.

Wish I could just go meander at the zoo for a while.


Monday, August 24, 2009

The Bible in the Divine Liturgy

Here's a really neat link. Someone went all through the Liturgy of St. John Chrisostom and worked up the scriputre references to all of it.

Be blessed!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First Week of School Report

School went really really well this week. It was so smooth. After our first day set-up kerfluffle, where I passed out composition books, we labeled them, introduced the kids to their textbooks...some new, some old, and did some lessons, it was smooth sailing from then on.


Like we've all done this before. Because we have.

Highlights include:

-A very positive reception by all of us of our new American History Curriculum: All American History.

-M. being practically giddy over the fact that she's actually learning Algebra now. And that it's not has difficult as she'd feared it would be.

-A fun trip down to waterfront park just to get some air on Wednesday afternoon.

-Hearing various kids practicing their music.

-E. submitting a very nicely written science report.

-Seeing how each kid's work is better, more accurate, more mature than it was last year at this time. Better writing, better drawings, all of it.

-Purchasing a model of the solar system to paint and build next week.

-Seeing E. really get into early Church history read aloud, because what eleven year old boy is not a bit fascinated by blood and gore?

-B. doing a good job of finding a balance between getting school work done and letting herself rest when she needs to.

-Discovering a wonderful early sample of fantasy historical fiction by Rudyard Kipling: Puck of Pook's Hill which is on the internet thanks to Project Gutenberg, and that it will make a very nice family read-aloud. Seeing the very probable influence this piece, published in 1904, had on C.S. Lewis and his writing.

-Taking a trip to Louisville Zoo and finding out that a baby Bongo was born last week. Baby Bongo was so cute!

This is not the baby Bongo we saw, but it's a good sample, from

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home School Advice from Someone Who's not New at it Anymore

I"m staring my fourth year in a row of HSing. Here's what I have learned so far:

-You will get really busy leading up to Christmas and it will be very hard to concentrate on School work...

-And you might feel rather burned out in January/February.

-I've learned it's OK to scrap a curriculum half way through the year if it makes everyone cry. Even if it's an expensive curriculum.

-I've learned that kids learn amazing things just from reading good books and writing narrations. ...

-And no matter how many times you panic, if the kids are reading, they are learning.

-If they are helping you in the kitchen, they are learning,

-if they are living life along side you they are learning.

-Exploring, being creative, being themselves=learning.

And that's how you get your 180 days out of 365 days. ;-)


Of course I have to have more than one book going at once. Still working on the history book, have been neglecting the book about the Copernican Revolution (but will get back to it when my current history read is done) but right now I'm also really enjoying reading Jane Eyre.

Why, why, why???? did no one force me to read this wonderful book before now? I love the style in which it is written. I also like the slight creepy/gothic factors on the plot line. I'll admit that what got me started on it was the fact that Wes and I have been watching the BBC miniseries over Netflix streaming at night (finished it last night), and that got me wanting to read the book.

I think the next novel I will seek out will be Middlemarch. And then I think I might give House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne a go. Who knows? Of course, one of my students is going to be reading The Scarlet Letter this year, and I was never forced to read that in High School, either, so I'd best get that one read as well. Probably sooner, rather than later.

Oh, it's late, I'm tired, need to go exercise and have NOT A CLUE what I should make for supper. Sandwiches, anyone?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Out of Shape...Again.

Somehow I never exercise as much during the summer as I think I will before summer happens, or as much as I ought to. I think it is because of the brain-and-body-melting heat. I am so grateful for Air Conditioning. Yes, I am! Too bad that melting heat doesn't be useful and melt of some extra pounds, bwa ha.

So, now that school is back in session, and we are having a wonderful first week of cracking open crinkly new textbooks and reveling in the speed of our new pencil sharpener, I've decided I need to walk the thirty yard distance over to the apartment complex exercise room and walk on the treadmill. Yes that's right. I use heat as an excuse when all summer long there's a nice air conditioned exercise room sitting there, thirty yards from my door. Really.

Just thirty minutes. On a treadmill. Which forces me to walk a bit faster and at least at a consistent rate, than I would out on the hot baking sidewalk. Thirty minutes a day. A nice routine, wouldn't it be?

Well, that's my goal.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Health Care Reform Needs to Start with a Farm Bill

If you have not watched the movie Food, Inc. please make plans to do so. While it did not present any information I personally had not already been exposed to, it really did drive home how skewed and broken the conventional food systems are are in this country.

You see, the problem with the food system the way it is, is that it is exploitative, not only on the animals that suffer in feed lots, but also of the farmers who are sqeezed and exploited by agri-gaints, and the workers in places like meat packing plants.

Our conventional food system keeps people sick. Sorta sick. Well enough to go to work, to earn money to buy pharmaceuticals.

Seriously, how many people are on some sort of chronic pharmaceutical product for a chronic condition? Too many of us. Way too many. And much of it is because of the Farm Bills in this country that subsidize corn and soy, causing Monsanto to get rich, and causing the "little guy" farmer to get squeezed. Causing corn to be so cheap in Mexico (thanks to NAFTA) that Mexico's erstwhile corn farmer has to come here to look for work. Causing all of conventional food to have corn/soy components. Our food supply keeps us all sick.

So a good start to national health care reform would be a farm bill that supports small farmers, makes it illegal to prevent farmers from saving their seeds, makes laws massively in favor of organics, legalizes/certifies grass pastured raw milk and milk products, requires school lunches and food in State run Universities to actually be healthy, know, so that as a foundation, instead of a health bill that just pays for medicine for sick people, we could have more and more opportunities to be healthy people.

Fun Rambling Family Time at the Zoo

Today was so special. We went to liturgy for the Dormitian of the Theotokos this morning, and came home to a large leg of lamb that Wes had adorned with garlic cloves and put into the oven.

The meat was sooooo good! Heirloom tomato, squash from the farmer's market on the side.

Then we went to the zoo. It was so much fun for the whole family to do something fun together.

The kids and Wes paid for tickets to climb on a ropes course they have there, while I happily sat there and watched. Too high up for me. Besides, they don't let you on there if you have a bad back.

The best thing about the zoo is that each time you go, the animals are doing something slightly different. For instance, today the elephants were not on display. But in the giraffe house, we got to watch a small snake who had just been given a dead mouse by the zoo keeper open up his jaws and start to work on swallowing that thing. A snake swallowing a mouse is more like a snake crawling around the mouse until the mouse is inside itself.

We also saw a monkey that we don't normally get to see, and I learned a thing or two about some of the animals because Bethany stopped to read some of the signs. Oh, and the lemurs were busy liking what we presume were salt blocks.

Most of all, though, was the good family time. Yay.

And of course, being the camera shy/cameral neglectful people that we are, I didn't take any pictures at all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Dormitian of the Mother of God

O thou most Holy Virgin, who knew not wedlock, the heavens rejoice in thy glorious falling asleep, the hosts of angels are glad, and the whole earth crieth out in joy, singing to thee the funeral song, O Mother of the Lord of all, thou who hast delivered human kind from its ancestral condemnation.

--Orthros of the Feast, Tone 4

A few icons that I had on my computer, to honor the Theotokos today.

O thou most Holy Virgin, who knew not wedlock, the heavens rejoice in thy glorious falling asleep, the hosts of angels are glad, and the whole earth crieth out in joy, singing to thee the funeral song, O Mother of the Lord of all, thou who hast delivered human kind from its ancestral condemnation.

--Orthros of the Feast, Tone 4

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kids Say the Funniest Things

This from Eric:

Eric: "Mom, you know how on cartoons, going faster than light is always depicted as, like, a swirl of colors? Well, I think I should be all be all black, because you are outrunning the light. If you turn a flashlight on while you are going at light speed, it's like dropping pennies behind you while you are skydiving."

Me: "How's that?"

Eric: "Oh, because the maximum airspeed velocity of a penny is much slower than that of a human."

Me: "...ah."

New Autism Stats: 1 in 100

This article is from the Age of Autism Web Newspaper. I'm making the whole article a link to it's original source and I hope I'm not breaking any laws:

August 10, 2009
And the Band Plays On - Autism is Now 1 in 100

Too-Many-Babies-Too-Much-Carbon By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

In 2007 the National Survey of Children's Health conducted a study on the rate of autism. The results have now been released. Of the 80,496 children surveyed, 921 were said by their parent to currently have autism or Asperger's syndrome. That makes the rate of autism in the children surveyed approximately 1%, or 1 in every 100. The rates generated from data in 2002 and 2003 suggested a rate of 1 in every 150.

A curious finding of the study was that 459 of the parents told the researchers that their child was previously told their child had autism or Asperger's Syndrome, but that they do not have it currently. This result is in accord with what has been reported by many parents that their children can improve, especially through bio-medical interventions, although many also report success through therapeutic interventions.

When you add the two numbers together, you find that of the 80,496 children surveyed, 1380 either currently have autism or Asperger's Syndrome, or did at some point in the past. That works out to 1.7% or 1 in every 58 children. Think about that. 1 in every 58 children is now getting a diagnosis of autism or Asperger's Syndrome in their lives. If you have two children that means the chance one of your children will be diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder is 1 in 29. If you have three children the chance is 1 in 19. If you're Jon and Kate plus Eight that's a little more than 1 in 7.

In commenting on this finding, Dr. Steve M. Edelson of the Autism Research Institute noted, "What we are discovering is that those with autism oftentimes have underlying medical disorders that impair gastro-intestinal, metabolic, and immune systems, and that when these problems are accurately diagnosed and treated, the symptoms of autism improve, sometimes to the point that the child is no longer classified as autistic."

As I was driving home today I heard a local doctor talking on the radio about those crazy people who think vaccines are linked to autism. The rate has gone from 1 in 10,000 twenty-five years ago to 1 in 100 today. Something is happening to our children that did not happen in the past. If not vaccines, then please find what is causing this problem. A generation of children and their parents deserve an answer.

You can read the full report

Kent Heckenlively is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.

Ok, now me: These stats make me want to scream, rage and cry for all the families who are suffering and for all the children who are suffering. And it is suffering. Autism is not easy to live with, whether you have it yourself, or whether your family member has it. It is HARD. It's hard to have a kid who screams and rages daily because they can't adequately communicate what's going on. And with autism, even the kids who can talk sometimes can't communicate what's going on and the so-called-tantrums happen. And the headbanging, the food issues, the bullying that such children get subjected to...the social awkwardness, the strangers and friends who think to tell you what you should do. The family members who roll their eyes and think to themselves "If I got my hands on this child for a few weeks, things I'd be able to whip him/her into shape, just you see." The lack of understanding and support.

But 1 in God, have mercy on us all. And really that's 1 in 58. Something is causing this. Something is deeply wrong with this picture.

Personally, I think Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is on to something with her theory on this epidemic. I really do. Check out the link. Get informed. With such statistics, if you don't already know someone with a child on the spectrum, you will someday. If not your child, it might be your grandchild someday.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lesson Plans, the Jesus Prayer, and being Domestic

Today I started typing out weekly lesson plans and got two of the kids' lesson plans done. Including deciding what literature selections they have to read this year.

This give me a cozy, excited "back to school" feeling. The kids are bored. It's time to start school. Too many computer games, and it's too hot to play outside.

We also went to the library.

I've been reading a really good book since yesterday: The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios by Dionysior Farasiotis. Very very good book. Give me a burning desire to pray more. Christians (me) really should be careful to read good literature and edifying spiritual things.

And now I'm tired. I'm also about to go convert my Fast Meals from a Slow Kitchen into a GAPS diet blog if I can. We've had Bethany on the GAPS diet for a few weeks now, and I decided I need to be on the GAPS diet, too.

So, that's me.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Why We Decided to Homeschool

Marigold-the-inattentive (in her words, not mine) asks what made us decide to homeschool. I figured answering it is worthy of it's own post. So here bullet points:

--because we can.

--because we wanted to. I'd always thought the idea of home schooling was nice.

--so that I have time to do morning prayers with my kids.

--so that I have time to read the Scriptures to my kids when I'm not too tired to think.

--because I want to have more influence on them than I would if I did not homeschool. In other words, I want to very actively raise them as Orthodox Christians.

--so that there's no conflict with taking my kids to mid-week liturgy for the feasts of the Church.

--because I want my children to remain chaste and modest and shocked by evil as long as possible in their lives.

--to keep them innocent.

--so that I and my husband are the ones teaching them about sex. (And yes, they have been informed of the facts of life.)

--so that nasty kids won't torture them on the bus.

--because they were being bullied.

--because of their autism spectrum issues.

--because B is chronically ill and "would be toast" (her words, not mine) at school.

--because it's heroic and hard.

--because I want my kids to get a GOOD education and I do not believe that many of the public schools are offering that these days.

--because I want my kids to have time to play.

--because if I have to spend time helping kids with their homework, I'd rather do it in the a.m. when I have energy, than late in the afternoon after they get home.

--in order to avoid busywork and homework.

--so that they can explore their interests.

--so we can have more family time.

--because we are weird and are OK with that.

--I homeschool because sending a kid with autism issues to school in order to learn social skills is akin to throwing a child who is afraid of the water into a lake without a life jacket in order to teach them how to swim.

--because my children were depressed and wiped out in public school.

--I home-school because I think it's my calling to do so.

--I home-school because of the parable of the stewards with the talents.

Is it easy? No. It's hard. Very hard. Do I get discouraged? Yes, sometimes I do. Overwhelmed? Every year. Panicked? For sure, sometimes.

But I'm learning the ropes, and the rhythm of each year. This will be the fourth year of homeschooling since we started again. (My older two were homschooled a bit in their younger grades and then for about three years all were in Public School). Is life better with them at home? Yes. Am I happy with their character development? Very much so. Do we all get along from day to day? YES! Do they obey me? YES, thanks be to God!

I am extremely blessed, and I like spending time with my kids.

Natural Moms Podcast #124

Natural Moms Podcast #124

Posted using ShareThis

Friday, August 07, 2009

My Homeschool

Well, this afternoon I get to stay home and wait for the UPS truck to deliver some textbooks. He/She left a note on my door yesterday that the delivery would be this afternoon. I, of course, am eagerly awaiting our shipment. It will be the first of several.

So, I thought it would be nice to share with my blog readers my curriculum choices, and write a bit about homeschooling.

My kids are in grades 10, 8, 6 and 5, so the hard part of teaching them to read and so forth is far, far behind me. All the kids are good students and I don't have to fight with them to get their school work done. This makes my life easier, because who has time for fighting? I'm usually way too busy doing other things around the house while they are busy doing schoolwork, so I also don't want to "teach" them, for the most part. I like independent learning. I do keep an eye on them, answer questions and keep everyone on track.

Last year, our school day started at 9 am with morning prayers. (Yes, I know that's late, but the fact is, usually the kids are working on at least one subject before school officially starts.) This year, I'd like to push that time to 8 or 8:30, but I really need Wes to be out of my hair before we start our school day, and he's just not a morning person. That's great, Alana. Blame Wes. Yeah. OK. I also like to sit and drink my coffee and be on the computer. Just like right now.

After morning prayers, we read the Scriptures for the day and discuss as needed. This year, I'm going to follow that with a selection from A History of the Church from the Day of Pentecost until the Council of Chalcedon by John Mason Neale, or Stories of Church History by the same author. I expect to get well through both of those books in one school year. We shall see. That, and regular attendance at Sunday Liturgies, Vespers services, and the great Feasts will constitute our "Religion" program.

We will be working together on All American History Volume 1, and I really really hope we like it. Each kid has their own workbook, and for the older girls I will expect some extra papers and research on some of the topics we cover. This will be a new curriculum for us, so I'll have to wait and see how it's all going to pan out. History has been the most difficult subject for me to teach/have the kids learn because it's such a broad subject, and because I love it so much and want to go crazy, but then get worn out.

In the past I've tried using the History Portfolios, and while nice, I felt I had to do too much work pulling the information together. Nobody but me loved making the portfolios and while it sure would be nice if they did, it just did not work out that way. I've also acquired and tried to use a Learning History through Literature Guide, but that's been difficult to implement as well because books are not always easy to find at the library. I will continue to use that guide as a resources to select supplemental assigned reading to the kids, but I need a better spine.

Last year, after ditching our very annoying and workbooky Seton curriculum, history was a hodgepodge of reading/research assignments from the Kingfisher History encyclopedia and the internet. That might work for a broad overview, but to teach American way.

So, after religion, I'll go over whatever we need to go over together for History, and then give the kids their history workbook assignments.

Next, each kid will work independently on whatever subject they want, in whatever order they want. They'll have to take turns using our two computers, but that has never been a problem before, so I don't anticipate it being a problem this year.

Ariana (grade 5) will be using Rod and Staff for Math and English and Spelling, Apologia Botany for Science and continue with a Maps workbook and vocabulary book (wordly wise) that was leftover from last year. Or I just might make them play games at

Eric (grade 6)...much the same at his grade level, except he'll be doing Apologia Astronomy.

Maia: Algebra 1 Teaching Textbooks. Rod and Staff English (this is basically as advanced a grammar program as anyone could ever want, seriously, it's like college level demon grammar, so we may just dabble in it, and focus on writing, writing, writing. For which I have a writing curriculum the name of which currently escapes me.) Science: Apologia 8th grade Physical Science. And again: leftover Wordly Wise and a Maps, Graphs and Charts book, and a Rod and Staff speller.

Bethany: Her primary focus will be on being on the GAPS diet and recovering as much of her brain as possible. On days when she's able to learn, she'll have Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2, Apologia Biology and of course the religion and History to keep her company.
I decided to give Bethany a lighter load because of her special needs, with the option of piling more on her when/if she recovers. Basically, last school year was a wash, academically, so I'm hoping she can move forward slowly in just a few subjects.

In addition to this, each kid will be expected to have a mom-approved classic literature selection going, followed by book report, of course.

We are still saving up to get a microscope and science kit for Biology, and our German curriculum, but in a month or so, those purchases will be made. We are going to use Tell Me More German. It's one of those interactive computer based language curricula. Next year I'll add Tell Me More French. Woo Hoo.

Although I mostly linked to the official websites in this post, many of our purchases were made at where much can be gotten at a discount.

Basically, a good curriculum, in my opinion, is one which the kids can use to learn independently, as much as possible.

So, that's my home school for this coming year. Wooo Hooo. The public school buses are practicing their routes and soon it will be that time. PS starts on Aug. 13, and so our Home school will start as near to that as I can manage it.

For some reason, every year at this time I have to resist the urge to buy a denim jumper that has apples and pencils embroidered on it. ;-) But thankfully, I do manage to resist.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Breastfeeding Doll Hoo-Ha...or...the LAMEST Article, Ever!

This from Fox News:

Controversial Doll Lets Little Girls Pretend to Breast-Feed

Wednesday, August 05, 2009
By Jessica Doyle

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Bebe Gloton means "gluttonous baby." She comes with a special halter top for young girls to wear as they pretend to breast-feed.

A controversial new doll is leaving some parents wishing for the good old Cabbage Patch days.

A Spanish toymaker known as Berjuan has developed a breast-feeding doll that comes with a special halter top its young "mothers" wear as they pretend to breast-feed their "babies." The halter top has daisies that cover the little girls’ nipples and come undone just as easily as the flaps of a nursing bra would.

The doll — called Bebe Gloton, which translates as “gluttonous baby” — makes sucking noises as it "feeds."

Click here to see Bebe Gloton on 'FOX & Friends.'

Like many other dolls, Bebe Gloton can cry, signaling she wants more milk.

Although many health care providers promote the benefits of breast-feeding, parents around the world have criticized Berjuan, saying the idea of breast-feeding is too grown-up for young children -- and may even promote early pregnancy.

"That's not cool," Lori Reynolds, of El Paso, Texas, told "No, I would never get that for my child."

But other moms said they support the product.

"I think that it’s great that people want to have a doll that promotes breast-feeding,” said Rose Haluschak, also of El Paso. “Most dolls that are purchased come with a bottle. That is the norm in society, an artificial way to feed your baby.”

Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor of, said although he supports the idea of breast-feeding, he sees how his own daughter plays with dolls and wonders if Bebe Gloton might speed up maternal urges in the little girls who play it.

“Pregnancy has to entail maturity and understanding,” Alvarez said. “It’s like introducing sex education in first grade instead of seventh or eighth grade. Or, it could inadvertently lead little girls to become traumatized. You never know the effects this could have until she’s older.”

Alvarez said breast-feeding reduces childhood infections, strengthens maternal bonding and increases the child’s immune system. But introducing breast-feeding to girls young enough to play with dolls seems inappropriate, he said.

“What’s next?” wrote Eric Ruhalter, a parenting columnist for New Jersey’s Star Ledger. “Bebe Sot — the doll who has a problem with a different kind of bottle, and loses his family, job and feelings of self-worth? Bebe Limp — the male doll who experiences erectile dysfunction? Bebe Cell Mate — a weak, unimposing doll that experiences all the indignation and humiliation of life in prison?

"Toy themes should be age appropriate. I think so anyway.”

Oh, now my rant: COME ON PEOPLE!!!! [As I yell, scream and pull my hair out] Have you NEVER seen young daughters of mothers of breastfeeding babies? These little girls (most of them in the 2-3 year old age range) ALWAYS play like they are nursing their babies. It is healthy and normal. "This is how mommy is feeding my baby brother, and so this is how I'm going to play with my dollies." Children naturally imitate what they see grownups do, and it is already no different in breastfeeding families. A doll of this type will NOT harm girls in any way shape for form and the reason for the squeamish reaction on the part of these benighted adults is because they are CONTINUING to SEXUALISE breastfeeding when it is not a sexual function per-se. It is a biological function. Newsflash: Breasts are not just man-sex-toys, but are the biological mechanism whereby babies have been fed for time immemorial.

I get so sick of media articles like this that continue to perpetuate tired old stereotypes and make a bid deal out of something that is not a big deal. My girls played breastfeeding mommy when they were wee, and I can guarantee you that that did not "sexualize" them. Good grief. How many of us have observed our small children sticking pillows under their shirts and playing "having a baby" when they have a new sibling or one due?

I mean good gried! What's the solution? Let them all play with Bratz dolls instead?

It's not like kids grow up in isolation from the phenomenon of reproduction in a normal family setting.
I think this whole thing is another pointer in the anti-life culture in which we find ourselves.

Blarg and Grrrrr.

Quote du Jour

Be the kind of woman that, when you get up in the morning the devil says "Oh crap, she's up."

found at Ironic Catholic

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Why am I on the Internet...

...when I could be spending time with the Lord?



....and how about you?

About Prayer

"But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." --Matthew 6:6

In my parent's home there is this verse on a plaque somewhere. I remember reading the NIV version of it so often that I had it memorized. This verse is one of the reasons I don't blog very often about prayer.

But tonight I'm going to blog about prayer because it's an area where I've fallen flat on my face. For some reason, very likely because I'm a rather carnal person and God is stripping away all my delusions because I asked him to, after Pascha my prayer rule really fizzled out.

I'm talking FIZZLE fizzled. And then when the school year ended, I did not have that routine of starting our school day with morning prayers to keep me going, and wham, there I've been, on my face in this area all summer long.

Because pride goes before the fall and I think lots of what I was doing was just a prideful puffed up routine in which I was rather happy and impressed with myself about how spiritual I was being.

TIIIIIMMMMM-BEEEEER! and she comes crashing down. I'm not at all like my patron saint.

Thank God. Really. Thank God! Not for being unlike my very holy patron saint, but rather that I came crashing down. Because if what I'd been doing had really been something real instead of something pride based (and I'm not saying there never was a genuine prayer uttered by me, just that much of it was puffy and vain), it would have lasted.

I'm reminded of that verse in 1 Cor. 3:
12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

But I do want to pray and I want to want to pray. And there's a seed of softness in my heart towards God that I want to nurture and cultivate. So here I am, writing about it, because if ever I've been given a gift by heaven it's the gift of telling it like it is so that everyone else who is just like me can either be comforted, challenged, or both.

So, I must set about rebuilding a prayer rule. And it needs to be genuine and real. This can only be done by God's grace and with a large dose of humility on my part. Pray for this sinner. I always see the beauty of piety in others, but when it comes to myself, I so often fall away in a fit of "I don't want to be a dork, God."

Saturday, August 01, 2009

She Reads History Books for Fun on a Saturday Night

Last night Wes and I browsed Books-A-Million in search of a gift for our daughter who is turning ten next week. I always tend to gravitate towards the history section whenever I'm in a bookstore, and yesterday was no exception. I'd picked up a book about the history of the World by some renowned British scholar last time I'd been in a bookstore, and much to my chagrin now, did not buy it. I wish I had, as I can't for the life of me remember the title, author or publisher. I was one of those magnum opus types of books, although it may have been published by Penguin.

But in the process of browsing the history section searching for another copy of that lost book, I found one called The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800.

Perfect. Just perfect. It's the era of the birth of the American Republic from a world history perspective. American History and World History rolled all in one.

Having learned my lesson, I bought the book.

Now I'm going to go read it. Just for fun.

P.S. The book I picked up, browsed, and did not buy MIGHT have been A Short History of the World by John M. Roberts. But the cover was different than the Amazon version. It was a red book. Sigh.