October 25, 2005
EPOCH - SpankOut Day
Each year on April 30th, EPOCH (End Punishment of Children) has SpankOut Day. Here is how their website describes it:
SpankOut Day USA was initiated in 1998 to give widespread attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. EPOCH-USA (End Physical Punishment of Children) sponsors SpankOut Day USA on April 30th of each year. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on this day, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools.
Last April my older two children each drew and painted a picture for a contest put on by EPOCH-USA for SpankOut Day. They drew their pictures in response to how they felt spanking and yelling make kids feel. Their pictures are below (these are digital photographs taken of the originals, so I apologize the picture quality is not better). . .
by my dd, age 9
by my ds, age 6
They didn't "win" the contest, but they were each given a book and a certificate of participation. The book they were given is the board book called "Hands are Not for Hitting" by Martine Agassi. It's a sweet book that explains that hands are not for hitting and shares many things that we do with our hands.
There are six months until the next SpankOut Day, but I'll try and remember to remind you when it gets closer. ;) And I encourage you to check out EPOCH's website in the meantime, and now is always a good time to take the "SpankOut Day" challenge.
I don't agree with everything on their website, but they have some helpful information, and they have such kind and loving hearts towards children and parents. Here are a couple helpful links from their site:
October 22, 2005
Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child?
It always makes me when I hear people talk about how the Bible says "Spare the rod, and spoil the child." It seems to be a common belief that the Bible says that, both amongst those who believe in spanking, and those who don't. Sometimes those who believe in spanking warn about the dangers of "sparing the rod and spoiling the child." And I once read in an article about the dangers of spanking something about King Solomon having it all wrong because he taught that (spare the rod, spoil the child).
First off, I doubt you'll not get many evangelical Christians to question the need to spank or rightness of spanking by getting down on Solomon, because the whole Bible, including Proverbs, is the inspired Word of God. And second of all, in truth, that phrase is not even in the Bible. *shrug*
BTW, here is a picture of a rod, or "shebet."
Can you imagine hitting your child with it? I don't think any of us could. The rod is a symbol of authority. We use our authority to guide and protect our children, just as a shepherd uses his rod to care for his sheep. As it says in Psalm 23, "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." To "spare the rod" truly would be to lay aside our authority, and to not take care of our children -- to not guide and protect. And that is very dangerous and wrong, indeed.
For more information please also see:
The Rod or Shebet: An Indepth Examination by Joan Renae
October 21, 2005
About Children Sitting Through the Church Service
Some churches (though not many Protestant ones, it seems!) encourage parents to have their children stay in the church service with them. Rather than taking them to nursery or "children's church," the family worships together.
The idea sounds like a really wonderful thing. In fact it's what our family does. One of the concerns, though, is that it can be highly stressful for both parents and their children when their children are still learning to sit in the service.
For those who have been led down this path, I know it can be all too easy to want your child to learn *now*. Sometimes we bring that pressure upon ourselves by comparing our kids to other children. "Look at ____'s children! They sit through the service and are so quiet and good!" Sometimes we feel an urgent need to have them learn quickly because we are afraid what others will think about us and our parenting style. Sometimes we worry that we are distracting others from hearing the sermon. Sometimes we simply want to sit and listen to the sermon ourselves!
The fact is, though, that sometimes it takes awhile, and that is okay. Every child is different. Some children actually easily sit through the service early on, but others find it to be a real struggle to learn.
Jesus said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 9:17 NASB). Little children are loved dearly by God, and it's good to bring them to Him and to worship Him, but we should keep in mind that it's our job as parents to come alongside and guide them and teach them and help them learn in ways that will help nurture their trust and love in God our Father, our Abba Daddy.
When considering how to teach our little ones, let's consider not only the "effectiveness," but also what the other end results of our methods might be. We don't want our children who find it hard to learn to be fearful of Him! We don't want them to associate church with being hit by us.
I understand the pressure, I do! I've experienced the anxiety it can bring. But I encourage parents to try other methods of teaching their little ones about worshipping God together as a family. There are other effective, and kind and gentle, ways. And I encourage you to lay your anxiety at Jesus' feet. And even though you may miss out on some of the sermon (consider getting a tape of the sermon if possible!), when you are ministering to your children, you are doing a good thing. You are worshipping Jesus through your actions. You are showing Him love and honoring Him by taking care of the little ones He has entrusted into your care. His grace is abounding, and He will meet your needs.
I'll save going into possible ways to teach them for another day. And hopefully another one of our writers here will be writing a blog entry on this soon.
October 19, 2005
Vegan parents on trial for baby's death
There is a current heartbreaking news story about a mother and father on trial for the death of their sixth month old baby girl. They followed a "living foods lifestyle," and their wee babe "allegedly" died from malnutrition.
Here are a couple links to articles about it. . .
Edited to Add this link:
Baby's diet focus of trial (article dated 10/17/05)
First of all, I do not wish to judge the parents' alternative lifestyle. In fact, I applaud those who take the time and effort to learn about alternatives and don't blindly follow what the mainstream says is right. Our family has researched and prayed about many options in our efforts to find the best ways for our family to live, and, from reading the articles, it appears that we have made some of the same alternative choices this family did. They didn't eat animal products, and the kids and I don't eat them. They homebirthed, and I birthed three of our babies at home. They did not vaccinate, and we do not vaccinate. These choices themselves are not scary or bad and can be very good and wonderful.
Good parents make the choices they do because they feel they are best for their children, and with any choice it is crucial to reevaluate our choices in light of the current needs of our children and our whole family. If our children aren't thriving on the choices we've made, some type of changes are in order. We may need to modify what we are currently doing or, in some instances, even be willing to make a complete lifestyle change. Sometimes what we need to do is seek out help when we need it. Our top priority should be to protect our children.
With the little information I've read in these articles, it sounds like these parents somehow lost their sites on what was important in life. I believe that a raw foods vegan diet was not to blame for what went wrong.
On the page linked-to above, it says,
Prosecutors say the Andressohns starved Woyah to death by restricting her to a raw food diet, also known as a vegan diet or a "living foods lifestyle," feeding her only wheat grass, coconut water and milk made from almonds.
First of all it needs to be clarified that a raw food diet is not "also known as a vegan diet." There are many vegans (those who choose to eat a diet without animal products) who don't eat a raw foods diet. A raw foods diet can be vegan, but it wouldn't necessarily be vegan, and the two are not one and the same.
It also needs to be clarified that a raw foods diet can be very healthy, and, also, a vegan diet can be very healthy. For it to be said that she died because her parents restricted her diet to a "raw foods diet" would be incorrect. As we can see from the articles there were other factors beyond that, and, raw food or not, I can't see how what they fed her (according to the article) would provide adequate nutrition for an infant.
From the limited information we have available to us, it does sound to me very likely that their diet was inadequate. However, I don't believe their diet was inadequate because it was vegan or because it was raw foods. It may have been a too restrictive diet, but neither a raw foods diet or a vegan diet are inherently unhealthy or too restrictive.
Let me reiterate that a vegan diet can be very healthy for infants and children. Most of us have experienced this with our own infants, because most babies are vegan or vegetarian for at least the first six months of their life.
Resources for Raising Vegan Children
Growing Vegans... Birth through Adolescence excerpt from Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina
The Vegan Diet for Infants and Children by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD and Sandra Hood, BSc (Hons), SRD
Vegan Nutrition in Pregnancy and Childhood by Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D. and
Katie Kavanagh-Prochaska, Dietetic Intern (on The Vegetarian Resource Group website)
Feeding Vegan Kids
by Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D. (on The Vegetarian Resource Group website)
October 14, 2005
I first learned about infant potty training (IPT) from Laurie Boucke. I read some of her articles and read her book Infant Potty Training about five years ago when I was pregnant with my third child.
When I first heard of it, I was hesitant. After reading more about it, though, the description of it and the concepts that form the basis for it sounded wonderful to me! It sounded like such a connected way of parenting a baby -- so respecful and honoring of a baby's needs. The idea of not forcing babies to learn to make their diaper their potty rang true to me. I determined it was something I want to try with my baby. I understand people's hesistancy, though, and had reservations when I first heard about it (and still have areas where I would encourage caution and sensitivity).
The words "infant potty training" can have a very hard and controlling sound to some people's ears. Many people don't even use the words "potty train" in regards to their toddlers and pre-schoolers who are learning and begginning to use the potty. They instead prefer to use the words "potty learning," because the empahsis should be on encouraging a child's own natural learning process rather than forcing a child to sit on the potty simply when the parents say they should. When the emphasis is out of whack, it can become a big battle with lots of tears. And to seemingly add to that the idea of doing it with a wee babe, even from birth, can be shocking.
Some feel leary of IPT because they know that Michael and Debbie Pearl, a couple who promote an extremely harsh method of "training" infants and children by slapping them or hitting them with a flexible object that stings, promote infant potty training. There is a section in Laurie Bouke's book that has testimonials about IPT, and they have their's in there, too. Because of their association with IPT, I was very hesistant to try it in the first place.
I very quickly learned, though, that IPT has nothing to do with harshness or with hitting babies or controlling them. It's gentle and loving and can promote attachment and connectedness with our babies. You listen to your baby and to your intuition -- you communicate with one another.
Because it encourages respectful communication between a baby and her mother (or father, sibling, or other caretaker), many prefer to call it "Elimination Communication," or EC. This term as well as the term "Natural Infant Hygiene" were terms coined by Ingrid Bauer, author of DIAPER FREE! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene.
Certainly, some people feel that whatever you call it, it's still ridiculous, and they scoff at the idea of an infant going potty in anything other than their diaper. Some insist that the parents must be the ones being trained. Some thinks it's disgusting, or plain silly. Some simply feel that it's just not for them.
To be continued....
[and this entry may be tweaked throughout the day because I'm not completely happy with it yet ]
October 13, 2005
The Letter I Wrote to my First Son (almost six years ago)
Remembering how much I enjoyed the letter I had written my first son when he was about to turn one almost six years ago (he will be seven in December '05) inspired me to write a birthday letter for his little baby brother who turned one yesterday (you can read his letter below). I hadn't read the letter I wrote my first son for a long time, and I waited to read it again until after I had finished the one to my second son so it wouldn't influence what I wrote to my second son. When I finally re-read it, I sure enjoyed remembering the things I shared in the letter.
I'm going to post it below, so you can read it too if you want. I hope these letters inspire someone to write a letter to their child. It's pretty neat to have, if I do say so myself. ;)
First published on suite101.com on December 3, 1999
(His birthday is actually on December 16th)
A Letter to My Baby
This time last year you were nestled contentedly in my warm womb, your safe house for over nine months, protected from the harsh world. I wondered if you were a boy or a girl, guessing that you were a boy. I loved resting my hand on my abdomen and feeling you poke me. Your daddy, sister, and I had fun watching the bumps rolling on my tummy when you stretched and jabbed inside your cramped living quarters.
Anticipation for your arrival to the "outside world" filled my mind, and I eagerly awaited the beginning of labor. Though I had given birth to your sister three years earlier, the intense feelings and sensatons of labor once again surprised me and briefly made me wonder why I had been so eager for it to start, but I retreated into myself, relaxed, and rode on the powerful waves of labor and proudly pushed you into the world after six hours of hard, but exhilarating, work.
On December 16, 1998, Wednesday morning at 9:38, you swooshed into a pool of warm water. My eager arms reached down into the water and lifted you up and held you close to my body as if I would never let you go. I greeted you saying over and over, "Hi, baby. Hi!" Everyone felt incredible joy at seeing you for the first time, but none felt it more strongly than I did.
No longer in my womb, but connected to each other by your umbilical cord, we were still as one. You gave a little cry when someone put a hat on your head. You started mouthing your fist so I offered my breast to you and you gently mouthed my nipple, not quite getting a good hold of it.
I finally took a peek and found out that you were indeed a little boy. Then I cut your cord, thus separating us physically forever, and I offered my breast again. This time you got a good hold and nursed like a pro.
Soon afterward, we went back to our bedroom. After I had eaten some yummy soup and cinnamon rolls and the midwife completed her exams of you and me, we snuggled together in our bed and went to sleep.
As I look back at the past year and see how quickly you've changed from that helpless, wee baby into a strong, little young man, I feel a little sad, but happy and proud.
At first, you couldn't do much but cry, wet and poop your diapers, and sleep. I carried you, snuggled with you, and nursed you very often.
When you began to smile, it lit up your face, and my heart. You started laughing and interacting, and Daddy and Sister loved to make you laugh (they have the gift of making you laugh like no one else can). You enjoyed "itsy bitsy spider," "this little piggie went to market," "pat-a-cake," and hearing us sing to you. You loved to sit in our laps, go for walks, and be carried in the sling. You began watching us with keenly observant eyes. Your little body often wiggled with contagious excitement and you made happy sounds when you watched other children play, saw our cats, saw toys with bright colors and funny sounds, and when you felt the breeze on your face.
You, your sister, and I have always had fun playing together. You enjoyed sitting with me, leaning against my body for support, and soon you began sitting up on your own, a feat which you enjoyed very much.
You began nursing less often, a bit of a relief to me, but soon your curiosity "got the better of you," and nursing became a task that took you away from seeing things. It was around this time that we started our "tradition" of going into the quiet bedroom to nurse in order to help you get enough to eat and to help you get to sleep. But (as you do now) you enjoyed nursing at night.
You enjoyed sitting in your chair at the table while we ate and you played with spoons and straws. But soon you weren't content with just watching us eat food. Food intrigued you, and it quickly became apparent that you loved to eat.
You began crawling in a unique style, pushing yourself along with one foot and always making sure you could quickly sit up at a moment's notice. Exploring comes naturally to you, and babyproofing made our lives easier.
Standing in our laps brought great big smiles from you, but when you pulled up to stand on your own, you had such a proud and happy look on your face. At first you liked us to hold your hands while you took steps, but soon you refused all our help and preferred to cruise around the room holding onto furniture.
When you took your first solo step we were so excited! Within a month you really began walking and now you don't crawl anymore. You fall on your cloth-diaper-padded-bottom often, but practice makes perfect and your gait is becoming steader and faster. Why, you almost ran today!
Even though you don't say any grownup words, you have learned to communicate in many ways other than by crying -- by squeals of delight, screeches of annoyance, yells of anger, babbles of frustration, laughter. Your expressive face and body has much to say to anyone who will take the time to "listen." When you want to nurse you tug at my shirt.
You have grown much in the last year. Though you still have much growing to do, time goes by fast, and you won't always want to nurse at night or sleep with me or be carried. Life is a series of weanings, and you will grow up fast enough in your own time (not mine), so I'll try to enjoy you for who you are and not rush you to grow up. I know you will be a big, strong, independent young man someday, but you'll always be my sweet little baby boy. I love you!
October 12, 2005
A Letter to My Baby Boy on His First Birthday
You are sleeping in my lap right now, with your head resting on my left arm and your body sitting in my lap and your long legs draped over the side. How did you get so big, little one?
You are so cute. You aren't wearing anything at the moment. That is common for you because you enjoy wearing your birthday suit when you can. You often don't appreciate being held still while a shirt is pulled over your head, but you love playing peek-a-boo -- in your sling, with a blanket, with the door flap of the tent -- and often when your head goes into the t-shirt we ask, "Where's L? Where's L?" and a smile brightens your face as your sweet head pops through the neck of your shirt as we exclaim, "Oh, ... there he is!"
It's a good thing that usually you are a diaper-free baby at home, because you don't like it when mommy tries to get you to lay still for diaper changes. I ask your siblings for help... "Help him be happy so I can change his diaper!" And they try and distract you and make you laugh. It works a pretty well, but you are much happier and much more apt to giggle and laugh after your diaper change ends.
You appreciate music very much. Daddy introduced you to many types of music as a wee babe, and the two of you enjoy listening together. Music of all types makes you move -- heavy metal, jazz, classical music, and more! You bop your body up and down, or your head nods up and down in sweet baby-style head-banging as you enjoy the sound of the music. Your latest favorite is the soundtrack from the "The Incredibles" which you (you are learning how to turn on the CD player *grin*) and your siblings turn on just a little too often. ;)
You keep very busy and such joy and innocence shine in your eyes when you crawl around and explore everything you possibly can. You are the quintessential baby explorer.... poking your hand into every creavice you can find, finding even the tiniest things on the floor, putting your hand under the couch and pulling out items thought to be lost ;) , persistently leaving the family room and crawling and cruising into the kitchen and beyond.
Until the last week or so, your modes of self-transportion consisted of a variety of crawling and scooting styles and cruising along holding onto furniture. Often you crawled on your knees, but other times you crawled on all fours, or sometimes you sat with your bottom on the floor and scooted yourself along with your right foot and leg and your left arm. Recently, though, you began cautiously taking a few steps alone, and then walking. Now you enjoy walking almost more than crawling. You very deliberately and determinedly take step after step, and you look so proud and pleased with your ability, and you are getting faster and faster!
People love to talk to you when we are out somewhere. It's endearing when someone greets you and you bury your head with it's soft fuzzy, blond hair in my shoulder and then hestiantly look up with a quick grin.
You have learned to wave. Sometimes you extend your arm and lift your hand in front of you and hold it there in a motionless wave. At other times other times you lift it (sometimes both hands) just slightly, palm up, and raise your fingers up and down.
You really enjoy baths and sometimes you need them often. Yesterday you had four. You eagerly sit in the water and put your hand down, and "splash! splash!" goes the water. When bath time is done, mommy lets you know and counts to ten and lifts you out, and you are content.
A big reason for so many baths is how much you love food and love feeding yourself. Usually your meals consist of food that I've put on your highchair tray for you to grab yourself. You eat applesauce and soygurt with glee. You should have seen yourself when you ate fresh blackberries last month -- you thought they were so yummy and such a purple face you had when you were done. Bits of tofu, avocado, kiwifruit, mashed potatoes, brown rice, beans, peas.... you love them all. I hope you continue to love such a wide variety of food as you grow! Oh, and I must not forget your very favorite food... banana. Your tastes have already changed, though, in the short span of time you have been eating. These days you have apparently decided to eat only natural foods. . . your once dearly loved Joe's O's you now pick up contemplatively and then throw on the floor. LOL Oatmeal, though, you continue to love.
You are such a fun baby! Such big smiles, such adorable giggles. Your older brother and sister love to tickle you, and Daddy loves to be goofy as can be, and you soak it up with happiness as you laugh and grin. When you are tired you have the most silly giggles. "He's really tired!" your siblings smilingly proclaim when they here those especially silly giggles. They are right, and such giggles often signal naptime.
At naptime, if Daddy's home and awake for one of your naps, to help you falls asleep he walks you around outside in the backyard or sits with you in the swing or on a chair while your brother and sister play. Until recently you usually fell asleep for him, but now it's not working so well. It's one of those transiton times in your life, and you aren't falling asleep quite as easily these days or as often.
Usually still Mommy can help you to sleep by either nursing you at the computer or laying down with you on our big king-sized bed. When I take you back to our bedroom, after the fan is turned on (white noise helps you sleep through your siblings' loud noises!), I snuggle with you, your head many times lying in the crook of my arm. You nurse contentedly, and we let the effects of mommy milk and warm blankets and white noise and cuddling take over, and usually you drift off to sleep. But other times, especially in the morning when the other children are not awake yet (you are my early bird!), I simply hold you while you nap a short nap in my lap, and I enjoy your sweet, precious presense.
I love you!