Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fifi's Un-Birthday and World Breastfeeding Week

Well, if it weren't past midnight, I would announce that today is Fifi's six month birthday! But it's now 1 August, so I'll instead give you the heads up that today marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August). My breastfeeding group is trying to think of some ways of supporting WBW. I'm going to make some t-shirts with iron-on transfer paper, and Fifi and I are going to sport them this week. (Feel free to copy them and use the designs yourself to publicise mum's milk.) I'm also going to (try to) blog something each day regarding the benefits of breastfeeding.

I'm also thinking of collecting photographs of breastfeeding babies to add to my WBW flickr set. If you have any, send them to me, and I'll put them all in a collection. Don't know what I'll do after that, but it might come in useful. (Breastfeeding calendar, anyone? *smile*)

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Doctrine of Justification

I'm currently in the middle of The Agony of Deceit (Horton, et al), and I'm reading Horton's chapter titled 'TV Gospel'. There are so many things he says in this chapter that I've wanted to quote for you but don't stand well enough alone for me to quote.

However, a paragraph on justification, a subject I've found to be very misunderstood by many Christians, doesn't need much explanation and is worth sharing .

'Much of Paul's epistle to the Romasn is devoted to the explantion of justification. God, says the apostle, is in the business of declaring wicked people guiltless and, in fact, righteous. He does that not by overlooking their sins, not by having them do penance or by having them write "I will never do it again" a thousand times, not by giving folks an "A" for effort. Rather, God imputes, that is, charges or credits to the believer's account, the life-long obedience, death, resurrection, and victory of Christ. We are not saved by our 'victorious Christian life', but by His! Of course, that means that even though the believer will sin many times (in one day!), God has nevertheless declared that person to be a perfectly law-abiding citizen. The basis for our relationship with God is Christ's track record, not our own.'

I had a dicussion with a few friends, Christians, on the doctrine of justification. They were asking questions like, 'What if, though, I murdered somebody and decided I wasn't going to follow God anymore and then suddenly died?' So few people understand that each and every sin we did, do and will do, was covered by the blood of Christ. Without getting in too deep (and I know what I'm about to say would get me in deep with certain theologians!), I explained that upon the moment of our salvation, Jesus didn't forgive us of simply all the sins of the past but every sin of our lives. He doesn't have to justify us over and over, each time we sin. We have been justified. We have Christ's righteousness 'credited to our account'. As the hymn writer wrote, 'My sin - oh the joy of this glorious thought - my sin not in part, but the whole was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.'

Some might feel that this sort of doctrine is saying we don't have to repent or confess our sin. That is not what justification means. Justification is not the same as sanctification. Santification is the life-long process of cleansing or purification from sin. Repentence and confession are a part of sanctification. In order that we become more like Christ, we must daily confess our sin and repent (turn away from it). But this doesn't mean that as we confess our sins, we are renewing our right standing with God. We are already in a right standing with God, if we have been saved - but not because we are living better lives or being better people now, mind you, but because Christ's perfect life has been credited to us!

The next question is almost always the same: Does this mean I can sin all I want after I become a Christian, since I'm already forgiven for it all? It's not a stupid question, actually. It's obviously one that has been asked from the beginning, considering Paul gives the answer in Romans 6. He asks, 'Does this mean we should go on sinning so that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live in it any longer?' In essence, if we have been saved from sin, we ought not continue living in it. In salvation, we are justified. But we are also made new creations (Galations 2), creations who now desire to follow Christ and sin no more. (We still sin, though. But now the desire to stop sinning is within us.)

***

I've just read on from the paragraph I've quoted, and interestingly, I have taken the topic in the same direction the author has! I did notice he used Romans 6 before I did, but I feel quite clever that I followed through on the same thoughts he does. I'll end with this final quote:

'As Luther put it, the believer is "simultaneously a sinner and justified".'

What a beautiful, amazing, awe-inspiring and worship-inciting thing it is to be justified!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Special: Three In One

Theology Quiz.



You scored as Karl Barth, The daddy of 20th Century
theology.
You perceive liberal theology to be a disaster
and so you insist that the revelation of Christ,
not human experience, should be the starting point
for all theology.

Karl Barth

93%

Anselm

87%

John Calvin

67%

Friedrich Schleiermacher

53%

Martin Luther

47%

Jonathan Edwards

40%

Charles Finney

27%

J├╝rgen Moltmann

13%

Paul Tillich

13%

Augustine

7%

Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Book Reports: Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing

In an effort to kill several birds with one stone, I'm going to start writing book reports on my blog. This will result in (a) more blogging (b) getting myself back into the swing of writing (c) better comprehension of the books I'm reading and (d) when regarding breastfeeding books, getting the book reports written which are necessary for becoming a La Leche League leader (which I'm considering).

Okay so here's the first. Beware: This could bore some readers.

Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing by Sheila Kippley

The title is clear enough; this book is about how breastfeeding can result in natural child spacing. Yet for a book on child spacing and infertility (known also as lactational amenorrhea), there is extremely little information on the biology of the female reproductive system and how lactation affects ovulation. Perhaps this is because so little is yet known about it, though the book fails to mention even the very basic mechanics of hormonal suppression, which I expected to be discussed. In fact, the book speaks very little about natural child spacing at all. It focuses primarily on a model of mothering the author calls 'natural mothering' and on total breastfeeding, or in the author's words, 'ecological breastfeeding' (referring to the ecological system of mother and baby both benefiting one another).

Having said that, everything the book discusses is incredibly important for achieving natural infertility through breastfeeding. Though she only brings the discussion back to the topic of child spacing every now and again, the subjects she spends a great deal of time on, such as night feedings/co-sleeping, pacifiers and bottles, weaning, and mother-baby oneness, are all directly related to how long a lactating mother can suppress ovulation.

It is commonly heard that breastfeeding cannot keep a mother from becoming pregnant. There is good reason for this myth, and that is the fact that total breastfeeding is a mostly abandoned practice in urbanised societies. A majority of breastfeeding mothers who claim to be 'only breastfeeding' are actually still resorting to non-breastfeeding-supporting practices such as the use of pacifiers and bottle feeding, even if the bottle is filled with breastmilk. Many have young babies sleeping through the night. Many leave their babies with sitters while going out, resulting in missed feeds. This book explains how breastfeeding can and does cause natural infertility, when it is practiced totally, or completely.

The concept she refers to as natural mothering can be briefly summed up as a mothering style that does not resort to any mother subsitutes. In order for natural infertility to continue as long as possible, though some mothers may get away with more than others, a mother must rely on breastfeeding alone, with no pacifiers/dummies or bottle-feeding - even expressed breastmilk - to both nourish and comfort her baby. This nourishment and comforting must take place consistently and often to achieve long-term post-partum infertility. Even the occasional missed feed, pacifier, or evening out, could be enough for some mothers to resume ovulation.

Night feedings are emphasised as one of the most important factors in post-partum infertility. While society expects, encourages, and sometimes even forces, sleeping through the night, babies must nurse often through the night to produce enough stimulation to avoid early ovulation. It is documented that many mothers resume menstruation once their children begin sleeping through the night. Frequency is important. The author mentions that she often tells mothers that 'if their baby is down to five or six nursing a day, fertility can be expected to return soon if it hasn't already' (p135). The use of pacifiers, bottles or cups, or supplements such as formula, water or solids can also bring an early end to lactational amenorrhea, due to the reduction in nipple stimulation. Some mothers may find that even after only one feeding given by bottle, periods resume. The same goes for any missed feedings, whether they be intentional for weaning purposes or the occasional night out without the baby. (One chapter of the book is solely dedicated to encouraging mothers to take their babies everywhere with them, detailing stories of unusual places mothers have taken their babies, and the ease in which this can be done, thanks to breastfeeding.)

Weaning, which is described as the first time anything other than breast itself, is given to the baby, was also discussed at length. Considering that most babies will be ready for solids sometime around the middle of the first year, one might assume that given the principles of total breastfeeding already described, ovulation ought to resume upon the start of weaning. However, the author explains how gradual and timely weaning can allow amenorrhea to continue, though due to the lack of biological reasoning other than frequent suckling, it is somewhat unclear how this happens. Her belief is that 'it is the entire package we call "natural mothering" that spaces babies; it is that form of baby care that results in the Creator's original form of natural family planning' (Appendix II, p199).

According to research done by the author, 'women who adopt the natural mothering program will average 14.5 months without periods following childbirth' (p81, author's emphasis). This was based on a sample of 98 ecological breastfeeding experiences. (Another study of 112 nursing experiences rendered almost identical results, with an average of 14.6 months amenorrhea.) This result was compared to 186 experiences of typical, or 'cultural', breastfeeding, where an average of 10.3 months amenorrhea was found.

It is important that I also mention a valuable point made by the author: Ecological breastfeeding and natural mothering should not be practiced soley to achieve infertility. Natural child spacing should really be only a fringe benefit of the whole natural mothering concept. I believe this is partially why the book focuses so much on natural mothering and only occasionally relates it to child spacing. The author is not trying to promote child spacing for child spacing's sake, but rather a mothering program that will enrich the lives of mother and baby.

While the book was overall very informative about how to best achieve prolonged lactational amenorrhea, I would be very hesitant to recommend the book to just anybody. Not that I disagree with the material or the points made, but I found the author's bluntness regarding total breastfeeding sometimes off-putting. For a mother who might be sensitive about decisions she's made or difficulties she's had with breastfeeding, which may have led to the use of substitutes, I would not recommend this book. However, to a mother interested in total breastfeeding or natural family planning, I would suggest a giving this book a read - with the caveat that they don't judge themselves too harshly against the 'total mothering' model. None of us are perfect mothers. If you can read the book with that truth firmly and confidently in place, then I think you'll find this book to be extremely interesting and valuable.

All In A Mornings Work

Man, I feel productive. I've gotten Fifi and myself dressed and bathed, Scott out the door for work, the groceries bought, and all before church starts!

Let me just say, regarding church, head coverings do not go with my new hairstyle...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Haircut


Bangs and all!

Click here for my History of Hair collection (more photos to be added).

When Living On Different Continents Is the Hardest

My aunt gave me into trouble via email for not updating in weeks so hello, here I am.

It's Saturday morning. Scott's at work. Fifi is napping. The house is quiet and the laundry is folded. Maybe the house is too quiet. It's the kind of morning that makes me wish I could hang out with my mom. If I could, I'd go see what my mom is up to and accompany her on her Saturday morning errands, like grocery shopping or weighing in at Weight-Watchers. I'd try to talk her into Mean Pig for lunch. Maybe we'd read books in her reclining chairs in the afternoon. I don't know. I miss her.

Fifi is growing up so much so fast. I wish my parents got to see that. I hurt for them sometimes, wondering how it must feel to have their only grandchild so far away, learning to crawl, learning to sit up, developing a personality. I want Fifi to know her American grandparents. They are so cool, she's so lucky to have such cool grandparents.

She's lucky too that her Scottish grandparents are so great. I'm really glad she gets to know at least one set. They adore her, they dote on her, they will be a big part of her life. I'm so thankful for that. It still doesn't make up for missing the other set though. Right now I really feel for those who have lost a parent, who know even more than I do that sadness of their children missing out on knowing what wonderful grandparents they would've had. At least Fifi will be able to get to know her American grandparents to some extent. I'm so glad about that.

Fifi will be six months old this week. I hardly know where that six months went. She still seems so new to me, and at the same time, so old, as if she's always been there. Scott and I were marveling last night at the idea that if I had broken up with him that one time when we were dating when I almost broke up with him, Fifi would not exist. What a crazy thought. It's too bizarre to imagine.

On that note, and an abrupt one it is, I know, Fifi has just awoken from her slumber. She's still in that half-asleep daze (gets it from her father's side), but I like it when she looks around her with that scowl on her face, trying to decide if it's worth actually getting up to play, so I'm going to try to tip the scales in that direction with lots of mummy cuddles.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bedtime, Baby

Last night I took Fifi to the prayer meeting at church. It ends around 8.45, but people usually stay after for a little while for a cup of tea and a chat. As some of the older ladies were leaving, but saw that I had made no moves of my own to leave, they asked when Fi's bedtime is. For a second, you could see and feel the momentary disapproval when I said 10.00.

Most of my friends put their babies to bed around 7, which is fine, if that's what works for them. However, they think we are a bit mad keeping Fifi up 'so late'. They insist that we need time to ourselves, that Fifi needs more of a routine. Well, actually, some of that is implied, more than stated, though we have heard often enough that we need our alone time without the baby.

10.00 works for us. It works well. Scott gets off work at 6, which means dinner is usually ready by 7, and we have finished eating around 7.30. Even if we gave her an 8.00 bedtime, that would mean hurrying dinner, hurrying bathtime and hurrying nursing time. Not only would hurrying defeat the purpose of growing sleepy, I simply can't be bothered with hurrying. 10.00 is also my own bedtime, which makes nursing Fifi to sleep a lot more carefree. I'm not impatiently waiting for her to dose off (which she frequently fights) so I can get back up and do things. Furthermore, we like having Fifi spend the evenings with us. She's part of the family, and evenings are sometimes the only family time we get, especially for Scott. If we want quiet, alone time, we can have it after 10.

I have absolutely no problem with people giving their babies an early bedtime. None whatsoever. I think all families have to do what works best for them. I just don't understand why there is such a cultural disapproval of late baby bedtimes. I mean, can I just say late bedtime means late waking up in the morning? Who doesn't love a good lie in!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jobs, Books, Stuff My Readers Don't Really Care About

Fifi's sleeping so I have a few minutes to stop by and say hi.

Hi!

So, what to talk about today... not much of terrible interest is going on just now. Scott is still looking for a part-time job that will work around his full-time job; I'm still going ahead with my business, but I haven't done anything new with it since I last spoke about it. I'm thinking of also starting Music With Mummy (turn off speakers before clicking link, seriously) classes in the area, which would bring in a bit of income.

But job-talk is boring. Let's see. I'm trying to read about five books right now. I checked out The Agony of Deceit: What Some TV Preachers Are Really Teaching and Systematic Theology (the latter of which I do not plan to read, but rather peruse) from the local library, and The Politics of Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing from the LLL library. I then also borrowed a book from one of the deacons in the church, Saving Belief: A Discussion of Essentials. I know, light summer reading, eh? I'm halfway through Agony and halfway through Child Spacing at the moment, and a couple of chapters into Saving Belief.

Hmm, I guess to most people, book-talk is as boring as job-talk.

In that case, I've managed to keep my house really clean for the past week. Today, it's a bit of a mess, but only because I haven't done my daily tidying. Once I put away Fifi's toys and a few dishes from breakfast, and after I've washed a couple of frying pans, I can continue to say how clean my house is. It's a lovely, lovely feeling. Thanks, Mum, for helping me clean on Saturday!

Okay... I've gotta head off for my breastfeeding support training course. It doesn't start until 1, but they needed a new place to meet, so I offered the services of our church building, so now I feel responsible for making sure the heating is on, the kettle is boiled and the biscuits are arranged neatly on a plate.

(I am not looking forward to waking a sleeping Fifi though...)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Crazy Lady of the Glass Doors

When you no longer post regularly, it becomes difficult to figure out what is worth posting about. I used to be able to just tell charming (?) little (?) anecdotes about spiders and tea kettles and what not. Now, there's all this pressure to tell only really interesting stories.

I'll try to remedy that.

In the meantime, I do have a little anecdote for today. It involves the Crazy Freecycle Lady. My first experience with Freecycle went well; a lady offered little girl clothes, I responded, we met, I took the clothes, we said thanks and went our separate ways. If only all these little rendez-vous(es?) went so smoothly.

First off, in case you don't know how Freecycle works, you simply send out an email to your Freecycle group either wanting something or offering something. Then people respond. And it's always free. It's as easy as that.

So we've had this bookcase collecting dust for several years now, and I decided it was time to go. I offered it on Freecycle, giving a description of the bookcase along with exact measurements, and that same day received a message from someone saying they'd like it. After a few failed emails that got booted back to me undelivered, I finally got one through to her with my mobile number, and she called me back this morning, still interested. So we arranged for her to come pick it up at 1.00.

She arrived at 1.00, but upon seeing it, thought it might be too big for her car afterall. She asked if she could come back around 2 or 2.30 with a van. I, of course, said that was no problem, we'd be in all afternoon. I then offered to let her go ahead and take the sliding glass doors that go along with it just so she wouldn't have to worry about it later. She took the glass doors and headed off.

By 4.00 she still hadn't returned. So I texted her to see if she was held up and when she'd be here. No response.

About two hours later, I decided to just call her. It was then that I realised she hadn't responded because the phone number I'd texted wasn't a mobile but a landline, so she never would've received the text. A child answered the phone. I asked if I could speak to the lady. 'No,' the little darling said. 'Um...' I sheepishly replied. 'She's asleep,' she told me. 'Oh okay, well can you tell her Lori with the bookcase called?'

An hour or two later, I was becoming really annoyed. I wasn't bothered that she didn't want the bookcase, but I at least wanted the glass doors back because they are kind of essential to the bookcase. Scott called this time and asked for the woman. He identified himself... and she hung up. Scott promptly redialed, and it rang out. So I called back and left a very nice, somewhat confused message, saying it was fine if she'd reconsidered, but we'd be really grateful if we could get the doors back so we can give it to someone else. Of course, we've had no response. I emailed her too, but she of course has not responded to that either.

What's the deal? I mean, this woman basically stole something that's for free! And she's hiding from us! She didn't like the bookcase, so she stole the doors and went into hiding! Crazy person! Why didn't she make up a lie like, 'Oh, I must've misread the dimensions, it won't fit in my house' or 'Oh no, I'll get the doors when I return' or 'I just remembered, I'm allergic to wood'? Crazy person!

So now I've got this bookcase taking up space in my kitchen, sans doors. Who's going to take a bookcase that clearly is supposed to have doors that doesn't have doors? What the heck is Crazy Lady gonna do with two pieces of glass? I'm half hoping she'll arrive in the middle of the night and leave the doors somewhere we'll find them in the morning, since clearly she has confrontation issues. Crazy person!

That's my story for today.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Lost Memories

Since having a baby, I've started to remember all sorts of things that I'd completely forgotten about from my own childhood. Nothing important, just things.

Things like:
- the small metal baby spoons that stayed in the cutlery drawer well past our baby years.
- the plastic animal cups with handles. There was an elephant (the handle was the trunk), a crocodile (tail) (I think), and maybe a lion or a tiger or a zebra. Can't remember. But they were cool, and I loved drinking out of them.
- the one lasting threadbare hooded baby towel that we still had around when I was about twelve. When I was younger, I would wear it on my head and pretend it was a cape. Naturally.
- my mom breastfeeding my brother.
-family devotions in my brothers' room.

There are others that I can't think of at the moment but have been popping into my mind periodically since Fifi was born. It's weird to remember my old house we grew up in and remember it as such a kiddie place. My parents' house now is so grown up and adult. It's weird to remember my stylish, independent mother being a, well, mother. Running around ragged, washing plastic cups (there are no plastic cups in her house now), and cross-stitching.

I wonder what kind of memories we'll leave with our children?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Terrible Twos

Fifi has the Terrible Twos.

And by that I don't mean the tantrum-throwing toddler type, I'm talking about the two teeth that have in the past three days cut through my baby's gums.

And they are terrible because I'm still nursing. I think you get the idea.

I'm in some serious pain.

Oh the joys of motherhood!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Let Them Eat Cake!

I got this fabulous kids' birthday cake book this weekend. My friend Sharon is having a birthday party for her little Beth, so I offered to make a cake. The party is a Teddy Bears' Picnic (all the kids bring a favourite teddy) so I made a teddy bear cake.

The book didn't have a teddy bear, so I used several different cakes to create my bear. I intended to make it brown but couldn't figure out how to, so I used some pink food colouring I had on hand. I was a bit afraid at first that it would look like a pig, but in the end, with the help of some Chocolate Buttons and a Malteser, I think it turned out pretty good.

Teddy Bear Cake

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Signs My Little Girl Is Becoming A Big Girl

1. The three pearly whites trying to push through her innocent gums.
2. The rolling over from her back to her front, and then the rolling back over.
3. The taking her in for a tour of her hopefully future school (long waiting list, guys, long waiting list).
4. The sippy cup.