Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Bad FaithRecently Dr. Paul Offit, a doctor and author who I greatly respect, wrote a new book, Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine. I knew from reading reviews and from participating in a conference call through Voices for Vaccines that this was going to be a hard book to read. Not just as a Christian, but also as a mother. I know the most visceral emotion I feel when my children are in pain, the fear when I don’t know what’s wrong, the panic when the fever starts to creep up. I won’t read books or stories where children suffer and die. I avoid news headlines. So picking up this book and knowing what’s in it is a difficult and painful thing for me to do.

I’m going to review this book chapter by chapter from the perspective of a Christian (I’m a Calvinist), a pastor’s wife, and a mother. This isn’t going to be cold and analytical, these are going to be my emotions and perhaps even my tears.

Dr. Offit, in his introduction, commends religion for the good acts and in fact dedicates this book to “all those who perform good deeds in the name of their faith.” I respect that he hasn’t taken a hostile view like Dawkins or Hitchens and that he admits the good commands that those who believe are called to do. While I don’t believe good works is how we enter into heaven (salvation is through faith in Christ), I do hear what James says when he writes that faith without works is dead in this.

Chapter One

I know the second I see the name and the religion where the story is going to end and my stomach churns and twists. I hate Christian Science. I hate it. I don’t hate the people within, I hate the lie that they’ve been told. Before I explain the story of Rita Swan, who watched her child die of a preventable illness (bacterial meningitis), I want to quote Offit with regards to Christian Science as I think it is incredibly accurate:

Eddy used the term Science because healings could be demonstrated, and Christian because healings follow the ministry of Jesus. Christian Science, however, differs from Christianity in nearly every central doctrine; mot importantly, whereas Christians believe that Jesus died for their sins, Christian Scientists believe that Jesus died to prove that diseases aren’t real. As for the word Science, Christian Science doesn’t incorporate any known scientific discipline. Arguably, Christian Science is neither Christian nor Science.

This is vital to understand no matter your faith or lack thereof. Christian Scientists aren’t Christians. Furthermore their beliefs are deadly. This is evident in Rita’s story.

For an opening chapter, this packs a punch. I could barely breathe as I read through the Christian Science practitioners blaming Rita for not believing enough. That they all stood by, so convinced of a lie, that when this child was screaming in pain they did nothing. Admittedly, I grabbed my toddler and I held him so tightly and yes, I thanked God for vaccines, for the doctors at our local clinic, for modern medicine.

I held back tears when Rita and her husband realized much too late that they’d been lied to.

This is how the chapter ends, with the death of a child. A baby.

It’s only chapter one and I’m furious.






“Oh look, she’s writing about vaccines again,” they said.

Recently, the FDA announced that it has approved Gardasil 9, a vaccine that protects against nine strains of HPV (the one currently on the schedule protects against four). HPV, Human Papillomavirus to get technical, causes genital warts and is linked to several types of cancer, the most common being cervical cancer. It is, frankly, a pretty awesome vaccine. In the words of my doctor, “It prevents cancer!”


via RtAVM

That being said, the HPV vaccine has been a hard sell to parents. There are a number of theories why and most come down to a parental reluctance to deal with their children and sexuality. HPV is sexually transmitted and it’s estimated that most will be exposed at some point in their lives. Because of the nature of the vaccine, it’s a popular one for vaccine deniers to lampoon through false rumors and misinformation. Couple that with parental fears and Facebook, and it starts to look like an uphill battle.

So, for the sake of brevity, let me dispel some of that misinformation – No, Diane Harper was not a lead researcher and no she didn’t say what you think she said. Also, no, the HPV vaccine isn’t killing anyone, it’s actually an incredibly safe vaccine. And finally, no, it’s not making kids more promiscuous.

Putting aside the blatant misinformation passed around, if I can even get someone to admit that it’s misinformation, the most common argument I hear from parents is either, “I’m going to teach them safe sex” (which doesn’t really protect them) or, “We believe that sex is for marriage and so if our kid isn’t having sex until marriage, they don’t need this vaccine.”

I’m theologically conservative, which probably doesn’t mean what most of you think it means, but for this particular post, it does mean that I believe that sex is for marriage. It’s part of a greater system of belief so if you think that’s absurd, that’s fine, move along because I’m not talking to you (or stay and figure out how to talk with your conservative friend(s)). My hope, in writing this post, is to explain why I intend to vaccinate my children per the CDC schedule and why I think it’s important that others who believe like me do so as well.

Here are the reasons I plan on vaccinating my kids (currently I only have boys):

1. Not all sex is consensual.

If I had a single silver bullet to the “no sex before marriage” it’s this one. Man or woman, rape and sexual assault happen. I’ll go ahead and pre-empt this thought that might be half-forming in some people’s minds – would you tell your son or daughter that they were “asking” for it if they got raped, no matter the circumstances? Rape is a horrendous act. One with many lasting consequences, some longer than others. HPV can cause cancer in both men and women and it usually happens years later. If I can protect my child against one more painful experience with a simple, safe series of shots that I don’t even have to pay for, count me in.

2. Children make poor choices.

Maybe you’re the rare bird that didn’t make a single bad choice, like ever, and certainly didn’t struggle in waiting until marriage for sex. Newsflash, the rest of us were very eager to get married because waiting is hard even if you really, really, really believe it. Some wait and are successful. Others slip up. Are abnormal pap smears, discomfort from genital warts, or death from cancer all something you would wish on a child because of a bad choice? Call me crazy if you will, but I think cancer is a little over the top when it comes to punishment for slipping up.

3. Children don’t always follow their parents.

I hate this one. The idea that my children might reject what I believe is scary. I don’t believe what I do just because I’m trying to be cool (kickin’ it Puritan style). What I believe is vital to who I am and my life. I pray for my children. I love them. I want them to believe.

I also know I can’t make them believe. God regenerates the heart, not me. Homeschooling them, taking them to church, family Bible studies… these don’t change hearts. Certainly I pray that God will honor the work and love I have poured into them and at the same time, I’m not God.

So, if they choose a different path, I want them protected. I want there to be as much time as possible for God to work in them. I don’t want them passing along something to their future spouse. I don’t want them getting sick themselves.

I could never say to my child, “Good riddance, you totally deserve the agony you’re going through right now.” I’m pretty sure most of the people I know would say the same.

4. I know one shot doesn’t undo years of discipleship and training.

Maybe this shot daunts some parents because what do we say? I plan on being honest. I still have a few years to work it out and I also know that I have a thoughtful kid. I’m raising my children in a world that doesn’t believe like we do, that things happen sometimes that we can’t control, that this is one more way for me to protect him.

That being said, sometimes we don’t give ourselves or our kids enough credit. We live with all sorts of experiences and beliefs that on the surface look contradictory, but when we dig down are connected together in a way that is incredibly complex. Part of growing up is realizing that not everything is black and white and learning how to navigate the gray. Our kids are often more intuitive than we realize.

5. You don’t know what their future spouse has gone through.

I don’t know the road my children’s spouses will walk. Maybe they grew up believing the same things I teach my children. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe their parents read one too many Facebook posts and didn’t vaccinate them against HPV. Maybe my child goes wayward and then marries someone who didn’t go wayward. Just like what I wrote above – I don’t want anyone getting sick, my child or his future wife.

6. I’ve seen what cervical cancer can do.

I won’t elaborate on this because it still hurts my heart. There is nothing like watching a friend die. I’ll be honest, if my head wasn’t in this, having seen the agony firsthand, my heart jumped in with both feet. I never want to see this happen to my children or their spouses.

So here I am at the end.

Maybe at this point you think I’m a liberal heathen (even though I said that I thought sex was for marriage and I think the Reformation is awesome and most of my liberal friends try to pretend I don’t believe half of what I do). Or maybe you sat through my post for some reason but still think I’m just a vaccine nut (or a religious one; Calvinists are a little crazy, I won’t lie). Maybe, though, you still have doubts. If it’s the last one on that list, I’m happy to answer questions, soothe fears, assuage doubts. I care about kids. All kids. Including yours :)


I’m a vaccine advocate. If you know me on Facebook, you’re aware of my myriad of posts encouraging people to go get their flu shots (seriously, go get it). What most people don’t know is why I’m a vaccine advocate. Why do I take every single opportunity to yammer on about polio and measles and the flu shot?

It started with Brady. I was pregnant with J and I came across this little baby’s story. I broke down and cried; I sobbed. My heart hurt in one of the worst ways, but I know it was nothing compared to how Brady’s mother felt. That pain started me onto this journey from being a parent who vaccinates to a pro-vaccine parent.

I started reading. Then I got angry.

See, pertussis has a vaccine. It’s not a perfect vaccine. It’s not the best vaccine, but it’s what we have and people are refusing to vaccinate their kids or themselves. Vaccines have done such a fantastic job that first world mothers are going “Well, really, was measles so bad?” and “What about all the toxins?” without understanding half of what they’re saying because they’re educated and know more than their doctor with a medical degree and their “thousands of hours of research” on Google is somehow equivalent to the research done in labs by scientists (who, again, have actual degrees).

If you didn’t pick up on my tone, I’m still angry two years later.

My anger, my frustration, has taken a new form, however. I’m a pastor’s wife. I have held the hand of the broken, the sick, and the dying. I have prayed with them. I have wept with them.

So imagine my frustration – my fury – when I found out people who call themselves Christians weren’t vaccinating. I couldn’t understand it, as many of them said they were pro-life. Pro-life. Pro-life and yet they didn’t see the point in a vaccine that would have most likely saved little Brady’s life. Pro-life and they refuse to vaccinate against a disease that can kill a child in its mother’s womb. Pro-life and they refused to get shots that would protect the weakest among us.

Why, I wondered, why would they refuse?

That’s when I put the pieces together. The anti-vaccine movement is relatively evenly split between liberals and conservatives and spans all faiths and even attracts those who are non-religious.

The people who are anti-vaccine are generally in love with all things “natural” and organic. They worship nature. I’ve listened as Christians make the argument that God made our bodies a certain way, totally skipping over the parts of the Bible where we’re cursed. In fact, the Bible does not speak highly of “natural” anything. At best, it’s neutral and at worst, it’s damned to hell.

Here are the facts – as Christians we have a moral duty to vaccinate. The Bible tells us to care for our neighbors, for widows, for orphans, for the lowly and the broken. If you call yourself a Christian, you have an obligation to get immunized if you are medically able.

If you are pro-life, secular or religious, if you want to be consistent, then you need to vaccinate.

If you care about anyone other than yourself – regardless of beliefs – then you need to vaccinate.

I happen to be a pro-life Christian and I can’t reconcile worship at the altar of “all natural”* with my faith. So if you can and you claim to be like me, then you need to take another look at that Bible. And if you do vaccinate, please, please don’t be silent. For the sake of the babies, the immuno-compromised, for the sake of your neighbors – love them in this way. Love them with life.

Voices for Vaccines

*I’m not saying we avoid things that say natural or that we shouldn’t be “crunchy” at all, there are benefits to certain things that are considered “hippy” or “crunchy”, but when one chooses “all natural” at the expense of truth, that’s when it’s become “worship” in my book.

The Invisible Woman

Posted: February 19, 2014 in Parenting

So here’s my announcement that I’m going to flake out on you.

You need me to show up somewhere? I might not make it. Need me to do something? I probably will try and fail.



A few weeks ago I found out JJ hadn’t gained weight. Worse, I found out he’d lost weight. That started a flurry of figuring out what the heck went wrong.

Breastfeeding is important to me.

No one is guilting me into it.

I don’t have a problem with formula.

I want to breastfeed. I *want* to do this and I’m willing to put in the work to make it work. Right now, I have to work at it. I’m not producing enough and he’s not taking in enough so there’s supplementation and pumping and lots of tools that have to be cleaned as well as doctors visits and lactation visits and the whole nine yards.

I know some people won’t understand why this is important. All I’ll say is that sometimes the hard road is worth going.

So if I don’t pick up the phone. If I don’t text back in time. If I cancel last minute…

I’m working on feeding my baby.

And that’s where you’ll find me.

Six months ago, on July 19th, I gave birth to my second kid. Somewhere between then and now, I managed to figure out a routine (kind of). I don’t know how anyone manages to do anything between birth and now as I’m only just starting to feel like I’m reconnecting to the world.


Even so, I’d had a lot more planned to be going on by this point. I’d wanted to be in my pre-pregnancy jeans by now (I’m close but still got a bit to go, so I’m hunkering down to get in them by spring). I’d wanted to get a bit further in Skyrim. Oh, and I’d wanted to get my birth story typed up.

That last one should have been straight forward, but it hasn’t been. At first, it was because a lot happened that made it scary (even though things turned out okay) and every time I tried to sit down to type it up, I’d get stuck in the emotions. So here I am, six months later, still trying to figure out how to tell the story the way I want it told. I didn’t have control over how it happened, but I have a choice over what the take away is. I have a distaste for the pregnancy horror stories in which the goal seems to be to terrify rather than edify.

The narrative I want for what happened is one that points to how things are complicated and messy. How expectations aren’t always obvious. How sometimes it hurts and not in a physical way. How there is beauty at the end and how it can take time to see that beauty and time to feel okay with that beauty.

Until then, this is all I’ve got.

Christmas Traditions

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Christmas, Life, Parenting
Tags: ,

Day One

This year, with E being bigger and with JJ now here, I decided to make my own advent calendar. I collected jars and modge podged them with glitter so they sparkle like the snow outside (ah, the romantic notion of snow… I’m going to be glowering at it come mid-January). 

Day 12




I took old business cards and pasted them to felt so the blank side faced up. On the other side is the daily Bible reading as this is our tradition. Read the Scripture, pray, and then the gift can be opened. I still feel like an amateur at arts and crafts, but I think I snagged a good bit of XP in this department. I’ll probably try to modify the jars for next year.

Oh, Hey, Spit Up

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Insecurities, Life, Parenting
Tags: , ,

So lately I’ve worried that maybe I’m too dumb to do more than what I’m doing. I’m not supposed to admit that right? That I have insecurities as a stay-at-home mom? The problem with insecurities is that someone is always ready to either yell at you (YOU CHOSE THIS! BAD DAYS NOT ALLOWED!), condemn you (DO YOU NOT SEE THE CUTENESS OF YOUR CHILD?!), or urge you to go another way (I HEARD SUBWAY WAS HIRING!). It’s hard to say – I believe in what I’m doing, but some days I jus don’t like it much. Every choice has pros and cons and there are days when the cons are bigger and you think “Why can’t I dye my hair, change my name, and write a doctoral thesis?” IMG_3199

(And then I worry that maybe I’m not smart enough to write that doctoral thesis and the truth is, I may never know even though one day, I’d like to find out. I think. Unless I’m dumb, then I don’t know that I want to know).

Yeah, it’s been one of those days. I put on a shirt with spit up and decided, why bother changing?

I love NaNoWriMo. This year I was super disappointed because I couldn’t participate (really, I barely have time to breathe these days – baby, homeschooling six year old, Thanksgiving, Christmas, never-ending laundry… yeah). I’m doubly disappointed because for me, writing is like air. I have to do it regardless of whether I share or not or even whether or not it’s any good. So I try to find moments to write whether crafting a Facebook status (it counts!) or typing up a blog post with typos (or extraneous commas).


So this year I’m pouring my need into my eldest who is doing it even if he doesn’t realize it :) (If I were on top of things there would have been a chart and coloring and blah blah blah, but my kids are alive and fed so that’s a victory in my book). Two hundred words is the goal (about ten words a day if we stick with weekdays).

Right now we’ve got Batman, Robin, Frodo, Sam, and Han Solo captured by Stormtrooper pigs (a la Star Wars Angry Birds). Ah yes, my son is writing his first bit of fanfiction. I’ll even bet it’s better than Twilight.

I’m hoping that as the years go by, I can foster his love of story-telling, teach him how to organize his thoughts, and show him the satisfaction of finishing a goal.

I remember when it used to be easier to encourage a sense of accomplishment…


Yes! I finally have you, Toucan!

Airing My Dirty Diapers

Posted: October 29, 2013 in Diapers, Parenting

I love cloth diapers.

I didn’t think I would when I started the endeavor. Like much of what I do the goal was to save money and I decided I liked saving money (thanks Dave Ramsey!) more than I disliked poopy diapers. What surprised me though was how good I feel using them. When I wrap JJ up, his butt now fluffy, I feel like I’ve been Proverbs-31-ish. Not that using disposables makes one *not* Proverbs 31, but that’s the only way I know to explain this feeling. A sense of being shrewd, industrious, all while having my baby’s booty make a fashion statement. Oh yes, let my husband be praised in the courts as people admire that porcupine cover.

When I started I went with the inexpensive Chinese prefolds and Thirsties Duo Snap Covers. I’m still pretty fond of my prefolds and the Thirsties covers are great, but I’ve fallen for the very lovely Best Bottoms covers (I haven’t tried their inserts). They just feel sturdier and they last longer – which for my babies could mean that they last until JJ is potty trained (just kidding. maybe not).

I know people’s eyes go wide when they hear cloth diaper (what about the pooooo?! I guess is what they’re thinking, but anyone with a baby has been poo-ed on at some point). It seems daunting. I was half terrified, but after two days we were in a rhythm. Now, to be fair, we partially cloth diaper. I use disposables for night and when we’re out and about (I live far away from things, this would mean several diaper changes before I got home). But for home? Cloth it is. Still, just like homeschooling, people have worked up some crazy ideas. You’d think the bogeyman lived in a diaper pail (and he might, it certainly smells that way).

Still… I’m loving the fluffy butt :)

My Firefly Nursery

Posted: October 24, 2013 in Nursery, Parenting
Tags: , ,

I had a lot people get really excited when they found out I was doing a Firefly/Serenity nursery. It’s a show that a decade later still has a following of beloved fans, of which I am one. So as promised, here are pictures as well as links.

Since babies can’t express an opinion on decor, decorating a nursery is about the parents’ taste and in our case, my taste. I knew I wanted to do a sci-fi theme but I wanted it to be primarily gender neutral with accents of gender that could be changed if more little ones come along. Much of sci-fi is blue and gray which, besides being associated with boys is also rather dull. Sure, there are accents of color, but in the end I loved the endless possibilities with Firefly.

Being a western-in-space, it had vibrant colors – reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, blues – and vibrant culture – an eastern and western mish-mash. It has everything a TCK could love. Firefly doesn’t have the wide appeal to warrant a lot of merchandising. This meant I had to piece it together and it’s likely this will be a work in progress as I tweak it (and I’ll update this post as I do).

The primary color I chose was orange. People generally have strong feelings about this color, and for me it’s a positive feeling. The room I chose for my nursery faces east and the orange hues of the wall glow as the morning sun peeks through the windows. It’s hard to capture in a snapshot though. You’ll just have to trust me. This mobile was my inspiration, however, I ended up with so much orange, I replaced it with the other one pictured (but the orange one is still in the room, just elsewhere). You can get these beautiful mobiles as theStarcraft over on Etsy.

Going from there, it was time to find the furniture and the rest of the decor. I prefer a sparse room, that is, I don’t like clutter. A clean look is important to me – probably because the rest of my house is a total disaster. But I live on a tight budget and so if I wanted to spend money on items I knew would make my nursery unique and try as much as a possible to find inexpensive ways to fill out the rest of it.

One of those was was to sand down and repaint a hideous old dresser. I hated that dresser. I should have taken a picture of it but I didn’t because it never occurred to me to take a picture of an ugly dresser. However, this ugly dresser (through the help of my BFF – yes Jo, I called you my BFF) was miraculously transformed into this beauty that you see on the left. I replaced the color and the handles and then I got a changing pad from Target along with a changing pad cover and voila. Changing station and dresser all in one!

Finding a crib was a bit more tricky. There are a lot of fantsy pants cribs out there for hundreds of dollars. Me, I have a deep love of IKEA, so that’s where I headed to get my crib.

I appreciated this particular crib for it’s simplicity. One of the fancy cribs made me think of the Alliance. I wanted something that made me think of the Rebels. It also helps that the Sundvik gets high marks. It may not look like much, but that thing is sturdy. You should have seen the look on my husband’s face as I picked up the model and dropped, then shook it, then shook it like a woman trying to simulate an earthquake.

Trust me, it’s sturdy.

For wall art, I stumbled across chibi characters on Etsy. Yup Etsy again! These four prints I purchased from bensmind and I will attest that they are very worth the money and the shipping (he’s in the UK). I purchased my frames through Amazon from Art to Frames

Let me take a moment to say that the customer service from Art to Frames was top notch. They packaged the frames incredibly well. Even so, one came with the glass cracked. I contacted them and within a few hours they’d promised to send out a new frame and would have FedEx pick up the broken one. I had my new frame within the week. I can’t recommend these frames enough – they’re good quality at an affordable price point.

 photo IMG_3264-1.jpg  photo IMG_3267-1.jpg

 photo IMG_3260-1.jpg photo IMG_3262-1.jpg

Since my baby is a boy, the artwork is one of those tweakable pieces. I opted for the male characters to be highlighted. If we have more babies and one of those future babies is a girl, the artwork is easily switched out for the girls (my picks: River, Zoe, and Kaylee).

The chibi characters worked perfectly with the fabric I had chosen. Now here’s where things got tricky. There is no bedding for this show. Not at all. So your options are either to be skilled with the sewing machine, know someone skilled with a sewing machine willing to put in hours of hard work, or you can commission it from Geek-A-Bye-Baby. In my case, my BFF (yes Jo, I called you my BFF), loved me dearly and offered to make my bedding. I found my fabric on Spoonflower

I’m not a bumper girl, so we skipped bumpers. Instead she made me a bedskirt, a blanket, a cushion (more on that), and curtains.

The beauty of this fabric is that it’s playful, childlike, and has lots of different colors. So if you’re not an orange gal like me, you have tons of other options to play with.

 photo IMG_3243-1.jpg  photo IMG_3244-1.jpg

The cushion was my replacement for bumpers. With the larger age difference, I knew that it would be easy for E to be neglected. So Jo had the great idea of creating E’s cushion. He comes in and he can sit on the floor while I nurse his brother. It’s been a hit as E absolutely adores his little brother.

And finally, the final piece that I am totally in love with. NAME BLOCKS!

At yet another Etsy store, Around the Block, I found someone who would use panels from the Firefly comic book. I selected the characters and the colors and then waited on the edge of my seat. I was so taken with these that I ordered another set for E!

I added a bit of bamboo for effect next to the blocks although I may change up everything later on :)

If you have any questions, let me know. I tried to include links to where I found everything. You can also check out my Pinterest board to see all the pins I pinned as I brainstormed this room.

And just to finish it out, here are some other pics!

 photo IMG_3256.jpg  photo IMG_3261.jpg  photo IMG_3258.jpg  photo IMG_3245-1.jpg  photo IMG_3255-1.jpg  photo IMG_3291.jpg

AroundtheBlockAZ (name blocks) – Like them on Facebook (Around the Block)
bensmind (prints)
theStarcraft (mobile)
IKEA (crib, shelf, vase, bamboo, blinds, frame for fabric squares)
Art to Frame (frame for bensmind prints)
Geek-A-Bye-Baby (where you’ll have to go for bedding since my BFF is, well, my BFF LOL)