German telecom has the AWOL family out of the loop for this Christmas season and into the new year. But I had 40 minutes of internet today and wanted to thank everyone for the lovely posts and comments of the last few weeks, and wish you all a blessed new year. Oh, and to (of course)give a hollar to MaryAlice's amazing family.
An uplifting reflection from Opus Dei:
I shall never tire of repeating that marriage is a great and marvelous divine path. Like everything divine in us, it calls for response to grace, generosity, dedication and service. (, 93)
Christian couples should be aware that they are called to sanctity themselves and to sanctify others, that they are called to be apostles and that their first apostolate is in the home. They should understand that founding a family, educating their children, and exercising a Christian influence in society, are supernatural tasks. The effectiveness and the success of their life — their happiness — depends to a great extent on their awareness of their specific mission.
But they mustn’t forget that the secret of married happiness lies in everyday things, not in daydreams. It lies in finding the hidden joy of coming home in the evening, in affectionate relations with their children, in the everyday work in which the whole family cooperates; in good humour in the face of difficulties that should be met with a sporting spirit; in making the best use of all the advantages that civilisation offers to help us rear children, to make the house pleasant and life more simple.
I constantly tell those who have been called by God to form a home to love one another always, to love each other with the love of their youth. Any one who thinks that love ends when the worries and difficulties that life brings with it begin, has a poor idea of marriage, which is a sacrament and an ideal and a vocation, It is precisely then that love grows strong. Torrents of worries and difficulties are incapable of drowning true love because people who sacrifice themselves generously together are brought closer by their sacrifice. As Scripture says, aquae multae, a host of difficulties, physical and moral, non potuerunt extinguere caritatem, cannot extinguish love (Cant 8:7). (Conversations, 91)
I hope you all continue to enjoy the Christmas Season!
Also subtitled: You're Never Too Young to be Dressed Up By Bella
On the second day of Christmas, “the most wonderful time of the year” gave to us:
Five sleepless days and nights
Four violent stomach viruses
Three cancelled Christmas parties
Two ear infections
And only one family member well enough to go to Christmas Mass (dad)
I've never been so thankful that our faith gives us Twelve Days to celebrate Christmas! Is that God's gift to moms or what? (Well, that and Amoxicillin of course.)
May God's rich blessings be poured out on you and your families!
Labels: Liturgical Year
Isn't it amazing how quickly time passes from one year to the next?! I can't believe that our little Maria was just a couple of months old last Christmas, and in the course of just one year she has grown into an active, curious, full-of-giggles little girl! Here's a picture of Maria in Christmas of 2007 with my mom, and then one of Maria just a couple of weeks ago with me, squirming to get free so that she could enjoy the Christmas party :)
Here is the message, please comment if you have experience with these books or others that have been helpful:
I was wondering if I could have a quick bit of advice. I am a new
wife and mother who is interested in creating a vibrant Catholic home
in tune with the rhythms of the liturgical year, but I am a complete
neophyte when it comes to all of this. I was recently given a gift
certificate to Borders and would like to use it to purchase a
guidebook for cultivating a Catholic home. I came across the
following list, and I wondered whether you might quickly indicate if
any of these is worth purchasing (or, if you know of an even better
alternative, I would appreciate knowing the title).
The Book of Catholic (Ronda Chervin, et al.)
The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast
Days, and Every Day (Meredith Gould)
The Catholic Parent Book of Feasts: Celebrating the Church Year with
Your Family) (Michaelann Martin, et al.)
Catholic Traditions in the Home and Classroom (365 Days to Celebrate a
Catholic Year) (Ann Ball)
I am drawn to the last entry on account of it's scope, but I have no
idea as to its quality.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support! We are home now and ready to enjoy a white Christmas and a January babymoon!
We are in full Christmas-prep mode around here. Less than 1 week to go until the great Feast, and since Guadete Sunday we have been listening to non-stop Christmas music. I LOVE Christmas music, and there are plenty of great Christmas songs out there. A good version of O Holy Night literally makes me tear up EVERY time.
But, there are few "Christmas" songs that drive me absolutely bonkers. With the help of Mr. Red, I have made a list of my top 3 worst Christmas songs ever. In the comment boxes, please feel free to add to this list, or make a case as to why one of these songs should not be on my list (maybe there is a 'good' version out there that I am missing?).
1. Santa Baby (this tops my list as the all-time worst Christmas song).
2. Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time (Sorry Paul, but after listening to this we aren't.)
3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (the version I heard on the radio yesterday actually had smooching noises throughout the song!)
Close runner ups include: Same Old Lang Syne, Christmas Shoes, Domonick the Donkey.
If, during a bout of mastitis accompanied by a 102 fever, you decide to wrap some Christmas gifts in between pumping sessions, do NOT say to yourself, "I'm too tired to go upstairs and get the gift tags...I'll just put them on the wrapped gifts tomorrow."
Very, very bad idea. Maybe we should play white elephant this Christmas.
A big congratulations to MaryAlice and family! MaryAlice gave birth to her 6th baby tonight at 11:51pm. We welcome the newest little member of her family with great joy! He has finally arrived!
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit....I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing."
I really need your advice on infant feeding. Here's the situation:
Angelina (7.5 months) appears to have very active gag reflex plus some poor coordination over her tongue. I never realized just how necessary the tongue is for swallowing until I watch her try to move pureed foods back into her mouth without success. The good news is she nurses absolutely wonderfully! And she's the right weight and height, above average maybe.
So, I put very watery pureed food into her mouth as the pediatrician recommended, and it sits there in her mouth as her tongue tries to work with it. A lot of it comes back out, and she often gags on the food that makes it all the way back to her throat.
She has better luck with Cheerios... maybe because they're harder and small, she seems to be able to feel each individual one in her mouth and work it back and down the hatch, albeit slowly.
The advice I've received from our pediatrician and friends is to just keep practicing. So that's what we're doing.
But meanwhile, I'm wondering:
(1) Does anyone know what I'm describing, this uncoordinated tongue thing? Is there anything else I can be doing to help her work it out, and to work on the gagging as well?
(2) Is it OK for a 7.5 month old to be receiving 99.9% of her calories from breastmilk still? The few Cheerios she manages to consume don't account for many calories at all, but I do give her a vitamin supplement when I remember. I'm hesitant to wean her from night nursing because I think she needs those extra calories from night feedings to make up for no other food during the day.
(3) Is it possible that we can skip pureed foods altogether and do more solid foods since she seems to work with them better? And do you have other recommendations on very small finger foods that a baby her age could swallow--basically, same effect as Cheerios but something different?
She's the most lovely, wonderful baby... she's happy all the time, and the feeding trials don't bother her either. She just smiles and keeps trying!
So, Doc Alex and any other seasoned moms... I'd so appreciate your help! Our next pediatric checkup is at 9 months, and I'd love to have some improvement by then.
I heard about this story on the radio, and thought it was pretty interesting. I am thinking of letting the older children follow it, as well, and also looking at the route on a map. A warning is that he will speak of the geo-political problems in the area, so perhaps it will not be appropriate for younger audiences.
BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool keeps an online diary in text and video as he walks from Nazareth to Bethlehem, retracing a journey made by Joseph and Mary in the Christmas story told by Luke the Evangelist.
There is a donkey involved, though the correspondent is having trouble because the donkey does not like traffic!
Labels: kids say
Quite timely to our conversation about NFP, there is a new vatican document, Dignitas Personae, On the Dignity of the Person, which addresses life and reproductive issues including the Morning After Pill. There is a brief article in todays New York Times, and lots more to read all over the 'net, here is one place to start. Read up, ladies, I'm sure your friends will be asking you about it!
Among the most interesting questions I get about homeschooling is the one from a mother who intends to enroll her child in school, but is still looking for a way to supplement early learning, especially reading. I truly believe that every home can and should be a learning environment, and that I learned as much from my parents as I did in school everyday, not just about faith, love and values, but academically as well. I was also blessed to attend a really wonderful Catholic elementary school, and the learning atmosphere there is something that has strongly influenced my parenting and homeschooling. My mother and aunt taught in that school after I moved past kindergarten, so they have helped me to recreate that environment in my home. The reading that I have done about homeschooling has given me the words and philosophies to describe the atmosphere which, to me, was just a natural result of curious, loving teachers.
Since I have had this question twice this week, it seems like school plans are on your minds, and since I am STILL PREGNANT, I thought I would take advantage of the time to finally get my long promised homeschooling post going.
I will move on to specifics, but first I want to talk a bit about homeschooling philosophies. I am an "eclectic" homeschooler, drawing ideas from Charlotte Mason, Montessori and Classical curricula. I see more overlap in all of these than the strict adherents might, and I take what makes sense for my family and try to make it my own.
Each of these methods of learning places strong emphasis on the potential of the child and on offering the right material at the right stage. The child deserves a welcoming atmosphere with real tools (Montessori), real books (Mason) and real information (Classical) which are respectful of his intellect.
I would wager that those who have preschoolers already have many of these good, real resources in their homes, but the child may not be choosing them often because they may be crowded out by junk. I am big on "decluttering" in general, but most especially for our kids. It is just easier to think, learn and be creative when there is less stuff, and when the "junk" has been eliminated. At Christmas, especially, we have been talking about how to make sure our kids have only what is really best for them. This does not mean "educational" toys like leap frogs, but instead toys that really exercise their brains.
So, here is my list of toys for a great learning atmosphere, these are the toys that were present in my wonderful preschool classroom:
--building toys - wooden blocks, legos, castle or tree blocks, wooden train tracks
--home toys - doll and stroller, play kitchen, dress up
--art supplies - easel and paints, lots of white and colored paper, crayons, markers, watercolors, scissors, glue, glitter, sewing or knitting, beads to string, all set up in a way that the child is free to use them often
--outdoor toys - balls, sports equipment, baskets or buckets for gathering treasures, sandbox, bikes, trikes, scooters
-- other - wooden animals, cars and trucks,
--games - dominoes, cards, CandyLand
I find that my children focus on one thing from each category for a while at a time, for example all outdoor time in August and September seemed to be about riding bikes, and in October they were using the easel daily while the watercolors gathered dust, so having just one or two things from each category might be plenty.
The children need a fairly tidy place to play, so we keep toys in baskets on shelves along the wall and try to keep the center of the room free as a play space. My preschool teacher used a bell, which she rung at certain points to tell us that it was time to clean up before we moved on to the next activity. I do not do this, but I really should. This is a Montessori trick, actually, and another great Montessori trick is to try whispering, rather than shouting, to call children to attention. Last night, my rambunctious twins were really helpful getting the house straightened up when I whispered a "mission" in their ears and asked them to come back and tell me when it was finished.
I could go on for hours about picture books, and will put up a list in a future post, but for these purposes I will just say that real books have individual authors and are not based on TV programs. If you find yourself hating to read to your child, you are probably reading junky books, because reading together should be a pleasure for both of you. Read, Read, Read, and also have a nice cozy place where the children can look through books on their own, even though they cannot read, they will look at pictures and tell the familiar stories to dolls and one another. We also use lots of stories on CD in the car, we listen to longer chapter books there, and good music, too.
Okay, so now you have a neat, inspiring play room, maybe put on some classical music and hang an art print on the wall at child's height, and you have a great learning atmosphere -- but what about the part that feels like "real school?" This might be about 45 minutes a day, three days a week, working on the "three r's."
Reading -- if you have a child who likes to color and do "seat work," I recommend the Explode the Code series. For preschool, these workbooks are "Get Ready," "Get Set," and "Go for the Code." The book teaches phonics one letter at a time through repetitive exercises. So far, my children have worked through these books around age 4, although they are not able to do the handwriting portions of the book, and I just skip those.
I also use a "phonetic object set" which I ordered from Montessori Services. You could make your own. This is a box of little toys, all of which have names that are 3 letter words (hat, jet, dog, etc). You could also use pictures, but I have to say that both of my boys got more enthusiastic about the tiny toy jet than any other reading material I presented. We work with these in a variety of ways. First, we play "I spy" using the first position letter, I spy something that begins with "huh", the child picks the hat. Around the same time, I teach that the vowels are special letters and I teach the short vowel sounds. Right now, John is working with the objects by placing one on a board and trying to write it's name, this is sometimes easier than reading.
If the child is ready to read before he is ready to write letters, you can use a magnetic set of letters to "write" the words, place objects or pictures under their letter, etc.
See what happens, and take it at the child's pace. Some kids seem to really click with the "blending" the letters together into words, and others take longer to get to that step. When the phonetic sounds are familiar, your child may be ready to read "Bob's Books." After those, I work through the Primary Phonics series of readers, I chose those because they are the ones that I used to learn to read, so they are familiar to me.
As you can see, I really create my own program, and my children have learned to read quite easily. I have my mom to call on with questions, though, so you may feel that you need more structure or support. For that I would recommend "The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading" by Jessie Wise. One caveat: do not make a goal of teaching your child to read before kindergarten. Make a goal of making reading fun and teaching the child the letters and sounds. If she is ready to start to read, go with it, but many children do not read before first grade and you really do not want it to become a negative thing.
Writing: I really like the Handwriting Without Tears series, and I have a child with some degree of special needs in this area. The preschool book has been well received by my four year old twins this year, and it will also reinforce phonics.
Also, have your children tell you stories, or tell back the stories and fairy tales that you have read together, and illustrate them if they are interested. This is "narration" (Charlotte Mason), and it works on both listening comprehension skills and sentence and story structuring, which will help with writing in the future. It is also cute and fun! You can type these or write them for the child, and you can also write captions under any pictures that they draw for you.
Arithmetic: I am not doing a formal "math" program with my four year olds this year, but we do lots of counting activities, like dominoes, cooking together and using the calendar. Cuisenaire Rods, pattern blocks and base-10 blocks are also great to have around and work with. A preschool wall calendar set is a great investment, you will work on numbers, letters, the weather, days of the week and months, holidays, etc. Next year I will use "Saxon Math K" with the twins, Red is using it this year with her daughter, who is about six months older. This is program is almost a complete preschool in itself.
With the exception of the Saxon, the workbooks mentioned above are inexpensive, and I think they are worth purchasing rather than trying to print off lots of free coloring pages from the internet, though you might do that to supplement if you have a child who really loves seat work. The Saxon book you might be able to get used on Ebay, and then just buy the workbook, which would save money. For Saxon you will also need some hands on "math manipulatives." I just bought the complete set from them because I knew that I would be using them for several years with several children. I think Red took stock of what she had at home and then purchased a few things from a local teaching supply store, and this is more economical if you can take the time.
There is a fourth R, religion, which is a fundamental part of any education, but I am not going to address that here. Texas Mommy, maybe you want to tackle that one at some point, Tex does a great job of "living the liturgical year" with her children. If you read my post about our Advent read aloud activity, you get my general plan, which is to have good books on religious subjects and read bible stories to my children. We also use an Adoremus Hymnal and CD to learn some hymns from time to time.
As for logistics:
Charlotte Mason encouraged doing lessons first thing in the morning, keeping them short, and spending as much time outside as possible. Montessori encouraged a "three hour work period" in which the children had free choice within limits and directors allowed them to focus on what activity at a time. Mason talks about the atmosphere and discipline of education, and I think Montessorians would agree, developing the habit of attention to a task is crucial to learning, Montessori called this "normalization." We work in our school room from about 9-11:30 about four mornings a week, and the children can choose seat work from their cubbies or the Montessori style works that I have out on the shelves. They can take breaks to play outside or in the playroom. I have actually been working on more and more outside time, perhaps we can all chat about that in another post.
For the older children, I have set daily and weekly tasks that must be accomplished and checked off a list, but they can choose these in any order, with the exception that they must do the things that require me when I am free, so I can call them for an individual math lesson when others are engaged in handwriting, etc. I do not usually read aloud during this morning work time, but we have a long reading session at bedtime each night and often a mid-afternoon snuggle and read as well. They are in bed for "quiet time" with books each afternoon for an hour and a half.
Now that I look at this, with the addition of a few more subjects (grammar, science, history, geography), this school outline is what I am doing up to second grade, which is our oldest at the moment. I hope that I have answered your questions about how I teach my children, and that some of this will be useful to you whether or not you are considering homeschooling!
Many due dates are approaching these days--or have already come and gone, in the case of MaryAlice and our dear friend B from Princeton--and it's been a while since we've had a good childbirth chat here!
Since I've already shared my rigorous exercise routine with you all, I thought I'd give you the complete picture. Doctors always advise the twofold strategy of diet and exercise. I've got both of them covered.*
My portion control strategy, especially during the holiday season: Jack-Jack, our resident gourmand (almost) two year old. He is constantly taking food off of my plate and anyone else's that is within reach for that matter.
Here he is waiting for crumbs by the dishwasher after Thanksgiving:
Here he is with two forks in his mouth, one of them Mommy's, of course:
And while everyone was distracted by the camera during Thanksgiving dinner, Jack-Jack (in the Princeton sweatshirt) leans over to take some food off of Mr. Incredible's plate.
In all honestly, I have trouble keeping weight on while lactating, and Red advised me to try paying attention to what I eat for a few days since I'm usually distracted by feeding toddlers. It is way less than I think, because I usually have a good deal of help with my meal.
You might not have a 2 year old human vacuum cleaner to help you with this diet. No problem...you can borrow mine. And then I'll go get something to eat. I'm hungry.
*It is not recommended that a nursing mother try to diet!
After several months of faithful service, our universal remote control was put out of commission by a small person whose innocence will be protected. Let's just say, this little person was not supposed to be able to enter the bathroom, much less access the toilet bowl; in our house, the rule is that the lid must be closed after each use. Oh well.
I volunteered a bit in a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium, this is a Montessori-model religion program for preschoolers, and there I learned that children really respond so well to hands on activities. In the Atrium, they have a "work" for all of the Joyful mysteries of the Rosary, and inspired by this I created a Nativity work, which you can easily reproduce at home.
We use a Fontanini plastic Nativity set. This is an Italian one which looks like carved, painted wood, ours was a wedding present and I have added pieces to it over the past few years, and I prefer that it is not cartoonish. It is very Montessorian to let children use real things, rather than toys. Even though the set is plastic, we talk about how special the figures are and how we carry them with care. You could use any that you have that is not breakable. (Using a ready made Nativity set was a breakthrough for me since most of the works in the Atrium are hand made, but really if I waited until I made my own figures I would be doing this with my grandchildren!)
Anyway, along with the Nativity set, we use a simple narration of the Christmas story, ours comes from a board book called The Story of Christmas. As I read about each character, I hand the figure to a child and she places it in the stable. One thing I really like about this particular book is that it includes the Annunciation and the angel's visit to St. Joseph. The children are welcome to choose this "work" during choice time in school, and we also do this a few nights a week as a bedtime story. By the end of Advent a three year old child can tell the story himself!
We have tried some other Advent activities over the years, but this is one that has really stayed with us, perhaps because it is really so simple. I would love to try some new things, especially simple crafts, that keep the focus on Christ, if you have any suggestions!
If you have a moment check out Mary Alice's new article at Busted Halo. Mary Alice discusses the "why" of NFP--and does so beautifully. I hope and pray that some hearts are changed by her words.
And while we are on this topic, I want to add a little bit about why me and my husband teach NFP.
Mr. Red and I began our own NFP journey in college. Like most young women who don't belive in artificial methods of contraception, I was a nervous wreck that NFP wouldn't work and I'd be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen with 10 children. Once I realized that NFP actually worked, we were relieved and then excited to share the good news with other couples.
We didn't decide to become NFP instructors, however, until we started helping with the pre-cana at our local parish. At any pre-cana, divorce is on the minds of those running the workshop. Seeing how Catholic engaged couples have a similar divorce rate to the national average (over 50%!), and couples that practice NFP have less than a 2% divorce rate, we saw NFP as a basic self-help principle to creating more stable lasting marriages.
And that gets me to the point of my post, and the heart of what Mary Alice has already written. If NFP was really just Catholic contraception, these divorce rate numbers wouldn't make sense. While NFP is just as effective as the pill or other chemical contraceptives, it is fundamentally different than these other methods of contraception. NFP alters the way we think about our sexuality and it alters the way we think about our marriage. It radically changes our hearts to love and to listen to God's call for our lives. And this is the reason that many couples who practice NFP have larger families. God has changed their hearts and given them the grace to welcome a larger than average number of children into their family.
The Church doesn't condemn the use of contraceptives in our marriage because She wants to be mean and make our lives difficult. Rather, the Church wants our marriages to succeed, and our lives to be holy and full of love. The Church in her great wisdom has laid out a blueprint for success in marriage. We teach NFP because we want other couples to have a successful, love filled, and blessed marriage.
Thanks Mary Alice for engaging this really important topic. You are a wonderful example of the beautiful openness to life in marriage. Prayers for you as you prepare to welcome your newest addition.
I never thought I would receive a lesson in Catholic apologetics from my severe, non-religious German florist, but this morning it happened. My children and I had made our way through the freezing foggy morning to her shop in search of a beeswax baby Jesus. My plan was to hollow out the white Christ candle we have in the middle of our Advent wreath and place a baby Jesus inside a little cave at the base of the thick white candle. The candle would represent Mary's pure body, and we had to do the craft today because my four year old is all jazzed up about the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
We easily located a baby in a manger amidst a nativity scene like the one above. Nonetheless, the plans for our craft came to a screeching halt when those little Viv hands excitedly placed the little baby in a manger on the counter top for us to pay. The florist looked up at me and matter-of-factly explained, "de baby does not go alone." That is all she said. Viv was crushed, but I had an epiphany moment.
On this, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the florist had reminded me what a blessing it is to be a part of the Roman Catholic family. As Protestant Christians around the world are accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we Catholics are (additionally) blessed with remembrance of the centrality of his Holy Mother, his dutiful earthly father and the whole communion of Saints. It is so sad when a feisty Protestant asks me "why do you worship Mary?" Of course that is not the case, and we simply offer our dearest intentions to her for her powerful prayers to her Son. I believe that the Reformation reinvigorated all shades of Christianity, but how sad that some of the broken away Christian faiths felt the need to discard a bunch of Jesus' family. If only they could hear our florist explain, in no uncertain terms, that "de baby does not come alone."
We are a large family. We don't know when our baby will be born, but at least now we can all ride home from the hospital together!
Ok, so we are three weeks out from Christmas and the temptation to buy, buy, buy is setting in. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am pretty good at ignoring societal pressures. However, I do fall victim to the mentality of, "well, sister-in-law is going to buy something for me, so I better check her off my list."
Please help me to thwart this trend of buying thoughtless trinkets and spending hours in line at the post office to mail them without being the family Grinch. What non-present present traditions do you have in your families that work? Ways you spread the holiday cheer without spending the needless cash? Preemptive thank you. Happy Feast of Saint Nicholas to all.
How you hanging, MA?
There are few things better on a brisk, chilly day than a bowl of piping hot soup. It's hearty and delicious and warms one from the inside out, which is why soups are my favorite culinary creations come wintertime!
As I stood by the stove this morning, stirring the oatmeal for our family's breakfast, I heard these tokens of sibling affection coming from the adjacent playroom:
For nearly five years, I have been carrying around the heavy, guilty burden of failing my family as our family historian. Thousands of photos uploaded to Snapfish online albums: wedding and honeymoon, baby pictures, holidays, and priceless candids hidden away in the recess of cyberspace. Not a single print ordered, not a single photo album underway.
As we sat down to read stories tonight, 4 1/2 year-old C made an awful face and said "P-U Mommy, your breath really stinks!" I laughed and said, "Okay, C, I'll take care of it. I'll be right back." I headed to the kitchen and, after considering my options, decided on a brownie. I suppose that I could have chosen a carrot or an apple, but if the poor boy has to smell my breath all throughout story time, it's only fair that he would smell the best, right? I thought so, too :)
Someone once reminded me that those of us who get help from our parents probably underestimate what a difference that makes. I think that this has often been true for me, but right now I am well aware of, and very thankful for, the help I am getting, and I know that what I am doing would not be possible without the support of my extended family.
Already this week, I have had grandmothers on call. One babysat while I went to my doctors appointment, the other spent several hours filling my freezer with casseroles for my babymoon. Both are on speed dial for when the big moment comes, with just a phone call they will drop whatever they are doing and one will watch the siblings and while other will help me through my labor (my husband is a great support during labor, but each time there have been moments when I have said "I need my mommy!).
Today I thank God for moms, especially those moms who are still willing and able to be parents to their grown children!
Another Builder is due to have a baby! MaryAlice is due one week from today--Tuesday December 9th. Lets get some guesses as to the date and time for the arrival of baby #6. She won't go more than 1 week overdue (per doctors orders), so baby should arrive by December 16th at the latest.
And just in case you are keeping track, once MaryAlice's wee one arrives--barring any last minute pregnancy announcements--we will be without a pregnant Builder. We have had at least one preggo at all times since this blog began back in February! Let's get to work ladies! ;-)
Our prayers are with MaryAlice for a safe and quick labor and delivery.
We recently had a reader query regarding Vitamin D supplementation for her breastfeeding infant. Thanks to Alex (a doc-in-training, fellow mother, Catholic, and Princeton alum), we have the latest insight into this important issue. Below is a question/answer session with Doc Alex, who cites a new AAP Policy Revision in Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants, Children, and Adolescents (Pediatrics Nov. '08) as the source for many of her recommendations.
Doc Alex, what is the big issue with Vitamin D and babies?
The main source of vitamin D for all humans is skin exposure to the sun's UV rays (UV-B rays, specifically). The sunlight stimulates the skin to make active forms of vitamin D that are necessary for our bones and other bodily functions. Unfortunately, it is very hard to determine how much sunlight exposure is enough to make sufficient amounts of vitamin D, especially in small children. Furthermore, we now know the dangers of direct exposure to UV light without the protection of sunscreen or clothing and to keep our infants under 6 months of age out of direct sunlight. This is great for the prevention of various skin cancers but is not good news for our production of vitamin D. Breastfed babies and infants with darker skin color are particularly susceptible to a condition known as rickets, or extreme vitamin D deficiency.
Why should we worry about Rickets?
Doc Alex, what should we do? How should we prevent Rickets in our babies?
To prevent rickets and vitamin D deficiency in *healthy* infants, children and adolescents, The National Academy of Sciences Panel for Vitamin D recommends a supplement of 400IU/day, beginning in the first few days of life and continuing throughout childhood. Any breastfeeding infant, regardless of whether he/she is being supplemented with formula, should be supplemented with 400 IU of vitamin D.
All infant formulas sold in the United States have at least 400 IU/L of vitamin D. Since most formula-fed infants eat nearly 1L or 1 quart of formula per day after the first month of life, they will get the necessary amount of vitamin D in their diet. Any infant who regularly eats less than 1L or 1 quart of formula per day can get the recommended amount of vitamin D through vitamin supplements.
Doc Alex, to wrap up, what is your "take" on vitamin D supplementation?
Parents in previous generations did not give their children vitamin D supplements and most of us "did just fine," but we now know the risks of getting unprotected sunlight exposure (which is, unfortunately, the only kind that generates vitamin D!) and so parents are tending to avoid UV rays to protect their children from skin cancer and, simultaneously, are putting them at risk for rickets. Rather than "picking your poison," just have your children wear sunscreen AND take vitamin D supplements and enjoy the best of both worlds!
A few months ago on her family's blog, Texas Mommy had a post entitled "Boys Love Dirt," and while I don't remember too many of the specifics, I do remember seeing lots of pictures of little boys covered from head to toe in dirt :) I remember smiling to myself knowingly; after all, what mother of boys hasn't experienced the clean-up associated with dirt-play? You know what I mean: the dirt under the fingernails, in the hair, in every pocket and buttonhole imaginable, smeared across the face...It's a beautiful sight, indeed :)