Monday, November 21, 2011

Communicating Through Sign Language

Baby signing seems to be relatively new. Probably within the last ten years or so, it became popular. It is simple and a really gratifying way for your baby to communicate before she can talk. Mary Abilene can tell us when she wants a snack, a drink, to nurse, when she needs to go potty, that she wants more, and that she's all finished through signing. She can also sign "airplane", "moon", "hot" (she does the sign for "hot" when her food is too hot, or when her bath is too warm!), and she is working on "friend", "flower", and "butterfly"! Despite the fact that she can only say "mama", "dada", and "ball" out loud I feel as if she is communicating with me all throughout the day through signs.

I highly recommend teaching your baby to sign. We started signing around 7 or 8 months, but she didn't use her first sign until around a year. At first she would sign "all done" for everything. Even if she wanted something she'd wave her little hands in the air signing "all done"! But soon after she picked up all the important signs for her to communicate her needs and now she is learning other signs for objects. She learns so fast these days!

There are quite a few books on Baby Signing but we really love the "Baby Signing Time" or "Signing Time" DVD series. Mary Abilene only watches about 5 minutes of it, but she loves it. If we start singing the "signing time" song she runs to the tv and turns it on. She sits in my lap and I will shape her hands for the signs as we learn them (until she gets tired of sitting and runs off to something else!) She doesn't learn much from the DVD's right now, but Patrick and I really do. We learn signs really fast by watching the videos and then can teach her. The series was created by a woman whose daughter was born deaf. It uses American Sign Language (ASL) not "baby signs". I prefer this because then Mary Abilene is learning a real language that she can use even later in life. Using "baby signs" is perfectly sufficient for a goal of just communicating with your baby or toddler, but learning ASL is a bonus.

It is really satisfying for me to know what my daughter wants or needs without her throwing a fit or screaming. She simply does the sign when she is hungry, when she wants a drink, or when she wants more of something. For her to walk up and do the sign for "drink" and for me to know "Oh, you are thirsty! Here's your cup." Is incredibly rewarding as a mom. It also gives her the ability to show us what is going on in her mind - that she is learning and is so very smart!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Have a Natural Birth?

1. Trust in God's Design
2. Often results in fewer complications
3. Less risk of harm to mother and baby
4. Labor is usually shorter
5. No loss in sensation or alertness
6. Allowing labor to start spontaneously results in fewer complications and there is a greater chance the baby will be fully developed and ready to live outside the womb.
7. Breastfeeding may be established easier
8. Recovery is usually quicker
9. Empowering
10. Sense of accomplishment
11. Because we can!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Graham Crackers

I wanted a healthy, easy, and tasty treat for my toddler, and I just feel a lot more comfortable making my own rather than buying something out of a box. Even if that something out of a box is organic and all natural it is probably expensive and not near as tasty.

These graham crackers are soon becoming a household staple. They don't taste anything like boxed graham crackers - they are way better! They are bolder, more flavorful, and so much more fragrant. In fact, I don't know which is better - smelling them or eating them!

This recipe couldn't be easier, and I do the whole thing in the food processor which makes it fast and a breeze to clean up. These crackers are win win!

Homemade Graham Crackers
I have reduced the sugar in the original recipe from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup and use coconut oil instead of butter. I thought 1/2 cup of sugar was too sweet for my taste, and especially for a toddler. My version is also vegan! (well, if vegans eat honey, which I guess it depends on how vegan you are!)

1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/4 cup raw sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup solid state coconut oil or cold butter, cut into pea-size bits
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large food processor, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the coconut oil a bit at a time and mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the honey, molasses, water, and vanilla and mix until the dough comes together in a ball.

Between 2 sheets of waxed paper, roll the dough 1/4-inch thick. Chill for 1 hour, until firm.

Preheat to 350 degrees F.

Carefully remove chilled dough from waxed paper. Lightly flour the dough and roll 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut into 2-inch squares. Arrange the crackers on parchment lined cookie sheets. With a fork, prick several holes in each cracker.

Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet.

Serve plain or with peanut butter, almond butter, cream cheese, ice cream, s'mores... you name it!

Note: Not suitable for babies under 1 year due to honey in the recipe.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Peace of Mind Is...

Everywhere I go, I see some sort of advertisement to "Get your flu shot!" At one grocery store, there was a sign that said "Peace of Mind is... A flu shot." Hm. That's peace of mind? Let's investigate.

Before I was even into natural treatments and avoiding drugs when unnecessary, I didn't get my flu shot. Why? Because I heard that you could still get the flu or even get the flu from the flu shot. That was reason enough to avoid the needle. I have had the flu twice that I can remember. I have had the flu shot only one time that I can remember, lets call it twice for good measure. So out of almost 32 years of my life, I have had two flu shots and only had the flu twice. Assuming the years I had the flu were in years I did not get the flu shot, my non-vaccinated flu rate is 6.67%. So now why would I want a flu shot every year, if I only have a 6.7% flu rate?? Do your own personal statistics.

Fact #1: There is no guarantee the flu vaccine protects you from the flu
The flu shot, or nasal spray, only contains vaccinations for the particular flu strains that are known wild viruses. Remember the H1N1 frenzy? The current flu vaccine, at the time, did not protect against H1N1. This year's flu cocktail has added H1N1 but there are new and mutated strains all the time. Also, the package insert for Fluzone1 states "Vaccination with Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose, or Fluzone Intradermal may not protect all recipients." Who? How many? What's the protection rate? It doesn't say. Yet a recent article in The Lancet medical journal2 says "Influenza vaccines can provide moderate protection against virologically confirmed influenza, but such protection is greatly reduced or absent in some seasons."

This study claimed that the flu vaccine is only 60% effective yet this does not mean that 60% of people who get the vaccine will not get the flu because many of them wouldn't get the flu anyway. The "control group" of adults consisted of 13,095 non-vaccinated adults who were monitored to see if they caught influenza. Over 97% of them did not. Only 357 of them caught influenza, which means only 2.7% of these adults caught the flu in the first place. In the study, the "treatment group" consisted of adults who were vaccinated with a trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine. Out of this group, according to the study, only 1.2% caught the flu. The study then takes the 1.2 divides by 2.7 to get .44 which is the rate of contracting the flu even with the flu vaccine. Thus it claims that the effectiveness is 60% which is really just .55 rounded up. This is all true, but they are using the statistics to say what they want them to say - that you have a 60% less chance of getting the flu with the flu shot. But it is really a 60% (55%, but whose counting?) less chance out of a 2.7% chance in the first place. Do you follow? If you take the same number, the difference between the control group and the treatment group is 1.5. So really, the flu shot is effective in 1.5 in 100. Meaning that the flu vaccine does nothing for 98.5% of people, and furthermore, only 2.7 in 100 non-vaccinated people will get the flu in the first place!

Fact #2: You could get the flu from the flu vaccine.. or worse
While the flu shot is a killed virus, the flu nasal spray is a live virus. The CDC claims that you can not get the flu from the vaccine, yet the same website3 lists side effects such as "headache, fever, nasal congestion, sore throat, and aches". That sounds strangely like the flu. The flu shot sheds like crazy, and not only can you get sick, but you can make others around you sick. When Mary Abilene was three months old, I took her to visit some friends in an office. One of the ladies there said "I can't get too close, I just got a flu vaccine." Even she knew that the vaccine sheds. I also found online the side effects for "Fluzone" that include Blood and Lymphatic Disorders, Immune System Disorders, Nervous System Disorders, Vascular Disorders, Respiratory, Thoracic and Mediastinal Disorders, Skin and Subcutaneous Disorders, Gastrointestinal Disorders, and other General Disorders including pain in the extremities and chest pain." (from the package insert2).

Fact #3: Flu vaccines have not been studied in pregnant or nursing mothers
The same package insert for Fluzone also states "Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with Fluzone or Fluzone High-Dose. It is also not known whether Fluzone or Fluzone High-Dose can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity. Fluzone or Fluzone High-Dose should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed." Interesting that doctors recommend the flu shot for ALL pregnant women. states "Flu shots are recommended for women who'll be pregnant during flu season." They are recommending a shot when it has never been studied and they have no idea how it effects the fetus. There are other brands of the vaccine, including Fluvirin, Fluarix, Flulaval, Afluria, and Flumist yet all of them except Flumist says "Has not been evaluated in pregnant or nursing mothers." Flumist actually says that it should not be used in pregnant women.

Fact #4: They dish em out before they are studied
Now you're thinking "Whaaaat? How can they not study it?" There was never an independent, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the H1N1 flu vaccine4. You remember when H1N1 gained attention (Spring 2009), and it was just a matter of months (October 2009) before the vaccine manufacturers pushed out a vaccine. There is NO WAY they tested the safety or effectiveness of this vaccine in six months, and they are totally ignoring long term side effects. Now that H1N1 vaccine is incorporated in the mix, the Lancet study mentioned earlier is on the cocktail, not the individual components.

Fact #5: There are carcinogens and other nasty chemicals in the vaccine
All the different brands of vaccines5 contain different ingredients. You can choose which vaccine you want, yet unfortunately, most people just take whatever is dished out at the time. Some vaccines include mercury, and yes, they will still give a flu shot containing mercury to pregnant women and young children. Yet, they don't want you eating tuna.
Flu vaccine ingredients include6:
Ethylene glycol (antifreeze)
Phenol, also known as carbolic acid (this is used as a disinfectant, dye)
Formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent
Aluminum, which is associated with Alzheimer's disease and seizures and also cancer producing in laboratory mice (it is used as an additive to promote antibody response)
Thimerosal (used as a mercury disinfectant/preservative) can result in brain injury and autoimmune disease
Neomycin and Streptomycin (used as antibiotics) have caused allergic reaction in some people.
Fertilized Eggs chicken embryos

Below is a rather humorous video out of Canada about what's lurking in the flu vaccine.

A flu shot is peace of mind? With a protection rate of 1.5 in 100, unknown risks during pregnancy and nursing, and lack of studies, I think a flu shot is the exact opposite of peace of mind. Washing your hands, eating healthy, and exercising do more to prevent you from getting the flu than the vaccine ever will.

1Fluzone Package Insert
2The Lancet
5Dr. Sears Flu Vaccine site