Thursday, December 28, 2006
  Faith through Adversity

I can't get the picture of her out of my head right now. It isn't just her face, it is her holding her little baby, a tube coming out of his nose and taped to his head.

"He looks so good," I said stupidly. He did look healthy, except for the tube, but we all knew that in a few weeks he would be dead of the brain tumor he had been born with. A baby hoped for, prayed for, another one gone. Three of her children had died of cancer, and a pair of twins had died from complications of premature birth.

And now she is gone too, along with two more children. The family was hit by a drunk driver early sunday morning.

All that is left is the father, Gary Ceran, and two kids. In total, he has lost his wife and 7 children. Do you want it to get worse? His mother died two years ago, and one of his brothers just a few months after that.

And after all of that, after everything, he forgives the drunk driver and is praying for the man. It is is faith in God that is carrying him through this.
Monday, December 25, 2006
  Writers of the Future Semifinalist

Today, I got a new laptop. One of the first emails to read on it was my semifinalist notification for the Writers of the Future contest.

What does that mean? Basically, that out of about 1800 entries I was in the top 12-20 or so.

Okay so yeah, I was jumping up and down and screaming just a little bit today.
  Who needs graphics anyway?

Sorry about the graphics folks. I'm having some technical difficulties that have been overwhelmed by the holidays.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
  Fear Tactics in Advertising

On the whiteboard in the women's workout area:

The average American gains 8-11 pounds during the holiday season.

WRONG. Not only is this wrong, it even exaggerates the 7-10 lb here and here for that. These all use different calculating methods. They are still not quite as good as using a scale in water(runs usually around 300 dollars), or caliper measurements (technically difficult) but much closer than the devices that measure electrical resistance to estimate body fat.

Just losing weight will make you a smaller version of what you are now. You will just be a skinny FAT person.

Please note that this sign is in the women's weight training room of a gym. The women who will read this sign aren't just dieting. They are exercising. This simply is not true of this population. Not only that, but the statement encourages the culture of anorexia.

The rest of the sign is about seeing the in house personal trainers for a free one hour consultation. I have plenty to say about that in another post. But for today, the point is that this advertisement isn't about encouraging these women to reach a little farther, be a little stronger, a little better, and most certainly more confident. This advertising is telling them that if they don't sign up with these guys, they will gain weight or if they lose it, they will still be fat. It is all about fear.

Guess what, women (and men). You don't need them. They aren't worth your time or money. Need some encouragement? Get a friend. Need some knowledge? There are plenty of books, magazines, and websites out there that will tell you everything these guys will teach you, and more. The last thing getting fit should be about is being afraid of failure.

I'm printing this out, along with the references, and bringing it in tomorrow.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
  Thoughts I Had in my Kid's School Today

I'm writing this from the school, in a notebook. The old fashioned kind. I tried the modern kind last week, but I forgot that its batteries run out in only an hour and I started talking to other parents and I lost what I wrote. I haven't written this much long hand for a long time.

Now I want to edit that. The last sentence belongs more towards the end of this writing because I'm anticipating writing such long hand rather than having actually accomplished it. I have written on occasion the paltry paragraph or two in long hand.

It's a different process. It slows things down, lets the brain have more say in between words, but doesn't listen to the brain as much because my thoughts race ahead. I skip letters in words sometimes because my hand is too slow. I am compelled to get the next thought down before it evaporates into the churn of new thoughts vying for the chance to be put down in ink – to be made permanent.

Why am I in the school? It's a Saturday morning. My children are taking tests for the gifted program they are a part of. They do not like the tests because the tests are boring and take away from their free day. There are kids here today who are so frightened they cry or throw up. Testing anxiety for some of them, pure and simple, even if they know the material very well. But there are some kids here that are sacrificing their Saturday and confidence to their parents' ambitions.

I have seen parents yell at the administrators who are simply giving them their children's test scores that say their child is not suited for the program. I hope the child is not berated. Children should be celebrated for what they are, not made into something that they aren't.

Last week, (the one in which I lost my work because of the battery) I wrote about overhearing the conversation of two parents speaking about what they want their children to be, or rather what schools would best help their children become a doctor or a lawyer.

A doctor or a lawyer- only the best schools for that, definitely. I asked myself and I would have asked them if I were a braver person, "Is that why we have our kids in this program? Is it to put them under high stress in college only to have even more stress on their jobs? To give them work that divorces them away from family?

Not to say that these aren't worthy professions, that there isn't a great amount of good that comes of them. (Though I hold my reservations for some kinds of lawyers.)

It is the mention of those two jobs together, "a doctor or lawyer", in elementary school, in regards to a seven year old child, that gives me pause. It is the goal of something big, prestigious, well respected, lots of money – that is what that phrase says.

The ambition ignores who the child actually is and seeks after a difficult life for the child in order to gain recognition from everyone else in the world, when they only need the love of their own family and the recognizing of who they really are.

Being a doctor, a lawyer, a writer, a teaching, a CEO, a computer programmer, or whatever else a person is will only bring one joy of that is what they are well suited for and enjoy. If that is true, then they will be successful and secure.

Being loved for who they are will teach them to accept others. They will gain the capacity for compassion, generosity, self-confidence and the love of friends and family. Those are the markers of a life well lived.

My hand aches. I haven't written this much longhand for a long time.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
  Boys and their Toys

It starts young. Very young.

Since our big people mover suburban broke down, we had to use my husband's commuter car to transport the family on Sunday. Our curly headed toddler boy had never been in this car, simply because it isn't practical to move the carseat. But he had always liked it. The car is loud and looks cool, having been souped up by some young-uns before we got it. The sound was always the herald of Dad having arrived home.

So when we put him in it, he said, "Fast fast! Vroom Vroom!" We'd never heard those words before from him. He laughed and bounced the whole time he was in the car, saying Vroom, Vroom!

BTW, the suburban will be fixed tomorrow. Yay!
Sunday, December 03, 2006

Has anyone watched that TV show Monster House? When a project gets completed, it gets stamped and a voice proclaims "DONE!"

That's how I feel. Almost.

Accomplishments for the past two weeks.

  1. Weaning the 20 month old: DONE
  2. Carpets cleaned (we have our own machine to do it): DONE
  3. Christmas shopping: DONE
  4. Thanksgiving weekend with family: DONE
  5. Relief Society (a women's class I teach once a month) lesson: DONE
  6. Teaching Fiction unit with daughter's 3rd grade class: DONE
  7. PTA literature Reflections processed and delivered. Now I need to get them back from judges and combine scores to get winners. Deadline is tuesday.
  8. End of track/Christmas party/cast party for daughter's 6th grade Shakespeare play with Russian food samples: DONE
  9. Big Gas Guzzling monster family mover incompacitated. I did a thousand+ dollar job at this. And that is when we know mechanics who will barter for labor. Actually, it isn't really my fault, but it was partially my ignorance the struck the death blow for our differential drive. I hate ignorance. I'm spending my life irradicating it.
  10. Pediatric Grand Rounds: DONE

Am I bragging, am I whining? I don't know. But mostly, it is DONE and I'm glad.

Saturday, December 02, 2006
  Pediatric Grand Rounds: A Recipe for Granola

1 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries (Or dried blueberries and/or apples) - the last thing added but the first thing noticed and savored

Neonatal Doc reminds us of the reason why pediatricians are in practice: the worth of human lives.

Bella, of rain on tulips, describes the last two years of journeying through the suspicions, questions, testing, diagnosis, and finally the treatments of a child with a unique genetic abnormality. She finds that caring for a child with extra challenges puts life into perspective.

Dr. Crippen from NHS Blog Doctor, who brings us a story about a sham medical association designed to promote the fear of milk and the sale of a baby formula. I always get irritated with moms who are very anxious about what is going in their kid's gut, but are feeding their wee little ones bottles.

4 cups old-fashioned oats - the bulk of the granola: the practice of pediatric medicine

Have you ever wondered just what exactly Shinga, of Breath Spa for Kids, does when she works? I did, and was very impressed when I read about it.

Maybe not quite so normal, but still beautiful as every child is, Clark Bartram's newborn at Unintelligent Design this week demonstrates to us a common form of polydactyly - which is an esoteric way of saying "too many fingers and toes."

Rob from Musings of a Distractible Mind brings us an interesting case of a 4 day old infant with inconsolable crying. What is the diagnosis? The answer may suprise you and leads to an interesting discussion.

Neonatal Doc, in the article he submitted for this edition, wonders why parents hear something that contradicts what was actually said. I wonder why my kids do the same thing.

Dr. Jest finds himself in the middle of a discouraging conflict between parents where children are the currency of blame.

1 1/2 cup sliced almonds - the protein: the practice of parenting

Awesome Mom wants to know if her kid's doctor has a blog.

Laura, who Adventures in Juggling a demanding job with parenting, struggled to let go and let her child fall down sometimes, finding in the process that he became more independant and could climb higher.

Purple Kangaroo finds that dealing with ill children has a lot to teach us about raising well children as well.

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon - Granola tastes blah without some salt and spices.

There is a great discussion over at Flea. How can we have doctors who are experienced with healthy children when they are trained with a bias towards illness in children?

1/4 cup vegetable oil - a little grease to aid the cooking process

Rdoctor offers us some advertisements and an interview with an insurance specialist.

1/4 cup honey – Advances in medicine and technology

Medgadgets has a great lead on a type of very low friction fabric that could be enormously useful for sufferers of a disease that Clark Bartram described to us: Epidermolysis Bullosa, as well as other skin disorders.

1 teaspoon vanilla – studies and information

Food allergies are being clinically diagnosed more and more. Is Anaphylaxis the new Asthma?

Bartholemew Cubbins on Autism shows why chelation therapy for the treatment of autism, a method widely touted by alternative medicine, is not only ineffective but may actually be harmful.

Sumer Sethi from Sumer's Radiology Site presents to us a paper on Holoprosencephaly And Patau Syndrome.

Credit where credit is due

We had a lot of wonderful submissions for PGR. Thanks to everyone for participating. I'd like in particular to thank Shinga for her great help. And to Clark for starting and administrating PGR. Grab your next helping at Blog, MD.

Directions for cooking the granola:

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a bowl mix the oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a saucepan warm the oil and honey. Whisk in vanilla.

Carefully pour the liquid over the oat mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon; finish mixing by hand. Spread granola in a 15x10 inch baking pan.

Bake 40 minutes, stirring carefully every 10 minutes. Transfer granola-filled pan to a rack to cool completely. Stir in raisins or cranberries. Seal granola in an airtight container or self-sealing plastic bag. Store at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for 3 months.

A Mormon housewife who loves truth, science, rational thought, and reasonable action.

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Location: Utah

Granola is a mix of things: grains, nuts, bits of dried fruit, maybe some coconut. There's some fat in it, and it's a good source of fiber to keep those arteries and colons clean.

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