Monday, January 30, 2012

Could We Know the Cause of SIDS?

 I certainly would never claim to be an expert on the subject of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for those not on the mailing list of the Association of Giving Parents More Things to Be Afraid Of).  But if I can use this forum to share information I've found that could potentially prevent a SIDS death, then I can't not do so.  There is compelling evidence that the cause of SIDS or crib death has been found and it is simple - your baby's mattress. 

It seems that the chemicals added to make a mattress flame-retardant react with a common household fungus that grows in the mattress.  This forms a toxic gas that over time, releases from the mattress and can poison and even kill a baby.  But the evidence of the poisoning is gone by the time an autopsy would be performed.  I won't go into it more here, I'll leave it to the links at the bottom of the page and the following quote to explain it much better than I can if you'd like to know more.  To me, it makes sense and it also means that it can be easily prevented and that is a very, very good thing. 

 "The fungi are harmless by themselves but feed on these chemicals. The byproducts are the gases phosphine (PH3), arsine (AsH3) and stibine (SbH3). These nearly odorless gases breathed even in small quantities for an extended time can interrupt the choline/acetylcholine transfer of nervous impulses from the brain to the heart and lungs. This shuts down the central nervous system; heart function and breathing stop. The gases are heavier than air, and about 1,000 times more poisonous than carbon monoxide. A baby sleeping on its stomach is in the zone above the mattress where the gases are most dense. Repeated exposure to these gases, especially in combination with other insults to a baby s immune systems, can result in toxic overload and death." 

It also makes sense in my head why there are 'risk factors' for SIDS but no explanation as to cause (until this theory).  The following are the main guidelines given to parents to reduce the chance of crib death, followed by my thinking as to why it would jive with this theory. 

Sleep your baby on their back
This is the biggest risk factor associated with SIDS.  If a baby's mouth and nose are closer to the mattress, they will be breathing a greater amount of these gases.  Keep reading, though, because we don't actually do this and you'll see why.

Breastfeed your baby
Breastfed babies have a stronger immune system and also wake more and tend to be kept closer to mom during the night.  I would think that waking more might disrupt the effect of the gases?  And I think this might be linked to why pacifier use is also encouraged to prevent SIDS.

Sleep close to your baby
Babies who sleep close to mom regulate their breathing better and mom is also able to keep a closer half-conscious ear out.  Not in your bed, they say...that would makes sense with the theory since adult mattresses are also treated with these chemicals.

Do not use an old mattress
The longer a mattress has to break down and increase the amount of fungus inhabiting it, the greater the amount of gases.

Keep all blankets, toys, and pillows out of a crib
If the theory is correct, I would think extra blankets and things could trap the gases rather than letting them disseminate as quickly as they otherwise would have, thereby increasing the risk.  Also, some blankets and stuffed animals are even treated with these chemicals.

Do not smoke during pregnancy or after baby is born
Exposure to cigarette smoke in utero and secondhand is just bad for a baby in many ways, affecting much of their development, including their respiratory and immune systems.

This theory could be dead wrong, but for me and my family, the evidence, or even the theory, is enough for me to take notice.  Like I said, I'm no expert.  I'm just a concerned mom that reads a lot and never really understood why they couldn't figure it out.  Since learning this a few years ago, we've had mattresses custom-made for our children made of organic cotton and wool.  Since wool is naturally flame retardant, it passes the (ridiculously silly) government standards without adding the harmful chemicals.  We even have a 'mattress guy' that has made the mattresses for us that I found on Craigslist.  It definitely does cost more than a conventional cheap mattress but we felt the cost was worth it (and they are SOO comfortable!).  We have yet to invest in one for ourselves because of the cost (we of those things I don't think about enough).   But I am at peace knowing that the boys' mattresses and the crib mattress are organic and safe.  The one for the co-sleeper we're currently using for Luke I bought from HERE.  I wish I could sleep on this thing, it is so snuggly!  We've also taken steps to eliminate the pajamas that are treated to be flame-retardant.  I'd rather take the precautions myself to make sure that a fire doesn't happen in the first place than think that coating pajamas and mattresses in potentially harmful chemicals will protect them if a fire is raging in their room.  And those same chemicals right on their skin can't be a good thing.

And hey, even if you cannot afford to buy a different mattress, there are ways of 'wrapping' a conventional mattress, that traps the gases below so that they cannot get to the baby.  Apparently, this system virtually eliminated SIDS in New Zealand (see the links below).

Again, I repeat, I am no expert on this (could I say this again?).  I am open to having me or this theory corrected , but to me it is valuable knowledge that should be considered.  I buy it and for that reason and because we've bought the natural, non-treated mattresses, breastfeed, never have or will smoke, and sleep inches away from our babies until their a few months old (after that they are only a few yards away in the crib), I feel comfortable sleeping our babies on their tummies. They sleep so much better on their stomachs and I actually think it's safer if you have a spitter like I do who is a pro at spitting up in his sleep.  I sometimes even use a blanket if I think it is safe and needed.  And hey, blessing your baby each night before bed is always a good and holy thing to do, too.  Take the information and do with it what you will.  Knowledge is power...or something like that.  May all our babies be kept safe and sleep sound!   


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Morning Daybook

Outside my window...
Gray, windy and flurries.  A good day to get some things done inside.

Thankful for...
My husband and how extremely patient he is with our boys.  I've been really noticing how almost all  little boys I know (especially first-borns) are exactly like their fathers.  For us, that is a very very good thing.  And I should probably tell that to my husband a bit more.

Thinking about...
This primary election and the HHS mandate that all employers must cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients within their health plans.  It's time to be active because this is not okay and that is putting it mildly.  I was sort of hoping once this crazy mandate was challenged, it would be seen as the gross infringement on religious liberty that it is and be done away with but then it was held and that is very, very bad in so many ways.
"The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease." -Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Plugging along with our curriculum that is loosely based on Angelicum Academy's syllabus.  John Paul is now in the second half of third grade math...and I think it is valid to now say that Michael is reading!  He's a third of the way through Teach Your Child to Read and he's getting it and it's so fun to watch :)

From the kitchen...
Nothing very fancy but then that's kind of the norm around here.  I'm cooking dinners again but am so so grateful for the time I spent stocking our freezer.  Best nesting energy spent.

Knitting a new ear warmer for myself and slowly figuring out how to rein in the Pinterest ideas and figure out what will be brought to life in our home. 

I am going...
To have to be very organized and well-rested as Brian has to go out of town a night this week and we just signed both boys up for indoor soccer (on different nights, sigh.) and that starts this week as well.  With each child that comes, leaving the house just takes a few extra minutes that need to be factored in!

That our refrigerator just springs miraculously back to life.  Or that they will now just decide to cover the cost of a new one rather than subjecting us to another seven week wait.

I started Walden.  And haven't picked it up in a few days.  And that is how mesmerized I am by that one...

For children everywhere, especially those raised in homes of anger and abuse.  It breaks my heart to even think about how often this happens and how many spirits are broken because of it.  It always seems to hit me harder postpartum, too.  My heart literally hurts when I think about the suffering endured by babies and children in so many ways. 
And special prayers going out to Sarah as she prepares to meet her sweet baby girl any day now.  May God grant her peace and a holy, beautiful, healthy birth.

The chatter of the boys and the roar of the basement pump...we've had more rain than snow this winter and our basement and yard show it.

Around the house...
Brian decided to start a new project this morning that is quite fun and shouldn't take all that much time.  Pics to come, once it's done!

One of my favorite things...
The way David pronounces 'Luke' as 'Lute' because he can't make that darn 'k' sound.  It's caught on and now Luke is often referred to as Baby Lute...and whatever other crazy mishmash of nonsense comes out of our mouths as we gush over him :)

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Friends over, bowling, soccer, and just living this awesome life I've been given.

A picture thought to share...

Contemplating the next move...

Friday, January 27, 2012

I Will Be Patient

After almost seven weeks with a broken refrigerator and using a dorm-size fridge and the porch for our food, the part we were waiting for arrived and the repairman came today!  He put the part in, said it should be ready for food by the evening, and bid us farewell.

I let it do its thing and opened the door in the late afternoon to see how it was going.  And it was warm.

I've actually been kind of proud of myself for not letting this whole thing get to me and just rolling with it.  After all, it's just a refrigerator and there are so so many in the world who don't even have food to worry about storing anywhere.  After today, I think I'm going to have to will this a bit more.  Say it with me...I will be patient,  I will not cry.  I will be patient, I will not cry...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yarn Along 1/25/12

Finally got myself something to knit and it's for me :)  I decided to knit up a pair of these Blue Monday fingerless gloves using Knitpicks Superwash merino wool in Allspice.  I found a matching ear warmer pattern to cast on in the same color once I've finished.  Then I can be all matchy-matchy in the snow.  I hope I actually wear them and don't find fingerless gloves a bit pointless.  We'll see.  They look cute anyway and the color will be perfect for next fall.  I hope to get to the yarn store later this week to pick up some yarn to cast on a sweater for John Paul.  I know he'd really like one and I've been putting it off in favor of easier (and less expensive) projects.  But my little boy wants a sweater from Mama, and so, darn it, I'm going to make one...soon.

And in order to get myself smarter, I began reading Walden by Thoreau.  Yep.  I really want to know and read more of the classics and I had no idea where to start.  So I picked that one off of our shelf thinking I should probably read it rather than always 'somedaying' it.  I'm going to be honest and tell you that I had absolutely no idea what this book was about, though I know it's a classic and constantly referenced in other works.  None.  I can't say my education in the classics was that thorough.  I mean, I knew there was a pond and he lived alone...or something like that.  It's, um, not really what I thought.  He's a pretty wordy guy, that Thoreau.  But I'm going to persist so I can feel smart and put some of these many books in our home library to actual use...and maybe get an extra Jeopardy question right or something.

If you've got a minute, go on over to Ginny's and check out the other Yarn Along folks!  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pinning It Down {1}

Pinterest was a bit overwhelming for me at first and if you look at my boards now, they're pretty bare compared to most folks.  But I knew if I just started pinning things left and right, things I thought were neat but had no prospect for me or my home, it would be overwhelming and entice me into a new guilt that I *should* be doing these things I've pinned.  Not to mention, it would be a complete time waster for me...not what I need right now.  BUT I've been able to limit my pinning to things that actually make sense for me and that I can realistically do and so Pinterest is good.  Joining up with Sarah and Pam this morning for their 'Pinning It Down' link up where we get the motivation to actually DO some of those things we've pinned!
(Never would have thought that me of all people would have my first 'pinning it down' be a beauty tip but here goes :)

So, I don't do hair.  I come from a family of of six girls and one boy.  Six girls and not one of us is really ever learned to do hair or makeup and I'm probably the worst of the bunch.  I've had my hair super short at times in the past and now it is about the longest it has ever been.  Not because I think it is beautiful long, but because I can put it in a ponytail and not think about it or worrying about styling it because I'm just not good at it and I don't want to spend time doing it.  Then a friend of mine pinned this video on Pinterest...

 and I thought, hey, I can do that!  I actually like my hair curly and my hair type holds it well.  If I could do it with virtually no effort, it would be awesome.  The video is kind of long and she has a thick accent but it was worth the watch for me...because it really worked!

 The first try came out with really tight curls...and yes that is a makeshift headband made of sewing elastic.  It left a big divot in my forehead after sleeping with it all night.  I have since splurged at Walgreens and bought the real thing.

 I tried it again another night with bigger pieces for looser curls.  (Please don't mind my mediocre self-portraits in the mirror.)  I have to play around with it a bit more but I don't know...I think I like it!  At least it's better than the straight back in a scrappy ponytail look that I had going before :) 

Head on over to Sarah's place to see what others are pinning down!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Luke at Six Weeks

Since we've been quarantined for quite some time, it makes me sad that my friends and family have not been privy to the extreme cuteness I get to witness on a daily basis.  Six weeks old already?  Yep, and time can stop for a while now because I'm just not that certain that I want this sweet angel of a baby to keep going yet.  He's smiling now and is almost always content.  He has been so easy on us so far (fingers crossed).  Just this morning I was holding him and he was looking tired and getting a bit fussy so I laid him down AND HE WENT TO SLEEP.  Seriously.  I thought those babies were the stuff of unicorns and leprechauns or at least the result of sleep-deprived deluded parents but no, these babies exist and I think I got one.  Or maybe I'm just sleep-deprived and deluded...possible.  But it's good, so, so good so I'll enjoy it either way.  The boy just makes my heart melt.  So here's a few pics of my little Luke just so you can melt, too, but really, he is SO much better in person :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012


We took the boys sledding and while it only lasted an hour or so, it was so good for ALL of us to get out of the house and into the fresh air.  Though I spent most of the time in the car with Luke, I didn't care.  (I did go down a few times!)  I have a serious case of cabin fever going on.  (Does anyone else hear the Muppets and their conga line when they think of that term or is just me?)   Rosy cheeks and fresh air are the best medicine!

 Aw, yeah...Mama remembered the hot chocolate :)

On the way home we picked up Dolphin Tale at Redbox.  If you know us, you know that our kids don't do T.V. but we do have a special movie night a few times a year and occassionally watch a football game with the kids.  I had heard good things about the movie and we decided to treat the boys.  I do agree that it is an innocent feel-good film that most of us enjoyed.  (FYI: There is a small scene where it is mentioned that the boy's father abandoned them and they don't hear from him at all.  That was the only sticky point for us.)  John Paul, however, spent a little while scared that something bad would happen.  It's so funny that he can read The Chronicles of Narnia and all sorts of stories with suspense and scary parts, but the minute anything visually suspenseful comes on, he gets really nervous.  If you've seen Dolphin Tale, you'll know that there is nothing anyone would consider scary in it in the least...but even the hint of suspense or suggestion that someone is not doing the right thing or that there might not be a good outcome is hard for him to handle.  We worked him through the drama and he ended up really liking it.

We are all feeling much better and working on getting the boys caught up on sleep and food.  Michael was the last victim and here's hoping that we can all start enjoying this winter again!
Hope you had a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baptism Cake Link-Up

Catholic Cuisine has a Baptism cake link up that I think I'm joining.  I learned cake decorating shortly after high school working at a local burger and ice cream joint.  I was in charge of making the ice cream cakes both the stock and the special orders.  It was one of my all time favorite jobs.  When John Paul was born I reawakened my inner cake decorator and for Baptisms and birthdays the boys have received a special homemade cake.  The Baptism cakes aren't all that inventive but I think that's the wisest course considering they need to be made at only a few weeks postpartum, right?

John Paul's Cake - a simple two layer round cake with white frosting and light blue accents

Michael's Cake (a bit blurry, sorry!) - I bought a Wilton cross pan when a friend asked me make a cake for her daughter's Baptism...that thing has been well used for many a Baptism, First Communion, and Easter.  Blue and gold used to honor the Blessed Mother.

And David's...which looks a whole lot like Michael's ;)  I may have lost my creative touch with the cross after doing so many of them!

Luke's Cake

My kids have been dye-free for years now but I did occassionally still use them just to make things look 'right' and just didn't let them eat the colored parts.  I have a goal now of not using them for any more cakes and stretching my creativity a bit.  This time I tried an all cream motif, which I rather liked.  I also needed to make this one as simple as possible for my own sake as we battled illness in the house and had a guest in town!  I can't say I was super motivated to do this one but guilted myself into it since the other boys had had a fancy cake...can't let the little guy feel slighted, y'know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Our Nature Table

The idea of a nature table or nature shelf has been in my mind for a while now and yesterday, I finally got around to beginning it.  Inspired by Charlotte Mason (or was it Montessori?  Or Waldorf?  I don't know.  I'd be lying if I said I could keep all those homeschool greats and philosophies from morphing into one giant amalgamation in my head...), it is a designated space in the home where the children can store their finds from nature on display.  I moved some furniture around and settled on this place in our library (that sounds fancy doesn't it?) and I think we like it.  The shelf we've had for a long time and while probably not the perfect milieu for display, the multiple shelves make it nice for categorizing the various nature treasures that we have found over the years.  Because I never had a great place to put them, they were often kept for a little while then thrown away.  By me.  Because I can't tolerate clutter and without a set place to keep all these little keepsakes, they'd drive me crazy.  But now we have a set, albeit very humble, place!  Yay!

And I really felt like the homeschool mom rockstar because we spent several hours researching each item, categorizing, and labeling each treasure.  The feeling didn't last long I assure you but I enjoyed it while it lasted because when you're a homeschool mom you have to savor those moments that just click.  We're currently using the three shelves on the bottom and they are separated into animals, vegetation, and rocks/minerals.  The top two shelves now keep our devotionals and Bible.  After all, all of creation can lead us to glorify God more fully (and because that's where I needed to keep them).  Each higher order of creation gets the next higher shelf...pretty cool, huh?

The shelf is far from complete but it's a start and is actually meant to be a constantly evolving project.  Things will be added, changed, discarded, and rotated as we discover throughout the year.  As we add items we will look them up, learn about them, and categorize them accordingly.  Any recommendations for a great field guide are appreciated.  We're in need of some books so that we can identify the birds, plants, wildlife, rocks, etc. that we find in this area and preferably a really extensive one.  I've recently realized how woefully inadequate my own knowledge is in the area of local wildlife.  Homeschooling seems to do that to me and I'm well aware now how lacking I am in so many subject areas.  Good thing it's never too late to learn.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Goings On

We're all feeling much better in these here parts today, thank you God!  It's been a long few weeks but I think our immune systems have finally won out and we've fought off these infections, flu, colds, and whatever else was laying seige to our family.  I don't know if it was one massive bug that manifested itself in a whole bunch of different ways or if we just kept picking up different things because our immunes were so taxed.  But either way, I think we are on the other end of it and we can start living life more fully again.  Just a few pictures of these last few weeks during the off and on sickness and times in between...

We made it to our homeschool group's Epiphany play on a day that I really thought we were no longer sick...

Michael played a star :)  It's fuzzy because I cropped it... I really don't like sharing pictures of other people or their children online without their permission but I just couldn't resist sharing this sweet face with you!  I was so proud of him!  I really wasn't thinking he'd make it through and was sure he'd end up shutting down and refusing to do it.  But he did it...with a smile!

Blessing the house for Epiphany

The Lintel Blessing...a bit hard to see the white chalk on the tan wall, but it's there :)

We got outside one mild day last week and took a walk!  It felt so very good to get outside and breathe fresh air.  We made it partially down the street and I considered it great success.  My first time with all four kids outside!

We found some seed pods AND part of a deer antler which we considered the ultimate treasure.

John Paul has been wanting to practice with my camera.  I'm not sure what kind of photo shoot he was trying to do in these shots but it did involve a lot of giggling.

 And my Luke.  Because he's cute.  And growing so very fast.

Friday, January 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Volume 1

I fell prey to the flu that everyone and their mother seems to be getting now.  So to distract you from the unwashed hair and the lingering smell of sickness around here, I present 7 Quick Takes hosted by Conversion Diary.

We've still had a few people bringing us dinners since Luke was born.  It is such a great thing to do for a family that's just had a baby.  I've often done it in the past but the gift that it has been for us these past few weeks is definitely motivating me to make sure I do it whenever I can.  Funny how the people who have taken time to bless us in this way are some of the most busy people I know with so much on their own plates.  Thank you!

Please read this article by Jen.  She says so much that I have been thinking on for quite some time now and hope to post about in the future.  How often to we use our children as an excuse for not doing what is good for us or for living in a constant 'survival mode' - that phrase I hear so very often?  How much of it is valid and how much do we need to just get over it and thrive?  Do we dare to feel sorry for ourselves because we have been incredibly blessed by the awesome (and incredibly demanding) gift of children?  Something that I know I and many others need to think on...

Luke is losing his hair.  Just on top and not on the sides.  He definitely has that old monk a la St. Francis thing going on.  I'm not a big fan.

We finally had our first real snowfall today!  Can't believe it took so long but it looks beautiful out.  So glad I don't have to drive in it.  I've been watching the cars go around the corner by our house and they're having a rough time of it.  Brian (thank you, God) was able to stay home today since both David and me were barely able to move this morning and take care of us.  I don't know what I would have done if he hadn't have been able to be here!  Being the rockstar that he is, he's been on top of laundry, lunches, vomit control, and taking care of all of us. The bad driving makes me doubly glad that he's here.

I've been looking for used pianos on Craigslist.  One of my goals for this year is to get the kids going with some better music education and exposure.  I so wish I had learned an instrument when I was younger.  I tried several times to learn piano and guitar in my older years and never stuck with it.  I can read music, though, at least.  I'm really hoping to find someone who can come here to teach at least John Paul piano for a reasonable fee.  I wish my sister-in-law, the master violin player and suzuki teacher lived closer!  My seven year old niece can play beautifully...

I miss Trader Joe's and Ikea.  Trader Joe's is coming to Rochester next summer, though!  I have been submitting requests to them for years to come to western NY and they finally are!  It'll still be an hour drive but will be so worth the trip a few times a year!  Ikea...well, we have one in Toronto two hours away, but that's Canada and now requires an upgraded license or state I.D. to get there for everyone in the family and that just ain't happening.  They ship sometimes but the shipping costs for furniture defeat the whole purpose of us going there in the first place.

And just for fun, it is now time for a rousing game of Name That Newborn...John Paul, Michael, David or Luke?  Under normal circumstances I have ethical issues with cloning but the way we do it, I think it's okay ;)  Answers are in the comments :) 

 Hope you're having a wonderful Friday...and if you don't mind sparing a prayer that our family finally gets better, I'd really appreciate it!

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