Monday, February 28, 2011

February Top 10


It was so interesting to look back at the Top 10 of 2010 (and so many people were asking for the list), that last month (Jan) we decided to implement something new for 2011. On the last day of each month, we're taking a quick look over the "Top Ten" most read articles at peaceful parenting that month. Readers wishing to catch up on the most frequently read and passed along items can do so easily, and those curious about what they missed can check them out.

Here are February's Top Ten:


#10 Sleep Training: A Review of Research


#9 Nipplephobia: When Mammals May Not Feed Their Young
 

#8 Common Car Seat Errors


#7 Why Pregnancy Due Dates Are Inaccurate


#6 Why African Babies Don't Cry


#5 Mother's Skin-to-Skin Goodbye Saves 20oz Baby
 

#4 Seven Benefits of CoSleeping
 

#3 Crying It Out Causes Brain Damage
 

#2 Boston Area Woman Naturally Births Her First 13 Pound Baby 


#1 Amidst Shekinah Glory, Husband Loses Best Friend and Sings His Baby Girl to Heaven
Often some of the most challenging times for someone who loses a dearly close loved one are the weeks and months that follow the loss, when people fade away, the cards stop coming, the hugs become less frequent, and lonely days set in. Please pray for Chad, even after this first month of grieving the loss of his beautiful wife and baby daughter, and keep him in your thoughts for a long time to come. We will be giving all donations to peaceful parenting at this time to Chad, and Sara Cole's memorial fund that he established in her honor. Chad, our hearts are with you. You have touched so many lives even in the midst of such tragedy. What a testimony you have!

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Breast Cancer Body Paint Campaign



In an effort to remind women and men about perspective when it comes to breast cancer detection, the Breast Cancer Foundation in Singapore implemented a body art exhibit in late 2010 to draw awareness to the cause. 

On each painting is the inscription:

Are you obsessed with the right things? The difference between a pimple/big-butt/bad-hair-day and breast cancer is that of life and death. Regular breast checks are the best way to fight cancer. Show support for the women in your life by purchasing a Pink Ribbon.


There are many breast cancer survivors today who urge media, researchers, friends, and family to push prevention rather than cure. To 'obsess' about the things we can proactively do to decrease breast cancer risk for each individual woman, rather than solely focus on diagnosis and reactive medicine. In My Breast Cancer: Why I Won't Race for the Cure, Danielle Rigg writes, "In an era when premenopausal breast cancer, as well as many other serious diseases, are on the rise, it is simply unacceptable to me to push the “the cure” without at least an equal emphasis on PREVENTION."

Whether your passion is a focus on prevention, education, early detection, support for women going through treatment, healing, or cure, we each play a roll in keeping perspective and empowering our daughters, sisters, girlfriends, wives, mothers and grandmothers through awareness, information, and love.


Related Sites & Books:

Cleaning For a Reason (free house cleaning services for those going through cancer treatment)

Best For Babes Foundation breast cancer posts

National Breast Cancer Foundation (U.S.)

Susan G. Komen For the Cure

BreastCancer.org

Famous Breast Cancer Survivors

Prevention / Post treatment options:

Outsmart Your Cancer: Alternative Treatments that Work

Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras

The Healing Power of 8 Sugars [glycobiology]


The Body Paint Campaign: Developed from DDB Worldwide, Singapore by executive creative director Joji Jacob, creative director Thomas Yang, copywriter Khairul Mondzi, art director Andrea Kuo, account director Rowena Bhagchandani and account executive Ng Ling Kai, with illustrator Andy Yang Soo Kit, digital retoucher Agnes Teo and photographer Allan Ng, Republic Studios.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Human Milk Ice Cream Sold in London's Icecreamists Parlor

By Danelle Frisbie © 2011


We've seen it used in specialty cheeses, in lotions, and popsicles for the kids. We know it is nature's true and finest 'cure-all' - a real medicinal wonder for everything from acne to cancer. But this may be the first time human milk is used in a posh ice cream parlor, being sold as a delicacy for patrons. (The idea has, however, has surfaced before when groups like PETA urged Ben & Jerry's to use human milk instead of cow's milk for their ice cream concoctions).

This past Thursday, Icecreamists, in London's trendy Covet Garden district, became the first to serve customers their new ice cream, playfully titled, "Baby Gaga." The first 50 servings were made with milk donated from U.K. mom, Victoria Hiley. Thirty-five year old, Hiley, is mom to one child from Leeds in Northern England, and her 30 ounces were the foundation for this new line of ice cream.

Hiley says that when she first saw the advertisement on the parenting website, Mumsnet, seeking donor milk for ice cream, she wasn't sure if it was real or not. "I saw the advertisement offering to pay women to donate breastmilk on a forum and it made me laugh. There were so many comments and people were having a debate on whether it could be genuine. So I thought I'd find out."

Professionally, Hiley serves new moms as a lactation consultant. "I teach women how to get started on breastfeeding their babies," she says. "There's very little support for women and every little bit helps. I'm passionate about the good that breastfeeding does for babies." Hiley also believes it is possible that if adults realize how good human milk actually is, new mothers would be more willing to breastfeed their own newborns. "You can kid yourself that [your milk] is a healthy ice cream! But it is very nice - it really melts in the mouth. And what could be more natural than fresh, free-range mother's milk in an ice cream?"

The unique Baby Gaga ice cream is made by blending human milk with Madagascan vanilla pods and lemon zest.

Icecreamists founder, Matt O'Connor, 44, is confident his new flavor will go over well with customers. "The Baby Gaga tastes creamy and rich. No one's done anything interesting with ice cream in the last hundred years. We've came up with a method of infusing ice-cream with [human] milk. We wanted to completely reinvent it. And by using [human] milk we've definitely given it a 100% makeover. It's just one of a dozen radical new flavors we've invented. We want to change the way people think about ice cream."

O'Connor adds, "Some people will hear about it and go, 'yuck,' but actually it is pure, organic, and totally natural." And he does have a point... which is more 'normal' to drink: the milk artificially collected from the 'breasts' of a 4-legged, hoofed, hairy animal who poos by her utters? Or the clean, fresh milk made for our own species. Granted, no one past the age of natural human weaning needs the milk of any mammal (and there is ample evidence that we may be better off without other mammals' milks), but if you're going to consume milk anyway, it may just be better to have it be that which was made for your own species.

Icecreamists sells the new Baby Gaga ice cream for £14 ($22.50) per serving. And this is not your typical ice cream parlor. If you order the ice cream, you'll likely have it delivered to your table by a costumed Baby Gaga waitress who brings the ice cream in a martini glass. Liquid nitrogen will be poured into your glass through a syringe, and the dish served to you with a rusk. Or, if you prefer, you may order the Baby Gaga flavor with whiskey or another cocktail of your choice.

Icecreamists pays £15 ($24) for every 10 ounces of donated milk from mothers in the area, and has already had 15 individual donors. In order to maintain the highest standard of quality for their ice cream, women donating milk must pass the same blood screening tests used by U.K.'s National Health Service for blood donors. Hiley notes, "It wasn't intrusive at all to donate. Just a simple blood test." O'Connor believes the new delicacy will be a success, "If it's good enough for children, it's good enough for us."

Victoria Hiley, first to donate for the new Baby Gaga ice cream recipe


The Icecreamists' Website: http://www.theicecreamists.com/

Have milk to donate? Consider helping another baby in need. 
Find your local Eats On Feets or other donation options from the breastmilk donation page



~~~~

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: Reflections of a Peaceful Parenting Mom

By Kristina Dott © 2011


I was asked to read and review Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother before its release date of January 11th. When I said yes, I had no idea I would be opening the cover of one of the most controversial books among U.S. parents in a long time. I tried to skip the news reports and media furry that surfaced, wanting to read with open eyes and a fresh mind. This proved to be difficult. Everywhere I turned people were talking about "tiger mothers" - from the playground, to the PTAs, to the sidetracked collegiate department-head meetings. Some news reports were contemplative, others over the top and exaggerated. Friends said, "Oh, I don't think it fits with peaceful parenting... It'll be interesting to hear what you think." And so, with a bit of excitement and determination to see for myself what Chua's lessons were all about, I started in on her words:
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do: 
  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular actives
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin

The more I read, the more I related - both to Chua and her daughters. You see, my own mother was a "tiger" of sorts. While she did not take it as far as Chua (we did have the occasional sleepover for once a year birthday parties, we were in junior high and high school musicals, and we all played instruments other than the piano or violin), there are many similarities between the expectations my mother had for us, those that Chua has for her daughters, and those her parents had for her. To be quite honest, in many ways, I agree: accepting nothing less than excellence, more often than not, leads to excellence.

Note here, that "Chinese Mothers" don't always come from China (and they are often not mothers but fathers as well). Chua writes, "I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers..."

My own mother is of English and African blood, born in the Midwest heartland of the United States. She parented us in the style that her military ("tiger mother") father before her had set as an example. Anything less than the best was unacceptable in our home. A few tears filled my eyes as Chua relayed the story of her own father attending an awards assembly. Chua received second place, and her father was furious. "Never, ever disgrace me like that again," he told her. As an early high school student my parents were invited to an awards assembly where I would be given an award. My mom discovered ahead of time that I was, in fact, not at the top of the pecking order. I'd be given the equivalent of a silver medal. She refused to attend the ceremony. Even now, 20 years later, that one still stings just a bit. But a part of me also wonders if it was things like this that shaped me into who I am today, and Chua into who she is. Both successful in our own regard and doing what we love. Chua is sure to emphasize that tiger mothering is not the same as being a monster - everything that is done is built on a foundation of love and compassion and high expectations - this is how parents raise children who succeed and are then happy with themselves and with life.

I'm going to skip the in-detail retelling of the most commonly reported (and exaggerated) aspects of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (those that bring the most hate mail into Chua's inbox). For example, calling her daughter, Sophia, "garbage" (something she says she does regret, and wishes she could change) and forcing her 7-year-old, Lulu, to practice "Little White Donkey" on the piano for hours on end "right through dinner and into the night" without breaks for the bathroom or even a drink of water until Lulu finally mastered it with a, "Mommy, look - it's easy!" and continued to play the piece over and over on her own...

Thinking of my own children, one tiger mother moment that got to me the first time I read it (empathizing more with the children than the Chinese Mother at the time) was the card that Lulu made for Chua on her birthday. Seeing that it was "a piece of paper folded crookedly in half, with a big happy face on the front," Chua gave the card back to Lulu and told her she did not want it. "I want a better one - one that you've put some thought and effort into. I have a special box, where I keep all my cards from you and Sophia, and this one can't go in there." I imagined my youngest son handing me his colored cards full of love and I cannot fathom rejecting one. Wouldn't it be special all the same - in its own sweet way? And maybe this is where Chua has more tiger in her than I do. "Everyone is special in their special own way. Even losers are special in their own special way," she tells her husband in one discussion. Ouch. And yet... in life, there are winners, and there are losers, and you can't be both. For a Chinese Mother, making sure that your children are winners is love.

The Chinese Mother expects her children to only attend the most elite university programs. In this way, three of the four of my siblings and I failed our tiger mom. We all hold multiple advanced graduate degrees and doctorates, yet our schools were, for the most part, not top ranked. One brother attended the best academy for oral surgery - but me, well, I sit here today writing and working most of my hours from home, and investing in the mothering of my own children - putting a career on the back burner for now and much to the chagrin of family members who frequently ask, "So when are you going to start using your degrees again?"

I've oft been known to say that in the West, our "mothering doesn't matter" to society or those around us (although in my heart of hearts I believe it matters more than anything). Through Chua's book, I can see now in a new light how Chinese mothering matters a great deal - and how Asian culture may just hold these tiger moms in higher regard for the successes they bring out in their children. After all, there is no way to deny a mother's influence (or love?) when she invests hours upon hours of her time in you each and every day of your upbringing. Being a Chinese Mother is not easy. It takes a great amount of devotion and dedication - persistence, patience, and pushing. Certainly, it is much easier to sit on the couch and let your children watch Wonder Pets, or drop them at day care while you run to the gym, or enroll them in afternoon soccer so you can meet and chat with friends. Chinese Mothers are anything but lazy or selfish. Chua cites studies that show Chinese parents spend approximately ten times longer every day than U.S. parents, investing in their children's academic practice and endeavors. To the Chinese Mother, this is love.

And I understand where Chua is coming from... I expect my own children to succeed. I know they are capable of getting all 'A's if they work diligently, and I expect nothing less. To me, college is not even an option - in fact, graduate school is not an option - it is fully expected for any child of mine. As it was for my mother's children. And while I fall short in my own tiger mothering (I don't drill my children for hours a day), I do align in my own self-reflection with Chua's report that Chinese mothers "believe their children can be 'the best' students, that academic achievement reflects successful parenting, and that if children did not excel at school then there was 'a problem' [at home]."

However, I am likely investing a bit too much concern for immediate happiness into my own mothering than a good tiger mom would. How often do we in the U.S. hear a parent say, "I just want him to be happy!" And, "Her happiness is all that matters." Chua writes, "Happiness is not a concept I tend to dwell on. Chinese parenting does not address happiness." She admits though, "This has always worried me. When I see the piano- and violin-induced calluses on my daughters' fingertips, or the teeth marks on the piano, I'm sometimes seized with doubt." The fear of failure, and the need to be successful, is just too powerful to give up practice-practice-practice for immediate and fleeting happiness. But does the laissez-faire manner of Western parenting really lead to happiness? Does the Chinese way of parenting lead to unhappiness? "When I look around at all the Western families that fall apart - all the grown sons and daughters who can't stand to be around their parents or don't even talk to them - I have a hard time believing Western parenting does a better job with happiness." Chua notes that her intense focus on her daughters' success is the vehicle to help them find genuine fulfillment in their life's work (as she did) which then leads to happiness.

I look around, and again, I relate. My siblings and I are all ubber happy in successful paths because our mother pushed us so hard, set the bar so high, and expected nothing less than the very best. At the same time, I look at friends and family whose parents did not challenge, push, drill and hold very high expectations, with even higher involvement on behalf of the parents, and they are often ho-humming their way through life without any real passions, drives, feelings of success, motivation, or self-determining "happiness." An example of this can be seen in the high school my husband attended. It is a laboratory school in the Midwest where the overall manner of teaching is quite "live and let live." Students often select their own curriculum and are encouraged in their creativity, but not so much in hard sciences, learning, and being challenged. I've mixed feelings about this. Because while self-expression is sorely needed, and the arts absolutely play an important roll in our lives, being completely laissez-faire in education has led to year after year of valedictorians from this high school failing out of college. What does this say about the school's ability to prepare kids for real world experiences and expectations? What does it say about the school's "love" for their students? Through her book, Chua seems to suggest this is the antithesis of love for our children and good parenting (or good schooling).

Program for International Student Assessment Test Patterns

For all the attacks that have been sent Chua's way, she does have a point. China (in great part because of its very involved parenting and pushing kids academically) is doing better than most of the West in terms of schooling and those areas we'd typically define as "success." Results for the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) were released this past December and we saw the stark contrast between Shanghai (far ranked #1), Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea versus the U.K., U.S., France and Spain that were all middle-of-the-road. Education experts analyzing the outcomes simply explained that Chinese students work harder, with more focus, and for longer hours than Western students do. And it is their parents making sure the work gets done. For mothers like Chua, it is Western parents doing a great disservice to their own children, and their futures in the world, to neglect their academic success and studies in this way.

She points out in her January 11th Today show interview that just as so many Westerners look down on the Chinese Mother way of doing things, Asian parents don't exactly hold Western ways of parenting in high regard. "To be perfectly honest," says Chua, "I know that a lot of Asian parents are secretly shocked and horrified by many aspects of Western parenting, [including] how much time Westerners allow their kids to waste - hours on Facebook and computer games - and in some ways, how poorly they prepare them for the future. It's a tough world out there."

Reading Chua's description of the differentiation between American "sports" parents who often think they are being strict and getting ubiquitously wrapped up in their child's athletic events, versus the Chinese Mother, I thought that I was reading my own mom's rule book. In fact, these were each points I clearly knew my mom played by - and those I experienced repeatedly growing up - my tiger mother's rules to a T.  Chua writes,
Unlike your typical Western overscheduling soccer mom, the Chinese mother believes that (1) schoolwork always comes first; (2) an A-minus is a bad grade; (3) your children must be two years ahead of their classmates in math; (3) you must never compliment your children in public; (5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach, you must always take the side of the teacher or coach; (6) the only activities your children should be permitted to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal; and (7) that medal must be gold.
Believe it or not, amidst the hate mail for her open and griping tail of her Chinese mothering style, Chua has received her fair share of gratitude. Often, it comes from adults who finally grasp the love that resonated through the actions of their own "Tiger Mother" growing up. She tells TIME, "People have said that after reading my book they finally understand their parents and why they did what they did. One man wrote that he sent his mother flowers and a note of thanks, and she called him up, weeping." Others have written to Chua "to say that they wished their parents had pushed them when they were younger, that they think they could have done more with their lives."

 Amy Chua with her daughters, Lulu and Sophia, and husband, Jed Rubenfeld.

Chua's daughters (now in their teens, Sophia heading to college this fall) seem to already reiterate this appreciation for their mother's Chinese way. They are happy to be successful even at this young age - having been the best of the best already, with promising futures ahead. They each plan to mother their own children in the same fashion (with the occasional sleepover tossed in). After discussing this at length with my siblings, we all agree that if anything is certain, our mother's drive for our achievement spurred us into the locations in life that we are at today. It is her love for us that compels her (even today) to expect nothing less than the best. We are deeply and sincerely grateful for this gift she gave us, even if there were bumps and bruises along the way.

In the end, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is an honest, often humorous, always raw, look at one Chinese Mother and her self-reflection of what worked, what didn't work, what she's proud of, what she believes in, and what she'd likely do differently if she had it to do-over. This is her memoir - a sorting through of past experiences, and a tale of how one 13 year old's rebellion taught this tiger mom a lesson in the end. Through her words (while not meant to be a parenting manual) we become more informed about the differences between raising children the Chinese way versus the Western way. And we may just be forced into some uncomfortable realizations that none of us are perfect, on either side of the globe. Maybe we all have a bit to learn from each other - for the sake of our kids.

In the film, Mulan, set in China, the main character, Fa Mulan, overcomes many a challenge on her quest to both protect and please her father. At the end of the story, Mulan returns to her family's home with both the Emperor's crest and the villain's sword - powerful symbols of her great achievements. She is surely greatest in the land. She bows and presents them to her father, needing his approval for her excellence. He was the "tiger mother" in her life. Her father takes the crest and the sword, tosses them to the ground, and sweeps his daughter off her feet into a giant hug that goes on forever. She, after all, means much more to him than all the successes in the world.

Maybe this is what it boils down to: how do you define success? Achievement? Happiness? Because, depending on your answer, you may or may not want to interject a little more tiger mother into your parenting.


~~~~



Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School. Her recently released book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother can be found here. She is also author of Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance and Why They Fall and World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. Chua's Wall Street Journal article, "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior," which includes excerpts from her book, can be read online here. 


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lives Changed: A Willingness to Speak Up

By Christine Bauduin

 our newest whole son in his Daddy's arms

This is a glimpse into the story of how one person changed my child’s life and our family’s future.

I first met Enith Hernandez, from As Nature Intended, at a doula class we were both attending. Our instructor, Adriana Algieri, was gently guiding us through lessons in how to care for new mommies and teaching us ways to remain neutral in these new mothers' decisions of whether or not to keep their newborn babies intact after birth. It was a hot topic for all the doulas in the class. The first thing I did was fall back on my faith (Catholic) as a defense in my own decision to circumcise my sons. Enith took my statements and ran with them. She debunked each and every aspect of my well intentioned, but severely misinformed, reasoning. At that point in our doula training, Enith was not my favorite person.

As a result of all this new information that I was rather hoping to discredit, I was forced to go home and research my own faith. What I discovered quite literally shocked me. When I really looked into it, I came up empty handed in any ability to justify my reasons for circumcising our sons. I was wrong about my religious excuses, and to my surprise, there is an abundance of faith-based support for keeping babies whole as they are created. There simply were no reasons of faith to cut our sons. And Daddy wanting to cause pain and loss just so he can have a son who is as scarred as he is, now seemed utterly sad.

I started to realize that Americans are quite uncultured and clueless when it comes to their underlying reasons to circumcise. All the while, some in the medical profession have capitalized on this nation-wide ignorance by marketing a damaging surgical procedure that is painful for baby, and leaves him lacking and scarred for life. There are so many functions of the foreskin which are lost as a result of our unknowing.

At the time I met Enith, I already had five children - three of whom are boys. The last three of my children were birthed gently at home, but were taken away to be circumcised after birth. They have since had long talks with their father and me about their genital integrity. We have sincerely apologized for our lack of knowledge at the time they were each born. I believe they grasp through our honest examples that sometimes parents have great lessons they must learn from their children.

Over the course of the rest of our doula training, Enith and I nurtured what has now become a very strong friendship. Surprisingly, I was then blessed with fraternal twins - one girl and one boy. They were born at home and are beautiful tiny examples of miracles that do happen! After meeting Enith, and being pushed to understand the importance of my children's wholeness, I knew I would not circumcise another child. Our new son is perfect, just the way he was made.

It has been a beautiful, unexpected blessing to have befriended this wildly passionate woman, Enith Hernandez. My life is forever changed as a result of her willingness to speak up. And my sons and daughters are now blessed with a full understanding of human integrity and the ethical responsibility we have to protect children's whole selves. This is a big number of people (seven!) whose lives and generations to follow have been forever impacted.

God bless you, Enith. Keep enlightening families everywhere you go! 




To begin a faith-based investigation of your own, see these faith considerations on circumcision (Judaism, Christianity, and Islamic resource lists).

Hear from other parents who have apologized to their children for mistakes made at, I Circumcised My Son: Healing From Regret.

For additional information on the prepuce (foreskin), intact child, and circumcision see resources, sites, books, and articles at: Are You Fully Informed? 


~~~~

Friday, February 18, 2011

Men Ask, "Why Was I Circumcised?"

James Loewen as a baby with his mother. From the documentary film, They Cut Babies, Don't They?  
View a clip from the film below, or purchase full length here.

After posting Michael Schaap's interview with his own mother, in which he discussed with her the details behind her choice to circumcise him against his grandfather's wishes, we received a number of comments and questions from men of all ages looking for the best way to approach their own parents about this emotionally difficult topic.

Many of them are interested to know what the best way would be to first approach their mother (or father) about why they were circumcised. "How do I amicably do this for a first 'make or break' moment when we've never talked about it before?" asks one young man.

Some men have parents who have become slightly informed on the subject since their birth long ago, but rarely speak of it, or seem ambivalent to MGM. Others are openly pro-cutting, even encouraging grandsons to be subjected to the same surgical amputation and loss that their sons faced. "I know this will be a lot harder to hear [answers to] coming from mothers who still would cut their sons again. But what I'm interested to know, both from pro-intact and pro-circumcision moms, is what is the best way for us to broach this subject with you?" asks another man.

A third father, now in his late 30s, kept his own children intact, but is struggling with the fact that his parents have never addressed his circumcision with him. He knows the effect it has had on him (sexually and psychologically) as well as the impact it has on his wife, but he realizes his parents haven't a clue. He writes,
"If there was some way to get through to them, for some reason this would make me feel better. Granted, it wouldn't bring anything back, or undo the damage, but at least I would know they are sorry that it happened to me and sorry that it impacts me still today. I guess I just want them to be sorry."
Another man, in his 60s writes:
"I wish I had known enough to ask my parents about my circumcision when they were still living. Now I'll never know why it was done, or even if they wished it to be done in the first place, or if the surgery took place without their prior knowledge. I do believe, however, from various comments made over the course of their lives, that at least my father felt remorse over it."
The letters continue from other men:
"If I am honest, a sincere apology and getting involved in intactivism would be what I'd ultimately like to see. I had the chance to meet Marilyn Milos and she said that she apologizes every time she sees her sons. She acknowledges she was lied to by a medical system, but readily admits guilt for not having known better at the time. What I would give to have my own mother respond in this way. But how do I even start in on this conversation?"
A young man in his 20s writes:
"I think I am going to be having this discussion soon with my mom and dad. I really need to know exactly what happened and how it happened and why it happened. I've had some other health problems for a while now and I know my mom tends to blame herself for them, even though it's in no way her doing. So I wonder if this is anything she's ever thought about?"
A young man who recently discovered what is missing as a result of several intact friends writes,
"You know, my mom didn't circumcise me - a doctor did. Maybe I should just start by saying I've learned more about circumcision, and know that it was done to me, but not by her, and ask if this is something she wanted a doctor to do? My mom gets super defensive about everything, and I don't want her to shut down. I just have some questions I'd really like to know the answers to without her thinking I am being accusatory in the process."
 A teen says,
"I don' even care what they say. I just want to know WHY."
Throughout the course of correspondence, one thing is clear - men simply need an honest, sincere discussion where they learn the truth of what happened to them, and why. And really, they deserve to know. It's summed up through this man's statement, "Just as one of my female friends, circumcised before she can remember it, has the right to know why it happened to her, I have the right to know why I was circumcised."

It is readily apparent that a lot of cut men are hurt (or angry) if/when parents refuse to become informed on what was done to them and taken from them, and subsequently do not offer a sincere apologize. However, an apology teamed with action goes a long way to help heal wounds. One of the men who runs CircInfoSite.com had an excellent idea he shared with us: Rather than just ignoring it, or saying 'sorry' without sincerity, parents have the opportunity to donate to an intact cause, or purchase information to give other expecting parents, in the name of their own son.  We can show him that we authentically wish to save other boys and men from what happened to him, and honor his healing in the process. There are many excellent organizations operating solely on a donor basis (Saving Our Sons, The Whole Network, NOCIRC, Intact America, etc.) and changing lives along the way. It is an opportunity to get involved and make your apology take flight. Or, you can just start talking with others around you.

There are many parents who have already taken steps in this direction:
  • Marilyn Milos, founder of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers, is one well known mother of circumcised sons who has spent her life working to abolish that which was done to her boys. 
  • Other examples of wise parents of a circumcised son include Megan and Aaron Robinson, who share their powerful testimony here, and have saved many, many babies since the birth of their first son (and second, intact, son) in his honor. 
  • Dani Arnold-McKenny at Informed Parenting is an advocate who says she made a choice to "completely accept the truth of what I had done and use my newly acquired enlightenment to reach out to others." 
  • Mandi Woolery teaches natural childbirth classes, and after the circumcision of her first son, she started reaching out to other parents so that no one unknowingly puts their boys through the same. In A Public Apology to My Circumcised Son, Woolery offers up sincere remorse for what happened, but also encourages other parents not to remain silent. Talk to your sons, and then talk with others. 
  • Another mother and advocate, Lauren Stone, has spent the last 28 years, since the birth of her first son, reaching out to new mothers before they make the same mistake she did. In A Letter to My Son, Stone writes, "I don’t ever want another mother to say they didn’t know, or ask why no one told them the truth before it was too late. I think one of the hardest realities a parent can ever face is knowing that their own ignorance caused their child harm."
The list of those speaking up - saying sorry - and going on to make a difference is unending. 

So, what is the best way for a man (of any age) to approach his mom or dad with this question?

Several men have asked if we'd pose this inquiry to mothers on our Facebook page. One suggests the answers "may help save some relationships" because he, like countless others, has wrestled with how to handle the hurt, anger, and resentment over the loss of a normal, full sexuality and a part of his penis, while having parents who do not want to understand, let alone apologize, for what was done.

By posting here, we hope to provide an opportunity to respond for those who may not otherwise do so on Facebook. If you are the parent of a circumcised son - please share how it would be best for your son to approach you on the subject of his circumcision.

How should he broach the topic for the first time with you?
What would you like him to say/not say?
How are you likely to respond?
What would you like him to know?
Do you have suggestions for other men who would like to talk with their parents for the first time about their circumcision?
Is it better done in person, in a letter, on the phone, or in email?
Does the age of your son make a difference (teenager vs. adult)?
Are you currently an intactivist or pro-cutting?
Would you make the same choice again today?


Thank you, on behalf of men across North America, for your responses.




One gentleman shares the story of the first time he learned he was circumcised, and how he asked his mother about this:





View Micheal Schaap's documentary, Mom, Why Was I Circumcised? here.

For additional information (books, websites, articles) see: Are You Fully Informed?


~~~~

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Seven Benefits of CoSleeping

By William Sears, M.D.
Posted with permission
Read more from Sears at AskDrSears.com, in The Baby Sleep Book, Nighttime Parenting, The Fussy Baby Book, and other books in the Sears Library collection.


sleep sharing photo courtesy of Michelle A.

There is no right or wrong place for baby to sleep. Wherever all family members sleep the best is the right arrangement for you. Remember, over half the world's population sleep with their baby, and more and more parents in the U.S. are sharing sleep with their little one as well. Here's why:

1) Babies sleep better. Sleep sharing babies usually go to sleep and stay asleep better. Being parented to sleep at the breast of mother, or in the arms of father, creates a healthy go-to-sleep attitude. Baby learns that going to sleep is a pleasant state to enter (one of our goals of nighttime parenting).

Babies stay asleep better. Put yourself in the sleep pattern of baby. As baby passes from deep sleep into light sleep, he enters a vulnerable period for nightwaking, a transition state that may occur as often as every hour, and from which it is difficult for baby to resettle on his own into a deep sleep. You are a familiar attachment person whom baby can touch, smell, and hear. Your presence conveys an "It's okay to go back to sleep" message. Feeling no worry, baby peacefully drifts through this vulnerable period of nightwaking and reenters deep sleep. If baby does awaken, she is sometimes able to resettle herself because you are right there. A familiar touch, perhaps a few minutes' feed, and you comfort baby back into deep sleep without either member of the sleep sharing pair fully awakening.

Many babies need help going back to sleep because of a developmental quirk called object (or person) permanence. When something or someone is out of sight, it is out of mind. Most babies less than a year old do not have the ability to think of mother as existing somewhere else. When babies awaken alone in a crib, they become frightened and are often unable to resettle back into deep sleep. Mom is missing, and she may be gone forever. Because of this separation anxiety, repeated night after night, they learn that sleep is a fearful state to remain in (not one of our goals of nighttime parenting).

2) Mothers sleep better. Many mothers and infants are able to achieve nighttime harmony: babies and mothers get their sleep cycles in sync with one another.

My wife, Martha, notes: "I would automatically awaken seconds before my baby would. When the baby started to squirm, I would lay on a comforting hand and she would drift back to sleep. Sometimes I did this automatically and I didn't even wake up."

Contrast sleep sharing with the crib and nursery scene. The separate sleeper awakens – alone and behind bars. He is out of touch. He first squirms and whimpers. Still out of touch. Separation anxiety sets in, baby becomes scared, and the cry escalates into an all-out wail or plea for help. This piercing cry awakens even the most long distance mother, who jumps up (sometimes out of the state of deep sleep, which is what leads to the most nighttime exhaustion), and staggers reluctantly down the hall. By the time mother reaches the baby, baby is wide awake and upset, mother is wide awake and upset, and the comforting that follows becomes a reluctant duty rather than an automatic nurturant response.

It takes longer to resettle an upset solo sleeper than it does a half-asleep baby who is sleeping within arm's reach of mother. Once baby does fall asleep, mother is still wide-awake and too upset to resettle easily. If, however, the baby is sleeping next to mother and they have their sleep cycles in sync, most mothers and babies quickly resettle without either member of the sleep sharing pair fully awakening. Being awakened suddenly and completely from a state of deep sleep to attend to a hungry or frightened baby is what leads to sleep-deprived parents and fearful babies.

3) Breastfeeding is easier. Most veteran breastfeeding mothers have, for survival, learned that sharing sleep makes breastfeeding easier. Breastfeeding mothers find it easier than bottle feeding mothers to get their sleep cycles in sync with their babies. They often wake just before their baby awakens for a feeding. By being there and anticipating the feeding, mother can breastfeed baby back to a deep sleep before baby (and often mother) fully awakens.

A mother who had achieved nighttime nursing harmony with her baby shared the following story: "About thirty seconds before my baby wakes up for a feeding, my sleep seems to lighten and I almost wake up. By being able to anticipate his feeding, I usually can start breastfeeding him just as he begins to squirm and reach for the nipple. Getting him to suck immediately keeps him from fully waking up, and then we both drift back into a deep sleep right after feeding."

Mothers who experience daytime breastfeeding difficulties report that breastfeeding becomes easier when they sleep next to their babies at night, and lie down with baby and nap-nurse during the day. We believe baby senses that mother is more relaxed, and her milk-producing hormones work better when she is relaxed or sleeping.

4) It's contemporary parenting. Sleep sharing is even more relevant in today's busy lifestyles. As more and more mothers, out of necessity, are separated from their baby during the day, sleeping with their baby at night allows them to reconnect and make up for missed touch time during the day. As a nighttime perk, the relaxing hormones that are produced in response to baby nursing relax a mother and help her wind down from the tension of a busy day's work.

5) Babies thrive. Over the past thirty years of observing sleep sharing families in our pediatric practice, we have noticed one medical benefit that stands out: these babies thrive! "Thriving" means not only getting bigger, but also growing to your full potential - emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Perhaps it's the extra touch that stimulates development, or perhaps the extra feedings (yes, sleep sharing infants breastfeed more often, and usually for more months or years, than solo sleepers). Not only does sleep sharing benefit baby as a result of the touch, stimulation and relaxation that comes from the security of knowing mom is close, but her milk supply is also regulated through hormones when she sleeps within an arm's reach of her baby.

6) Parents and infants become more connected. Remember that becoming connected is the basis of parenting, and one of your early goals of parenting. In our office, we keep a file entitled "Kids Who Turned Out Well: What Their Parents Did." We have noticed that infants who sleep with their parents (some or all of the time during those early formative years) not only thrive, but infants and parents are more connected. They are securely attached.

7) Reduces the risk of SIDS. New research is showing what parents the world over have long suspected: infants who sleep safely nestled next to parents are less likely to succumb to the tragedy of SIDS. Yet, because SIDS is so rare (.5 to 1 case per 1,000 infants), this worry alone should not be the reason to sleep with your baby. (For in depth information on the science of sleep sharing and the experiments showing how sleep benefits a baby's nighttime physiology, see SIDS research data.)

Cosleeping does not necessarily mean bed sharing. Some parents simply do not want to sleep on the same surface as their baby, others cannot do so safely in the set up they have. Sleep sharing is an optional attachment tool and includes any sleeping within an arm's reach of your baby. Try it. If it's working and you enjoy it, continue. If not, try other sleeping arrangements. One alternative to bed sharing is the sidecar arrangement: place a crib or co-sleeper adjacent to your bed. (Instructions for turning your crib into a cosleeper.)

New parents often worry that their child will get so used to sleeping with them that he may never want to leave their bed. Yes, if you're used to sleeping first-class, you are reluctant to be downgraded. However, like weaning from the breast, infants do wean naturally and on their own from your bed (usually sometime around two-three years of age). Keep in mind that sleep sharing may be thee arrangement that is designed for the safety and security of babies. The time in your arms, at your breast, and in your bed is a very short time in the total life of your child, yet the memories of love and availability last a lifetime.


Additional information on sleep sharing can be found on the Baby Sleep Research Page

Healthy alternatives to 'cry it out' found on the Sleep Training Research Page

Visit the Safe CoSleeping page on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/CoSleeping

~~~~

Monday, February 14, 2011

Baby Dreams


In the peace of the night
Snuggled in our G-I-A-N-T bed,
The fan lulls us down...
And baby dreams fill our head.

Warm and cozy at Momma's side,
Terrors don't bother us.
Here is where we know we're safe
To stretch and sprawl and readjust.

We dream of things that make us smile
Slumbering close together -
Books and blocks and momma's milk,
Dogs, cats, and birds o' feather.

But the sweetest, most special thing
Mom could never live without,
Is what these baby dreams'll bring
As she peeks to check us out.

It fills her soul and warms her heart
In her family bed (her work of art)
It's tender laughter, singing in the night,
From a baby whose world is right.


♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬


~ Danelle Frisbie


Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Letter To My Son

By Lauren Stone © 2011

The Gift by Lauren Stone. Find print or send in a card here.

My Beloved Son,

Before you were born I was already planning all the best things I knew I could do for you. I would try and ensure that you had a gentle birth. I would give you the milk from my breasts although I had no support from my family, because I knew this was best. I would love you with all my heart and protect you from harm.

I read every book I could find on pregnancy and natural child care. I soaked it all in like a sponge. The one thing that I could not find was accurate information on circumcision. My public library hadn’t a single book that mentioned anything negative about it. So I asked men that I knew what they thought was best. I asked both circumcised and intact men. Some said it was good that I was asking questions, some thought I was silly, but answered nonetheless. Surprisingly they all said that it was probably the best way to go. Even my own intact father. My brother had been circumcised. I talked with my doctor who explained that is was a quick, simple, painless procedure and there was nothing to worry about. It was just ‘routine.’ I believed at that point that I was informed. I was not.

When you were taken from me at the hospital and carried down the hallway to a 'sound proof' room something inside me started to panic. A million thoughts were swirling through my head all at once... and then I heard you scream. It was a sound unlike anything I had ever heard in my life.

The hair stood up on the back of my neck and my knees buckled. It felt like my heart was no longer beating and I could feel my face flush and tears start to fall down my cheeks. There was a knot in my gut and I wanted to vomit. I was shaking and I muttered, “Oh God what have I done?” A nurse, almost laughing, said to me, “Oh he’s okay honey, he’ll be just fine and he won’t remember a thing.” I grasped at that delusion for a moment, but I knew that I would never forget it. I would never be the same person again.

When they handed you back to me I could hardly breath. The look on your face was that of shock, pain and betrayal. I held you close to me and whispered through my tears, “Oh my God, I am so sorry. I am so sorry, I am so sorry...”

All the sparkle was gone from your eyes and I knew that I had been lied to. I felt so betrayed and confused. I felt such guilt for having hurt you this way. How could I have not instinctively known that this was wrong? How could everyone in my country, in the world, not instinctively know that this was wrong? Why didn’t even a single person ever say to me that you were perfect as you were and this pain was unnecessary. Or even mention pain at all? I was so full of hatred towards the doctors. They knew what they were doing, and they lied to me. They hurt you and thought nothing of it. I was so full of hatred toward myself for letting those bastards hurt you that way.

I made a choice that wasn't mine to make, one that I wasn't equipped to make, one that I should never have been allowed to make.

Every time I bathed you, changed your diaper, or let you run free, I was reminded of my own guilt, of my own culpability for your suffering. I felt so ashamed. So stupid. So gullible for having believed it was nothing serious.

I close my eyes and I still see the dazed look of confusion in your face. The sound of your screams are seared into my brain. Not a single day has gone by that my heart doesn’t hurt. I am scarred too. But the scars I bear are in my soul.

The more I learned, the angrier and more deeply hurt I became. Especially when I realized the extent of what was taken from you and that it would affect you for the rest of your life. That it would impact your sexuality and your relationships.

I started to tell other moms what it was like, what I had learned, and not to let this happen to their babies. I didn’t want any other babies to be hurt or any other mother to ever feel the way I feel. My pain is what drives me to do something to stop this insanity.

28 years later I am still talking to moms and dads, to grandparents, to anyone who will listen. I don’t ever want another mother to say they didn’t know, or ask why no one told them the truth before it was too late. I think one of the hardest realities a parent can ever face is knowing that their own ignorance caused their child harm.

I saved your brother from the suffering I put you through. He is whole and safe and happy. I protected him because I learned the ugly truth the hard way. At your expense. He is very grateful that I learned to do better.

There is nothing I wouldn’t give to go back and change things. But that isn’t possible, so I work hard to try and save other baby boys from suffering needlessly as you did. I talk and talk and talk so that no other boy will be robbed of his right to a whole body.

So my darling son, I say this to you: I love you now as I have loved you always. I hope you can forgive me for what I didn’t know.

Love,
Mom




To read more from other parents, or join with moms and dads keeping future sons intact, see I Circumcised My Son: Healing From Regret

Resources on the prepuce organ (foreskin), intact care and circumcision are cataloged in Are You Fully Informed?

Write to Lauren at myperfectbaby@live.com. Lauren is happy to provide an info pack of materials to expecting parents who wish to look into this subject before the birth of their baby. If you are a birth or pediatrics practitioner or educator, you can also request an info pack here to share with clients.


~~~~

Jan 2012 Note from the Editor: 

Lauren and her children have fallen on really hard times. They are currently without a home and staying at a hotel. Because she has done so very much, for so many people, we would love to be able to help out just a little during this rough patch. If you would like to give something to Lauren and her kids, it will go a long way in the lives of these beautiful people. 



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Alanis Morissette’s Babywearin' Daddy



The guys are all over Hollywood these days sportin' their little ones ala wraps and slings. And who doesn't love a babywearin' daddy?! Today, Alanis Morisette's husband, Mario Treadway ("MC Souleye") took his 6 week old son, Ever Imre, out for a stroll in the Moby Wrap.


Ever Imre was born on Christmas Day, and earlier this week Alanis shared a cute family photo with the world:



Additional babywearing dads at the Real Men Wear Babies Gallery.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Amidst Shekinah Glory, Husband Loses Best Friend and Sings His Baby Girl to Heaven

By Danelle Frisbie © 2011

Beautiful Baby Miranda with her Momma's ring on

My hands are trembling as I type this. Knowing there is simply no way to do justice to two beautiful lives we lost this past week. Knowing further still that there is nothing in my power that can be done to ease the pain of loss that one husband and father is having to endure. All I can do is lift him up. Tell a tiny fraction of his story, and hopefully ease a bit of the strain that comes with burying his best friend (his wife) and daughter, and celebrate their lives with him.

This past Saturday, Chad Cole and his wife, Sara, were traveling along I-94 to their uncle's house in Michigan. Sara was 35 weeks pregnant, and they were both overjoyed looking forward to this new baby soon to arrive. Chad and Sara had met in college at Spring Arbor University over 15 years ago, and married in 1996. Chad says they lived a "suitably quiet" life together, filled with evenings cuddling on the couch, watching television, and playing Sudoku. This new baby would be their first child - one they'd tried and waited and prayed for.


When they first found they were expecting, Chad and Sara decided to keep it a secret between the two of them. They planned to break the news to their parents on Grandparents Day, but ended up being too excited to wait that long. Chad's eager new-father spirit broke through into daddy blogging on a site he called, Our Little Secret. He posted a picture of the pregnancy test with two small pink lines showing, and later wrote that this day, June 19th, was the best of 2010. "Two lines...two beautiful...perfect...clearly readable pink lines...that's my best memory of 2010. You've got big shoes to fill 2011...big shoes..."


This past weekend, Chad and Sara did not know yet if they would be blessed with a son or daughter, but a few short weeks would reveal the surprise. Chad said that “Sara was very excited about the arrival of this baby. She was looking forward to being a full-time mom.” Her boss at Brown Floral in Jackson, Michigan, didn't feel exactly the same way. Chris Grostefon said that Sara had such a talent for arranging flowers - especially for weddings - that she didn't want her to leave the shop. Staff were already in the process of putting together an album featuring Sara's work, and Grostefon asked Sara if she'd be a 'wedding consultant' on occasion while she was busy mothering her little one at home. With a love for sewing, the new momma-to-be spent these past several weeks pouring her heart into an assortment of baby-related projects, including sewing new clothes for her upcoming arrival.

Sara's quilt in progress for her baby

As many around the nation are well aware, the Midwest blizzards of Feb 5th came in fierce and ferociously as Chad and Sara were traveling on Saturday. Sara's father was driving the van they rode in, her mother also up front, while Chad and Sara sat in the backseat. It was near white-out conditions and very difficult to see the road or other drivers. With accidents up ahead on the interstate in Sandstone Township, they pulled to a stop near the side of the Dearing Road intersection.

For reasons yet unknown, a semi truck came from behind the location where Chad and Sara and her parents were stopped, and smashed into the back of their van. Upon impact, Sara's uterus ruptured, and while rescue workers tried for an hour to resuscitate her in transit and at the hospital, Chad believes his wife was gone immediately. The next day he wrote, "I lost my best friend of over 15 years yesterday. She was taken from this earth far too early. Knowing that she is resting in Jesus' loving care doesn't begin to address the emptiness and hurt that I feel today."


At 2:17pm, forty five minutes after the crash, Chad and Sara's beautiful new daughter, with a face as sweet as her momma's, was pulled from Sara's body. Chad and Sara had not yet selected a name, but had a list of their favorites. Chad decided on Miranda Evangelene saying, "The name is the only one that came to my mind, and made sense, and made me feel peaceful." Miranda's name means she who must be admired.

Baby Miranda did not have a heartbeat or brain activity when she was pulled from her mom. Doctors worked quickly to resuscitate her fragile body, and got her heart pumping. However, after 45 minutes of being disconnected from her mother-life-source, with the impact of the accident, brain swelling was inevitable in tiny Miranda. Gazing upon his amazing new daughter, Chad wrote, "My heart is broken. Please pray for Miranda. Please pray for a miracle. She's a beautiful little girl, and she's fighting..."


For three days Chad sat by Miranda and soaked up his beloved daughter, holding her hand as she went through a body-cooling treatment to keep her body temperature low and to try to reduce swelling in her brain. From a quiet NICU after shift-changes, Chad wrote, "I cannot express in words how much it meant for me to be able to hold my precious little girl." And in a letter to her he said, "Daddy needs to be honest with you, I'm selfish. I don't want to think that your going to be with mommy and Jesus is an option. I want you right here. I don't want to ask God for a miracle, I want to demand one. I want Him to feel like he owes me this. [...] I love you, more than I could have imagined."

Miracles continued to be prayed for - by thousands. But sometimes there are bigger plans that we only struggle to understand.

Chad abruptly had to let go of his wife, and best friend, Sara, on Saturday. And last night, with his dear baby Miranda on his chest, he sang his sweet little angel to heaven.


Chad would like to thank each of you who prayed with him, and for him, over these last few days:
I cannot begin to express my gratitude for, nor my amazement at, what has happened over the past three days. Never in my life have I felt so surrounded with love. This has been the worst three days of my life, and yet, at the same time, it has been three glorious days, full of shekinah glory.

As I prepared to hold my darling daughter to my chest this evening, I was terrified that I would break...literally break...into pieces. My fears were unjustified. The hand of God so reached down and touched me, that I was able to sing my sweet angel into heaven. That peace stayed with me while I bathed her. It covered me like a deep blanket of snow while I dressed her for the first time. It kept a smile on my face while we took pictures and I was able to introduce her to her extended families without all those wires and tubes sticking out of her. You are all responsible for that peace.

God's miracle to me was giving me strength beyond my own. Endurance that I could never have mustered. Helping me carry my daughter proudly down long, silent corridors as we approached the gathered family and friends who were singing upon our arrival:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.

Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

I am blessed, truly blessed this early morning.

I do realize that dark clouds are on the horizon. The hurting will not go away, or end, just because today is done. It's 3:45am, and Stevie, our 10 year old cat, is wandering around the house crying for his "mommy." All he knows is that he hasn't seen her in 3 days and misses her. His simple desire to sit on her lap and enjoy a good scratch brings tears to my eyes. No matter how hard I try, I know that I can't provide for him what he'd grown to love and desire from Sara. He sits on the step to the family room, watching me type, and I can see his questions in his eyes, "Where is she? When will she be home?" He occasionally glances at the back door, as if he expects her to walk in any moment.

This house already feels like a shell, an empty reflection of what it once was. I've had this same feeling every time I looked at myself in a mirror over the past 3 days. I just didn't recognize the man who was looking back. He seemed familiar, but not quite the same as what it felt like he should look like.

The only thing that keeps the dark waters of despair and depression from flooding over me at this time is the levy of Christ's love. A levy woven from the fabric of your prayers. While God may not have given me my heart's desire, He has stopped up the floodwaters. He has thrown me a life jacket that keeps me from drowning in the deep pits and pools that Satan would love to pull me down into.

Thank you, one thousand times - one million times, thank you!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The most trying times for Chad, and Sara's family, will likely be weeks and months from now, when all of the intense pressure from this past week has faded, and fewer people come to offer hugs and prayer and love. It is then, in the stillness, that they will need arms, both divine and human, wrapped tightly around them.

During the month of February, all donations made to peaceful parenting will go to help Chad in whatever fashion he deems wise and needed. He says that they will "decide at a later date, and as a family, how to use the memorial. Sara had many things she loved and was passionate about, so the decision(s) will not be easy." You can give a gift here via PayPal, or use the link URL (below) to copy/paste and share in email or online. Checks made to peaceful parenting this month will be donated to Chad and Sara's memorial fund.

Peaceful Parenting
P.O. Box 1302
Virginia Beach, VA 23451



Sara Cole Memorial Fund
c/o Flagstar Bank
2000 Horton Road
Jackson, MI 49203


Celebrations of the Life of Sara and Miranda Cole

Visitation
Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church
120 E. Main
Spring Arbor, MI

Friday, February 11th
2-4 pm
6-8 pm
Saturday, February 12th
10 - 11 am

Service
Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church (Sanctuary)
120 E. Main
Spring Arbor, MI
February 12th
11 am

Chad would like each of you to know,
I have had many people say to me, write to me, say about me, and write about me, what a great "man of God" I am. I'm not sure I can live up to the bar that has been set.

What you've seen in me over the past few days has little to do with being a strong and vibrant Man of Faith. I am a man who feels like all this world held for him has been stripped away, leaving him standing cold and naked, with two choices: cling to the Rock or let go. I have no choice. I must cling to the Rock. All else is misery, selfish humanity, and destructive despair.

Your prayers have been appreciated. They have helped my fingers hold fast. I will be clinging here for some time to come, and want you to know how much your support has meant and how long it will last.

Thank you, friends,
Chad



Further information see:

Our Little Secret (Chad's Blog)

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