Saturday, October 20, 2012

To Halloween, Or To NOT Halloween?

Something I've had to deal with since having children is the annual arrival of Halloween. Incidentally, when I was beyond my due-date with my first child, I had told my midwife that I didn't want to schedule the induction for October 31st because I didn't want to purposefully make that day my daughter's birthday. So instead, I scheduled the induction for November 1st. Go figure, I had a 4-hour labor on October 31st, birthing my daughters ten days after her due date, and on Halloween.

The first year, it was pretty easy to get our Halloween-loving side of the family to ignore the fact that we weren't observing it because of my daughter's age. The second and third years, family demanded explanation as to why we don't dress up and trick-or-treat. And now, year four approaches, and my daughter is noticing the costumes, and is expected to give answers to all of the strangers who ask what she's dressing up as for Halloween. The decision is brought up again: Halloween, or no Halloween?

My decision to celebrate (or not celebrate) holidays has always been two fold: I consider the history of the holiday, and I consider what it stands for today. For instance, Christmas didn't start as the celebration of Jesus' birth. In fact, Jesus wasn't even birthed around that time of year. But, the history of St. Nicholas is a good one, and clearly, the idea of Christmas today is wonderful in that we focus on giving gifts to others, serving, loving, and celebrating the idea of that nativity and Jesus coming to this world as a baby. Easter, on the other hand, I don't even like talking about, to be honest. The history is a pagan one, and today, even in the "Christian" community, it's all about getting things. I made the mistake of attending church the Easter Sunday after my daughter was a few months old, and we were bombarded by "what did the Easter Bunny bring you?!" "oh, look at your pretty dress!" and "did you see that other girl's cute hat?". MATERIALISM!!!!!!! Not exactly what I want to impress upon my children. Passover and subsequently the Resurrection, however, I do want to observe with my children as that is the historical and accurate celebration of our faith, and what's nice is that we can do that according to the actual dates every year, as well.

So, Halloween. The roots are not something I want to encourage for my children--from the best that I can tell, it is a festival that evolved out of the Celtic Samhain festival. Here's what Wikipedia says about Samhain:

Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a time when the 'door' to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead. People also took steps to protect themselves from harmful spirits, which is thought to have led to the custom of guisingDivination was also done at Samhain.

Some people bring up the relationship between Halloween and All-Saint's Day, saying that there is a "christian" sort of influence on the holiday. Here's what All-Saint's Day is all about though:

 It was traditionally believed that the souls of the dead wandered Earth until All Saints' Day, and All Hallows' Eve gave them one last chance to get vengeance on their enemies before moving onto the next world.[25] It is thought that, to avoid being recognized by a soul, people would wear masks and costumes to disguise themselves.[25] Today, this has been continued by children guising (trick or treating)

 Yeah, All-Saint's Day? Souls roaming the earth? Taking vengeance on enemies? Not so much. Next, the debate that a lot of people I respect hold: that trick-or-treating, the costuming, the "fun" and "innocent" part of Halloween is fine because it's just one night, and it's fine, we don't get scary costumes.

If I look at it like I do other holidays, I can say with certainty that the history of Halloween is nothing that I can support in my house. If I was to be negligent in teaching my child math, personal hygiene, or how to walk, everyone would consider me an incompetent parent. The spiritual training of a child should be no different. I am responsible to raise my children to understand how to love and honor God, and I'm pretty sure the world will try to confuse them enough as they grow up without my help!

If I look at what Halloween stands for today, I still cannot celebrate it. It's not about fun, people, it's about scary! Have you LOOKED at your neighbor's yard recently? Since when is death, disease, bondage, and fear, something that we've learned to consider "fun"? No wonder so many people are desensitized to these things to the point that they get into detrimental situations later on in life, between this sort of thing, what we see on TV, and what we joke about (I'm guilty of the joking, I admit).

The struggle for me this year is not if we're going trick-or-treating or not. It's if we're going to do the "church alternative" to Halloween. Part of me says, hey, it'll be fun, there won't be anything honoring scariness or fear, and then we can stop dealing with the questioning of what the kids are "wearing for Halloween." On the other hand, I feel like that's a cop-out and that if we are to be separate from the world, then we shouldn't dabble in the gray-area of anything (I'm speaking to professing Christians here, and please don't feel that I'm telling you how to live your life in this post--I'm just sharing my own personal struggle and beliefs and I am not at all offended by or judging anyone who celebrates Halloween or any other holiday). I don't want to teach my children that "if you just put church into the sentence, then it's ok!". On the other hand, I think churches offering an alternative is a great idea because then at least you're ministering to people that you otherwise wouldn't be able to, and you know that the kids are safe! For my family though, I'm just not sold on it and just don't have peace about partaking in anything having to do with Halloween, no matter what sort of Christian label we slap on it, or how innocent it may be.

My husband is ok with Halloween; the church "trunk or treat" and also the cultural "trick or treat". Me? I'm unsure what to do this year.

And PS, the kids want to dress up as firemen.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Montessori Planning Breakthrough!

As you know, I'm a mother of two beautiful toddlers. I'm also a full time (meaning 48+ hours a week) Critical Care level Paramedic. Oh, and I'm running my own business ( (and if you aren't already one of our distributors, get a hold of me and I'll help you get going for free). Needless to say, I'm BUSY!

One of the things that I will NOT allow my business to intrude upon, though, is the quality of childhood my children get. They will still have quality time with their mama and papa, go on family adventures, know they are loved, experience the world, and have an awesome education. If you've been following my recent posts, you know that we've decided to do Montessori 3-6 Homeschooling with our oldest (her brother will soon follow in July, 2013). With this decision comes the need for a bunch of materials...which happen to be rather expensive to buy!

Today though, I discovered something wonderful. First, a blog that has a lot of beautiful and inspiring DIY Montessori material posts. I think this woman is amazing, and I love that she has built these wooden manipulatives herself. ;-) Check out her post on making the Numerical Rods on her blog, A Hand Made Childhood.

The next thing, which her blog led me to, is going to save me BOAT LOADS of time as I try to figure out what materials I can make and what I really need to buy. It's called Montessori Homeschool. The opening page is a bit confusing, but if you click on the links ("sensorial", etc.) across the top, you will see how she has charted with photos and titles what materials you can make and what you should just well as links for buying! Brilliant, I tell you.

Please link up your own Montessori DIY themed projects below!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dangers Of Disposable Diapers

You may have heard by now that one of the factories which produces " about 20 percent of the world's SAP and 10 percent of global output of acrylic acid" had some pretty major explosions two days ago (ABC news). Acrylic acid is an ingredient in the making of Sodium Polyacrylate (or "SAP"), a resin which absorbs a ton of liquid (you know, that gel stuff in diapers and sanitary napkins which is linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome and so has been banned from use in tampons?)...What this means, is that the production of disposable diapers worldwide is taking a hit right now. What this also means, is that, hopefully, people will start paying attention to the dangers of disposable diapers and also will start considering the cost savings of switching to cloth diapers.

Before I go any further though, I think it's worth mentioning that one firefighter died as a result of the explosion, and 30 other people were injured. While I imagine that the world is going to focus on the "diaper crisis" momentarily, there are families that will be feeling the effects of this a lot stronger than just their pocketbook or their baby's bum. 

So what is the deal with disposable diapers? We know that they're much more expensive to use overall, and that the price of them is now going to increase. 

If something is on the shelves, marketed for use on babies, though, doesn't that mean it's safe? Sadly, not always. LiveStrong writes this about SAP:
 "Sodium polycarbonate is a super absorbent chemical compound that is used in the fillers of many disposable diapers. It is composed of cellulose processed from trees that is mixed with crystals of polyacrylate. This chemical absorbs fluids and creates surface tension in the lining of the diaper to bind fluids and prevent leakage. Sodium polyacrylate is often visible as small gel-like crystals on the skin of babies and is thought to be linked to skin irritations and respiratory problems. This chemical was removed from tampons due to toxic shock syndrome concerns. As it has only been used in diapers for the last two decades, there is not yet research on the long-term health effects of sodium polyacrylate on babies."

Check out some of the other ingredients in disposable diapers (all information copied from LiveStrong):

  • Dioxin: "According to the World Health Organization, exposure to dioxins may cause skin reactions and altered liver function, as well as impairments to the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive functions."
  • Tributyl-Tin (TBT): According to the EPA, this toxic pollutant is extremely harmful to aquatic (water) life and causes endocrine (hormonal) disruptions in aquatic organisms. TBT is a polluting chemical that does not degrade but remains in the environment and in our food chain. TBT is also an ingredient used in biocides to kill infecting organisms. Additionally, according to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCS): According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system as well as cancers


...not including the fragrances, dyes, plastics, and petrolatums, adhesives, and everything else that they can contain!

So the question is: what is on your baby's bum?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Signs of Domestic Abuse

It's October 1st, the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month...I'm sitting with my husband as I type this, thinking back to a time when I could have never mentioned domestic abuse, and even a time when I didn't realize that's what I was living in. It's been one year and 8 months to the day of me leaving the abusive situation I was in. I call February 1, 2010, the day we left, Freedom Day. Not because it was happy, or because I wanted it to happen (just the opposite, it was terrifying and I hate divorce and families falling apart!). I call it Freedom Day because it was the first step in me being able to feel alive and like I was breathing again.

Domestic Abuse causes you to feel dead, but you don't even realize you feel that way until something changes and you all of the sudden realize you're breathing again. In fact, very often, you don't even realize you're in an abusive situation. It's easy if you're punched, stabbed, or thrown out of a moving car. It's not so easy if your keys are taken away, you aren't allowed to have friends, you have to be careful about what you say, or if you're "just" called names. In fact, it makes it even harder to realize what's going on when you consider the fact that most people being abused are really, really good at loving...which means we can forgive easily, be happy easily, and we are "fixers", so we are always thinking about the other person and how we can help them rather than focusing on ourselves.

I looked back today and read through my Facebook timeline of statuses in the months surrounding the day we left my now ex-husband...and I realized how important it is for people to recognize abuse so that their families can be healed, and also so that people can be prevented from getting into abusive relationships to begin with. A relationship with abuse can't last forever. It will end, either the abuse, or the relationship. Abusive relationships aren't sustainable, and the first step to preventing or healing a family affected by this is to realize it's going on. If you don't know it's going on, you can't stop it.

Here are some signs that you may be in an abusive relationship...
  • You secretly pack needed belongings in case you need to escape. I don't know why it never occurred to me that there might be a problem with my life when I was sneaking underwear and socks into the bottom of the diaper bag before we left the house!  
  • You have to tell coworkers to not call or text you while you are home. Especially those of another gender!  
  • You overcompensate in taking care of the kids, house, making money, etc. so that your spouse doesn't get angry. 
  • You are called names, derogatory comments are made to you, your worth is devalued. 
  • You place breakable or valuable objects in "safer" locations so they won't be as easily broken. 
  • You don't watch movies, etc. with your spouse that have a theme of domestic abuse or of a spouse leaving or divorce, etc..

...there is always hope. <3 p="p">