Thursday, May 31, 2012

Brothers Playing...

Carter and Peter are having more and more fun together these days.  On Tuesday, when I was cleaning the kitchen after lunch, I heard some giggling in the other room.  When I peeked around the corner, this is what I saw*

*I think there have been some greasy little hands on the camera lens.  Sorry for the poor quality!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


This past weekend began our "season' of branding all of our calves.  So, for a good month, we're busy gathering the cows and calves, getting them branded and then putting them in their summer pastures. 

This was Peter's first experience with this.  I had him in his stroller on the back of our Mule and I think it's safe to say he went from being skeptical to a huge fan...

Carter has had a bit more experience.  In fact, last year, our biggest branding was on his birthday.  It seems that a birthday branding will be a tradition, just based on the time of year.  I have a feeling when he's needed in the pens, he might not be as excited as he is now about that :)  He had his bag of cheetos in hand ready to watch the crew work...

Dad tossed him a little remnant and he thought it was fun to play "fetch."

Then it was time for a little football with Daddy after all the work...

And, the lawn needed mowing.  Carter received this little gift this weekend from Aunt RoRo and her friend.  Needless to say, I think it tops his list of best gifts ever received.  How many gifts go directly from the box to the bed?  Carter can't sleep without this little gem right now.  He is in Heaven :)

And now for a few pictures of the actual event.  Here are the calves before they were branded...

In order to get the calf in a position to brand, someone on a horse must rope its back legs and pull the calf toward the rest of the crew.  Then two people on foot, grab the calf and "flank it" -- flipping it on its side and holding it still for the process.

In this picture, my husband has just roped the calf.  Two years ago he had never even been on a horse, and today he is working like it's been his way of life always.  He amazes me.

And here is the entire crew, each doing a different job.  There are two people holding the calf down, one on the front end and the other on the rear.  Another person runs in to give the calves antibiotics to stave off infection after they are cut.  Another team member is in charge of cutting each bull.  This is done to make the calf a steer...increasing it's ability to gain weight quickly and to prepare for a life of supplying beef to Americans.  Another shot is given near the hip by another person, again preventing sickness.  And finally, there is the brander...the one who brings over the hot iron and meticulously marks the calf with the ranch's brand...distinguishing our cattle from others (making stealing cattle a bit more difficult) and complying with state standards for owning/selling cattle.  This all takes place in about one minute.

Our brand...the Tepee C.

Here's to the beginning of a new crop of calves and the hope for rain and a good market by fall!

Friday, May 25, 2012

QOTW: 5/25/12...

"Good idea, Peder!"

Peter and Carter took a bath together the other night.  When I put Peter in the tub he immediately t-ted.  Carter saw it and said the above.  Boys :)

"Aww, dat's much better!"
Carter has been trying to help a lot lately by putting on his own shoes.  50% of the time, the shoes end up on the wrong feet, so I have to fix them.  Afterwards, he is so relieved!

"Dat's nice.  Dat's reaaalll nice!"
Carter has a pair of hand-me-down crocs.  They are too little/tight and his little feet bulge out the sides.  He doesn't care and loves them...even wants to wear them to sleep.  So, when he had me put them on this morning, this was his response.

"Mommy will have a baby puppy."
A baby human might be a rude awakening.  Ha ha.

This has, by far, been Carter's favorite phrase lately.  It's been in response to the following:
"We don't have any more cucumbers..."
"Cocoa isn't here to kill this snake..."
"We have to leave PaPa and Elley's house..."
"We can't go to Amarillo today..."
"We have to go inside..."
The list goes on an on!

The boys are enjoying each other, and Carter even lets Peter ride his Dino with him.  Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, May 21, 2012

14 months...

My sister is my best friend.  Not the best friend that your mother or husband is, but the other kind :)  She is one with whom I can share anything with, any time of day or night and I can count of one of two things: 1) an honest, loving, setting straight, or 2) shared joy, laughter or tears.  Either way, she is love.  
Rozann and I are only 14 months apart, something that when others find out (along with the fact that I'm only 17 months behind our older brother), they exclaim, "Bless your mother's heart!"   True. I am sure there were days when she wanted to scream, others when we drove her to the edge, and moments when she cried out of sheer exhaustion. But she not only got through the harder times, she (and Dad) made it one of the very things I am most thankful for today. I truly believe our closeness in age made us close in heart. Granted, I know that's not true for everyone, but I believe it is for most. Because of my parents planning and God's timing, Chase, Rozann and I have so much to be thankful for.  Namely, each other.
Whether it was a built-in body guard all these years (thanks Chase) or a constant knowing that you were never alone, we had the best of times.  Even with a knocked out tooth from a punch thrown by the little sis, times when we thought we hated each other and rounds of spankings, blood was always thicker than water as they say.
That is my prayer for our little ones...that they will forever be each others' best friends.

We are separated by 14 months...

Chase and I by 17...

These guys by 16...

And these, God-willing, by 14.

Peter: 7 Months...

Our sweet little Peter is getting bigger and bigger.  7 months seems so old to me.  6 months still seems like he's a little baby, but something about 7 months is hard for me.

But, we have so much to be thankful for.  Peter is still very laid back.  However, he is getting a little attached these days...doesn't really like to be alone in any room for much more than a couple of minutes.  He's rocking back and forth on his hands and knees and seems ready to crawl any day now.  I know every month I say his teeth are getting so close to coming...well, still no teeth, poor guy.  He loves being outside and going for stroller rides.  He also loves his bouncer/play gym and anything he can chew on.

Here are some other stats:

Weighs about 21-22 lbs.

Is about 27-28 inches long.

Wears anything from 9 month to 18 month clothing.

Drinks 5 bottles/day equaling almost 29-30 ounces of formula with added rice.

Eats anywhere from 2-7 oz of baby food a day.  We try to give him veggies mid-morning and fruit in the afternoon.

Is still on Zantac and is still spitting up a ton.

Takes a 1-2 hour nap about 3 times/day - we're transitioning from 4 naps/day.  He goes down for the night around 6:30

Wakes a little before 6 every morning.  While it is early on the weekends, it works perfect for our weekday schedules and our bodies are used to getting up an enjoying the day!

Peter adores Carter, and Carter can do about anything to make him laugh/smile. 

He's a sweet, sweet boy and we love him dearly!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Replying to a Comment?

I have received some sweet comments on my posts, and I would love to reply to them!  However, I am having a hard time doing so.  When I press the "reply" button, nothing happens.  I'm sure I am missing something obvious, but can someone help me?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Natural Family Planning: FAQs

Since starting the NFP series of posts, I have received some great questions.  I thought I would answer a few here, via a brochure from an OBGYN.  Feel free to email or comment if you have any others.
(the following questions/answers are taken from a brochure written by Dr. Mary Martin, M.D., F.A.C.O.G of Oklahoma City, OK)
Is there ever a medical reason for using the Birth Control Pill?
There is always a reason why women don't ovulate normally, have intermenstrual bleeding, have pain or infertility.  To prescribe OCPs for these symptoms may delay or prevent a diagnosis.  Alternatives are available which may uncover the gynecological problem for which the Pill is prescribed.
Is is true that the Birth Control Pill's third action is to abort if a baby is conceived?
Oral contraceptive pill (OCP) package inserts and the Physicians Desk Reference are two widely available sources which say explicitly that one of the mechanisms of action is to prevent implantation.  When the potential abortifacient effect is agrued, it is the definition of when life begins which is in dispute.  Physicians who consider themselves prolife may continue to prescribe OCPs with the argument that ovulation is prevented or that life does not begin until implantation, but scientific studies have shown that ovulation occurs far more often now on low does pills than the ones first introduced in 1960.  And the incorrect definition of life beginning at implantation allows the manufacturers of IUDs, emergency contraceptives, and progesterone-only shots and pills to say that these products do not cause an abortion.
Are all Birth Control Pills designed that way?
What if a woman has a serious medical reason for avoiding pregnancy?  What would you advise her?
God only gives us roughly 96 hours of shared fertility per month.  Couples who should avoid pregnancy for medical reasons should be taught Natural Family Planning.  There is no additional benefit to chemical contraceptives or sterilization.  On the contrary, there are many additional risks.  NFP is as effective or more effective than chemical contraceptives, is inexpensive, side-effect free and does not rely on remembering to do something to prevent pregnancy.  Rather, it relies on a couple choosing each and every cycle whether to use the gift of their fertility.
Why do physicians give the Birth Control Pill to regulate cycles?
It is because they don't truly understand the endocrinology of the menstrual cycle.  Some reproductive endocrinologists (fertility specialists) recite the same data that was published in the 1940s and 50s.  Fortunately, research has revealed much about the cycle since then, but it seems to be the domain of only Natural Family Planning researchers.  Common knowledge says that women can't tell when they are fertile, which is untrue and has been since the "red flow" and the "white flow" was described by Aristotle centuries ago.  A major medical journal published an article in January of 2003 claiming that women can ovulate more than once in a cycle.  This is simply not true.  While waves of follicles (egg cells) are recruited every month, not all ovulate.  Ovulation can occur only once in a cycle.  How long it takes a follicle to ripen determines how long the menstrual cycle is.  When OCPs where introduced in 1960 the statement that the average menstrual cycle is 28 days was introduced into the vernacular leading women to believe that anything more or less is "irregular" and needs to be "regulated."
What about using the Pill to help women who are not experiencing a regular bleed?
Physicians really ought to be investigating why the woman's hormones are not working the way they should.  Maybe the woman is too thin or too heavy and that is the reason for the infrequent bleeds.  Women who are under a great deal of physical or emotional stress can often experience a delayed ovulation which would cause a delayed menstrual bleed.  Regardless of the reason, there is never a medical reason to use the Pill.
What is the rationale for giving the Birth Control Pill for irregular bleeding?
See the above statement.  Many pharmaceutical companies sponsor much of the medical research, medical education, and the cost of writing textbooks and they are a tremendously powerful lobby.  Promoting NFP and the research behind it is not only out of the mainstream but counter-productive for them.  Since the medical field is taught by the same professors whose research is funded and published by pharmaceutical companies, we are not exposed to NFP or NFP research in training.  Not all research is good research. 
What kinds of side effects are common with using the Birth Control Pill?
Erik Odeblad, M.D., PhD. of Sweden has done extensive research on the Birth Control Pill and how it affects fertility in women.  He has determined that for every year a woman takes the Pill, her cervix ages an additional year.  In addition, it can take up to two years for the chemicals of the Pill to completely leave a woman's body.  If you want to see a long list of side effects, check the Physicians Desk Reference.  Here are some common problems we see:
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of stroke, especially in women who have migraine or familial risk of blood clotting disorders
  • Increased risk of deep venous thrombosis which may result in fatal pulmonary embolus
  • Intermenstrual bleeding
  • Pap smear abnormalities
  • Worsening of insulin resistance, which is a prediabetic disorder
  • Depression
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Breast and cervical cancer, to name a few
I've heard that our drinking water is affected by the Pill.  Can you explain that?
Research by Dr. Jayne Brian and Professor John Sumpter at Brunel University's Institute for the Environment, showed estrogenic chemicals are affecting the reproduction and gender of aquatic life and warned of the effect on the reproductive ability of humans.  In 2007, University of Colorado scientists, sponsored by the Environmental Production Agency, found that of 123 fish caught in Boulder Creek downstream from the Boulder sewage treatment plant, 101 were female, 12 were male, and 10 had both male and female characteristics.  John Woodling, a biologist at the University of Colorado was quoted by the Denver Post as saying that the strange case of the trans-gendered fish is "the first thing that I've seen as a scientist that really scared me."  I definitely share his concerns.  We just cannot ignore the fact that women are excreting estrogen from Birth Control Pills they are taking and it is potentially affecting all of us, male and female.
Why don't more physicians know about Natural Family Planning?  Isn't it taught in medical schools or are they ignoring it because it takes more time than writing a prescription?
More text books have a simple line or two about "periodic abstinence" of "the Rhythm Method" and nothing about NFP and the exhaustive and currently ongoing research behind NFP.  But remember it is the pharmaceutical industry who educates us.  They have a vested interest in making sure we buy their products rather than use a safe and healthy natural method.  And don't forget, our culture teaches us that we should provide contraception as an essential human right.
Need help finding an NFP-only doctor?  Look here.
Interested in learning NFP?  Contact me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

QOTW: 5/14/12

Carter is a ball of energy these days.  When he is up, he never stops going.  Sometimes, I am in a hurry to get things done, impatient or not quite in the mood to repeat everything he says (something I seem to have to do for him to move on to something else).  Well, this past week or so, he gave me a couple of reality checks, per se.

One day we were getting ready to head out the door, and I needed to put some new clothes on him.  Well, he thought it was the perfect time to play 'let's run away from Mommy and laugh."  He would get just within reach and then run the other way, laughing...only stopping to say, "Dat funny!"  Well, after a few times, it wasn't very funny to me, and I told him I was through playing and he needed to get his clothes on.  It didn't phase him.  So, as my temperature rose (yes, short fuse that day), I said, "Carter, get over here right now or you are going to get a spanking!"  He then gets a huge grin on his face and runs over as fast as he can.  He falls into me with his arms wrapped around my neck and says...
"Mommy needs a hug!"
I did :)

About five days later, we were on our way home from a long, but fun, day in Amarillo.  It was 7:30 when we headed home (a two hour drive), and Carter is typically sound asleep at that time.  Well, he decided to stay awake in the car the entire ride home, talking so loudly at times that Peter would wake up.  I was getting frustrated and tired of asking him to be quieter.  So, after a really loud outburst I turned around and said, "Carter, SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"  To which he responds...
"Peace be wit you Mommy."
Needed that too :)

Peter is teething...has been for months, and there is still nothing to show for it.  Well, a couple days ago, he decided to yell/growl every waking moment he isn't eating.  It is a very distinct noise, and Carter isn't the biggest fan.  After a few minutes of it at the dinner table, Carter points to Peter and says...
"Donald Duck.  Peder is Donald Duck!"

Carter wanted to climb in Peter's bed early one morning.  They always wake up this happy, and it makes my day...

Papa (my dad), Jeremy and Carter loading up to go check the cows this morning.  (We are so blessed.  Speaking of blessed, Mother's Day was a real treat!  Not only did Jeremy and Carter make me pancakes and help me plant the garden, they reminded me of how lucky I am to get to do what I do.  Without Jeremy, I wouldn't have these little boys.  He is a man unlike any other...working so hard to not only provide for us but to truly lead by example.  God is the center of His life, and he helps us direct ours the same way.  Carter and Peter are my other vocation (first is being Jeremy's wife)...I couldn't imagine my life any other way.  Thank you, God).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Natural Family Planning: Why We Practice It...

Not many people ask us why we practice NFP.  It's not something we shout on the streets or something that others can 'just tell' by looking at us.  Rarely is it a topic of discussion many like to entertain either. 

So let me answer that question for you here.

First, do we practice this because our faith demands it?  Yes and no.  As with so many, the commitment to live according to God's will in all areas of life is a struggle for us at times, bringing crosses that we neither expect nor ask for.  However, along with those crosses come amazing grace and mercy.  God calls us to step up to the plate in so many areas, never claiming that His road will be easy but promising He will give us strength.  Because we are Catholic, there is no doubt in what the Church teaches about life issues.  The Church is 100% PRO-life, not just anti-abortion but anti-contraception, too.  These teachings come down to us from Christ, for over 2000 years, and having them right in front of us, who am I to say I choose another route?  I firmly believe the more we know, the more we are held accountable for.  So, Natural Family Planning is, and always will be, the only way for us.

Beyond, and in a way because of, our faith, Jeremy and I have developed a deep respect for God's will and design.  With each new life He entrusts to us, we realize how miraculous these gifts truly are and, in turn, how we are simply vehicles for His creation.  We never want to close that door.

Some questions I have received (as have many others on this journey)...

Are you going to have a zoo of children?  A zoo, no.  Will we be open to the blessing of another child always, yes.  Whether that means two or ten, God will only give us what we can handle.

Do you know what causes that (in reference to being pregnant, again, soon - Carter and Peter are 16 months apart)?  I do.  And it is more important to me that my husband and I value every part of the other, including our fertility.  Thus, I may be pregnant more often and sooner than you think is "right."

How will you afford a large family?  We do not make a salary that is large, according to typical American standards.  Will our children have everything they want?  No, but want is a relative term.  Will we take nice, annual vacations?  Maybe not. 
Our life will be simpler, but hopefully more enriched.  Will there always be food on the table?  Yes.  Will we have shelter, God and each other?  Yes.  Will we have everything we need?  Yes.  If people in other countries, with tiny homes, lack of top-notch medical care, barely-get-by salaries and large families can thrive, by gosh, we can too!

Do you have to have 12 kids to comply with the Church?  No.  There are grave reasons to prevent having another child while using Natural Family Planning that the Church allows for...yet with Natural Family Planning, you never actually close off the possibility of life with each act of marital love.

Will you always be pregnant?  No.  However, personally, we would like to have our children close together. My brother and I are 17 months apart.  My sister and I are 14.  I would love to have it the same way.  We also married a bit later in life.  If we want a large family, closeness in age is the way to go!

We practice Natural Family Planning because we love and respect every part of each other.  We practice Natural Family Planning because we want to follow His way. We practice Natural Family Planning because each new child we're blessed with blesses us more. We practice Natural Family Planning because we love life.  We practice Natural Family Planning because our life is not our own. 

 It is His. 

And His will be done.