Thursday, October 27, 2011

heartbreaking, disgusting, unbelievable - "to train up a child"

i should start this blog post by asking for your patience.  i recently heard this news and haven't had a lot of time to process it.  my feelings are raw and strong, so please forgive me if this post is a bit all over the place.

i have been making an effort to keep myself more informed in the goings-on of the world.  i have started dvr-ing "anderson cooper 360" on cnn.  two episodes this week have had segments about a 13-year-old girl named hana williams.  hana was adopted from ethiopia by a washington state family.  she was one of their eight children (two adopted).  in may, she was found dead in the backyard of her home, naked, bruised, underweight and covered in blood.  it was 40 degrees outside and apparently she had been outside for hours and was often made to stay outside as punishment).  the remaining seven children are now in protective custody and the parents are on trial for homicide and abuse.  here is an excerpt from a local seattle news channel with the mother's 911 call:

911 operator: "what's your emergency?"
carri williams: "yes, i think my daughter killed herself,"
911 operator: "why do you say that?
carri williams: "she's really rebellious and she's been outside, refusing to come in. and she's been throwing herself all around, and then she collapsed."
911 operator: "is she breathing?"
carri williams: “i don’t think so, no.”
911 operator: “how old is your daughter?”
carri williams: “i don’t know. we adopted her almost three years ago.”
911 operator: “you don’t know how old she is?”
carri williams: “she’s somewhere between the ages of 14 and 16.” (she was actually 13)

the mother is not hysterical, but quite calm.  it is really quite disturbing.  the official cause of death was hypothermia, but she also had a lump on her head and had marks on her body that indicated "repeated whippings".

the williams family apparently followed parenting/training guidelines set out in a book called "to train up a child" by michael and debi pearl who claim that according to the bible, you must spank (they say spank, but as you'll see, it sounds a whole lot more like beating to me) your child to show them love.

here is the first paragraph of the introduction of this book as found on their website:

"this book is not about discipline, nor problem children. the emphasis is on the training of a child before the need to discipline arises. it is apparent that most parents never attempt to train a child to obey. they wait until the child becomes unbearable and then explode. with proper training, discipline can be reduced to 5% of what many now practice. as you come to understand the difference between training and discipline, you will have a renewed vision for your family--no more raised voices, no contention, no bad attitudes, fewer spankings, a cheerful atmosphere in the home, and total obedience from your children."

maybe that sounds interesting...i personally am a little thrown off by the whole "training" and "total obedience" bit, but it still sounds like it may have some merit, right? continues...chapter one: "switch your kids" - and they don't mean swapping them for alternative children.  they call it "spanking," "switching," "giving licks," or "swatting".  in an interview on anderson cooper 360's, mr. pearl argues whole-heartedly that this is not "hitting" or "beating".  read below and watch the clip and see what you think.  i vehemently disagree with his semantics.  in the ac360 interview he also makes some outrageous claims about the positive outcomes of spanking households. 

mr. pearl claims that his instruction is based on biblical teachings. the quote from proverbs 13:24 "one who spares the rod, hates his child" could be used as an example.  in regards to how to "switch" one's child, pearl explains on page 47 of "to train up a child" (as quoted by

"any spanking, to effectively reinforce instruction, must cause pain, but the most pain is on the surface of bare skin where the nerves are located. a surface sting will cause sufficient pain, with no injury or bruising. select your instrument according to the child’s size. for the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. sometimes alternatives have to be sought. a one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. for the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective."

here is a snip-it from a separate interview with cnn correspondent, gary tuchman (transcript from ac360) as seen on "anderson cooper 360" on 10.26.11, during which michael pearl gives a detailed explanation of his "spanking":

tuchman: let's say a 7-year-old slugs his sister.
pearl: he would get -- a 7-year-old would get 10 or 15 licks, and it would be a formal thing. in other words, you maintain your patient air. you explain to him that what he's done is violent and that that's not acceptable in society, and it's not acceptable at home. and then i would take him somewhere, like into his bedroom, and i would tell him i'm going to give him 15 licks.
tuchman: with what?
pearl: probably a belt on a kid that big, a boy. i'd probably use a belt. it would be handy. i might use a wooden spoon or a piece of, like, plumbing supply line a quarter-inch in diameter, flexible enough to roll up.

hmmm...i'm a little confused.  yes, i understand how slugging a sibling is violent and unacceptable, but how is "licking" the child not violent?

he also recommends keeping these plumbing supply lines all around the house, in the car and even around your neck to be sure they are handy and in sight...and that simply wearing one around your neck can keep your kids in line. jee...i wonder why?  fear maybe?  yeah, that's a healthy parenting technique.  this man must be mad.

here is an entire page of quotes (thank you from the pearls' book that made my stomach ache.

the story of hana williams is not the first of its kind to be linked to this book.  in 2006, a north carolina mother suffocated her 4-year-old son by wrapping him too tightly in blankets after punishing him by beating him with plastic tubing didn't work.  she was found guilty of murder. (

in early 2010, a california family who had been touted and praised for adopting three children from liberia tortured and beat their 7-year-old adopted daughter to death with a quarter-inch plastic tubing and sent their 11-year-old adopted son to the hospital.  earlier this year, they both plead guilty to the charges.

here are a few links for more information regarding these two other cases.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

20 months

bubby (yes, we have a lot of nicknames for you)~

last weekend, you passed the 20 month marker.  i suppose there is a point at which the "months" are dropped from your age description... a little over a year and a half?  eh...i like to be which case, you are now technically 20 months and 3 days old.  :)

in the last couple of months, your language development has been your focus.  you seem to have a language of your own that only you and i understand.  i hope that's normal because if it doesn't change, someday people are going to be a little confused when you ask for a "ba" of water instead of a "cup".  or ask to go "uh" in the air as opposed to "up".  or ask for a napkin to blow your "neh" ("nose").  :)  our words are definitely still more like sounds over here, but we're getting there.  "almond" and "ball" are pretty well said, i must say!

you have started "reading" the book "moo, ba, la la la" with me.  it is great.  i start the sentences and you fill in the appropriate sounds, including the singing pigs.  i giggle every time.

there was a few days in a row that you HATED the rocking much so that i laid down on the bed with you to nurse to sleep and ended up with a nasty case of mastitis because of our positioning.  luckily, we have solved the problem with a lamp behind the chair to read by in these dark fall evenings and we're back to rockin'.  *whew*

you caught your third cold in five weeks.  not so awesome.  but, i must say, you worked through each one with a smile and each one passed a little more quickly than the previous one.  we have had almost one week of health.  please, please remain healthy for at least a month more.  i don't think that's asking too much.

we went out to bisabuelito and bisabuelita's house to celebrate bisabuelito's birthday.  you were sleepy, but incredible.  you really liked watching the parrots, climbing up on the couch to read, trying to find the kitties in the backyard, barking at the neighbor's dog and you even helped me make the miso glaze for the black cod.  they love you so much.  it is wonderful to see how their faces light up when you smile.

the grandpas were here for a couple of hours on their way out of town.  you played a quick game of catch with grandpa in the living room and managed to catch the little football four times!  amazing.  they brought us two huge pieces of cardboard that i'm going to make into a felt board (someday).  yay!

halloween is coming up soon and so far we have gone to the pumpkin patch and a harvest festival at the library.  we still need to carve our pumpkins, we're having a halloween party at your favorite park with your buddies, and who knows what else.  that will have to be a separate blog. :)

you had your first experience with riding the bus (from west la to downtown la) on our way to your first protest (occupy la).

we took you to watch the airplanes take off and land at the santa monica airport.  sadly, you found it to be a bit frightening.  sorry, bud.

we discovered the children's section of the main santa monica is awesome.  can't wait for story-time to start back up in next week!

we also discovered a fun toddler music time at the pier, but unfortunately there is only one week left.  boo.  must remember for next year.

stairs are really big right now.  up and down, up and down...any stairs you could do it all day.  it is moderately terrifying though as your confidence is building and sometimes you seem completely unaware that there is an edge to each step.  there have been no major incidents and i'd really like to keep it that way.  thank you for holding my hand and PLEASE be aware of the edges.

since you've been incredibly intrigued by potties for a while now, we got you a little potty seat.  we currently have no expectations of you "training," but you have managed to pee in it three times and poo poo once.  the most recent pee blew my mind.  i took off your diaper to change it, but you really didn't want a new one on.  i decided to leave you nakey for a few minutes and walked into the bathroom to put your used diaper in the dirty pail.  on my way back to the living room, i heard you let out a bit of a squeal (?).  i returned to find that you had walked over to your potty, sat, and peed without any help or encouragement!  we celebrated.  then i took your potty into the bathroom to flush the pee down the big potty.  As i was cleaning the potty seat, you peed on the floor.  doh.  i can't help but wonder what would have happened if the potty seat was still available for you to use.  boo.  oh well.  thank you, seventh generation all purpose're great.

i'm pretty sure that sums up the last month...maybe...i'm pretty sleepy, so i might have left something exciting out, in which case, i apologize and i'll try to be more vigilant in my blogging.  please forgive me.  :)

i love you, little boy

here are some pictures, in no particular order...

 at bisabuelitos' house

 lovin' your potty seat

 library story-time

 "wake up with the waves" toddler time at the pier

 our make-shift felt board awaiting a large piece of cardboard and more felt  

 on our way to occupy la via bus

 joining the revolution

storming the steps of city hall

Thursday, October 13, 2011

a note to my (quickly) growing little boy


for nearly every one of your 598 nights here on earth, with the rare exception here and there, i have rocked and nursed you to sleep.  while this may sound like a terrible pain to some parents out there, to me it is a small slice of heaven.  so often these moments have been some of my favorites of the day.  watching you drift off into peaceful you unlatch and your breath becomes slow and steady, i sit in stillness and thank god that you're mine.

the last two nights, you have adamantly refused the rocker.  maybe it is just a phase you're going through.  maybe it is that you're not such a fan of how since you've grown so tall we now have to somewhat awkwardly contort our bodies to fit into it.  maybe...just maybe, you're done with rocking to sleep.

while it is such an amazing experience being your mama, watching you grow and helping you find your own way, i have to admit, i am really hoping that this isn't the end of our rocking days.  but if it is, thanks for all the good times and i'll see you on the bed, where i'll still take in those dreamy moments and thank god that you're mine. at least you are still my little nursing cuddle bug.  :)

i love you so.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

homemade cereal!

i LOVE cereal...always have.  it's in my blood.  my whole family loves it.  well, at least my dad and my brother.  ma?  i think she does too.  so, you can imagine my sheer heartbreak when i read on one of my favorite blogs (by emily bartlett of holistic kid) just how bad for you boxed cereal is.  WHAT!?  i could it be, right?  well, let me give you the run down of the article and here it is so you can read it for yourself too.

according to ms. bartlett, "all packaged, dry cereals are produced by a process called 'extrusion' which involves high heat and high pressure," killing off the good stuff (aka: most nutrients and added fortifying vitamins).  sadly, it also "ravages amino acids (the building blocks of protein) rendering them highly toxic [and] proteins structures are vastly altered, and as a result, new compounds form which are completely foreign, potentially harmful" (which means that protein packed "good-for-you" cereal...quite possibly even worse).  boo.  you hear that?  that is my heart starting to crack...

then...any of the fortifying vitamins that make it through the extrusion process are really of little use to your body anyway.  emily goes on to explain that these vitamins added into the cereal are synthetic and your body is unable to absorb and use them as desired.  in fact, she states that "many synthetic vitamins are actually treated as toxins and are eliminated by your body as quickly as possible [and] can also cause imbalances in the body that may lead to health problems in the long run".  double boo.  ...aaaaannnddd...heart is broken.

but, never fear...emily delivers a smashing solution: homemade coconut almond granola!  oh. my. gosh. a-mazing!  here is the recipe and my adventure making it!  i should note: it looks much more intense than it really is.  i don't think i spent more than 10-15 minutes per day working on it.  and it was totally worth it.  i made a half batch (i don't have big enough bowls or baking sheets for the full one!) and we devoured it.  i'm getting ready to make another batch at the end of the week!

ingredients (for a half batch):
*4 cups rolled oats
*1/4 cup melted butter
*1/4 cup melted coconut oil
*3/4 cup whole-fat yogurt
*1 cup water (filtered)
*1/4 cup raw honey
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/2 cup coconut sprinkles (unsweetened dried shaved or grated coconut and maple syrup-the good/real stuff...none of that mrs. buttersworth business)
*1 cup thinly sliced almonds (buy pre-sliced)

*one big bowl (no joke...especially if you're going to make a full batch- 8 cups oats!)
*one small bowl
*a sauce pan
*2 baking sheets (possibly more if doing the full 8 cups batch)
*parchment paper (just-in-case note: this is different than wax paper ;p)
*oven that can be set to 200 degrees fahrenheit

here we go:

day one:
*in a large bowl, mix together oats, yogurt, water, butter and coconut oil.  pat it down, cover with a plate and let it hang out on your counter for two days.  yes, two more or it will go bad.  :)
*in a small bowl, cover your almond slices with filtered water.  place a light-weight towel over the bowl and let soak (on counter) until day two (i started mine in the evening of day one and let them soak until mid-day on day two...)
*make your coconut sprinkles by combining coconut shavings (1/2 cup) with 1/8 (give or give...i don't like the take) cup of maple syrup (remember...only good stuff).  spread out on a parchment covered cookie sheet and let bake at 200 until crispy.  break apart and store in airtight container until used- i didn't have parchment on day one, so i actually did this on day two, with my almonds. 

 yogurty, buttery, coconut oily, watery oats ready to sit

 soakin' nuts

 oats and nuts preparing for deliciousness.  pay no mind to the failed sourdough starter to the left.  :(

day two:
*drain your soaking nuts, spread them onto a parchment covered cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees overnight or until completely dry and crispy.

 coconut shavings and maple syrup all ready to bake

 ...and done.  sorry about the yellow hue...evening/night time in my kitchen...

soaked almonds ready to go into the oven

day three:
*preheat oven to 200 degrees.  place honey, salt and cinnamon in a small glass bowl and (carefully) place it into a sauce pan of simmering water until the honey becomes thin. stir it up and add it to the oat mixture.  note: the glass bowl will be crazy cautious and don't burn yourself...or drop the glass bowl into the oats and then onto the counter while your baby is asleep...what?  my own experience?? maybe.  whatever. 
*spread the whole thing as thinly as possible onto two parchment covered baking sheets and bake for several hours or overnight until completely dry and crispy.  i did overnight and got to wake up to an amazing cinnamony smelling house.  it was heavenly.

 cinnamon, salt and honey in a a pot of simmering(ish) water

 heated until honey thins and all stirred up

 oat mixture and honey mixture all mixtured (hehe) together, spread out and ready to bake

 the next morning...delicious, delicious crispy oats

day four:
*break apart crispy oat business and mix it all together with the almonds and the coconut sprinkles. 
*pour yourself a bowl...or store in airtight container until the first possible chance to eat it. :)
*enjoy it with some whole fat raw milk to really get the whole bang for your buck.  :)  we also drizzled a little more honey on top for added knock-your-socks-off yum.

 all mixed together!

breaky!  oj (1/2 diluted with h20, water, multi-vitamin (organic and food based), fish oil, cranberry pill, pears, an egg cooked in butter and the delicious homemade cereal with whole fat raw milk.  yumm!

nolan LOVED it!  he also really likes using a big spoon (or fork, as needed...not for cereal)...ha...silly boy

~thank you emily for helping me feed my family healthy food!~