>the dove

Early Christian funerary art from the Roman ca...Early Christian art often depicted birds such as doves and the phoenix
My Humanities class is getting to me... I bought a dove figurine today for the living room. We've been studying the significance of doves in artwork to early Christians (4th century if I remember correctly). Even more interesting is the significance of the phoenix to early Christians but it's a little bit harder to find a phoenix figurine, LOL. Either way, my studies have inspired me to want to bring the image of a dove in to my daily life to remind me of all its meaning in Christianity. I'm really enjoying studying early Christianity and the Church and it's deepening my understanding of where modern Christianity came from.


>Why get an epidural?

An Epidural performed for childbirth.An epidural being administered before childbirth.
I consistently fail to understand why any woman would willingly commit to an epidural while in labor (besides any possible health issues). The only conclusion I can draw is that women are not properly educated by their doctors on the risks that are involved in receiving an epidural or the benefits that come with natural labor.

First and foremost, there's the most obvious risk - a lifetime of back problems. This happens a lot more often than we are often told. The proof can be found by talking to any woman that's had an epidural. The majority of them will tell you they have had back problems ever since. To my understanding this happens due to misplacement of the injection site. You're getting something directly injected in to your spine - of course if they miss by a fraction of a centimeter chances are there are going to be complications that arise from that.

Then there's the fact that an epidural interferes with the natural labor process. Women who receive epidurals are a lot more likely to end up having to get their labor induced or getting a C section. They almost always end up having a longer labor than they would have had if they had gone more natural. This is because since an epidural numbs the entire lower half of the body, the woman is not very likely to receive the signals her body sends her to help her prepare for birth such as the urge to rock her hips around in order to open up her pelvis. If she does not experience these signals her labor is lengthened because without her help to speed things up it takes her body a lot longer to get itself ready for birth. The longer labor takes, the more likely inducement or a C section becomes. Inducement involves non-stop, intense contractions that often makes the woman too tired to deliver naturally and C sections are rather risky just because they're highly invasive.

There's also the risk of an epidural interfering with the birthing process itself. In these cases it is necessary to use a vacuum or forceps to get the baby out because the woman is unable to push the baby out. These both carry risks of brain damage and at the very least the baby's head is likely to be bruised or misshapen from their usage.

Last but not least, there's blood pressure risks and probably a dozen risks associated with improper injection including paralysis and death.

Of course I know that many women opt for an epidural because they're afraid of the pain associated with labor. What they don't seem to realize though (and their doctors don't seem to tell them) is that there are many effective and natural ways of managing the pain, many of which their body cues them in on while they are in labor and others that any midwife could teach them (midwives BTW are covered on most insurance plans that I know of). Additionally there are benefits that come with natural labor that you just don't get with an epidural. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits is the huge adrenaline rush you get after giving birth that makes you feel energetic, happy, and content. There's also the factor that pushing itself feels good and labor itself goes quickly if the woman pays attention and follows through with the signals and urges her body gives her.

The biggest benefit of all though is that you aren't just an observer of your labor, you are an active participant. You don't just lay in bed and wait for the baby to come; you get up and move around, you work on opening up your pelvis so as to speed up the labor process, you are free to do what ever you want to do to help speed up the process and/or relieve your pain. When I was in labor I was lucky enough to have a jacuzzi (one of the comforts you can get only in a birth center) and I found that leaning up against one of the jets where it was shooting water directly on to my lower spine took away all of the labor pain. It was also pretty nice and relaxing to sit in a warm whirlpool after dealing with the mass confusion that comes with the realization that a baby is finally on the way.

My labor was exactly 3 1/2 hours long, including the birth itself (which took 10 minutes of pushing). Observation has taught me that this is a very short labor period in comparison to women that go the epidural route (and any woman that has had a baby knows the less time it takes the better - not only does it mean dealing with less pain but it also means less exhaustion as well). I remember every bit of it fondly and am extremely grateful that I got to experience it all. To be honest, at the very root of it all it puzzles me why any mother would not want to fully experience the birth of her child. Yes, there is pain, but it seems like the most beautiful and wonderful things in life are always accompanied by some amount of pain and the joy brought from such experiences always is so great that it makes the pain experienced seem completely irrelevant and totally worth every bit of it. Going further, once one does their research and finds all the risks associated with an epidural, it seems rather selfish and cruel to be willing to face those risks to yourself and most importantly your baby just so you don't have to deal with the natural pain that accompanies childbirth.

It's like epidurals are viewed as being risk free miracles of medical science rather than the invasive and risky medical procedures they are. Something really peculiar about this is how it is stressed so much how drugs are to be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy with nothing stronger than Tylenol being approved and then at the end most people don't see any problem with shooting up a powerful anesthetic. Umm... you're still technically pregnant until the umbilical cord is cut!

It's no real biggie - after all, it's a personal decision and no one is forcing an epidural down my own throat - but it still really puzzles me as to why so many women opt for it like it's nothing. Maybe they're so miserable from 9 months of pregnancy they tend to look forward to the relief an epidural promises and overlook the risks associated with that relief?

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>Router Gods, Miscellaneous Laptop Parts, Sneakers With Super Powers, High Powered Stun Guns, Gold Fish, and a Snail... Oh My!

Image representing NETGEAR as depicted in Crun...My new favorite brand of router :)
I just tried out the Netgear Genie beta, and I must say it's pretty awesome. It saved me a few troubleshooting steps on a connection issue by letting me know there was a problem in the connection between the modem and the router.

I don't think I'll be going back to a Linksys/Cisco router any time soon. I loved my Rangemax's performance and the GUI full of helpful features. I've been blown away by the Wireless-N 300 I got to replace that, though. I absolutely love that it integrates my OpenDNS account, allows me to have a separate customizable wireless network for guests, keeps network usage statistics, and still maintains the original firmware features that help make network security a lot easier (like automatically filling in MAC addresses).

My laptop is also getting a bit of a makeover with a new screen and battery. It surprised me how cheap it was to replace the screen - the cheapest screens were $100 and I went with one that was $200 and more model specific. I think it's even better than the stock screen. Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind to get some more screens in the future... they could definitely make for some interesting "craft" projects.

It's interesting how I've just came to accept that the artist is alive in me but not in the traditional sense that it was with my grandfather. I am not a sketch artist... I enjoy more touchy-feely type mediums and I enjoy design and emotive forms more than I do realistic forms. That's why I take to crafts and design projects so easily... for me, that's an art and a way of expressing myself. It also explains why we got in to so many arguments with each other about our definitions of art, LOL.

BTW, I have found the perfect mom-of-a-stubborn-2-year-old shoes. Nike's Zoom trail running shoes. The treads are awesome on them, they're lightweight, ergonomical, well cushioned, and waterproof as well. They've also got a small stretchy cord going around the ankles, which seems like it could come to some interesting uses (I haven't tried anything yet, LOL). But the really important thing about these shoes are the treads... it means your kid can't drag you around on ANY surface, including those super smooth super market floors. It also means you can run on any surface very well, too, LOL.

I should probably mention that I have a high powered stun gun on the way. I really can't wait to get it. I will feel a lot more confident in my ability to defend myself and my son in any situation. The gun sends almost a million volts in one short blast. According to the manufacturer, the gun "will give anyone silly enough to attack you an exclusive muscle massage that will render them incapable of managing much more than drooling for about five to ten minutes." I'm wondering how on earth I'm going to test this thing out... I certainly want to know it actually works well before I actually have to use it. Hmm...

Any volunteers? ;)

We have three new members in our family. Brennan got his first pets yesterday - two goldfish and a snail. I wanted him to have something that would be easy for him to mostly take care of and cheap and easy to replace should an accident happen. He loves his new friends! He wanted to look at them all day today. I put them on a shelf in his bedroom where he can't reach but can still see what they're up to, and whenever he wants to get up close I pick him up so he can reach the bowl.

Right now I can't take any family pets but I can handle Brennan having his own pets that he can learn to take care of. I also know it's important for him to have some form of animal around - they make for great lessons in how to treat others and how to care for another life. As for family pets, though, the memories of Sammy and Winter are still too fresh. I just don't think we could ever really replace them... they were just that special and perfect for us.

Well, I've ranted about random things for quite a while now. ;) Time for me to go. :)

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>moving blues

>I'm so totally not ever going back to sleeping on a coil mattress again. I am in love with my new memory foam mattress. I also found a cedar bedroom set that's like my old one with a bookshelf headboard only better - it's a queen size and it has reading lights. The set also came with a beautiful cedar chest. I'm in love! :)

I also got a big couch that goes across two walls and has lots of fluffy pillows. Brennan is crazy about it. He's been trying to help me clean the new place by dusting and handing me things to put up. He is such sweet little guy. :)

It's been raining a lot. So I've gotten little moving done today. We at least have the essentials here, though. I need to order a smart frame for the mattress and find a washer and dryer still.

Rain, rain, go away. :P



Pizza Monster

Brennan is chowing down at one of his favorite pizza places!


>The inability of some to be happy...

Depiction of a wino or town drunkImage via Wikipedia
I'm trying really hard to understand people that don't understand how to be happy and just want to be spiteful and impossible to please no matter how civil you are with them. It would be so much easier on both of us if our interactions could just be pleasant and respectful with the trust that everyone is doing their best. I don't understand the need to always find something to be angry about and lash out at others for. I can't imagine that it is a very pleasant existance. Do alcoholics drink because it is the only way they can feel any happiness in their lives? The only time I see this person happy is when they are drunk it seems.


>sleepless night

The simplest form of the Sun Cross, often call...Image via Wikipedia
It looks like I'm going to be spending a night without sleep.

It used to be that I spent my sleepless nights worrying about something or another. Thankfully, many of my nights have been spent in peaceful slumber for a while now. The funny thing though is that I still have problems sleeping when something big, exciting, and/or unknown is about to happen. I was informed that our new place is going to be ready for us to move in come Monday and I just can't seem to get over the excitement I feel over it. It seems sometimes like little changes between the person I was as a child and the person I am now... I have never been one to sleep very well when something big is about to happen. Of course, all the caffeine I drank today probably hasn't helped matters much.

Brennan's cough hasn't helped much tonight, either. It isn't serious and is probably due to the congestion from his cold but my motherly instincts bring me to cringe every time he cough. It's so hard to watch my little angel deal with the discomforts that come with being human. I can see why some mothers say they wish their children were back in the safety of their stomachs.

Ha, David is having fun with his new Ipod Touch right now. He got me one today, too, but I haven't got to play with it yet. The updating and synchronization process is taking forever. Then again it's partially my fault because as per usual the first thing I focused on was getting everything set up, including downloading a ton of apps and all of the lectures I have to listen to for my Humanities and Worldviews courses. I'm going to have this thing filled up before I ever even begin to do anything with it.

I guess I could do some more work on Kathy's netbook, but I don't really feel up to it at the moment. I just want to type.

My exploration of Gnosticism and Biblical history has led me down a strange path... one with a dead end. If anything it has shown me that not only is the Bible fallible, but it's not even the beginning of the whole picture in regards to early Christianity. Early Christianity it seems was just as divided in its beliefs as modern Christianity is today... and it started as an oral tradition, the same as Judaism. I just can't bring myself to declare that I know the absolute spiritual truth. I don't. I don't think anyone alive today does. I seriously doubt any normal human or religious group in history ever has. We know from psychology that we have fundamental needs in regards to our spiritual beliefs in order to be happy and functional, but we still don't know why we have those needs or what the truth behind those necessary beliefs is. Even philosophies that originally strove to take care of these needs without becoming rigid and dogmatic have became what they set out to defeat (take Humanism as an example). 

So that leaves me once again at this one fundamental realization - even though I have no idea who God really is or what He really wants out of me, I still need to believe in Him, I still need to believe that He loves me, and I still need to believe that my soul is eternal. And I still need to search for every nugget of truth I can find about Him and our existence. I still feel like I was called to do something in order to bring about a great change in the world's attitude, only I don't know exactly what. My brother Sean would say that kind of calling is a genetic trait that lies in our blood; passed down from a philosophically, spiritually, and intellectually driven family. I observe the passion he shares with me, the way he understands me when I rail against the injustices I see, and I can't help but wonder if that's the truth.

For right now, though, I let it rest. I choose to focus instead on filling my mind with as much knowledge as I can possibly get, for I know that changes cannot be made without wisdom and wisdom cannot be gained without knowledge. I trust that somewhere along the way I will find my true path.

I think the greatest duty that lies ahead of me right now though is currently sleeping in my bed. Brennan. He is most truly a gift from God and I have no intention of failing to ensure this blossom blooms and flourishes. Any gifts and/or callings of mine are minuscule in comparison to the mere promise that shines out of his big, brown eyes. I don't want to ever see the light in his eyes dim the slightest bit.

Coming back down to earth, I have realized a lot. It's not what you do... it's now how much you do... it's not how much money you make... it's not how many "friends" you have or how many/much people like you... it's not how much you know or even what you know... it's not how famous you are... etc...

It's how content you are to do whatever you do. Period. No one and nothing else matters.

While this may seem like a selfish outlook to have, it really isn't when one takes in to consideration that no kind deed goes unrewarded. It feels good to us to help others, that's why we do it. It becomes a problem when we're so focused on helping others we forget to make sure we feel good about ourselves as well, the same as it becomes a problem if we're so focused on feeling good about ourselves that we forget to care for others. "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you don't love yourself how can you possibly love your neighbor? It's a two way street.

Well, I think I'm going to give bed another shot. Wish me luck. ;)

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