Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Movie Night

Every Monday night at 6pm, the Chadron Public Library has movie night for kids. This summer the children's library hour theme has been mostly about bugs. Therefore, tonight the movie was A Bug's Life. We ate popcorn and drank lemonade. Yum!

Here's a short clip from the movie. Like children's literature, children's animated movies often speak so clearly of adult's truths. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Black Hills Trip

We took a trip to the Black Hills this weekend. It was sorta a last minute thing. You know--a what-do-you-do-when-you-live-in-Chadron kind of thing. We've taken this trip many times and pretty much know all the stops by heart, but we still continue to take pictures and stop at the sights to enjoy the beauty and meet the tourists. It was a lovely day and this was the first time we actually stopped and ate in Keystone. We met some nice folks who were visiting from Miami and Argentina. They had an adorable dog with them that the kids really got a kick out of. When it was time to leave Brayla hollered out to them, "Bye, bye! I'll pray for you!" Heehee! You can start the slideshow below to see a few pictures of the day.

Two More Publicized ACOG Letters

We all knew it would happen, but it's still exciting. More doctors and members of ACOG are beginning to come forward publicly voicing opposition to ACOG and AMAs statement that all hospital births are safer. I provided a link to ACOG's and AMA's statement and first opposing OB's statement HERE, and the next two are available at the links below.

Full letter from Lauren Plante, MD, MPH, FACOG can be found HERE. Quotes to note:

Many of us would not agree that choosing to labor and deliver at home subordinates the goal of a healthy baby to the process. As you know, home birth remains a viable option in several developed nations where birth outcomes for both mother and baby are excellent.

Many ACOG members have backed up home birth providers in the past, and a few have attended a home birth. I personally know of several ACOG members who themselves have chosen to deliver at home.

Full letter from Dr. Andrew Kotaska (noted researcher & Clinical Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanton Territorial Hospital) can be found HERE. Quotes to note:

I would invite ACOG to join the rest of us in the 21st century.
Modern ethics does not equivocate: maternal autonomy takes precedence over medical recommendations based on beneficience, whether such recommendations are founded on sound scientific evidence or the pre-historic musings of dinosaurs. In the modern age, the locus of control has, appropriately, shifted to the patient/client in all areas of medicine, it seems, except obstetrics.

Science supports homebirth as a reasonably safe option. Even if it didn't, it still would be a woman's choice. ACOG and the AMA are, by nature, conservative organizations; and they are entitled to their opinion about the safety of birth at home.

If ACOG and the AMA are passive-aggressively trying to coerce women into having hospital births by trying to legally prevent the option of homebirth, then their actions are a frontal assault on women's autonomy and patient-centered care. Hopefully the public and lawmakers realize the primacy of informed choice enough to justify Deborah Simone's words: "We don't need to be angry or even react to these overtly hostile actions from the medical community. We just need to keep doing what we do best; the proof is always in the pudding."

I'm amazed at the honesty and courage of these amazing obstetricians to disagree with their own organization AND to allow their letters to be posted publicly. This really is amazing! The blogging world is going crazy about this HERE. If anyone has more useful search terms, please comment below.

It'll be interesting, to say the least, to witness things unfold.

Friday, June 27, 2008

AMA and ACOG are Anti-Home Birth

On the three month birthday of my home birthed baby, it's ironic that I finally find some time to post some of what is going on in the world of home birth and midwifery. So here's the gist: AMA and ACOG don't care for home birth. Well, duh! No big surprise there. It takes money directly out of their hands. Why WOULD they support home birth? What am I missing here? This seems like a no-brainer.

All of the recent media (i.e. Business of Being Born, etc.) on home birth is now beginning to uncover serious hospital birthing questions regarding safety, legalities, and especially financial and insurance concerns surrounding birth. Medpros know they don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to studies of birth safety between hospital and home. There's not nearly enough there to make a legitimate argument. So, to get what they want, why not draw up some unsubstantiated legal-speak to bring back their patients? Yep, you heard me. They're requesting legislation that declares that a hospital birth is always "safer." The intent? Why to initiate unwarranted fear, of course. A desperate move, at best. Studies conducted around the world currently refutes this declaration, but I suppose any good statistician can bend numbers, use partial data, and make an argument for either side. Utterly ridiculous. So while our country may currently be "pro-choice" for women in matters of abortion, this legislation would be a big step toward taking all choice away from women in regards to choosing where they give birth.

ACOG initiated their statement HERE.
AMA initiated their statement HERE.
Midwifery World reports HERE.
The Big Push responds HERE.
ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) responds HERE.
Jennifer Block (author of Pushed) responds HERE.
This list could go on and on and on...

Now, there's a silver lining to be seen here. Many are fighting back and asking tough questions. I have yet to see any answers. You'll find, below, a link to a letter written just this week by Stuart J. Fischbein, MD FACOG. He is a member of ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). And yet he and other members of ACOG who are known to be pro-home birth (and serve as back-up OBs for midwives who deliver at home) were surprised to see this statement issued. Those ACOG members who are strong advocates of natural home births and midwives were not contacted or made aware of this statement or the push for new legislation regarding safety. Though you would think their personal experience with home birth would give them some insight, they had no input. No vote. Why were we excluded? he asks. Thousands upon thousands of others in the birthing community are wondering the same thing. I'll keep you posted as I discover more--this post will be updated as I find more links.

You'll find the letter HERE. You DON'T want to miss this! Here are three interesting quotes:

"It is disturbing to me that I had to hear of this decision from outside sources and was never approached by my college to see how I or my local colleagues felt about it. I have grave concerns regarding my organization taking such a stand. I think we are all agreed that ACOG has a statement regarding patients’ rights to informed consent and informed refusal. Yet, it seems with every decision our organization moves further away from that basic tenet."

Probably my favorite:

"As to out of hospital birthing, please give me the courtesy of an explanation as to the evidenced-based data you used and the process by which an organization which is supposed to represent me came to this conclusion. Any statement saying that it is as simple as patient safety and that one-size fits all hospital births under the “obstetric model” of practice should be applied to all patients is, putting it nicely, not really in line with what best serves all our patients. In many instances, hospitals are not safe, certainly not nurturing and have a far worse track record for disasters than home birth. Even when emergency help is nearby this is true."

And he just keeps asking all the right questions:

Who first raised this issue and why? What committee reviewed all the data and did its due diligence in interviewing those of us with longstanding experience in backing midwives who perform out of hospital births. There must be a clear and concise, non-confidential paper trail you can share with your members. Specific names of committee members who voted for this would be enlightening and I am requesting this information. I would like to know the background and expertise regarding out of hospital birth for each member who had a hand in the decision to go to the AMA.

If you have any comments for ACOG, let them hear it!

Contact ACOG at:
ACOG Office of Communications

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cooling Down

Yesterday we went to the pool with Brittany, Thomas, and Loopsy (Lucy). It was so much fun--we stayed for TWO HOURS! Shortly after we came back home we experienced our daily thunderstorm. It seems that our days are full of bright sun and our evenings bring a regularly scheduled storm.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All that is necessary for
the triumph of evil... that good men do nothing.

Ever heard this quote? I have. Many times. And I've always admired its sentiment--that feeling I get in my gut that makes me want to be the "good" person who battles evil and brings about change. Well, this week I couldn't resist--I had to spend some time investigating the quote's source and consider the implications of that origin. I'll come back to those in a bit. For the time being, let's talk about what I want to talk about. =)

In general, we aren't all that good at advocacy. It's inconvenient. We aren't good at confrontation. It's uncomfortable. We aren't good at investigating truths. It takes too much time. Primarily, we cultivate friendships with people who think exactly like we do. It's easier.

There ARE those who work, work, work--addressing the moral inconsistencies in our world. They rub shoulders with those they disagree with. They listen. More importantly, they HEAR. They re-think, process, reconsider, and grow. Convenience, comfort, and time aren't obstacles for them. The "easy road" doesn't even appear on their maps. They express compassion to all, but still advocate for meaningful change.

I've heard quoted that 80% of the work of any group is done by 20% of the people. Though I've never seen the studies that produce this statistic, I've seen it in my own circles at work, church, through friendships and among the neighborhood. It's utterly shocking to see this phenomenon at work all over the world.

Are you in the hypothetical 80% or the 20%? Where do you WANT to be? Is there something "evil" happening in your neck of the woods? Maybe something you're not even yet aware of? Is there something that is bothering you that could still be set right? Have you looked at all aspects of the dilemma to understand all sides? If so, then jump in--be aggressive--give to the greater cause. It's worth it. It's SO worth it. Life is too short to stand by and do nothing.

Now, back to my first paragraph. While I was investigating this quote, I came across this somewhat humorous link. The pseudo-quote has many variations and the author enjoys picking each one apart to decipher the effect of the change of a word here or there. The author of the page, Martin Porter, concludes that this quote is:

...without authenticity or meaning, and is just another of those political slogans which are used not as an assistance to, but as a substitute for real thought. It is not a deep truth, although it is constantly treated as one.

He also later shares in the follow-up essay that many website use the quote:

...but it is presented as a kind of banner, usually at the top or bottom of the page. In other words it is out of context, and we cannot tell what meaning the quoter thinks it has.

Does this mean the quote has no meaning simply because it didn't come from Burke? Or that if we apply a different meaning to a quote other than its original intention, then we're incorrect or misguided? In other words, is legitimate meaning determined only by infamous origin? I'll need to think on that one a bit because in many instances I can agree--a quote, or other information, taken out of context can be twisted and turned in numerous directions (i.e. Biblical quotes, legal outcomes, statistical data). When using a quote as an authoritative truth, without context it loses all original meaning. Yet I also think we can find meaning in quotes that may not have been intended by the original author. Take poetry and songs, for example: many artists choose NOT to give information on their own personal meaning of a poem or song because they believe the listener or reader can discover multiple meanings. Can we not?

Take some time to investigate it when you can. It's an enjoyable read and Porter makes a decent case from his tedious research. Maybe he's right--maybe we should each come up with some "real thought" rather than rely on simple quotations and proverbs to think for us. Do YOU agree that it's not a deep truth?

Tickled PINK!

Last weekend my friend, Laureen, gave birth to her 3rd child. This was her second home birth after a cesarean section--another blessed, natural, peaceful, empowering delivery. Aurora Miranda was 9 pounds, 5 oz and 21.5" long with a 15" head. She was carried about 44 weeks. That's no typo! 44. I just giggle thinking about it. I'll be sure to link to her full birth story once she has it available online. As a tantalizing teaser, I'll highlight a few early details here and respond with my thoughts.

First, Laureen's family lives aboard a boat. So home birthing was a unique experience this time. She shares:

" birth on a boat rocks. Literally. =) I was hanging out in the birth tub in our cockpit on Thursday night, watching the moon cross the sky, and as the sea would rock, the boat would rock, then the tub would rock a second later. Soooooooo cool."

That had to be incredible--simultaneously experiencing waves in the ocean and waves of labor! Nature at its finest! She also writes:

"She came out with the cord not only wrapped around her neck, but across her chest like bandoliers. I *felt* it tighten up with my last push, and she was not breathing upon delivery. What's awesome is that my midwife *gets it*. Plenty of skin rubbing, some O2, and lots of talking to her, and all was well."

Well done, dear midwife! I continue to hear about babies being some variation of "floppy" upon delivery and home birth midwives are usually so calm, so reassuring, and often keep baby right against mommy's skin as they work on them (the skin-to-skin effect is astounding). This was my experience, as well. It takes time and patience and a respect for birth in most cases. Kudos to your midwife for "getting it".

"I can't frankly imagine what a nightmare that sitch would have been in a hospital, and once again, I am desperately grateful that I was able to be home."

I'm so with you on this, my friend. I've watched a hospital turn my very normal labor into an emergency for no legitimate reason and have heard countless stories of others with the same experience. Everyone is in a panic for absolutely no reason. Emergencies are more often created by meddling with nature--hurrying things along--stressing out the momma. In hindsight, I have every reason to believe that the decels we experienced during Brighton's birth would have quickly become an emergency had I birthed in a hospital. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my opportunity to birth privately with a caregiver who wouldn't panic over relatively normal bumps in the road. They do sometimes happen.

Congratulations, sweet sister, for yet another peaceful birth. Your faith is so refreshing. Need I remind you that you were one of the strongest influences I encountered near the end of my pregnancy as I journeyed from TWO hospital births full of unnecessary interventions (ultimately cesareans) to a gentle home birth? You had been there, done that. You were empowered. From my then fear-filled perspective you were bossy, presumptuous, and downright obnoxious. More than once, you called my bluff forcing me to face my truth. I didn't like you one bit. That was yesterday. Today I have perspective. Today I am thankful for your determination. Today I recognize your strength of character and I deeply respect your powerful voice. You, and the few others who confronted me with a message of hope and courage during those confusing, vulnerable months will always be part of Brighton's birth journey. It was my journey to truth, to faith, and to triumph. Thank you!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zoo Day

Today we headed off to Scottsbluff for some dentestry surgery on mommy. For unfortunate reasons I won't go into at this time, that surgery couldn't happen. So we decided to make lemonade out of lemons and went to the Scottsbluff Zoo.

It was too hot to wear Brighton in the Maya sling.

It was too hot to look at any animal longer than 5 seconds.

We would have taken more pictures than the one above, except that...
it was simply too hot to stand still for another picture.

Think I'm kidding? Dude, our car thermometer read 109 when we got back to the parking lot. YIKES!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Angel Camp

Brayla had a very fun time at Camp Norwesca's Angel Camp this last weekend. Mommy went with her, along with Brighton. We spent the night in a fabulous retreat center (almost like a hotel without linens) and spent our days doing everything from crafts to water slides to hikes to games. The food was great (Mmmm, s'mores!) and the counselors were EXCELLENT! Before we even left, Brayla began crying and asking if she could come back and do this again next year.

Enjoy the slideshow! There are just under 50 photos. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cloth Diapers

I'm SO excited to announce that Brighton's new DSQ (diaper service quality) diapers arrived today. I was seriously glued to the online UPS tracking site, daring them to arrive a day late. FINALLY, the friendly man in brown came to my door--completely unaware of the priceless cargo in his arms. I snatched the box away, grabbed Brayla's child-sized scissors, and frantically opened the box to reveal two dozen beautiful unbleached new diapers (yes, I counted) and 4 packages of red Snappis (for those of you who haven't done cloth diapers in the last two decades, Snappis are a new gadget made to hold cloth diapers on).

A Little History:
I was never really that interested in using cloth diapers with my first two babies. I mean--WHY fix something that ain't broke? Well...I suppose to answer that question, you have to define "broke." So I'll just say that over the last few months of my pregnancy and in the early days of Brighton's life, I've done a complete 180 for SO many reasons. I refuse to let convenience keep me from cloth diapering any longer.

Start-up Costs:
Our biggest obstacle was the initial start-up costs. Everywhere I read about cloth diapering said that you invest about $250 for everything. Whew! In hindsight I totally get that that's still less than a family would normally pay for about 6 months of disposable diapers, yet it's a hefty amount to pay up front for a family living on one modest income. So I searched far and wide and was thrilled to find a cloth diaper site where they have "seconds" for purchase for roughly $1 per diaper. These seconds have some type of flaw that kept them from being on the new retail rack (slightly crooked or wrinkled or having loose threads or the dimensions could be a little off, etc.). But they still work perfectly for diapering a baby's bottom. Hey, for 50% off I'm game! So we purchased two dozen premium 4X8X4 diapers and set out to learn about diaper oragami. In all, our start-up costs were about $60.

I have many reasons for choosing cloth diapers, but here are a few practical reasons below.

Cloth Diapers are...
  • Better for baby's health

  • More comfortable against baby's skin

  • Less expensive/save money

  • Better for the environment

  • Easier for practicing EC (elimination communication--more on this in another blog entry)

  • Ultimately better for potty training

Hopefully you'll find me just as excited with cloth diapers after a few weeks of doing it. I'll try to post again later about all that I'm learning. In the meantime, here are a couple pictures of Brighton in his first cloth diaper.

I took the second picture just to show you what it looks like under his little outfit. I don't quite have the oragami down right, but I'm confident I'll get there. ;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Phone Car

Yeah, seems totally random. But THIS is what we ran into while driving through downtown Chadron this week. It was parked outside of Bean Brokers. So Lee and the kids hopped out and walked over to get a closer look. It was apparently just passing through town on the way to another parade. They also learned that the phone car was made out of a Volkswagon bug. YAY!

To find out more about The Phone Car you can visit

Monday, June 16, 2008

We're Not in Kansas...

Nope, but if you've been paying any attention to the news, Nebraska sure has had several close calls with tornadoes lately. This evening we decided to go out for a walk with the kids. See us innocently taking a few shots of the kids in the joggers--totally unaware of how close a storm was.

But the storm was brewing very close--hovering just East of Chadron. I remember our neighbor, seeing us loading the strollers, and asking if we were aware of the warnings. We told her we knew there were thunderstorms coming. She said Rapid City had just been pounded with hail. But we explained we HAD to get out of the house for a bit and enjoy a brief walk before the storms arrived.

And brief it was...

We were about 3 blocks from our house when an extraordinary wind hit us. Dust and branches were blowing all over the place. I told Lee that I didn't like how the sky was looking. And, as if cued by my statement, the spooky tornado alarms immediately began sounding their eery whistle. Now, if you've never lived in Chadron, Nebraska then you don't know what I mean by alarms. We have several huge speaker systems set up all around our town. They go off whenever there's a fire, whenever there's an accident (or 911 call), and whenever it's noon or 9:30 (mid-day and curfew). And apparently they also sound when there's a tornado (we had just never heard that specific alarm before). When my parents were here a couple years ago, they had the pleasure of hearing this alarm and my father described it as sounding like very fast wind on a window screen. Good description!

My feet began running before I could think about what to do and as we rounded the next block we saw others fleeing for home, as well. I asked a neighbor biking up the street if this was a tornado alarm and he said, "I think so!"

Well, needless to say, we made it home safely (or I probably wouldn't be writing this post). But we hung out in the basement with the kids for a while until the alarms stopped sounding. Whew! Looks like we braved yet another close call.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day:
To the best daddy in the world


daddy, father, pop, poppa, papa, padre, abba...

vader, baba, Apalai, babba, yebba, abbi, pai...

pappie, tatay, itay, tay, ama, heit, banketi, pater...


pita-ji, apa, athair, babbo, pabbi, pere, pater...

tevs, paire, vajer, pap, tata, tevas, protevis...

paapa, olaiiu, ray, bapa, missier, haakoro...

kohake, chaw, chao, awki, atta, tayta, viejo...

Enjoy the following video created just for our daddy!!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Our Chuck E. Cheese Trip

The fun day is here in a picture video (bear with me, it's my first to make):

Monday, June 9, 2008

Swimming Lessons

When your kids start growing up and finding a variety of interests, you really want to encourage their growth and excitement in all that you can. However, we have to find ways to stretch the dollar if we're going to accomodate ALL of those interests. We've been letting the kids pick just one thing per year to be active in. Thanks to Nana and Pappaw, all last year the kids loved attending Musikgarten (AKA Kindermusik). At the time college faculty/staff received a 50% discount for their children. It was a wonderful experience and something that we were able to do WITH our children since parents are a part of each class. This year that 50% discount was dropped to only a 30% discount which was unfortunately just out of reach for our budget.

So this spring/summer, we pulled out the interests list and started looking at all of the other things the kids have mentioned an interest in: piano lessons (Brandon is especially taken with the free piano we just got), soccer, t-ball, karate, gymnastics, dance, camp (2-day camp) and swimming lessons. It's obviously WAY too much on our very modest budget, so we had to narrow it down by looking at costs involved. Low and behold we were THRILLED to find that swimming lessons for an entire week are just $20.00. Boy was Brayla excited about going swimming each day. DECISION MADE! This week is Brayla's week and next week will be Brandon's.

Here's a shot of Brayla just before her first lesson.

And here's a drawing Brayla did right after her first lesson. She's in the water with all the other kids and her teacher is outside of the swimming pool. :)

More pictures of lessons are coming soon...


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

What a BEAUTIFUL day! On days like this we put a blanket out on the front lawn and just enjoy the day.

The kids are loving the sun and shade...and each other.

And there's plenty of time for sloppy, wet kisses! Mmmmm...gotta love the open-mouthed ones!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Saturday Mornings

Oh my! Saturday mornings--aren't they the best!? I love Saturdays because there's no rush to get out of bed. We usually start our Saturdays off with a big ole wrestling match.

No seriously--a real, live, wrestling match. The center of our King-sized bed is a huge dogpile and I do good just to get Brighton out of harm's way.

On Saturdays, there's no need to jump up and shower or get all dressed up. We lay around and adore our beautiful babies whether they're happy...

or sad.

And we can simply lounge around a bit and enjoy family time in our PJs and beautiful bed-head.

After a while we'll head up to Daylight Donuts for a magnificent unhealthy breakfast and begin plotting out the daily plans.

Oh how I love our Saturdays!


Friday, June 6, 2008

Tea Time

Here in the Miller home, there's one activity that can brighten up even the most dreary day (especially those cold winter days). That activity is tea time. Last Christmas, Mimi bought us a ladybug tea set that my children adore. You can fit maybe two tablespoons of tea in each cup, but that doesn't matter. My children simply HAVE to use those teeny tiny cups, saucers, and even the kettle and creamer. The kids thoroughly enjoy tea time -- refilling their cups nearly 20 times before we're through. So, the table and chairs (and children) are covered in wet by the time we're finished. But at least we had some fun, eh?

Here are a couple pictures from our tea time today:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Daddy's Home!!!!

Every day at about 4:45pm my kids go wild. Why, you ask? Because "DADDY'S HOME!!!!" We can usually hear him coming up the basement door stairs and our children are suddenly flying to the kitchen to be the first to give hugs and kisses.

Today we happened to be outside playing when daddy arrived. Moments before daddy arrived, Brandon drove his Lil Tykes car up to me, hopped out, and announced, "Home!" while opening his arms wide for a joyous welcome. I hugged him deeply, enjoying this beautiful "pretend daddy" moment and at that very moment, "real" daddy arrived. The kids were just tickled.

Brayla had just freshly decorated her bicycle with baby doll clothing, gift ribbon, and barbie doll pants (don't ask). Brighton was sitting in his bouncy seat, just smiling and enjoying the beautiful spring day. And Brandon, besides pretending to be daddy, was greeting our new neighbor as she unloaded her car into her new house.

It may seem like just another day in the life of the Millers, but I will always enjoy this special time of the day and not just because I finally have a moment to visit the bathroom while I hand off three excited babies to their daddy. Nope, I love it for the fact that we do have a daddy that comes home every day to see his family. And he enjoys the snuggles and kisses and finds the energy to make sure all of his babies know how much he loves them. We are oh so blessed!

Monday, June 2, 2008

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