Support, Please

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I've been getting some feedback, emails, etc. from readers (and a couple of relatives who know), who are concerned about my chosing to have the lap-band surgery. I know some people are concerned that I am taking the "easy" way out (anyone who knows anything about WLS--weight loss surgery--knows it is anything BUT the easy way out) or that I haven't tried hard enough or long enough to lose the weight. That gets kind of annoying, because most of these people either aren't heavy or aren't as heavy as I am. Sometimes you find someone who WAS as heavy as me, and finally managed to lose it. Time will tell if they'll keep it off. Maybe they will. But the facts are that only 3-4% of people who diet will keep it off. The rest will regain the weight eventually, and usually a little more. Studies have shown yo-yo dieting is actually more dangerous than staying fat.

The difficult thing about being so overweight is that once your body gets this heavy, it is very hard to lose more than a small percentage of it, because your body thinks its supposed to be this way, and will hold onto the weight any way it can. Sure it's possible to lose it, but it is SOOOOOOOOOO hard. If you've never been more than 100 pounds overweight, you would not understand. Losing 20 pounds is nothing like losing 100. And of course, there is the emotional issue. Unless someone has a physical problem (thyroid problem, medication side-effect, etc.) then they didn't get fat without some emotional eating going on. So not only is your body addicted to the sugar and other junk you may eat, but worse still, you are emotionally addicted to overeating. You use food as comfort, to stuff down your emotions. We all have something we use to deal with stress--alcohol, drugs, food, sex, exercise. My habit just happens to make me fat.

My major problem in trying to lose weight is discouragement. I try so hard, and see little result. Then a stressful situation arises, and I am miserable, and thinking "why bother, why suffer just to stay fat anyway?" And so I eat. Now, I don't sit in the closet and eat a bag of oreos in the middle of the night. Really, I don't. Everyone assumes you must, to be so fat. Well I didn't get fat overnight! You don't necessarily have to eat massive amounts of food to get fat. I ate normally, maybe sometimes overeating a little...but I drank regular soda constantly for two or more years. Whoops! How did that sixty pounds jump onto my butt?! Soda, my friends. Soda. Of course, drinking all that soda (in my opinion) stretched out my stomach, and I started eating more and more. I've given up the soda, and I try not to keep junk in the house. I try to make it so that if I want junk, at least I have to go drive somewhere to get it, and I don't stock up on it. Unless I get depressed, then I might get enough junk to ration it out over three days.

Now I can honestly say I do overeat. I eat too much at meals--not huge amounts, but too much. My problem now is grazing all day. Being home all day is a killer when you're heavy. I have all the time in the world to stare into the fridge and decide what to eat next, and often I don't realize I'm doing it. I'm also too lazy to cook for myself. I don't like cooking, so I'll cook for my family, but I don't like to go to too much trouble to make my own lunch.

I know everyone has my best interests at heart, but it is very discouraging to hear all about how someone else lost their weight, and I should do it too. Believe me, there isn't anything you can tell me about the risks of weight loss surgery that I haven't already found out about. I have been researching this for two years. I read through dozens of memorials for WLS patients who died, to find out which surgery they had, what they died from, etc. Most of the time people quote me the risks, they are usually referring to the risks of Gastric Bypass or some other WLS, not adjustable gastric banding (Lap-Band). And often it is second, third or fourth-hand information. I would never make any serious decision without thoroughly researching it first.

Also, I have weight-related health problems that make it necessary to lose weight as soon as I can. I'm not going into my personal health history, but one thing I will tell you is that I have two defective heart valves that will need replacing in the next 5-10 years. That means open-heart surgery. My chances of dying during this serious operation will triple if I do not lose the weight and KEEP it off. The risks of dying from the lap-band are extremely small...basically the same as any routine operation (if any operation is routine), such as a c-section or hernia operation, both of which I have had. Most of the serious complications found in studies of U.S. lap-band trials were due to inexperienced surgeons who have done less than 100 bands. I will not be using an inexperienced surgeon. Adjustable gastric banding is the gold standard of WLS in Europe and Australia, where long-term studies of the band have been done, showing much more successful statistics. American surgeons are no longer in the "clinical trial" stage with the band, and are much more experienced, on the whole.

Believe me people, I've tried plenty of diets: South Beach, Sommersize, Weight Watchers, all natural, several diets of my own making, starving, "miracle" herbal supplements, Atkins (twice), you name it. The only one that worked was Atkins, and it was not worth it. The lack of carbohydrates made me so cranky and nasty that it wasn't worth it, and it threw me into a year-long depression. (Some people don't experience this, but many do). And of course, I gained back the weight, as well as a few extra pounds.

I am definitely not doing this to look like a model, or fit into a size 2, or anything like that. I am doing this to be the healthy, happy, productive, best wife and mother that I can, and should, be.

I would prefer if people would not tell me that I'm making the wrong choice, or that I haven't tried hard enough, or that I haven't tried the right diet yet. No one but me knows what I have tried, or how hard I worked at it, or what choice is right for me. I know these people are just trying to help, but in the end, it only makes me feel worse. I understand if someone doesn't agree or can't support my choice to get banded, but in that case I would rather they not say anything, if they can't be supportive. To me, being supportive isn't telling me I'm making a rash or uninformed decision, when I'm not...even if they mean well. Right now, support is the one thing I need, and except for my wonderful husband, I have no other support system.

The most important thing you can do, is keep me in your prayers. Thank you for thinking of me!

WLS Update

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Wow, long time no post! I've been spending all my online time researching Weight Loss Surgery, doctors, hospitals, etc. For one insane day I actually was considering gastric bypass, because a doctor at WLS informational seminar was really pushing it, and putting down the band (pretty typical--bypass is what they're comfortable with). But luckily I didn't allow myself to be swayed (well, not for long) by the great before and after pictures and rapid weight loss of the RNY gastric bypass patients.

I researched the possible complications, not only the "death rate" (which is woefully under-reported, as many bypass patients die months, even years later) but also the problems talked about on the yahoo group OSSG-gone_wrong. I searched the archives and found a HUGE "laundry list" of repeated complaints--health problems that were strongly suspected to come from vitamin deficiencies, even when patients took their vitamins. Just a FEW are: vision loss, memory loss, tooth loss, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, suicide...the list goes on and on. And these are YOUNG women we're talking about. So NO, no RNY for me!

I am still wanting to do the band. My only major concern with that surgery is the number of fills I may end up having to get, because each pregnancy I'll have to have the band unfilled, then refilled later, and probably adjusted a few times. Lotsa buckaroonies, people, and not covered by my insurance. Multiply that by all the pregnancies I'll probably have...and we all know how often I get pregnant, don't we? ;-)

The research I've done the last week has just confirmed for me the relative safety of the lap band surgery. I say "relative", because ANY surgery can kill you, just from blood clots and infections alone. General anesthesia and the fact that I'm overweight just add to the risks. But it's no riskier than a c-section. In fact, in my case, it would be less risky. And I believe that if it is my time to die, I will die no matter where I am--at home, on a bus, or in an operating room--assuming I'm not being reckless, that is. I would consider the RNY reckless for me, in my opinion and in my particular circumstance. I just don't feel that I am fat enough or sick enough to take on the risks of that surgery. But lap band is another story. Much fewer risks, and the risks themselves are less severe. And it's adjustable and much easier to have removed in an emergency. I'm not selling the band to anyone, just stating my reasoning.

Weight Loss Surgery

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I've fought with my weight for a long time. Very little seems to make a difference. The only diet that worked at all for me was Atkins, and I had to go off it because the lack of carbohydrates made me really cranky and depressed.

My weight has gone back up. I am bouncing between 247 and 250, mostly staying around 249. I can't take it any more. I try so hard, and nothing works. If I saw some real progress, maybe I could stick with it. But I'm just not the kind of person who deprive myself on a constant basis without seeing some real benefit.

I've looked into weight loss surgery for quite a while. I concluded almost immediately that gastric bypass was not something I would consider. Perhaps if I weighed another 100 pounds, or had more serious co-morbidities (weight-related health problems) I would consider it. But the risks are just too high in my opinion. Plus I don't believe in cutting out body parts that God gave you. Yes, technically they're still in you, but you've surgically separated them. Plus there are so many miserable and serious complications you can suffer afterwards.

Then I found the Lap-Band...adjustable gastric banding. It is similar to gastric bypass in that it restricts your food intake, but your stomach is not separated, nor are your intestines bypassed. All they do is put a silicone band around the top of your stomach. It has a tube leading away from it that ends in a "port" that is sewn near the front of your abdomen. The silicone band restricts the amount of food you can eat by forming a pouch at the top of your stomach, which is very small and fills up quickly. But unlike the gastric bypass, the food still goes through the rest of your stomach and intestines. Six weeks or so after surgery, you go to the doctor for a "fill". The doctor locates the port in your abdomen, numbs the area, puts a syringe into the port and puts a little saline solution in, which inflates the band, making it a little tighter around your stomach. That gives you more restriction, and this is what makes it adjustable.


If you find that you're able to eat too much, you get another fill. If you need the band looser, say for pregnancy, you can get unfilled. If you have problems with the band, it is reversible. You can have it surgically removed. There is a much lower risk of death, fewer and less serious complications possible, and you will ultimately lose just as much weight with the Lap-Band as with gastric bypass. The weight usually does come off slower, but that is better anyway, to give your skin a chance to get its elasticity back, so you can have less hanging skin.

Lap-Band is the "gold standard" in most other countries. And if your insurance doesn't cover it and you're paying for it yourself, you can travel to another country and get it done much cheaper, by doctors who are much more experienced. The doctors here are fairly new at it, because it is a newer surgery in this country. So often when you go in for a seminar or doctor's appointment, they try to steer you towards the bypass.

There are risks, but if you choose a surgeon who has done at least 100 bands, the risk is very small. Also, since it is done laparascopically instead of an open incision, the healing time is less.

My insurance does cover it, and I am definitely eligible. I am applying this week for approval. Please pray that I get it, and quickly, and that I can keep up my breastfeeding so that I will not get pregnant. I will have to stop breastfeeding before the surgery (American doctors' rules), so after the surgery I will have my priest's permission to use natural family planning to avoid pregnancy for at least a year to allow time to lose the weight (docs say 18-24 months, but they're so anti-pregnancy anyway).

I have researched this for a year and a half and done a lot of thinking and weighing the risks and the benefits, and I think this is the best choice for me and my family. My family deserves a wife and mother who is healthy and capable of fulfilling her duties, and can't be that person the way that I am right now.

For more information, check out Lap-Band.com and the information about lap-band on Obesity Help. Obesity Help has forums and reviews from many patients for their surgery, the hospital they used, and their surgeon. However, this site is for all weight loss surgeries, so keep this in mind when reading testimonials, reviews, etc. Also search for bandsters and Lap-Band support groups on Yahoo. People who have the band often refer to themselves as "bandsters".

If you are interested in getting the lap-band but would have to pay for it yourself, I would recommend going to Mexico. I know, your first thought is "eeeeeww" but there are surgeons there who specialize in this surgery. The important thing is to pick a good one, and a good hospital. The best I've heard of is Dr. Kuri in Tijuana. I've talked to many people who've gone to him, they all swear by him (though most bandsters LOVE their surgeons, anyway). He's done more than 1200 surgeries, teaches other doctors in Mexico and the U.S. how to do the surgery, and it only costs around $10,000. In Mexico you get excellent attention from the staff, and many people who get their band there go back to Mexico for follow-up plastic surgery to remove excess skin. But again, research is VERY important.

Please keep my intentions in your prayers. Pray that I am approved quickly, that I don't get pregnant til way after the surgery, and that the surgery is safe and successful. Thank you!

Supplements Galore!

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I'm trying to be healthier, and as part of that plan I am taking supplements. Or trying to remember to, lol. First, I am taking Fenugreek, to maintain my breastmilk supply. I've had supply issues with all my children, and to combat this, I take the Fenugreek. It works excellent! I use the Nature's Way brand. Usually it works within hours. I tried another brand, Nature's Herbs, and it didn't work at all.

I had a big reduction in my milk this week and had run out a while back, so I called all around within a fifty mile radius, and after calling Nature's Way directly, found a place over 25 miles away that carried it. It was worth the drive. My milk is back and my poor baby is happy again! (Not that it hurt her weight--she was in the 95th percentile for both height and weight at her doctor's appointment yesterday!) Please make note that this supplement can lower your blood sugar, for those who have blood sugar issues, and this should NEVER be taken while pregnant.

I also take a prenatal vitamin, because I'm breastfeeding, and calcium. (Okay, I admit I haven't been taking these for a while, but I've started back up again.) This week I started taking Emergen-C and Noni juice. I've read Noni has many healing and curative properties. However, I warn you: it is NASTY NASTY NASTY tasting. Did I mention it's nasty? It's really really gross. If it weren't supposed to be so good for you (and if I didn't spend $10 at Walmart on it) I wouldn't take it again. Today, I poured 1 ounce of it into four ounces of OJ, held my nose (most of your taste actually comes from your sense of smell) and chugged it. Then, still holding my nose, I rinsed out the glass a few times, and my mouth, then I refilled the glass with a few ounces of straight OJ, drank that, then ate a snack bar to make sure to replace any lingering bad taste. LOL--silly, but it worked!

So here I was popping four fenugreek capsules, a prenatal vitamin, two calcium, four ounces of water mixed with Emergen-C powder, and the OJ and Noni Juice with an OJ and snack bar chaser! All I can say is, I'd better feel healthy and energized today!!!

I've heard a lot of really good things about cod liver oil, but it's at least twenty dollars for a bottle that I'm sure wouldn't last a month. So, for the time being, I'll stick with the "laundry list" of supplements I'm already taking. :-)

Depression, Negative Thinking, and a Merry Heart...

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Today I stumbled across some articles on Titus2.com's Dad's and Mom's Corners. I've seen that website before, and have heard many recommendations of it, including for their book, "Managers of Their Homes", or MOTH, its nickname. But I never looked at the site much, mostly because of its somewhat slick, commercial feel. I've often found that the more "commercial" type of websites that are selling stuff usually are a waste of time, so I bypassed Titus2.

However, taking a second look at it, I found the Corners articles, and they are extremely helpful and informative for any Christian familly, but particularly growing, quiverfull families.

Their articles on depression (September 2000)were very interesting. I have struggled with this myself, and it is very difficult. I wish I had read these articles when was dealing with depression last year, it would have helped a lot (the depression has lifted quite a bit since the birth of my baby). They also have articles on negative thinking, a merry heart, a mother's hard work, and much more. I think these subjects are very important for those of us with growing families, because there are many moms who become overwhelmed and slip into depression.

I believe depression is partly physical/hormonal, but I think it is often exacerbated by allowing yourself to think negatively, feel sorry for yourself, not sticking to a household routine or schedule, and letting the house get cluttered and dirty. I know coming down each morning to a chaotic mess definitely affects my moood. The days when I have breakfast planned, the morning dishes set out and ready, the children's clothes and diapers set out, my own clothes picked out, and dinner planned, it makes a huge difference in my mood and ability to cope with stress.

I found the June 2002 Dad's Corner very good also, on not having a critical spirit. They recommend that women not read the dad's corners first, and some shouldn't be read by women at all (usually denoted by "For Men Only" after the title. But I found that particular dad's corner to be useful to women also. The September 2000 Dad's corner about helping your wife during her depression was excellent, also. I think if you have this problem, it would be good to find an inoffensive way to get your husband to read it. It will help him understand and deal with it, which will help you also.

I think many of these articles are useful for homemaking moms. And whether you've dealt with depression or not, we could all use help with some of the topics that Steve and Teri Maxwell write about in these articles, so I would highly recommend them!

We Have Chickens!

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Yesterday we picked up our chickens. The owner had several to choose from, and we chose one Buff Orpington and one Black Astralorp. Both are supposed to be good cold weather birds. I've wanted a Buff for a long time. Eventually when we move, I'm hoping she'll be a broody hen, and set eggs and raise chicks for us

They've settled in well. I put them in the chicken tractor and they immediately set to nabbing bugs and tearing off little pieces of weeds to eat (our lawn has almost as much dandelions as grass). It's been dry here, and we've begun to water the grass. Chickens are great for grass, so I'm hoping they really help.

While I made some adjustments to the tractor, the chickens were making very loud "bok, bok, bok" sounds. I was worried if they kept that up, they would be "stealth chickens" no more! But once I put them in the tractor, they quieted right down. The cat next door discovered them very quickly, and began stalking the chickens. I have no fear of the cat though. She's small, and these chickens are pretty big. I think she just likes to think she can "take" them. I'm pretty certain if I let them out, the cat would head for the hills!

The dogs were in awe of the chickens. They just stared at them as if to say "hey...what the heck are those, and what are they doing here?" The kids were thrilled. The lady who owned the chickens let us check out her chickens and goats, and they got to pet the cat.

My oldest son wanted to name the chickens Jason and Jackson. I have no idea where he got those names from! I told him the chickens are girls and needed girl names, so he came up with Jill, and I helped him come up with Ginger. The Buff is Jill. I was thinking of calling them Buffy and Blackie, just to get the naming over with, lol! It took a while!

The "girls" seemed to settle in well. I gave them a pan of water and some leftovers for dinner...lettuce, green peppers, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes. It was late in the day so I didn't feed them much, they were already looking to go to roost. Which reminds me...tomorrow I need to add another roost in there. The one in the chicken tractor wasn't big enough for these two big birds, so I suspect the Buff will be spending the night in the nesting box...she appears NOT to be the dominant bird, since the Astralorp, Ginger, was perched on the roost, and didn't look like she planned to give up her "throne" any time soon!

This morning I found quite a mess in the tractor. They'd spread the newspaper strips I had put in the nesting box all over the place, and dumped out their water. I know this is typical chicken behavior, but I do believe it is more of a problem because there isn't much room. The footprint of the cage is about 3 x 3, but the actually useable space is 2 x 2. I made the mistake of dumping this morning's scraps in the middle of the cage. Ginger promptly placed herself over the pile and feasted on it, while Jill made raspy bok-bok noises and circled around her. Finally I took some of the scraps and placed them in the now-empty nesting box, so Jill could sneak up there and eat some too. I definitely want to get a cage with more room, because otherwise it's going to be too easy for Ginger to hog all the food.

Otherwise, so far so good!

Chickens in My Backyard...soon!

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My husband said I could get a few chickens! Yay! We've had a few chickens before, and had to get rid of them when we had moved. We're in the city now, so we'll only have two or three. I'd like as many as five, but that's probably asking for trouble. Technically, we're not supposed to have them. At least that's what the city planner said, but I can't find anywhere in the codes that specifically prohibits them. I know there are a few "stealth" chicken owners around here, and my neighbors are nice (only two houses have any view of our yard), so I don't expect a problem.

I was able to ask around and found someone giving away some chickens, and another person giving away a chicken tractor. For those who don't know, a chicken tractor is a moveable cage/pen used to house a few chickens, that is rotated all over the yard to give the birds access to fresh grass and bugs, and eliminate the need to clean out a pen. Plus it's great for the grass. Some chicken owners make huge chicken tractors that you need a lawn tractor to move, and house a dozen or more chickens. Then some people, like me, have a tiny one that houses only two, and is easily moved by one person.

The chicken tractor I got wasn't that well-made, and is all of older recycled materials. Which is what you expect for a free chicken tractor! I'll need to refasten some nails, and remove a couple of screws that actually protrude into the nesting box (yikes). It's just a temporary solution til we can build a bigger, nicer one.

Chickens only need two square feet of space. I like to give them more, but that's what the experts say. And a chicken tractor isn't quite the same as a cage or even a coop. They're constantly exposed to new grass and bugs. They don't get to run much, but they'll be happy. The chickens I had in a coop never ran, either. And the time I had them free ranging, they pretty much only ran when being chased by the rooster. The tractor I have only has enough room for two chickens, unless I get bantams (mini chickens).

We're trying to come up with a lightweight design for the next tractor that will allow us three to five chickens, with a little room to run back and forth if desired. The trouble is making enough room for a nesting box with perches that is insulated well for the cold weather we get (I'm wanting to get Buff Orpingtons,like the birds pictured above, as they're great cold weather birds). I'd let them roam the yard, but we don't have fencing yet, and the small children's park behind our house is dogwalking central...and a lot of irresponsible, selfish owners don't put their dogs on leashes. (Don't get me started on that one...they think their precious pooch would NEVER bite another animal or a child...til it happens then they whine and say it wasn't THEIR fault. Cry me a river, I'm still suing their butt if their dog comes in MY yard and bites my kid!) Anyway, back to the chickens

I spent a long time uploading pictures that didn't turn out, so for pictures of coops and tractors grand and small, visit the Chicken Tractor Gallery and BackyardChickens.com

Declaration of Independence

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Click on the Declaration of Independence to go to a site and read it up close.

I think today's liberals would love to turn it into the Declaration of New Dependence. Rather than be independent, liberals want us to turn our dependence inward, towards our own government. The laws and taxes and governmental controls, which our forefathers fought so hard to free us from, pale in comparison to the complex web of rigorous laws and back-breaking burden of taxes that we labor and suffer under today. You can't sneeze without permission from "Uncle Sam", and if you get permission, you will be heavily taxed for the "privilege." Colonial Americans never knew they had it so good! *sigh*

Pledge of Allegience

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I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.



According to popular legend, the first American Flag was made by Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress who was acquainted with George Washington, leader of the Continental Army, and other influential Philadelphians. In May 1776, so the story goes, General Washington and two representatives from the Continental Congress visited Ross at her upholstery shop and showed her a rough design of the American Flag. Although Washington initially favored using a star with six points, Ross advocated for a five-pointed star, which could be cut with just one quick snip of the scissors, and the gentlemen were won over. Unfortunately, historians have never been able to verify this charming version of events, although it is known that Ross made flags for the navy of Pennsylvania. The story of Washington's visit to the flag maker became popular about the time of the country's first centennial, after William Canby, a grandson of Ross, told about her role in shaping U.S. history in a speech given at the Philadelphia Historical Society in March 1870.

What is known is that the first unofficial national flag, called the Grand Union Flag or the Continental Colours, was raised at the behest of General Washington near his headquarters outside Boston, Mass., on Jan. 1, 1776. The American Flag had 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and the British Union Flag (a predecessor of the Union Jack) in the canton. Another early flag had a rattlesnake and the motto “Don't Tread on Me.”

The first official American Flag, also known as the Stars and Stripes, was approved by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The blue canton contained 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies, but the layout varied. Although nobody knows for sure who designed the flag, it may have been Continental Congress member Francis Hopkinson.

After Vermont and Kentucky were admitted to the Union in 1791 and 1792, respectively, two more stars and two more stripes were added in 1795. This 15-star, 15-stripe American Flag was the “star-spangled banner” that inspired lawyer Francis Scott Key to write the poem that later became the U.S. national anthem.

In 1818, after five more states had gained admittance, Congress passed legislation fixing the number of stripes at 13 and requiring that the number of stars equal the number of states. The last new star, bringing the total to 50, was added on July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became a state.

[Taken from www.americanflag.com]

Star Spangled Banner

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(composed by Francis Scott Key, "In Defense of Fort McHenry", September 20, 1814. Congress proclaimed it the U.S. National Anthem in 1931 -- history follows.)

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'T is the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!



History: In 1814, about a week after the city of Washington had been badly burned, British troops moved up to the primary port at Baltimore Harbor in Maryland. Frances Scott Key visited the British fleet in the Harbor on September 13th to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes who had been captured during the Washington raid. The two were detained on the ship so as not to warn the Americans while the Royal Navy attempted to bombard Fort McHenry. At dawn on the 14th, Key noted that the huge American flag, which now hangs in the Smithsonian's American History Museum, was still waving and had not been removed in defeat. The sight inspired him to write a poem entitled Defense of Fort McHenry; later the poem was set to music that had been previously composed by a Mr. Smith. The song was immediately noted as an inspiring song that should be the national anthem of the United States of America. It was accepted as such by public demand for the next century or so, but became even more accepted as the national anthem during the World Series of Baseball in 1917 when it was sung in honor of the brave armed forces fighting in the Great War. The World Series performance moved everyone in attendance, and after that it was repeated for every game. Finally, on March 3, 1931, the American Congress proclaimed it as the national anthem, 116 years after it was first written.

[Excerpt taken from www.niehs.nih.gov website.]

Frugal Tip: Ban the Bottles...of cola

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...and the cans! If you drink soda (pop, soda pop, whatever you call it in your neck of the woods) you not only might be wasting money, but also wasting your health. I should know!

About ten years ago I started drinking a lot of soda. I gained weight steadily, a little at a time. Then about eight years ago, I started drinking a TON of soda, and gained a TON of weight...well, not literally a ton, but about sixty pounds or so. Yikes! And it was only over the space of about two years! I was drinking regular soda, because I didn't know about Splenda (although that is probably almost as bad as the aspartame) and I was dead set against aspartame, knowing how bad it was. Of course, I was apparently too stupid to do the math...a two liter of Coke a day equals about a pound a week in weight gain!

In recent years, I almost never drink regular soda. I do drink diet, but I usually only drink Diet Rite (no caffeine, no sodium, no aspartame, no calories). I know it's not good for you, but it's better than the regular soda. I've tried to keep a rule in the house, that there is no soda allowed in the house, because if it's there, I will drink it. My husband agrees to this rule of course, though he's not thrilled with it. But if I didn't keep him in check, he could drink a case of soda a day all by himself! That would be $84 a month, at least! Not to mention, I can drink plenty myself. Lately I've given in on this, and we've gotten back in the soda habit, which we now both want to break.

But the other bad thing about soda is that I believe it expands your stomach and makes you eat more. I know there are two camps on opposite sides of this issue. Some nutritionists and doctors say that isn't possible, but some say it is. I believe from my own experience it is. I know when I am in the "soda habit", I eat more every day--whether I drink a soda with the meal or not. I believe the air bubbles in the soda expand your stomach, making you want to eat more, and taking more food to fill you up. I know that when I am out of the habit of drinking soda on a regular basis, I don't eat as much. My husband says the same thing.

So, if my unprofessional opinion is correct, then by giving up soda, you will not only save the money you spend on them, but also save money on extra food, and save your health from being destroyed!

What to drink instead? Milk and juice in moderation, and water, water, water! Now you may think water is boring, and it is if you're used to bubbly overly sweet "beverages". Give it time, and get creative. Drink your water ice-cold. Add a little lemon. Add a little bit of various kinds of flavoring to it. Each night I take a bottle of semi-frozen water to bed in one of those "coolies"...a gel-filled can cooler that you put in the freezer, which keeps drinks cold. If it's cold enough, and not too warm in the room, it will stay cold all night. This is really good if you're pregnant or nursing. You need the water!

Happy non-cola drinking!

Clean Heart, Clean Home Challenge

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The Clean Heart, Clean Home Challenge is a cleaning challenge sponsored by Amy over at the Dandelion Seeds blog. This challenge is different, however, because it focuses not only on cleaning your home, but preparing spiritually so that the change is not only in your home, but in your heart as well. I think this is a great idea, because I know that my house is in chaos because I lack order in my spiritual life, and have not put my heart into my homemaking in the way that I should. I think if we remembered to look to God for help in our homemaking struggles, we wouldn't struggle nearly so much. I'm really looking forward to it.

I missed the last one, but I'm jumping in right on time with this one. And not a moment to lose, either, because I'm drowning in neglected housework. Between being very pregnant, then recovering from a c-section, then recovering from a hernia operation, my house is in a shambles. It seems like I take one step forward, then fall two steps back.

Join the CHCH Challenge and get your home in order in 52 days!


(By the way, did you notice I finally figured out how to put links in my posts...ROFL, how dumb, there's actually a little BUTTON for it...with a picture of a "link"!!)