Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Announcement

I have had a lot of confused comments from people wondering how they missed the announcement that we are expecting twins. Well, it was rather sneaky of me, I admit. The news is tucked at the end of this post.

(In case you are just catching on, surprise! We are having twins!)

I am due in February, but look about 5 or 6 months pregnant. Seriously. It's a little scary. I may need a crane to haul me around at the end.

Anyway, we are thrilled about our coming additions! Michael is still blissfully unaware of how much his life is going to change, but we are having him practice being soft with his "baby" - a singing gloworm. The gloworm still gets thrown and stomped on pretty much every day, but give us a few more months and we just might be able to convince him to at least support its neck while he holds it upside down.

But, in spite of his wild boy ways, the first thing he did with the gloworm when we gave it to him was hug it and give it a kiss. So maybe he's ready to be a big brother after all.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Did You Learn Today, Dear?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has published some new guidelines for sexuality education. I read them today because I was disturbed enough by the news headlines regarding them that I figured it warranted spending an hour of my time to read the original document. And now I'm in the market for some small pills to keep Michael little, because yikes!

UNESCO states that these guidelines have been published because "getting the right information that is scientifically accurate, non-judgmental, age-appropriate and complete, at an early age, is something to which all children and young people are entitled. In the absence of this, children and young people will often receive conflicting and sometimes damaging messages from their peers, the media or other sources. Good quality sexuality education balances this through the provision of correct information and an emphasis on values."

It's intended purpose is to "assist schools in the development and implementation of sexuality education programs" and UNESCO insists throughout that the guidelines are "age-appropriate". So what kind of age-appropriate material are we talking about here? (I have taken these discussion topics word for word from their publication, which you can read here if you so desire):

Discussion topics for 5-8 year olds:

* The difference between consensual sexual activity and forced sex
* Touching and rubbing one's genitals is called masturbation
* Masturbation is not harmful, but should be done in private
* How HIV and other STIs are spread

Ages 9-12:

* Specific means of preventing unintended pregnancy
* Many boys and girls begin to masturbate during puberty
* Definition and function of orgasm
* Options available to teenagers who are unintentionally pregnant

Ages 12-15

* Gender stereotyping in pornography
* People do not choose their sexual orientation or gender identity
* Masturbation is a safe and valid expression of sexuality
* Definitions of gender identity and sexual orientation

Ages 15-18

* Advocacy to promote the right to safe abortion
* Sexual activity can provide pleasure
* Sexual behaviors can be pleasurable and without risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs, including HIV

There is a whole lot of blather about "values" and "personal beliefs" scattered throughout, which seems like it has been thrown in there to quiet those who might be up in arms over their five-year-olds being taught how to masturbate. I mean, what good is discussing one's personal values in class if they have already been thoroughly trashed by "scientifically accurate, non-judgmental" lessons on what is normal and appropriate? And how could any person think it's appropriate to discuss gender stereotyping in pornography with 12-year-olds or give explicit details on sexually transmitted diseases to a class full of kindergartners?

They say that they are hoping to prevent children from being confused by damaging messages coming from the media, their peers, or other sources. You mean "other sources" like this publication from UNESCO? What makes them think the messages they are sending are not damaging? How are they excused from responsibility for what they are telling these young people?

I recognize that not all parents are responsible enough to talk to their children about sexuality, but pulling the rug out from under parents who do want to discuss these types of serious topics with their children (at an appropriate age and time) is simply inexcusable.

Sigh. Who knew I was going to have to send Michael to kindergarten with earplugs?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Black Day for the English Language

When I was growing up, there was a girl in my church congregation who used to raise her hand in a self-righteous huff any time some scriptural reference was made to "man" or "mankind". Why doesn't it ever say "woman", she wanted to know, and why is God so sexist? She remained unmoved by the explanation that "man" or "mankind" meant everyone, women included, and spent her teen years constantly miffed at this supposed slight toward females.

Of course, this was also the girl who walked out of our high school's production of Hello Dolly when the men gathered around to sing "It Takes A Woman", because it sounded all anti-feminist. Never mind that the song is meant to be a joke and makes fun of the men singing it more than it does the women they are singing about.

But, it seems this girl might now have some allies in various institutions in Europe, which are banning certain phrases and words that might be considered insensitive or offensive. Like "right-hand man" or "gentleman's agreement", which could be offensive to women on account of not being inclusive of two X-chromosomes. Also out are "racist" phrases like "black mark" and "whiter than white". Even the "black sheep" of the family is getting kicked out of the room. Because any time you use a color word in a phrase it could be offensive to people of certain ethnicities, especially ethnic minorities. Except you can't say "ethnic minorities", either, because the phrase might imply that someone is less important than someone else.

Oh, please. I swear people just don't have enough to do nowadays so they get bored and start thinking of things they can be offended about. Then they send out memos and start making rules about ridiculous things like perceived racism or sexism in everyday phrases. I mean, "whiter than white" has nothing to with skin color; it just means "clean". There is no reason to read into it any further than that.

Ironically, I'm sure these speech guidelines contain no provisions for truly offensive words like those pesky four-letter ones, especially of the "F" variety. Who has time to get offended over things that are actually offensive when there are so many innocuous phrases over which to throw a fit?

I'm searching for a phrase... what is it? Oh yes, "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel".

Can I say that? Is that offensive to camels?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Word Associations

You know those people who cause one specific word to pop into your head every time you think of them? For example, when I think of Nelly Furtado I immediately think "nasal". Honestly, if I sang through my nose as much as she does I'd have chronic sinus trouble.

So, yesterday I found it slightly amusing as I passed by Susan Sarandon on my way to church (my first bona fide celebrity sighting, if you can believe it) and immediately thought "bug-eyed". Call me shallow, but I just don't think it is attractive the way her eyeballs bulge from her head.

It's funny the words I associate with other things as well. If someone said "elevator" most people would probably respond with something logical like "hotel" or "work", but me, I'd say, "pee". Hopefully that's just a temporary New York thing though. The true surprise is when an elevator doesn't smell like pee. That's always a welcome change.

Even Michael gets in on the word game. If anyone ever mentions his daddy, Michael says "work" - the sad truth of tax season. Any time David leaves the house for any reason Michael pipes up, "Daddy's going to work." Poor kid. October 15th is less than two months away, Michael.

Of course, his mom-related word associations at the moment consist of "sleepy", "head hurts" and "doesn't feel good". And any time I leave the room he says, "Mommy's going potty."

Frankly, it is a pretty accurate summary of our lives at the moment - Dad goes to work and Mom goes potty all day.

Yes, we are just that exciting. You might even say Overlys = exciting. Or boring. One of the two.

Take your pick.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Except in the case of some ridiculous parents who are screaming because of ice cream. In fact, some mothers are so irate about the ice cream man trying to sell a treat to their little darlings, they are working to have the evil vendors done away with completely.

New York city mother, Vicki Sell, is leading the charge to get unlicensed ice cream vendors kicked out of Harmony Playground in Brooklyn. Now, lest you think she is a just a concerned citizen who is doing it merely out of a sense of moral obligation, the legality issue has nothing to do with it. She is equally "irate" (her word) about the licensed vendors like Mr. Softee, but has no ground to stand on when it comes to getting them booted from the area, so she is focused on getting the unlicensed ones removed instead.

"It's really predatory of them..." she says of the vendors selling frozen treats in the park. Yes, how terrible that someone might try to sell a lemon icy to a child in a playground. The nerve! How can anyone come out of this situation unscathed?!

Rachael Reiley, another distraught mother agrees: "As a new mother people coach you on potty training and what to feed your child. But the ice cream truck, nobody ever mentions that."

Well, allow me to offer some "coaching" to Ms. Reiley and her idiot counterparts. When confronted with this situation, here is what to do... ready? Okay, here it is: say "no".

Gasp, choke, swoon...

Still there? Did I lose you?

Really, that's all it takes. Just a firm "no". If your child throws a fit you can threaten him: "If you don't stop crying right now, we will go home", or "If you don't stop this instant you will lose your (fill in the blank with favorite toy or privilege)". Take your pick. But do not give in to the begging or the "it's not fair" speeches. And don't blame the problem on the ice cream guy. Ice cream is not the problem.

Wimpy parenting is.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Bit Much

You know those people who can ignore a bag of Snickers bars in the cupboard or leftover pie in the fridge? I've never understood them. I've also never understood the people who decline dessert because they aren't "hungry". What does hunger have to do with anything? You eat a piece of chocolate cake because it's chocolate cake! If you're hungry, that's when you eat four pieces. But you don't pass it up because you are "full". Who doesn't have room for dessert?

So I guess I should have been pleased to read my doctor-recommended food quantity suggestions for a twin pregnancy: 3 large meals a day and 4 substantial snacks. The definition of a snack? A tuna fish sandwich and full glass of milk. Which, um, sounds like a meal to me. By the time I finished reading the guidelines, which suggested, among other things - 16 8 oz. glasses of water a day and a full quart of milk (whole milk is preferred, but if you don't like whole milk it suggests a milkshake every day), two servings of red meat and a veritable pharmacy of multivitamins and supplements, I had to turn to the front cover to make sure I hadn't picked up "A Blue Whale's Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" by mistake. Seriously. Even I, a girl who has no issues with fattening food ruining my waistline (a plate full of bacon is worth a little belt expansion, I say), cannot fathom making a dent in such a mountain of food.

So I skipped to the next section and found out that I should be taking a two-hour nap in the morning, a two-hour rest period in the afternoon, and another nap after dinner. Are you kidding me? Who has time for that? And who really needs to sleep that much, for crying out loud? If I napped for six hours a day I'd be up all night. (Which might explain why I'd need to nap so much the next day... It's funny when doctors have to come up with a cure for the last thing they cured, like dosing your kid up on vitamin D so you can slather him with sunscreen every time he puts a toe out the door).

I mean, growing two babies is rather taxing at times, I admit. But for heaven's sake, gluttony and sloth don't sound like the best path to a healthy delivery. Sure, I'll have a nap if I need one, and I'll eat when I'm hungry. And I'll take my vitamins. But eating full-on meals seven times a day? That's just insane!

Except for the milkshake thing. I mean, well, it is doctor's orders.

Friday, August 14, 2009

King Michael

Making meals is always a chore, but I have a particular dislike for lunch. I think it should be banned on account of being the most annoying meal of the day. This is why lunches around here generally consist of such gourmet fare as tortillas and cheese, macaroni, or a can of spaghettios. I will throw in an apple or a handful of baby carrots as penance for the fake food, but anything beyond that is just too much work.

So yesterday, when I knew I had dinner leftovers waiting for me in the fridge (a rarity during tax season, since the lunch blahs generally extend to dinnertime when David is not home to eat), I decided it was worthy of a small celebration. So Michael and I ate our leftover chicken and rice on the couch instead of at the table. Well, I sat on the couch. He snuggled himself underneath one of the couch cushions and demanded that I spoon-feed him on demand. "More! More!" he ordered in a kingly fashion (due to his upside-down position and wide-open mouth, it did feel rather like I was feeding grapes to Caesar). But since he was devouring the broccoli and chicken without complaint, I laughed instead of demanding that he sit up like a normal person.

He is still on a kingly kick this morning, having just yelled from his throne (where he is taking in an episode of Little Einsteins), "I want orange juice, Mom!" I did insist that he change his tone and ask politely for a drink ("May I have...?" is just so much nicer than "I want!") but since he just ran back to his former position and demanded that I join him this instant, I'm not sure the lesson is really sinking in.

Ah, well, I suppose I can indulge his royal demands for now. After all, his reign will only last till February, at which time he is expected to be dethroned by not one, but two royal hopefuls.

This could get interesting...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Start Hovering... or Else!

I think one of the main causes of "helicopter" parenting is that people simply aren't having very many kids. They only have one or two, so there are no older kids to keep an eye on the younger ones, and the parents think they must watch little junior every second or he will be molested or killed the minute he walks out the door.

Well, this is too bad, really, because it's terribly boring to have to follow your eight-year-old kid with neosporin and pepper spray any time he wants to go to the playground.

Or, as some mothers suggest in today's Dear Abby, you should even be following your seven-year-old son into the men's restroom, because you never know what kind of creep could be hanging out in stall number one.

Oh, for heaven's sake. Send your poor boy to the bathroom by himself. There is no need to hover and ask, "Are you being molested, darling?" as your son makes use of the facilities. Teach him to yell for help if he's in a distressing situation and call that good. You can stand outside the door and wait for him, but it is simply ridiculous and intrusive to insist, as one mother does, that her son talk to her the entire time he's peeing, to let her know he's okay.

Of course, while I am not the hovering sort, I do get a little paranoid that I should hover more - not because I think Michael needs to be watched every second of the day, but because it is inevitable that the one time I leave him on the sidewalk in his stroller while I pick up the dry-cleaning, even if he is in my view the entire time, will be the time a police officer drives by and arrests me for child endangerment. (Which has actually happened to more than one woman while running errands, ridiculously enough).

Even this story annoys me. A babysitter tasked with taking care of a one-year-old fell asleep on the couch while she was supposed to be watching the little tyke. The kid took that as an invitation to escape the house and hang out in the road, which earned his babysitter a felony charge and a little jail time.

Now, is it wise to fall asleep while you are supposed to be keeping an eye on a toddler? No. But does this mean no mom should ever be allowed a nap for fear of facing felony charges? Kids have been escaping houses since the dawn of time. Just be grateful the neighbors found the kid and lock your front door next time. But there is really no need to involve the police unless the woman was passed out drunk on the couch or something.

As the mother of an escape artist myself, I have to say that Michael is equally adept at mischief whether I am awake or not. Luckily, we currently have a chain on our front door, but if we didn't, I have no doubt he would often be hanging out in the lobby or taking a ride down the trash chute. All it would take is two minutes for me to go to the bathroom by myself and he would be halfway to the train station.

We shouldn't make parents live in fear of giving their children a little latitude when it comes to playtime. And we shouldn't punish them with felonies for falling asleep on the couch.

It's no wonder people are paranoid nowadays.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Have a Winner!

David surprised us by coming home in time for dinner last night. We celebrated by ordering pizza and shoving a quick Family Home Evening in the narrow time-slot between dinner and Michael's bedtime. This consisted of about ten minutes of watching Michael run himself into a sweaty oblivion, leaping off couches and demanding, "Watch me, Daddy!", a quick song, and a thirty second lesson on baptism, since Michael was too caught up in the forthcoming hide and seek activity to hold still and look at pictures of Jesus.

So we played a few rounds until Michael went off to hide by himself and David and I went into his bedroom to count. When we shut the door we discovered a doorknob-sized hole in the wall, the obvious result of a broken doorstop and a tantrum-throwing little boy, who shall remain nameless. Sigh.

So we ended the hide and seek game and decided to draw a name out of a bowl for our "Life as an Adverb" book giveaway instead. Michael was tasked with pulling a name since he is the most impartial judge, seeing as he can't read and therefore can't cheat.

And the winner is... Deonne! Congratulations! (I'll email you shortly).

Michael enjoyed choosing a winner so much he continued to draw out names and "read" them. ("This one says 'Clara'," he would say).

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dignity. Always Dignity.

Motherhood is often so undignified, which actually seems appropriate when you consider what an undignified process childbirth is - you are splayed out on a bed with a constant army of nosy doctors wanting to stick their fingers in your nether regions, and you end the whole thing covered in every body fluid imaginable and with no part of your body having been unseen or unexamined - classy.

So I guess it makes sense that the embarrassment doesn't stop there. You start motherhood with an infant who likes to do nothing but expel nasty fluids all over you, and then he graduates to putting his hands down your shirt or undressing you to find a meal. Then he learns to walk and follows you into the bathroom, which gets even better once he learns to talk and announces to your guests that "Mommy is pooping! Push your bum, Mommy!"

I suppose the only proper thing left to do is to take a bow when you exit the bathroom.

And it's always nice when he comments on your, um, gaseous emissions. Michael has recently graduated from a giggly, "Uh oh, what was that noise?" to "Beautiful poofer, Mommy!" Who knew that my rear end was capable of producing such symphonies?

And, there is really no need for kleenex with small children. You become a human tissue. Not even clothing is necessary for a good nose cleaning. For example, this afternoon Michael walked up to me and wiped his nose all the way down my bare arm. "Michael, did you just wipe your snot on my arm?" I asked. "Yes, Mommy!" he said cheerfully, which is probably more polite than what he said to David this morning when he wiped his nose on Daddy's freshly pressed shirt: "Michael got boogers on it!" Gee, thanks for the parting gift, buddy.

Of course, once a kid learns to talk it is usually equal parts hilarity and embarrassment. Like the time we were riding the subway and a homeless man got on and informed us that we should buy his flowers because he was working instead of selling drugs to our children. Michael piped up, at top voice: "He's not working, Mommy!" A rather astute observation for a two-year-old, but as the entire train turned to look at us, it was an embarrassing one nonetheless.

The good thing is that most of the undignified parts of motherhood are worth a hearty laugh.

Except the times Michael points out my zits and loudly comments on my "owies". But, that's only not funny because I'm annoyed that I still get zits.

I mean, aren't you supposed to grow out of that?

Ungrateful Brats

Entitlement is a strange thing. Back in the good old days people thought they were only entitled to the things they worked their butts off to obtain. Now people go around whipping "rights" out of their pockets and thinking they deserve everything from free health care and good jobs to large inheritances and huge houses. They expect the "government" (ahem, taxpayers) to provide those things for them, even if they don't put a cent toward those things themselves. (Since when do you have a right to anything you refuse to pay for yourself?).

And, so, we get letters like this one to "Dear Abby":

Dear Abby:

My husband's grandson just graduated from the eighth grade. Because he lives in another part of the state we were unable to attend the graduation, but we sent him a graduation card with $5 enclosed.

My husband's daughter called to acknowledge the card "for" her son. Then she asked if my husband was having financial difficulties because he sent only $5 while some of her friends gave her son $50. She said we should have sent more. My husband was so shocked by her insensitivity that he hung up on her.

His daughter did not call or send a card on Father's Day. However, today we received a card from his grandson thanking us for the $5 and saying if we had dug deeper and added $1, he could have bought a slice of pizza.

Abby, how do we respond to these two?

— Hurt Grandparents, Anaheim, Calif.

First of all, I have the nagging feeling that somewhere, somehow, the father of this repulsive woman probably bears some of the responsibility for his daughter turning out so poorly. But that's a subject for another post. What I'm curious about is how a gift went from being something that is unexpectedly given and gratefully received to something that is not only demanded, but expected to meet a certain standard as well.

Why do people feel they are entitled to gifts? Especially money? (I simply hate those money-only baby showers and the like. Asking for money is just so tacky). And why is it that children feel okay about putting their greedy little paws all over their parents' hard earned cash, refusing to show even the tiniest bit of decency by waiting until their dear ones have dearly departed?

What a great lesson this mother is teaching her son: if you think someone is being stingy with his choice of gift, write him a note and say something snotty about how the gift didn't live up to your expectations.

If I were that kid's grandfather I would have to hold myself back from demanding that my $5 be returned so I could give it to someone else who would appreciate it. But, as I think that most gifts should be given with no strings attached - no expectations of a thank you or qualifications as to how the money will be spent or what the gift will be used for, I suppose that wouldn't match my philosophy. Certainly a thank you is nice (and should be offered by any person with an ounce of politeness in her soul), but a screw-you does wonders: it informs you when a person probably doesn't deserve gifts in the future. I mean, who wants to continue giving to an ungrateful brat who turns up his nose at heartfelt generosity? Oh, I know that $5 isn't much, but the fact of the matter is that it was money that had to be earned, and was generously shared.

You know, I always was always flabbergasted by the biblical story of the ten lepers, only one of whom returned to thank the Savior for healing him of his terrible disease. But nowadays, I bet the other nine would come back, not to say thank you, but to complain about not having their male-pattern-baldness remedied as well.

It kind of makes you long for the good old days, doesn't it?

Benefits of Laziness

I have nine blog posts I want to write and I still haven't drawn a name out of a hat to choose a winner for the book contest. I'm so lazy. But, that is good news for you if you haven't entered your name for the drawing and still want to. I'll give you another day to submit a joke on the original post (or just a comment if you can't think of something funny), and then we'll draw a winner tonight after David gets home from work, which probably means you have until about 1 a.m. eastern time. Sigh. Boo on tax season.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What's in a Name?

How much is your name worth? $5? How about $10?

Well, one mom-to-be is hoping a name is worth a lot more than that. She is thinking along the lines of $25,000, but she'll settle for $150. After all, times are tough.

Lavonne Drummond is expecting her seventh child in September, and since money is tight with that many mouths to feed, she is auctioning naming rights for her unborn child on Ebay. She says she'll honor whatever name the highest bidder chooses, and even allow the baby namer to visit the child.

Which means she will have to watch out for people like my husband, who says he would bid $5 just to name the kid "My-Parents-are-Idiots" (though he didn't specify whether the name would be hyphenated). They could call the kid M-pai for short. But, unfortunately for David, the minimum bid is $150, so he will have to fork over a bit more money if he wants to teach the parents a lesson.

He still has time to think about it, however, since as of this writing Mrs. Drummond has yet to receive a single bid for her ridiculous scheme.

Honestly, what kind of person is going to spend money to name someone else's child? And what kind of mother allows this responsibility to be parceled out to the person who can hand over the most Ben Franklins?

I think society, as a whole, has lost their minds when it comes to naming babies. We forget how important a name is and what a profound effect it can have on a child, and instead get caught up in whether it's cute, or unique, or impossible to spell. Then we get names like (and I am not making this up - I read it a few weeks ago on another blog): La-ia. Pronounced "Ladashia", because, of course, the dash isn't silent.

When you choose a name for a child, you have to realize you are naming an actual human being who will have to function every day with the name you attached to him. It is a serious responsibility, and the consequences of making a bad name choice should cause any parent to spend a whole lot of time mulling over the decision.

So, to hand this responsibility to a stranger, who has no connection to or love for your child, is not just bad parenting, it's abusive. I mean, who knows what name that child could end up with?

Poor little "My-Parents-are-Idiots". He's never going to hear the end of that one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do Not Hire This Woman

If I were a truly good sibling I would have forwarded this link to my sister, Evil HR Lady, so she could use her HR expertise to dissect it. But, it's been a long time since I called someone an idiot, and the person in this article certainly meets that standard, so I'm using it for my own blog. Sorry, EHRL, I guess I'm just selfish that way. (Kisses!)

27-year-old Trina Thompson recently graduated from New York's Monroe College (a learning institution whose existence I have only read about in subway train ads) with a bachelor's degree in business administration. She has been job hunting since April with no luck and is pretty upset at her state of unemployment. So upset, in fact, that she's suing her alma mater for reimbursement of her tuition ($70,000) and an extra $2000 for her pain and suffering, or whatever.

She is sure that any employer would give their eye teeth to hire a graduate of Monroe College (after all, she had a stellar 2.7 GPA and good attendance record!). So it must be someone else's fault she can't find work. She blames the Office of Career Advancement at the college, which, she says, did not try hard enough to help her get a job.

Whine, whine, whine. Wah wah wah. Did this girl miss the memo that the job search is tough right now? People with bachelors degrees from far more prestigious schools than Monroe College (and picture perfect GPAs) are having trouble finding work. And this woman thinks she's being picked on because her school didn't send her a beautifully wrapped job on a gold platter as a graduation present?

But, but, but, she whines, "It doesn't make any sense: [College graduates] went to school for four years, and then they come out working at McDonald's and Payless. That's not what they planned."

Of course it's not what they planned. People don't usually plan to have trouble finding a job. But the solution for joblessness is not to scare off every employer in the country by suing your school for your job-search-related pain and suffering. That just shows you would be willing to sue your employer for being overworked, or being harassed by not being allowed to have every Tuesday off for your weekly pedicure, or having to sit next to the kitchen garbage can. And heaven forbid an employer would ever need to fire this woman! Hold on to those company profits, folks!

So, I would like to say to this idiot: Get out there and work your butt off to find a job. Spend at least 40 hours a week searching. Send your resume to every company you can think of. Offer to intern for free, if it will allow you to get your foot in the door. And go to a temp agency while you are waiting (often a springboard to a great permanent position), or work at, gasp, McDonald's if you have to.

But stop whining, and stop suing.

And come a little closer, so I can slap you.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Modern Miracles

David and I have been reading the New Testament together over the last few months, and it has caused me to spend many hours contemplating miracles. At times I have thought how amazing it would have been to have lived in the time of the Savior and to see the miracles he performed. What an amazing thing to be able to watch as someone was healed of leprosy, or had their eyesight restored or ears opened! Imagine being healed by the Savior himself - what an honor!

But then, I have come to realize that the miracles performed by the Savior are no more amazing or worthy of notice then the hundreds of miracles I have seen in my own life.

We are surrounded by modern miracles. Sometimes they come in the form of an answered prayer, as a result of a priesthood blessing, or by obvious divine intervention (I can think of one particular occasion where there must have been an angel literally standing between me and utter disaster).

But, I think we often discount some experiences because we don't think of them as being miraculous, or because we are too blind to see the hand of God manifest in them. Because we often lack this awareness of heavenly involvement in our lives, we do not always give God the credit He deserves.

For example, when I got strep throat last year, was it any less of a miracle that I could be healed by penicillin than it would have been if I were healed by a priesthood blessing? What about the time my husband got appendicitis? Isn't it miraculous that his problem was diagnosed, a competent doctor was able to remove the infected appendix, and he recovered completely with no ill effects? After having surgery in Latvia, no less! How amazing!

As I have been thinking about these medical miracles, taking notice of them and acknowledging them for what they really are, I feel even more saddened by the recent news story of a father whose seriously ill daughter died because he thought it would show a lack of faith to take her to a hospital. Dale Neumann was convinced that God would heal his daughter of her ailment (which turned out to be diabetes) if he had enough faith. So, instead of taking her to see a doctor (who could have identified and treated her condition), he opted for the prayer-only approach. His daughter died surrounded by praying friends and relatives. Mr. Neumann has since been found guilty of second-degree reckless homicide and faces up to 25 years in prison.

This is a tragedy for many reasons, but most of all because Mr. Neumann thought that taking his daughter to a doctor would be "putting the doctor before God", and not believing what "God said he would do". How sad to think that having faith means that one cannot rely on medical care and its available treatments, which, if you think about it, are surely the result of inspiration and divine guidance.

Just think how many ailments are considered minor today, but have killed hundreds of thousands of people throughout the history of the world. Antibiotics alone are responsible for saving millions of lives. Vaccinations against diseases like measles and diphtheria are responsible for saving millions more. Every day more discoveries and advances are being made, and more illnesses have hope of a cure. Open heart surgery, organ transplants - are not these things miracles akin to the Savior raising Lazarus from the dead?

Faith is not manifest by inaction. Prayer and fasting are certainly an indispensable part of faith, but faith also involves doing everything one can possibly do and taking advantage of all of the medical procedures and expertise available to one. Of course modern science and medicine will not be able to solve every problem, but neither can an ill person sit idly by hoping God will heal her of her infirmity when she refuses to take advantage of the treatments and cures God has already made available to her through medical science.

This has been especially cemented in my mind with the birth of my son. I firmly believe his arrival was equally as miraculous as the birth of the biblical Sarah's or Hannah's or Elizabeth's sons. It does not make him any less of a miracle because an angel did not announce his coming, or because the pregnancy wasn't naturally achieved. Certainly he was the result of much prayer and fasting, and a staggering amount of faith and trust in God and His will for our family. But I think it would be an insult to God to discount the role that modern medicine and science played in my son's arrival. Those procedures were truly gifts from a loving Father in Heaven, tailor-made miracles that allowed my son to make his earthly arrival.

I'm grateful for all the advances that have been made in medicine and science. And to be truly grateful means to recognize those advances for what they truly are - miracles in every sense of the word.