Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fertility is Not a Disease

During Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, I encourage you to learn more about your fertility.  A new website with this aim has just launched, and this is the perfect time to tell you about it.  IuseNFP already has a wealth of information, including instructional resources, statistics, personal stories, graphics with promotional messages, and more. 

Here is a phrase from their mission statement: “Through the use of NFP we desire that men and women see themselves as equal partners with the responsibility to prudently manage their family, to recognize their bodies as deserving of the respect which only NFP promotes, and gain self knowledge which will lead to greater overall physical and emotional health.”   Seriously, what other fertility program offers all of that?

This new website aims to educate everyone about Natural Family Planning from “a non-religious, non-sectarian” perspective.  If you are looking for resources about NFP from a Catholic perspective regarding marriage and family, you can find information and links at this post.

I chose to highlight the button above because in the women’s studies course I teach I strive to counter the idea that women’s body processes are diseases.  Modern medicine sees menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause as “conditions” that require “fixing,” usually in the form of pharmaceuticals or surgery.  Known as medicalization, this attitude has convinced women that doctors and pharmacists know more about their bodies than women ever could, and that the working details of their fertility should remain mysterious.

Among causing other problems, such as a high maternal death rate when giving birth (the U.S. has the highest rate in the developed world), the medicalization of a women’s fertility also discourages interest in Natural Family Planning, a low cost, organic, health promoting method of fertility control based on science.  When you learn how your fertility works, and see the signs of hormone cycles acting in your body, you participate in your own healthcare.  You can be confident that you are healthy when your body is working as it should.

On the other hand, pharmaceutical contraceptives discourage knowledge of the fertility inherent to women’s bodies, and cause side effects that negatively impact women’s health, all at a monthly cost.  In addition, contraceptives are meant to stop your fertility from working as it should, causing a hormonal imbalance that can take up to a year to return to normal.  There is also evidence that the contraceptive hormones not used by the body pass through the urine into the water supply, thus exposing many more people as well as animals and plants to artificial reproductive hormones, with negative consequences that we are only beginning to understand.

In a world where organic food, farming, and living are gaining more advocates, Natural Family Planning should be included in our efforts to live naturally and greener.  For those of us who believe that fertility is not an illness, this moment is the perfect time to share our knowledge of NFP with others.  Learn more about your fertility, and share what you have learned with others interested in a healthy lifestyle.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Children with Faith

Yesterday, I learned that my niece was recently inspired to do some writing for God during the VBS program she attended last month.  Her church is doing mission work at an orphanage in Cambodia, and she began writing Bible stories for the children because she learned that the orphanage does not have Bibles.  Without telling anyone, she wrote the stories and turned them in, full of faith that they would reach the children she wrote them for.  Her efforts are featured on a blog written by one of the pastors at her church.

Courtesy of Omar C. Garcia

You can read the post about my niece’s stories here.  [FYI for my Catholic readers: My youngest brother and his family attend a Baptist church].

I wanted to share her efforts with you because I found her gesture inspirational.  Children really do know how to listen when God asks them to do something for others, and this is a perfect example.  My own daughter also found her cousin’s work inspiring; she is now writing bible stories for the children at the Cambodian orphanage, because she feels that one copy is not enough for all of the children.   Judging by the comments on the blog post, God is working through my niece to encourage others to listen when he calls them to do his work.

So far, my daughter has written the stories of Daniel and Jonah (my niece wrote these also).  

You can learn more about how your children can participate in Catholic Missionary work at the website of the Missionary Childhood Association.

I have linked this post at Equipping Catholic Families with Monica’s Extraordinary Ideas for Ordinary Time Link up.  Go see the other great ideas for forming your children’s faith during Ordinary Time.

At Training Happy Hearts, I have joined Martianne’s weekly link up about Faith Formation in Young Children.  She plans to repost the link up every week, but it will show all the links from previous weeks, so go see all the wonderful resources others have linked up.

I have also linked up at Crafolic’s Tea with Saint Anne Link up, which is for posts helpful to Catholic families.  

Karri at My Life’s a Treasure hosts a weekly My Favorite Things Link up, and I am linking there.  I hope you will go see other bloggers’ favorite posts this week.

Hazel at Tell Me a Story hosts a weekly True Stories Link up, so I am linking there; go read the other true stories posted this week.

And, I am connecting with the First Friday Link up for August hosted by Lacy at Catholic Icing, where you will find many resources for sacred heart activities.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Healthier Flavored Water

For those who are accustomed to sweet drinks, but are trying to drink water instead, commercially flavored water and vitamin water can be enticing.  So, what are these liquid water enhancers made of?  I researched the most visible brand of water flavoring by visiting their website, where I discovered that each flavor contains two artificial sweeteners, at least one preservative, and several artificial colors, depending on the flavor.  In addition, nearly all of the flavors list propylene glycol as the second or third ingredient.  

I have been trying to avoid propylene glycol in my family’s food and cosmetic products for years (not an easy task―it’s everywhere) since a friend told me it is a possible carcinogen.  According to my old copy of The Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, propylene glycol is used in food industry and RV anti-freezes.  It’s also widely used in processed foods, over the counter children’s medicines, and cosmetic products.  Don’t believe me?  Go check a sampling of products that your family uses; I’ll wait.

According to this article, the main function of propylene glycol, besides providing moisture and acting as a solvent, is to penetrate the skin so other chemicals can reach the bloodstream.  Even though most studies suggest it is safe in small quantities, I’m not a fan of putting chemicals on or into my body, so I try to avoid propylene glycol.  The article linked above also suggests avoiding it, and if you consider that the artificial colors and preservatives in most foods that contain propylene glycol (such as water flavors) can interfere with children’s sleep, this makes sense.

I avoid sweet drinks, so I drink a lot of water, but sometimes I want a little something to flavor it.  My children are learning to drink plain water, but they are not always cooperative.  Homemade lemonade is wonderful, but sometimes I want to avoid the sugar in the lemonade, and I definitely don’t want my children drinking the sugar, artificial colors, and artificial flavors of other drinks.  Sometimes, I just squeeze some lemon or lime into our water.  Other times, I splash some juice into it.

Recently, I ran across Fork’s post about Sassy Water on her blog Fork fabrications (via Karri’s My Favorite Things Link up).  I have tried a similar water flavoring before, using only a cucumber, so I just had to try this recipe.  As Fork explains, you just slice up your citrus and cucumber, toss it with mint into the water and let it sit in the fridge a few hours.  She found this recipe at Prevention Magazine, and when I clicked over there I learned that their recipe uses grated ginger.  I used a few thin slices of ginger root instead.  I pulled the mint right out of our garden.

This beverage is indeed a yummy sugar free homemade flavored water.  Even my kids liked drinking it.  They especially liked putting slices of cucumber and orange in their glasses, and they liked the yellow tint the orange gave to the water.  You can tell by their excitement over over such a pale color that we don’t drink artificially colored stuff that often!  We will definitely be drinking this regularly!

Because I have made flavored water before with just a cucumber (you can try that too), I know you can refill the pitcher and get a second batch, although the flavor is not as strong. Also, you can vary the citrus and the type of mint, and leave the ginger in or out, creating different flavors.

By the way, the glass pitcher in my photo belonged to my parents; they received it as a wedding gift.  I also have all eight of the matching goblets.  I just love the heavy green glass look of the set; it’s so 1960s!  

I also have bowls and other kitchen items that belonged to my grandparents.  I am overjoyed to have a direct connection to the women who taught me how to cook; using these items reminds me of the many hours I spent with these two women, along with many other aunts and cousins, in the kitchen preparing daily meals and food for family gatherings.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Review of My Chapbook

My friend Katherine Hoerth, who is exploring and educating about the poetry chapbook (what, why, and how) on her blog, posted a review of my book Entre la claridad yesterday.  I am still feeling so excited about this!

If you have been wondering what someone besides me has to say about this collection of poems, here is the start of her review.

“In her second poetry chapbook, Elisa A. Garza explores timeless questions of identity: Who am I? Where do I come from? And where am I going? Through the lenses of gender, culture, language and landscape, Garza paints a portrait of what it means to be a woman, a Chicana, in this contested space. She does so with both candor and lyricism – and as a reader, I couldn’t help but be drawn into this world, both the familiar and the foreign.”  The “contested space” Katherine refers to is the South Texas borderlands, the setting for most of the poems in my book.

Read more of the review here.  If you are now convinced you have to read my poems (and I hope you are), you can buy my chapbook directly from Mouthfeel Press.

I am so grateful to Katherine for the publicity, and for the enthusiasm she has for my book.  Mil gracias, Katie!

Katherine is also a poet, and her new collection, The Garden, Uprooted is on the printing press right now at Slough Press.  

It will be available for purchase at Amazon very soon.  You can learn more about Katherine Hoerth and her books here.  I plan to post a review of her first chapbook, Among the Mariposas (also from Mouthfeel Press) in a few weeks.

If you live in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, or Houston, you can hear Katherine read her poetry in person (and buy her book) at one of the reading events scheduled in the next two weeks.  I will attend her reading on July 24th, 7 p.m. at the Barnes and Noble in Webster (Houston area).  I hope to see you there!  

You can find the details of the other readings in the right sidebar of her blog.

Have you liked the Entre la claridad page on Facebook?  I post notices about writing, readings, publications, and literary events there, including things that I don’t have the chance to blog about.  Do go like the page if you are interested in those topics, or if you just like my book!

Holly at A Life-Size Catholic Blog hosts a monthly Pay It Forward Link Up, so I am connecting there in July also.  Her link up is a great forum for sharing the inspiration you have found on other blogs, and she highlights one of her favorite bloggers this month.  I hope you will go see what others are paying forward this month at the link below.

L.L. at Seedlings in Stone hosts the weekly On,In, and Around Monday Link up, “an invitation to write from where you are… [with] a sense of place.”  I hope this post qualifies!  Please go visit the collection.

Jennifer at Mommy Y hosts a weekly Mom–Me Link up, encouraging Mom bloggers to write for or about themselves (and not their children at least once a week).  I think this is a great idea, and I am so glad I finally have a post that qualifies.  Please go read about how she starts her day in solitude and visit the other bloggers’ entries!

Karri at My Life’s a Treasure hosts a weekly My Favorite Things Link up, so I am linking there (just gotta love publicity for my writing).  I hope you will go see other bloggers' favorite posts this week.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Seven Quick Takes Friday

I have decided to try doing a quick takes post the first Friday of every month.  Since I post between one and three times a week, always on different days, hitting a Friday for sure is probably doable only a once a month.  Speaking of my posting schedule, I slowed down the last few weeks, for a couple of reasons that I highlight below.  I have plenty of posts planned, though, so keep coming back!

--- 1 ---

Last week, I was busy revising my upcoming guest post for HER KIND, “a blog powered by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.”  My post is about women writers and freedom, or rather the difficulties women face as they seek free time to write.  As you can probably guess, my writing time is limited, so while I was busy writing my guest post about that very topic, I did not have as much time to write for the blog.  I’ll be sure to let you know when my post appears so you can weigh in the topic!  Or, you can start the comments below…

--- 2 ---

I have been spending more evenings with my children and husband instead of writing or blogging.  Usually, I write after my children go to bed, but because it is summer, their schedules are off.  During the school year, we tend to have very straightforward evenings: dinner, bath, bedtime (my writing or working time).  Because of swimming lessons and various other summer activities, baths are happening during the day, and bed times are getting later and later.  The later the children go to bed, the less likely I am to write that evening (see #1 above).

--- 3 ---

My seasonal allergies are in full force, and this time of year, they dull my brain and make me feel lethargic.  I have felt more like watching TV. and reading instead of writing, especially this week.  On Independence Day, the phlegm arrived during a strong sneeze, coating the inside of my throat and nose.  As you can imagine, it’s hard to slog through my fuzzy brain all day and by evening I am exhausted, so writing has to wait.  I don’t like to take meds (for allergies or anything else), so I’m doing sinus rinses, taking vitamin C, and a little drinking apple cider vinegar along with eating immune system supportive foods; this is enough to keep me going during the day, but my body wants to rest at night.

--- 4 ---

I do sometimes write during the day, but we have been so busy lately!  I tried to schedule us with some free time this summer, but lately we’ve been running here and there most days with camps, lessons, visits, and various medical appointments for most of us.  I’m looking forward to later in the month, when most of our afternoons are open.

--- 5 ---

Some of those appointments have been for my seven year old; she now wears glasses.  This is not surprising, given that everyone in our family also wears glasses or contacts, but she is the first to need prism lenses.  She started complaining about seeing double at the end of the school year and these lenses should correct that problem, caused by her eye muscles not coordinating when she focuses.  Next step: evaluation to see if therapy can help the muscles work together the way they should.  

--- 6 ---

More than a month ago, I volunteered to review a Catholic Game from the Arma Dei Shoppe at Equipping Catholic Families.  My children absolutely love to color, so I thought the Catholic Lingo Bingo would be a perfect choice for us.  However, they have not been in a coloring mood for weeks and weeks, so I’m working on coloring some of the pages myself.  Look for this review soon; we almost have enough colored pages to play the game.  My children enjoy playing Loteria (Mexican Bingo), so I know they are going to like this game, and I’m sure once we play it, they are going to want to color more of the game cards.

--- 7 ---

My friend Katie (poet, reviewer, blogger, etc.) is planning to review my chapbook, Entre la claridad, on her blog as part of her educational series about poetry chapbooks!  So, if you are new to the poetry chapbook scene, you can read more about why and how poets publish chapbooks at this post.  And, look for a future post highlighting Katie’s review of my book.  Are you curious about my book now?  You can read some excerpts here (or by clicking on the image of the book in the right sidebar), or listen to audio here.  You can buy my book directly from the publisher, Mouthfeel Press (also highlighted in the right sidebar).  

Have you liked the Entre la claridad page on Facebook?  I post notices about writing, readings, publications, and literary events there, including things that I don’t have the chance to blog about.  Do go like the page if you are interested in those topics, or if you just like my book!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Hazel at Tell Me a Story hosts a weeking True Stories Link up, so I am linking there; go read the other true stories posted this week.

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