Thursday, 29 November 2012

Nursing: A Vocation Not A Job

The many faces of Elaine
Elaine is a daughter, wife, mother, blogger, advocate for women's health but most of all,  a nurse.
relaxing with her husband and pet
Answering questions for Tampax consummers 
Taping a new  post for  BlogHer

When I spoke to Elaine on the phone last week she was everything I had imagined her to be. With her charming southern accent, warm open and loquacious personality, I immediately connected with her.  Actually I could hardly contain my enthusiasm, cutting her off many times.  Elaine suggested that we talk about the times we spoke to our daughters about sexuality, menstruation in particular,
"I am sure that you are an expert, since you have six daughters!"
I panicked because I was awkward when I did speak to my girls. I hated to admit this to Elaine but we shared laughter when we discovered that we both had helped a daughter use tampons by standing outside the bathroom door and shouting directions and encouragement through a tiny crack in the doorway. Since Elaine has seen thousands of  naked women in the midst of childbirth, she found this experience with her shy daughter hilarious.
One of Elaine's biggest mandates is to improve mother/daughter communication about sexuality, starting with menstruation  Most mothers are confident that their girls could ask them anything. Ironically, those very same daughters, when questioned, are horrified by the suggestion that they would approach their mothers with questions about sexuality. Elaine is adamant that open communication between mothers and daughters is crucial and it cannot happen after a girl's first period. Long before that happens, mothers must make a conscious effort to plan private dates with their daughters be it a long car drive, a luncheon or shopping trip . Any event that is private and invites intimate sharing. This will form a  habit of confiding in each other for later years their daughters have serious worries or questions.
Her husband is the tall, quiet type, a perfect foil for this outgoing, confidant woman who loves to plunge right into the middle of things. At a recent event, as her husband eyed a spot at the back of the room, Elaine spotted the key-note speaker. Grabbing his hand, she excitedly headed for the front table and introduced herself. The main speaker immediately connected with Elaine of course, inviting them to sit down and join her. Her husband though simply was not comfortable sitting up front, on display in front of the entire crowd.
Even as a child, Elaine wanted to help people by becoming a nurse. In fact she was a natural. For example when a neighbour suffered a sever cut, it was twelve-year old Elaine who calmly applied pressure to the wound while everyone one else ran around in a panic.
Her last hospital job was in Maternity and she loved it because everyday brought new challenges and new women to relate to. She studied for her Masters in Nursing and would  have loved to become a midwife but that involved a long commute and as a young mother, it simply was not an option. Even when she was a spokesperson for Tampax in public relations answering consumers questions, Elaine has always kept up her RN status by taking refresher classes and written tests. She is a nurse above all else.
Friends, relatives, neighbours all know this, turning to Elaine as their health expert. She  spends a lot of professional time answering health related questions from a variety of professionals as well.  Even when she does not know the facts, she researches them and then relates them in a way that is more understandable than just reading the medical literature. Elaine  really cares  about and loves people, taking the time to help people really understand medical answers.
“It isn’t a matter of telling anyone what to do – far from it.  It is about providing factual information about health so decisions about how to manage it for one’s self, is made using the best information possible. I decided to post on because it is a place where women and teens go to ask questions about puberty, periods, menstrual health and menopause and to talk to each other about their questions and concerns. “
Elaine invites  anyone with questions to, “Please feel free to ask away!”
Basically she is always on call. Nursing is  a true vocation which has become her part of her personality, her core identity. What does this woman do in her free time? What is her hobby? Why blogging mostly about women’s health at Blogher, what else? She is always exploring  new  creative avenues to become more effective.
Recently she started using video clips inserted into  some blogs because she feels she can engage her audience when they can see her face and hear her voice. She is a woman who has tapped into the power of social media to reach hundreds  if not thousands of women with health questions. Most often the questions are about that taboo subject-menstruation.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

I AM An Advocate

Today's prompt for the health blogging marathon I signed up for (blindly, I should add), asks how I have changed as an activist or advocate. My first response was to sputter,
" I am not an advocate  for anything!"
Then I experienced an epiphany of sorts,
"Hey, wait a minute. I stand up for large families in an often hostile society!"

In my experience as a mother of nine children, I have encountered more condemnation than acceptance, more questions that understanding. Perhaps it is because I do not look like the mother of a large family. I am tiny, look younger than my age and all my life people, including twerpy teenagers, have labelled me as cute. So people's first reaction to me is shock. Confusion follows because I am happy. Now a joyful, cute, tiny mother of nine simply baffles people. I shatter all their preconceived notions. The typical image of a multi-para woman would be a large, matronly, robust, grim battle-axe of a mother, efficiently marshaling her young charges with little time to coddle or love the poor deprived dears.

Parents with two children cannot fathom how a mother of a large family manages to cope with all the work to keep up a functional home as well as have enough time to love each child. However, more children are easier than less. If you have one or two children, you have to be everything for them.  In a large family, a seven-year old will read the same book over and over again to a toddler who loves one particular book. A ten-year old feels important when he can help his six-year old brother who struggles with reading. A young teenager delights in rocking a tiny, dependent infant to sleep.

For me, family started with three. I found one child horrendous, two a strain but three was easy. With three, community started. A community works and plays together and for little children work is as fun as play. I included everyone in ordinary household chores and made chores fun. A trained Montessorian told me that I ran my home like a Montessori school. What a wonderful revelation that was for me. My kids were not being deprived because I often could not sit and play with them in the traditional sense. Instead they received an expense educational experience simply because I integrated them into the running of our home.

It was never too soon to give a toddler a play job such as  picking up the toys his younger sibling drops from the high chair, again and again.The secret was to delegate, each according to his or her talents, but never to order around like troops. I always make a conspirator out of everyone. They chop wood, help fix the car, weed the garden, take care of the animals. If they're still treated like kids or overindulged, they don't have a purpose and become really angry as teenagers. When  parents let children know that their contributions are really appreciated,their self-esteem blossoms and matures
Employers love my kids because they know how to work and do not take anything for granted. Many have said,
"I will give anybody with the last name Juneau a job."

Large families strengthen the  basic foundations of our society. They live lives of greater interconnectedness. If you don't have a lot of money, you're not an island unto yourself. You learn how to share, barter skills and products with others. My children who go to college or university adapt well to communal life in a dorm or shared house. Just imagine, they already know how to share a bathroom with a lot of other people. They know how to get along with opposite personalities, how to give and take. For starters, they know how to cook and clean up after themselves.

Healthy, large families benefit society. So open your mind and heart the next time you see or hear of one. The condemnation is really hard to handle and totally unjust in a society that loves to call itself open-minded and tolerant.

Thursday, 22 November 2012


There is much to be grateful for if we will simply stop for a moment and really see the details which surround us every day.

Children delight in the plethora of tiny details all around them. They are born with a sense of wonder and the ability to enjoy little things.
I used to walk quickly and with a sense of purpose before I was a mother. I soon learned that even with my first child tucked and fastened into a stroller, a fast pace was almost impossible. Absolutely everything fascinates little people. Things that we consider mundane, drab and boring grab their attention.
Children love to peer closely at tiny objects. Perhaps it is because they are closer to the ground but they stop at every flower and bug, especially a bug on a flower. As they look, touch, smell, even lick each wonderful new discovery, all their attention is riveted on that one thing. At first it was difficult to slow down during our walks and let the toddlers set the pace but it was a wonderful instruction in relaxing and becoming fully present to the moment.
At first I was only capable of enjoying whatever captured my children's notice but now I realize that they were experiencing so much more than I initially thought. In their silent, non-verbal attention to nature, they were in deep communion with God Himself as He is present in His creation. Adults struggle for years to merely glimpse the intimacy that little children have naturally with God. They do not need to strive or work for this state of contemplation because they are without guile, prior opinions or expectations; they are open and look with trust, ready to absorb the love, joy and peace that envelopes them. Children are grateful for everything.
I, too, can learn to live in a constant state of gratitude and thankfulness. Even if I were to live in the midst of a concrete jungle, I could at least stop for a moment, look up and give thanks. I simply need to remind myself to glance upwards, above my little busy world and enjoy the sky. The sky alone is an extravagant present that continually fills me with the joy if I remember to take a break from my "important" business.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

.So how Is YOUR Mental Health? Eh?

Mental Health
People make an appointment every year with their G.P. to check out their physical health and reluctantly arrange for a dental check up but why don't people have a professional mental health check up?

So how Is YOUR Mental Health? Eh?

Reading this some people might laugh off the implication that there is anything wrong with them, others might nervously skim the rest of this post. This question is far from ridiculous,though. Have you taken a good look around lately? What do you see and hear?

The whole atmosphere of modern society is stressful because people are anxious about the economy and their job security. They have problems sleeping or self medicate with alcohol, drugs and cigarettes to help 'take the edge off'. More and more sick days are the result of depression and other mental health issues. 

However it never enters most people's minds to seek professional help until they are in a crisis or even must be committed. There still is s stigma attached to mental illness.

Most of us who do seek help, gloss over our issues saying we go for counselling because the labels are so damning."Post traumatic stress disorder, restless leg syndrome, depression, anxiety, sleep disorder, paranoia, panic attacks.... the labels are a terrible stigma. Often people become ashamed and it is no wonder that they do.

Society usually cannot fathom these unseen illnesses and resorts to  an age-old admonishment,
"Pull your self up by the boot straps.
Just push yourself.
Don't be lazy. What's wrong with you, anyway?
You seem fine to me!"

It is that simple.
No shame.
No guilt.
A simple matter of serotonin levels.

First featured blog on WEGO Health blog

All month long, we'll be featuring the health blogs of our #NHBPM writers.

Today's feature is of Jean's parenting blog: The Joy of Mothering

You can check out Jean's blog here:

...See More
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Monday, 19 November 2012

Life and Death: A Four-Year Old Chooses

Ultimately, there is a thin veil that separates life and death.
The following is a true story of a four-year old child, in a coma, following a serious car accident.

Chandra was still not conscious when she began to speak to her parents in the ICU. She spoke as if in a dream, describing a big room with two doors where she sat waiting with several other people.  She explained that  she had to decide which door she wanted to walk through.  A really nice man, dressed in white smiled at her and told her that she was completely free to walk through either door. One door would bring her back to her life on earth.  If she liked, she could across the room, take  the nice man's hand and walk through the other door.

In the beginning, Chandra spoke weakly, in a disjointed manner insisting that the nice man loved her so much that she wanted to be with him. As the days passed, she spoke in a stronger voice and began asking her parents,
"Do you love me?"
When they assured Chandra that they loved her she answered,
...I don't know. I really want to be with him. Buttt...maybe I will come back"

The next couple of days were spent in an almost comical dialogue as Chandra asked if her siblings, grand parents and extended family all loved her. After each confirmation, she emerged slowly from her coma, answering in an ever more confidant voice,
"Maybe I will come back!"

Throughout the discussion, Chandra  described the other people in the room, casually mentioning two people who stood up and walked across the waiting room, walking through the second door with the nice man. One was a young guy, who looked just like her young uncle and another an old woman who was like her grandmother. Within minutes of Chandra's announcements,  an elderly woman and a day later a young man died in the ICU.

For her parents, the most startling fact of this entire experience was that tiny Chandra could perhaps choose between two outfits her mother picked out or whether to have an apple or an orange for a snack just a week ago. On earth, she would not make any major life decisions until she was 18 years old. Yet she was deciding whether to live or die.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

I am a Happy Square

Every morning I wake up.
I find that I am
An inefficient square.

I hack off the corners,
try to roll through my day
an efficient circle.
Despite my best efforts
when I wake up..
I am a square again!

Recently began to
Rejoice in my

the world needs more happy squares
to slow society
down a little bit .

Saturday, 17 November 2012



Seriously, does every other writer logically plan out their articles, essays, short stories and books with their left brain?
After reading a second prompt in eight days implying that all writers choose consciously what subjects and people they want to write about, for a moment I felt rattled.
Seriously, does every other writer logically plan out their articles, essays, short stories and books with their left brain? I simply cannot function like that. When an episode or opinion has popped into my brain, I have not consciously chosen to write about that topic or person. It is an eureka moment, that surprised me. I wonder,
"Where did that thought or memory come from? I haven't thought about him for years!"
Suddenly a story springs to mind. After I read my story, it seems that I have instantaneously as assimilated emotions, reflections, connected quotes and philosophy and integrated it all with my faith.
When I write, my right brain takes over, creativity flows like a river of words and I can hardly type fast enough to keep up. The entire process is largely subconscious. I unwittingly combine the spirit of creativity with a gift to craft words together. Writers in past centuries called this inspiration the Muse. Left logical brain editing follows afterwards. However, if I attempt to write the first draft with my logical left brain, the article is stilted, stunted, boring and painful to read.
Hoping that I am not alone in this approach to writing, I have unearthed some powerful and some amusing quotes on the subject of writing:
"I do not plan my fiction any more than I normally plan woodland walks; I follow the path that seems most promising at any given point, not some itinerary decided before entry.”
John Fowles

“There are three secrets to writing a novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are.”
W. Somerset Maugham

"Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say."
Sharon O'Brien”

"Writing is the overflow of emotion into action.”
Brian Raif

So it seems that I am in good company.
I must admit though, I discovered that many other authors use an outline, plan and work hard at the chore of writing, yet still managing to create magic.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

How do I respond to negative feedback?

How do I respond to negative feedback?
One simple but strong word springs to mind as a response to this question:  I DON'T.  I have finally become smart enough to understand that the best response to angry, negative feedback is not to respond at all.
I can repeat or clarify a misunderstanding. I can attempt to reconcile opposing viewpoints but usually someone who is closed to any other opinion is the very person to write a negative response. If they refuse to engage in positive dialogue, I don't bother bashing my head against the wall.
Often an angry person wants to engage in a verbal fight. In fact he is purposefully antagonizing me. After living with teenagers, my husband and I quickly learned how to diffuse angry confrontations because they were  unproductive. Angry feedback always reminds me of teenage outbursts. Here is a typical encounter at our house a few years ago.
One of my sons , in his early teens, had just announced that he could not stand living under our roof another minute,
"I'm out of here!", he bellowed, "and don't expect me to come back!"
The door slammed and he tore off on his ten speed bike. Of course my father was visiting and saw this dramatic episode. After a few minutes,  my dad turned to my husband and wondered,
" Aren't you going to go after him?"
Michael calmly kept reading, then looked up and explained,
"Oh, I'm not worried. The only place near enough to bike to is one of his buddy's and they don't feed kids over there. He'll be back when he is hungry enough."

No need to over-react. No need to lecture or argue. Just let nature take its course. Most importantly. Do not take angry reactions personally. Most negative feedback says more about the person commenting and his own emotions and reactions than it does about my article.
 Why is he so angry?
He is not really critiquing your writing style, content or conclusions, especially if a vehement response attacks you, the writer. That is just the release valve which is handy at the moment. My words triggered a dramatic attack because the commentator has issues. Issues that lay buried until some unsuspecting scapegoat like me pushes his buttons.
I refuse to play those games.
Silence is often a better teacher than any 'wisdom'  I could spout.

What Is Up With The Drug Companies?

A person diagnosed with cancer is frightened  and desperate; he will try any thing and everything to get better. When someone gets cancer, the first reaction of modern medicine is to go in with all guns blazing, blasting the bad guy cells, taking all the good guy cells down as well. It is an attack with chemo or radiation and a take no prisoners sort of philosophy. Wipe out the women and children cells, show no mercy because this is an epic war, a matter of life and death. The battles and skirmishes take their toll on the body but there is no other option offered. Let the doctors wage a major war campaign inside your body or die. Period. End of story. And if a patient mentions natural 'cures', the cryptic response would probably be,
'It's your life, but I would not trust some quack cure that has not gone through years of scientific studies."
While one of my uncles waited for surgery for prostate cancer, he made appointments with a well-known, self-educated, cancer survivor who offers free consultations and teaches other cancer victims how to get well again. The basic premise is very simple. In 1st world countries, where people eat processed food, wheat and sugar, their bodies  become increasingly acidic. Cancer cells love an acidic environment
Traditional Medicine focuses on treating the disease; natural health Doctors also focus on preventing disease in the first place.
It is such a simple concept, cut out all alcohol and smoking because when a sick person indulges in those activities, he might as well throw gasoline on the cancer fire in his body. It is no surprise that when your immune system is low and the white blood cell count is high your body cannot tolerate any junk food, anything in a can, manufactured and put in a box, sugar or  wheat. There are foods that increase acidity and foods that are very alkaline. My uncle followed the diet religiously and managed to get his white blood cell count to 2 which is completely normal. To be safe, he went through the surgery.
Such a simple prescription. Why on earth don't all doctor's follow suit?? The conspiracy-theory is that modern medicine is under the thumb of the drug companies.      The other theory is that these companies are stifling a cure to prevent cancer because billions of dollars  in profits are at stake.  The lies the companies spread  make it completely taboo to question modern, scientifically proven treatments. If you do speak against the things as they are, you will be dismissed as a quack.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Creative Thinking

 Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there's no particular virtue in doing things the way they always have been done 
 Rudolf Flesch  

There are several ways of looking at a problematic situation.  Early on in my mothering career, I learned that I had a choice. I could either catastrophize the dilemma or consider it an interesting challenge. With limited funds, surrounded by lots of little people on a hobby farm, I had to discover innovative ways of coping. When I relaxed, often an unusual, creative or even funny solution popped into my head. I just needed to keep everything in perspective and listen to my own inner voice as well as the whispers of the Spirit. We are immersed in His Spirit. He is an integral part of every aspect of our lives. 
We simply must take the time to listen rather than over think and analyze. Ray Bradbury sums up how my kids solved their own problems, 

 Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things. 

Of course my family absorbed this attitude when they were still young. As part of a busy household, they often came up with their own solutions to problems before I could help them. Six-year old Joseph illustrates Bradbury's concept perfectly. His grade one teacher recounted this story to me. It seems that she asked her class this question,
"How would you open the garage door if there were no grown-ups around?
Everybody just stared blankly at her, except Joseph. He frantically waved his hand in the air and then excitedly blurted out,
"You just stand on a milk crate, push on the upper left-hand corner of the door with a hockey stick and push hard. The door comes up a bit, you jump off the crate and crawl in!!"
When my eighth child was born, everyone was thirteen and under. The mornings could be chaotic and Joseph was the main contributor to the mayhem. He was full of energy and good humour but would express it by running up and down the kitchen in between eating, brushing his teeth, gathering  reading books, exercise sheets and his lunch. Somehow with all this activity he never seemed to be able to get dressed.While holding newborn Anthony over my shoulder and awkwardly putting lunches together with a helper, I'd repeat over and over, as calmly as I could,
 "Joseph, please put your clothes on."                                                                     
Finally I came to my senses; there had to be an easier way to handle the morning Battle To Get Him Dressed.  Soon after, I spotted a crazy cartoon in a parenting magazine. On two single beds, side by side, a little boy and girl lay on top of the covers. They were fully dressed in formal clothes with socks and shoes, hair clips, flower basket beside the girl and beside the boy, wedding rings on a pillow. Their mother had prepared for the wedding the next day by getting the ring bearer and flower girl ready the night before.  It looked so ludicrous that I laughed every time this image came to mind the rest of the week.
Then I experienced what I call a suddenly and inspiration hit. The p.j.s  Joseph wore to bed were not all that different than the sweat suits he wore to school. Why on earth did I not dress him in one of his school sweatsuits right after his nightly bath? It was ingenious, I thought.
After the first  day though, I realised  that I had overlooked one vital article of clothing the night before. As usual, Joseph was running up and down the kitchen but this time I was yelling,
"Joseph, please  put your socks on."

Friday, 9 November 2012

DAY 9 Invisible Illness vs. Visible Illness

Picture these two separate scenes.
In the first vignette,  a smiling young woman with a cumbersome backpack, hobbles on crutches towards heavy doors leading to a lecture hall. Before she can even touch the handle, two young men sprint up to open the door as well as  politely offer to carry her bag till she is sitting comfortably at her desk.  She is an accepted part of the young men's social group. Her disability, although permanent, does not repulse the other students but elicits empathy.

 A diametrically opposed scene focuses on another young, pretty woman but she slouches with her head is down. As she struggles weakly with the same heavy doors, an impatient young man sighs, shakes his head at her and roughly yanks the door open . He steps quickly past her after glancing at her sideways because her hands are trembling, she refuses eye contact and appears to be anxious and ill at ease.

The first woman's physical disability is clearly understood by the male students; they confidently offer the kind of help that she needs. The second woman makes the young guy uncomfortable because it is obvious that she is  emotionally or mentally ill but he really does not exactly know why she is ill or how to help her.

 Mental illness has the power to marginalize people.
Physical illness gathers people together.

Some people in tremendous emotional pain, cut their arms, legs, etc. because physical pain takes their mind off mental pain and other people rush to help them.  
Clearly society in general needs information  before they change their prejudiced and fearful attitudes towards the mentally ill.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

DAY 8-I surprise myself by what I write.

The prompt for today is:
Write about how you choose to write about others in your blog. (Friends, family, etc)
After reading a second prompt  in eight days  implying that all writers  choose  consciously what subjects and people  they want to write about,  for a moment I felt rattled.
Seriously, does every other writer logically  plan out their articles, essays, short stories and books with their left brain? I simply cannot function like that. When an episode or opinion has popped into my brain, I did not consciously choose to write about that topic or person. It was an eureka moment, that surprised me. I wonder,
"Where did that thought or memory come from? I haven't thought about him for years!"
Suddenly a story sprung to mind.  I have assimilated emotions, reflections, connected quotes and philosophy  and integrated it all with my faith. Initially my right brain takes over, creativity flows like a river of words and I can hardly type fast enough to keep up.  The entire process is largely subconscious.  I unwittingly combine spirit  of creativity with a gift to craft words together.  As writers in past centuries called it the muse. Left logical  brain editing follows afterwards. However, if  I  attempt to write the first draft with my logical left brain, the article  is stilted, stunted, boring and painful to read.
Hoping that I am not alone in this approach to writing, I have unearthed some powerful and some outrageously funny quotes on the subject of writing:
I do not plan my fiction any more than I normally plan woodland walks; I follow the path that seems most promising at any given point, not some itinerary decided before entry.”
― John Fowles

“There are three secrets to writing a novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are.”
― W. Somerset Maugham

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say. ~Sharon O'Brien”

is the overflow of emotion into action.”

So it seems that I am in good company. I must admit though,  I discovered that many other authors use an outline, plan and work hard at the chore of writing, yet  still managing  to create magic.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pigs, Pigs, Those intelligent Pigs

Pigs seem to be popular these days, especially teacup pigs who are worth up to $2,500.00 each. However, our family loves real farm hogs because they are friendly, smart and crafty.
For twenty years we have raised meat birds, laying hens, four pigs , a calf and loved an old Arabian and a beautiful warm blooded show horse for years. Our family treasures hilariously memories of our animals but some of the most amusing and heartwarming stories are about our pigs.
When the local hog farmer drove over to deliver our four little piglets in the spring, he stayed for almost an hour enjoying their introduction to free range living. In fact, most of the family stood around their pasture, watching and laughing. The piglets literally leaped and twisted in the air in utter bliss as they emerge from the truck. Like most modern farmers, our neighbourhood supplier had an efficient, clean setup. This means that his hogs never breathed fresh air, saw the sun or touched  dirt or vegetation. As soon as the piglets settled down, they dove into the tall weeds, making pathways, connecting  little round flattened areas so they could sunbath, rest under a tree, make their way to the food, their mud bath and the low wooden shed with straw bedding. Our pigs were very clean and they loved to be sprayed with water from a hose; it helped sunburns as did a thick coating of mud. I don't know who had more fun-the kids holding the hose or the pigs.
Our lane is very long
Pigs are very intelligent. One cold fall day, Michael slowly coaxed four HUGE pigs in from the pasture. Rather than turn into the dark, strange barn, they rushed past my stunned husband and ran down our long lane. Instead of tearing down the lane after 200 lb. hogs,  Michael simply stayed put and yelled,
"Hey boys, come on back."
The pigs stopped in their tracks, turned around and  came running  straight home. Michael grabbed four apples, tossed them into the barn and his pets trotted right in.  Obviously pigs are trained with food.

 Pigs are not simply intelligent, they are down right crafty. One especially cold fall, we decided to bring our old laying hens (who we kept feeding, even though they were on pensions), into the same barn as the pigs. The
Brilliant. This pig turned his back on his prey.
pigs helped to keep this particular barn warm. The dim witted birds kept flying over the  six foot partition to hover near the warmer hogs. Our crafty omnivores actually turned their backs on their prey and pretended to ignore them. It was incredible watching  these pigs lure the unsuspecting birds into their trap.Everyday the skittish hens edged closer and closer to their new warm friends. The sly predators waited until one chicken left the flock and then they slowly backed their dinner into a corner. When the hen was encircled, the pigs turned in unison and pounced. It wasn't long before all 15 tough old birds disappeared.  I do mean disappeared because pigs eat everything. Imagine a pig chewing on a sinewy chicken leg with the chicken feet sticking out the side of his mouth! Pigs are pigs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Everyone Remember the admonition, "Quit Eating like a Pig"? It takes on new meaning when you actually watch these creatures devour massive quantities of food. I t is a jaw dropping experience watching pigs dive into their food up to their eye balls. They relish feed soaked in jam soaked feed and day old stone ground, wholewheat bread. During our first year raising pigs our manure soaked garden grew giant vegetables and monster weeds. We fed the pigs a ton of broccoli, swiss chard, wheelbarrows of  freshly pulled weeds, 6 ft. corn stalks, corn cobs, damaged tomatoes, kitchen scrapes, baskets of bruised wild apples, pumpkins.....The neighbours still rave about the delicious ham with only a quarter inch of fat on it!
Although we treat our pigs like pets, we don't feel bad about eating them because they live happy free lives at our farm. I call our pork, chicken and beef  happy meat. I must admit though, there was one poignant moment, though, when three-year old Katie stared at the meat on her fork and asked,
"Is this Josie?"
pigs are very clean
I was standing behind her about to help someone else cut their meat and I waved my hands frantically and mouthed,
All the kids lied obediently and said  in unison,
"No, Katie, that's just a pork chop."
Katie smiled and started eating.

Monday, 5 November 2012

My Soapbox Issue: 11-13% of People are Undiagnosed

Quite by accident, we discovered why our 11 year old son could not read
10-13% of the population has Irlen Syndrome or SSS (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome) and are functionally illiterate, most are never diagnosed.
I was gathering books to return to friends one day when the book Reading by Colors by Carol Irlen caught my eye. As I was skimming through it, 11 year-old Anthony looked over my shoulder and said in a surprised voice, "Gee, those words look nice."
I turned to him and said, "What do you mean NICE?"
Anthony explained, "The words are flat with the page and they're not moving."
I sputtered, "What do you mean not moving?"
Anthony shrugged his shoulders and said, "You know, the letters aren't shaking and they're not high off the page."
I shook my head, "No, I don't know what you mean."
This particular page was grey with blue letters. I quickly turned the page to a white one with black letters. Anthony wrinkled his forehead and described what he saw when he looked at the printed page.
Everything clicked into place as I did research into Irlen Syndrome or SSS (Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome); I realized that Anthony had every symptom. SSS is a learning disability that causes difficulties with reading as well as encoding and decoding verbal information. Unbelievably many eye specialists refuse to acknowledge Irlen syndrome, probably because a normal educator, teaching illiterate adults in California discovered the problem and the solution, not a scientist.
We struggled for years to teach our intelligent son how to read. It was sheer agony. Anthony couldn't sit still, he'd lose his place, forget what he had read 30 seconds after he had read it. After ten minutes of struggling, he would start rubbing his forehead, complain that his head hurt and he felt sick. This kid had perfect eyesight, was smart as a whip, especially in Math but he could barely read.
No one in the school system knew anything about this handicap. I finally a found a private screener in Ottawa, Adel Francis. She discovered that Anthony had not one but five different distortions, each one corrected with a different coloured lens. Within two hours of testing, after Adele had pointed out a few complicated words, Anthony read smoothly and flawlessly at a grade NINE level. We came to tears because we had pushed and badgered our son for years, when he just couldn't see the way most other people do.
We were appalled to learn that 11% to 13% of people have SSS. So much potential wasted, so many people frustrated, unfilled, feeling dumb with many ending up in jail.
Everything changed rapidly once Anthony started to wear his miracle lenses. The first night we read together after he started wearing his dark blue, grey glasses, Anthony moved the page close to his face and then back again. He then turned to me with a puzzled look on his face and asked, "Getting hasTWO t's in it??!"
One night after supper, when the younger children had left the table to play, my oldest daughter laughed and said,
"Hey, I just realized that we don't have to send Anthony away if we want to discuss an adult topic; we'll just take off his glass!"
We all laughed of course.
Then there was the time a friend tried to cut Anthony's hair. He couldn't seem to stop squirming. One of my daughter's, Rachel, suggested, "Why don't you try putting on his glasses?"
Anthony put them on and he sat as still as a stone statue.
"Oh my god, I don't believe it," my friend yelled, "Everyone come see this. Okay, Anthony, take your glasses off and then put them on when I tell you."
The difference was so dramatic and everyone's reaction was so funny that even Anthony started to laugh.