Thursday, March 29, 2012

Getting Dressed in the Mornings!

To anyone who has not had young children in the home, this sounds like an easy task, but when there is so much learning going on at the same time, changing out of pajamas and putting on clean clothes for the day can often be a challenge. 
Biosocial development that is happening includes coordinating body movements as well as the left and right sides of the body and brain.  Gross motor movements include putting arms in sleeves, legs in pants, shirt overhead, or the opposite in taking off pajamas.  Fine motor skills are needed for zippers, buttons, snaps, gabbing and holding the clothing, and tying laces.
Cognitive development is occurring as children develop the sense of independence and “I can do it” mentality.  Their memory and language skills are at work in remembering what each piece of clothing is called, where it goes on the body, in which order does it go on and what body parts need to be controlled to get the clothes on or off.
Psychosocial development is seen in the child’s assertions of their opinions and development of a sense of self-worth.  They are also exploring gender in the clothing they are wearing.
All of this learning is occurring while the adult uses scaffolding to help the child develop these skills to be independent.  And oftentimes the adult is practicing a lot of patience.

This is from an assignment from last week - and just wanted to share!  :)  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Malagasy Children and Child Labor

I have been blessed to not have endured stressors during my childhood.  I asked my parents if they had and my dad shared a story with me I had never heard.  He was never allowed to ride a horse because my grandmother had been thrown off a horse and then stepped on by the horse.  As a result, my grandfather had to do the heavy lifting with the laundry because she had hurt her back.  While not a real huge stressor in childhood, it is a true example of how one incident can affect so much of your life.  In the 20’s and 30’s it was not common for the husband to help with the laundry.

I decided to look at Madagascar again, as that is where our friends are serving.  Check out their amazing journey here.  Some of the great stressors on childhood in Madagascar are: violence against children, forced marriages for girls, forced child labor, lack of care, environmental issues, and discrimination.

Through my reading I found the term “Worst Forms of Child Labor” which includes slavery (sales, trafficking, serfdom, forced labor, using children in armed conflict), Sexual exploitation of children (prostitution & pornography), and using children for illegal activities.

The question is posed “Why is it urgent and important to take action against the worst forms of child labor?  Their answers include:
  •  It is a matter of human rights
  • It is a matter of saving lives.
  • It is a matter of combating some particularly odious forms of organized crime.
  • It is a matter of protecting children from the horrors of war. 
  • It is a matter of building a nation’s future.
  • It is a matter of international concern.
Photos of beautiful Malagasy children
In Madagascar the child labor imposed on nearly 1.9 million children involves sexual exploitation of children, work in stone quarries and mines, domestic servitude, farm and fishing industry work, and other work in dangerous and unhealthy urban and rural jobs.  This represents 20% of 5-9 year olds and 50% of 10-14 year old children are exposed to these labor conditions.

Madagascar has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and are in the very beginning stages of enacting government procedures to protect children.  January 20, 2012 the United Nations considered the Madagascar report and their dialogue is posted here.

Along with the governmental work, Pact, a non-profit is working in Madagascar to use education to combat child labor.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Access to Healthy Water

Two summers ago, our Vacation Bible School decided to choose this issue to talk with the kids about and raise funds.  Through the one week, we raised over $600, which went to Lutheran World Relief to help build wells for communities. 
Water is one of the necessities for life. (I’m singing “The Bare Necessities” in my headJ).  Many in the western world take the abundance of clean water for granted, my family included.  We turn on the faucet and there is water to drink, clean with, cook with, or do whatever we want with.  We can even choose if we want the water hot or cold. 
I decided to look at some websites and see if they had published materials on the topic (I was sure they had …and they did.)  The World Health Organization (WHO) has published “Guidelines for drinking-water quality.”  As described by the United Nations (UN) this is a set of “international norms on water quality and human health in the form of guidelines that are used as the basis for regulation and standard setting, in developing and developed countries worldwide.”
I decided to look up information on Madagascar.  We have some friends who have recently begun a 4 year stay there and so thought this would be a great place to see how their water rates.  WHO has an office in Madagascar and some information including in a  Health Profile, which compares their numbers to the WHO African Region.  As of 2002 75% of the urban population had access to an improved water source and only 34% in rural areas.  These are lower percentages than the WHO African Region, which means there is still work to do.   One of the WHO’s millennium goals in Madagascar is to improve access to an improved water source, although I was not able to find information on how they are going about this work.  A correction.  The materials may be there, but they aren’t in English, so I don’t know if they exist or not.
The UN is currently near the end of their decade focus on water.  The Water for Life section has a site specifically dedicated for educating kids about different water issues.  I think I will be getting my kids linked in here … and start some conversations in our home as to how we can do our part.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I have birthed three children.  Each has its own unique story and none of them happened the way I had planned.  I have a strong belief that women have been birthing babies longer than most ventures in life and without medical interventions.  We have medicalized so many aspects of life that do not need to be.  That said, I did not want to birth my children in a hospital setting.  We were living in Delaware, USA.  The options based on law are hospital birth or one available birth center. 
We chose the birth center and had wonderful mid-wives throughout the pregnancy experience.  My first child was born there.  Unfortunately it wasn’t the birth I had hoped for.  When I was in the beginning stages of labor, the midwives had given me something to help me sleep through the night so I would have the energy come active labor the following day.  Labor kicked in strong in the middle of the night.  I had a very difficult time staying awake through labor and it took much longer as I slept through every other contraction.  When he was born, as I am holding him in all his yucky newborn self, all I could think is “Hallelujah, now I can sleep!”  Not the best response when you have a newborn ready for your love and attention!
My second and third were in the hospital setting (in 2 different states).  Baby 2 was in the hospital because when my water broke there was a ton of meconium in the fluid thus (by law) necessitating the need to be hospitalized.  My nurse there had never witnessed a non-medicated birth, and thus had no idea how to interact with me while I was in active labor (i.e. asking me about a living will).  Strapped to machines, they didn’t want me sitting up, let alone getting out of bed.  Due to various unexpected factors, I was not able to hold her until she was 1 hour old.  This hospital in many ways was a baby factory … 300-400 births a day.  During our stay, I shared a room with another woman in a room meant to be a single.  arrgh
Baby 3 was born in the hospital. I had found a wonderful OB and knew that she would support us in all ways that I desired as far as birth was concerned.  I also knew the hospital respected natural birth.  They had a couple rooms with tubs!  J  But again, the best laid plans … She needed to be induced early because my blood pressure was skyrocketing.  Once again I was strapped up to machines with a cuff that took my blood pressure no matter if I was in the middle of a contraction or not.  I was able to labor in many various positions … only needing to maneuver the cords around which the nurse and my husband were wonderful about.  When she was born I waited maybe 5 minutes to hold her.  My stay in the hospital was wonderful.  I almost didn’t want to go home, the nurses took such great care of both of us … and I would be heading home to 2 children under the age of 5!
We decided to stop after 3 babies, not knowing what the birth of a 4th would do to my body … or what that experience might be like.  All 3 of my children are beautiful and healthy, so even if their births weren’t what I had planned, they are a welcome joy in my life!
With my best intentions of having a non-medicalized birth … it didn’t happen.  So what about other areas of the world?  They must not all be as medicalized as mine?  I decided to look at another developed country with a large population and found Japan.
I found the story of Andy Gray and their birth experience in Japan after having given birth to their first child in the United States.  Their story and more information is found at 
Some of the highlights:  doctors in Japan do not have the social status they do here in the US.  They have the income without the status and thus seek the status and control in their role.  Many OB doctors take care of prenatal care, delivery, and newborn care in their hospital setting.  You don’t make an appointment with the doctor, you just show up to see him and wait your turn (much like an emergency room set-up).  If the doctor needs to deliver a baby, you wait until he is finished for your time to see him.
“Doctors monopolize control of the birth process in most situations.”  Midwives work with the mother prior to delivery but the role of delivering babies is in the hands of the doctor.  It happens the way the doctor wants.  Nurses are not empowered and often lack basic information, they do what they think is right from their cultural perspective (not medical) and do whatever the doctor tells them to do.
The Maternity ward was a large room with beds around the sides.  Each bed separated by a curtain that is never opened.  Japanese people do not make noise in public spaces and so the ward was very quiet.
Fathers are not part of the birth process and are often an unwelcome presence.
So – is it a medicalized process?  Yes and No.  It is whatever the doctor wants!  The patient does not have a lot of say at all.
This has made me appreciate the choices that I was able to make, my ability to ask questions and stay a part of the process and not focus on the negative perceptions of the births of my children.