/> a mother's heart

Well, I survived.  Thanks to countless prayers from family and friends, several doses of essential oilsPortraitphoto © 2010 R. M. Calamar | more info (via: Wylio)
(Peace & Calming and Valor), and a very chicken-sensitive dental office, I made it through the visit.

I was sincerely hoping that the broken tooth was smaller than it felt – because it felt cavernous.  No such luck – the dentist was looking at the radiographs (digital x-rays) in his office as the were taken and said, “WOW! That’s a BIG HOLE!”  Dang.

The short of it is that I need a crown on that tooth and maybe on another.  The other tooth has a cracked filling and Dr. Kovar will go conservatively at first, trying to do it with a replacement filling, only resorting to a crown if absolutely necessary.  The dental assistant told me that he’s a perfectionist, so nothing short of perfect will be done in my mouth as far as work.  That’s good – it scratches my own (recovering) perfectionistic tendencies.

But here’s where the real work begins.  I chose the dental office I did because Drs. Margolis and Kovar are biological dentists.  A biological dentist is one who practices holistic dentistry and won’t put toxic things in your mouth to fix your teeth.  There’s no point in fixing your teeth and poisoning your body by the materials used to fix your teeth.  I’d begun to be concerned about the sheer volume of amalgam (silver, metal) fillings I had in my teeth, aware that they were very old, and thinking that maybe at some point I would have them removed and replaced with porcelain fillings.

Now is that time.  This crown will be the first in a long series of dental visits to remove the amalgam fillings.  As Dr. Kovar explained it to me, amalgam is 50% mercury (the only metal that’s liquid at room temperature).  When you eat or drink something hot (coffee, tea, dinner?), the mercury expands in your tooth.  It’s packed in the cranies and crevices of your tooth, and it expands as much as the tooth will let it.  But guess what happens when you drink ice water (iced coffee, iced tea, ice cream?)?  That’s right – it contracts!  So all this while, the poor tooth is expanding, contracting, and absorbing pressure from eating, chewing, talking, and (in my case) clenching my jaws while asleep.  So last Tuesday night my tooth said, “ENOUGH!  I can’t take it anymore!” and broke off the first of 4 pieces that would eventually come out.

Now here’s where the “brilliance” of traditional dentistry-propaganda comes in to play:  that mercury filling is toxic when outside of your mouth. When it comes out of a mouth, it must be quickly whisked away, labelled as toxic waste, and disposed of in a safe manner.  But as long as that mercury filling is inside your mouth, it’s “safe.” Huh.  Really?  The distance from my tooth to outside of my mouth is something like 2.5″, maximum.  So the distance from “outside my mouth” to “inside my mouth” suddenly turns the most toxic, non-radioactive substance on earth “safe”?  Wow.  We really are sheep if we believe that!

As much as I dislike the whole dental experience, I am happy to have the amalgam removed.  I am excited to see what new form of health awaits me once this known-toxin is gone.  It’s interesting in that my research about side-effects of mercury exposure have turned up a link between asthma and mercury.  I got my first amalgam filling at age 3 (don’t ask why – most dentists who doing more than drilling for dollars will leave primary teeth alone) and my first recollection of struggling to breathe is at age 4.  Is there a link?  Maybe, maybe not.  But it will be interesting to see if there’s something there for me.

If you’re still not convinced about mercury and its off-gassing in your mouth from fillings, watch this video.  It shows the direct effect of heating up a mercury-amalgam filling (from chewing, drinking or eating hot things, etc.) under normal circumstances.  It’s eye-opening, to say the least.

Continued from yesterday’s post

[091/365] Wedding Ringphoto © 2009 Leland Francisco | more info (via: Wylio)
We had never experienced anything like seeing a digital rendering of a ring and had no idea what to expect.  We provided the sketch and Ed told us we’d see a rendering in a week.  We were on pins and needles that whole week, wondering what would turn up.

We went to the store a week later to see what the designer came up with and how it would meet our needs and desires.

It was lovely, but… it wasn’t quite It. The initial rendering was a tad too masculine – not enough curves.  Still, impressive in the beauty of the design and the digital presentation was stunning.  We requested some changes, including fewer bead-set (pavé) diamonds down the sides, and a solid back so that if I needed it sized, it wouldn’t be a nightmare.

About a week later, Ed called to say that he had another rendering and that he would email it to me.  This image was closer and included a better number of diamonds and a solid back, but still wasn’t quite It. I asked Ed if we could have the designer elongate (side-to-side) my eternal knot design and he said that they could.

I didn’t expect to hear from Ed for another week, but he called about 3 days later, telling me that we had another rendering AND some wax models to look at.  As much as it killed me, I told him we’d have to wait a solid 10 days; Mark and I were headed out of state for a bit and couldn’t swing by the store until after we returned.  Ed indicated that the second wax that was cut was It and that when I saw it, he predicted a smile from ear-to-ear.  That was about the longest 10 days ever – I had no idea what the wax mock-up would look like, but I wanted to see it.

We finally got back from our trip and carved out time to get to the store.

Ed pulled out the wax rendering (he didn’t show me the one he didn’t think was It) and I slid it on my finger.  My eyes welled up as I gazed at the design I’d sketched some weeks before, now in blue and white wax.  It was curiously hard to imagine it in white gold (the metal we chose – it is smelted in the store to their own specs), but I trusted that it would be spectacular.

We gave the go-ahead to begin designing in metal; the wax rendering is the final approval step on custom pieces because it is very difficult to go back once the metalwork has begun. We told Ed that the first of May was fine for a delivery date, understanding that he would return to the store to deliver the piece to us (he had accepted a job with an outside organization that took him out of the store).

Ed called while I was in Atlanta for the ORANGE conference, and I remember sitting on a grassy hill in the sun, realizing that this dream was about to come to fruition.  It both exhilarated and frightened me at the same time.

We arrived at the store with a few minutes to spare, but Ed was waiting with my ring.  Brendan had whispered to Mark as we were getting in the car that we needed tissues – I thought he was concerned about my recent history of nosebleeds due to the lack of humidity.  No, he was thinking that I would cry at the jewelry store.  My kid knows me.  :)

Ed showed me the ring in the box and I am pretty sure I didn’t breathe for several seconds.

It absolutely took my breath away to see what they put together out of my pencil-sketch.  I slipped my old ring off and Mark placed the new ring on my finger… and I wept with delight.  It was if all of our past mistakes, symbolized by the old ring, were gone.  We were looking at a new story – one where a Celtic knot without beginning or ending told our tale.  One that was shiny, gorgeous, and specifically and uniquely us.  No one else has a ring like this and no one else has a husband quite like my husband.  He is mine, I am his, and we are His – together.  Our lives are woven together like the knot – God has truly given us a new identity, symbolized by some metal and stones.

But oh, what amazing metal and stones they are! I am blessed beyond measure.

courtesy my husband and Coffin & Trout....


Postscript: we eventually went back to the original store where we put money down on the first ring and the guy who initially gave us grief about not buying on credit asked somewhat snarkily, “Oh, did you find something cheaper?” when we the requested refund. We bit our tongues and I said sweetly, “Oh, no. We found something custom.” I wish I’d had a video camera to record his expression – he was shocked. And when we answered his question about who was doing the ring, his eyes bugged out further. It was all we could do not to laugh aloud and remind him that if he’d never jerked us around in the first place, we’d never have looked at custom work. We didn’t rub it in, but he knew he blew that sale when we left.

[091/365] Wedding Ringphoto © 2009 Leland Francisco | more info (via: Wylio)
I took a friend ring-shopping while she visited in January, which precipitated this whole adventure.  So I could just say this is Ashley’s fault, but the truth is that purchasing a new wedding band for me was far more than just a whim or something influenced by a friend.

We’ve been together 19.5 years now – and Mark put an engagement ring on my hand 18 years ago this month.  We were very different people back then – not just naive, but embroiled in our own individual unhealthy patterns and somehow we meshed them in to a marriage.  Ring shopping with Ashley was a catalyst to realizing that we were now in a place where we could make a new statement about our love and commitment.  We renewed our vows in November 2010, so this was a logical next step.

And since we bought the original wedding trio at Kay Jewelers, we went back there.  I tried on several, but like

Mobile UploadsGoldilocks, none of them were quite right. Then I found one that was simply beautiful (to the right) and we put money down on it, layaway-style.  The sales people couldn’t understand why we didn’t just apply for credit and buy it right then, but we are paying down a debt-snowball, not adding to it.  We were adamant.  I didn’t sleep much that night, questioning if we did the right thing, but in the morning, Mark assured me that we had.  The ring was beautiful and he said, “You’re worth it to me.”  Melt.

We diligently saved for 3 months and went back in when we were instructed, because “they would discount it further.”  Cool!  But when we got there, there was no “extra discount,” only instructions to come back next month.  Crud.  The next month (four months after putting the initial layaway payment on the ring), we went back with cash in hand, expecting to leave with a ring – or at least, getting the ring sized.  Nope.  This time, we got the runaround from the store manager and were told that in 6 weeks they would be able to adjust the price and make good on the sale.  We were crushed.

That night as we went to sleep, we realized that this store didn’t want to sell us the ring at the price we negotiated.  They were jerking us around.  So we began looking at other (small, independent) jewelers.  It took us about a week to visit all of them and ascertain that some were a better fit for us than others.  I didn’t know quite what I wanted, but I knew I’d recognize It when I saw It.  Classic Sue, really – Mark is used to it by now.

We “struck gold” at one jeweler in particular, Coffin & Trout Fine Jewellers (pun not intended).  Ed was our salesman and he spent a good hour with us, explaining cut, clarity, what the designers could do for us, and how they were all about the relationship between jeweler and customer.  We realized at that moment that the original ring was never discussed in terms of cut, clarity, or quality of diamonds; we didn’t know what we were buying.  At Coffin & Trout, we felt cared for, educated, and genuinely listened to there.  I tried on two different rings (I have “a thing” for pavé diamonds), and we left contemplating our options.  Just for grins, we went to another (chain) jeweler and I was appalled – it felt as though I was in WalMart, trying to buy a diamond and being pressured in to making a decision in 15 minutes.  Needless to say, we didn’t go back to that store.

I set out on a journey to figure out exactly what I wanted.  I visited stores, looked at catalogs, and browsed online jewelry designs.  I came back to my thumb-ring, which is a Celtic knot.  If you know me, you know that my heritage is Celtic (as is Mark’s), our playlists are dominated by Celtic music, and our hearts are full-on Celt.  I began sketching my Celtic knot on paper, coming to a design that I really thought was perfect.

We took the sketch to Ed and asked if it was possible.  His answer?  A resounding, “Yes!”  And the designer began putting something in CAD for us.

continued tomorrow…..

I remember when I was a little girl, cereal manufacturers advertised “fortified with vitamins and minerals!” in their wares.  One manufacturer even claimed to have 100% of recommended daily allowance in their flakes. We bought it and ate it because it was Milk and Cerealphoto © 2007 Steven Wilke | more info (via: Wylio)
there; we had very little understanding of nutrition in our family past a straight caloric count.  We didn’t consider things like fibre, protein, whole foods, or anything else that Mark and I now do in our family.  *shrug*  My parents did the best they could with what information they had available.

Now we know about things like bioavailability – your food’s nutrients and their  ability to be absorbed by your body – and how important it is to eat things that have raw nutrients for your body to use.

Enter this little (disgusting) science experiment where we get to see exactly what kind of iron is in fortified cereal.  While this video shows a masked box of Total cereal, it can also be done with any “iron enriched/fortified” cereal.  I’ll have comments below and a bonus recipe to make breakfasts both healthy, tasty, and easy.  :)

Delightful, eh? Yeah.  Blech.  I will still buy an occasional box of organic cereal to munch on, but most often, it doesn’t get eaten much.  I have some tasty flax cereal with raisins hanging about – I’m more likely to make flax muffins with it, but I’m okay with that.

Okay, so now you’re grossed out and a bit wigged out, potentially thinking about checking the boxes in your pantry when you’re done reading blog posts.  What will you feed your family?  Never fear.  I have an easy recipe for you that has whole foods, nutritive oils, and fibre.  No iron filings needed; these breakfast cookies are equivalent to a bowl of oatmeal and I promise you, kids and husbands alike love them.  My son’s eyes POPPED when I asked him if he wanted a cookie for breakfast.  Seriously.  You’d have thought that I offered to buy out FAO Schwartz of all existing LEGO sets.  :)

Breakfast Cookies
  • 1 c. butter, melted (I often use 1/2 c. butter + 1/2 c. coconut oil)
  • ¾ c. honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. salt (I like Real Salt)
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk (milk or kefir can also be used)
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. rolled oats (NOT steel-cut oats)
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

Mix wet ingredients, add flour in 1/3 c. at a time. then add oats, raisins, and chocolate chips.  Scoop large (really big!) spoonfuls of batter on to baking tray, bake at 350F for 18 minutes.  Cool on a rack and store in a container in the fridge, between waxed paper pieces.  Yields 12-15 cookies per batch.

Way better than iron filings, eh?  :)


So it’s not a big secret that I’m a dental chicken.  I had 6 years of braces, 3.5 years of retainers, and a mouth full Aaaagh!photo © 2006 Finizio | more info (via: Wylio)
of amalgam fillings to show what we didn’t know about dental hygiene when I was a kid.  Add in a few extractions, some oral surgery, and a desperately horrible (tear-inducing) reaction to whatever disinfectant they use (I call it The Smell), and you’ve got a fantastic recipe for a near-phobia.

So I take super-good care of my teeth – I brush like a maniac, I floss (unlike most people, I really DO floss when I say I do), and I’m very aware of my teeth in general.  I do this so I don’t have to visit a dentist very often – an ounce of prevention, as they say…

Recently, I’ve become more aware of how my mouth full of amalgam fillings might be affecting my overall health and have sought recommendations for a biological dentist, with the idea that maybe someday I would have my amalgam fillings replaced with ceramic.  I chose one, but like the typical dental chicken, I didn’t do much with the information.  Until now.

I wasn’t chewing anything when the tooth chipped; I was sitting at ReKindle, listening to my group-members talk about how they wanted to define their futures with their spouses. Suddenly, there was a piece of something hard on my tongue.  I looked at it and realized it was tooth.  I hate when that happens – I’ve chipped a front tooth ever-so-slightly and had it filed smooth, because I hate the rough-edge.  But I came home and examined it and Mark said not to worry – it was just a small chip.

The next day I tried not to worry when a tiny piece of amalgam came out in my mouth.  Again, I picked it out and discarded it – the last thing I wanted was to swallow that bit of mercury-laden junk.  And I tried not to worry.

Today, as I was flossing after lunch (trying to get the bit of carrot out), another piece of tooth came out.  And then two more. By then, I was freaking out.  My teeth aren’t supposed to fall apart in my mouth!  This understanding collided with my reality and I fell apart.  Mark tried to calm me down – for whatever reason, I didn’t respond to his assurances.  There is no pain at the moment, but there is a hole in my mouth, and I’m pretty darned sure it’s not supposed to be there.

So I called the biological dentist I had chosen from the referrals and explained the situation; the receptionist indicated that the doctor I would see was very gentle and sensitive to chickens.  This is a very good thing.  She said that since I had no pain, it wouldn’t be considered an emergency and Monday was the first she could get me in, but to avoid chewing on that side and getting food stuck in the hole.  It’s a bit disconcerting, really.  I wish there was some way to know what will be done, how much it will cost, and how much pain will be involved ahead of time.  In the meantime, there’s a hole in my mouth.

Time to screw my courage to the sticking place and face my fear, head-on.  😐

Some people use the phase in the post’s title as a goal; I typically find that there’s at least one thing per day Caution: Study Techphoto © 2008 Anonymous9000 | more info (via: Wylio)
that I come across and didn’t know previously.  Usually, it comes in my benefit; sometimes to my detriment.  Today, I had two episodes – one a happy surprise, one a not-so-happy one.

1.  There was a note pinned to my door last night indicating that the head maintenance guy at the apartment complex was going to show up on Thursday for a “pre-move-out inspection.”  I was slightly annoyed, as the house looks like we’re moving.  Which we are, so this isn’t terribly surprising, but do I want someone “inspecting” the place when it’s a wreck? Not really.  So I popped out today to talk to the guy – turns out the inspection is no biggie.  He wants to see what needs replacing, what needs painting, etc.  I can deal with that.

But the good part of my talk with him was finding out a few things about moving out:  a) they expect professional cleaning once the apartment is empty – if we do it, we must provide invoices to prove that it’s been professionally cleaned.  I honestly thought I could come in after our stuff was out and get it white-glove clean on my own.  He continued on and said that they contract with a housecleaning service in the Valley and to have it cleaned by their contracted service would run me $61.50.  REALLY?!  Since I have to pay for it anyhow, that’s not too terrible.  :)  b)  They have a carpet cleaner with the same deal:  $50 for the base-cleaning.  The carpet here needs cleaning, but the base job should be sufficient – there are no red dye stains anywhere or anything else noxious.  And those charges can come out of our security deposit (which I generally consider a loss anyhow), so bonus!  :)

That episode worked in my favour.  :)

2.  And then I went to the Apple store.  My battery on the laptop was heating up and had warped – it was no longer “reading” when I pressed the battery-life indicator and it was hard to lock on to the body of the computer.  It also quit completely at 35% battery left, which seemed really strange. There were no on-screen indicators that my battery was exhausted, so I wasn’t sure what was going on.  I read up on it and it was a toss-up as to whether it was a faulty battery or if it needed replacing.  I rolled the dice and took my chances, hoping for a faulty battery.

Yeah, I lost.  Apparently, leaving a macbook plugged in all the time is bad for it and causes the battery to swell.  I had no idea.  The tech took it off my machine and wouldn’t put it back on – he said it was at risk for exploding.  Holy CRAP!  I had no idea!  So I bought a brand-new battery for it today (it’s 2 years old this month) and was grateful for a savings account and being protected from a potentially exploding battery.  Good grief!

Since the day isn’t over, I’m hoping there are no more negative-things I need to learn today; I do have to run the Kirby to the store, since the prong on the plug broke off last week when I was gone and I really do need to use the vacuum.  But here’s hoping for a cheap and easy fix.  :)

What have you learned today?

So there’s been a movement for several years now to make men look like idiots, nincompoops, and doofuses Maxwell_Neanderthalphoto © 2008 Matt Celeskey | more info (via: Wylio)
in the media, specifically in advertising.

I understand the thought behind it (to a degree) in that the ads make women seem empowered, stronger, and smarter.  A nod to Girl Power and the feminism of the 70s and 80s.  But what I don’t like and I don’t agree with is that empowering women is a zero-sum gain.  In other words, there’s equal space in our world for men AND women to be smart, strong, and powerful.  One gender does NOT have to diminish while the other climbs over and achieves.  And I think that is where the advertisers fail.  There is no reason to denigrate men while elevating women; the opposite is also true:  there’s no need to denigrate women while elevating men.  We as genders are complimentary to each other – we’re designed to work together, not lop each other off on the way to the top.

So enter Tide.  Yes, the laundry detergent. Tide has recently decided that making a dad look like a passive-aggressive jerk is a great way to sell soap. Really? So here’s the ad and my thoughts follow.

One of the things I’m wondering is why a talk between the parents in the situation hasn’t taken place about their kids’ wardrobes.  I know we do things a bit “old-fashioned” around here, but parents being on the same page in parenting is an important thing.  A skirt that short deserves some healthy boundaries – in the family, for the daughter, and for the sake of parental unity and the marriage.  Modesty-issues aside, how is something like that good for a young woman who’s growing in womanhood and who can/will be ogled by grown men (not to mention her same-aged male peers)? Personal safety is important!  It’s curious to me why the mom approves of a skirt that short and seems to not be concerned with the safety of her daughter and the message that she’s broadcasting.  In a day and age when so many individuals are addicted to pornography and display other sexual brokennesses, I simply can’t see something like this being ok.

If the conversation about the skirt had taken place, there would be no place for the dad in the commercial to be passive-aggressive and wipe his hands on the short skirt.  Yes, I know this would kill the commercial and the point of the ad. Additionally, if there hadn’t been any passive-aggressive behaviour, there would have been no side-long glance (with what appeared to be mild contempt) from the mom in the spot.  I recognize that I’m analyzing this heavily, but while working with couples whose marriages are in trouble, I see many people who have barely-masked contempt for each other, and parenting their kids is where the wheels really start to come off of the relationship.

I also think it’s a shame that dad is portrayed not only as passive-aggressive in this spot, but as a kill-joy.  Dads are a vital, integral part of their kids’ lives.  My friends and I all have stories on the importance of a father in the life of his kids – and being a joy-sucker isn’t part of the stories or job-description.  A dad’s relationship with his daughter will be the foundation upon which she builds her future relationships, her self-esteem, her education, and ultimately, how she chooses to live out whatever calling she has.  A dad’s role in his son’s life is equally as important – it’s the dad who will teach his son what it means to be a man, how to provide for his family, and how to lead his family.  A young man who has a firm foundation of his father’s love will excel in school (to the best of his ability), determine his self-worth, and will identify his own gender and how to form relationships with the opposite gender.  The importance of a dad in the life of a family and children cannot be understated – women simply cannot do it all, despite the old Enjoli ad’s words.

In my opinion, dads acting as neanderthals isn’t something we should be celebrating, modeling, or laughing about – even to sell laundry soap.  This ad is a snapshot of culture in our country today; it shows gender-bias attitudes that are present, unhealthy boundaries with kids and between the parents, and might even elicit a small laugh from people.  I think it’s sad that we laugh at the underlying message, but it seems to have struck a chord with our society today.

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