Splenda may increase your risk of obesity in addion to other substitute sweeteners…read on


Retreived from Dr. Mercola

The ‘Other’ Sweetener That’s Made from Sugar, but is Closer to DDT

Posted By Dr. Mercola | April 26 2011 |
 
Splenda Artificial Sweetener
Researchers recently investigated sucralose (Splenda) to see if it could reduce hunger and keep blood sugar steady. They found that it could not.

The researchers hoped to find that sucralose could cause the intestine to produce a hormone that reduces blood sugar and decreases appetite, which prior study had indicated might be a possibility. But the effect did not occur when it was ingested orally — hunger remained the same and the blood sugar remained the same.

According to FYI Living:

“Worse, other research has shown that artificial sweeteners might contribute to weight gain … [when the] sweet taste is not accompanied by the calories (energy) our brain expects it to be, the complex systems our bodies have to regulate energy balance may be thrown off kilter. The result is that a diet high in artificial sweeteners may possibly, over time, cause people to seek out more calories from other sources”.

Sources:

FYI Living March 10, 2011
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition April 2011; 65(4):508-13

Avoiding sugar is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle, but, instead of consuming a naturally low-sugar diet based on whole foods, some people are still trying to have their cake and eat it too.

Unfortunately, the belief that artificial sweeteners can allow you to have the best of both worlds is simply not based in reality. It’s a carefully orchestrated deception. So if you’re still consuming artificially sweetened foods, snacks and beverages because you think it’ll help you manage your weight, please understand that you’ve been sorely misled.

In reality, “diet” foods and drinks ruin your body’s ability to count calories, thus boosting your inclination to overindulge. This effect appears to be true for all artificial sweeteners.

Unfortunately, most public health agencies and nutritionists in the United States still recommend these toxic artificial sweeteners as acceptable and even preferred alternatives to sugar, which is at best confusing and at worst seriously damaging the health of those who listen to this well-intentioned but foolish advice.

Artificial Sweeteners INCREASE Your Risk of Obesity

Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain. In fact, diet sodas may actually double your risk of obesity!

How’s that for being misled?

Studies have repeatedly shown that consuming artificial sweeteners may be ruining your ability to control your food intake and body weight. For example, I have listed the results of six studies on aspartame that found it increases hunger and body weight on my Aspartame Studies page, and research on other artificial sweeteners have come to the same conclusion.

It’s thought that consuming artificial sweeteners breaks the inherent connection between a sweet taste and a high-calorie food, thereby changing your body’s ability to regulate your intake of calories. The end result is that by consuming artificially sweetened foods and beverages, you end up gaining more body fat than if you were to eat the same foods sweetened with regular sugar!

But weight gain isn’t the only health-harming side effect of these man-made chemical sweeteners.

Splenda Destroys Your Gut Flora

Different artificial sweeteners have been found to wreak havoc in a number of different ways. Aspartame, for example, has a long list of studies indicating its harmful effects, ranging from brain damage to pre-term delivery.

Splenda (sucralose) has been found to be particularly damaging to your intestines.

A study published in 2008 found that Splenda:

  • Reduces the amount of good bacteria in your intestines by 50 percent
  • Increases the pH level in your intestines, and
  • Affects a glycoprotein in your body that can have crucial health effects, particularly if you’re on certain medications like chemotherapy, or treatments for AIDS and certain heart conditions

They also found unmistakable evidence that Splenda is absorbed by fat, contrary to previous claims.

In response to this study, James Turner, chairman of the national consumer education group Citizens for Health issued the following statement:

“The report makes it clear that the artificial sweetener Splenda and its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume the product. Hundreds of consumers have complained to us about side effects from using Splenda and this study … confirms that the chemicals in the little yellow package should carry a big red warning label.”

I agree. It’s truly disturbing that Splenda can destroy up to 50 percent of your healthy intestinal bacteria, as these bacteria are absolutely vital for supporting your general health! Many people are already deficient in healthy bacteria due to consuming too many highly processed foods. This is why a high quality probiotic is one of the very few supplements I highly recommend for most, if not all, people.

Believe me, if you continually destroy up to half of your gut flora by regularly consuming Splenda, then poor health is virtually guaranteed!

Splenda has Never Been Proven Safe for Human Consumption

Splenda was approved by the FDA as a tabletop- and general-purpose sweetener in processed foods in 1998. The FDA claims the approval was based on more than 110 animal and human safety studies. However, what they don’t specify was that out of these 110 studies, only two were human studies, consisting of a combined total of 36 people, of which only 23 people actually ingested sucralose.

Additionally, the longest of these two human trials lasted only four days and looked at sucralose in relation to tooth decay, not human tolerance!

Many people have sent me stories about their adverse reactions to Splenda, which are posted on my site. This list alone contains more people than were formally studied in the research submitted for FDA approval!

The remainder of those 110-plus “safety studies” were done on animals, and they actually revealed plenty of problems, such as:

  • Decreased red blood cells — sign of anemia — at levels above 1,500 mg/kg/day
  • Increased male infertility by interfering with sperm production and vitality, as well as brain lesions at higher doses
  • Enlarged and calcified kidneys (McNeil stated this is often seen with poorly absorbed substances and was of no toxicological significance. The FDA Final Rule agreed that these are findings that are common in aged female rats and are not significant.)
  • Spontaneous abortions in nearly half the rabbit population given sucralose, compared to zero aborted pregnancies in the control group
  • A 23 percent death rate in rabbits, compared to a 6 percent death rate in the control group

Common Side Effects of Splenda

The web site www.truthaboutsplenda.com lists a variety of consumer complaints from Splenda consumption, such as:

Gastrointestinal problems Blurred vision
Migraines Allergic reactions
Seizures Blood sugar increases
Dizziness Weight gain

You can also read the first-hand accounts of many of my readers here, at least one of whom say that allowing Splenda on the market is “worse than chemical warfare” based on the adverse effects she suffered before she figured out the cause. Just as with aspartame, many Splenda users complain of general malaise or “feeling under the weather,” along with a variety of neurological changes, such as foggy-headedness, lack of concentration, and “bad mood.”

If you have ever suffered any side effects from taking Splenda or any artificially sweetened product, I strongly recommend reporting it to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area.

Splenda—”Made from Sugar” But More Similar to DDT…

That’s right.

The catchy slogan “Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar” has fooled many, but chemically, Splenda is actually more similar to DDT than sugar.

Sucralose starts off with a sugar molecule, yes, but that’s where the similarity ends. (A sucrose molecule is a disaccharide that contains two single sugars bound together, i.e. glucose and fructose.) Then, in a five-step patented process, three chlorine molecules are added to that sucrose (sugar) molecule.

This process converts the sugar molecule to a fructo-galactose molecule.

This type of sugar molecule does not occur in nature, and therefore your body does not possess the ability to properly metabolize it. As a result of this “unique” biochemical make-up, McNeil Nutritionals makes its claim that Splenda is not digested or metabolized by the body, hence it has zero calories.

But, if you look at the research, you will find that an average of 15 percent of sucralose IS in fact absorbed into your digestive system, and ultimately is stored in your body. To reach the average number of 15 percent means that some people absorb more and some people absorb less, depending on your biochemical makeup.

If you are healthy and your digestive system works well, you may be at HIGHER risk for breaking down this product in your stomach and intestines, so for you the adverse reactions may be more acutely felt.

How to Kick the Artificial Sweetener Habit

Sweet cravings are very common for the simple reason that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. Unfortunately, switching to artificial sweeteners will neither reduce these cravings nor increase your satiety. On the contrary, as discussed above, you’re likely making matters worse. 

Your body also craves sweets when you’re denying it the fuel it needs. Sugar (and grain carbs) is very quick fuel and can give your body a boost when it’s running low. Again, using artificial sweeteners does not trick your body into thinking it has had its fill; rather it wants more sweets because it didn’t get the energy boost with that sweet taste!

A powerful solution to help curb your cravings is to determine your nutritional type, which will tell you which foods you need to eat to feel full and satisfied.

It may sound hard to believe right now, but once you start eating right for your nutritional type, your sweet cravings will disappear. To help you turn your health around, I now offer the full nutritional typing program online for free, so please take advantage of this opportunity to dramatically change your health for the better.

Interestingly, nutrition- and fitness expert Ori Hofmekler recently shared a fascinating benefit of caffeine that can be helpful here. If you like coffee, drinking organic black coffee (meaning without sugar or milk) can help eliminate sugar cravings because the caffeine is an opioid receptor antagonist.

As you may know, sugar binds to the same opioid receptors as cocaine and other addictive substances. But once an opioid receptor antagonist occupies that receptor, it prohibits you from becoming addicted to something else. Therefore, caffeine may attenuate the addictive impact of sugar.

There are a few caveats to using this strategy however, including:

  • Only drink organic coffee (as it’s one of the most pesticide-heavy crops there are)
  • Drink it black, sans sugar/artificial sweeteners or milk
  • Only drink coffee in the morning, prior to exercise
  • Limit your consumption to one or two cups

In addition to eating right for your nutritional type, I highly recommend addressing the emotional component of your food cravings, using a tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It’s one of the most profoundly effective tools I’ve ever used or researched to help overcome food cravings and reach dietary success.

Turbo Tapping is particularly useful if you’re addicted to soda. It’s an extremely effective and simple tool to get rid of your addiction in a short period of time.

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Homeopathic Alternatives to Vaccines


 
Retrieved from Natural News.  I thought this was an interesting alternative to the mainstream vaccines especially for those who want their children to be exposed to the virus without the scary chemicals and byproducts that are in the mainstream vaccines such as formaldehyde.  It does make me wonder though why we would expose children to a virus that is not rampant in our areas of the country…maybe they were referring to common viruses like chickenpox…not sure.  But Im guessing that most people who vaccinate do not think about it in terms of injecting a virus into their child’s body…eek, scary!
 
Know the homeopathic alternative to mainstream vaccines
 
(NaturalNews) More people are questioning the validity of mainstream vaccines for their children, themselves and their animals than ever before. And whilst many are choosing not to vaccinate, some are still caught up in the modern day thinking that you need to protect youngsters from disease. A safe alternative could lie in homeoprophylaxis.

First let’s look at childhood diseases. Children (this includes young animals, too) are not born with an immune system. What is called passive immunity is passed to the youngster via the mother’s milk. There is no substitute for this.

Sadly, not all doctors or midwives encourage breast feeding. And some mothers have difficulty in this area from a low supply to inverted nipples. Others find feeding their baby painful. Mastitis is not uncommon.

All these areas can be helped, if not completely cured, by appropriate homeopathic treatment.

As the baby grows, the immune system starts to develop. But the best way for this to naturally develop is to get in some practice. To get the practice, first you have to get the pathogens – the bacteria, the viruses, the fevers, etc. This is not unlike learning to ride a bicycle. You fall off many times before you get the hang of it. And this usually involves getting a scraped knee or something similar.

But it’s all in a good cause. As their immune systems become proficient in their skills, fewer and fewer health issues arise. It’s important to know that a healthy child, that is one who is physically and emotionally supported, will rarely get bad bouts. But for those who do, appropriate homeopathic treatment supports the body dealing with the problem.

Homeopathic treatment never suppresses symptoms. It supports the body in times of need. The result is an ever improving immune system. Symptoms are important signs showing what needs help.

Still, some parents feel a little uneasy waiting for disease to happen. They want another, safer alternative to mainstream vaccination. And there is one. It’s called homeoprophylaxis (HP).

HP uses the disease as the source of the remedy. However, the remedies themselves are taken beyond the physical properties and only contain the energy of the disease. By administering the remedy orally, the natural defensives of the body are instigated in their rightful order. Only one disease is ever given at one time. This prevents overloading the child’s system.

HP does not have any side effects. It does not contain any poisonous or dangerous ingredients. And the efficacy of this treatment is around 80%, an unusually high success rate from any form of treatment.

Not every homeopath supports HP. As in every field of human activity, there are several interpretations of how homeopathy should be used. If you are already using the services of a homeopath and are satisfied with the results, then it makes sense to take his/her advice.

If you are considering homeopathic treatment as an option, or are new to it, it’s important for you to know what is available. Although your preferred homeopathic practitioner knows more about health and homeopathy than you do, they are your children. You need to be able to make the most appropriate choices at the time, having weighed up all the information.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/032176_vaccines_alternatives.html#ixzz1KXQUhuTk

Great Water Birth Story


Retrieved from Babble.com (being pregnant link)

This has always been something that I wanted to try wiht my birth but it is “not allowed” in my area in a controlled environment such as a hospital or birthing center.  It’s too bad because this sounds amazing.  I know several people who live in my area who have had successful home births, some in the water and some out of the water.  What an amazing experience.

Why I Love Water Birth

Posted by KateTietje on April 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 am
Daniel after birth 300x225 Why I Love Water BirthDaniel and me right after birth

Oh, water birth….

The first time I heard of it, I thought it sounded weird. And kind of gross. And, just kind of…wrong. Why would you want to birth your baby into water when it was trying to learn to breathe immediately? What kind of sense did that make? Of course, I was super mainstream with my first pregnancy (OB all the way, hospital birth, disposable diapers, and so forth).

That all changed slowly after my first baby arrived, and water ended up playing a really integral part in my second birth. Keep reading to find out why I love water birth now.

After the semi-disastrous experience the first time (“semi” because ultimately, everyone was healthy…just not very happy, and we had various feeding and other minor struggles in the early weeks), I knew I wanted things to be different the second time around. We went through a whole bunch of different thoughts about birth; first saying we were thinking about a home birth — but we were very nervous about that (I was convinced, because of my first experience that I “couldn’t do it” on my own). So we decided to do a hospital birth in a practice that had midwives and OBs.

But then even that ended up seeming too ‘medical’ to us, and we sought a doula…who happened to be a midwives’ apprentice too, and we discussed homebirth with her. I expressed my concern that I wouldn’t be able to take the pain and I’d have to get an epidural again. She very practically said, “If you need it…then you transfer and get it.” Oh. Right. We were less than 10 minutes from the nearest hospital, and it happened to be a very mom-and-baby-friendly one too. It gave me just enough confidence that I wanted to go with a home birth. If I could do it, great. If I couldn’t…that hospital was right there waiting for me (and they have tubs, too!).

(As a side note, I now think that mentality — that I “couldn’t” do it, that I could always transfer, that I really didn’t have full confidence in my ability to give birth without ‘management’ really held me back. I spent quite a lot of time in active labor wondering if I actually could do it, and made no progress for hours and hours, almost 12 hours of active labor. When I kind of forgot about whether or not I could and relaxed, things moved fast. But I’m getting to that.)

So, then it came time for birth. My contractions got into a regular pattern, 5 minutes apart, right at 8:30 (bedtime!) on July 15th. I was able to rest/sleep/ignore until about 2:30 am, when a strong contraction woke me up. After that things were too active for me to get anymore rest. Still I made no progress at all from 2:30 until 7:30, when I started crying and begging them to just take me to the hospital, even though trying to walk around, pack a bag (no, I didn’t do it in advance…), and get in the car was the absolute last thing I wanted. I also didn’t want to be separated from my daughter for a day or so, whom I hadn’t (and still haven’t) ever left overnight. I didn’t like anything about the “let’s go to the hospital” scenario, except the chance to make the intensity stop for awhile so I could rest.

At that point, they all (my husband and the two midwives) told me I needed to just rest, find something to slow things down (my contractions had been every 2 minutes for hours), and relax. My husband dragged me down the hall and said, “You will get in the water, right now.” I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to do anything. But he basically made me. Then they all left the room and (I later learned) had a little conference about what to do. He said I didn’t mean what I was saying and I didn’t really want to go to the hospital. They decided to try using the water and coaching to help me through.

At first I just tensed up in the water, fighting the pain, because I was so exhausted. I just wanted it to stop. But they all came back and coached me to relax, brought me water, talked me through it. They realized the water was rather cool (I hadn’t said anything) and replaced it with warmer water, which helped me to relax further. I reclined in the tub, forcing my body to work with the contractions and breathing deeply, instead of fighting.

I regained some composure. I felt that I could do it again, I could get through it. I was semi-watching the clock, just to see how long it had been, at first making deals — if nothing was happening by a certain time, maybe I’d ask to go to the hospital. But I was mostly focusing on my body and my baby at that time. I was no longer distracted by what I “should” do, or movies on TV, or anything else. I was just thinking about my baby. I kept my hand on his head most of the time (that ought to tell you how far I really was then — though I didn’t realize it!). Very soon, I started to bleed a bit, and feel a strong urge to push.

This freaked everyone out, because I had gotten in the water maybe 30 minutes earlier! I’d been stuck at 4 cm for hours upon hours and they were sure couldn’t be anywhere near ready. But I was about 6 cm then. Within 10 minutes, I was still bleeding slightly with each contraction and having an even stronger urge to push. They were worried about the bleeding and made me get out. (We’ve learned I tend to bleed easily from my cervix, but it’s normal for me, it’s not a problem — and it wasn’t much, anyway.)

At that point I still wasn’t sure I could really do it. But then the midwife checked me and I was 8 cm! She called the other midwife (who’d gone to breakfast) and told her to get back right now because the baby was on his way! That was when I suddenly realized I was doing it, this was really going to happen and it was almost over! The rest of this is mostly a blur to me. I remember her suddenly appearing in front of me, trying not to push, my husband breathing with me and yelling at me to blow and not push…. I remember them trying to move the last lip of cervix then telling me I could actually push. I didn’t even really hear them, but then I thought I had and said, “Wait, I can push?” They said yes!

In just three pushes, about two minutes, Daniel was born. It was that fast. I didn’t tear, either.

The water made the difference. He wasn’t born in the water because they were worried about the bleeding, but he would have been. I was in the water until moments before he was born and I did not want to get out. It was the water that allowed me to finally relax, and trust my body, and just focus on how my body felt and how my baby was doing. I felt disconnected from the experience up until that point. Then after I got in, I lost sight of everything but what was going on inside me. That was what I had needed — because in just over an hour I went from 4 to birth!

It’s safe to say that we will definitely be using a tub with this new baby! And much sooner, too! As soon as I am in really active labor and feel the urge to get in, I will. I had actually asked to get in sometime around 3:30 or so in the morning but they told me it was too soon, that it would slow things down. But of course that’s not what happened. (We know this now — so they’ll let me get in sooner!)

Water birth is amazing. It truly is. It removes the weight of your body so you aren’t focusing on positions or soreness or anything; you are able to just focus on yourself and your baby.

History of the Easter Bunny


Retrieved from: http://www.goddessgift.com/pandora%27s_box/easter-history.htm

 

Easter : History and Traditions

Goddess Ostara
History of Easter Eggs

History of the Easter Bunny
Goddess Ishtar and the First Resurrection


 

Easter History : Christian and Pagan Traditions Interwoven

 

The history of Easter reveals rich associations between the Christian faith and the seemingly unrelated practices of the early pagan religions. Easter history and traditions that we practice today evolved from pagan symbols, from the ancient goddess Ishtar to Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.

Easter, perhaps the most important of the Christian holidays, celebrates the Christ’s resurrection from the dead following his death on Good Friday. . . a rebirth that is commemorated around the vernal equinox, historically a time of pagan celebration that coincides with the arrival of spring and symbolizes the arrival of light and the awakening of life around us.


 

Ostara, Goddess of Spring and the Dawn (Oestre / Eastre)

Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. She is a goddess of the dawn and the spring, and her name derives from words for dawn, the shining light arising from the east. Our words for the “female hormone” estrogen derives from her name.

Ostara was, of course, a fertility goddess. Bringing in the end of winter, with the days brighter and growing longer after the vernal equinox, Ostara had a passion for new life. Her presence was felt in the flowering of plants and the birth of babies, both animal and human. The rabbit (well known for its propensity for rapid reproduction) was her sacred animal.

Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny both featured in the spring festivals of Ostara, which were initially held during the feasts of the goddess Ishtar | Inanna. Eggs are an obvious symbol of fertility, and the newborn chicks an adorable representation of new growth. Brightly colored eggs, chicks, and bunnies were all used at festival time to express appreciation for Ostara’s gift of abundance.


History of Easter Eggs and Easter Candy

The history of Easter Eggs as a symbol of new life should come as no surprise. The notion that the Earth itself was hatched from an egg was once widespread and appears in creation stories ranging from Asian to Ireland.

Eggs, in ancient times in Northern Europe, were a potent symbol of fertility and often used in rituals to guarantee a woman’s ability to bear children. To this day rural “grannywomen” (lay midwives/healers in the Appalachian mountains) still use eggs to predict, with uncanny accuracy, the sex of an unborn child by watching the rotation of an egg as it is suspended by a string over the abdomen of a pregnant woman.

Dyed eggs are given as gifts in many cultures. Decorated eggs bring with them a wish for the prosperity of the abundance during the coming year.

Folklore suggests that Easter egg hunts arose in Europe during “the Burning Times”, when the rise of Christianity led to the shunning (and persecution) of the followers of the “Old Religion”. Instead of giving the eggs as gifts the adults made a game of hiding them, gathering the children together and encouraging them to find the eggs. Some believe that the authorities seeking to find the “heathens” would follow or bribe the children to reveal where they found the eggs so that the property owner could be brought to justice.

Green Eggs . . .
. . . and Ham???

The meat that is traditionally associated with Easter is ham. Though some might argue that ham is served at Easter since it is a “Christian” meat, (prohibited for others by the religious laws of Judaism and Islam) the origin probably lies in the early practices of the pagans of Northern Europe.

Having slaughtered and preserved the meat of their agricultural animals during the Blood Moon celebrations the previous autumn so they would have food throughout the winter months, they would celebrate the occasion by using up the last of the remaining cured meats.

In anticipation that the arrival of spring with its emerging plants and wildlife would provide them with fresh food in abundance, it was customary for many pagans to begin fasting at the time of the vernal equinox, clearing the “poisons” (and excess weight) produced by the heavier winter meals that had been stored in their bodies over the winter. Some have suggested that the purpose of this fasting may have been to create a sought-after state of “altered consciousness” in time for the spring festivals. One cannot but wonder if this practice of fasting might have been a forerunner of “giving up” foods during the Lenten season.

Chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, marshmallow chicks in pastel colors, and candy of all sorts . . . these have pagan origins as well! To understand their association with religion we need to examine the meaning of food as a symbol.

The ancient belief that, by eating something we take on its characteristics formed the basis for the earliest “blessings” before meals (a way to honor the life that had been sacrificed so that we as humans could enjoy life) and, presumably, for the more recent Christian sacrament of communion as well.

Shaping candy Easter eggs and bunnies out of candy to celebrate the spring festival was, simply put, a way to celebrate the symbols of the goddess and the season, while laying claim to their strengths (vitality, growth, and fertility) for ourselves.

 


The Goddess Ostara and the Easter Bunny

Feeling guilty about arriving late one spring, the Goddess Ostara saved the life of a poor bird whose wings had been frozen by the snow. She made him her pet or, as some versions have it, her lover. Filled with compassion for him since he could no longer fly (in some versions, it was because she wished to amuse a group of young children), Ostara turned him into a snow hare and gave him the gift of being able to run with incredible speed so he could protect himself from hunters.

In remembrance of his earlier form as a bird, she also gave him the ability to lay eggs (in all the colors of the rainbow, no less), but only on one day out of each year.

Eventually the hare managed to anger the goddess Ostara, and she cast him into the skies where he would remain as the constellation Lepus (The Hare) forever positioned under the feet of the constellation Orion (the Hunter). He was allowed to return to earth once each year, but only to give away his eggs to the children attending the Ostara festivals that were held each spring. The tradition of the Easter Bunny had begun.

Easter Bunny had begun.

The Hare was sacred in many ancient traditions and was associated with the moon goddesses and the various deities of the hunt. In ancient times eating the Hare was prohibited except at Beltane (Celts) and the festival of Ostara (Anglo-Saxons), when a ritual hare-hunt would take place.

In many cultures rabbits, like eggs, were considered to be potent remedies for fertility problems. The ancient philosopher-physician Pliny the Elder prescribed rabbit meat as a cure for female sterility, and in some cultures the genitals of a hare were carried to avert barrenness.

Medieval Christians considered the hare to bring bad fortune, saying witches changed into rabbits in order to suck the cows dry. It was claimed that a witch could only be killed by a silver crucifix or a bullet when she appeared as a hare.

Given their “mad” leaping and boxing displays during mating season as well as their ability to produce up to 42 offspring each spring, it is understandable that they came to represent lust, sexuality, and excess in general. Medieval Christians considered the hare to be an evil omen, believing that witches changed into rabbits in order to suck the cows dry. It was claimed that a witch could only be killed by a silver crucifix or a bullet when she appeared as a hare.

In later Christian tradition the white Hare, when depicted at the Virgin Mary’s feet, represents triumph over lust or the flesh. The rabbit’s vigilance and speed came to represent the need to flee from sin and temptation and a reminder of the swift passage of life.

And, finally, there is a sweet Christian legend about a young rabbit who, for three days, waited anxiously for his friend, Jesus, to return to the Garden of Gethsemane, not knowing what had become of him. Early on Easter morning, Jesus returned to His favorite garden and was welcomed the little rabbit. That evening when the disciples came into the garden to pray, still unaware of the resurrection, they found a clump of beautiful larkspurs, each blossom bearing the image of a rabbit in its center as a remembrance of the little creature’s hope and faith.

 

 


Ishtar, Goddess of Love, and the First Resurrection (also known as Inanna)

Ishtar, goddess of romance, procreation, and war in ancient Babylon, was also worshipped as the Sumerian goddess Inanna. One of the great goddesses, or “mother goddesses”, stories of her descent to the Underworld and the resurrection that follows are contained in the oldest writings that have ever been discovered. . . the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish and the story of Gilgamesh. Scholars believed that they were based on the oral mythology of the region and were recorded about 2,100 B.C.E.

The most famous of the myths of Ishtar tell of her descent into the realm of the dead to rescue her young lover, Tammuz, a Vegetation god forced to live half the year in the Underworld. Ishtar approached the gates of the Underworld, which was ruled by her twin sister Eresh-kigel, the goddess of death and infertility. She was refused admission.

Similar to the Greek myths of Demeter and Persephone that came later, during Ishtar’s absence the earth grew barren since all acts of procreation ceased while she was away. Ishtar screamed and ranted that she would break down the gates and release all of the dead to overwhelm the world and compete with the living for the remaining food unless she was allowed to enter and plead her case with her twin.

Needless to say, she won admission. But the guard, following standard protocol, refused to let her pass through the first gate unless she removed her crown. At the next gate, she had to remove her earrings, then her necklace at the next, removing her garments and proud finery until she stood humbled and naked after passing through the seventh (and last) gate.

In one version, she was held captive and died but was brought back to life when her servant sprinkled her with the “water of life”. In the more widely known version of the myth, Ishtar’s request was granted and she regained all of her attire and possessions as she slowly re-emerged through the gates of darkness.

Upon her return, Tammuz and the earth returned to life. Annual celebrations of this “Day of Joy”, were held each year around the time of the vernal equinox. These celebrations became the forerunners of the Ostara festivals that welcomed Oestre and the arrival of spring.

A section on the Goddess Inanna (the Sumerian version of the Goddess Ishtar), her myths and symbols, is included with the myths of the goddesses at this website.

 


Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny, the dawn that arrives with resurrection of life, and the celebration of spring all serve to remind us of the cycle of rebirth and the need for renewal in our lives. In the history of Easter, Christian and pagan traditions are gracefully interwoven.

Co-sleeping and controversy


Another great article on babble.com

I also co-slept. I was so terrified to talk about this with people unless I knew they were supportive.  I felt judged, just as most moms do with anything they do even if their gut feeling tells them that it is right for them.  I was adamant that I would not co-sleep because I felt that I needed rest and the best way I could do that was to sleep alone.  Not so true. As this article points out, mommy’s never really sleep soundly and I was sleeping longer and better co-sleeping.  In the hospital I told the nurse that I didn’t want to get into bad habits  from the beginning when she encouraged me to snuggle my little Ava while I slept.  Turns out that 3-4 hours period of screaming was a cry for comfort.  She quieted down almost immediately once she was nestled in the curve of my body.  It was very convenient for breastfeeding and I joked that I just leave my boob out all night but it was fairly accurate in observation.  My daughter slept longer and more soundly although by 9 months I was ready for my at that time very large infant to gain some independence. It was bitter-sweet.  I wanted to sleep better at that point because my little girl still nursed all night long and by that time she wiggled around a lot, I was ready for transition physically but emotionally I was torn up…We now have a great sleep schedule that works for all of us.  I am definitely pro co-sleeping if it works for both the parents and the children! 

In Which I Admit I Am Kind of Co-Sleeping With My Baby

Posted by MonicaBielanko on April 20th, 2011 at 10:49 am
maxhen 300x225 In Which I Admit I Am Kind of Co Sleeping With My BabyNo, we don’t let Henry co-sleep with the dog. Max just babysits during the day.

I can hear the thrum of the furnace as it kicks on. Good, it’s cold tonight, I think as I reflexively reach down and clutch my son’s tiny feet in one hand. His socks have fallen off for the third or fourth time tonight. I’m glad he’s tucked in beside me so I can keep him warm.

Co-sleeping or bedsharing is seemingly as controversial as drinking while pregnant. Supporters think mama’s bed is where baby belongs. It promotes bonding, enables the parents to get more sleep and makes breastfeeding convenient. The other side of the fence questions if it’s safe. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns parents not to place their infants to sleep in adult beds, stating that the practice puts babies at risk of suffocation and strangulation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees.

You’ve heard the horror stories. In Utah, where I live, a couple was even charged with murder for co-sleeping with their son.

However, co-sleeping is standard practice in many parts of the world outside North America, Europe and Australia where the co-sleeping death rate appears to be much lower, perhaps because of different sleeping situations regarding mattresses and bedding. In many parts of the world, bed-sharing simply has the practical benefit of keeping the child warm at night.

Clearly, considering some of the infant deaths reported in the United States, co-sleeping and adult beds can be made to be safer. This would be a much more appropriate service for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to provide, rather than just warning against co-sleeping. Responsible parents consciously creating a safe co-sleeping environment are safely providing the best of all worlds for their baby. One 2004 study reported mothers getting more sleep by co-sleeping and breastfeeding than by other arrangements. This is how my co-sleeping experience with Henry began.

I never had Violet in my bed. She was my first baby and she just seemed too tiny. I was afraid I’d hurt her, not realizing that a new mom never really sleeps – even when she’s sleeping. I put her in a bassinet next to my bed and would wake up at the slightest sound. I could hear – no, not so much hear as sense when her binky fell noiselessly from her lips. I could tell, without looking, when she was awake because of the difference in her breathing patterns. My point is, I was never at peace. My body was constantly on alert. At about two months-old she was nearly sleeping through the night so I moved her to a crib in her own room so I could attempt to get some sleep and stop listening so hard.

My experience with Henry has been totally different. He doesn’t like the bassinet that Violet slept in. So I put him in his crib, which he apparently enjoys – for the first half of the night. But the little guy gets restless around four in the morning. It got to the point that he wouldn’t really go back to sleep after that 3:30 or 4am breastfeeding. One night, in my frustration, I brought him to my bed and snuggled with him. He was asleep in two seconds. Literally two seconds. He didn’t wake up until seven at which point I was able to lie on my side while he breastfed. Best night ever.

Am I worried I’ll roll on my son? No. Do I pile big fluffy blankets and pillow around him? No. He’s flat on the mattress with me next to him. Even while sleeping I’m hyper-aware of the fact that he’s there. As aware as I was with Violet next to me in a bassinet. Like I said, a mother never sleeps, even when she’s sleeping. Is that a new term? Did I just coin a new term? And I’ll tell you something else: I love it. I love cuddling with my little guy who only has to sense my face next to his and he drops off to sleep. I’m remorseful that I missed the opportunity to bond with Violet in that way.

It’s strange, but I think that I’m better able to soothe Henry during the day because I co-sleep with him for those few hours in the morning. Sometimes, when he fusses I just put my face super close to his, like I do in bed, and use the pad of my thumb to stroke the spot right between his eyes and he is immediately quiet, sometimes sighing with pleasure. I just feel so much more in tune with this little guy, which I guess is all that bonding proponents of co-sleeping talk about.

Throughout this first year with my son I want to be flexible enough to shift nighttime parenting styles as circumstances change. Every family goes through nocturnal juggling acts at different stages of children’s development. I am trusting my intuition about parenting my individual baby instead of unquestionably accepting the norms of American society.

So yes. There you have it. In spite of being warned by dozens of well-meaning people that I’m probably going to suffocate my child, I’m co-sleeping. Aside from eliminating fluffy bedding and pillows, there are several products that can be used to facilitate safe co-sleeping with an infant:

  • bed top co-sleeping products designed to prevent the baby from rolling off the adult bed and to absorb breastmilk and other nighttime leaks.
  • side rails to prevent the child from rolling off the adult bed.
  • co-sleeping infant enclosures which are placed directly in the adult bed.
  • bassinets that attach to the side of an adult bed, and which have barriers on three sides, but are open to the parent’s side

Mostly, I’d just advise folks to do what they’re comfortable doing. For me, for now, that’s co-sleeping. Millions of moms in third-world countries can’t be wrong, right?

Tell me what you think. What are the sleeping arrangements in your home?

Hummingbird Health and Natural Birth


Here is a great article posted by Hummingbird Health out of Harbor Springs, MI. 

Prior to the 1930’s, more than 90% of all births in the U.S.A. occurred at home.  Then women were offered “pain free” birthing with medications in the hospital setting. It didn’t take long for the concept of “better living through chemistry” to catch on, and less than a century later, 99% of all births are now performed in a hospital. With this 99%, the United States now has the dubious distinction of having the highest Cesarean rate ( 31%) and the highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized country.  The World Health Organization has declared that  NO country is justified in having a c-section that exceeds 10%.  Despite this, the American Medical Association (AMA) recently passed a resolution saying “the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex.”  According to the AMA, the reason for this resolution was due to recent media attention given to homebirths and their fears that more women would start to question whether a hospital really is the best option.

Statistically, there is plenty of data to support the choice to birth at home. The European countries that use Midwives and support decisions to birth at home have far fewer c-sections (under 5% in most cases), lower infant deaths, and lower death rates for the mothers due to complications of medical interventions.  

My mother was a labor and delivery nurse for over 30 years, and I’ve had the pleasure of being present at many births, both in the home and the hospital setting, myself.   We both agree that the hospital environment has turned birthing (the most natural process in the world) into a high-tech, high-intervention big business. Statistics support this as well.  Birthing is the number one reason for admission to a hospital in the US and it accounted for nearly four trillion dollars in health care costs last year, and these costs keep growing. No wonder the AMA and hospitals are afraid of women taking birthing back into the home. It would hit their pocket books… hard.  The average birth costs more than $8,000.00 not including all the pre- and post- natal care.  On the other hand, a midwife and a doula for a home birth is typically less than $3,900.00 and includes ALL the costs; prenatal, birth, and postnatal care. 

I have to say that I much prefer the home setting in most cases. I can list dozens of reasons why the home setting is better:  decreased risk of infection, little to no unnecessary interventions, freedom to choose any number of birthing positions, dad can delivery his child if he chooses, no rush to cut the cord (too soon, and the instance of jaundice and other nutritional issues increases), no whisking off the baby to be cleaned & blood typed and otherwise poked and prodded, quiet bonding time for mom, dad, baby and any other family members, the freedom to eat, the freedom from the mandatory saline lock or I.V., etc, etc, etc… I could go on for days.  But there is only one reason why I would want to be in the hospital; that very rare crisis. And I do mean rare, like a prolapsed cord – where the cord comes out ahead of the baby and gets pinched, cutting off the necessary blood and oxygen supply to the baby.  However, these kind of events only happen in less than 1 out of every million  births and in which case, given the mortality rate in the hospital setting, there is no guarantee that the outcome will be any better in the hospital than it would be at home. So, we are in full support of all the women who are looking at the option of a home birth.

Sugar: Does it cause cancer?


 Another great article I found on babble.  I hate that I believe this article and I am so scared that it’s true. I have such a sugar addiction.  Im the first to admit that I have a problem.  Whenever I go anywhere and I know Im going to eat I never care what actually food is being offered and I generally think about the desert that I could have.  In fact, I would be perfectly happy filling my plate with sugary junk food than eating nutritious healthy foods.  It doesnt take much though before I have a horrible headache and stomachache.  A friend of mine cut out sugar from her diet completely after a cancer scare and thankfully she is in remission now.  Diabetes + Sugary foods = bad stuff…   What a great reminder why it isnt worth it to give into sweets whenever we have a craving or just because they are laying around within arms reach.  Something to think about.

Sugar: The Sweetest Evil, and Why Doctors Think It Causes Cancer

Posted by carolyncastiglia on April 14th, 2011 at 12:44 pm
5045502202 1d867c8a41 300x199 Sugar: The Sweetest Evil, and Why Doctors Think It Causes CancerNow I know why the American Cancer Society stopped using birthday cakes in their “Happy Birthday” ads.

Robert Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine.  According to the enormous feature in The New York Times Magazine about his theories, UCSF has one of the best medical schools in the country.  Lustig published his first paper on childhood obesity over a decade ago, and he believes the leading cause of the epidemic is something we all consume every day: sugar.

But not only does Lustig believe that sugar causes obesity and diabetes in children and adults, he goes so far as to describe sugar and high fructose corn syrup as toxic, poisonous and downright evil.  Times scribe Gary Taubes is upfront about the fact that after 10 years of research, he’s in complete agreement with Lustig.  Early in the lengthy piece, Taubes writes, “when you bake your children a birthday cake or give them lemonade on a hot summer day, you may be doing them more harm than good, despite all the love that goes with it.”  Lustig, Taubes and others believe that sugar can even cause cancer.

Taubes says that “the conventional wisdom has long been that the worst that can be said about sugars of any kind is that they cause tooth decay and represent empty calories that we eat in excess because they taste so good.”  On the contrary, though, Lustig believes that it’s not sugar’s empty calories that are the enemy, but sugar’s “unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it, that may make it singularly harmful, at least if consumed in sufficient quantities.”

Lustig has determined that glucose and fructose are “metabolized differently and have a different effect on the body.”  The stuff to watch out for is fructose and by extension high fructose corn syrup, which is metabolized primarily by the liver.  Taubes explains:

Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose).  And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar).  The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose.

It turns out – in lab rats, anyway – that if fructose hits the liver quickly (via chugging a can of Coke, let’s say), “the liver will convert much of it to fat.”  That metabolic dynamic “induces a condition known as insulin resistance, which is now considered the fundamental problem in obesity, and the underlying defect in heart disease and in the type of diabetes, type 2, that is common to obese and overweight individuals.”  And here’s the clincher, as I mentioned earlier: “It might also be the underlying defect in many cancers.”  Here’s how that works:

The connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer was first reported in 2004 in large population studies by researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.  It is not controversial.  What it means is that you are more likely to get cancer if you’re obese or diabetic than if you’re not, and you’re more likely to get cancer if you have metabolic syndrome than if you don’t.  Cancer researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance is that it leads us to secrete more insulin, and insulin (as well as a related hormone known as insulin-like growth factor) actually promotes tumor growth.

Craig Thompson of Memorial Sloan-Kettering believes that “many pre-cancerous cells would never acquire the mutations that turn them into malignant tumors if they weren’t being driven by insulin to take up more and more blood sugar and metabolize it,” and Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard, says “up to 80 percent of all human cancers are driven by either mutations or environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on the incipient tumor cells.”

Researchers have previously concluded that there was no evidence that added sugar (beyond what is naturally contained in fruits and vegetables) demonstrated harm at the levels which it was being consumed.  But those same experts “estimated those levels at 40 pounds per person per year,” or 200 calories per day of sugar.  That’s less than the amount “in a can and a half of Coca-Cola or two cups of apple juice.”

Unfortunately, though, the average American now consumes 90 pounds of added sugar per year.  Yikes.

In one study referenced by Taubes, when human subjects were fed “the equivalent of the fructose in 8 to 10 cans of Coke or Pepsi a day… their livers would start to become insulin-resistant, and their triglycerides would go up in just a few days.”  Which is why Lustig believes sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are “chronic toxins,” meaning they are “not toxic after one meal, but after 1,000 meals.”  (Don’t forget, we eat 1,000 meals in just one year.)

One reason to eliminate added sugar from your family’s diet?  Neither Thompson nor Cantley will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.  ”I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can, because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer,” Thompson said.  According to Taubes, Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”

Source: New York Times

Handmade Crocheted Small Dog sweater plus pattern Giveaway!


Congratulations Jenn! You won this Giveaway.  You will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.   

 

Diego’s V-Stitch Sweater Pattern and Sweater Giveaway!   
materials needed: crochet hook 5.00, 4oz worsted yarn
stitch marker (I use a small bobby pin)
skill level: beginner

This doggie sweater is designed to fit small dogs. My chihuahua Diego, weighs 5 lbs.
This is a cute airy sweater, perfect for early spring/fall weather when it’s not too cold, but you still want your doggie to keep warm.
The V-Stitch pattern makes the sweater breathable.
The underside of the sweater has two small holes for the front legs,
and finishes off at around the belly area.
The back of the sweater is a bit longer than the underside,
this way the puppy’s back is warm,
yet his underbelly has room to breathe and won’t get dirty when he uses the bathroom.

Naida generously gave me this pattern which is one of her originals.  I am so excited that she offered to provide the pattern to one of my readers.  I will be making this sweater to give with the pattern.  The yarn color used will be a cornflower blue – more on the blue side.  It took me about 1 hour and 15 minutes from start to finish.  Including attempting to try it on my animals – cat and dog…neither worked out well. My dog is 11 lbs so this was a tad small. 

Mandatory Entry: Go to Naida’s Etsy shop and tell me what your favorite item is.

Additional Entries: 1 additional entry for each fulfilled

This Giveaway will end promptly at Midnight on May 1st, 2011 EST

Entries will be randomly drawn.  Good Luck!  Winner will be posted on blog and contacted through email.  Winner must reply within 48 hours with address or will forfiet prize to runner up.  Thank you all for participating.

Princess Piper’s Boutique Easter Special!


Im sure you have all seen these rompers and they are so adorable. If you have to have one…or two, you are in luck! I am having a special Buy One Get One 50% off so you get two for $22.50. I have limited quantities so hurry fast. Small is from 6 months to 1 year, Medium is 1yr-3 yrs. I have lavendar and the multi pink in the small. I have turquoise and the multi pink in the Medium! You can send me an email or order through http://www.princesspipersboutique.com If you are local and we can arrange pick up I will waive shipping fee.

A cake for my husband’s birthday


Recently I posted some recipes to use with peeps so I tried the sunflower cake.  I cant say that mine turned out exactly like the one in the recipe but I did take some pics and have some recommendations.  I altered the recipe by using 4 eggs and added 1C. of buttermilk.  I used the recommended amount of oil and omitted the water.  I used a double chocolate cake mix.  I had this idea that the 4″ cake was a double layer cake and I dont think it was.  I didnt look back at the recipe so this is why mine didnt turn out well.  I also should have used the extra cake batter to make more than 6 cupcakes instead of a second layer on the cake.  You will see with my pics below the difference.  I tinted cream cheese frosting yellow for the cupcakes and placed the peeps on top.  I covered the center cake with chocolate frosting.  The only mini chocolate chips I could find were at Walmart in a shaker can for $2.88.  I know very well that they used to come in a bag just like the other chocolate chips so Im guessing they are out there somewhere and probably cheaper for a larger amount.  I have to say I didnt plan this well because I dont have a storage container to put it in.  After I took the picture and showed my husband I put the cupcakes in a seperate container.

Above you see the center piece single layer frosted with the progression of the frosted cupcakes.

 

In these photos you see the single layer in the center with the cupcakes around. I definately needed more than 6 cupcakes.  8 Cupcakes probably would have been a good number.

         

Above you see the double layer center and I dont like it as much.  I finished the cake this way so as to not waste food and for storage purposes.  I do like the single layer better and I wish I would have made more cupcakes but the recipe tastes great and it’s still very cute.

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