Shane Ellison has a masters degree in organic chemistry and is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Grant for his studies in biochemistry and physiology.
Here are Three reasons Shane will never vaccinate his kids:
Instead of using an unproven hypothesis to question parents who have opted out, pro-vaccine parents should be questioning the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. With dozens of vaccines being forced on the public, some healthy skepticism could go a long way toward raising a vibrantly healthy child.
My background as a medicinal chemist taught me to rely on proven research. I learned to be less sensitive to emotional arguments and more sensitive to facts supported by reproducibility. This is one of the main principles of the scientific method. It refers to the ability of a test or experiment to be accurately reproduced. As a parent, I have a responsibility to use my training to make decisions for my family. Especially when it comes to potentially dangerous vaccinations.
In my own research, I have uncovered facts that every parent should be aware of. Here are three primary reasons why I have not and will not vaccinate my own children and why I’ve used vaccine exemption forms for public school and more:
We didn’t go through all “TEN STEPS TO PREPARE FOR A FAST” that Victoria recommends:
Define problem areas and target goals
Get your spouse and other caregivers on board
Set a date and create a schedule
Inform relevant adults in your child’s life
Obtain toys, games, and activities to replace screen-time
Schedule breaks or treats for yourself
If possible, enlist a playmate’s parents to join you
Inform your child and involve the entire family
Perform a thorough “screen sweep”
Set your intentionMy wife and I talked for an hour on Friday night mapping out activities, games, and alternatives and how to break the news to the kids. Then, on Monday, we went cold-turkey on the ipads for both boys.
My wife and I talked for an hour on Friday night, mapping out activities, games, and alternatives, and how to break the news to the kids. Then, on Monday, we went cold-turkey on the ipads for both boys.
After two weeks, the symptoms were gone! Now, at four months, the absence of these two “little” ipads in their lives (and ours) has been working out, splendidly.
The ipads were replaced with more outdoor time, interactions between them and with us, looking out the window on the way to school, lots of storytelling, and one thing we’ve still got to work on: watching Japanese dance videos on YouTube (via the TV).
The bromide that “Children are natural storytellers” is true, but it’s deeper than that. Children live in the story version of their lives, going in and out of what we adults would call the “real” version.
Here’s Lucas living in his story. Notice that his dad is standing six-feet away, recording him, but he takes no notice. Then, when his stuffed animal drops, he’s jarred into the “Real” life of eating his cereal.
Have you ever tried to get a yes or no answer from a child? They answer every question with a story because they’re living in one. By telling you a story, they’re not evading; they’re giving you a more complete answer.
Rory’s Story Cubes
A month after the ipads “disappeared”, I found a game that fit Victoria’s advice to replace screen-time with other activities: Rory’s Story Cubes.
They come in packs of nine cubes. The 6-sides of each cube has a picture on it of either a thing or an action (a noun or verb in adult-speak). You roll the cubes and make a story out of the ones that roll face-up.
As I was reading the box, and wondering if the game would be too much for our 4-year-old, Lucas rolled the cubes and cut me off saying, “Once upon a time …”
It was more than adorable; it was wondrous to watch his brain firing on all cylinders, reaching into the vast experiences of his four years of life experience, and telling us a story. “Can you believe this?!”, I asked my wife.
It’s not only possible; it’s their preferred means of expression. Children are designed to communicate in story. Before they have words for the things around them, before they put words together in sentences, they’re tracking the story of what’s happening to them, and around them. A few weeks after they’re born they look at you while you’re changing their diaper and you can see them taking it all in. There are no words, but they’re recording the beginnings of their own story.
The Gillespie Cubes
When playing, we give each player six cubes to roll for a new story. We have 27 cubes in all (Rory’s 9-cube starter and 9-cube action sets, 3-cube pre-historia, 3-cube sports, and 3-cube medic sets). If I was purchasing for the first time, again, I’d get this bundle:
As long as you have the self-contained 9-cube starter set there’s no wrong way to add to the set.
If you’re expecting this article to end with us going through every step of the book and living happily-ever-after, that didn’t happen. Although Victoria’s book outlines steps to reintegrate screen-time back into your child’s life in a non-destructive way, we haven’t even thought about bringing the ipads back to battery life. We’re on pause, for now, and not looking for the “play” button.
There are a few things that would make me reconsider: if the Kahn Academy greatly improves their app, or a similar life-changing technology appears on the scene. If so, we’ll make the kids earn every minute of screen-time like an allowance. Until then, we’ll stick with the best killer apps, of all: playing outdoors, talking with people, reading, and telling stories.
It’s a shame to see people, who believe (or might believe) in the supernatural, engage in pointless arguments. Even more pointless is talking about it, at all, with those whose beliefs are confined to the limits of the five senses.
For the skeptic, new inventions must bring the invisible within range of the five senses. Only then are they “free to believe” in anything invisible. Prior to the microscope, the skeptic would have reported you to the looney bin for your “outrageous” belief in the microscopic. After the microscope, the skeptic thinks it was your sanity that was restored by the invention, not theirs!
Separating Skeptics from Cynics
This is the sort of “progress” the skeptic is limited to unless they take a “leap of faith”. Fortunately, for the skeptic, that leap is possible. If presented with sufficient evidence, skeptics can be jarred into a reluctant admission that invisible things exist. The cynic, on the other hand, will remain unfazed by any evidence put in front of them.
A miracle is a natural event with a supernatural cause.1
In other words, miracles look, sound, feel, smell, taste … normal. Their appearance is natural, their cause is invisible. So, where does that leave us with separating skeptics and cynics?
It leaves us where C.S. Lewis arrived a long time ago:
C.S. Lewis on Cynics
… the question whether miracles occur can never be answered simply by experience. Every event which might claim to be a miracle is, in the last resort, something presented to our senses, something seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. And our senses are not infallible. If anything extraordinary seems to have happened, we can always say that we have been the victims of an illusion. If we hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say. What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.2
The skeptics “philosophy” is, “I’ll believe it when I see it”. The cynic’s “settled philosophy” is the supernatural does not exist, regardless of what is seen.
Skeptics are worth your time; cynics are not.
Prisoners of Time
Both skeptics, and cynics, are limited by the detection devices of their day. To them, everything discovered is obvious, and that which is yet to be discovered, is fantasy. Bring evidence in front of their senses and you’re being “reasonable”. Otherwise, the matter is closed to all but the “unreasonable”.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.3
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The price of such “reasonableness” is imprisonment within the limits of their era. They are, for the same reasons, prisoners of science.
Prisoners of Science
Much of what’s left for mankind to discover is beyond the range of the five senses. Without access to an electron microscope, for example, you won’t be able to “see” much of anything in such areas of discovery. So, what do you do?
You’ll need a mediator between the known and the newly discovered; between what’s true or false, and the newly discovered to be true or false. What do you call someone who functions as a mediator between visible and invisible things?
They’re called priests. But the skeptic will use a different word for the same role: scientist.
Those who won’t contemplate the supernatural need no priest to interpret scripture. They do, however, need a mediator between themselves and nature.
As the frontiers of human knowledge push beyond the ability of the five senses to perceive, skeptics and cynics need their “priests” to be told what’s real, and what’s not real, more than ever.
The Secular Priesthood
And so, scientists have been promoted into a secular priesthood. They are the “reasonable”, and therefore trusted, mediators between what exists and what doesn’t; between what is true and false; and what is, therefore, deemed reasonable and unreasonable.
Who cares what scientists do as long as the remote control (invisible infrared beam) changes the channel of the TV?!
If that were as far as it went, there’d be reason only to celebrate. When mankind is working hard, and using the fruits of their labor to serve mankind, then everything is just dandy!
Unfortunately, Reality is not as simple, nor as benevolent, as all that.
And their ‘church’
Scientists, like priests, are not in charge. They serve their parishes, and report to their bishops, cardinals, and pope. The scientists know them as customers, labs, foundation administrators and benefactors. Can we depend on the good-spirited benevolence of this organization?
Unfortunately, we can barely trust the formal clergy, who’ve taken public vows to be Holy and good, pledging loyalty to only their Creator.
Whether we like it or not, scientists are becoming more widely-accepted as mediators between the seen and unseen realms, than priests. And though science has no purview on philosophical or theological matters, scientists and priests are two kinds of priesthoods, pitted against one another.
Priests Travel Faster
The frontiers of human discovery have pushed out of pandora’s visible box and into invisible realms. Because of this, scientists may feel like they’ve finally arrived at the big game.
But, wherever a scientist may go, his arrival will always be preceded by either a priest or a poet. These travel faster than light; at the speed of thought. They do that by combining story with imagination. And while scientists may work on practical discoveries beyond the visible (finally!), priests and poets have been contemplating “the beyond” since the dawn of humanity.
Conflict? What Conflict?
Personally, I see no conflict, whatsoever, between science and faith. Science explores and quantifies the world as the Creator has turned it over for exploration. I thank God for every discovery and invention! So far, every source I’ve investigated, claiming a conflict between science and faith, has been one side, or the other, arguing past one another. Those who’ve thought through the roles of science and faith are left with nothing but the progress of each to celebrate!
Headline News of Devils, Demons, Witches, Robots, ETs, Exorcists, AI & Terror Threats
… And that’s just in one day! Here’s a snapshot of the drudge report headlines on the night of March 2, 2017, ~8 pm.
7 Questions for Mommy & Daddy
I have an 8-year-old son who reads well, now. I know the following questions could easily be put to a parent whose child is looking over their shoulder and reading the news headlines, above:
What’s an exorcist?
Do witches really cast spells?
Is the devil real?
What’s the difference between Satan and the Devil?
Why did they murder someone for a demon?
Do people come from God or are they grown in a lab?
Are there really ETs or was that just a movie?
What are the answers to those questions, mommy and daddy?
If you’re a skeptic or cynic about the supernatural, that’s fine. Coming from your child, then, what’s your answer to this question:
If the supernatural does not exist, why is it all over the news?
Hollywood, Game Developers, or You?
A worldview without a handle on Realities beyond the limits of the five senses, is so incomplete it leaves one unable to even discuss the news. I would prefer to lead such conversations with my children, not merely keep up, or react to the news.
When introducing a book called “The Unseen Realm”, and its more easily read version “Supernatural”, to friends, I say that, if we (parents) don’t teach our children about the supernatural then 20-something game programmers, and Hollywood screenwriters, will gladly fill in the gaps.
I would prefer to teach my children what I believe to be the truth about the supernatural aspects of the world. I don’t want it to come from the imagination of a screenwriter or game developer. And, I don’t want it to come from the imagination of a paperback writer who’s decided that vampires or demons are “Hot” subjects, right now.
My 8-year-old has me gasping for breadth (pun intended) with his questions. It’s astounding how discerning, and naturally oriented towards the supernatural, children are. If you have kids, you already know this. If you don’t, just watch one for 5 minutes. Your world may be limited by what you can see. But, their world isn’t.
More than Child’s Play
Discussing the supernatural is more than child’s play.
“In the contemporary world where there is a strong current of postmodern relativism…many people are far more interested in their own feelings, or what “works for them”, than in the question of what is actually true. But there is a price to be paid for rejecting the truth.”4
End of Part 1
Main Article Photo by Felipe Posada, The Invisible Realm, Toy Boat
Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial”
Grandma GG died on the twelfth day of Christmas, 2017.
In Catholic tradition, the following day is the Epiphany, the feast of the three kings, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Magi. So, the original “12 Days” are not a children’s memory and forfeit game turned into a Christmas carol.
And yet, when a friend reminded me of the day, the first memory I had was of Timothy and Lucas singing that song in the shower of our ski lodge hotel, over the holiday. If there’s anything more beautiful than the sound of children singing it’s the sound of my children singing.
When we drove home, Timothy had the gifts of each day of the song memorized. Then, like my father did so many times, I changed things around on them. To show the boys they’re not stuck with the official version of things, I made up new gifts for the first four days and sang a new carol.
By the time we were done, our version had 12 strummers strumming, three french breads, two lady bugs, and a fish swimming in a glass jar.
Charlie’s Option ‘C’
It was a small change to a lovely song. But, small changes like that, initiated by my father, were at the core of why he and mom lived such an extraordinary life. The conventional was just one possible starting point for my father; a brilliant engineer certain that no one had the whole game figured out. As he would often say, that made running with the herd a most dangerous proposition.
As my cousin Keith put it, if there were options A and B for everyone else, my father had an option C to consider. Tell him that there’s two sides to every coin and he’d probably smile and point out that you missed the third side. You forget about the edge. That’s technically a third side.
I can just hear him saying, “Remember, Terry, nobody’s got the whole game figured out. The instant someone tells you they do, ‘Run!’.”
And yet, for all his insights, when visiting with them in Tokyo my father said the reason they were able to travel everywhere and do such fun things was because of my mom. He just went to work every day, as usual. Mom took care of the blizzard of details it took the relocate, setup another house, figure out the local markets, and pay the bills.
The Shenanigans Continue …
The Shenanigans of the Gillespie’s, the McNally’s, and now the Arbelaez’, continue with the next generation. We sing the beautiful songs given us with the audacity to change the lyrics. The melody eventually goes, too, and the composers are forgotten. New life sings its own version of ancient songs. And nothing but the Grace of God is so assured that it should be immune from re-examination or re-canted with the joy of a personal imprint.
In Everything I Do
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy… in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture…1
And so it was that my brother and I were able to study music and architecture. Everything I do is on the shoulders of my parents, and on my knees, for the glory of our Father in heaven. The sacrifices they made, and the small changes to the norm my dad would always make, compounded into an enveloping blanket of possibilities my brother and I had the luxury of taking for granted.
An Artful Life
Possibilities are the breeding ground of creativity. The fruit of creativity is an artful life and, hopefully, the appreciation of the liberties that make it possible.
My parents were always there to help. Only because I was so sure of that, did I rarely need it. It was a premise in our relationship and bestowed a freedom to compose an extraordinary life. May the compositions of Isabel and I be a worthy extension of their legacy.
The Highest Privilege
When friends used to ask about my childhood I didn’t know what to say. What’s the opposite of a shitty childhood? Whatever that is, that was us.
Such discussions now involve notions of privilege and what that might be. From my parents, I know the answer: the highest earthly privilege, of all, is to be born into a household with a loving father and mother.
I can’t say it enough, and can’t stop thinking it: everything I do only makes sense when viewed as an extension of them. While others may try to discard their heritage, or apologize for it, I will spend the rest of my life being thankful for, and exploring the depths of, my own.
Geraldine Marie Gillespie
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.2
My father found this in my mother, Geraldine Marie Gillespie. And because their lives reflected its importance, I eventually found the same in Isabel. So, Isabel was the perfect one to give my mother her most favorite title of all: Grandma GG.
It was a name quickly conjured to avoid confusion with Martha, the other grandmother living in our house at the time. And, though the role of grandmother is rarely exceeded in stature or importance, it was a role my mother never expected to play. But, as I was to learn in the hours after her death, there was even more than that bundled up into Grandma GG’s favorite title.
A Catatonic Epiphany
For the last three years of her life, I’d prayed to know the purpose of my mother’s increased suffering, being confined to a bed for the past 10 years, and even losing her words.
Then, as befitting the 12th day of Christmas, I was lead on the track of a catatonic epiphany to a small group meeting at our church. Perhaps only around other believers could something as heart-warming, yet terrifying, be revealed: that my mother’s highest purposes in life were identical to her work, which was, in turn, identical to her highest calling. All three of these cherished insights lined up into one for Grandma GG. Her purposes, work, and calling were, all three, the same. They were inextricably bound up, and poured into, her three great loves: my father, my brother, and me.
The rareness of all three of these lining up —something that perhaps only a wife and mother of her time were afforded — is partly why I missed them.
A Mother’s Grief
Seen from that vantage point, it became more understandable that she had the strokes that put her in the bed shortly after my father, and then brother, died. Two-thirds of her life purposes had just left the planet. Her husband and firstborn son, were gone.
For those who haven’t walked that path, there’s no way to comprehend the loss. What I know of it are from the sounds of her weeping over my brother; cries I’d often wished could become unheard as they resonated through every dimension in a way that only a mother’s grief could.
Mom held on, in part, to save me from what she felt that day. She couldn’t bear for the same to happen to me.
A Secret Project
Maybe every child has a feeling their parents are working on a secret project that’s never revealed or talked about. You know they’re up to something; you just don’t know what it is. Then, one day, you realize that the secret project they’ve been working on, all this time, is you.
Every grocery bag, pair of sneakers, uniform, piano lesson, field trip, monthly check for Catholic school … and every drop-off and pick-up and late-night vigil waiting for you to come home, is one more stitch in the patchwork of a quilt they’re making, but don’t expect to use, for their own warmth. They’re sowing the soil, and tending to trees for decades, in hopes that it will bear the most delicious fruit the world has ever seen. And yet they’re perfectly content to die having never taken a bite.
The Unbearable Absence of Reservation
We pour ourselves out for our children, not because they’ve earned it, but because our love for them comes with an almost unbearable absence of reservation. It’s the only fitting metaphor we have of God’s love for us.
What Christ did for all, we seek to do for our children, within the realms of our limited authority: To guide them away from error and onto the path of their most complete fruition. And when they fall short, to plead forgiveness for their youthful trespasses and cancel any records of debt that might stand against them with legal demands.
Charlie’s 10% Solution
My dad said their marriage worked because he put 10% of everything he had into it. My mom wholeheartedly agreed with him on that, adding that the other 90% came from her.
A New Plague
The late 70’s were a tough time for my parent’s marriage. A new legal option of No-fault divorce was creeping across the country like a plague, leaving broken families in its wake. The machinery of separation was put into motion with a 9-syllable incantation: “ir·rec·on·cil·a·ble dif·fer·ences” were not corporate mergers gone awry, but a legal pretense for parents to live in separate houses.
Neutrality & Fairness
I remember my mom saying they couldn’t handle being Switzerland with all the couples they’d known who’d become separate and warring nations; the kids pulled around new artificial zones that, unlike the Vietnam news stories on TV, were anything but demilitarized.
So, there were arguments, and dishes thrown, and frustrations we felt, but didn’t understand. That’s how my brother and I knew that, just because we were born into it, didn’t make our parent’s marriage a guarantee.
We also learned that people playing fair with each other was a recipe for disaster; that it took a lot more than mere fairness to be happy. Only when they became resigned to giving more than received did a peace, that surpasses all understanding, come to our house.
As sung in the wedding folk song, popular at the time:
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.
But, the circle of the exchange in those lyrics spins faster than the inputs of the wedded couple. It’s that invisible extra energy the songwriter is asking about in the question, “Do you believe in something, that you’ve never seen before?”.
Grief is the Precious, Cut Short
I’ve learned from the deaths of my immediate family that the greatest cause for grief is when something precious is cut short of its expected completeness. And though I grieve for my mother, and still for my father and brother, I’m unable to view their lives as having been cut short; each for their own reasons.
Dad’s Bucket List(s)
In a conversation with my dad, a year before he died, he told me that when he was 10-years-old he made a list of things he’d dreamed of doing. By his mid-40’s he’d gotten to the end of that list, and made another. By the time of our conversation, he said he’d checked everything off that second list, as well.
The memory of that exchange was particularly comforting when he died, unexpectedly, a year later. How could his life be viewed as having been cut short if, by his own handwritten lists, he’d completed everything he’d set out to do?
When my dad’s brother came to visit, last year, I told him that story. He said he felt the same way and that his number was 75. Seven months later, nine days after Grandma GG, my Uncle Tim met his number.
Mom’s Unexpected Life
As for my mother, she never expected to get to do most of the things she, and my father, did. She raised two boys, traveled the world, got her high school diploma (about the same time we did), worked for a while to see what that was like, learned ikebana painting with the Japanese, and played golf with my father to her hearts content in their dream home, designed by their son, on the 5th hole of a private golf course in South Carolina. All of this, with her husband who’d retired at the age of 53.
It wasn’t until after my father died that I realized that Grandma GG was another artist in the family. Her opinions on logos, and colors, and ideas for business names, were always refreshing. And the grandchildren on her lap were the vitamins she took for her last eight years.
The fullness of Grandma GG’s life is the license we have to limit our grief to that of a life, not cut short, but fully lived.
Death ≠ Life Incomplete
A life is not devoid of purpose, nor incomplete, due merely to the fact that it has ended. If that were so, there is no hope for any of us, nor has there ever been.
I know this is not so, if only because of the memories I draw from them. My father may have helped me make more decisions, after his death, than before it. And though I believe it to be a mere fractal of a larger truth, there’s an undeniable life continued, here and now, in our memories, alone.
They Don’t Feel Gone
Staring at the bed of all the photos of my family it doesn’t make sense that they’re all gone. They don’t feel gone. After another series a fleeting moments, Isabel and my photos will be added to the pile. Then, it will be Timothy and Lucas staring at our pictures with this same odd feeling.
Memory is Proof of Life
Among the dead are those whose memories and past deeds are still having more of an impact on my life, today, than anyone currently living, ever will. So, the separation of who is here, and who is gone, becomes a more ambiguous proposition with each passing year.
After all, if memory of the once living is of no importance, then why punish a murderer? The victim’s gone and justice won’t bring them back. But, murderers are punished because the living will not put their memories away. The bell of the victims life will not be un-rung. And neither will the absence of justice be forgotten, or un-factored in to the righteous behavior of the survivors.
I believe the soul is sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and continues a new life in the unseen realm, as the body falls away. Still, unbelievers can take comfort in the memories of loved ones who’ve died, and the life contained in their memory of them.
In the first few years, not a day went by without a citation of the fourth commandment, in one direction or another. We eventually got the hang of it in seeing the final years of Grandma GG’s life through. Her care was part of our purpose, while she was in the final stages of completing hers. We were like mirrors pointed at each other, each unaware of the reflections compounding into infinity.
Through the Eyes of Visitors
But, our children, and others, saw those reflections.
Every once in a while we’d get an outside perspective on our lives, through the eyes of visitors. It was like having a puppy and a friend stops by, two months later, and breaks the news to you that what you’re calling a puppy has become a dog.
As friends and family passed on condolences, one of the first things they’d say is how wonderful it was that Grandma GG spent her final years with her family.
They’re right, it was wonderful. But, it was just as wonderful to spend the long beginning of my life, with her.
End of the Rainbow
In retrospect, the struggles I had in caring for my mom were like a man complaining about a rock in his shoe while walking to the end of a rainbow. The treasure, waiting to be collected, is more than one house can hold. Part of that treasure is the proof that Grandma GG’s highest calling was met, so that even 1/3rd of its fulfillment was more than enough to reap for the care she needed.
Another part is that our boys woke up, everyday of their four and eight-year lives, with a grandparent living in the same house.
“God’s law is an unspeakably good and precious thing, and to live within it is to live the life that is eternal. To be sure, (God’s) law is not the source of rightness, but it is forever the course of rightness.3
The Potency of Holiness
Our bodies know the differences between darkness and light better than our minds. While surprised that a candle has lit up the whole gymnasium, our bodies have already started walking towards it.
Light is more than the absence of darkness. And holiness is more than the absence of sin. If sin is the drum of water we drink from, then holiness is the teaspoon of bleach that makes the whole drum potable.
My moms inheritance is in answering her highest calling. It was poured out into her three men, into her new family, and also for those who saw her race, finished well.
And like the story of the thief on the cross, who had no hope before that fateful day, may the retelling of her story inspire other families to stick together and light their own candles with the fire within. And may a spoonful of that be credited to the account of Grandma GG’s inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
In Our Muscle Memory
Grandma GG is still in our muscle memory and in the walls of the house. While writing these words, I’ve kept the room monitor on in my office in case Grandma GG needs something. Isabel and I still hear the bell she used to ring, and the pitch of her voice, calling for something. We’re still quiet on the phone so as not to wake her, and we keep feeling the need to break away from dinners with friends, because mom’s been alone for too long.
The Smirk on Lucas’ Face
Grandma GG did not abide orders or directives. There was a certain way she’d purse her lips and stare when orders were detected. That’s when you knew there wasn’t a thing in the world that could move her. You’d just settled the matter; nothing would move her until she was good and ready.
One day, while giving an order to our two-year-old, I looked over to see something that brought chills of deja’vu. Lucas had the same eyes, and curled up smirk, I’ve seen on my mothers face for fifty years. I knew immediately the battle lines were drawn, and he had the upper hand. My mother’s will-not-abide smirk had been transmuted right onto Lucas’ defiant face.
I can only imagine the deep-rooted pig-headedness originating from ancient celtic roots that is now a weapon in his arsenal. And, boy, it’s a good one. Grandma GG would love knowing that she had left her Lucas Michael, so well-armed. As foreboding a look as it is, I love seeing her smirk on Lucas’ face. Even though I know what I’m in for.
Timothy’s Willy Wonka House
“When you love someone you go to the ends of the earth for them.”
— Aunt Bernie
Timothy doesn’t have Grandma GG’s defiant smirk. What he inherited from Grandma GG is waking up for the first eight years of his life with grandparents living in the same house. He has the cookies and candy in her drawer, her birthday gifts, the coca-cola Santa Claus kisses, and grandparents’s day at school.
When watching the original Willy Wonka, Timothy saw nothing odd in all the grandparents in the bed. To him, it was a matter-of-fact depiction of the way all families live. Families take care of one another, come what may, and no one is left behind.
Prior to my mom’s passing, Isabel had never experienced the death of an immediate family member. Now, as a reluctant veteran, perhaps she’d agree that death, compared to life, is a simple thing.
Death doesn’t give meaning to life; it just imposes a deadline on the project to perfect the soul our bodies are bound to, for a while. The body gives out, and the soul is released, to forever be what it became under the care of our earthly stewardship.
The greatest gift of life is the chance to shape, and try to perfect, the state of our immortal souls.
May we prepare for death like a bel canto singer navigates through the passagio of the upper-middle voice; switching over to a new set of involuntary muscles so the voice may gracefully ascend into its highest range.
But, She’s Ours!
Two weeks after she died, Lucas asked, “When are they going to send Grandma GG back?”
“What do you mean, Lucas?”, Isabel asked.
“When are they going to be done working on her body … (counting on his fingers) … “1-day, 2-days, 3-days, 4-days, 5-days?”
“She’s not coming back, Lucas. We have to go see her.”
“But, she’s ours!”, he said.
Then, last week, Lucas asked the same question. When Isabel told him Grandma GG was gone he yelled, “But, she’s ours! Why can’t they fix her body and send her back?!” before crying for five minutes; an eternity for a four-your-old.
Yes, honey. She’s ours.
And we will never forget her, nor the last time we saw her, this morning as she prepared for her journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.4
Alright, mom. These words hardly begin to summarize your life. But, you’d be happy with a few highlights in your son’s voice. It must have been awesome to get out of that bed and stretch out into a walk!
Remember when Dad borrowed Wendell’s RV and we camped and drove across the whole country? Dad wore out those Fleetwood Mac tapes and almost killed us on the mesa verde mountain curves.
My least favorite song is the one I can’t get out of my head. It reminds me of you and dad. You guys are together, now, like you imagined for all those years watching the golf channel. Every time that bell rings it feels like you’re still here. I’m glad, we’re glad, that, “For you, there’ll be no more crying.”
For you, the sun will be shining.
And I feel that you’re with us
And It’s alright, I know it’s right.
My songbirds are singing, like they know the score.
And I love you, I love you, I love you, like never before.
The church at Colossae was formed during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. A Colossian named Epaphras traveled to Ephesus (125 miles NW of Colossae) and heard Paul preach the gospel. In returning home Epaphras shared the message with his hometown and the church at Colossae was born. “Epaphras had earlier journeyed to Paul to help him in whatever way he could, representing the three churches of the Lycus valley (Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colossae)”.1
Epaphras is with Paul (Currently jailed in Ephesus) and has given Paul news of problems in the church in Colossae. Paul writes his Colossians epistle to address these problems.
I favor Pauline authorship of Colossians and Philemon while Paul was jailed in Ephesus ~54 A.D. I don’t think he wrote these epistles in Rome (or Caesarea) for three reasons:
Onesimus, a slave who escaped from his owner Philemon in Colossae, is unlikely to have been able to make two (Or three) trips to Rome from his home in Colossae.
“…it seems unlikely that, having seen Rome as a staging-post on the way to Spain (Rom. 15:22–29), Paul would be hoping to visit Philemon soon after his impending release.”2
The epistle contains advice more likely to be needed by a very young church than a church that had been grappling with such issues for eight or nine years.3
If Paul wrote Colossians while in Ephesus both the church, and Paul, were ~nine years younger than widely presumed: Paul is in his early 50’s and the church is barely a year old. That Paul describes himself as an “old man” in Philemon is still consistent with the hard life he’d lived until then.
The letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (And possibly Ephesians) were carried to their recipients by Tychicus and Onesimus with the latter being returned by Paul to his owner, Philemon. Philemon’s house is being used as a church in Colossae and Paul is hoping to persuade him to look favorably on his former slave, Onesimus, who became a Christian during his time with Paul.
Did Paul Write Colossians?
I find the arguments that someone other than Paul wrote the letter, unconvincing. In making their case, the non-Pauline authorship camp makes at least two faulty assumptions:
That a brilliant writer such as Paul could not, or would not, adapt his writing style and vocabulary with respect to the intention, problems and recipients of the letter. To the contrary: Anyone capable of writing Colossians has proven themselves capable of adjusting language and style to the widest audience possible. In fact, each of these Epistles continues to communicate quite effectively with the entire world since they were written. Putting aside, for now, the fact that his writing was divinely inspired, I’m not aware of any writer having achieved a greater feat (Socrates, Plato, Shakespeare, etc.).
That literary genius and spectacular writing abilities can somehow be perfectly mimicked or obtained by extensive study or “Spending lots of time” with the author. I would think a comparison of the epistles of Timothy to those of Paul’s would end such an argument. For those still unconvinced, rest assured that, no matter how long you might have been able to hang out with Shakespeare you still wouldn’t be able to write one of his plays.
Earthquakes in Laodicea and Colossae:
“Sometimes one also hears the argument that Paul could not have written to Colossae from Rome as late as A.D. 62 because the city of Colossae was destroyed by an earthquake in that year. This is confusing the earthquake which struck Laodicea in A.D. 60–61 with the earthquake which hit Colossae in A.D. 64. It is unfortunate that while Laodicea has undergone a good deal of archaeological work in recent years, Colossae still remains one of the NT sites which has never been excavated. Work would need to be done there before we could begin to assess the effects of the earthquake on that small town.”4
Laodicea and Colossae are only 10 miles apart. An earthquake capable of doing damage to one would be felt in both cities and probably do the same amount of damage. If Paul had written Colossians in 62 A.D. it would be remarkable for him to refrain from mentioning a Laodicean earthquake that happened one year prior. The second 64 A.D. quake in Colossae does not inform the the dating of the epistle, at all.
Lost Epistle to Laodicea
In Colossians 4, Paul asks the Colossians and Laodiceans to read each other’s letters. It’s highly probably that an epistle written to the Laodiceans has been lost.
Praise to Christ (1:15–20)
a) Christ is Lord of creation ( 1: 15–17)
b) Christ is Lord of redemption ( 1: 18–20)
Reconciliation of the Colossians to God ( 1: 21–23)
The Apostle Paul’s Labor for the Gospel ( 1: 24–2: 3)
a) Paul’s suffering and stewardship of the mystery ( 1: 24–28)
b) Paul’s labor for the Colossians ( 1: 29–2: 3)
Danger: Christ’s Preeminence Defended
The Dangerous Teaching at Colossae ( 2: 4–23)
a) Warning about a deceptive teaching ( 2: 4–8)
b) Help for the danger: resources in Christ ( 2: 9–15)
c) Additional warnings about the teaching ( 2: 16–23)
Duty: Christ’s Preeminence Demonstrated
The Proper Focus: Christ and the Life Above ( 3: 1–4)
Instructions on Living the Christian Life ( 3: 5–4: 6)
a) Dealing with the sins of the past ( 3: 5–11)
b) Putting on the virtues of Christ ( 3: 12–17)
c) Living in the Christian household ( 3: 18–4: 1)
d) Persistence in prayer ( 4: 2–4)
e) Good behavior toward those outside the community ( 4: 5–6)
Personal Greetings and Instructions ( 4: 7–17)
a) Remarks about the messengers carrying the letter ( 4: 7–9)
b) Greetings from Paul’s associates ( 4: 10–14)
c) Greetings to the Christians in Laodicea ( 4: 15–17)
Letter Closing ( 4: 18)
Melick, R. R. (1991). Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Vol. 32, p. 165). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers. ↩
Wright, N. T. (1986). Colossians and Philemon: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 12, p. 38). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ↩
Wright, N. T. (1986). Colossians and Philemon: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 12, p. 40). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ↩
Witherington, B., III. (2007). The letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians : a socio-rhetorical commentary on the captivity Epistles (p. 19). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. ↩
Words are how the truth comes to us. They’re also how it can be taken away. Seen only as symbols and grammar, truth and lies are made from the same raw material. Your only hope is discernment. Your life depends on it.
Tolkien and Lewis regarded the fairy tale as a perfectly suited literary vehicle for expressing eternal truth. Lewis credits Tolkien and a mutual friend with helping him see that his love of myth and fairy tale blinded him to, yet prepared him for, the Gospels. He reluctantly came to believe the Gospels were eyewitness accounts of a “true myth”.1
“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”2
Mythology or History?
Another term used as a pejorative is mythology.
All mythology is presumed myth as the victors decide what is official history. The history of the defeated is, by definition, written by outlaws. A generation later the history of the defeated is mythology or conspiracy if it’s remembered, at all.
It’s helpful to think of mythology as collections of potential truths inconvenient to the succession of political power. Likewise, “History” is as likely to be the glorification of bureaucrats and technocrats as an accurate re-telling of the facts.
A series of time-related truths, thoroughly vetted and discerned, is not mythology or conspiracy; it’s history.
Trivium & Quadrivium
The subjects of history and philosophy were considered to be so demanding, yet so important, that they weren’t even presented to the student until after they’d studied the subjects of the trivium (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric) and, ideally, those of the quadrivium (Arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy).3
“These seven heads were supposed to include universal knowledge. He who was master of these was thought to have no need of a preceptor to explain any books or to solve any questions which lay within the compass of human reason, the knowledge of the trivium having furnished him with the key to all language, and that of the quadrivium having opened to him the secret laws of nature.”4
“… When a few were instructed in the trivium, and very few studied the quadrivium, to be master of both was sufficient to complete the character of a philosopher … The candidate, having reached this point, is now supposed to have accomplish the task upon which he had entered – he has reached the last step, and is now ready to receive the full fruition of human learning.”5
“Some day you’ll be old enough”
The ability to grasp eternal truths and history and bring them to bear on decisions is a high achievement of a classical education. Only philosophy, by attempting to comprehend meaning, imposes greater demands for greater rewards.
“Some day you’ll be old enough” to start reading fairy tales again to glean eternal truths. Someday you’ll be educated enough to distinguish real history from stories convenient to political power.
Words are how the truth comes to us. They’re also how it can be taken away. Seen only as symbols and grammar, truth and lies are made from the same raw material. Your only hope is discernment. Your life depends on it.
A 1931 letter to childhood friend Arthur Greeves, Lewis credits Tolkien (and mutual friend Hugo Dyson). Paragraph reworded and reordered from an article written by Bruce Edwards (https://erlc.com/article/c-s-lewis-051101). ↩
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis ↩
Cathedral Schools of the early Middle Ages (527) on which the curriculum of Medieval universities were based (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_school) ↩
The world discards ideas and people that present multiple standard deviations away from “normal”. And yet, Reality has always been phenomenal and noumenal. To ensure you’re able to thrive in the artificial chaos of this generation you’ll need to be an outlier, in many ways. Here’s “The Outlier’s Handbook” to optimize your trajectory.
The Outlier’s Handbook
(Thriving in Artificial Chaos)
Table of Contents
Part 1 — What Outliers?
“Let Your Reasonableness Be Known to Everyone”
Ockham’s Razor: Benefits & Limits
The Bookends of Normalcy Bias & Cognitive Dissonance
“This Book Goes Too Far!”
You Know You’re An Outlier If . . .
Personal Secession and Other Outlier Mindsets
Part 2 — It’s Your World, Boss!
This Is Where You Live
The Constitution is Safe!
A Bank with Social Services Around It
Democracy: The God that Failed
The Deep State
Fascism, American Style
Lifecycle of Nations
“Poverty of Nations” Report Card
Imperial Collapse Playbook
Danger, Will Robinson!
Technocracy: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation
Regional Bloc Head Mercantilism
Gee, Maybe Nation-States Weren’t So Bad, After All
Solutions Amidst Global Fascism
Change Happens Like This, Now
Part 3 — The Usual Suspects
Call Them As You See Them
Origin & Story of Rulers and Authorities
Angelic Gen 6 View: Consistency & Insights
So, Who are “They”?
The “New” Face of Evil (Follow the Blood)
Long Term Trends Require Spiritual Unity
A Working Structure of Oppression
They Walk Among Us
How Can You Spot One?
7 signs you might be dating one
Protection From Them
The Hidden Cost of Killing Psychopaths
Beware the Backlash
Elements of Their World View
”Ye Shall Be As Gods”
The Moral Code of Evil
Undisclosed Adhesion Contracts
Stacked & Interlocking Pyramidical Structures
With Methods Like This, Who Needs the Occult?
Part 4 — Acquiring Immunity
Move #1: Acquire Personal Immunity
Purpose is Everything
Ethical Time Travel
First Do No Harm
Clean Food, Water, Air & Place
Nutrient Dense Diet
Gut Flora, Probiotics and the Second Brain
Stress & Breathing
Life Extension & Blood Sugar Management
Sensible Health Insurance
Putting It All Together
Intelligent or Random Design
Oneism (Monism) vs. Dualism
CINO’s & MINO’s
Christianity Leads To Science, Islam leads to Murder
Gandhi or Jesus?
Supernatural Immunity: The Mind & Way Of Christ
The Whole Council of God
Practical Examples of Spiritually Based Solutions
The Best Place to Live
Where Not to Live
Should you relocate?
The World is Yours
The Illusion of Ownership
G.O.O.D Project – Lessons Learned
Instrument of Recursive Perfection
Friends Worth the Title are Family
The Constitution is Safe!
Where is the Agreement?
It’s Hard to Be a Free Man
Unraveling Your Liberty
Money is for Immunity & Purpose
Business as Extension of Purpose
Tax Penalties for Fear and Poor Planning
Mortgage Slavery, Repealed
Austrian Economics is Real Economics
Investments in Immunity & Purpose Have the Highest ROI
Terms of “State” & “Government”
The Diversion Of Left – Right Thinking
The Votes that Matter
Optimal Government = Perfect Self-Government
The Chief Asset Of The State: Fear & Belief In It’s Necessity
All Matters of Liberty Are Related
Caveat Viator: Libertarianism and Anarchy are Aspects of a Complete Worldview
Govern Thyself Perfectly and Hold Death Dear
The Most Valuable Commodity on the Planet
Philosophers On Donuts
Terms of “Freedom” & “Liberty”
Equality & Authority
Freedom & Structure
Peace Does Not Flow From Passivity
Proof and Truth
You Can’t Beat Everything with Nothing
“Let’s Just Split the Difference and Find a Middle Ground”
The Opportunity in Uncertainty
If Swamp Rats Can’t be Exterminated Why Can You?
What About America?
Tony Robbin’s Best Trick
Think Spiritually, Act Locally
Getting Things Done
Low Hanging Fruit
Tragic Flaws of Conventional Prepping
How To Lose Without Fighting (An Outlier’s Not To-Do List)
Part 5 — Ants & The Human Mosaic
Change The World in Four Moves
Humans as an Ant Army
Move #1: Immunity
Move #2: Specialize
Move #3: Move
Move #4: Cooperate
Humanize the Best Attributes of Animals & Insects
Part 6 — Problems: Solutions
Move #2: Specialize & Pick One
Training Disguised as Education
Shortening Attention Spans
Vaccines Vs. Immunity
Food Fascism & GMOs
Nuclear Waste & Meltdown Disasters
Odious Debt (Slavery)
Wars of Conquest
End Times Decoder Rings
Scientific Control Grid
Power Grid Fragility
The State as Great Father
Webs of Undisclosed Adhesion Contracts
Militarization of Police
Bonus: Beating Traffic Tickets
Fractional Reserve Banking (The Theft of Human Labor)
As said in Three Knots and the Truth it’s incredible what can be done with three knots: The Bowline, Buntline and double sheet bend. If you’re content to learn only these three then get two pieces of rope and start practicing. For those who want to learn more it’s helpful to take a step back and look at the big picture.
There are knots for everything. However, almost every one of the thousands of knots invented do one of five things. They:
Stop – Stop rope from passing through a hole or to stop strands from unlaying.
Bind – Bind objects to other objects.
Loop – Put a loop in the middle or the end of a rope.
Bend – Joins the ends of two ropes together.
Hitch – Attach a rope to an object.
To optimize your time I propose learning the best single knot for each of these five functions before learning many knots that do the same thing. In other words . . .
Go Wide Before Deep
You’re better off doing more with fewer knots than learning many ways to do the same thing. For reasons of memory, time and spatial confusion I’ve ordered the following practice list to cover the widest range of function with the fewest number of knots.
When you’ve got a minute practice these knots, in order. If you can tie one easily then go to the next knot. If you’re stuck on one it’s best to master it before moving on. Knots that you can tie easily are much more valuable that knots you can’t remember.
These 24 knots represent a lifetime competence list. Your ability to improvise rope solutions will be quite incredible with just the first seven knots. Don’t feel you must get to the end of this list to be competent.
A Note on Choices
The following knots are from my real life experience from the vantage point of a generalist. They are not activity specific. My choices favor knots that are most useful, strong, secure (Won’t slip), stable (Won’t capsize), easy to tie and untie though few have every one of those characteristics. No knot is perfect.
Building Block – Fundamental
Building Block, Trumps Clove Hitch
Mankind’s favorite loop- Versatile
Sheet Bend (Dbl.)
Joins same sized or Thick-to-Thin
Or a Boa if it needs to look good
Loop or chair tied mid-rope, strong
hammock, hoisting,lengthwise load
Fisherman’s Bend, Dbl.
Stronger than sheet bend – proven
Bowline on a Bight
Emergency Man Chair – Rescue
Sliding loop for climbing, rescue
Flat-to-Flat, joins dog leashes
Takes strain in all directions
Millions of Climbers served
Round Turn w/2 HH
Easy, less secure anchor bend
Use to drag trees, pipes, bundles
great and simple leveraged pulley
filament to hook, fishing
4 heavy load, add bowline to hoist
Symmetrical, won’t jamb, climbing
Pack Mule Hitch/Car roofs
Munter Hitch (Dbl.)
Abseil with carabiner
Adjustable Grip Hitch
general lengthwise load hitch
Joins 3 ropes securely
Joins Thick Ropes – Cruise ship
All you need is two pieces of rope. Get 12 feet of small rope at the hardware store and cut it in half. Pick up a carabiner while you’re there.
My favorite knot book is DK’s Handbook of Knots: Expanded Edition, by Des Pawson. It’s compact, comprehensive, the pictures are clear, and the plastic covering and glossy pages don’t run when they get wet.
I used to carry these waterproof knot cards when boating. Now, I practice from memory, learn new knots from the DK book or the iphone apps, below.
John Sherry’s animated version of the wallet cards is slick, but, doesn’t have enough knots. I purchased the full version of the winkpass knot guide because it’s the most comprehensive. If you prefer video over slides then the full version of knot time is good though with less knots than the winkpass. I purchased both (For a total of $5) just to have the same knots tied from two points of view. Both apps advertise they intend to keep adding knots.
Knots are like guitar chords: You can rock n’ roll with three knots and the truth.
A minimalist could muddle through life with one knot: The bowline can be used as a loop, hitch or bend. It can be tied with one hand and its variations perform a wide range of duties. Double it for critical work.
To rock n’ roll learn two more knots: The buntline Hitch1 and the double sheet bend2.
It’s incredible what can be done with these Big Three knots. Practice them into your hands and rock n’ roll through most of life’s rope problems.
Do you prefer Jazz? It won’t take many more knots to improvise like a pro. This “Knots for Life” series will optimize your path with a practice list, improvisation techniques, rules of thumb and real life examples.
Whether you stay with The Big Three or branch out some truths about knots and ropes will set an optimal tone for the webs you weave. There are good reasons, even for a minimalist, to learn a few more.
Less is Three Times More
Knots are elegant tools that multiply the uses of rope. The right combination can transform an ordinary rope into the optimal tool for an endless variety of tasks. As much as I love tying them there are good reasons for minimizing the number used because . . .
Knots Weaken Rope
Knots weaken the rope they’re made from. Where strength is critical minimize knots even to the point of using non-rope materials.
Circus, Circus in Las Vegas uses metal, grommets and cables for their permanent circus installation. Ropes and lines are reserved for nets and swings that come into contact with the performers hands and skin. Braids, splices and loops are stronger than knots. Consider using them instead of a knot. There may not be time to braid or splice, but, why knot when you can loop?
When a knot is the right tool choose ones that are strong, secure (Won’t slip), stable (Won’t capsize), easy to tie and untie.
Knots are Hard to Remember
You’re better off with one knot you can tie than 10 you can’t remember. Keep a knot card in your wallet and two lines of paracord in your pocket. Practice The Big Three into your hands. Muscle memory ties when spatial memory fails. Speaking of which . . .
Knots Must Often Be Tied Upside Down and Backwards
The one knot you can remember may have to be tied hanging upside down, with one hand, in the dark or with:
Only one rope end available
No ends available (In the middle of the rope)
One or both ends under tension
Confidence gained in the living room with knot cards can be quickly dashed. The Big Three won’t handle all these situations. It’s best to anticipate, add a few knots to your list and practice them from different vantage points and without looking.
Ropes Vary Greatly
Rope problems often present with two ropes that are:
And on and on with every rope material on earth.
Ironically, a weak rope knot may be a strong vine knot, and vice versa. Once again, The Big Three can’t be expected to handle every type of rope.
Less is still three times more, but, there are practical reasons to learn a few more knots than The Big Three.
“. . .extreme simplicity can only be had at the expense of effectiveness.”
– Brion Toss – The Rigger’s Apprentice, 1984
1I like the clove hitch for quick undemanding tasks like securing the ends of a lash or keeping rope off the ground while barbecuing. But, I wouldn’t use a clove hitch to tie my dog’s leash around a pole. Why? Because I love my dog. Why use a clove hitch when you could tie a buntline for the same time and effort? Besides, the buntline has two clove hitches facing the loop, is only a slightly weaker replacement for an anchor bend and if made with with a full loop is hands down stronger than a loop with 2 half-hitches. The first paragraph of this article presents three knots with the widest range of utility for some who may not be interested in going any further than these three. With these criteria in mind? No clove hitch, no way.
2Why a sheet bend instead of a double fisherman’s bend? Frankly, I prefer the double fisherman, but, there are so many situations where two different sized ropes must be joined that a person who doesn’t have The sheet bend in their hands will come up short. Notice I specify the double sheet bend. If you’ll only have one bend under your hands then the 7-10% extra strength is prudent.
Stay tuned for “Knots for Life – Part 2”:
Knots for Life – Part 2: Wide Before Deep Practice List
Learn multiple languages effortlessly in a window that closes down rapidly after the age of four.
Dr. Titzer’s contribution has been in publicizing these discoveries and putting together the materials for other parents to duplicate the stunning results with his daughters.
The program is simple. After five days on it our 16-month-old is learning . . . .something. Then again it’s hard to imagine any activity we could do together that would not lead to him learning more rapidly. Babies are expert learners and spending time with parents is a super-stimulant. That’s why I think main ingredient for the success of the program is also its weakest link: Parents. Their ability to work the program with their baby every day, twice a day.
Each of two daily sessions last 30 minutes each. To get these two sessions in with their kids parents will need to . . .
Teach Instead of Work or Rest
If one parent is home with the baby during the day then the first session will be easier to do. If not, there are three options:
Teach the first session before work.
Teach the first session at lunch.
Arrange for your daycare giver to teach the first session.
I say teach even though the instructions say you can just pop the DVD in and let the baby watch. Although our son is glued to the presentation for the first 15-minutes he needs some encouragement to finish. He’s also excited to go through the picture cards after the video and that’s parent and baby time.
I suppose you could get your daycare giver to pop a DVD in for the first session. But, you’d also want them to follow up with the cards and picture book, afterwards.
After work one of the parents will need to teach the 2nd session while the baby is alert and interested and before they’re ready for bed. So, just when parents are ready to plop down and rest after work it will be time for the 2nd session.
The sessions are relaxing and fun. The regularity, not the teaching, is the challenge. Excitement has taken us through the first week. Now, our discipline of keeping to the twice-a-day sessions will be the main factor in determining our son’s progress.
The Program May Work If the Parents Do
The people involved are more predictive of success than the method used.
Years ago, five friends and I held a “bodyfat” contest. The goal was to see who could lose the most bodyfat in three months each using their own diet and exercise program. For three months we each worked out three times a week and used a different popular diet program: Atkins, The Zone, etc..
The results? The guys who were motivated made their program work. They could have used any program and succeeded with it. And, the unmotivated guys wouldn’t have been saved by a better program.
The success of the “Your Baby Can Read” program will be determined by the parents’ work. Babies are thrilled to learn and interact and play. If the parents can manage the discipline of the regular sessions then this program will probably work.
Parent & Baby Time Equals Success
If parents can manage the twice-a-day feat of teaching their babies for an hour a day then they’ve made a breakthrough that far exceeds the results of any program. The real success is the increased time you spend with your kids. Is there anything a child won’t learn faster and better with time and attention from their parents? If not then why stop at reading?
Sure enough, there are other programs for teaching your baby Colors, Patters, Numbers, Shapes, Prepositions, Four additional languages and a more advanced reading program.
Is Faster and Better Optimal?
Whether faster and better is Optimal is a different question. For most subjects the answer is probably yes. However, big steps forward come with costs and considerations. When it comes to reading at an early age Bill Sardi points out the link between reading and myopia that occurs with people and cultures focused on literacy.
Whoever discovers treasure has to figure out where to put it and how to use it. If TV and video games were replaced with Shakespeare would all children be myopic? Every advance leads to advanced problems. Something that looks like a step forward may not be.
The ability to read is a mandatory skill. Reading earlier advances the problems of eye care sooner into a child’s life. Bill Sardi recommends vitamin C & D, calcium, copper, sunlight, holding books more than 12 inches from the eye, and focusing on distant objects. We’re lucky to have Bill’s advice at the same time we’re teaching our son to read.
What about issues that would stem from other forms of child advancement: Skipping grades, advanced homeschooling, socialization, early graduation? Dr. Titzer refers to some of these issues as well as the achievement gap between early readers and later readers increasing over time (a.k.a. the “Mathew Effect” where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer).
Titzer says grade skipping, socialization and achievement gaps have been easily dealt with in his daughters progress. I would imagine the problems of achievement are tiny compared with non-achievement. As one of my favorite bumper stickers says, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”.
Early Training for an Optimal Life
This program is our first baby step towards homeschooling. If it leads to some kind of gap between our son and his peers then I’ll consider it early training for his Optimal Life.
Even with adults the earlier one starts on a path towards optimal the more unmeasureable their life is against traditional yardsticks. We live in a world that measures the multiple dimensions of intelligence with an integer. Sorry, but after you tell me what your IQ is I’ll still know very little about your intelligence.
I was Mr. Mom the last two weeks for our 11 month old. His grandparents, who usually take care of him during the day, went on vacation. My wife works away from home. I work, too. . . from home. That put me in charge of the day care.
By our third day, together, I was able to figure out what he wanted when he whined or cried. By the fourth day his whimpering stopped because he had what he needed before having to cry about it. Taking care of him was a lot easier than I expected. Sure, he needs lots of attention, but, it was nothing like the awful stories I’ve been hearing all my life. I began to think about why babies have a reputation for being so difficult. And, what’s making it easier for us?
I’m no more a baby expert than any parent. What I’m listing, here, are seven reasons why I think we’re having an easier time with our baby than the stories you’ll hear ‘out there‘. Six of them the parents can control. The last one is luck of the draw:
(Note: This article was written in 2009. We’ve since had our second baby who was only a dream when writing this article. One thing that stands out, now, is the implication that a baby crying is, somehow, a disaster–or proof positive of a problem– that must be “solved”. Of course, it could be just that as crying is one of the few ways a baby can communicate . . . anything. What I left out, in my new-father haste to “solve the problem”, was the sheer joy of a baby crying when you “just know” there’s nothing seriously wrong. That’s why I chose the picture for the article of both a man and baby crying with mom laughing: It’s a more accurate portrayal of the wonder and beauty of this time in a family’s life. I don’t want to live in a world where baby’s don’t cry nor do I mean to contribute to such a world through any words that I may write. What I do want to share with potential new parents is how much easier, and lovely, it is to care for a crying baby than what you may have been told. That’s something I never knew, in large part, because the parents I might have learned from didn’t say. If silence is the worst mistake then I pray the Lord keep me from making it and keep it short and sweet it the process.)
Timothy’s on a loose schedule for the entire day. It’s specific in content and sequence. It’s flexible in start time with naps and bottles dropping off depending on his mood and other activities:
Wake up and Bottle – Whey protein (No cows milk) With Vitamins and Fatty Acids.
Play or sleep until . . .
Breakfeast – oatmeal with a scoop of stomach flora
Bath and Change Clothes
Ride in Toy Car around the block
Play, Bottle then Nap
Play, Bottle then Nap
Bottle (with cereal) then off to bed.
This is easier than it looks. The start times shift up to an hour though always in the same sequence. There’s many benefits for him (And for me, these last two weeks) in being on a schedule like this:
Predictability – The baby knows what to expect and so do we. Neither of us is surprised by bath time or when its time to take a knap. The baby begins to expect to receive all the things he needs at a certain time. It becomes easy to figure out what he may be missing if he does start to whine or cry. In other words, it makes the process of elimination for why he’s crying very simple.
Planning – All of us know what is happening and when, including the baby. We can plan the times for phone calls, shopping for items needed, visits from friends, working out at the gym or whatever else is going on in our non-baby life.
Comforting – It seems to me the schedule removes a certain anxiety from the baby’s mood. His emotions and metabolism ebb and flow as the schedule unfolds. He knows that everything he needs is going to be given to him when its time to be given. And it was comforting for me to know that I was doing everything necessary for him and not leaving anything out.
Ease of Transition to Backup Caretaker – This is an awesome benefit! It made it very easy for me to step in as primary caretaker. Timothy’s schedule didn’t change at all when grandmom and grandpop went on vacation. I was clumsy, at first, but knew what and when to do everything and was certain nothing was being left out because of the schedule they gave me. When he cried in the first three days it was because I was not getting him to the next item on his schedule in time or he wanted a bottle instead of a nap, or, vice versa.
Everything on and off his schedule unfolds in a predictable way:
When he’s watching a cartoon he’s sitting in his chair and hears the sound of us in the kitchen making his lunch.
He knows its time to take a nap when we’re lying next to him after his morning bottle.
He knows he’s going for a car ride when the dog starts barking and we get his toy car ready.
This is real SuperNanny stuff, I know. But, we’re planning on having a second child and I think schedules and routines are going to be key in managing our lives. I also think they’re going to be key in having less babies crying for seemingly no reason. And if they cry, we’ll have good clues as to why.
Not having company makes Timothy cry.
Other than when he’s sleeping he wants company at all times. This will probably change in a few years as he starts reading or playing with more educational toys. But, for now, he wants someone with him at all times. You don’t have to be looking at him or directly interacting with him. You just have to be there with him in the same room.
BTW, Isabel gets a special mention in this category: We get a little crying when switching company from mom to dad and just laughing when switching back to mom. Do we have a mama’s boy issue, here? Mmmmmmmm. Not sure. It only lasts about 45 seconds. We’ll see.
I think we have a much easier time with Timothy because he wasn’t vaccinated. When he cries its for one of six reasons (See Conclusion, below). He’s not in a constant state of recovery from the three dozen antigens he would have gotten by now. That’s 36 less things to cry about.
For a thorough explanation of why we chose not to vaccinate see my article, Vaccines For My Baby. It was not an easy choice, our first pediatrician ‘fired’ us and it’s been the subject of many discussions. But, I do think it was the right choice and part of that is evident in Timothy’s lack of crying for ‘mysterious’ reasons.
I may be wrong, but, I suspect the reason babies have a reputation for endless and inexplicable crying is because of the dramatic rise in vaccines given to them since 1982. If you’ve got the other six items in this article under control then vaccines may be the crying culprit.
What a tragedy it would be if less people have babies because vaccines make them cry too much. New parents tell would-be parents their nightmarish stories and the endless patience needed to withstand constant crying. The would-be parents don’t have superhuman patience so opt out of having children, at all.
All I’ll say here is that vaccines are not needed to achieve immunization to the diseases for which they’re given. In most cases the fine print actually says that immunization is not guaranteed by the vaccine. The only thing that can guarantee protection from the world’s millions of diseases is the babies’ immune system — the very thing vaccines tend to destroy, not boost.
I get grumpy and grouchy when I eat the wrong foods. If I was a baby that would probably take the form of crying. I think its reasonable to say that a baby cries less on a balanced diet. Or, to put it another way: An unbalanced diet is unlikely to lead to less crying.
Blood sugar regulation is key to mood leveling. We’ve taken pains to remove high-glycemic food from our son’s diet. His diet is about 30-40-30 protien-carbs-fats with the carbs being all vegetables and fruits. His bottle is the closest to breast milk in content we could find with no cow’s milk (Whey protein, instead).
From what we’ve seen this seems to be a very balanced diet for him. It levels his blood sugar, keeps him satisfied until the next mealtime and his energy spikes are smooth and natural with no crashing in between.
What’s the opposite of a vaccine? Nutrition that assists rather than destroys your immune system. Vitamins, minerals and fatty acids are all added to Timothy’s morning bottle.
We give him extra vitamin D because babies get much less sun than toddlers. We also give him a baby appropriate liquid multi-vitamin, fatty acids and add a small scoop of beneficial bacteria for his stomach to his morning cereal.
All of this was recommended by our son’s doctor who is a naturopath. The stomach flora is recommended for babies who were breastfed for less than 6 months. The added vitamins are to supplement a babies diet since newborns are not eating a wide variety of food, yet. Bacteria in the stomach enables easier digestion: One less thing to cry about.
This one’s luck of the draw.
Most of the parents I’ve talk with say their baby had a definite disposition from the moment they were born. That’s been true for us, as well.
I hear the term ‘colicky’ to describe a baby that cries all the time. Colic is a term for anything that causes abdominal pain in horses (And now babies, too). I’m not sure if this is 100% disposition. It could be one of the other 6 items in this article because the term ‘colicky’ is so broadly used.
I’ll know more about this after we have baby #2. For now I would just say that we did not draw the short straw on this one (Thank God).
Our baby cries for six reasons:
Dirty – Needs diaper change
Pain – Bumps himself while playing
Toy – Got pushed under the furniture or he wants one.
It’s worth saying that these are the only reasons he cries. I wish somebody gave me this list when I was deciding on having children. It’s a much shorter list than I was led to believe by rumours, magazine articles and stories floating around ‘out there’.
Addressing the six things that make our baby cry doesn’t require superhuman patience. It requires a simple rem edy to a short list of causes.
We didn’t draw the short straw on disposition, this time. If Baby #2 is ‘colicky’ at least we’ll have strategies in our control to minimize babys’ (And parents’) crying.
I’m grateful to my wife, mother and father-in-law for putting so many things in place that serve Timothy’s needs before he has to cry about them. He has a schedule, routines, company, is not vaccinated, has balanced meals, gets good nutrition and there is no mysterious or endless crying. None of these things are a big deal, alone. It is a very big deal, however, when they come together and make for a happy baby and a peaceful house.
It’s been 13 months since we moved my mother in to live with us. She was in a nursing home and it was time to get her out of there. Just prior, my mother and father-in-law moved in to live with us, as well. Five months later Timothy, our first child, was born.
That’s five adults, one baby and two dogs spread accross 4 generations; all living under one roof.
Our house was large enough, we had a baby on the way, needed help taking care of my mother and my in-laws were looking for a way to decrease their expenses and take life a little easier. For more background on the decision and the story of moving in together see Why I Live With My In-Laws.
This is an update to that article.
How’s It Going? – Bottom Line
Extremely well, with unexpected benefits and problems and ways to handle each.
Part of the ‘unexpected’ benefits are how much I didn’t expect to appreciate the benefits listed in my previous article as much as I do. Division of labor, economies of scale, precious time with family, help with mom. It’s one thing to think about these things and its quite another to experience them in your everyday life.
Grandparents for Timothy
This was just an idea last year when everyone moved in. Now, its real. The reality of having Timothy, Martha, Fabio and my mom together in the same house is truly priceless. There’s only three people on the planet that love Timothy as much as Isabel and I do. Having them all under one roof is a daily unfolding wonder and blessing. Even now I may not fully appreciate all the aspects and advantages to Timothy, and all of us.
And the babysitting? Are you kidding me? Who ya gonna call? Isabel and I haven’t had to contemplate the tradeoffs, risks and worries of leaving Timothy with a stranger as we run errands or just want to spend some alone time, together.
This is way beyond money.
Productivity at Home
I work at home. With an 8 month old baby it’s a miracle I can be so productive out of a home office. Sure, we could drop Timothy off at day care. He spends all day with his grandparents and me in what has to be the ideal environment. Even if we incurred the cost, risk and effort to leave Timothy at day care it would be a downgrade in the quality of his life and ours.
Daughter and Father
Isabel and Fabio have a similar temperament: They’re both quick to react and quick to wind down. At first, we all thought they’d be arguing with each other since they’re so similar. Nope. Turns out they’re so in tune with each other that things get resolved almost before they happen.
Daughter and Mother
Isabel and Martha don’t have the same tempermant. But, they are both very feminine and give ideas to each other in a non-competitive way. They may not admit this but I think they motivate each other to do more.
In other words, they both do more than they would without each other.
Mother-in-Law and Son-in-Law (Me)
Martha and I both tend to “Work behind the scenes” to accomplish our goals. Now we conspire with each other for the same purpose.
Nerve Center for Family
With five (Instead of two) adults in the same house its easier to keep in touch with extended family members and friends. That’s more connection for less effort. Since these are people we love and care about that is a very good thing.
All of us enjoy having guests. We have more guests because there are more people to visit. And, we enjoy them more because we’re all pitching in to entertain.
As a single man until the age of 44 I traveled for Christmas 20 years in a row. Now, I’m thrilled to have most of the family here and pass the travel burden onto the remaining single members of the family or those looking to take a break in wine country.
Everything that benefits one of us loops back around to benefit all of us. Here are some examples of how this plays out:
My productivity at home leads to peace of mind and more abundance brought into our house. That peace of mind is felt by Timothy and sets an example for him that its possible to live a great life and not be stressed out all the time. More abundance leads to the ability to sustain our lifestyle.
Isabel is freed up from most of the conventional tasks on a new mother’s list. The way I put it is, by the time her alarm clock rings in the morning, she has accomplished more than most new mothers can in two days.
We purchased reclining couches for the living room to make it more comfortable to watch TV. That lead to ‘movie night’ Fridays. Movie night is a great excuse for everyone to spend time together. It also saves on the $150 it would cost for all four of us to go to the movie theatre after coke, popcorn, babysitting and who knows what else.
And what about me and my new in-laws? Most people have trouble even with roomates. How about living with two new roomates you’re just getting to know? There had to be problems and arguments and blow-ups, don’t you think?
Not really. Sure, we’ve had our misunderstandings while getting to know each other, but, nothing more. Once you translate the culture and language our underlying goals are so united there’s nothing to argue about.
The real surprise was watching Fabio and Martha go through the adjustment of living with each other while spending the whole day together. They’d raised two kids and been married for 30 years, but, had never spent as much daily time together as when they moved in with us.
We do more shopping online, nowadays. Things that would normally come together in a bag get delivered separately in a box. That brings more boxes into the house. With baby showers, birthdays, more guests, medical supplies and holidays we have a lot of trash!
I’m bad about remembering trash day. That’s a disaster with six people in the house. One false move and we’ll never catch up without a trip to the dump.
Fabio has taken to overseeing our trash situation. Believe me, when I wake up on Friday morning and don’t have to panic at the sound of the garbage trucks I’m very grateful.
Space & House Layout
More people means more guests. Guests need a place to stay. Our only ‘spare’ room was my office. So, whenever we had guests I had to give up my office. Sure, I could use the computer during the day, but, at least half of my productivity happens at night after everyone is asleep.
Guests were’nt the only reason for a new home office. The only room that could hold my filing cabinets, computer, books, reference materials and have room for a meeting with another person was my first office. That was also the only downstairs room available for my mom. As it turned out, using the last remaining bedroom upstairs didn’t work for several reasons:
When guests came I lost night-time use of the office. For me that was about half of my productivity.
The room was not really all mine. Isabel kept her office books, cabinets, lights and reference materials in the room. The closet was half full of her stuff and the other half was an overflow closet used by Martha.
My office was half upstairs and half downstairs. I had to go up and down the stairs three times just to stage the items needed to work on a project. Any doorbell ring or need for additional materials would send me upstairs and downstairs, yet again.
And so . . .
The Man Cave is Born
What this all lead to was the need to create another room in the house. The optimal room would be:
Big enough for all the ‘tools’ for my work.
Not infringe on another mandatory use of space.
Accessible, but not too accessible to the daily activities of the house.
And so, my friend David and carved out 1/3 of our 3-car garage and made it into an office. It took 2.5 months of back-breaking work. Frankly, it was a study in the drawbacks and benefits of working on only one goal and ignoring all others. One day I’ll write an article on whether or not that’s the optimal approach.
Although I had designed an addition to the house that would have been perfect it was just too expensive to build considering all the other purchases I was making to make sure we’d make it through this terrible downturn in the economy.
Person by Person
In my first article I said there had to be something in it for everyone for the whole multi-generational living to work. Now that we’ve been together 13 months let’s go person by person and look at how its been for each one of us.
The joy on my mom’s face when she see’s Timothy (Every day) says it all.
On her second trip to the doctor, four months after moving in, he couldn’t believe how much she had improved. And that was before Timothy was born. We have lunch every day together and sometimes even a party on the patio. Timothy looks over and screams when mom waves at him and that’s a great ‘conversation’ to watch.
My mom’s health is not well and she doesn’t always cooperate with Martha when its time to do her exercises. However, I have my doubts that she’d be with us, at all, if it weren’t for the comfort and care she receieves by living with us.
Martha is obviously happy and also a bit restless. She’s taken on another child to take care of during the day for extra income and earns every penny of it.
Fabio loves being at home. Later, he’ll probably need to get out more. But, for now there’s plenty going on in the house to entertain.
Timothy gets parents who are smiling and not stressed out. He has the priceless attention and love of his grandparents. He feels the support of living in a home where everyone is looking out for each other and gets far more interaction than would be possible in daycare.
He’s learning Spanish as his first language and will pick up english like a sponge when it’s time. He might even be ready to learn a third by the time most students are deciding on a second.
Before Isabel’s alarm clock goes off in the morning she’s gotten more ‘done’ than most mothers could in three days. That’s because most of what needs to be done around the house is split between myself, Fabio, Martha or other Martha (Who comes to clean house three times a month).
“People like doing things for me.”, she says. As a smart husband I won’t touch that statement.
When I was single just thinking about living like this would have been like thinking about walking on the moon. Even now its an unfolding mystery. I’m suprised to find very little on the internet written about the subject coming from Americans. For economic reasons I predict that’s going to change.
Ironically, being willing to give up the freedom I had when I was single has been the very means of becoming more free than I’ve ever felt in my life.
I’m surprised the whole arrangement goes as well as it does.
What Happens Around Here
Here’s some things that happen around here:
Almuerzo – Spanish for “Lunch”. Everyday at 12pm prepared by Fabio. You know its happening when the intercom rings.
Movie Night – We bought special couches that recline so up to 6 people can recline in comfort. I figure every movie saves us $150 though saving money wasn’t the motivation.
Boys Day / Girls Day – With lots of people around this need becomes obvious. The girls want to do their thing without prying eyes. The boys want to do their thing without hearing comments.
Everybody’s Got Their Secret Stash
Martha has her sweets, mom’s got her cookies, Fabio has his whisky and I have my figs and wine. Isabel doesn’t have to keep a stash because Fabio keeps it for her for. Or maybe she’s just better at keeping secrets than we are.
What Our Friends Said?
Last month our friends and family told us they gave us two months, tops.
Can you blame them? What odds do you give someone bungy jumping from a helicopter?
And this article is not a, “See?, We TOLD you it would work!” I can’t do that because the lifestyle is an unfolding mystery. I can tell you the benefits and drawbacks in retrospect, but, the future is not predictable.
One of my favorite comments was, “If we predict failure we only have to be right once. For you to pronounce success you have to be right 24 hours a day, forever”. That’s only true if we took some kind of club oath. I’d say being happy for a solid year counts for a good measure of success.
Hernan (Fabio’s brother) thanked Fabio, not me, for his hospitality for a 2 week stay at the house. It occured to me, that night, that it was a sign of the success of living together. It’s not really my house, anymore. Its “our” house.
The things I have are just things I’m using while I’m alive. They don’t seem like mine, really. They’re just things and tools and materials. Now the house has become just another tool to get a job done.
One of my favorite benefits is coverage. Here’s some examples:
If I need to run an errand I have coverage for Timothy and mom’s care.
If Isabel needs to work late she has coverage for Timothy. Tasks she ‘meant’ to get done that night can be delegated to us and she’ll probably have dinner waiting for her when she gets home.
If Fabio wants to go to Colombia for a few weeks he can pack a few things and go. He can easily plug back into his routine upon return.
If Martha needs the afternoon to go the doctor there’s not much planning needed for Fabio and I to cover for her.
The real value of coverage is that it is general and flexible. As things come up for each of us we know others are there to cover for us. Its a general comfort that becomes specific as life events unfold.
I love BBQ’s. With more people and guests there are more excuses to have one. There’s also more oppurtunity to combine events like birthdays and anniversaries.
Cadence of the Day
Our days unfold with a cadence that marks time and gives things to look forward to. I know for sure this doesn’t happen when you’re single.
Fabio and Martha have considered selling their home in Orlando and probably would if the market allows.
If we have a second child the guest room goes to the baby. Even with the garage office I built to free up an official guest room we’ll be left with no spare rooms.
A prolonged recession in the US is now guaranteed. That makes our living situation even more beneficial. Perhaps these articles will be helpful to more Americans as they contemplate throwing in, together.