Monday, December 17, 2007

Another informative article from Zenit.org...

This article explains risks and problems that occur from in vitro fertilization. I had already heard of some of these problems, but I also learned a lot more.

If you truly feel that God is calling you to be a parent but are unable to have children of your own God still has a plan and a solution that doesn't involve test tubes and artificial conception. There are thousands of God's already created, natural, beautiful gifts just waiting to be adopted by a loving family.



IVF'S INSIDIOUS MEDICAL DEFECTS
Data Point to Risk for Kids and Moms

By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, DEC. 16, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church has often warned of the moral perils associated with in vitro fertilization. In addition, the processes involved in IVF bring with them a series of medical dangers, both for women and their offspring.

One of these risks is the threat of genetically related illnesses stemming from donated eggs or sperm. The Los Angeles Times published on Dec. 8 a special report on the problems suffered by a couple who have a child born due to an ova donation by Alexandra Gammelgard.

To pay for college, Gammelgard sold her eggs to agencies that led to at least four children. One of these donations resulted in a child whose birth was arranged by a homosexual couple, Bruce Steiger and Rick Karl. It later turned out that the child suffers from Tay-Sachs disease, a neurological condition that usually kills its victims before age 5.

Gammelgard is a carrier of the genetic mutation, but was unaware of it at the time she sold her eggs. The other couples who have children resulting from the ova donated by Gammelgard remain unaware of the risks. Even if their children do not develop the illness they will, in turn, run the risk of passing it on to the next generation.

This would not happen with blood donations, the Los Angeles Times noted, as donors and their blood are tracked so recipients can be warned in the case of dangers discovered after donation.

The laws regulating IVF, by contrast, privilege confidentiality, and there is no guarantee users of donated eggs or sperm will be told if it is discovered later on that a donor has serious health problems.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the number of children born in the U.S. from donated eggs reached about 6,500 in 2005. Donated sperm is more common, leading to tens of thousands of births each year.

Couples can also have their hopes falsely raised by the continual announcements of new IVF treatments, warned an article Nov. 15 in the Wall Street Journal. In October a new embryo-screening technique was unveiled, immediately winning a prize from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

At the same time, however, a group of experts from the ASRM, along with the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, published a statement urging caution about certain kinds of genetic embryo screening, saying there is insufficient scientific evidence about its usefulness.

High costs, low success

The Wall Street Journal also noted that a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine questioned the usefulness of advanced fertility treatments for many patients. Such procedures are often proffered to couples, playing on their fears of remaining without children, but they have no guarantee of success, and cost thousands of dollars.

The ASRM also warned, the Associated Press reported Oct. 22, that women should not place too much trust in frozen eggs. So far there have only been around 500 births from frozen-and-thawed eggs worldwide.

Due to problems with ice crystals forming in the freezing process the eggs may be rendered useless. The ASRM explained that the freezing technique, which can cost more than $10,000, might only have a 2%-4% chance of a live birth for every thawed egg.

Doctors in Ireland also expressed concerns, the Irish Times reported Sept. 11. Next year, two British clinics are set to introduce in Ireland the possibility for women to freeze eggs using the vitrification process.

Already the Human Assisted Reproduction Ireland at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin offers women the possibility to freeze eggs using another method, the slow-freeze process. Dr. Edgar Mocanu, a consultant with the Rotunda center, warned that the new technique was still experimental and there are no data available yet on possible health problems for the babies born as a result of the process.

A further concern is whether the promotion of egg freezing will induce women to postpone pregnancy. Dr. Aongus Nolan, lab director at the University College Hospital Galway Fertility Unit, told the Irish Times that, apart from concerns over the survival of frozen eggs, the longer women wait the more difficult it will be for them to become pregnant.

Multiple births

Another problem area is the tendency of IVF procedures to result in the birth of twins. Walter Merricks, the interim director of the United Kingdom's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, called for a reduction in multiple births, the Guardian reported Dec. 4.

Currently, IVF in the United Kingdom accounts for nearly 1 in 5 of the overall number of multiple births, due to women being implanted with two or three embryos during fertility treatment.

The Guardian article observed that twin births are the single biggest risk factor for babies born through IVF. Dangers include premature birth, low birth weight, cerebral palsy, heart disease and diabetes.

In the U.S., a Nov. 20 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that twins have made up about 44% of all IVF births. The newspaper cited a 2004 report by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in which researchers commented that in order to boast of high success rates for IVF treatments, clinics tend to favor the implantation of multiple embryos.

Health defects

Apart from problems due to multiple births, children born from IVF techniques tend to suffer more health problems in general. On July 23 the U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail reported on figures published in the medical journal Human Reproduction.

A study carried out by the Imperial College London on almost 900 children found that on average, a 7-year-old conceived after fertility treatment had been hospitalized 1.76 times -- while a child conceived naturally had been admitted only once. By the age of 7, IVF children had spent an average of 4.31 days hospitalized, almost two days longer than other children.

Fits and other conditions affecting the brain were more common in those born after IVF treatment. The immune system was also affected, with IVF children being more prone to infections, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. While some of the problems could be related to multiple births, the study also found that single children born as a result of IVF were also less healthy than naturally conceived offspring.

Mothers are also at risk, reported the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 3. One of the major problems stems from the number of pregnancies at an older age. Births for U.S.-born women in California aged 40-44 have increased threefold since 1982.

Older mothers are more likely to develop high blood pressure and gestational diabetes and to give birth to premature and low birth-weight babies, the article warned. It also cited a 2004 study of Swedish women, which found that the rate of premature births for women ages 40-44 to be 150% higher than for women 20-29.

Couples who discover they cannot bear children suffer greatly, acknowledges the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2374. Nevertheless, methods aimed at overcoming such problems should be placed at the service of the human person and their rights, as well as respecting the bond between husband and wife and the nature of the sexual act, the following paragraphs explain.

A child is a gift, not a piece of property, and possesses rights that should be respected, adds No. 2378. A teaching whose wisdom is being confirmed more and more as complications from IVF emerge.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Logan, the Sky Angel Cowboy!

Wow! This kid really gets it. God Bless!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

How The Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Came To Us


On a December night in Chicago many years ago, a little girl climbed onto her father's lap and asked a question. It was a simple question, asked in children's curiosity, yet it had a heart-rending effect on Robert May.

"Daddy," four-year-old Barbara May asked, "Why isn't my mommy just like everybody else's mommy?"

Bob May stole a glance across his shabby two-room apartment. On a couch lay his young wife, Evelyn, racked with cancer. For two years she had been bedridden. For two years, all of Bob's small income and smaller savings had gone to pay for treatments and medication.

The terrible ordeal had already shattered two adult lives. Now, Bob suddenly realized the happiness of his growing daughter was also in jeopardy. As he ran his fingers through Barbara's hair, he groped for some satisfactory answer to her question.

Bob May knew only too well what it meant to be 'different'. As a child he had been weak and delicate. With the innocent cruelty of children, his playmates had continually goaded the stunted, skinny lad to tears. Later, at Dartmouth, from which he graduated in 1936, Bob May was so small that he was always being mistaken for someone's little brother.

Nor was his adult life much happier Unlike many of his classmates who floated from college into plush jobs, Bob became a lowly copy writer for Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago mail order house. Now at 33, Bob was deep in debt, depressed and sad.

Although, he didn't know it at the time, the answer he gave the little child on his lap was to bring him fame and fortune. It was also to bring joy to countless thousands of children like his own Barbara. On that December night in the shabby Chicago apartment, Bob cradled the little girl's head against his shoulder and began to tell a story . . .

"Once upon a time, there was a reindeer named Rudolph, the only reindeer in the world that had a big red nose. Naturally people called him "Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer." As Bob went on to tell about Rudolph, he tried desperately to communicate to Barbara the knowledge that, even though some creatures of God are strange and different, they often enjoy the miraculous power to make others happy.

"Rudolph," Bob explained, "was terribly embarrassed by his unique nose. Other reindeer laughed at him; his mother and father and sister were mortified, too. Even Rudolph wallowed in self pity."

"Why was I born with such a terrible nose?" he cried.

"Well," continued Bob, "one Christmas Eve, Santa Claus got his team of husky reindeer - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen, and the others -- ready for their yearly trip around the world. The entire reindeer community assembled to cheer these great heroes on their way. But, a terrible fog engulfed the earth that evening, and Santa knew that the mist was so thick that he wouldn't be able to find a single chimney."

"Suddenly Rudolph appeared, his read nose glowing brighter than ever. Santa sensed at once that here was the answer to his perplexing problem. He led Rudolph to the front of the sleigh, fastened the harness and climbed in. They were off! Rudolph guided Santa safely to every chimney that night. Rain, and fog, snow and sleet -- nothing bothered Rudolph for his bright red nose penetrated like a beacon."

"And, so it was that Rudolph became the most famous and beloved of all the reindeer. The huge red nose he once hid in shame was now the envy of every buck and doe in the reindeer world. Santa Claus told everyone that Rudolph had saved the day, and from that Christmas on, Rudolph has been living serenely and happy."

Little Barbara laughed with glee when her father had finished. Every night she begged him to repeat the tale until finally Bob could rattle it off in his sleep. Then, at Christmas time, he decided to make the story into a poem like the 'Night Before Christmas' and prepare it in a booklet form with crude illustrations, for Barbara's personal gift.

Night after night, Bob worked on the verses after Barbara had gone to bed, for he was determined that his daughter should have a worthwhile gift, even though he could not afford to buy one.

Then, as Bob was about to put the finishing touches on Rudolph, tragedy struck. Evelyn May died. Bob, his hopes crushed, turned to Barbara as his chief comfort. Yet, despite his grief, he sat at his desk in the quiet, now lonely apartment, and worked on Rudolph with tears in his eyes.

Shortly after Barbara had cried with joy over his handmade gift on Christmas morning, Bob was asked to an employee's holiday party at Montgomery Wards. He didn't want to go, but his office associates insisted. When Bob finally agreed, he took with him the poem and read it to the crowd. At first the noisy throng listened in laughter and gaiety. Then, they became silent, and at the end broke into spontaneous applause. That was in 1938.

By Christmas of 1947, some 6 million copies of the booklet had been given away or sold, making Rudolph one of the most widely distributed books in the world. The demand for Rudolph sponsored products increased so much in variety and number that educators and historians predicted Rudolph would occupy a permanent niche in the Christmas legend.

Through the years of unhappiness, the tragedy of his wife's death and his ultimate success with Rudolph, Bob May has captured a sense of serenity. And as each Christmas rolls around he recalled with thankfulness the night when his daughter's questions inspired him to write the story.

In 1949, Robert's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks wrote the song, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," based on Robert's book.

Demo tapes were sent out to several singers, including Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore. Gene Autry was included as an afterthought.

Autry had enjoyed a resounding success with "Here Comes Santa Claus," which he co-wrote and recorded in 1947.

Seeking a follow-up Christmas hit, Autry selected three songs for a four-song recording session. He passed over "Rudolph," saying, "There are already too many reindeer flying around."

But Ina, his wife, liked the song. "Oh, Gene," she told him, "it reminds me of the story of the Ugly Duckling. I think you ought to give it a try. The kids will love it."

As time ran out in the recording session, Autry decided to go with the reindeer song. It was an "only take," and the payoff since for those few minutes has been phenomenal.

Autry recorded the song and by 1950 it was the most popular Christmas song on the radio. Within three weeks of its release, Autry's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" hit the top of the charts.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" sold two and a half million copies the first year. The song moved Autry onto the pop charts for the first time, and went on to become the second-best-selling single of all time behind Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." It was one of 16 songs named to the music industry group ASCAP's All-time Hit Parade.

Marks became known as a Christmas composer and named his publishing company St. Nicholas Music, Inc. Marks wrote "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "A Holly Jolly Christmas," "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year," and "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Autry recorded several other Marks songs during the next decade, but none achieved the success of "Rudolph."

For children who may remember sitting on Santa's lap in 1939 at a Montgomery Ward store, telling the jolly gentleman their Christmas wishes, they left with a peppermint stick and a colorful story booklet named "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of the booklet in 1939. By 1946, six million had been given away. May received a magnificent gift that year from Ward Chairman Sewell Avery---the copyright to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." May licensed the character and organized Rudolph the Red-Nosed Enterprises, Inc. The company promoted a book, a technicolor cartoon, a Barnum & Bailey circus act, and other spin-offs. The little reindeer led May to financial security.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The real Bambi and Thumper

Two shy and timid creatures have found each other in safe companionship.....
through the lens of Tanja Askani in Alberta Canada













Too precious for words. I just had to keep these photos.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Elder and holiday humor

Yesterday as I was driving I saw this tiny little white haired lady driving a big ol' white cadillac with a license plate that said "OLD." I burst out laughing and thought "this little 'old' lady has a great sense of humor!"

Today as I was driving I looked in my rearview mirror and started laughing because I saw Albert Einstein driving behind me! This little old man had all this bright white hair standing straight out in every direction. I'm not sure if this "hairstyle" was intentional or not (it was a little windy today), but it sure was entertaining for me. I wish I would have had a camera and an opportunity for a photo.

And now some holiday humor:





Monday, December 03, 2007

Too funny

A business had a 'going away' party for a lady in the office. One of the supervisors called Wal-Mart and ordered a cake.

He told them to write:
'Best Wishes Suzanne' and underneath that write 'We will miss you'.
As the picture shows, it didn't quite turn out right. They thought it was too funny not to keep it.



Oh boy, we all have our off days! I think the cake decorator must have been from Wishek, ND (Vishek). : )
(Sorry, those of you who aren't from North Dakota won't get that joke.)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Prayer request

I received this prayer request this morning. I am continuing the prayer chain through email but I also felt inspired to post this as a blog. I ask that anyone who sees this post please just take a minute to say a prayer for Megan. It won't cost you anything, but it WILL help this little girl. God bless!


I would like to start a prayer chain for 7 year old Megan LaMotte. Megan, who is in my son's 2nd grade class at St. Joseph's School in Devils Lake, ND, is one of the sweetest little girls you will ever meet and she needs our help. She is currently in the Mayo Hospital in Rochester, MN undergoing treatment for an Astrocytoma of the brainstem which is malignant and because of the location surgery is not an option. Also please include Megan's parents (Todd & Sheila) and grandparents in your thoughts and prayers as they too are the nicest people you will ever come across and need our help in this troubling time.

Please keep this prayer chain going and let us see what the true power of prayer and the belief in Jesus Christ can have.


Regards,

J. Frith, IT Coordinator
Ramsey County