Natural Family News

August 29, 2006

Homeschooling wiki announces winner

Filed under: Home Education — jmanty @ 1:44 pm

Houston, TX (PRWEB) August 30, 2006 — is a new community-based website. As part of its grand opening, the owners held a drawing in mid-August for $500. is pleased to announce Katherine Loop as the winner of their $500 prize. ( was created by husband and wife homeschooling parents of five, George and Jill Manty. Jill enjoys researching and often uses Wikipedia, the most well-known community-based website, or wiki.

“While Wikipedia is great for many researching general topics, it is not really ideal for finding in-depth information on a specific topic,” said Mrs. Manty. “We thought that we could take the idea of a wiki and create something really great for the homeschooling community.”

Although there are many homeschooling websites out there, differs because it will utilize the collective wisdom of all participating homeschoolers to provide exposure to a wider variety of resources for homeschoolers. Rather than depending on only the research or interests of one person creating a website, a community edited website can reflect the tastes, opinions and knowledge of a whole community.

When asked why they ran a contest for their grand opening, Mrs. Manty had this to say, “We are really excited to provide this opportunity for homeschoolers, but we also recognize that homeschoolers are often Moms who aren’t aware of the latest technologies. Even though learning something new can be a bit intimidating, we know that homeschoolers aren’t afraid to step outside of their comfort zone when they need to. We created the contest to encourage homeschooling Moms and Dads to take the step to learn how to add things to the wiki. We really felt that if they tried it, they would see how easy it is and would continue to participate in the wiki.”

Any homeschooler who registered and created or edited a page between mid-July and mid-August was eligible to compete in the drawing. When the random drawing was held, the winner was 21 year old homeschooling graduate and website owner Katherine Loop. Miss Loop wrote an article on Math from a Biblical Worldview that reflects the information found on her website, and in her book “Beyond Numbers, A Practical Guide to Teaching Math Biblically”.

Miss Loop explained how she plans to use the money to further help the homeschooling community.

“I’m currently working on a supplemental curriculum for homeschoolers that presents the different concepts in math biblically, and see the $500 as God’s perfect provision to help with those expenses.”

She further added, “The money came as a little hug from heaven. A few days prior to winning this, my brother had just been given a $500 scholarship for doing well in college. Meanwhile, I was home trying to keep the house in order while my mom was gone for three weeks caring for my sick grandmother. The Lord has used this to remind me that He has not forgotten about me, that I am doing what He wants, and that He will meet my needs before I even know about them. I am going to write this down in my book of God’s provisions/lessons that I don’t want to forget so the memory can encourage me for years to come.”

The wiki has grown considerably since it started in mid-June. Mrs. Manty definitely feels that the contest was part of that success. She also pointed out that many homeschoolers have been instrumental in spreading the word.

“Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn have been really supportive, sending out information about the wiki to various lists they’re on. Scott Somerville was also instrumental in getting the word out to homeschooling bloggers who added the first large batch of information to the wiki. We’ve been really encouraged by many emails from homeschoolers who feel like this is something that can really benefit the homeschooling community. And we just couldn’t be happier about the way God has used the contest to encourage and support Katherine in her desire to reach out to the homeschooling community and continue in the work he has called her to.”

All homeschoolers are invited to participate in the wiki, even though the contest is over. Adding pages or editing is really a pretty simple process, and there is even a tutorial on the site to walk writers through the process.

August 23, 2006

How can you save money on gasoline?

Filed under: Sustainable Living — jmanty @ 1:02 pm

Let’s face it. Gas prices are unreal. So, short of trading in your vehicle for a hybrid, what can you do to save gas money?

There are many very common sense steps that you can easily take.

1. Make sure your car is tuned up. A car in need of an oil change, filter change, new spark plugs, etc. can hurt your gas mileage by several miles per gallon.

2. The easiest thing you can do is make sure your tires are properly inflated. Read your owner’s manual to find out what the tire pressure should be for your particular vehicle.

3. Allow your car to warm up for as little time, as possible. And don’t just sit around with the car idling, either. Both of these burn unnecessary fuel.

4. There is some debate on running the air conditioner. I live in Houston, and there’s no debate– I’m running the air. It’s 100 degrees out there. But for those of you who live in areas where foregoing air conditioning is a possibility, you should roll down the windows at lower speeds, but at higher speeds this might actually cost you more fuel than it saves. Try to get by with just the vents, if you can. I suppose I could use less air by trying to run errands early in the morning or after dark.

5. Keep your starts and stops smooth. Gunning your engine burns more fuel.

6. If possible, use your cruise control.

7. You know that overdrive choice in your car? Apparently this will save you money if you’re driving over 50 mph. I always wondered what it was for.

8. The higher your speed, the more money (er, I mean fuel) you’re wasting. Try to keep your speeds under 55. Obviously, this is not advisable in places where the speed limit is 70.

9. Run your errands at times when there’s less traffic. Try to commute in less traffic, as well. Stop and go traffic burns a lot more fuel.

10. This is the one that always surprises me– fill up in the morning. You get slightly more fuel for the dollar when it’s cooler outside.

So, I hope that helps. If you have a favorite fuel efficiency tip that you didn’t see mentioned here, leave it in the comment section.

August 20, 2006

Viruses to be added to foods to combat bacteria

Filed under: Blogroll,Health — jmanty @ 6:53 am

Am I the only one who thinks this is a bad idea? Let’s see. To combat bacteria, such as listeria, in foods such as cold cuts, sausages and hot dogs, the FDA has approved the addition of viruses to these foods. So, theoretically, these viruses attack only bacteria, not plant or human material, but doesn’t anyone but me remember that viruses have a nasty habit of mutating? Sure, today, they only make your lunch meat “safe”, but tomorrow the government will be announcing the need to find a “lunch meat flu” vaccine before we all die from the “lunch meat flu” pandemic.

This is my favorite quote from the article. Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said .”They (the FDA) couldn’t approve this product if they had questions about its safety.” Oh, yeah, the FDA would NEVER approve anything that later turns out to kill people (cough, Vioxx…. cough, antidpresseants…. cough, NSAIDs… I don’t need to keep coughing, do I? You’ve gotten my point?).

If you think I’m overexaggerating, try the Yahoo search for FDA drugs that kill and the Google search for FDA drugs that kill. Ironically, the news story about viruses added to food is one of the news articles that comes up for this search.

Oh, and in case you think that you’ll just avoid the food products that have been treated… they’re not going to label the products that use this method. Yep, makes me glad I’m a vegetarian.

August 11, 2006

Is birth without anesthesia primitive?

Filed under: Natural Birth — jmanty @ 6:03 am

There was an article a few weeks ago in the Boston Globe written by pediatrician Dr. Darshak Sanghavi. In it, he explores the reasons why women refuse to have medication during birth. His ultimate conclusion is that it’s because we’re too stupid to do otherwise. Fellow blogger Camille Lizarríbar has a very well thought out response. I’m too irritated to offer a well thought out response– perhaps it’s just my primitive reptilian brain. Read the article and Camile Lizarribar’s response, and let me know what you think.

August 2, 2006

Vaccines– expensive and confusing

Filed under: Health — jmanty @ 7:14 am

So, do we give vaccines to keep us healthy? If they’re so important, then why does the CDC routinely change vaccine recommendations based on what’s available? And what is the real financial cost of vaccines? It looks like it costs a couple thousand dollars per child to fully vaccinate them. Insurance picks up the cost for those that are covered (which really means all of us who are insured pick up the cost). And for those who aren’t insured? Well, all of us who pay taxes pick up the cost. Theoretically, this is supposed to save us the pain, trauma and expense of childhood (and some adult) diseases. But does it really? What about the pain, trauma and expense of autism? How about diabetes and other auto-immune diseases? I’m just not sure we’re really sparing anybody anything with our current infatuation with a vaccine for everything.

July 24, 2006

Back from break

Filed under: Home Education — jmanty @ 12:04 pm

Okay, I didn’t officially announce we were going on break, but it seems that we did. I can’t believe it’s been over 6 months since our most recent post. Laura is busy getting ready to have her fourth baby later this summer, and I’ve had a new baby, of sorts, to care for, as well. My husband and I started a homeschooling wiki, called KnowHomeschooling. It’s going really well, and we’re really excited about it, so stop on by and visit. For those who don’t know, a wiki is a community-edited website. That means any registered user can add content, delete irrelevent content, or change content that is already existing. The homeschooling community has been great about jumping in and sharing their collective knowledge. We hope you’ll feel free to do the same.

So, now we’ll be back to posting more regularly here, keeping you informed about the latest happenings that may be of interest to you.

June 1, 2006


Filed under: Breastfeeding — jmanty @ 7:27 am

Women on the popular blog site LiveJournal are calling foul at the company’s decision to brand images of breastfeeding as ‘inappropriate.’ Many users of the site have joined together to urge LiveJournal’s parent company SixApart to address their concerns and reevaluate the policy.

Small “userpics” of no more than 100 by 100 pixels represent LiveJournal members throughout the site. Users can define one of these icons as “default icon” which plugs it into the user’s public profile. These default icons were originally not permitted to be ‘sexually explicit or graphically violent.’ Recently, icons which depicted breastfeeding were cited as being ‘inappropriate’ by the LiveJournal abuse team, a group of volunteers who monitor complaints on the site. After clarification was requested, LiveJournal changed their FAQ to reflect a no nudity rule and is claiming that icons with visible areola or nipple are not permitted. Whether or not areola is visible in a photograph is dependent on a number of factors, including skin tone of the mother and physical changes during pregnancy.

Claimed Live Journal Abuse Staffer ‘Erin’ in a post on the site, “That’s really a matter for the FCC to decide. LiveJournal’s policies on this mirror what would be allowed on primetime TV or in a PG-13 movie.” However, this is not true. The FCC does not consider the act of breastfeeding on television to fall under the definitions of indecency or obscenity.

Breastfeeding is exempt from nudity laws throughout the United States as well as countries such as Canada. Advocates are urging LiveJournal to adopt the same criteria. “It is regrettable that LiveJournal has chosen to target breastfeeding mothers instead of standing up for the protection provided them by law,” says Carrie Patterson, executive director of, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and public acceptance of breastfeeding. Advocates state that the feeling that breastfeeding should be hidden only fosters the idea that the natural act of nourishing a child is scandalous.

Breastfeeding bloggers who have refused to change their default icon have been suspended from the site. These users, as well as others questioning the policy, have been treated poorly by the site’s volunteer abuse team, something that is not unusual according to other site users.

More than 1,000 LiveJournal users complained, and SixApart issued an apology to the group. However, the company refuses to consider modifying their policy and continues to suspend users whose default icons are deemed inappropriate. Although LiveJournal stated a clarified rule, mothers are still reporting major inconsistencies in its application.

The breastfeeding debacle is only the most recent in a long line of incidents that have people wondering if the abuse procedures as a whole should be reviewed for fairness and propriety. Complaints have been raised about users’ privacy, inconsistent enforcement of the Terms of Service, conflicting information and responses from abuse team members, and discourteous replies to users seeking clarification on the rules.

Activists are now working together to get this policy changed and to clarify the policies and procedures of the LiveJournal abuse team. While some are refusing to continue paying for the service, others have moved to different journaling websites to protest what they feel is a violation of their rights. For more information, contact Carrie Patterson at 678-513-6329 or or visit Pro Mom for more information.

Information on the specific user default icons that were deemed inappropriate by LiveJournal and SixApart can be found in This Gallery. All icons presented in this gallery are used with permission of the creators.

May 31, 2006

Good article on increases in births attended by midwives

Filed under: Homebirth,Natural Birth — jmanty @ 8:35 am

I thought this article was a good article on births attended by midwives. It seemed positive and portrayed midwifery as a normal option.

May 28, 2006

Wal-Mart contributes to poverty

Filed under: Fair trade,Sustainable Living — jmanty @ 5:13 pm

I know. I sound like a broken record. Evil Wal-Mart. Blah. Blah. Blah. But really some social scientists did a study, and it appears Wal-Mart really does make people more poor. “After controlling for other factors determining changes in the poverty rate over time, we find that both counties with more initial Wal-Mart stores and with more additions of stores between 1987 and 1998 experienced greater increases (or smaller decreases) in family poverty rates during the 1990’s economic boom period,” Stephan Goetz a Professor of Agricultural and Regional Economics at The Pennsylvania State University states.

Go back and read that again. Do you get what it’s saying. If a Wal-Mart moves in near you it is highly likely that poverty rates in your area will actually increase. Best case scenario, they will decrease at a lower rate than in other areas near you (but farther away from Wal-Mart).

See? You’re not really saving money. You THINK you’re saving money, but somehow Wal-Mart manages to suck the money right out of a town by selling stuff that people THINK they can afford. The net result? Fewer Mom and Pop stores and more people who can only afford to shop at Wal-Mart.

The California town of Hercules gets it. They’re the latest town to ban Wal-Mart.

Do you buy Horizon milk?

Filed under: Blogroll — jmanty @ 4:46 pm

Then you need to read the Cornucopia Institute’s complaint against Horizon dairies. In their grievance filed with the USDA, they allege that Horizon is essentially not pasturing their animals and, in essence, is raising them in a factory setting.

The main difference between Horizon and any other non-organic dairy, they claim, is that they are fed organic feed. Feed is only one small part of the healthy cattle picture, and I don’t think it’s what most organic consumers think they’re getting when they pay twice as much for organic milk. Is this what you picture when you think of the happy cows from which you obtain your organic milk?

You can read more on the Cornucopia Institute’s website (February article– just scroll down).

Organic Consumers Association seeks your help

Filed under: Blogroll — jmanty @ 4:28 pm

As you may know, the USDA has proposed changes to their National Organic Program. The Organic Consumers Association is asking you to send a message to the USDA that organic consumers expect organic dairy cattle to be pasture raised, not raised in feedlots. To find out more and to send a message to Mark A. Bradley, Associate Deputy Administer of Transportation and Marketing Programs for the National Organic Program, visit the Organic Consumers Association website. You can also find out more information at the Cornucopia Institute.

May 23, 2006

Got Milk? Want twins?

Filed under: Blogroll,Natural Birth — jmanty @ 9:43 am

A recent article in Journal of Reproductive Medicine found that women who consume milk are five times more likely than vegans to conceive twins. The suspected culprit is insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which is released from animals’ livers in response to growth hormone and finds its way into their milk. Levels of the hormone are about 13 percent lower in vegan women than in women who eat dairy, the team suggests.

Theoretically, hormone-free milk should contain a lower amount of IGF, as well. So, if you’re not interested in multiplying your family at a rapid rate, especially if twins run in your family, you might want to check out organic milk. Or even better, find a local source for raw milk.

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