The feast of The Holy Innocents, celebrated on December 28th, really pricks my heart. Therefore, I find it rather disappointing that it seems to pass by each year without much attention. Certainly the Church calendar is dotted with the memorials of so many great martyrs, but the Holy Innocents offer us a particular model for our current culture.
Receiving on the hand had long been part of my routine, before it finally came to my attention that there was another, more preferable way. I suppose I just hadn’t given it all that much thought, sadly. In grade school we’d been taught the proper hand positioning, but my generation missed out on the altar rails and their purpose.
Yes, intellectually, I knew that the Body and Blood of Jesus is truly made manifest in the Eucharist, but I’d adopted a “casual” reverence. Hands crossed I quietly waited my turn in the communion line, until reaching the Extraordinary Minister at which point I accepted the Blessed Sacrament in my palm.
This Advent season has been full: full of planning, full of preparing, full of hoping. However, I’ve made a concerted effort to keep “Christmas” at bay. It’s not that I’m a grinch, no, quite the contrary. Our annual Christmas letter was sent out, we’ve been faithfully praying the Christmas novena, and I’ve been wishing all those helpful store cashiers a “Merry Christmas,” but the focus in our house has been on the anticipation. My plan is to celebrate Christmas and to celebrate it to the fullest (all 12 days of it) when it actually arrives on December 25th.
Here are our 12 strategies for making the most of the 12 Days of Christmas:
I am not a paid advertiser for Samaritan Ministries and the opinions/experience I put forth here are my own. If you choose to become a SM member and you offer my name as a referral, my family will receive a credit that reduces one month’s share on our account.
About three years ago I was working hard to save my unborn baby. Part of that work required me to have a couple of ultrasounds performed during the first trimester. Since we had standard medical insurance at that time, I simply agreed to use the doctors’ referred sonographers.
The first exam was a great experience. The technician spent thirty minutes or more exploring my womb and the surrounding organs. She explained, as well as showed us, everything. The cost for that ultrasound rang in at just about $350. Continue reading
As far back as I can remember, heights have posed an unwelcomed challenge. I was the kid who scaled the jungle-gym only to become paralyzed at the summit and tearfully beg for rescue. Ferris wheels are totally off-limits and, even today, escalators require a mental strategy.
So, I never dreamed of spending my days balancing atop an extension ladder, but the chipped and peeling exterior of our old house begged for my attention.
After repainting the easy-to-reach portions, my three-step ladder quickly became insufficient. Lacking the superhero trait of Mr. Fantastic, I had to engage some problem-solving skills and a ladder seemed my next best option.
It took a little self-hypnosis, of sorts, to talk myself up that first ladder, but work awaited and time was fleeting. I let go a little, and convinced myself that a fall from a standard ladder couldn’t inflict too much damage.
Now our lovely home was built on a downgrade, so while the front door was a mere three steps from the solid ground, the rear was two-stories above stable earth. That standard ladder only raised my stature to the lower heights of the our home’s backside and painting only half of the house didn’t appear sensible. An extension ladder became unavoidable.
Step by step, paint supplies balanced in my right hand as my left hand secured its death grip on the metal side rail, I inched ever higher toward the firmament.
Positioned at the ladder’s apex, I briefly dared to look down, a long, long way down. My previous risk estimations made from atop the standard ladder somehow didn’t ease my mind because from this height surely parts could break that might not be mendable.
Let Go of the Fear
Surrender and prayer were my last and best resorts. “Let go,” I persuaded, “let go of the fear.” Fear constrained me to the ground, but surrender could loose its hold. Reciting a prayer, I offered up my terror and released myself to the care and keeping of my guardian angel.
It’s amazing how fear has the potential to overpower in some cases, or to protect in others.
Years ago, I read a book by Gavin DeBecker called The Gift of Fear. In it, Mr. DeBecker gave real life examples of how people’s natural-born fear mechanism, or intuition, set-off red flags and sirens in the presence of serious dangers.
Those who listened to their internal sense typically avoided entering the danger zone, or quickly fled before a perpetrator could inflict harm. Those who over-rationalized away their instinct generally paid a painful price. In those cases, fear was a gift bestowed on the individual, a signal by which they could gauge a circumstance or assess a stranger’s unspoken intent.
Fear Needs to Be Addressed
While teaching Natural Family Planning (NFP), also known as Fertility Awareness (FAM) I realized that fear really needs to be addressed.
Often we have lovely, young couples register for our course to fulfill a marriage preparation requirement. Or sometimes they’ve attempted to self-study and feel the need for more instruction.
Patiently they sit through our witness talk and intently they follow along with the training, but sometimes I can detect the fear in their hesitations and read it in their body language. Some fear that they are not smart enough, or vigilant enough, to learn and apply the method, so as to postpone a pregnancy.
Beneath that fear, of their ability to apply the method properly, is the deeper fear of their procreative powers.
Outside Forces Are In Control
Quite often, the women have been controlling their cycles with hormonal birth control or contraceptive devices. These “outside forces” have led to the perception that fertility, or at least its suppression, is the responsibility of some “thing,” not the individual woman.
She feels relieved of her role in family planning beyond the routine exam and prescription refill. If an unexpected pregnancy occurs, she “blames” the it on her contraceptives.
Up to 99% Effective
Truly, the effectiveness rates of NFP methods are equal to (up to 99% effective) the best contraceptive rates (though that doesn’t mean they are morally or ethically equal).
A woman has the same chance of conceiving on the pill as she does practicing NFP/FAM. But the couple must practice self-mastery over their sexual desires, if their goal is to postpone a pregnancy with a natural method.
Our modern culture has duped couples into believing that sex has only one purpose; when in truth, it is meant to be both unitive and procreative.
Sometimes people question why birth control is unethical if naturally spacing children is not. Rightly, couples can deem themselves not in a position to welcome a child at a given time, but their plan to avoid the fertile time doesn’t directly frustrate that procreative end.
God designed woman with fertile and infertile phases in her cycles. In choosing to abstain during the fertile time, the couple is simply working within the system God designed.
Ends Don’t Justify Means
A well-used analogy goes like this: Two men have families to support. One man gets a legitimate job, works hard and provides for his family’s needs. The other man sells illegal drugs, makes fast cash and pays his bills. Both men have fulfilled their role as provider, but clearly their methods are not equal.
The ends don’t make the means ethical.
The culture also pushes the notion that children are a burden to the marriage/family, so fear stems from that thinking. We’re suppose to worry about college tuition, braces and trips to Disney World even before the baby is born. It’s no wonder newlyweds are frightened at the prospect of enlarging their family circle.
Far from true, children bring countless gifts to a family. They create an environment that invites their parents to move beyond their small, self-serving circle. Additionally, when marital trials come (as they always do) parents have a vested interest in working out their differences in order to preserve stability for their children.
Let’s think about the term unexpected pregnancy. If a couple is engaging in the sexual embrace, they risk a pregnancy. It doesn’t matter if they are contracepting or not. Sex between a fertile man and a fertile woman (during the fertile time) can result in a child. That’s why the only 100% effective means of avoiding pregnancy is 100% abstinence.
So the term, unexpected pregnancy, is illogical. Sex produces babies, at least some of the time. Couples who practice NFP/FAM understand that and take responsibility for it.
Fear, in the case of our students, isn’t a helpful natural instinct, but an emotion,fueled by man-made distortions. Couples need to identify their fear, face its source, and work together to overcome thinking/beliefs that are erroneous, or misplaced.
Once they manage their fears, they are better prepared to ascend the ladder of faith together. In time, some will even learn to surrender their man-made plans, allowing God to expand their limited view of happiness.
Next time, let’s consider: (1) Reclaiming Womanhood: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Birth Control Plan; (2) Demystified: How the Female Fertility Cycle Works; (3) The Nitty Gritty of Birth Control and the Abortion Back-up Plan; (4) Knowledge Is Power: How Doctors and Big Pharma Profit From Ignorance; (5) Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears; (6) Now That You Know, What’s Next
Thursday morning started out way too early. By the faint light of the moon, we rose at 4am and began the task of getting ten people woken up, bundled up, filled up and buckled up.
Spirits were high, though still a bit groggy, when our big van rounded the driveway in route for a long journey. After completing an internal inventory of gloves, lunches, coats and kids, I tuned in the radio.
Like a wild fire doused with buckets of water, my heart was temporarily depressed as the newscaster reported that the Unborn Pain Capable Act had just been shelved by the Republicans. An insult to the injury that marked this day, I considered the timing of that decision a direct hit meant to snuff out the hopes of so many faithful who, for the 42nd time, were planning to put boots on the ground in the capitol city.
The Tiny Person in My Lap
Just less than thirty minutes later, we dashed onto the buses that pointed north. Sometime after roll-call, a blessing and breakfast, the baby on my lap relented and let sleep carry him away.
Sitting there admiring that little person, remembering the prayers I’d prayed to get him and the trials I’d endured to keep him, my heart felt heavy as salty tears tried to form in the corners of my eyes.
At that same time, the bus captain pressed the play button on a pro-life video in which a cast of players detailed the horrible history and statistics of abortion. A worthwhile film and one I’d watched last year, my mind went into overdrive in an attempt to ignore the movie.
My avoidance wasn’t connected to boredom, but to a self-preserving strategy that meant to guard my already fractured heart.
Thoughts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus burned in me. My stomach hurt thinking about the wounds He bore for such an ungrateful humanity.
Unborn Pain Capable Act
That Unborn Pain Capable Act my representatives cast aside would have given legal protection to a child at 20 weeks gestation and beyond. Thinking of not so very long ago when the body on my lap was wriggling inside of it, anger stirred in me as I thought about how easily another mother could execute her child even up to his/her date of delivery.
At its inception, proponents of Roe vs. Wade focused their arguments on the false debate that abortion didn’t end a life; it simply ended a pregnancy (as though pregnancy, when unwanted, doesn’t actually involve a baby).
Now with the advent of ultrasound, that argument fails. Common sense should dictate that good medicine would focus on truth and well-being thus eradicating the tragedy of abortion; but instead, the blood thirty Planned Parenthood-minded puppeteers simply rewrote their talking points.
Today, a woman’s right to comfort and ease trumps a baby’s right to life (end of story).
Taking Evil to a Deeper Level
This shift in debate takes the evil of abortion to a deeper level. While once young and frightened mothers could mask their deed behind the shield of ignorance, today they see clearly that the appointment at the clinic is nothing less than a date with an executioner.
And who can sanitize the job of the abortionist who wholeheartedly forces not only the peanut-sized child from his mother’s womb, but today is free to kill her full-term child as well.
My husband asked me just last week how it is that I can still maintain a sense of shock and naivete whenever events like the Republicans’ refusal to stand by their public convictions occurs. I pointed out that hope causes me to invest in goodness, to believe that every sinner is only a step away from repentance.
Four hours later, the bus deposited our group in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a diocesan Mass celebrated by our bishop.
Taking our pew, my eyes spied an image overhead of Christ pouring out His graces. With saints caught up beside Him, I remembered Who we are all called to serve at every moment (most especially in the most difficult ones). I drew strength from the picture, encouraged by the holy men, women and children who persevered throughout the ages.
My Marching Orders
Then as the responsorial psalm was sung, I couldn’t help but whisper a prayer of thanksgiving as God reminded me of my orders that day. (Ps 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17)
Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
May all who seek you
exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will
Gone to Do His Will
We were there for the Lord on Thursday, January 22nd, gone to do His will. Not matter if our representatives failed Him again, the opposition mocked us or our culture railed against His laws, we had to stay the course with ears open in obedience.
Later from our marching path, we caught sight of the dome of the US Capitol Building. Wrapped in scaffolding, I couldn’t help but find it a fitting visual for the day.
That majestic dome which invites the eyes upward has become weathered, cracked and eroded, like our government itself. Its beauty now shrouded under construction; it distracts the onlookers attention, keeping us earth-bound.
No matter what the appearance on the outside, the same structure exists inside, a structure erected under and to the Creator’s precepts.
For 42 years, this pro-life march has been tread down the streets of our capitol and the halls of our legislatures.
For 42 years, unborn citizens have suffered the injustice of being discounted from the rally cry that ‘every life matters.’
For 42 years, the blind and deaf have stood in our governmental assembly whimpering a cowardly refrain and abandoning their convictions when the winds of self interest blow in their direction.
In juxtaposition, for 42 years, faithful men, women and children have come forth to speak with unrestrained lips, giving testimony with footsteps, to the glory of God and His creations, born and unborn.
Though we may tire of the task, feel un-welcomed, discouraged or overwhelmed we must and will continue to carry our signs, hold fast to our convictions and march forward until the day when every life matters according to the law and in every heart.
We no longer: drink diet soda, eat a growing variety of sweets or chew gum with artificial sweeteners. My husband switched us to tooth polish without fluoride and soap without antibacterial agents.
Our eggs come free-ranged, our bread whole grain, and our produce organic. Attending home school functions nowadays, we have to be mindful of gluten, nuts and food dyes in whatever we bring to share.
From sensitivities to allergies, and everything in between, there’s an increased awareness of how what we put into our bodies affects our well-being. Labels contain ingredient lists, product packaging includes warnings, and restaurants highlight low-calorie menu items, to aid consumers.
Once upon a time, airplanes and eateries had smoking sections. School lunches consisted of peanut butter and jelly on white bread. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find even an outdoor event that welcomes tobacco users, and whole school buildings are designated as nut-free.
Time and science have taught us a few lessons about toxins and disease, allergies and life threatening reactions. In fact, the government felt so compelled to protect the citizenry from harm, that it now regulates sales and distribution of tobacco products (among a host of other things). Continue reading
“Some think that — excuse the language — that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this.”
“If you are the father or mother of a family, you ought to conform your will to God’s with regard to the number or sex of the children He pleases to give you. When men were animated by the spirit of faith they regarded a large family as a gift of God and a blessing from heaven and considered God more than themselves as the father of their children.” He went on to say, “Never be afraid of relying too much on Him, but rather seek always to increase your trust more and more, for this is the most pleasing homage you can pay Him and it will be the measure of the graces you will receive. Little or much will be given you according as you have expected little or much.”
“He (God) promises solemnly to give them not only life everlasting but a hundredfold all things they deny themselves to please Him in this life (Matt 19:24). He further promises to ease the burden of His cross so as to lighten it; for He not only says that His yoke is sweet but adds that His burden is light (Matt 11:30). If then we do not experience the sweetness of Christ’s yoke not the lightness of the burden of the cross, it must be because we have not yet made the denial of our will and completely given up own human outlook so as to consider things in the light of faith.
“It is very different from the serenity of spirit to be found in parents who are surrounded by a rich abundance of young lives. The joy that comes from the plentiful blessings of God breaks out in a thousand different ways and there is no fear that it will end. The brows of these fathers and mothers may be burdened with cares, but there is never a trace of that inner shadow that betrays anxiety of conscience or fear of an irreparable return to loneliness, Their youth never seems to fade away, as long as the sweet fragrance of a crib remains in the home, as long as the walls of the house echo to the silvery voices of children and grandchildren.
“Their heavy labors multiplied many times over, their redoubled sacrifices and their renunciation of costly amusements are generously rewarded even here below by the inexhaustible treasury of affection and tender hopes that dwell in their hearts without ever tiring them or bothering them.” Pope Pius XII
Cramming the pillow I’d brought from home a little more to my left, I attempted to placate the cramp that was forming in my back. After years of slumbering on a waterbed, this rock hard hospital bed felt like a torture rack. So, there I was, trying to create a bit of comfort while counting down the minutes until I could scoop up my newest bundle and check-out, when my midwife slid a chair beside me.
Having just given birth to my 4th child several hours prior, I figured she was stopping in to assess my rate of recovery. She made a bit of small talk. Then, she looked me straight in the eyes and asked what kind of birth control I wanted to take home so, “I wouldn’t have to do this again in nine months.”
Huh? was my first thought
Sure, I’d taken the pill for the first two years of marriage (and suffered the daily nausea and monthly weep-fest), but in the previous eight years (prior to the baby I’d literally just delivered) I had only practiced Fertility Awareness (and successfully so, I might add). Clearly, this fact was documented in my chart. And, seeing as she was one of my primary caregivers, it seemed unlikely she was clueless to my choice.
Mind you, she hadn’t saddled up to my bedside to chat about my thoughts/desires on family planning options (although as a Catholic there is only one ethical option for me). No, she was there to hawk a prescription. And she was using fear to get the job done.
The Tempter Comes to Call
Looking back now, it seems easy enough. I should have told her to go bugger off. But something was happening behind the scenes to which she was not privy. My marriage had been undergoing an intense trial. We were actually in counseling at the time, but I hadn’t shared that fact with my caregivers.
She was my temptress in the desert, come to offer me promises during my weakest hour, if only I’d bow down to her plans. There I lie, sore from having just pushed a 7 pound-something human out of my body, thoughts swirling with the knowledge of the current state of my marriage. And then, suddenly, illogically, I was terrified that, before there was time for mama-birth-amnesia to set-in, I’d be back in this very hospital, grunting and groaning baby #5 into the world.
Caving Into Pressure
Planning to breastfeed, I suggested that the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) had certainly worked well for me in the past. LAM extended my postpartum infertility for more than 6 months each time. I also inquired how the drug she was pushing might affect my newborn.
No worries she told me, staying the course on her mission to get me contracepting. She’d write a low level prescription for a progestin-only pill.
I stammered and stuttered and ultimately caved under the pressure.
By the Grace of God Alone
Rolling my van up to the drug store drive-through a week later, everything inside of me was screaming NO. But, I stuffed those thoughts and handed the sheet of paper to the girl behind the counter.
During what seemed like an extra long wait time, I ran over the options in my head, again. Then in what I can only chalk up to the grace of God, the pharmacist returned to tell me that they were out of those pills. She returned the white sheet of paper and informed me I’d have to try back in a few days.
I never returned.
The Prize for Un-professionalism Goes to…
Comparatively speaking, I should count myself as lucky. A number of my Catholic girlfriends faced more egregious treatment during their postpartum visits. One friend’s doctor found it hard to take no for an answer. He tried 5 times in the course of one conversation to
strong-arm persuade her to allow him to stick an IUD inside of her body.
But the prize for un-professionalism goes to the doctor who, upon being told no, threw the woman’s chart in her lap. He said, “I’ll see you back here in nine months” as he stormed out of the exam room.
I guess the free lunches and pharmaceutical kick backs must be pretty awesome for these obstetricians to want to dissuade a repeat customer in obstetrics?
“Knowledge is Power” was a theme song lyric in one of my favorite childhood programs. Indeed, knowledge is a powerful tool, and with it we can make right choices. Unfortunately, there’s not much education going on in the gynecologist’s office. And I’d even boldly assert that women are intentional misinformed; just as I was on the day my midwife undermined my beliefs and used fear-mongering to pass off a prescription.
Let’s do a little fact checking.
The Pill utilizes synthetic estrogen/progestins to trick the pituitary gland into producing less Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Lutenizing Hormone. The trick attempts to suppress ovulation. However, studies show there is a 2-8% chance of breakthrough ovulation in any given cycle while on the Pill.
So, the Pill has two other built-in functions. The back-up measures cause a thickening of the cervical mucus (to slow sperm motility) and a depletion of glycogen in the endometrium or lining of the uterus. This last mode of operation is abortifacient because it prevents a fertilized egg implanting, thus forcing an early abortion.
The mini-pill, or progestin-only pill, relies predominantly on the the abortifacient mechanism. It creates an inhospitable environment for implantation, should a new life have been formed after a breakthrough ovulation.
Sadly, I didn’t know this fact at the time my midwife handed me a prescription for the mini-pill. And it wasn’t advertised to me. Additionally, the package inserts for the Pill offer a laundry list of possible side effects- from weight gain and decreased libido, to blood clots and heart disease.
Intrauterine Device aka IUD
The IUD, that my friend’s doc was so eager to implant in her just-vacated-uterus, has a high rate of effectiveness. It’s great, so long as you don’t mind the possibility of headaches, acne, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, mood changes, weight gain, ovarian cysts, cramping, pelvic infection, inflammation of the endometrium, perforation of the uterus, endometrial or cervical cancer and high blood pressure. Oh, and, as long as you don’t mind that it is an abortifacient device.
A popular form of birth control in the 70’s, Dalcon Shield was forced to remove its IUD from the market and declare bankruptcy, after paying out millions in malpractice suits. You might assume the new Paraguard and Mirena IUDS are an improvement. But, lawsuits filed against Bayer, Mirena’s maker, tell a different story. Well, it’s really the same old story of harm done to women.
Lactation Amenorrhea Method LAM
That LAM plan, that I mentioned to my midwife, has no negative side effects on the body. And it is completely free. My midwife snubbed her nose at my suggestion, but over the course of my mothering years LAM, along with the Symptom-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning, has proven successful, again and again. In fact, with my last three children I enjoyed a delay in my fertility (meaning no periods) for 12 to 14 months, beyond childbirth!
First Do No Harm
I suppose to be fair, I have to admit that I am not a reader of hearts. I do not know for certain the motives of these physicians. However, if their pledge is to first do no harm, then their actions don’t support that position.
In each of the anecdotes I relayed (and I have LOTS more), my friends and I had not been contracepting before our pregnancies. We were not seeking birth control. We all expressed a hesitancy toward, if not an out-right refusal of, the unsolicited prescriptions.
Birth control carries mild-to-serious risks. A woman who opts-in, requires annual, if not biannual, visits to her doctor. If her side effects are depression, infection, cysts, etc. then she’ll need more trips to the doc. Clearly, birth control is a profitable product for both birth control manufacturers and prescribing physicians.
What’s a Woman To Do?
So what’s a woman to do? Well, like I said, knowledge is power. An informed woman has the power to make better choices.
There are safe, effective means of postponing pregnancy. They require education, and little more. In fact, poor women in India, trained by sisters in Mother Teresa’s religious order, enjoy a 99.4% effectiveness rate in practicing a method of Natural Family Planning (NFP), according the World Health Organization.
That should make you wonder why the Gates Foundation and our government are so persistent in their desire to export birth control drugs/devices to poor nations. Why not empower the poor with education?
Good News Lies Ahead
In parts 1 and 2 of this post series, I discussed the necessity for women to reclaim their wholeness and recognize their inherent feminine genius. I covered the intricate and readable dance of the female fertility cycle, and now we see how mis-education leaves women vulnerable, to a healthcare system which too often places financial gain above all else. But good news lies ahead. Once we unmask deceptions, review the science and evaluate the options, women are free to make wise decisions that respect their whole selves: body, mind and spirit.
Next time, let’s consider: (1) Reclaiming Womanhood: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Birth Control Plan; (2) Demystified: How the Female Fertility Cycle Works; (3) The Nitty Gritty of Birth Control and the Abortion Back-up Plan; (4) Big Pharma and Your Doc: Your Ignorance Pays the Bills; (5) Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears; (6) Now That You Know, What’s Next
It’s happening again. Article after article appearing in my news feed. The theme is the same, although each has a slightly different slant to offer. Just as last year, I pour over each one, nodding all the while as my eyes scan the screen. The topic is birth control. Each post does a good job at lifting the veil and sparking interest. However, I’m usually left thinking that there are a few more dots to be connected if the author’s aim is to cast a wide net.
What I mean is, there is so (SO) much more to this subject than simply deciding whether or not to swallow a pill or allow a doctor to insert some device inside of you. Yes, yes we need to shout from the rooftops the truth about the indisputable physical harms being perpetrated against our sisters, but that’s not where we need to start.
Let’s Start Talking
Here’s my intention: I want to begin a conversation and continue it for a while. I want to offer a few thoughts/facts for you to ponder. And then let you walk away to digest it. I hope you’ll come back with questions because I’m going to try to cover a few more bases than I’ve seen covered recently, by the end of this blog post series. Continue reading