December 30, 2003
There's something satisfying about being able to pay bills and not worry about bouncing a check. Now I just wish that I had a little more money to pay a few more bills ....
A friend sent me this article. Kinda interesting when you think about it.

Parents' brains tuned to babies' tears
Emotions triggered by wailing tots.
22 December 2003

The brains of mums and dads are tuned in to the sound of toddlers' cries, reveals a brain-imaging study. Non-parents, on the other hand, remain largely oblivious.

Researchers at the University of Basel, Switzerland, played parents and childless adults recordings of babies' cries and laughter. They measured their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Parents' brains fired up more in response to sobs than giggles, the researchers found1. The cries activated one brain region in particular, called the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotions.

"This makes biological sense," says Erich Seifritz, who led the study. Tears signify to parents that something is amiss, generating emotions such as concern or fear, which prompt parental care. In evolutionary terms, this means that a child is more likely to survive and pass on his or her genes.

Childless grown-ups, by contrast, reacted more to infant laughter than whimpers. This shows that the parental brain activity is learned, says Seifritz.

Brain cells may work differently in parents and non-parents, says Jeffrey Lorberbaum who studies mother-child interactions at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. In rats, one cell type spurs parents to approach their pups; another prompts non-parents to avoid them. Humans may share a similar make-up.

Maternal instinct

Men and women also respond differently to infant sounds, according to the study. When females hear baby noises, activity drops in a brain region called the prefrontal cortex, which filters out irrelevant sounds. Males are unaffected.

Crying may open up the noise filter in the prefrontal cortex, so that a woman interprets the toddler's sounds as important. Electrical impulses are then relayed to other brain areas, triggering strong emotions, as well as caring behaviour such as feeding or cuddling.

Women respond to cries and wails whether or not they are mothers themselves, the researchers found, suggesting that their responses, unlike those of men, are innate. "This sex difference is wired rather than acquired," says Seifritz.

The study may also help researchers to understand other social attachments between people, says Lorberbaum - as well as gaining insight into medical conditions in which these bonds go awry.

In borderline personality disorder, for example, sufferers are clingy and tend to overreact emotionally. Around 2% of the population are affected to some degree.

People with borderline personality disorder may have faulty brain connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. Knowing how these areas normally react in social situations may help determine what goes wrong in those with the disorder, says Lorberbaum.

Seifritz, E. et al. Differential sex-independent amygdala response to infant crying and laughing in parents versus nonparents. Biological Psychiatry, 54, 1367 - 1375, (2003). |Article|

© Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003

December 29, 2003
We had a pretty good holiday. The kids got what they wanted. Josh is reading about one Animorph book per day (we got him a boxed set of 18 that someone was selling on eBay). Joy is thrilled to have her own baby stroller. She zooms up and down our hallway, sometimes without the baby. She puts all manner of things in it. And her books. She has to take a book with her when we go out. It's sweet.

I got some of the CDs and a graphic novel that I wanted and Tim got a lot of things that I had heard him mention but didn't make it to his wishlist. Like the Empire Strikes Back Radio Drama and Offerings by Third Day.

I need more arms. This year we had a video camera, so we taped Christmas and I didn't get into too many pictures. I know there has to be a way to get pictures off the video tape, pretty sure I read something like that in the user manual.

Ah well, it's Monday, Tim is off vacation and I have to get me and the kids back on some sort of routine. Starting with breakfast around 12. Well, it is vacation.,....
December 17, 2003
Joy is getting better at communicating with sign language. She's also picking it up and remembering a lot signs quite quickly.
December 8, 2003
Well, the tree is up. I got an AWESOME Deal, a 9-foot douglas fir for $15. Once I got home we discovered that well, 9-feet is a bit too tall for our simple abode. But it's soooo cool to have a big, live tree in the house. The downstairs is starting to smell like Christmas (fresh pine). We still have to decorate the tree, didn't have enough working lights so we are going to decorate later this week when we are all home.
December 7, 2003
I find myself staying up later and later on days that I am tired or in pain. And then I wake up even more tired and sore. I do not want to turn into a bitter old woman who can only think of her physical pain, but that is where I am headed. I am only 27 years old and I have some really bad days with my back. I try not to take more than 600mg of ibuprofen because I am still nursing. I used to take Aleve (TM) but can't until I stop nursing. Being in pain makes me really moody, and being in a bad mood sucks for my whole family. Then I feel worse.

I do have a chiropractor that I see on a regular basis, but it doesn't seem to be helping. Who do you see if you think you are getting arthritis? My grandmother got it early, but in her hands and knees. I'm afraid I have it in my back or that I have really messed it up in the last few years.

Word to the wary, if your doctor tells you to do certain exercises, DO THEM!!!!
December 2, 2003
I got this in an email forward, but it does make a point:

This morning I heard a story on the radio of a woman who was out
Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row
after row of toys and everything else imaginable. And after hours of hearing
both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves,
she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.

She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time
of the year. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming,
taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person
on our shopping list, making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the
pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.

Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the
car. She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with
her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it
anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should
be found, strung up and shot."

From the back of the car everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond,
"Don't worry we already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the
elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas
thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it,
just think of how different this whole world would be.
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