Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gilgal Gardens

Sometimes I think I have seen every possible tourist attraction from my hometown already.  That is too bad because I love sightseeing, even when I am close to home.  This summer, I discovered a site quite near my home that I had never heard of before: Gilgal Gardens.  This public park used to be the backyard of Thomas Battersby Child, Jr, a Mormon folk artist who liked to carve religious sculptures and engrave his favorite hymns and scriptures into stone. 

I found it when looking up date ideas on a city event calendar.  I linked through to the Gilgal Gardens website, which begged donors to fix up the property.  Apparently, the website operators found the funds. When we went there, we found a beautifully landscaped park. 

Gilgal Gardens is located across the street from Trolley Square. You have to look for the sign on the fence; the sculpture garden is not visible from the street. 

Shortly after my husband and I visited Gilgal Gardens for the first time, I happened across this discussion of the site at a Mormon blog, where many people were carrying on about how weird and fanatical it is to express your religiosity through sculpture, especially such strange sculptures as a sphinx with Mormon church founder Joseph Smith's face (one of the most dominant sculptures in the garden).  I thought that was kind of funny--because blogging could also be considered a weird and fanatical way to express religiosity.  I loved exploring the unique ways this artist viewed and expressed his religion.  The quirkiness just makes the garden more interesting.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Decade of Family Vacations with my Parents and Sibs

My parents have always been committed to regular family vacations.  As we have grown up and had our own families, they continue to invite us to vacation with them, making us quite a large (and fun) traveling party.  I love family vacations, so I decided to honor this tradition by assembling a collage of all of these vacations from the past ten years (at least, all the ones I could find documented by camera).  I arranged them geographically, instead of chronologically.  I think it is fun to see photos of much younger versions of us side by side with more recent photos.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Why I'll Vaccinate My Daughter against Cervical Cancer

Note: In my last post, I talked about how my toddler son unintentionally started a brawl at church.  Like mother, like son.  I recently posted the following at a group blog I participate in and unintentionally made a whole bunch of people mad.  I had no idea that several participants in the group were anti-vaccine advocates.  I sure know now.  Yet, I am masochistically posting the same thing to my personal site because I think it is an important public health issue.  Go ahead and disagree if you would like, but please, be gentle with me.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that children are less likely to receive cervical cancer vaccine than any other recommended childhood vaccine.  A CDC spokesperson suggests that the problem might be related to the fact that it is newer and therefore less familiar than other vaccines.  Also, it is administered during the teen years and teens tend to have fewer medical check-ups than infants.

In my dealings as a public health professional, I have heard people bring up another barrier that the CDC spokesperson did not mention.  Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease.  Some people would prefer not to protect teens from the consequences of sexual activity.
I believe in natural, behavioral prevention strategies.  I will teach my daughter that she can help prevent many health and emotional issues by compliance with the law of chastity.  However, I will also vaccinate her to help prevent her from getting HPV and cervical cancer.  Here is why I have made this choice:

I will try to keep my daughter safe, but someday she might be raped.  I cannot prevent the physical and emotional pain that would result from such a violation but I can help protect her from getting cervical cancer as a result of that rape.

I will encourage her to look for a mate who promises to be faithful to her, but her husband could cheat on her anyway.  I can’t save her from heartbreak but I can help prevent her husband from causing her to get cervical cancer.

I will teach her to be abstinent from sexual activity until she marries, but in a passionate moment, she might make a mistake.  I believe that sincere repentance will be enough penance for her sins; she does not need to pay for the sins of youth by suffering with cervical cancer.

I will teach her my values, but she may choose a different path.  I cannot take away her agency to make her own choices about her sexuality.  No matter what choices she makes, I will never stop loving her and never wish her harm.  I could never be sorry that I helped protect her from cervical cancer.