Saturday, December 26, 2009

3 Months Old

Weight: Dec. 25th 2009- 13.5 lbs

Height: ? solidly in 3-6 mos. clothing; long arms and legs, getting more chub around the thighs and everywhere else!

Milestones: began sleeping through the night (down at 9, dream feed at 11, on until morning around 6:30!), begins to enjoy books and toys (like the arch over her bouncy seat), noticed her own hands (Dec 24th), first Christmas!

Skills: holding head up while being carried & pushing up for small amounts of time while on tummy, following an object with her eyes, grasping & tugging, moving fingers independantly (she went through a pointing phase), sucking fist, "running" in place while seated or "swimming" while on her tummy, vocalizing other than crying, moving her eyebrows into unbelievably adorable expressions. Also amazingly prolific spit-ups.

What I seem to like: walks in my stroller; my warm bath (while I'm in it); napping on my tummy; nursing while Mommy is standing or walking; being up on people's shoulders; being patted with a firm back pat; standing up with help; looking at books, especially the Eric Carle Brown Bear Brown Bear type; people to watch, especially other babies or older children; taking my tummy medicine; napping on Great Grandpa Presley's shoulder.

What I definitely do NOT appreciate: burps that won't come out; airplane landings; getting out of the bath; having my nose messed with; being thrust into my Bumpo or play mats

What people say about me: "What amazing big blue eyes!" "Such an alert little thing!" "Oh, she's so serious!"

Visitors/People Met for the First Time: All of Daddy's co-workers at Commerce Guys in Jackson, MI; lots of the Drupal community at Do It with Drupal Conference in New Orleans; Tia Nicole; great-aunts & uncles Ruiz-- Tia Olga & Tio Steve (also known as GTO and GUS), Tia Sylvia & Uncle Joe, Tia LM & Uncle Lance; great-grandparents Ruiz, aka Mama Lulu & Papirucho; and Mommy's cousins-- "tios" Heath, Derek and Ian, "tia" Adri, and Courtney, Andrew and Justin. Also"Aunt" Melissa Roberts and "Aunt" Christina Davison (my college roomie!) and "Uncle" Kyle. I have quite the extended family. :) Oh well, what do you expect? I'm half-Hispanic and half of that is Thompson!

Outings: family trips to Jackson, MI; New Orleans, LA; Greenville, SC and Canton, GA! Visited the Audobon Aquarium in New Orleans and the French Quarter, riding a streetcar and a ferry. Visited Nana & Poppy Elder's house and Nina & GB's house.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent Day 23: With Crazy Tia Nicole

We're here in Greenville, SC for the holiday and Nicole's wedding! Here Eowyn is enjoying her auntie! :) I love her outfit-- an early Christmas present from her great-grandparents Presley!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Day 17: Why A Tree?

Christmas traditions are a sticky subject. Probably because there is so much emotion & memory tied up in the day's observance, more so than really any other holiday, people are quite passionate about how they either do or don't celebrate it. I personally LOVE my Christmas memories, especially the ones from childhood. Allow me to indulge in a little bit of memory-lane-walking... :)

We loved the whole Christmas season. My mom always had a fabric Advent calendar, with a little figure to be added to the Nativity scene each night. We had an unshakable rotation about who got to put Baby Jesus in each year. When I was in high school (I think), my aunt gave us our first Advent book. Having never been raised in a tradition that observed Advent, my parents did some researching, and found out about the practice of lighting candles in a wreath each night, usually reading scripture & singing. From then on, we added an Advent devotion to each Christmas season. I know my sisters & I occasionally bucked out loud about getting together to read each night, and there were DEFINITELY fights about whose turn it was to light or snuff the candles out each night (so much so that my Dad did a schedule with who did each reading, lighting & snuffing!), but we all really were glad for the consistency & tradition.

I think all of our favorite tradition was the "Angels & Mortals," though. We'd draw names within our family, and become that person's "Angel" for the season. We'd sneak into their room to leave little surprises, do their chores secretly, and buy them the nicest gift that year. We'd reveal our "Mortals" on Christmas Eve, and get to open their gift then. Nicole & I were talking & it's a tradition we both would like to continue in our new families, once the households have more than 2 people in them. :) We'd also go on treasure hunts for baby Jesus on Christmas morning (my Mom collects nativity sets from around the world). We always went Christmas caroling with our church and participated with GREAT gusto in the "Messiah Sing-Along." (I had a leg up on everyone else in my choir when I went to college!) There were also certain CDs which were pulled out yearly; one from my grandparents' home church; several versions of Handels' Messiah; another from the Winchester Boys' Choir (purchased when we spent Christmas in London one year). I remember barricading myself in my parents' room to help my Dad wrap presents, or in one of the sisters' rooms to put finishing touches on crafts... there was that time we ruined one of Mom's good hand towels making candles (oh that's a good story)... she didn't find out until I was marrying & moving out & we found it wadded up, still waxy, in the back of my closet... We dressed up as Santa & his elves and pulled gifts out of a pillowcase at my grandparents', shouting "ho ho ho!" My sisters & I loved the slow round of present-openings, as we each tore into one gift at a time, and then watched the next person open one gift, etc. It stretched out the morning and made us all enjoy each gift that much more. I honestly think we had more fun making presents and giving them than we ever did anticipating what we'd get. We didn't get that many gifts, either, though the ones we got were ones we really wanted & enjoyed (we tended to be more "spoiled" on birthdays). The notable exception for me was the year I was 8, and finally got the American Girl doll, Molly. I wish I could have seen the look on my own face when I got to open her. She didn't leave my side for the next 3 years...

So there you have a bit of my own "Christmas culture." The thought of leaving behind Christmas as a holiday celebration would make me so sad! I love the Christmas tree, and I can't wait to lay under it with my sisters when I get home and look up through the trimmed branches, past all those tacky ornaments we made over the years, through the glimmering lights. I love all the trimmings... but I would hate even more to lose the central meaning. My sisters & I had a robust appreciation for why we were celebrating Christmas, and why there were gifts involved. God gave us a massive gift, and we were passing on the favor by blessing others, often in the hopes of reminding them of God's gift. It's interesting to me that I remember much less about post-present openings than I do about the days before, when I was trying so hard to make sure I'd made or gotten gifts for everyone on my list. I remember making the Christmas cards & illustrating our family newsletter a lot more than I do writing all my thank-you cards, although I certainly enjoyed the gifts after Christmas!

My friend & I were talking about Christmas traditions the other night. I recently discovered that one friend's family doesn't celebrate Christmas at all, not in the traditional sense. There's no tree, no gift-giving and no gift-receiving. They do read the Nativity story and have an Advent calendar; maybe they have Christmas dinner, I'm not sure. I was a bit taken aback at such a scale-back, though. This is a family whom I respect in the way they are raising their children to worship God, so I didn't immediately dismiss this notion as "wacko." But as my other friend & I talked through why we do what we do at Christmas, I realized why I shrink from pulling back entirely from "Christmas trimmings." As yet another friend put it, the question isn't so much about the traditions around Christmas as it is about how to best teach our children to worship God, year-round and especially in our "holy-days." (That same friend asked me to read these blog posts, which got me thinking on this topic again: here and here.) You know, the Bible never commands us to have any holidays in the New Covenant. We are to commemorate the Lord's death in regular observance of the Lord's Supper... but that's it. Nowhere are we told to celebrate Easter or Christmas, Epiphany or Pentecost (as in the giving of the Holy Spirit). We are repeatedly told to remember, though. And we are always told to rejoice. The Old Testament is chock-full of God's people doing both in holidays & festivals. And when they're not eating a special meal or doing a special ceremony, they're raising up altars & stones-- why? So that when they see them, they will remember. We-- like them-- are a naturally forgetful people. God does AMAZING things for us, and... we forget. There's always a danger that one generation will not tell the next of God's works. So He taught His old-covenant people how to help themselves remember-- through little daily habits of meditation, through visible & palpable reminders, through weekly worship & corporate prayer, and through all-out, joyful public celebrations.

So even if we're not commanded to observe holidays, I think it's safe to say that they can be helpful and spiritually beneficial. It's also ingrained in human culture; we're always making up holidays. As an American, I enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving & the Fourth of July, though those are definitely cultural days. (Even they had God-honoring origins, though) I love birthdays, New Year's, Mother's Day & Father's Day-- even though those are far from Bible-mandated. They all provide times to reflect, give thanks, and plan ahead while imploring God's help. Days that commemorate the lives of faithful men & women, such as St. Patrick's Day or St. Valentine's Day, or even the Jewish holiday of Purim, can be really encouraging too. Christmas & Easter are perfectly geared for helping worship, though. It's really up to every family how they treat the "holidays," but there are definitely emphases that are more God-honoring than others, or that help worship rather than hinder it. Yearly traditions don't have to be financially costly to fill the day with memories, each year building on the previous. Yearly traditions also allow for benchmarking of each year, of seeing how far God has brought us, and remembering what He has brought us through.I don't think that gifts & a tree, when done simply, hinder worship at all. Rather, by making the day special and set apart, worship can be MORE natural. That's my goal in everything I do as a mom, for sure.

One other thing my friend brought to the discussion was the issue of our children. We want to model Christian joy in front of them for sure. We have more reasons to celebrate than anyone else in the universe, and NOT because we're American!! :) We need to be joyfully being Christian all year, for one because it's natural & God-honoring, but also because we don't want our kids (or any unbeliever) to associate "Christian" with "missing out on life." Certainly, if we call our families to "put off" aspects of holidays we deem unhelpful or undesirable, we must make sure we provide ample helpings of healthy celebration to "put on" instead. The last thing I want is to teach my daughter that we don't get to have any fun because we're "Christian." So why a tree? I guess because there's no reason not to, and I really enjoy them. It helps me remember that now is a special time of year, because I'm focusing on God's incarnation. It'll be a touchstone I get to share with my daughter, as I already do with my family on both "sides." Isn't that why we pick all our traditions?

How have your families balanced cultural & spiritual aspects of Christmas?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Day 16

Here are some really fun & practical ideas for home-made gifts for any kids in your life!

How about offering your children fun and creative play gift ideas this Christmas? By creative play I am referring to supplying items that will help spur on and encourage their imagination, giving them freedom to explore and develop their minds. Here is a list of items that you can make at home inexpensively that will entertain your children for hours. We all love those frugal gift ideas, and the special touch of handmade items is an extra bonus.

P.S. I think I just found a new favorite site... a TON of craftsy projects, mostly geared at kids' stuff!!

Day 3 in New Orleans: Touring by boat, foot & streetcar! (Thurs. Dec 10th)

Thursday Eowyn & I set off in earnest to see larger chunks of the city. I was very tired, but figured I needed to push myself if I was going to see anything besides my room. Having the food allergies that I have can make traveling so difficult; I have to take the word of chefs that what they've made contains no gluten or soy, and even then it can still be contaminated by contact with gluten or soy. Usually by Day 5 or so away from home, my system starts gunking up inside, and I start feeling a brain fog & immense fatigue... nothing I can exactly pinpoint, but a general malaise that's always in the background, affecting my mood, emotions, judgements, and energy level, not to mention typing accuracy, lol. Being up repeatedly with a baby doesn't help. By Thursday, we'd been away from home almost constantly since Thanksgiving and it was starting to take its toll (although at Thanksgiving I'm sure what I ate was totally ok). Eowyn & I still heeded the blue sky's beckoning call, and it was sure worth it!

Ships through water are still beautiful, no matter what boat & what water. We took the free ferry across the Mississippi to Algiers Pt. This residential area was so quiet that I was shocked! It didn't feel like a city at all; more like a suburban neighborhood... except for how little yard each home had, I guess. I loved all the fun architectural details, the brightly painted walls, and the quirky things people had out in their yards. Why is it that coastal towns tend to have such colorful houses? Buenos Aires, Charleston, the Venitian islands (Burano, Murano, etc.)... is it because sailors are so tired of blue & green & gray while at sea? Or is it, as legend goes in Italy, because sailors' wives were so tired of their drunken husbands careening into the wrong house that they painted each home a different hue? :) It would help blurred vision in the lashing coastal rain, too.

(can you make out the ubiquitous fleur-de-lis in the middle of the wreath?)

Speaking of the fleur-de-lis... someone was shooting some inspirational something or other right off the ferry station. Right after I took this picture, all the kids jumped up & started yelling "We can change the world!" and running around shouting & laughing. Then a gospel choir started singing a song whose words were also "We can change the world." Interesting...

Tiny old gas station

We took the ferry back to Canal St., had lunch at the conference locale (also our hotel), and after I rested up a bit, Eowyn & I headed west to board a streetcar on the the St. Charles line, into the Garden District. The Garden district is famed for its huge mansions and beautiful homes. Two main universities are also there: Tulane & Loyola. I couldn't believe that such big houses were right in the middle of the city, and most decorated resplendantly for Christmas. I guess if you have such a landmark house you're sort of expected to dress it seasonally for everyone's benefit!
I kept thinking of high school English A Streetcar Named Desire, which was set in New Orleans. Apparently N.O. has the longest-running streetcar system in the US, maybe the world?

Here's our view on our way out. It was chilly so we were glad of the warm car!

How far would you go to get a pizza? I took a streetcar for 30 minutes, then walked about 20 minutes, picked this up & headed all the way back. This place is super-healthy and has gluten-free, soy-free pizza for take out! You know how long it's been since I ordered take-out pizza???? I got the "Cajun" version, with shrimp & spices on it. Yum! Unfortunately I didn't realize it had chicken on it, which made me react (to the soy in the chicken feed, I guess). Oh well; it was much less severe than if I'd eaten a whole glutenous pizza!

Such a glorious sky! I snapped this as I walked back along Calhoun St., which runs against the back of Tulane & Loyola Universities, as well as several private elementary & upper schools.

Wed Night Kaleidescope of Faces

She was looking very cute... as usual...

She already loves programming, it would seem!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Day 15-- The Strangenesses of Jesus

“When we look at Jesus Christ,we realize that there is a twofold strangeness about him. There is, first, the strangeness of his deity, He is the God-man, the one who is bold enough to say that he and the Father are one – a statement that made the Jews accuse him of blasphemy (John 10:31-33). He is the one who forgives sins – something only God is supposed to do. He is the one who even dares to say, ‘Before Abraham was born, I am!’ (John 8:58).

But there is also the strangeness of his humanity. Though genuinely human, he is unique in his humanity. He is totally sinless. His obedience to the Father is perfect, his prayer life is unexcelled, his love for people is fathomless. And when we realize that this strangeness makes us ashamed, because it tells us what we all should be like. The strangeness of the human Jesus holds a mirror before us; it is an exemplary strangeness, for it tells us what God’s intentions are for each of us.”

- Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Eerdmans, 1986, 1994), 73.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 2 in N'Awlins; the French Quarter-- Wed. Dec 9th

The day was gloriously warm, and sunny! I always feel like I MUST go outside at least a little when the day is nice, otherwise it's like ignoring a perfectly beautiful gift from God! (It amazes me that He puts so much glory into sunrises & sunsets, both of which happen DAILY around the world! And how often are they appreciated?) Anyway, Eowyn & I walked down Royal St. all the way to the French Market, going through Jackson Square, stopping in several shops, and perusing the market. I bought a praline as my local snack, and E & I sat for a little in a park and listened to jazz Christmas carols. It was funny to me to see all the Christmas decorations when it felt like early autumn!

French Market, Old & New

Inside the church, there are flags of all the nations that have ever governed New Orleans.

I thought that was a cool mini-timeline of the city's history.

A copy of King Louis' bible is in the catholic church in Jackson Square-- I think this is a gloss of the Apostle Paul's life, near as I could tell.

I found some postcards, got Nicole & Colin a little bit of their wedding present, and bought Eowyn's Christmas presents at this WONDERFUL little toy store right off Jackson Square. I contemplated the museums and the Tabasco shop, but opted instead on sitting in on Ryan's session. I got to hear a bit before my darling parasite got hungry. :)

We had dinner on the top floor of the hotel-- amazing view & lots of willing arms to hold our precious one! And the food-- shrimp & grits, chocolate-coated strawberries, bananas foster, cheese & grapes-- was AMAZING! So many GF SF options, too! I was quite satisfied!

This fellow programmer, Kendrick, is from B.C. and DROVE down to New Orleans! He was sooo sweet with Eowyn-- I think he was missing his own little guy. :)

We turned in a bit late; very tired, but happy. The day had brought good feedback & interaction for Ryan, and I'd enjoyed meeting people over lunch & snacks & during Ryan's session. The Drupal community is amazingly tight-knit, especially when you consider the diversity & internationality of its members!

1st Night in New Orleans-- Tues. Dec 8th

Eowyn did SO well on the flights over; nursing on take-offs and sucking a paci with relish on landings, meaning that her little ears pressurized perfectly, and she was tear-free. Of course she charmed everyone who could see her, but her fan base was a bit limited as she spent the bulk of our journey asleep in her Ergo carrier. I carried her in that while Ryan used the stroller as our luggage trolley. =D

Our first event was a dinner for the conference speakers, of which Ryan was one. For those who were wondering, this little family trip was one which was work-related. Ryan got invited to speak at conference called "Do It With Drupal," which teaches web-developpers how to use the php-based content management system called Drupal... basically it's a system of code that organizes data that enables you to create webpages that then can do cool things, like be a store, or a blog, or a teaching resource, etc. (I probably said that all wrong, but I think I get the jist & maybe you get the general idea. At this conference people kept asking me "what I did with Drupal" and my answer was "I just try to understand what Ryan's talking about." =D) (MTV, Sony artist sites, and the new all run on Drupal). Ryan was teaching sessions on how to implement and modify his e-commerce "module", Ubercart... basically a chunk of code that allows you to sell stuff online. Since we can and won't always be able to, Eowyn & I tagged along. This is great because we get to be WITH Ryan instead of missing him, we get to meet all these work contacts and get to know the Drupal community, AND we get some fun sight-seeing in the mix.

So back to our first night in New Orleans... Tuesday night. We had a really nice dinner just a few blocks from our hotel (on Canal St.), and I got to put faces with names all over the place. Everyone was super-stoked about Eowyn... apparently Ryan had been putting her pictures in his earlier presentations at other Drupal events in San Francisco & Austin, TX. =D

Conked out for the first part of dinner in her stroller. Yep, she's a tummy sleeper through and through.

It was one of the conference organizer's daughter's 10th birthday, and she kindly shared her balloons with Eowyn, who was a BIG fan!

Family pic by the Christmas tree in the lobby.

Me in our bed in our hotel room (we stayed at the Mariott); I said I was cold & Ryan tossed me what he thought was a blanket at the foot of our bed. It was actually just this narrow strip of material-- purely decorative & not at all warm. We were tired & sleepy, so of course this struck us as extra funny... worthy of grabbing the camera & photographing, even! We giggled for a while.

Advent Day 14: The Promise

From Michael Card, one of my favorite artists! =D

The Promise

And you shall call His name 'Jesus' because He shall save
His people from their sins.


Even His name is a promise: "The Lord saves." Christmas is the celebration of the keeping of a promise. The promise that God would someday erase the sin of the world in a single day (Zech.3:9). The promise that He would someday walk with us, that we might be His people and He our God (Lev. 26:12). The promise that the fall would be undone by the One who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen.3:15). A saving promise.

Faith, in the Old Testament, is defined by a person's willingness to wait for the promises of God to come. Faith, in the New Testament, means following the Promised One.

In that Promised One, God gave to us all He could give because a part of the "self" is given in the making of any real promise. Overwhelmed by His own desire to give, God sent the most treasured Gift to keep the promise He himself made. God chose to suffer the punishment which should have been inflicted on those who are guilty of breaking a promise. So for those who see Christianity merely as a relationship in which we can ask God for things, Christmas reminds us that He has already given His all, His own Son.

Christianity is founded on a promise. Faith involves waiting on a promise. Our hope is based on a promise. God promised He would be "with us", not as unseen ethereal force, but in the form of a person with a name: Jesus. He promised us salvation in the name 'Jesus', by the name 'Jesus', through the name 'Jesus'.

O Lord, how many are your promises? Are they not all "yes" in the name of the One who is the Promise? Father, let me spend my life pursuing that Promise. Teach me to hope in you, who always keep your Promise. Give my life to your Promise, so that I may shine like a single star in the darkness of this world with the light of your Promised One.

The writing is taken from the devotional book "The Promise"
© 1991 by Michael Card. All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Day 13: LOVED this Advent Book

This was my family's first brush with Advent. One of our aunts (LM I think) gave us The Christmas Mystery, by Jostein Gaarder, which is meant to be read one chapter each day of Advent. It's really a cool story, both moving forward towards Christmas Day and backwards in time, with the main character "gathering" essential Nativity characters as she goes. We all loved it, and didn't miss a day of reading it. Combine it with Advent readings, candle-lightings & prayer, and you have the makings of a wonderful daily march towards Christmas, full of meaning.

(I just realized that Gaarder's the same guy who wrote Sophie's World, which I had to read in my high school "Theory of Knowledge" class... looking back now I can see the resemblances; a plot twisting different times and serious themes together drive both)

I love this review of it: "
A literary advent calendar its one i try to read every December one chapter a day. Travelling in time and distance from Norway to Bethlehem it is intriguing and fascinating to watch the strands of history unravel and the story tie up neatly."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Day 12

I like these ideas for making Advent & Christmas special. I haven't read that Madeleine L'Engle book yet-- hadn't even heard of it, actually-- and she's one of my favorite authors!

Ryan & I have tried to think through traditions to start in our family; we're already getting one ornament a year (I made them the first year we were married out of our cake toppers!). This year I'm making Eowyn a stocking, and then from here on out we'll add a pin or some other decoration each year to it-- Ryan's family did this, and I love looking at all their decorated stockings!

The other tradition we're going to start is that of one gift opened on Christmas Eve (which my family did growing up), but with the added twist of it always being the same type gift for each person each year: new pyjamas and a book. That way they have something to do if they HAVE to wake up super-early on Christmas morning! So I've been on the lookout for a book for Eowyn for THIS Christmas. (I have started to read to her, and she likes the pictures... especially in Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do You See?) I found a set of two I LOVE here in New Orleans! The Beignet that ALMOST Got Away, and a new one by the same authors (Pre-K teachers), Counting Around the Neutral Ground, which follows the same adorable 2 cockroaches down the St. Charles Street Car line, which Enna G & I rode today! Both books are great b/c they're about New Orleans in a fun way. Read a bit about the authors & books here.

When I get home I'll make her the PJs; I already have the pattern! =D

Traditions are great because they help lessen the hype of the holiday, I think, making it simpler & thus easier to maintain a narrower focus: on the Incarnation of God Himself.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Advent Day 11

A great post from the Pipers on how the season of Advent reminds us that we're in the already-not-yet; we are "standing in the middle."

Advent: Standing in the Middle

December 5, 2009 | By: Noel Piper |

During Advent, it’s as if we are re-enacting the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. Then at the end of the four weeks of Advent, Christmas is a heartfelt celebration because that ancient waiting is done.

And yet we are still waiting.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8:22-23)

Our spiritual redemption came to us with the baby of Bethlehem. But still, “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

There is suffering and tragedy still, even for Christians. Someone we love is dying. We may be in pain. Sometimes we have trouble believing God’s promises. In other words, our redemption is not complete. We are waiting for the redemption of our bodies—waiting for Jesus’ second advent, for him to come again.

So here we stand in the middle. Advent is a season of looking back, thinking how it must have been, waiting for the promised salvation of God, not knowing what to expect. And at the same time, it is a season of looking ahead, waiting eagerly, and preparing ourselves to meet Jesus at his Second Coming.

(Adapted from Treasuring God in Our Traditions)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Advent Day 10: On E-Waste

Yes, tis an unconventional Advent post... We're building up MOUNDS of toxic waste when we throw out all our electronics... there are better ways to keep the toxins minimized. I hadn't really thought about this myself! Good to keep in mind as we approach all that gift-buying this holiday season, huh? Read the full article here.

Take action
1. Consider whether you really need that new technology. Don’t buy items that you don’t have a true need for. Consider whether your home really needs the 20 electronic devices that a typical home has.
2. Buy brands of computers that are relatively “greener” to reduce the potential toxicity of your e-waste. The EPA has established a ranking system for total environmental impact of electronics called EPEAT – the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool to help consumers buy responsibly. Visit their website at
3. For equipment that is obsolete but still in working order, donate it. If it is too obsolete or broken and cannot be donated, make sure that it is properly recycled. Click here for a great list of options. Another useful document is here -- it gives lots of options for recycling along with a list of software to remove your personal information from your electronics before donating them.

4. Encourage your company, school or place of worship to be responsible with their e-waste. Let them know that it matters and why. For larger volumes of e-waste, contact an e-Steward. These companies have pledged to meet criteria based on international law and the e-Steward program will be independently audited starting in 2010. For more information, click here.
5. Let your congressmen and senators know that you support legislation to limit the export of e-waste to developing countries.
6. Send this article to family and friends. Sixty-eight percent of US households have a stockpile of electronics waiting to be disposed of. They’ll appreciate the information. [that would be me until 10 minutes ago!]

Monday, December 07, 2009

Advent Day 9

Now if that doesn't get you in the Christmas Spirit, you must be Mr. Scrooge!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Advent Day 8

Here's our littlest Advent-er, all decked out in my own first Christmas dress! :) Oh... and that's my enormous snowman hat on her head.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

P.S. Great Info

p.s. I just found a better link to that Dr. Miller article "A User- Friendly Approach to Vaccinations" on the Generation Rescue website. Actually, as I look at this website I really like a lot of what they have posted! These are parents, not doctors, but they're not stupid with a bone to pick, either. I really like their 3 suggestions for vaccine schedules, for instance. I plan on printing out their "Vaccine Safety" page for my pediatrician (along with the Miller article and several others I've gotten). They say everything I'd want to say better than I could say it! :)

p.p.s. my friend Jacqui has raised the question of the HiB & Pc vaccines, which both are supposed to protect against meningitis. I'll be looking into adding these to our schedule, because meningitis is so deadly to little ones, and comes on fast, looking like the flu. More on this soon...

**Please note that I am NOT a doctor, and even if I were, each parent must decide what is best for their child(ren). My goal is to make your job easier by doing some research & explanation leg-work for you. If, after reading & researching on your own, you disagree with any/all of what I say, that's totally fine!!! I will still be your friend. ;)**

Two more thoughts on Vaccines Today...

1. One thing that I initially thought when starting to look into the whole vaccination question is that "well, I was vaccinated as a kid, and so was my husband and pretty much everyone we know, and are we worse off for it?" Before you even consider that maybe some of my generation's chronic health problems today could be due to vaccines, there's the plain fact that we WEREN'T vaccinated as kids, not like this. Here's a chart comparing vaccination schedules in 1983, and now. So I received about 10 vaccines, got the flu several times, and got chicken pox once. If I went along with the CDC vaccine schedule, my children would get about 30 vaccines, plus a yearly flu shot. Woah! That's a big difference! ...when I realized that I realized that we are dealing in uncharted waters. No generation has ever been this vaccinated! The CDC would have me believe that that's a good thing, but it's sort of too early too tell, isn't it? And I just wonder if I want my babies to be part of the experimental group, you know?

Now, my mom's story of how we each got the chicken pox for a week, one right after the other, does make me think that it would be more convenient for me to avoid that with a vaccine, lol... but then again I guess I don't really know the full risks involved in the chicken-pox vaccine.

2. The other question I've had to work through in even second-guessing vaccines is "why would so many pediatricians in America tell us to do something that might hurt our kids?" I don't know about you, but most of the pediatricians I've met are really nice people-- usually they love kids, have caring hearts, and have great senses of humor! I love my pediatricians from my childhood; they still make me laugh! My daughter's pediatrician is really cool, too, and is so good with her. It doesn't make sense that they're sitting in dark rooms behind closed doors, nefariously plotting to harm our precious babies. They really think it's the best thing to do. Now granted, many doctors get offended whenever anyone questions their superior med-school wisdom (my sister's allergist, for instance), so those guys probably are just telling us to do whatever they learned in med school, regardless of any new research or information. Others tend to hand out too much medicine (vaccines would fall under that category), but that's often because parents expect that. And the fact is that most doctors stop reading up on new stuff once they start practicing, which is understandable seeing as how they have families and want to occasionally see them when they're not on call! Still, they're telling us what they honestly think is best. Even the people at the CDC are doctors who took the Hippocratic Oath and probably meant it. So then we have to ask "is there a chance that so many doctors are wrong about the CDC vaccination schedule being 'the best thing'? If so, why do they think it's good?"

One answer is probably in the pharmaceutical industry. We all want to be healthy, and that translates into big money. This is a consumer-driven culture, after all! According to Dr. Miller, many of the committee members on the panel which puts together vaccine schedules have vested interests in vaccine-making companies. Not so good. Similarly, one article which supposedly puts to rest any tie between vaccines & autism, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 used figures from Denmark to conclude that there is "strong evidence against the hypothesis that the MMR causes autism." Well, 3 of the article's authors are employed by a Denmark's SSI, which makes vaccines, 4 other authors have financial ties to the company, and the remaining author is employed by our CDC. Not exactly un-biased. Of course, this is just one example, but I think it shows that the info our doctors are getting & giving us may be far from balanced and unbiased. (Interestingly, when other researchers re-examined the data in that article, they found that there IS an association between autism and the MMR. Read the Journal of American Physicians & Surgeons article's pretty technical but the graphs help) Just think of all the money vaccine companies would lose if children were vaccinated less... we're talking billions & billions of dollars. That's a powerful motivator to fund "research" that supports an aggressive vaccination schedule, and then give those studies to pediatricians nation-wide!

Another thing to keep in mind is that the CDC is looking at controlling disease in the whole population. They are out for the greater good... which means that it won't be the best good for some individuals. A one-size-fits-all policy will probably catch most diseases for most people, but will undoubtedly harm or miss some people in the process. The CDC isn't a parent responsible for one or several children. We are. That's why we have to evaluate every group program and see if it really is the best for our particular child. Even if vaccines turn out to be linked to autism, ADD, asthma, etc., why doesn't everyone get them? Because every person is different; some people have genes which make them more susceptible, some people have genes that make them less susceptible. Before vaccines this meant that some people got diseases, and some didn't. Those whose children have weakened or over-active immune systems (shown in food sensitivites, eczema, allergies, asthma) or who have these chronic conditions (including MS, Type 1 diabetes & others) in their families should especially be careful, as vaccines are more likely to adversely affect them. If we know that our child is at-risk for contracting Hepatitis b/c of where we live or our lifestyle, then we should get that vaccine! If we know that he isn't, then why should we inject him at birth? I think you get my drift.

Just thought I'd throw up these two follow-up thoughts... hope they're helpful!
**Please note that I am NOT a doctor, and even if I were, each parent must decide what is best for their child(ren). My goal is to make your job easier by doing some research & explanation leg-work for you. If, after reading & researching on your own, you disagree with any/all of what I say, that's totally fine!!! I will still be your friend. ;)**

Now I Know to Ask Questions that Need Answers...

Tiger Woods

While looking up the latest on Tiger Woods after seeing something a friend posted on Facebook, I stumbled upon this blog post on the topic by CJ Maheney. As usual, it is good stuff from him.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Fun While It's Cold

It was our first really cold day here in Louisville. While Eowyn & I did go out & about in it-- to the Clothes Closet, giving friends a ride, going for a well-baby checkup-- we spent the bulk of the afternoon staying warm up in our bedroom. She played and slept, and I cleaned & sewed.

I made a little Christmas present for Abby (7 mos. old) -- a blanket made specifically to be chewed upon, since that's currently her MO for life in general. Eowyn received a store-made one as a baby gift, and I thought I'd do a variation on that theme for Abby. I am quite pleased with how it turned out, and will probably be making more! I used different textures (and colors) for the "tags" around the edges-- nice & slidy (like the tags babies love to chew), soft flannel, crisp ribbon, and thick cotton. The front is 1/2 soft flannel, 1/2 smooth cotton, and the back is a smooth material that was used to make one of my formal dresses.

An exciting event today is that I think Eowyn tried to get my attention! I was nursing her lying down in bed this morning, and my eyes were closed. All of a sudden I heard a "guh!" and opened my eyes to find her staring straight at me. As soon as my eyes opened she grinned! It seemed like she wanted me to look at her and was trying out her voice as a means to do that! =D

Weight: 11 lbs 11 oz (75th %tile)
Height: 23" (50th %tile)

Doctor Corba says she's looking great and everything seems to be on schedule! We'll see him again in early February for her 4-month visit!

Surgeon Coming Clean on Fats & Heart Disease

A friend sent me this article, which is a heart surgeon admitting that America's assurance that less fat= less arterial cholesterol= less heart disease is wrong. Here's a chunk of it:

"Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders.

However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process, a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body? Well, smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that. The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet that has been recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

New Tricks

Eowyn's gotten 4 new tricks:
1. sticking out her tongue... often combined with licking
2. pointing her fingers individually. Just yesterday I noticed this; she's moving fingers independantly... I don't think she really knows what she's doing, but she's definitely trying new things!
3. swimming on her tummy (also first observed yesterday)
4. "running"... first observed today. She gets all out of breath when she does it, really sounding like she's running! I tried to catch it on camera, and this is the best I got:
Heehee, she kinda looks like a fat old man at the end there. :) She's also having "conversations" with me now, where she'll make a noise, usually a "guh!" or "ooh" and then once I say something back, she says something else. It's delightful!! We just sit and look at each other and "talk," and you can tell she is so excited to be doing it! It hit me that one day I'll be talking with her for real... wow.

Advent Day 5

Time for my favorite Christmas album EVER!! =D

It's Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God. You can now listen to it all day, every day, even after Christmas, using this free streaming player!! Yay!

So long, Moses
Hello, Promised Land
It was a long, long road
But your people are home
So long, Moses

Hello, Joshua
Goodbye, Canaanites
We're coming to town
Twelve tribes and no crown
No crown, Oh Lord

We want a king on a throne
Full of power, with a sword in his fist
Will there ever be, ever be a king like this?

Hello, Saul
First king of Israel
You were foolish and strong
So you didn't last long
Goodbye, Saul

Hail, King David
Shepherd from Bethlehem
Set the temple of God
In mighty Jerusalem

You were a king on a throne
Full of power, with a sword in his fist
Has there ever been, ever been a king like this?
Full of wisdom, full of strength, the hearts of the people are his
Hear, O Israel, was ever there a king like this?

Hello, prophets
The kingdom is broken now
The people of God
Have been scattered abroad
How long, O Lord?

So speak, Isaiah
Prophet of Judah
Can you tell of the One
This king who's going to come

Will he be a king on a throne
Full of power with a sword in his fist?
Prophet, tell us will there be another king like this?
Full of wisdom, full of strength,
The hearts of the people are his
Prophet, tell us will there be
another king like this?

"He'll bear no beauty or glory
Rejected, despised
A man of such sorrow
We'll cover our eyes

He'll take up our sickness
Carry our tears
For his people
He will be pierced

He'll be crushed for our evils
Our punishment feel
By his wounds
We will be healed."

"From you, O Bethlehem
Small among Judah
A ruler will come
Ancient and strong."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ix-nay on the Ax-vay?

It's one of the big questions new parents face today, once you've gotten past "were you trying to get pregnant?" (which I still can't believe people ask...) and the more common and less invasive "did you do it all-natural?" "are you going to breast-feed?" and even "are you using cloth-diapers?" The question with a capital Q seems to be "are you going to vaccinate?"

The stakes are pretty high, or so everyone from my pediatrician to the anti-vaccine camps would have me think; both sides claim my child's life is at risk if I don't do what they recommend... This is an issue I've tried to research on the deepest level, and this is what I've come up with. Hopefully this will be helpful to those trying to sort it out themselves, and maybe reassure any of you who think I've gone off the deep end... **Please note that I am NOT a doctor, and even if I was, each parent must decide what is best for their child(ren). My goal is to make your job easier by doing some research & explanation leg-work for you. If, after reading & researching on your own, you disagree with any/all of what I say, that's totally fine!!! I will still be your friend. ;)**

First off, some basic pre-suppositions:
1. kids will get sick-- since Genesis 3, this is just a part of life on this Cursed planet. Every human will suffer on earth and will one day die. Remembering this keeps me from wanting to barricade myself from all germs, and my kids with me. It's not something I can hide from, so why fear it? Of course, this doesn't mean that we run around trying to get as sick as we possibly can; it just means that we have to expect it and be ready for it.
2. God has made our bodies able to fight off sickness-- this balances out Point # 1. We aren't left at the mercy of tiny "bugs." Our bodies do have resources to fight disease and decay, to heal and grow.
3. I'd rather fight disease by strengthening my immune system (what God has given me to do just this) than by hiding from germs (which I can't fully do anyway)-- this is how I see points 1 & 2 gelling & meeting.

Ok... so vaccinations.
The arguments in favor of vaccines on the CDC schedule:
-- Childhood diseases are bad and need to be avoided.
-- Vaccines are a way to stimulate the immune system into fighting diseases by giving the body a weaker version of the real thing. The body produces antibodies which later will be used to fight the full-blown disease, should it ever come around.
-- Vaccines are in essence a little bit of pain now for big payoff of prevention later.
-- There is minimal to no danger at all in vaccines, no matter how many are given at once or at what age. They will only prepare the body to fight future disease, and in the rare case that the disease is actually contracted from the shot (in live-virus vaccines), then this isn't near as bad as the disease itself would have been.

The arguments that seem against vaccines on the CDC schedule:
--Childhood diseases aren't pleasant, but may not be all that bad.
-- The toxic ingredients in vaccines (adjuvants, etc-- mercury, formaldehyde, other metals) are a concern, especially since they seem to have a cumulative effect. (Dr. Sears takes this position in his book The Vaccine Book) Some people take issue with where the vaccine components come from-- animal or human tissue.
-- Children are each different, so a one-size-fits-all approach to vaccination is inappropriate, and can even be deadly.
--Live-virus vaccines compromise the immune system.
--Vaccines trigger the body's humoral (Th2; antibody-producing) immune system, not the cell-mediated (Th1) system. An imbalance in the two systems results.
--Vaccines can over-stimulate the immature & still-developing immune system of an infant/toddler under 2. Babies' immune systems are stuck in a different mode (Th2 mode) than adults' to keep them from being targeted as an outsider by their mother while in the womb. During infancy they can switch to the adult Th1 mode if they get a recurrent infection, but they don't switch to full Th1 until toddler-hood. Vaccines given while the baby is still in Th2 mode cause the Th2 mode to persist longer than it should, leaving them at higher risk of auto-immune diseases (such as food allergies), which in turn are linked with neurological disorders (such as autism). Age is a factor in how a person will react to a vaccine.
--There is a huge increase (quadrupled!) in auto-immune diseases (ADHD, asthma, allergies, ASD (autism-spectrum-disorder), Type 1 diabetes) in Western culture, and we don't know why. Mandated vaccines on an aggressive schedule (beginning before birth if the mother gets a flu shot while pregnant) is a huge new factor which must be considered as a variable that could have contributed to or even caused this increase. An auto-immune disorder basically means that a person's immune system attacks what it shouldn't; it thinks normal things are invaders and triggers an immune response to fight them.
-- There is a link between childhood disease and future immunity. If you get the real thing, you get full immunity to it, and possibly to other diseases --for instance, women who get childhood mumps have increased immunity to ovarian cancer. (This is due to the correct stimulation of the Th1, or cell-mediated, immune system, which thwarts cancer.)
--The CDC's vaccination schedule is "too much too soon:" 32 vaccines by age 2. Think about the proportions: 7 vaccines injected into a 13-lb baby (standard for a 2 month old well-baby visit) is equivalent to 70 vaccines in a 130 lb adult! **Note; when we were growing up & getting vaccines, we got far fewer.

My take:
I haven't found any answer at all to the charge that vaccines may, in the long run, over-stimulate the immune system so much that an auto-immune disease develops. Dr. Sears doesn't touch on this idea at all in his book, and neither does any pro-vaccine literature I've read. Because of some research I did in college on the link between diet & disability, I was already aware of the link between auto-immune diseases and disabilities. I already knew that kids with neurological disabilities were likely to also have Celiac's disease (a non-mediated food allergy to gluten, the protein in wheat), for instance, and that when gluten was removed from their diets, many children's symptoms improved or disappeared completely. I knew that a hyper-active immune system usually manifests itself in more than one way; one friend of mine has horrible eczema if she eats gluten; another's daughter was autistic until gluten was removed from her deit; I myself am intolerant to both gluten and soy; another friend's son is allergic to both aluminum and gluten. Food intolerances, skin diseases, autoimmunity, neurological disorders, learning disabilities... they're all linked. The link seems to be an over-active humoral immune system.

A "Generation Rescue" survey showed that vaccinated boys had a 155% greater chance of having a neurological disease such as ADHD or autism, and vaccinated girls & boys had a 120% greater chance of contracting asthma-- both of these are auto-immune disorders. It seems that vaccines tend to over-stimulate the humoral immune response and damage the body permanently, especially when vaccines are spaced so close together that the baby's body never has time to stop being primed to fight infection. This is especially damaging to some individuals- those with sensitive immune systems, often those who already have other auto-immune disorders or whose parents do. This is my biggest "beef" with the CdC's schedule, and since I've found no answers to it, it remains my chief concern. Since I DO have an auto-immune disorder and so does almost every member of my family (either asthma or allergies or food allergies), I take this very seriously for Eowyn's sake.

I am also concerned about the other nasty stuff in shots, and am glad mercury has been taken out of most shots. Dr. Sears recommends a schedule that spaces out vaccines containing the same adjuvants (especially aluminum) in order to give the body time to process them out. Hep B, Pc, Hep A & HPV all contain aluminum, so don't get them together. However, I'm not so concerned with "extra" stuff in shots as I am the viruses & bacterium themselves.

Dr. Miller's recommendations are to 1. start at age 2, 2. give no shots with thimerosal (mercury), 3. give no live-virus vaccines (unless smallpox recurs), and 4. to vaccinate only for diseases which are more dangerous than possible vaccine risks: He recommends vaccinating for pertussis (the acellular, not whole-cell shot), diptheria, tetanus, and polio (the inactivated version- IPV).

So what are we doing? We're doing a delayed and selective schedule for Eowyn. We want to travel with her, so we have to vaccinate some, and vaccines do seem to provide immunity in adults to some degree... but we want to let her immune system mature normally before we whack it. I think my guidelines will be: 1. try to boost our immune systems with vitamins, fermented foods full of "good bacteria," lots of rest and outside-time, and a balanced diet, rich in nutritional fats & essential oils (Omega 3 oils boost immunity greatly while Omega 6s have the opposite effect), 2. give only one vaccine at a time, 3. allow at least 2 mos between shots (to allow her humoral response time to go back to normal) 4. begin later rather than earlier except for diseases which are only dangerous to infants (ex. pertussis), 5. avoid live-virus vaccines, 6. skip vaccines which are new or untested.

Right now that means NO chicken-pox, flu, Hep A, & MMR vaccines, also no vaccines against STDs (she's not exactly at risk as a child to those). The only ones I'm committed to doing are IPV (inactivated polio) & Daptacel brand of the DTaP (diptheria, tetanus & pertussis/whooping cough), which has no cow tissue & less pertussis components. We will probably not start the vaccines until 6 mos. of age, meaning that we will miss a few doses of the DTap, HiB & Pc vaccines (if we get theHiB & Pc at all). I am considering Hep B later because of where we live... still researching. When we figure out our exact monthly schedule, I'll post it as a follow-up.

**EDIT:  Please read my follow- up post giving our (current) vaccine schedule.  You will likely notice that we decided not to get the IPV, and that we did decide in favor of the Hib & Pc.  My thought process on the IPV can be read here.**

Some things I read:
-"A User-Friendly Vaccination Schedule" by Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD-- cardiac surgeon & prof of surgery @ University of Washington (in Seattle)
-"The Danger of Excessive Vaccination During Brain Development" by Russel L. Blaylock, MD [I don't particularly care for the tone of the article-- he implies that vaccines are a plot, and I wouldn't go THAT far (although for sure pharmaceutical companies would stand to lose a LOT of $$ if shots stopped!). But I kept reading because so much of what he said dovetailed with my own research & experience. The article is well-footnoted, and I looked up as many of the articles as I could access, and they definitely support his position.]
-"The Challenge to Mass Vaccination" by Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder & president of the National Vaccine Information Center
-"How We Are Making our Children Sick," by Sean Manning, DC in Pathways, issue 20
"A Personal Perspective on Vaccination,"by Jean McAulay in August/Sept 2008 of Today's Chiropractic Lifestyle
- The Vaccine Book, by Dr. Sears
- DPT: A Shot in the Dark, by Barbara Loe Fisher

Advent 4

To get "in the seasonal mood" today, I highly recommend Sojourn Community Church's Advent Songs. You can listen to songs, buy the CD, or download it for free or a donation here. We really like "Joy to the World" and "What Child is This?"

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Home is Where the Pack'n'play Is

Well, Ryan had a sort-of-unexpected business trip up to his brick-and-mortar office in Jackson, Michigan (where he'd never been). He is a partner of Commerce Guys, a web-developing company, meaning that he can (and does) work from anywhere. But as 3 of his co-workers live in Jackson, this is where their physical office is. Since I can, I came with him! We didn't even unpack from our Thanksgiving trip, but took Monday morning to do errands, and then took off! E & I have enjoyed our time just taking it easy in our hotel room (where I have an internet connection so I can do Nicole's wedding stuff and Christmas presents and...), and walking around downtown Jackson. We found an awesome little coffee shop (with freebies for newbies!), and enjoyed an evening walk around several cool churches and little shops.

As I walked back into the coffee shop, wearing my short black pea coat & wire-rimmed glasses, holding my cloth-diapered daughter in an Ergo carrier, and carrying a laptop in one hand and a bottle of ginger kombucha in the other, I thought... "what sort of parental/generational category do I fit into? The nerd-green-homemaker? A cross between neo-pioneer and urbanite? Left in terms of environmental conscientiousness, right in terms of home-maker-ness, and just young intellectualish to top it off?" Hmmm.... what "kind" of a mom am I?

**"Kombucha is a bubbly, tangy, effervescent drink. It is a handmade Chinese Tea that is delicately cultured for 30 days. It is fermented like yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut. It is completely raw - it is alive with active enzymes from healthy yeast and bacteria.
It contains liver detoxifiers, antioxidants, polyphenols, probiotics, and free-form amino acids. It burns body fat, stimulates metabolism, soothes digestion, help alkalize the body's ph, improves liver function, strengthens the immune system, promotes healthy skin and hair. It is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal (i.e. candida) so it helps support a healthy body. It is also said to boost our immune system and help fight disease, even serious ones. [...] It is not pastuerized, contains no sugar or corn syrups nor artificial sweeteners, no caffeine, and no preservatives."