Saturday, October 29, 2011

Acid-Reflux and Colic Research BREAKTHROUGH

At least it's a breakthrough for me. :)  As many of you remember, my daughter Eowyn struggled with painful acid reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD) from about week 3 of her life to month 5.  We worked through massive amounts of spit-up (the most epic being at my friend Val's house, one which left us both staring speechless as it soaked down through every layer of clothing on me, pooling in my pants waist band-- gross?  tell me about it), refusal to nurse do to painful association, fussiness... and we made it.  (For more on our drug-free War on Reflux, read here.)

But the same brain that exhausted my grandmother with incessant questions in a ceaseless drive to know wasn't happy here.  My daughter wasn't suffering anymore, but... why had she had this condition in the first place?  Why was there an absolute epidemic of acid reflux in my circle of mommy-friends, with Zantac and Prevacid handed out like candy?  This condition has completely exploded, along with it a huge influx of regular, daily prescription drug use in infants-- which in turn is linked to a whole host of potential long-term (chronic, systemic) problems.  With all my baby sitting, etc., I'd never heard of a baby medicated for acid reflux before my friend's son had it (2 years before Eowyn was born).  True, there have always been "colicky" babies, and I'm sure some of the babies now diagnosed with GERD & medicated would have been labeled "colicky" before. Regardless, I wanted to know WHY.

What's a mom to do?  KEEP LOOKING!

My first bit of light came in reading Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which is an exposition of all the ways gut-flora imbalance (too much harmful yeast & bacteria crowding out the good guys we need for good health) affects us.  One big symptom of an imbalanced gut flora is severe morning sickness during pregnancy, especially if there is no family history for it.  (My mom never had it with any of us 3 girls.  I did. Check.)  These same moms with unbalanced gut flora pass on their imbalance to their children through birth and breastfeeding... often leading to acid reflux in babies.  First light-bulb moment for me.

How do we get our gut flora wacked out in the first place?  Antibiotics.  Diets high in sugar & refined grains.  Formula feeding instead of breast-feeding. Environmental toxins. Our moms (and in some part our dads).  About two generations ago, breastfeeding fell into disrepute, at the same time that drugs like antibiotics and vaccines (containing antibiotics) became an integral part of childhood, as the American diet turned ever-more towards pre-made instead of home-grown and canning overtook fermenting.  It would make sense that now we would see a whole host of moms-- perhaps breast-fed by a formula-fed mom-- who grew up on antibiotics and Little Debbies having bad morning sickness, and then having babies with acid-reflux heretofore unseen in such numbers.  Yes, it all fits.

But what to do about it?  KEEP LOOKING!!

In one of my doula-reading books, I found a citation to a 2007 study published in Pediatrics.  This study, in fact.  The boiled-down version:  two sets of babies (all breast-fed) suffering from generic "colic" were treated in low-tech ways.  One group got simethicone drops (gas drops). The other got a probiotic (beneficial bacteria), Lactobaccilus reuteri.  Both sets of moms were avoiding cow's milk in their own diets.
 "Ninety breastfed colicky infants were assigned randomly to receive either the probiotic L reuteri (108 live bacteria per day) or simethicone (60 mg/day) each day for 28 days. The mothers avoided cow's milk in their diet. Parents monitored daily crying times and adverse effects by using a questionnaire.
RESULTS. Eighty-three infants completed the trial: 41 in the probiotic group and 42 in the simethicone group. The infants were similar regarding gestational age, birth weight, gender, and crying time at baseline. Daily median crying times in the probiotic and simethicone groups were 159 minutes/day and 177 minutes/day, respectively, on the seventh day and 51 minutes/day and 145 minutes/day on the 28th day. On day 28, 39 patients (95%) were responders in the probiotic group and 3 patients (7%) were responders in the simethicone group. No adverse effects were reported.
Did you catch that?  Babies were crying about 160 minutes/day (over 2 1/2 hrs) before the intervention, started crying less within one week of getting the probiotics, and went down to under 1 hour of crying (and which baby doesn't cry about 1 hour a day, all told?)!  The babies in the gas drop group was still crying nearly 2 & 1/2 hours every day by the end of the 4 weeks.  The study summarizes "In our cohort, L reuteri improved colicky symptoms in breastfed infants within 1 week of treatment, compared with simethicone, which suggests that probiotics may have a role in the treatment of infantile colic."  I'd say!!!!!

I will keep my eyes peeled for studies that specifically look at probiotic's role in treating acid-reflux (this study excluded infants with that condition to keep variables to a minimum), and ideas about whether other probiotics could be used, even those in yogurt.  (This particular study used probiotics sold by BioGaia AB from Stockholm, Sweden)

In the meantime, may this help any of you trying to shush a sad baby!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10 Books Every Parent's Gotta Read

(cross-posted on my Book Review Blog)

My self-appointed-task?  Create a list of the Top Ten Books EVERY parent should matter their child's age, or whether they were adopting or giving birth.  Of course, this is an impossible task and could probably be debated endlessly.  But I like a challenge, and it's been fun. :)  I've tried to include books covering every aspect of a child-- the physical (medical), the mental, the emotional, the spiritual.  Without further ado, here are my (current) top 10, in alphabetical order:

Age of Opportunity- Paul David Tripp-- ok, even if teenage-hood is MILES away, as in, you don't even have a bona fide toddler yet, you probably already are being told to dread the teenage years. Everyone, from your cashier to your nice old neighbor are saying "he's cute now, but oh just wait until he's 16!" This kind of attitude, of dreading adolescence and expecting a rebellious, disrespectful, identity-crisising son or daughter is a self-fulfilling prophecy... AND it's unBiblical. Most of the disciples were teens when they were called to follow our Lord as His closest friends (only Peter & Jesus were old enough to pay the temple tax in Matt. 17:27). Anyway, this book is a breath of fresh air of training children so that you actually enjoy their teen years as much as any others.

Heart of Anger, The: Practical Help for Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children- Lou Priolo-- how many of our children's (and our own!) chronic "behavior problems" stem from sinful anger?  Pretty much all of them... This book first of all helped me to examine my own heart for anger, and bring IT under the Lord's control, and then out of that to help my daughter.  It is excellent in listing ways that we often unwittingly provoke our little ones to anger.

How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor- Robert S. Mendelsohn-- this inclusive guide to childhood illness & treatment is written by an experienced family physician who's delivered and treated thousands of children over the past few decades of practice.  His basic premise is that parents are fully capable of treating 90% of their children's illnesses at home, not only well, but better than a doctor.  This book will help you know when your child needs help beyond what you can give, and how to treat most illnesses at home. He explains that medical school trains doctors to want to meet their patient's parents expectations by intervening, even when rest and time are the best cure.  Get it, read it, be informed, and learn all sorts of ways to ease your child's suffering even when there's nothing that can be done medically (like during a cold).  He covers everything from earaches to teething to vaccines to viruses to infections to the BIG diseases like meningitis that definitely DO need a doctor's help.

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are- Ann Voskamp--not usually a conventional "parenting" selection, I know, but I think the perspective it brings, that of intentionally rejoicing in the mundane, the difficult, and the easily overlooked, is crucial to joy-filled, Christ-exalting parenting.  It's made a huge difference in my life, that's for sure.

Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)- Gavin de Becker-- How do we teach our children to be smart in scary situations and stay safe, yet not be quivering balls of cowardice? What if we are actually far more equipped to sense danger and to instinctively know how to protect ourselves than we know? This book premises that fear is actually an instinct, a gift that can keep children safe when we know how to use it. This book teaches you how to talk through danger with your kids, what to teach them to do when lost, and how to recognize predators & dangerous situations... all the while making your children MORE confident and bold rather than afraid & timid (because knowledge really is power). Especially critical for parents of girls to read!!

Read-Aloud Handbook, The- Jim Trelease-- Every parent can home-educate, no matter where their kids get their grades, with one very simple tool: reading aloud. This book's first section will convince you beyond any shadow of doubt just how precious and vital reading aloud to your children is. The second section recommends books to be read aloud for various ages. Another life-changer for me!

Real Food for Mother and Baby- Nina Planck-- this book will be helpful in laying the foundation for a lifestyle of health, starting before your children are even born (if you add children to your family naturally). Even if you meet your children through adoption, this book will help you help your children maximize their potential through healthy eating. The best guide to maternity, infant & child eating I've ever read. (Chuck '"What to Expect When You're Expecting's" nutritional guides and buy this one instead.)

Shepherding a Child's Heart- Tedd Tripp-- my favorite help in knowing how to lovingly, Biblically discipline and train my daughter. This book revolutionized my own family growing up, and still guides how I want to interact with my kids as they grow. (For those with small children, I'd highly recommend Don't Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman, which is a user-friendly version of Shepherding for preschoolers...and don't worry, it has nothing to do with counting to three.)

Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, The- Henci Goer-- if you are pregnant, go get this book now. Seriously. Click the link & order it off Amazon ASAP. Preferably along with Nina Planck's book. If you're not pregnant and don't plan to be, this still should be in your Top 10, because it teaches non-medical folks (like us) how to discern what is routinely done and what is beneficial & safe. Is an induction at 40 weeks medically sound? What about the expected epidural? Is VBAC safer than repeat C-sections? Is pitocin worth its risks? This book doesn't answer the questions for you; it presents research and lets you make your own decisions, which is EXACTLY how you want to be in the habit of evaluating every medical recommendation you come across, from sticking rice in your baby's milk for reflux, to vaccinating starting at birth, to choosing to breast or bottle feed, to smearing preventative antibiotics on your newborn's eyes, to switching your 2-year-old to low-fat milk.

Well-Trained Mind, The: A Guide to Classical Education at Home- Susan Wise Bauer & Jessie Wise -- best book on education I've read. Even if you are intentionally choosing public school or private schooling for your child(ren), you can use this book to ensure that their minds are getting full doses of what they need to thrive.

A few runners-up...
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth- Ina May Gaskin- excellent if you are pregnant or planning to be (or on helping someone in labor). Not quite as applicable to adoptive parents.

The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults Randall Neudstaedter-- the best look at vaccines of the many I've read; I love the book's layout: it takes each vaccine on its own, addresses its risks, its benefits, gives two or three suggested routes (such as 1. do the vaccine at this age, 2. don't do the vaccine but supplement with this or 3. do the vaccine, with this brand), and then has pages of references. Even if you know you want to "do whatever the doctor says," read this. If you are traveling and need shots, read this. I love that this book lets you take it one shot at a time.

Child Training Tips; what I wish I'd known when my children were young- Reb Bradley-- my favorite sections are those on "How to tell when correction has been effective" and "Signs of passive rebellion." Again, really helpful to those of us with preschoolers/toddlers. Well-rounded, with plenty of emphasis on the need positively teach and not just correct.

The Myth of Adolescence: Raising Responsible Children in an Irresponsible Society- David Black-- great in evaluating what the Bible says about "teenagers."

Celebrations of Faith- Randy & Lisa Wilson-- this little book is extremely helpful at being intentionally God-honoring in all our parenting, with a special emphasis on holiday & other traditions. Great perspective even if you don't use a single one of their recommendations.

Don't Make Me Count to Three!- Ginger Plowman-- as stated above, this is my favorite for parents with young children. If you are intimidated by Shepherding Your Child's Heart or are struggling to know how to apply it, pick this one up. It's a short read (or re-read), and so so applicable.

What books would you have added? Ryan's recommendation was "Don't Overthink Parenting" by Don't Read This Book, hah.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weaning Tales

I feel like I can finally write this, several months down the road.

After 5 difficult months of pretty much dancing on my head to get Eowyn to nurse, I had the joy of nursing her easily for 16 months.  I am so thankful.  I got to fulfill all my motherly dreams-- nursing my baby (right after birth, no less!), nursing through 21 months, and getting to have a nice break between nursing and whenever we have # 2.  (Sick as I was with E, I want a nice cushion of rebuilding reserves!!)

So... weaning?  How did it go?  It was pretty much painless.  We never associated nursing with sleeping, though I did nurse her right before bed, so there wasn't that to overcome.  She was used to nursing right after waking up, which made it pretty simple to offer a snack instead.  I started the process when she was totally healthy and we weren't traveling or going through any major transitions.  It was also quite warm outside (April) when we started, and by the time we finished (June) it was downright hot.  It seemed to make "cold milk" (raw organic cow's milk) more attractive and snuggling less so. At 19 months, she was nursing 7 times a day-- three meals (mostly solid food, bm was just to complete it), plus a mid-afternoon snack, bedtime snack (loved those), first-thing-in-the-morning (love how it got me 2 extra hours of sleep!!), and dream feed just before I went to bed myself.  I dropped one feeding per week, starting with her dream feed. I was afraid she'd start waking up hungry but she did absolutely fine, actually seeming to sleep longer stretches BETTER... rookie mistake.  I definitely won't make that again-- dream feed will be bye-bye MUCH sooner!!

Next to go was her post-nap afternoon snack, and then breakfast, dinner, lunch, before bedtime and finally the first-morning-nurse. I replaced them with whole food snacks (except for the dream feed & before bed, those I just dropped totally). I dropped them the way I did to try and keep the demand as even throughout the day as possible, so I wouldn't be engorged all morning and dry all evening, or vice versa. Eowyn never insisted on milk since I started, so it wasn't traumatic or anything. I'd try and prevent her asking by offering a snack or meal before she asked, and when she did ask, I'd say "not now" and offer something else.

Last to go was the first-morning-nurse, which I kept going for 3 weeks, and didn't feel like I had much milk left at all.  I kept expecting my supply to totally go, but it seemed to be holding fine, and the little cold she'd gotten went away, so I finally just had to cut it.  One morning (June 7th to be exact =D) I just got her milk from downstairs when she woke up wanting milk, and she took it great.  But I wanted to remember my last time nursing her, as opposed to the half-conscious state of my early-morning nursings. (vague memories most mornings) so I ended up taking a few more days of either nursing her first thing in the morning, or offering "cold milk" and then nursing her later in the day.  I reasoned that this got my body used to making milk even less frequently.  Also, it's bittersweet to let such a precious thing go.  We'd come so far in our nursing relationship, from new and amazing to hard and frustrating to the norm and easy... yet I've always treasured this privelege.

Post-weaning reunion after 9 days apart
(Ryan & I went sailing in the BVI)
The last day I nursed her, we had been out and she'd fallen asleep in the carseat (or stroller?  I can't believe I've already forgotten!).  I carried her up to her bed, but I knew that she would wake up as soon as I put her down, despite desperately needing more sleep.  So, I sat down by her bed, and nursed her one last time, savoring every minute of it.  I will always remember the soft afternoon light filtering just so through her red polka-dot curtains, her warm trusting body nestled into mine, her sweet sleepy breathing, her still-fuzzy-head.  I laid her in bed happily milk-drunk, and she finished up her nap in peace.  I closed the door behind me, so glad that (Lord willing!) this would not be my last time nursing a baby,... because I knew I really would miss it.  I also felt very freed-- strange to feel both at once.

Since then, she didn't ask to nurse until she saw some other moms nursing younger babies. Once she even specified "I want mama's milk."  But she happily accepts it when I tell her that it's "all gone!" and that she can have "cold milk" or a snack if she wants it.  It was painless, happy, and non-scarring all around.  She still nurses her baby dolls (and a friend's baby in one hilarious instance) and knows that when little babies cry, sometimes they "need milk."

I don't know if it's related to the weaning, but she did go through a SUPER OUT OF THIS WORLD clingy phase around weaning time (I think it started before actually). Several friends have said that their kids did the same thing around 18/20 months, others say that big developmental milestones (like potty training) sometimes cause that sort of behavior.  She did have a lot going on-- potty training, weaning, Daddy traveling... But we have gotten through that too.

Anyway, hope this helps someone... and even if it doesn't, it's so good for me to have a record so my forgetful mommy-brain doesn't forget it all!

Monday, October 24, 2011

How To Survive-Even Thrive- In a Growing (or Large) Church

Bear with me as I walk down my church-history lane... For all but 3 years of my life until I was 20, I attended the same church, where I was baptized, became a member, worked as an intern twice, and finally celebrated my wedding.  The church has always numbered about 350 people-- for the first half of my time there it was the same 350 folks; friends I'd grown up with, older kids I respected, younger kids I mentored; lots of people to look out for me.  Then people started leaving (both due to seasons of life and Southern Bible-Belt-itis), and we always had new people joining, so while the number of members stayed fairly constant, the faces changed.

Those three years that I was in France, my family attended a small (maybe 12 adults on a Sunday?) French-speaking Baptist church in a small town near ours.  The only other child my age became my best friend, and her mom, Annie, was our Sunday School teacher.  When my sisters & I showed up, the children's class quadrupled in size... though we did have some older kids and then another family with younger children joined fairly soon thereafter.  It was wonderful in some ways-- very close fellowship, the entire church over to one family's house (often ours), and no question of where we fit in.  We often joined up with a larger Baptist church in the nearby city to do Christmas or Easter events or to head to summer camp.

For the past 5 years, I've been at Immanuel in Louisville.  When I joined it was a bit smaller than the church I'd grown up attending, but the fellowship and the united vision of reaching the neighborhood for Jesus was incredibly refreshing to my rumpled spirit (I'd just gone through the most painful trials of my life).  There were (are) plenty of folks of my own age/station, the preaching is good, the music rocks, and there's never a shortage of ways to pitch in.  However, as the church has grown and people have moved on (mostly to do ministry elsewhere --this IS a college/seminary city), I've had stretches of intense loneliness among the crowd.  Our closest friends moved away or got too busy for us, the vision for reaching the neighborhood morphed into reaching the city, and the closeness of the small fellowship we'd joined was diluted by 2 services and many new members.  I distinctly remember sitting in my chair after one service, and looking around thinking "And I don't care about you, I don't care about you, and nope, don't care about you, either."  Pretty depressing.

So... how have I gone about making a big church seem less big?

Well, a big part of it is prayer.  Prayer for a willing, caring spirit.  When I looked around not caring, I knew it wasn't with eyes of faith-- it was with human eyes that didn't want to know the pain of separation or failure again.  When Jesus looked around, He saw needs and moved to meet them.  He didn't look for everyone to meet His needs.  So I had to pray that the Lord would give me eyes to See, and a heart to love, drawing on His Endless Love.  I had to repent of not caring, and asking Him to make me start caring.

Another huge piece has been THE overarching lesson of this stage of my life:  contentment.  A holy 'so what?' attitude.  "Keep your lives free from love of money, and be content with what you have." (how?) "For He has said:  I will never leave you, nor forsake you."  Contentment -that is, a deep inner joy & peace- doesn't come from having all your wants met, from your marriage bringing you endless romance, from your children sleeping through the night, from having all your best friends living nearby, from having the amount of children that you want, when you want them... no, it comes from being with Him.  That is to say, anywhere. The essence of Heaven will be His presence without any barriers, right?  And by His spirit, we have a taste of that now, through Immanuel, God with us.  His Spirit lives in us, teaching us, reminding us.  So long as He is with us (and, as above verse states... that's all the time for the believer), we have every reason to be happy.  "Think what Spirit dwells within thee, what a Father's smile is thine, what a Savior died to win thee!!-- Child of heaven, cans't thou repine?"  i.e.  "With God being as good as you have Him, do you have any room for pouting??" 

On the practical front, I've found two things helpful.  One, don't feel guilty making a few close friends (and/or maintaining close friendships that aren't local anymore).  As a wise SS teacher of mine once put it, "you can't be best friends with everybody."  So don't feel bad calling the same friend over and over, because you "click" so well.  Be intentional about those close friendships, though-- don't let them just be about common interests or kids of the same age-- bring up the Gospel.  Bring up Jesus and how you are dealing with Him.

Balanced with that, I've found it helpful to be as wide-spread in my fellowship as possible.  Our church really emphasizes small groups, and while that has its merits, it isn't the whole church.  If there's a baby shower or wedding shower and I know the person, I try to go.  If it's a real friend of mine, I'll try to send a gift & card if I can't make it. If there's any church function of any kind, I try to go.  No, I don't make it a law and feel guilty for not going, but if I can make it, I will.  If someone needs a meal, I sign up when I can.  If the nursery needs a sub, I do it.  If I find out a friend needs help, I volunteer.  Seriously-- I do NOT feel guilty not doing stuff when it would be too much, when Eowyn is sick or we are flying in the day before from London or we are just too tired.  But how hard is it, really, to head over to someone's house for 2 hours with a small gift in tow?  I get to talk to people, make new friends, occasionally play awesome games, and deepen acquaintances into friendships.  I usually leave encouraged.  (Ryan either watches Eowyn, or my next door neighbor comes over while she's asleep if it's in the evening, or if I get permission from the hosts, I bring her with me)  I've been amazed at how much this simple policy of staying involved has helped me.  You really start to care about the people you make cards or meals for, or those you work alongside (VBS, anyone!?).

My last help has been to seek and welcome laughter in all its forms.  If you're determined to hate something, you probably will... If you want to have fun, yep, you probably will do that, too.

How have you found or deepened fellowship in your own communities of faith?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Last Bits of New York

I've posted several more "artsty" pics (as in... non-child-containing) over at Capturing the Essence, as well as two video clips from our time in The Big Apple. Enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Adventures in Brooklyn

About to enter the River Cafe (no idea how hoity-toity it would be)

Eowyn was not bothered by the high standards in the least

My scallops (which Eowyn shared with me)

Eowyn's potato & goat cheese terrine, accompanied by marinated golden beets (YUM!)

Just reminded me of our old car =D  I didn't get a picture of Ryan's amazing tuna tartare, our favorite

Her first tire swing, in Prospect Park

Two birds that entertained us on our walk home

Bubble Tea!! How I've missed that! :)

Rockin' the Water Play Table in the Brooklyn Children's Museum (she did have a little trouble keeping the water IN the table)

The Sand Table was another huge hit!

Experiencing a Child-Sized Spider Web at the Prospect Zoo
(with cousin Ian, one of Eowyn's favorite new 'Amigos')

Enjoying a turtle shell

The featured event of the sea lion training session

Carousel Ride in Prospect Park

Super cool carousel

Being silly with Ian (of course she was terrified the whole time, then as soon as it stopped asked 'I do dat again?!')

Ian beasting it out helping all the moms bring down their strollers at the Subway stop with a broken elevator

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sensory Box Fun?

This is from a super-craftsy mom's blog that I keep in my reader for ideas.  This post is on sensory boxes, which sound to me like imagination vitamins!  Most of you know that I am not one to be frilly or go out of the way to do something if it doesn't serve a purpose (even if that purpose is to "be asthetically pleasing" or "to provide a learning activity"), but I'm leaning more towards doing some cooler things with Eowyn now that she's older.  Up to this point, my MO has been to give her simple toys (or natural items) and let her play.  She gets "water play" in her weekly bath, or at the splash park, or in basins in the back yard while I garden.  She has a well-stocked play kitchen and plenty of play baby dolls & accessories.  We take walks and she is encouraged to pick up leaves and grass and rocks and get as dirty as she wants-- we can always wash hands later, right?  All of those were simple, imagination-fostering... and no effort for me. :)

But ...after seeing just how fascinated she was with the water table and sand table at the Brooklyn Children's Museum yesterday, I'm considering going a little out of my way and creating a SIMPLE sensory box she can play with at home... something I could pull out during dinner-prep and let her enjoy in the kitchen (where any spills are easily swept up), perhaps?  Hmmm...

Have any of you done any sort of tactile/sensory boxes?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Adventures in Manhattan

Enjoying FAO Schwartz
Ryan is a speaker again at Do It With Drupal, which is being held in New York City this year.  Many of you know that I have an aunt (with associated uncle & cousins) who live in Brooklyn, NY... put the two together, and we had a perfect situation for a week-long trip to The Big Apple.  While both Ryan & I had been before, we had not been as adults, nor since being married, and since Eowyn needed to complete her fashion-tour of Paris, London & New York City, we HAD to come.

Ryan's conference is Wednesday-Friday, with a speaker's dinner on Tuesday that we both get to go to (yay for family babysitting!).  We flew up on Saturday and have spent several days taking in the city and visiting with family together.  Another Ruiz aunt & her family will fly in Wednesday night & we'll get to enjoy them too before leaving Saturday.  I plan to take Eowyn to several fun places around Brooklyn while "Daddy" is working Wed-Fri morning.

Hmmm.... Do we buy this or send Eowyn to college?

On the Staten Island Ferry
Approaching Manhattan

Watching all the pretty lights!
Sunday morning we worshiped at a SGM church called, simply, City Church, literally 2 blocks from my aunt's house in Park Slope (love that 9 Marks Network Website!).  It was great to get to sing and be refreshed from the word in the middle of the stress of travel!  Eowyn even did great in the nursery. :)

Sunday afternoon my aunt graciously showed us around Manhattan (my uncle feeling ill with what turned out to be walking pneumonia), letting us pop into FAO Schwartz, a Godiva shop (got some truffles YUM), several gorgeous churches, and leading us down Wall Street to the Stock Exchange & Times Square, and a bit of Central Park.  Ryan & I even caught the (gorgeous!!) grand finale of an organ recital in St Patrick's Cathedral.  I have a soft spot for the organ played well... especially in a cathedral!  Definitely can't wait to meet Bach in Heaven.

Monday morning Ryan, the little E & I walked around Brooklyn (more on that later) and then took the Staten Island ferry past Lady Liberty and back.  I liked that we got to do so much walking around, just trying to get a feel on this city's pulse, its rhythm.  Not an old steady rhythm like the cobblestoned majesty of Paris nor the inescapable press of history & passing time like London-- but an intense swirling busyness full of many languages and the best of hundreds of cultures.  We heard more languages in New York City than anywhere else. 

As always, we saw and heard one thing we would never have expected- a woman playing the musical saw!!  Eowyn was quite enthralled, as you can see in the clip below.