Friday, February 25, 2011

Thoughtful Thoughts on Vaccines

OK, so the title is lame, but I am so very tired... Sorry for my blogging absence; amidst life and love and pursuing home-centered godliness, I've also been spending most of my spare minutes tweaking and sourcing my blog posts on a favorite topic (childhood vaccinations) on a bigger blog than this humble little site: Keeper of the Home. Please mosey on over and check them out! Part One posted Tuesday; and Parts Two & Three will show up in the following weeks!

Feel free to leave comments here or there-- I may respond to them more quickly here; the volume of discussion on that blog is quite a bit more than I can handle. But then again the point is discussion amongst us all, not me policing and answering every question myself, right?

In the words of my South African friend,
'Night, y'all. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Imaginary Blueberries

Ok, I am ALL for imagination and fun... but paying money for it? Watch this little skit and see what you think... or imagine... ;)

General Mills Total Mind Games - comedy skit about Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal -

Kind of funny... kind of awful. May this open your eyes to the value of ingredient-list reading!! :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

So, Are You Allergic to Wheat, or Do You Have Celiac's?

My body cannot process gluten, the main protein in wheat, spelt, rye and barley.  It makes me ill in a whole host of ways, from a brain-fog that makes words on a page suddenly and totally non-sensical, to hallucinogenic dreams in which I can't open my eyes but keep trying to wake up, to itching in every mucous membrane, to digestive pain, to eczema, to absolute mind-numbing fatigue, to raging thirst.  It isn't fun.  People often ask me "so, what will happen if you accidentally eat gluten?  Will you, like...die?"  My answer is usually "No- not right away.  But it will make me sick and icky-feeling for about 2 weeks."  (Not worth a cheat!)

Technically, there is a difference between "food allergy" that causes a histamine reaction (an immediate Ig-E allergy) and a food intolerance like Celiac Disease.  A histamine reaction comes from Ig-E (immunoglobulin E, a type of antibody)s in a body pegging the trigger (sea food for instance) as an invader, and swarming to get it out.  Ig-Es bring on extremely powerful reactions.  This leads to itchy eyes, runny nose, swelling and in severe cases, anaphylaxis (throat swelling shut).  Allergy tests look for Ig-E reactions (on skin or in blood) to tiny amounts of potential allergens.  Food intolerances are more tricky.  They aren't mediated by those antibodies, so they won't show up on an allergy test.  As this mother puts it,
After two doctors told me my son didn't have any allergies, the GI doctor finally found the genes for celiac which explained why he had gone from the 95% of weight to the 5% of weight after we introduced gluten (wheat) and dairy into his diet. Technically, he didn't have a life threatening IgE allergy. One doctor even told me, "we have a death and disease model" meaning if you are not going to die from something immediately after eating it, it isn't a problem. But my son was wasting away and his brain was starving for nutrients. 
Celiac disease, and other food intolerances, involve immune reactions in the gut, where the food particles are changed into intestine-bombs instead of being digested: 
Upon exposure to [gluten] the enzyme tissue transglutaminase modifies the protein, and the immune system cross-reacts with the small-bowel tissue, causing an inflammatory reaction. That leads to a truncating of the villi lining the small intestine (called villous atrophy). This interferes with the absorption of nutrients, because the intestinal villi are responsible for absorption. (Wikipedia)
A really succint and helpful summary is here.

Both are examples of the body over-reacting to something that shouldn't trigger a response at all, but they are different enough to require different tests.  I appreciated this blog post by a mother whose children have many food intolerances (and she's into Real Food too!).  Most people don't know about Celiac disease, and they think that you are being picky if you say you're "intolerant to" something... so I'll probably go on being incorrect but understood and telling waiters and chefs that "I'm allergic to wheat and soy." :)

[[And parents, if you notice that your child has red cheeks, diarrhea, is irritable or sleepless, vomits, gets eczema or a rash after eating any certain food, or has ANY developmental delays, disorders or learning disabilities, or just "fails to thrive" but tests "negative for any food allergies," you might want to try cutting it out, seeing if he improves, and getting a doctor familiar with non-IgE mediated food intolerances.  Just because it doesn't show up as an allergy on a blood test doesn't mean that it couldn't possibly be a life-threatening intolerance.]]

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Kawaii Baby Shout-Out

I just wanted to give a quick nod to an amazing cloth diaper company that almost no one has heard of:  Kawaii Baby Diapers.  Their prices are unbeatable:
- $7 for a snapped, one-size pocket diaper with TWO super-absorbant inserts.  I received a round-tabbed one as a shower gift and it fit Eowyn perfectly as an 8 week old with average-sized legs, and it still fits her now as an active 16 month old. Never a leak; my favorite and it's always in the diaper bag because it can go a long time.  Order a set and you get free shipping and prices closer to $6 apiece. (velcro-style closure also available)
- $4.50 for a snapped, one-size cover.  I just ordered some and will see how they go...if they fit like the pockets, though, I'll be set!(velcro-style closure also available)
- $10.50 snapped one-size bamboo diapers with TWO bamboo inserts. I just ordered one and look forward to trying out an all-natural, bio-friendly diaper.

What really sets this company apart is their service, though!  An email to customer service goes straight to the owner and she responds promptly.  I had a question and when she answered, I mentioned that most of my order was going with friends to an Ethiopian orphanage-- babies there are currently diapered in plastic bags, and barely get changed all day.  Diapers are a HUGE need for them!  Anyway, her response was to throw in 5 extra Heavy-Duty pocket diapers for FREE!!  When you think about how many times each cloth diaper can be re-used, the magnitude of the gift increases-- and this was a totally unprompted generous gesture.  (Other companies I've had similar communications with made no such offers.)

Anyway I wanted to put their name out there as one I've found outstanding in performance, but now also in the heart behind the company.  They didn't ask me to say anything, and I don't get a penny for recommending them.  I'm just impressed. :)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Beautiful, Oops!

Just a note on this post:  you might start out wondering why it's here, instead of at my book-review blog (, because it does start off being about a really cool new children's book.  But bear with me, because it's not actually about this book, cool as it is.

This little book has recently captured my fancy.  Called Beautiful, Oops!, it is a whole new type of pop-up book, celebrating the potential in every "mistake."  The book itself is a study in creativity-- totally thinking "outside the box."  This would be a GREAT way to start a discussion with your children on God as Redeemer; One who reclaims for Himself what is captive, ugly and wrong, making it beautiful, holy and right by His very presence.  Watch a video of it here.

Our culture prefers the word "mistake."  It's somehow easier to say than "sin."  It doesn't imply evil, just misunderstanding or poor judgement.  Maybe even accidental action or inaction.  And we make a lot of those (I know I do).  Several times I've heard friends try to pass off a serious hurtful sin as "one mistake" lately.  Well, it was a mistake... and it was also a sin.  Bearing this in mind, that labeling something a "mistake" doesn't let us off the hook where repentance is concerned, this little book contains a lot of truth.  The first way to go about seeing something beautiful come from a sinful mistake always must be repentance; an admission of guilt, an apology, an asking for forgiveness from the offended party AND from God, and a resolve to turn from that sin and do the opposite. With our pride gone and forgiveness granted we are free to be amazed at how God weaves our mistake, our weakness, our sin, into a glorious tapestry of grace and joy.

This has got me thinking...thinking about a blog post written by a friend of mine who just found out that his youngest adopted son, whom he will soon bring home from Ethiopia, was conceived in rape.  Woah.  Talk about sobering.  By my friend's account, the girl was quite young-- some might still call her a little girl-- and she was violently assaulted, violated by a sick man's lust, never to be innocent again.  Talk about a "mistake." That doesn't even do it justice-- that wasn't a mistake; it was sin; despicable, awful, terrible, harmful, the stench of death.  Yet, out of that terror-inducing, evil, agonizing violence God brought a beautiful thing:  someone made in His Own Image.  Wow.  From one man's wicked act God brought life, and in His mercy the girl bearing that life prized it above her own comfort.  She carried her son, gave birth, and then did everything in her power to see that her son --the baby she never asked for from a man she had every right to hate-- was cared for.  And she went away happy. That girl -so young, so poor, so far away- whose name I do not know has become one of my heroes as a mother.

What did God bring out of an evil, disgusting sin?  First of all, a baby boy, fearfully and wonderfully made.  Secondly, the joy of a desperately poor young Ethiopian mother, who has peace in her heart and on her face in knowing that she sacrificed herself for her son.  Thirdly, the delight of my friends, who have a son to love and hold and teach.  Fourthly, the enrichment of his brother and two sisters, who will now grow up sharing all their memories with him.  Think of the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, the grandparents, the friends, the school teachers, the doctors, the nurses whom he will touch... The list will go on and on as this child grows.  His parents are bound to Cameroon to translate Scripture there; it could be that he will save the lives-- physical or spiritual-- of thousands there; time only will tell.
Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20)
You can read even more "Beautiful Oops" stories here, as 4 adoptive parents recount the miracles that brought their precious children into their arms.  I love the pictures of these smiling babies that are beside each story (I have held and changed several of the children featured!).  One of the most striking paragraphs to me:
Shortly after our son Isaiah was born, he was abandoned in a high school.  He was found sobbing and with the umbilical cord still attached by a man named Teshome.  We will forever be thankful for his kindness in saving our son’s life!  He took Isaiah to the police, and from there he was sent to an orphanage.  We are often brought to tears thinking about how close Isaiah came to death.  He is such a happy, curious, strong boy and brings us so much joy and delight.  We praise the Lord for protecting his life and allowing us to be his parents!
Contrast that with this view of mistakes:

Oh Lord, keep us from the arrogance that would make us judges of the effects of sin-- either our own or one inflicted upon us. Give us hearts dedicated to Redemption; determined and expectant to see You work unimaginable beauty from our ashes!

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." (Isaiah 61:3)