December 19, 2010

December 19th, 2010

Dear Sofia,

You have surpassed the two month mark! I was thinking, there are sooo many things I want to do with you when you're older, but I really like who you are right now. What better to post than some new pictures?

I love you (even though, as Julee said, you may never read that!),


You and me.

You and Dad.

You and Pousse.

Little hands.

Little feet.

December 14, 2010

December 14th, 2010

Dear Sofia,

I hope we can instill in you a love for the America we knew as kids, or at least cherish in our hearts.

In that America, we say "Merry Christmas!" with verve and throw change (or, gold coins as of late) in Salvation Army buckets at this time of year. You know, those red buckets that have been banned at so many places because the SA is a "Christian organization."

In that America we bake Christmas cookies and put up Christmas trees. We sing Christmas carols that are - surprise - about Christ!

I'm sure this makes no sense to you because in the America you've grown up in abhors the mere mention of Christ, especially around the anniversary time of His birth. There is no prayer in public schools: high school football players aren't allowed to thank God for their touchdowns, nor are parents allowed to thank God for their graduating students' accomplishments, or for the meal they are about to eat before a school fund-raising dinner.

Yet, Christmas day is a federal holiday. Everyone exchanges Christmas gifts (although sometimes they are said to be from a "Secret Santa." Christmas symbolism is everywhere because people like it - and they like it because, deep down, they know God is real, was born in a manger and is the Lord of all creation. They're only practicing "secular Christmas" because they are rebellious!

Like I said, I hope we are able to give you the Christmas traditions and memories that honor Christ, as they should. Where families enjoy - and don't dread - spending time together. Where it's not all about how many presents you get or, if you're an adult, how tech savvy or luxe they are (*we will exchange presents; they will be things we think will make each other smile, but we know they won't complete us or truly make us happy).

Christmas is about Christ. 'Nuf said.

December 9, 2010

December 9th, 2010

Dear Sofia,

Your mama can be a basket case. I hope it's a long time before you realize this, and perhaps being a mother will make me more responsible? I pray that is the case!

But.. I struggle with stupid things like spending too much time on the computer/internet and spending too much money on clothes (a sad admission). Since you've been born I noticed a down trend in both of those because I am spending so much more time with you. Hooray!

Here is a list I made last year of things I wanted to accomplish. I have put in bold the ones I actually did.

1. Pay off at least three substantial debts - some medical stuff and a major credit card

2. Sponsor a child from world vision - Gospel for Asia actually, but same diff
3. Learn how to take good photographs

4. Get my health under control: develop healthy eating, sleeping and exercising regimens - pregnancy has a way of helping you eat well! And I finally had a great workout regimen.. before I had to stop exercising because you were due soon. [sigh] I will get it back! And sleep? No, I'm afraid that is a mere dream now - no pun intended!

5. Put away more savings money; keep a budget

6. Spend significantly less than I earn; donate more than I do
7. Work a higher-wage job with more responsibility - Yes! This job is currently paying for you via short term disability.

8. Write with more clarity and on more variety of topics - Working on this. Started the fashion blog, too.

9. Read at least 20 books; decrease dependence on computer and internet for entertainment - Maybe not 20, though I read a whole lot in the summer. I'm reading "Burmese Days" by George Orwell now. There's plenty of time to read while one nurses!
10. Get involved with a social group of some kind (church, hobby, charity, sport) - Sadly, not yet. This is the biggie for 2011. Maybe you are my ticket into some women's groups, huh?

December 6, 2010

December 6th, 2010

Dear Sofia,

We are in winter now, serious winter. A few days ago I wrote that the snow had just fallen - ah, how lovely, the first little flaky snowfall! It dusts everything white and reminds you that Christmas is just around the corner. And then it melts, and you expect a few more fallish days (even though we are in December and it has technically been winter for awhile).

Not so in Wisconsin - or Minne-snow-ta, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan... Two days after I wrote about the first snow, we got our real first snow - all five inches of it! Oh, and bitter cold temperatures and wind to boot. Speaking of boots...

Since I was pregnant my shoe size has gone up 1/2 size! Darn it, that means I have to get all new shoes (yes, only one pair still fits). Buying all new shoes sounds like fun, but really it is not. And it requires you spend a bunch of money that I would rather spend on you!

Today you and I will find some boots for me. I can't be picky, so it helps that you will probably wake up mid-trip - and most definitely this will occur as I'm getting in line to check out - and scream your head off. Oh, what fun it is to ride around in a car seat. Not. Pobrecita.

Did you know that your initials are SNO? How funny is that?!

December 3, 2010

December 3rd, 2010

Dear Sofia,

I heard a staggering and horrible statistic this morning, that black people only account for 6% of Wisconsin's population, but acquire 25% of the state's abortions. What a sad state of affairs that black women are being led to believe the lie that they are better off not keeping their children.

For many women, myself included, being a mom is the most rewarding thing one can do. I know it's work, too, and a lot of women don't want to do it, or aren't ready to, or do have a medical issue that makes carrying to term risky.

But... most women having abortions - and they are mostly young women - don't fall into the high risk category; they have no idea what to expect with a pregnancy/motherhood so they believe whatever some supposedly well-meaning abortion clinic staff member (usually another women) tells them.

Sometimes it's, "Oh honey, you don't want to give up going to college do you?" (As if going to college is some guarantee of a happy or successful life! Please!)

Or maybe, "Now, going through the birth process will be VERY painful and VERY risky. An abortion is, by comparison, a much lower risk operation." (This is something a Planned Parenthood doctor actually said.)

And sometimes, "You don't have to keep this baby and raise it if you don't want to." (But they don't tell you that someone else may want the chance to, by adopting him or her!)

I've probably said this many times before, that even when I was a liberal the issue of abortion never sat right with me. I would frequently (because I am very timid in person) shirk the question of which side I fell on by responding that I'd "need to be in that position to really know what I'd do," or I'd say that I wouldn't do it but didn't think I'd want to restrict someone else's access either. Neither of those statements were really true. I never liked the idea of someone killing their baby, even when it was "just a fetus" (like using a different name for "baby" makes it less of a person - that never made sense to me either).

Wisconsin Pro Life is putting up billboards all over Milwaukee that say "Black is beautiful" and "Black babies are in trouble." Yes, they are in trouble because their moms are going to be fed a lot of lies about babies (you'd be surprised how little young women actually know about babies' growth and needs) and their ability to take care of them.

Be strong, pregnant young women in Wisconsin. I was scared when I found out about Sofia, too... a lot of apprehension surrounded the situation... but when I was "actually in the position" to make a choice, well... there was no choice. It was clear. And it will be clear in your heart and conscience, too. Black is beautiful, life is beautiful, and the bond you and baby will have together is the most beautiful.

December 2, 2010

December 2nd, 2010

Dear Sofia,

We listened to this together this morning. You loved it! How could you not, hearing that Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords? Allelujah!

December 1, 2010

December 1st, 2010

Dear Sofia,

Today is the first day of December, the first day of snow here in Madison, and Russ Feingold's last day in the Senate! Feingold has been the Wisconsin state senator for a loooong time. This year, voters here - including your mom and dad - voted him out of office. He has supported lots of bills that would hurt America, including the "cash for clunkers" program, the McCain-Feingold immigration bill (which should be called an illegal immigration bill) and all the stimulus packages put forth by President Obama (these were supposed to stimulate our economy and create jobs, but oddly enough they did neither). Feingold out, republican winner Ron Johnson in! I am excited to see him take over and help our nation, in whatever ways he can. We will pray for his ability to do this.

Many people today are talking about the recent "wikileaks" incident, which was the publishing of tons of information on our governmental affairs gathered confidentially. It was stolen by at least one person, maybe more, and given to the wikileaks organization, who chose to disseminate the info publicly. It is sensitive information and should NOT have been stolen, nor handed out. Who knows who has seen/read it by now?

It has been impossible to avoid reading some snippet of it, though, or hearing it on talk radio. There are some pretty incredible items in that information, including that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered associates to "gather information" on United Nations ambassadors visiting the U.S., basically to make sure they are here for their stated purposes. That's the kind of security we need our government to take measures for! Also, China spied on the U.S. and stole info transmitted through Google and its products. Things like... oh.. Blogger. Hmm..

And you know what else I learned? That U.S. officials under Pres. Obama asked other countries to take our Guantanemo Bay prisoners, and even offered a special visit with the Pres. to secure the deal! Yes, Obama really does think that much of himself; "You take these dangerous criminals but, in return, you get to meet Obama! Now, isn't that worth it, Austria? Plus, it will give you 'prestige' amongst the other European countries." Ugh.

Last bit of news for the day: Giselle Bunchen (a fashion model) is featured in Vogue magazine this month talking about her recent home birth! That's the kind of publicity home/natural birth/midwifery needs, I think. She had her son in a water birth, which is something I considered for you. Giselle loved the whole process and can't wait to do it again. Awesome!

November 28, 2010

November 28th, 2010

Dear Sofia,

Today, Sunday, is the Lord's day. We did not go to church because we haven't found one in Madison yet. Of course, there are many churches here. But most are so liberal that it just won't work for us to sit under that kind of teaching. There is one church that we went to, and there was no problem with it, but for some reason we haven't been back after the two times we initially attended. This isn't right; for your sake especially we need to be worshiping with other believers and hearing the gospel on a regular basis. I hope that we will start attending again soon - even if it means I have to walk around with you while you cry or fuss during the service.

You and I had a lot of time together today, snuggling on the couch after grandma and grandpa left to drive back to Minnesota. Then, we gave up altogether and took a nap. Around 4 p.m. I thought we should take a walk before it got too dark out. Somewhere in the process of getting the stroller from outside, fitting you into it and heading out, Pousse-Pousse escaped. It was probably my fault. We didn't realize he was gone until we came back from our walk and he wasn't around. Your dad and I searched high and low, under the bed and in the closets, but no Pousse.

Your dad and I both went out looking for him. Then I buckled you into the carseat and we drove around the apartment complex trying to spot him. Before we left I asked God to return Pousse to us, safe and unharmed, tonight. By now it was dark and cold, and I worried that he was lost forever. I've had Pousse since 2004 and don't want to lose him.

Just when I was going to give up and go back home, I turned into another part of the complex and the headlights shone on two little shiny eyes under an evergreen tree. I knew it was our cat. I stopped the car and went over to him, afraid he would run when he saw me. Instead, he meowed when I called to him and came right over to me. I think he was cold and scared, as he seemed grateful I was there to rescue him.

Do you see how God answers prayers, even those that we think are small and silly, like finding our missing cats? You will encounter many people in your life who think that someone asking God to find their cat is ridiculous, and that God has better things to do. Even though He does do many, many things that probably seem more important to those people, He loves us and takes care of us in every way. And that includes finding lost kitties.

We are thankful to God today for being so trustworthy and faithful to us, so that we can be faithful in Him.

November 26, 2010

November 26th, 2010

Dear Sofia,

Today is your grandpa Hank's birthday (my dad). He and grandma Lynn are coming to visit you today; they haven't seen you in person yet and are very excited to! Also, your birthday was October 22nd, so you are now one month old. I can hardly believe how big you are already, though judging by how much you eat that shouldn't really surprise me. =) I love having that time with you.

Today, the British paper the Express proclaimed that England should get out of the European Union. The EU is what they call Europe now, as they are aligned together as countries with a common currency (the euro). A lot of people think that, since England's joining the EU, it has brought upon itself a number of problems that are making the country worse.

For example, the allowing of incoming immigrants (many are muslim) to reside with learning the english language, and giving them special courts to rule on crimes related to their religion (these are called sharia courts, after "sharia law," which is the Islamic code of laws). That means that muslims who commit crimes violating English law don't necessarily get prosecuted, because instead they go to sharia court and it's ruled that, according to their religion, they can do things like hurt their wives physically, etc.

Here is a link that explains why the Express newspaper thinks England should no longer take part in the EU. I think that's a great idea! England has always been a great ally with the United States and it would be wonderful to keep our neighbors across the ocean on the same page as us regarding national preservation (meaning, keeping our national culture alive through the generations).

And here is a link to the movie trailer for "This is England" which, though not related to this news bit in the slightest, is excellent and should be watched by all who read this!


Families: Moms and Dads. Sisters and brothers. Everybody has a relationship with one or many of them, and each comes with a string attached.

Parisienne Farmgirl and I were talking at the farm about familial expectations. I brought it up, as family dynamics both fascinate and befuddle me. And, now that I have a family of my own (crazy!), I'm even more aware of the need to cultivate family ties and not just expect them to be present... or perfect.

I've also been thinking about what I really want to do with this blog. I love writing, but get overwhelmed by blogging because of the pressure I put on myself to make it something spectacular every time. So I've been pondering, what am I trying to convey, and who to?

Since Sofia was born it has become obvious. I want this blog to be something she can read sometime later and see what was going on in the world that was important to me.

My own baby book is sadly lacking in both pictures and content (maybe because I'm the youngest of three?), as is my knowing who my mom really is. It breaks my heart that the expectation I had as a child - that someday my mom and I would be really close seems to be slipping away ever more. Time and distance won't kill a relationship, for sure, but without a foundation it is difficult to build one up when we are so far apart. I can't bear the thought of that happening with my own daughter. The thing I want more than anything in the world is to be close with her, so that she can depend on me for all she needs, now and in every time of her life.

The format here will change a bit. I will keep all the old posts here for reference, but the look and feel will be different from now on. I hope it will allow me to be a little more honest with who I am, so that Sofia will have a window into her crazy mom's mind.

She is sitting with me right now, and the thought us always being so close is almost too wonderful to bear. I can't wait...

November 18, 2010

Toward the Future


November 16, 2010

Fly It Again

First he respectfully removed the flag from his bike because the school administration asked him to (because fellow students thought it was "offensive"). Good for him.

Then the national news got ahold of the story, as did talk radio, and urged the school to reconsider. They did, reversed the ban, and now this middle schooler can fly the flag of his country once again.

Funny thing happened though... hundreds of others thought they'd join him for his reinstated flag run. At least this time it looks like the offended didn't run over someone's rights. I think this kid is my new hero.

click here to watch the ride

November 2, 2010

Lookin' Like Fools With their Pants on the Ground

Does that title really fit the post? Maybe not, but aren't you as excited as I am for the mid-term elections today???

Is this the first time you've heard - or you yourself have been - excited AT ALL about mid-term elections? Heck, tons of people don't even know they're going on or plan to vote in them. Fine with me! That means only those who really want to overturn the debauchle of Obama's reign will come out and cast their say. HEAR, HEAR!

What races are YOU excited about? We've managed to live in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin over the last three years, all states that could benefit immensely from a change in leadership. Michigan? Sheesh, they might not go completely bankrupt if Granholm can be unseated. And here in Wisconsin the big thing is getting rid of Feingold. Thankfully, Wisconsin residents have had enough of his shenanigans and will probably oust him by the end of the day.

Are you in a state that will see some great CHANGE today? The change you can believe in? Ha!

By the way, I will be taking my daughter (I have a daughter!) to the polls with me today. I hope that alone is a testament to how important today's vote casting is, that I would bring a ten-day-old baby to the polling place. I just cannot stay home, there is no way I would not participate today.

Get out and vote!

October 12, 2010

40 Days for Life

To those of you who didn't know this is going on... we are in the midst of the "40 Days for Life" campaign, a worldwide prayer vigil and volunteer anti-abortion event that continues for over a month.

It is day 20 of the campaign today, and so far there have been 241 stories of women who, either because of speaking with prayerful people outside abortion facilities, or upon simply seeing the volunteers at those clinics have chosen to reconsider aborting their children.

No child is born into an ideal circumstance, though many are clearly at an advantage having two parents present, loving extended families and sacrificial mindsets within all those people. Children born with diseases or physical abnormalities are difficult as babies, and are a hardship to their parents in some way, little to large. Young mothers, especially those who are single, face unique problems of their own when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

Some may say that abortion is "for the good of the child" when the child imminently faces one of these challenges...

An unplanned pregnancy does bring to light a person's self-deficiencies. As opposed to those in a loving, married relationship where both people plan to be parents one day, those who face the certainty of having (and maybe raising) a baby by themselves should not be without sympathy. There are many reasons a person might end up in that spot, and it's hard to be there alone.

I know a girl who had an abortion. She isn't a whore, or stupid, or a misguided secular humanist. It was the hardest thing she ever had to decide (she has told me), and she hated that she had to do it alone (the father was already gone when she found out). She also regrets that there was no one who knew, to talk her out of it (she and I were not in touch then), and that she didn't think she could make the decision to keep the baby by herself. Abortion is the biggest regret she has, she still thinks of that baby and wishes to God she could go back and decide differently. Forgiveness has been hard for her to receive - for many things - since then.

Women like her need our help, either tangible or prayerful (tangible being just as much needed in those situations). This is where the 40 Days campaign steps in. They offer support to mothers and fathers who decide to keep their babies, they provide supplies and support structures for anyone who needs them, both during and after the babies are born. Many come out in public - both as individuals and in groups - to pray. They don't approach women, men or clinic workers. They simply show up, love God and honor His command to protect children.

And they have some amazing stories to tell. Here is one of them, coming from a Nevada 40 Days group member:

"Last week I showed you pictures of the 40 Days for Life vigil in Reno, Nevada — where the abortionist uses a sprinkler system to soak the people praying outside his fence. Despite this aggressive hostility, we just received an incredible report from that location.

A woman driving out of the abortion center’s parking lot stopped to ask one of the local volunteer for her phone number. Shortly after, the volunteer received a text message. This text sums up what 40 Days for Life is about — and the impact a local vigil can have. Here is the exact text message:

'I just wanted to send you guys a text to let you know that what you do out there does make a difference.

When I went to that abortion clinic last week to drop off my money to terminate my pregnancy, I saw people standing out there with signs. I didn’t expect to see that and part of me felt ashamed.

I drove through the gates anyway and went inside, gave them my money and made an appointment for 2:30pm today.

As I was driving away I couldn’t help but think that maybe there was another way. All this week I thought and prayed about it and I realized in my heart what the right thing to do was.
I can’t help but think, that had you guys not been there that day to remind me that I had another choice, that maybe one more baby would have died today.

Don’t stop what you’re doing. It matters. It did to me. From the blonde lady in the white SUV who picked up her money instead of aborting her baby today.' "

In Fargo, ND (right next to my home town of Moorhead, MN), there is a prominant abortion clinic right downtown. It is the yearly meeting site for the 40 Days volunteers. Here is a report from this year:

* One woman stated that when she and her husband went to the sidewalk to pray they were greeted by 18 college men praying in unison. “How powerful to see these men praying out there,” she stated, “They looked like a football team!”
* One college student made a personal goal for himself…100 hours of prayer on the sidewalk during this campaign.
* David Bereit joined the prayer volunteers Friday evening and was joined by students from Shanley High School. Someone brought song sheets and the singing began…Over an hour of music and prayer ensued.
* Calls are going out and people are responding. Another man goes by daily to pray while others thank us for calling them and are delighted to join in this campaign.
* One woman goes out to the sidewalk to pray whenever we call her – even at the last minute.

How can one know that they won't be able to love and provide guidance for their baby? How can someone predict what they can handle, what wellspring (or even just a trickle) might spring up to nourish the child with what he needs? How can we say we "can't" be parents; are we saying that because we don't think we're ready?

Please pray for those faced with the difficult reality of raising a child they did not plan for. Many of them do not know God, or His grace, or that His people are so willing to reach out to them without judgment. That last piece is critical.

Please pray that they would keep their babies, and that they would all come to know the Lord.

October 11, 2010

Is Obama a Socialist?

According to the socialist quoted in the following article, if you're not accomplishing your socialist agenda you're not a socialist. Our high unemployment rate? Sorry, a real socialist would create an environment of 0% unemployment. And the public health option, since it wasn't accepted into the final bill, wasn't really a socialist agenda item. Because, you know, it didn't get passed.

Um... right... Check the link below:

is Obama a socialist

Post script: I'll go ahead and answer the question - Yes, Obama IS a socialist.

October 7, 2010

A Few Days Left Fun: Name Guessing

Whoever said working while you're pregnant is terrible was definitely working the wrong job. My experience has been great, easy on me and has made me money in the process.

Why is it so wonderful? First of all, tons of people pay attention to you. Now, I'm not one of those "I'm pregnant and therefore deserve special treatment" ladies. But the emotions do run high - along with the hormones - and having some extra compliments along the way is really nice. I don't fish for them; I hate that. But I'll take 'em. So instead of having a couple of family or friends who check in as they can, there are people who see you every day and ask you how you're feeling, what's the latest progress, if you need anything. They even threw me a baby shower with gluten free cupcakes! Seriously, how sweet is that?

A lot of my need for social interaction is fulfilled at work, too. This makes me completely ok with spending time alone at home, which is necessary since Nic is studying for the LSAT and can't really do anything else right now. I don't get that whiny "pay attention to me!" thing... at least, not too much.

Thirdly, I have a desk job which requires me to stay in one spot and relax. I even put my feet up and have a fan to keep me cool. No one bothers me and I don't have to run around. And, since I have plenty to do, I haven't suffered too much from the inevitable pregnancy boredom one feels (especially near the end). I work my eight hours - complete with hour lunch, during which I often take naps in the car (double score!) - and go home. I bring nothing mental home from work, so there are no stresses at the end of the day.

Lastly, my coworkers are fun. They like to guess names. All I've said is that one name begins with a C and one begins with an R; I haven't even said which sex for each letter. For some reason, this has translated into them only guessing C names (along with a couple beginning with neither C nor R). It is an ongoing list, but listed below is part of it.

Do you have a name guess? Leave it in the comments!

Chi Chi
Charlie - boy or girl
Rosemary (the only R name guessed so far)

and... Bear and Saffron. I have no idea where the inspiration for those came from!

October 5, 2010

Less Than a Week?

My due date is on Sunday!

I can hardly believe it... seems like it went by SOOOOO quickly. I didn't keep good notes (I'm not a "journaling" type) except for a symptoms list! Funny, those are the things I will probably remember without jotting them down. A lot of them came butted up against each other at the end (thank goodness).

I remember when my nephew Eli - now almost 13 -was born. And my nephew Connor (I was in the bathroom in my dorm washing dishes when I got the phone call!). My niece Maia arrived in the summer, to my adoring sister and brother-in-law. Lastly, nephew Joe was early.. born two weeks shy of his due date, but the biggest baby of all of them (even though he looked absolutely tiny in pictures).

I heard stories of Aidan's birth before I even met his mother and father. We got a phone call that Amelie was being born and started getting ready to head over... only to get another call a half hour later saying "It's over!" Juliette had a fanfare of her own, being born into her dad's arms, just like her sister was - although Juliette wasn't in quite as much of a hurry.

Now... Eli is almost 13, Connor 8, Maia 5, Aidan 5, Amelie almost 3, and the babies are one and almost one, respectively. People always say time flies with kids, and so many days go by without your being able to recollect them later.

I have great memories of my cousins as we grew up, and my nephews and nieces are all uniquely special to me. We have painted pictures together, stomped in the mud, read stories, played Legos, investigated the outdoors and enjoyed dinners together. I have so many good memories of them; it makes me sad that distance now dictates I see my sisters' kids only a few times a year. I still don't want to miss anything. Thank goodness for pictures, video calls and e-mail.

What will my own kids be like? I don't know very much about this baby so far. What I do know is that he/she doesn't startle easily (in fact, not at all), is very active (still), is on the "small side of normal" (about 6 lbs right now, maybe a smidgen more), likes every kind of food I like and is a little stubborn (at least as far as getting settled in a comfy position goes).

But what else? None of these things I mention are personality. Nothing about what he/she looks like, or will behave like. What will he/she like to do? To think about?

I suppose all that comes in the far future. I'll soon enough be lamenting the days of sleepy, snuggly nap and feeding times, with the greatest cares he/she has are being warm and well fed.

None of this captures what I'm feeling about the whole thing. I'm not a very emotional person.. my mom wasn't nor hers before... Or maybe I just don't know how to express it correctly? I thought writing it down would make it easier but.. it's not. The closest I can come to describing it is being a jumble of anticipation, nervousness, curiosity, excitement, joy, fear, wistfulness and calm. On any given day, at any given moment, the proportions of those feelings change.

And I don't think that's going to go away any time soon.
But I am looking forward so much to meeting this little person face-to-face.

Pray it all goes well.. it's very uncertain still how it will transpire... isn't it always?... Pray for all three of us, if you would. We would greatly appreciate it.

September 22, 2010

Beginning at the End

Fall marks the end of summer, but it's also a time of beginnings.

The air begins to chill, the leaves begin to fall, the animals begin a flurry of activity that will help them during the winter months.

For me, fall means my birthday and - coincidentally - the birth of my first child, too. Talk about beginnings! What a blessed one to have this time of year. To be honest, I wanted my wedding to be in the fall and, when it happened in the dead of summer, I was slightly disappointed. But a baby is a wonderful fall celebration!

I have been doing a lot in preparation for the little butterbean's arrival.. and just because fall makes me extra crafty. Here are the fall projects in photo:

Painting the bassinet

The finished product

Pousse thinks it looks pretty cozy, too

Personalizing some onesies

Iron-on transfers came from etsy

I love birds!

Made new linens for the bed

And put up favorite Van Goghs.. in miniature

Finally sewed a bedskirt! (long overdue)

My favorite yellow chair/reading corner

Taking glamour shots of Nic on his new scooter

Enjoying subtle fall sunsets

And fall colors

And the company of these lovely ladies!

September 21, 2010

White Horse Inn will be in Palos Hills, IL on 9/24 and 9/25!

Don't miss this RARE opportunity to see all four White Horse Inn hosts within driving distance!

Mike Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, Ken Jones, and Kim Riddlebarger will be recording a live White Horse Inn episode followed by a live Q & A session on Friday, Sept 24, in Palos Heights, IL. On Saturday, Sept 25, you will have the rare opportunity to hear from each host individually (see schedule below).

• There is still plenty of seating; the Chicago Christian High School Auditorium seats 600.
• Registration is only $30.00. (Groups of 6 or more only $25.00 and children under 10 are free)
• This is a RARE opportunity to see all four hosts so close to home - so organize a group of people to head out.

REGISTER ONLINE NOW (scroll down the page to see the White Horse Inn icon) or by phone at (708) 403-3404


When - Friday and Saturday, September 24-25, 2010
Who - Mike Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, Ken Jones, and Kim Riddlebarger (ALL FOUR HOSTS)
What - The Sufficiency of Scripture live taping and
conference: designed to enhance our understanding of what the Sufficiency of Scripture means and doesn't mean; how it is sufficient for doctrine, life, worship, and outreach.

Where - Chicago Christian High School, 12001 S. Oak Park Avenue, Palos Heights, IL
Sponsor - Covenant OPC, 9340 West 147th Street, Orland Park, IL 60462 ph. (708) 403-3404


Friday, September 24, 2010

5:30 - 7:30 PM
Registration & Book Table open

7:30 - 7:35 PM
Introductory Remarks
Rev. Iain Wright

7:35 - 8:30 PM
A live recording of the White Horse Inn,
featuring a discussion of "The Sufficiency of Scripture"
Usual Cast of Characters

8:30 - 9:00 PM
Audience Q & A
Usual Cast of Characters

Saturday, September 25, 2010

7:30 - 8:30 AM
Registration and Book Table

8:30 - 9:20 AM
Session 1: The Sufficiency of Scripture: What it does and doesn't mean.

Sola scriptura (by Scripture alone) isn't solo scriptura (scripture alone). In other words, the sufficiency of Scripture doesn't exclude the teachings of the church (such as the creeds). Nor does it mean that Scripture is sufficient for everything in life regardless of whether it actually addresses everything or not. What it does mean is that only in Scripture do we find the authoritative teaching of God's law and gospel.
Rev. Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

9:30 - 10:20 AM
Session 2: Sufficient for Doctrine and Life

Churches of the Reformation teach the value of creeds and confessions not because they’re on a par with Scripture, but because they summarize Scripture. They stand under God’s Word. While other people and institutions communicate truth and oblige us to obey their commands, the church cannot go beyond Scripture in its doctrinal and moral teachings and the believer must refuse all authorities that add to or take away from God’s Word.
Rev. Ken Jones

10:20 - 11:00 AM
Beverage & Light Snacks, Book Table, Book Signing & Meet and Greet the Hosts

11:00 - 11:50 AM
Session 3: Sufficient for Worship

Many churches still use God's Word in worship, but do we believe that God's Word is sufficient for defining the public services? Or do we think that we can worship God however we like as long as we're sincere?
Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

12:00 PM - 12:50 PM
Session 4: Sufficient for Outreach

Methods for evangelism and outreach are always changing, we're told, to make the gospel more relevant to particular times and places. Of course, there is appropriate sensitivity to our context, but is Scripture sufficient for determining not only what we say to the world but how we say it?
Dr. Michael Horton

September 17, 2010

Three Weeks to Thirty

I turn 30 this October 8th. And I have no idea how to think about that.

As a teenager I so very much looked forward to this milestone birthday. In my mind, a thirty-year-old was so many things: a woman, an adult, a married person, potentially a mother and someone who is fulfilled. It was the stereotypical idea of "having it all."

It wasn't until after college that, looking at the wayward direction of my life, that milestone started to look a little less attractive. And by the time I was 26, I developed a full-on dread of the upcoming bday.

Becoming a Christian staid that fear, which was a very welcome change of mind. But a few challenging years went by and the "newness" of that renewal sort of wore off. [Which is probably a sign that my initial conversion, wasn't (or at least that it wasn't regenerative).] Moving four times, holding several different jobs and not having much time to make friends along the way didn't help matters. Presently, being isolated in Madison with no friends or family for 100 miles plus, isn't helping to assuage my worry about not knowing who I am.

I started writing the post below several months ago, I think before I knew I was pregnant. I went back and finished it today. It's just a jumble of thoughts about identity; who we think we are, should be, and/or how to understand when those expectations don't materialize on time. Let me know what you think in the comments. If you're willing, think back to the eve of your own 30th birthday (or even before that) and who you wanted to be. What would you tell the younger you about her worries?


After watching "Julie/Julia" last night, I feel even more convinced that I don't know who I am.

To tell you the truth I didn't care much for the movie. Maybe that's because I thought I would LOVE it and I only liked it. I found the scenes with Julie boring and her cloying. I know I'm supposed to identify with her but I just didn't. Funny, because I'm sure I fit the exact profile they were aiming at - almost thirty, a rag-tag existence, no goals, a half-written career in authorship. Of course my "foodie by night" self really wanted to identify with her, and share in the joy of cooking. But it's hard to look at a semi-fictitious life (the movie is based on a real person's story) which bears so much resemblance to one's own, to see its success and not recognize the obvious: my life is nothing like this.

This has happened to me before. There are a few movies in which I have seen similarity between the main character and myself so much that I almost lost it. Here are the movies, the character and the reasons why I identify.

* Lost in Translation - Charlotte

She's a recent philosophy B.A. grad (I have a Phil. BA also) who moves to Tokyo with her husband of two years while he pursues a dream of photography. But she just can't hang with the sensorally-overloaded Japanese culture, doesn't speak the language and doesn't have any goals. She meets a middle-aged man who is semi-famous (or once was), he befriends her and pays her a lot of attention. She feels mature in his presence, and they share intimate conversation about being married and being confused by it and life in general. It's nothing gross; the most sordid thing that happens is he kisses her on the cheek goodbye. He whispers some advice in her ear and she cries, but she ends up pretty much where she started, lost.

* Lost - Kate

Kate is a criminal in her past, yet has found a way to rationalize it to herself. She leaves family, towns, jobs and men with a sort of unequivocal ease of mind. She's torn about it, but not too much. At least not enough to stop behaving in her own self-interest while ignoring everyone else. She's even kidnapped a child and pretended it's hers. Kate loves Patsy Cline in an ironic way; she imagines that she (Kate) is the one being left behind. We know different.

* Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Clementine

This grown-up girl seems to love her gyspy-like existence, flitting from haircolor to haircolor (or job to job) with wild abandon. She lives in the moment. She's a dreamer. But does she have any real thoughts, or are they just vapid, semi-sarcastic observations about a world she really doesn't understand?

Clem meets Joel, a depressed and needy man who needs to be drawn out of his shell but is satisfied to live vicariously through someone else who has no shell. That, predictably, is Clementine, who shows him an amazing, exciting world... with no real substance. After a year or so they realize they have nothing to talk about, and both end up erasing each other from their memories. Joel, however, decides mid-procedure that he wants to remember her. When asked later, Clementine simply explains erasing him with the comment that she's "impulsive," as if that is an excuse for being heartless.

* Fight Club - Marla

Truly a piece of post-modern work, Marla is simply trying to destroy herself one element at a time. In her effort to feign illness - not to get attention, because she actually wishes she was terminally ill, and this is an important distinction - she meets Jack, a man who joined groups just so people would listen to his ideas.

Unfortunately for Marla, she's dim-witted and only knows how to attract bad men. Jack is one of those, though at times he can be quite deceiving! He is appropriately clever and charming, and smart enough to coordinate and train a worldwide group of terrorist cells. He is, to put it mildly, pretty self-deceived. Marla likes the most deceived part of him who, eventually, wins over the mastermind but destroys the greater portion of a major city in the process. Marla, however, does seem hopeful that this could be the re-beginning of their relationship.

P.S. I'm sorry if I just ruined the ending of "Fight Club" for you. However, the movie has been out for ten years and if you were going to see it, you probably would have by now. No loss to you if you haven't, in my opinion. Chuck Palahniuk stories are pretty course.

I don't have a clever wrap-up to this post. I'm closer now to my 30th than when I began writing this, and in the meantime have discovered another blogger who was going through a similar identity crisis and started her blog, "New Dress a Day," after being inspired by "Julie and Julia" to quit bitching and do something new. Which, predictably, made me feel like my own concerns were contrived (since someone else used the same pop culture referent to spark a renewal). Darn it, I'm not even original in the sources of my concerns!

Perhaps the problem is that I have found similarities in pop culture referents at all; as a Christian I should be seeing myself how Christ sees me, no? I gotta tell you, that is a lovely platitude but often statements like that fall flat in the face of daily challenges to how one sees herself. Not to mention the internal dialogue; I don't think one can honestly say that what you think about yourself doesn't matter at all. I admire people who say they "die daily," but I confess I haven't figured out how to do that yet.

Throw into this whole mix the fact I am having a baby right around my 30th birthday. Talk about complicating the issue! In some ways, that fact validates my previous feelings about "who I should be" by this age and, in others, it completely obliterates them. It's a classic paradigm of asking for something, then getting it and realizing the circumstances of the gift are not ideal (meaning, not what you were asking for). So, you're essentially just as surprised as you would've been getting something completely different than your request. Back to square one...

Not to get too epistemological here or anything but.. a huge part of my current self-confusion stems from not knowing how to think about what I think. Which are valid concerns and which are the product of a sinful nature? And, even if they are the product of sin, shouldn't they still be considered, in order to understand how I relate to Christ?

Here's what I've come up with so far in my thinking:

1. I am someone else in Christ, specifically someone new.
2. I should listen to/read as much as I can about Christ so I understand who He is.
3. I should try my hardest, despite internal objections, to remain hopeful that, some day, I will know "who I am."

I may come back to this topic over the next couple weeks, after the baby is born, and maybe also in a year or so. I am not advocating a "m.o.s." ("moral of the story") or "do something" attitude about this either. If one gains nothing else from learning Reformed theology, one should at least know that one cannot do anything for God; that He has done it all for us. That's the purpose of His work!

September 13, 2010

The Politics of Writing

Not that you asked, but I've always wanted to write a book.

In high school it was going to be poetry (eek, I'm so glad that didn't work out!).

In college, maybe only haiku. Or maybe a collection of interviews with the elderly on their
favorite memories (that's still not a bad idea).

Later on, still feeling the art influence in my bones, it was a narrative about how the art one produces is a malfunctioning expression of joy, which can only truly be felt within Christ's grasp. (Again, not a bad idea... please don't steal it!)

What stopped me? It's not a lack of interest. I clearly like writing (even if I am sporadic about it), I loved editing articles for my college newspaper. I love the English language and grammar - I have since grade school. It's not for lack of things to say. And plenty of people get published, since there are more small publishing houses and easy ways to promote your title. So what's the problem?

It's my inconsistency. I know what I want to say, but I struggle with staying on track and tend to bring in too much information at some points, too little on others.

I have scores of disorderly ideas sitting in spiral-bound notebooks, waiting patiently for good editing to pull them all together into a cohesive, meaningful piece of writing. Someday I hope to go through all of it and make something substantial enough to present to the public. Until then I'll hide on my blog, where no one can tell me I'm completely disillusioned as to having a clue what I'm talking about.

There is something utterly terrifying, though, about putting your own writing into the world-at-large, even if it's only the "blogosphere." One reason is that, unlike your friends and family, a stranger might actually critique you. Harshly. Fairly, but harshly. Another is that the thoughts you believe to be so trenchant might turn out to be... vapid. Worse, it may turn out that someone has already had them, and said them better. Worst: by the time you get around to putting them into writing they might be irrelevant! And to the non-fiction/social science/political publishing realm, relevance is key.

Which brings us to Meghan McCain's book, "Dirty, Sexy Politics."

Disclosure: I haven't read it myself; I don't plan to. I've heard enough of what comes out of her mouth via "The View" clips and her weekly Daily Beast column to know that she is pretty confused about how to advise the Republican party (which is, I think, what she strives to do, although in attempting to do so she meanders all over the board). Her youth and inexperience, combined with a (seeming) disregard for speaking in a clear, comprehensible way, come through in neon to anyone who's attempted to glean wisdom from her writing. She's damaging to the Republican party, as well as conservative voters and politicians, because she purports to know about that which she doesn't. Oh, and she's also not a conservative.

What's my purpose in mentioning her book then, if not to do a review? It's merely to point out that some people weren't meant to write books. Meghan McCain is one of them. And why?

She's too deep inside her own head to be careful about what she writes.* Meghan makes a lot of accusations which seem, almost all of the time, to be for the purpose of stirring the pot. But who's meant to be stirred? Why, moderate Republicans and conservatives of all types (but especially those with strong enough hard-line values to be ranked as "far right" by Meghan), of course. Meghan's main beef seems to be with anyone labeling themselves a 'Republican' who doesn't satisfy her own ideas about what that means. But.. they can't be too conservative or too moderate, because that makes them RINOS.

Knowing that I was too naive and loose with my worldview is what kept me from writing a book years ago. And I recognize that I'm still not ready to do that, because I'm not discerning enough to see through all the bs in politics and form a valid and valuable overview to disseminate to others. I'm merely at the point of seeing everything that's going on - but not able to put it all together a lot of the time, let alone draw insightful conclusions. Yet Meghan McCain went straight from college to "professional blogging," probably due in no small part to name recognition, but more so to her willingness to ride the "I'm not your typical conservative" bus until the wheels fall off.

But not only does she not seem like a "typical conservative" (whatever that even means), she doesn't seem like much of a conservative at all. The only issue I've heard her mention often is gay rights. She will start sentences with, "If Reagan were alive, he would..." without validating her opinions with any facts, and never questions her own commentary on any subject.

Yet, she is now a published author and I'm still not. Oh well. I'd rather be an unpublished, self-aware, non-pro blogger who can comfortably assert my conservative allegiance than anything less.

*I know what you're thinking... "Um, couldn't you say the same about yourself?" Yes, but that's why I stick to blogging, instead of imagining my opinions to be so important that someone should pay money to read them.

Because I'm happy to give credit when someone says it better than me, here is an excellent book review of "Dirty, Sexy Politics." And yes, he did actually read the book first. Poor fellow.

August 30, 2010

I Feel For You

I distinctly saw a foot poke out of my stomach the other night.
Or, maybe I distinctly saw an elbow. In any case, it was pretty interesting. So I poked at it a little and it definitely felt like... something.
Not much of a baby update, I know: "I saw/felt something, but I don't know what it was."

How about some random pictures from this last month, too?

Big up Angela for the loaner clothes!!

Pousse and Nic face off. Pousse has already decided the bassinet is his new bed - BAD IDEA. Anyone have tips on how to keep a cat out of a baby bed? I should remind people that this cat has jumped to the top of a twin-size mattress on occasion. For real.

When they're not makin' lazy circles in the sky, we have lots of hawks near us (since we're adjacent to a community garden and a lake) that drop down to scare the crap out of the house finches. Eventually a big flock of little birds will get the gumption to chase the hawks out of the area. We snapped this pic just before one got booted.

August 19, 2010

Talk About a Bad Egg...

This is not a political post. It's about actual eggs, not eggheads in our government!

There is a massive recall going on for eggs distributed out of Wright County. The recall includes many states, brands and distributors (even Trader Joe's has some bad eggs stocked). Please check out the following link, which lists every distributor and brand of eggs involved in the recall.

Protect your health and your family's - throw out the bad eggs.

August 6, 2010

El Disparar en Algún Otro*

Must be nice to travel to Espańa on someone else's dime... Me gusto! Where do I sign up? Oh, right, my husband has to authorize taxpayer money for it.

Maldígalo. +

I'm just happy knowing the First Lady gets to vacation for free. Oops! The article I read did say she's paying for her own "personal expenses." Then again, she's not currently employed so...

Seventeen states have employment over 10%. And that's not including anyone who is employed part-time, self-employed or underemployed. Funny how those type of stats seem to get counted in the healthcare debate (i.e. "there is such and such amount of uninsured, including the underinsured," etc.), but don't seem important to the President when he mentions unemployment.

So while most of us are wondering how the next month of rent is going to be paid (and, for some of us, how the newest addition is going to be taken care of) Mrs. Obama gets to jaunt off on an unofficial (meaning, no diplomatic meetings involved) vacay with her daughter.

Remember when we were told to "use less gas" over the summer in order to conserve it? I wonder how much gas it takes to fly Air Force One to and from Spain. I also wonder how much it costs to employ, house and feed the secret service who accompany Mrs. Obama and her daughter. I wonder how much Michelle is going to spend on Balenciaga, Blahnik and Paco Rabanne while she's there. I checked; there is no Target in Spain.

Vergüenza en Sra. Obama.~

link to article, click here

*"Tripping on someone else"
+ Damn it
~ Shame on Mrs. Obama

July 29, 2010

What are you DOING in there?

At the first flutter of movement the baby has, it's hard to tell what you're even feeling. When the baby really gets moving you think, "This is so cool!" because you can imagine it kicking out a tiny elbow, or turning over. The "every once in a while" nature of the movement is so novel and so interesting!

I'm at the point where I'm wondering, what in the world is he/she doing in there?!

A while back I read something that said, "You'll think you're carrying a baby octopus the way it can poke out in all different directions!" I'm not into the whole animorphic thing, but I understand the sentiment now. Moreover I've started imagining what he/she could be doing that requires 18-20 hours a day of constant movement.

Pulling taffy? This activity would reasonably explain the long amount of time he/she likes to stretch all the way out on both sides.

Knitting a sweater? That would explain the elbows that poke out in a fairly consistant rhythm.

Training for the Olympics? Depending on what event it's for, this could work to explain the rolling over at a sometimes alarming rate.

Building a birdhouse? Now I'm just being silly. =)

The one nice thing about the activity? The baby sleeps at night! During the day, forget about it. But at night he/she settles down and I am able to get some (uncomfortable, abdomen-stretched, knees-aching) sound sleep.

Now let's just see if little miss/monsieur wonderful is a night sleeper in the outside world!

July 23, 2010

Six Months and Counting Down...

I thought some or all of you might want to see these. Can you believe I am 29 weeks along? Yeah, me either. Trust me, even though I've known the longest, it's still a shock to me most of all.

Even though I've been enjoying the little one kicking around, I have to wonder... will it ever stop kicking around? I will be eating these words later but... I need it to grow a lot bigger so it can't move so much in there!

Somewhat regrettably, I have only a couple other pictures of my belly from earlier on. Then again, my stomach seemed to pop out overnight - as it does for a lot of women - and until then it just looked like I had put on 7 or so extra pounds in the form of a muffin top. Um, can you say "not photo worthy?"

But I like these pictures. I usually don't like recording myself, or seeing myself in photos or video.. Grandma Frey said pregnancy was becoming on me. I think I agree. I really don't mind the new shape so much anymore. At first it was hard to get used to, as I've always been pretty small (a testament to the power of healthy diet and regular exercise). Never had the flat, muscular abs but, eh, who cares. Now they've disappeared completely, but I know they're still there somewhere!

Anyway... I'm rambling now... before I ruin the whole thing, here's the photos!

July 21, 2010

NOM Marriage Tour

Just a quick update for you on the traditional marriage front...

The National Organization for Marriage has been touring around the country this summer, holding rallies in what seem to be hotspots of pro-gay marriage activity. After seeing some documentation of Providence, RI protestors actually shouting in the face of Brian Brown (president, NOM) while he tried to speak to his crowd, I wondered if maybe they would be visiting Wisconsin?

You'd think Wisconsin in general would pretty much be a conservative state. After all, we have tons of farmers, rural blue-collar businesses and older generation voters. We even manage quite a few state reps with conservative values, or at least Republican ties.

But the city of Madison is just as you'd expect it - a decently-sized, university-centered little metropolis, a city haven for all the hippies, pro-choicers and green living (gag) folks in the state. I mean, it's either here or Milwaukee and everyone knows there are poor people and crime there! Ah, so here the hippies stay.

Which explains why we have a co-op, aka communist grocery store (and another one opening soon... wait, a chain of co-ops? Quite a contradiction going on there, but we'll leave that for now), tons of humanistic/relativistic "churches" and dreadlocks galore. Oh, and drum circles. No joke, there is a scheduled drum circle at the university housing once per week. Uuuuuggh.

So I was thinking about Madison and all the pro-gay sentiment that undoubtedly finds a home here, and wondered if NOM is stopping? I think our capital would make a great location for a traditional marriage rally, don't you?

And guess what? They ARE having one! And it's on Tuesday! Which means... I probably can't go because I'll be at work. But maybe I can swing it for part of my lunch hour or something. The point is, there will be lots of coverage of it and I can't wait.

Is there a NOM stop in your city? Check this link to find out.
Support marriage!

July 19, 2010

Summer in the South

Last Thanksgiving I was fortunate to be able to visit my family in North Carolina, where my sister and her husband had recently bought a house. He is serving in the military - as an officer in the Army - and she is studying at UNC to be a dietician. Over the fourth of July holiday weekend I got to visit them again and, as their home has become a meeting-ground for all of us, my other sister and her two kids came from Virginia, and my parents drove my nephews down from Minnesota with them.

They live in a very woodsy and beautiful area just outside of Sanford which is debatably the most attractive looking area, including the town itself. Unless you like breaded and gravy-smothered pork chops, in which case the locally-owned "Biscuitville" restaurant just might be heaven to your eyes. But not for mine, thank you!

Other than "The Wal-Mart," as it is referred to in the south, there aren't many attractions in Sanford, but we managed to have tons of fun anyway. This time it was easier with a trip to see a nearby town's triple A baseball team (the Fayetteville Swampdogs), the downtown Sanford ice cream shop that's been around over 100 years, plenty of sparklers and playing with all the animals that live in and around the house.

And we weren't resting much, either. We visited both the neighborhood and country club pools, worked out in the gym, held a wii dance competition and went for a two hour-long hike to see a quartz quarry. Throw in several games of baggo and some fun-loving neighbors of theirs (and two more kids) and you've got yourself a nonstop four days of southern hospitality. Never mind that my sister is from the north; she's southern at heart. And did I mention all the great food?

As with every vacation, it flies by and is only captured truly in the photos and memories. I didn't even mention my niece and nephew. Maia is such a joy, truly sweet. The first thing she said, no, whispered to me was "So, I heard you are going to have a baaa-by! Can you make it a girl?" Precious! Check out the photo of her in the kerchief as we drove down for ice cream in my sister's convertible. Adorable.

Oh, and Joe, my littlest nephew? He's old enough to crawl, but since he likes to hang onto things while he travels, he sort of scoots along instead. Fittingly, we have dubbed him Scooter. His little leg gets so dirty from pushing off the floor all day! But what better way to clean that off than a dip in the big corn pot (we all used to get baths in a similar one at my grandpa's lake cottage)? He's got the cutest little sideways grin, too.

As I said, the pictures tell the story, too. Regrettably, I didn't get one of my other sister Lea and I, or my Mom. But there's Christmas for that. Maybe they'll be willing to come up north to see the baby, huh? I sure hope so.

P.S. You may have noticed I posted a video of these pics instead of just individual ones. Did I mention I got a brand new laptop?? It is so slick and easy to use. Of course, it's another piece of electronics I have to learn about (like my camera, whose manual I still haven't read - shame on me!). But it's so much fun and what a relief to not have to bang on it just to get it to turn on, like the old one.
Hmm.. perhaps that's why it broke, huh? =)

July 16, 2010


Hello everyone,
As you may have noticed, I have been (even more noticeably) absent from my blog as of late. The reason being I've been TOTALLY preoccupied with my personal life, way too much so to be commenting about all the craziness in Washington!

I figured I owed you an explanation but I couldn't because there were people who read my blog who didn't know my info yet.

So... without further adieu...

I'm having a foot.

And, presumably, there is more baby attached.
Oh wait! I have another photo:

This is confirmed - I am having (at least) one foot, one head and one body!
Due in October. I'll keep you posted.

July 13, 2010

I can't believe people are calling this guy...

..a hero. Really? How is he nothing more then a criminal? A smirking, self-interested criminal?

Maybe they call him a hero because people think heroes are so scarce these days that we have to settle for so much less? Or is it because his fans are just stupid youth, enamored with the idea of someone giving a middle finger to the law?

This guy has a facebook fan page (with 80,000 fans, no less) on which someone says, romanticizing this criminal's decisions, "They can never imprison a mind like yours." What is his mind like, aside from lacking in self-control and relishing in instant gratification? It doesn't take a genius to steal. In fact, though it does require one to be careful to not get caught, it's not exactly a brain surgery-like profession.

He has also been called a "modern day Robin Hood," yet he has only once given money he stole away - to an animal hospital. That's hardly grounds for comparing him to one who risked his own freedom to help others obtain basic necessities, most of which were stolen from them first (*revealing the soft spot in my heart for R.H., which mostly stems from the Disney cartoon version).

Critics say that those who are fawning over him aren't "looking any deeper than the surface." But, even on the surface, this guy is just a degenerate thief, who has taken pleasure in pilfering stores and peoples' homes since the age of 12. He moved on to stealing high-priced planes and crash-landing them in fields of mud. He has a disregard for other peoples' property; does that qualify him to hero status? Lots of people have the idea that any damage is fine, so long as it's done to someone else. Hardly seems special or worthy of noting.

The CNN article queries whether he is merely a "common thief" or a "folk hero." The main argument for his crimes being "folksy?" That he committed many of them while not wearing shoes. No, I am not making this up. My guess is the editors of the story are only slightly older than the criminal himself. How else to explain their

Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill and Johnny Appleseed are folk legends. They are remembered (as real or imagined people) as having done great things which had an impact on others, but not necessarily in a negative or positive way.

Casey Jones, Daniel Boone and Robin Hood are folk heroes. They risked their own lives to give to other people things that which would benefit them - property, safety and well-being.

Bonnie and Clyde, Jesse James and the kid in the article are criminals. They committed acts that only benefitted themselves and, in the process, harmed many others.

If you don't understand the distinction, well... then this kid is going to be the best hero you ever have. And you're missing out on so much if he is.

June 29, 2010

Tuesday Twofer - Chicago Politics

Two items featuring the Windy City this week -

The first is the Supreme Court's ruling against the banning of guns in Chicago. Makes sense to me; when guns are outlawed, only the outlaws retain their guns while the law-abiding citizens are left to protect themselves with less effective weapons.

Click below for the story:
Court strikes down Chicago gun ban

The second story is about our beloved President's beloved old "pastor" (I always have to put that in quotes because this man does not embody that title), Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Speaking at Chicago Theological Seminary during a seminar this past week, Wright had these nuggets of wisdom to share with his audience:

"White folk done took this country. You're in their home and they're going to let you know it."

"You are not now, nor have you ever been, nor will you ever be a brother to white folk," he said. "And if you do not realize that, you are in serious trouble."

He also explained that the civil rights movement "was always about becoming white" (whatever that means).

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, the saying goes. I'd say that Wright hasn't been out of the public eye long enough for me to miss him yet. And he probably never will!

June 24, 2010

Curing Blindness with Adult Stem Cells!

This is really something to celebrate. Imagine, people being able to see after 60 + years of living in a darkened, shapeless world! And the best part? The Italian scientists are curing them with adult stem cells. Add this to the ever-growing list of maladies that have been cured or put into remission by the use of these non-controversial cells. Praise God!

Stem cells reverse blindness caused by burns
By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer Alicia Chang, Ap Science Writer
Wed Jun 23, 7:29 pm ET

LOS ANGELES – Dozens of people who were blinded or otherwise suffered severe eye damage when they were splashed with caustic chemicals had their sight restored with transplants of their own stem cells — a stunning success for the burgeoning cell-therapy field, Italian researchers reported Wednesday.

The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision.

"This is a roaring success," said ophthalmologist Dr. Ivan Schwab of the University of California, Davis, who had no role in the study — the longest and largest of its kind.

Stem cell transplants offer hope to the thousands of people worldwide every year who suffer chemical burns on their corneas from heavy-duty cleansers or other substances at work or at home.

The approach would not help people with damage to the optic nerve or macular degeneration, which involves the retina. Nor would it work in people who are completely blind in both eyes, because doctors need at least some healthy tissue that they can transplant.

In the study, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers took a small number of stem cells from a patient's healthy eye, multiplied them in the lab and placed them into the burned eye, where they were able to grow new corneal tissue to replace what had been damaged. Since the stem cells are from their own bodies, the patients do not need to take anti-rejection drugs.

Adult stem cells have been used for decades to cure blood cancers such as leukemia and diseases like sickle cell anemia. But fixing a problem like damaged eyes is a relatively new use. Researchers have been studying cell therapy for a host of other diseases, including diabetes and heart failure, with limited success.

Adult stem cells, which are found around the body, are different from embryonic stem cells, which come from human embryos and have stirred ethical concerns because removing the cells requires destroying the embryos.

Currently, people with eye burns can get an artificial cornea, a procedure that carries such complications as infection and glaucoma, or they can receive a transplant using stem cells from a cadaver, but that requires taking drugs to prevent rejection.

The Italian study involved 106 patients treated between 1998 and 2007. Most had extensive damage in one eye, and some had such limited vision that they could only sense light, count fingers or perceive hand motions. Many had been blind for years and had had unsuccessful operations to restore their vision.

The cells were taken from the limbus, the rim around the cornea, the clear window that covers the colored part of the eye. In a normal eye, stem cells in the limbus are like factories, churning out new cells to replace dead corneal cells. When an injury kills off the stem cells, scar tissue forms over the cornea, clouding vision and causing blindness.

In the Italian study, the doctors removed scar tissue over the cornea and glued the laboratory-grown stem cells over the injured eye. In cases where both eyes were damaged by burns, cells were taken from an unaffected part of the limbus.

Researchers followed the patients for an average of three years and some as long as a decade. More than three-quarters regained sight after the transplant. An additional 13 percent were considered a partial success. Though their vision improved, they still had some cloudiness in the cornea.

Patients with superficial damage were able to see within one to two months. Those with more extensive injuries took several months longer.

"They were incredibly happy. Some said it was a miracle," said one of the study leaders, Graziella Pellegrini of the University of Modena's Center for Regenerative Medicine in Italy. "It was not a miracle. It was simply a technique."

The study was partly funded by the Italian government.

Researchers in the United States have been testing a different way to use self-supplied stem cells, but that work is preliminary.

One of the successful transplants in the Italian study involved a man who had severe damage in both eyes as a result of a chemical burn in 1948. Doctors grafted stem cells from a small section of his left eye to both eyes. His vision is now close to normal.

In 2008, there were 2,850 work-related chemical burns to the eyes in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Schwab of UC Davis said stem cell transplants would not help those blinded by burns in both eyes because doctors need stem cells to do the procedure.

"I don't want to give the false hope that this will answer their prayers," he said.

Dr. Sophie Deng, a cornea expert at the UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute, said the biggest advantage was that the Italian doctors were able to expand the number of stem cells in the lab. This technique is less invasive than taking a large tissue sample from the eye and lowers the chance of an eye injury.

"The key is whether you can find a good stem cell population and expand it," she said.



New England Journal:

"Creepy" and "Predatory" Marketing?

Parent readers of this blog,

Is it up to lawmakers to determine what foods are available to your children at privately-owned restaurants? In my opinion, the fact that these foods are available in the world is perfectly acceptable. Parents decide what their kids eat, and eating junky food some of the time is not a sin. It's the overindulgence to those kinds of foods, with a disregard to healthy eating practices, that concerns me. However, as maddening and saddening as it is to see fat seven-year-olds (and it is very, very sad for all the implications), it's none of my business to enforce healthy eating onto those kids and their parents.

You want to affect families' eating habits in a personal, highly-successful way? Employ yourself as a caregiver to kids and/or young adults. You are immediately given the duties of role modeling good eating behaviors and highlighting the importance of exercise. In fact, you're expected to encourage these things and are paid to do just that.

You'd be shocked at how incomplete peoples' information about how different foods get processed in our bodies, and what kind of results they bring when metabolized is. Many people simply do not even know what vitamins are, where to find them, why they're important, what too much fat, sugar and salt do to your body (including your brain, thus your behavior, mood and sensitivities) and why exercise and water are the greatest combatants.

Censoring what foods are simply available - fast food, vending machines, at ball games, etc. - is yet another misguided "solution" to the liberal notion of "caring for others." They don't care; caring takes time and involvement. They just want to control.


Unhappy Meals: McDonald's to be sued for 'enticing children with toys'

By Sean Poulter, Consumer Affairs Editor
Last updated at 9:37 PM on 23rd June 2010

As far as many children are concerned, they are the most appealing things on the menu.

But not everyone is so keen on the merchandising toys used by McDonald's to entice youngsters to buy its Happy Meals.

A powerful American consumer group is threatening a lawsuit and has given the chain 30 days to drop the 'creepy and predatory' ploy it says undermines the efforts of parents to encourage a healthy diet.

The merchandise, which is also given to customers in Britain, includes toys related to the latest Shrek movie. Earlier this year it also had tie-ups with Alvin and the Chipmunks and Scooby Doo.

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest says using the items to promote its Happy Meals is 'unfair, deceptive and illegal' under American state laws.

McDonald's insists it uses toys and popular characters to promote healthy options such as fruit, carrot sticks and organic milk.

However, the CSPI says the reality is 93 per cent of children who have a Happy Meal walk out with a portion of fries alongside products such as burgers and chicken nuggets.

"McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children," said the CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner.

"McDonald's use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits young children's developmental immaturity - all this to induce children to prefer foods that may harm their health.

It's a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction."

The CSPI said that of the 24 possible Happy Meal combinations that McDonald's describes on its U.S. website, all exceed 430 calories, which is one third of the 1,300 recommended daily intake for children aged four to eight*.

The figures will be similar in the UK.

A Happy Meal of a cheeseburger, French fries and Sprite has half a day's calories and saturated fat. It also has around two days of sugar at 35g.

McDonald's in the UK accused the CSPI of misrepresenting its food. A spokesman said: "McDonald's is committed to a responsible approach to our menu, and our Happy Meal offerings. We have added more choice and variety than ever before, a fact that has been widely reported and recognised. We couldn't disagree more with the misrepresentation of our food and marketing practices made by the CSPI."

Kathryn Montgomery, professor of communication at American University in Washington, said: "We know from scientific research that young children - and even older ones - do not have the ability to understand how marketing has been designed to influence them. In the era of digital marketing, these vulnerabilities are magnified even further. McDonald's use of these techniques raises troubling questions, for health professionals, parents, and policy makers."

*So what? A third of the day's calories is one meal's worth.


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