Friday, December 14, 2007

Ready... Set... Go!

Check it out! The new location is: I don't think I'll probably post here again, and I'm surprised now that I feel a little sad about that! **Sniff, sniff** Five hundred sixty-one posts - who'd've thought? See you at the new place!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Explanation

"Hey!" you say. "What's going on here? Do you realize that today is December 13, and that it has been over a week and a half since the last post? Lazy! Crazy! Where have you been?"

The answer, my friends, is that I've been working on a little secret project... a new blog! I've been frustrated with Blogger glitches for several months - with having to try several times to get the same post to go through, with getting error messages while uploading photos. It's a free service and it's been good to me, so I can't complain. But I also don't have the time to rewrite posts that Blogger has swallowed, which is why I've decided to switch over to Typepad.

The whole blog is over there now, your comments and all! The links are nearly the way I want them! What's held the whole thing up so far is that all of my pictures are on Blogger's server. It's against The Rules to use their server to post pics elsewhere, so I've been re-uploading all the pictures to my Typepad blog. Did you know that I have written over 500 posts? It takes me about a minute and a half to do all the updates I need to on one post... you do the math. Hours and hours of hard labor, all to keep you entertained and informed. :-)

But I've decided not to wait until I'm done to switch my activity over there - I'll just keep plugging away at updating the archives while the blog is active.

Oh, and the other thing - I'm going to be blogging a little bit more anonymously from here on out. I'm still working out what this is going to look like, but most people will probably be referred to by initials or nicknames. Since I don't know how long I'll be doing this and don't have any plan to stop in the foreseeable future (you know, except for my periodic several-week "sabbaticals"), I've decided to build in a little bit of the privacy that Chloe might prefer when she's oh, say, fifteen. :) If you'd like to suggest a nickname for yourself (or another friend or family member - even more fun!), let me know.

So that's what's going on! Stay tuned - I'll post the new address soon!

P.S. And after writing my complaints, this post didn't publish with any of the formatting that I'd put in while composing it and I had to add them all to the HTML manually. Poor me, right?? Yeah. I can't believe I even knew how to do that. Actually, I haven't published yet as I write this so I don't know yet that I do know how to do it...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Day of Thoughts from Others

As you can see, NaBloPoMo nearly killed me! NoBloMo (no blog more), that's what I say! But I'm recovering, and here's what I have to share today... Today's first Thought is from Ben, who did a video post of my precocious child... click here for the link of Chloe's first steps - or second steps, anyway. :-) In other baby news, Chloe decided that she needed to go potty, started whining, and crawled into the bathroom to let us know today! We weren't (at least I wasn't) really confident that that's what was going on until she peed the second we put her on the pot. Go Chloster! Our next Thought comes from the Michigan Land Use Institute, which is spearheading an effort to prevent the construction of LOADS of new dirty coal plants. Just the thing we want for Michigan, right? Here's what they have to say:

Dear friend, We’ve got a super-hot one for you today—a request to send your state legislator a strong message about Michigan’s new coal rush. As we send this message your way, the Institute is taking part in one of 12 press conferences—all sending the same urgent message: No More Coal Plants in Michigan until the state enacts a clean energy policy! It’s urgent for one simple reason: Michigan is looking at proposals for at least seven more new or expanded coal plants. The state has never seen anything like this. ... It will keep Michigan locked in the energy dark ages, hold back the development of the state’s clean energy industry and the good jobs that come with it, and add to global warming. So, we’re asking you to join a powerful, statewide push that propels Michigan into the 21st century. The first step is simple: Sign the petition at right now,please. We need150,000 signatures in the next few days, so after you sign up(the ZIP code helps us route your message to your legislators), please, please, please (this is the second step!) forward this to any friend you know who would rather not live next to a new coal plant. Hmmmm … wouldn’t that be everybody you know?? Specifically, the petition asks state legislators to please Stop the Coal Rush by forbidding any new coal-burning permits until Michigan has an aggressive Clean Energy Plan that: *Requires energy providers to get 20 percent of their power from renewables by 2020. *Requires utility-funded energy efficiency programs to cut energy consumption by 1 percent per year. *Protects consumers from absorbing skyrocketing future coal-burning costs. *Develop new standards for regulating CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.

Time is of the essence. Please go to right now, sign on, and then forward this to your friends, letting them know that Michigan’s energy future is on the line.


Jim Dulzo, Managing Editor

I want to live in a strong and vibrant state, where there are plenty of jobs to go around, plenty of fun stuff to do, and plenty of natural beauty to enjoy. Head on over and sign the petition now - let's help make Michigan all that it can be!

And finally, courtesy of Julie over at This non-American Life, a quiz to determine the walkability of yourneighborhood! What fun! Out of a possible 100, our current house gets - drum roll please - a six! Could be worse. Anyone else care to report their scores? This is marketed to real estate agents as something to help them and their clients - file it away, O ye who will soon be moving (you know who you are)!

And to all of you, a very blessed first Sunday of Advent.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

Giving thanks seems cheap to me sometimes. I think of times when I try to focus on gratitude to God, and my points of thanksgiving all seem so trite. I'm thankful for food - and yes, I am, but haven't lacked it enough to approach the depth of thankfulness held by anyone who has truly been without. I'm thankful for shelter - but I think that I take this for granted even more than I do food. The very abundance with which we're surrounded so easily undermines my feelings of thankfulness - perhaps I am not alone in this, and that is part of the reason why Christmas Creep has so thoroughly eclipsed this holiday. So I resolve this Thanksgiving to consciously give thanks to God for the very overabundance that mutes my thanksgiving, the ways he's restrained the darkness around us, the gift of his Son; I resolve also to seek out expressions of thanksgiving from those who truly know what it means. I've also decided to begin a Thanksgiving meme, so if you read this, please take part! Name one or two things for which you are truly, deeply thankful. 1. I'm thankful for richness that Mike and Chloe have added to my life. 2. I'm thankful for the afternoon I was able to spend with my Grandma a few weeks ago. She had a fall a couple weeks ago and has been quite confused since then, and while I hope that her health will improve again I'm very glad for that bit of time. I tag Heidi, Erica, Sammy, and Ben!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Week of Thanksgiving

This week I'm going with a Thanksgiving theme. I thought that I'd start with a bit of history: the proclamation of the Continental Congress establishing our first official, national celebration of Thanksgiving in 1782. By the United States in Congress assembled, PROCLAMATION. It being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for his gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of his providence in their behalf: Therefore the United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of divine goodness to these States, in the course of the important conflict in which they have been so long engaged; the present happy and promising state of public affairs; and the events of the war, in the course of the year now drawing to a close; particularly the harmony of the public Councils, which is so necessary to the success of the public cause; the perfect union and good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between them and their Allies, notwithstanding the artful and unwearied attempts of the common enemy to divide them; the success of the arms of the United States, and those of their Allies, and the acknowledgment of their independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting advantage to these States:----- Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eighth day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

First Steps!

Chloe very unexpectedly took her first steps today!!! We'd thought it would still be a few weeks at least before she reached this milestone, but a couple days ago we bought her a little push-behind walker-thing. At first she had a hard time with it - it's really lightweight and scoots across my parents' hardwood and tile floors really quickly. It was kind of funny to watch her almost running along behind it as it took her for a ride. She was so not in control. :-) Today, though, she was doing much better. I couldn't believe it when I saw her slowly walking across the kitchen floor, starting and stopping at will, letting go with one hand so she could try to open doors along the way. Such amazing skill development in just a couple days! So Mike grabbed her and sat on the ground, telling me to sit across from them... She fell back and forth between us... and then she took about three good steps toward me all on her own!! I couldn't believe it. My little baby turning into a toddler! She definitely still prefers her knees, but I think we're in trouble now...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid

In no particular order, here are some things that Parents magazine warns us to be afraid of in their December issue:
  1. "Researchers found an alarmingly high rate of iron deficiency among overweight toddlers..." which can lead to difficulty learning and "behavioral delays." (p. 35)
  2. Overwrapping your baby at night, which can increase the risk of SIDS. (p. 35)
  3. Giving your small child too much cold medicine can cause serious side effects or death. (p. 35)
  4. "The number of candle-related house fires nearly doubles in the month of December. (p. 36)
  5. Large amounts of hand sanitizer can result in severe alcohol poisoning. (p. 40)
  6. Nursing moms taking codeine for the aftereffects of birth should look out for "excessive sleepiness" in their baby, as this can be a sign of an overdose - "some women who are very quick metabolizers can have unsafe amounts of medication in their breast milk." (p. 42) Good thing I wasn't taking any painkillers... I would have been absolutely certain that Chloe was overdosing!
  7. In the 2003-2004 flu season, 153 kids died. Better get your shots. (p. 46)
  8. "An everyday trip to the mall... poses a surprising number of hazards that can cause severe injuries." (p. 54) These include store displays, which can fall over (p. 56)...
  9. ...escalators, which can cause little bumps, bruises, lacerations, and limb amputations (p. 56)...
  10. carts, which send 21,000 kids under five to the emergency room every year (p. 57)...
  11. ...elevators, which crush the hands and limbs of nearly 2,000 kids a year (p. 58)...
  12. ...oh, and right, they can also wander off. (p. 59)
  13. During pregnancy, there are "likely explanations" and "worst-case scenarios" listed for three symptoms (just because we don't worry enough already). If you see bleeding, it could be a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, preterm labor, a problem with the placenta... or nothing. (p. 75)
  14. If you have severe itching, it could be "inthrahepatic cholestasis." That shuts down your liver. Or it could be nothing. (p. 75)
  15. If you have swelling, it could be preeclampsia. Or it could be nothing. (p. 75)
  16. If you let your kid get too stressed out early in life, they'll never get over it - "Children who have higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, early in life are more anxious and easily stressed as older kids." (p. 112)
  17. This goes for pregnancy, too - stress too much when you're pregnant and your baby is more likely to be premature, low-birthweight, hinder their psychological development, make them more anxious, and sleep more poorly. (p. 113) Stressed yet?
  18. Your kid could choke on a bouncy ball that's too small. (p. 116)
  19. Your kid's wooden blocks could chip, dent, or splinter. Or your kid could use them as a weapon. (p. 116)
  20. The discount crayons you got for your kid could be made of something that's not nontoxic paraffin (probably lead from China). (p. 118)
  21. Your kid's teddy bear could carry dust mites and allergens and can cause breathing problems or skin irritation. (p. 118)
  22. The little pegs on your kid's puzzle could come off and choke them. Or they could be made with lead paint from China. (p. 120)
  23. Your kid's toy instrument could be painted with lead from China. (p. 120) Okay, and I was sort of joking about the "lead from China" crayons earlier...

And I'd say that's about enough for one evening, even though I'm only halfway through the magazine. Now don't get me wrong - I've found useful tips and products in these parenting magazines, including this one. Did you know that echinacea really does help prevent colds? Well, you do now.

My objection is that so much of what these magazines sell is fear. I don't dispute the factual basis of any of these items. Some of them are fairly minor, and I'm certainly not saying that we should knowingly expose our children to serious danger. But how much do we curtail their freedom, their ability to learn from the things around them, their sense of independence and exploration, just to keep them "safe"? What does "safe" really mean? How "safe" is safe enough? It seems that in the current cultural environment, there is no such thing as safe enough - if there's even a hypothetical risk, the responsible thing to do is to protect against it. That sounds good... but it doesn't sound realistic. Our world is not an especially "safe" place. (On a side note, I don't know why [heheh, okay, I do so] these magazines never recommend that people quit putting their kids in cars, as driving is clearly the most dangerous activity any of us engage in on a regular basis.)

I don't exactly have an answer to this, but I'm curious about what all of you think. An example: I think that Chloe will probably be allowed to climb trees... but I think of how high I climbed as a kid and what would have happened if I fell, and that's pretty scary. The thing is, I DIDN'T fall, and neither did any of my friends. I don't know of anyone who was injured at all in a falling-from-a-tree accident.

What did your kids do/ do your kids do/ will your kids be able to do/ will your hypothetical kids someday maybe be able to do assuming you ever have them which you're not saying you ever will? What kind of risk is unacceptable, and how do you gauge that risk? What are the benefits of allowing kids to do "risky" things? If you'd like to reflect on this a bit, you should check out Emmie's blog, Better Make It a Double, on the left sidebar. (Sorry about the link-lack; I think the relevant posting was in August. Or October. But probably August.) Maybe I'll post a follow-up with some of my own conclusions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Drats, foiled again!

Google Video has foiled my posting plans for the day, and now I must run! Will I make it yet today???

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Dinner Conversation

Dinner tonight was split pea soup. Ingredients: dried peas, chicken broth, carrots, celery, onion, olive oil (for sauteeing the vegetables), and thyme. The carrots I used were a little bit past their prime - not spoiled, but bendy and starting to get a little shrively - which got me thinking about the provenance of a lot of dishes like this, in a time before refrigeration and winter imports from Brazil. As Mike and I talked about this a bit, Mike came up with a scenario: What would we do if we were dropped into 1801, not in, say, Connecticut, bur right here where our house lies, at this very time of year, with only the clothes on our backs? Yeah, we'd be in trouble. :-) But we started doing some research (Nerds 'R' Us! Can we help you?) - really, what would we do?? It's a pressing question. It's cold out, we have a baby, we need shelter and food and oh, somehow we have to make a living. Our first thought: we need to find a settlement! We started going through our options and discovered that alas, we went back in time too far to make this easy on ourselves. H*olland wasn't established until 1846, when Albertus vanRaalte arrived with his Dutch Reformed separatists, so no help there. When they did arrive, the only inhabitants were the Ottawa tribe (who were friendly, and for whom the county is presumably named), "Rev. Smith, who worked among the Indians, and Mr. Fairbanks, a government agent." The description of the area sounds like a primeval forest, with "tree trunks so large that three men together could not embrace them." (Source here.) Can you imagine?? And this is only 150 years ago! Anyway, our immediate priority should be to seek help from this local tribe. But then where to, assuming that we didn't want to live out our days in the wilderness? Grand R*apids didn't exist as we know it - there was definitely a small trading post there by 1803, but maybe not much more. Detr*it is an interesting option - a French fort and settlement had been in existence there since 1701, then it was ceded to the British in the French and Indian War. It officially became an American territory only in 1796, five years before we our imaginary landing - and it doesn't sound like it was exactly a peaceful transition. Unfortunately, Detroit was completely destoyed by a fire in 1805, so that's a little sketchy. Chica*go (which, by the way, means "striped skunk")? There had been a trading post there since the 1770s, but it would still be another two years until Fort Dearborn was founded on that site... and there would be a nasty massacre there in 1812, so maybe we should just avoid Chicago. (And speaking of 1812, does the War of 1812 ring any bells? Yeah, that's when we were at war with Canada. Maybe we should head south.) Our most surprising option? St. Jo*seph, Michigan - that's right, the one by Bento*n Harbor. French explorers had passed through there as early as 1669, and there was a permanent trading post there by 1780. It's only sixty miles from here and the St. Joseph River also meets up with the Sauk Trail, which was apparently a major overland trail in Michigan. So here's the plan: Find the local Ottawa tribe. See if they'll help us get down to St. Joe's. From St. Joe's head to Detroit, maybe, or somewhere else with good connections east, to more civilized environs. And hopefully we can do this before 1812 and without running into any hostile tribes. Whew! Got all that? I expect profuse thanks in the form of a time capsule from anyone who is accidentally transported back to 1801 and whose life and health are saved by the information contained herein. Actually, why don't you just go ahead and buy me a big stretch of lakefront property on Lake Michigan. That should do it. Next question: Where on earth do we tell people that we wacky folks are from??? A question for another sketchy blogging day... :-)

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Babies do eventually stop getting new teeth, don't they? Yesterday, Chloe seemed to be getting over her most recent round of teething blues - her nose had pretty much stopped running, anyway, which is usually a pretty good sign that the worst is over, and when I finally managed to get my finger inside that stubborn little mouth today, I found - guess what? - Tooth Number Eight! Tadaaaaaa! Yes, she is quite the overachiever on the tooth front and now has the full complement of front teeth: four on top, four on bottom. Done! I was really hoping, with this tooth done, that we would have a few months off before the one-year molars started coming in. Why I thought those teeth would wait until her one-year birthday when she got her first tooth at three months, I don't know. Wishful thinking, I'm sure. As I've mentioned before, she's been teething pretty much nonstop since we arrived home from Japan. In AUGUST. FOUR MONTHS ago. Yes, egads. Heh heh heh. Well, then there's reality, isn't there. Her nose began running to beat the band again this afternoon. And, hmm... why has she had her thumb stuck all the way in her mouth all day? And boy, is she GROUCHY! So back my finger went into that little mouth... And there's at least one big lump back in molar-land. Egads. In more pleasant news, we had a nice weekend of socializing, with Mike's Uncle John and Aunt Sandy stopping by on Saturday and my brother Ben and sister-in-law Sam coming over Sunday. We really enjoyed seeing everyone, and our Little Teether, bless her heart, does always seem to be cheerful when we're around other people, so we had a couple great visits. It was great to see you guys!