Monday, January 31, 2011

Quote for Thought

If your compassion doesn't include yourself, it is incomplete.


It seems that so many of us are much harder on ourselves than on others.  This is definitely a thought to consider when we're beating ourselves up...

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I know toddlers tend to over-react, but I think Bumble Baby takes the cake.  I sat the girls down for dinner today and returned to the kitchen at the other end of the apartment to get their drinks. While pouring out their orange juice and water, I heard a great scream and returned to the dining room to see what catastrophe had occurred.

Yaya instantly denied any involvement, so I turned to Bumble and asked, "What's the problem here?"

Between sobs she wailed, "Yaya spit out her yogurt!"

I laughed, and Yaya informed me that she spit it back into the container. That did nothing to calm Bumble, who thought that spitting out yogurt was the end of the world. I'll admit I knew she loves yogurt, but I didn't know just how much until tonight.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Abortion: Women's Rights vs. Children's Rights

This past weekend I found myself listening in on the abortion debate.  Oddly, I feel like it has been quite some time since I've heard any argument on the issue at all.  I realized last night while reading Praying With My Feet why it was that I was hearing the debate now -- yesterday was Sanctity of Life Sunday (and the 38th anniversary Roe v. Wade).  It all makes sense now.

I have always agreed with the Catholic (and Orthodox) Church's stance that abortion is a sin.  As a mom who named both of her daughters at 5 months in utero, I find it quite obvious that what is growing in the womb is nothing less than a baby.  Thanks to modern science we know when the heart starts beating (it can be detected as early as 5 weeks with ultrasound), when the unborn baby begins to feel pain (between 20 and 26 weeks), how big tiny hands and feet are at various stages, and by about 5 months we even know the sex of the baby.  With 3D ultrasounds we can even see just how human these innocent babies really are.  So, I will never understand how we can say it's a woman's right to choose whether any baby lives or dies.  A woman has the right to choose to have sex or not.  She even has the right to choose to use birth control.  She should not have the right to choose to end her baby's life.

Below is a video of a speech by Congressman James Lankford made during the recent House vote on the Healthcare Reform Act.  While I think the Reform Act is a necessary first step to fixing many of today's problems, I do agree with this Republican Congressman's stand on abortion.  I think it's important to note, though, that every year a ban is renewed on federal funding for abortions, and apparently President Obama just recently signed an executive order making that permanent (at least while he's in office).

Here is a link to an article about the doctor who was charged with murdering infants (aka late term abortion).

On the other side of the coin, my alarm clock woke me up Sunday morning to a discussion with Frances Kissling, a pro-choice Catholic.  You can find the podcast (Listening Beyond Life and Choice) and more information on the Being website.  Needless to say, I don't agree with Ms. Kissling's stand, but she did advocate civil discussions and listening, which is something I do think our society needs in general.  She also illustrates one hypocrisy I've always hated -- people who call themselves Catholic and receive communion, but unrepentantly disagree with the teachings of the Catholic Church (same for any Orthodox Christian).  If you don't believe the beliefs of your church, you are not in communion...

While I may not change anyone's mind, I do think we all need to take a close look at this issue.  How can we really say it's alright to end a life in the womb, but charge someone with murder for ending a life seconds later outside of the womb?  The doctor who allegedly did just that took those babies' lives at the request of their pregnant mothers.  He was performing abortions for them.  And whether you vacuum a baby's brains out or crush his skull in utero, or stab him in the neck after you've delivered him, the baby will feel the same pain and IS still a baby.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Thought to Live By

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.  The country is still in shambles, and violence is rampant.  The Haitian police are fighting a losing battle to round up about 4,000 prisoners who escaped when the earthquake struck.  Last night on Frontline: Battle for Haiti this problem was discussed, as recovery in Haiti cannot really begin until the rule of law is .

I found the show to be quite a revealing look at life in Haiti.  It has always been in my mind a place I would rather not go.  It still is really.  However, a quote from Daniel Rouzier, a Haitian businessman, about living there really stuck with me.  He said,  "At times coming from Haiti feels like a burden. It feels like a heavy cannon ball tied to your ankles. It feels like a curse really. I used to really feel that. Until it came to me that living in Haiti was a blessing. It is the opportunity to touch Christ every day -- in the person that can't feed himself, in the men in the prison, in the kids that contracted AIDS and doesn't have access to his medicine."

That is the way to look at life in general.  Every day affords a new opportunity to touch Christ in those around us.  Sadly, we squander so many of those chances, but this reminder might just help me take advantage of the next one that comes along...

Snow in 49 of These United States... I Want to See 50!

My husband left an article up on today that caught my attention.  It snowed in 49 states.  When I read the headline earlier this morning, I thought Hawaii must be the hold out, and 49 would be the best we could ever hope for.  Not so quick!  I was wrong, and Florida is the hold out (it snows regularly in Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in the winter!  I never would have guessed).  I feel certain Mother Nature could push some snow a little further south into the Florida panhandle.  It really wouldn't have to go all that far.

Anyway, we've seen so much snow since moving to Chicago, that I pretty much stopped taking snowy day pictures after Bumble Baby's first snow experience.  However, with so much snow in the U.S. I felt inspired to take a few pictures (as did Bumble).

Looking for the acorn she threw to the squirrels.

Said acorn buried in the snow...

Our snowy little corner of the world (okay, of our backyard).

"The Snow" photo by Bumble Baby

Another View: "The Snow" photo by Bumble Baby

Bumble and her acorn

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shooting of a Congresswoman Not Political?

The shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others is a terrible event.  It is the sort of thing that should never happen, but it also doesn't seem all that surprising.  Given the vitriolic rhetoric coming from the right wing about "evil" Democrats, such a thing was bound to happen.  Giffords's district was apparently even marked with a bull's-eye as a representative to take out in the recent elections on Sarah Palin's website.  And after voting for President Obama's healthcare reform bill, her district office was vandalized.  Despite this, I heard someone speaking on NPR today say that this assassination attempt was "not political;" it was just the act of a mentally ill man.

I won't disagree that this man seems to be mentally ill.  Nonetheless, he choose his target for a reason, and I don't think you can reasonably argue that it wasn't a political reason.  Last night I also read a comment on facebook arguing that his actions were not the result of Tea Party and right wing rhetoric -- again he's just mentally ill.  Well, I won't say all the blame goes to those spouting this unrestrained rhetoric because we each have to take responsibility for our own actions.  However, when we hear this rhetoric all the time (I don't want to hear it, but I seem to bump into in the media and life), someone who is mentally unstable might begin to assume that his actions would be accepted by others, and consequently, be more likely to act improperly.

So, while it is true that we don't know the motive behind this crime, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility to think that the shooter holds to right wing conservative ideologies.  And it is certainly not hard to believe that he doesn't like Democratic ideology.  Thus, whatever propelled him to commit this egregious crime, it was at the very least a political crime.

Finally, whether this man listened to and believed the right wing rhetoric or not, this incident has brought to the forefront the possible consequences of such hate-filled rhetoric.  I firmly believe in the First Amendment right to free speech (limited only when it presents "clear and present danger"), and there are some instances in modern American society where I feel free speech has indeed been wrongly limited out of a sense of political correctness.  However, even though we have the right to spout ideas of hate, perhaps it is time for us as individuals to stop and think before we do so.  Do we really want to live in a world filled with so much hatred, disunity, and tension?  Do we want our children to grow up in such a world?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Elizabeth Fitch (June 17, 1974 - January 6, 2011) Memory Eternal

I just learned this afternoon that Elizabeth Fitch passed away on Thursday, January 6, 2011.  When I first heard she had cancer a year or so ago, I emailed to check in on her and catch up some.  I'm not a very good friend, though, because I never did email her again.  I was lost in my own life... I am no longer the diligent correspondent I once was.

I'm not really sure what to say about her.  I feel like anything I do say will sound trite.  She was a good friend to many and will be missed by all who knew and loved her.  Her passing is a reminder to me of just how important it is to keep in touch with those I love and have loved.

Below are a few photos remembering her.

GTU Christmas Formal 1995

Dorm Room King Cake Party 1996

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lead Exposure in Children

This will be my little PSA.  About a month ago Bumble Baby had a two year check up, and the pediatrician drew blood to test for lead.  I was shocked when she called back a few days later to say that she had a lead level of 4.  I know we live in an old house (about 100 years old), and there is bound to be lead paint hiding on the walls.  However, we never found lead in Yaya's blood when she was young, and my hygiene routine was the same for her.  Well, the doctor told me this level was below the point where doctors would really worry, but I should be sure to wash her hands before eating and clean any dusty windowsills.  Then, we'll recheck at her next visit this spring.

In the meantime, I have begun to hear more and more reports of the consequences of lead in children.  It can cause developmental problems, behavioral problems, and it is toxic to many organs and interferes with the reproductive and nervous systems.  To make it worse, I then heard that there is no known amount of lead that is too small to cause harm.  So, Bumble is not really below the "worry" level.

I have always told the kids not to put toys in their mouths (and I keep up on all the recalls).  I even foil the attempts of the littlest ones to "explore with their mouths."  Now, I've become even more vigilant, and a mean mommy.  Bumble has always been the thumb-sucker (Yaya never sucked fingers or pacifiers!), but now every time she sticks it in her mouth, I tell her she should take it out.  And not only do we wash hands before eating, but now we wash them before naptime (biggest thumb-sucking moment), after we climb the apartment building stairs (I think these may be the culprit with years of dust buildup and no real way to clean them all easily).  All of this hand washing is really hard on both of us because of the dry, winter air, but I'll take cracking hands over life-long lead problems.

I had no idea that some foods are also good for removing lead from the blood (Bumble eats most of these in abundance, so she should be good):

Foods High in

Foods High in

Foods High in
Vitamin C

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Tofu
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Evaporated milk
  • Powdered milk
  • Lean red meat
  • Low-fat pork
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Raisins
  • Iron fortified cereal
  • Iron fortified infant formula
  • Breast milk
  • Oranges/Orange juice
  • Grapefruit/Grapefruit juice
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Potatoes cooked in the skin
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Strawberries

(from the Minnesota Department of Health see link below for more information)

Some Useful Links:
Chicago Channel 5 News Story
Flushing Out Lead, Metals With Chelation Therapy
Easy Explanation of Blood Levels from the Oregon Government
Minnesota Department of Health

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Little Tree That Grew on the Trestle

While visiting family in Thomasville, my husband and I went out to Cherokee Lake one afternoon.  This lake largely escaped his notice during his childhood, but about two weeks ago he discovered it while looking at old railroad maps.  So, we ventured out to see its current state and investigate some history.

Today it is a vibrant park with a rose garden, playgrounds, fishing docks, and a mile long walking path.  As we began a turn on the path, he pointed up at the railroad trestle and said, "Look at that little pine tree." I was amazed to see a tiny tree growing right out of one of the pilings.  As we passed under the trestle and looked back, we saw half a dozen more pine tree saplings growing up out of it.  They seemed to me a symbol of hope and determination.  In a place lacking soil and indeed space for roots to spread, these little trees still took root.  If they could grow there, we can grow anywhere.

As we continued our walk reaching the far side of the lake, we saw more tiny pines growing in the gutters of the county jail, and well as a few bigger, but still young pines growing on the side of the path.  Again, my husband commented, "Pine trees will grow wherever they sprout, but if you try to transplant them, they are sure to die."  Really?  I grew up with pines all around, but I had never seen anyone try to transplant them and had no idea they were so delicate.  The notion, though, instantly reminded me of a fellow church member who, in the midst of strife when some people run away from troubles trying to find a new church home, always says, "You must stay and grow where you're planted."  I thought that pine trees would be the perfect emblem for him -- a great example of his philosophy.

I don't know if I agree that as a blanket praxis we should all grow, live, and die where we start.  I certainly haven't.  In fact, in high school I really admired Disney's Belle because like her I wanted adventure in the great wide somewhere, and more than my "provincial" life.  In some ways, I think I found some of that, but in other ways, I've simply transplanted myself in another province.  Nonetheless, I'm now pretty happy with my little life, but this little life could never have happened if I had remained firmly rooted in my home soil.  I do still return to that soil for nourishment from time to time (perhaps too often if you ask my husband), but there are other soils which offer me other nourishment these days, too. Having said all that, I think our fellow parishioner is right in his theory if we modify it a bit.   For indeed, I think before one uproots himself, he should way his reasons, his duties, and the possible outcomes of his move.  I don't think running from conflict is a good reason to move.  It's my opinion that in families, in communities, members should strive to overcome their conflicts and find solutions to their problems.  It's all too easy these days to cut and run, as is evidenced by the rising rate of divorce for one.  It's much more difficult to stay put and work through things, but it is also potentially much more rewarding.

If that little tree on the trestle could tough it out and try to grow despite the odds, then so can we, and we stand a much better chance of growing.