Monday, November 30, 2009

Formula vs. Breast Milk

Does any brand of formula have stem cells in it? Doubt it. But breast milk does!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Celebrity LOL

In honor of our having watched the final episode of the final season of MacGyver last night, here's a great Celebrity LOL -
richard dean anderson
see more Lol Celebs
It's nice in our work/status/money/stuff-obsessed culture to see a hero like MacGyver making the choice to quit his employment when family obligations come up.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stories from People Around Us #1

We invited a friend from church to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. She is a single, older lady, intelligent but certainly not part of any sort of celebrity scene. As we were talking about Donny Osmond (go Donny for winning Dancing With the Stars at his age!), I told a story about a relative who was asked out by two Osmond brothers at around the same time and ended up at an Osmond family get-together on one of the dates. Tres awkward.

Our friend topped my tale by telling about how her mother dated Elvis Presley. For real. She went on five dates with Elvis back when he was in Shreveport, but decided not to pursue a longer relationship with him. According to our friend, her mom didn't want to be with someone who'd "always be prettier than she was."

Monday, November 23, 2009


Our dd-zero is just three and a half weeks old, and she just gave us her first clearly real smiles a few minutes ago. So dear! At this Thanksgiving season, one of the things I am most thankful for is the privilege of being a mother. I know that life could have taken me other ways and that motherhood is not something that comes to all women, so I am humbled and grateful for the blessing of being able to raise my children.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

We just watched the DVD of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog last night. Dh had already seen this little gem on the internet when it came out, but this was my first time watching it. It was one of the funniest movies I've seen for a very long time. Included on the DVD was a musical commentary that was one of the silliest things I've heard for a very long time. One of the best actors in the movie was Bad Horse, the head of the Evil League of Evil. ;) No, seriously, the three leads were all terrific. Well done, Joss Whedon et al.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Library wishes

I love our local library system. So many books, videos, etc. that we can put on hold and check out and renew (online renewal is so great!). :) However, I have just a few wishes that would make the library experience even better:
1) I wish people would not let their children damage the children's section DVDs. Nearly every Backyardigans video I've ever checked out freezes at some point in the watching thereof, much to the dismay of our little ones.
2) I wish that people would return intact the multi-DVD sets. We just found out that there is a sixth DVD to the 2nd season of MacGyver; it wasn't there when we checked it out, but now that the library has noticed its absence, we might be the ones who end up being charged for its loss.
3) I wish I hadn't had to pay $4.50 to use a parking garage last night when I went to our downtown library, which is located right by a community college branch so all the free parking spots by the library were full.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Benny and Omar

Benny and Omar by Eoin Colfer was such a fun book! And if expat life in Africa is like expat life in Asia and South America, this was one of the most accurate depictions of it that I've ever come across. The book even taught me about Irish culture; for instance, now I know the word "eejit", and I have an inkling of what "hurling" is (it's a sport, not a stomach emptying). So, go read this book. Read it to your children, too, if they're eight or older.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I just finished reading the book Stuffed by Hank Cardello last night. It was an interesting read, especially the first part where he covers the economic reasons for why restaurants and packaged food makers make selling choices that are bad for consumer health, inter alia, combo meals, supersizing, and inertia as to ingredient changes. The author is very pessimistic about people's ability to choose to eat healthily, so he advocates in the latter part of his book the practice of "stealth health"--changing out unhealthy ingredients for healthier ones without telling consumers. I can see the merits in such an idea, but I don't agree with what he considers healthier alternatives. For instance, I distrust artificial sweeteners and never use them in my food, and I don't drink diet soda pop; I certainly don't want the food industry sneaking such sweeteners into my food. Also, I don't want to be fed oil that my body won't absorb; I did that once, and I was not pleased with how my body dealt with it. I'd much rather eat moderate amounts of butter, saturated fat that it is. Despite my dislike of "stealth health" as a solution to the obesity epidemic, I still recommend the book--at the least, it should help you have the strength to turn down the combo meal next time you're forced to get your lunch or dinner at a fast food joint.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MacGyver: Trail to Doomsday

We just watched MacGyver: Trail to Doomsday. I knew who one of the bad guys was from the start. This made-for-TV movie was too predictable and very slow-paced. It was as though they took a regular MacGyver episode and just STREEEETTTCHED it to add another 30 minutes or so. I actually went and washed dishes, I was that bored with the lack of action. So, watch it if you're a MacGyver fan, but have something else to do with your hands while you wait for the movie to get where it's going.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What an intelligent teenager can do with the right education

A sixteen-year old boy diving off Montenegro while on vacation discovered an ancient Greek or Roman temple submerged under the water. He recognized it as unlikely to be a natural rock formation because his dad is an archaeologist and had dragged him around to various ruins:

Michael said: “When I first swam out, I thought they were just rocks, as most people would, but then I noticed that they were cylindrical and knew that they couldn’t be natural, so I called my dad over.

“I’ve been dragged around a lot of ancient ruins, so if it hadn’t been for that I wouldn’t have looked twice.”

Can you imagine how good this is going to look on his college applications? "Accomplishments: Discovered ancient temple on summer vacation". Pretty hard to top that!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back to normal life?

Dh's paternity leave ended today, but things aren't as hard to handle as I feared. Thanks to baby only waking up three times during the night and falling back asleep almost immediately, I got a decent amount of sleep. It's amazing what a difference being rested makes! Also, my two older girls are not dissatisfied with having to stay home today because they're both getting over illnesses and slept late themselves.

Not to sound like a whiner, but I've never taken care of a newborn and my own house before. Living abroad in poorer countries generally includes with it the financial ability to hire housekeepers, but this time I'm on my own. I'm very grateful for my little house right now. Who wants to vacuum a McMansion while recovering from childbirth and caring for a newborn?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reading progress in just a few minutes a day

Dd5 is progressing very well in reading. She often reads picture books to herself and her sister now, provided that I have read the books to her recently. Because she remembers the stories and many of the words used in them, she's able to work out nearly all of the words by applying the phonics rules we've covered so far. Not bad, considering we are just finishing up the "silent 'e' at the end of the word makes the vowel say its name" rule. Thanks to, she has been given a solid foundation in knowing letter names and sounds; Starfall is one of the best websites ever.

Lessons are not stressful for either one of us. I especially love it that our formal reading lessons are nearly always under 10 minutes per day. A typical reading lesson can be as simple as sounding out twelve words or so that require application of a specific reading rule. If she's being fidgety, our lessons really are that short. Also, if need be, we spend weeks on the same rule until she understands it. It's not like we have to rush her to reading proficiency...she's barely old enough for kindergarten as it is! It's pleasant to be seeing fruits already from our low-key but consistent approach to teaching her to read.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


While adjusting to life with our dear little newborn, we've been enjoying Seasons 1 and 2 of MacGyver, one of the best TV shows ever. There is nothing that Minnesota boy can't do! Glad I married me a Minnesota boy, too. :)

Ten reasons MacGyver is so awesome:
1) He stops an acid leak with chocolate in the very first episode.
2) It's clear who the bad guys are--the Commies.
3) Rather than hold a gun himself, he'll hand it to the current episode's lady character even though she's never fired a gun before.
4) He's got a soft spot for children.
5) He manages to communicate with people no matter where he is--Central America, Russia, Hungary, even Burma!
6) His one-liner comments are so bad they're funny.
7) His hair is generally handsome and flattering; sadly, his lady co-stars suffer from serious 80's hairstyles.
8) He never needs a map to escape; the man can make it to the border of any country, no matter how cloudy the day.
9) Thanks to their having helped MacGyver, scores of people become asylees.
10) His ingenious solutions always work, no matter how far-fetched and slim the chances.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Birth Story

My baby is nearly one week old! Just a little under a week ago, I started feeling labor contractions--those business-like ones that for me resemble menstrual cramps. We left for the hospital after dinner, but stopped on the way to get me a large chocolate Frosty at Wendy's. While we drove around eating our Frosties, we timed my contractions in a sitting position (in the car passenger seat) so that we'd know exactly what to report when checking into the birth center. We finally arrived and got me checked in at around 8 or 9 p.m., when active labor was just getting started. I labored without too much pain until around 1 a.m., then transition arrived and stayed and stayed and stayed. By the time my "water broke" and I was ready to push, I had no patience to wait for the doctor to come in. It was time for the pain to end, and delivery was the way to do it! All the nurses were yelling at me to not push and to wait for the doctor, but the only thing that slowed me down was hearing that they had to take care of a nuchal cord (umbilical cord around the baby's neck, just like Mommy at birth). Some doctor made it in time for the birth at 2:54 a.m., and my doctor (who I'd never met--she was just the one on call that night) came in afterward to help with the placenta and aftercare.

This was my third drug-free childbirth, and I can honestly say "ow". Childbirth does hurt, although not the whole time. Contractions do ebb, thankfully, and by being able to change position and spend much of my labor upright and mobile, I think I speed up my labors. The pushing stage certainly goes quickly. I can't imagine needing more than ten minutes or so to push a baby out, but that could just be how my body works. Also, I tend to recover rather quickly which I put partially down to having felt what's going on with my body during labor and delivery (it helps that my babies have been such great little nursers, too).

It was odd to realize that here in the USA, doctors don't typically see you during labor. They do everything through the nurses until the baby is about to come. I don't like that aspect of US hospital birthing. I purposely chose a certified nurse-midwife for all my prenatal care so that I could be assisted by someone who dealt regularly with non-epidural births. In the end, except for her faxing in my birth plan to the hospital ahead of time, she had nothing to do with how my labor was managed because she wasn't on call that night. I was at the mercy of the random nurse assigned to me. Luckily, I ended up with a very supportive nurse during transition, bless her heart!