Thursday, March 29, 2007

Blogs are So Cool

Okay, I’ve always thought blogs are cool … why else would I have one, and read so many blogs on a weekly basis, if I didn’t think that. But recently I’ve decided they’re even more cool than I thought they were before, mainly because of two recent comments left on my blog.

The first comment is from a girl I was in church nursery school with at First Baptist Church Long Beach! Aaaaahhhh! Even though Rhonda and I were like five years old, I have distinct memories playing with her as a child, along with two other girls, Jessica and Katie. I distinctly remember her large backyard and swing set, kitchen, dining room, and another big room upstairs in her house that was full of toys and a TV set. I also remember all of her red-headed and blonde siblings. Crazy! She still lives in Long Beach and has recently realized her lifelong dream of becoming a zoo keeper.

The second comment is from a student in India—a total stranger to me. He randomly came across my blog while doing research for a book review. He apparently told some friends about Meredith and now several of his friends, also from India, have left sweet comments on the Toddler Days post. They have all made me smile, and even laugh. Then I checked out Shrikant’s blog, and found it to be very entertaining, with lots of great quotes that made me think deeper about life. So, I’m glad to have found his blog too.

Blogs make the world smaller. Blogs bring people together. Blogs enrich life.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pacifier Funeral

We are alive! The weekend I was dreading for months, if not longer, has finally come and gone. We had designated this past weekend as “the” weekend to finally take away Meredith’s pacifiers. I cannot believe how emotionally attached she was to her passy. It had become her total comfort and joy. She wanted to have it either in her mouth or by her side at all times. She was upset when she lost it and overjoyed when she found it again.

Because of her extreme love for and attachment to her passy, I felt like a total villain for taking it away. But then I also knew I had to administer some tough-love because her passy was starting to mess up her teeth. I could already tell its affects on her bite. So, this past weekend was THE weekend.

We started with a “Big Girl Ceremony” on Friday night to inaugurate the big weekend. The ceremony was complete with eloquent speeches, a passy gathering (the "pink one," "white one," "monkey one," etc.), a trash dumping (done by Meredith herself), a final prayer for all of Meredith’s dearly departed pacifiers and grace for her to get through the first couple days and nights, plus ice cream to celebrate.

First let me say, I cannot believe how much time I spent dreading this compared to how much of a problem it really was. Meredith clearly understood what had happened so, whenever she asked for her passy, we reminded her: “Meredith, what did you do with your passy?” “Trash,” she would reply. She wept a few times but never cried herself to sleep, like I expected she might. As the weekend progressed, she asked for it fewer and fewer times. Today, she’s only asked for it once so far.

The hardest part was that she got the flu on Saturday morning (of course, the weekend we were going to take the passy away, she would get sick). Several times I was tempted to give in but, since Meredith had already emotionally said good-bye, I knew I had to hold my ground. In the end I’m glad that we staid course. She’s now feeling better and, with the passing of her pacifier, it seems she has officially entered big girlhood.

Monon Workout

Yesterday I, who rarely exercise despite my best intentions, walked nearly eight miles! Catherine came over with her daughter Hannah and us two pregnant ladies, with our daughters in their strollers, set out on the Monon Trail. The Monon is just a few blocks from our house and is an old converted railway trail.

The great thing about walking/exercising with a friend is that you start talking, get caught up in conversation, and don’t realize how far you’re actually going. So, in other words, exercising with a friend is good! We walked nearly to the border of Hamilton County. Kevin couldn’t believe it when he heard it. We’ve biked that far but never walked it.

I ended up with a few blisters and sore hips, legs, and feet. But all that will go away soon, right? It was good to get out and exercise—and I hope to start walking more regularly now that the weather is nice.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Super Size Me

I love the library. It’s always a good thing, but it’s especially good when you’re on a student’s budget and regularly frequenting Borders and Blockbuster is prohibitive. I love being able to walk into the library knowing that everything is free and available to me. It’s wonderful. I’ve always been a liberal library-user but lately, with no cable TV (and desiring to watch something while I’m ironing shirts), I’ve been stocking up on lots of videos in addition to books.

Last time I was at the library I saw the documentary Super Size Me sitting on the shelf and took it home. I’d read some of the reviews on this documentary when it was released but was unprepared for its persuasion. I won’t say that I’m ready to give up all fast food (not that we eat it very often—maybe once a month) but Super Size Me was a good reminder about the fast food industry, junk food in general, and the overall threat of obesity to health.

For those of you unfamiliar with Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock goes on a 30-day McDonald’s-only diet under the supervision of three physicians and two nutritionists with shocking results. The film was very eye-opening, informative and even entertaining. I highly recommend it.

Ironically, the day I watched Super Size Me, I had already planned on having grilled burgers and homemade onion rings for dinner that night! Ha!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Toddler Days

Here are some cute Meredith-isms from the past month—little things I’ve jotted down as they’ve happened. I’ve only just now found the time to post them!

This picture of her is a VERY typical Meredith expression. She likes to look at people sideways. She is now 20.5 months and such a joy!

Mer’s new thing is getting in and out of her booster seat by herself and then fastening the buckle by herself. In fact, she pretty much wants to do everything by herself lately. When I try to help her, she says, “Self!” When she doesn’t get her buckle fastened on the first try, she’ll say “Almooost” to encourage herself. Lately, though, she’s gotten really good at it—she buckles herself into her booster, stroller, and grocery carts.

Speaking of grocery carts, going grocery shopping with her is crazy! She loves to identify all the objects she knows and yell out the names of food she sees. When she’s not yelling “Banana! Grapes! Bacon! Pasta! Cookies!” at the top of her lungs, then she’s loudly singing one of her favorite songs. We couldn’t sneak up on anyone if we tried.

She has learned how to pray, repeating prayers after daddy: “Fa-der, tank-you … for our food. For mommy, daddy, and baby. AMEN!” It’s so sweet to hear her childish voice saying prayers.

Speaking of prayer, when the pastor said “Amen” at the end of his prayer at church last week, Meredith loudly asked, “All done?” She was tired of being confined in the pew. Children are so honest!

She knows all of the colors of the rainbow, plus more. She loves to identify everything by its color: pink shirt, brown bear, grey shoes, etc. Her favorite color is pink, of course.

She has become a backseat driver! Totally! “Red stop! Green go!” “Turn!” (We wonder what she’ll be like when she’s three!)

Mer is constantly pretending. The other day she picked up a piece of scrambled egg on her plate and said, “Dinosaur. Rooooaaaarrrrr!” Every time she sees two of something where one thing is bigger than the other, the big thing is always the “mommy” and the little thing is always the “baby.” For instance, “Mommy grape, baby grape.”

She wants to be included in everything. When I kissed Kevin hello the other day, she said, “Mommy, daddy kissing. Mer-mith kissing?” We quickly gave her a kiss too.

She copies nearly everything we do. She must always spit in the sink when she brushes her teeth, despite the fact that she’s already swallowed all the toothpaste. :-)

The other day she picked up a semi-transparent blue Tupperware lid, held it to her eyes, and said, “Dark outside!” She loves to tell everyone when it’s dark/night vs. light/day.

We went shopping the other day at Macy’s. We were walking through the underwear aisle when Meredith spotted the most hideous pair of granny underwear in the whole store—big, white, and plain. She reached for it and said, “Awww, cute!” I just about fell to the floor laughing. As we left the mall on another trip, she cried, “Shopping! Shopping!” We asked her if she wanted to do more shopping and she said, “YES!”

Meredith was upset that I wasn’t paying more attention to her as she slid down her plastic slide in the living room—I was reading a book at the time. She looked up and me and said, “Book down! Mommy watch you! Book all done!”

She finds excuses for her finger to be hurt just so she can have it “kissed all better.” When I kiss one finger, she holds up the next one, and then the next one, saying “this one ... this one ... this one.”

Meredith is such a toddler! She has recently gained so much confidence in herself. She chatters and sings nonstop. She understands how everything works and has definite opinions on what people should do, not do, say, and wear. She will be such a bossy big sister! But she is also kind and obedient. We love our little girl!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Serenading Birds

This morning we woke up to happy, tweeting and chirping bird sounds. Kevin noticed it first. We hadn’t realized how much we missed bird sounds until we realized (this morning) that they had been absent for a long time.

Winter had silenced the birds. But, thankfully, winter is not forever.

And then there are the flowers. They’re starting to pop up here and there, just a little bit. On a walk yesterday afternoon, Kevin noticed some blue wild flowers sprouting up in someone’s yard, along with daffodil and tulip leaves too.

All those years I lived in California I never really appreciated birds or flowers because they were always around. Here, I appreciate every little sign of spring that I get.

I also appreciate the fact that I appreciate it.

I think the changing seasons teach us things about life, time, and various forms of beauty.

Floods and Sales

On the worst day possible, as I was rushing around like mad to do laundry and pack stuff for Kevin to go on a men’s retreat, our (unfinished) basement flooded. I spent about three hours on my hands and knees mopping up water, and trying to dry things as much as possible.

From what I can tell, the room was filled with about an inch of water (based on the water line on a cardboard box). The water must have receded quickly down the drain, though, because it was mostly dry on the concrete where I stepped. I wouldn’t have noticed it had flooded (as soon as I did) if I hadn’t picked up one of Meredith’s toys to find water rushing out of it. I realized how bad it had flooded only when I stepped onto an area rug and water seeped all over the place.

We don’t use our basement very much—just for some furniture storage, pantry storage, laundry, and I have a scrapbook table down there. Fortunately nothing of sentimental value (e.g., pictures) or other value (e.g., furniture) was damaged. An area rug and some stuffed toys were drenched, but easily dried out. Probably the worst thing was a box with Kevin’s sheet music, but I think those will dry out fine too.

On Saturday morning I went to the Mother lode of all garage sales. A local Nazarene church hosted 200 private garage sales—selling kids’ stuff only. All of the toys and clothes were presorted and organized by gender and size. I hear that a week of work goes into this sale; with massive volunteer effort (25% of the proceeds benefit various charities). They hire two accountants to manage all the numbers.

It was crazy! I got there 45 minutes before the doors opened and there were already at least 150 people in line, ahead of me. When the doors opened everyone rushed in like mad. It was probably the most insane thing I’ve done in a long time. But I did come away with some cool wooden puzzles, books, and nearly all the clothes Meredith will need for the spring/summer. None of the clothes had any stains on them. Most of them look like new and there were quite a few name-brands. So, I guess in the end it was worth all the insanity—and setting the alarm clock about three hours earlier than I wanted.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Peeking Inside the Package

The idea of “sisters” has been on my mind a lot in the past day because we just found out that Meredith is going to get one! We are very excited. I’m already envisioning a double stroller loaded with pink stuff.

You’d think that our life would be destined for sugar-and-spice and frilly things, because we’ll have two girls. But then I remember that my parents had daughters who were interested in things like politics and hockey. So, you never know.

It was so cute—baby #2 was sucking her thumb vigorously when her profile popped up on the ultrasound machine. You could clearly see her little fingers and her mouth opening and closing. Ultrasounds have to be one of the coolest things ever invented. We’re really glad we found out the gender of this baby. We didn’t find out last time. That’s great for some people, but I think I prefer knowing. It gives me more time to be excited about the specifics of what our family is going to be like and helps me to bond better with the baby.

The ultrasound tech also told me that they will push my due date up a week. This is good news, as far as I’m concerned. Meredith came a week early too. So maybe I’m just a 39-weeker. The new due date is July 29.

Here’s an ultrasound pic of the new baby. We haven’t picked a name yet but, after finding out the sex, our list of choices has been cut in half, which is helpful.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Making Cookies with a One-Year-Old

I’ve tried to make cookies “with” Meredith on several occasions and the result has usually been a disaster—either resulting in a huge mess, her crying when I limit her contribution to the effort, or even (one time) a complete abandonment of the project.

Just when I started to think she’s altogether too young to help make cookies, I found a way to make it work. The answer: give Meredith her own bowl, her own ingredients, and her own spoon. Mommy gets the “real” (big) bowl. Meredith gets the little bowl. Everyone is happy.

Actually, Meredith was more than happy. She had a blast! I gave her a very small amount of each ingredient (except for eggs and extract). In between stirring the ingredients with her spoon, she managed to eat most of each ingredient before I could put the next one in. But she didn’t care. I didn’t care. It was great. (Side note: why is it that kids love eating things like shortening and plain flour? Gross.)

I look forward to many more memorable cookie-making times with my daughter. Maybe someday soon she’ll be able to stir the ingredients in the “real” bowl. But for now, we found something that works.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Book Club!

I’m so excited because I’m starting a ladies book club, with the help of Shannon and Catherine. Both of these gals have inspired me with their love of books, so I’m really glad they’re involved. After researching how to start a book club, figuring out logistics, and deciding on a few books to start with, the details are now ironed out and we have our first meeting in another month. We will be discussing a mix of both fiction and non-fiction. Next month it’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

The book club will encourage me to read more, to think more, and to develop deeper bonds with friends through discussing important life issues and sharing in plots, characters, and adventures.

I think it will be an enriching, rewarding, and fun experience.

Dad & Daughter

Here are four ways Meredith is just like her dad:

1) She can roll her tongue like a taco.
2) Her feet are extremely ticklish.
3) When she loses something, she looks everywhere but the obvious place.
4) She has an amazing memory. (She definitely did not get this from her mom.)

Friday, March 02, 2007

My Kev

I’m so proud of Kevin. He wouldn’t volunteer this information himself but, despite a full class schedule, working 20 hours a week, and being a good father and husband to a very distracting toddler and a high-maintenance wife, he just learned that he made it into the top 5% of his law school class of 260 people. He’s worked very hard and has been such a good example to me of saying “no” to things he’d rather be doing and “keeping on” even when he’s burnt out.

Frankly, it hasn’t been easy to go from practicing law in California, representing his own clients, and arguing his own cases in court, to being a student again. Despite this setback, he has always faithfully stayed the course, working hard and providing for our family. He has been a tremendous example to me of someone who faces challenges head-on and walks humbly before God.

I love you Kevin!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Has anyone tried garlic oil for ear infections?

Note: I've received e-mails that "comments" are not working on my blogger. I have no idea what the deal is. Sorry! Hopefully they'll work soon!

Question: Has anyone tried garlic oil for ear infections?

We think Meredith might have an ear infection. Yesterday she had a fever and she told Kevin’s mom, while she was changing her diaper, “Ear hurt” and then she pointed to her left ear.

This morning I asked her once again if her ear hurt. She said, “Mmmm, hmmm. Grandma! Beep!” (She was referring to when her temperature got taken yesterday by grandma and she had to wait for the beep.) Since Meredith is only 20 months we don’t consider her veracity very reliable—it’s probably more likely that she remembered yesterday’s events than that her ear continues to hurt. Today her fever is gone and she is acting like her normal, chipper self again.

So, basically, I don’t know what to do. Let me know what you think of this article (excerpt) below, written by Dr. Lynne Paige Walker and taken from “Nature’s Pharmacy: Break the Drug Cycle with Safe Natural Treatments for 200 Everyday Ailments.”

I’ve never been much into natural remedies but I’ve read a lot of stuff online that garlic oil works to eliminate pain from ear infections. Then, just this morning, I read the information below. If even half of what they say in this book is true, I find it compelling.


Ear Infections

Despite aggressive treatment, otitis media, or middle-ear infection, has reached epidemic proportions in American children. Called the bread and butter of the pediatrician, its treatment grosses at least $1 billion annually.

Standard drug treatment for ear infections is with antibiotics, but the ailment often fails to respond even to repeated courses of these drugs. The majority of ear infections are caused by viruses, for which antibiotics don’t work; and the widespread use of antibiotics has led to the widespread development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

A landmark Swedish study involving 2,145 patients shows that for the majority of ear infections, antibiotics may do more harm that good. Not only did ear infections not go away any faster when treated with the drugs, but children treated with them were 30 percent more likely to have a recurrence of the infection. For those treated with antibiotics from the first day of the disease, recurrences were 40 percent more likely. The chance of repeat infection within a month of the previous one was more than twice as great in children treated with antibiotics as in those not treated. And in those treated with antibiotics from the first day of the disease, it was nearly three times as great.

The researchers noted that ear infection recurrences are on the increase and concluded that routine early administration of antibiotics may be responsible. The drugs depress the immunological response to bacteria, preventing the development of natural antibodies and interfering with the development of natural immunity. That explains why the earlier they’re given the more frequent are relapses of the disease. Antibiotics also permit overgrowths by resistant Candida microbes, which then produce toxins that can weaken the immune system and further reduce the child’s resistance.

Results of the Swedish study were confirmed in a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1987. Over 500 children with middle-ear infections were given either (1) an antibiotic alone (the popular amoxicillin), (2) that antibiotic along with a decongestant-antihistamine, or (3) a placebo. After four weeks, no significant differences were found in the children’s conditions. Neither drug provided any advantage over no drugs at all, confirming earlier research. Other studies of children with otitis media with fluid in the ears have found that the majority of cases resolved by the following month without treatment.

That doesn’t mean you have to ignore your suffering child who is screaming and pulling at her ears. Effective natural remedies are available to ease pain while the ears heal.

One is Mullein Oil Ear Drops. Mullein has narcotic properties. While it’s a strong painkiller, it doesn’t produce the lightheadedness or psychological aberrations of narcotic drugs. Applied directly in the ear, it quiets irritated nerves, relieves pain, and soothes inflammation. Other helpful herbs are Echinacea and elderberry.

Home remedies when you can’t make it to an herb shop include a few drops of plain fresh onion juice, squeezed in a garlic press right into the ear. Cotton can be applied afterwards to hold the juice in. Fresh-squeezed garlic oil, warmed on a spoon over the stove, is also good.