Friday, February 28, 2014

seven quick takes

1. We've been looking for ways to make Josie's crib less abhorrent to her, so when I was at the store the other day I decided to look for a crib activity center. But it turns out they all made me want to claw my eyes out. Apparently you can't get one like the one my brother had as a baby, with spinning and sliding parts-- they're all buttons with battery-operated lights and sounds. Which is not only more annoying, but less developmentally helpful, it seems to me.
This awesomeness is no longer available.

2. Moms, did you ever wonder why the smell of babies makes you so happy? Turns out it lights up the reward section of your brain, like drugs to an addict. Newborn baby's smell is as addictive as drugs or food: study. (The photo caption at the top of the article has nothing to do with the rest of the article, FYI.)

3. Good article: If I Can't Accept You At Your Worst, Then Maybe You Should Stop Being So Horrible. It brings to light this ridiculous "I'm okay, you're okay," I-don't-need-to-change cultural attitude that's so prevalent. And it's just how God treats us-- He loves us even with our faults and imperfections, of course, but challenges us to overcome them BECAUSE He loves us. Just like a good parent-- you love your child when they're eating dirt, but it's not okay for them to eat dirt, even though they'll cry when you wash their mouth out. You love your child before they can walk, but it's not okay for them to crawl forever (barring medical issues, duh), even though they'll fall and bump their head a bunch of times while they're learning.

4. Doctor to Dads: You're Doing It Wrong. Obviously this doesn't apply to ALL dads, or ONLY to dads. But I can't tell you how frustrating it is when a dad (or occasionally grandma, older sibling, etc.) brings in a child and has NO IDEA what's been going on with them. The patient/parent interview, or the "history" as we call it, is probably the most important part of making a diagnosis (physical exam is usually less important, and labwork and imaging are even further down the importance scale). I'm not Beverly Crusher with a freakin' tricorder that I can just wave over your child and immediately tell you what's wrong with them. 

Yup, the nerd factor just increased exponentially all up in here.

5. One more pediatrician PSA, complete with cool graphic: Does my baby really need to ride rear facing until age 2? (Hint: the answer is "yes.")

link to larger image

6. We had a playdate with our next-door neighbor and her cute 20-month-old daughter the other day. By the end of it Faith was whispering conversations with her (the mom, not the baby). Faith's progression of talking-to-new-people goes as follows:

1. Silence, no interaction, minimal eye contact.
2. Silence, makes eye contact, waves, points, nods yes/no.
3. Whispered "baby talk" gibberish.
4. Whispered conversation.
5. Out-loud "baby talk" gibberish.
6. Out-loud conversation, but a little subdued.
7. Her normal self-- talking, yelling, singing, etc.

So, you know, making it to step 4 in a two-hour playdate ain't bad.

7. Aaaand, I've run out of interesting things to say. (Let me maintain my delusion that all the above quick takes were SUPER INTERESTING.) So I'll cheat and use my seventh take to link back to Conversion Diary, where you can read everyone else's quick takes too-- I'll add the link as soon as it's available. Oooh, and here's ANOTHER link to Conversion Diary, for the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

theme thursday: fences

Here we go for day 4 of the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge!

A few weeks ago we had a week of "staycation" when we visited various Guam tourist spots. Here are Faith and Jack walking back to shore after checking out Fish Eye Marine Park. (Fortunately there are fences because it's a long pier!) It's an underwater aquarium with windows you can look out into one of the Piti Bomb Holes and see the coral and fish out in the real ocean. Pretty fun.

Head over to Clan Donaldson to see more fences for Theme Thursday! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

what we're reading wednesday

Joining in for the first time in the What We're Reading Wednesday linkup with Housewifespice, in an attempt to keep my 7 Posts in 7 Days commitment!

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

This is the third book of a young adult dystopian trilogy. The book is set in a future post-apocalyptic world, three hundred years after the onset of a devastating, worldwide, electrical atmospheric phenomenon called the Aether.  When the Aether first appeared, a few thousand people were chosen to live in protected cities safe from the Aether where they spent most of their time in virtual reality, and the rest of the people remained on the outside to survive as best they could. The main characters are two teens named Aria and Perry, one from inside the pods and one from outside. 

This third book was just as enjoyable as the first two-- which is to say, a lot. The villain in the book makes you genuinely hate him, but at the same time he's an interesting character. Aria and Perry are fun to read about, and their relationship (of course they have a relationship, this is a young adult dystopian novel we're talking about) is actually believable. I'd recommend this series to older teens and up; there is some violence as well as a few sexual references.

The next book I'm working on is Mansfield Park-- I'm about 3/4 of the way through. (How obnoxious is Mary Crawford? Don't you just want to smack her?)

faith's third birthday photo dump

Okay, guys, I'm taking a foray into full-on mommy blog mode. Brace yourselves. (Also, it's Wednesday here on Guam, but Tuesday in the states, so I'm saying that I didn't actually miss a day of the 7 posts in 7 days challenge. Humor me.)

My Faithy turned three on the 15th! I had a lot of fun making the day fun for her. Win-win.

She woke up to balloons taped all over her room, and then came out to the dining room to find this:

Yeah, the blue painter's tape is totally visible. Faith didn't seem to care.
Her chair at the table was decorated fit for a birthday princess.

We had some friends over for a party. Here was the spread (we had sandwiches too.)

Faith requested chocolate cupcakes with purple frosting. That seemed reasonable to me. I made the mini "Happy Birthday Faith" bunting banner out of washi tape.

The party guests had fun blowing bubbles and drawing with chalk on the patio!

The birthday girl! (And no, she didn't really talk during the party. But that doesn't mean she didn't have an awesome time, because she did.)

That evening at dinner, we had spaghetti (her favorite) and a "family cake."

Here you can see her birthday shirt. "03" for a 3-year-old! (Made with a bleach pen and freezer-paper stencil.)

Admiring her new workbook from Memaw and Papa (my parents)!

Bath crayons from Gangy and Poppop (Jack's parents-- and yes, it's from Arrested Development.)

Her new dollhouse! (The dolls and furniture are from Plan Toys. The house is a bookcase that I "wallpapered" with scrapbook paper.)

It was a successful birthday! I can't believe I have a 3-year-old!

Monday, February 24, 2014

the joy of parenting

Linking up at Conversion Diary for the 7 posts in 7 days challenge!

The other day I saw a link to this article on one of my (childless) Facebook friends' newsfeed: Why Do Parents Make Parenting Sound So God-Awful?

For those not interested in reading the whole thing, the gist is as follows: "Lately it seems like everyone online just talks about how hard parenting is. And I get that they're exaggerating a bit for commiseration and comedic effect, and they shouldn't have to pretend everything is perfect and easy. But still... for me, the childless female journalist who would someday like to have children, it sure makes parenting sound scary and unappealing!"

Now, I recognize that the journalist is approaching the issue from the perspective of our modern world, for which children are something of an inconvenient addendum to life (exemplified by the now famous-- or infamous, depending on whom you ask-- TIME cover article "The Childfree Life"-- as if being child-free is like being cancer-free). And children aren't that at all-- having children is part of the natural order of things-- they're not an addendum, they're kind of the whole point. Simcha Fischer wrote one of my favorite posts ever on the subject: The Earth Is A Nursery.

Enough with the digressions, I guess. To summarize the original journalist's worldview on the topic-- "To Reproduce Or Not To Reproduce: What Will Make Me Happier?" But she's not totally to blame for that-- it's the worldview of our whole modern society too-- and, still and all, she has a point regarding how we (parents) present parenting.

Dwija at House Unseen made a comment once which stuck with me, saying that she tries [and succeeds!] to look at least somewhat put-together in public, because if she looks like a drudge then she's basically telling the world by her appearance that mothering is nothing but drudgery. And of course there is some drudgery to it, but that's not ALL there is. And honestly, every career has some drudgery to it. Paperwork? Grading? You know what I'm talking about. But what career has the same kind of joy?

So here's me resolving to present-- and to better see for myself-- a little more of the joy. Because it is scary-- the scariest thing ever. And sometimes it's totally exhausting. But it's also the best thing ever.

Friday, February 21, 2014

seven quick takes

1. Josie has been a Dr.-Jekyll-and-Mr.-Hyde baby this week. During the day she's her usual sweet, sunshiny self, a joy to be around. But at night she's resisting going to sleep worse than she ever has in her life. She wants to be physically nursing the whole night through. She's decided the crib is totally out of the question, and she'll only sleep in the swing sometimes.

The face of pure bedtime evil.

She doesn't seem to be teething or sick. I'm hoping she's about to hit a motor milestone like crawling, and that's what's disturbing her sleep. Faith never did that, but I've heard it's pretty common. Crossing my tired fingers.

2. Jack and I have been watching Supernatural (we're still a few seasons behind), and while it's a fun and entertaining show, we find ourselves indignantly yelling at the TV about the totally incorrect theology." "What?! Demons are not former humans!!" "Angels are non-corporeal beings of pure intelligence! They don't get embarrassed!!" "Oh, you don't believe in God, but you use rosaries to turn water into holy water?!"

3. Faith doesn't watch much Disney, but lately she's been loving this Cars-spin-off mini movie Mater's Tall Tales. It's cute and funny and basically harmless, but is anyone else slightly troubled by the "sexy girl cars"? I mean, I know they're cartoon cars, and it's not a huge deal, but still.

4. Measles is no joke, you guys. The anti-vaccination movement brings the measles threat back home. Ironically, many people believe that infectious diseases aren't a threat, so vaccines aren't important... precisely because said infectious diseases are no longer common, thanks to vaccines!

5. I can't decide if the weather here is incredibly wonderful or super boring. It's February and the only weather differences from August are that it's about 5 degrees cooler and a little less rainy. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing to be able to go outside in bare feet and short sleeves year-round... but it kind of feels like time is standing still. It feels like there's less of a rhythm to the year here. 

Also, I miss my boots and sweaters.

6. I wish I could go to the Edel Gathering. But Guam is far away, and plane tickets are expensive. (And it's also, like, a sixteen-hour flight to Texas.) Maybe in a few years. This is going to be an annual thing, yes? Yes??

7. Faith got a packet of temporary tattoos from Jack's parents for her birthday, and she loves them. She periodically looks in the mirror and exclaims, "So p'etty! Look at my bullerflies! I pwincess!"

Go see Jen at Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Enjoy the following from Miss Faith Brigid, aged just-turned-3.

Chillin' like a villain.

Faith: "Look at the moon!"
Me: "Yeah, it's a full moon, isn't it?"
Faith: "I wanna take it."
Me: "What?! You can't take the moon!"
Faith: "P'ease!! I wanna take the moon!"
Me: "You can't, because it's up in the sky."
Faith: (sighing in resignation) "Otaayy."

Faith: (to her hands) "Hands pick a nose?! Stop it, hands!!"

Faith: "All done snack, mommy."
Me: (driving) "Okay, give me the trash."
Faith: "No, it's all gone."
Me: "But where did you put the bag? Did you put it on the floor?"
Faith: "Betause, it's all gone!"
Me: "No, where is it?"
Faith: "Betause, it's all gone!!"
Me: "Did you put it on the floor?"
Faith: "No. Daddy did it."
Me: "Daddy's not even here."
Faith: "Car seat getted the trash? No! Sunglasses getted the trash? No! Wipes getted the trash? No! Water bottle getted the trash? No! It's all gone."
Me: "It's on the floor, isn't it."
Faith: "Um... yeah."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

theme thursday: hearts

Here's my super crafty Valentine craft for your viewing enjoyment!

Because I'm a terrible blogger, I didn't take any "in progress" photos to do a tutorial. But here's how you do it:

1- Grab a cheap wire hanger and bend it into a heart shape. Pliers help.

2- Wrap it in floral tape (leftover from your wedding five years ago) to make it grippy.

3- Make a bunch of yarn pompoms and tie them on.

I'm an excellent tutorial maker, right?

Go get your Valentine on at Clan Donaldson!

Friday, February 7, 2014

seven quick takes - ed. 14

1. How crazy and cool is this? Scientists discover children's cells living in mothers' brains.

Chimerism is when two lines of genetically distinct cells coexist in a single being (the most common example in humans is after organ transplantation). This article talks about an example of microchimerism, which is where one organism contains only a very small amount of genetically distinct cells. They don't really know the medical implications yet, but I think the philosophical/theological implications are just as interesting when you put it this way: the children you carry are literally part of your body for the rest of your life-- whether they are carried to term or not. (Of course, the article doesn't specify exactly at what point in the pregnancy the cell transfer happens, if they even know. It would clearly have to be after implantation, and probably after the placenta is a bit more well-developed, which happens over the course of the first 5-8 weeks or so.)

2. Why you should never, ever put two spaces after a period. My self-professed inner grammar-geek is horrified that I've been typing incorrectly for the past 18 years. I blame my 6th-grade typing teacher. MRS. BESCHTA, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME? (And yes, I keep typing two spaces by accident and then going back and deleting one of them. It's very time consuming.)

3. Speaking of grammar, here's an article on a personal pet peeve of mine: Woah! Why are you spelling it that way?

(Hint: it's "whoa.")

4. The Real Reason Pediatricians Want You to Vaccinate Your Kids. Here are a couple of quotes from the article that give the gist (though I highly recommend reading the whole thing):
"I often wonder why a parent who believes vaccines are harmful would want to bring their children to a medical doctor at all. After all, for immunizations to be as malign as their detractors claim, my colleagues and I would have to be staggeringly incompetent, negligent or malicious to keep administering them."
"What breaks the deal is that I would never truly believe that these parents trust me. Giving kids vaccines is the absolute, unambiguous standard of care, as easy an answer as I will ever be able to offer. If they don't trust me about that, how can I hope they would if the questions ever got harder?" 

5. Okay, time to lighten the mood. This made me laugh:

6. Catholicism + Doctor Who? YES, PLEASE!

7. Random discovery via a Facebook friend's link: a haunting series of surreal photos by Martin Vlach.  See more here.

Head over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

theme thursday: church windows

The base chapel (which has a weekly mass but is multi-denominational) has an interestingly-constructed, almost pyramidal shape with stained glass windows built into the roof. Unfortunately, I didn't remember about this week's Theme Thursday last time I was inside, and it's not accessible on an anytime-you-want-to-go-in basis, so this was the best I could do.

Head over to Clan Donaldson to see more (and more beautiful/interesting, I'm sure) pictures of church windows!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

let me explain

Well, look at that. It's the first week of February, and like all good New Year's Resolutions, my resolution to blog three times a week has already been broken to smithereens. In my defense, things have been a little crazy around here-- first we were evicted from our house for a few days while the Navy was digging around old unexploded Japanese bombs, and then we all got the World's Meanest Cold, from which we're still recovering.

Recently, one of Jack's residency colleagues found out that she and her husband will almost definitely be stationed here on Guam starting this summer. This is exciting for us because, hey! Someone we know and like is going to join us, eight thousand miles from the rest of the people we know! But it's also exciting because we get to share all the details we've learned and tips we've discovered. (This is especially important on Guam, because this is the Land of Out-of-Date Websites and Unanswered Phones, so it's hard to find stuff out independently.) Stuff like, how to get a Guam medical license, what the local population is like as patients, what the options are for internet and phones, on-base vs. off-base housing, when you should have the military move what, etc.

And I've been pondering-- why is it so fun to share your expertise in something? I don't think it's a matter of wanting to look smart in a prideful, I-know-more-than-you way (though I'm sure sometimes that may play a part). It's just genuinely enjoyable, and I'm not sure why, but I suspect it's a universal human trait. I don't know... what do you think? Is it a drive to be helpful, or a drive to feel self-important? Or both?