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Showing posts from 2008

Oct. 15th: Remembering Our Babies

In loving memory of my beautiful goddaughter Natalee...
and of my cousin Cole... and the others who have touched my heart and my life in some way but were taken too soon (it's a sobering, long list...) and those who lost babies they never got to know...
and especially in honor of their courageous and forever heartbroken parents.
Please light a candle on Wednesday, Oct. 15th in Remembrance and in recognition of this national day of reflection.
My best friend and hero Tammy sent this to me earlier and I wanted to pass it along:
Bereaved Parents Wish List:
1. I wish my child hadn't died. I wish I had him back.
2. I wish you wouldn't be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you also.
3. If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me. My child's death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to…

Just an Update...

Just a quick note that I had to have Kelsey put to sleep two weeks ago today, on Sept. 30th. 
It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it was done out of love and when the time was right. I am grateful for every moment I had with her.
Sophie, a kitten from my aunt's farm, has joined our family. Now that she's figuring out the litterbox, I think we'll let her stay. :)

My Life with Kelsey

On the Friday before my college graduation, I moved into my first apartment. On the Monday after, I started my first job at the Daily Times and after that first day of work, I made a trip to one of our local animal shelters "just to see" if they had any kittens.
They did, and after playing with several of them, I picked a beautiful little black one and decided to adopt her. I took her straight to my dad's house, where my little sister helped me settle on the name "Kelsey." That same night she decided to try jumping off of my dad's top deck and I got my first glimpse of what motherhood would be about as I flew downstairs to get her, heart racing and not knowing what I would find. She was only about 8 weeks old but she made that leap unscathed, and we embarked on our long journey together.
When I met the man I would eventually marry, he was allergic to cats. Just coming into my apartment was enough to get his eyes and nose running like faucets. But I knew he re…

Thanks, Salty Sam

Recently there's been some media attention here over a story that tugs at the heartstrings of many central Illinois residents who grew up in the 1960's and 1970's.
It has to do with the Captain Jinks and Salty Sam Show. It has come to light that one of the stars, George Baseleon, is buried in Peoria in an unmarked grave. His family was unable to buy one, and now a fund-raiser is being planned to help funnel the outpouring of public support that has rallied since the story "broke."
I do remember watching the show as a child, but as I've read the memories and history over the past few weeks, I've realized that I really struggle to remember anything *about* the show. I was very young when it was on the air, so for me the memories are really mostly about feelings. But it does go a little further than that too.
For my fourth birthday, my parents took me and a group of my friends to see the Captain Jinks and Salty Sam show at the TV station. This was a very big de…

The Birds

Last week we had to go back to the pediatrician's office, and I happened to have my camera. 
I'm pretty proud of this shot... these are the baby robins, safe in their nest with their mother.

My wise, experienced 7-year old

Lately my kids have been making me laugh a lot.
In many ways, this summer has flown by - but in others it's gone nice and slowly. I'd like to think it's at least due in part to my conscious decision to just say no to activities this summer. Except for swim lessons, we've taken a well-deserved break from the runaround and it's been great.
Of course, it's about to come to a crashing end... as I was reminded just a few days ago while getting some stuff at Wal-Mart. The school supplies are out and I couldn't get over how crowded that aisle was- already. We picked up a few things I know the kids will need but I didn't pull out the list. I'm just not ready to fully commit - yet.
My daughter will be going to Kindergarten this fall and she saw a lunchbox she really liked, so we got it too. It makes me smile because it's very old school, metal with the latch. It reminds me of the first lunchboxes I had, until plastic became the new material of choice. I'…

A New Little Miracle

I am apparently getting older than I like to think.
Two nights ago I stayed up all night - for a total of 39 hours awake - to be a doula at a birth, along with a friend of mine.
This particular couple had researched, studied, and learned a lot and were prepared to give everything they had to a natural, unmedicated birth experience. It was 17 hours of active labor, but they did it - and they have a beautiful baby boy. In the end, it was lucky they had two doulas, because I think we were better able to keep up the energy for hip squeezes, back rubs, creative thinking, etc! 17 hours is an extraordinary amount of time to labor and I am awed by what this couple did. And I say couple because the father was absolutely unwavering in his support, and unlike many fathers he was present both physically and mentally. It was beautiful to watch.
I am still recovering from the lack of sleep (hence the feeling old) but I just feel so blessed to have had the privilege to be present at this birth. It'…

The Blessing of Loss

This photo is my hand with Natalee's

It is almost 3am and I am still awake because I have just finished reading a blog - from beginning to end.

I found it through Abby's mom's blog and like a good, heartbreaking book... I just couldn't "put it down" once I started reading.
The mother who writes the blog is named Angie Smith and she lost her baby girl this past April due to an undiagnosed medical situation that was discovered during her 20th week of pregnancy. Audrey was born by c-section a few months later and lived for about two hours. There are a lot of thoughts running around in my brain right now and I don't know how to get them all out, so I'm just going to try to focus in on the ones I think are most pressing right now.
God is good. And even when I don't devote myself to him the way I should, He reaches out to find me and give me a gentle reminder that He is still here, very present in my life.
In one of her entries, Angie writes about the peace …

Remembering Abby

The Internet can make this a small, small world indeed.
Not long after my friend Tammy lost her baby girl at birth, a friend of mine from an online message board sent me an e-mail.
This particular friend also happens to run a website known as "Shape of a Mother" (I have it linked in my sidebar) and had received a story she knew would touch my heart.
It was from a mother in Canada who had lost her own baby girl just about a month before Natalee died. In addition to posting on SOAM, she also had her own blog where she was actively journaling her journey through the grief.
Tammy and I both became avid readers and she and Tammy have exchanged many messages of support and even gifts. Last year, just about two months apart, they both gave birth again to two more beautiful baby girls.
So I don't actually know this woman, but I do know her story and - as intimately as I can without having lost a baby myself at birth - I know her pain.
Today is the anniversary of her beloved Abby's…

Laptop Lust

About a year ago, Edgar and I walked into an Apple store so we could see firsthand the new "iPhone" that was all over TV and radio.
We were "PC" people but I had worked with a mac in my newspaper job and I had a college roommate who'd had one - we considered it a foreign object at the time.
It just so happened though that on that day we walked into the Apple store, we had also just learned that our HP desktop computer - only 2 years old - needed some expensive repairs and was crashing a slow death. So while we didn't go in looking for a computer, the need for a new one was definitely on our minds that night.
After checking out the iPhone, we wandered over to look at the computers. And an employee approached us and started talking with us and by the time we left an hour later, we were hooked. (Incidentally, Apple store employees do not work on commission but if this guy could have he'd be doing great!) It just made sense, the computer actually worked intuit…

The frustration of Toaster Strudel

Recently, my 7-year old son discovered Toaster Strudels. You know, those freezer-to-toaster pastries that are probably chock-full of horrible preservatives, sugar, etc... Well, he loves them and since I know he's generally a very healthy eater, I've been buying them for him and making one (or sometimes two) for his breakfast every morning.
Today, as I was mentally preparing for the inevitable fight with the icing packet and feeling of frustration that was sure to result, I took a step back and made a realization: I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself every morning to get the icing  just right. Not that anyone but me even notices - my son scarfs it down too fast for that - but I notice. The toaster strudels on the box and in the commercials always look so perfect, but every time I try to put the icing on it ends up being a big blobby mess.
It's become a bit like a game for me every morning - how good can I get the icing to look today?
And then, this morning I realized ho…


It's hard to believe, but nearly two years have now passed since the unexpected death of my goddaughter Natalee Ann.
For those who do not know, Natalee was born full-term after a normal pregnancy and delivery, but failed to take a breath at birth. I was there with my best friend Tammy and watched as the medical team spent 45 unsuccessful minutes trying to revive her.
She would have been two years old this July 6.
At the time, we had no answers but we were hopeful and even somewhat confident that we would soon. Babies don't just die like that, there had to be some kind of answer, right? We were sure that within a month or six weeks, we would know.
Here we are, two years later, and still searching for answers. The autopsy findings were inconsistent with medical records and with what I know to be true from having been in the room observing. We do know more than we did, but still have no conclusive cause of death. With what we know, Natalee should have been a sick baby. She should not…

It's a Lonely (Meat-Free) World

My friend Dione - ever ready with a new book and a new diet plan - recently lent me the book Skinny Bitch.
The premise is pretty simple: Want to lose weight, feel great, and be healthy?
Simple: Cut out the crap.
The trick, of course, is learning to recognize the crap. Turns out, it comes in forms you may not realize - specifically, anything that has been processed (duh) or comes from an animal.
It's actually a very compelling argument, and I have to admit - the part of me that has half a brain can't dispute the argument that animal products are, as a general rule, not good for us.
I've already talked about this in my post about dairy... so it really isn't a big step for me to move to meat either.
Basically, the authors argue that if we were able to chase down, kill with our bare hands, and then eat (raw) our kill - maybe then biologically it should be considered a good choice. But since we can't do those things (or want to, as a general rule..) AND we can't actu…

Will it EVER end?

A few months ago, I was glued to the 24-hour news networks and the seemingly endless coverage of the Democratic Presidential Primaries.
It was interesting then. It's not anymore. Seriously.
Well, that's not totally true. What's happened as a result of this stalemate and dragged-out preliminary has led to some interesting stuff.
Rush Limbaugh's campaign to make it go even longer, for one thing. Not saying I agree, but it certainly has meant this year's election isn't just more of the "same old same old."
It does make me wonder about the potential for long-term damage to the party. And the need for more condensed primaries.
Even as a self-professed political junkie and news junkie... really, I've had enough. Here's hoping *something* actually comes out of tomorrow's election in Indiana.

Hail to the Orange

Last week I made a rare, weekday trip to Champaign-Urbana for the Greek Oscars.
I was personally invited, which the sorority women I advise took to mean I was a finalist for an award. It meant a lot to me that they had nominated me, so I went.
It turns out, I won... first place for "Outstanding Advisor."
As they say, it's nice just to be nominated... (but the winning is pretty darn cool too...)
Alpha Delta Pi won and was a finalist for several other awards as well - as usual, making me very, very proud.
The ceremony itself was held in Foellinger Auditorium, which just happens to be where I had my very first college class (Classical Civilization 115 with Professor Scanlon) and where my College of Communications Commencement Ceremony was held. So my college career began and ended in that building.
And yet... here I am, 12 years later, and it continues to have a presence in my life. The University of Illinois and of course, Alpha Delta Pi, continue to have a presence in my life.

Gettin' my on-air Buzz

Jen Christensen from WHOI-TV called me this afternoon and asked if I could come do a live interview on their 6pm show to talk about some initiatives currently being undertaken by the Central Illinois Breastfeeding Task Force.
I was about to come up with some excuse why I couldn't possibly be there in three hours for this, but then she said, "I know it's last-minute but I knew you'd understand having worked in TV."
Awww... geez. She got me.
I actually had showered this morning, but it was after working in the garden and before leaving for preschool and I decided my hair was good enough as is. So I had to get cleaned up. And find something to wear. Um, my TV wardrobe is LONG gone... as I discovered this afternoon. Well, except for those suits hanging in the back of my closet that are supposed to be inspiration for losing weight. (Yeah, ok...) I finally remembered - dark, solid colors are best. I grabbed a red sweater and the trusty black pants. Good to go.
Then t…

And more on music...

A while back I started to compile a list of songs that reminded me of people or events in my life. The songs that link me to those memories like a hyperlink on the internet... you know, inevitably the song comes on and your mind automatically "clicks" back to that connection.
I didn't get very far in my list at the time, but it didn't take long to realize a lot of the songs had to do with men. Or rather, boys. This is not really surprising. I'm very sentimental, a hopeless romantic, and I get attached to people pretty easily. This is not an especially good combination for a teen-aged girl and as a consequence, I ended up with more than my share of heartbreak. The trend continued even into college, when the romantic in me spent a fair amount of time expecting "the one" to show up at any time. 
But a lot of songs in my head are also attached to specific events or other memories - vacations, funny nights out, sorority stuff. It's gotten so that if I'…

The Power of Music

My 7-year old son is really into music lately, in all kinds of ways.
He is learning to play the violin through Suzuki, and it's been amazing to watch as his critical thinking and math skills have skyrocketed along with his playing ability. The more songs he learns to play, the more timed math tests he passes. I can't count the number of "lightbulb" moments I've witnessed during violin practices... from understanding how to read music to how to transpose it to a different set of strings.
It's truly amazing.
At the same time, he's in love with his iPod. (Yes, he has an iPod. It's just a shuffle and he got it for Easter. I spoil my kids - so what?) As his mother, I see it as my job to help him be cooler - musically speaking anyway - than I ever was. Together, we've loaded his iPod with some great music. Of course there's the soundtrack from High School Musical 2, some Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, etc... But I've also introduced him to U2, Red…


I guess I've been on a blogging hiatus.
My husband says this is what happens when life gets in the way.
It's not that I haven't had a lot to blog about, I've just been too busy for it. We traveled to San Diego for a weekend, I've been busy planning stuff for the Marigold Festival and writing a few stories for the paper, not to mention the endless shuttling and shuffling of schedules between Edgar's soccer, Ethan's soccer, Ethan's violin, and Elisabeth's dance classes. And then there's Ethan's school, Elisabeth's school, and keeping a 3-year old happy. And of course, my very rewarding and lately very challenging work as an advisor to 170 college women.
But other than that, I'm not up to much! :)
One day, I'll try to catch up on the things I've been wanting to say but haven't had the time for!

I'm lovin' it - the sweet tea, that is

I want to send a thank-you to McDonald's.After 30 years, I've managed to grow disgusted with pretty much everything on their menu. While my kids can hardly wait to scarf down their chicken nuggets and fries (something I've done a good job of turning into a "treat" rather than a "routine,") I personally cannot stomach most anything on the menu anymore.I'm not sure how it happened... "Supersize Me" only kept me away for a few months. But somehow, somewhere along the line, I've finally maxed out the McDonald's I can handle. Apparently I've hit my quota.Well, other than when it's McRib time.And now, the sweet tea.I've always liked sugar in my iced tea, but I've also always been equally happy to drink it without. But I got sucked in by advertising and while visiting one of our local golden arches establishments a few weeks ago, decided to give the sweet tea (which I know to be a southern staple) a…

The Business of Being Born

Natural birth - for those who choose it - is a "cause" I hold very close to my heart.
I had a chance to watch the new documentary from Ricki Lake called, "The Business of Being Born."
Forget those 1970's lamaze videos - this should be required watching for anyone who's pregnant. Especially if it's their first baby, but even if it's not.
Of course, it should be noted this is a documentary. And like all documentaries, it has an agenda... a slant, if you will. But we're so bombarded with "mainstream" images and ideas of the medical side of birth that this video presents a nice counter-balance and should give any viewer something to think about. It does a good job of showing how the "go along to get along" mentality that often naturally occurs in hospitals can be detrimental to the birthing wishes of a laboring woman.
And like they say in the movie, a woman's birth experience is a memory that will stay with her until the day she d…


Since I'm sharing videos... this is a classic for any TV news junkie. I really need to buy this episode for my kids... the other songs on it are even better!

The World News Now Polka

Ten years ago (gulp!) Edgar and I were living and working in Monterey, California.
We worked the "nightside" shift together for some time - which meant we went to work at about 2:30pm and got home around midnight, after the 11pm newscast.
This was actually the perfect schedule for my night-owl ways, and we would usually stay up for several hours watching taped television shows and otherwise unwinding. It wasn't unusual for us to still be up around 2:30-3:00am, when a wonderful little program called "World News Now" came on ABC.
You'd think we would have had enough news by then, but this show was kind of wacky and off-beat. It was situated like most network news programs, but with a twist. They played funky music at the breaks, took a lot of time for light-hearted (and not forced) banter between the anchors, and frequently ran some kooky stories.
At the end of the show at the end of the week, they'd play the "World News Now Polka." It was awesome. …

Wacky Wednesday

In honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday, my son's school has a series of fun days and events this week.
Tomorrow is "Wacky Wednesday" - and the idea is to dress pretty wacky. Mismatched clothes, patterns, colors, etc... 
So I asked my husband to help him pick out his clothes... 
... and just pretend it was any other day.
I don't think he appreciated my humor at first, but he eventually conceded I was right - he's not exactly known for his ability to dress our children in coordinated (or even matching) outfits.
So basically, Ethan will go to school tomorrow looking just like he would if mommy wasn't home! :)

Bad Sports

Earlier this week my dad and I attended the last home game of the regular season at Bradley University.
There were a lot of emotions running rampant at Carver Arena that night. Bradley was playing rival SIU in what was sure to be a tight game, while missing its star senior player Daniel Ruffin, who was sitting on the bench suspended from the team after a Domestic Battery arrest over the weekend. Ruffin was allowed to take part in the senior ceremonies and there was an almost tangible electricity in the air as Bradley fans rallied in their support for him. 
But my dad and I were there because of a different emotion. Another one of the seniors being celebrated that night, Jeremy Crouch, is from our hometown, and he's the first person from our town to play basketball at Bradley for four years of college. Not only that, he was poised to set two new school records that night for three-point shooting, and we were there to show off our hometown pride. Unfortunately, I think all of that was…

Sharing the Love

Growing up, I always loved weddings.
I loved to go to them, I loved to pretend them. I loved to sneak into the guest bedroom closet and try on my mother's veil to play in. (This was a big no-no for some reason though...)
When I did get married almost 9 years ago, my best friend and maid of honor quipped that it was the day I had been practicing for my whole life.
So it should come as no surprise that my almost 5-year old daughter seems to have inherited this fascination. She hasn't been to a wedding that she would remember yet, but she has recently discovered our wedding album. And since she also has a love for princesses and fairy tales, it seems the pictures from our big day are the perfect merging of worlds for her.
So tonight I decided to really blow her away... I told her we had an actual "movie" of our wedding day and promised to get it out after dinner and baths. This turned into a HUGE event here in our house, and I'm only sorry my husband was gone tonight an…

Got Milk?

From time to time, the subject of cow's milk comes up with me. It came up again this weekend, which is prompting me to post this.
In our house, cow's milk is equated to soda. I buy it occasionally and drink it from time to time, but I do so knowing that it has little nutritional value for me and I'm better off with something else. I don't give it to my children. My husband has never liked it. I used to think he was missing out on something of great nutritional value. I now think he's probably just listening to his body.
But wait... you say. Milk? But milk is one of nature's most perfect, wholesome foods! 
Ah... but not so. When I first started having babies, I also started attending a breastfeeding support group and it was there I first started to understand that cow's milk does not always do well in human bodies. Time and again, breastfeeding problems were directly tied to dairy products. I can not say this clearly enough: a LOT of breastfeeding problems are …

Ten Random Things

So, another friend "tagged" me with this internet chain thing that says you have to blog 10 random things about yourself and then ask 10 other people to do the same. I'll skip the second part, but I always find these interesting from other people and fun to do, so I'll play:
1. I love the smell of clean laundry, air from humidifiers, and tires. 2. I think I'm addicted to caffeine. No, really. 3. I would love to go back to school, but I don't know what for. I miss classes though. 4. I can play the flute and I'm learning the violin with my son. 5. I sneeze every time I tweeze my eyebrows. 6. My first job was at Burger King. 7. I have lived in 4 different cities, but 13 different homes in just one of them. 8. I am constantly re-arranging my house. If not physically, then in my head. 9. I have to have a TV on to fall asleep quickly. 10. The state of my house (cleanliness) is directly proportional to my sanity.

ADPi for the weekend

This past weekend I traveled to Michigan with the women I advise from Alpha Delta Pi at the University of Illinois and the women of several other chapters to attend our District Leadership Conference. It was a lot of fun to be with these women and getting to know them better. The conference was good too, very informative and I feel like I'm really settling into my advisor role. (After six years! LOL!) For people who aren't so involved with a sorority, it may be hard to understand... but there are so many rules and procedures that learning it all is really overwhelming. This was evidenced this weekend by how many times I heard "higher-ups" giving conflicting information about these very procedures. And it doesn't help when the international organization keeps changing things from time to time either. Luckily, I believe that most sorority women have a positive experience and know about none of this, which is of course our ultimate goal. A couple of funny things about…

Breastmilk and Stem Cells

Someone alerted me to this article on the Science Alert website in Australia. The bold-ing is mine. Breast milk contains stem cells Monday, 11 February 2008 by Catherine Madden The Perth scientist who made the world-first discovery that human breast milk contains stem cells is confident that within five year scientists will be harvesting them to research treatment for conditions as far-reaching as spinal injuries, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. But what Dr. Mark Cregan is excited about right now is the promise that his discovery could be the start of many more exciting revelations about the potency of breast milk. He believes that it not only meets all the nutritional needs of a growing infant but contains key markers that guide his or her development into adulthood. "We already know how breast milk provides for the baby's nutritional needs, but we are just beginning to understand that it probably performs many other functions, " says Dr. Cregan, a molecular biologist …