When the day takes all of you

Interestingly, I bookmarked THIS particular blog post, at Heart of the Matter – a homeschooling blog in my feed reader, just before Teddy was born. It’s difficult for me to remember what life was like then, but I’m sure I related to the story told in the first part of the post – a regular day that just wears on you. Purposeful tasks that just grind you down.  (edited this to fix the link that wasn’t working – this post makes more sense with the link.)

Nowadays, I’d rewrite that story there at the beginning a bit. And it’d definitely include vomit, diarrhea, losing consciousness, ridiculous wait times at the lab, a well-intentioned walk that takes an hour to get everyone dressed for because of the aforementioned vomit and diarrhea, and would probably also include something about prescription meds or lab results.

And it would ALSO include the student who won’t focus, the friend who needs support, the husband with a bad day, bickering children, and a supper that I somehow managed to screw up – probably because I walked out of the kitchen to check on something quick and got sidetracked by the 100 other things that vie for my attention.

Hey, good times!!!

Then she goes on…

Then, in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there (Mark 1: 35).

You’ve had these days and Jesus, too, had a day just like this in which his purposeful work grew into that which was emotional and taxing. Mark doesn’t say that Jesus felt spent or inadequate, only that Jesus’ next step was to get away in a time of solitude and prayer. But we can connect the two.

In solitude, Jesus connected with what he needed to do next: more of the same. To lean in. It didn’t change what needed to be done, only the strength he had to do it. Though others wanted to press him with their needs, he determined not to derail his purpose. Jesus returned from silence and solitude with function and purpose.

Though the linked post ends with an exhortation to get away for a time of silence and solitude for a day or a weekend, and though that’s realistically never, ever going to happen (any time soon, anyway), I don’t think that getting away for a full day – or a half day – is needed. Jesus didn’t, and He was dealing with MUCH bigger problems than I have.

I’m not likely to be able to get away to a secluded place – Teddy has this bizarre spidey sense that alerts him if I move more than 2 inches away while he’s sleeping at night – but I can get up early and have solitude and some level of seclusion in my own bed. (The trick is staying awake, of course…)hnjm gt


You can have my smartphone…

…when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

“I don’t need a smartphone.” “When would I ever need to access the internet from my phone?”

I actually said those words. The morning of the day I got my smartphone.

haha ha.

I know there’s a big trendy trend to give up your smart phone.

But I’m not joining that trend.


Without getting out of bed, I can read a book, even when I don’t have a book handy.

Without having to dial a phone, I can message Randy, my sister, or friends to keep them updated on situations as they unfold.

Without having to be at a computer, I can check on friends who are having a rough time, friends’ kids on transplant day or other scary medical days, or simply connect with my community.

Without needing to have a computer, I can use Facebook to inform a large number of people that we need prayers and we need them now.

Without having to haul around a DVD player, I can while away some boring ER hours watching a movie.

Without having to carry an endless assortment of toys and games, I can entertain Teddy during lab draws and waiting room times.

Without having to carry a binder with me, I can keep medical records, insurance cards, and important notes with me at all times.

Without having to carry around a planner, I have my to-do list, important notes, and my calendar.

Without having to jot things down on post-it notes, I have access to the information sent in emails and Facebook messages.

Without having to enter prescription numbers on the phone’s dial pad, I can refill meds. Any time of the day. By scanning their bar codes and sending them to the pharmacy.

I can’t fathom why I’d ever want to give up all of that.

Vaccine Links

Alright, one of the most popular questions I get asked: can you share your resources on vaccines? I often have to reply with “no.” I last did really in-depth research on this subject when Wally was yet a baby. I wrote a 20 page paper on the subject; it was consequently lost in a computer crash.

I read things here and there, research smatterings of vaccine-related issues when they come up, but I haven’t systematically collected this information and, memory being what it is these days, rarely remember my sources after the initial need has passed.

But here, I’ll collect the information I come across as I come across it. Nothing from Hippie sources, only mainstream sources or actual research studies.

http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/04/29/infdis.jit143.full.pdf+html    Waning of Maternal Antibodies…

The combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine has been successfully administered for >20 years. Because of this, protection by maternal antibodies in infants born to vaccinated mothers might be negatively affected.
A large cross-sectional serologic survey was conducted in the Netherlands during 2006
–2007. We compared the kinetics of antibody concentrations in children and women of childbearing age in the highly vaccinated general population with those in orthodox Protestant communities that were exposed to outbreaks.
The estimated duration of protection by maternal antibodies among infants in the general population, most of whom were born to vaccinated mothers, was short: 3.3 months for measles, 2.7 months for mumps, 3.9 months for rubella, and 3.4 months for varicella. The duration of protection against measles was 2 months longer for infants born in the orthodox communities, most of whom had unvaccinated mothers. For rubella, mothers in the orthodox communities had higher concentrations of antibodies as compared to the general population.
Children of mothers vaccinated against measles and, possibly, rubella have lower concentrations of maternal antibodies and lose protection by maternal antibodies at an earlier age than children of mothers in communities that oppose vaccination. This increases the risk of disease transmission in highly vaccinated populations.

I don’t care about Hobby Lobby’s supposed discrimination against Jewish holidays.

Yes, I’m a rampant racist and anti-Semite.

Not really.

But I just can’t manage to get worked up over this. Hobby Lobby, at least as of the original post at Crafting a Green World, didn’t carry Hanukkah crafts.


I bet they also don’t carry Ramadan craft kits.

Or, you know, Diwali craft kits.

Maybe it has to do with the owner’s Christian beliefs; maybe not. I suspect that it has more to do with whether or not Hobby Lobby believes it can sell Hanukkah craft items in enough quantity to justify the expense and shelf space.

Ultimately, though, so what? They’re a private business. If they don’t want to carry what you want to buy, then you can buy it somewhere else, and they’ve lost your business. I’m not sure we need to mount any sort of smear campaign in some sort of effort to force them to carry products they evidently don’t believe they can sell effectively.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Jewish holidays are not (ok, at least in the midwest) as commercialized as Christmas and Easter. Most people I know who are Jewish LIKE that. They consciously do not buy many commercial items from their religious holidays because they want to keep it that way.

I know I personally have had terrible luck selling Hanukkah items, despite having a fair number of active customers who are Jewish. Christmas stuff? Usually sells. Hanukkah stuff, not so much. (Partly because lots of people who aren’t Christian still celebrate Christmas; not a whole lot of non-Jews celebrate Hanukkah.)

I am trying to imagine how I’d feel if a local craft store didn’t carry Christmas items, but honestly I’m having a hard time imagining that. We’re BOMBARDED with Christmas stuff from mid-October until the New Year. It’s ridiculous. But not every store I visit does carry the items I want to buy. I have, in the past, approached stores with product suggestions – “Hey, I really wanted to buy X today, but I noticed you don’t have any. I’d love to spend my money in your store because <insert reason here> but I’m going to have to <insert alternative here, usually amazon.com> instead. I hope you’ll consider adding this product in the future. Thanks for your time.”  That seems to be a more effective way of instigating change than to assume a store doesn’t carry what you want because of prejudice, asking a low-level store employee why the Corporate Office did something, and then starting a blog campaign to bash the store based on this conversation with low-level employees.

Vaccines and my Immune Compromised Kid

A few weeks ago, a blog post went around. I didn’t read it, but the gist was “I’m coming out of the closet as a vaccine supporter.” Which is silly, because it’s those who don’t get vaccines who typically don’t mention it. Not to family. Not to friends. Not to doctors. Because they don’t want to hear the lectures. They don’t want to listen to people assuming they just don’t know anything about the illnesses or the vaccines. They don’t want to be told how irresponsible they’re being. So they just don’t talk about it. That used to be me. Now I’ve stopped caring. (I mean, seriously.)

But now there’s a new twist to the vaccine issue. The “Your Unvaccinated Kids Put My Immune Compromised Kid At Risk” issue. That I see a lot. That I’m expected to agree with through some unwritten agreement among transplant parents.

Well, I don’t.

I’m not in the mood to pull up studies. You can use Google.

But here’s the thing. I believe it is possible for a reasonable adult to do the research for themselves about vaccines. To learn about the illnesses, to read the history, to look at the statistics of disease incidences before and after vaccines, to learn about the vaccines, to look at the vaccine ingredients, and to study up on potential side effects of vaccines – including incidence rates and including more systemic, long-term risks. And after this research, I believe it’s possible for a reasonable adult to conclude that vaccines carry both risks and benefits, and that for their children, the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

Because vaccines DO carry risks.

How can I honestly sit here and say – You need to do something YOU view as risky to protect MY child? You need to put your child at risk to give my child an incremental level of protection.

That just doesn’t make sense to me.

My child is as important to me as your child is to you.


And the bigger risk to my immune compromised kid continues to be friends and extended family members not being respectful of our rules about shoes, hands, and illness. And people in the general population not using common sense and staying home when sick. Or pharmacies inside Target and Walmart encouraging people who are very ill to walk around and shop while waiting for their prescription.

Those are much bigger risks than the relatively small risk that Teddy will catch something from the relatively few people in the population who are not vaccinated. (And if you take a look at many of the outbreaks of so-called “vaccine-preventable” illnesses, a giant chunk of the sick are vaccinated individuals. The Mumps outbreak at UI when Teddy was a baby was mostly vaccinated students. oops.)

So there are my thoughts. I don’t expect other parents to put their kids at risk to give my kid a really small incremental benefit. I don’t know how I could possibly do that.



I might blog later on vaccines in general. I’m not against vaccines. I’m against the way vaccines are done in this country at this time.

Holiday Planning – Holiday Peace

B.T. (that’s Before Teddy), I had started on a path to simplify our Christmas celebrations. Christmas has *never* been a source of stress for me, but I wanted to do the holiday a bit different. More Christ, more handmade, more heartfelt, less commercial.

Then Teddy. The year he was born, I actually had already made most of our Christmas presents before he was born. Though I wasn’t anticipating a Thanksgiving baby and  a NICU stay with a Christmas Eve discharge, I was anticipating a baby to be born around Christmas, and I was prepared. I won’t say that the holiday season was peaceful – I seem to recall doing a LOT of crying as I explained to my kids that Christmas might be a little different for them that year – we were planning to have to spend Christmas Day in the NICU. But we got the handmade and heartfelt in there.

But the next year… 2012 was a rough year. I don’t even remember most of the details any more. It’s a blur of surgeries and hospital stays and missing my family and lots and lots of tears and stress. We spent most of August through November in Iowa City and I did ZERO crafting. (well, not true. I did a lot of knitting, but I don’t generally knit for gifts.) I think we mostly bought gift cards for Christmas. I believe I sent Randy out the day before Christmas Eve to buy them. We’re awesome that way. It wasn’t a cheap decision, but it was one that I could live with.

Now I’m getting ready for Christmas this year, and I’m reconsidering things. I have made nearly everyone on our list at least one thing for Christmas (and usually also birthdays) every year since I can remember, until 2012. The 3 or so years before Teddy was born, we switched to all handmade for everyone except our kids, who got a mixture of handmade and store bought. And I can count on my fingers the number of those gifts that were ever used, worn, or displayed by the recipients (not including the stuff made for my immediate family). We’re talking over 100 items made, carefully and lovingly and with the recipient in mind. And I’m feeling like it’s been a huge waste of time.

This is why I don’t knit for most people for gifts. I’ll knit for my immediate family and for other knitters. But that’s about it. But I’m starting to rethink sewing and other crafting, as well. I have limited time each day, and I have begun to think that it is not a wise use of my time – it’s not being a good steward of my time – to spend it creating things that will be thrown away, sold at a garage sale for a quarter, or stuffed into a drawer and forgotten.

I’ve been of two minds about this for a while. On the one hand, there’s the principle of the thing. And there’s also a sense of If I Stick With This Long Enough, Eventually They’ll Appreciate It, Right?  And on the other hand, there’s the thought that I’m royally wasting my time, money, and effort.

Is not the whole point of gift giving to please the recipient? If the recipients of my gifts do not appreciate the value that is a handmade gift… then are we not all better off going a different route? Am I better off using my time to create things that other people *do* want (namely, custom orders through Wallypop and the other things that are selling well), and then using the money from my industriousness to buy something that the recipients might want?

I’m actually thinking so. So this year, while I’ll still be encouraging people to Give Handmade – and I’ll be giving handmade items to those who will appreciate them (either things made myself, or things made by others), I’m actually changing my personal strategy. It’ll mean each person on our list gets less – I still have the same amount of money to spend, and finished items cost a lot more than raw materials when my time is thrown in for free – but hopefully each person on our list will be more pleased with what they do get. We shall see.

How do I get Christmas to be stress free? Other than one obligatory event every year, I just don’t engage in the things that tend to be stressful about the holiday. I don’t do a ton of baking, unless I get a baking bug and want to. I don’t do any shopping. Crowds stress me out, and so I avoid them – even before Teddy, I was avoiding crowds. I don’t do holiday parties. Randy’s work stuff is always just for employees, so there’s no office party to worry about. We don’t travel. Until recently, I was able to keep Christmas Day as a day for *just our family,* at home, spending time together. We make a crock pot roast for dinner, we eat refrigerator rolls for breakfast, and we have snack food for lunch, so nobody’s cooking all day. We watch Christmas movies and play board games. We go for a walk if it’s nice, we go for a drive around the neighborhood to look at lights. It’s not stressful. Because I’ve made it that way. 🙂