What I’m Doing and What I’m Reading

Well it looks like I just took a mini blogging vacation. It wasn’t planned. And it wasn’t vacation. And it wasn’t really blogging either. So what have I been doing with all of my blog-free time? The usual. Mountains of laundry. Gallons of food. A few photo sessions (including a birth). I bought more cough drops and tea and honey.  I watched the Super Bowl. That part wasn’t planned and wasn’t my fault. We came home from church yesterday and Kalina asked if we could go to a Super Bowl party we were invited to. Huh? I didn’t even know who was playing until the drive there. Spoiler alert: the Broncos won. 


I read and planned during the game. And watched a few commercials. I want to stat publicly that taking my kids to watch the Super Bowl should be considered a direct measure of the depth of my love for them. It is endless like the ocean. Like the stars in the sky. Like the last six minutes of a football game. I want you to remind them of that, when I am old and they are tired of changing my diapers and tempted to put me in a home. 


This week is sure to be filled with endless delight…counseling sessions, a trip the  Feeding Clinic in Seattle, a newborn session, a birthday party, math class and more! <—- exclamation mark to show how excited I am! 


Here’s what I’ve been reading (with Amazon affiliate links):

Bronner: A Journey to Understand by Sherri Burgess.

This is the story of a family’s journey after their two-year old son drowns in the family pool. This has always been one of my fears; a child drowning. I’m not sure why, but it has. I enjoyed reading  this book, but wish it read more like a narrative. There are large chunks of the book where Burgess is talking about her faith and specific sermons more than I cared to read, but I still felt the book was worth reading. Look at her son’s adorable face? Who wouldn’t want to learn more about him?

Expect a Miracle by Jenny Long

This book was a really great read.  The author tells the story of her oldest two sons, Connor and Cayden. Jenny has had a rough life and is amazingly candid about it in this book. She makes no excuses for herself and expects no sympathy, she simply tells it as it is. When her firstborn son, Connor, is two and half she gives birth to Cayden who has spastic cerebral palsy. Connor adores his little brother and dreams of the day they will play sports together. And it happens when 7-year-old Connor pushes and pulls Cayden in a kids’ triathlon! This book is well-written as it seamlessly switches between the story of Jenny’s formative years and of the current special relationship between her boys.

All the Things We Never Knew by Sheila Hamilton

This book is a memoir about one man’s decent into mental illness. The author’s husband suffers from bipolar disorder and it eventually tears apart his life and that of his family. I suppose some would consider this a depressing book (there is no happy ending) but I felt like it gave great insight into life with a mental illness. I felt the title, All the Things We Ever Knew was apt and concise. The family didn’t now, until it was too late. Definitely worth the few hours it took me to read.


What have you been reading lately? Are you a fiction or non-fiction fan?

The CDC and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A Mother’s Perspective

posted in: Uncategorized | 25

The CDC has angered a lot of women this week with it’s suggestion that women of childbearing age, who do not have permanent birth control in place abstain from alcohol. Their reasoning?

“An estimated 3.3 million US women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk for exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy.”

The truth about the CDC and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Women all over are up in arms about this sexist approach to alcohol and babies. After all (as I am reading all over the internet) where is the man’s responsibility in all of this? Why is it all on the woman? I have news for you, this is about biology, not women’s rights. Like it or not, women carry babies in their uterus, men do not. If I became pregnant today, my husband could get drunk every day of the pregnancy with no ill effects on fetal development. Me? One drink at the wrong moment in development could lead to a cascade of health issues for my unborn baby. Daily drinks would almost certainly lead to damage of some sort.

Did you know Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the number one cause of preventable mental retardation? Or to use more current terms, brain damage and developmental delays? Put another way, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the most common causes of mental retardation and is the only one that is 100% preventable. The effects are irreversible and last a lifetime.

The CDC is not trying to take away your fun. The  CDC is not trying to repress you. The CDC is not trying to set feminism back a hundred years. The CDC is trying to keep babies from being brain-damaged. And it’s not just a lower IQ we are talking about. 

A report from Canada states that out of 400 individuals with FASD:

90% experienced mental health issues

60% had a disrupted school experience 

60% had trouble with the law

30% had drug or alcohol problems

tiny african american baby

This topic is near and dear to my heart because my 13-year-old son suffers daily from the effects of prenatal alcohol. Nothing comes easy for him.


Part of the CDC’s tough stance comes, I believe, from the still pervasive myth that “a little alcohol” isn’t harmful. I still regularly see people post in mother’s groups that their doctor, or even midwife recommended a glass of wine to relax or hold off pre-term labor. The myth is, a little is okay. You also don’t have to go far to hear or read, “I drank during my pregnancy and my baby was perfectly healthy”. Perhaps, but my son is not okay. He struggles to learn, he struggles to keep up with his peers, he struggles with social skills and emotions. He has a low IQ. He will never live up to his genetic potential. Never.

The statistics for a kid like him are positively grim.

This isn’t about women’s rights and feminism. This is about my son. About your children. About the next generation. No one is telling you not to drink. The CDC is warning you not to take any chances when it comes to drinking during pregnancy. 

I happen to think our babies are worth it.


NoFAS: National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

FASD Center for Excellence

Center for Disease Control

Living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder 

Washington Post: This Mother Drank While Pregnant, This is What Her Daughter is Like at 43.



Birth, Borders and Life Lessons

posted in: Crazy Town | 5

Sick, busy and crazy. Life lessons in a big family.

We are not dead, dying or deceased.  Sometimes I am efficient, cook amazing freezer meals, get the upper hand on laundry and have several blog posts lined up and ready to go. Other times I have a sick, feverish husband, I drive my children to and from foreign countries and postpone photos sessions so I don’t spread the germs love.  I’ll let you guess which kind of week we are having. 

A few things I have learned this past week:

Being sick is expensive with a  large family. 

Last week I spent $20 on nothing but cough drops and cold medicine. This week I spent $24 on nothing but melatonin and cold medicine. I have also thrown cough drops, zinc and Emergen-C in the cart several times while shopping for other items. I estimate I have spent close to $100 on cold medicine, supplements, herbal tea, local raw honey and cough drops in past two weeks. Ouch. 

My kids’ elementary school has about 350 students and Apollo’s teacher told me there were seventy-five students absent yesterday. They have sent several emails out and have contacted the health department. Seriously? 75? That’s nearly a quarter of the school!

Telling a border guard that you are a Birth Photographer is a real show stopper. 

Tilly, Enoch and Kalina spent this last weekend up in Canada with my in-laws at Missions Fest. Because Chuck was sick, I dropped them off with my in-laws and picked them up. Chuck, being totally legit and Canadian, usually does the border drop offs, but since he had a fever of over 100 and spent the weekend lying on the couch watching every movie we own and eating Ramen noodles, we decided it was best if I took them. Once heading up to Canada, and then again on the way down, I was asked what I did for work. My answer of, “I’m a photographer” made the first guard say, “Like for National Geographic?”

“No. I photograph birth. Childbirth”. You birth photographer’s know what I mean.  Saying , “I’m a birth photographer” is heard as “I’m a bird  photographer” approximately 84.7% of the time. 

The next day the guard said, “So, like a freelance photographer?”

“Well, yes, I own my own business”. 

“Well, what do you photograph?”

“Birth! Babies”.


“Birth…I assume you mean after the actual birth”

“Nope, I photograph the whole thing!”

Ew. I’m not sure I would want you zooming in on that!”

Good thing he’s not my target client.

Circle with Disney is Awesome

We’ve had our Circle for several weeks now and I am loving it. It has foiled me several times as I: 

*Tried to download an app (oops, I have it set so my kids can’t shop in the App store).

*Look up a recipe on my blog (oops, the filters I’ve se don’t allow the kids to look at blogs on the iPad).

*Surf the net on the iPad when the kids are in bed (oops, I have the internet bedtime set a 7 PM).

So, yes, the filters work and I am loving it. Except when I try to use my own darn iPad. 

I hope your life has been more exciting and germ free than ours. Cheers!


Mr. Popper’s Penguin Party

You may or may not know that Apollo is rather obsessed with penguins right now. I don’t know what started it, but his interest is growing daily. The last couple of times we have gone to the library, we have come home with stacks of penguin books. Perusing penguin books one day, my eyes fell upon Mr. Popper’s Penguins…which made me remember the movie Mr. Popper’s Penguins (<— contains a bit of crude humor). I’m no Jim Cary fan, but I remembered the movie being pretty funny when we watched it a few years ago. So, I hatched the plan to surprise Apollo with a Mr. Popper’s Penguin Party for our family movie night. 

How to host a Mr. Popper's Penguin Party

Post contains affiliate links.

How to throw a fun, simple Mr. Popper's Penguins party!

I have to confess…I kind of ran out of time and our party turned into an Eat Yummy Penguin Themed Snacks For Dinner While You Watch A Movie Night. But you know what? The kids loved it and I don’t think they even noticed the difference.

Penguin Party Foods:

Goldfish crackers. Or if you’re lucky, you can find off-brand Penguin crackers like I did!

Teddy Grahams. You know, because polar bears like to eat penguins. Or something like that.

Swedish Fish. Because penguins eat fish. Only Swedish Fish are way better than the slimy ones found in the ocean. Except for smoked salmon. Yum.

Snack Mix. Just be sure to label it Krill Mix.

Apple Sauce Pouches. AKA: Regurgitated penguin food. That is, after all, how the mama and daddy penguins feed their babies. By regurgitation; not apple sauce pouches. 

Juice Pouches. AKA Seaweed Slurpees.

Cheese Cake: Or, a floating iceberg. Cover with your little penguin friends and some Swedish Fish and you are set!

Jalapeno Poppers: Mr. Penguin’s Poppers. So yummy!

 How to throw a fun, simple Mr. Popper's Penguins party!

The kids were delighted and I was delighted for an easy dinner. If you can call it dinner. Which we did. 

How to throw a fun, simple Mr. Popper's Penguins party!

Here are a few of our favorite penguin books:

364 Penguins by JeanpLuc Fromental

This story begins when a single penguin arrives in the mail. One penguin is manageable. But what if a penguin a day for a year arrived? Then you might have a bit of a problem. That is what this 365 Penguins is about. This book is oversized and has large black, white and orange illustrations. My favorite part is the math concepts that are covered as the family tries stacking, sorting and organizing a growing number of penguins. 

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

We read this book aloud a few years ago and the kids loved it! It follows the Popper family who raises a brood of penguins and tells about the adventures they have. Funny, short and easy to read out loud. 

A Mother’s Journey by Sandra Markle

I love the beautiful paintings in this book! A Mother’s Journey follows a penguin mother as she leaves her mate and egg behind and goes on her journey to find fish and eventually come back and join her family. Apollo and I both enjoyed this book together. 

We did brainstorm a few game ideas such as Pin the Penguin on the Iceberg and a balloon popping game, but we didn’t actually get around to playing them. Are you wondering why no children are in these photos? That’s because I took pictures before we started then put my camera down so I could be mom instead of photographer. 

Have you read Mr. Popper’s Penguins? How do you think it compared to the book?

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