whether it snows again or not..

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that spring is here to stay. A whole week of afternoons at the park and I'm loving it so ridiculously much. I wish it would stay between 60 and 75 degrees all summer long.

Around the corner and up one winding hill, across some grass.. and we reach a little park that overlooks half of Pocatello. It's beautiful. Not like my New England is beautiful.. but this place has its charms.

When Husband and I talk about where we'll build our dreamhouse and settle down for the rest of our lives, these are the things we're looking for:

-snowy winters
-easy access to lakes, rivers, and the ocean (okay, so this is mostly me)
-outside a big city, but not too remote
-no humidity

So far.. we have no idea where this could possibly be. We love the dry climate of Idaho, but miss the green goodness of Minnesota and New Hampshire. We hate the humidity and bugs that come with watery places, but we're also not too fond of the color brown. I guess you can't have it all.

The closest we come to covering all these bases is Flagstaff, AZ. But even then, it's landlocked and I'm a New Englander. Somewhere in northern California, Oregon, or Washington.. maybe. Our hearts always bring us back to Boston.

So, we'll see.

In the meantime, we love our neighborhood, our ward, close proximity to family, having a park in walking distance, how quickly things like hair and towels dry, the view of the mountains from our kitchen windows, and the absence of bugs. Oh, yes. Especially the absence of bugs.


Dear Dr. Jensen, This is what I should have said but didn't.

Dear Dr. Jensen,

I brought my daughter in late tonight as a precaution. She's five months old and has a nasty cough. I just wanted her seen so we could rule out anything serious and put my worried mind at ease. 

But you didn't put my mind at ease. No, instead you opened a Pandora's box of angry (and probably offensive) things I've been refraining from sharing with the world at large. Well, look out world. Because I'm done keeping my mouth shut for the sake of not stepping on anyone's toes.

My girls' pediatrician is Dr. Summerill, and I absolutely love him. He loves what he does. He loves my children. I have been more than impressed by him as a person and a doctor. He is simply wonderful. I really wish he had been on call tonight instead of you.

You asked why I brought her in, and I explained that she's more sick than either of my babies have ever been as babies, and there were some things that worried me: labored breathing, the sound of her cough, lack of appetite. You said I was smart to bring her in, and then evaluated her. 

Upper respiratory infection. Everything else is completely healthy. If it were something more serious, the infection would have spread further already. If she doesn't show signs of improvement in two days, bring her back in to be looked at again.

I also explained that we've chosen to delay our children's vaccinations, and so I like to be extra careful when they get sick, to have them looked at sooner, so that if it is something serious it can be treated quickly before it gets out of hand. 

Your demeanor changed when I said this, and I was no longer a smart parent for bringing her in. I became an uneducated, incompetent, obviously out-of-my-mind, uncaring parent, to whom you spoke down to and issued a lecture that I (admittedly) tuned out as to avoid an uncomfortable verbal conflict. I apologize for that. My response to your vaccine tirade was,

"Yes, I've heard all of this before."

What I should have said was the following:

1. Shut your damn mouth. Don't you dare talk to me that way!

2. I came here out of concern for my child's well-being, because she is sick and this is your area of expertise. I didn't come here for you to try to instill fear into my mommy heart about my child's immune system. She is not "immuno-compromised" on account of her lack of vaccinations. There is nothing wrong with her immune system. There is nothing wrong with our decision to wait to vaccinate.

3. Respect that. Jerk.

4. I take my children to a doctor regularly for well-checks and whenever something gives me cause for concern. I do this for the doctor's opinion. I do not do this so that you can make decisions for me. Please don't mistake this as being your role. It isn't. 

Dr. Jensen, you asked me why I've chosen to delay vaccinations for my children. My response was, 

"Because they can cause adverse reactions that freak me out."

What I should have said, had I thought you were actually interested in hearing what I had to say, was the following:

1. We see ourselves as somewhere in the middle of the vaccine debate. We don't think they are evil, but we don't think they're the greatest invention of all time either. 

2. We choose to wait because I stay home with my children, and they have relatively little exposure to diseases. If they were in daycare, this might be different. If we were planning on traveling overseas, this might be different.

3. We choose to wait because I breastfeed, and their immune systems are nearly as strong as mine on account of the antibodies they receive through me. Maybe you don't know much about this because you're a medical doctor and not a breastfeeding specialist. When my baby gets sick, she passes it to me when she nurses. My immune system then responds, produces antibodies, and passes them to her through my breastmilk to help her fight the illness. It's pretty cool what our bodies were designed to do.

If I were feeding her formula, this might be different. That is something you might accurately call "immuno-compromised," being less than what it could be through the way God designed a child's immune system to be built up.

4. We choose to wait because we don't believe you can put whatever the heck you want into your body and expect it not to have any adverse effect on you. We appreciate modern, western medicine when it is necessary, but we've chosen not to rely on it as a way of life. We also keep drug use to a minimum, especially when it comes to our babies. 

5. We choose to wait because we don't believe vaccines are very well absorbed in babies so young, and we don't like the idea of giving multiple doses to make up the difference. 

6. We choose to wait because of the possibility of adverse reactions. Even as an adult, my husband experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine, and it is not unreasonable for us to consider our children as possible candidates for this also. You know that some babies react to vaccines, and that sometimes, they are serious. Otherwise you wouldn't be sending me home with fact sheets covered in warnings and explanations whenever my oldest gets a shot. If you could guarantee me that nothing would happen to my kids, this might be different. If you were able to make variations of vaccines to suit a variety of individuals (as the medical field often does for drug administration), this might be different.

7. We choose to wait because of all the other crap you have to throw into your vaccines to make them effective or increase their shelf life or keep those combo vaccines from interacting within themselves. Sure, you may argue that they are minimal. Go ahead. I'm not convinced that there's any reason I should put any more MSG, formaldehyde, monkey brains, tissue from aborted fetuses, or whatever the hell else you put in there, into my child's body than is necessary. If these vaccines were cleaner, this might be different. 

8. We're not convinced that vaccinating babies against diseases will keep them from getting those diseases.

9. We choose to wait because we simply don't trust the FDA, or any other business or branch of government to make the best choices for us. Call us crazy conservatives. We really don't care.

10. I've studied and researched both sides of this debate. I've found good evidence to support both sides. I've been torn about the decisions required of me as a parent, this one especially. We've discussed this on a number of occasions and come to a decision that we both feel good about. 

And knowing that it's possible that our babies may be at greater risk than others, we do crazy things like take them into the doctor with every fever or cold, just to be extra careful. So that if there were something serious going on, we could catch it while it is still treatable, as many serious diseases are. 

Yes, Dr. Jensen. We've chosen to wait to vaccinate, regardless of what you think about it, and regardless of what you think of us as parents because of our choices.

Additionally, for your information, here are a couple other details about our choices concerning vaccines:

1. When our babies wean themselves and are no longer receiving antibodies from mom, we will begin their vaccines. At this time, they'll also be at an age where those vaccines are more easily absorbed into their immune system, requiring fewer doses. At that age, their bodies will also be more capable of managing all the crap that comes in them. When our babies begin nursery at church and are exposed to much more illness, we will be sure to begin their vaccines. 

2. Whenever you choose to speak to either of us as rudely as you did tonight again, we will not be as kind in return.

3. Whichever of our friends persist in spreading pro-vaccine information (like through social media) as a way of convincing us of the error of our ways, we will block their posts and refrain from argument. We like to maintain friendships and avoid passing judgment based on personal choices in parenting. 

I'd like to thank you, Dr. Jensen, for providing me the opportunity to voice my opinions, and to do so without fear of offending others. I'd like to thank you for reminding me of why we chose the pediatrician that we did, and to be extra thankful for him. 

Thank you for checking on my daughter's health, as well. I'm glad there's nothing seriously wrong. 

With that knowledge, and with a bit of weight taken off my chest in writing this, I might just sleep a little bit better tonight. 

Erin Judd


welcome to my little black book

There's this guy I know, and I really have a thing for him. Maybe it's the way my daughter runs up to him with open arms the minute he walks in the door. Maybe it's his deep melodic voice, or the annoying way he can never remember the words to a given song and just makes crap up instead. Maybe it has something to do with the very first time that I cooked him a meal and he uttered the words,

"I'm the smartest man alive."

But whatever the accompanying reasons may be, the fact remains that I love to cook for my husband. And being the artist that I am, cooking at our house includes three things:

1) an outlet for my crazy drive for creativity

2) critiques (a rating from 1-10 on the Husband scale)

3) a compilation of achievements and faves in a little black book... a combo sketchbook-journal-portfolio of sorts. 
Now, I never intended for this to be a cooking blog, and that isn't about to change anytime soon. This blog is about our family.. our food-loving family.

But I've decided to open my little black book to my friends and bloggie followers, one recipe at a time. 

This is good for me because I am terrible at measuring things and keeping track of recipes.. which often leaves a frustrated Husband who repeatedly asks,

"How do you make....??" and I list off a dozen or more ingredients in no particular order or amounts, often going on and on before I'm met with a blank look and a resignation to boxed macaroni and cheese.

Sorry, babe.

The little black book is an ongoing compilation project of our family's favorites. I really like having it. It's really nice to have things somewhere other than in my head, that I can reference with significantly lower levels of brain power (this is important when it's dinner time and a day's worth of toddler whines and baby cries has left your mind functioning at a very minimal level). 

And so I welcome you to the newest corner of my little blog!

Now the question is.. which of our favorites do I begin with?