first year

One year ago, right now, I was giving birth to my baby. I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. I remember all too well those first few weeks, adjusting to this new little person who burst into our lives with the gusto of crashing Ocean waves. I recall the struggles of breastfeeding, the frustrating sleep issues, the raging post-partum hormones. It was hard.

But I also remember the first time I saw that little face, all pink and wrinkled, mouth wide open and screaming mad. After 42 weeks of pregnancy and 28 hours of labor, he still wasn't ready to come out. Looking at that little person was the most surreal experience of my life. He is the best of Phil and the best of me all wrapped up in this little tiny package. I didnt sleep for two days. I just wanted to stare at my little Ocean, touch him, kiss him. He was so perfect.

I recall the first time I felt that my heart would break from the amount of love that I felt for my son. He was about a week old, and it was 3:00 in the morning. He woke up to eat and I was rocking him back to sleep, singing "You Are My Sunshine". I got to the line, "You'll never know dear, how much I love you," and I realized how true that was. My eyes filled with tears at the notion that I was completely and utterly ruined. I wasn't prepared for the depth of emotion I would feel for this person who never existed before, and who I love simply because he's alive. I still feel overwhelmed by my love for him and my instinct to protect him, no matter the cost.

Now that he's sleeping through the night (finally... hooray!), he has eight teeth, he's through the separation anxiety stage and he's become a walking fool, my life has gotten exponentially easier. Every day I love Ocean more and every stage he goes through is my favorite. But there are those moments and days (like today) when I remember that newborn baby smell, and picture his skinny little arms, and think about how tiny and dependent and helpless my little boy once was and I become wistful. I wouldn't go back, because I love watching Ocean grow and change and become more and more independent (that's the goal, right?) but I will always cherish those special moments with my firstborn. After all, he taught me how to be a mother.

I love you so much today and always, my sweet Ocean Philip. Happy Birthday little man.



Humans' beef with livestock: a warmer planet
American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year.

By Brad Knickerbocker, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

As Congress begins to tackle the causes and cures of global warming, the action focuses on gas-guzzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants, not on lowly bovines.

Yet livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And as meat becomes a growing mainstay of human diet around the world, changing what we eat may prove as hard as changing what we drive.

It's not just the well-known and frequently joked-about flatulence and manure of grass-chewing cattle that's the problem, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. So is the use of energy to produce fertilizers, to run the slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants, and to pump water.

"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report, said when the FAO findings were released in November.

Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that's more than the emissions caused by transportation.

The latter two gases are particularly troubling - even though they represent far smaller concentrations in atmosphere than CO2, which remains the main global warming culprit. But methane has 23 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2 and nitrous oxide has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Methane could become a greater problem if the permafrost in northern latitudes thaws with increasing temperatures, releasing the gas now trapped below decaying vegetation. What's more certain is that emissions of these gases can spike as humans consume more livestock products.

As prosperity increased around the world in recent decades, the number of people eating meat (and the amount one eats every year) has risen steadily. Between 1970 and 2002, annual per capita meat consumption in developing countries rose from 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) to 29 kilograms (64 lbs.), according to the FAO. (In developed countries, the comparable figures were 65 kilos and 80 kilos.) As population increased, total meat consumption in the developing world grew nearly five-fold over that period.

Beyond that, annual global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons at the beginning of the decade to 465 million tons in 2050. This makes livestock the fastest growing sector of global agriculture.

Animal-rights activists and those advocating vegetarianism have been quick to pick up on the implications of the FAO report.

"Arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products," writes Noam Mohr in a report for EarthSave International.

Changing one's diet can lower greenhouse gas emissions quicker than shifts away from fossil fuel burning technologies, Mr. Mohr writes, because the turnover rate for farm animals is shorter than that for cars and power plants.

"Even if cheap, zero-emission fuel sources were available today, they would take many years to build and slowly replace the massive infrastructure our economy depends upon today," he writes. "Similarly, unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the air for more than a century, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years, so that lower methane emissions quickly translate to cooling of the earth."

Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the global warming impact of meat eaters with that of vegetarians and found that the average American diet - including all food processing steps - results in the annual production of an extra 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent (in the form of all greenhouse gases) compared to a no-meat diet. Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concluded that dietary changes could make more difference than trading in a standard sedan for a more efficient hybrid car, which reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly one ton a year.

"It doesn't have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan," says Dr. Eshel, whose family raised beef cattle in Israel. "If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you've already made a substantial difference."

Staff writer Peter Spotts contributed to this report.
Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0220/p03s01-ussc.html


recipe of the day

This is a delicious recipe for a chilly day and it uses only 6 ingredients. As a bonus for the earth and for your body it's completely vegan. Use fresh, organic ingredients for maximum flavor and nutrition.

Creamy Broccoli Soup
Serves 4 | 30 minutes

1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
6 cups (about 1.5 lbs.) broccoli, florets separated, stems peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

1. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a large saucepan. Add onion, and cook 7 minutes over medium heat, or until softened, stirring often. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more.

2. Add broth, 1 cup of water, broccoli, potato and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

3. Puree soup in blender. Return to pot. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve with whole grain bread and couscous, quinoa or orzo on the side.


tas philas - "girlfriends"

Only Tas Philas can eat at Bob Evans together and think it was the best meal they've had in a long time... simply because the company is just that good.

Only Tas Philas understand the pressure and frustration of trying to be Superwoman and failing at it over and over.

Only Tas Philas cry when you cry. Even if it's over something that seems insignificant.

Only Tas Philas can be hooked up to a breast pump next to you in the car and it's perfectly normal and comfortable.

Only Tas Philas can see you with snot running down your face, and deodorant that has not withstood the power of the Holy Ghost, and want to hug you anyway.

Only Tas Philas can share our deepest struggles with our hard-headed, stubborn pride and our terrible, heart-wrenching fear of being vulnerable or *gasp* inter-dependent.

Only Tas Philas know the desperation of a new mother with a crying baby.

Only Tas Philas would think it was funny when they forgot where they were sitting in a group of over 7000 people.

Only Tas Philas wouldn't judge me, and at the same time point me in the right direction instead of telling me everything I want to hear.

Only Tas Philas use their jacket sleeves to open those nasty parking garage stairwell doors. Blech.

Only Tas Philas can remain close despite the distance between us.

Only you, my Tas Philas friend, would sacrifice yourself to get into the trenches with me; suffer with me; and love me until I had the strength to climb out of my pit and into the presence of God.

I love you, Tas Philas.


good point.

He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
Proverbs 27:7


reason #269 why i love ann arbor

Trader Joe's and Whole Foods within 2 miles of each other. I actually got a little grocery shopping adrenaline rush today.

I spent about 80 bucks on groceries for the week. The same stuff would have cost me twice as much in Charlotte. It's a vegan paradise in Ann Arbor, make no mistake about it... so far it totally makes up for the sub-zero temps. Talk to me when the novelty has worn off, though; things could change really quickly as the winter drags on and I start taking the convenience for granted.

Pray for me.




Yes, we made it to Michigan. We moved into our new place. On the coldest weekend of the year.

I've been so spoiled in Charlotte with the mild temperatures, blue skies and minimal precipitation. This is going to be quite an adjustment.

But it was awesome to see the look on Ocean's face when he woke up from his nap this afternoon and his Mimi, Papa, Grandma and Grandpa were all there. So the lesson here is:

One Penske moving truck - $350
Gas for the trip - $100
Watching my son get to know his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins - Priceless.


the end of extreme poverty

Bono just tore it up on the Image Awards tonight. In talking about the AIDS crisis in Africa and the Western church's resistance to get involved he said that, no matter your view on who God is, what He's about, or even whether he exists, "God is with the poor, and God is with us if we are with them."

So basic, so biblical, so practical, so true.

Anyone wanna go to Africa?