Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Aaron figured out how to take triangle blocks and configure them into a hexagon. Way to go, bud!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are Mormons Christian?

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes referred to as the "Mormon" church. Recently, the Church has been in the spotlight in the media, and as such, many find themselves sifting through the many things that others say we believe. I write today to shed some light on those beliefs and declare that we unequivocally declare that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.

Growing up, I have always felt welcomed by my Christian friends despite the variances in the doctrines of our respective churches, and was interested to discover that among Christians, there is a wide range of beliefs on countless subjects. It wasn't until I was in grad school, however, that an acquaintance confronted me with claims that I was not really Christian. It was difficult and alarming for me to understand these claims. Since then, I have learned that there are spokemen within the Christian community teaching that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christian.

If you would like to know whether members of my faith are truly Christians, here are some things you can do:

1) The Church declined to make a statement about the accusations recently made for matters of political neutrality, rather they direct those who want to know more to visit and decide for themselves.

2) Find your LDS friends and ask them any questions you may have. You never have to feel embarrassed about asking questions. I assure you most of us answer a lot of questions, and we are happy to do so.

3) Read the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ. We claim that it is the "stick of Ephraim" as was prophesied in the Old Testament. From a verse in the Book of Mormon: "O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men." If you would like a copy of the Book of Mormon, one can be delivered to your door free of charge.

4) Watch the following video. It is spoken by one of the Twelve Apostles living today. He addresses many of the doctrinal differences that cause many to claim the non-Christianity of Mormons.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Birth Story

It has been such a busy month that I never got to share the exciting news: Audrey Michelle Eichins was born June 2 at 12:26am. She weighed 7lbs 4oz and measured 20 3/4 inches. I thought I'd share a few details about how the birth went.

I had been planning to have a natural birth after doing a lot of research about how to avoid another 4th degree tear (if you or someone you know has had one during childbirth, you'll understand my concerns. . .). I had spent time preparing mentally for how I would cope during the various stages of labor and anticipating possible conflicts that may arise if doctors or nurses tried to interfere with my plans. I was also prepared at 36 weeks with the gear I'd be hauling to the hospital.

Now that I had been through early labor once, I was anticipating a six-hour labor (last time was 12, and the nurse-midwife said it was usually half that in subsequent deliveries), the first few hours at home until contractions were close enough to call the doctor. I had been having regular contractions for a few days, but they were never close enough to make the call. Then a couple days of nothing. I was sure this baby would never be coming.

Wednesday night, June 1st, David came home from cub scouts with some ice cream. As we started to eat some, Natalie became rather irritable (it was past her bedtime, after all). I lefy David to deal with it as I was starting to feel sick. For those of you who have not had a baby (or a wife who had a baby), you have to understand that late pregnancy is REALLY uncomfortable in a number of ways. In this case, I had been dealing with gastro-intestinal issues for weeks and the resulting cramps. So I immediately recognized this sick feeling and headed off to the bathroom.

In a matter of minutes (perhaps even seconds), the cramps were unbearable! This was certainly the worst gas cramp of my life. I took some breaks laying down hoping relaxing would help, and it did a little bit. David was patient and kind enough to take care of Natalie's bedtime routine and reassure Natalie that I was okay. I, on the other hand, was sure something was wrong. I even said to David in a moment of agony, "If labor feels anything like this, I don't think I can handle it."

After an hour and a half, we called the doctor who so helpfully said, "If it's labor, go to the hospital. If it's gas, stay home." The pain was intensifying, especially if I sat down. That gave me my first clue that I was actually in labor since my friend had said it was too painful for her to sit on the toilet during labor. I decided we needed to go right away.

We got Natalie up and called my parents so my mom could come help watch Natalie. (Actually, David did both of those things while I grabbed my bag and went straight to the car.) I knelt backwards in the front seat (too painful to sit, remember?) and David drove us to the hospital which was about 20 minutes away. Om the way, I said, "David, this is definitely labor." He said, "Is there anything I can do to help?" I said, "Yes. Don't talk to me."

I hadn't learned beforehand what entrance we were supposed to enter, so we went to the ER entrance as was the procedure where I delivered last time. I walked in, holding myself up with a wheelchair, and then knelt down burying my head in the seat. A young man at the desk looked up with a concerned look and asked, "Can I help you?" "I'm in labor and I'm really far along," I managed to say through gritted teeth. A nurse was sent to take me to the right place, and my registration was greatly expedited to ensure I made it to the delivery room in time. They took me straight to my room and checked to see how dialated I was. I was ten centimeters.

A nurse told me not to push. I asked, "Why not?" "The doctor isn't here yet." Hah! I couldn't have not pushed if I tried! Luckily he was there a few seconds later because I was involuntarily pushing. A strong popping feeling suggested we had skipped right over the baby maneuvering through the birth canal phase, and David said, "I see the head!" It was not, however. Just a bulging amniotic sac. They broke my water, and we worked on pushing the baby out. I could not get her out, though. The doctor started testing to gauge the need for an episiotomy, and I started begging him not to do anything. I was so worried I would have another bad tear. However, he assessed it was needed and went ahead with the procedure. Audrey was out a few pushes later, and I didn't really tear beyond the incision the doctor made (considered a 2nd degree tear). Turns out the second degree tear hurts less on the first day than a fourth degree after several weeks!

For a few minutes, I held Audrey, who looked rather green (meconium stained vernix). She had a perfectly shaped head since labor had been an exciting three minutes total, apparently not enough time to give her a cone head. (I also have noticed she has a tiny, hard-to-find fontanelle which could have been the reason why I couldn't push her out?) She was quite pale which turned out to be due to extremely low red blood count (anemia) as a result of a fetal-maternal hemmorhage that occurred over the last few weeks of the pregnancy. After a blood transfusion and a week+ at Children's Hospital, she is safe and home!

We love our little Audrey and are so glad she came to our family!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Good Things Happen to Those with Cameras

Saturday morning, we decided to take Natalie to the park to play with the new soccer ball we recently purchased. (It has become one of Natalie's most prized possessions, often accompanying us on trips to the store . . .) David grabbed the camera so we could capture her enthusiasm on camera. Here are some of my favorites:

David noticed a softball laying out on a baseball field along with a bat, so he tried to teach Natalie how to throw and hit the ball. She preferred to use the bat as a golf club:

After a short time, the dirt looked more interesting than playing ball:

When we stopped at the store, we happened to have the camera in my bag still, so I caught a picture of a couple of the youth who made a stop there as well before heading off to prom, I guess.

On the way home, David mentioned he and Natalie saw a deer earlier that day. I mentioned I'd never seen deer near our apartment, and David gestured nearby, saying he had once seen a deer that direction. There happened to be a deer right there, and we happened to have a camera.

Just Like Me

It always catches me off gurad when Natalie says something that I have been known to say, and it causes me to wish I were more careful about the example I am to her.

Today, Natalie wanted something to be done and, while pushing David aside, told him, "No, I'll do it." I realized this is the phrase I've been using this last week when Natalie needed her runny nose wiped but would try to do it herself, in the process smearing it across her face. "No, no, Natalie, I'll do it."

It reminds me of the old song Cats in the Cradle where the father keeps putting off doing things with his growing son and realizes that his son, now an adult, has become just like him. I hope I can be a good example to Natalie since my example is going to be the most persuasive teaching device I have.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Natalie is Three!

Today is Natalie's birthday! This morning, I took some time to reflect on what these last three years have meant to me. Hopefully I can share some of those thoughts here.

It's hard to put into words the changes that have occurred in me since becoming a mother. The joys and challenges of motherhood have been a catalyst in the refining of my ideas and character. Some days, I feel like I am failing miserably, but when I compare my thoughts and attitudes to those of three years ago, I feel grateful for the things that I am learning as I strive to be a better mother to Natalie.

Here are some snapshots of Natalie since birth with some of my thoughts about her and the little lady she is becoming.

This is Natalie only a few days old at the hospital. David is likely trying to burp her (which was not one of her favorite things to do. . .)
Natalie's first week was a challenge for us as parents as she was kept in the NICU to moniter her feedings. We were so happy when we were finally able to take her home!

Natalie's first birthday won her a trip to Chicago to have cleft palate surgery. Here she is relaxing on Daddy's lap at the Ronald McDonald House.

Natalie's cleft palate has meant that her ability to make most consonants has been near impossible, even after surgery. But we have been amazed as she has made progress in her speech at the complexity of her thoughts that we previously had not been aware of. Everyone who works with Natalie closely remarks on how smart she is!

Natalie loves to read! Here you can see that even sleep isn't a good enough reason to put down a good book. . .

Lately when we read, Natalie interrupts to comment on some aspect of the story or picture. In real life, she is very sensitive to the emotions experienced by others, and she likes to point out in stories what emotion the characters' faces reflect. She also shows incredible memory. In one picture, she said the character was mad because of his downward eyebrows. I said, "No, he's just working very hard because he's lifting something heavy." A few days later when she pointed to that picture, she said, "He's working hard!"

If I were a better mom who doesn't despise hot and cold weather, we would spend more time at Natalie's favorite place: the park! I've been grateful that she is old enough now to be understanding when we drive by and I tell her it's too cold to play. Hopefully we'll figure out a way to get her to the park more often this season.

Natalie is very observant, and she wants to be exactly like us. Here, she really wants to play with the computer, something we don't really let her do yet.

She also seems to be rather particular about many of the same things that I am. One day Natalie noticed a hole in her sock that was nearly big enough for her big toe to fit through. She pointed to it and whined. David said, "What are you teaching her?" I, too, am notorious for my lack of tolerance of holes in my socks, even since childhood. Here, Natalie is unable to continue reading a story because her toe has found it's way through the footies in her pajamas. . .

Natalie loves animals. We take trips to the pet store from time to time, and she enjoys looking at the many varieties of fish, the bunnies, parakeets, and rodents. If you ask her, she'll likely tell you her favorite animal at the pet store are the mice. If you ask for a description, she'll tell you they are white with pink tails.

Natalie also enjoys the cats at both grandparents' homes (though the cats do not reciprocate her feelings). We also enjoy pointing out the birds and stray cats that frequent our back porch. Here is Natalie in her cat Halloween costume during a wagon ride at a local pumpkin patch.

We love our beautiful little girl. Her sweet, tender nature fills our hearts with gratitude for the responsibility we have as parents to help her learn and grow. I look forward to seeing her become a big sister. She is "mommy's big helper," but she'll always be my little baby. I love you, Natalie!

Monday, August 10, 2009


It's been almost a year since our last post, mostly because I use facebook to keep up with friends and family, but blogs allow for more details and stories, I suppose.

Here's Natalie Last winter in the hat I made for her using the Nifty Knitter loom.

One of the biggest events this year was Natalie's surgery. We drove to Chicago on her birthday, March 31st, where we stayed at the beautiful Ronald McDonald House. Her surgery took place April 2nd at the Shriners Hospital for Children. The surgeon said everything went well, though Natalie was still pretty cranky for several days. She wore elbow immobilizers for two weeks so that she would not touch her mouth and injure her surgical site. She still managed to smile for the camera!
At the end of July, the Cleveland Shriners who sponsored Natalie's surgery held a picnic for patients. Natalie was scared of the clowns and strangers that greeted her, but she eventually enjoyed running around the picnic pavilion, watch kites flying, and play toss with Daddy.

And here's a picture of Natalie and I on Easter, I think. She's wearing the pretty dress her Aunt Laura made for her!
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