Thursday, March 31, 2011

My New Blog

Writing is therapy for me. During those early days in Aberdeen when half the time I didn't know which way was up, writing on this blog helped me wade through culture shock and homesickness.

I am embarking on a new journey and I'm giving it its own blog as a source of accountability and unburdening. In honor of my thirtieth birthday, I've committed to losing 30 lbs. You can follow my adventures at Less Thirty. I've also set up a Twitter account lessthirty. I only have one follower so far, so I'd be honored if you would join me over there. I promise to reciprocate.

So far I'm on Day 4, and I have a lot of really interesting material planned. But be warned. Some of it may be heavy (no pun intended).

See you over there!

PS Don't worry. I'll still be posting over here too.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Last night Addison had his first t-ball practice. In 40 degree weather no less. There was something oddly comical about a bunch of 5 and 6 year olds chasing ground balls in heavy winter coats. Practice started at 7pm, and by 7:30 the light was nearly gone.

They worked on ground balls, pop ups, throwing form, and running the bases. Addison left the field with shining eyes and rosy cheeks. I have a feeling it's going to be a good season.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Love You Like an Egg

Every time I get a carton of eggs out of the fridge, the following scene ensues...

Davis: Can I hold one?
Me: An egg?
Davis: (eyebrows and shoulders rising in expectant excitement) Yes!
Me: Will you be careful? Don't drop it?
Davis: (nods vigorously)
I hand over the egg and the dreamiest, goofiest expression you've ever seen spreads across this little boy's face. Is it the smoothness? The shape? The fragility? Who knows, but it makes me giggle every time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Book club met last week to discuss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and I wanted to post some thoughts on here about it. I would encourage anyone who enjoys strong character development, mystery, history, or medicine to read (or listen to) this book. I am not usually one to pick up non-fiction, preferring the world of make-believe to the real world, but this book proved the exception.

It is hard to summarize what this book is actually about because it weaves together multiple story lines and touches on so many profound issues. While ostensibly it is about the medical history of Henrietta Lacks who died of a virulent strain of cervical cancer at the age of 30, the author, Rebecca Skloot, carefully explores the lasting effects of one woman, gone too soon, on her children, her family, her community, and ultimately the world.

Samples of Henrietta's cancer cells were removed and cultured without her knowledge or consent prior to her cancer treatments. Those cells, known as HeLa, grew at a rate never seen before and are still widely used today in tissue research. They are responsible for the discovery of the polio vaccine as well as many other cancer treatments. They were the first human cells in space and were used to study everything from AIDS to nuclear bombs. And while Henrietta's impact on the scientific world is almost immeasurable, Skloot goes to great lengths to describe the profound loss felt by Henrietta's children at her untimely death, and the shock it was for them to discover that part of her was still alive. Henrietta's two youngest children, her daughter Deborah and her infant son Zakariyya, never knew their mother, and both of their lives were irrevocably shaped by her absence. Deborah struggled her whole life to find out the truth about her mother, ultimately befriending the author who helped her get some answers. Zakariyya ended up in prison, his entire life defined by the unspeakable abuse he suffered at the hand of the woman who raised him after his mother's death. Full of anger and violence, he killed a man, and after his release he drifted from job to job, spending a lot of time on the streets, alienated from his family and society.

The book also deftly handles the myriad ethical issues surrounding patient confidentiality, informed consent, and cell and tissue culture with a skilled and balanced hand, making the many facets of these complicated issues understandable to those without formal scientific training. I was appalled to learn about the medical experimentation that went on in this country post-Nuremburg without patient consent in the name of medical research and scientific progress. Surprisingly, even today, tissue discarded as medical waste during any kind of "-ectomy" can be used in research. The Supreme Court has ruled that medical waste can be used by researchers to further scientific progress and has shifted the balance of power from those who contribute the "raw materials" to those who develop it into a patentable or purchasable commodity. I was particularly struck by the complicated issues that arise when capitalism meets healthcare and how ill-equipped the free market is to handle such sensitive matters.

Well worth the read!


As a new home owner one of my greatest joys has been planting things to beautify the property. Last fall I planted daffodil and tulip bulbs, uncertain whether I would ever get to enjoy the fruit of my labor.

But about two weeks ago I started to notice green pushing up through the barren earth.

And today I have rows of tulips just waiting to burst forth in vibrant color.

Even my hyacinths from last Easter, which on a whim I decided to throw in the ground to see what would happen, are coming back.

I can hardly wait to inhale the intoxicating fragrance.

The day lilies breathe promise of summer orange.

The sunny daffodils have now shed their hoods.

Davis was eager to pose with one for the camera.

There is nothing cheerier in all this world than early spring yellow.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Feels Like Spring

For the past four days we've had the most tantalizing weather. Four days of bright blue skies and brilliant sunshine that has coaxed the daffodils from their buds and made the little birds sing. Thursday and Friday were very warm for this time of year, teasing us in the low 70s, but although the cooler weather returned yesterday, we were undaunted because the sun remained. We need sunshine on our vitamin D-deprived skin, and so after a pancake breakfast, the children and I walked the few blocks to the nearby park for some long-overdue outside time.

This one still loves the swings except now he pretends he's flying a fighter jet complete with sound effects.

This was the closest thing I could get to a smiling shot from Genevie. She was simply too busy to bother with the camera or my shutter delay.

Believe it or not, there was no one at the park besides us.

Busy as ever.

Cherry blossoms.

And this photo...

...took me back in time to this one taken at the park around the corner from our house in Aberdeen at the same time of year back in 2008. You can relive the post Spring Forward to see the other photos if you want. When I showed Davis this photo of himself, which he initially mistook for Genevie, he beamed and then remarked about the more recent park pictures, "That was when we were grown-ups."

Dino Mania

Over the past few months the boys have slowly been transitioning from vehicular obsession to paleontological. Dinosaurs are the soup du jour in the Holloway house. They've been inhaling every Discovery Channel and BBC special on dinosaurs we can access via Netflix's Instant View (in the absence of a real television), and when they've seen them all more than once, they've settled for Dinosaur Train or Dino Squad cartoons.

Imagine Davis's sheer delight when he discovered that March was dino discovery month at preschool. He came home the first day with a sandwich bag full of tri-colored fusilli and penne and proudly informed me they were dinosaur bones that he had excavated from sand. That bag of dry noodles was treasured for weeks before suddenly "disappearing" in our house.

This obsession has also involved play-acting, in this case, a couple of raptors devouring one another. It's good to have a brother.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Three Guys, One God

Trey has been doing the Children's Catechism with Addison and Davis a little over the past week, prompting long and surprisingly in-depth theological discussion. Most recently they've been discussing the Trinity, and last night with the four of us snuggled in bed I asked Davis, "Davis, what is the Trinity?" Without missing a beat he said, "Three guys. One God," holding up three separated fingers and then bundling them together. Wow.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Today You Are Two

Dear Genevie,

Today you are two, baby girl, and I don't know where the time has gone. You are turning into this little lady full of personality and life right before my eyes, and yet it seems like just a few weeks ago I held your tiny bundle in my arms.

You continue to defy definition. In the same moment that I describe you as laid back, you'll choose to show your spirited colors. When I say you aren't that cuddly, you'll nestle your little head on my shoulder while patting my back. You are both girly and tom-boyish, tender and surprisingly tough. This I can say. You are full of life and energy. The world around you is yours to explore and enjoy, and in that way you remind me of myself. I have never before had such an uncanny experience of seeing whispers of the little girl I once was in another, but I see it every day in you. From you facial expressions to your stubborn willfulness, the apple has not fallen far from the tree. You love people and greet everyone we meet with the kind of magnetic sunshine that turns heads.

You are a firecracker with a mind like a steel trap and a voice that will not be ignored, something that both drives me crazy (the loud part) but makes me fiercely proud (your feisty smarts). This is a very hard world to be a woman in. Having a daughter for the first time brought a whole flood of new anxieties to being a parent. All the pressures, the struggles, the pain that come with being a woman in our society. All I want to do is protect you from the ugliness that will seek to tear you down. I want you to succeed and do whatever it is you love. Let nothing hold you back.

Right now you are struggling with exerting your will. You want to be the master of your own universe. It's called the terrible twos, and like every other milestone so far, you hit it early. But I know you will learn to respect the boundaries we set in place in time, and you can start channeling some of that irrepressible force to more fruitful ends. But never lose your confidence. I love that your small size is no obstacle to things that you want, and that when you fall down, you just dust yourself off and get on with it. Both of those things will take you far.

I love you so much, my little firecracker, the kind of soul-deep love that makes me catch my breath when I think about it. You are a gift God gave Daddy and me after much loss, loss that if we had never experienced, we would never have had you. And that makes me weep with gratitude.

Happy birthday with love,


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Club

Back in January a couple of the ladies in my knitting group invited me to join their reading group. I was then embroiled both in the Outlander series as well as ski trip preparation but agreed to join when I got back.

Setting the 7th book in the Outlander series aside for a later date, I started the current book today, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. And wow, what a book. After only an hour, I'm totally hooked. I "read" books via my ears these days. It enables me to do the two things I love while I commute to and from work, read and knit. And this book combines two of my favorite past times, medicine and mysteries.

I'll write a review of the book once I'm done and plan to continue sharing books with you monthly. I'm particularly excited about the one I've picked out for month after next. You'll have to stay tuned.