Grumpy toxicologist blathers on

Disclaimer: Before we get into this, you should know that I am a toxicologist, with a bright, shiny, glass encased piece of paper that says as much.  I am not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and while I fancy myself more informed than some doctors and pharmacists, that doesn’t mean you should follow my advice blindly.  These are just my (educated) opinions, the choices I make in my own life – your mileage may vary.

Also worth saying: this is a HUGE can of worms. There is no way for me to succinctly cover these subjects, and also it’s probably impossible for me not to offend someone, or get someone riled up about something I glossed over.  If you are confused about something or want more info, just ask – I love talking about this stuff, and I hope that this obviously a pretty quick rundown.  If you are about to leave a nasty comment about how I don’t know shit, ask yourself if you think I have expressed all the knowledge that came with my fancy PhD and professional experience in this here 1200 word blog post, and then go right ahead and yell at me, because I love a good ridiculous argument.

Ok, moving along. There are a few ideas that are sort of critical to understand before reading the rest of this (or pretty much anything I ever say about tox, drugs, chemicals, etc.):

1.        The dose makes the poison.  Anything, in large enough quantities, can be toxic.  I come back to this idea a LOT – moderation is key. Too much of a good thing is BAD.  A little of a bad thing can be no big deal.  Ultimately, dose is the most important factor when determining if something is safe or unsafe.

2.       Interindividual variability, i.e., my body is nobody’s body but mine.  Unlike most lab animals on which chemicals are tested (and I fully support rigorous animal testing, but I’m betting that’s a conversation for another day), humans vary a LOT.  My personal physiology can be considerably different from yours, and yours, and yours.  Some of these differences are known, some not; some are important, some unimportant.

So, now that that is out of the way. The topics I get asked about most frequently are pesticides, plastics, antibiotics, and sweeteners (artificial, HFCS).  Also a lot about drugs (OTC, RX, and recreational) for a host of reasons (e.g., can I take this with that? Can I take this while pregnant/breastfeeding? etc.).  I’m going to just talk about pesticides right now, as I think this will get lengthy pretty fast (considering I’m already up to like 500 words and I’ve not even gotten to my actual subject yet…)

Right up front, here is my rule of thumb for just about everything: if it isn’t cigarettes [or other tobacco products], it’s not worth worrying about.

First up, pesticides. Ok so I think 99% of organic produce is a waste of money at best, and a marketing scheme at worst. Yeah, I said it. Pesticides, man: it’s better living through chemistry.  Most pesticides have species-specificity. That means that the way they kill whatever pest is harassing your bananas is something that humans don’t have.

So when sensationalist fear mongering jerk wads (like the Environmental Working Group, who puts out the “Dirty Dozen” list) say things like

“Pesticides are toxic by design.  They are created expressly to kill living organisms — insects, plants, and fungi that are considered ‘pests.’”

They are capitalizing on folks not understanding the intricacies of human, animal, insect, plant, and fungal physiology.  Which, duh, most people don’t and shouldn’t! I’m sorry, learning about the life cycles of slime molds and corn smut isn’t really something most people are interested in.  So they read “it kills X, it’s probably bad for Y too” and don’t understand that humans don’t even have the right enzymes or whatever else for it to even matter.  In the quantities these pesticides are actually found on foods, they will not do a damn thing to humans. Now, if you drank a bottle of the pesticide straight up, it would probably do something bad – because even though you don’t have that particular enzyme that makes it toxic to the pest, you probably have some minor pathway that becomes involved when you are exposed to such an enormous dose.  It’s like an overdose of a drug – the normal pathways that get rid of junk for you get overwhelmed, and suddenly there is garbage going where it normally wouldn’t, causing problems.  But the margin between what you are actually being exposed to on that apple, and what would cause toxicity?  Is like a damn dump truck filled with apples, every day, for your whole life.  Saying that the one apple’s worth of pesticide is bad for you is like saying a snowflake could kill you, just because that’s what avalanches are made from.

Leaving aside the toxicity of the pesticides themselves, in many cases, the pesticides are getting rid of something that is terrible for humans.  Sometimes, it’s just something that affects food supply and availability, like certain molds that make something kind of gross or inedible, of bugs that just plain eat it before we get the chance.  But, particularly with a lot of molds, there can be something straight up toxic that grows on the food if pesticides aren’t used.  Example: there is a mold that is endemic to peanuts called Aspergillus.  Some strains of this mold create a byproduct as they grow, called aflatoxin.  It is a primary liver carcinogen.  It is a nasty, terrible compound.  And it’s NATURAL! (Do not EVEN get me started on how just because something is “natural,” it must also be SAFE, oh my sweet hell.)  So, in organic peanut butter, that weird oily concoction much beloved by hippies and hipsters all over this great country, you are eating a side of carcinogen that is simply not present in the non-organic brands (MMmmm JIF!).  That’s just one example – there are a slew of other mycotoxins (toxic mold byproducts) that can occur, most of which are fairly rare in this country (YAY FUNGICIDES), but they are really fascinating.  To me.  Just for peace of mind I will say that the mold on your bread and the mold on your cheese are no big deal, just kind of icky, so be calm and eat your food.

So, I had a few more paragraphs in here about my love of pesticides, but it got a little too sciency and I don’t want to scare y’all away.  I want to make clear that there are definitely drawbacks to some pesticides – they affect some good bugs and organisms and eff with the balance of the environment when they are used too much (just like antibiotics ha ha ha omg).  So, if I were in charge, we’d be all about sustainable farming practices, and no monocultures, and local produce, and la di da.  To minimize their use to what is most sensible and necessary.  BUT – I’m not.  So, I try to support those things when I can, and when I can’t, I buy the plain old produce at the store.  Because when I buy the mass produced organic bullshit, I’m playing into their* hands EVEN MORE.

*The evil marketers and big ag and also probably HITLER.

Updated to add: One important thing that some twitter folks brought up – I have reduced this issue to one of simple toxicity to consumers.  There is a lot more to pesticides – their effects on the folks who apply them (farm workers, and their families), for one – these people get occupational exposures that are quite a lot higher than the end consumers, and this is DEFINITELY an issue worth discussing.  It’s terribly difficult to keep all of these issues in mind, and base your purchasing behaviors off of them consistently – it’s so much to consider!  I end up getting very discouraged about our food supply and farming practices in the US (and many other developed countries).  So, for me – I try to put my money where my mouth is, buy as much as I can from local farmers (meat AND produce). My own opinions are local/sustainable first, organic second.  FOR ME, local meat is more important than local produce.  But this is necessarily a reductionist view – it’s IMPOSSIBLE to keep all the issues in mind (effects of pesticides on consumers, farm workers, ecology; politics of agribusiness; transport and storage issues, agh, my brain hurts).  I might need to just make this stuff another post!  But PLEASE if you have additional thoughts or a different perspective, share it!

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Biology

I have lately been getting really RAGEY about certain topics, where the great unwashed masses (i.e., the sector of the general public who disagree with me) take stances that reveal what is, to me, a GROSS MISUNDERSTANDING of biology.  Because I have a LOT of schooling in biology, physiology, etc., I try to remember that what is basic to me may be completely foreign to a layperson, but it’s hard.  Other things, well, I know the underlying biology is not remotely basic, but I wish that there were a way to communicate it to laypeople more effectively.  All of these things make me crazy.  Some examples:

1. Vaccines. I am not sure I can even talk about this without hurting someone.  I will only say two things [today]: first, anecdotal evidence is not the same thing, and does not carry the same [read: any] weight as scientific and  epidemiological evidence. Second, the choice of vaccinating or not affects entire populations, not simply the individual in question.  The amount of restraint I am showing stopping with that is HUGE, let me tell you. 

2. Individual metabolism, weight issues, etc.  It pisses me RIGHT OFF when people assume that every body behaves the same way.  That if only you ate like *I* eat (as in, some asshole, not me (or you) personally), you’d be just as thin and fit!  NO. The amount we understand about diet/exercise/physiology, compared to what we don’t, is like comparing a bottle of water to the fucking OCEAN.  There are some things we know for sure, though: whole foods trump processed, some bodies tend to be heavier than others regardless of diet, exercise AND diet are both important.

3. Mixing frequently used pharmaceuticals and alcohol (e.g., tylenol/acetaminophen, antibiotics, etc.).  Some things, no big deal. Other things, HUGE DEAL.  People joke (I hope it’s a joke) about taking some nyquil and having some wine – NOoOoo.  Alcohol competes with acetaminophen for certain enzymes, forcing the acetaminophen down an alternative metabolic pathway that creates terrible toxins that can lead to liver failure.  As I type this out, I realize it probably isn’t “basic”, so I’ll chalk this up to scientists and doctors failing to communicate effectively.  BUT DAMN, acetaminophen overdose or alcohol-aggravated toxicity is one of the number one causes of liver failure in the US, the top Poison Control call issue, etc., so we should do a better job educating on this!  AND, this failure to communicate is why the dosage on acetaminophen was just reduced: instead of explaining why you shouldn’t take too much, they just reduced the dosage so when people take too much it won’t be as big a deal.  GRR.

4. Alcohol and pregnancy.  I hate this one because of how other people’s opinions end up affecting MY life.  There have been articles circulating about this recently, as a new study (NOT the first one by a long shot) was published showing that drinking MODERATELY while pregnant is not a big deal.  The comments I’ve seen relating to it have been half supportive, half “Oh well, you can hurt YOUR baby, but I won’t drink a DROP because I LOVE mine.”  Well, fuck that tone, first of all, but that aside: the great American hatred of moderation is the issue here.  Things don’t fall cleanly into “healthy” and “toxic” – the dose makes the poison. If you drink too much of ANYTHING, including goddamn WATER, it will do bad things.  But, instead of publicizing the idea of moderation, America decided to take a hard line and say none for anyone.  Like the medical and political establishments basically thought we were all idiots that couldn’t be trusted to understand things like “serving sizes” oh wait shit we can’t.  GAAh.

5.  Artificial sweeteners, slash why I will always drink Diet Coke so help me.  The volume of diet coke you’d have to drink DAILY for your ENTIRE LIFE to cause toxicity?  Well, you’d basically have to become an aquatic mammal that lives in a diet coke ocean.  GALLONS. A day.  When I was pregnant, a co-worker used to come by my office every day and judge me openly about my single DC per day habit. And he was an effing toxicologist, who smokes (see #7).  RAGE.

6.  Bisphenol A.  This isn’t basic, and some of the scientists fall into the unwashed masses camp.  But, as a toxicologist (a reproductive toxicologist at that), let me just say: calm down. “BPA Free!” has become a marketing tool.  BPA is so well-studied at this point, and any potential toxicity is so minor that no one can even come up with anything remotely definitive. The only definitive thing is that a) the levels in human blood are super low, and b) the estrogenicity of BPA is way way less than anything made of soybeans.  So, ya know, freak out about soy.  Also, the shit they are replacing BPA with? Totally un-studied.  So, if you are still freaking out about this, could you at least send me all your old plastic stuff?  Because I will totally use that shit. 

7. When people are totally insane about one of the above, but also smoke.  Like, “Oh, I will NOT use plastic, glass only for me!” as they gesticulate with a cigarette.  Smoking is about the ONLY life choice you, as an individual, can make that will have a measurable impact on your personal health (and the health of others! Awesome!).  The other shit, like BPA, pesticides on your fruit? Incredibly subtle, population level effects – like, you would need MILLIONS of people to possibly see anything, and even then, it’s usually only a weak correlation, not causation

I know that I am missing a lot of things that piss me off (I’m sure you’re super bummed to be missing out on my absurd rage), but #1 clouds my memory of anything else I’ve encountered recently.  Also, I’m kind of sorry if any of this makes you personally angry, but really I’d rather have a rage free educational discussion about all the reasons that I am right.  So, let’s do that instead.

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Busytown.

First: thanks for the input on the dress! I’m totally wearing it, and I can’t wait.  

Now, life. I am so damn BUSY, and grah, I kind of hate it. Kind of. No, I do – it’s just a little too far. I like to be medium busy.  But right now, I’m running two concurrent animal studies, both of which involve breeding mice (which is easy but time consuming), I’m very very behind on two three papers, and I’m juggling normal everyday work stuff.  The papers are the thing that I hate – I am a decent writer (we are talking scientific, peer reviewed stuff), but I am SLOW. It is like pulling teeth, or watching paint dry, or perhaps both at once.  I just take forever.  I have at least gotten to a point where I will allow my coauthors and mentors to read my drafts.  I used to be a perfectionist, wouldn’t let anyone near a draft until I felt like it was DONE.  Now, I look forward to the constructive (and usually complimentary) comments, but I’d still rather do just about ANYTHING besides write.  And yet, that is the key to my advancement.  

I have a paper I have to finish by Friday, along with a ton of dissections and several meetings and AHHHH make it stop.  I can’t even look further ahead than Friday without hyperventilating.  On the bright side, there is a HUGE frisbee tournament this weekend and I am so SO excited about it.  Eyes on the prize! 

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Wedding Dress Restyle: DILEMMA

My wedding dress was one of my favorite things about my wedding. I found it at a thrift store – a new-with-tags J. Crew floor length white cotton sundress, $30, that I bought before I was officially engaged. I took it home and dyed it bright green on my stove.  One of my roommates actually hit me for ruining a perfectly good potential wedding dress, to which I replied “No, I just made it perfect for me.”  And it was PERFECT:

Image

My wedding was also perfect: all our family and favorite people, lots of dancing, and lots of gin. 

So here is my dilemma: can I wear my wedding dress, now a knee-ish length sundress, to my cousin’s wedding in August?  I really REALLY want to, especially because the remnants are currently being made into a dress for Eliza. But, the cousin in question (and a good chunk of the wedding guests) were of course present at my wedding.  I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to upstage the bride or something by wearing my wedding dress to her wedding, but at this point, my dress really just looks like a run of the mill sun dress.  BUT everyone there will know it was my WEDDING dress, so does that trump its actual appearance?  

I never get to wear dresses, and it’s rare to get a non-ridiculous opportunity to wear a matchy matchy dress with my kid (they COMPLIMENT each other, they aren’t like CARBON COPIES so it isn’t totally absurd), so I really want to wear it! But I don’t want to be an asshole.  Verdict?

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Eight months!

Eliza is eight months old!  We watch 90% less television than we did pre-baby!  These things are related.  Two days ago, Eliza spent a HOUR wrestling with a giant stuffed broccoli while we just laughed at her.  That about sums it up.  

What, you want more?  Ok fine.  Eliza loves playing peek-a-boo, and she loves it the MOST when you really hide behind something big, like a pillow or a wall, and come out at different points.  She likes to play upside down bear, which is a genius game I invented where you fling her straight backwards and say “upside down bear is upside down!” in a ridiculous voice.  She really gets into it – she’ll throw her arms and head back over and over, so you better want to keep playing for awhile.  She crawls very fast now, cruises a bit clumsily along furniture, and likes push things – the kitchen stools, cardboard boxes, etc. – all around the kitchen and living room.  She has just started letting go of stuff for a few moments while standing, so I think that bodes really well for her not learning to walk soon, right?  Oh god.  She’s eating more and more real food – very good at chewing despite only having the two bottom chompers so far.  Her favorites to date are strawberries and salmon.  She’ll eat pretty much anything, but those two she gets enthusiastic about.  She learned to use a straw cup and sippy cup a while back, relatively well, but lately would prefer to spit the contents all over herself for fun.  
We got to do a lot of fun stuff last month, some of which I covered in my belated seven month post.  Last weekend, we went to Ohio for Poultry Days, our annual weird frisbee tournamant,  It involved five (5!) airplane rides, three nights of camping in the midst of a field of insane(ly loud) frisbee players, and one unexpected night in a hotel after a flight cancellation on the return trip.  It involved temps in the 80s/90s, humidity, and very little shade.  She was a champ and a charmer for all of it.  It was great to get to spend several days in a row with our friends, so that they got to see E in all her chilled out glory.  Also, we would like a gold star for not sunburning the baby, cuz DAMN that was hard.  We did end up sunburning ourselves eventually, because we just got really damn tired of applying sunscreen.  We also got to go to the swimming pool in Ohio. E did pretty well – she didn’t really cry, but she wouldn’t relax or let go of me.  I got her into her shoulders, but she’d climb me like a monkey when i tried to lay her on her back to float.  It was pretty damn cute though.  
So, if you’re keeping track, we have camped three out of the last four weekends.  The house is an impressive wreck, so of course my mother-in-law arrived yesterday to visit for a week.  This is great, as she is wonderful, but I do wish the house weren’t so embarrassing.  We are heading to Seattle to surprise some friends, so there is little chance of the situation improving during her visit, but she only has eyes for Eliza, so it doesn’t actually matter.  
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7 takes of varying length

1.  I just turned 28 a few weeks back. I almost forgot my birthday – like, had to be reminded of it several times in the weeks leading up. Kind of unlike me, but life has been busy. Kevin planned a very small low country boil with our in-town besties, and I think two in a row means that’s now a tradition. I will never argue with a tradition involving sausage, or eating food directly off the table with my fingers.

2.  Kevin also asked me, several days before my bday, all nonchalantly, what I thought about getting an iPad to replace his shitty shitty laptop. This thing is a piece – it blue screens regularly, the cursor jumps all over the place unbidden, making it damn near impossible to type without developing homicidal rage, it’s hot and stupid and Eliza eats the cord. So, naturally, I got REALLY EXCITED about an iPad. And then he didn’t get one. I asked him a few weeks later what that was all about, and he was like, oh I just wanted to know what you thought about it. Apparently he had NO IDEA that asking me about a shiny beautiful Apple product days before my birthday was kind of a HUGE TEASE.  Gah!  He said he is working on something else for me, but um it’s June tomorrow so I think I’ll stop holding my breath.  Also I realize this is quite a contrast to the “forgetting my birthday” thing but bite me, this is my blog.

3.  ALSO relating to my (apparently not remotely forgotten) birthday, I decided that it is high time I start to dress like a grown up.  Maybe it’s the recent kid-having or who knows what, but things are a little… haggard and unwashed up in here.  Since I’m a scientist, judged 90% by my brains and productivity, and 10% by my ability to chop up animals, it doesn’t actually matter what I wear to work. We have no dress code, save for closed toed shoes in the lab. But, I’m feeling kind of frumpy wearing the same jeans and glorified t-shirts everyday, with my hair inevitably ending up in a pony tail.  In the original spirit of this blog, as a tracker of my monthly resolutions, I resolved to work on being a grown up lady, who wears matching clothes, different hair styles, and (gasp!) make up.  So far I am hitting like 50% on coordinated outfits, 75% on hair, and 90% on make up.  It’s a start. I am hindered by my lack of style and inability to use eyeliner, but I am making baby steps.  I’m considering May a warm up, and in June I’m hoping to be a bit more dedicated to the goal of not looking like crap.  I need to get some new shoes, but am 90% lost in that regard… I wear flip flops almost every day, it’s not good.  Ugh.

4.  It is high frisbee season, and we have tournaments every or every other weekend through July. Great for staying in shape, bad for keeping the house clean.  I’m trying to go to practice/pick-up at least once a week, too, but it’s hard – when I go, I don’t get to eat dinner until 8:30 pm at the earliest, and everything crumbles if I’m not asleep by 9:30. Add in a shower and I end up needing a time turner.  Or, more realistically, to actually TAKE my narcolepsy medicine everyday, which I do not like to do. I don’t like the idea of becoming reliant on a daily  medication this early in my life, but … oh well?  Exercise is important, right?

5.  I have recently developed an allergy or sensitivity to EGG WHITES.  I have considered jumping off a cliff as a solution, but Kevin talked me out of it.  Basically, back at the end of March, I started feeling super ultra nauseated for many hours of every day, usually in the morning. Brainiac that I am, I eventually deduced that it was food related. I started looking into elimination diets and decided that would be hard, so I made a giant vat of chicken pho to drown my sorrows.  When you make pho, because of the enormous volume, you end up eating that and only that for many days in a row so that it doesn’t go bad. I stopped eating breakfast because I was scared to, and ate pho for a week, and then returned to my customary habits.  When I ate my plain old scrambled eggs that morning, I immediately turned green, laid down, and puked my brains out.  Eggs are not the best, in reverse, FYI.  Anyways, since then I have further learned that it is egg whites specifically that I have issues with (so, thank GOD, I can still eat creme brulee) – even in baked goods and cooked foods.  SO, goodbye cake, and pancakes, and BREAD omfg, and PASTA and all of the good carby things.  Also goodbye to my standard breakfast (eggs, sausage, cheese) and the most sensible pathway to the paleo diet I’ve been dancing around for a few years (MANY, MANY EGGS).

6.  Also recently, I have started actually INTERACTING with the people whose blogs I have been reading for years. One day I woke up and decided it was kind of weird that I had been reading for like 5+ years in some cases and hadn’t actually TALKED to these people. Because I don’t comment regularly, or blog regularly myself, because I can’t at work and I don’t actually compute much at home.  I DO twitter, though.  So… I just started saying hey. Turns out these people are actual nice humans who respond!  Who knew.  So far, since I started interacting, I have learned many useful things, about babies and clothes and food and even some science.  

7.  I finished the Graceling trilogy recently and CANNOT find a new book to get into. That is always the problem with good books, for me: once I finish, nothing else is worth it for a good while.  I would go as far as to say I get mildly depressed after finishing a good book – all I want to do is read, and I keep trying new books, but none of them make me happy, so I turn into a grumpy anti-social DELIGHT.  On the bright side, playing with Goodreads helps a bit, both in finding new books AND in distracting me from my woe.

Hat tip to Adele for the 7 quick takes format, and I apologize for my failures to adhere to the ‘quick’ part.

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Eliza is 7.5 ish month old, and I am slow.

Seven months, hoo boy. We are getting some personality up in here. Eliza can crawl pretty fast now, and has started pulling up to standing on the furniture.  Her balance is shit, but I’m sure that’ll change in a matter of weeks.  Apparently my nephew also learned to crawl and pull to standing in the same week, right at 7 months, but took another seven months to start legitimately walking.  The thing that makes me think she’ll walk early is that she tries to stand up in the middle of the floor, holding objects. Like, hey, I think I can do this, so I’mma just keep trying until gravity quits winning. Also, I’m taking this ball with me.

She continues to make hilarious noises and faces – snorting, babbling, giggling like a tiny crazy person.  Everything is especially hilarious at night, barreling towards a crescendo of hysterical laugh-crying that signals bedtime was 15 minutes ago.  She is doing great with her floor bed – remember this, self.  It is way, WAY easier to plunk her down and pick her up from a mattress on the floor than to lift her in and out of a crib.  My back is much happier.  Also, it’s adorable, and the room seems a lot bigger, and it’s a lot easier to change the sheets.  Check back once she eventually tips over the diaper pail.
She has her two bottom teeth pretty much set now, and it’s adorable. You can see her top two coming down, which is frankly kind of creepy.  I’m sure they will start to cut right when we head to Ohio next week for Poultry Days.  Probably the second we get on the plane.  But no, the first two came with minimal fan fare – occasional squawking but really no big deal.  Far less of an ordeal than when we forget to feed her the right amount of green veggies, oh my dear.
She shakes her head ‘no’ all the time, but doesn’t seem to know what it means yet… soon.  We should be signing in earnest, but are still having trouble remembering sometimes.  Hopefully she cottons on, I can’t wait until she can really communicate with us.  Everytime she copies me, it blows my mind – this tiny little person and I are talking!  Kind of.  Hush, don’t disabuse me of my fantasies.
We have gone camping twice, the last two weekends. First to Wenatchee for a frisbee tournament, and Eliza’s first ever camping trip.  Then last weekend our first trip to Rainier for the year, to camp at Ohanapecosh.  Both were just Saturday night, and the overnight lows were in the 40s – we were pretty worried about how that would go, but it was GREAT. E thought setting up the tent was about the most hilarious thing in the world, like why are we all on the floor? Why are there blankets everywhere? Is this real life?  And then she slept for 11 hours straight. So, I guess we are moving into a tent, is what I’m saying.  We will tempt fate by camping in Ohio for a three night excursion, complete with airplanes.  If we survive that, we win at parenting.  (Right?  Right?)
IMG_2808 IMG_2799
No really, this is the easiest baby ever, she is such a delight.  We have basically stopped watching TV, as rolling around on the floor with her is the most fun thing ever.  Even though her favorite activities, by a long shot, are hitting us with her wooden hammer and pulling out our hair.  I’ll allow it, on account of how ridiculously adorable she is when she laughs.
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Here we go!

Ok, I’ve been terrible.  There are just so many things – blog, pictures, facebook, LIFE.  I know I want a record of some kind, though, not just having to check dates on photos and videos, so hopefully we can make this work.

Eliza is nearly 7 months old.  Part of the distraction from 6 months was that, what with her being sick half the month, not much had changed beyond the calendar.  Apparently Miss Bear was saving up, because the past few days have been an EXPLOSION.  

Eliza has learned to sit up unassisted (right around 6 months).  She eats a variety of foods now – we started with avocado, which wreaked gastrointestinal havoc, and therefore started a variety of purees in hopes of fixing her issues.  I had originally hoped to do baby led weaning – no purees at all – but now, I realize it’s pretty fun and a short period of time (this is a lesson I keep learning – nothing is permanent).  Right, so she could sit, she ate, and she began pushing onto hands and knees and rocking right around 6 months as well, but wouldn’t move her hands.  She stayed put that way for a few weeks, until this past weekend.

Sunday, she started crawling for real.  Lifted her hands a few times and was off to the races.  She is a bit clumsy, and has since discovered that a mix of crawling and rollings is faster (albeit more circuitous).  Yesterday (Tuesday) she pushed into sitting and pulled to standing on a book, of all things.  Kevin is 100% delighted, while I am 95% delighted and 5% terrified (slash considering pushing her over). 

She has also begun cutting her two bottom front teeth on Sunday, with relatively little fanfare – a bit more squawking than usual, but still quite calm about the whole ordeal.  

And, she started babbling – consonant sounds that sound very much as if she is talking.  Dadada, Bababa, and a bunch of adorable mumbling.

Less important developmentally, but totally hilarious: she started snorting like an angry badger when she gets excited.  It is my favorite thing ever.  

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Sick baby is sick.

Well, it took nearly six months, but Eliza finally proved her immune system is not  impenetrable.  After playing with her little friend Calvin a week or so ago, we heard he came down with RSV shortly thereafter so I was on high alert.  She started developing cold symptoms on Friday, coinciding perfectly with Kevin going out of town for 9 days, and my parents arriving to visit – of all the luck!  I’d say she’s been going steadily, albeit slowly, downhill ever since.  We took her to the doctor yesterday just because we wanted to make sure her lungs were clear (they are so far), and he suggested giving her pedialyte or juice so her milk doesn’t thicken her mucus, and told me when to worry (very labored breathing and/or high fever).  The hardest thing is that she is sleeping very poorly.  It’s too bad I’m a dangerous narcoleptic, since she sleeps best on my chest, but I am not to be trusted co-sleeping.  Plus the lack of sleep is exacerbating my narcolepsy, so it’s getting ridiculous over here!  How do people deal with really sick babies?  Because she really isn’t that sick in the grand scheme.  Can people just…. not sleep, for many days in a row?  I can’t imagine.

So, anyways, we are just trying to keep Miss Bear as happy as possible and not go totally stir crazy.  We had grand plans to go on some NW adventures, to Mt. Rainier and other places, but now we are just hoping she improves before my parents have to leave.  Major bummer, but at least she is still managing to be a little bit smiley for at least a small part of every day.  Hooray for easy going babies!

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