Friday, December 18, 2015

"Woolies for the Winter": Here We Go A Wandeling

One of my best friends, Betsy Howard, and another very dear friend, Laura Kern, have started a women's publishing house, Wandeling Press, and are publishing their first children's book - "Woolies for Winter"!

Fellow Hillsdale College grads who became friends through Mars Hills Academy - a small classical school where Betsy and Laura's husband both worked - they reconnected and collaborated in lyrical poetry and beautiful watercolors.

The best part? They met their goal - for the first book! They plan on writing at least one more per season, and many other books to follow. Help stretch their goal - hear more from Betsy here!

With Betsy's finesse of language and Laura's attention to details, these books will be treasured for years to come.

1. Become a backer - today! Goal ends at midnight of December 20, 2015.
2. Share this project (They were a staff pick in Publishing - featured on Kickstarter!)
3. Follow on Facebook

Want to know more? Here's their blog.

Support Wandeling Press, get your own copy of "Woolies for Winter" and help launch a great renaissance of children's literature.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Advent Lessons From Watching My Daughters

Pictures from last Sunday, because the girls had to wear their Sunday hats.

Grace is sporting a yellow knit, given to her (and one for L too) from a tech who loves when the girls come visit the ED. Silver star leggings and a horse-themed top confirm her wild spirit.

Laura, as you may recognize, if wearing her sister's last season Hanna Andersson sweater dress and matching hat. She was less enthused about the hat. 

Since we've been back in PA, it's been a case of WE CAN DO IT. I haven't been feeling well, and by the end of the month, I started dealing with some tough customers who do not like the work load of AP US History. This is a tough balance, because a student needs to have good time management skills with his/her studies, or it does become a lot harder. I've worked with my boss on adjusting the class, and, alas, not all are satisfied. Unfortunately, this is not going to change the class. There are still requirements, and I'm sure this will be a life lesson for all. Maybe, one day, they'll appreciate these lessons - and me. Ha.  

The girls and I spend a lot of time together, and they teach me every day. Here's what I pick up from the littles this Advent Season:

1. Nothing without quality time

The past two nights, the girls have stayed up past their bed time so they can spend time with their Dad. It does not affect their sleep schedule too much, fortunately, and Will is always extra happy to see them. (It's a bummer to leave in the morning and not see your kids before they go to bed! Also why we stop by the hospital often.)

When I am not in class, I try to do work around them as well as sit and play. Laura is learning how to use a sippy cup and drink from a straw (we skip bottles around here) and it's really fun teaching her - she learns from watching Grace as well!

I do not think children need a stay at home parent - I do think that children need tuned-in parents. I try to keep the television off (unless we're all in moods, then praise the LORD for Daniel Tiger & co.) and the music on, my phone out of reach and my to-do list handy. I usually have my computer nearby so I can keep up with grading in between snacks, walks, tower building, loads of laundry and the forever list. Since I work from home, I need to stay realistic about what I can and cannot do, e.g. I cannot be on my computer for longer than 10-15 minutes or else a little hand will sneak onto my screen and pull it down. Ask me how I know. (Standing at the mantle helps!)

Jesus asks us for this too - to see Christmas as less of an obligation and more of a celebration of love. That we want to be at mass because we love God, want to spend time with him, and want to join in the feast of celebrating his birth.

2. Do what needs to get done.

To-do lists (I also call them my forever lists) really do help me; time management, as in school, is essential to home life. With our plethora of therapies and appointments, I never have a "best" time for anything. And still, lots has to get done. I recently realized that I can't work out at home, and with our double stroller out of commission, the time has come to join the Y. Or else perish into a non-exercising maniac.

I've started listening to the rosary on YouTube and reading Christmas stories to the girls; it is my job to teach them the faith - no one else can replace my influence in this area.

3. No really; sometimes, you just have to buckle down.

Do I like giving my girls baths? No. Do I like brushing their teeth? No. Why? Because there are always tears. (Yes, even with tear-less shampoo. It's the water shock, I suppose.) What about therapy? Have to do it. Stretching? The same.

The pile of boxes I need to work through downstairs... okay. I get my own message. The girls know (though they do not always comply) that we clean up our toys before bed. Period. Wah.

And FINE, they don't really have a clue who Santa Claus is (they were pretty ambivalent about the St. Nick stories I read them, though they do like their new slippers), but Grace especially loves the lighting of the Advent candles each night and tries to sing along. A definite win in my book.

4. Bumps and bruises and other realities of growing up.

Sometimes, it feels like some of my students do not want to feel the sting of adequacy. Fine, they did an adequate job, but not a good or even great one, and that is reflected in their grade. And maybe my teacher's note was not sensitive or detailed enough; it's a bumpy ride being a teacher too. I attended a prestigious high school where the teachers were very helpful and very hard on us. They expected a lot, and when I delivered - it felt great. When I did not, I could usually pinpoint what went wrong. That's part of the learning curve, and I work with students to reduce the bumps...

But as Grace and Laura learn every day, no matter how many gates and protections their parents put up around the house, they still fall. So, we focus on the reaction after the fall. "Uh oh! Are you okay? What a big fall!" I usually get a stunned look and then a smile; they roll it off and move on. A really hard fall (hardwood, ouch) deserves a snuggle and lots of kisses, but it usually doesn't stop them from trying again. How many of us can get up from a fall like that?

The refugee crisis is especially close to my heart during this Advent season. Not because people are saying Mary and Joseph were also homeless refugees (uh, sort of - they were traveling for the census before Jesus' birth; I would say they became refugees after Jesus was born and went into hiding!), but because THEY ARE PEOPLE. They are fellow humans fleeing for their lives. Did you know before the Civil War many Northerners did not want to help the abolitionists because they feared they would lose their jobs? Or the fear during WWII that put the Japanese in internment camps and kept many Jews from re-locating? We all see the terrorist threat going on overseas. We need to start embracing the angel Gabriel's entreatment to "Fear not!" and look for positive strategies to help, not hinder. I cannot imagine leaving our home right now for fear any of us could be killed. No walls can keep out hate.

5. Keep having fun!

Grace is in time-out a few times a day for various injustices, like pushing Laura in the face if she's too close. We go to the stairs, where she gets a stern talking to and time-out, which is immediately forgotten as soon as Laura crawls over and Grace says, "Hi Rawr-ra!" After the steps, they go back to playing before another rough attempt to back Laura away from the communal toys.

Life can be hard and unfair and really, really tough - so it's important to have fun too. When Will and I were going through a really tough time earlier this year, we made a point to play tennis as often as we could. We made it a priority to do something fun, something active and something together.

And after I've put Grace in time out and they're playing together, there is no better sound than the two of them laughing together. It's fun - it's joy - it's Christ in my girls.

Sarah Bessey wrote a beautiful Advent reflection on joy (for tomorrow), which I'll excerpt here:
Joy isn’t emotionally or spiritually or intellectually dishonest. Christian joy doesn’t mean that we are sticking our heads in the sand and saying, “it’s fine, we’re fine, everything’s fine” while running past the gutter of broken dreams, eyes averted. 
Joy isn’t denial of grief or pretending happiness. 
Now, now I know this: joy is the affirmation of the truest thing in this life. 
Joy is born, not from pretending everything is fine, but from holding both hope and truth together. The Christian can stand in that liminal space, the place of grief, even there with joy. Why? Because joy is the affirmation of the thing that is truer than any trouble, any affliction: the affirmation that Love wins. Jesus is as good as we hope, it’s all worth it, and all will be redeemed.

Now Christmas is coming, so we wait for the Christ child, and we wait for my next appointment and the anatomy scan of our own little bebe. We wait for next Saturday, when Will gets to go home for the first time in two years. We wait, and we love.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What's Your Normal?

A few nights ago, I sat on the couch, watching Grace and Laura play with the same Melissa and Doug fruit puzzle - which means Grace is saying "No no no no no!" and Laura is grabbing at every piece she can. Will's ER shift goes till 2 a.m., so I was playing zone defense. When the fighting starts (mainly Grace getting territorial), it was time to break out the blocks. I build towers for Laura to knock over, and Grace built her own too.

After I finally got them to bed, I collapsed on the couch to eat second dinner and watch the latest episode of Bones before beginning the Great Cleaning Escapade of Late Night. Which means, no vacuuming till morning, but at least the dishwasher was loaded and unloaded and all the extra food cleaned up or thrown away. I tried to work on my philosophy (I have my last paper due on Saturday), but since I turned in a post two days ago, I let myself have a mental break. (Which is now over!)

Morning happens when I wake up before my alarm clock, check on the girls through the video monitor (still sleeping, high five ladies!), and fall back to sleep until my alarm actually goes off, which corresponds perfectly to Laura popping her head up and deciding the day begins NOW. Grace is sleeping in, which is uncharacteristic, but she's going through a nice growth spurt - two more inches and two more pounds in the past few months.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so we prefer to have a more luxurious meal - even if time is shorter. We like milk, oatmeal, yogurt, apple slices [Cortland is a new favorite!], and/ or english muffins. Wegmans (our favorite grocery store) has the most delicious seasonal bread - cranberry orange. We're enjoying this treat as toast lately. I've thought about introducing Grace to hot chocolate as it's getting so cold out (she loves sipping on our coffee), but then... all that sugar. We hardly let her drink juice, so I think hot chocolate should be preserved as a special day treat. Any thoughts on that? Or experiences?

The nice part of this week is that I am off school - teaching, that is. We celebrated Thanksgiving on Tuesday because Will was off (otherwise, night shift till the weekend). We will go over to his married attendings's house for a department Thanksgiving once he wakes up too, which will be nice change of scenery and to see more colleagues of his than I usually do.

I'm working at capacity right now, especially at distracting little hands from my laptop. (Okay, climb into my lap and we'll read a book.) Paper due, final exams next week, grading due (for my own students), and we're going to a wedding this weekend, so packing for two small children and all their potential needs ain't no thang. Thank goodness for all the leftover feast right?!

Last week, I got an e-mail inviting me to apply for a job that - a few years ago - I would have taken in a heartbeat. What do we call those jobs? Former dreams? Without sounding too depressing, of course, because I'm creating new dreams. But: managing editor, traveling, speaking, testifying and lots of writing.

Like a tall glass of water on a hot day, I drank that e-mail and then told Will about how delicious the job sounded. He asked if I wanted to apply and I told him honestly: no. I cannot imagine traveling so much with the girls and Will's schedule. Besides, journalism is not my passion any more. The farther away I get from it, I wonder if it ever was... the experience was essential, and I have no regrets pursuing it. But I like having the opportunity to shut the door. I can say, I did it well! And be done.

I'm in the midst of changing my dreams, and changing my reality. It's good, it's hard, and it's about being me vs. becoming me. I'm writing less, and I'm loving more. My normal is class prep, class time, Grace's therapies (she has another speech therapist now! Yay! The wait is over!), taking care of our home, running errands, family time, study time, couple time and me time. It's getting colder out, so I've cut out exercise time... but I have workout DVDs, so the excuses are limited. Besides, this is the time to stay healthy, right?

With Will's job, I hear a lot of stories, and some of them are really tragic. They make me think, Is it worth the stress of extra $$ to finish an article? Sometimes, yes, sure. But we've cut out most extras, so that saves a bundle of money this year to pay for our second student loan kicking in, more baby food, and soon, more diapers.

What?! Another Baldwin baby? Are Will and Julie crazy?! I'll admit, two of Grace's therapists burst out laughing when they heard. Not in a malicious way - more in a, Oh, you two!! I'm the first to admit, it's not everyone's style. Residency, by itself, is a stressful time - and Will starts job searching next spring. I'm still teaching part-time, Grace will still be in therapy, and Laura is still moving faster than you. Life is uncertain - another little person to take care of is no chump change. 

We're really excited. God has such a special plan for this baby, and honestly? We're already rolling in the baby life. I'm the first to admit that we're pretty isolated here - no family, closest friends are in NYC, the occasional play group, and plenty of trips to the hospital to take dinner to Dad and say hi to the department. The support we've already received, and will continue to receive, makes me feel even better about bringing this baby into a scary, uncertain world we live in today. This baby is going to know love, be loved, and share in love. 

As Advent approaches, and we wait for the Christ to enter into our world, we will know the beauty of babies. We will know new beginnings and we will "be not afraid" of what is to come. I am grateful for my friends, far away and online, and my blog readers. I am grateful for my extended family, my immediate family, and in-laws (+siblings) who truly do feel like family. I am grateful for our little family: my hilarious husband, my spunky Grace, my sweet Laura, and my growing bebe. I am grateful that God is with us on this journey of crooked paths. 

I hope you are grateful for your normal (whatever it is!), and I wish you all a very, very happy Thanksgiving! 

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

"If you tame me, then we shall need each other."

Hello, I'm back in PA now! It took us 12 hours (including rest stops) to drive home, and it was as good as it could have been... minus, perhaps the man who started shouting obscenities at Wendy's because the person behind the counter gave him the side eye or something. He had just smiled at the girls. La la la la Grace and Laura!

This post will be a short update because I've had some sort of bug and it keeps waxing and waning (this weekend was the worst - Will ended up writing me a script on Sunday because I was so bad and that really helped), and now I'm in recovery mode.

Fortunately, my MIL was able to help Sunday through Friday. Unfortunately, she left. Fortunately, Will is on anesthesia right now, so he's usually home by the afternoon and on weekends. That has made a huge difference - especially this past weekend, when I was not in a good place to watch the girls.

It's really humbling having your husband take total care of you while you moan, are not exactly "nice" company, feel nauseous and are utterly helpless to do anything besides sort of watch the girls while they play in front of you. We're going on three years of marriage, and the word that comes to mind is "tame" - not in the calm down!! sense, but "The Little Prince" version:
What does that mean -- tame?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."
"To establish ties?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world....” 
It's important to need people. I reflect on my former ultra-independence, always willing to be a friend and give to others, but less willing to expose a more vulnerable side. I'm able to have that with Will, and I'm able to give more to others with his encouragement. But even before I met Will, I met and loved "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry. The stories from this other world always brings me to tears ("What is essential is invisible to the eye.") and makes me laugh and has me think.

So, of course, when my sister Marianne sent me this trailer... I immediately cheered up. Release for the US is March 18, 2016, so y'all have plenty of time to read and/ or re-read this short, concise book.

“People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Days 25-29: When Three's Company (Missing Dad)

So, the end of our time in the Midwest fast approaches... I finished my classes today, and tonight will be my last night at my in-laws's house until Christmas. I love spending time with them and being here, and am also very ready to go home to Will... the girls are ready too, I think. These trips are important, though, and here's how we survive through 3+ weeks without Dad.

1. Helping Hands

As I type this post, my MIL is pushing Grace in her little tykes care, complete with noises and peeled clementines. (They're going to the "drive-in" to watch Sesame Street!) Laura is napping, and I was able to teach two classes today without once wondering how she is doing. This was the biggest reason we went home for so long - Will's Trauma schedule makes him less helpful than say, his ER schedule, and since October is a conflict-free month, we headed home for extra help and lots of loving arms.

2. Adjusting nap times

The girls still cannot sleep in the same room together well, even with the dueling sound machines. So, adjustments abound. But the bonus adjustment is ME getting a nap time occasionally (or, at least, sleeping in!!!!!!!!!!), and that alone is worth coming home for these days.

3. FaceTime

This is probably my sanity savor. If I know Will is off, I can call him to show him the madness/ cuteness. Yesterday, we chatted after my AP class and before his night shift. It was just in time to walk into the nursery where Grace and my MIL were dancing to the Wheels on the Bus. It was the cutest thing, and Will was able to see Grace dance! On the weekend, I called him while we were out to dinner with my family, and he got to see Grace walk outside while we waited for our meals. Watching her lift her right leg higher and have an improved gait was such a treat. When we left, she was walking/crawling about 55:45. Now, she's walking 95 percent of the time.

Same with Laura - she is moving and grooving, pulling herself up and babbling. She turned 8 months yesterday and is the joy of my soul. Who else laughs so hard at my funny faces? Who else smiles when she sees me? And FaceTime allows Laura to have a similar contact with Will - she recognizes her Dad and tries to grab the iPad, as if to grab onto him. 

Then, of course, we have FaceTime dates where he studies and I do school work. Long distance dates are such a need to me, and I'm so grateful for this technology! There is something about seeing someone's face when you're talking to them that is much more personal-feeling.

4. Leniency

Even though we are around more people (= more help), our schedule is still very, very different, and I need to remind myself that when I'm still stressed out, everything is okay. When I miss phone calls or am disorganized or am still behind on grading, it's okay. I'm keeping my workload at manageable, the girls are happy and it's good to spend time with family and friends. 

5. Talk About (and to) Dad

We bring up Dad in conversation every day. Grace likes seeing pictures of Dad (and says "Dada!"), and we take pictures to text him. Grace likes cell phone pictures (and will take 6 zillion of herself if left alone with the iPad!), and when he sends the girls a message, I can give them another connection to their far-away father.

Now, do the girls really know what's going on? Do they understand passage of time and that we're going to be in the car for another 12 or so hours on Sunday? Probably not. But they know who their dad is, and that's a good connection to have.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Days 23 & 24: They See Me Rollin'...

Mimi and Grampy (I mean, my parents) took Grace and Laura out for groceries. Whole Foods will never be the same.

Sweaters: Hanna Andersson
(thanks Mimi and Grampy!)

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 22: Superhero Status

"Darkness can only be scattered by light. Hatred can only be conquered by love." - St. John Paul II

“Remember that you are never alone, Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives! He has called you and chosen you to live in the freedom of the children of God. Turn to him in prayer and in love. Ask him to grant you the courage and strength to live in this freedom always. Walk with him who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”!” —John Paul II; World Youth Day, 1997

"Only in Christ can men and women find answers to the ultimate questions that trouble them. Only in Christ can they fully understand their dignity as persons created and loved by God. Jesus Christ is "the only Son from the Father…full of grace and truth." —John Paul II; World Youth Day, 1993. Denver, Colorado


Happy feast day to the only pope I've seen in person!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Days 19, 20 & 21: For Better and For Worse

I uploaded a picture of our dogs on the 19th, but they were not properly published (in all their glory).

I took this cute picture on the 20th, but I had an appointment for my back (feels better!!!) and completely forgot to publish. Grace and I on a walk/ leaf expedition!

So here we are, on the 21st, and I almost went to bed without posting. It's been a long day. The man said that I would feel like a truck hit me (after working on my back muscles and nerves) and dang, it was a lethargic feeling day. Combine this with Grace Harriet only having one nap and one melt-down in a Target aisle later, we're ready for an early bed time.

And speaking of the 21st: I always think of my marriage to Will on the 21st of every month. {2 years and 10 months into forever!}

This is a view by his parents's house, a view we often saw during many walks together - talking and laughing, musing and planning.

In a total God move last week, a miracle happened: the stars aligned. Will mentioned wanting to go home for Christmas (he hasn't been home since Christmas 2013), and since we now know his Christmas schedule, I did a little plane research and found TWO direct flights with three seats together at a reasonable rate. So, for the first time in two years, we'll be back here, together again, and able to take a walk around the hilly terrace again. Or even better - a cold day hike around Mt. St. Francis, the monestary grounds nearby, where Will proposed.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Days 16 & 17: Failure

What is failure?

Laura is succeeding at pulling herself up on everything!

I've been thinking on this a lot. I am taking a philosophy class right now as part of my Masters (that I am attempting to get... slowly...) and the priest who is teaching the class told us how he failed his first philosophy class. Oh, how I loved hearing that!!

Don't worry - I am not failing the class. (A! For now!) But we Baldwins have had a lot of things pop up on our radar and when plans hit the pavement, my plans are the ones that (usually) get dashed.

To be fair, Will and I talked about this during our dating time/ engagement. Will's career path, at its beginning, would take priority. His path is pretty rigid and its requirements are high. During our marriage, we know this reality.

Being a writer, on the other hand, requires a lot of work with very little yield ($$). A lot of proposing articles, back and forth with editors, re-writes and then the blessed check comes in the mail, and a third of your groceries are paid for. Which is why I tend to do more unpaid work, because it's less pressure in that respect, so I can write more (for less) - but also less professional, so the double-edged sword continues.

Then there's my academic life, which is exciting, and slow. Family life makes it hard, when you're the one mostly caring for the babies. That being said, without Will, it would be nonexistent. Even last night, as I'm whining/ explaining to him over FaceTime about the list of Non-Negotiables that have to be completed this weekend, he reminded me that I am doing all this because I want to, and because I love it. I love learning, I love teaching, and I love writing and editing.

Deep breath. :)

 It's something I need to remind myself of as a mother as well. When I have to sneak into the room so Grace doesn't wake up, and rush to get Laura six times a night so she won't wake up Grace: it's exhausting. I wake up and cringe when I hear more crying, and it can be really frustrating. Especially being away from home - the girls are more clingy, which is hard when I need to get more work done.

Then I remember that I am not here on this earth to succeed. I am here to love.

I am here to love my husband by supporting him in his vocation (and listen to his awe-inspiring stories - he literally held a man's heart this week! During some kind of trauma resuscitation procedure). I am here to love my daughters and support them in all their endeavors. I love Grace as she throws another tantrum over food, and patiently go through all the options with her until we settle on an agreed upon food to eat. I love Laura while she's teething and support her in all her adventures... which sometimes means rescuing.

And I love myself, and I recognize that I have limits - lovely limits, and possible-to-climb mountains. I must love myself as God loves me, and forgive myself for my apparent (to me) failures.

Failure in this life, I think, can only be a failure to love.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Days 14 & 15: LoveRuns

I've been friends with Ariel since freshman year of college and now, I'm following her campaign to help end human trafficking. More importantly, I'm contributing to her goal (she's about $270 short at the time of this blog entry)! Because freedom can never be taken for granted.

Ariel (middle) and her running partners
Her story here (thanks for reading!!):

Ever since my first half-marathon in the spring of 2010, right before my graduation from Hillsdale College, I've know that I wanted to run a full marathon. Each year after graduation I'd wonder if it was the year I'd get to train for this endurance race; but each year I had big life changes that required my time and resources: moving to another state and starting a new job, getting married, moving again and going to grad school and working full time.

Once my husband Nic and I moved back to Michigan, I really hoped my time had come to train for and run my first marathon. The biggest obstacle seemed to be that no one wanted to run it with me! I was worried that, as a type 1 diabetic, I would have a medical situation while training and no one would be there to help me.

What if I had a medical emergency during the race and no one knew or could help until I passed out from low blood sugar? Who would I do my long training runs with? What if something happened when I was 10 miles from home and I needed someone to help me?

God started to reveal his plan for me and my first marathon soon after the first of this year. Early in 2015, my mom told me that a group from her church--Northridge Church--was going to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October to raise money for victims of human trafficking.

I will admit, at first I was selfishly focused on how this solved all of my concerns for running my first marathon: I would have a big group to train with and I could find a running partner to run the race with who would know about my medical needs. Raising money for the prevention of human trafficking and rehabilitation of its rescued victims seemed secondary.

But would you know, as I started to tuck the miles under my belt and spend more time with my amazing running team of over 400 people (running/walking both the half and full marathon), I heard more about our cause and how our efforts were brining light into the darkest lives in our community. And my heart and priorities changed.

Here are some of the stats:

  • Every 30 seconds, human trafficking claims another victim around the world
  • Human trafficking isn't just a third-world problem; it claims victims from every community, affluent and poor
  • Michigan is ranked #2 in the USA for human trafficking 
  • Human trafficking is more lucrative for pimps, gangsters, and the mafia than drugs or guns
  • Many police precincts know where women are trapped in sex trafficking, but they know that even if they bust the pimps, there isn't the infrastructure and there't aren't the services to support and rehabilitate the rescued women and children, so they just end up in homeless shelters and usually under the control of a new pimp
  • The average age of entry into human trafficking is 12-14 years old for girls and 9-12 for boys
  • 1 in 3 runaways will be approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of running away--even if they run away from a stable, loving home
  • Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today
  • 1440: The number of minutes in every day that a victim is enslaved and the same number of minutes we are FREE

God has used witnesses and survivors of human trafficking in Michigan and the work of our outreach group to bind my heart to this mission. I can honestly say that running this marathon is now less about my own accomplishment and more about pushing through pain, injury, and spiritual walls to rescue those who deserve and need to be shown God's love through our efforts.

Every runner has a personal goal of raising $1440--one dollar for every minute in a day that we celebrate freedom. Our overall goal is $500k. These funds will be used by organizations like Salvation Army, All Worthy of Love (AWOL), S.O.A.P (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution), Detroit Rescue Mission, and Vista Maria to provide safe long- and short-term housing, medical and psychological care, job training, education, and spiritual care.

We are in this race for the rescue, restoration, rehabilitation, and renewal of those who have been abused and abandoned. And just as every mile counts in our race, every dollar counts to making a real difference in these women and children's lives.

You can donate and learn more at


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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day 13: Oceans Two

At my in-laws, Grace gets to cruise around in a little red car. Meanwhile, Laura crawls up on the scene.

These two keep us all very busy, and very happy. 

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Days 11 & 12: up, up and up!

Okay, it is officially difficult to post every day. Travel dispensation? We arrived in Cincinnati very late on Saturday evening due to our generous rest stop policy, and today, the girls and I drove to Louisville to spend part of the week with Will's family.

After dinner, a surprise thunderstorm rolled through, and Laura was entranced.

The rain did not stop her from standing up on her own, of course.

She taught herself to stand about a week ago, and I am amazed with how nimble she is now.

Yay! Nothing is going to keep her down.

{almost 7.5 months}

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Day 10: Tapas for Two (Plus Two)

On Thursday (since we're driving all day today!), our little familia went out for a last supper since the girls and I will be gone for three weeks while Will finishes his Trauma shift. It's a brutal shift, and this way he can focus on his work and all the studying required of him, and I'll feel a little less like a single parent during the month of October.

We went to Tapas in downtown historical Bethlehem and it was delicious - mussels with fries, garlic shrimp and pork belly worth savoring in tiny bites. Fun drinks and two adorable girls to boot.

It's going to be hard to be away - I am quite attached to Will, but when his shifts are ridiculous, it's time to switch up the scenery. Plus, we won't be traveling home for any holidays near or far at this point. (Residency life!) Which is okay, too, because we're forming our own family traditions. So, back to the Midwest we go!

The girls were really excellent the entire time during dinner - only towards the end did Grace need to get out of her high chair and "feed" Will the rest of his dinner.

This was one of the first times we've taken both girls out to a nice restaurant, and we were not disappointed. Looking forward to many more family dates, and for the warm weather to return!

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Days 8 & 9: Dr. Julie Baldwin, Reporting

Today, there was a Halloween party with my MOMs Club group, and since we make maybe one meeting a month, I decided to go all-out. Please note that I was the only mom in costume, so Will called me "The Cool Mom." OH YEAH.

I won't tell you what I originally planned on doing (because: next year), but after my sister-in-law Ellen gave the girls these adorable onesies, I knew what we had to do.

Dr. Julie Baldwin, Radiologist, and her two skeletons.

Wearing an old pair of Will's scrubs, and one of his white coats, "fixed" with a little masking tape. Nooooo, it's JULIE Baldwin, MD. Duh. Do you even read this blog?!? I like to think that if I went into medicine (which is never), I would go into radiology because a) less messy; b) attention to detail; c) no needles (I think?).

ANYWAYS, it was fun and everyone liked our costumes, and easy. Scrubs are mega-comfy, though untucking the top to feed Laura was less graceful than my usual attire. Now, will the REAL Dr. Baldwin please stand up?

A selfie for funsie. We look good in our role-reversal.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 7: New Kicks

Monday night: Will was working an overnight shift, and the girls were restless, so I decided to stop pursuing Zappos and actually take the girls to a shoe store. We were to New Balance because they are known to have a variety of wides - excellent for people looking for shoes that will fit a slim AFO brace.

We tried on a variety of pink colored sneakers in different sizes and widths, and while we ended up buying one a tad bigger than I would have liked, it's worked well for her the past few days. Two of her therapists have noted a marked improvement in walking (less side-stepping), and the percentage of walking to crawling has doubled. She loves wearing them - requests, even! - and ignores the brace in good humor.

If my ability to only get in-motion shots is an indicator: this girl is on the move. This girl walks.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Days 4 & 5: Sharing and Hoarding, a Toddler's Tale

Apologies for the delay... misplaced my phone yesterday, so, you know. I almost thought Grace had hidden it somewhere; this is a new game she is playing. Under the couch is where she likes to store her toys now -- that is, until she got this new kitchen island for her birthday from her grandparents. Now, she keeps her toys under the sink. Unfortunately for Grace, that is in Laura's range. Laura loves playing too. (And crawling toward me while I take a picture, or am sitting on the couch, or eating something, or working, or playing with her - did I mention what a cuddly sweetheart she is yet?)

Laura is a goof ball. She is a ham, like her sister, and she wants to play (with her sister). Grace is... learning how to share. Today, I found Will outside with Grace and Laura, playing with a red bouncy ball. 

"Watch Grace when I give Laura the ball," he said. Laura loved it. Grace put her hand to her face and squinted at us. We laughed. We played pass the ball between Dada, Mama, Grace and Laura, and by the end, Grace voluntarily passed to "Rawr-ra!"

So, sure, the sharing lesson is going to be a hard one for Grace - but she's adapting and even sharing, when Laura isn't pulling her hair or climbing on her back, as she was 10 seconds before this second picture was taken.

Space, Laura!!

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