25 December 2008
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those with whom He is pleased."
It seems as if nearly all people, beauty pageant contestants not least among them, have a desire for world peace. For many of us, the mention of peace on earth may conjure images of nuclear disarmament and perhaps the end of violent conflict in the Middle East. Peace on earth, certainly, is a big deal. And yet, the Bible's idea of peace does not start with just stopping a civil war, or diplomatic negotiation of cease-fire in Israel. Rather, it starts in the minds and hearts of the people of God, those who please Him with their willingness to obey, producing an attitude of desire for an end of conflict at a personal level. "Blessed are the peacemakers," Jesus says in Matthew 5, "for they will be called sons of God." Desiring peace, and acting on that desire, is a family trait, an attribute that marks a person as belonging to God and having Him as a Father. In Romans 12, Paul directs his readers, "In as much as it depends on you, live at peace with all people, especially those who are of the family of believers." We are responsible for promoting peace in every area under our influence. Peace on earth begins with you and me.
Let us ask ourselves, "What in my heart, in my life, is a hindrance to true peace, a barrier to gracious love of my fellow human beings? What do I need to do to follow the commandments to become a peacemaker?" If we all genuinely sought to live with gentleness, humility, and love toward those in our lives, and they in turn reflected those qualities to others in their lives, and so forth, the Lord would transform the world in a very short time. Maybe work to bring peace to just one of your relationships this week. Let us know what happens as a result.
18 December 2008
The kitties have been spending most of their time in one of the bathrooms here at Willow's Cottage, while we humans (1) work on constructing their outdoor enclosure and (2) wait for the end of inclement weather in order to construct the aforementioned enclosure. Aside from a tendency to scatter litter on the floor, they are doing just fine (there is no furniture in there for them to scratch, of course), but they hate being confined to one room. They meow and scratch at the door, especially at night, when the nocturnal creatures prefer to be roaming around.
Because the bathroom door closes with a knob, I assumed that they would just be stuck inside making noise, since they lack opposable thumbs and are too short to reach the knob anyway. But these resourceful creatures have somehow managed to get out of the bathroom, repeatedly. It's not a fluke, one-time occurence. Since we humans are always on the other side of the door when they perform their stunt, we can only make a guess as to their methods, but we think that they get up on the counter, and then reach their paws out several inches and wiggle the knob till it turns enough to unlatch the door, then pull the door open and stroll on out. It's crazy. These kitty cats KNOW what they are doing. They have a method and employ it on a regular basis.
The papa went to the hardware store and got some plastic kid-proof door knob covers. The cats have still managed to get the door open at least once. I am not making this up!
I keep telling my mom, it stands to reason that if there ever existed cats that could figure out how to turn door knobs with tiny paws and no opposable thumbs, it would be my cats.
03 December 2008
I need to move my beloved cats from the apartment where they are currently living, but they can't stay in Willow's cottage, where Nathan and I live. I need a temporary foster home for them until I can make permanent arrangements and/or get a place of my own (4-6 weeks). Touchy and Hobbes are sweet-natured, loving cats; they are great with people and love to play.
If you live in the Southern California area and have (or know of) a SAFE and KIND environment where I can keep my kitties, please let me know. I will pay for their room and board!!
29 November 2008
The holidays are well and truly upon us. Thanksgiving came and went, and the Advent season begins tomorrow.
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights— His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.
13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.
16 to him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever.
17 who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings— His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan— His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance, His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel; His love endures forever.
23 to the One who remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies, His love endures forever.
25 and who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
21 November 2008
(Photo credit: Dan)
Nathan says it in his own words:
Deer ant Jeffy,
I luv yu. I miss livving neer yu. Tank yu for takeing me to vizzit diznylan. I reely liek yor nue hare kut. I wil sea yu sune.
Luv NATHAN yor nefew
20 November 2008
The drug company (Merck) is trying to market an anti-HPV vaccine with the slogan "One Less". What?! Where is the outrage? Obviously, this is a job for the panda (the one, of course, who eats, shoots, and leaves). The panda deals directly with punctuation, but I'm sure he's willing to branch out into other grammar issues, as well as the field of proper syntax.
[Next up: I address Starbucks' slogan for their new piadini (pricier breakfast sandwichy thing): "Wake up to a new toasty warm and savory delicious." Aaaaaaaaugh!!!]
Signing off, I remain ONE FEWER woman who will tolerate this sloppy slide into linguistic imprecision.
18 November 2008
I know I'm thankful for a roof over my head, and plenty of food to eat.
I'm thankful for baby teething aids like Orajel and Hyland's teething tablets.
I'm thankful for Starbucks java chip frappucinos. It remains to be seen whether or not Starbucks will keep the faith and remain true to our relationship, though.
16 November 2008
Nothing really exciting going on. This weekend, I visited Redondo Beach with my parents, where they were cat-sitting. I went to Starbucks. I didn't sleep much, because Nathan is teething.
I've been tutoring an SAT prep class, and while I really enjoy doing it, and enjoy the students, I feel bad because my professional assessment is that for the most part, they are not ready for the SAT, and I'm afraid I won't be able to work miracles to get them ready in time. And if I can't, I feel badly about charging the parents money for the lessons. I'm doing my best, and I hope the students are doing their part (but I have no control over that). I guess I just want everyone to succeed.
I haven't read any good books lately.
14 November 2008
12 November 2008
At any rate, some Hillacrat bloggers have a lot to say about Obama's lack of ability or experience, and furthermore, they firmly believe that Obama's African-American voter base in CA were responsible for pushing Measure 8 through, and boy are they POed. Much speculation on how BO positioned himself to manipulate people to help him to achieve his goals. Read about it here.
Today, I started moving my work on the Willow's Cottage website into high gear. I'm researching hosting companies, fiddling with html, and looking at options for working the business end of things. In the meantime, keep on reading at the current home of Willow's Cottage.
11 November 2008
My lovely BFF Sara came to my rescue a few weeks ago when she introduced me to Surf the Channel. Awesome! Almost every TV show ever, just waiting to be watched! No commercials, no need to adhere to some stupid cable company's arbitrary programming decisions (no, no, I do not need to see endless re-runs of Will & Grace)!
Being me, I promptly began watching through the silliest and least appropriate thing available: Gossip Girl. I started because I saw it listed on the front page as one of their most popular shows, and I thought, "Oh, I've heard of that. I wonder what it's about." So I clicked on it and was swept up into a land far, far away. After viewing several episodes, I still wonder what it's about, although it seems to be roughly analagous to Veronica Mars, being a dramatic and extremely improbable chronicling of the lives of overly experienced teenagers, though Veronica Mars is salted with gritty SoCal attitude, while Gossip Girl is definitely flavored with the tony NY Upper East Side. In a lovely bit of symmetry, the title character of both shows is portrayed by the outstanding Kristen Bell! Anyway, if/when I actually figure out what GG is about, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, I mix it up with NCIS, and I've recently started adding Dark Angel for my sci fi fix.
And am I watching anything else of note? That's one secret I'll never tell. You know you love me!
*National Blog Posting Month
**Although a month cannot actually require anything; it's a specified length of time, not a being with emotion, will, or intellect. I'm imposing the requirement upon myself.
07 November 2008
06 November 2008
05 November 2008
At least the next four years will not be boring.
23 October 2008
17 October 2008
My beautiful and wonderful friend Sherida entered a photo in a contest, and she is one of the finalists!
Please, please, please go HERE and vote for her (Name: Sherida; Blog: My Life).
[Willow sent me some adorable pictures of the New Boy that I was supposed to submit to this contest, but I got distracted with some life-related stuff, so I never sent them in. Oh, well, Willow's pictures will win next time.]
14 October 2008
I know, I know. I shouldn't even mention her name, because just putting it on my blog raises her media profile. We should actually all stop talking about her, pretend she doesn't exist, and she'll just dry up and disappear.
I don't watch MTV, so I'd never even heard of her or The Hills until the Fug Girls (very correctly) panned her fashion show. [Pretty much everyone agrees that the Lauren Conrad Collection, the "line of clothing" that she "designs", is truly tacky, not to mention overpriced.] Since then, I have gradually become aware of how pervasive she is in media, apparently earning lots of money not only from her show, but from lucrative endorsement deals, and maybe even sales of her clothing, even though I don't know who would buy it except blind people and impressionable adolescent girls who idolize Lauren Conrad because they are too immature to realize that she is plastic, shallow, and talentless. Recently, Ms. Conrad even inked a deal to "write" some young adult "fiction" "books". And to think that while she cashes in on her fame-whore celebrity, there are legitimately gifted young designers and writers who are struggling and looking for their big breaks.
The silver lining on this pop culture cloud is the fact that, this world being what it is, Ms. Conrad's proverbial 15 minutes of fame are winding down, and our media will be largely free of her soon enough (within 2 years, is my guess). And after that, she can actually complete her supposed schooling at FIDM, and potentially find her niche as a lead designer for K-Mart, which is pretty much an appropriate aim for someone of her tastes and abilities.
04 October 2008
The 2008 winners were announced last Thursday night, 2 October 2008, in a ceremony at Harvard University.
NUTRITION PRIZE. Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.
REFERENCE: "The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips," Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence, Journal of Sensory Studies, vol. 19, October 2004, pp. 347-63.
PEACE PRIZE. The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.
REFERENCE: "The Dignity of Living Beings With Regard to Plants. Moral Consideration of Plants for Their Own Sake"
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Urs Thurnherr, member of the committee.
ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE. Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.
REFERENCE: "The Role of Armadillos in the Movement of Archaeological Materials: An Experimental Approach," Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino, Geoarchaeology, vol. 18, no. 4, April 2003, pp. 433-60.
BIOLOGY PRIZE. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert,, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.
REFERENCE: "A Comparison of Jump Performances of the Dog Flea, Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis, 1826) and the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis (Bouche, 1835)," M.C. Cadiergues, C. Joubert, and M. Franc, Veterinary Parasitology, vol. 92, no. 3, October 1, 2000, pp. 239-41.
MEDICINE PRIZE. Dan Ariely of Duke University, USA, for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.
REFERENCE: "Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy," Rebecca L. Waber; Baba Shiv; Ziv Carmon; Dan Ariely, Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 2008; 299: 1016-1017.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dan Ariely
COGNITIVE SCIENCE PRIZE. Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University, Japan, Hiroyasu Yamada of Nagoya, Japan, Ryo Kobayashi of Hiroshima University, Atsushi Tero of Presto JST, Akio Ishiguro of Tohoku University, and Ágotá Tóth of the University of Szeged, Hungary, for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles.
REFERENCE: "Intelligence: Maze-Solving by an Amoeboid Organism," Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, and Ágota Tóth, Nature, vol. 407, September 2000, p. 470.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero
ECONOMICS PRIZE. Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan of the University of New Mexico, USA, for discovering that a professional lap dancer's ovulatory cycle affects her tip earnings.
REFERENCE: "Ovulatory Cycle Effects on Tip Earnings by Lap Dancers: Economic Evidence for Human Estrus?" Geoffrey Miller, Joshua M. Tybur, Brent D. Jordan, Evolution and Human Behavior, vol. 28, 2007, pp. 375-81.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Geoffrey Miller and Brent Jordan
PHYSICS PRIZE. Dorian Raymer of the Ocean Observatories Initiative at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, and Douglas Smith of the University of California, San Diego, USA, for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots.
REFERENCE: "Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String," Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 104, no. 42, October 16, 2007, pp. 16432-7.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dorian Raymer
CHEMISTRY PRIZE. Sharee A. Umpierre of the University of Puerto Rico, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England (USA), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School (USA), for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to Chuang-Ye Hong of Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that it is not.
REFERENCE: "Effect of 'Coke' on Sperm Motility," Sharee A. Umpierre, Joseph A. Hill, and Deborah J. Anderson, New England Journal of Medicine, 1985, vol. 313, no. 21, p. 1351.
REFERENCE: "The Spermicidal Potency of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola," C.Y. Hong, C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang, Human Toxicology, vol. 6, no. 5, September 1987, pp. 395-6. [NOTE: THE JOURNAL LATER CHANGED ITS NAME. NOW CALLED "Human & experimental toxicology"]
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Deborah Anderson, and C.Y. Hong's daughter Wan Hong
LITERATURE PRIZE. David Sims of Cass Business School. London, UK, for his lovingly written study "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations."
REFERENCE: "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations," David Sims, Organization Studies, vol. 26, no. 11, 2005, pp. 1625-40.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: David Sims
- Four diapers (no surprises there)
- Changing pad (came with the bag)
- Small container of Butt Paste diaper rash ointment (Despite the silly name, this is quite good stuff for diaper rash.)
- Small packet of Huggies Sensitive baby wipes
- Regular container of Huggies Cucumber and Green Tea baby wipes (I swear I am not getting a kickback from Huggies, but I've found that these wipes are the only ones that do not give Nathan a reaction.)
- One burp cloth
- Re-usable Target bag (www.greenbag.info)
- One packet of Sweet-n-Low
- One disposable changing pad
- A pacifier cover (But no pacifier; gotta find that.)
- A rubber-covered baby spoon
- Plastic bag, folded up
- Several napkins
- A tissue
- Packet of spearmint Trident that has seen better days
- Eye drops that expired 10/04 (Huh? Why didn't I throw that out 4 years ago?)
- Six ball-point pens
- One felt-tip pen
- Three Sharpie pens
- A bottle of homeopathic teething relief tablets (No matter what I think of homeopathic "medicine", these, at least, really work.)
- Small tube of Ora-jel (also really works)
- Small container of lotion, obtained from hotel room
- Business card for Kim Lentz, hair designer in Phoenix (Recommended by Bekah Farber, 602-363-1624-- There's some free advertising for ya, Kim!)
- Little brochure on the Five Love Languages
- Granola bar (which I don't really like, but keep in case I need emergency blood sugar boost)
- White onesie (I always keep a spare in the diaper bag, in case we need to change him.)
- Four pairs of baby socks (No wonder the supply in the baby drawer was dwindling...)
- Two small pads of scratch paper (likewise obtained from hotel rooms)
- Box of matches from the Vintage Press restaurant in Visalia
- Two moist towelettes
- Eight sterile alcohol towelettes
- One tube of lip gloss (pink)
- Two sets of keys (still current)
- One bag of sour candy (from Elizabeth)
- Two sets of Fry's VIP rewards cards
- One expired driver license
- One temporary driver license
- Two 3x5 cards
- Two checkbooks
- Paper copy of health insurance card
- Dell packing slip
- Receipt from ob/gyn appointment
- Insurance information sheet from pediatrician
- Tape measure
- Eight cards from friends and family, including three gift cards to various retailers
- $$ in cash
- Lovely blue set of regular polyhedra. (I just like to carry my Platonic solids with me wherever I go.)
09 September 2008
06 September 2008
07 August 2008
28 July 2008
You can use this handy guide to analyze, categorize, and rate films:
Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics
Where the truly socially inept dress up and create their own culture of superpowered eptness.
I've never been able to go, but maybe I'll go with Kakak Dan and his friends when he gets back to the USA.
27 June 2008
24 June 2008
13 June 2008
I was lucky, in that our birthing center staff were all very helpful in getting me started on feeding Nathan. Furthermore, both my mom and Debbie were supportive advocates of breastfeeding and gave me lots of good advice. All I can say is that I don't know why anyone could possibly think anything could be better than nursing. It's perfectly designed for babies' needs, and it provides great benefits for the mothers. For my part, until Nathan is weaned, I can eat pretty much anything I want-- a rare privilege in this obesity-fearing society-- because he eats all my calories.
I'd write more, but I have to go find a cookie now.
03 June 2008
Sweet. And scary. I'm terrified that I'll fail him somehow.
02 June 2008
Just finishing my junior year of college. Courses for my spring semester included General Linguistics, Marine Biology, and Parasitology. Fun times!
2. Five things on my to do list today:
-Put a real post on my blog
-Unload clean dishes from dishwasher
-Load dirty dishes into dishwasher
-Finish unpacking and organizing my kitchen
-Help my friend Sharon dye her hair
3. Five snacks I enjoy:
-chocolate chip cookies
-Earl Grey tea
-Wheat Thin crackers with cheese
4. Things I would do if I was a millionaire:
Well, a million dollars isn't really a lot of money any more, especially after taxes. But if I had it, I'd give 10% of it to a church or mission-related ministry. I'd give another 10% to another ministry or charity that championed some cause dear to my heart. Out of the remaining 80%, I'd pay off any debt I might have (school debt, etc.), set up a college fund for Nathan, and then put the rest in savings and investment.
5. Places I have lived:
Why do you ask? Who wants to know? I have lived too many places (although in only two countries):
Northridge, CA, USA. Bandung, Java, Indonesia. Minyambou, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Meyokda, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Canyon Country, CA, USA. Sentani, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Wheaton, IL, USA. Sowi, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Meyerga, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Moyeba, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Manokwari, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Portland, OR, USA. La Mirada, CA, USA. Hillsboro, OR, USA. Anaheim, CA, USA. Fullerton, CA, USA. Long Beach, CA, USA. Visalia, CA, USA. Phoenix, AZ, USA.
I have heard of people who lived in the same house their whole lives, or until they turned 18 and went to college. I think, "Wow. How on earth did they manage that?"
14 May 2008
Have I mentioned that Buffy is my favorite show? Best. TV. Show. Ever. We're in the middle of Season 4, which is my least favorite season, and yet I still enjoy it.
11 May 2008
Without spewing too many details (because I want to neither bore my readers nor provide grist for a rumor mill), I have been deeply wounded by people whom I once trusted and about whom I once truly cared. I am not perfect by any means, but I didn't deserve to be treated the way that I was. I will never understand it.
Of course, dear readers, the reality is, nobody wants to go through hard and terrible times. I recall the story of my dorm father, who lost his son in a tragic auto accident: He once related how their family had changed and grown in the LORD as a result of this ordeal, but added, "If given the choice, I still might choose mediocrity if it meant that I could have my son back." And so maybe I would choose mediocrity if I could just have a nice and pain-free life. The LORD does not give us a choice. And perhaps that is the essence of obedience in the Way of Life: Accepting what He has chosen for us, trusting that it is His best for us, even though we do not see it for ourselves.
Fortunately, despite battling a significant load of (fairly justifiable) anger and sorrow, I think I have also managed to learn and develop both as a human being and a follower of Christ. I have clung to God during the past year, and He has sustained me. I discovered who my real friends are. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Many family and friends have drawn together to show me love and support. They constantly remind me, "This is what family is for. You have to let us take care of you; you would do the same for us. And anyway, you've spent a lot of energy in the past taking care of other people, so now it's just your turn to receive." I even found a home and family members that I didn't even know that I had until I really needed them, and suddenly, there they were!
And through everything, I had my ultimate blessing from God: My darling baby Nathan!
But now? Things are getting better. And that, readers, is as much as you'll hear about THAT. Pale pixie-looking waif = Way the heck tougher than I appear at first glance. I'm back, baby, and I'm badder than ever! I'm not just a survivor; I'm a thriver!
03 April 2008
One day, a few weeks ago, Jeff and I went to Del Taco to grab some food (which is a good thing, since food is pretty much what they sell at Del Taco). I ordered a meal, which was to include a small fries. We were in the drive-through, and when we got our bags with our food, we drove away without checking them (we were in a hurry because Jeff had to be somewhere shortly). When we finally opened them, we discovered that the fries had not been put in the bag. No!!! Listen, people, don't come between a breastfeeding mother and her high-calorie foods! The receipt was in one of the bags, so I immediately whipped out my cell phone (seriously, how did I ever get anything done before I had one?) and called the restaurant to express my displeasure.
The manager was very understanding. She had seen that there was an orphaned container of fries in the drive-through area, so she knew what had happened. She took down my phone number, and told me, "Keep your receipt. Next time you come into our store, show the receipt and tell the worker you spoke with Blanca. We'll give you a large fries order to replace your small one." I was mollified. What can I say? I like my greasy, salty potato foods.
Last week, I happened to be passing by that Del Taco location at a time when I needed sustenance, and I had the receipt in my car, so I decided to get my fries, along with some other food. I went inside (I thought it might be too complicated to explain the receipt-and-Blanca thing via the drive-through intercom system) and put in my order for a chicken burrito meal and a chocolate shake (still with the high-calorie foods), showing my receipt and telling my tale of woe. The very polite teller called the manager at the time (whose name was Juan, but that is actually irrelevant), and he said, "Oh, I know about this. It's fine," and then pointed to some things on the register. The teller entered the order and then made it a macho-sized meal. Oh, I thought. I guess they're giving me a free upgrade to a macho meal, instead of just a large fries with my order. That's nice.
Then the teller told me that my total was $2.91 for the milkshake. "Okay," I replied, "but how much is the entire order?"
"No, no, we made your meal VIP. It's free." Neato!
I don't know if it is just that location , but I suspect those values hold for the entire corporation: They recognize that such matters aren't just about a lost serving of fries, but really relate to how customers are treated. I received a very loud and clear message that Del Taco is willing to go above and beyond all expectations in order to retain customer loyalty and offer positive experiences. I was impressed (and you know it takes a lot to impress me!). At this point, Del Taco will be my preferred provider for fast quasi-Mexican food (good customer focus AND it is the only one that offers milkshakes and fries along with their quite decent Mexican menu).
20 March 2008
19 March 2008
"Why do they do that?" I'd gripe. "It's ridiculous. Don't they realize that if I want to see pictures of their babies, I'll contact them and say Hey, send me some pictures of your baby? Otherwise, I don't need to see or hear about their brats."
In my own defense, you only have to look at my blog if you so choose, and I've put absolutely no pictures of Nathan on BUBBS.
06 March 2008
21 February 2008
Two weeks ago, you were born. You existed prior to that, of course, and drastically affected my life for nine months before February 6. However, two weeks ago, you became REAL. And you proceeded to fill my life more than I ever thought possible.
Little babies are a full-time job, or rather, more than a full-time job. I spend AT LEAST 8 hours a day just feeding you! But no matter how much I have to feed you, or how often you keep me up all night, I will never get tired of holding you and looking at you.
Your mommy and daddy love you.
19 February 2008
The cats do not know what to make of this small intruder. Puffy-tailed, Touchy views the situation from a safe distance:
18 February 2008
16 February 2008
Elapsed post-partum turnaround time: 9 days
11 February 2008
As may be surmised from my previous post, Fuzzy decided to make his way into the outer world. It has been a crazy few weeks, so I'm still trying to pull myself together to send photos to friends and family, and to tell the tale of his coming here on my blog.
But first, some vital statistics:
February 6, 2008; 10:12 am
Weight: 7 lbs, 9 oz
Length: 21 inches
Eyes: dark blue-grey
Status: Adored by all
Caveat: The following narrative may not be for the squeamish or the faint of heart. You have been warned!
I am certain that every woman has a lively labor-and-delivery story for every one of her babies, but I think (narcissistically, no doubt) that mine is sort of funny, and people might want to read it. It's worth noting that Nathan's due date was February 19, so he really came about 2 weeks early. I'd been told that first babies often come later than their due dates, and it's not like I'm usually on time or early for anything.
Last Tuesday morning, I began my day by reading in 1 Peter. For whatever reason (i.e. I didn't actually sleep the night before), I fell asleep for a few hours and awoke around 11 am. During the latter part of my nap, I'd become vaguely aware of cramps in my lower back and pelvis area. I'd been cleaning and rearranging the front closet the day before, lifting and shoving boxes around, so I figured that my pain was directly related to the fact that I should not have been doing so much heavyish work while almost 9 months pregnant, and I must have strained my back and hips. I told Jeff I was having some pain, and he was a bit concerned, and reminded me to take it easy
I went to the bathroom, and noted some "bloody show", which was heavier than spotting, but not really a full-on gushing of blood. I wondered if I should call the doctor for advice, or if that would be overdoing it. I didn't want to be one of those freaky freak-out women who obsesses about every little thing. But... blood is blood, so I ended up calling the doctor's office. The efficient nurse (named Bonnie, but that is not important) called me back and we figured out that I had lost my mucus plug (on her advice, I checked, and there was a clumpy-looking thing in the toilet). She reminded me that the mucus plug can come out a few weeks before labor (so I considered myself to be right on target, being two weeks before my due date), but told me that if I had heavier bleeding or started having contractions, I should call again.
I did take it easy through the afternoon, finalizing our birth plan and the packing list for the hospital bag--we had two more weeks, so I was doing fine. When my cramping pains didn't abate, but rather intensified, I said to myself, "Self," I said, "this must be that false labor I've heard so much about. It can happen a few weeks prior to labor and delivery."
After dinner, I contacted Mel (who lives in our apartment complex) and told her that I wanted to go walking to loosen up my muscles, because obviously they just needed to be exercised and then stretched. Stupid cramps. I had planned to just walk up to visit her, but she wanted exercise, too, so we took about 30 minutes to stroll on some streets, and visited our friendly neighborhood tattoo parlor (which also does piercings, of course).
Mel had an evening vet appointment for her new cat, Harris Xerxes, and Jeff and I went with her to keep her company. The cramps had felt better after the walk, but they started getting worse again. I just breathed through them, and told Jeff and Mel, "It may be false labor, but there's nothing false about the pain."
We returned home and I went to bed, with pains becoming worse and more frequent (Editor's note: Sheesh, you'd think I would have clued in by that time, but no). I couldn't sleep, got up a few times, took Tylenol (Hey, it's supposed to help with pain, right?), and at midnight, I was too restless, so I got up and started packing the hospital bag. I'd gone to all the trouble to make the packing list that afternoon, and I thought I might as well accomplish something if I was going to be kept up by insomnia and agony.
Jeff came to bed, and was concerned that my cramps had not let up, but told me to come back to bed and try to relax. The cramping was coming more frequently, but the intervals were not regular: spaced 3 minutes apart, then 7, then 3 contractions occurred within two minutes. Relaxing didn't help, so he told me to try getting up and walking around a bit.
I walked around, and alternated that with sitting down at the computer. My darling best friend Sara was online (it was 2 am in AZ, and 1 am in CA), so we chatted for quite a while. I told her that I wasn't feeling well at all, with the frequent pelvic pain and all. Ever wise, Sara told me, "You should probably start doing something about that." We talked about various things, including her latest projects in Bones fan fiction. And I looked up "false labor vs true labor" on Google, just in case. *gulp* My pains fell squarely under the "true labor" heading: becoming more intense and more frequent over time, not going away with movement or change in position, being felt starting in the lower back and moving around to the lower abdomen.
I told Sara I thought I'd take a warm bath to counteract them. "Is that a good idea?" she asked. I replied that warm baths were recommended for labor pains, and added, "Besides, if I'm going into the hospital, I want to be clean!"
By this time, the contractions were quite frequent and intense, and lasted at least 30 seconds each time, though the bath did help to ease the hurting. Accordingly, I woke Jeff to inform him of the latest developments. "I think I might really be in labor!" He took a shower, while I began throwing stuff haphazardly into the hospital bag. I was in more and more pain, and started to panic. He reminded me to breathe. "Hee hee hoo, hee hee hoo, just like we learned in childbirth class." He packed a bag for himself, too.
Just before 4 am, Jeff had loaded up the car with our stuff and the baby's new car seat (since we wouldn't be able to take him from the hospital without it), cranked up the car heater since it was so cold that the car windows had frosted over, and then thoughtfully called into work to let them know that his wife was in labor and so he probably wouldn't be in for work later in the day. The drive to the hospital was less than 10 minutes, since I had selected our hospital based on the fact that it was the nearest hospital to our apartment. One nice thing about going anywhere in the middle of the night is that there is always plenty of parking available. Jeff found a parking spot pretty near the entrance, and grabbed the bags, while I stood shakily and breathed through the pain. There was nobody at the regular entrance, but it was open; I guess they just expect most people to arrive at the ER, rather than the main entrance, at 4:00 in the morning. We walked in, passed a few custodial people, and went up to labor and delivery floor (we knew where it was, because we'd had birthing center tour just a week before).
We were admitted by a perky person at nurse station/desk; apparently we'd been preregistered, since they already had a file with my name on it. They found me a room and gave me the standard flimsy cotton shift to change into. The patient care tech there told me, "We're going to check your cervix to see if you're dilated, and then we're going to check again in about an hour to see if you're making any progress, because the definition of labor isn't really the labor pains, but the progress in the dilation of the cervix." That being said, she went on to check my cervix, and got a look of bemused consternation on her face. She called over another tech. "I need a second opinion-- I can't find her cervix!"
Tech #2 did her check and said, "She's really thin and dilated to 8 centimeters." Oh, dear.
Tech #1 turned to me. "Well, it looks like you're having a baby today!"
Me: "But I'm not ready!!!"
Everyone proceeded to get busy, prepping everything and contacting my ob/gyn to alert her of my status. Jeff stayed glued to my side; he was my point of focus to get through the contractions, and he talked me through them when I lost focus and forgot to breathe in my panic. Let me take this opportunity to share that Jeff was an AWESOME labor coach! He was the one who really got me through the whole thing.
They hooked me up to an IV, which turned out to be second most traumatic thing about my whole ordeal. I am not afraid of needles; I do just fine with shots. However, I hate getting my blood drawn, and now that I've had an IV, I can state that I getting those, too. I guess I just don't like the thought of needles sticking into my blood vessels for protracted lengths of time. I also have a very contrary circulatory system, in that my veins are really hard to find. The tech could not get a vein in my left arm, so after several tries, she went to my right arm. With her jabbing around, I started to pass out, even though I was lying down flat on the bed; my vision was blacking out and I had the ringing in my ears. The tech gave up and called another person over, who went back to my left arm, and, though she griped about it, eventually got the IV needle into a vein close to my wrist. Let me add, though, that even though I loathed the experience of having the IV put in, I do think it was good to have it, since it provided me with fluid and energy for the labor experience when I could consume only ice chips (and it's worth noting that my tummy didn't WANT anything other than ice chips at that point).
They were concerned that my water hadn't broken (which was one major reason why I didn't think I was actually in labor till 2 am), but were still waiting it out. I had relaxed a bit, and Jeff was being really great about keeping me focused but not too intense.
I told the nurse, "Well, overall, being in labor isn't as bad as I thought, but I'm really worried about getting to the transition stage, because we learned in childbirth class that it can be painful and scary."
The nurse gave me a look. "Honey, you're already there!" Doh!
Anyway, all the nurses and techs seemed amazed and kept saying things like "You made it through transition with only the breathing to manage the pain?!"
Eventually, they gave me a narcotic (stadol) in the IV, to relax me, and help with the pain and the dilation, for a few hours. Let me just say, that drug was really good stuff while it lasted. I kept fading in and out of a dreamlike state, and every time I came out, I'd talk with Jeff. I am guessing I sounded extremely loopy, but I don't remember what we talked about. I DO remember constantly thinking about zoo animals; every time I fell into that somnolent state, I'd be thinking about elephants and giraffes and monkeys... Go figure. I finally understand why some people would take consciousness-altering drugs. I was pleased to have this safely monitored and extremely legal opportunity to try them, myself.
Melissa visited as the stadol was gradually wearing down, thoughtfully bringing Jeff some breakfast on her way to take Harris Xerxes to the vet to be declawed. I think she was sort of impressed by "Deb on a drug trip".
Speaking of drugs, I did not have an epidural. As noted with my stadol experience, I am fully in support of having drugs for pain during labor. I must admit, though, I wasn't thrilled about the idea of getting an epidural. Remember how I hate having needles sticking into my veins? I didn't think a needle sticking into my spine would be any more appealing. I did consider having one, anyway, because reducing pain is a good thing when one is in labor, but as chance (or fate) would have it, it wasn't an option. Remember how I was already at 8 cm when I went to the hospital? Because I came in so late, by the time I would have been able to opt for an epidural, it was basically too late, as they will not administer an epidural at 9 or 10 cm. Words of wisdom, ladies: Go to the hospital early so you can get as many drugs as possible!
My ob/gyn happened to be on duty for a while, but had to leave later for a meeting from 10-11 that morning. She ended up breaking my water in the hopes that it would speed things along, but they still didn't move fast enough. My doctor's colleague would end up delivering the baby (and I didn't like her nearly as much, but women dilated to 9 cm can't be choosers). The nurse told me to keep breathing through the contractions (like I had a choice-- they weren't going away on their own) and let her know when I felt the urge to push. So I did, and then I felt it: you really do get an instinctual urge to push. I gasped, "It's time to push! Time to push!" Not witty, to be sure, but accurate and to the point.
The nurse checked me, and yes, I was at 10 cm! So then started the worst and most excruciating section of the childbirth experiencing: the pushing and actual delivery of the child. Fortunately, most of it has faded to a blur in my memory. Jeff was there, always coaching me to breathe, and keeping me focused. The nurse kept working with me, getting me and the baby to the point when the doctor would be called in. I asked how long it would be, and was told, "No way to tell. For a first-time mother, it could be a few hours." A few hours? God help me!
People have been asking me, "Is the pain really as bad as they say?" My answer is that the pain itself is pretty bad, but manageable in increments. The pain from stubbing a toe, for example, is actually much more intense, in and of itself, but it is over in a few seconds. The thing about childbirth is that the awful pushing contractions happen over and over and over again, and you have no way of knowing when it will all end, and so it starts out pretty bad and gets to be extremely agonizing over time. My impression is that "Okay, one more push" is the obstetrical equivalent of the Irianese "Satu gunung lagi, Pak!" (Editor’s note: Translation from Indonesian is “Just one more mountain, sir!”)
Obviously, I survived, and Fuzzy definitely knew where he was going, as he made his way down the birth canal. You'd think you'd feel a definite baby-sized lump, but I guess the pain sensors overwhelm the other sensors at that point. When his head became visible, they called in the doctor, who was briskly efficient; she didn't wear a mask or even have her hair tied back, though, which really irritated me (strange the things you notice during moments like giving birth). She also had me use stirrups, which was contrary to our birth plan, but then she isn't actually our ob/gyn. The funny thing is, the nurses and techs kept saying things like, "Wow, she's the calmest one we've ever had without an epidural," even though I was anything but calm, gasping and screaming and saying, "How much longer? I can't do this!" And Jeff and the others would say, "Yes, you can! One more push."
Eventually, as best I understand it, I started to tear, because I saw the doctor grab a syringe and then a scalpel, using them down at the end where she was working. Grr, the indignity, no epidural and then an episiotomy, but then, it was over, because there was no more pressure and the baby's head was able to make it through the opening. Once his head cleared, they pulled the rest of his body out, while I hyperventilated and didn't quite comprehend what was happening. Someone said, "Yes, it's definitely a boy!" They put his little body onto my chest, and I suddenly didn't know what to do. I was really meeting my Fuzzy for the first time! They took him to clean him up and weigh him and do all those things that nurses and techs do with a newly born baby, and the doctor stitched me up. I had to keep telling her to use more anesthetic (Editor’s note: I always have to tell dentists this, too.), because I could feel the stitches. In my opinion, making me feel stitches in my crotch after I'd just gone through childbirth was just adding insult to injury.
Side note: Nathan is very healthy and scored a 9 on his Apgar test!
I got him again, clean and swaddled. He felt so tiny! I held him and gave him his first meal. He got the idea pretty quickly, and ended up feeding for two hours! This is unusual, since new babies usually feed for only about 20 minutes at a time. He was famous, because whenever there was a shift change and we got a new nurse, she would comment, "Oh, this is the two-hour feeding baby!" Apparently they share that kind of information at the nurses' station.
They brought me a tray of food (score!) with juice, corn flakes, and milk. Corn flakes never tasted so good! And THEN they brought me my lunch, which surprised me since I thought the juice and cereal WAS my lunch. The corn flakes were actually better than most of the lunch food. Anyway, sweet Auntie Jennifer was the first person to visit us in the hospital. I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of her with Nathan, but I guess my brain was focused on other things at the time.
In the afternoon, we were able to switch from a labor/delivery room to a recovery room on the other side of the birthing center. This room had a couch bed for Jeff (sadly, terribly uncomfortable), and there was a little plastic bin crib on a wheeled cabinet, where the baby was kept. Jeff crashed, since he had no sleep the previous night. I was also exhausted, but wasn't able to sleep. I fed Nathan a few more times (not as long as the first time, but he was a big eater from the start), tried to rest, and started dealing with the aches and pains and bodily fluids that are part of the whole childbirth and recovery experience.
Jeff had thoughtfully brought some movies to the hospital, and in the evening, we passed the time watching Tomb Raider--not really highbrow, but there's not much to do in a hospital room. Melissa came by later, bringing Jeff real food and me a milkshake, and Sam came a while later, as well. We spent the night in the room, though I didn't get much sleep, with the baby waking and needing to eat, and me still being a novice mom.
By morning, we were both tired of the whole hospital thing, and ready to just go home. People kept telling us, "You can stay two nights. It's allowed." I guess most people do stay two nights. But we were just ready to be done. Unfortunately, Nathan started running a temperature slightly above normal. He was checked by a pediatrician there, and then he was taken for some blood tests; we were told that if he showed everything as okay, we could take him home, but otherwise, we'd have to stay for observation. Naturally, we were willing to stay another night if we needed to for Nathan's safety. It turned out not to be necessary, though. We left around 8:00 in the evening.
Incidentally, my ob/gyn also stopped by to check on me in the morning. She was impressed with how well I was doing, and how quickly I became mobile. According to her, I was "a rock star with the whole pain thing". I guess I really do have a decently high pain tolerance level.
So that was my labor and childbirth for little Nathan Alan.
-There is a reason why narcotics are popular recreational drugs.
-There is a difference between regular muscle cramps and labor pains. It’s subtle, but once you know what it is, you’re not likely to overlook it again!
-Tylenol is great stuff for headaches, but doesn't help if you're actually in labor.
-A new mom definitely deserves a big chocolate milkshake (my choice; alternatively, any milkshake in a flavor of your choice).
-If you think you MIGHT be in labor, go to the hospital. The worst they will do is send you home.
01 February 2008
As for me, I'm still struggling with insomnia and indigestion, which is utterly normal for late pregnancy, and which also makes for boring blog posts.
28 January 2008
27 January 2008
I've really been trying to do all the proper, healthy things while I've been pregnant, lack of sleep notwithstanding. I've eaten a fairly balanced diet and even done a bit of exercise here and there. Proof positive that I will do anything for my baby: I've even been drinking a glass of milk pretty much every day! I do this solely for the benefit of calcium and protein, as I don't much care for the taste of milk, and I'm always rather bemused as to why we humans are so enthused about consuming something that comes from the underside of a smelly, dirty animal such as a cow. Think about it, seriously.
I try to do something active almost every day. I started walking for 20 minutes or so, on days when it is sunny out. Our apartment complex also has a heated pool, and I decided to try something new for exercise: swimming. I've been swimming, after a fashion, for almost as long as I can remember, but I've never been able to really sustain any sort of fitness regimen related to aquatics. It's really not My Thing. [Contrast this with Jeff, who swam competitively for I don't know how many years, or with Mia, who swam competitively until a tragic accident derailed her promising athletic prospects. You can really tell, because my naturally athletic sister's arms and shoulders are very buff, whereas "buff" is the last word anyone would use to describe any part of my upper body.] I like to point out that I'm not a bad swimmer, i.e. obviously I've never drowned yet, but neither am I a particularly good one. But because I'm not that good, I really get a workout just doggy-paddling from end to end; my heart rate is elevated and my muscles really feel that they're being exercised, so something must be right. I know some "proper" technique, but I generally just do my own thing. Believe it or not, I actually remember learning the basics of swimming by watching the frogs in the river at Meyokda! I guess it's easy to believe it, if you observe my default stroke: a breaststroke with a very froggy motion in the legs.
I just don't compare my performance with Jeff's, who swims at least 80 brisk and properly performed laps, several times a week.
I actually had swimming lessons once: When we lived in Wheaton, my parents sent Dan and me to the Wheaton College athletic center to "learn how to swim" from a nice student named Stu, who was a PE major or on the swim team, or maybe both. Dan took to it and turned out to be pretty good, but eventually, Stu went to my mom and said, "Look, I'm not going to take your money for Deb's lessons any more. She hates it, and she won't work with me." Yes, I got dumped by my swim teacher, and I deserved it. I did hate swimming lessons: the pool was always COLD, which was horrible for me even back then, and I really didn't see the point. I could tread water, would be able to stay afloat if I got thrown in deep water, and I knew I wasn't going to be swimming in any stupid Olympics, so why did I need to know fancy strokes?
No doubt my punishment for lack of swimming discipline will come when Fuzzy turns out to be a swimmer like his daddy, and I'll be forced to spend many an hour at swim team practices and meets.
26 January 2008
It's really such a pain to get just 2-4 hours of sleep at night, because not only is one perpetually exhausted, but there's really nothing to DO at 3:00 AM. Can't go anywhere, can't do anything around the house (since Jeff is sleeping like a normal human being), and can't even read productively, since perusing anything serious (like, say, the Bible) isn't useful because even though I'm wide awake, at the same time, I'm groggy (other insomnia sufferers will know what I mean). So, I'm generally reading "Bones" fan fiction (courtesy of Sara) or playing WoW with all the other sleepless losers.
20 January 2008
What would be a good tagline for the book of Esther, this section of Scripture with disturbing Harlequin-romance-novel undertones?
"Courageous-but-humble Hebrew girl saves her threatened people!"
"Sexy schemer makes good, brings relatives along for the ride!"
Think about it, people.
16 January 2008
Last month, I received great customer service from Sierra Mini Storage, run by manager Sandra Sterling, which provides U-Haul rentals at the storage site. Jeff and I had reserved some items for our big move, and when I went to pick up our stuff, a few of our items were not available (due to other customers not having returned proper inventory to Sierra Mini Storage) and we had decided to change other things in our order. Instead of telling us "Tough luck" (since it wasn't really her fault) and having it be a really negative experience, Sandra went the extra mile as a business professional, picked up the phone and called other local U-Haul dealers to find one that had exactly what we needed, then transferred our order over there. By doing so, Sandra essentially gave away our order and didn't make a cent of profit from it. However, she did demonstrate great business sense. Now, if I ever have a future need for moving or storage services in the Visalia area, Sierra Mini Storage will be the first place I call, because I know that the customer really does come first there.
Sierra Mini Storage (and U-Haul Rentals)
Sandra Sterling, Manager
555 S. Lovers Lane (at Fwy 198)
Visalia, CA 93292
15 January 2008
Anyway, these kids: I can only assume that today must be a half-day at their middle school (I doubt they're as old as high school), since it was only a little after noon when they started chillaxin' out there. As far as I can tell, they are not doing anything illegal or immoral. They are not ditching school, because I saw the yellow school bus come by on its route to drop them off. I see no cigarettes of any kind, nor bottles of anything but water (okay, sure, it could actually be vodka, but they're not MY kids, so I'll let it pass with the benefit of the doubt). Nope, they're just talking and laughing and enjoying the end of their formative years.
Oops, now they're gone. They might have become uncomfortable with my observation of them; I didn't stare, and my eyes have been almost entirely on my computer monitor, but I'm sure they didn't need a square old grown-up watching them and spoiling their fun. Or maybe they have Big Plans, Things To Do, and the gravel in front of my apartment window was merely their staging area. Strangely enough, now that they've left, I kind of miss them.
11 January 2008
Even funnier is the fact that Blogger actually chopped off the right third or so of the linked picture, so while Adam is in full view as all-naturally created, you can't see that GOD is wearing an ethereal gown-type thing. Yeah, God is clothed.
07 January 2008
There also exists a popular proverb relating to the human race: "It takes all kinds of people to make a world." My father, who is a man of age and wisdom (and also an introvert), puts it rather differently: "It doesn't take all kinds; we just have all kinds." And you know, that's generally how I feel. I'm not much of a people person, or more accurately, I'm not any kind of a people person at all. I'm usually pretty comfortable with my lack of social drive, but it was then irritating to spend all those years in seminary, being told, "As humans, we need others; God created us to be in community with each other and with Him."
Lately, I've been thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know), and it occurred to me that the thing about people is that we all carry the image of God. It's a damaged and sullied and defective image, because we are sinful and fallen beings, unworthy of the glory of being His creation and bearing Him in our persons; but it is there nonetheless, and to meet and interact with another human being is to see a flash of the Almighty God Himself. And perhaps through being with a whole lot of people, we can cobble together all the different flawed glimpses of God and gain a slightly clearer composite picture of Him. In community, in a cluster of God-images, we experience God, however briefly and darkly through a glass.
05 January 2008
They drive 200 miles to visit you on a whim.
They might get together to get you presents that are so perfect you almost cry, and then make it even more perfect by including a pack of sour gummy candy, because they know it's a favorite.
They might tell you exactly what they want for Christmas, because they know you're a terribly indecisive shopper and need a little help.
They listen to your woes, great and small.
02 January 2008
5. Laptop on the fritz - Okay, this is more of an inconvenience than anything. Compared to huge problems like war or pestilence, for example, my non-functioning laptop is pretty minor. And yet... it matters to me! I don't have access to my files, and I can't just move my computer and sit wherever I want, to blog and chat and browse to my heart's content.
4. Morning sickness - Yes, it is as unpleasant as everyone says it is. And the term "morning sickness" is so terribly misleading, seeing as how "all-day sickness" would be more accurate. Nausea, headaches, exhaustion, occasional dizziness: It's like having most of the symptoms of a bout of malarial infection.
3. Enduring a police lock-down while trapped with several irritating middle school students - In retrospect, this wasn't actually that bad. It lasted only a matter of hours, and it makes for a good story. But I wouldn't want to live through it again.
2. Living without my husband for several weeks - While pregnant. Not fun.
1. Cleaning up after a dead body - I've done cadaver clean-up many times. I was a lab TA for biology courses during my undergrad years. However, on this particular occasion in 2007, there was no tidy formaldehyded cadaver in a body bag. We had to clean up blood from the ground, after someone shot himself. I came to the conclusion that while films, TV, and video games can inure us to violence, to the sights and even the sounds of gory death, the actual experience of death will still be horrifying, because (to my knowledge) no movie has ever duplicated the smells of death. Most unpleasant. For the record: If you ever have a need to perform this task, I recommend first putting down a layer of kitty litter, to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Then, make a strong bleach solution and pour it over the area to be cleaned; repeat with a few applications of bleach solution, as necessary; rinse with at least twice with clean water. Note: The bleach will generally wither most plants it comes into contact with, but isn't it preferable to have a few sections of unhappy grass than a blood-covered area in your yard?
I have plenty to anticipate in 2008. I wonder if "labor and childbirth" will make it onto next year's list of top 5 things I don't want to experience again. We'll find out, as Fuzzy makes his appearance in the world in mid-February. This year, I'll be focusing on home life, for the most part, and plan to really make it a priority to keep in touch with family and friends and let you all know how important you are to me. I am not, by nature, a demonstrative or even very communicative person, but as I grow older, I'm finding that I finally have an urge to reach out and maintain relationships.