12.26.2009

Apparently the third time is NOT a charm, or the Christmas Curse Strikes again

For the third year in a row, I got sick for Christmas. Our first Christmas together, spent at home, I got a horrible cold. Our second Christmas, spent with my family, I got the stomach flu (as did 50% of the household, but I had it the worst). And I didn't write much about it but I will let you know that stomach flu and 2-day car trips across the country do not mix well.

I was so optimistic that this year I would beat the curse. Or perhaps just have a bit of morning sickness that would technically count but not be so bad since I'm used to it. But no, the fates were against me. I have now been sick at all our house, my family's house and his family's house. Apparently I am an equal opportunity sicko.

Saturday we start off our on two day drive to Craig's family's farm in North Dakota, with a stop over at my parents midway up the country. By Saturday night, he was coughing and sneezing. I really did try to stay as far away from him and his germs as possible, but that is quite hard to do in a car. So I wasn't surprised when my throat started hurting Sunday night. But he only spent one day feeling yucky and recovered quickly so I thought I might escape with the same fate. I should have known better. By Tuesday, it was bad. I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mostly in bed. I probably would have made Craig take me in to a clinic yesterday if it wasn't Christmas day in a small North Dakota town, with no clinic for miles, during a blizzard. It was probably all for the best as today, I'm feeling slightly better.

But at least the Christmas curse didn't really ruin Christmas. Craig's sister, Steph, had to fly home on the 23rd so we celebrated early with his immediate family and we won't be celebrating with my family until later next week when my brother, his fiancee, Craig and I all arrive there. And yes, we didn't make it to the Christmas Eve service or either of the two big family dinners planned but that was due to the big blizzard that hit.

I kept hearing about this big blizzard and honestly, when people in North Dakota get worried about snow, you know it's gonna be bad. Then it stopped snowing and it didn't look too bad so I wasn't sure. But that was before the wind. I didn't realize that the big blizzard problem isn't the snow, it's the wind. There isn't much to stop it so it just blows the snow all over the place. It reminds me of scenes from a dust bowl documentary we watched a few weeks ago, only prettier. The piles are huge.

I'm currently sitting in the living room looking out over more snow that I think I have ever seen in my entire life. Craig got up this morning and went out to "shovel." There I was feeling sorry for him, up to his knees shoveling snow trying to clear the garage, thinking that it would certainly take him hours when I look out the window and see that most of the work is being done by a large (insert name of big farm equipment thing here). I guess shoveling means something different up here than it does in Texas. I wanted to take a picture of it but I didn't feel like subjecting myself to the cold air.

We are supposed to leave tomorrow but as of now the highways are still all closed. Craig is optimistic but I'm not counting my Christmas eggs before they hatch. After all, the Christmas curse still hasn't ruined my Christmas yet. It might try a new tactic.

Who Moved My Cheese?

The cheese contest I've been hyping for the last three weeks has ended. I didn't win. I'm not all that impressed with the winners, except maybe the chef's choice winner. Oh well, I knew it'd be a popularity contest, and I never win those. Thanks for your votes anyway!

12.24.2009

What is Next Year?

People seem to be conflicted about whether next year is "two thousand ten" or "twenty-ten." For me, however, no matter what people say, next year is simply "oh-ten."

12.22.2009

Gender Issues

Fallon is my friend and pregnancy buddy. She is 2 weeks ahead of me, and our other friend Amanda is about 2 weeks behind - we're a little club. It's so fun! Anyway, Fallon just found out she is having a little boy. Yay for baby John!

But it got me thinking more about gender issues. Kelly over at 5 Minutes for Parenting has people talking about the big issue of finding out or waiting. She lists some of the reasons she always wants to know. And I can understand them and see why others would have that desire but I just don't feel the same way. We are pretty much at the point where we could find out if we want but we're both content with the secret staying - a secret.

Planning? I'm normally a planner. I love to do lists and use my label maker (the fact that it belongs to the lab makes me very sad) and I'm pretty sure one of my spiritual gifts is administration. But in this case, I love not having to plan. I don't know, so I can't. It's very refreshing. Plus, we want to keep our baby stuff as gender neutral as possible and that would by ridiculously hard for us to do if we knew ahead of time and impossible for baby showers. Yes, I will run to Goodwill to buy a couple cute girly or boyish outfits later on and I'm planning on crocheting two newborn hats, one in pink and one in blue but I don't want to have to buy a new car seat for the next baby because "the pink one was just too cute to pass up." (And yes, the pink stuff is always cuter!)

Bonding? I've heard that some people find it easier to bond when they know. I've only ever been on the "not knowing" side so I guess I can't say that it isn't easier, but I'm not having a hard time feeling bonded. I like having the fetus name, it makes talking about the baby much easier but I'm not even sure if that would be necessary for me to feel close to our baby. And I don't ever really call the baby it, I just go back and forth between boy and girl. I don't feel like I have a "gender neutral alien" inside me, I feel like I have my baby in there. Except sometimes I just feel fat and tired...and then I remind myself I'm pregnant and get over it.

Looking forward to the delivery date? I know all babies are in some ways a surprise so it isn't really about giving me and Craig something more to look forward to on the big b-day. It's more about giving others something to look forward to. I want all our friends and family to be surprised by the gender and the names. I've let a few of our name options slip out but nothing is set in stone so nobody will really know until the big day. And I like that. It will give people something nice to say. Plus, nobody can critique the name once it is already attached the baby.

Letdown? I know that some people say that they need time to adjust if the baby isn't what they wanted or expected. And others say "Oh, I don't really care" but you can tell they secretly do. Well, I really don't care. And Craig is pretty good at keeping stuff locked away if he wants to, but I don't think he really has a preference either. And some moms say they have "a feeling" but I don't know how. At first I thought it was a boy but then I figured out that I was just assuming the firstborn was supposed to be a boy. The oldest in my family is a boy and Craig is the oldest on his side too. But once I realized that it could be a girl, I didn't really have any thoughts one way or the other. And that is one of my favorite things about not knowing...I get to imagine both.

Craig and I were listening to the last Peasant Princess talk which was about parenting and focused a lot of the importance of a daddy in a girl's life, and I almost starting crying thinking about Craig and I having a little girl because I know she and I could trust him to teach her what she is really worth. And how much fun would it be to read Anne of Green Gables to my daughter? But when Craig comes in all dirty and sweaty from playing rugby with the guys, I get all weepy thinking about him running around outside with a son. And then he gives me a funny look because since when does sweat make me so emotional? Plus having grown up with two brothers, I think I would love the rough and tumbleness that a baby boy would bring.

So while my initial biggest reason for me for not wanting to know is that I wanted to avoid the big mid-pregnancy ultrasound, now I'm really glad we are doing it that way for a lot of reasons. But overall, I think this is one baby decision that you just can't go wrong on.

12.20.2009

Cheese Vote Reminder

I wrote about my goat cheese recipe a couple of weeks ago. In case you didn't get to vote then, I implore you to go now. The contest ends on the 21st (tomorrow!) at 6 or so Eastern time. Also, you can read more on my creative process here.

12.19.2009

And we're off...

We're (hopefully - I am setting this to publish ahead of time) on our way now, driving across the country to visit both sides of our families. It's gonna be a lot of driving, a whole lot of bathroom breaks, and hopefully a really good time. I'm very excited about seeing our families and about getting a full two weeks off of work. I need it.

I had been feeling very Scroogy this year but lately I've been getting into the holiday mood. I had enough energy to put together a few homemade Christmas presents (I'll probably talk about them after the holidays since they are mostly going to people who will be reading this :-) and we even got our Christmas letter out. I was willing to give up on it happened at all this year but Craig volunteered to do the hard part of addressing, stamping and sealing if I did the fun part of designing it so I agreed and yesterday we mailed them all! (Except those few of you who haven't gotten me your addresses yet...you know who you are and had better email me soon or no card for you! I still love you and wish you a Merry Christmas, but you won't be getting a pretty letter saying so.)

I did not get to any holiday baking which is a little sad since I love to bake but I figure that I can let that go as long as my mom has some yummy stuff waiting for me when I arrive (hint, hint). Remember, I need to gain weight! Do your duty as grandparents!

So I might be popping in from time to time but basically I'm on a break from now until after the New Year.

12.18.2009

Compromising?

Do you ever have conversations that just stick with you? I keep reading things about parenting and compromise. Mostly I find them ridiculous but they bring to mind a conversation I had with my college girlfriends several years ago. I was newly engaged and another was in a serious relationship but overall we were pretty clueless about marriage and boys and all that. Yet, here we were, having a deep conversation about submission and decision making and roles in marriage.

I, in my infinite 21-year-old wisdom (do you see my tongue in my cheek right now, I hope so), said that I thought it was very important for a wife to submit to her husband when they disagreed (I don't want to give the impression that I think I was wrong, I still think I had the concept right, I just think it is funny because at the time, I had NO idea how to do that, how hard it would be, and just how much I would end up fighting God on that whole concept later on, as in right now.) Another girl piped up and said that she didn't think it was fair for one person to have to give in, especially on major decisions, and that she thought a couple should just continue discussing until they came to an agreement, no matter how long that took. This seems to be the general idea that I've seen popping up in parenting magazines and books. At the time, I remember thinking how I didn't think that view was compatible with the scriptures I knew, but I didn't know how to articulate a response. Now fours years later, well, I still don't have a well thought out response other than "Ha, ha, ha...how's that working out for ya?"

Seriously, that doesn't work. Even if you could possibly make it work for the first year or two, it definitely wouldn't work once a baby came along. I used to think along with babies came diapers, cute nursery sets and teeny tiny clothing, but what really comes with babies is decisions! Lots and lots of decisions. Decisions that two people are in charge of making. And if you are unaware, two is an even number. So every time I see something state that compromise is even more important now that a baby is on it's way, I laugh. Because in reality, it seems like compromise is even more impossible now that a baby is on it's way. Things I would have been willing to compromise on before, I'm not now, things I didn't care much about are suddenly vitally important. I am a mama bear and don't come between me and my baby.

Now I do think Craig and I are pretty "lucky." We agree on probably 95% of things and Nigel is no exception. For the most part, we have the same goals and ideas about how we want to raise our kids and construct our life. But it's that last 5% that's so tricky. Talking about something is good, coming to an agreement or a compromise is good, but sometimes it just ain't gonna happen.

We decided early in our marriage that we would look to the Bible for our understanding of a marriage and we feel that the Bible says that the husband is the authority in family matters. Not the ultimate authority mind you, he's still under God's authority. But I'm not talking about issues that are due to one of us sinning or a result of us not having the mind of Christ. In these cases we both genuinely want to make the "best" decision, the one that is most beneficial to the health and welfare of Nigel. We just disagree on what that decision is.

Probably our first big disagreement in our marriage, I mean, major decision disagreement came with the flu season. He wanted me to get the H1N1 shot, and I did not. We talked and talked and talked but neither of us was going to change our mind. We just stopped bringing it up for a while. Which was good because it gave God time to work on softening my heart. And He helped me realize a few things:

1) I can normally trust Craig's decisions. All those times that he agrees with me, it's not because he doesn't care enough to bother fighting me on it. I've seen marriages like that, where the husband doesn't bother having an opinion because it seems like his wife will take the opposite one and she'll get her way anyway so why make the effort. That is not what I want nor, thank the Lord (literally), what our marriage is like. Craig does care about a lot of things, when he agrees with me it is because on baby things he either feels the way I do from the start or he doesn't have an opinion at all yet but once I present my case, he takes the facts into consideration and comes to the same conclusion. The fact that he is willing to disagree means that I can trust his opinion when he says he does agree with me and that is very reassuring.

2) My submitting to Craig is really submitting to God and even if if I feel like I can't trust Craig's decisions, I can trust his authority because it is rooted in God. Abraham completely botched the whole leading his wife thing and let Sarah get dragged off to be married to someone else - twice! That was not a good biblical decision by any stretch of the imagination and if I was Sarah, I might have felt justified in going against Abraham. But God took care of her, protected her, and even says that her following Abraham was a sign of her faith and hope in God.

3) In the end, if Craig makes the decision, he has to bear the responsibility. It's his fault if it all goes wrong (insert diabolical laugh here). Just kidding on this one, kinda :-)

So at my last appointment, I got the shot. Actually, once I submitted to him and decided to get it, we were able to come up with a compromise both of us could live with - I would wait to get the shot until my second trimester and then I would get the thimerosol-free version and would wait until the next month to get the seasonal flu shot. This worked out well as my doctor ended up being unwilling to give it to me until after the 14th week (I could have gone to our local health department earlier though). Craig would have preferred my getting it earlier, I would have preferred not getting it at all but we were both okay with the end result. (Or I was until I saw the giant needle but that is a different issue). But I can tell you that we would not have been able to come to that point if the Lord has not smacked me on the head and helped me submit to Craig.

Another decision might be coming up and there is absolutely no way to compromise. If we have a boy, do we circumcise or not?* We either do or we don't. It's just not something you can compromise on (okay, honey, let's just take off half the foreskin!) and in the 2.5 years we have talked about it, our opinions haven't changed so I don't hold out much hope that they will in the next 6 months either. One of us is going to have to give in. And, unless he really does change his views, it will be me.

And not just because he has slightly more first hand knowledge of the consequences of that decision either :-)

*Notice: To avoid a comments contretemps, I'm not asking y'all to weigh in. We both know how we feel and why and we will work it out. I'm using it as an example.

12.15.2009

Christmas Song Ponderings

  • There is one line in "Winter Wonderland" that really bothers me.
    And pretend that he is Parson Brown. He'll say are you married? We'll say No man...
What? "No, man?" That just doesn't really seem like something someone would say to a pastor, even an imaginary one. Unless of course you go to a modern church on beach in California perhaps but not a happy frolicking couple from 1934. Does that bother anyone else? I hope so.
  • Who names their kid Bing? (After writing this, I looked it up and apparently his real name was Harry. I feel better knowing that.)
  • The advent study we are doing this year is published by a Presbyterian Church. It's pretty good - except the hymns. We sing* a hymn after each lesson and so far I have only really known one of them. With so many nice Christmas hymns, is it really necessary to give us ones such as "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," "Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor" and "Once in Royal David's City"? Are those common in the Presbyterian church or do the authors of this study just like to pick unusual hymns?
  • Why do I dislike Jazzy Christmas songs except when they are sung by Harry Connick Jr? I heard a song and realized it was a jazz remix so was about to turn it when I heard H.C.J.'s voice and decided to stop and listen because I knew I would like it. That doesn't make sense. Am I just just too biased against jazz to even give it a try? Or is there something about him that overcomes what I don't normally like about jazz? I don't know. I would try listening to other jazz songs to find out but I don't think I want to.
  • I really like the song,"Mary, Did You Know", but I find myself answering some of the questions with "Yes, she did, the angel told her, duh!" But I still do think it's a really sweet song.

*It's just the two of us and since we don't know the hymns, trying to actually sing them would be painful. Craig either reads the words aloud or we listen to it on YouTube.

12.14.2009

The Joys of Pregnancy: #2 - You mean there is somebody in there?

I thought it was about time for another Nigel update as the last few weeks have been exciting. This baby has decided to really make his presence known. The day before Thanksgiving was our last appointment and we heard the heartbeat for the first time. It was later than most because we had skipped a couple ultrasounds but it was worth it! It was up around 160, which is fast but normal for a fetus.

The next day we went to visit family for Thanksgiving. After a full day of family, food and fun I was relaxing on the couch and felt a weird feeling. From what friends and books had said, (basically that it feels like a stomach bubble, butterflies, or my personal favorite, a "fart up in your intestines") I thought it might be baby kicks but didn't want to say anything in case it turned out to just be that second piece of pumpkin pie I ate. That would have been embarrassing! Fast forward 6 days and nothing else has happened so I thought I was wrong but then, I felt it again. A few more days of nothing and then boom, Nigel must have had a growth spurt because ever since then I have felt them all the time.

In fact, last week they were all in my lower right side and although the flutters themselves didn't bother me, I was quite uncomfortable in that area. I tried to tell Craig it felt like a tumor but he said I wouldn't be able to feel a tumor so that was a silly description. So I switched to saying it felt like a baby was in my hip. I kept trying to shift Nigel by flipping over quickly from one side to the other or massaging the area towards my middle but nothing worked. But about 36 hours later I was walking around and he/she must have moved because all of a sudden the discomfort was gone and I started feeling the flutters somewhere else. It still feels more like fluttering than kicking but I'm okay with that for now :-)

Nigel's also growing. "They" say he/she should be about 5 ounces by now but all that means to me is that I finally had to indulge in maternity pants. And it must be all baby growth because I've only had a net gain of 3 pounds so far (despite my best efforts at eating a lot).

This picture is actually from last weekend but we only take one on even weeks so it will have to do. I've been using the bella band for the last 5 weeks or so and it worked well but this last week I reached the breaking point, literally (at least for my zipper). I normally hate shopping especially for jeans but after a failed attempt at target, we went to Motherhood Maternity and it was great. They brought me 4 pairs of jeans to try on, I liked 3 of them and picked my favorite two. Taking only 30 minutes, it was my easiest jean shopping experience ever! Maybe I should wear elastic waist pants all the time.

I would say something here about how I am still suffering from morning sickness 1-2 times a week and how that isn't really fair as I am already in my 18th week and I'm trying very hard not to be bitter about it but only succeeding some of the time. But as this is a happy post, I won't.

12.11.2009

Foreign Affairs Friday: How Will North Korea Land?

I agree with this analysis (which is a few years old) of the potential future of North Korea:
Andrei Lankov, senior lecturer at the Australian National University, writes: "in the long run the system appears doomed. Sooner or later the gradual disintegration of the police and security apparatus, increasing access to unauthorized information along with manifold social changes will bring it down, probably, in a chain of dramatic, even cataclysmic events."
There is hope is many circles that North Korea can have a "soft landing," in which it gradually reforms and improves, similar to how China has, while remaining a separate nation. Only then would talk of Korean unification occur. East Germany collapsed peacefully but suddenly in 1989, and the large gap between incomes of East vs. West Germans created much expense for, and resentment in, the latter to bring the former up to modern standards. But the gap between the two Germanys is much smaller than that between the two Koreas. While South Korea is one of the world's most advanced, prosperous nations, North Korea is one of the poorest and most backwards.

However, this is not what North Koreans think. Due to the extreme lengths Kim Jong-Il and his regime go to to suppress information (phones are rare, TVs and radios only tune to government channels, etc.), North Koreans think they're doing OK, and their southern brothers are the poor ones.

This is what creates the problem. If North Korea were to open up and reform its economy, as China has done, interactions with foreigners would increase, and North Koreans would learn more and more information about the outside world and how backwards their country is. This could lead to violent revolt or massive emigration. It is unlikely North Koreans would accept their current situation for long if they knew how bad it really was. Therefore, the regime there cannot follow the Chinese path to prosperity. China has created some danger for its regime with its gradual opening, but the danger to the Jong-Il regime is much higher. That's why they have to engage in illegal activities and nuclear blackmail to bring in revenue in lieu of economic growth.

The US, South Korea, and China will have to prepare for the day when a "hard landing" occurs. Major issues will be large numbers of refugees, unguarded nuclear material, rash North Korean military action, major humanitarian needs, and potential for US-China conflict as the two countries' militaries potentially come into close proximity while trying to stabilize a collapsed North Korea. While we can all hope for a better day for the people of North Korea, getting there will not be easy.

12.10.2009

Simple Toys

I've already written about toys I don't like which, to summarize, is anything made of cheap plastic, with batteries, with a character on it, that makes excessive noise, and that can only be played with in one way...but I'm not a total scrooge. Here is a post that I kept me saying "Yes, that is just how I feel." Either way though, Craig has already made me promise that the only thing we will get for Nigel next Christmas is a box.* Because everyone knows babies like boxes more than toys that you spend money on.

Apparently, so do cats. Zeeba is not normally a super playful cat. She is more of a curl up next to you on the couch kinda cat, which suits me just fine. But every once in a while she gets feisty and wants to play. She just doesn't want to play with any official cat toys. Well, there is one toy she likes, a little Christmas tree some of our friends got us after we first got her. And while people may give us looks when they see a stuffed Christmas tree in our living room in the middle of July, at least right now it works with the decor.

But other than that one two, she likes homemade toys better. Her favorites:

- A ribbon, but only when we hold it above her. It's actually quite tiring on your arms but when we bought her a toy with ribbons on the end of a stick, it scared her. I tried to convince her it was the same thing only less of a work-out for me, but she didn't buy it.

- A rubber band. We discovered this about a month ago when I was using them to hold up my pants. I get nervous that she will swallow it so I only let her play when I'm watching but that isn't hard since it is hilarious. The best is when she has it under her foot and tries to pull it up with her teeth. Inevitably, it comes loose and snaps her paw, they she gets mad at it and pulls harder. It's a vicious cycle. I'd stop her, but every time she sees a rubber band she gets excited so it must not hurt that bad.

- A gum ball. The large kind you get for a quarter from a little vending machine. Craig got one last week and despite the fact that she finds her official cat balls with cute little bells inside boring, she loved the gumball. Alas, it disappeared, probably under some piece of furniture. Luckily it is wintertime or we might be having a major ant issue right now.

- The snoogle. Well, not so much the snoogle itself, but what the snoogle does to the bed. Left under the comforter, it makes the bed all hilly and lumpy and improves her pouncing ability (It's actually quite creepy if you want past the room with the lights off, more than once I scared myself thinking someone was sleeping in my bed). Just put a sock on the bed and she is entertaining for quite a while, pouncing and attacking it. But only when the snoogle is in place. Maybe on a flat bed the sock can see her coming so she doesn't bother? Who knows the mind of a cat?

Are there any weird "toys" your pets like to play with. Or is our cat just really weird?

*Can you keep a secret? - I might try to sneak around that rule by putting something in a stocking though. Everyone knows stocking presents don't count as real presents - just don't tell Craig!

12.09.2009

Lifestyle Choices

I was perusing National Geographic the other day (I read it for the articles, really) and I came across an interesting quote. It was from Jared Diamond (#42 on this list), who has written some enjoyable books. It was relayed in the NG article like this:
Jared Diamond, the UCLA professor and writer, has called the adoption of agriculture nothing less than "the worst mistake in human history"—a mistake, he suggests, from which we have never recovered.
The author of this piece, Michael Finkel, lays out some of the argument for this:
The Hadza [a Tanzanian hunter-gatherer people] do not engage in warfare. They've never lived densely enough to be seriously threatened by an infectious outbreak. They have no known history of famine... The Hadza diet remains even today more stable and varied than that of most of the world's citizens. They enjoy an extraordinary amount of leisure time. Anthropologists have estimated that they "work"—actively pursue food—four to six hours a day.
I have thought at times that it would have been enjoyable to be a Plains Indian in the early 19th century. Riding horses, hunting, fighting non-lethal battles with other tribes, lounging around, etc. would have been my daily activities. The leisure aspect of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is indeed enviable.

Some of the benefits of the agricultural lifestyle and everything it spawned, on the other hand, are as follows:
  • Longer life expectancy, better medical care, lower infant mortality
  • All kinds of comforts and conveniences (house, car, air conditioning, etc.)
  • Access to technology (for work, travel, leisure)
The switch to agriculture was inevitable, because societies that did so were able to outgrow and subsequently dominate hunter-gatherers. But Diamond posits a provocative suggestion that is interesting to consider.

12.08.2009

Unions Pushing Their Luck

Union membership has been declining in this country for quite some time. However, union leaders placed hope in President Obama (as so many have) that he would help usher in a union resurgence. The execrable "card check" bill pending in Congress is one potential avenue. Another is the sweet deal Obama gave auto unions, at the expense of bondholders, in the GM bailout. However, actions the unions, which are seen by many as only interested in stumping for Democrats and protecting incompetent workers, have taken lately should threaten any traction they may be gaining. Here are three stories:
  • "Grinchlike union bosses are blocking at least 200 of Boston’s best teachers from pocketing bonuses for their classroom heroics in a puzzling move that gets a failing grade from education experts." The union wants all teachers to share this money, not just the good ones, which defeats the entire purpose of a bonus.
  • "In pursuit of an Eagle Scout badge, Kevin Anderson, 17, has toiled for more than 200 hours hours over several weeks to clear a walking path in an east Allentown park. Little did the do-gooder know that his altruistic act would put him in the cross hairs of the city's largest municipal union." The union would prefer that government employees do this work, not some punk kid. The union leader who raised hell about the Eagle Scout was forced to resign, though, so some sanity is prevailing.
  • In New York City, 700 teachers get paid to do nothing while they wait for their disciplinary cases to be heard. Unions have worked to make it nearly impossible to fire bad teachers.
This is the kind of stuff that hurts one's credibility quite quickly. One thing I will compliment Obama for is that, contrary to his support for other unions, Obama has been making a serious effort to reform public schools, and doing so in ways that unions have long opposed. This includes increasing charter schools and basing teacher performance ratings on student results and test data. The egregious record of teachers' unions, which is probably more indefensible than that of any other unions, is likely a factor in Obama's willingness to defy them. That being the case, I say keep up the craziness, unions.

12.06.2009

Goodbye Emma

Dear Emma,

I'm going to miss you so much. When mom called this morning to tell me the bad news, I just wasn't expecting it at all. You weren't very old and you only got sick on Friday and I didn't know it was so serious. You had a weak stomach and were sick a lot (just like me) and

after that bad car accident your limp meant you never really did get to run and play too hard so your health wasn't the best and I figured this was just another case of you being sickly. When you were a puppy and we would take you on walks and about half way through you would just decide you were done and we would have to carry you home. But even with your bad health you still seemed to love life, enjoying your daily walks and curling up on the couch for a nap (another thing we had in common) with your head on my lap.
I remember going to get you when I was in highschool and you were just a little puppy. I had to sleep on the couch for at least a month until you were big enough to make it through the night without a trip outside. And then we started puppy training and you got so excited to see the other dogs. Every single time we walked into the building you had an accident! I know it wasn't that you weren't housetrained, you were just so passive. But even so, you were never skittish. You were a typical golden retriever, you loved everyone.

Even once I left home, you were always "my dog" and I looked forward to your greeting me at the door whenever I came home. I practically had to push you back so I could make it through the doorway sometimes. Craig and I were even hoping to find a dog-friendly place for our next move so you could come stay with us.

It will be hard coming home later this month knowing you won't be there. And taking those strolls with Mom walking Kip knowing that I won't have your leash in my hand.

Your life wasn't long or even very easy at times but I hope it was still good. I'm so sorry I wasn't there with you at the end but I think you know that I loved you and will miss you.

12.04.2009

Linky Love for Married Folks

I've wanted to share both of these for a while and since they are kinda similar, I thought I would kill two birds with one post.

THE GREAT DATE EXPERIMENT:
Sorry, I didn't mean to yell, but a name like that just seemed to demand it. (And be careful opening that link, the opening video is loud and incredible cheesy, probably not something you would want a co-worker to overhear). Craig and I started being more regular with our date nights this fall and did these for our first two in August and September. Then Nigel came along and we haven't had a date since... but we will try to fit the next one in this month sometime now that I'm up to it and I am determined to get all 6 done by May.

Basically, it is a set of 6 "dates" for you and your husband (or wife) to go one. The "date" is really just a printout of instructions...questions/conversations starters, little fun activities, challenges, etc. I'll warn you, some of it is pretty corny and/or embarrassing but you can always skip something if you don't want to (example: Craig didn't want me to scream "My husband is hot" in public, so I didn't - aren't I nice?) If you are a bold couple, you would probably have even more fun, but we do not fit that category and still want to do the rest.

Another thing I like about them is that it really does help those budget conscious couples have a fun night. They are pretty vague about a lot of things so you can pick whether you want to eat someplace fancy or just grab a burger. Even with lots of stops and things to do, you can still come under the price of a typical dinner and a movie date.

The Peasant Princess:
I think I mentioned earlier that I've been listening to Mark Driscoll sermons online lately. This series on the Song of Solomon is what got me started. While I still haven't finished it, I've already learned and laughed a lot. I did a good study about the Song of Solomon with a group of girlfriends several years ago but we were all single/engaged so this time, I'm getting different stuff out of it this time...but now that I think about it, Driscoll does a good job of aiming his sermons at both married and single so everyone really should listen to it.

Disclaimer #1: I do realize that Mark Driscoll is somewhat controversial. Some of that is because he feels very strongly about what the Bible says. I happen to like most of what he says. But having said that, I don't agree with everything he says, and more importantly, how he says even the stuff I do agree with. So don't yell at me when he makes fun of you, because he will.

Disclaimer #2: I also realize that not everyone who reads this blog shares my religious convictions, so I want to be open. The G.D.E. is put out by a church/ministry but their purpose is to strengthen marriages and the focus is really on that. There are some "bibley" type questions such as "How would you like your spouse to pray for you?" but only a few per date and they would be easy enough to skip if you want. The Driscoll series is also put out by a church but as it is a sermon series on a book of the Bible, it is very "bibley" so if you aren't into that, well, you might not enjoy it. It's still funny though so you might.

12.03.2009

Goat Cheese Recipe: BLT Wraps (Go vote!)

Ile de France, importer and purveyor of fine French cheeses, likes to have contests for bloggers. I thought about entering their cheese platter contest awhile back, but never got around to it. This time, though, they actually provided the cheese for their holiday appetizer contest to the first 50 to request it, one of which was me. So I got some goat cheese, and perused the internet for recipes to get an idea of what ingredients one generally mixes with goat cheese. I thought that, since its a contest, I shouldn't just find some recipe on the internet and regurgitate it (figuratively). After doing my research, I invented this recipe. Now I am competing against 25 or so other recipes to win $1,000. You can help by clicking the link to my recipe and giving it 5 stars down at the bottom.

Here's a photo of my tangy, sophisticated twist on an old classic:



12.01.2009

Advent

We had a good but noisy Thanksgiving with my family. I grew up around all that noise but I guess I've gotten used to the quiet of just Craig and I. We ate a lot, played some board games (which Craig and I dominated) and caught up on family news. Then, before I knew it, Thanksgiving was over and we were on our way home listening to Christmas music as we went. Ah, Christmas!

The Advent season started Sunday night although we didn't get around to it getting out of Christmas stuff until last night and we didn't have time to do the Advent devotional, but tonight it will happen for sure. Luckily the study we are doing is not 7 days a week so we should be able to catch up during the week.

I love Christmas time in general, but especially the season of Advent and the tradition of lighting the candles each night and doing our devotional. I remember doing it every year growing up and I love doing it together with Craig now. Our first year we missed a number of days but last year was much better and maybe this year we will actually get each one done.

I used to like it mostly because it was a tradition and I really like traditions in general but gradually I learned to like it because I began to see Advent as a season of preparation and I really did feel like my heart was more prepared for Christmas when I spent the time focusing on Christ. It is very hard to make Christmas about Christ when you spend 90% of your free time during December working on decorations, gifts, parties, etc. Spending my evenings refocusing on what is important does really prepare my heart for worship.

But this year, I've been seeing Advent mentioned a lot as a season of waiting and that has really spoken to me.

I feel like I've been waiting for a lot of things this year...waiting for God to bless us with a child, waiting for God to "fix" certain problems in my life or take them away, then waiting for the first trimester to finally end, and now waiting for God to reveal the answers to some big questions we have been asking him about our lives' direction. And while I'm not quite there yet, I have a feeling in a few months I will begin I will want to be done waiting for this baby to come out.

And most of the time, I'm not very good with waiting. I'm hoping this season God can show me more about the joy of waiting. Not just for Christmas morning, but waiting on his timing in all areas of my life.

Just think of how God's people waited and waited for his return. It was a long time, but I happen to think He was worth the wait. The little babe in the manger. And then they still had to wait for him to grow up. Now we wait for Him to return. I also like the how while the idea of preparation brings to mind all the things I need to do before it can happen, waiting is more passive. Not completely passive, God has given us things to do jobs to do while we wait, but we aren't responsible for causing anything to happen, we are just called to be ready when it is. Like
the bridal party, our having full or empty lamps didn't change when the groom came, just who was able to go into the party. I can't make Christmas come any faster by putting up my tree earlier (although many people seem to try) or making sure I have my 12 dozen cookies baked, nor can I slow it down just because it's Christmas eve and I haven't gotten everyone a present. Nope, it comes on December 25th, no matter what. And while I fight it sometimes, I think I
like not having that responsibility. Or at least I should. And that is what I hope to learn this Advent season, the joy of waiting.

11.24.2009

And so it begins...

A couple months ago I purchased a cloth diaper for a friend's baby shower gift and somehow I got added to a baby mailing list. It was slowing down though until a few weeks ago when all of a sudden, the baby mailings increased with a vengeance. I'm not sure how they got my information, the only way I can think of them getting that information is my doctor but surely they couldn't give out my address, could they? I will give them the benefit of the doubt, especially since I was already getting some things but can the huge increase be just a coincidence?

Anyway, it's a bit much. Before it was just a flyer or random coupon every month or so, but not now. I came home a few days ago to this: a box with a baby feeding guide, two cans of formula and a reminder to ask for my free Similac sling pack at the hospital, complete with pre-filled bottles measured for a newborn. I don't want to use formula but even if I did, I don't really think I'm quite ready to get large cans in the mail. But I know what they want, they want to get me hooked on their product. Just like the Pampers and Huggies diapers I received last week.


I promise this isn't going to turn into an anti-formula post. I'm sure I'll talk later about my desire to breastfeed but this is more of anti-consumerism for babies post (that's an awkward phrase but it is better than anti-baby consumerism since that sounds like I'm anti-baby).

The amount of "buy this for your baby" propaganda is ridiculous. I read a couple of the mainstream baby magazines before I realized they are just 30 page advertisements for things you "need" to have. The article about how to prevent stretch marks is really just a list of the top 5 stretch mark creams (at least one of which was over $50). Ditto for the "how to deal with diaper rash" article.

The actually ads are even more confusing. Especially for baby toys because, unlike commercials for toys for the 5-7 year old crowd, these ads are actually aimed at me. My kid is not old enough to by heartbroken if they don't receive a Zhu-Zhu pet for Christmas, "forcing" parents to search high and low for a plastic hamster. No, to sell a product for anybody under 3, you have to convince the parent it is worthwhile. But none of the ads I see are remotely applealing. Look! The faster your kid scribles, the faster the music plays. That sounds awful. Why can't I just give my kid some paper and crayons and put a CD on in the background? Am I the only one who feels this way? Have the "I want to buy lots of crap for my kids" hormones just not kicked in yet?

11.23.2009

The Joys of Pregnancy: #1 - The snoogle

In an attempt to view and portray my pregnancy in a positive way (which in reality has been much harder than I anticipated), I am going to start posting about the wonderful aspects of pregnancy. Obviously, this list will be chronological and not in order of importance. Although I do love it, I sincerely hope that my Snoogle does not turn out to be my favorite part of pregnancy.

At this point many of you may be asking what the heck a Snoogle is? It's a pillow, a gigantic curvy body pillow. But the word pillow really fails to convey how amazing the Snoogle is. I started having trouble sleeping at about week 10. I was not expecting that to start so soon but as "not expecting" really seems to sum up my whole pregnancy experience, I should just get used to that. As soon as I did, I knew I needed a body pillow. I'm a weird sleeper when it comes to pillows, I don't normally like to use pillows under my head, but I love body pillows and slept with one religiously all through high school and college. I gave it up when I got married though as I didn't think Craig would appreciate my putting a large barrier between us. But desperate times call for desperate measures and when I needed a pillow, I knew just the one I wanted. I have heard wonderful things about this pillow from preggos and non-preggos alike. I ordered mine from Target and it said it would take 9-15 days to arrive, which was very depressing as was the fact that it cost $49.99 and free shipping starts at $50.00. (Only pregnancy would cause Craig to instantaneously hand over his credit card without even asking me if I thought $50 was a little much to be spending on a pillow even though I know he already feels like our apartment overfloweth with pillows). But Target did not do me wrong, my Snoogle arrived just three or four days later and my life has not been the same since.

When you lie down in it (and yes, in really is the best preposition to describe it), you become encased and magically all the joints from your shoulder blades to ankles that have been misaligned and achy all day, are lifted, lined up perfectly and just seem to disappear. Amy Beth actually describes it as like having a man wrapped around you and that would be pretty accurate except with the Snoogle you can move it and punch it to get it situated exactly how you want it and when I try to do that with Craig he gets grumpy. (He is such an unsympathetic husband sometimes :-)

And it's so versatile. I switch back and forth during the night between the back to back and tummy tuck positions but I also love using it in a modified swirl position while watching TV on the couch.

It's big, so it is a pain to move it back and forth between the bed and the couch but it is still worth the effort. In fact, I'm driving to visit family over the Thanksgiving break and the snoogle will definitely be coming with me even though it will occupy a whole seat.

Also, in an attempt to give a fair review, I've also heard if you are really short or really tall, it isn't quite as great but it's fairly flexible so I think you'd have to be on the extreme end to have that problem. And others have complained that the pillowcase it comes with is a bit scratchy. They sell others that are softer and colorful for $20 but I am pretty picky about textures and I don't mind it. It's not 300-count Egyptian cotton but it works. You could always just stick a normal pillowcase over the top where your face touches it if you are really bothered, but I'm not.

Overall, I love my Snoogle - a lot. But from what I've heard, husbands tend to demand their removal from the bed pretty soon post-pregnancy so I'd better enjoy it while it lasts.

11.20.2009

Awesome phone conversations of the week

I'm not a big phone talker in general. I just don't really like talking on the phone all that much. I have a few close friends and family members that I like to keep up with by actually conversing but in general I do most of my long distance correspondence via the internet and I like it that way. But even I have to admit I had a couple pretty awesome phone conversations this week.

The first came a couple mornings ago at a little after 7am. It woke me up and when I looked to see who it was from, I saw my older brother's name. Now Rick is not much of a morning person at all and being a grad student, he can still pretty much get away with that so I immediately though that he was calling to tell me either 1) he was engaged ( a little birdie told me it might be happening soonish) or 2) someone was in the hospital. Now since the title of this post is about awesome phone conversations and not devastating phone conversations, you all can probably guess how this story is going to turn out. Yes, he is engaged!

(Photo stolen from my mom's facebook page)

It's very exciting and not just because none of my family members were dead. I can't wait until next week when I get to see them again and get to know her better since the last time we went to visit him and meet her, I spent most of the weekend napping or in the bathroom. Plus, I love me wedding planning news and most of my friends are married now so I don't get a chance to hear about it much. Fun times are coming!

The second awesome phone conversations happened yesterday when I got a call during the middle of the day from an unknown number. Turns out the driving study I did a few months ago had trouble getting enough people to participate so they raised the financial incentive. But to make things fair, they had to go back and paying everyone else the extra money too. Basically, she called and asked if I wanted to swing by her office and pick up $100. Why yes, yes I did. I don't know about you, but I don't often receive phone calls asking me to go pick up large amounts of cash, especially not just several weeks before Christmas, so that was way up there on awesome phone conversations.

So those were my awesome phone conversations of the week. I realize the title of this post makes it sound like it is going to be an recurring feature but I don't think it is, unless of course people just want to keep calling and offering me money!

11.19.2009

Sucked In

This article is fascinating because it describes almost exactly what happened to MacKenzie. It turns out that plenty of other women thought they were to mature and sophisticated for "Twilight," only to succumb to the dark side:

"Twilight" came for the tweens, then for the moms of tweens, then for the co-workers who started wearing those ridiculous Team Jacob shirts, and the resisters said nothing, because they thought "Twilight" could not come for them. They were too literary. They didn't do vampires. They were feminists.

Then something happened: the release of the "Twilight" movie, which last year introduced $384 million worth of audience members to Kristen Stewart as mortal Bella and Pattinson as lust incarnate.

I know MacKenzie didn't oppose the books for the feminist reasons of some people quoted in the article. I don't know if the book caused her to "notice in that first week of reading that I was feeling things I hadn't been able to feel in a long time." But it's interesting to know that this sequence of events happened to enough people to warrant a Washington Post article.

11.17.2009

Uhm, I'm not sure what the post should be called but it does mention vomiting.

Well, I don't have anything great to say so I'll just talk about me. That's really what a blog is all about anyway right?

I'm doing better. But it's a two steps forward, one step back kinda deal. Two weeks ago I started feeling better, we made it to church, I was able to eat dinner, but then bam, Tues-Friday were yucky again. Friday night I finally made Craig go get my nausea medicine and we found out that it doesn't really help me. If I'm really feeling bad, I can take it and within 10 minutes it will completely knock me out and I won't be awake again for at least three hours. Which technically means I go three hours without being sick but as soon as I wake up, I feel bad again. Except now I am sick and disoriented. Which is really bad if you eat a popsicle before you go to sleep then wake up and start throwing up red liquid. Within a minute or two you will remember that it is just popsicle juice and you are not actually throwing up internal organs but those first few seconds will really get your heart going. I realize that story is a bit gross, but I think it is funny too and what is the point of all this vomiting if I don't even get to tell a few funny stories...besides the baby and all.

But since we got the medicine, I've only used it twice and have still managed to go from throwing up 1-2X/day to 1-2X/week. It's been a few good days then a few bad days. You can probably tell because there are a few days when I post, and then nothing. But the periods of bad days are getting shorter with the good days getting longer so I just need to be patient. I would probably be doing better if I would just give up the idea that I can do anything remotely fun. It's not that I'm fighting a super-preggo philosophy anymore. I'm not going to lie, I did at the beginning and was genuinely frustrated that I could no longer keep the house even remotely clean or put something on the table but with time I have learned to let things go and Craig has done a great job of learning what I think "needs" to be done (i.e. the things that I start to get panicky over) and doing them.

Now I'm just bored and feeling the effects of being social withdrawn. Saturday morning I didn't feel great but I was determine not to miss my scheduled hang out time with Fallon so I drank a lot of water, ate a good snack and took some Tylenol. And once I was out, I did feel pretty good. But I think I overdid it since I spent the next 48 hours feeling awful. When I say I "overdid it", we spent time at a new baby boutique in town, picked up a book from Barnes and Noble and sat at chick-fil-a talking and drinking lemonade. She's pregnant too so it's not like we were running a marathon. But even that was too much. Is it too much to ask to have a few hours to spend catching up with a friend, or having enough energy to play a board game in the evening with Craig! Apparently so.

I know that I will probably be feeling back to my old self, or as close as I'm going to get, within another week or two but it's getting hard. I did find an encouraging site. Conversion Diary linked to Philosopher Mom's post about being Open to life and when I found there, it was actually about her hyperemesis gravidarum pregnancy. At first it was a bit depressing because when I'm sick, all I can write are long rambling whiney posts like this one while she writes insightful articles on the value of life, but I got over myself and found some information on her site useful. I had always though HG was only prolonged intense morning sickness so it didn't apply to me, at least not yet, but that is not entirely accurate. The "HelpHer" site she linked to had really good information and while I seem to be borderline between extreme morning sickness and mild HG, I found their articles, especially the ones on coping and emotional issue very encouraging. I just wish I had found this site a month or two ago.

11.13.2009

Red Light Cameras Not Gone Yet

I reported recently that the city in which I reside held an election in which voters chose to have the city's red light cameras taken down. As one might have predicted, certain people in town, who claim to have no connection to the local pro-camera political action committee, or the company that operates the cameras, filed a lawsuit to keep the cameras in place. Their claim centers on the legal difference between a "referendum" and an "initiative." While they may have a semi-legitimate argument, this is clearly nothing more than an attempt to subvert the will of the people.

However, we must give credit to the city manager who, although he supported the cameras, as far as I can tell, has even more support for the voice of the people:
"Should the judge rule that the election is invalid and that the red light cameras should stay, I will recommend to the College Station City Council that we immediately inform American Traffic Solutions that we are giving them the required 60-day notice that we are canceling our contract and the cameras will be turned off," Brown said.
That is quite honorable, and we can only hope that, if the lawsuit succeeds, the city council will heed his suggestion. A majority of the council apparently agrees with this idea. First, though, we'll have to see how eager the judge is to overturn an election on what some might call a mere technicality.

11.12.2009

Did God really say...

We finally made it back to church last week, for the first time in at least a month. I had really been missing it and even an hour before was contemplating skipping again but just made up my mind to feel better and go. So I did. In general, I am sad that our church is more casual, I like getting dressed up on Sundays and treating it like the special occasion that it is, but this time, it was really nice just to be able to pull on a pair of jeans and a sweater and head out. It was also nice knowing that I wasn't going to get any glares when I had to pull out a granola bar half way through the sermon. I guess laid back churches do have their advantages. And I'm so glad I made it, not just to see people who must have thought I was dying but also because the sermon really struck me.

It was the end of a series on "Stupid human tricks" and talked about how we rationalize our sinful behavior and convince ourselves that God's truth is not His truth or that we are somehow the exception to the rule. The minister started by walking us through the first time that happened, way back in Genesis, when the serpent got Eve rationalizing with his not-so-innocent question "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The correct answer is no, that isn't what God said. The serpent took just enough of God's word that Eve was drawn in but twisted it so that it was no longer the truth. I don't think any of us would be convinced if a serpent tried to get us to eat any fruit, but I do hear ask the same type of questions often and many times I see myself or fellow Christians falling for it.

At this point, I would like to say it was just the world that was asking those questions, but it isn't. This past Sunday, I unfortunately did not feel up to attending church but I did feel up to one of my new favorite "I'm too sick to get off the couch" activities - listing to Mark Driscoll sermons. I picked one on the emergent church, basically because I didn't really know much about them other than the guys tend to wear skinny jeans which probably isn't part of their official doctrine.

Anyway, Mark starts talking about the good and bad of the different types of emergent churches and how so many of them are asking the "Did God really say..." type questions and refusing to answer them. Really, he used that same phrase. It's been everywhere lately. That got me thinking even more, the problem doesn't come with the questions. The problem comes when we refuse to let God's word answer it. To try and philosophize or theorize our own answers instead of turning to His word for His truth. So I thought I would share a few of the questions I have been "hearing" lately and what I think the Bible really has to say about them:

  • Does God really say that women should cover their whole bodies and be ashamed of who they are?
No! God made the female form to be beautiful and visually appealing, but most of that appeal is meant for one specific person to see, not the whole world. A woman's body isn't meant to be selfishly or carelessly flaunted, used as a tool to manipulate, or to be considered the source of her worth. True modesty values the complete woman, including her body.
  • Does God really say that we should be hateful and mean towards homosexuals?
No! God doesn't want us to be hateful towards anyone but to show love. But He does say that homosexual behavior is sinful and encouraging someone in sinful behavior is not loving.
  • Does God really say that women should be doormats for their husbands, with no opinions or self-esteem? That they are inferior in their ability to understand the gospel or to be used by Him?
No! God does not want His followers, men or women, to be weak-minded. Jesus considered Mary's sitting as His feet to learn a good thing. Even Paul (yes, Paul, the supposed woman hater of the Bible) praised Timothy's mother and grandmother for helping instill in Timothy his amazing faith as well as many other women for their work in evangelizing. But God has laid out specific roles for women in both church and family structure and when we are obedient to those commands, He can use us in amazing ways to further His kingdom and bring glory to
God. That is the thing about submission, it isn't weak, it's hard work that often takes a great deal of faith and it doesn't bring glory to a women, it brings glory to her Savior.

Are there any others that come to your mind?

11.11.2009

The Wall Fell Down

On Monday night I was able to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall in style with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and President George H.W. Bush. Rice gave a speech to cap off a day full of festivities. In her remarks, she highlighted the roles played by Bush, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in the events of 20 years ago. I was very impressed with Rice. She spoke well and displayed great command of a variety of foreign policy issues during the Q & A.

Much was made during the day about how Bush refused to openly gloat when the Berlin Wall fell, to "dance on the wall" as he put it. He received criticism in the press at the time for not seeming excited, but he knew there was plenty of work still to be done (e.g. German unification), and he didn't want to put Gorbachev in a bad political position at home by rubbing it in that the West had won. This restraint helped ensure the smooth unification of Germany within NATO less than a year later, and helped ensure the USSR didn't resort to violence to maintain its grip on power.

The story of how the Wall actually came down is interesting:
The intention was to announce the changes [to travel rules] overnight and phase in the new rules the next morning. Instead one of the Politburo members, Guenter Schabowski, blurted out the plans during a televised press conference - and compounded his error by adding the new rules would come into force "immediately".
Upon hearing this, East Germans went to the Wall in droves. The border guards, unsure of how to respond, eventually stood aside and let people pass through. This courageous, humane choice, the opposite of that made by Chinese soldiers five months previously in Tiananmen Square, but similar to that made by the Romanian army one month later, ensured that freedom would prevail and the wall would crumble.

In a world where so many are still oppressed, the events of 1989 provide hope. The fall of the Soviet Union was not expected by anyone. As pessimistic as we might feel about conditions in China, Iran, Burma, or North Korea today, we can maintain hope (and dictators must remain fearful) that seismic shifts could occur at any moment.

11.10.2009

Why little Nigel will never watch Sesame Street.

If you happened to use Google anytime this past week, you might have noticed that the Big Bird feet turned into an "L", the Oscar the Grouch "O" or a variety of other Sesame Street themed Google icons. I thought that was a little premature because the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street is actually today. It's also excessive and annoying.

But since Sesame Street has been around for such a long time, it seems safe to say that it will probably be around when our little one reaches the preschool years. But he/she won't be watching it. I really don't like Sesame Street. I once mentioned that casually and the person looked at me like I was crazy - why not, they asked. Is it because of Bert and Ernie, because that's kind of ridiculous. Well, blog readers, rest assured that it is not because of Bert and Ernie. In fact, it actually has nothing to do with content at all. I'm not particularly worried about the content of TV shows aimed at two-year-olds. Now TV shows aimed at 5-7 year-olds? Yeah, those have tons of stuff our family will consider "inappropriate," but if you can't tie your shoes, you probably will be missing anything too "bad" even if it is there.

Sesame Street has been a thorn in my side for a number of years because I hate the way it is designed. Someone 40 years ago had this great epiphany - why, two-year-olds have really short attention spans so let's feed them information in 30-second tidbits. They will love our show! And that way by the time they are four, they will still have 30-second attention spans and be used to getting entertained that way. Oh wait, that doesn't sound good, but let's not worry about that because the information we include will be "educational." Parents can't object to the alphabet, can they?

Now, I understand that 2-year-olds have short attention spans. That's normal. But I want to teach my kids to have longer and longer attention spans over time. And yes, long is relative. But if you keep feeding kids information in the length of time they like best, we will end up in a world where graduate students can't make in through a 50-minute lecture without whipping open their laptop and playing around on Facebook. Hmm...does that sound familiar?

Just compare the exposure a kid gets to the alphabet by Sesame Street to books. Now reading a book to a toddler is like playing with flashcards, you don't even have time to focus on the words before they flip the page on you. But you can at least name words "flower, dog...the end." Pretty soon you can start actually talking about what is happening in the pictures "oh, look, the pokey little puppy is smelling the flower" before they flip the page. And somehow, miraculously, you get to the point where you can actually read the story. Progression, it's a good thing.

It probably isn't fair to compare books to TV since books are such a great medium for learning and TV, well, isn't. Which brings me to my second problem with Sesame Street. I think in general most people believe the first sentence of this paragraph to be true - except when it comes to Sesame Street! Somehow Sesame Street is considered to be this great educational tool instead of what it is - a TV show. There are probably many other kids shows that are just as ADD as Sesame Street, but not only am I not aware of them, I don't have to be subjected to hearing about their greatness all the time. It's everywhere. Google, newspaper articles, even the National 4th of July show was riddled with Sesame Street propaganda. But not my child, oh no, I don't want my toddler thinking it is grammatically correct to refer to yourself in the third person, even if that person is red and furry.

And as much as I'd like to say our kids will never watch TV, I'm not that naive. I'll try to limit it, but I also like to shower, so compromises might have to be made. So I will pick a show that will at least try to keep their attention on one story line for 10-15 minutes and I won't be doing it under the pretense that I am "educating" them, I will just admit that Mommy needs a break.

11.09.2009

If Only Their Stadium Was Even Higher Up

While picking on a collegiate newspaper for grammatical and factual errors is something I am not eager to do, since it is often the editorial equivalent of punching a kid with glasses, I can't pass this one up:
Despite their 2-6 record, the Colorado Buffaloes play in the highest stadium altitude in the Big 12.
It apparently helped them against A&M, though, since they beat us on Saturday.

11.06.2009

Apologies

I'd like to go on record as having official apologized...

- To all those people who I have failed to return calls/emails too. Sorry officer guy who wanted me to interview that singer lady and emailed me three times. Sorry friend who wrote a great note updating me on her status as a missionary in a foreign country, I read it, I promise.

- For my feelings of hatred aimed at those shall-go-unnamed bloggers who keep insisting on reminding us that Christmas is only X weeks away and informing me of all these resources for christmas letter, decorations, advent, etc. Yes, I can count. I know. I have nothing done, no plans to do anything and no energy to do it if I wanted to. So stop bringing it up! The stress has almost forced me to decided that everyone we know is getting a dozen baby chicks sent in their name to help a family in need in another country. Because it's warm and fuzzy (baby chicks - can you get any warmer or fuzzier?) and because it requires almost no effort on my end since Craig can do it all.

- The poor cat who recently got medicine applied to her back then followed me around for a day meowing and wondering why I wouldn't pet her and kept pushing her off the couch when she tried to curl up next to me. I don't hate you, I just didn't want to rub my hands on your toxin-laden fur.

- Eggs. I used to like you. I even sung about how incredible and edible you were. Now I get sick if I even see you advertised on a grocery store marquee. I'm not sure if I even want to apologize to you right now seeing as you are obviously a food concocted by the devil but I feel certain that I won't always feel that way so I should at least try and stay on your good side. Ditto for milk.

- Anyone with a food blog that I used to frequent. Or really any blog that even occasionally mentions food. You didn't do anything to offend me I promise and I will return and bring lots of comments with me. But I just can't handle you right now. Which makes me sad because I have a lot of food blogs I like to read.

- All those people who have had to listen to me talk about my vomit way more than even I want to hear. I don't really mean to bring it up all the time but it just seems to happen. I think I'll just start lying when people ask me how I'm doing.

11.02.2009

Oh happy day!

Do you remember when I mentioned the new BBC version of Emma was on it's way? Well, it's now on youtube! Go here to find all 4 episodes. I've only watched the first two hours but so far it has been delightful - lots of gentlemanly Mr. Knightley, confused but kind Emma, worrisome Mr. Woodhouse (played by dumbledore no less), silly Harriet and ridiculous Ms. Bates. All in fairly decent quality. Enjoy!

Nigel Update: Another month, another doctor's visit.

This post was actually written Friday night which is why the dates are all weird. Craig is not at a Halloween party at noon on a Monday, that would be weird.

Well, I'm back again and I lied, all I have to talk about is Nigel. But my schedule consists of nothing much other than work, sleep, eat, and occasionally vomit. Leave out the work part and I'm basically a baby again. But I haven't done anything fun to talk about so that's what you get and Craig's off at a Halloween party that I don't have the energy to attend and I'm trying to distract myself.

So far I've found prenatal visits a bit anticlimactic. Especially yesterday as we had to wait almost 1.5 hours to be seen. The doc had to go check on someone in the hospital. I can't really complain as that's just how things roll in the ob/gyn department, but then the visit only lasted 20 minutes. Still, it went well.

I had lost less weight than I thought. My scale says I've lost 6 pounds this month but theirs says I only lost two. Since the official one probably cost more than $20 at target, I'm going to trust it. That and it makes me feel better. All my other results looked good so she isn't really worried about the weight loss as long as I maintain (or even better, gain) some pounds before my next appointment in a month.

That by itself made me feel much better. Mommy guilt starts really early and as much as I intellectually know that my morning sickness is a good thing, that it reduces my chances of a miscarriage, and shows that I am providing Nigel with exactly what he needs (a highly hormonal environment), I can't help but feel like I'm starving him. But my doctor seem to think I shouldn't have a problem gaining once the first trimester sickness starts to fade and no matter how many times I read that, it seems more reassuring coming from a professional.

And it case it doesn't seem like I am keeping enough down, she gave me a prescription for anti-nausea meds! I've actually started feeling a bit better this week and have only been sick 4 times in the last 5 days which is less than I was just over last Saturday and Sunday so hopefully I can avoid taking them all together which would be best but I've very hopefully that one way or the other, the nausea will be ending soon.

Then it was time for the Doppler and the first heartbeat check! Craig and I aren't big fans of routine ultrasounds in general so we didn't get one last time. This time I was far enough along that they could try and hear the heartbeat with a Doppler but I knew going in that it wasn't a sure thing. At this point in time it depends on a lot of mom and baby factors plus a bit of luck. And unfortunately, we couldn't hear anything besides placenta slushing. While I'm glad I've got a placenta, it doesn't really give me any warm fuzzies. :-(

She reassured me that it didn't mean anything bad and I shouldn't worry but that if I wanted to, she could "cheat" and briefly use the ultrasound to find him, then use a more aimed approach to try again with the Doppler. So I caved. It was a real brief ultrasound so we didn't get any pictures printed but we did get to see the little heartbeat pulsing really fast amidst the blob shape that is our baby. Even knowing exactly where he was, she couldn't hear the heartbeat but next time we will for sure be able to hear it and seeing it was good enough for me for now. And that was about it - 2 hours later, we walked out of the doctor's office.

I did want to say one more thing about being pregnant though. You know how when you get sick, everyone seems to have a comment. When someone hears you had the flu, you really just want them to say "Oh, that stinks, I'm glad your feeling better now though" but inevitable you end up listening to the story of how when they had the flu, they were prescribed five different medicines - only after walking 12 miles in the snow to see the doctor. Of course, you smile, nod and say something generic like "Oh, wow" but inside you are thinking to yourself "That doesn't make me feel better, you can stop talking now." I don't mind listening to someone vent about their being sick, I just don't like my illness being one-upped, don't you agree?

Well, at least for me, pregnancy is nothing like that! Because you aren't sick. You've just suddenly turned into a freak. It's true. Overnight, everything about your body and emotions is weird. And it's a bit disconcerting. So it's great to hear about other pregnancies because it reminds you that yes, compared to the general population, you're a freak, but compared to other pregnant women, you're just one in the bunch. So feel free to leave lots of comments, especially if they sound something like "I too was super sick my first trimester and felt like it would never end but then, at about 11 weeks, I felt so much better and the rest of my pregnancy was great and my delivery was really fast and my baby was super easy going." Now if your comment is more along the lines of "I throw up my entire pregnancy and ended up with a emergency c-section and a colicky baby but it was all worth it," well, I won't actually delete your comment, but I might choose to not read it. Okay, I kid, I'll probably read it, I'll just try to forget it as soon as I can. But all that to say, feel free to comment about your experiences!

10.31.2009

Cats are So Weird, Part 2

Our cat's other hangout spot. It turned out the sink was merely a temporary place to sit while she was sick. Maybe she liked laying on the cool surface. This spot, however, is a perennial favorite of hers.



10.29.2009

You Don't Have to Put on the Red Light (Camera)

We have an off-year election here in Texas next week, in which we have the opportunity to add to the 456 amendments to the Texas Constitution. Ho hum. But things are a little more exciting here. The city government has installed nine red light cameras around town in recent years. One citizen took it upon himself to start a petition drive to ban these cameras. He was successful in getting a measure on the ballot, so now we get to vote on it.

The city is basing their pro-camera campaign on 1) safety, and a distant 2) revenue. Opponents think the real motivation is the other way around, and are skeptical of the safety benefits of the lights. The city states that red light related crashes have gone down since the cameras were installed. This is true compared to 2006, but not compared to 2007. In reality, we're talking about a range of 0 to 13 crashes at all camera intersections combined, so I don't know if the sample size is large enough to provide statistically significant data.

I plan to vote against the cameras. That means I have to vote "yes," though, because voting for the ordinance = voting against the cameras. I'm not sure if the city had much say in crafting a confusing ballot question, but I wouldn't put it past them.

I don't like the idea of law enforcement by camera. The idea of a red light camera isn't too objectionable to me, but this puts us on the road towards speed cameras, which are starting to catch on. I do fear that the adoption of these cameras is based on monetary considerations. In addition, the placement of these cameras might be based on something other than traffic data, like, say, political considerations. For example, students use these street a lot, let's nail them while we leave this intersection in a senior citizen neighborhood alone. While I'm sympathetic to the "if you don't want a ticket, don't break the law" argument, I still think I will vote against the cameras.

P.S. I like this idea as a form of civil disobedience against these cameras.

10.26.2009

"I Love Lucy" Clip Followup

Well, hopefully the last post explained my abysmal posting schedule these last few weeks but I have a feeling you guys want to know a bit more :-)

I'm currently in my 11th week which means the due date is late May. It also means I am sooo close to being done with my third month and hopefully all the yuckiness that comes with it.

And there is lots of yuckiness. I was expecting some fatigue, a little nausea, minor aches and pains - ha! I'm so sick. Sick as a dog, if your dog has thrown up ~1/3 of what she has eaten over the last month. You should all be very grateful that we didn't announce the pregnancy earlier because all most posts would have read "Make the vomiting stop! I hate being pregnant! The End." which is really not what I want to say because if I have learned anything this past year, it is that life is special and I am so grateful to be pregnant and if my body can only deal with the hormones it needs now by being so sick, I'll take it. I'd like to say I'll take it without complaining but Craig knows that would be a lie. But I will try to refrain from complaining on the blog as much as possible.

Poor Craig. He's been such a great husband. I could pretty much write nothing but posts about how great he has been and still not say enough. He's taken over all shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning and cat duties - pretty much everything. At least we are both more fatigued than normal :-)

That's about the extend of the news I have right now but I'm sure more will be coming soon. I don't want to blog to became "all about the baby!" but it is about my life (well my part at least, Craig's part is about inappropriate Halloween costumes and legalizing pot) so it might be slightly baby-centric these next few months years. If it ever gets to be too much for you, feel free to skip those posts. At least I know the grandparents will read them.

But since we will be referring to our little babe so much, we think we need a better way to reference him. So we will be stealing Tina's idea of using a fetus name and have decided to go with Nigel! (For the record, we don't know if it is a boy or a girl and even if it does turn out to be a boy, we won't actual name him Nigel, we just don't want to spend the next 6.5 months talking about/to baby it or he/she).

So look for upcoming news about baby Nigel coming to a blog near you!

I Love Lucy - but you really should read this post even if you don't.

I love the "I Love Lucy" show. I have since I was young. I don't like many modern comedies, they often seem stupid. But "I Love Lucy" was sweet, clever and overall hilarious. No matter how many times I see her stuffing chocolates in her mouth, stomping grapes, or setting her nose on fire, it always makes me laugh.

But this is by far my favorite clip, at least for the time being.


Any guesses as to why?

10.23.2009

Out-of-this-World Costume

I'm afraid I fail to see what's offensive here:
The "Illegal Alien Adult Costume," manufactured by Forum novelties, includes an orange jumpsuit, similar to prison garb, with "Illegal Alien" stamped in black across the chest; a space alien mask; and a fake Green Card. The "Illegal Alien Mask with Hat" also includes a space alien mask, this time with a dark handlebar mustache and a baseball cap.

10.22.2009

Advice Request

As you should be able to see from semi-recent posts, I've still been reading a lot. I've come into a bit of a problem though, I keep getting recommendations for books that our libraries don't have. It's a little sad actually because some of them are fairly well known books and between Craig and I, we have access to the local library system as well as the university system so you'd think one of them would have what I want but, no. I can do interlibrary loan but only for a few books at a time and that can take up to 2 months.

I won't buy them outright because most of them are fiction and I hate to spend money and storage space on books I will probably only read once. I've been thinking about joining paperback swap but I'm still torn. Have any of you tried it? What did you think? I'm a little worried I don't have enough books to give out yet; I do a good job of purging so while we have a ton of books, I don't want to get rid of any of them. And what if everyone thinks the books I do have are lame and nobody requests them? Hmm...what to do, what to do?

10.20.2009

Obama's Pot Plan

I'm all for Obama's plan to let states have their medical marijuana laws without federal interference. I'm for marijuana legalization, really, but this kind of change would have to happen incrementally, and this is a start (although I don't know that Obama's plans go this far).

The reasons I'm for this are:
  • The drug war is expensive and hasn't worked,
  • Marijuana really is no worse than alcohol or tobacco,
  • Legalization might reduce drug trafficking (and violence) near our southern border,
  • It could be a valuable crop for US farmers to grow, and
  • We could tax the heck out of it.
The Cato Institute has some good info on the war on drugs.

This quote is kind of dumb:
"We cannot hope to eradicate the drug trade if we do not first address the cash cow for most drug trafficking organizations - marijuana," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
In 30 years, we've made little progress in eradicating the drug trade, and we won't, because if we stop drug production in one country or drug trafficking via one route, they'll just find another country and another route. I think if we let marijuana go, we will have more resources (money, time, jail cells) to devote to heroin and cocaine, which are harmful and nobody wants to legalize.

Note: this post has nothing to do with my personal recreational habits.