Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rehab Starts Next Tuesday

I'll bet you think that this is another post where I rail against addiction and how it damages relationships, huh?  Well, it's totally not so read on and chillax.

Rehab - Party at the Hard Rock starts up again next Tuesday on truTV.  Most "reality" shows don't interest me and this is a rare exception.  This show only appeals to me because I live vicariously through the lives of the attendees, if only for an hour each week.

The show takes place at the outdoor pool of the Hard Rock in Las Vegas.  It follows the employees as they go about their work.  Some are boring (the man-hating bartenders), some are douches (the douchy manager demonstrates a special brand of douchiness), and some are interesting (usually the barbacks or the cocktail waitresses).  But the real stars of the show are the partygoers.

The chicks wear miniscule bikinis, sky-high CFM shoes, and try to look their sexiest.  The guys throw around the one thing that gets the attention of every woman.  No, not that.  Well, maybe that too.  But I initially meant money.  Lots and lots of money is necessary to do this thing the right way.

I'm a middle-aged suburban housewife.  I'm decidedly more concerned with sleep training my toddler than hooking up with strangers, but I freaking love this show!  If I were 60 pounds lighter and ten years younger (okay, okay, it's more like almost 15 at this point!), I would have been all over that party scene.  Hot people, cool drinks, and loose morals. . .ah, hedonism (and not the awesome resort) at its best! 

I can't wait for next Tuesday. . .and I hope that the kiddo goes to sleep early so I can actually watch the show!

Monday, August 30, 2010

DIY Yogurt?

My son is obsessed with yogurt.  He'll cry and point to the container on the top shelf of the fridge, demanding a tasty yogurt snack.  My main problem with flavored yogurts is that they are loaded with sugar.

On July 20th, I was pondering plain yogurt in this blog.  I've since bought some more plain yogurt and ended up using some over the weekend.  I sweetened it with a little juice and some sugar added.  I'm not pleased that I had to use so much sugar, but my son gobbled it up! 

I wanted to come up with a way to get the boy to eat his yogurt without having to load it up with sugar.  I wondered if there were some other sweeteners that would be sufficient.  As is typical, I turned to the internet to do a little research.  I think I'll try a little honey to sweeten his next yogurt snack.

In my searching, I was sidetracked.  I came across several websites that explain how to make your own yogurt.  I first learned that you can make your own yogurt a few months ago from another blog, but I didn't pursue yogurt making at that time.  Though yogurt makers are on the market, I was pleasantly surprised to find that making yogurt doesn't require any additional equipment or appliances.

This site is probably one of the best ones I found.  It offers detailed instructions and photographs on how to make your own yogurt using items that you probably already have in your kitchen.  My husband patiently tolerates my hippie tendencies, but he doesn't get why I want to try my hand at yogurt making.  Call me crazy, but it sounds so unbelievably easy and I totally want to give it a try!

Have you every made yogurt in your kitchen?  Do you have any tips or advice?  I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The New Way to Entertain

Parenthood changes everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  Even something as simple as going out for dinner can become an ordeal.  So, what do parents do to have a little fun when they always have a kid in tow?  Invite other parents and their kids over for supper, of course!

The problem is that entertaining has taken on an entirely new meaning for me since becoming a parent.  Entertaining used to mean witty repartee between adults, cocktails (lots & lots of cocktails!), lovely hors d'oeuvres, and a delicious meal with a spectacular presentation. 

I haven't entertained like that in years. . .at least four years by my calculations.  Our house flooded while we were out of town for our anniversary in 2006.  You'd think that the house would have been restored by now, wouldn't you?  Well, it hasn't been.  There are tons of ticky-tacky crap projects that need to be completed and I refused to have anyone over for years after the flood occurred.  I finally realized that life is short and friends & family don't give a hoot about your never-ending remodel projects so I started having people over again.

What passes for entertaining these days?  I suppose that entertaining now means discussing sleep training with other parents (who may or may not have food in their hair or on their clothes, courtesy of a cranky toddler), juice boxes, kid-friendly snacks, and something easily prepared that the kids will also eat.  Yes, parenthood changes everything.

I don't mind most of what I just described, but I balk at the menu.  Most kids don't dig haute cuisine and would prefer something along the lines of wieners and fries.  That's not exactly something I like and, as a result, I don't often serve up those sorts of meals.  My Mom used to say that she wasn't a short-order cook and we could eat whatever it was that she served.  I guess her attitude rubbed off on me because I don't prepare separate meals either.  I'm lucky that my son isn't a picky eater since I expect him eat what I put in front of him. 

We've had family over plenty of times in the two years that my son has been on the planet.  We've also had over a few close friends.  But, by and large, we really haven't entertained at all since my son arrived.

I'm trying to change that.  I've tentatively stepped into the entertaining pool with other parents of toddlers.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well an evening went when my house had three mothers and three toddlers.  At one point, all three children were busily feeding themselves and the adults were able to actually eat and enjoy a little conversation.  I'd wager that the other two mothers were equally surprised at how well the evening went.  This experiment emboldened me and I've asked over two other couples and their toddlers for supper. 

I've made two wedding celebrations work.  I've make beef Wellington on a weeknight.  I've hosted parties with myriad cocktails.  I roast at least four turkeys every year.  I've created countless culinary creations for the delight of my friends and family.  I am not afraid of anything related to cooking or entertaining.  But I'm terrified to have over two other couples and their children.

What freaks me out the most?  The menu.  I know that I'm impossibly lucky that my son eats anything that is put in front of him.  I think these other two children are good eaters, but you can never predict when a kid will suddenly refuse to eat.

How do I handle fear?  I contemplate that which I fear.  I know that I need to create a menu that is pleasing to the palates of adults and young children.  I know that I need to be mindful of dislikes and allergies.  But I also know that I'm a good cook and I know that I'll come up with something tasty. 

However, even if dinner is ruined, even if all the kids refuse to eat, even if the kids don't want to share toys, time spent with friends is special.  This evening will turn out great no matter what because an evening with friends is always a treat.  I'm really looking forward to having a house full of friends in the near future!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Flashback to 1975

My husband and I just had a long conversation about the importance of the year 1975.  As it turns out, 1975 was a pretty freaking spectacular year.

Why were we obsessing about a year that occurred, ahem, 29 years ago?  Because we were watching a documentary of sorts about the movie Jaws.

Jaws hit theaters in 1975; my husband saw it in the theater.  My husband turned 18 in February of '75.  He graduated high school in June of that year.  He started college and met the woman who would become his ex-wife in September of '75.  Uh. . .

I was born in October of '75.

I'd guess that if you had told my husband back in October of 1975 that he would marry the woman who was to become his ex-wife, he wouldn't have believed you.  He would have laughed you out of town if you said that his future wife was only newly born.  Indeed, he probably would have said that you were a sicko for even insinuating that his future wife was only just welcomed to the world and sucking at her mother's tit.  And, yet, I was a breastfeeding newborn in October of 1975.

1975.  Farkin' A.  It was a pretty spectacular year!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Toddlers Will Make You Mental

My son was not an accident; we desperately wanted him.  My husband and I tried for months upon months upon months to have a baby.  I loved my son before he was ever conceived.  I wept when I heard his heartbeat at 6-weeks gestation.  I adored him before I ever saw him.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that the sun rises and sets on his face (that would be my husband), but it's pretty darn close.  I sometimes think that no one can possibly understand just how much I love this little boy.

But, as much as I love him, sometimes he makes me absolutely cuckoo.  I've gathered, through experience and advice, that mothering a toddler can be strange at times.  And, man, peculiarity is ruling in this house right now - particularly when it comes to sleep.

My son used to be a super-sleeper.  The operative words there are "used to."  He slept a minimum of twelve-hours each night and he still napped for several hours every afternoon.  All that stopped when he began sleeping (yeah, right!) in the big boy bed.

Now he throws a fit and protests bedtime.  He refuses to take naps.  He runs out of his bedroom to be with us in the living room.  Every night doesn't end in a horrible battle, but most nights do.

I know he's not getting enough sleep because he has suddenly become a child who will sleep in the car.  My son has only slept in the car a very small handful of times in his entire life; perhaps ten times total.  Now, he falls asleep in the car at least once each week.

I've tried all kinds of tactics to get him to sleep.  I've cuddled him until he's nearly sleeping, I've sat on the floor and rubbed his back, I've put him in time out, I've yelled at him to get back in that bed!, I've snuggled with him on a bed, I've moved his bedtimes and naptimes.  Nothing seems to work more than once or twice except me sleeping in the twin-size bed in his room.  I do not want to sleep in his room because I want to be in my room with my husband.  But I want sleep more than anything these days so I will sometimes cave and go to the little one's bedroom.

He actually went to bed pretty easily last night.  Sort of.  He ran out of his room and sat on the couch.  He zonked out in short order so I put him in his own bed.  Around midnight, he ran to our room and wouldn't go back to bed.  I decided to go to sleep in his room so we could all get a little sleep.

That worked wonderfully until 2:00 am when he kicked me in the head (!) and then ran out to the living room.  As he was running about screaming, I really envied friends who have never experienced the joys of parenthood.  I eventually got him back in bed and he slept until 9:00 this morning.  I, however, didn't have such luxury and I figure that I maybe ended up with a total of three or four hours of sleep last night.  I find it practically impossible to sleep with him in the bed.

I was tired, but we went to a birthday party today.  It was a pool party.  My son loooves the water and he had so much fun.  My heart felt so full as I was watching him splashing, laughing, and playing.  Yes, I'm chronically exhausted.  Yes, his tantrums are tiresome.  Yes, I'm finding that his toddlerhood is making me mental. 

But, oh how I love this little boy.  He really is my sweet sunshine.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Heart is a True Measure of Character

Perhaps I'm idealistic or impossibly naive, but I believe that the condition of the heart the best way to measure a person.  I know this runs counter to what the media likes to suggest and I say that the media is flat out wrong.  The heart is certainly more important than appearances, wealth, or position when it comes to determining personal character.

If you know me at all, you know that I really don't give a rip about your zip code, your car, your clothes, or anything material.  I guess I don't care because all of those things are fleeting and they can all be gone tomorrow.  But your character, well, that's who you really are.  Strip away all the baubles and trappings of modern life and your heart broadcasts your true character to the rest of the world.

I know that I have been slipping.  My own heart was getting ugly and I was having very unkind thoughts about quite a few people.  I need to remember that even those who give me their worst and their ugliest behavior (and there have been some major freaking offenders lately!) deserve better than what I was giving them.  Of course, some people are just dead to me and they get nothing.  No love and no concern, but also no bitterness or anger. . .just nothing. 

It's the people who you don't want to or can't write off who are more tricky to handle.  I should probably let them hold their uncharitable beliefs because it shouldn't be my concern.  But, as the old saying goes, I try to kill 'em with kindness.  Assuming that they are judging me based on my character, I can't change someone's mind about me unless it is through my actions.

Unfortunately, many people in this world are caught up on appearances or prejudices.  I've been pondering this group all afternoon.  They are, by far, the most difficult to handle.  I've concluded that some people just won't like me no matter what I do and I'm content to let them ugly up their own heart because it's not my problem.  I'm at the point in my life that I'm very comfortable in my own skin and I have zero interest in putting on airs.

So who am I?  I'm generous, kind-hearted, and faithful.  I believe in supporting specific charities.  I'll do anything to help someone in need.  I like giving gifts.  I bring meals to new mothers.  I offer help when friends are worn down.  I'm a cheerful giver.  I'm a warrior for those who need prayer.  I weep with you when you're hurting and I laugh with you when you're soaring.  My family and friends are my most important blessings and I'm thankful for them every single day. 

If someone doesn't like me, well, that's their problem because the people who matter to me absolutely love me and know the condition of my heart.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Next 365 Project

I started this blog on January 1st and I made it my 365 Project for the year.  This means that my goal was to write one post each day, no matter how weak or lame the post.  We're getting close to the third quarter of 2010 and, save once, I have written a post each day.  I have also created more than one post on other days so I'd have to say that I've been making good progress on my 365 Project.  Not perfect, but very good.

I think I'm going to continue writing this blog in the new year because I've really enjoyed this creative outlet, but I have been considering what I might want to do for my 365 Project of 2011.  I have a few thoughts on what I might want to consider.

- Sex Everyday!  I read about a couple some time ago who decided to have sex every single day of the year.  That appeals to me for obvious reasons and some reasons that probably aren't obvious to anyone except my husband.  My one problem with that plan would be that I would inevitably want to blog about it and no one else has the right to know intimate details about our sex life.  I kinda like keeping one thing private and our bedroom is just to small too invite others, if you know what I mean.

- A Photo Everyday!  Plenty of people take a photo everyday and some do/did it for years.  My big problem with this plan is that my son is my favorite photography subject.  I used to absolutely love staging photos when he was a tiny baby and I still love to stalk him with the camera.  I absolutely could snap a picture of my adorable son each and every day.  Heck, I could probably take an entire series of photos of him every day.  But you all know that I do not post photos of my son on-line because I'm funny about protecting his privacy.  You might have noted that I've refrained from blogging about him lately and that's because there are people out there (who I suspect read this blog) who have lost the privilege to know anything at all about my son.  It's a sad fact that actions have consequences and their evil actions toward me have resulted in a total loss of access to my son.  Too bad for them because they are missing out on more than I am - sucks to be them, I guess.  {shrug}

- Cook Dinner Everyday!  This has been done with all kinds of variations, but I'm partial to the 365 Crock-Pot cookery sites.  My problem with this is, well, I just don't want to make dinner some nights.  I also like to dine out when we're able.  My husband likes a pizza place down the street from the house and he asks for pizza a couple of times each month.  Besides, I want to put my son in part-time preschool once he turns three and I plan to return to part-time work if I'm not pregnant at that time.  Adding an additional stressor to a new schedule seems like a recipe for failure.

- Take a Walk Everyday!  This is something that I used to do, but I got out of the habit.  It is nice to stroll the neighborhood, but it does get boring rather quickly.  I prefer to walk somewhat early since it gets HOT where I live, but our sleep schedules will need to get straightened out before I can even think about doing much at an early hour.  Those of you who know me well know exactly what I'm talking about.  Ugh, I'm sooo sick of late bedtimes.  No wonder I feel totally exhausted all the time these days!

- A Recipe Everyday! This might be more doable than 365 cooking and I just came up with the idea while editing this post. I think I might be able to post one of my recipes everyday. I do a lot of scratch cooking so it would be a money saver for readers. I guess I could also plan the posted recipes to coincide with my local supermarket sales flyers to maximize the money savings. I don't generally do any complicated cooking so it would be something that even a beginning home cook could follow - though I would toss in the version of beef Wellington that I made.  Of course, if I ever decide to write a cookbook (yeah, right!), I'll be giving away my recipes for free.  That's a chance that I'll have to take. . .I really have to consider this idea!

Do you take on 365 Projects?  What projects have you done previously and what was your level of success?  Do you have any suggestions for 365 Projects that I might consider for 2011?  Please share your ideas!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

There is Always a Silver Lining

I probably won't be able to make a post tomorrow, so here's one a little early.

Liars and thieves are truly the scum of the Earth.  Their character is deplorable and honest and upright people rightly despise their behavior.  This post is about a liar I once had the misfortune to know.

I guess you can tell from my tone that I don't like liars.  No, that's not entirely accurate.  I detest liars.  I prefer that my relationships are built on trust and I don't see any point in suffering a relationship of any sort with a liar simply because you can never tell when they are being truthful.

Even worse than an ordinary liar that you might run across are the liars who are so committed to their fraud that they intentionally make statements that are easily proven false.  These people tell such blatant lies that it is almost embarrassing to hear their nonsense spew forth like verbal vomit.  Much like a peeping tom or a flasher, I think these sickos get some sort of perverse pleasure from their disgusting behavior. 

There exists a person on this planet who is, quite possibly, the biggest liar I've ever met.  One might go so far as to say that you could tell they were lying because their lips were moving.  At one time, this person was a family member.  I can never convey just how difficult it was to be in their presence because their non-stop lying was a continual insult to my intelligence.

This person's lies were so outlandish that I can only conclude that it was some form of attention whoring.  That leads me to conclude that they just didn't get enough love or attention.  It sucks to be them if that's the case, but lying only brings negative attention and it certainly doesn't encourage affection.

Perhaps they felt the need to feel better about themselves because they were pretty much a life-long loser?  It seems to me that they would have felt better about themselves if they had actually done something with their life rather than made up ridiculous stories, but I guess that kind of thinking is just too logical.  And, I suppose, it requires too much hard work.

Upon reflection, I realize that I had two stock responses to nearly anything they said.  "Hm, that's interesting," and, "That's nice," are what I say when I'm bored or when I think you're full of sh*t.  With this individual, both reasons were usually applicable. 

I had family over a couple of weeks ago and, while straightening the front room, I realized that I still had a photo of this jackass on my wall.  So I grabbed a sticky note featuring Big Bird and Elmo and I covered up their face with beloved children's characters.  Why not remove the photo?  Well, only because of the other person in that photo.

Long story short, due to a specific event, I never have to listen to this individual's lies ever again.  The event that led to this outcome was sad, very sad, but the silver lining is that a complete buffoon is out of my life forever.  Oh, silver linings, you can make even the most bitter events well worth any initial pain!  My one regret with regard to this person is that I never called them on their horsesh*t.  I was raised better than that (unlike some people, obviously - heh!) so I politely listened to their ridiculous falsehoods and wanted to put my head through a wall after 20 minutes in their company.

But, oh, how I wish I could grab ahold of them now and tell them that I know, and I have always known, that they are full of sh*t.  It wouldn't make them become an honest person and it wouldn't stop them from being a bully or a con-artist or a general piece of excrement (great person, eh?), but it would feel so delicious to unload on them after biting my tongue for so long.  I don't think this person reads this blog, but it feels damn good to get this off my chest.  Damn good, I say!

The Panty Post

I was going to write a post about a d-bag who I'll never have to see again, but a friend's Facebook status totally hijacked my thought process.  I give you this instead:  The Panty Post.

My friend was curious about panty preferences.  Specifically thong or booty shorts.  As you would expect, I weighed in with my opinion.  I always thought I was pretty mainstream in the underpants department, but I guess not.

I hate booty shorts.  Hate, hate, hate them.  My friend, being a smart mouth, said that they figured I'd love booty shorts.  Yeah, yeah, I have a big ass.  My friend has known me since high school and can attest that I have always had a big butt.  An unfair fact is that I sported an uncommonly small waist, no boobs, and a ginormous ass.  Funny side story, I had another friend from high school who used to swear that I was the inspiration for Sir Mix-a-Lot's Baby Got Back. 

I think my large posterior is the reason why I don't like booty shorts.  See, all that extra material on my buttcheeks inevitably travels when I walk or sit.  This results in a huge wad of fabric up my crack.  My butt is big, but my buttcrack is normal sized (I think???) so all that material is really uncomfortable and I end up picking my seat all the time if I wear this type of underpants.

I prefer thongs, bikinis, the occasional pair of granny panties, and going commando.  None of these seem all that out of the norm, but my granny panty admission stimulated quite a bit of conversation.  I thought that every chick wears granny panties at some point, but I guess I'm the Lone Ranger.  Except, perhaps, for actual Grannies.  I mean, I don't wear them every day or anything, but I don't see anything wrong with wearing them at certain times.  You know, like at that time of the month.

I actually figured that my commando admission would have been more scandalous.  My mother was definitely scandalized by it when we were talking about panties several years ago.  I told her that it wasn't bad because I never go bare when wearing pants.  Her jaw dropped and she said it was way worse to go out sans panties when wearing a dress or skirt.  I guess I hadn't thought of it in an easy-access sort of way.  It's not like I do it all the time or anything, but I kinda think the airflow downstairs is refreshing.  To each her own, right?

Thongs & bikinis are so mainstream that they really don't need any explanation.  I will say one thing, though.  I think that fat chick thongs suck.  And I say this as a fat chick.  Seriously, it becomes a looong thong.  Think of the sex scene in the movie Shallow Hal and you'll know exactly what I mean.

I don't imagine that anyone will give their opinions on underpants, but I thought I'd toss out this post anyway.  Let's face it, ladies, our men don't generally give a crap about what panties we're wearing. . .they just want what's underneath.  Feel sexy and act sexy and you'll be sexy - no matter what you're wearing.  ;-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Manwich Can Suck It - Sloppy Joe Recipe

As I've mentioned countless times previously, I like to cook.  I just can't stand following recipes.  I've heard that this is why my baking always ends up so terrible.  But this is also why my meals are always a home run for my family.  I might check out a recipe to get a little inspiration, but I always tailor it to suit my family's taste preferences.  Case in point, the sloppy joes I made this weekend. 

I can't remember the last time I had sloppy joes, but I'd guess it has been several years.  I had a some ground turkey in the fridge and I received a sloppy joe recipe in my in-box, so I decided to serve the tasty sandwiches for supper.  I'm claiming this recipe as my own since I changed most of the original recipe. 

Sloppy Joes
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2/3 cup ketchup
2 1/2 Tb Worcestershire sauce
2 Tb spicy brown mustard
2 Tb chili powder
2 Tb onion powder
1 Tb granulated garlic
1 Tb brown sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
A hefty shake of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & ground black pepper to taste

Cook the ground turkey.  Add in all other ingredients and mix well.  Let mixture continue to cook on LOW for about 20 minutes.  Serve on buns with your choice of side dishes.

I served these up on whole wheat buns and my spice-loving family really seemed to like the end result.  I added steamed lemon-pepper broccoli, a baked potato, and a green salad to round out the meal.  This entire menu took less than 30-minutes to prepare, so it's pretty handy to have on those nights that I don't have dinner going in the crock-pot.  I don't know how often I'll make this meal, but I do like having a recipe to make instead of just buying Manwich at the store.  If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Friends Are a Great Blessing

Perhaps I'm just a fairly positive and grateful person, but I like to count my blessings and give thanks often.  We say a simple blessing before we eat our meals (Thank you for this bounty, let it be for the nourishment of our bodies, in Jesus' name, amen), I read a book about blessings to my son every night before bed, and I give prayers of thanksgiving every single day.  Today I was reminded that good friends are one of God's most delightful blessings.

I'm active in a group of women who became mothers in 2008.  After months upon months of suffering the lonely isolation of early motherhood, I joined the group in February 2009.  I wish I'd joined far earlier because it would have spared me months of unnecessary pain and sadness.

I didn't know anyone with a baby and I didn't have a good social support network. There were weeks at a time that I didn't even leave the house once. It was a pretty bad time for me.  I didn't join this group to find friends for my son, I joined to find friends for me.  And, boy, have I found some wonderful friends!

Joining this group of moms helped boost my confidence.  It was reassuring to find that I wasn't the only mom to struggle with things like breastfeeding and getting the baby to go to sleep.  Knowing that I wasn't the only one struggling made me realize that I was not a failure.

It's a little intimidating to join a new group and I'm a pretty shy person so I dreaded the first few meetups that I attended.  I'm thankful that these women were so welcoming and friendly.  When I was drowning in new motherhood, they really were a lifeline for me.  They've enriched my life in countless ways over the 18-months that I've been a member of this group.

I was so isolated and unsure of myself when I spent all those lonely months at home without companions. We really do need relationships and the joy of having such close friends.  I feel closer to some of these moms than I do to members of my own family.  That's not a slam against my family members, it's a compliment to these friends.

I know that around ten members of this group read this blog and I want you to know that I love you guys.  Here's to many more years of friendship!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

18-Years Later, A Mother and Son are Still Dead

August 21, 1992 was the first day of the siege at Ruby Ridge.  That was eighteen years ago.  In the last 18-years, I've always been surprised that more Americans weren't/aren't outraged by the Federal government's violence against the Weaver family at Ruby Ridge. 

I know that the media often painted Randy Weaver as a racist, gun-toting, anti-government nutjob.  Fair enough, but let's a closer look at Ruby Ridge, shall we?

The Weaver's were what you might call white-separatists.  This is not necessarily the same thing as white-supremacists.  Did they threaten black people?  No.  Did they hurt black people?  No.   Did they try to subjugate black people?  No.  How did they express their distaste toward blacks?  They moved to a remote location in northern Idaho.  Ruby Ridge.

Were the Weaver's crazed 2nd Amendment afficionados?  I suppose.  Is that a danger to public safety?  Not really.  The family's remote cabin was in virtual wilderness and the family's diet included meat of hunted animals.  It was indicated that the family had a cache of firearms. . .how many?  Fourteen.  My husband and I probably have that many in our home in the middle of suburbia and I don't think that fourteen firearms is an obscene amount if you live in the woods and rely on hunting to enjoy meat in your diet.

Were they anti-government nutjobs?  Sure.  Is that a crime?  No. 

Here's the Cliff's Notes version if you aren't familiar with the story:

The government (BATF) essentially set him up.  One of their informants hassled Weaver enough that Weaver caved and sold him a couple of sawed-off shotguns.  Sawed-off shotguns sound pretty scary, right?  How illegal were these sawed-off shotguns?  Had he left just 1/4" more on the barrel, they would have been a perfectly legal length.  Weaver, by the way, denies that he sold the shotguns at that length and claimed that the informant shortened the barrels himself. 

Nonetheless, armed with this incriminating evidence, agents for the BATF then approached Weaver to serve as an informant.  He refused.  He was indicted in December 1990.  A month later, agents posed as travelers having vehicle trouble near the road by the Weaver home.  The Weaver's, such assholes as they were, stopped to see if they could offer some help.  An agent stuck a .45 against the back of Randy Weaver's neck when Weaver was looking under the hood of the truck.  Nice.

His trial was initially scheduled for 2/19/91 and was changed to 2/20/91.  However, Weaver was told that the date had been moved to 3/20/91 in a letter dated 2/7/91 from his Probation Officer.  Did you get that part?  He was given the WRONG DATE.  An assistant US Attorney appeared before a Grand Jury on 3/14/91 (six days before Weaver was instructed to appear) and got a failure to appear indictment for the 2/20/91 date.  This is, the date that Weaver was NEVER TOLD ABOUT.  Wonderful.

Weaver screwed himself by making the bad decision to not appear in any case and he holed up at their home.  That's an arrestin' right there.  But, unlike most failure to appears, he didn't run.  He stayed at his home.  So the federal agents simply went to Ruby Ridge, knocked on the cabin door, and served an arrest warrant, right?  While that would have been the expected course of action, that is not what our government decided to do.  Not by a long shot.

They set up surveillance cameras, they paid a neighbor to spy and put a phone line in the neighbor's home so they could report back, they placed agents on and around the Weaver property, they took aerial reconnaissance photos, ordered wire taps of local residences and the local general store.  All this, and more, to capture a man accused of a relatively minor firearms offense.  Your tax dollars at work, folks.

All this cloak & dagger behavior set the stage for the tragedy that began on August 21, 1992.

Six agents from the US Marshalls showed up in full camo and silenced M-16s with laser scopes.  They were supposedly doing surveillance.  Oddly enough, a medical team was on standby at the bottom of the hill.  Okay.

The agents threw little rocks to try and get the attention of the family dogs.  They did.  Boy, they did.

The Weavers were out of meat and they assumed the dog had found some sort of game animal.  Agents identified themselves to Randy Weaver and he hollered to his 14-year old son, Sammy, and their family friend to return to the cabin.  Then he ran back to the cabin himself.

Details are murky about what happened next.  Naturally.  What is known is that an agent for the government shot and killed the family dog.  The dog was shot from behind.  Sammy Weaver yelled about them killing his dog, whirled around and fired off a couple of shots (one killed an agent), then resumed running back to the cabin.

And they killed him.  A federal agent shot a 14-year old boy in the back. 

They didn't identify themselves to Sammy Weaver.  They didn't explain what they were doing.  Nineteen rounds were exchanged and they killed him.  A federal agent and a 14-year old boy died for absolutely no reason.

Once a US Marshal was killed, the FBI got involved.  At least 400 people (including member of the agencies already mentioned, plus Idaho State Police and the Border Patrol) were deployed to the area during the 11-day siege that followed.  Standard FBI rules of engagement stated that a warning would be issued prior to any deadly shots.  That did not happen.  Of course it didn't.  The Ruby Ridge rules of engagement were essentially shoot to kill these adult US citizens on sight. 

On August 22, Randy Weaver, his 16-year old daughter, and the family friend went out to the shed that housed the body of 14-year old Sammy.  Randy Weaver was shot in the shoulder.  They ran back toward the cabin.  They didn't return fire.  They were retreating.

Vicki Weaver, standing in the doorway and holding her 10-month old baby, yelled at them to hurry back.  She was unarmed.  A sniper's bullet went through her temple.  The bullet went on to hit the family friend as he ran into the cabin, breaking a rib and puncturing one of his lungs.

The sniper, trained to be accurate within 1/4" inch at 200 yards, claimed that he was aiming for the family friend and hit Vicki by accident.  Sure.  I'll bet if he repeats that often enough that he'll actually come to believe it.

Vicki Weaver didn't have any charges against her and she was murdered while holding her baby in her arms.  Yes, I said that she was murdered.  If a sniper shoots a hole in your head, your can bet your ass that it was intentional.  She was killed in cold blood.  While unarmed and holding her 10-month old baby.

Randy Weaver eventually surrendered and he was arrested.  At trial, the government did everything they could to demonize Weaver.  Weaver's defense attorney was able to show that the government witnesses shifted their stories and that bullet evidence was removed and then returned to the mountain for photographs.  They even were able to get the original snitch, the one who bought the sawed-off shotguns that started the whole mess, to admit that Weaver didn't want to break the law by selling illegal length barrels.  When the prosecution was finished, the defense declined to call a single witness.  They didn't have to since the prosecution had not proved their case.

Randy Weaver was acquitted of all charges, save the original failure to appear and violating the conditions of his bail.  He was sentenced to 18-months and given a $10,000 fine.

A simple arrest could have been made, but it was rejected so that government agents could make a military-style attack against US citizens. The blood of Vicki Weaver and Sammy Weaver can't be washed clean, though the government paid over $3 million to make amendments to the surviving members of the Weaver family. They agreed to pay this money in an out of court settlement and did not admit any wrongdoing.

Ruby Ridge was an abortion of justice.  Sure, the Weavers were paranoid whack-jobs.  I think they were nuttier than a Christmas fruitcake, but the government's response absolutely proves that their paranoia was perfectly justified.  And being odd, strange, or even crazy does not (and could never) justify the actions our federal government took against this American family.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Penis Post

The Centers for Disease Control indicates that circumcision is on the decline in America.  I have some thoughts on why that might be, but I don't want to turn this post into a dry discussion of cultural norms as they relate to the infant penis.  Instead, I want to have a little fun talking about something serious.

I like 'em long, short, thick, & thin. I like them circumcised and uncircumcised. I like the pubes trimmed and I like the pubes unruly. I'm okay with them a little musky and I'm okay with them smelling of bath soap. Basically, I like dick, no matter what. After all, we all know that the only thing that matters is how it feels.

Uh, but I've only been with three guys.  And two were husbands.  ;-)

I never really gave any thought to whether or not my love interest possessed a circumcised penis or not; like I said, they are all pretty great in their own way and there is something to like about just about each one you encounter. Prior to childbirth, I assumed that I would not circumcise any sons that I may have because foreskins just don't really matter to me.  I'm not an intactivist, but I'm also not running around with a scalpel on the hunt for foreskins.  I just don't care all that much about it.

I was fraught with worry once I discovered that I was expecting a boy. To circumcise or not circumcise, that was the question. I ultimately felt strongly that I did not want to circumcise - until I began talking about it with people I know. I discovered not one, not two, but three grown men who had experienced the horrific pain of post-infant circumcision. These men endured medically necessary circumcisions long after they grew out of infancy.

One individual was three, one was in his pre-teens, and one was just about 70. The youngest male reports that he refused to go to his mother for weeks because in his young mind, she was the one who brought him to the doctor for this operation and, therefore, she was the one to blame for his pain. The male who was around 11-years of age when he was snipped reports that the biggest problem he had (besides the problems that necessitated the circumcision in the first place) was with avoiding an erection while his wound healed. He says that, at that age, he could get an erection if the wind blew. And the elderly man who ended up with a necessary circumcision at the end of his life. . .well, I suppose that he enjoyed his foreskin all those years, but it was impossibly painful to have his dick cut in his 7th decade.

I conducted an admittedly un-scientific survey of woman friends to determine what type of dick they preferred. The women I surveyed were in their mid-20s - 40s and they encompassed various ethnicities; white, hispanic, black, & asian, to be specific. I asked if they preferred a circumcised penis or an uncircumcised penis. Circumcision won out by about 9 to 1. Indeed, uncircumcised penises (penii?) were roundly ridiculed and there were many unsolicited, derisive comments made about the so-called anteater.

I found the ridicule directed at uncircumcised wieners to be a little out of line. I dated an uncircumcised individual for three years and I can attest that they have their own special charms. But I also realize that we all have our preferences and, frankly, I've grown quite used to having a circumcised penis in bed beside me.

My husband was a staunch defender of circumcision. I kind of thought that it would probably be better to do it in infancy if there were a chance that he'd experience and remember the pain of circumcision later in life, but I ended up not really having a strong feeling about it either way.  I don't even have a penis and I find it hard to get all worked up about circumcision one way or another.

Ultimately, it really wasn't our decision after all.  I won't say whether he was or wasn't circumcised, but there were legitimate medical reasons why we either had to circumcise or had to leave him intact.  And, you know, I don't spend any time at all worrying about my son's wiener. 

What are your thoughts on male circumcision?  Would you circumcise your male children?  Why or why not?  Whether or not your male children are circumcised, do you regret your decision?  Why?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mosque at Ground Zero? Big Deal!

I'm sure that some reading this will think I'm a card-carrying commie, but you couldn't be further from the truth.  I'm libertarian with very conservative leanings and I've never once voted for a liberal candidate or a porky project.  That said, I don't get the outrage over the so-called Ground Zero mosque.  Please don't go all chest-thumping, flag-waving, and red (white & blue)-blooded American on me here until you hear me out.

All Americans can agree that 9/11/01 was a horrible day.  It was arguably worse than Pearl Harbor and I can guarantee that no one in this generation will ever forget it.  I know that I can still vividly recall that morning though it's been nearly nine years.  In addition to resulting in the deaths of over 3,000 American civilians, 9/11 propelled us into two wars that have resulted in the death or disfigurement of thousands of men & women in our armed forces.  And that's not even mentioning the impact on civilian contractors.  Or the losses for the other side.

9/11 conspiracy theorists aside, everyone knows that this act of terrorism was performed courtesy of Islamic fundamentalists.  Those rascally radical Muslims have been behind most, not all, major acts of terrorism since I was a little girl.  I do include Suicide Bombers in this count, though I think that the more correct term would be Homicide Bombers since their main goal is to kill others.  Also, note that I did not say all Muslims are terrorists.

In the last 17 years, I can count at least eight acts of terrorism commited against the United States by Islamic fundamentalists.  The first World Trade Center bombing, the Kenyan US embassy, the Tanzanian US embassy, the USS Cole, and four acts of terrorism on 9/11.  I'm sure there are more, but these are just the ones that come immediately to mind.

I know that the Oklahoma City bombing happened in that time frame and, yeah, I'm aware that McVeigh and Nichols are so-called homegrown terrorists.  They weren't acting in the name of any religion; they were just your typical trashy anti-government assholes.  And I say, "so what," to that.  A terrorist act commited by a couple of white bread whackos does not wipe out the many terrorist acts committed by radical Muslims.

I've heard some try to equate Christian fundamentalists to Islamic fundamentalists and it's a very poor comparison.  I'm assuming that these people are thinking of attacks against abortionists and abortion clinics when they make such statements.  Both terrorist groups (Christian and Muslim) are made up of terrible people who are threats to liberty, but there are some major differences.  For one, mainstream Christians aren't afraid to loudly condemn these violent attacks and these fundamentalists who have hijacked their faith.  You don't hear that much from the Muslim community when one of their own commits an act of violence.  Sure, you do hear from some, but generally speaking the silence is deafening.  Of course, Islamic terrorist attacks just slay (heh!) abortion-related attacks in terms of the sheer amount of people who are injured or killed and the frequency of attacks.  Keep in mind that one does not excuse the other and both are absolutely wrong.

All this said, I don't understand the outrage over the so-called Ground Zero mosque.  Hold your patriotic horses, that's really a misnomer because this mosque is not actually going to be at Ground Zero.  Did you read that carefully?  There will not be a mosque at Ground Zero.  It will be a couple of blocks away.  Not quite so outrageous now, is it? 

What's that?  It is still outrageous to some of you?  Dang, I guess this post isn't over yet.

I understand where you're coming from.  I really do.  I agree that it's in poor taste to build a Muslim house of worship so close to the spot where militant followers of that religion committed an act of terrorism against this country.

But this country was founded on a number of principles.  I'm not going to give you a history or civics lesson, but two things we hold very dear in this country are religious freedom and personal property rights.  Few things stir up crazy emotions in Americans as quickly as infringing on those two principles.

I don't share their faith or their god (no, no I don't), but Muslims do have the right to practice their faith within the constraints of our laws.  Assuming that there is no zoning issue, why shouldn't the property owner be able to do what they want with the land they own?  I disagree with most government interference and I'd disagree with it here because I'm looking at the situation from the property owner's shoes.

I'm a big believer in freedom and part of freedom is allowing others to do things that you don't like.  Even things that you find disgusting or repugnant.  Remember, I think building this mosque is in very poor taste and it really feels like this is the biggest troll in history, but I can't come up with one good reason why this mosque shouldn't be built if the property owner chooses to build it. 

Leaving personal emotions and religious intolerance out of it, can anyone thoughtfully explain why this mosque should not be built?  I'm not looking for a fight and I'll ask that you not comment if you can't remain calm.  I just don't understand the real problem and I'm looking for enlightenment on this issue.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Taking the Next Step

I hate fighting.  I really, really, really hate fighting.  So it really bothers me when I fight with my own body.  Though I've been using the Diva Cup for many cycles and I know how to use it, I still sometimes have to force the Cup into place.  There isn't much worse than fighting with your own vagina.  This holds particularly true when you're already suffering with your period.

According to the manufacturer, most women flow about 3 to 4 ounces over their entire cycle.  The Cup holds one full ounce.  This leads them to indicate that that you can go up to 12-hours without fooling around with the Cup.  That's pretty cool when it's true. 

However, thanks to the Curse that is starting to feel a lot like an actual curse, I have to screw with my Cup a lot on one day of my cycle.  It gets filled to capacity every two hours or so on my heavy day.  Part of the joy of using the Cup is not having to mess around with your period all the time so this is getting really old.  Worse, my vagina acts like a total bitch about it and puts up a bigger fight than a virgin on prom night.  Worse than that, all these vaginal gymnastics leaves me with terrible cramps.  I've never suffered much with cramps in my life and, I have to say, they really suck.

What am I going to do about it?  Unfortunately, I can't slip my vadge a roofie and have my way with it.  But I am taking a hard look mama cloth and considering using that on my heavy day so I can give my hoo-haw a break.

So I've been exploring the world of mama cloth.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm looking at literally going "on the rag."  I never thought I'd go this route, but I guess I really am turning into quite the hippie because it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me anymore.

I've been looking at mass-produced products and WAHM-produced products.  They are all pretty similar and, frankly, how different can one menstrual pad be from another?  Wings/no wings and the cost seems to be the big differences between offerings.  Well, those things plus the materials used.  With lovely prints and  gorgeous brocade, some of these pads are so beautiful that it almost seems wrong to use them for their intended purpose. 

But how hard it can be to make mama cloth?  Courtesy of cloth diapering, I know a lot about fleece, microsuede, velour, cotton, bamboo, hemp, and PUL.  I think that it would be easy to purchase a variety of materials and experiment with finding the best combo that works for me. 

One big thing stops me from embarking on this experiment:  I don't sew.  I can sort of sew by hand, but I don't want to hand-stitch a bunch of pads.  And I don't know how to use a sewing machine.  Yes, I own my Grandmother's sewing machine.  I just have no idea how to use it.  Add that to the list of things I wish I'd asked my Grandmother about before she passed away.

Even if I did know how to make these pads myself, do I really want to?  What is my time worth?  I'd have to determine what materials I'd like to use, purchase said materials, come up with a pattern, and assemble the pads.  I'd also have to determine if wings are important enough to me to purchase a snap press.  It seems like a lot of time, money, and work to make a few freaking pads.  Remember, I only need them for one day.

After thoroughly exploring etsy.com, I think I found a variety that will suit my needs just fine.  As a bonus, most etsy sellers price their offerings well-below the price of mass-produced mama cloth.  I hesitate to purchase though because I don't know that I'll like what I'm considering.  Should I get wings or no wings?  What material is most comfortable to have against my skin?  What material is best for the inner core?  Do I really need it to be waterproof? 

Do you use or have you used mama cloth?  If so, please share your thoughts.  Post anonymously if you'd like, but please post.  I look forward to reading your responses - if there are any!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not This Month

Just like that *poof* my baby hopes are dashed yet again.  Dangit!  I was really convinced this was it, but I guess not.

They say that the average length of a menstrual cycle is 28-days.  I swear that my body is out to get me because I've been experiencing the joy that is a 20-day menstrual cycle for the last few months.  That means that I get a period every 20 days.  Yay for womanhood, right?!  With such short cycles, it's understandable that I was very excited at the baby possibilities when I hit 29 days without an appearance from Aunt Flo.  And then she reared her ugly red head on day 30 and that was that.

The super-frustrating thing, other than it's been well over a year (closer to 1 1/2 years now) that we've been trying, is that I actually exhibited what could have been early pregnancy symptoms.  Yes, they could all be explained away.  But pregnancy was the simplest explanation for all the symptoms presenting at once.

As I've stated in previous posts, no one obsesses over their underpants quite like a woman who is trying to conceive.  Why is that?  We're looking for the slightest evidence of a period. 

I was concerned when I began spotting, but I decided that it was implantation bleeding because it was more of a brownish color.  That means that it wasn't fresh blood and implantation could have happened a day or so earlier.  I knew it was still pretty late for implantation, but what can I say?  I lied to myself so I didn't have a total meltdown in front of my family.  I stopped spotting later in the evening and I tried to put it from my mind.

I started spotting again yesterday morning.  Red spotting.  I tried not to obsess, but I ran to the bathroom as much as possible to see what was happening down there.  I knew what was coming, but that doesn't mean I was prepared for it.

I cried, "No, no, no, no, no, no!  Please, God, no," when it became very clear that this was a late period.  Just another month with an empty womb.  My sobs bothered my son so much that he began crying too.  His tears jolted me out of my pity party and I knew that I'd have to get it together because I was freaking him out.

So I got myself together and sat down in a chair with him on my lap.  I gave him hugs & kisses while telling him that I love him and there's nothing for him to cry about.  I have to say that I needed his hugs as much as he seemed to need mine.  I was thankful that he was content to relax and cuddle on my lap for a little longer.

I found the first trimester to be the most exhausting and there is so much going on in the family right now that I know it would be difficult to manage a pregnancy right now.  Add in the six-day work weeks and several nights each week that my husband has been working since before the end of last year and I know that a pregnancy would be too much to handle at the moment.  I kind of want to hold off on any more baby-making efforts until things calm down, but I just can't predict when that will be and I really don't have the luxury of time.  I really wouldn't mind going on the pill again to give me more than two weeks between periods. 

I don't know what to do at this point.  I don't know what to hope for or what to pray for.  All that I can really do is continue being a good wife to my husband and a good mother to our son.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Make Your Dash Count

I don't often remember birthdays, but I can nearly always remember the day that someone was called home.  I guess it's because a birthday happens every year, but you can only die once.  My best friend died four years ago this month.

Had you told me four years ago, three years ago, or even two years ago that I would one day forget to mark the day of her homegoing, I'd never believe it.  But I've been so preoccupied pondering potential life that I did forget.  Looking at the calendar, I realize that I first thought that I might be pregnant on the anniversary of the day that she breathed her last breath.

* * *

She called me late one evening in 2004.  I was immediately on-guard because she never called me late at night.  I cut to the chase and asked what was wrong. 

"I have cancer, girl."

I was stunned.  Cancer.  Cancer?  Freaking cancer?!  How in the world does a young and healthy woman end up with cancer?  Hell, I lived like a friggin' rock star in comparison and rarely got so much as a cold.  But she got cancer.

V had a particularly aggressive breast cancer.  She rejected the first suggested course of treatment, which was mastectomy.  So she elected to have a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation therapy.  You know, she actually beat her cancer. . .until it returned with a vengeance a few months later. 

For reasons I'll never understand, she didn't want visitors.  I guess she didn't want pity or useless lamentations.  So I did the next best thing.  I sent her greeting cards and notes every few weeks and I called as often as I could without feeling like I was being a pest.

Her mother called me one afternoon while I was at work.  It went to voicemail, so I called the house.  V's sister answered and I asked what was going on with V.  Her sister said, "She's dying."

And she was.  I got the hospital information and went that evening after work.

Visiting her in the ICU, I was shocked at her appearance. I thought that she probably looked much the same as when she was just a young babe. She was tiny, bald headed, and curled up in the bed. She looked so sweet and peaceful.

By the time that this evil disease finished ravaging her, she had cancer in her breasts, lymph system, bones, and brain.  Toward the end, she could no longer even sign her name.  At the end, she was in a coma on life support. 

Her parents were given the task of making a heartbreaking decision.  It's a choice no parent wants to face.  They gave their precious gift back to God on August 11, 2006.

* * *

I remember calling her work voicemail a week after she passed away because I was aching to hear her voice.  I was heartbroken that they had already reassigned her phone line.  To this day I'd love to hear her say, "Have a blessed day," just one more time.

There were countless people at her funeral service.  I'd estimate about a thousand, but that's probably too high.  Easily a few hundred though.  She was a wonderful friend and I'd guess that I wasn't the only one who considered her their Bestie.

V was only 36 years old when she died.  Too damn young by any estimation.  She'd never been married.  She never bore children.  Oh, but she touched a lot of people in those 36 years.

She worked her buns off for eight years to get her degree while working full-time. She always remembered birthdays and special occasions and never made you feel bad that you forgot. She was a generous Auntie,  Godmother, and friend. She knew that downtime was important and she took countless vacations with friends and family members - I still have a picture of our SF trip on my fridge door. She was always so full of life and she always made you feel better just from being around her.  She was the kind of person who I want to be one day.

The date of your birth and the date of your death are often separated by a dash.  That dash is your life.  She made the most of her short time here on Earth.  She made her dash count.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Family is a Gift

I'm exhausted.  My pastor's sermon this morning left me feeling spiritually refreshed, but I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  The wonderful thing about feeling spiritually healthy is that I feel great, even though I am ridiculously tired.

We had family over today for a visit and supper.  I wasn't sure how the dining arrangements would work out, but I was actually able to fit ten people around my dining room table.  Everyone seemed to like dinner and I think that a fun time was had by all.  My son certainly had a blast playing with his cousins, but he fell asleep before we had cake for dessert.  I felt so bad for the little guy because, thanks to the many birthday parties he's been attending lately, he'd been asking for cake all day long.

Family is a gift.  For a moment, when we were gathered around the table, I felt absolute bliss and all was right in my world.  Breathing in, breathing out, hearing the rhythm of my heart, and feeling the love.  The roar of a million thoughts racing through my head was quieted and I was able to simply exist and enjoy the moment.

I'm kicking myself right now because I meant to take some photos today.  I didn't think about it earlier because I was so busy making sure that everything came out right.  Dangit!  I hope to have another opportunity to snap some family pix before too long.

Tomorrow is a big day for the family.  Those of you who know me well know what I mean.  Please pray for a successful procedure and recovery with no complications.

By the way, I still don't have a clear-cut answer to my question. . .

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Water Play

I still have nothing to report one way or another, so I thought I'd share some things that I've been doing or thinking about doing (and a couple of things I would never do) to conserve water.

Water.  The only thing more necessary for human survival is air.  You can live for weeks without food or nourishment, but you'll die in days if you don't get clean, fresh water.

Living in Southern California is wonderful.  It is truly like paradise to me.  I was born here and raised here and I'd be happy to never live anywhere else.  The only downside in my opinion is that we are darn near as dry as a desert and we are sometimes (not always) faced with the threat of a water shortage.  The upside is that it's pretty easy to conserve water.  That said, water conservation should be the number one environmental effort of every resident.

My community has had water restriction for about a year now.  We are not allowed to water our yards, use sprinklers, or wash our vehicles from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm each day.  I think we also have certain days that we're allowed to water our landscaping, but I haven't really paid much attention to that part of the restriction so I can't say for certain. 

I thought I'd share the things that I'm doing, thinking of doing, or never going to do in an effort to make the best use of water.

- Water your landscaping in the early morning hours.  Watering your lawn at 2:00 in the afternoon is going to result in an awful lot of evaporation and that means that your watering isn't the most efficient so, as annoying as the outdoor water use restriction is, I have to admit that it makes some sense.  We don't have sprinklers in the front yard (sigh), but we have the backyard sprinklers set to run for about 12 minutes at 4:00 am.  Why do we water so early rather than late at night?  Mainly because of that evaporative effect you get under the heat of the sun.  The evaporation that makes mid-day watering so stupid also makes early morning watering very smart.  Watering early allows for healthy root soaking and the evaporation that occurs as the day progresses prevents excessive water from sitting and wrecking your grass.  If you water at night, you will not get much evaporation and your lawn will likely end up oversoaked.  Being very wet is good for some things, but not for grass.

- Consider planting water-sipping landscaping.  Cacti and native plants make efficient use of water and make great sense in dry climates.  You can also eschew plants altogether and go with a rockscape.  I wouldn't recommend going this route if you have kids though.

- Consider installing synthetic grass.  I know this is a sacrilege to fescue fanatics, but it really isn't as bad as it seems.  The upside to it is that it doesn't require any water.  The downside is that it still does require some maintenance.

- Fix leaks in your plumbing.  And, if you can't or don't fix the leaks, get creative with that wasted water.  About a year ago, we paid someone a couple hundred bucks to give us a temporary fix on a dripping shower head.  I'm glad that the temporary fix lasted almost a year, but now I have a shower head that drips one drop every ten seconds.  I have a four-gallon bucket (well, it's actually an empty laundry soap container) under the shower head.  This doesn't solve the leak, but it prevents the water from being wasted.

- Do something useful with four-gallon empty laundry soap containers full of water.  Thanks to our gardeners taking out our one apricot tree, we are left with six citrus trees in our front yard.  As I mentioned earlier, we don't have sprinklers in our front yard.  We also don't have a working garden hose, but that's another subject.  I use the empty laundry soap container of shower-head drippings to water all of our citrus trees each day.

- Don't waste the initial cold water when filling a warm bathtub.  My son bathes in a regular bathtub now and I plug the tub before I even start running the water.  I do this because the cold water that initially begins filling the tub isn't noticeable at all after the tub has been filled with warm water.  So I don't waste that water and, as a bonus, the bathtub fills up faster.

- Be toilet smart.  Remember the old hippie adage:  If it's yellow, let it mellow.  If it's brown, flush it down.  Of course, I can't recommend doing this if you have kids or pets.  If smelly hippie toilet practices don't appeal (and, really, who can blame you if it doesn't), install low-flow toilets.  These designs have improved dramatically over the years and it no longer requires multiple flushes to send away one square of toilet paper.

- Be shower smart.  Is a 30 minute shower (or longer!) really necessary to get clean?  Not unless you're like 400 pounds.  A normal sized person can hit their entire body in about five minutes.  Add ten minutes if you have hair to wash or legs to shave.

- Speaking of hair. . .You really don't need to wash it every single day.  Washing it every other day would save thousands of gallons of water each year.

- Do not allow the faucet to run while you're brushing your teeth.  This seems like a no-brainer to me since it was drilled in my head when I was in elementary school, but perhaps this is something new to someone reading this post.

- Let the universe wash your car.  Yes, I do tend to do this.  I know that not washing your car isn't for everyone, but skipping a weekly wash isn't going to make your car fall apart.  At least try only washing the car every other week and you won't likely notice a real big difference.

- Consider a rain barrel.  I'm on the fence about this one.  It doesn't rain here often, but when it does I think it would be awesome to somehow save that "free" water falling from the sky and use it to water our landscaping at a later (drier) date.  My primary concern about rain barrels is making sure that they don't become a breeding ground for parasites, algae, and mosquitoes.  I'm sure that there are some smart designs out there, but I guess I just don't care enough to flex my Google-Fu and find out.

- Let your dishwasher actually wash your dishes.  If you are a Baby Boomer or older, this will be tough for you to try.  Heck, it's tough for me as the child of a Baby Boomer because growing up it was expected that you do a non-soap washing in the sink prior to loading the dishwasher.  Seriously though, all that you really need to do prior to loading dishes into the dishwasher is knock off all actual food.  That's it.  You don't need to do a rinse or, worse, an actual washing.  The dishwasher and dishwasher detergent can easily handle the job they are designed to do.  I'll admit again that I have trouble with this, but I've always been pleasantly surprised with the results when I just put "dirty" dishes in the dishwasher.

- If you insist on not trusting your newfangled kitchen appliance (the dishwasher), at least try to avoid water waste while doing part of it's job.  Instead of letting your faucet run while doing your pre-rinse or pre-wash, you can partially fill your sink with water and save a lot of wasted water.

- Set your washing machine to fill for the appropriate size for the load.  Don't set a small load to wash as an extra-large.  Unless you add too much soap (and I've probably covered this in another post), there is no reason to set the machine on a higher load setting.  The one exception to this is when washing cloth diapers.  I generally had medium-large loads of diapers, but I always set it to wash as extra-large to ensure that all soap was rinsed out.

This was just a quick & dirty post and I'm sure that I've missed a lot of great ways to conserve water.  Please share your water conservation tips!

Friday, August 13, 2010

What Should I Believe?

I regret that I can't yet elaborate on my post from last night.  I truly thought that I'd be given a clear answer to share, but instead I was presented with a choice. 

Do I believe in Occam's razor and my intuition or do I believe in the HPT that I threw in the garbage in a fit of frustration?  From a diagnostic standpoint, Occam and my intuition, which has admittedly been wrong in the past, really do make sense to me.  However, I find it difficult to argue with results that I can hold in my hand.  I guess it's correct to say that I believe in all three.  Barring any obvious answers today, I expect that I'll be retesting tomorrow morning.

Stay tuned. . .

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hmmm. . .

Periodically I have suspicions that I'm afraid to articulate.  Sometimes I don't want to put my thoughts into words because I'm afraid they'll be true and other times I hesitate to say what I think for fear that it won't be true.  The latter is true this time.

Please bear with me while I fret and know that I hope to enlighten you soon enough.  :-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Screw the Housekeeper, I Really Want a Driver

I have a love/hate relationship with driving.  I love driving fast and I hate traffic, but I live in an area that makes driving fast nearly impossible due to the traffic.  I've been in about a dozen accidents and probably two weren't my fault, but I haven't had an accident in a few years.  I hate having to park a big car in a teeny, tiny parking space and it seems like every one these days are restriping their parking lots to make more spaces.  Today and yesterday would have been perfect days to employ a chauffeur.

I've been following a blog for quite some time and the writer opened her store today.  I had the address and knew in general where the store was located so I figured I'd make a quick jaunt down the 55 to check out the grand opening.  If only it were so easy. 

Let's start with the freeway itself.  For those of you who aren't familiar, the 55 SB dumps you directly on Newport Blvd.  If you don't take one of the exits before the end of the freeway, you are stuck in an impossible snarl of traffic.  No problem, I was going to take the last exit - Victoria/22nd.  The off ramp was closed.  So, naturally, I was stuck in an impossible snarl of traffic.  To make matters worse, I was all the way over on the right and life would have been better had I been to the far left so that I could make a U-turn at the first opportunity.  The other drivers on the road ensured that was not gonna happen.

I should add that the 55 splits Newport Blvd. into two one-way streets.  I was super-hella-aggravated, but figured that I can solve this problem easily enough.  No problem, I turned right, made it to Harbor, then turned on Victoria.  Eventually I made it back to Newport and started driving the correct direction. 

Imagine my surprise when the address I was looking for did not exist.  I should have just quit then, but I thought that perhaps I had been driving too fast and I missed it.  I was determined to make it to this new store because I've been following the progress and was excited to check it out.  So I crossed the freeway (remember that Newport Blvd. is a one-way at this point) went back on Newport, crossed the freeway, then went back on Newport in the correct direction.

Nope.  The address I was looking for did not exist.

I couldn't check the address because I do not have internet access from my cell.  I called someone and ask them to verify the address.  This person could not find info on the store or the blog that I follow and my son thought this was the perfect opportunity to flex his lungs.  He gave high-pitched squeals as I was trying to give Google suggestions.  How high-pitched?  Well, I think he broke my passenger-side mirror.  Okay, that was me, but more on that later.

Suddenly, I noticed the sign.  Yeah!  I had transposed the last two numbers in the address.  I excitedly pulled into the parking lot.  There were maybe twelve spots.  All taken.  I followed the parking lot to the left and was stuck in a dead end of around four handicapped stalls.  I'm not handicapped.  And I was stuck in the L-shaped lot. 

Thanks to my back-up camera, I managed to turn around without any problems.  If not for the back-up camera, I'm fairly certain that I would have taken out the trash enclosure.  By now there was an open spot in the parking lot.  A COMPACT spot.  I didn't notice that half the parking lot was for COMPACT cars on my first go-around.  Those of you who know me realize that my vehicle does not remotely resemble a COMPACT.

So I got back on Newport Blvd., did the four-lefts U-turn, and came back to the parking lot.  I actually tried the COMPACT space and let's just say that it would work. . .if I planned on jumping out of the car window as if it were the General Lee.  I'm not from Duke County, so I figured that wasn't a good plan.

By this time my son was getting restless and he was asking for lunch.  I eyed a spot that a couple were about to vacate.  The cars on either side of this spot were line riders and there was no way I'd fit.  Feeling discouraged, I decided to call it a day and returned home for lunch and naps.  Well, we both ate lunch and one of us took a nap.

Yesterday I went to my new favorite beach with my little guy.  It was relatively empty and I had my choice of parking spaces.  I chose a spot that had a tree to the right for two reasons.  One is that I remove my son out of the passenger side of the car and I prefer to have no cars to the right so that I can open the door as much as I want.  The other is that I figured the tree would offer a little shade.

Before pulling in to the spot, I didn't realize that this tree was not perfectly upright.  It kinda leaned to the side.  As in, over the parking spot I was taking.

In the resulting battle, my passenger mirror was killed.

Now, my first car didn't even have a passenger mirror and I never even used one on my second car.  But I have grown quite fond of knowing who might be lurking in my right blind spot.  I guess I should be happy that I didn't clip anyone in all of my driving adventures today.

Driving.  It's hard to believe that I really looked forward to this privilege at one time.  Why do teens so want their driver's licenses?  Because they aren't smart enough to realize what a colossal pain in the ass it is if you live anywhere besides a rural community.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Easiest Way to Cut a Whole Watermelon

Berries, tomatoes, corn, peppers, and melons.  It's that special time of year that nature's sweet and delicious bounty can be found in abundance.  Summertime.

I like fresh fruit, but sometimes I think it's a pain to cut it up for consumption.  Sure, you can purchase nearly any fruit already prepared for snacking - but that costs a lot more money than simply buying the whole fruit.  And, if there is one thing that drives me nuts, it's paying someone else to do something that I can easily do myself.  Cutting whole fruit is easy and tonight I came up with an even easier and neater way.

Choosing the Best Watermelon
1.  Buy it in season.  That is, Summer.  You might be able to find watermelon in Winter, but the fruit won't be nearly as sweet and delicious as fruit purchased in-season.  It's typically less expensive as well.
2.  Buy a melon that feels heavy for it's size. 
3.  Make sure there are no soft or mushy spots on the rind. 
4.  I'll pass along that some say you should choose a melon that sounds hollow when you rap your knuckles on it, but I haven't found that it's all that important.

Simple Way to Cut Watermelon
1.  Wash watermelon before placing on a cutting board.
2.  Slice the ends off the watermelon.
3.  Stand watermelon up on end on the cutting board.
4.  Begin cutting down the sides of the watermelon to remove the rind.  Repeat until all rind is removed.
5.  Cut watermelon in half lengthwise.
6.  Cut remaining watermelon however you like.  I usually cut it into mid-size chunks and the task is so much easier once the rind has been removed.

Does my watermelon trick sound familiar somehow?  It's because it's the same procedure you use to cut up a whole pineapple.

Hear Me RAWR!

Sometimes I swear that my body is out to get me. 

I haven't been able to fall asleep until after 2:00 am for a couple of nights.  Guess what?  I still have to get up and take care of my son whether I've slept enough or not.  That might not have been a problem 10 or 15 years ago, but I really have a hard time handling life when I'm over-tired.  I don't eat dinner at 4:30 pm or watch Matlock reruns, but I'm not exactly a spry teenager or young adult any longer.  My exhaustion got the better of me late this afternoon and I crashed out on the couch.  I don't generally fall asleep easily, and certainly not on the couch, but I could not keep my eyes open for one more second.  Thank goodness my husband was home for a little bit before returning to work this evening!

My breastmilk finally dried up completely around a month ago.  I haven't had any leakage since then.  My breasts have been a tingly mess since last night.  I often felt the tingling right before let down or right after a nursing session.  Maybe eating most of an entire bunch of kale (two batches of kale chips and colcannon) wasn't such a great idea.  Don't think that eating kale has anything to do with anything?  Guess again.  Apparently kale is a food that can help increase breastmilk supply.  Great.  Just what I need.  So much for my new favorite snack.  Oh, man, it was so good though that it was totally worth my discomfort.  Since my boobs hurt, that naturally means that my son has headbutted me in the breasts twice since yesterday.  Ouch!

I'm tired, my boobs hurt, and I'm in a pretty irritable mood all around.  Don't mess with me tonight, world, I'll take you all down if you so much as look at me funny!  Sounds a lot like PMS to me.  I think this might be one of those rare occasions that I go to sleep before my husband arrives home from work.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A New Favorite Snack Recipe

Though I enjoy sweets, I don't exactly have a sweet tooth.  I'm all about the salty snacks.  My all-time favorite snack is plain ol' Lay's Potato Chips.  Potato chips aren't exactly diet-friendly, to say the very least, and I rarely purchase them as a result.

I recently came across a recipe that claimed to mimic the crispy crunch of potato chips.  Yet it is very low in calories and fat.  Add some sea salt and you've got a fantastically salty snack.  What is this miracle snack?  Kale Chips.

Stop laughing.  Dangit, I said to stop laughing.  I was skeptical too, but I'll gamely try most anything at least once so I went for it this afternoon.  I was so pleasantly surprised that I've already decided to purchase another bunch of kale so that I can experiment with other seasonings on the next batch.

I'll give the recipe, but let's start with the main ingredient.  Kale.  Can you identify kale in the produce section of the market?  I have a feeling that it's not all that popular, so let me help.  It's a dark leafy green.  It has a relatively long & tough stem and the edible parts kinda look like a curly leaf.  It's usually sold in small bunches of three or four.

Curly leaf kale isn't terribly bitter and it is a pretty verstaile green.  It's a traditional ingredient in colcannon (though I most often use green cabbage), it can easily be added to soups, stews, sauces, or stir-frys, and it can be served steamed or braised like any other green.  You can also drink it as kale juice for a very nutritious beverage.  Now I'll add that it can become your favorite snack chip!

Though it is often found as a garnish in restaurants, kale is a nutritional powerhouse.  It is high in many vitamins, such as Vitamins A, K, and C.  It's also reasonably high in minerals, like calcium & iron.  It is a well-known anti-inflammatory.  Some also claim that it has anti-cancer properties.  Add that it is low in calories and you have a pretty attractive food.

I found a variety of recipes for kale chips and, as usual, I ended up taking what sounded right and losing what didn't to make my own recipe.  Here's the recipe that I came up with to try today.  If you're brave enough to try it out, let me know how you feel about kale chips.

Kale Chips
A couple of curly leaf kale leaves
Non-stick cooking spray
Sea salt

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  Wash curly leaf kale and separate the leaf from the stem.  Discard stem and tear the leaf into somewhat uniform pieces.  Place kale on cookie sheet.  I don't have a cookie sheet, but I have a french fry baking sheet (it basically is a baking sheet with a bunch of tiny holes on the bottom) and I used that.  Lightly spritz non-stick cooking spray over kale and sprinkle with sea salt.  Cook kale in preheated oven for about ten minutes.  Let it cool for a moment and then enjoy the salty goodness.  If done right, I think it tastes a lot like a very light & crispy potato chip.

Note:  You might want to check the kale after about 7 or 8 minutes to see just how much longer it really needs.  There seems to be a real fine line between done and over-done.  I made two batches and slightly overdid the second batch.  It was still good, but I think there is a definite sweet spot to find when making kale chips.

Happy Snacking!

You're Crazier Than We Thought

Holy smokes!  I didn't think it was possible to make yourself look any worse than Matt Stone and Trey Parker depict you, but Mel Gibson has somehow found a way.  Check out some of South Park's episodes featuring Mel Gibson to know exactly what I mean.  They show him as a Grade-A lunatic and, in light of his recent troubles, I think they were incredibly restrained in their scathing depiction.

I haven't seen all of his movies, but I've seen enough to know that Mel Gibson can make a good freaking movie.  He's a good director, he's a good actor, and he's easy on the eyes.  Heck, even is comedic timing is pretty good.  He was good at his job, but that doesn't really reveal anything about his personal character or state of mind.

Talk about a guy who seemed like he had it all.  He was a major player in the movie industry.  He had power.  He had fame.  He had wealth.  He was good looking.  More important than any worldly trappings, he had a long-term marriage (nearly 30 years!) and many children.

But that cat has fallen in a most spectacular fashion.  And why is that?  I think it's because something else (besides God) was placed above his family in his heart.

Mel Gibson has had some highly publicized personal problems recently.  His history with addiction is well known and has been documented breathlessly by celebrity gossip rags.  I half expected to wake up and hear that another one of his crazy rants had been recorded and released.  His rapid descent from Hollywood A-lister to reviled pariah may have happened anyway because he sounds batsh*t crazy, but it was certainly hastened by his addiction to alcohol. 

I'll be blunt:  It appears that his addiction was ultimately greater than his love for his family.  Does that sound harsh?  Well, it's meant to be.  There is nothing sadder than throwing away your loving family.  Nothing.

He had a nearly 30-year marriage.  Several children with the wife of his youth - seven, I think.  And he threw them away.  Worse, he brought an innocent into his personal turmoil by procreating with his mistress.

He claims to be a devout Catholic.  He's a convincing actor and I'd guess that he would still claim the Lord God as his master, but his actions are far more telling and believable than any words.  Believers should put God in the top spot in their heart, followed by spouse and children, and everything else falls somewhere far below in the heart of a Christian.

Gibson's actions aren't really consistent with one of God's children.  That's not to say that a Christian never strays from the correct path, but it's a sure bet that they are no longer on the correct path when they are totally living in the world.  Is he living in the world?  Uh, yeah.  Drunken partying, extra-marital affair, divorce, out of wedlock child.  I'd say it's pretty clear that he's totally in the world at this point.

All this destruction seems like it stemmed from his addiction to alcohol.  That's really heartbreaking.

Don't take this as an indictment of alcoholics or addicts.  I know and love some wonderful people who happen to be addicted to alcohol or who were addicted to drugs.  Addiction doesn't make someone a bad person.  No, it doesn't.  But understand that addiction can make good people do bad things.  Listen to just one of Gibson's maniacal rants you'll hear some of the bad things that an addict will say, do, or threaten.

Rehab is something that most celebrities don't seem to take seriously, but it can be a life saver.  A life changer even.  Is it expensive?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  If it works, it's worth ten times the cost.  Absolutely.  I feel the same way about sober coaches.  Having someone with an addict 24/7 does a lot to cut down on opportunities to give in to an addiction.  In my experience, tough love can ultimately work just as effectively.  Hitting rock bottom sometimes seems like it resets something in the brain of an addict.  It's like they suddenly realize what a gift their family really was and they long to have the relationships restored more than they long for whatever it was that fueled their addiction.

I can't help it, but I'm pulling for the guy to get some help and get his life back on track. I'm a romantic at heart and, yes, I even hope that his family is restored by some miracle.  Frankly, I hope that he gets back to work soon because I find his movies are far more entertaining than the mess he's made of his personal life.

SURVEY: Would You Sign In to Read My Blog?

I'm sure everyone who reads this blog realizes that I'm vigilant about protecting the anonymity of my son and my husband.  I know some might say that I'm unreasonably concerned about their privacy.  I won't post photos of them or even mention their given names.  The only things that I have ever deleted in this blog are comments that mention my son's name.  You might have noted that I loathe giving proper names in general - the notable exception being what I would call the Obituary posts.

There are people in this world who have no right to know anything about the goings-on in my son's life.  I've grown concerned that these people can access this blog and remain up to date on my sweet little boy.  That is absolutely unacceptable to me and I've been considering how I can keep my son's privacy.

I only have a couple of options. 

1.  My son is one of my favorite writing subjects, but I can avoid ever mentioning my son or any of his antics ever again to protect him.  It would be hard because a lot of this blog has to do with my motherhood journey, but I suppose it's doable.  I also know that some family members like reading about the kiddo, but I can figure out a way to update family by other means.


2.  Or I can reset the privacy settings on this blog.  I have the option to only allow people I choose (up to 100) to read this blog.  However, the 100 people I choose will have to sign in to access this blog.  I know this sounds like a drag, but this is my preferred method to protect my son's privacy.

So, my readership, would you be willing to sign in to read this blog?  You would have to sign up as a public follower of this blog and sign in prior to accessing any posts.  I know I'm asking a lot, but I think you'd understand if you knew the details.

Please do share your opinions in the comments because it will help me make my decision.  In the meantime, I'm going to try my best to avoid mentioning my little guy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grandparents, a Faire, and a Concert (Oh, My!)

My family experienced a wonderfully full weekend.  It was one of those weekends where every event we shared was a blast for my son.  I'd say that it was almost the best weekend ever for the little guy.  But, whew, I am sure wiped out!  The boy and I have a busy week ahead with lots of fun activities with our friends so I'm going to have to keep this brief so I can get some rest.

We had supper with my parents and my MIL on Saturday evening.  After eating, he had the undivided attention of his grandparents.  It is a pretty rare treat for my son to have more than two grandparents together at once and he knew how to work his adoring audience.  He was in rare form and he spent a the longest time just cutting up and entertaining the family. 

His Mamaw and his Grandma had so much fun hiding his matchbox cars (specifically the green one!) for him to find.  The hiding places were a hoot:  on top of their head, in the crook of an elbow, tucked into a shoe, under a cushion in the couch, and so many more!  His face lit up with delight whenever he found one and his excited squeals kept the game going on for at least a half an hour. 

At one point, my son started dancing with joy and his Grandpa began to clap for him.  Then Mamaw started clapping.  Then Grandma.  Then Daddy.  Then Mama.  Whenever one of us would stop clapping, he'd stop dancing and point at us.  He'd grab our hands and force us to clap again if we didn't start clapping right away.

I was cracking up so much that my cheeks hurt by the time we left.  I think the little one spent half the night laughing himself silly.  As my Dad says, that kid has the most contagious laugh.  Saturday night was one of those magical moments that you long to share with your loved ones and I'm thankful that we were able to share my adorable little guy with at least three of his Grandparents. 

My church hosted a Medieval Faire this afternoon after services.  In case someone reading this can't understand normal thinking, the use of the pronoun "my" in the previous sentence does not imply that I am the sole owner of the church; it is simply to illustrate that it is the church that I personally attend.  I'll probably give another English lesson in a few days - see you next Tuesday.  

I thought for sure that my son would want to eat and play at the Faire.  No.  Not only no, but no way!  There was a mini-catapult, pretend archery, pretend swordplay, pretend jousting and a bounce house.  There was a great photo prop of a sword in a stone.  There was a woman doing wonderful caricatures and another woman making balloon animals and balloon crowns.  They offered chicken and beef skewers, grilled corn, hot dog wieners, pasta salad, potato salad and many more tasty eats.  The children of our church baked up wonderful sweet treats that were also available for purchase.  My son did enjoy eating a frosted cupcake and he must have liked it because he begged for cupcakes before bed tonight. 

What did he want to do at the Faire?  Sit in the bounce house.  He wouldn't jump around and he literally sat in there for about an hour.  He was having fun though and he was pretty upset when it was time to go home.

The city I reside in offers free concerts in the park on select Sundays.  Tonight was the last concert of the season and we went with some friends and their kids.  The band played classic rock covers.  The playlist consisted of great songs from CCR, The Eagles, The Hollies, Deep Purple, and a few others.  Several times, my son jumped up and danced for us.  He really has a joy of movement.  I made some strawberry shortcakes to share with our pals and he gobbled that up like it was the finest creme brulee.  His father took him to the playground to run around and play with the other kids at the park.

Not that they live all that far away, but I'm a little sad that family isn't a little closer to us geographically. It would have been fun to turn this into a Grandparent's Weekend. I'll bet they would have had a blast seeing their sweet little grandson today.

I really have to do a better job inviting the Grandparents to come along on our fun adventures. Sometimes life only hangs by the thinnest of threads and I believe that persistent prayer is the only reason that my son still has all of his grandparents. . .unfortunately, there is another major medical procedure looming.  Your prayers will be most appreciated on the 16th.

This weekend was full of love, laughter, and family.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important or valuable than that.  I know that I'll always keep this wonderful weekend in my heart.