Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Anticipation...

My brother is coming
From India
For his once per year visit.

And we are going to
hang out for one week.

And do nothing,
but breathe the same air
and talk and laugh and eat.


Because over the years,
we have learned

that that is the thing

we crave the most.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The sky is falling...

The fact that *I* (conservative, ME) could be on the same page as the nation of France and the ACLU in one week or so is PROOF. Wow, what a week. The sky is, indeed, falling!

Stories below.

Sarkozy: France 'Cannot Accept' Burqas

Monday, June 22, 2009

PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy said the Muslim burqa would not be welcome in France, calling the full-body religious gown a sign of the "debasement" of women.

In the first presidential address to parliament in 136 years, Sarkozy faced critics who fear the burqa issue could stigmatize France's Muslims and said he supported banning the garment from being worn in public.

"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause at the Chateau of Versailles, southwest of Paris.

"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."

Dozens of legislators have called for creating a commission to study a possible ban in France, where there is a small but growing trend of wearing the full-body garment despite a 2004 law forbidding it from being worn in public schools.

France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population, an estimated 5 million people, and the 2004 law sparked fierce debate both at home and abroad.

Even the French government has been divided over the issue, with Immigration Minister Eric Besson saying a full ban would only "create tensions," while junior minister for human rights Rama Yade said she was open to a ban if it was aimed at protecting women forced to wear the burqa.

The terms "burqa" and "niqab" often are used interchangeably in France. The former refers to a full-body covering worn largely in Afghanistan with only a mesh screen over the eyes, whereas the latter is a full-body veil, often in black, with slits for the eyes.

A leading French Muslim group, the French Council for the Muslim Religion, has warned against studying the burqa, saying it would "stigmatize" Muslims.

Sarkozy was due to host a state dinner Monday with Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani of Qatar, where women wear Islamic head coverings in public — whether while shopping or driving cars.

******************************************************************************************

ACLU Sues TSA for Unlawful Detention of Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty Treasurer

Today, we filed a new lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over unlawful TSA search and detention practices. The case was filed on behalf of a traveler who was illegally detained and harassed by TSA Agents at the airport for carrying approximately $4,700 in cash.

On March 29, 2009, the plaintiff in the case, Steven Bierfeldt was detained in a small room at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and interrogated by TSA officials for nearly half an hour after he passed a metal box containing cash through a security checkpoint X-ray machine. He was carrying the cash in connection to his duties as Treasurer of Ron Paul’s Campaign For Liberty. Steven’s experience is part of a troubling pattern of the TSA transforming its valid but limited search authority into a license to invade people’s constitutional right to privacy.

Steven was detained and questioned as he returned home from a Campaign for Liberty event transporting proceeds from the sale of tickets, t-shirts, stickers and campaign material. He repeatedly asked the agents to explain the scope of their authority to detain and interrogate him and received no explanation. Instead, the agents escalated the threatening tone of their questions and ultimately told him that he was being placed under arrest. Steven recorded audio of the entire incident with his iPhone, which you can listen to here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Fun


Let's go storm chasin', he said to me. And what could I do? It was, after all, Father's day. So we quickly loaded up the chase vehicle with water, purse cameras, crackberry, videocamera, Garmin and maps and off we went. It was raining hard.

We headed out of town, westward, right into the known path of the tornado warning. Yes, warning. There had been confirmed sightings of tornados in the neighboring county. We have done this before. Actually, we are kind of geeks that way. lol

Anyway. We were not even 10 miles outside of town when we saw it. ::GASP:: Could it be??? It was!! Squeeeeeal.



It was a real-deal, weather-spotter-chaser tank vehicle. With a turret and everything. (excited clapping) It had pulled over on the side of the road. So what could we do?

We pulled over and waited until it made its next move...and then, it did. Off it went west, toward the next exit, where it exited, turned around and headed east at an ::ahem:: high rate of speed.



The photos I had taken before were of poor quality, so I was telling the Mark to pull alongside to take some better photos of the vehicle. heh heh Niiiice.




After following the vehicle for about 25 or 30 miles, we realized (since we were listening to the radio), that it was likely headed quite a bit further south and therefore (by our calculations) we were probably not going to catch the next round of tornados. Plus, that thing was still traveling well beyond the speed limit and while we were willing to push the envelope for a bit, we were not willing to do so forever.

So, we turned back toward home and took pictures of all the interesting cloud pics we could find.

And even though we didn't see a tornado, we saw a really cool tornado chaser tank...and for weather geeks like us? That's a major trophy.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy 9 Years!!



9 years. We've known each other many years more, but that is the anniversary we celebrate this year.

We decided to have a look and stay at Iowa's newest state park and resort(?) at Lake Rathbun in very southern Iowa. Who would put a resort in southern Iowa? Hmmm...we were intrigued.

The drive was over 3 hours, but we have never shied away from a good day trip. Tunes and time. Love it.

Upon arriving, we were immediately impressed that this venue is still brand spanking new. Still in need of lots of landscaping. Still in the staff training process. ahem But the 'kids' running the place seemed nice and therefore, we have grace for these things. :~)

The lobby is beyond impressive, with its enormous fireplace, wood and tile work. The room was nice, oddly laid out and waaaay the heck more 'green' than we care to experience on a getaway.

No frig. Not able to adjust the thermostat (although, they give the customer the illusion they are in charge). The most shallow bathtub evah. Poor water pressure in the shower. Mini-lectures in the form of placards about saving laundry.

Puhleeeze. I am paying for comfort and ease here. I do not like 'green' being forced upon me, when I am on vacay---but, hey. That's just me.

We did enjoy a special dinner at the on-site Lakeshore Grille. Good food. Great waiter. Nice view, with a baaaarely visible glimpse of the lake. Yummy dessert.

We went for a walk around the property and snapped quite a few photos (included above). It was the only 30 minutes that the sun came out; we appreciated the beautiful sunset.

And then, the torrential rain began and continued alll night and into the next day. Lightening and Thunder--quite a show.

We had planned to hike and picnic and explore the lake all day, but in light of the inclimate weather, we opted to head to DSM to Jordan Creek Mall. Niiice.


One of the little-known secrets of a happy marriage? A man who truly likes shopping. heh heh So thankful for my man.

Revelations


It was just
another example,
she thought,
of how wrong
she had been
about this
whole business
of motherhood.

No one told her
she would
gladly give up
idolizing her
Master's Degree
to wipe
tiny butts and noses.

She had not
considered that,
even though,
out of necessity,
she had maintained
a career presence,
the truest part
of her identity
was always as
their mom.

And she had
never known that,
in the end,
she would feel
as though
her heart
spent each day
and night,
hovering like
a ghostly presence,
unseen and
un-noticed

over her grown children.

Whoops

University of Iowa Hygienic Lab conducts most
of the Pertussis(whooping cough)
testing for the state's hospitals.
(photo by Brian Ray, The Gazette)

**This is the county I serve, working with the 0-5 year old children. I find this worrisome, although, somewhat predictable.

Whooping Cough Outbreak in Buchanan County

By Adam Carros

INDEPENDENCE - Health officials are investigating an outbreak of whooping cough cases in Buchanan County.

The Buchanan County Department of Public Health says its confirmed 5 cases in the county.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, starts with cold-like symptoms. Within a week or two, the patient develops uncontrollable coughing spells. These coughs are accompanied by the tell-tale whooping sound as the patient gasps for air after the cough. The disease is most dangerous for the elderly and infants.

"Whooping cough can be very serious for infants who may loose their breath completely and are at risk for death from this disease," explained Amy Marlow, the director of the Buchanan County Health Center Public Health Department. "The elderly are an easy target for the disease also, with the fear that they will develop pneumonia."

Health Officials are monitoring the disease and are in contact with people who have tested positive for whooping cough. If you think you or someone you know has symptoms, contact your doctor.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Reading

Ahhhh...summer. A time when I have more time to read and to enjoy reading. What's on my bookshelf? Glad you asked...

I rarely purchase books anymore. I am lazy and flabby and cheap. I find them at garage sales, Goodwill, trade with friends, go to the library or re-read favorites ("Hinds Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard is perennially in use).


But in a recent weak moment, I purchased "My Sister's Keeper". I thought the movie trailer looked interesting and I really like little Abigail Breslin (ever since "Signs"). Another 'rule' of mine, is that the book is always better than the movie, so I always read the book before seeing the movie.

So far, so good. It took me a few chapters to realize that the author is constantly changing the narrator of the chapter, but once I caught her drift, I am finding the story interesting. I will keep reading....

Next, is a book, I received as a birthday gift from a dear friend, Addy. She and I have wonderful, deep discussions and lively debates about life, faith, women, parenting, marriage, friendship, relationships, etc. I honestly think there is *nothing* that we could not, have not discussed. Yes, dear reader, let your mind go with it. haha

Anyway, at one recent visit, we were discussing the subject of spending eternity with Jesus and what that might look like. I was feeling like I just couldn't grasp it anymore; I used to think I knew what heaven would be like and I couldn't wait to get there. But that was then. Now, it's sort of fuzzy for me.

And just as the Body of Christ is supposed to operate, iron began to sharpen iron and Addy began to remind me of scriptures about Heaven and even telling me things I hadn't known. I was still feeling alternatively fuzzy and ho-hum about it all, until she began to tell me of this book called (oddly enough), "Heaven", by Randy Alcorn.

The book sounded great and it was even something I hadn't already read! Hmmmm...I pondered a few thoughts throughout the week and as we gathered again today, she presented me with the book, "Heaven"!! Awww....thanks, Addy. I am excited to start reading and learning about eternity. And for our next discussion.

What's on *your* summer reading list??

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Cinderella Story--in my own backyard

Here is an article from our local newspaper about an incredibly talented, incredibly sweet dance team member of our daughter's dance team.

When she made the team last year, she was just 13 years old, but she danced like a pro. No, really. She was immediately noted as having talent like no other. She was different, special, set apart.


Recently, Jaedon was offered a chance to attend the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Not just for a summer intensive, which is what she auditioned for,
but to attend the school for the year. Only 60 dancers worldwide, were offered this opportunity and we could not be more thrilled!!

Only there is this pesky little problem of finances. Jaedon needs 40K to attend the school. Jaedon has a great single mom; there are three children in the family. The reality is, like that of many families, there isn't money for such a large ticket expenditure.

We are fund-raising; the bank has an account for donations, but surely there is a better way to raise this money for this very deserving girl?


Anyone know of something that might help?


PS Jaedon's toe shoes shirt (in the photo above) is a gift from my daughter to Jaedon. How sweet, huh?


Here a few of our own photos of our sweet Jaedon Macayla, Prima Ballerina.

Jaedon (front row in the yellow suit), reacts to being squirted, at a car wash fundraiser, last summer. My girl is in the back, in the metallic suit and sunglasses. haha

Jaedon, looking coltish and young, as she heads off the dance camp, last summer.

Jaedon, gettin' it, at State Competition, Pom routine.


Jaedon, being silly in New Orleans (in blue shirt, front row).

Jaedon and Allie, making fish faces in New Orleans. My senior-aged daughter, is mean mugging the kids. aahaha

Jaedon and Kate, waiting outside the SuperDome.

Beautiful Jaedon at our dance banquet.


Jaedon and Mark, posing for the camera at Lulu's graduation open house. Jaedon was a photographer for the event.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Advice from a very elite "Been There, Done That" Crowd **updated with photos of cute kids!


I have been fascinated with multiple births since the Kienast Quints were born during my childhood. I lovingly scrap-booked articles from newspapers and Good Housekeeping magazine about this remarkable family. And I cried my eyes out, when my new puppy tore that scrapbook to shreds, when I left it out where she could get to it.


Later, as I learned about the Dionne Quints, I was even more fascinated, as these quints were identical, adorable little girls!! Why hadn't I heard of them before? So many delightful photographs to pore over. I didn't have even one sister and these girls had 4 identical sissies to share secrets and fun (plus their other siblings). I was hooked.

Imagine my adult sorrow to learn later of the exploitation of the Dionne Quints by their parents, their family physician and the Canadian government. The personal hardship suffered by the Kienast families was also heartbreaking. Perhaps, all those adorable pictures, the photo opps. were not the whole story?

Of course, now we know better.

Right? RIGHT?


We do know better.

Apparently, not all families know better. ::ahem::


Here is a self-described "open letter", written by 3 of the surviving Dionne sisters to the parents of the McCaughey septuplets (I am so proud of this Iowa family). Really, the Dionne's admonitions speak for themselves, in light of the current Gosselin situation.

My fondest desire is that TLC would pull the plug on the Gosselin's show, thus becoming a much-needed hero for the Gosselin children (and, for that matter, their parents' marriage).

I say this, because I honestly do not think that Kate is at all likely to do this. In Jon's defense, it does appear he has tried to pull his family from out of the front of the camera.

There is more than enough shame and blame to go around, including those of us who cannot, no, WILL NOT stop watching this family self-destruct.
_________________________________________________________________

Shortly after the McCaughey septuplets were born in 1997, the three surviving Dionne Quintuplets wrote a letter to Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey, cautioning them that "multiple births should not be confused with entertainment, nor should they be an opportunity to sell products".

Although it's probably too little, too late, it would be nice if Jon and Kate Gosselin would take their words to heart:

Open Letter from the Dionne Quintuplets

Dear Bobbi and Kenny,

If we emerge momentarily from the privacy we have sought all our adult lives, it is only to send a message to the McCaughey family. We three would like you to know we feel a natural affinity and tenderness for your children. We hope your children receive more respect than we did. Their fate should be no different from that of other children. Multiple births should not be confused with entertainment, nor should they be an opportunity to sell products.

Our lives have been ruined by the exploitation we suffered at the hands of the government of Ontario, our place of birth. We were displayed as a curiosity three times a day for millions of tourists (viewers?). To this day we receive letters from all over the world. To all those who have expressed their support in light of the abuse we have endured, we say thank you. And to those who would seek to exploit the growing fame of these children, we say beware.

We sincerely hope a lesson will be learned from examining how our lives were forever altered by our childhood experience. If this letter changes the course of events for these newborns, then perhaps our lives will have served a higher purpose.

Sincerely,

Annette, Cecile and Yvonne Dionne

(borrowed from the blog (Gosselins Without Pity)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Little Couple--two thumbs up


I just want to say how likable I find "The Little Couple" on TLC.

They strike me as genuine, sweet and funny, (which is how I used to find John and Kate, loooong ago).

FWIW, I cannot watch the Gosselin family publicly implode, while the masses lick their chops, read tabloids, gossip and form Twitter parties to applaud the demise of a FAMILY.

Those poor children.

Those. poor. children.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

(this picture makes me happy. these are some of the most awesome women in my life)

Have you seen that new show on WE TV called, "The Locator"? It features a man who is hired by people to find long-lost family members. Fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, mothers, etc are all looking to find peace, which they feel is not possible "until they find the missing pieces". Almost guaranteed to turn me into a puddle of goo, every episode.

Anyway, on one episode, a daughter is looking for her mother. As she tells the Locator of her childhood recollections, she pauses, through her tears, to ask a heartfelt question, "Does she even think of me on my birthday?". Rough stuff.

As I watched the show, I'm thinking, "Of course, she does. How could she NOT?", trying to imagine the scenario that would lead to me experience amnesia about my daughter's (or son's) birthday.


But, hey, apparently that's just me, because, as the show unfolds, it turns out that for reasons that are not at all clear to the Locator, the daughter or the viewer, Mom does not want to reconnect with her adult daughter. Ugh. Disgust. Eye roll. Pffftttt.


So as these kinds of thoughts are prone to do, I randomly remembered this TV show scene on my way to work today...on my birthday. And my first reaction was to dial up my original bewildered, bemused, bafflement again: that whole, "How could a mother...?" thing.

However, this was quickly followed by a new thought, "Why has this question never occurred to me about my own life?" (insert cricket chirping here).


Because the truth is, is that I will not hear from my mother on my birthday. I have not heard from my mother for more than 12 years.

Is she dead? Nope. At least she wasn't 2.5 weeks ago, when she came to my daughter's graduation ceremony, but sat across the auditorium from my husband and I, as she did two years prior, at my son's graduation.

Well, if she's not dead, what is wrong?

Long story, obviously. No estrangement happens over night. The roots go back to my childhood, but more accurately, likely began in my mother's own childhood. Unlike other bloggers, who lay it alllll out there for their readers...I will not be airing and sharing the dirty laundry of my family here.

Friends and well, friends (cuz other than my brother, I don't really have any family) IRL, all know the story, so this is not about shame and secrets and skeletons in closets. It is about respect and boundaries, I guess. So, if you were hopin' for some Xtreme TMI Oversharing Festival, NEXT! Not happening here.

Instead, I guess this is where you can be a witness to or eavesdrop on my thought life. About this subject, this question, that, honestly had not occurred to me until today.

Does she think about me on my birthday?

I'm not sure. But if I had to guess, I'd say...no. I don't think so. I highly doubt it.

And by the grace of God, that is not (nor has it ever been) devastating to me. Puzzling? Yes. Unfathomable when I think of my own daughter? Yes. But, it does not consume me with grief. It does not define me or my worth.

Because, I know the broken, frailty of my mother's soul.

Because, before Jesus (and even for awhile afterward), I was her.

And her choices, although they would never be mine now; were the same as my own for a season.

So, is it sad that a mother, any mother, MY mother, does not think of her daughter, ME on my birthday? Of course.

But, I made my peace with my mother and father and their choices, a long time ago.

Happy Birthday to me.

Really truly sincerely.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ooopps! Sorry. That Wild Cheering and Applause was me

Fan-tab-u-lous!!!!

Can't embed. Must link.

But hey! Don't be a slacker, relying on the kindness of others, lazily refusing to watch, that which is not embeded.

Be a GROWN UP and click that link!!!

You won't be sorry.

And you might burn some calories whooting and what not around *your* computer screen!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

He scares me, too

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

Dear President Obama,

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.

You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.

You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.

You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don’t understand it at its core.

You scare me because you lack humility and ‘class’, always blaming others.

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the ‘blame America ‘ crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.

You scare me because you prefer ‘wind mills’ to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.

You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.

You scare me because you have begun to use ‘extortion’ tactics against certain banks and corporations.

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.

You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaugh’s, Hannity’s, O’Reilly’s and Beck’s who offer opposing, conservative points of view.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term, I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

Lou Pritchett

Former President of Procter& Gamble Far East Division


Snopes has verified this letter at this link.

Nothing, really, for me to add, except to say, "I'm with Lou".

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Graduation Celebration



To view the photos and captions, click on one.

As always, scroll to the bottom and turn off the music player (if'n you want to, that is).