Thursday, May 29, 2008

There's nobody more obnoxious than a returning vacationist.

It was a long winter in many ways. Thats why Nicole and I were tickled at the offer by my parents to accompany them on a short cruise to celebrate both my graduation and our fifth anniversary. It was the first real vacation we've taken in years.

Just hours after graduation we hopped on a flight to Seattle so we could celebrate H and J's great wedding. Though we arrived a few minutes late, it was a pleasure to be there and celebrate with an intimate group of people--wonderful friends who have remained close throughout the years. On Monday we got on another plane and flew to Long Beach and boarded the "Monarch of the Seas" in San Pedro. Cruising ended up being a lot of fun. We explored the ship, watched two comedians, had fantastic food, watched the ocean, saw dolphins, tourtises, sea lions, and marine fowl, played a few casino games, listened to music, shopped, and just relaxed. Our first port was in San Diego were we spent the day with a good friend just hanging out (and having delicious tacos). Our second port was supposed to be Catalina Island, but bad weather forced us to cancel and instead we spent a day at sea. Our final port was Ensenada. It was Nicole's first trip to Mexico, and she seemed to be immediately enamored. Some people only like Mexico for its resort areas, never venturing outside the Americanized confines of resorts and beaches. Ensenada is different, more authentically Mexican--and we like that. Nicole and I enjoy Mexican food and art, as well as we encountering different cultures... so Ensenada was a highlight for us. Neither of us had yet picked out an anniversary gift for each other, so when we found an incredible piece of authentic Mexican art we decided to get it...
We returned to Los Angeles the next day and flew back to Seattle. That night we went to a wedding shower for another old friend, then we made our way down to Cascades Camp to spend a couple days with a couple of our favorite people in one of our favorite places.

It was a week packed full of activity, but for as much as we did in just 8 days, it was a very relaxing experience overall. Flying and traveling was a breeze for once! It was a little silly that we left better weather in Chicago and Seattle for overcast skies in Southern California, but that's okay. It was a great way to kick off the summer.


I originally posted this on 4/25/08, but I thought I'd bump it back up to the top so anyone who didn't read it before might see it. Go ahead and sign the petition if you think it's as important as I do!

You probably didn't know this, because before Evie was diagnosed neither did I, but Congenital Heart Defects are the #1 most common birth defect. The stats I've found about its frequency are approximately 1/100 to 1/125 people are born with some type of CHD. However, though hospitals do a myriad of tests on babies during their first day, an echocardiogram is not one of them. I'm no doctor, so excuse me if this is an inaccurate description of what an "echo" is, but essentially it is an ultrasound of the heart. There is no way that when I have more children that I will take them home from the hospital without having an echo first. But since this is not currently a required test, it's my understanding that medical insurance would not cover it. I found an online petition through Facebook that has the goal of urging that echocardiograms be a standard test for newborns. It is my opinion that each newborn needs this because it may just give 1 in 125 babies a better chance at life. See the petition here.

You may be wondering who this petition is going to be presented to, and I don't really have an answer. I looked for details and didn't find any specifics. But I signed it anyway and would encourage everyone else to do so as well because so far it's the only thing I've found that is working towards this cause.

EDIT: For clarification, I'm fairly confident that in our daughter's case her death wasn't caused by the lack of early diagnosis. She had an ER scare but was stabilized very quickly and remained stable for the entire week leading up to her surgery. However, had we not perceived on our own that something was wrong and brought her in to the hospital, she likely would have had a cardiac arrest at home. Such is the case for many newborns with CHD.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Xenophobia, Cowardice, and Donuts

I've always been fickle about Dunkin Donuts. Here in Chicago they're on almost every block, making them very convinient. Historically their coffee has been very delicious save for recently when it seems to have gotten weaker. Many people are surprised that a lot of DD franchises use Fair Trade beans exclusively. But before I can enjoy a socially responsible self righteous sip, I have to wave my finger at those Styrofoam cups--hardly biodegradable. I should also confess that I find the sausage, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich a calorie packed guilty pleasure. Yet with this new controversy out of bizarro world, I'm pretty disappointed in them.

Apparently Rachel Ray's black and white scarf looks slightly similar to a Palestinian keffiyah. Some loons decided to take offense... so Dunkin' Donuts pulled the ad, for fear that some Americans would be sent into the streets in a pants-wetting panic that someone in a donut ad might be wearing a black and white scarf that looks kindof sortof like something a Palestinian would be wearing. You know, if it wasn't a scarf but was a headdress. And if it had a different pattern...

What exactly is offensive about a scarf? Is it that Rachel Ray has olive skin? (She is Sicilian, not Arab). We don't want someone who marginally resembles a Muslim hawking coffee? Heck, what if she was a Muslim Arab? Do we really think a 30 second TV spot means a victory for Terrorism? That sausage bagel I mentioned earlier... yeah, basically Dunkin Donuts is anathema to Islamic Fundamentalists. This is nothing but xenophobia, irrational fear expressing itself.

A few facts Americans should get straight:

  • Barack Obama has an Arab sounding name. He must be Muslim right? He's not. Feel very free to disagree with his politics (I do on a number of issues), but don't perpetuate lies.
  • In the Bible, the book of Revelation makes no mention of Muslims. The New Testament was written in the first century A.D., Islam was founded in the seventh century A.D.
  • Most people of Middle Eastern descent in America are Christian--not Muslim.
I don't discount the danger of Islamic Fundamentalism in our times. I don't disagree that Islam has a deep disfunction and a faulty worldview. But the truth is that living in the United States we have succumbed to an irrational level of fear that manifests itself in the willingness to trade freedom for "security" and to let prejudice trump sound thoughtfulness. The cholesterol and sugar in your Dunkin Donuts are far more likely to kill you than a suicide bomber.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

A preview of events to come...

Looks like Matt's ready to graduate! Or cast spells...

Nice "hood."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Kept in my heart

Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for awhile

If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for awhile

There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sometimes when you're doing simple things
around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile

You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on
your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

Keep me in your heart for awhile

Warren Zevon

Special Day

Today was Mother's Day (I assume you already knew that, and if you didn't you're probably in trouble!). I was pretty worried about what this would be like for me, since I live in the very strange world of being a mother without a child. But it turned out to be a very lovely day (though not weather-wise). I was given flowers and a home-cooked salmon dinner by my husband and lots of well-wishes from family, friends, and our church family. While I can't call my day a "Happy" Mother's Day, I can call it a "Special" Mother's Day. I feel very proud to be Evie's mom, and it was great to have that recognized. Thanks to everyone who cared for me today. :)

And Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, Matt's Mom, and all the other mothers in our lives!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Fight, Fight, Fight

Fight. You can only hope that last nights bench clearing brawl means the Mariners have finally hit bottom. How much farther is left to go? The worst record in the AL, 8 games out of first in the division. 1 run in 32 innings. Shutout twice in a row by mediocre pitching. A team batting average of .131 over the last 8 games. Zero runs scored to support your top two starting pitchers. When does the 2009 season start?

I grew up with a lot of bad Mariner teams, teams in last place. But those were teams without Cy Young candidates like Eric Bedard and Felix Hernandez. Those were teams without Ichiro, Beltre, and Ibanez. That was an era before a stacked farm system and some of the best international scouting in the world. Last season was a fun season to watch because you saw a mediocre team scrapping it out every night to stay in contention through August. On paper, this is a better team than that one... but this one is no fun to watch, and I have serious doubts about being anywhere near second place even by August.

If the Mariners finally do break out of this offensive rut (offensive in both senses of the word), what do they need to do? Its hard enough to be eight games behind out of first, but when you've got to fight two good teams ahead of you in your division its even harder (Angels and A's are leading the AL west). To have a shot, from here on out the Mariners need to be playing .600 ball. Thats hard to do. Even if they pull that out, it doesn't mean they win. They need to play .600 ball, hope the Atheletics regress to the mean, and pray that the Angels will have a meltdown at some point because if the Angels stay on pace to win 92 games this season, it would take .620 ballclub to catch up. Thats a laughable idea right now, being the only two teams in all of baseball winning like that is Boston and Arizona. Two weeks ago I advocated signing Griffey... or anyone to bring some offensive power. They could get both Griffey and Bonds right now and still be fighting an incredible up hill battle.

I'll keep watching and hope a fools hope, but in my own little fandom its now the Cubs, Whitesox, and Twins who'll keep my attention with serious competition.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mental Health Break

I'm deep into final papers this week, but I ran into a road block here this morning. This provided some good relief...