Friday, February 29, 2008

In Over My Head

Ta da!




Now, can anyone come here and paint stripes for me, pleeeeze. Straight stripes. With clean margins. And, um, tomorrow. Anyone?! Because I think I'm in over my head.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Sound Of 5 Degrees

Below are a few videos from this past weekend. It was 5 degrees when we went for a walk in the woods, but sunny, so it felt warmer. We had the reservoir to ourselves. It was so nice and peaceful. Except for the incessant crunching sound that can virtually drown out any other sounds, that is.

You may notice that Sophie Dog's right rear foot is wrapped. Remember her Big Owie? Well, it just hadn't been healing properly and kept bleeding. So I would tape it up and then I cut a heavy fleece sock to fit and would put that over her foot, trying to keep it protected. Alas, it didn't work, and her poor toe kept bleeding.

Well - those of you who are squeamish, please close your eyes for this part - Sophie Dog had to have a little surgery on Tuesday for an unrelated matter involving her hind quarters and what is possibly the world's most digusting part of a dog, her anal sacs. Since Sophie Dog is on the excitable side, she would "express" her anal sacs frequently, even while dreaming! If you've never had to deal with this in your dog, count your blessings. If you have, you know how the smell can almost make you vomit. After many trips to the vet over the last year, it was decided it was time to have them out. So she had a bit of surgery on her bum, and at the same time, the vet opted to do a little more surgery on her troublesome toe. As it turns out, the nail was more severely damaged than they originally thought, so it's now completely gone, and this time should heal.

So poor Sophie Dog has had a rough week. But she's starting to feel better and should be chasing tennis balls and sticks in a couple of weeks again. If only it would warm up here.

Boot Cam



Sophie Speaks


Sophie & The Big Stick

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Got Nothin'

February blahs. I know a couple people have tagged me, too, and I got nothin' for that either right now. Sorry, peeps.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Misc.

Yesterday I had a strong urge to just lounge on the couch eating bon-bons while reading my growing stack of magazines, which I can never seem to get through. Here's what's piling up right now:


  • Parents

  • Domino (a comp to replace House & Garden, which went out of business)

  • Bottom Line Personal

  • Cottage Living

  • Garden Gate

  • Adoptive Families

  • Cook's Illustrated

  • Consumer Reports

  • Discover

  • Good Housekeeping


I don't know how I wound up with so many magazines again when last year I made a concerted effort to cancel subscriptions, such as Newsweek, People and Cooking Light, and had gotten down to just a couple. But I keep getting "special offers," such as $10 for two years. Plus, the neighbor kids sell subscriptions for school fundraisers and they know I'm a sucker.

Anyway, I fought off my bon-bon dreams and got cracking. Sophie Dog and I took a 75-minute hike in the morning. It was only 13 degrees when we started but it was so bright and sunny that I was peeling off layers quickly.



Later, the letter carrier made a special trip to my house to deliver three packages! First I got this, which is for the second class I'm taking this semester (yawn):




I also finally used a birthday gift certificate from my brother and sister-in-law (thanks!) to one of my favorite retailers, Athleta. (Socks and undies, so no picture for you!)

And I also got this:




Yep, I splurged on a diaper bag. It's a Ju Ju Be, in chocolate and "bubble gum." It's quite a bit larger than I expected it to be, but it'll be useful for traveling and overnights. (I'll have to get a smaller one for toting around town.)

After all that excitement, I really wanted some bon-bons. But instead, I headed out to do some errands. That included a stop at Lowe's to ... pick up paint for Baby's room, finally! The Paint Girl (pro?) at Lowe's was a wonderful help. Lowe's just opened this past fall in my town, and I like it so much more than The Home Depot. Sorry, you're not getting a look at the paint yet. Suffice to say that I got 5 colors! (Just quart sizes.) Now we'll see if I can start pulling off my vision. My expectation of success is low!

And then top it all off, I spent Saturday night as many working students do: Studying. Ugh.

So now you know more about my Saturday than you cared to! And what's on tap for today?

This:



With this:




Wheeeee....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Today Is * National Donor Day * - You Can Help!

Today is National Donor Day -- a day to give the gift of life.




When I was diagnosed with leukemia nearly 8 years ago, my best treatment option at that time, and one that was considered life-saving, would have been a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, despite a worldwide search for a compatible bone marrow donor, none was found. I really thought that I was a goner, because that was the only way to put my leukemia into remission. Fortunately for me, a new drug was eventually developed that has been widely successful.

But there are many babies, children and adults across the country who need life-saving organ and tissue donations right now. So put down that box of Valentine's chocolates and step up to the plate.

Some ways you can make a difference in someone's life and possibly even save a life:


  • Fill out an organ and tissue donation card, register with your State Donor Registry and make sure your family knows you want to be a donor.


  • Join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry of potential volunteer marrow and blood stem cell donors. I myself had joined this registry years before I was ever diagnosed with leukemia. Today, stem cell donation is much easier, and registration very simple.


  • Learn how you can donate your baby's umbilical cord blood stem cells at birth. Do NOT buy into the hype and bank your baby's cord blood privately. Studies show that private banking is costly and ineffective, and it takes away an option for people who need cord blood transplants right now.


  • Donate blood


Not convinced? Here are some reasons why organ and tissue donation is so sorely needed:

  • Almost 95,000 people are in need of an organ for transplant.


  • Approximately 35,000 children and adults in our country have life-threatening blood diseases that could be treated by a marrow or blood stem cell or cord blood transplant.


  • Every two seconds someone in America needs blood, more than 39,000 units each day, according to the American Red Cross.


So this Valentine's Day, think about how you can help someone else, rather than focusing only on the commercialism.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Book Meme

I've been tagged for this meme by my friend Hot Anne. Since I was naughty and skipped the last one, I'll do this one. However, I may break part of it (gasp!).

Here goes:

The Book Meme.

The rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book of at least 123 pages.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the 5th sentence.
4. Post the next 3 sentences.
5. Tag 5 more people.

OK, the nearest book is "Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research and Practice, 3rd Edition," but I'm gonna take a pass on that, as I wouldn't want to bore you with grad school stuff. (Page 123, by the way, explores the concepts of how stage theories approach the issue of explaining and changing behavior.)

So let's pretend a much better book was close at hand:

"Paradise of the Blind," by Duong Thu Huong. (If you look under the library section on the right-hand column of this page, you'll see it listed there.) The book's cover proclaims, "Banned in its own country, the first novel from Vietnam ever published in the United States." It's captivating. It's sort of a coming-of-age tale about a young Vietnamese woman who struggles to find her identity amidst family turmoil and poverty. (Mom and Fran, I think you'd like this one a lot too.)

OK, what were the rules again? Oh yes, page 123. Fifth sentence.

I have to fudge here a bit, too, because that lands sort of in the middle of a quote from a Vietnamese poet, so let's move on just a bit to this:

The young man flushed a drunken red as a vein in his neck pulsed. "But, chief, during the anti-American resistance, the southern soldiers left for the front singing Do Chieu's verses. Anyone who has even a bit of education and understands the South knows that Do Chieu is irreplaceable for our compatriots."

I'll tag these people who recently left comments on my site, but don't feel obligated, folks (hahah, that'll teach you to comment, eh?!):

Lina (but not Ole)
Kathy Irwin
Tammy and Ray
"Butterfly" Jen
Erica

For those interested, you can read more about Paradise of the Blind:

Here

Here (This is interesting. The publisher's site notes similar books include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. A classic. And another coming-of-age story. Neat.)

And here

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

BRU - BUST

My friend Maria (among others) wondered how the VIP event at BRU went the other night. Well, in a word: crap. It was, yes, crappy. There was no red carpet, as promised. There was a line to get in (mind you, it was about 27 thousand degrees below zero), there was a line for the food (which looked like it consisted of an extra-long sub sandwich being passsed off as hors d'oeuvres), it was elbow-to-elbow crowded (I heard one salesperson say they didn't expect such a big crowd. Really? When you promise free food and giveaways?!), there was no free gift bag (it was shove-your-way-to-the-free-samples, which consisted of about three different things including a ... pen), and they claimed there was a raffle winner announced every half-hour but I didn't hear a single one in the entire hour I was there. To top it off, the coupons we got are the same coupons anyone gets. And worse, a rumor suddenly undulated through the angry crowd that BRU was giving 10 percent off our entire purchase, which was the only thing that could have made up for this fiasco. Alas, it was not true. A pox on whoever started that rumor. (I did buy two packets of on-sale onesies, though, and a pacifier. Woo-hoo!)

The only saving grace for the evening was that I got to spend some quality time with a few other girlfriends who are all at some stage in adoption themselves. And I got to hold Sophia. Yay me!

Baby Names - What Would You Do?

No, I haven't decided on a name yet. But here's a question for you:

Let's say you have a name you like, but the initials spell out a word. Would you still go with that name or find something else? Or does it matter what word the initials spell out? Like if the initials spelled out VIP (OK, that's not really a word, but work with me here people), that might not be so bad. But what if they were HOG or TUB or JAM or ZIT or something else that you ate or picked at? What would you do? (WWYD?) Or maybe the better question is WWOD, or WWOD?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Adoption Story - International Adoptions Heading Down?

Read this adoption story, linked below, from USA Today. It discusses what we have seen anecdotally via blogs about international adoption lately and what my friends and I have been talking about -- people jockeying to find "greener grass" in a different country or turning to adoption in the U.S. (speaking about Americans here, that is). I think there is good and bad to this.

You have to do some serious soul searching when you change your international adoption plans, to say the least. It's a powerful thing when our adoption horizons expand for all the right reasons. We consider new possibilities that allow us not only to learn more about our wondrous capacity to love but that create new opportunities for those who are waiting for us to find them, and then who in turn continue to lead us to new discoveries about ourselves.

Those hoping to adopt look closer at U.S. options


Excerpts:

"Other couples say they, too, have been dissuaded from adopting abroad."

***


"Vietnam has emerged as a major source. The number of children adopted there by Americans quadrupled from 163 in 2006 to 626 last year. Yet there may be problems ahead.

"We are very concerned about Vietnam," says Michele Bond, deputy assistant secretary of State, citing apparent abuses there similar to those in Guatemala. If the United States and Vietnam do not renew an adoption accord that expires in September, adoptions from Vietnam could fall."


***


"Sarah Gerstenzang and her husband, who are white, took in Lily, who is black, when she was 5 weeks old. They didn't intend to adopt her, just to care for her until the birth mother was ready to be a parent.

But they fell in love with Lily. "She was adorable, this tiny bundle looking at me," recalls Gerstenzang, assistant project director of AdoptUsKids, a federal program to promote adoption from foster care. They adopted Lily, now 8, as a toddler. "It's been so rewarding, I can't even tell you," she says."

February Blahs

I haven't complained about the weather in a while (OK, maybe a week or so), so here's a snapshot of the current conditions:




At least the sun is (sort of) peeking out right now, after a dreary week. And I have a lot of indoor work I can do since we shouldn't go out, such as writing a paper for grad school, cleaning, riding my bike, and maybe tackling some of the clutter in the basement and workshop.

And tonight - fun! The local Babies R Us/Toys R Us is having a "VIP Shopping Event" for my employer (this is when it pays off to be employed by a major institution that local businesses like to woo) from 7-10 p.m. BRU is "rolling out the red carpet" and offering catered food and refreshments, giveaways, raffles and special discounts. So some girlfriends and I will be checking that out. Who needs the Oscars when we can have our own red carpet?! This BRU/TRU is rather small, so we'll see if it lives up to the hype.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Crib!

This is the crib my dad told me that he and my mom were going to get for the baby:



Sadly, at $14,995 at Posh Tots, it's a bit out of the ballpark for those of us who have not scored the glass slipper. Plus, as a friend pointed out, there are just way too many hazards with this crib. Indeed, I have visions of chubby little baby legs getting caught in the spokes. Ack. (Seriously, have they really sold any of these ginormous cribs?!)

Here's what I got instead, after much teeth-gnashing, hunting and sifting through countless crib reviews in the wee hours. It's pretty, solid, sturdy, safe and affordable. It boasts hidden hardware, dual teething guards, and an attached drawer underneath. Perfect. (Also, I got free shipping on it and another 15% off by googling coupon codes! Even more perfect.)




Now, who wants to help me put it together once it arrives?!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Adopted: The New American Family"

Some of you have heard about the new film called "Adopted: The New American Family," whose early 2008 release the adoptive community is eagerly awaiting.

Below is some information about the film and video excerpts. It's must-read, must-see for all whose lives are touched by adoption. You can read more at the film's Web site.

From the Web site:

About the Film

Angelina Jolie, Madonna and other celebrities have made transracial adoption one of the top pop culture stories of the year. People magazine featured adoption stories on five covers during the past year; the Web and blogosphere are filled with photos of celebrities’ adopted babies; and news programs and talk shows do regular reports on international adoption.

But while celebrities have driven recent media coverage of adoption, the issue has actually affected millions of Americans for decades.

Adopted: The New American Family goes beyond the hype to examine transracial adoption through two real stories. The first follows John and Jacqui as they begin the adoption process and then fly to China to meet their daughter Min Xin Pei. The second story shifts perspective to follow Jen, an adult Korean adoptee raised by white parents who struggles to find her identity while coping with her adoptive mother’s terminal illness. By telling these stories, and by interviewing adoption counselors, social workers and activists, this film will inform, provoke discussion, and give voice to the various people and perspectives touched by the phenomenon of transracial adoption in the United States.

How “Adopted: The New American Family” Came to Be

Director Barb Lee and her production partner Nancy Kim Parsons had always wanted to explore the increasingly popular trend of international adoption in America, an issue they know particularly well as Korean adoptees themselves. With this deeply personal understanding, they set out to create a documentary that told the story of two families at different points along the adoption journey.

In the end, both Barb and Nancy hope to inform, educate, and challenge the viewer’s preconceived notions of not only adoption, but of family as a whole.

Video Excerpts from "Adopted: The New American Family."

Trailer for the documentary "Adopted: The New American Family", which will be released in early 200:

(Note: This clip has an instance of R-rated sexual concepts.)



Dr. Joseph Crumbley the importance of not only speaking to your children about culture, but also race:



Dr. Richard Lee dicusses an adoptee's sense of beauty in a transracial household:



Jen, an adult Korean adoptee, talks with her parents about being called names:



Dr. Joseph Crumbley tells of meeting with adopted Chinese children and learning about their experiences with racism:



Dr. Ron Federici talks about how even in "nice" orphanages, children often experience post-traumatic stress:



Dr. Richard Lee dicusses common stereotypes about Asian American men and women:



Another Excerpt

While many adoptees report a great sense of love and mutual respect shared with their adoptive parents, some describe a lack of cultural competency within their families, and cultural disconnect and confusion leading to resentment.

Now the increasingly vocal community of adult transracial adoptees has begun to come together to identify the best practices in transracial adoption and to better prepare future parents for issues facing adoptees. Through Web sites, books and blogs, they are sharing their stories to improve the experiences of others - children and parents alike.

Read more.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Dissed By The UPS Guy

Apparently UPS Guy now thinks I'm pathetic and homebound. He showed up at my door late this afternoon -- after also stopping by yesterday with my stroller (!) -- to deliver what turned out to be a delightful gift (thanks, Sallie!!) but instead of just handing it over he had to engage in some social commentary.

UPSG: "Don't you ever leave your house?"

ME: [Look of confusion]

ME: But I work from home!

UPSG: [Gestures to my driveway]

UPSG: You don't even have any tire tracks in your driveway and it snowed on Monday!

ME: Uh, uh ... But I work from home. I don't have to go anywhere.

ME: And my snowblower is broken. It's in the shop. I can't shovel. Bad shoulder, you know? [mumbling]

UPSG: [walks to his truck with a backward glance at the huge drifts on the tire-track-less driveway]

Pathetic, right? It's true that I have not been out of the house since Monday morning when I took the dog to the vet, which I could have walked to if it wasn't 20 degrees below zero and 45 below with windchill and if Sophie didn't have a big owie because it's only 6 blocks from my house. So no, I have not technically left my house since Monday morning at 8:50 am. and it is now Friday morning at 12:24 a.m. But really, I don't think that should be fodder for UPS Guy to diss me. Even if I happened to be wearing a brightly striped turtleneck under a beigy plaid fuzzy sweater. Who cares about fashion when it's so dang cold?! And it's not as if UPS Guy with his "brown" is so fashionable, either. But of couse, the saddest part is that UPS Guy is a cutie, brown clothing or not.

Fortunately my repaired snowblower was delivered this afternoon.

I immediately went out and obliterated the evidence.