Thursday, April 30, 2009

A downburst in Eugene

Today I came across a very interesting story in the newspaper:

Strong gust of wind lifts bench, scatters debris at South Eugene High

I have never heard of a downburst before. I was totally taken aback by the news story. I kept saying things like "oh, my gosh!" and "whoa!" as I read it. (I especially said that "whoa" when I read about the teacher being lifted off of the ground by the wind!)

Read up about downbursts on Wikipedia here.

One downburst actually caused considerable damage in one city. Go to the story and click on the pictures: Enterprise Civic center, roofs and signs damaged in down burst

However, the most famous downburst occurred on July 4, 1977, in Wisconsin. You can read about it here: The Independence Day Derecho of 1977

I thought it was really interesting stuff to learn about. Kinda scary how it can happen, though.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The one good Easter picture

Last month, we took the children for their Easter picture. During the shoot, the photographer had to keep moving around on the floor because Jesse kept getting up and walking around the room, so we both had to work together in trying to get him to sit still. But in the process, the cord for the camera came off and the photographer reconnected the camera to the computer without checking to make sure everything was A-OK. That turned out to be a bad idea, because when we got the pictures, almost all of them were messed up. Seriously, a lot of them were cut off at the wrong angle, making it impossible to even get a decent head shot of one or both of the children.

There is good news, though. Of the many pictures we picked for Easter-themed pictures, only one of them came out just right. Here is the ONE good Easter picture of both of the children:

Yes, I realize the flash reflected off of Jennifer's lens there, and I worried about whether or not I should leave her glasses off for future pictures. (This has not happened with any of her school pictures. Maybe it's a photographer-thing and not a camera or setting thing?) All the same, though, it is still a GOOD picture. I am very happy with it and also very grateful that at least I have one good Easter picture of the children for this year.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the pictures we chose for our family. I might have to end up making copies of this one picture to send to everybody.

But there is more good news. Because of the mistake, they gave us a free make-up photo shoot. Some of them were Easter pictures, too. I don't know yet how these will turn out (as we have not yet gotten these pictures) but hopefully they will all turn out good. And if no Easter-themed pictures, then at least I still have the one good one to make a copy of and send it along with the others to our family.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's apparent you are NOT a parent

While reading Dear Abby the other day, I came across a letter from a nanny in New York who was complaining how the parents of the child she cares for hardly ever spend time with their child. She admitted that, as someone who is NOT a parent herself, she has no place to discuss this matter with her employees. Still, she was concerned.

And after I saw that letter, I was just glad there was someone who is NOT a parent recognizing that they have no place to give advice to parents on how exactly they parent their children. While her complaint is indeed a valid one, she still would not serve as a credible source of advice on what is right and what is wrong with how someone goes about this parenting business.

Somehow or another, certain non-parents out there think that advice they heard on Dr. Phil or something they read on the Internet is enough to explain away some problem a parent they know is having or how it will correct some kind of mistake that a parent is making.

And these parents getting that advice will think 'You have NO CLUE what it's like to be a mother/father/parent.' (Take your pick.) Therefore, these advice-givers really don't have much clout, even when they think they are right. (Heads up: Not every single piece of parenting advice out there is a one-size-fits-all pill you can give to parents.)

I have been on the receiving end of this kind of thing many times. People who saw something on a talk show or web site take something to do with the way I parent my children and say, "You are WRONG!" It's either to correct some mistake or to offer advice that hasn't exactly been asked for. I can only roll my eyes and think, 'Whatever. Get back to me when YOU have kids.'

I'm reminded of a scene in the TV show Roseanne. Roseanne and her sister Jackie are arguing about something to do with Roseanne's older daughter, Becky. Jackie is trying to get her opinion across but Roseanne isn't buying it. Finally, out of frustration, Jackie asks, "When are you going to start listening to me?" And Roseanne replies, "When your water breaks." For those of you who might not get that, she was pretty much telling her single, childless sister, "Don't tell me how to parent MY kid until after you even know what it's like to parent YOUR kid."

Admittedly, I'm guilty of this crime. Before I became a mom, I thought I knew better when I told any of my sisters this or that about how they were parenting their children. Oh, I thought I was SO smart! I thought I knew it all. I thought my experience as a babysitter gave me enough experience as a "parent." (Ha! What a laugh.) Well, it didn't. And, yes, I am indeed reaping what I sow. These days, I know better. I know better because now I am a parent and getting what I gave. And I also know that those advice-givers who are NOT parents themselves are only walking in the same shoes that I once walked in.

I just wish that other people out there, people who ARE NOT parents but think it's perfectly fine to give parenting advice, would realize that nothing else in the world besides having your own child will be a sufficient replacement for knowing what it's like to be a parent. Because it isn't. And, you don't.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Surgery scare

On the DC blog, I mentioned how I said this morning, "I could REALLY use some good news right now."

Unfortunately, that good news didn't come today.

But the good thing is that it was not bad news about my dad. I am praying I don't receive that kind of bad news.

But the bad thing is, the bad news is about Jesse.

Today I had to take him to his eye doctor appointment. This was a follow-up appointment from 6 weeks ago. Jesse has been seeing the eye doctor because he's cross-eyed. The doctor said to put an eye patch on his eyes, alternating between left and right, every day for 6 weeks, for as long as possible. And we have been doing that.

But to no avail. At today's appointment, the doctor said Jesse's eyes have not improved. They don't work together. I asked him if there's something else that can be done to correct the problem and after some discussion, he finally said, "Surgery."

At that very word, Jennifer looked like someone knocked the wind out of her.

I had the same feeling. I didn't like the idea of my baby on an operating table, with needles and tubes in his arms and some surgeon working on his eyes. That very thought just terrifies me. I mean, I won't doubt the skill of an eye surgeon. But this is my BABY we are talking about! Anything could go wrong! They could botch the surgery. They could cause Jesse to go blind in one or both eyes. Or Jesse might have a negative reaction to the anesthesia or post-op care.

It's all really frightening for a mother with an 18-month-old.

I tried to remain calm, though. I asked the doctor if there were other alternatives. He said we could try the eye patch longer and see if there's any progress after a month. But other than that, not much else could help Jesse's eyes.

I was crestfallen. I thanked the doctor and told him I would talk to my husband about this first. We would need some time to decide on if this is the approach we want to take.

Yes, I have read so many stories of people with crossed eyes or lazy eyes who had corrective surgery in infancy and turned out just fine. Yes, I know we have to correct this eye problem of his as soon as possible. Time is crucial. They say if you don't correct it by age 3, there's not much else you can do to fix the problem. And if it gets worse, he could have blindness even still!

My poor baby....

As we were leaving the doctor's office, Jennifer looked crushed. "I can't believe he has to have surgery," she sadly said.

"I know, it's scary," I answered. "But don't worry. I'll talk to Daddy, okay? Jesse will be all right."

I tried to believe that on the way home. In honesty, I wanted to curl up into a corner and just wrap my arms around myself. I was sad and scared. But angry, too. On top of the family crisis I am going through, there is THIS! I shook my head and mumbled to whoever was in charge of making this bad stuff happen, "What ELSE are you going to throw at me?"

Whatever it is, I know we'll get through it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

If you get sick, I get sick

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes, I wonder.

I once came across the following on a message board I frequent: "When my neice was a baby, I taught her how to quack like a duck. My sister has never forgiven me."

But, sometimes, imitation is good. Educational. Even cute.

One eye-rolling form of imitation is how Jennifer has been trying to teach Jesse how to bang on his chest and cry out like Tarzan. *groan* I've told her many times not to do that but she thinks it's hilarious. Fortunately, Jesse hasn't caught on to it yet, but she hasn't given up on her mission to have two Tarzan fans in the family. LOL

One thing I did end up having Jesse imitate, though, was how I'd throw my arms up in the air and go, "Yay!" This was an easy thing for him to copy. A lot of times, he'll laugh first, then throw his arms up and go, "Yay!" Sometimes he'll do this after me or Jennifer do this. Or sometimes he'll do this on his own. For example, one day I was going about, cleaning, while he was eating his lunch. As I passed him sitting in his highchair, he reached out his hand and said, "Mama." I turned to look at him. He threw up his arms and went, "Yay!" *dies from cuteness overdose*

Imitation has its good sides and bad sides. And sometimes, it's not the baby imitating the parent. But the other way around.

Recently, Jesse got sick with a cold. He was sneezing and had a runny nose. On Easter Sunday, I started being the one doing the imitating. I was sneezing my head off and had a runny nose, too.

Yep, I got sick on Easter. Yep, both Jesse and I have been sick.

This is the kind of "bad imitation" I am talking about here. But at least this one will pass soon enough. It's just not passing as quickly as I would like it to.

And while on the subject of imitation, Jesse has imitated me wiping my nose with a tissue while we're both sick. If he sees me wipe my nose with a tissue, he'll reach out for a tissue, then wipe his nose with it. It's cute to watch but I have to wonder if he "gets" why I'm wiping my nose at all. Time will tell, I suppose.

And, apparently, Jesse and I are not the only sickies in the house. I caught it from Jesse and my husband caught it from me.

At least the older child knows better not to "imitate" this one.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009


On April Fool's Day, I made a joke blog post. Actually, it was more of a "story blog post." With me as the star. Ta-da! I was going to do a fib blog post. Just to get that "Oh my gosh! Are you serious??!!" kinda reaction from anyone reading it. Something like "I just found out I'm adopted!" or "My parents are suing me for slander!" Or even "I just found out I'm pregnant!" (Ha! My husband doesn't read this blog, but even HE would know that's not true because that is JUST. NOT. POSSIBLE.)

But I couldn't lie on the blog. Not even as a prank. Gots to keep them there blog posts HONEST! Gots to TELL THE TRUTH!

I KNOW I was doing an April Fool's thing. But I just couldn't lie on the blog. In person, facial expressions and body language that people pick up on would get it that the person telling the joke is telling a REAL joke. But on a blog, that's different.

So, a fib was out. Maybe a story would go over better. My conscience was clean in making up a story for April Fool's Day. Yay!

So, that's what I did. Now the only thing TRUE about that story is this: We have indeed lost the case for a DVD we borrowed from the library. They really did freeze Jennifer's library card until we find it. And Jennifer really was upset about it.

It's been missing for 3 weeks. I have NOT been happy. Neither has the downtown Eugene Public Library.

I have been looking for it here and there as we have been doing the de-cluttering of the house and Spring cleaning. So far, no luck. I looked for it in Jennifer's room twice. I looked under her bed, behind it and on the side. I even looked under the mattress! I searched all of her drawers, her bookcase and even behind it, and her closet. Zilch.

But I was so convinced that it HAD to be in there somewhere. Because the last time I saw it, her dad gave it to her and told her to put it in her room. (ARGH! Why not where we USUALLY put the movie stuff at? WHY??!!!!) But we turned that room upside down looking for it.

It. Was. Not. In. There!

And just as I started to suspect that maybe Jesse accidentally flushed it down the toilet (though that's highly unlikely) or that some aliens beamed it up to their ship, I realized I was starting to get all bent out of shape about this. Every day I was looking for it. Every day I was drilling Jennifer about it. And her dad, too, on if he'd seen it. I was starting to crack!

It is important to me that we return what we borrow. And it's important that we get the freeze off of Jennifer's library card. It's her first library card, after all! But not at the risk of me losing it.

So I started to relax a little. Just try to calm down and rest assured that it WILL turn up. It couldn't have disappeared!

You can probably guess what happened after that. Yep, I found it. They say when you stop looking for something, you'll find it. And that's what happened for me! Yay!

I was doing the cleaning today while Jesse was napping. I was on my knees, dusting off a lower shelf on the entertainment center, when I saw something sticking out from behind it. I reached back and pulled out an empty M&M's wrapper. I shook my head and sighed. As many times as I tell Jennifer DO NOT THROW YOUR TRASH ON THE FLOOR, she still has been known to do that a time or two.

Still shaking my head, I crawled under there, wondering what else I was going to find. I poked my head behind the thing and peered into the dark area under the TV set. Hm, there's something back there, I thought. I also thought, what IS that black thing??

Cringing, I reached my hand back there under the TV set (God knows what's hiding under there!) and, thankfully, I was able to grab a hold of the mysterious thing.

Which actually felt like a DVD movie case.

Holding my breath, I started to pull it out from behind there, all the while reminding myself it could be for another DVD movie. (We actually have one other case missing. Yes, I know, we're terrible with that!) But, nope. It was for THE VERY SAME movie that we borrowed from the library! HOORAY!!!

I started to cheer and do a happy dance. I wanted to happily exclaim "I FOUND IT!!!" but the baby was sleeping, so that might've been a bad idea.

Still, I was excited!

And kinda annoyed, too. I've looked behind that entertainment center many times but never saw it back there. Not at all! I even moved it away from the wall just a bit -- but only a little, because it's HEAVY! I didn't see it then, either. But no wonder we didn't see it. It was UNDER the big fat part of the TV set sticking out of the entertainment center! It was under the TV's butt! Gah!

Well, I'm glad I FINALLY found it. And Jennifer is glad, too. Yay!

And I know that when we return it tomorrow, the library will also be glad.

After this, though, maybe we should go back to having one shelf of our many bookcases devoted ONLY to library stuff, and keep library stuff on that shelf when we're done with them. That way, when it's time to take them back, we'll know where to look.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Bible study

While we were getting ready for church today, Jennifer complained about even going. She didn't want to go to church, she said. Because it's "boring." (And, yet, every time we get there, she's soooo excited to see all of her friends.) I really wanted to go because we haven't been there for a while on account of life being so chaotic and also, I wanted to see MY friends. I sure missed seeing them. I don't see all of them every time I go, but I'm bound to see one or two of them.

So we decided to go to church all the same. I convinced Jen she might have fun!

During the sermon, the pastor was talking about the story in the Bible about how Jesus says "man does not live by bread alone." From what they put up on the screen, I was able to tell that the pastor was explaining about how Jesus was referring to how we should not just rely on food for survival, but how the Word of God will give us the ultimate means of survival. Like we should also turn to our Bibles and to God for helping us to "survive," not just by relying on food to keep our physical body going.

I thought that was really an interesting interpretation. It put a whole new meaning on the story, and on the things talked about in the Bible. I have known for a long time that a lot of things in the Bible are symbolic and that there is heavy use of metaphors and allegories. But I mever realized some quotes have a deeper meaning to them.

And while on that subject, the pastor noted how the reference of "daily bread" refers to the Word of God. I remembered reading somewhere of how someone wrote out the meaning behind the Lord's Prayer, and how "daily bread" referred to something else. Not just bread! I always wondered about that and now I wanted to look into it some more. Hopefully, I can find on the Internet a copy of the annotated Lord's Prayer.

After church, we went to the mall. Jennifer needed a new Bible. BADLY. Her Bible is literally falling apart. It's very old. And, anyway, it's not a real "Bible" for children, but a book of stories from the Bible. It was time for her to have a REAL Bible!

So we bought her a Bible spefically for her age group. She was reading through it on the way home. Later, we sat together going through her papers from church and I noted how it said that if she read the Bible every day according to the verse suggestions on one paper, she would earn 8 dollars of "church cash" for each week. Every month, the kids in her church get to spend their church cash at the church store. She got all excited and started reading her Bible, dutifully recording what she read. I could only shake my head and roll my eyes over this. They are essentially PAYING kids to read their Bible! Good grief! It hadn't taken any persuasion or temptation of money to get her to read her Bible in the car. I started kicking myself for even pointing that out. Kids should read the Bible if they want to and WHERE they want to. Not so they can get paid for it. Sigh.

After that, I tried to explain to her information about her Bible. I explained that it's divided into two parts. The Old Testament is before Jesus and the New Testament is after Jesus. I said that it contained books for each part and that the books had "chapters" unlike she normally saw in her chapter books. The chapters can be on the same page. And each chapter contained verses. I showed her the verses and I explained that the verses help people to find certain parts of the Bible and parts of the chapters. I also said that when people cite a passage in the Bible, they mention the book it is in, the chapter number then the verse number. We looked up this week's Bible verse and I showed her how to find it.

But she didn't get ANY of that. I might as well have been talking to a wall. It just went right over her head! I tried to explain it 3 times but she just didn't understand it.

Well, at least she is happy with her new Bible. She read it a lot today and we even read one chapter of it together. I really like how it is kid-friendly and not as complicated as an adult Bible. I know I can't expect her to understand everything about a Bible on the first try and hopefully I will be able to get through to her on understanding how a Bible is put together and how she can use it. For now I'm just glad she's willing to read it and that we can spend time reading it together.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Getting things done

I am happy to report that we have accomplished quite a bit this week.

The first MAJOR thing that finally got taken care of: The pipes have been fixed and I can now use the washing machine again. YAY!!!! Finally! No more going to the laundromat. I was in a real good mood after it was official that everything is now working okay. It was like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I'd often gone to the laundromat grumbling to myself, "Stupid pipes!" So now I'm glad they're fixed.

Well, the ones on the surface are fixed, at least. The plumbing work going on here brought up a shocking discovery: The pipes underneath the house have rusted so bad that they are warped beyond repair and no good anymore. Apparently, one part of the pipe arrangement got so bad, it leaked. And leaked. And leaked.

It leaked A LOT of water out underneath the house. Gah!

So we're in the process of getting THAT fixed but at least we got the surface pipes fixed.

I also finally finished editing Book One in my MG series. Yay! Now to find some readers for it to go through Stage 2 of editing. I really, really want to give it another round of edits first, because I keep thinking I could improve the writing, but my muse is threatening violence if I so much as open the document. LOL She keeps telling me, "DO NOT edit it again!" Well it is at 50 pages, which is the standard for this particular type of book. Though what's on the page of the final book will be different than what's on the screen. (I am pretty much leaving the final word on page counts with the-agent-I-hope-to-sign-with.) What's interesting as I went over it, though, was that I found a couple of typos the editor who edited it missed. Whoops! I guess we all miss those little typos no matter what our job description is.

We also got a new freezer. Yay! Not that we needed one (actually, we need a new fridge!), but we ended up getting one all the same. It's a BIG freezer! Now all I need is a shopping spree to help stock up on frozen foods for it just like the lady in The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio and we'll be all set. (I can't stop thinking about that movie every time I look at that freezer.)

I can't believe Easter is almost here. I have to hustle and get the kids their Easter pictures done. I already have Jennifer's dress and leggings for the picture, but I had to get pink ribbons for her hair. (Her dress is pink.) I also got Jesse a very nice suit. When I told Jennifer that I had to buy Jesse a new suit, she thought I meant a bunny suit. LOL!! I explained that I meant pants, a vest, shirt and tie kind of suit. She didn't understand why I was fussing over getting them really nice clothes and dressing them up for the picture, but it's just one of those things that moms DO!

Now if only I can get myself to remember to schedule the picture itself. And take Jennifer to get her bangs cut before then. All I have to do is look at her and think, 'Gee, she's starting to look like Cousin Itt.'

Oh, and I also need to put together a book proposal for another nonfiction book I have been working on. I finalized the sample chapters to include, so now I'm go for putting together the proposal.

And call the landlord about the under-the-house pipe problem, too.

Getting those things done is next on my list.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Are you a nerd and proud of it?

I made a recent discovery: There really is such a thing as Nerd Pride Day. I started to have doubts after a link in a friend's article eventually lead me to it, but there it was. Nerd Pride Day.

What's worse is that it falls on my birthday: May 25.


I KNOW I look the part. Act the part. Talk the part and maybe even dress the part. Heck, I have been known to write the part!

But that doesn't mean I am proud to be a nerd. On the contrary, I wish I was the exact opposite of Nerd! (Hm, would that be "jock" or "slacker"?)

In any event, there is now an official day, on my birthday, for all nerds to unite and celebrate Nerddom.

But for the record, I'm a Trekkie. I have YET to settle my differences with Lucas-man.

And if it was up to me, I'd make the day National Animal Lovers Day! Or even National Trekkie Day. So there.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A little ghost help

Something very strange happened yesterday. It was so weird and I'm still trying to understand it.

On the weekdays, I get up VERY early in the morning to get stuff out of the way before I get Jen up for school. One of the things that I have to do is let the dogs outside. So I went into the kitchen to let the dogs out, sleepily turning on the light. I look up and I saw this man standing in the kitchen who DEFINITELY didn't belong in the kitchen! He was some old-looking guy, around his 60's, wearing dark brown pants, a black sweater and holding a cap in his right hand. He didn't have a lot of hair on his head. When I saw him, I froze and my heart stopped. I honestly thought someone had broken into the house!

But the minute I processed this, he disappeared. Yep, disappeared right before my eyes!

I thought that was bizarre. I've seen many ghosts and have had quite a lot of paranormal experiences, but I still get a little shaky every time something like this happens.

What's strange is that my dog didn't do anything. He just slept there on his bed. So did the other dog (who is not mine but I have been pet-sitting her). But then again, I don't know what the rule is for animals and ghosts. If they're even aware there is a ghost present every time one is present.

Well, I got over the surprise and let the dogs out. Nothing else much happened while I made the coffee, said my prayer and checked email.

That was, until after I got out of the shower.

With the towel wrapped around me, I walked over to the sink. I looked up at the fogged-up mirror and gasped.

On the foggy mirror was the word "CLOSET."

I thought this was weird but REALLY spooky, too. I looked around, trying VERY hard not to run away screaming, then I just shrugged and wiped clear the mirror. Then I finished drying off and got dressed.

Later, after I got home and after I fed the baby his breakfast, I sat down at the computer to get some writing work done. However, I was really sleepy, so even though I had a Word doc open, I didn't start writing up an article right away. I relaxed in the chair instead, struggling to stay awake as I turned my head to look at the baby. He peacefully sat on the floor, next to the toy box, playing with his alligator xylophone.

Smiling, I turned to look back at the monitor and I was suddenly wide awake now. In big, bold black letters was the word "CLOSET" on the screen.

Sitting up in the chair, I just stared at that. WHAT THE HECK!

I cautiously looked around, wondering if my hubby had snuck up behind me to type it as a prank when I wasn't looking. But nobody else was there. And I checked; hubby was busy working on repairs in the kitchen.

Curious, I went back to the desk, first looking at the baby then at the monitor. I froze. The word "closet" was ALL OVER the document page.

Talk about crazy!!

"What closet!" I cried out in confusion, looking around and shaking my head. My heart pounded in my chest and I felt a shiver run down my spine. What in the world was going on??

Well, I didn't know what closet this...whoever-it-was referred to. So I just started going to all of the closets in the house, searching for anything out of the ordinary. I searched through my closet first -- which, thankfully, I recently got organized, so it wasn't a time-consuming job to go through it. Didn't find anything out of the ordinary in there. I searched Jennifer's closet. Nothing. Then I hit the hall closet. There's a whole lot of stuff in there! Unfortunately, I have yet to organize that one. But I'm getting there, you know? Got deadlines to meet, and all.

Anyway, just as I was about to give up going through the hall closet because I couldn't find anything out of the ordinary in there, I noticed something sticking out between the pile of dirty sheets I have yet to wash. Something a little different than the shape of a sheet.

Leaning further into the closet, I reached inside and grabbed it. Once my hand clasped it, I felt a rush of hope. Was it possibly...?

Yes, it was!

I smiled and squealed with surprise as I pulled out of that closet a DVD case that belongs to the library and that has been missing for WEEKS. We have returned the DVD, but were unable to find the missing case in time. (You can lecture to your kids til you're blue in the face about putting stuff back where it belongs and they STILL don't listen!) The library has frozen Jennifer's account (because she checked this movie out with her card) and she's been very upset because we haven't been able to find the case. And here it was now!!

How in the world it got in there, I will never know.

When I came out of the hallway holding my find, I looked up to see my husband standing in front of the computer. "I thought you were going to work on your writing?" he asked.

My smile faded as I looked at the monitor, where a BLANK document was visible. GAH!

I shook this away and told him about my find. I didn't mention HOW I found it, only that I found it! Hurray!

So when I picked Jen up from school, I showed her the DVD case and we both cheered at how it can go back to the library now and they will unfreeze her card.

But here's the part that is even weirder: When we got to the library to return the DVD movie case, I was at the desk and turned to see a man standing behind me.

The same man who looked like the ghost I'd seen in my kitchen!

One word: YIPE!