30 June 2008

What to write about . . .

Well, there's not too much going on here. I have a busy week coming up with Red Cross classes and a CPR class for school.

Mike is finishing up his semi-truck training class Wednesday, if all goes well. I think that he's pretty relieved to be finishing up with the class. Then this weekend, he has a 4-day weekend because of the 4th of July. Yay!!

Abby and Asher moved to Sheppard AFB in Texas on Friday. Thursday night we all went over to their house and said our goodbyes. Joe presented them with a picture - it was the kind where you can write on the matting, so we all wrote farewell messages to them. Friday morning I went back over to help them move some last minute things that the movers forgot to pack over to Katy's house (Abby's mom), and I said goodbye again. After I got into my truck, Caylee and Natalie came running over to my truck door with outstretched arms, so I got out of the truck and gave them another hug goodbye. Natalie had little tears starting to fall and as Caylee turned away with her head down, I could see her face getting red. I don't know if they cried or not, but it was so hard to say goodbye to them. When I came to deliver the stuff to Katy's house, Katy and Macy greeted me at the door. Macy as always had outstretched arms, so I picked her up and she gave me the best "Macy hug" and I just held onto her. Katy and I unloaded the truck then I came inside for a few minutes. Katy invited Mike and I to dinner next Saturday night, so that will be really great to hang out with her and Bill. I really hope that they stay in our lives. Then I played blocks with Macy, Bethany and Sery for a few minutes before leaving. I don't think that they really understood the move and everything, completely. They are only 3, 2 and 17 months. :) I'm really going to miss Abby being so close. We did talk on the phone for a long time last night, so I know that in some ways, things aren't going to change. I just won't be seeing Abby all the time like I used to. And we won't be able to run together everyday and talk like we used to.



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Thomas moved in this weekend too. Mike and I slept in moderately late and got up and did our usual Saturday morning thing, hanging around in our pj's, eating breakfast. I had bought Thumblina, so we watched that. Sometime around 1300, Joe, Jason and Marilyn and Thomas showed up to start moving his things in.



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More on these things later . . . .



Lunch with Kim -

Rising Food Prices

From Time via YahooNews: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20080630/us_time/americasshrinkingfoodwraps


By KATE PICKERT Mon Jun 30, 1:25 AM ET

American supermarkets are epics of excess: it often seems like every item in the store comes in a "Jumbo" size or has "Bonus!" splashed across the label. But is it possible that the amount of food Americans are buying is, in fact... shrinking? Well, yes. Soaring commodity and fuel prices are driving up costs for manufacturers; faced with a choice between raising prices (which consumers would surely notice) or quietly putting fewer ounces in the bag, carton or cup (which they generally don't) manufacturers are choosing the latter. This month, Kellogg's started shipping Apple Jacks, Cocoa Krispies, Corn Pops, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks containing an average of 2.4 fewer ounces per box.

Similar reductions have recently happened or are on the horizon for many other products: Tropicana orange juice containers are shrinking from 96 ounces to 89; Wrigley's is dropping its the 17-stick PlenTPak in favor of the 15-stick Slim Pack; Dial soap bars now weigh half an ounce less, and that's even before they melt in the shower. Containers of Country Crock spread, Hellmann's mayonnaise and Edy's and Breyer's ice cream have all slimmed down as well (although that may not necessarily be a bad thing).

"People are just more sensitive to changes in price than changes in quantity," says Harvard Business School Professor John Gourville, who studies consumer decision-making. "Most people can tell you how much a box of cereal costs, but they have no clue how much is actually in it." Other segments of the economy have made similar moves to pass on their higher costs to the consumer without raising prices directly. American Airlines announced in May that it would charge $15 each way for a single checked bag, part of what airlines have dubbed "a la carte" pricing, which - along with the industrywide drive to put price tags on former freebies like soft drinks, meals and headphones - some airline observers say is really an effort to avoid increasing base ticket prices.

Once they're asked about the changes, food manufacturers are quick to explain their own increasing overhead costs - a Kellogg's spokeswoman said reducing the amount of cereal per box was "to offset rising commodity costs for ingredients and energy used to manufacture and distribute these products" - but most are not exactly going out of their way to let consumers know they're getting less for their money. Some claim newly shrunk products are responses to consumers' needs. Tropicana told the New York Daily News earlier this month that its orange juice containers, which also include a newly designed cap and retail for the same price as the previous larger size, were the result of customer complaints. Said spokeswoman Jamie Stein, "We had a lot of spillage with our old products. It's a value-added redesign."

Reducing the size of products as a way of increasing prices is not new. Frito-Lay cut the amount of chips in their bags and Poland Springs reduced its water cooler jugs from 6 to 5 gallons years ago, all while keeping prices the same. Still, says Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federal of America, "What's going on now is definitely reflective of rising food costs and rising fuel costs." Waldrop says he doesn't blame manufacturers for taking the step to protect their bottom lines, but says the food companies should be honest with their customers about it. "If they're transparent and open, consumers are less willing to think [manufacturers] are trying to pull one over on them," says Waldrop. The changing product sizes are part of the reason the Bureau of Labor Statistics says groceries cost 5.8% more than the same time last year. Price checkers in the department measure more than 2,000 food items to determine overall food inflation, and when they notice product size changes, they adjust the inflation index accordingly, according to Ephraim Leibtag, an economist with the Economic Research Service of the Department of Agriculture.

When a product amount drops below a benchmark like "1 pound" or "1 gallon" consumers often take note, according to Gourville. But after that, it's much easier for manufacturers to further whittle down amounts. It's all about taking away consumers' ability to compare apples to apples. The best way to compare food products if you're not sure if sizes have changed is to look at the "unit price," which breaks down the cost per ounce or per quart.

- With Reporting by Alex Altman View this article on Time.com

20 June 2008

Busy week!

It has been one of those weeks that feels so long I can't believe it's Friday finally, and at the same time, has been so busy, it feels like it flew by and I can't believe it's Friday!

I worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Hillcrest, filling in for Kiaya and helping Shelly out. In some ways it was good to be back at the office seeing patients and being helpful, in other ways I longed to be at home taking care of the apartment for Mike. I have so many projects to do! Sometimes I think there's three people in me, one that wants to be a professional working all the time, one that wants to just go to school and one that wants to be a stay at home wife and mother! Now, how to assimilate the three into one!

Yesterday I started my first official day interning for the American Red Cross as a community disaster education volunteer/military community education volunteer. I went to a presentation to observe and help pass out information with Susan, the Community Disaster Education Coordinator, then in the afternoon I helped prepare flyers for the 145th [unit?] with the National Guard that will be deploying to Iraq in August. There are 1500 flyers to get ready! Susan and I went to lunch at Cracker Barrel and enjoyed a really great lunch together. When our food arrived, I asked her if she minded if I prayed. She replied that she was glad I asked because she was going to ask me the same thing! (What a Praise!) So we briefly spoke of our faith, then the conversation moved to the work of the Red Cross. Basically as an intern, I am free to come up with any ideas for community education, formulate a plan and the Red Cross will pay for any materials that I need. I asked about community health education, such as Stroke Prevention or Heart Attack awareness, and she said I could do things like that. I am so excited! I spoke with my friend Linette at nursing school, and she's going to come and volunteer and she's is totally onboard to help out with that. I am so excited about the potenial!! Of course I'll also be helping with disaster education as well as going down to MEPS (the military out processing station) to share about the Red Cross with the new recruits who are getting ready to leave.

Mike has also been very busy. He started out the week taking the Staff Test. We decided to leave it up to the Lord's hands and he didn't really put in any extra studying for it. The rest of his squadron had kicked off an exercise, so he joined in on that for the next few days. Then his superiors decided to stick him into a truck driving class. So today and for the next two weeks, he's going to be learning how to drive Semi Trucks! I think he's excited about it because Paul knows how to do that and he wants so much to be like his Dad. Ever the worrier, in the back of my mind I'm thinking, okay, if he knows how to drive a semi, does that mean they're going to send him for convoy duty in Iraq?? That's one of the most dangerous things you can do over there.

For the last few weeks, in light of the ever increasing gas prices, which have pushed us over our income for the month based on Mike's income alone, Mike has been very concerned with coming up with a way to make a hydrogen based engine or some such variation. After much research on the internet, he found a kit to make some sort of converter that takes hydrogen out of water and adds it to the engine. It's supposed to double your gas milage. So last night over dinner he was telling me about an experiment that he conducted at work that worked! We got so excited we forgot about eating (yes, Mike forgot about eating) and started our own experiment in the kitchen. I should have taken pictures, but I forgot. I was just beaming with pride at my husband! He is really an amazing man and I thank God for him every day.

Mike got a regular jar, put water in it, took apart an old cell phone charger and attached two nails to the two wires and stuck it in the water. After being warned about the electricity and shock potential, I stood by with a wooden rolling pin in hand just in case. Then he plugged it in. It actually worked! You could see all the bubbles coming from the nails in the water as the electricity ran through the wires into the water. It was so neat! The other part of the experiment is to test it. So Mike set up a larger experiment with part of my small lunch cooler, a plastic bottle of water, the charger and wires and nails, and so on. Mike then asked me for a candle and a lighter. A little while later while I was in the living room, I heard a loud POP! from the kitchen and ran in to see what happened. Mike said it was just the hydrogen or something burning off from the candle. I got a little worried (having just attended a fire safey in apartments talk with the Red Cross and Fire Department) and asked him how dangerous this was. He said, "Well, I guess it could have been pretty bad." So I asked him to halt all kitchen experimentation until we got a fire extinguisher, which he agreed to. I kind of joked about what the headline would look like "Apartment building burns down from fire started in Red Cross volunteer's apartment - the same day she attended a fire safety talk". We laughed at that together, although we both know something like that would be quite tragic.

I am so proud of my husband! He is so smart! Sometimes he gets down on himself because he doesn't think that he is what he wanted to be. I assured him last night that he is his own man and that he is very, very smart and has been blessed with many talents from the Lord (and that he is capable, is an awesome family leader, and has a great personality, and is very handsome and few other wife/husband comments). He looked doubtful, so I gave him an example. When he was researching this project, he googled "water electrolysis". I told him that the average person does not just google "water electrolysis". That is something that only really smart people would type into a search engine. He seemed to cheer up after hearing that. I really love to encourage Mike in what he does. He is so smart and clever and capable; sometimes I think that he doesn't see that in himself.

On top of all of these things this week, we had company two nights. Jason and Marilyn came over for dinner on Monday night. I made pasta and we watched Enchanted together. I really had a great time hanging out with them. Marilyn, Mike and I love Enchanged and it was the first time Jason had seen it. It was pretty funny when Marilyn and I were quietly singing along to all the songs. :) If it had been just Mike and I, he would have sung too, but he doesn't seem to be comfortable singing around other people. I don't know why, he has a beautiful voice. But anyway, it was a really wonderful night.

On Tuesday night, I went to visit Sarah. She and Sheila are painting her house right now and it really looks amazing! They've painted the living room and hall so far, all the walls AND the ceiling! Her husband is deployed right now to Iraq, and she has been working so hard to fix up the house before he comes home. She really loves to please him and it is such a joy to see her being a Godly wife and truly living Godly principles in her marriage.

After I visited Sarah, I came home and got my laptop and headed over to Becca's house. She was going to share an Access program that she created to make flash cards for school. It was really great to see her and Jim again. Becca is one smart cookie when it comes to science and computers (she's getting her degree in Forensics with a minor in Criminology AND chemistry AND biology). She showed me how to work the program and how to tweak it to make my own flash cards for nursing classes. I was very grateful that she was sharing this with me! I have dabbled in Access, but not nearly enough to create something like that on my own. Since then I have started working on a project of mine to make my own recipe cards to put in a box, instead of having all these lose papers and stickies in a folder in a drawer in the kitchen.

On Wednesday night, we had the Kelly's over for dinner. I made meatloaf and veggies and Joey and Heather and baby Joey (who looks exactly like his daddy) came over a little after 1900. (There other two little boys, Timothy and Chris, were in Kansas City visiting their grandparents.) It was great fellowship. They asked us lots of questions about our church and told us that they had talked about it beforehand and wanted to take us up on our invitiation to come to church with us on Sunday. We, of course, were thrilled about this! Mike works with Joey and we have been trying to get to know them better for months. Something has always come up though - I've been sick, or someone in their family has been sick, or they've been away in Kansas City, or we've been away on vacation or something. We were all really happy to finally be able to get together. A few weeks ago Heather asked me if I would ask Mike if Mike would start meeting with Joey weekly to teach him about the Bible (which I have been encouraging Mike to do for months now), so I think they are finally going to get together every week to do that (after the exercise is over next week - because Joey will be in the field all week). It is definitely answered prayer!

Well, that's all I've got for right now. I have some errands to run before I head to lunch with my friend Christine down in Norman. And I still have to do my Bible study as well.

I hope that everyone is having a great week! :D

Breakfast with Becca

Sometime in the middle of the semester, Becca and I started meeting at Starbucks for breakfast before class at UCO on Fridays. Both of had class on Fridays, so we figured it was the perfect thing to do. We hadn't really been able to see very much of each other at any other time during the week because of conflicting schedules, so we were both really excited at the opportunity to meet and catch up and hang out.

We would meet usually around 0700 at the Starbucks on 2nd street in Edmond, order our drinks, coffee for Becca, Earl Gray tea for me, and grab a seat at a small table for two. When the weather was still chilly and/or stormy, we had a usual small table. When the weather started warming up at the end of the semester, we would grab one of the small wooden tables outside. (Which, by the way, every small wooden table I have ever sat at at Starbucks wobbles.)

It was a really great time to just hang out and strengthen our friendship.

At the semester's end, we were both very sad to see our little ritual coming to a close.

Then one of us, I honestly don't remember who, got the bright idea to continue our little tradition at the Starbucks in Del City on Friday mornings. I wasn't working or going to school, and Becca didn't have to be at work until 1000.

Needless to say we were both thrilled that our tradition was going to continue. :)

We started meeting at the Starbucks on SE 29th in Del City, then switched to the one on SE 29th in Midwest City, for ease of travel. Originally the idea would be to switch off, then we decided to just stick with MWC since it was right next to the highway exit for Becca to go to work.

The last couple of Fridays that we have met for breakfast, we get our drinks, grab our table outside and start talking. However, other people have been joining in on our conversations, which range over numerous topics from work to home life to pop culture (movies, TV, books) to current events (such as the Texas case of children being removed from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints ranch) to the musings of life in general. For three weeks in a row now, these random single men have just jumped in our conversation from the next table over. Being the hospitable Oklahomans that we are, we just kind of go along with it and include them in our conversations.

We have heard some really interesting stories from these gentlemen, which we don't ever see again. The gentleman who joined in on our conversation today was a world traveler and told us of all the different people (which I noticed were all women) that he knew in the Philippines, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

We don't ever give them on our name, and they don't offer theirs. It's just the typical kind of thing that you find in Oklahoma. Everyone is your friend, wherever you go, until proven otherwise. It's one of the things that I love about Oklahoma.

And so the breakfast adventures with Becca evolve . . .

18 June 2008

Finally a dent!

I bought my 2005 Ford Ranger brand new in June of 05. I got a really great deal on my truck, with about $4500 off the marked price with lots of haggling, fanagaling, etc. (I searched for weeks with a calculator and folder of papers in hand. Car dealers don't like it when you show with a calculator, by the way.) Unfortunately, because of my ex-husband, I was upside on my old truck by about $10,000 (NEVER EVER EVER buy a car from Hudiburg Chevy in Midwest City!) Anyway, so that had to be tacked onto the loan.

Well, since I have bought my truck, I have been putting extra money on it whenever I can. Usually bonus checks, money from second jobs that I didn't have to spend on school or living expenses, 90% of my vacation pay from when I quit my job at the Health Sciences Center, etc - all of this went to put on the truck.

For a long time it seemed like I wasn't really making a difference. I wanted to pay my truck off early. I had a 78 month loan at 10% interest (I know, it's really high, but my credit wasn't the best when I bought my truck), so that means my truck would have been paid off in Nov 2011.

With most of the money that I am making working limited part time right now at Hillcrest, Mike and I have decided to put towards the truck. Not all, but most.

I made my truck payment today and I can finally see a big difference. I am well on my way to being debt free!! My truck is more than 50% paid off, and I have knocked off 18 months in payments off the end of my loan!! Yay!! And that is if I never make an extra payment again!

Sooo . . . . my goal, albeit a very long shot, at the beginning of this year, was to pay off my truck by the end of the year. I still don't think that will happen, but I am really hoping to be able to pay off my truck before I get out of nursing school, which will be in two years. Right now, it will be paid off the month after I get out. So if I keep making extra payments, it looks like that just might happen! Yay! Praise the Lord! Answered prayer! :D

The lesson to be learned: put extra payments, even if it's just $50 a month on your vehicle, and you will pay far less in the long run. :) This also goes for owning a home too, if you plan to stay in that house for more than 15 years.

17 June 2008

Is it harder to raise boys or girls?

I found this interesting article on cnn.com. Since I am not a parent, I'd be really interested to hear what you guys that have kiddos think. :)

Is it harder to raise boys or girls?
From: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/06/17/harder.to.raise/index.html
By Paula Spencer

I often say that I spend more time and energy on my one boy than on my three girls. Other mothers of boys are quick to say the same. Forget that old poem about snips and snails and puppy dog tails, says Sharon O'Donnell, a mom of three boys and the author of "House of Testosterone." "Somehow it's been changed to boys being made of 'fights, farts, and video games,' and sometimes I'm not sure how much more I can take!"

Boys and girls are both challenging to raise in different ways, experts say.

Not so fast, say moms of girls, who point out that they have to contend with fussier fashion sense, more prickly social navigations, and a far greater capacity to hold a grudge. And as a daughter grows, a parent's concerns range from body image to math bias.
Stereotyping, or large kernels of truth? "I think parents use 'which is harder?' as an expression of whatever our frustration is at the moment," says family therapist Michael Gurian, author of "Nurture the Nature." "Boys and girls are each harder in different ways."

Every child is an individual, of course. His or her innate personality helps shape how life unfolds. Environment (including us, the nurturers) plays a role, too: "There are differences in how we handle boys and girls right from birth," says David Stein, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Virginia State University in Petersburg. "We tend to talk more softly to girls and throw boys in the air."

But it's also true that each gender's brain, and growth, unfolds at a different rate, influencing behavior. Leonard Sax, M.D., author of "Boys Adrift," believes parents raise girls and boys differently because girls and boys are so different from birth -- their brains aren't wired the same way. Parenting.com: Pros and cons of learning the sex of your baby

So, can we finally answer the great parenting debate over which sex is more challenging to raise? Much depends on what you're looking at, and when:

DISCIPLINEWho's harder? Boys

Why don't boys seem to listen? Turns out their hearing is not as good as girls' right from birth, and this difference only gets greater as kids get older. Girls' hearing is more sensitive in the frequency range critical to speech discrimination, and the verbal centers in their brains develop more quickly. That means a girl is likely to respond better to discipline strategies such as praise or warnings like "Don't do that" or "Use your words." "Boys tend to be more tactile -- they may need to be picked up and plunked in a time-out chair," Gurian says. They're also less verbal and more impulsive, he adds, which is especially evident in the toddler and preschool years.
These developmental differences contribute to the mislabeling of normal behavior as problematic, a growing number of observers say. Five boys for every one girl are diagnosed with a "disorder" (including conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, sensory integration disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder), says Stein, also the author of "Unraveling the ADD/ADHD Fiasco." Some kids -- most often boys -- may simply fall on the more robust end of normal. They need more opportunities to expend energy and aggression, as well as firmer limits. Parenting.com: Guns and dolls

PHYSICAL SAFETYWho's harder? Boys

"Much after-dinner wrestling here," reports Michelle Mayr, the Davis, California, mom of four boys, ages 5 to 12. "I'm constantly fighting to keep my house a home rather than an indoor sports center. Their stuffed animals' primary function is to be added to the pile of pillows everyone is launching into from the coffee table."

In general, boys are more rambunctious and aggressive, experts say. Taking risks lights up the pleasure centers of their brains. Many parents find they have to keep a closer eye on what a son is "getting into," or use more bandages.

But letting kids explore -- at the cost of a few scrapes and cuts -- builds character, self-confidence, resilience, and self-reliance, says Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee." Boys, being natural risk takers, may need encouragement to slow down a little, but maybe girls need to be encouraged to take more risks. Look for opportunities for your daughter to jump off a wall, swim in the deep end, or try the bigger slide. Parenting.com: Potty training: girls vs. boys

COMMUNICATIONWho's harder? First boys, then girls

From birth, a girl baby tends to be more interested in looking at colors and textures, like those on the human face, while a boy baby is drawn more to movement, like a whirling mobile, says Dr. Sax. (These differences play out in the way kids draw: Girls tend to use a rainbow of hues to draw nouns, while boys lean toward blue, black, and silver for their more verblike pictures of vehicles crashing and wars.) In a nutshell, girls are rigged to be people-oriented, boys to be action-oriented. Because girls study faces so intently, they're better at reading nonverbal signals, such as expression and tone of voice. Boys not only learn to talk later than girls and use more limited vocabularies, they also have more trouble connecting feelings with words.
"While most girls share their feelings and details of events, my three sons honestly don't see that as important. I spend my days asking, 'What happened then?' or 'What did he say after you said that?'" O'Donnell says.

Important note: Because boys hold eye contact for shorter periods than girls, parents may worry about autism, since this can be a red flag. "It's a relief for moms to know that this is normal and comes from the way the brains are set up," Gurian says.

As girls get to be 8 or so, things can get harder: The flip side of being so adept at communicating is that girls exert a lot of energy on it. There can be a great deal of drama around who's mad at whom, who said what and why, and more. Start when your daughter's a toddler to establish an open communication, so she learns she can come to you for advice. Parenting.com: Diapering tips: boys vs girls

SELF-ESTEEMWho's harder? Girls

Developing a healthy self-image is critical to all kids. But as the more compliant and people-oriented gender, girls tend to grow up less confident and more insecure than boys, researchers say. Famed gender researcher and psychologist Carol Gilligan, Ph.D., calls this "the tyranny of nice and kind" -- unwittingly raising girls to be people pleasers.

"This cultural pressure to put others' needs first, ignore one's own gut feelings, and avoid asking for what one wants has traditionally harmed girls," says Jenn Berman, a California family therapist who wrote "The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids." "Despite the fact that she enjoys the positive attention and accolades that people pleasing brings, the more a girl pushes her own needs and desires underground to please others, the more likely her own self-esteem will suffer."

"I see a natural nurturing instinct in my daughter and her friends," says Tracy Lyn Moland, a parenting consultant in Calgary, Alberta, who has a girl, 11, and a boy, 8. "I find myself saying, 'I can take care of that -- you get yourself ready,' when she's trying to mother her brother."
Make no mistake, helpfulness and nurturing are virtues for everybody. But this tendency in girls makes it smart to help her explore and strengthen her inner nature and encourage her to try new things.

Body image is a big part of self-esteem, and though there's certainly body-image dysfunction in boys and men, it remains mostly a female issue. The natural rounding out of the body that happens in puberty clashes with the unnatural slimness girls see in the culture around them.
Be aware of the messages you convey about your own body, diet, and exercise. "It's painfully obvious that girls' negative body image can come directly from seeing their moms look critically in the mirror and complain," says Berman. "Teach your daughter to listen to her body's signals of hunger and satiety. Girls who listen to their bodies tend to listen to their instincts in other areas." Sports are a great way for girls to build confidence and a healthy appreciation for their bodies.

SCHOOLWho's harder? Mostly boys

Boys and modern education are not an idyllic match. An indoor-based day and an early emphasis on academics and visual-auditory (as opposed to hands-on) learning ask a lot of a group that arrives at school less mature. In their early years, most boys lag behind girls in developing attentiveness, self-control, and language and fine motor skills.

The relatively recent acceleration of the pre-K and kindergarten curricula has occurred without awareness that the brain develops at different sequences in girls and boys, Dr. Sax says. Music, clay work, finger painting, and physical exercise -- early-ed activities that once helped lively kids acclimate to school -- are vanishing. Few teachers are trained in handling the problems that result.

One area where girls do less well in school concerns spatial learning, such as geometry. Girls may use different parts of their brains to process space perceptions. The key is for parents to present both boys and girls with plenty of no-pressure opportunities to try out the areas that are challenging. Parenting.com: Gender vending

The bottom line? On balance, the general consensus seems to be that boys are more of a handful early on, and girls more challenging beginning in the preteen years. Which means that, as the mom of daughters who are 12, 9, and 7, I have the next ten years cut out for me!
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Iowa Flooding

There has been mass flooding in Iowa and Illinois along the Mississippi River. This news is, of course, making headlines. Levees have broken and Cedar Rapids is completely inundated with water, along with several other towns. So far 38,000 people have been displaced and over $1 billion in crop damage in Iowa has been done.

It reminds me of the Great Flood of 1993. I remember reading article after article in magazines and newspapers about this flood. So I did research to compare the two floods. I went to the US Geological Survey's website for the Flood of 93 and got some really great data. (http://mo.water.usgs.gov/Reports/1993-Flood/index.htm) Then I realized that I really couldn't compare because the flooding is not happening in the same cities.

The currently flooding is much farther north than the flooding in 1993. The Mississippi is a very great river; it's got a huge flood plane. In my personal and entirely nonscientific opinion, I think that the Flood of 1993 will still remain the worst of the two because the Missouri River and the Mississippi River both flooded. Currently, only the Mississippi River is flooded in Iowa/Illinois/Missouri. And since it's only mid-June, I can imagine that it's going to get worse before it gets better up there.

10 June 2008

Your Papers Please

Enter Fascism in full force right here in the United States! Yes, right here, in your very own country, you too can be ID'd to make sure you live where you live, and to keep "the bad guys" out. And if you don't want to go along, well, they'll just cart you right off to jail to think about your "civil liberties".

From http://yedies.blogspot.com/2008/06/police-state-in-dc-is-this-what-its.html

Police State In DC - Is This What It's Coming To?

Your papers please.It is downright shocking.

[They have created] so-called "Neighborhood Safety Zones" which would serve to partially seal off certain parts of the city. D.C. Police would set-up checkpoints in targeted areas, demand to see ID and refuse admittance to people who don't live there, work there or have a “legitimate reason” to be there.When crime is so rampant that drastic measures like this are felt necessary by law enforcement and city leaders to be put in place, people tend to accept it because...well... the thought is "what else is there that they can do"? I agree with one commenter on the article linked above: I think the real problem is people saying, "hey, this is really not a big deal, so what if we are losing some civil liberties, this fixes a problem, and if it curbs crime then they ought to do this".Should we toss away civil liberties for a feeling or illusion of security? It looks as if "We the People" have come to accept the premise that policies like that are ok.I think perhaps the root of the problem is that when the criminals are caught they are just let back out on the street, or the people won't come out and testify against them so they have to be let go. The root of the problem is to find out why there is crime there, and to try to fix that problem. Supposedly there is much crime as a result of the lucrative drug money between Virginia and Maryland. But, it seems is just easier to take away people's personal freedom to come and go as they please and to demand their papers, etc. then it is to actually do something about the source of the crime problem to begin with.I know they've done this sort of thing before in places like New York City and so on, but it is still so much against what our Constitution and what America is supposed be all about.

For what it's worth - here is the text of the Mayor's press release:
The Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative has been developed to help increase security for those who live in high-crime areas around the city and to help residents reclaim their communities. The program will authorize the Metropolitan Police Department to set up public safety checks to help safeguard community members and create safer neighborhoods in the District by increasing police presence aimed at deterring crime.

The safety zones will be established only upon request by a District Commander where there is evidence to support the existence of neighborhood violent crime, such as intelligence, violent crime data, police reports and feedback and concerns from the affected community.

Potential Neighborhood Safety Zones must be approved by the Chief of Police, and will be in effect for a maximum of 10 days. Public safety checks will be established along the main thoroughfares of the established neighborhoods. Anyone driving into a designated area may be asked to show valid identification with a home address in that neighborhood, or to provide an explanation for entering the NSZ, such as attending church, a doctor’s appointment or visiting friends or relatives. Pedestrians will not be subject to the public safety checks.

“The Neighborhood Safety Zones is just another tool MPD will employ to stop crime before it happens. The Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative will help residents terrorized by violent crime to take back their neighborhoods,” said Chief Lanier.

Initiatives such as the Neighborhood Safety Zones have been accepted by federal courts as a legitimate law enforcement practice in keeping with the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. The constitutionality of the NSZ initiative has been reviewed by the D.C. Office of the Attorney General.

The NSZ will be launched next week in the Trinidad area.

Of course the nagging question is this: How will the police really determine who should be there legitimately and who might be a possible perpetrator of a crime? How would they know someone isn't lying about their purpose there?
This whole thing is just very disturbing on so many levels.
MyWay posted an article.
The Washington Post had an article about it too.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" - Attributed to Benjamin Franklin

Tender Moments

Missy has decided that she wants to tag along with Mike on his exercise back in April (above).

Here (above), Missy looks on as Mike sews something on his uniform.








Ooh, what has got Mike and Eowyn was interested outside the window?!?




Eowyn: "What are you doing now, you idiot??"
Missy: "Nothing, just hiding. :) "





Aww, Missy loves Eowyn.






Blue Jay

Outside of the hotel in Kansas City was this garden. There were quite a few friendly birds, as well as some rabbits. I didn't have my camera to get a picture of the rabbits though . . . :(

Kansas City trip

Last weekend, the weekend of May 31st, Thomas and I drove up to Kansas City for his Marine Corps muster. Thomas received a letter from the Corps back in March I think, stating that he had to report on May 31st for one day to see if he was eligible for active duty. I decided to drive up to Kansas City with him because his car insurance had lapsed and his tags were four months expired. And I wanted to spend time with.

The drive was fairly uneventful, although we did share some laughs. Thomas was trying to read the latest Star Wars book, and I wanted to talk to him, so I decided to sing until he stopped reading. I know that I can't sing (tone deaf), and I know that I especially can't sing along with Cher. So I put in my Cher CD, turned it up and just started belting out the songs. I sounded so terrible Thomas just had to stop reading and laugh. I laughed to, it was really funny.

The trip up, for me anyway, seemed to loom with this impending doom sort of feeling. Was Thomas going to get called back up to active duty? Would he get orders to the desert? What would happen if he did? What would happen if he didn't? The current job situation has not boded well for Thomas and it seems that all doors have been shut to him. Thomas said that he was't nervous, although I didn't entirely believe him. He body language gave him away. I was nervous for him anyway though.

The muster was at the hotel at the Kansas City airport.

The countryside that we drove through was absolutely beautiful. A glistening green gem of blowiing grass and gently rolling countryside. We took I-35 north to I-335 northeast and then I-70 east into Kansas City.

When we arrived and walked into the hotel, we saw that there Marines everywhere. All of them, like Thomas, were previously discharged from the Marines and had been summoned to this muster. We were directed to a small room where Thomas could check in. I sat in one of the chairs and observed. There was a white erase board set up on an easal (sp) stand at the front of the room with some numbers written on. The numbers were for those Marines summoned, those who no-showed, those called to active duty and given orders, those medically disqualified and those that were questionable, probably pending some test or something. I did the math in my head fairly quickly and noticed that 85% of the Marines showing up were being given orders back to active duty. That made me nervous.

Thomas was eventually directed up to some dinner briefing he had to attend before they would assign him a room. Before arriving, the plan had been to get a room, go get dinner and then the next morning Thomas would go to his briefing, then we would leave.

I said I would just go the bar to eat, as I didn't feel like driving anywhere, and there wasn't a restaurant, per ce, in the hotel. I stepped down in the bar and paused, scanning the room. The bar was packed with over fifty loud, laughing, and drinking Marines. I hoped for a small table, but there were none open. In fact, the only spot open was a lone bar stool smack dab in the middle of the bar. I walked over, putting on my best man-hating face from my pre-Saved, feminist days, sat down and asked for a menu. At least the bar tender was a woman. And she looked like she was being over worked for sure. If I hadn't been so tired and hungry, I might have skipped the whole eating dinner thing, but it had been eight hours since lunch at this point and I was really hungry.

With a twinge of guilt I decided to order a beer. I really didn't want random Marines coming up to me asking why I didn't have a drink and then offering to buy me one. I felt that might have been a witnessing opportunity too, but I honestly was not up to that. I knew it was disobedient, but I just decided to live with the guilt. Then I realized it had been so long since I had ordered an alcoholic drink that I couldn't even remember the names of any of the drinks I used to drink. I settled on the first thing that came to mind: Corona. No fuss, no messing up the order.

They had some really nice looking dishes on the menu, nice steaks and all that. However, I wanted to get out of the bar and away from all the stares, so I decided on the quesadilla appetizer. That way I could just get it fast, eat it fast and go.

While waiting, I did have one drunk Marine come up to me and ask me what I was drinking. At first I was a little shocked. Surely there were better one-liners that ignoring the obvious. I just blinked and slowly said Corona, looking down at my two-sipped bottle of beer. He laughed nervously and tried to make small conversation, stumbling over the words. I tried my best to flash my wedding ring, wishing more than anything that my Mike, my Protector, was right there next to me in the bar. But he was't, he was in Oklahoma City, so I'd have to do my best to ward off any guys. After a few minutes the guy who had been previously sitting next to me came back to his seat, and thus to my rescue, though he probably didn't know it. The other guy just slinked off to some buddies at the side of the bar, continuing to stare at me until I left.

While waiting on my food and eating, I eavesdropped on all the conversations that I could hear. I normally wouldn't do such a thing, but these Marines were all talking about the orders they got and where they were going. It seemed half were going to the desert, and half were going to Lejeune, in North Carolina.

After eating, I went out to the lobby to sit on one of the leather couches and wait for Thomas to be finished. While waiting, I went up to some of the uniformed Marines, obviously working the event, and inquired about what was going on as far as briefings and such.

While talking to this Marine, another Marine a short distance away said: "Hey Marine, where are you from?"

It took a few seconds to register that he was addressing me. My shocked look must have prompted the first Marine I was talking to to tell this other Marine that I wasn't a Marine, I was here with my brother. (I had explained this to him previously.) He laughed, and said sorry about that. I just shrugged my shoulders and said it was all right and smiled at him.

Finally, Thomas was finished with his briefing and had a room key. We went out to the truck in silence. We got to the truck (we were going to move it closer to the room), and I turned to him, saying "So . . . ?"

"Well, I got orders to the desert for a year. I don't know where yet [either Iraq or Afghanistan], but I leave January 5th".

Sigh. Heavy sigh. It some ways a burden was lifted from heart, and in other ways, it was replaced by a different kind of weight. My little brother who had escaped from going to the war, despite having volunteered several times to go, was finally going to the sandbox.

We made small talk about it on the way up to the room. I asked if had eaten, and he said no, he had missed the dinner part of the briefing. So we left to get some fast food, as it was now after 2100. Taco Bell was the restaurant of choice at the nearest exit, and Thomas ordered dinner. I wasn't hungry anymore.



We called Dad and filled him in. I had already previously talked to him twice during Thomas' briefing, so he was at least a little prepared.



Thomas had more briefings the next day. The plan was for me to stay in the hotel room until checkout time, and then wait in the lobby the remainder of the time. That didn't work out. Thomas came back up to the room at 0545 and said he had to turn in the key, I couldn't stay. I had woken up at 0450 with Thomas when the alarm went off, and I had just been getting back off to sleep. Darn the luck. :) So I had to get up and dressed in record time with no time to take a shower because they were doing room checks for slow-moving Marines. I did NOT want to be hurried out by a Marine before I was ready to go.



The drive back to Oklahoma City wasn't as quiet as the drive up. Thomas said he done some paperwork and stuff there and was naming me as the party to receive insurance money, do the funeral, etc, should he die while overseas. Other morbid stuff that I didn't particularly want to talk about was gone over. Thomas said he was sorry, but it had to be taken care of. I understood.



I think Thomas' definitely seemed to move with more ambition now. He was back in the Marines, or would be soon, and he had a purpose again. Perhaps it's answered prayer. I hope so.

I have already started praying and I would appreciate it if any readers would also pray for the following things:

  • That Thomas would be kept safe and come back alive and unhurt
  • That the Lord would provide Thomas with a strong Christian roommate who is also in his unit that he can fellowship with, meet with, and have accountability with
I would greatly appreciate your prayers, and I know that Thomas will too.

Wyoming Trip

Just a warning: the pictures do not line up with the text. :)

Mike and I drove to Wyoming over the weekend for Brady's wedding on June 7th. Brady was Mike's childhood best friend. I had never met Brady, but had certainly heard a lot about him from Mike. All their adventures in the forts in the woods and going to school together in LaGrange Wyoming at Frontier School of the Bible.





We drove north up I-35 to I-135 in Witchita. In Salina we turned west on I-70 and took that across the vast green and golden rolling plains of western Kansas. Those green and beautiful plains turn into brown sage country shortly after the Kansas/Colorado state line. Then it's all sage brush country into Denver. Very arid climate actually. And of course we're climbing in slight elevation the entire way into the Mile High City. From Denver, it's north on I-25 straight into Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The ride went pretty smoothly. The Lord answered our prayers that we didn't have any problems with the truck or anything. This was actually my second long road trip in as many weekends (the previous weekend was to Kansas City with Thomas). My truck has definitely seen a lot of pavement lately! I think it adds to the memories . . . I love my truck!





Shortly after we got onto I-70, we passed a huge field of steel windmills. I found them to very fascinating as they loomed in the distance like glistening white spikes with their three pronged blades turning slowly in the wind that always sweeps across the planes. I was really amazed at how big they were! There were actually several of these "farms" dotted across Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.


I think that there are a lot of different ways in describing a person, according to their interests. For example, some people are self-proclaimed "beach people", while others have a love in their heart and soul for the mountains. I thought I loved the Appalachian Mountains, but that love does not come anywhere close to my love for the green and golden plains of western Oklahoma and Kansas. I have heard others describe these parts of the states as just vast nothingness. I would describe it more as some of the most beautiful, peaceful country on Earth.




I feel very close to the Lord on the plains. It's open and free; I feel that my soul can fly there. I am always just awestruck at how beautiful the plains are and equally amazed that others can look at the same thing and not feel how I do. I do know that the Lord made us all different and if everyone felt like I do, it would be a lot more crowded, and that might take from the beauty of it all.




















It seemed like one minute we were driving through the Colorado plains, and the next minute, the purple mountains were right there on the horizon, beckoning us ever closer. Unfortunately the windshield was quite dirty with bugs and dirt, so it was really difficult to get a good picture to post. I was really excited to see the mountains, however as we got closer, the beauty of them almost seemed a let down compared to the beauty of the plains.









Mike was very excited to show me Denver, so we decided to take a little detour and he drove me to DeVry, where he went to school, and the two apartments he lived while in Denver. He actually lived in a smaller suburb, I think Engelwood, sort of like how Bethany is part of Oklahoma City. The apartments Miked lived in seemed like luxary homes compared to Ashwood.

While in Denver, we ate at Tokyo Joe's, which was sort of fast food japanese restaurant. We both had beef teriyaki with vegetables. It was pretty good.

There are a few things different about Denver that I noticed:

1) Once you get into the city, it seems to be much more beautiful and serene than how it looks from the highway.

2) The mountains are looming directly west and it feels like you're in the shadow of them constantly. Pretty yes; peaceful, not really.

3) The people seemed to be a lot more fit than in Oklahoma. Apparently outdoor exercising is REALLY popular in Denver.


4) The landscape at dusk looks exactly like the landscape portrayed on nearly every Colorado license plate - flat with mountains looming on the horizon. I thought it to be a pretty accurate depiction of the state.

After dinner, we left denver and drove the rest of the 90 miles to Cheyenne. It was dusk and a nice 70ish degrees when we left Denver. The sunset over the mountains to our left was really pretty. At times it was hard to tell where the clouds ended and the mountains began.



We arrived in Cheyenne after dark and checked into the Hitching Post Inn, a Ramada. We had a room reserved and when we first got there, hearing the reception lady talk to some other customers, I was afraid we would end up with a single bed or something. Boy was I surprised when we opened the door to our room! The room was huge with the biggest bed I have ever seen in my life! Mike and I loved it!

The weddiing wasn't until 1800 on Saturday night, so we hung out in the room all day. The final leg of the Triple Crown was to be run at Belmont, NY, and Big Brown was all lined up to claim the third jewel in the crown. There was much anticipation and build up for Big Brown to win. People are really hoping for a Thoroughbred to end the 30 year drought in the Triple Crown, but it was not to be for Big Brown. He didn't have the distance in him (1.5 miles) and didn't even show for the money. (That's place second or third.) It was disappointing. I had hopes until the trainer guaranteed the win. Can we say "Pride comes before the fall?" I knew in that instant Big Brown wouldn't win.

Brady and Janelle's wedding was held at Terry Bison Ranch, just outside of Cheyenne. The ranch was really pretty and the wedding was outside. It was suprisingly chilly (around 50 degrees F.), and very windy. Once again, I was taken surprise by the northern plains weather and was unprepared. The wedding was still really nice though. The reception afterwards was very nice with a buffet dinner served and some dancing afterwards. Mike got to catch up a little bit with Brady, though not as much as he would have liked. We understood though, we remember how our wedding day was. Unfortunately, weddings don't allow a lot of time to hang out with those from out of town, if you're the one getting married.

Mike and I had a pretty fun time dancing, even though neither of us knew the steps. The songs were all country songs and I have never learned how to two-step. We made do though and we had a blast.

On Sunday we slept in as late as possible and then packed and got ready to check out. To save a little money, I brought food with us to eat for breakfast on the days we were gone. (Cereal, yogurt, fruit, etc.) It probably would have cost us $12 a day to eat breakfast out, so I think it was worth it.

We decided to drive up to LaGrange, so Mike could show me where he went to school at Frontier School of the Bible. On the way out, we saw some really incredible scenery. I don't know if they were mountains, or bluffs, or mesas, but I do know they were incredible to look at.

LaGrange is a really tiny town with a population of around 300. I posted a pic of Mike's dorm where he stayed and the wagon was at LaGrange as well. There was also an old, abandoned caboose that Mike and I explored. I hadn't been in a caboose since I was a little girl at a train museum with Dad.




After leaving LaGrange, we decided to drive up to Ainsworth, to visit Pam and Joel and Mike's nieces and nephews, then up one more hour north to Gregory to visit Ruth and Paul. After two or so hours of driving in Nebraska, we realized we wouldn't even make to Ainsworth until almost dark, around 2000. So we decided to just head home instead. By this time I was already to starting to feel a little whoozy and dizzy, although I didn't tell Mike.

We headed east on I-80 across Nebraska for many hours. We arrived in York, the town where we turn south down Hwy 81. At this point, I was so dizzy, I was afraid I would pass out before pulling over in York for gas. We made it though, got gas and switched drivers. We were halfway home. 7 hours down, 7 to go.


While in Nebraska, we passed through Kearny, Mike Miller's hometown. I tried to get Mike to get a picture of a sign for Mike, but Mike wasn't fast enough. :(

Once in Kansas heading south, we saw giant thunderstorms gathering in front of us. We hoped we wouldn't it any tornados. We did pass by a farm that had been pretty badly damaged by a tornado in Nebraska. There were a lot of trees ripped over, and the giant irrigation systems were laying on their sides (that was actually probably done by straight line winds).


We ended up driving through or very close to a couple of different cells of thunderstorms before arriving safely back in Midwest City. There was a lot of beautiful, extremely bright, and sometimes a little to close, cloud to ground lightening. Thankfully we were able to keep in touch with Thomas who monitored the weather for us through midnight so he could warn us if really severe weather threatened (like huge hail or tornadoes).

We made it home safe and sound. The first thing i did, despite feeling incredibly dizzy, was go to my map on the wall and trace the routes we had just driven. Then I took my contacts out and crawled into bed, hoping that sleep would cure my dizziness and nausea.

It didn't though, and that continued until late last night. I am finally feeling better though. Still nauseous, but at least I can walk straight and the room doesn't look like I'm on a roller coaster when I turn my head to the side.
I'd say overall Mike and I had a really great weekend together. It was nice to get away with each other and spend some time together. :)

Look!



Look! I can drive with my eyes closed!

04 June 2008

This is why . . .

See, this is why I stopped blogging for a little while . . . writing is addictive. It's addictive I tell you! Mike and I got on the computer together at our little dining room table (that now has 3 beautiful chairs!) and I started doing some random blogging interspersed with reading, research, playing banter, kissing, more reading and a phone call.

It is now at least three plus hours later.

Mike has packed up his computer, replaced it with the new place mat I bought Monday and is somewhere in the back of the apartment, no doubt getting ready for bed.

Where am I?? Still blogging!! Yes, it's after 2200, I still have to clean the kitchen, get ready for bed, chastise Missy for getting on the counter and the list goes on . . .

And I didn't get as much done on my study as I had wanted because I got distracted with every little thought I wanted to share with my little reading world . . .

So in a nutshell, a rather short one for me, I might add, that is why I haven't blogged for so long. If I just avoid the sight altogether like it doesn't exist, I do other things in life. Like clean, hang out with Mike, play with the cats, live life, do wifely duties (the cleaning wifely duties), get schoolwork done, etc.

Okay, I realize the more I write, the more I'm blogging, the more I'm not doing everything else I just listed above . . .

Therefore:

Good night to all! :D Sleep tight and sweet dreams.

One last thought (I couldn't resist): why am I blogging so much now - because I'm back at work at Hillcrest. ;)

Attitude adjustment?

Hmm, I have this little feeling inside . . . I feel like I really used to be so involved with the Lord. I was always talking to Him, always worshiping, always focused on Him.

I was reading Carla's blog and felt the prick of conviction. I feel that Carla is very focused on the Lord and how she may please the Lord first in every little detail of her life. I see it in Pam's writings as well. And Abby's writings. And Mike M's writings. And I know they are not writing to please the eye of their reader (which I will admit, I sometimes write to that end), but they write from their heart. (Reminds me of Prov 4:23.) And their writing reflects that their heart is focused first and foremost on Christ.

I feel like I used to be like that.

I feel like I am fulfilling Paul's words: " There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. the unmarried woman cares about the things of the body and in spirit. but she who is married cares about the things of the world - how she may please her husband." I Cor 7:34

I'm not saying that I don't think it was the Lord's will that Mike and I be married. I do. I'm just saying that I wish I could get back to that person that I was before. The person that Mike fell in love with.

I talked to Mike about it and he thinks that I have grown in the Lord since then. I did not argue, but I did not agree either.

I do care very much how I may please Mike. I love to cook for him and to do things around the apartment for him or get dressed up for him or whatever I think he will like. Special little things that he likes. I love being Mike's wife. I can't really recall a time when I have been honestly happy through and through. I love staying home (now that school's out) and just being a house wife. Mike's wife.

I feel like I failed a test. I went through a really tough spiritual battle last fall when I got sick and I feel like I became complacent in the battle and thus lost. I was tired, physically, spiritually, mentally. And it led to complacency. Complacency has no place in a battle. Paul did not give up, but beat his body into submission to obtain the prize, lest he become disqualified. (I Cor 9:24-27). Thus my complacency leads to _____ ?

My life slowed down so much. I hate to admit it, but the truth is that I stopped reading my Bible every day. I did read every week, just not like I used to. I stopped memorizing Scripture. I stopped praying all the time.

I have tried to get back into things. Going to PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) Bible study on Tuesday mornings has really helped so much. I am getting back there.

I am doing more studying of things. Besides Friday night study and PWOC study I have a side study I am doing on my own. Of course, it's going incredibly slowly because I have no one to spur me on. No accountability with it. I wish that my desire to learn and to read were enough accountability, but alas, it's not.

There is definitely something missing though.

I think it's joy.

I did a Bible study on joy, but never got to share it because we didn't have small group that night. Not that not sharing my Bible study means that I can't do what it says. Sharing just kind of solidifies it. Helps me translate from reading and writing into saying and doing.

Anyway, just thought I would share my conviction . . .

Missed a step

So Mike and I were in the bathroom last week getting ready for bed. The roll of toilet paper that we had been using didn't have the usual dotted lines to ease in tearing off each sheet for use.

Mike's comment as he's brushing his teeth:

"I think that toilet paper missed a step on the assembly line."

I laughed so hard I was just glad I was already sitting on the toilet. :D

Different definitions??

"Just because you're not loquacious doesn't mean you're a moron."

"Thanks love, I appreciate that." (Obvious sarcasm.)

"Do you know what loquacious means love?"

Pause.

Smiles.

"Colorful . ? . "

"No, it means talkative." (Gently.)

Playful banter ensues:

"Colorful and talkative can mean the same thing."

"No, they don't."

"They can be synonyms."

"No, they aren't. Colorful and talkative don't mean the same thing."

"Well, it depends on your point of view."

"Oh, you mean the correct one?"

Laughter and kisses and other things that I won't mention because Ruth reads this ( :-) ) all around. I love Mike so much . . .

. . . to which Mike responds "Naughty wiffewy"


he he he :D


(Yes, I'm in a silly mood tonight.) :)

Possible answers

I did some research . . .

I typed in a question in AskJeeves.

Came across this link with a really wrathing (sp?) review of a Hebrew lexicon book - Michelle, you might appreciate the scholarly-written review. It made me laugh . . .
http://www.bonsaitalk.com/shop/Zen-11833-1589397762-The_Ancient_Hebrew_Lexicon_of_the_Bible.html

Further searching led me a website about the curtains in the tabernacle . . . which led me to Exodus 26:7 ""You shall also make curtains of goats' hair to be a tent over the tabernacle. You shall make eleven curtains.""

http://www.hooper-home.net/TEMPLE/Chap3~04.htm <--- This website compares linen curtains to goats' hair curtains in cubits and panels. However, as I was reading down this webpage, it seems like the author was trying to use numerology in explaining parts of Revelation and then using that to bring the curtains into the meaning of something . . . anyway . . . there are great graphs of the size of the curtains that really help paint a picture in the mind of how big the tabernacle actually was.

Tonight I have learned at least one VERY important lesson: don't believe everything you read on the internet. It's probably actually best to get your information from peer-reviewed professional journals. Such journals can be accessed at any university or college library. At least then you know that someone with an advanced education and thus training in appropriate and proper reseach methodology is reading, reviewing and critiquing what you're reading and where you're getting your information from.

No wonder I'm a skepetical paranoid . . . :D

As to answering why the women who made the goats' hair curtain were considered to have wisdom, I feel I'm starting to run paraellel to the answer. Now I just need to find a bit of information that will help me make a 90 degree angled turn to meet head on with what I want to know.

Biblical Question

I have a question, and I would really love some insight to an answer, or an answer.

In Exodus 35, versuses 20-29, the congregation of Israelites are bringing gifts of work or items for the tabernacle of meeting. Those who had a willing heart made offerings of silver or gold (vs 22), and all the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn (vs 25). Verse 26 says "And all the women whose hearts were stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats' hair."

My question is: What is the difference in the women who spun [regular] yarn as opposed to the women who spun yarn of goats' hair?

I looked in Mike's Bible Knowledge Commentary, which is where I usually go when I come across a question in my readings, but it didn't really specify at all.

Double Date

Mike and I went on a double date with Linette and Bryant in April. Mike and I had called up Linette to see if we could all hang out together.

Bryant and Mike share a love of flying. (Although Bryant has his pilot's license and Mike doesn't ~ yet.)

Bryant and Linette asked if we would like to go to Eskimo Joe's in Stillwater for dinner. Of course we said yes very enthusiastically!

So Mike and I went over to Linette's house to meet up and go to Wiley Post Airport, on the northwest side of the city.

This is a picture of Linette and I inside the back of the plane, a Cessna. The flight was about 45 minutes, and Bryant even let Mike take control of the yoke and fly a little! Mike was definitely on cloud 9, and I was right there with him! :D









I think this is the Cimmaron River that we flew over.













This is Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, as we're coming in for a landing.












We had arrived in Stillwater for dinner!












Eskimo Joe's has a little store, so Mike and Bryant posed in the window as models while Linette and I went outside and took their picture. It was Bryant's idea and a lot of fun!










Eskimo Joe's is actually a two story restaurant. They specialty is burgers, and man are they good! I would put my Eskimo Joe's bacon cheeseburger burger in the top three best burgers of my life.

There was a live band later that night, but we didn't have time to stick around and see them. Apparently there were women there who flew in from Tulsa and McAlester just to see the band though. Who knew there was a whole community of fliers who just fly around the state going to concerts?

Mike and I really had a blast with Linette and Bryant. We shared stories, laughed and had a really great time. Mike and I enjoy hanging out with them quite a bit. :)


The trip back was very quiet as everyone relaxed and watched the dark countryside slip by. As we approached Oklahoma City, thousands of lights from below outlined the metropolis. It was really beautiful. :D




Alpha Chi Induction

Sometime during April was the Alpha Chi Honor Society Induction. Alpha Chi is the honor society of honor societies at universities. The top 10% of every junior and senior at the university, across all schools of study, are invited to join.

Even though I was inducted officially last year, I wasn't able to attend the induction ceremony, so when I went to speak with Dr. Musgrove in March, she said that I could attend if I wanted.

So I did.

I hadn't invited anyone because I didn't think it was a big deal. However, upon arriving there and signing in, I wish that I had. It was held on the Will Rogers Room in the Nigh University Center. (Big fancy room). I liked all the pomp of the sponsors wearing their black robes and brightly colored cords and the reading of the official meaning of the society. Especially since it's basically based on John 8:32, even though they don't outright say it. My guess is that only people who recognize that verse upon hearing the words know it. "Then you will know the truth, and truth will set you free." (NIV)

I meant a really cool chic there named Nicole. She's from Scotland, and she's getting her philosophy degree from UCO before heading to law school. She's obviously very intelligent and highly ambitious. Before the ceremony, we were talking about our secret ambitions to run for office. So we agreed to nominate each other if we weren't nominated by other people. She REALLY wanted to run for President. I was happy with running for Vice.

Just as a side note, I ran for Vice President of SNA-UCO (Student Nurses Association) and wasn't elected. I was running against Kendle, of course I wasn't going to get voted in. I didn't even vote for my self! I know, I know . . .

Anyway . . .

The induction basically just consisted in that they said your name and what department you were pursuing a degree in, and you went up to the table and signed the scroll book with a really fancy feathered pen. I was not particularly enthused about bending over to write in the book in front of everyone there. Oh well, what could I do? At least I wore longerish skirt.

After the induction, they held office nominations.

Nicole was nominated for President by her boyfriend. True to her promise, she nominated me for Vice President. There were non opposing, so you now reading the writings of the 08-09 Alpha Chi Vice President. :)

Pay off!

All of my hard work and hours spent writing essays and running around gathering this transcript and all that paperwork, pay off! I received the Mary Ellen Lovelace Scholarship from the Nursing Department! Yay!
The awards ceremony was April 24th. Mike had class and Thomas overslept (it was at 1630), so they weren't able to come. :( My friend Christine was able to make it though! :-)

We decided to come to class that day all dressed up and just hang out after class and wait until it started. It was pretty neat coming to school all fancied up. I did get a lot of stares and comments from the few males in the nursing program. Christine and I had a pretty good time running around campus in our dresses. Christine had a really pretty yellow dress on and I wore my blue dress that Sam bought for me last summer.
I was pretty nervous during the ceremony. It was all of the departments of the College of Sciences at the awards ceremony, so there was a pretty good sized crowd. And it was in alphabetical order, so that meant that the Nursing Department went last. I was suprised to see that the bulletin had a little bio of every award recipient. I saw some friends there that I kind of expected to see: Jason Gage, Kendle Stevens, Meredith Carick.
As you can see from the picture, despite years of receiving awards in school, I was so nervous, I shook the wrong hand when Dr. Rider handed me my certificate. I really hoped no one noticed. Oh well. It was kind of awkward, and it seemed like it all happened so fast.
Afterwards, Christine and I went to the Korean House for dinner and Thomas and Mike were able to join us. It was a really great time! :D

School wrap up

The spring semester is finished. Yay! The last few weeks were pretty stressful studying for tests and ATI exams. I finished out with an A in Success in Nursing I, an A in psych/mental health nursing, and a B in pharmacology (barely). I thought I would have a C in pharm, but I surprisingly ended up doing so well on my pharm ATI, that it brought my grade up to a B. And of course, there was the dosage calc exam . . .

Last summer, I completely forgot about the dosage calc exam (refer to that blog in July 07).

Well, this spring, I didn't forget, exactly. It was more like severe, chronic procrastination of studying.

Last summer I faithfully, on my own time not for a class, completed every required chapter about dosage calculations. I did hundreds of problems over the eight weeks of school.

The plan: to do the same this spring, that's sixteen weeks, for the remaining chapters in the dosage calculation book. The conceps left were all of the IV-related problems.

The execution of the plan: non existant.

What really happened: I carried around my dosage calculation book to school and work with every intention of doing the work. Somehow, for some reason or another, it just never happened. It seems there was a blockage of the brain of some sort. An aversion to complicated-seeming dosage calculations.

The result: dosage calculation test day arrived. To pass a 90% or above was required. I arrived at school two or so hours early and began to practice problems. Or really, to start with, learn how to set them up and do them. Then practice.

The test came, I took it. I finished really early.

Worry.

Redo every problem. No changes in answers. Hardly anyone else has finished.

Worry some more.

Redo every problem again.

Finally other people are finished. I gather my purse, bag and water bottle and take my test booklet and answer sheet up to Prof. Fister.

The test was finished. The usual smalltalk in the hallway as students mused over the test revealed that it sounded like I got most of the problems right.

I never did go back up to school to check the posting for grades, however, my grade went up to a B, and I never received a phone call or email about retaking the test, so I am tentatively assuming I passed.

Maybe I should call Professor Fister. Hmmm . . .

Worry some more . . .

Military Eyes

Honoring Astronauts, Memorial Day


About the Author
Sarah Smiley's syndicated column, Shore Duty, appears weekly in newspapers and magazines across the country. She is the daughter and wife of two Navy pilots, and has 28 years of experience as a military dependent. Next year, Penguin/New American Library will release her memoirs. Check Out http://tracking.military.com/cgi-bin/outlog.cgi?url=http%3A//www.SarahSmiley.com&code=SmileySite for more details and updates. Sarah Smiley Article Archive


We were visiting the Space Center just south of Houston and adjacent to Johnson Space Center, so I envisioned, well, something out of this world. I thought we'd see plasma televisions, computers, and lighting like we've never witnessed before. I thought the building would be futuristic. I even imagined it being spherical, although I'm not sure why.


What we found at the Space Center, however, was time travel of a different sort -- straight to the 1960s.


"It just seem so ordinary," I kept saying to Dustin.


What did I expect? he wanted to know.


We boarded a tram that looked like it had been rescued from Disney's used-tram junk yard (this wasn't the monorail), and embarked on a tour of the actual base.


"The tour is one and a half hours," the guide said. "And there aren't any bathrooms."


I looked at Dustin.


"Is that too long?" he asked.


Anything that lasts more than 15 minutes is too long when you have three children -- all under the age of seven and one of them in diapers -- along with you. But I could see that Dustin was excited as a kid in a toy shop to be getting on that tram bound for the real-life space center. So, the five of us piled into a tight row with cracked plastic seats, and I hoped that the baby would not dirty his diaper."I'm surprised they don't have a sophisticated monorail or something," I whispered to Dustin. But he wasn't listening. He and our three boys wanted to see rockets and spaceships.


The base looked oddly familiar even though I had never been there before. The buildings were plain and square. Plaques that looked more functional than they did aesthetic were on the sides of each building to mark their fancy address: "Building 2"; "Building 3," etc. Evidence of utilities -- pipes, wriring, eletrical boxes -- were peppered on the sides of the street and attached to the buildings like aggressive spaghetti. Steamed billowed out of holes in the ground. Then I realized why everything seemded so familiar: The Johnson Space Center looked like every other military base I've ever been to in my life. It was plain, functional, and lacking all comforts. It looked like it was designed by men. Based solely on first appearances, you'd never believe a place such as this could put a man on the moon.


In one of the buildings, we saw where astronauts train to manuevuer in the International Space Station. Giant mock-ups were crowded into a hagar several stories tall. There was even a simulator of the space shuttle. Now my kids were really amazed. They pressed their noses against the glass. I noticed an employee down below, walking between the modules. He was like a celebrity to us: someone who works at the actual space station! But then, for reasons I don't know, I began to think about all the times I went with my Navy dad onto the aircraft carriers at Norfolk Naval Base. I have been on almost every aircraft carrier on the East Coast, and growing up, my visits to them were as insignnificant to me as I imagine trips to an office building may be for a child whose dad is an accountant or lawyer. I climbed ladders and gangplanks, walked around jets in the hangar, and once, before the ships were adjusted to accommodate women, I used the men's head. None of these things ever seemed unusual to me. Until I saw my dad's workplace through someone else's -- a visiting relative or friend -- eyes. Now I watched the man at the space center and realized that he is not unlike you and me. He probably has a wife calling his cell phone to ask, "Will you be home for dinner tonight?" and a child who wants to know if Dad will be there for his school play. Yes, he may send men to the moon and beyond, but the man himself, and the place where he works, is just as normal -- just as earthly -- as anything else you've ever seen.


At the end of our tram ride, we passed a cicular grove of trees that is a memorial to all the astronauts who have died on missions. It is a modest, humble memorial. Nothing flashy. You woudln't even know it was there if someone didn't point it out. Just like the base surrounding it, the memorial was very much "of this world."It seemed fitting that we paused to honor the grove of trees on Memorial Day weekend. Because it's true that the astronauts, just like servicemembers, have a mission that is incomprehensible to some, and yet the risks to both are entirely human. And that makes their sacrifice and their work all the more commendable.© 2008 Sarah Smiley.

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My commentary:



As I was reading this, I was reminded of all the times I visited "the vault" where my Dad worked when I was growing up. Usually our trips to the vault where the result of being sick: too sick to go to school, not sick enough for him to stay home to take care of us. You know, an especially bad cold, an achy stomach. On the way up to Quantico, or Northern Virginia we received the briefing to not read anything, keep our hands to ourselves and don't talk about anything we see or hear. And of course, when we arrive, my Dad would loudly announce that he has his kids with him. (Probably so more official documents could be shuffled away out of sight.)



In your mind, you might be thinking, a vault, hmm, is it underground? Well, keep wondering. :)



I always thought it was really cool that my Dad worked in something referred to as "the vault". Working on something really important for our nation's safety and security. Working on something where the office couldn't have windows and required all these levels of security to get into. Nothing like that seen on True Lies or anything. Much more mundane than that. And occassionally he would bring home declassified documents for me to read. I always that was so fun.



** Maybe I should have gone into military intelligence instead of nursing **



Ah, yes, many memories.



And yes, every military base pretty much does look the same, no matter where in the world you are. Especially the Marine Corps bases, or camps. What I always thought made the Marine camps unique was all the above ground pipes that traveled across the base. Quantico, Lester, Courtney, Parris Island ~ all the same. Even Cadena Air Base on Okinowa had those, if I recall correctly. In some ways, it makes it feel like home, no matter where you get stationed in the world. There's a sense of sameness, of comfort.



And in a lifestyle of changing scenery, jobs, homes, it provides a sense of materialistic, albeit somewhat superficial, but there nonetheless, peace.

02 June 2008

Easter



I know that Easter was two months ago, however, I am just now getting to it. I know, I know . . .

So anyway, Mike and I decided to drive up to Gregory, SD, to spend Easter with Ruth and Paul. The week before we left, I asked Mike what the weather was like in late March in South Dakota. Mike said it was, oh, you know, nice. So I'm thinking, okay, nice. Probably 50's or 60's, sunny. Nice.

So the drive up on Friday before Easter Sunday was really nice. 50's and sunny. I'm thinking, this is great. The first picture I saw is the weather that greeted us on Saturday morning. I think it's actually pretty funny.

The drive up was actually really fun. Mike and I spent a lot of time talking about future plans together, just different things taht we'd like to do. We ended up playing the "Red Barn" game (we made it up). We had been discussing our future farm that we'd like to have. You know, the usual, a few horses, some goats, chickens, guinneas and a barn. I wanted a red barn. Mike said that barns weren't red. So then I preceeded to point every red barn that we drove past, just to be funny, not vindictive or anything. So then he joined in and it kind of became a contest to see who could be the first to point out the barns that we saw. It was pretty fun. Now we do it pretty often. :)
We had a really great time while we were in South Dakota. It was really great to visit with Ruth and Paul. I really felt right at home when Paul insisted that he show us his latest on his trains. My Dad is the exact same way. My whole life, he was always so excited to show Thomas and I (and any innocent visitor) the newest and latest on his trainset. So that the fact that Paul did that really made me feel right at home. And he had done some really neat stuff to his trains. He had redone the bridge, all by hand. It's pretty neat. He models HO scale, just like Dad, but Dad does C&O railway, and Paul does more western lines that I'm not as familar with.
On Saturday, after I put on almost all of the clothes I brought with me, Mike and I went to the front yard and had our first married snow ball fight. :) Yay! Then Mike and John took me to the woods where they played as boys and showed me where they had built their fort in the woods. It was really neat to go traipsing across the fields in the snow (which Ruth referred to as a "light dusting") and into the woods. It was freezing, but I still had a lot of fun.

On Sunday, Easter, we all went to church at Mike's home church, the Berean church. The sermon was really great and it seemed like everyone came over to Mike to say hello to him. After church, Mike's sister Pam and her husband Joel and her kids came up for a big lunch. Some of Mike's cousins came out also. It was really great to see everyone again. Ruth really worked so hard to make sure that everything went smoothly, and it did.
After lunch, Pam and the family came over to visit at the house. The last picture is Jayne running trains. We had a lot of fun running trains with Paul for a little while. :)
The drive back was brutal as far as the elements were concerned. We had driven into a northern wind the entire way up, although it wasn't too bad. The wind switched around over the weekend and was coming from the south on the way back. And it was coming it really strong. It made the drive back really long and tiring.
Overall, it was a great Easter and Mike and I had a really great time with Ruth, Paul, John and Pam and the family.