Monday, September 29, 2008

My Cat Loves Me

So you know how they say that if your cat puts a mouse on your doorstop it means your cat loves you? What does it mean when your cat catches a bird, brings it inside the house, and kills it in the bathroom, leaving you to find its still-warm body on the bathmat amid a hurricane of feathers?

Guess my cat REALLY loves me. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WaMu Failed

WaMu failed tonight in the largest failure ever of a U.S. bank.

I bank at WaMu.

I don't have any investments there, and I certainly don't have more than the FDIC insured $100,000 in my checking/savings accounts. But still.


Story to tell the grandkids, I guess.

Random Photos

Here are some photos that I've been meaning to upload.

My first rose bud. This plant is called the Pope John Paul II rose:

Our garden in July: Our garden in September:

Eating our corn (it's supposed to be red):

Eating a "Tortato" at the fair. It's a potato-tornado--a spiral cut, deepfried, potato reminiscent of potato chips and french fries. Yummy!:

Some pics from the "nursery". We'll eventually take down the cheesy border and repaint and such.

With the bassinet cover I made:

How Much is $700 Billion?

The economy sucks. No secret. The government is trying to stop a huge economic depression. In this scenario, they would spend $700 billion to keep us all from reliving the 1930’s (many people don’t know what this was like—heck, even I don’t. By my dad does. He has a memory of being excited when his uncle brought home a sack of parsnips because it meant that his family would have food for a week).

So how much is $700 billion dollars?

Some of this information has been going around in e-mail forwards:
  • A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
  • A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
  • A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
Wow. A billion is a big number. But how much is $700 billion dollars? Some more info to put it in perspective:
  • $700 billion is equal to about 12 Bill Gateses
  • I could buy 231 million pairs of $30 shoes with $700 billion. Is there a closet in the world big enough for that?
  • James Cameron would have to make 381 Titanic-sized blockbuster movies
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, the single-year cost of obesity in the United States was $117 billion in 2000, or about one-sixth the bailout
  • Florida’s gross domestic product could cover the cost of the bailout
  • We could invade the Netherlands—their GDP last year was $768 billion
  • Since 2003, Congress has spent about $600 billion on the war in Iraq
  • For historical perspective, consider that the Marshall Plan, which helped finance the recovery of Western Europe after World War II. Back then it cost us $13 billion. Considering the American GDP then and now, what we would pay for that today would be more like $740 billion.
  • If nothing is done to change the way we finance Social Security, the trust fund reserves will be exhausted in 33 years. This means that, in 75 years, there'll be a shortfall of $4.3 trillion—or about six bailouts.
  • Global climate change could cost the planet $9 trillion (or 12.86 bailouts) if we don't address the problem within the next decade or so.
  • The bailout is roughly equal to $2,300 per person in the United States. That’s the average price we each paid for gas and oil in 2006 and a bit less than our average personal tax burden.
  • Should Congress pass the bailout proposal, the national debt will raise by 7%.

So how much is $700 billion? Quite a lot and really not that much either. I’m not saying anything political here. Just thought the perspective was interesting.

Much of this info was taken from this article.

Thought from Bono of U2

"If the United States alone can find $700 billion to save Wall Street, why can't the world find $25 billion to save 20,000 children who die each day?"

- Bono, Clinton Global Initiative, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tell Laura I Love Her

Love this video. Love all of Sundaegirl2004's videos. I think this one is the best. Also, best to watch these when you are silly and giggly.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tag - I'm It!

I have been double tagged! That makes it easy enough--this tag is in response to Jess and Maria (I think somewhere down the line, one of their sisters tagged the other one...). So now I must tell the world six crazy, quirky things about me.

1. I have a weird obsession with brushing my teeth. I have three different toothbrushes and I cannot use the same toothbrush twice in a row, I have to alternate through them. I always pace when I brush my teeth and other people will tell me I brush for an unusually long time (about 5 minutes). I also brush in warm water.

2. Novelty socks. I love novelty socks. I seriously have maybe three pairs of normal, solid color socks. The rest of my socks are mostly Christmas and Halloween, but I have other kinds too. I wear them all the time - to work with my suits and everything - despite the time of year. Everyone has just come to know that socks are my thing.

3. I hate having my eyebrows touched, especially if they are stroked in the wrong direction. DRIVES ME BATTY!

4. I hope I have a very exciting memorable death. The more trauamtic, the better. I think it is so boring to just die in your sleep. Hopefully I won't die for a very long time (maybe if I'm really good, I'll be translated!) but when I go, it ought to be traumatic or tragic. So far my two deaths of choice are to be swallowed alive by a hippopatamus or to be flung into a black hole and be ripped apart molecule by molecule.

5. My two favorite TV series are Friends and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I have both of the series on DVD and constantly watch them. I can't even say how many times I've seen Ross and Rachel hook up or Buffy die, but I love them. I cry in all the same spots in and laugh in all the same spots. It doesn't matter that I have satellite TV and something like 200 channels (even though 100 of them are music channels and like 50 of them are sports and news so they don't even count) I always turn to my Friends and my Buffy for good TV.

6. I "married" a Bon Jovi poster when I was little. Heck, I'd probably do it again now. The guy's hot!

The Rules:
1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 6 random things about yourself.
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let the person know you tagged them on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when you've posted.
I don't know if I have six people to tag (especially since two tagged me!). I tag Stefanie, Amy, Julie, Meagan, Stephanie, and Nicole. I wanna see six random things about you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Project Report: Railing Completed

Project #2765840-115G Debriefing

Status: Over schedule, over budget, but complete

Labor Allocation: Four people (Justin, Jordan, Cindy, and Lara) and one little girl (Afton) put in a total of approximately 40 man hours. Lara measured and sawed the lumber, then painted. Justin secured the pieces together. Jordan secured railing to cement and stabilized the structure. Cindy kept the team fed. Afton "helped" paint.

MVP: Jordan. He spent his entire Saturday (well past midnight) helping us, then came back another time after work the following week and helped us finish.

Honorable Mention: Cindy. After working an eight-hour shift, she looked after Afton and made dinner to allow us maximum efficiency in completing the mission.

Casualties: One camp chair, two drill bits, and several marigold plants

Injury report: Small girl of 3, a.k.a. Afton, tripped and fell off the porch (ironic since the point of the railing is to prevent further similar incidents). Sustained an abrasion to the chin, scrapes to the hand, and a cut to the back of her lft lower leg.

Reactions: All the neighbors are jealous and impressed.

Project Intel:
  • Do not let children in the construction zone

  • I have a really great brother
  • Rent the cement drill upfront. If not, you'll go to Home Depot in the middle of the project to rent it anyway.
  • Make sure correct bit for cement drill is included. If not, another trip to Home Depot will be made.
  • Determine that all cement work is finished and secure before returning drill. If not, wife will receive a call at Home Depot while returning said drill and have to abort the transaction to bring drill back to project.
  • Flirt with old man at Home Depot tool rental department. Results? 24-rental for the price of 1-hour.
  • One way distance between project location and Home Depot = 9.38 minutes. Time needed to drive to Home Depot = approximately 15 minutes.
  • Beavis and Butthead come out after dark when boys play with power tools
  • Dremel tools are good for anything
  • Painting wood before assembly is preferable to painting afterward
  • The sound of power tools at midnight really echo in a culdesac
  • There is no need to buy different lengths of screws when you have a Dremel tool
  • Jordan, Justin, Lara, Cindy, and Afton make an excellent team!

Before (Notice Piper in the doorway)

Monday Night (Labor Day)

Justin holds a long nail with a pair of pliers while Jordan trims it shorter with a Dremel

Jordan drilling into the cement

Justin piecing together the railing
Afton poses in front of the rails she helped paint.

Lara painting (notice the broken camp chair next to broke while I was sitting on it painting. What a mess!)

Silly boys goofing around

Jordan uses the Dremel to trim his handywork

Afton's Owies

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lest We Forget…

Today is the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on my country. It’s a day I will never forget. So in memory of that tragic day and in honor of the country that I love, I wanted to post a little something.

Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

Generations before always talk about “Where were you when JFK was shot?” Well, the defining political moment of this generation is September 11, 2001. Each person’s memory of this is very personal and very powerful.

I was a sophomore in college in Rocks Springs, Wyoming. Justin had left for work that morning, and I was still in bed. Our radio alarm clock went off and the station was airing a news report about an airplane crashing into a building in New York. I wanted to listen to the report but just that second the phone began to ring, so I jumped out of bed, turned the radio off, and answered the phone. It was Justin telling me the exact same news. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Some teachers canceled classes. I believe my first class was canceled, or maybe I just skipped it. The college had set up a lecture room with a large projection screen and speakers to air the news. Teachers and students alike sat in there all day to watch what was going on. I sat in there with Justin watching the footage over and over again. I cried. Justin said, “It’s Bin Laden who did this.” I had never heard that name before that day. He suspected Bin Laden before the government issued that same suspicion. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even know what the Twin Towers were before that day.

Like everyone else, I spent a lot of time looking at the clear blue sky, worried I might see more planes. We didn’t have cable, so that evening, I just sat on the carpet in the living room listening to the radio. I felt a connection to another generation—a generation who sat around the radio listening to Roosevelt’s fireside chats and tuning in for news on the war. I called my family. I held my husband. And the country cried.

Later that week we both donated blood, and we bought a flag. And that was how I experienced Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

I can’t say what the terrorists were hoping their attacks would do. Were they successful? I can’t really say since I don’t know their intentions and hopes. Maybe they thought they were that day. But seven years later, the good ol’ U.S. of A. is still standing strong and proud, and we’ve all progressed in our lives, so I have to say that the attacks failed. I can never be glad the attack happened, but in honor of the men and women who died that day—the flight crew, the office workers, the plane passengers, government employees, police officers, firemen—and those who have died since protecting our freedom, I would like to post a few good things, that the attacks made me realize and be grateful for.

I still cry when I see the footage of the attacks. I cry when I sing the national anthem. I cry when pledge the flag. I cry when I see a soldier in uniform. And not only do I cry, but my heart swells with love and pride to the point it hurts.

I grew up a little that day. I realized that there are things worth fighting for. Things worth dying for. I got angry and I’m glad I did. It’s a lesson I won’t ever forget and I am proud for those individuals who actually go out and fight and die for me. I especially want to honor and thank my family members who have served in the United States Armed Forces and been willing to give their lives to serve and protect: My Dad, my brothers Dave and Brad, my uncles Wayne, Ray, Clyde, and Steve, my cousins Lachlan, Jericho, David (and his wife Heather), and Joshua, and my grandfather Hays, and my great-grandfather Swift (I could name more if I went back further, but four generations is enough for now).
Thank you.

Our Government
There are plenty of faults I can find wrong with the government. There are plenty of politicians that I’d like to lampoon. But at the end of the day, I live in a country where the government functions. Where people a whole lot smarter than me, who know a whole lot more than me are able to take action to protect the citizens or come our rescue. That day was a scary day for everyone. I don’t like to think about how much worse it would’ve been—or would be today—if we didn’t have a strong, solid country with a functioning government system doing its job.

In the wake of the attack, we knew who are friends were. People were instantly bonded, united with each other. We smiled at strangers, prayed together as a nation. We loved more deeply, more poignantly. Other nations—even those we don’t see eye to eye with on foreign policy—offered their sympathy and help. More than anything that day, we knew we were not alone.

Seven years has not healed the scars from that day. It has not erased our memories. Instead, it has made each citizen stronger as we have all pieced together our lives and built them up again. We can’t forget—we won’t forget. But America did not crumble. The economy did not fail. We may have lost a bit of our innocence, but we gained strength and we are still here!

Here is the opening monologue from the movie Love Actually that I’ve always loved. To me, it really sums up what this life is all about.

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow airport. General opinion makes out that we live in a world of hatred and greed. I don't see that. Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy but it's always there. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers, none of the phone calls from people on board were messages of hate or revenge, they were all messages of love. lf you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.

I invite anyone to leave a comment on my blog about what they were doing September 11, 2001. Here is a post my sister Julie did of what she was doing on that day. It's very interesting because she was a missionary another country, so she had a unique experience being outside of America's borders when we were attacked.

Just remember, Our unity is our greatest defense and most lethal weapon.

Long live freedom and God bless America!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Our Home Visit

Big. Sigh. Of. Relief. Altoghether now: PHEW!!! It's over! It's time to sit back, bite our nails, and wait.

We had our home visit yesterday. We had a busy week with some home repairs and lots of tidying and organizing. Yes, we probably went overboard stressing out about the cleanliness of our house, but I don't regret it. My house is probably cleaner than it has ever been as long as I have lived here. So I am totally ready for a baby. I've officially nested. :)

I just have to give public kudos to my sweetie of a husband who did so much work building the porch railing, organizing the storage room, cleaning almost all of the house, and putting together the nursery. Saturday night I came down with a fever and he finished all the chores and took care of me, even finding a sub for my Sunday school class.

Our caseworker said our paperwork was fabulous--the best she's read in a really long time. She hardly had any questions for us and said that we have really expressed our maturity and emotional readiness for an adoption. She also said they have mothers scheduled to come in this October and November to find parents for their babies and she's glad that we'll be in the pool for those two ladies. It will take about a week for our caseworker to type up the notes from the homestudy, then we'll sign it, fork up some more moola, then we'll officially be on the waiting list. Yippee Skippy!

Friday, September 5, 2008

My Hero

I've never really had a role model or hero I've revered or looked up to the way some people do. Until now. See this woman? Isn't she drop-dead gorgeous? She's a kind, intelligent woman who is really doing her part to promote world peace. If you think she's a beauty queen, well, you're wrong. Mostly. She is a queen. Queen Rania of Jordan.

What's not to love? First, she's lived the life every girl dreams of...being swept off her feet by a prince, marrying him, and becoming queen, having four beautiful children, and having the power and capacity to do such good.

Queen Rania's latest effort has been to address negative stereotypes about Middle Eastern people and Muslims. Since the spring, she has launched a campaign on YouTube to speak to the world and invite questions and comments which she has been addressing for months. How cool is that? A royal using YouTube to reach the world! Not only is she beautiful, kind, intelligent, and powerful, she is also hip!

This is the introductory video. Search around if you'd like to find other videos of Queen Rania addressing topics like terrorism, honor killings, domestic violence, poverty, anti-Americanism, and more. You can sign up for a YouTube account and be updated whenever Queen Rania posts a new video.

Here are so more pictures of her. I really think she is incredible. I have finally found a true role model. I love her feminity and the appeal of her royalty. I love her message and her bravery as she makes steps to end cultural hatred.

“Educating our children is not just about imposing a body of knowledge on them. Rather, it involves preparing children from the early years for the world in which they will come of age. It means instilling a love for lifelong learning, creativity, self-expression and an appreciation for diversity.”

- Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah upon the opening of the Children's Museum, May 2007


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