Thursday, October 30, 2008

Will He Be Scarred For Life?

Now that my almost-13-month-old son has eight (8??!!) teeth, we are trying to get him used to the idea that brushing them will be a lifelong responsibility and a good habit. We decided it would be best to give him his own toothbrush to play with. (Sorry Jen, dangling participle there...) This way, it would be "fun" instead of "scary". He's in control. He loves it!

There's just one problem...

I didn't plan ahead and have an appropriate new toothbrush ready to go when those first little toothies came through. I did, however, have a brand new, never used one like this:

Yes, my son is now attached to, and loving, his very own pink Strawberry Shortcake toothbrush! He stands in the bathroom each morning and copies Mom and Dad. He diligently "brushes" alongside the two of us. Then Mom follows up with some real brushing to make sure his chompers are clean.

It's been a much simpler introduction to dental hygiene than we had with my daughters. I guess the fact that we put Little Man in charge, instead of coming at him with an unfamiliar foreign object, made a difference.

Still, my husband is a little worried about the precedent we've set by starting him out with Strawberry Shortcake. Will he be scarred for life?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Just For Fun

Here's my sweet baby boy, enjoying what passes for "Fall weather" in Phoenix...temps in the high 80s-low 90s. Ugh!

I just had to post this particular photo though. I am a compulsive proofreader, so every time I put this outfit on Connor, I have to pop a Benadryl to keep the hives at bay. You'll have to have an eagle eye to spot it, but ten bucks says Jen gets it within ten nanoseconds.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Today's Commute

Here's the view on my commute today. I actually left home the afternoon before a training because it's all the way up north in a tiny town called Sanders, near the AZ-NM border. It was an amazing drive, and I think I saw just about all of the different environments found in this state. I left Phoenix, in the Sonoran Desert, drove through the Tonto National Forest up over the Mogollon Rim (7,000+ ft.) and into the Painted Desert and Navajo country. Beautiful!

During my drive, it occurred to me that Arizona has some places with odd names. A few off the top of my head:

  • Tombstone

  • Big Bug Creek

  • Happy Jack

  • Bloody Basin

  • Dry Beaver Creek

  • Bumble Bee

Today I added a new one to my list... "Kitty Joe Creek". I imagine "Kitty Joe" was a person of note in early AZ, and had a creek named after her. I'd love to find out more. I think that will be my new brain exercise, to note interesting place names when I'm driving and find out the story behind them.

On another note, it seems I'm becoming a bear magnet. On my drive today, I had one of these guys run across the road less than 100 yards in front of me!

A big, beautiful midnight black bear! This gorgeous animal was in a full run, and oh my was it FAST! I had no idea bears could run like that. I actually teared up a little because I was so overcome by how amazing it was.

My husband's Hopi background holds bears in very high regard. The Bear Clan is the highest-ranking clan in their traditional culture, and his grandfather is one of the clan's elders. It is supposed to be a very good sign when a bear crosses your path. Considering this is the second time a bear has graced me with an up-close-and-personal appearance in just a few weeks, I'm feeling mighty special. This isn't Yellowstone, after all!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Miss My Plumeria

Several weeks ago, my daughters had a "Fall Break" from school. I guess that's one upside to starting school the first week of August around here. I was able to take my three children to California for six days of non-Phoenix fun, and it was wonderful!

We spent the first part of our trip revisiting our old stomping grounds. One of the highlights of the trip for me was to see that the plumeria I'd planted outside our front door at our old house were not only still there, but were flourishing!

These were cuttings given to us by a native Hawaiian family who are very dear to us. They had sat, growing slowly and quietly, in clay pots for several years before I decided to put 'em in the ground. Of course, shortly after they were planted, we learned our home was being sold by the owner and we were going to have to move. When we decided to move to Arizona, I figured trying to relocate those plants would be their death sentence, so we left them in the ground and moved away. I cried when I said goodbye to those plants!

My worst fear was that the new owners would decide to rip them out and put in something else or remodel the house and do away with the planter altogether. I couldn't bear the thought of "my" plumeria ending up in a dumpster. So, I was thrilled to see my babies reaching for the sky. They were no longer hip-high little flowering plants...they are now pushing the envelope into full-fledged tree territory!

We had an opportunity to speak to the new owners, who were gracious enough to not only let me photograph the plumeria but to also invite us inside to see the many renovations they'd made to the house. They were wonderful. They thanked me for leaving the plumeria in the ground and said how much they appeciate the shade they give the front wall of the house, the privacy they provide the bedroom that faces the street, and the oh-so-yummy smelling blooms they produce all season long. I'm so glad they're enjoying those plumeria!

So, from my cell phone camera to this blog, here is a shot of "MY PLUMERIA":

Psssst, Joannah, let me know if you're still looking for plumeria cuttings and I'll give you the address!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Call me a Liberal, I Guess

Have you ever spent time in a Third World country? I'm not counting shopping excursions or runs for cheap prescription meds to Mexican border towns. I'm talking THIRD WORLD, as in unstable government, collapsing infrastructure, disease-riddled, population-exploding THIRD WORLD. Have you?

(And no, the Inland Empire doesn't count either.)

I ask this question because it seems that, in this politically-charged pre-election period, the concept of social programs has become a dirty word. Callers on radio talk shows dial up and rage at the thought of their hard-earned tax dollars going toward social services in this country. As a nation, we sneer at the thought of our citizens taking handouts.

I'll be honest...the stereotypical welfare recipient pisses me off too. I don't believe that anyone benefits when you get something for nothing. I believe in the value of hard work and self-sufficiency.

I also know that, when I found myself unexpectedly expecting (how's that for an oxymoron?) in my final semester of grad school and my husband was working construction with no benefits, there's no way we could have afforded that pregnancy without state aid.

I paid into "the system" every paycheck since I started flipping burgers at Carl's Jr. in the Westminster Mall at sixteen. And for a little over a year, while I carried my firstborn child, finished my Master's degree, and secured a full-time teaching job with medical benefits, I took from "the system." It's what I had to do, and I am grateful for it every day.

Now, back to my initial question regarding Third World countries...

I reflected tonight, as I sat at the dinner table with my family, on the fact that we are so blessed to live in a stable, democratic country. We live in a nation where, no matter our political differences, we still have the peaceful transfer of power every 4 or 8 years. There are so many places in this world that do not get to experience that.

I also realized that, like it or not, those very same social programs that so many Americans rail against ("I don't want to pay my hard-earned money to support some Welfare Mother!") enable us to live according to the principles we hold dear.

It's a lot easier to be "Pro-Life" when the government provides help if you're trying to finish school.

It's also a lot easier to have a peaceful, stable democracy when you don't have the kind of poverty found in Third World countries.

Don't believe me? Catch a flight from Miami to Haiti on American Airlines or Spirit Air. Seriously, it'll only take you a couple hours to plunk yourself right, smack-dab in the middle of the most dire poverty in the hemisphere. Spend fifteen minutes walking around downtown Port-au-Prince and then ask youself if you think some good, old-fashioned American-style social services might actually help that place turn the corner in the direction of stability and democracy. I bet you'd agree they might.

A population that is rioting at the cost of basic food staples poses a challenge for a democracy. A country with large numbers of unfed, unemployed, uneducated, unhoused, un-provided-for individuals is a country with large numbers of potential agitators, terrorists, and easily incited people. In Haiti, one can see how easily a bowl of beans and rice can buy the loyalty of a starving street kid. To whom would you rather that hungry teen be loyal? The government, or an exiled paramilitary leader trying to illegally overthrow the government?

The contrast between the haves and the have-nots in Haiti is extreme. The haves get education, medical care, homes, and food while the have-nots often get none of those things. Trust me...many of those haves did not get their advantages through hard work and perseverance. They were just lucky to be born to the "right" father or mother. They are as guilty of not lifting a finger as any welfare recipient in the U.S.

I guess this post is just my long-winded (and heavily hyphenated) way of saying this:

I believe the money we pay for social services in the United States is the price we pay for a stable democracy...that's a price I'm glad to pay.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Feelin' Fall

At this moment, my air conditioning just kicked on...

How ironic, considering I was just about to blog on the topic of my favorite season. I have always adored autumn.

I love the cooler days and chilly evenings. I look forward to unpacking all my best, coziest sweaters. I love sweaters!

I get excited thinking about Halloween and Thanksgiving, my two favorite holidays. I am a candy fiend, and I love to eat, so those being my favorite holidays shouldn't surprise anyone, I suppose.

After moving to Arizona, I came to appreciate fall for another reason: lower electricity bills!

So, my AC still turns on periodically. We're still hitting the 90s most days. At least my blog looks cool, cozy and autumn-y, right?

Monday, October 13, 2008

There They Go...

I hear you tiptoeing out the back.

That "Obama '08" sticker on the right just gave you a fierce case of the hives.

I'm still me. I love my country. I despise terrorism. I'm a believer.

I just happen to be voting for a Democrat.

Please come back once you're past it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Going Out on a Limb...


I try to keep my politics to myself. I really, really do. I have such a diverse bunch of friends and acquaintances who I love and respect, even if we don't always share the same views, so I try to avoid hot-button topics that are bound to create friction.

After last night's Vice Presidential debate, however, I can't contain it. I am about to explode. I am losing my mind. All because of four little words.





I'm not going to name names, but if you watched the debate you probably know to which candidate I'm referring. The bottom line in my book is this: If you are in a position where, within the next 100 days you may become one of the most powerful leaders in the free world, you better be careful in your use and/or pronunciation of those four words!

I'm not asking anyone to go the route of Los Angeles television news anchors and overexaggerate an accent when stating the name of a Central American immigrant whose business opening is featured on the 5:30 broadcast. I'm not saying our elected officials have to be fluent in every obscure dialect found in remote Himalayan tribal hinterlands.

I am asking that, when two countries are at the center of our current political situation, our democratically elected leaders (that means they represent you and me to the rest of the world folks!) at least make an effort to come close to the correct names of those places.

When I hear someone say "EYE-RAN" and "EYE-RACK" I get a mental image of that person, behind closed doors, referring to the residents of "EYE-RAN" and "EYE-RACK" as towel-headed camel jockeys while perusing a NASCAR catalog and watching WWF (or WWE or RAW or whatever acronym that fake-professional wrestling crap goes by this week). Ask your Iraqi and Iranian friends (you DO have at least one of those, I hope) if they agree. I think you'll find they do. It screams, "I'm 'n Amarikkkin, by golly, and thar ain't nuthin you ken say 'bout it!"

These two countries have been on our collective radar since the 1980s...that's almost 30 years, folks! We should have a pretty good idea as a nation of literate, educated people, how to say "EAR-ON" and "EAR-OCK". It's not that hard! **Both candidates were guilty of this one, people.**

These people want to represent me to the rest of the world. I don't want the rest of the world to perceive me as an ignorant redneck!

I also cringe when I hear someone say they "tolerate" those who are different from them.


What does that mean to you?

I "tolerate" the fact that ants mercilessly invade my kitchen every spring and fall as the weather changes because that's just a part of life where we live. I "tolerate" the ants, although I bring out the big guns and spray like hell to get rid of them as quickly as possible. I "tolerate" the inconvenience as I clean furiously and make sure there is absolutely nothing out for these nasty buggers to eat or drink, so they don't linger any longer than necessary before going away.

I don't want a leader who "tolerates" those who are different. It's clear to me that the candidate in question truly does mean "tolerate", as in "put up with temporarily while trying everything possible to eliminate/exterminate/eradicte the offending subject." I want a leader who accepts those who are different. As in, "allow to live in peace, with equal rights, and without trying to change or lay a guilt trip on."

Finally, the ultimate deal breaker for me...


Say it with me folks...





It's friggin' nuclear, NOT "NEW-KYUH-LUR"

You can't say that word correctly, but you want to be inches away from the button that controls our nations new-klee-er arsenal?

Oh, no no NO!!!

**Edit: I just reread this and realized it comes across like I paid no attention to the actual issues discussed in last night's debate. I did pay attention. In my opinion, both candidates answered along party lines and said nothing unexpected or eye-opening. It was a pretty predictable debate overall, as far as I'm concerned.