Thursday, December 17, 2009

Our Christmas Hutch

Because we don't have a Christmas tree, we have refurbished (read: shoved everything else aside) our hutch to be a holder of gifts. It is a Christmas hutch. Doesn't it look trailer trash festive? Note the gift bags in the window sill as well. Hey, the hutch isn't perfect.

P.S. I'm thinking about deleting this blog, as my parents are the only ones who ever read it (Hi, Mom and Dad). If you have a good reason why I shouldn't, let me know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another reason why I'm a country girl!

Looks may buy happiness, but only in the city
For country girls, pretty is as pretty does, study shows

By Linda Carroll contributor

Women’s magazines all spread the same message: Money may not buy you happiness, but beauty certainly will.

A new study has actually proven that the women’s magazines were right — so long as you live in the city. But if you’re a country girl, it’s more of a case of “pretty is as pretty does.”

Researchers have found that happiness for city women is quite dependent upon physical appearance. But in the country, looks don’t count for much in terms of overall life satisfaction and happiness, according to a new study in the journal Personal Relationships.

“City women who were the most attractive got a lot of bang for their appearance buck,” says the study’s lead author, Victoria Plaut, a visiting assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and an assistant professor at the University of Georgia.
“And if you were even slightly below average, you were very clearly worse off.”

When it came to women living in the country, there was no connection between physical appearance and happiness. Even more interesting — there was a slight trend in the data for women in the country to be happier if they were chubbier, Plaut says.

For the new study, Plaut and her colleagues interviewed 257 women who lived in the city and 330 from the country. The women were asked to rate their satisfaction with life, their connectedness with friends and community, and their general level of happiness. For a measure of satisfaction, they were asked to rate their lives on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “worst possible life you can imagine” and 10 listed as the “best possible life you can imagine.”

To get a sense of the women’s attractiveness, researchers asked for waist and hip measurements. Other studies have shown that the ratio of waist to hips is a reliable indicator of attractiveness, Plaut explains. The lower the ratio, the slimmer the waist — and the more attractive a woman is considered to be.

The study got it right, says Cindy Seagraves, manager of a horse and farm supply store in Quinton, N.J., a farming community about 45 miles from Philadelphia. There’s a lot less emphasis on physical appearance in rural areas, adds Seagraves, 28.

“I think there’s a lot of social pressure in the city,” she says. “In the country, there’s a sense of stability and comfort. You feel like you can just be yourself. You go to the local grocery store dressed in your horse clothes or in your camouflage and hunting boots and nobody looks at you sideways.”

Part of that sense of acceptance comes from having friends you’ve known since elementary school, says Seagraves, who has lived in the same rural community her whole life. “It’s not like living in the city where you’re surrounded by so many unknown faces,” she adds. “These people have known you since you were little. So you don’t feel pressure to be cool to fit in.”

The new findings fall in line with other research, says Michael Cunningham, a psychologist and professor in the department of communications at the University of Louisville, Ky. “In competitive and individualistic cultures you have to compete for limited social attention,” Cunningham says. “Physical attractiveness is one of the variables that gets you social attention and other positive outcomes. But in communal cultures and rural areas, family reputation and other longer-term variables have a bigger impact on your well-being. As a consequence, physical attractiveness doesn’t have as big an impact.”

There’s another way to look at it, argues Dr. Alan Manevitz, a psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. People aren’t obsessed with appearance in rural areas simply because the population is too small for there to be much choice.

“If you’re living on a small island and there are 10 people on that island, and one person fishes and another grows vegetables and another chops down trees, it doesn’t matter what anyone looks like,” he adds. “As soon as you begin to have more people you have more competition and then physical appearance becomes more important.”

Avice Hoff, executive director of the Miss Montana Scholarship and member of the Montana 4-H Hall of Fame, knows a lot about competition, and she thinks that's got nothing to do with it. Rather, true beauty can't be captured by something as simplistic as a waist-to-hip ratio.

"Montana women look at other qualities in a person rather than external beauty," she says.

The researchers haven't yet looked at how all this plays out in the suburbs. But Plaut suspects that the character of each community has a lot to do with it. In other words, looks are likely to matter a lot more in Pasadena than Peoria.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Dream House

As Nick and I are not terribly fond of this apartment and would like to get out the nanosecond our Idaho house sells, I've been looking online for Salem-area housing. And I discovered this place, a mere few miles away in Silverton. It sits on 45 acres and boasts its own 1,400-sf guest house. See it in the above picture (that also coincidentally makes me sigh with longing)?
IS THIS NOT THE MOST AMAZING HOUSE YOU'VE EVER SEEN?!?! For a mere 2 and a half million buckaroos, this place of my dreams could be mine.

Anyone care to contribute?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

35 Years Together

Last Saturday night culminated in what had been over 4 months of planning for Jill and me. As you all know, Jill is a party-planning goddess, and so in July I approached her with the idea of throwing a surprise 35th anniversary party. I hadn't been in the state to throw them one on their 30th, and I was too young on their 25th, but this time I knew I wanted to do something really special for the 2 people who gave me a Leave-It-to-Beaver childhood.

Jill heartily agreed to my grand-but-somewhat-murky vision, and we got to work. And work.

What the work produced: one of the most memorable nights of my adulthood, and hopefully of my parents'.

The surprise party was held at Clear Lake, the scene of the majority of my happy moments from age 8 (approximately) to now. It is my personal heaven, and truly the only 2 things that could improve it are A) a hot tub and B) a baby grand piano.

Anyways, my dad only knew to make sure they showed up at Clear Lake on this Saturday night. What they didn't know was that most of their kids and 18 of their closest friends were there to greet them! Jill and I had been working since Friday night to create a tasty, elegant menu, a festive, autumnal atmosphere, and lovey-dovey music to enhance the mood. It was pretty much fantastically perfect, thank you very much.

With the assistance of my cousin Matt, I put together a slideshow set to music of my parent's life together. My dad, the sentimental one only when it comes to slideshows and old photos (and even then never when he's SUPPOSED to the Christmas before his daughter leaves for college!), watched it three times, I think.

As my parents danced together to Clint Black's "Something that We Do", I couldn't help but think of perfect the lyrics were (and don't think for a second that wasn't planned by yours truly for months ahead of time):

I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
I still believe those words we said
Forever will ring true

They spun and twirled around the room, Elsa improvisationally smushed between them, and it was beautiful.

When I was young, I didn't even really know what divorce was. It was like a Hollywood thing; I vaguely knew it happened to other people out there, but not to my parents and not to their best friends. I think there was over 350 years of marriage at Clear Lake that night, and I know that's a testmanet to the kind of people my parents are and choose to be with. And I was so grateful.

Yes, the party exhausted me and was a ton of work. But it was the least I could do for parents who taught me that marriage is permanent.

Not only permanent, but a work of art. Happy anniversary to my fantastic parents, and thank you for passing the legacy of commitment on to so many people.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


There's really not a better place to take pictures than at Clear Lake. Any season will do.
Elsa is such a little mommy to Jack. He doesn't mind.

Every night as we pray with Jack, he says, "Jesus, Joshy, Elsa, Jill, Shane" about 4 times through. We're not sure why this is his toddler mantra, but he's quite fond of it. All I can deduce is that he's quite fond of his cousins and aunts and uncles! Hannah and Jonathan, Jack will like you just as much when you have your own kids (hint, hint).

I'm so grateful for all of Jack's cousins. He loves them all!

Monday, November 16, 2009

2 Years Changes So Much!

From this....
To this!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my life-changing son. I can't wait to see what you look like in 2 more years!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

And you thought YOUR pregnancy was weird?!?!

Woman Gets Pregnant -- While Pregnant
Arkansas woman conceives two babies weeks apart, according to reports

Arkansas couple Todd and Julia Grovenburg found out that they were having a baby and then discovered they were having two bundles of joy — but the babies aren't twins.

An ultrasound revealed that a male fetus was conceived a full two-and-a-half weeks after the woman became pregnant with a baby girl, according to reports from local media. The Grovenburgs' obstetrician confirmed the case to Arkansas television station KFSM-TV.

The pregnancy is believed to be a case of a rare condition known as superfetation, or conceiving while pregnant.

The pregnancy may sound weird, but it is possible, according to NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

"Here's how it happens — egg and sperm, implant. Of course, that's your first pregnancy. But if you ovulate more than one time a month — and women do — and a sperm happens to meet that egg and they, too, implant, guess what, you get a second fetus," Snyderman said during MSNBC's “Dr. Nancy” Thursday. "You just have to hope it happens within that early window."

Due dates for the babies are the end of 2009 and early 2010, reports say.

*I think this beats even the fertility of Emily Henderson.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

To Be Like My Daddy

Now that Jack is a big 21 months old, he has hit the "I copy absolutely EVRYTHING that anyone over the age of 5 does" stage.

He really couldn't care less about age-appropriate toys. I'm always begging him to play with his amazingly cool toys, but he always says, "No. With you!" As a result, he washes my car with me, cooks with me, cleans with me, gets dressed with me, showers with me (you can save that comment to embarrass him in another 13 years or so) and shaves with me. Don't worry, I give him a razor with no blade, a la the #4 in "Multiplicity."

Yet he loves to copy his daddy the most, hence the 2 DVDs stuck in the computer yesterday afternoon.

This morning, I was cleaning the bedroom when I heard a slight buzzing commotion. The above picture is what I saw. Yes, he fit his entire little body in Nick's sink and began shaving with Nick's electric shaver. He even stared at himself in the mirror the way Nick does.

Next, he proceeded to grab Nick's floss, pull out about 5 yards, and begin flossing. What dentist wouldn't delight in my toddler's dental dexterity?

Though there are no pictures to prove it, Jack then squeezed some handsoap onto his toothbrush and brushed away. Afterward, he finished up by getting his hands wet, running them through his hair, and spritzing some Candies cologne on his hair.

Satisfied, he smiled at himself in the mirror, hopped down and announced, "All done!"

Either Jack really loves his daddy or is going to be a personal hygiene freak. Should I take a poll?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Whatdya think, Moms? True or False?

TV Interferes With Infants' Language Development
More time watching the tube means less time learning to speak, researchers say
-- Robert Preidt

THURSDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Television reduces verbal interaction between parents and infants, which could delay children's language development, says a U.S. study that challenges claims that certain infant-targeted DVDs actually benefit youngsters.

The researchers studied 329 children, aged 2 months to 48 months, and found that for each additional hour of television exposure, there was a decrease of 770 words (7 percent) heard from an adult by the children. The study also found that the more hours spent watching television, the fewer vocalizations infants made when adults talked to them.

"Some of these reductions are likely due to children being left alone in front of the television screen, but others likely reflect situations in which adults, though present, are distracted by the screen and not interacting with their infant in a discernable manner," wrote Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, of Seattle Children's Hospital, and colleagues.

"At first blush, these findings may seem entirely intuitive. However, these findings must be interpreted in light of the fact that purveyors of infant DVDs claim that their products are designed to give parents and children a chance to interact with one another, an assertion that lacks empirical evidence," they noted.

The researchers added that their results may help explain previous findings of a link between television viewing and delayed language development.

"Given the critical role that adult caregivers play in children's linguistic development, whether they talk to their child while the screen is on may be critical and explain the effects that are attributed to content or even amount of television watched," the team wrote. "That is, whether parents talk less (or not at all) during some types of programs or at some times of the day may be as important in this age group as what is being watched."

The study appears in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Goodnight Mom!

My friend Rochelle sent me this spoof by Sarah Jio on the classic children's book Goodnight Moon and it was too good not to share with you!

In the messy green
family room
There was a telemarketer
ringing the telephone
And a crying toddler
because his brother
just popped his
red balloon
And a picture of --

The cow jumping over the moon
(which someone colored on with permanent marker)
And there was a missing
teddy bear, anda girl with
gum in her hair

And one to be scolded
And laundry to be folded
And a very hungry spouse
And something stinky in the house
(that no one else seemed to smell)

And a comb and a brush and a colicky
baby who just won't shush
And a frazzled mommy screaming #*%#@!

Goodnight messy room
Goodnight scribbled-on moon
Goodnight cow getting out while she can
Goodnight telemarketer and the
popped balloon

Goodnight long-gone teddy bear
Goodnight cereal bar smeared all
over the dining room chair

Goodnight spitup
And goodnight leaky sippy cup
Goodnight much-too-little house and
Goodnight grumpy spouse
Goodnight comb and goodnight brush
And goodnight to a certain 4-year-old
who just needs to hush right now I mean it

Goodnight Elmo
Goodnight toys we'll pick up tomorrow,
or the next day
Hello chardonnay and TiVo--
"me" time finally

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cowboys & Chocolate

Tessa, one of my very dear and favorite friends, is the editor of the Powell Tribune in small-town Powell, Wyoming. I happen to think she's the very best in the business, but that's another subject.

She recently sent me a profile she just wrote on a ranching cowboy who lives in Meeteetse, Wyoming (population 351). Apparently, this guy is a cowboy by day and a GOURMET CHOCOLATIER by night, and sometimes the other way around.

The article has some hysterical quotes. Check it out:

I was most definitely laughing as I read this, but seriously, a cowboy who also makes gourmet chocolate? Could you possibly create a sexier job combination????

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hallelujah, Jack's a Cleaner!

Over the past few weeks of Jack's life, something has become evident. Now, I realize he's only 15 months old, but I'm trying to think positively. I've come to the conclusion that Jack's a helper, but more importantly, he's a CLEANER.

Here is my evidence:
1. Upon dismounting from his high chair after every meal, he grabs his dish and spoon, pulls down the dishwasher on his own, places them inside (of course in the wrong place, but I haven't had the heart to correct him yet) and then shuts the door, moving along his merry way. If he finds any stray eating utensil on the floor, watch out, errant fork. You're headed for the dishwasher!
2. 3 days ago, I swept the kitchen with my Swiffer sweeper. Jack grabbed it from me and proceeded to Swiffer the whole kitchen. The only reason I stopped him was when he moved on to the carpet.
3. He adores the vacuum. This has been a gradual process, because at first he was terrified of it, but now he loves to press the power button and run away.
4. He lives to put the dirty laundry in the washer and dryer. After slamming the dryer door shut, he usually claps for himself.
5. Yesterday, he grabbed a wet rag off the table and started wiping it down. Can you tell he spends a lot of time with me?
6. Finally, this morning he was playing in the bathroom while I took my shower. I had thrown my running clothes on the floor after getting back from our run and quickly hopped in. After getting out, I looked around for my clothes. Where had he taken them? After a few seconds, the mystery was solved. He had picked up every last article of my running attire and PUT THEM IN THE HAMPER. With the lid back on. I was so proud! :-)

Now, here's the million dollar question: how have I been able to teach Jack in 15 short months to do what his father has not learned in 4.5 years?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hollywood's Version of Equality

You know what I find ironic? Sean Penn in his acceptance speech for his win of his portrayal of Harvey Milk, a gay activist:

"I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support," he said. "We've got to have equal rights for everyone."

This when the jewels on supermodel Heidi Klum's body ALONE boasted a price tag of $900,000.

So much for equality! Hollywood has opulent, hypocritical wealth, while the rest of America has morals. When actors and actresses come down to the real world, maybe then I'll listen to their opinions on "equal rights for everyone."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

8 Precious Lives Caught in the Cross-fire

I'm sure you've all heard the news story about the Suleman octuplets born last month in California. I'm pretty fascinated by the science of multiple births, so those news stories always catch my eye. When I saw the headline that octuplets had been born relatively healthy, I thought, "How wonderful. I'll bet that husband and wife [who I assumed had been previously infertile] are absolutely ecstatic."

Then I read that there were six other children at home, making 14 total. Though many people were in near-outrage over so many children born via IVF, I still felt on the parents' side. After all, I've always been taught that children are a blessing and you shouldn't judge other people's decisions about how many children they have. I felt totally prepared to defend the Sulemans to anyone.

The problem is, there aren't two Sulemans. There's only one. A 33-year-old unemployed single woman gave birth to all 14 of these children, from the newly-born octuplets to the oldest (a 7-year-old). 14 children under age 8. Nadya Suleman lives with her mother in Whittier.

As soon as I found this out, the tide changed. So many questions were raised: how on earth is Nadya Suleman going to pay for these babies? Was the doctor who implanted the embryos acting ethically? How are ANY of her children going to receive individual love and attention?

She has already asked the state of California to pay for the $1.3 million dollar cost of birthing these babies. She already receives disability payments and food stamps, yet somehow she doesn't consider this welfare. I visited her website. On it is a PayPal link where you can donate money.

She plans on returning to college to complete her masters' degree in the fall, and says she will rely on volunteers to provide daycare and supplies. My brother is completing his masters', and he rarely has a spare second to do anything. How can she care for 14 kids ALONE while doing that?

So I was curious as to what you all think. Here's my 2 conclusions: how sad that 8 beautiful babies are caught in this ugly cross-fire. Their unemployed single mother has already received death threats and been villified by the press.

And lastly, CHILDREN NEED TWO PARENTS. The older Jack becomes, the more I am convinced of this. Now, I'm not debating the merits of single parents. I've known many to be wonderful. And of course, just because you have 2 parents present at home doesn't mean you will be well-raised. But ideally, I firmly believe one should not bring 14 lives into this world, knowing you have no means to care for them and no father in the picture. Most single parents didn't choose that route -- through death or divorce, that's what life handed them. But this woman actively chose single motherhood for so many. And somehow, that doesn't feel right to me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sanctity of Human Life Week

In (dis)honor of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the monumental case that legalized abortion across America, this week is Sanctity of Human Life Week. Please take time to visit the following websites if you get a chance:

* -- the official site against the Freedom of Choice Act. Sign their petition and/or join their mailing list today.

* -- this is an outreach of Focus on the Family that concentrates on pro-life issues.

In any case, please pray for our country and its littlest murder victims this week. Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, get trained for respite foster care, join Big Brother/Big Sisters...anything to support LIFE!