Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sisterhood Of The Traveling Teddy Bears

It appears that my girls will be spending another Christmas at the orphanage, so I'm sending a package via a traveling mom in our group. I got those felt gift bags at Target in the dollar bin, and put all the hair doo-dads, beads, candy, and necklace in the bags.

It's going to be a very Tinkerbell Christmas!

Originally I bought these dolls for the girls, because W got one like it last year, and both girls LOVED all the hair accessories. But I decided against sending them. I will just keep them for when they get home. All those little parts will get lost, and the dolls would become community property in short time. I substitute the teddy-bears instead.

I was hoping to get all that stuff in a large zip-loc, but no, it did not happen. Having to put them in two bags for each girl *forced* me to go out on Black Friday and buy that big spool of wired ribbon I saw at Sam's for $8.00!

I have also found it helpful to put their pictures on packages I send so they don't go to the wrong kid. I crop one of their photos and laminate it at Kinko's,put a hole punch in it and tie it up in the ribbon.

Mama L, beware the glitter from that ribbon as you travel! I have it all over my dining table now!

Famous Rivalry

Yesterday was the last game of the regular season...Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. This is a huge rivalry, and the favorite game of the season for many fans. I like it a whole lot better when when win! Which we didn't. It was our year to host. The home team switches off every year, so every other Thanksgiving we break into our holiday to go back to work.

It was raining and getting colder by the minute, so that made things interesting. I made the regular rounds with my camera....

Bulldog on the Plaza!

Some of my former staff at their drink tent

Pauline at the hotdog tent

Hotdogs, Hamburgers and BBQ were a hard sell in the mucky weather, but it didn't stop Bryan from trying!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Random Thoughts Before The Madness Begins

The folks in our tiny hamlet are a traditional and patriotic bunch. I wanted to get a photo of this Veteran's Memorial the *City* Council put up, before the Nativity replaces it.

I realize that Veteran's Day was two weeks ago, but by putting up this memorial it reminds me that everyday is Veterans Day. I found it to be very moving, and have been wanting to photograph it, but between being busy and bad weather, it did not happen until yesterday.


My Jeep came back from the shop with a new front end, all shiny.


Can't even tell the difference, except it's alot cleaner. And I need to replace the 'Georgia' tag on the front bumper that got demolished.

Sammy is growing up fast. His favorite activities are scaring the crap out of rodents (seems they've moved away...yay!) and watching the computer screen when I'm trying to blog...

And we just got news that our French-Canadian friend from Montreal brought her kids home from Haiti as of yesterday. Kids making it home is ALWAYS a good thing.

So much to be grateful for!

I love Christmas, but I hate the retail madness that inevitably ensues.After tomorrow, the madness begins. I'm going to try not to get sucked into it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Advent Conspiracy Promo Video

Worth watching. Worth thinking about

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


My dear friend Mrs. K wrote yesterday about 50/50 chances. Being in the middle of a 50/50 is a tough place. Things could literally roll one way or the other. I know about this place.

I remember it quite clearly, although it was 15 years ago. Nick, my oldest son, was 5 years old. He was out in the driveway on a quiet Saturday afternoon, trying to climb up the side of the bed of the pick-up truck my husband had brought home from know, scaling it, as a Ninja would do. Of course, he was trying to be sneaky about it because Ninjas are kinda sneaky, and besides, his dad told him not to climb on the truck. So of course he waited until Pete came into the house briefly, to try it. We were called outside by the most horrendous blood curdling screaming you can imagine. It brought all the neighbors out of their houses too. When Nick had tried climbing up the side of the truck, his little hand got smashed in one of the latch-down hooks. Not just smashed. He cut off part of his middle finger on his right hand. I handed the baby (LG) off to my neighbor, grabbed Nick, and wrapped his bloody hand in a clean dishtowel. By this time we were in the house, and Pete and I were getting a better look than we really wanted at his hand, Nick screaming bloody hysterical murder the entire time. Not that I blamed him. I wasn't one to boss my husband around alot (maybe part of our problem) but on that day I told him to get out there and find that finger. And he did. He put it in a plastic container, the neighbor called the emergency room (this was the time before cell phones TBCP) and we dashed off to the hospital which was about a mile away.

Are you still with me here????

At the emergency room, they rushed him in immediately, and thankfully the first thing they did was give him a shot of morphine. He became considerably calmer. I know he was in pain, but the hysteria on his part was taking over, and of course I was doing my best to fight my own. I was thinking---"I think it will be OK, they are doing so much with re-attachment these days, and we got here so quickly" when the doctor came out and said he did not think they were going to be able to reattach. He said the trauma at the wound site was too much and that Nick was just going to have to learn to live with it. But he said we were welcome to seek a second opinion, even though he did not think it would do any good. Pete stood up to the doctor and said we would most definitely seeking that second opinion. Which was good because I was standing there reeling, in shock.

This hospital system was and still is the largest HMO in the country. Luckily, our option for a second opinion was at Stanford University in Palo Alto. So we loaded up our drugged-out 5 year old, and his detached appendage which was now hospital packed in a sterile container, and headed across the Bay. I called the neighbor to let her know what was going on and she offered to keep the baby.

In reality, Palo Alto is about 30 miles away from where we lived, but because of traffic and the lay of the land it took nearly 2 hours to get there. And if you are familiar with the SF Bay Area I don't need to explain it to you. Anyway, we finally arrived at the University Hospital, where the statff was expecting us. The attending resident (student!) looked Nick over very carefully, and we told him about the other doctor's grim prognosis. He seemed to weigh his options carefully, but he did not seem especially pessimistic. He said he was calling in Dr. Lucy Lu (not his real name, but for the life of me I never could remember that guy's name) off the golf course because he was the Hand Reattachment Specialist and the resident wanted his opinion. Dr Lucy Lu showed up within the hour---quite impressive, because he was dressed as if he was at Woodside Country Club---he obviously was not hitting balls on a municipal 9 holer. Though I seriously doubt Palo Alto has a municipal 9 hole golf course anyway. But I digress. Dr. Lucy Lu arrived and looked at Nick for about 5 minutes. Then he called Pete and I out into the hallway, and said he thought we had a 50/50 chance for a successful reattachment. Pete and I looked at each other in amazement. What a difference in attitude! We said "yeah! Go for it!" He explained the process and why he thought it could work. Which also explained why it might not. He told me that Nick would need to come back to see him on Tuesday, and then once a week after that. He said we would know the outcome in about 2 weeks. Then I guess he went back to the Country Club, because the resident actually did the procedure in the emergency room. He put a drape up so Nick (and me) could not see, and I stood at the head of his bed and talked my boy through it. He was so drugged up he did not cry. Pete stood at the foot of the bed and watched the surgeon/resident/student.

They wrapped up his hand and said Nick had to take it easy. No running around, no playing. I'm thinking...that won't be easy, he's 5 years old! But I made it work. I was the strictest Mama ever.

After that day, I could think of nothing but 50/50. I would sometimes feel myself descending into that place of fear and despair, but then I would catch myself. I would remember how the whole scenario changed when the expert arrived on the scene. I was new (again) to praying, but I prayed constantly, and I did alot of visualizing. I never told Nick he had a 50/50 chance of losing his finger, I only acted as if he would keep it. He was a very smart little boy (still smart, just big now) and I did not need his own mind working against him. One time my mother-in-law blurted it out in front of him and I just glared at her so fiercely she got the message. I pulled her aside later and told her,"we don't go there". But in my heart, I was terrified. Although common sense told me that there were worse things that could happen, I did not want my boy growing up with a handicap, or a deformed hand. It was on my mind and on my heart non-stop. As we got ready for our second follow appointment 10 days after the accident I really started fighting the fear. Because I knew on this visit the doctor was going to unwrap the wound. And I knew that at 10 days, we would know which direction the whole thing was going.

The night before our 2nd appointment I had a dream. Nick and I were sitting in the waiting room and Dr. Lucy Lu called us back into an examining room which we had not been in before. It was much farther back. The floor in the room was black and white checked, and the walls were turquoise. There were windows all along the outside wall. All the equipment was shiny stainless steel. There were other people with us in the room but I did not know who they were or why they were there. In my dream, the doctor detached the splint and slowly unwrapped the bandages that went all the way up Nick's forearm. He turned Nick's palm on his damaged hand up, and I saw where the worst part of the wound now only had a jagged red scar, and the previously unattached digit was obviously healthy and attaching well.

When I woke up I felt relieved and hopeful and doubtful and kind of crazy at the same time. We made the drive to Palo Alto for our 10:00 appointment. We had been to this office the previous Tuesday, for our first follow up. The doctor had said it was too early to unwrap the wound, so we went directly from the waiting room to the plastic (splint-making) lab where Nick was fitted for his super-expensive body formed plastic splint. But for our second appointment, we were called back into a part of the office I had not been before. The doctor was walking with us and told me that there would be some students in the room, observing. As we got closer to the examining room I saw the floor was a black and white commercial -tile check. Then my head and my gut started reeling and when Dr. Lucy Lu opened the door, I saw that we were going into a room with the black checked floor, turquoise walls, windows all along the outside wall, and shiny stainless steel equipment. It was, in fact, the exact same room from my dream. The students politely formed a semi-circle around the doctor as he examined Nick. He detached the splint and unwrapped his bandages and turned his hand palm up. Nick's hand looked exactly as it had in the dream. The only difference was that in reality, he had a bunch of black stitches, and under the stitches I could see the same jagged scar line that I had seen in my dream. The formerly detached digit was pink and healthy. Mentally, I was in a place of wanting to examine the wound and get as much info from Dr. Lucy Lu as possible. At the same time another part of me was having a hard time breathing, I felt like I was going to pass out. I was living my dream, in the best and most literal way. I was beyond amazed.

Nick went on to completely heal. He did go thru about a year of physical therapy because there was bone damage and tissue loss. He has a slight deformity there, but no one would ever notice it unless they looked real hard. He has been playing guitar since he was about 12 and he is also a pretty good drummer. He is also a printer and a visual artist.

So...that was my life lesson about 50/50. Those actually are not terrible odds although when you are the one facing them, they are terrifying. We can call on help from our friends, our family, our community. And from Heaven above. Those things, I believe can tip the scales in our favor.

Praying for you and your entire family, Mrs. K.

Monday, November 17, 2008

TnT Visit

TnT came over yesterday with their two older sisters and their mama. Big T loved Sammy. I mean LOVED him! Sammy was a good sport. Little T loved the dogs. They said said they would come back and visit when L and *Bidmina* got home, LOL. Even though they were not together at the O for long, it was long enough for all of them to remember each other. When my girls see pictures of these two, they call them by name immediately.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nick and Liz in SF

Nick and Liz in SF

When your big kids grow up and move away, you miss them. (I miss my sister too!)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chick-fil-A HQ, Atlanta Georgia

Yesterday my boss and I had a training session at the Chick-fil-A headquarters in Atlanta. This is actually the second time I have attended this session. The first time was in 2002 when we first brought the franchise on campus. Then after a couple of years, I moved to another location, but now I am back. I needed a refresher, and Susan needed to get a feel for the company.
CFA (as I usually refer to it in print) is an interesting an unique American company. It is definitely a Southern thing, although the franchise is spread out over 36 states. I had never heard of it until I moved here. The original chicken sandwich and the best you will eat, evah! As one person pointed out yesterday, when she moved South, she thought CFA was a cult. Kinda it is, yes.
Anyway, their headquarters are just gorgeous, on 77 acres of wooded land with lakes and walking trails and fountains and rock walls.

The architecture is something to behold as well. The elevator is very fast. It grabs your attention as soon as you walk in the front lobby.

The big attention grabber is the car collection they have in the breezeway. It's amazing!

That T-Bird is my personal favorite, but then, there's this one from the movie set...

Truett Cathy is the founder of CFA and grew this billion $ business from one diner that he and his brother started right after WWII. The company is still private, and has controlled it's growth and it's debt, and right now in our catastrophic economic climate, is in pretty good shape. He has always invested in his 'people' (employees) although he has very high expectations for every single one of them, and I'm talking about from these fancy offices all the way down to the dishwasher at a franchise store. He puts his money where his mouth is. He's had a scholarship program for high school kids for years. On this campus, there was a day care located near the front gates, that is basically subsidized for corporate employees. He pays well. He's done alot of things in his life, but it seems his passion, at this stage in his life, is the work he is doing with foster kids. He has several homes located all over Georgia that house these children. He claims 120 foster kids, at 87 years old, and in his latest business book, this is what he is talking about.

In all, a remarkable story. For a training session, yesterday was pretty fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Meanwhile, In the Tropics....

One of the agency groups went to the new "O" last week, and just sent out some pictures. Here is my little one, pretending to be interested in school.

And here is my big girl, (green shirt) playing with her friends. All of her pictures were with very large groups of kids. Taken over a few days, but alot of *classroom* shots. She looks very, very serious in all her pictures this time. This was actually one of the most playful I could find of her. I just can't help but worry about them sometimes. I know there is not much I can do. They are there, I am here, and it is not time yet. But I am so ready for them to be home. I am just at that point.

There she is, directly facing the camera with the purple headband and pink uniform, second row from the rear.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Warrior Kitten

Still fighting the good fight, and here is the latest member of the team. Yeah, I know I said I was not going to do this. Never say never! Besides, it has become abundantly clear to me that I would rather have another cat than a rat.

His name is Sammy. I named him after the head of our maintainence department at work. It's an inside joke, and too screwy to try to explain. All I can say is Lynda, if you are reading this, don't forget, we women always get the last laugh! Right?

Sammy, King of the clean laundry pile!

Monday, November 3, 2008

We Are Americans

I have made a huge effort this crazy season not to get political on this blog. After all, I know we all have our own views, and I want this blog to remain respectful. If you have ever read my profile, you will see that one of my interests is politics, and I have been pretty busy with this over the last few months. It's been difficult not to blog about it here.

My site meter says I have folks from all over the world that have at least hit this blog once. Some hit it more than that; but most of my traffic is American. I am dedicating this post to you, Americans.

I come from a loud and proud, long line of patriots that extends all the way to the founding of the Plymouth colony. Because my mom is a genealogist,I am fortunate to have copies of letters and records from my ancestors that describe life with Gov. William Bradford, Miles Standish, etc. Samuel Sturtevant was a founding member, a farmer, involved in local politics....because all politics were local back then, unless they were taking place back at the King's Court. Later the clan moved South. I actually am a direct of a former Vice President of the United States, William Rufus King of South Carolina. My mother's maiden name is King.

Fun fact (not really) he died in office from TB 45 days after taking his oath. He also had a plantation in Alabama, which is where he was buried. He was a lifelong politician, a Senator, Minister to France, graduate of the University of North Carolina. He was pro-slavery and a slave holder, as were many in those days. (No disrespect to great Grandpa, but he was obviously really wrong about that.) The Union nearly did not get formed because of the epic battle amongst the colonies on this issue. I think it was John Adams who said that because it was not resolved from the beginning, it would only be a matter of time before the issue of slavery was raised for permanent referendum. It was, and we all know how that turned out.

After his death, the family went into a state of disarray, and soon started migrating West, mostly to Texas and Arizona. Eventually to California. You may know I am a native Californian, but you probably don't know I'm second generation. We'd been there for awhile. But now I'm here, back in the South. I tell you these things because I want to reiterate that ordinary Americans were part of an extraordinary history, and we still are.

In my lifetime, there has been so much history. I could have been Forrest Gump! There were civil rights and assassinations. Two uncles served Vietnam. There were domestic terrorists and anarchists, the Zodiac killer and lots of music, drugs and sex, crazy hair and clothes. Horrid recessions and fuel rationing. Hostages at the American Embassy in Tehran. Cold War. I was pretty square until I went to college in the late '70's. I thought I knew everything and my parents knew nothing.

Eventually everything calmed on the home front, at least politically, and I naturally grew somewhat more conservative. As Margaret Thatcher said "the facts of life are conservative" this was not a sell out but a maturing and a natural progression. Unfortunately, like many Americans, it took 9/11 to make a true patriot out of me. Since then, I do not take our country for granted. I don't make excuses for irrational hatred and/or people that want to destroy us. I know there is evil in the world. I know my vote is a privilege. I know our politics are rough and our nation is imperfect as it always has been, but I also know it's produced a country of freedom and opportunity. Notice I did not say a perfect world. That does not exist on this planet in this realm, and it never will. With freedom comes great risk but freedom is what makes this country great. Opportunity is created by we the people, not the government. Rightly, the constitution has been amended to give all citizens rights, and therefore opportunity. Amending the Constitution of the United States is always a radical decision and will never be taken lightly, and therefore will never be done regularly or casually. When taking the oath of office, every four years the president-elect promises to the best of his (or her) ability to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States. I am not here to tell Americans how to vote. I am just asking you TO vote, if you have not already. Many people have died, and sadly, likely more will in the future to give you this privilege as well as to preserve it.

We are almost done surviving another rough and tumble election cycle. And the loser is.....The Media!!! It just gets worse and worse. Most people I know who are interested in FACTS do their research on the Internet and use multiple, credible sources to form their opinions. If you take your information as a straight shot from the alphabet networks, you are not getting the truth in full. Even a recent study by Harvard confirmed this.

The outcome of this election will not be decided by the media, unless you allow yourself to be manipulated. Do not let the pollsters and the pundits intimidate your vote, even if you live in a Western state and the entire world (media) is projecting that its over. It's not over until the votes are counted. The results of this election will determined by we the people. By what is inside of us. Vote your heart, and vote your conscience. That is the only poll that counts. The one that happens in the privacy of the voting booth. Don't let anyone take that away from you.

We the People - McCain

This video was compiled by an independent photographer who travels the world documenting (mostly) 3rd world countries.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Kick Off

I never thought I cared much for Halloween. I liked making costumes for my boys when they were younger. I liked eavesdropping on them as they were discussing their haul. LG could go into quite a thoughtful dissertation on the merits and demerits of candies as a 4 year old. He's always been an action kid and a deep thinker at the same time. But mostly, for me, Halloween has just been the kick-start to months of crazy holiday activity.

This year it rolled around and I had no kids at home. NG in San Francisco***that city goes crazy for this holiday, and it's not all good. So I still have to worry about whether he is having a SAFE good time even though he is 20 years old. LG was at his daddy's house. Obviously, the girls are in Haiti. I had to work at not feeling sorry for myself. It dawned on me I liked Halloween more than I realized, because it's all about kids.

I don't get alot of trick-or-treaters at my house. Most go to subdivisions now. I live in a tiny hamlet, and not in a subdivision. I got ready for them anyway. I never want to be like the guy that lives kitty-corner, who refuses trick-or-treaters. Actually, he just ignores them. LG and I found this out one Halloween when we approached his house and he happened to be talking out the trash. He wouldn't make eye contact, and he appeared to be running away from us. It probably goes without saying that he refused to open the door when little LG knocked on it. Then he turned off the porch light. What a grinch!***wait***wrong holiday. You know what I mean!

My camera really sucked at those outside-at-dusk shots, the only way I could get anything was with the flash off, and for some reason it was blurred.

I began to wonder if I was going to get any little ghouls at all. But when the dogs all started barking in unison, I knew I finally had a taker.

A 5 year old vampire! I shoulda given her alot more candy, considering she ended up being the only one. She sure was cute and sweet though.

I know wishing your life away is wrong. Easier said than done, especially when in the middle of an adoption. But I am so looking forward to next Halloween when this holiday will again be filled with children's laughter. And I won't have to be tempted by a full candy dish!

And BTW: Happy Kick-off To The Crazy Holiday Season!

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