Friday, April 30, 2004

Who is a mother?

Mother's Day is coming up in a week. There are cards at the local store for moms, moms-in-law, women who are like moms, stepmoms, grandmoms, and expectant moms. That's where my question comes in. I'm not expecting a child in that I'm pregnant, but I'm expecting to have a child through adoption in less than 9 months. Does that make me an expectant mother? Seems so. I believe that pregnant women are moms regardless of not yet having given birth. Does that make me a mother? There is a lot of care and nurture that goes on just to carry a fetus and help it to grow into a healthy baby. Likewise, I'm trying to take care of myself in expectation of having kids - I'm trying to lower my cholesterol (dinner at Red Robin for Elesa's birthday didn't count) to stick around for as long a time as I have control over and I'm trying to broaden the preferences of my palate (or at least learn to tolerate that which I do not enjoy). I want to be a good example to our kids.

If Pregnant woman = expectant mom = mom and Adoptive woman = expectant mom, then Adoptive woman = mom. Dianne = Adoptive woman, therefore, Dianne is a mom. QED*. Wow, that's a pretty crazy idea.

*QED = quod erat demonstrandum, a Latin phrase meaning "which was to be done." I knew all those college math classes filled with silly proofs would come in handy some day!

Thursday, April 29, 2004

My Lot In Life

I’m not an athlete. Don’t get me wrong, I love sports. I’d play ‘em all day if I could. But I’m not designed to be good at them. My sports career peaked when I was 8 years old and I won the Maryland State Class IV Gymnastics Championships in the 6-8 age category. When I turned 9, I was at the bottom of the 9-11 age bracket and it all went downhill from there. When I was in my best physical shape as an adult, I was still only a rung or two from the bottom of the ladder of those I participated in sports with.

I’m not a singer. Oh, wouldn’t that be great if I was. I love to sing and plenty of people around me hear that, but they’d surely enjoy it more if I was any good. Nobody in my family is a good singer; it’s my destiny to be off-key and sound a little (or a lot) too nasally.

I’m not a workaholic. I know that we learn in church and self-help books and from Oprah that workaholics are not to be praised. But how often do you really see the non-workaholics of us being praised for stopping in the middle of a job? That’s not to say that I will leave a job unfinished for a prolonged period of time - it’s just to say that I know my limits and will stop when I’m not being productive enough and I will return to the job after a night’s rest or a mental break (depending on the task at hand.) Actions speak louder than words, and I see in actions that it pays to be a workaholic - even in church.

What’s in your wallet? er, Radio?

Sorry, got my web log confused with a TV commercial.

Lately I’ve found myself reminiscing about the journey that my pickup truck and I have been on over the past 10 years. I’ll leave the details of that to another entry. But one of the things I was so excited about regarding the purchase of my truck was the chance to set the preset buttons on the radio to WHATEVER I WANTED. No more fiddling with the up and down tuning buttons in someone else’s car who didn’t listen to the stations I wanted to listen to.

I don’t recall the stations that I set on that first day of truck ownership, but they stayed as they were for quite some time. I’ve learned in my older age and greater wisdom (stop laughing) that I can continually reset them as needed, so I now change the buttons on a fairly regular basis. Not all of them at the same time, but one or two here and there as my tastes go back and forth. If I had a new car, I’d have a lot more buttons to set and I wouldn’t need to switch them around so much. As it stands, I have 7 presets to choose from. Here’s what they’re currently set to:

100.7, The Bay - Baltimore, MD (classic rock)

106.5, Mix 106.5 - Baltimore, MD (mix)

104.1, The Z - Washington, DC (current popular)

107.3, Mix 107.3 - Washington, DC (mix)

99.5, Hot 99.5 - Washington, DC (current popular)

93.1, WPOC - Baltimore, MD (country)

94.7, The Arrow - Washington, DC (classic rock)

So... what’s programmed into your radio?

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Redemption through song

Yesterday I had some 'anger moments.' It's funny that one of my friends, who is one of my bosses, said that he still gets surprised whenever I get really mad on the ultimate frisbee field, tennis court, or volleyball court, and yet he sees it often enough that he's not sure why it still surprises him. Anyway...

Teasing holds a place of high regard in my family. I've always been shown love by my brother, dad, uncles, and grandfather through teasing. I'm a pretty good sport about it and I often find myself using it to help people feel included (although I realize that teasing may be a way to push people away when they don't understand what it means to me - ironic!) Yesterday, a coworker who teases a LOT went too far with me and I responded in my typical passive-aggressive manner with a caustic comment a bit louder than under my breath. I'm not sure that he heard it, but others around me did. The comment started like this, "If I was the old me....."

Now, it didn't take long for the idea to hit me over the head that I obviously still AM the old me, or I wouldn't have even thought to do what I threatened to do had I not been the better person that I've become. My comment stayed with me all day - I couldn't stop thinking about it. It made me consider how many things are in my life that I think I've strived hard enough to get past when in reality they're all still lurking in the shadows of my mind, just waiting for a moment of weakness to rear their ugly heads.

I also got really angry on my drive home from work yesterday. I knew that I wasn't thinking or behaving like God would want and I was enraged by my anger. I realized that I was upset because other things were keeping me from completing my personal agenda the way that I planned (I wanted to get home NOW). I asked God what would be appropriate for me to do at that moment and He said, "Calm down." (Duh - but I needed to hear it) Then on the radio came a song with the lyrics, "Have you lost your beautiful way?" Well, yes, I had. There was nothing beautiful about my attitude or behavior.

Next on the Z104 playlist was Hoobastank's "The Reason." The refrain of the song goes like this:

I've found a reason for me

To change who I used to be

A reason to start over new

and the reason is you

Wow... here I was feeling so guilty about what I'd said and thought earlier in the day and my actions on the road and BAM! God gives me this great poem to give to Him - which isn't only for Him, but it's totally for me... it shows me that I can still change, I can still start over new. And it's all for Him, which means it's all good.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, April 26, 2004


Viruses are amazing. They aren't even considered living things, yet they wreak havoc on our world. They are considered activated or deactivated rather than alive or dead. They do not contain cells and they cannot live on their own.

Viruses need to be attached to tissue to thrive. While you could observe a colony of bacteria in a petri dish feasting on agar, you couldn't observe a colony of viruses that way. If you were looking at them in a dish, there would also have to be living tissue there. This is one reason why there are very few anti-viral medications available.

Consider a virus attacking your body. It becomes part of your cells in order to replicate itself. By the time you feel sick, many of your cells contain the DNA of the attacking virus. How would you kill the virus without killing your cells, too?

Of viral note in the news is the theory that the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus became aerosolized through the plumbing of an apartment complex and in that way infected over 300 people in that complex last year. This possibility opens up new avenues of public health concern regarding disease prevention.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Why did I pray?

Members of our church recently posted a series of prayer requests for friends of theirs who just went to Russia to pick up their newly-adopted daughter. They also have a son who stayed with his grandparents in the U.S. While traveling in Russia, the father had a medical emergency and was in the hospital over there. They waited for him to be well enough to be transported back to a hospital in the U.S. He was able to return to the U.S. but, unfortunately, his condition deteriorated.

This morning, I caught up on some of the latest posts about his condition. Things didn't look good, but there was still hope. I felt a prayer well up inside me that I had to voice to God. Afterward, I emailed a friend of mine with the following comment: "When I just prayed for him, I had a different feeling inside than usual when I pray - like it was a real, genuine, in the depth of my soul yearning for him to be able to be with his family again and see his new daughter grow up." It really was an intense cry to God. My friend responded, "Me, too - it was like a connection to a much bigger force than just my own prayers - like tapping into a huge network of prayers for him - I haven't experienced that before. It felt like the prayer came from really deep inside of me - not just from my head." Yeah, that's exactly how it felt.

I thought how cool it was to be able to experience that, and I knew that it must mean something big was going to happen in this man's life. I wasn't expecting the latest update that I just read. "Bill now knows what the face of Jesus looks like." He passed away. Without seeing how his daughter is growing into her new family.

So what was that feeling that we had while praying for him to recover? Was that just for us? I've heard prayer described this way before... When a person in a small boat pulls on a rope attached to a cruise ship, the cruise ship doesn't change course, but the small boat is drawn toward the ship. Likewise, when we pray, we are pulled closer to God, he is not pulled closer to us.

According to this theory, prayer is not about the person we're praying for at all - it's just for us, the people who are praying. It doesn't change God or his actions - it changes the attitude, course, and/or actions of the person praying. If that is the case, then why do we ever pray for other people? Why not just pray for ourselves?

It's true that when I pray for my enemies, I feel less like we're enemies. I feel more compassion toward them and that is a change in myself that comes from those prayers. That is a reason to pray for other people. But when it's not for someone who is my enemy, then what is the point? I prayed for this man, Bill, to recover. I truly felt that is what God put inside my soul to request for this man. Where did I go wrong? Did I misunderstand what I was supposed to pray for? Quite possibly, but it sure didn't feel that way at the time. Do I misunderstand what the purpose of my prayer was to be? That seems like the only answer. What was the purpose? Why did that prayer feel so different than all the prayers of the past few years? And why did my friend have a similar experience?

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Bike to Work Day 2004

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is hosting this year's Bike To Work Day on May 7th. It's a great day to consider riding to work as there will be convoys available (to help you with your route) and lots of support, including rallies with food and prizes.

I used to ride to work. I lived about 12 miles from my office and it was a fairly straightforward jaunt across Rte 216 West to Rte 29 South into Silver Spring. Fortunately for automobile commuters but unfortunately for bicyclists (recreational as well as commuter), Route 29 is undergoing major construction along its length from Laurel to Silver Spring to make it a limited access highway. Bicycles are not allowed and there are not many alternatives for cyclists. Alternative roads are out of the way, narrow, and congested with rush-hour automobiles whose drivers want nothing to do with bicyclists on their roads (hence creating an even less safe environment.)

How awesome (and well-used) would a bike trail/path/lane in the area of Route 29 be between Silver Spring and Ellicott City, or even Columbia? That would be sweet.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Community Supported Agriculture

I just found out about CSAs - Community Supported Agricultural farms. Consumers buy shares of the farm and receive fresh produce and other farm products throughout the growing season (usually 16-20 weeks starting in May). Many of the farms use organic growing methods which is much better to the environment than other methods. They don't have to use preservatives because they deliver their products fresh to the local community. That also means they don't have to drive fuel-guzzling trucks around as much to deliver to their markets.

Here are a couple of sites that give more details including searchable directories of CSAs available in your area.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Updated website

I updated our Geocities website ( with some pictures from last autumn and winter. They include our trip to Cape May, NJ, (we're going again this May - woohoo!) and fixing a few of our plumbing problems.

Adoption in the Media

Adoptive Families has some articles on their website regarding the portrayal of adoption in the media including reviews of popular movies and a rating of their "adoption friendliness." One review is of the movie Stuart Little, which we own and I have seen a few times. The review states that it is very adoption "un"-friendly, which is not what I expected. However, the reviewer mentions issues that I would not have thought of but which I think are important to realize.

In the movie, Stuart is a mouse adopted by the human Little family. Later in the story, a mouse couple comes to the Little house claiming to be Stuart's parents. The Littles allow Stuart to go with them. The mice turn out to be liars and in the end of the movie, Stuart returns to the Littles and all is well.

I always assumed the ends justify the means - the ending of the movie shows that Stuart obviously belongs with his real family, the Littles. However, the author of the review points out that children who understand what is going on in the story don't think of the happy ending to come... they see that Stuart's adoptive family willingly gave him up without much of a fight as if he didn't belong with them.

While writing this, I again consider whether this is going a little far with what seems to be a harmless story that ends up with the characters together as a family as they should be. But I have to wonder... how long does it take for multiple examples like this to take root in our minds and make us believe, without realizing it, that a decision like the Littles' is realistic and correct?

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Humanitarian Aid in Iraq

We all want to help. We all want to make a difference. So often, we feel that there is no way we are big enough to do so or we don't know of channels to utilize to provide real help. Fortunately, I know of one way.

Our brother-in-law is stationed in Iraq with the 835th Army Corps Support Battalion. His unit, along with others, have adopted some local schools and villages and are collecting and distributing supplies to them. I offered to collect and send some from our friends and family, and things have turned downright amazing. One man in our church has called local office supply and grocery stores soliciting donations. Numerous others have asked me questions related to their donations - are used items ok? are sample sizes ok? Norm's answers - Yes and yes.

What items are needed? The school masters and village elders have compiled the following lists.

School supplies:




Learn to read books


Village supplies:




Shoes (laces tied together)

Childrens' clothing

I'm hoping to send at least a preliminary batch of supplies on Monday, May 3rd. If people have things available after then, I can send another batch later, especially if I know that the items are coming after May 3rd.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Biographical Stats

Me, in a nutshell.... (part II)

Favorite word: serendipitous

Favorite TV show: Three's Company

Favorite food: Chocolate

Favorite non-chocolate food: Pizza

Favorite color: Blue

Grandmothers' names: Helen and Elizabeth

Grandfathers' names: Kenneth and William (both deceased)

Musical instrument I play best: Flute

Number of houseplants: 11 at home, 7 at work

Farthest travel: Alaska

Latest total cholesterol reading: 214

Number of cousins currently pregnant: 2

One last fling?

Lately I've been listening to music I haven't listened to in years. It's from the early to mid-90's, which is when I was in college and beginning my professional career. No house, no spouse, no kids. Time was free and the livin' was easy. I didn't give much thought to my music other than to turn it up loud.

Now as I consider being a parent, I know that I have to choose my music more wisely. The lyrics that were ok (I suppose that's debatable) in my younger adult days are not ok for children to hear. And I have learned that children soak up a lot of knowledge and experience when you least expect it.

Perhaps this is why I'm giving one last hoot and holler for Salt 'n Pepa, Heavy D, Bizarre Inc, and Bell Biv Devoe. My chance to listen to them whenever I choose is almost up. Until then, wind up your windows on the drive home if you don't want to hear me singing, "Hey, Yeah... I wanna shoop, Baby...."

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Commonly Visited Websites

The websites I regularly visit these days:

Good Friday poetry

I'm not into poetry. I never write it well and I don't read it well. I have a really hard time understanding it, even when someone tells me what it's about. At our church's Good Friday service, however, the following poem was presented and it touched me much more deeply than any poem has before.

"How shallow former shadows" by Carl P. Daw, Jr.

How shallow former shadows seem beside this great reverse,

As darkness swallows up the light of all the universe.

Creation shivers at the shock, the temple rends its veil.

A pallid stillness stifles time and nature's motions fail.

This is no midday fantasy, no flight of fevered brain.

With vengeance awful, grim and real, chaos is come again.

The hands that formed us from the soil are nailed up on the cross.

The Word that gave us life and breath expires in utter loss.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Biographical Stats

Me, in a nutshell.... (part I)

Home Location: Ellicott City, MD

Work Location: Silver Spring, MD

Work Experience: Systems Analyst for the past 9 years

Husband: Andy (he's wonderful)

Pet: Gray cat named Jumpin' Jack Flash (Flash for short)

Transportation: 1994 Chevy S-10 Pickup; 1996 Klein Adroit mtn bike; 1997 Trek 2120 road bike

Hobbies/Entertainment: Sports such as ultimate frisbee, volleyball, biking; Outdoor Fun such as camping and hiking; Indoor Fun such as reading, scrapbooking (yes, "to scrapbook" can now be used as a verb), and cross-stitching.

Internet Pasttime

I often look up old friends, roommates, and acquaintances on the Web to find out what they're doing with their lives these days. Ever tried it? It's amazing what one can find out about other peoples' lives. Based on personal experience, I suggest only looking up those people that you have a healthy interest in - if you don't really want to know that a certain someone now lives in your neighborhood, don't try to find out where they are.