Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bird Quiz

Not only is fun for personal quizzes...

Here is a bird quiz I made.

The questions are all related to local birding to be more interesting to the majority of my readers. However, much of the information pertains to other areas, too. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended if nobody takes the quiz :-)

Note that if you want to remain a non-resident of the spam netherworld, you’ll want to put in a fake email address when you sign in. You’ll still be able to see what answers you got right and wrong on the screen, they just won’t be emailed to you. Which is worth it if you don’t want to get 5 junk emails a day offering you “low” mortgage rates that are actually higher than the rate at which you’ve already refinanced. I can only assume the recent increase in traffic to my spam folder is due to (either that or it’s a mighty coincidence.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Update on the brick-throwing incident

All of you locals know by now that the hoodlum (I'm sorry, did I just make a judgment on the kid's character? pardon me) who threw the brick through our neighbor's window has been found out. The kid on the other side of the street (who I secretly assumed did it but secretly hoped didn't) was along for the ride but didn't actually throw the brick. A kid who lives behind the people across the street from us did. He apparently has all sorts of other criminal and just plain stupid actions in his history but I don't know at this point what will happen to him regarding the police investigation.

I did spend some time recently pondering my assumption that it was a teenage boy in the neighborhood causing the craziness that we seen. There's only one kid fitting such a description on our street so, yes, I did assume he was guilty. Heck, I've assumed he was guilty of all of the things that I've seen go wrong around here.

What this made me realize is that someday, people will make similar assumptions about Kevin. Will I be offended? Of course! Well, that's if he continues to be the sweet and mostly obedient person he is now. With the looks I give down my nose at just about every teenage boy I come across, do I have any reason to be offended? In the realm of hypocrisy, no. But in the realm of discernment, probably so. The idea of "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't seem to reside in my brain when it comes to teenagers. This incident and having a son of my own makes me question how I should change my thought process regarding teenagers, particularly those of the high testosterone gender.

Monday, March 28, 2005

I really did lower my standards

Every time I asked parents before being one myself, "How do you do it?" in regard to keeping their houses clean and working and all of that, I'd get the response, "You lower your standards." I always said in reply, "My standards are already pretty low!"

It turns out that I am capable of much lower standards than I thought, specifically regarding cleanliness. Our kitchen, in particular, becomes a wreck regularly and I can't recall the last time I dusted anything. I have vacuumed lately, but it's still not nearly as often as I expected I'd do it.

We used to keep up with the cleaning, or at least keep up with it "well enough" because we'd have visitors regularly and I would always use that as the impetus to clean up. When I commented on the state of our kitchen to Andy the other day he said, "We need to have guests over." I said, "Um, we've been having guests over. It hasn't helped." Andy said, "We must be having the wrong kind of guests over."

I listed the guests we've had in the past month - my parents, Andy's parents, childless friends, friends with children, and an overnight guest. None of them were the kind that I cleaned up for and I'm not sure what other kind there is. If I don't clean up more for either of our parents, I think it's a sign that I'm not going to clean up.

Unless, maybe, somebody offers me a million dollars to come to my house and find it clean. Or maybe a clan of 10 overnight guests all carrying large musical instruments because there's no way they'd fit very far past the front door.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Saturday, March 26, 2005

(Un)Welcome to Our Neighborhood

Last night at 11:45 pm, our doorbell rang. We were in bed and I was already asleep. I had a hard time figuring out what was going on and then Andy said, “Doorbell” and then it rang again and cleared my head a little more. We went to the front door and saw a person there so Andy looked through the living room window while a flashlight shown in through the door (causing me to hide in the kitchen so that he wouldn’t be able to see me without me seeing him.) Andy could tell it was a police officer so I opened the door right after he bagged the doorbell idea and started banging his fist on the door.

He asked if we knew that a couple of hours prior our brand-new neighbors had a brick thrown through their back window. What?! We didn’t even know someone had moved in there yet. Apparently they did their final walkthrough at 8 pm and then came back after settlement at 10 pm to find a broken window and a brick in their house. What a horrible thing to find minutes after signing the papers to purchase your new home.

Last night was the most unsafe I’ve ever felt in my own home. This was a real threat, not a threat conjured up by my imagination. I don’t know how people stay in their homes after being burglarized. It was a terrible feeling last night and we weren’t even the people that were violated.

Now we can only hope that the person who did this will be found out and that our new neighbors will feel welcomed by the rest of us despite what happened in the first hours they owned their home here.

Friday, March 25, 2005

I'm glad he's neat and organized, but....

Our almost 3-yr old son won't allow us to put his belongings into his newly-created closet organization system. We put up ClosetMaid shelves and such on Saturday and started to organize his things in there but he keeps pulling out all of the items that weren't previously in his closet and putting them back where they were before. Any attempt to persuade him that the new system really is more organized is met with ferocity. I think I heard him mutter, "For pete's sake, you people are making my life difficult" under his breath.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


I know this is kinda cheesy but cheesy can be fun, right? Below is a link to a quiz I made.

Take my Quiz on!

At the zoo

"Look at me with the big kids. I'm so cool!" Posted by Hello

Secret Bunny

I’m used to playing Secret Santa and Secret Pal with friends but I’m not used to receiving anonymous gifts outside of the rules and confines of a group effort! I came to work this morning to find a Cadbury Caramel Egg on my keyboard. “How nice! I wonder who left that for me?” I thought. Then I opened my drawer to put my keys in and, voila! There were 2 more chocolate eggs! The smile spread wider across my face as I imagined someone taking the time to do this for me. Then I grabbed my cup to get some water and - guess what? Another chocolate! This was a special one - a Lindt brand chocolate bunny.

I smiled for 5 straight minutes! But now I can’t figure out who left me the candy and I can’t stand it that I can’t thank someone for it. The first couple of people I asked (believably) answered that they aren’t my Secret Bunny.

Elesa, did you hop up from Guatemala to play this trick on me??

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Deep Thoughts

I love these quotes from Saturday Night Live's Jack Handey skit. When I found a list of these today, I couldn't help but include some of my favorites here.

  • If I could be a bird, I'd be a Flying Purple People Eater because then people would sing about me and I could fly down and eat them because I hate that song.
  • I think a pillow should be the peace symbol, not the dove. The pillow has more feathers than the dove, and it doesn't have a beak to peck you with.
  • Too bad Lassie didn't know how to ice skate, because then if she was in Holland on vacation in winter and someone said "Lassie, go skate for help," she could do it.
  • Love can sweep you off your feet and carry you along in a way you've never known before. But the ride always ends, and you end up feeling lonely and bitter. Wait. It's not love I'm describing. I'm thinking of a monorail.
  • To me, it's a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, "Hey, can you give me a hand?" you can say, "Sorry, got these sacks."
  • When I was a kid my favorite relative was Uncle Caveman. After school we'd all go play in his cave, and every once in a while he would eat one of us. It wasn't until later that I found out that Uncle Caveman was a bear.
  • When you're riding in a time machine way far into the future, don't stick your elbow out the window, or it'll turn into a fossil.
  • I wish I had a Kryptonite cross, because then you could keep both Dracula AND Superman away.
  • The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.
  • If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.
  • If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.

That was more than I intended to include but aren't they worth it?

Monday, March 21, 2005

I'm glad it's only taken 5 months

The boulder has been slowly chiseled away and only a moderate-size piece is left on my chest. And now that the boulder is not pressing all of the air out of my lungs, I can talk about it.

For the past 5 months I have been on the verge of depression. I probably didn’t appear that way but when things were really bad, I wasn’t in public. I think I put on a good face in public.

The first 5 months of parenting have been extremely difficult for me. I’ve felt despair like I’ve never felt before. I literally felt the pressure bearing down on me and I had dizzy spells when it was really bad.

I hated being a parent. It was the worst mistake I’d ever made because not only did my life suck but I brought a child into it not to mention my husband. There was no way out. For all sorts of reasons I wasn’t going to disrupt Kevin’s placement with us but, dear God, did I want to. If during that time I could have gone back in time to the previous year, I never would’ve decided to have a family. It wasn’t that Kevin was so bad (he’s really a saint compared to many kids!) but that I wasn’t meant to be a parent. I wasn’t just a bad parent but every moment I hated it. I’d say that every waking moment I hated it but I hated it in my sleep, too.

Things are better now. I feel lighter and happier and I genuinely laughed at Kevin today. It was so freeing I almost couldn’t stop. I can honestly say that I’ve had enjoyable parenting moments in the past couple of weeks.

Now when I offer Andy free time away from us I don’t secretly dread and resent it. I no longer count the seconds until Andy pulls into the driveway after work. I now rest when I sleep.

And what should’ve been the case all along but wasn’t and is now so sweet because I feel it AND I don’t feel guilty for not feeling it... I miss Kevin when we’re apart for long.

First post-placement visit

Today we met with our social worker who did our homestudy last year. It was our first post-placement visit and we'll have 2 more (I think). She'll write up a report and that gets sent with a bunch of photos to our placing agency. We are required by our placing agency to have the post-placement reports done but they are not required by Guatemala as they are in some countries. The 6-month report (which this one is) is also sent to our state.

The visit went fine; it was very easy. She asked us if any general info changed (only that I'm working part-time now) and she asked some questions about the joys and challenges specific to our parenting journey and how Kevin is progressing developmentally. It's easy to talk about Kevin for an hour!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Jumpin' Jack Flash - R.I.P. 2/23/2005

In February 1999, my family's cat of 19 years died. Her name was Sprite and she lived with me instead of at my parents' house from 1995-1999 and she became so sick that I had her put down. In July 1999, I missed having a cat around so much that Andy and I decided to adopt a cat together from the pound. We had a home visit/interview with an Animal Control Officer and they determined that we were fit to take care of one of their cats.

When we went to the pound we planned to look for a 1-2 year old cat but we were smitten with a cream and white colored kitten. We also noticed a frisky, meowy 4-month old steel gray cat with faint black stripes. When we walked by his cage, he made a racket and stuck his paws between the door railings trying to grab at us. He was so animated that he caught our attention and we brought him out of his cage and he promptly jumped out of my arms and attempted to check out the surroundings on his own. We put him back in the cage and placed him second on our list of choices. We were #3 on the list of people who wanted the kitten so we were ultimately matched with the gray cat.

I brought him home to my apartment while Andy wasn't there and he hopped around the place checking everything out and meowing at me. I'd been told to try to keep him calm (he was neutered that day and given some shots) and confined to one or two rooms. Yeah, right! He was all over the place. Not only was he very active but he was very lovable once he got used to us (which didn't take long.) I wasn't used to a snuggly cat so it was neat but a little weird.

The first weekend he was at my apartment, we had to leave for awhile so we locked him in the kitchen. The "lock" consisted of a 4-ft sheet of plywood clipped over the opening between the kitchen and the carpeted dining room. Before we were even out the door, we heard the jingle of his collar tags and saw him laying on the wrong side of the plywood door giving himself a bath. Hmm... this cat was a force to be reckoned with!

He quickly turned into free-range kitty even when I wasn't at home and that didn't cause any problems like I was expecting (namely un-use of the litter box and use of the carpet and un-use of the scratching post and use of the furniture.)

We took a long time to decide on a name for him - some we considered were Oscar and Jerry but after watching him scale the plywood when he was still small and leap up to the peephole in my front door to knock a pencil out of it, we decided on Jumpin' Jack Flash. We called him Flash for short.

Andy and I would go away for the weekend a lot back then (mostly camping) and we would leave extra food and water for Flash and he'd be fine. When we arrived home from our first 4-day weekend, Flash didn't greet us at the door and we were instantly curious. I found him locked in the bedroom. You see, he would often climb on top of the door and go for a ride. Apparently when he jumped off this time, he kicked the door shut. He was fairly agile but, lacking opposable thumbs, he never got the hang of putting his kitty paws around the door knob to open it. Judging by what was in the room that should've been in the litter box, we think he locked himself in there the night that we left.

On another long weekend trip, we left more than enough food and water out for him (he usually didn't eat as much while we were gone and he always had a lot leftover.) He disagreed. We found his bowls empty and the cabinet door open with the 10-lb bag of cat food (3 layers thick of paper with a plastic-type layer on the outside) shredded on one side with a hole big enough for Flash's head to fit through. He created his own feeding trough.

When speaking of people who have passed, you often hear that either the person lived a long, full life and their passing was bittersweet or you hear that the person's life was cut short and they had so much life left to live and their death was nothing but bitter. I think Flash lived fully while he was here but at only 6 years old with no known health issues we really thought he had lots of life left to live. Had he lived longer, I'm sure he would've lived as fully as he always had - doing all sorts of crazy things for attention.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Dianne: What do you think of my hair today? Does it look different?

Andy: Did you straighten it?

Dianne: No. Does it look straighter?

Andy: Did you curl it?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Updated my website with photos

I have a long-standing website that currently houses photos. I updated that today (for the first time since June 2004.) Some photos have been posted here before but not all of them.

(click on "Added March 2005")

Friday, March 11, 2005

He rarely steps away from us voluntarily

While Kevin hasn’t grown any taller he is now able to reach more things than he used to because he’s becoming bolder and he tries to reach more things.

Yesterday when I got home from work Kevin didn’t greet me at the door and he wasn’t in the kitchen with Andy. My quizzical look prompted Andy to respond, “I’m a little concerned, too.” I heard the water turn on and off in the bathroom and then Kevin came running out still wearing his coat and carrying a tube of lip balm (nothing unusual or concerning there.)

I picked him up and gave him a bunch of kisses which slid right off his face. I thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of lip balm” and showed him to Andy. Andy, ever observant, said, “That’s not lip balm - that’s vaseline.”

Yup, vaseline slathered 1 cm thick all over his grinning face.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Good news for some baseball hopefuls

Little League International has adopted (pun intended) a change in procedure which allows more children to participate in their programs. It used to be that a birth document could be sole proof of age only if it was issued within one year of the child's birth. Obviously this rules out many internationally adopted children (including Kevin)! Under the old procedures we'd have to provide further proof of his age even when we have (which we don't yet have but we will later this year) his U.S.-issued birth certificate.

The new procedure allows for a birth document to be sole proof of age if it was issued in the country in which the child is participating.

Woohoo! Score one for Little League.

Hand Me Down

There's a blog I recently found written by a woman in her 20's who reminds me of myself at that age. I often reminisce about the empowerment of being on my own with my own job, my own apartment, my own truck, listening to whatever music I wanted, getting home at whatever time I wanted, etc. I was never a party animal but I look back on those days with joy. My memories of that time are very sweet but if I linger there too long, I remember the sour portions and I find myself thankful for the life I have now.

Andy didn't write the following song but he could have, just for me.

Hand Me Down

by Rob Thomas (from Matchbox Twenty's "More Than You Think You Are" CD)

Someday they'll find your small town world on a big town avenue

Gonna make you like the way they talk when they're talking to you

Gonna make you break out of the shell cause they tell you to

Gonna make you like the way they lie better than the truth

They'll tell you everything you wanted someone else to say

They're gonna break your heart, yeah

From what I've seen

You're just a one more hand me down

Cause no one's tried to give you what you need

So lay all your troubles down

I am with you now

Somebody ought to take you in

Try to make you love again

Try to make you like the way they feel

When they're under your skin

Never once did think they'd lie when they're holding you

You wonder why they haven't called

When they said they'd call you

You start to wonder if you're ever gonna make it by

You'll start to think you were born blind

From what I've seen

You're just a one more hand me down

Cause no one's tried to give you what you need

So lay all your troubles down

I am with you now

I'm here for the hard times

The straight to your heart times

Whenever it ain't easy

You can stand up against me

And maybe rely on me

And cry on me, yeah

Oh no, no, no

Some day they'll open up your world

Shake it down on a drawing board

Do their best to change you

They still can't erase you

From what I've seen

You're just a one more hand me down

Cause no one's tried to give you what you need

So lay all your troubles down

I am with you now

Servant or Enabler?

What is the difference between serving and enabling? I have a really hard time determining how to serve people without enabling them to continue or learn negative behaviors. Sometimes serving means doing something for someone. But what happens when doing something for someone does not, in fact, help them as much as it may reinforce negative behaviors?

The distinction between serving and enabling is generally easy to make in some situations. If I am certain to buy my (this is made up) alcoholic husband enough beer to keep the fridge full at all times, then I’m probably enabling him in his habit and not serving his true needs.

If I continually wipe up spilled coffee and food crumbs in the office kitchen, it would seem that I’m serving my coworkers. When, however, does that stop being service and start becoming a means for other people to be even lazier and more disrespectful of the others in the office because they never feel that they need to clean up after themselves?

This is a somewhat silly example, but don’t we face questions like this all the time? Or is it just me who really wonders whether the "service" that I’m doing is maybe not the best way to serve someone? This sometimes paralyzes me and I would guess that inaction without any form of engagement is never service. Perhaps I need to stop worrying about the bigger picture and just clean up after people without asking questions. Wouldn’t the service do my heart better? Would the enablement? But it shouldn’t be about me, right? It should be about the people I’m serving and I would really hope I’m not enabling them.

This comes to light a lot in parenting. There are times that doing something for Kevin is meant to show him that I’m his mother and I care about him and I will do things for him. Then there are times that doing that same thing for him only furthers his laziness and keeps him from understanding that it’s something he needs to be able to do for himself.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately and today I ran across this Dilbert strip. I should stop worrying about it because whether I am serving or enabling, I probably just sound like a lot of "Work harder" messages anyway.

Just don't call me perky

After I made some sarcastic comments about the phone conversation I'd just had, my officemate said to me, "Dianne, you've got your spunk back! You must be feeling better." Hmm... spunk? Not a word I'd tend to use for myself. Not sure anyone else ever has either.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I take that back

Kevin *is* sick with a much runnier nose and the beginning of his dreaded cough. And 2.5 hours ago, Andy stumbled (literally, with his feet caught in the blankets) out of bed to take his medication and said to me, "Since I'm staying home, just give me another hour of sleep and then you can go to work if you'd like." Hmm....maybe I need a refresher course in clock-reading.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Andy and I have been sick. Fortunately, Kevin has been barely sick. We were concerned by his stuffy nose because when he's had a cold in the past he ends up with reactive airway disorder and has to use the nebulizer, etc. But he seems generally ok. Andy and I, on the other hand, are not feeling well at all. Both have sinus infections and both have various other complications. We are both on antibiotics and other medications and we're really hoping to feel better soon. Day 4 of my antibiotics should feel better than it does, in my opinion, but I'm still holding out hope. Andy is on Day 1 of his so tomorrow and Wednesday will be the tests.

Amazing how when you're a parent you just do what you have to do (I know this is not earth-shattering news, I'm just thinking about it with respect to being sick.) I've been sick but have still visited 2 zoos, had a houseguest (who was very easy to host but adding that to the list increases the pity you feel for me), had a dinner guest, played volleyball (that has nothing to do with being a parent, I know) and played substitute teacher at church. Before being a parent I would've laid on the couch and watched a lot of TV. I figure now that I'm a parent, it's easier to do those things than lay on the couch hearing, "Come on!" and "Waaah!" from a 2-yr old while trying to rest.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Maybe I should have a blog dedicated to stories of the stupid things I do

I’m listening to the radio now (headphones plugged in all the way) and I heard a song that I liked but didn’t recognize so I went to the station’s website and looked at their status bar showing what song is currently playing. Alas, it just said, “More of Washington’s best music coming up!” Hello, doesn’t a computer keep that thing up to date with what their computer playback is playing? I reloaded the page a few times and got no further info.

A couple of minutes later, I was listening to a commercial and I recognized the DJ’s voices but they were on the wrong station. Then I realized that I wasn’t listening to the station whose website I referenced. The nerve of them not to tell me what song was playing on somebody else’s station!

How to make friends with your officemate

Shortly after moving into my new office I decided to listen to the radio. I plugged my cheap headphones into the jack and turned on the radio. I didn’t hear anything so I turned up the volume and fiddled with the position of the wires (that’s how you get cheap headphones to work.) Not even hearing any crackly static, I turned the volume up louder. I was able to hear the music faintly so I turned it up some more but then realized the sound wasn’t coming from the headphones but from the radio speakers. My officemate was glad to know that instead of trying to blast him out of the office with my radio I was just being dense and I hadn’t plugged the headphones in far enough.

First bedtime without us

Last night Andy and I both went to our bible study meeting and Elesa stayed with Kevin and put him to bed. That was Kevin’s first night since being with us that he went to bed without either of us. He was surprisingly clingy yesterday afternoon so we were concerned that he’d take awhile to calm down when we left but Elesa reported that he cried for about 2 minutes and then was fine. He wasn’t happy-go-lucky for awhile, but he eventually was and the whole bedtime routine went smoothly. Elesa suggested that it was so smooth that next time we can just leave him alone and call at specified intervals to tell him when it’s time to brush his teeth, get dressed, read, and lay down. He'll take care of everything else himself.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

That's my photo!

I just confirmed that a large postcard style handout containing a calendar of the sermons at our church from January through March has a photo on it that *I* took. How cool is that?!

Granted, someone doctored up the coloring, but I understand that. Here is the undoctored version (I wouldn't know how to doctor a photo if my life depended on it.)

 Posted by Hello

A Recent Picture of Flash

Flash enjoying the blanket crocheted for Kevin by a member of our church. November 2004 Posted by Hello

Thoughts during the shock of Flash's death

I don't have the time or energy to write anything eloquent so I'm just going to throw together a list of notes about what went through our minds (mine in particular) during the time close to Flash's unexpected, untimely, and instantaneous death.

  • What if it was Kevin? Andy? Me? How much harder to be shocked by a person’s death than a pet’s
  • My high cholesterol numbers
  • Maybe he was too stressed out by Kevin’s presence and it weakened his heart
  • When Sprite (my previous cat of 19 years) died, I missed her but I wanted to get another cat more because I wanted someone/something to love, nurture, and take care of. Flash filled that void. Now that Flash is gone, I don’t have the same void - I miss Flash but I have someone else to fill the need for mothering. Getting another cat or some other pet would probably be more for Kevin than either Andy or me.
  • Amazed by amount of shock and grief and yet ability to retard chaos so that Kevin wasn’t thrown off kilter.
  • Thinking of how to tell Kevin what happened - he doesn’t understand the necessary language and anything he would understand might create fear - “Flash is sick/hurt, going to doctor - he can’t come home with us.” What will Kevin think the next time he has to go to the doctor?
  • Andy: Flash was a transition pet - learned to handle being woken up, having responsibilities, greedy attention needs, etc. His job was done, God says we’re ok with Kevin.
  • Probably more than coincidence that it occurred during the 30 minutes that we were all at home together that day