Monday, March 24, 2003

Heather: Nickel perceptions on the war.
This is just my opinion, so take it for the brass pennies it's worth. It seems to me that Saddam's biggest defenders never had to live under his rule, like the anti-war activists here in the U.S. and Muslims from other countries (Egypt, Palestinian areas, Jordan, etc.). His biggest detractors, those who most want him eating daisies by the roots, are Iraqis who have had to live under his rule.
Seems that second group might have some insight given their experience with the man, eh?

Friday, March 14, 2003

Heather: Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.
Get to know me and find something in particular, like my son is not quite 3 weeks old and I'm wearing pre-pregnancy pants. Not Tweeners, as Dale called them--those for when you're too big for your old pants but not ready for maternity. Nope. These today are truly from non-pregnant times.
Yeah, they were always a little loose and I did have to suck in my gut a little, but they're on and the buttons aren't straining.
I know that's bragging, but I'm kind of proud of it. Yeah, I know, it's all predetermined because I have done nothing to bring it about besides eat smart and nurse since the little guy was born. No workouts, certainly no diet drugs. Though some stimulants during the day might help him sleep at night...
Anyway. I had to share that with someone, and the Moms Club from church doesn't meet for a few more weeks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Heather: Some thoughts on Jews, Catholics, and whom Jesus died for.
I was asked by a student the year I taught at a Catholic high school, "Didn't the Jews kill Jesus?" I was utterly ignorant of the Vatican's stand on the issue and had just my own knee-jerk reply. "Of course not," with no small amount of scorn. I still maintain that.
My dad, when asked a tough question, used to tell me, "I can give you a really good how, but not why." The HOW of Jesus' death is the Jews; they were the instruments. Okay. The why? Come on! Didn't He die as a sacrifice for all of us? To redeem us? Enough folks read this blog to tell me if I'm mistaken--please do.
That rant was inspired by the concern over Mel Gibson's movie coming out soon. Sure, the Jews and the Romans were the "how," but we all are the "why."
Just to cover my backside: don't go off and vandalize a Jewish business/home/place of worship because I supposedly said they had a role in Jesus' death. While they did, technically, God could have used pink elephants if that had been part of His plan.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

OK: Now Rod Dreher's gone too far.

He's doing the unthinkable: He's defending the French.


Just kidding. Rod makes many good points, and reminded me of my own experience with the French in 1989, which explains why I haven't jumped in the general piranha feeding frenzy of French-bashing. Well, OK, for the most part I haven't joined in. Hey, I've gone cold turkey for four months. Plus, my ancestors are almost entirely working-class Brits, which makes Francophobia even harder to control.

Proceeding apace.

During my sophomore year of college, two friends (one of whom was stood up with me at my wedding and is a certified genius to boot) and I enrolled at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. We went over two and a half weeks before classes started to tour Western Europe. The English I liked right away ("what part of the States are you from?" being the introductory greeting, and "No, we don't have cube ice, sorry" being the regular apology), but I'll confess to rising Frogophobia as we popped over the Channel. No problems initially, though we really didn't stay in France until the end. We went roughly counter-clockwise in our travels: France-Belgium-Holland-West Germany-Austria-Italy-Switzerland-France-Spain-France-England. The only anti-Americanism we encountered was on a commuter train in Munich, where we were accosted by a midgety, nervous German fellow who looked like Goebbels after several years of estrogen therapy. After getting into a loud political argument with a fellow German who got disgusted and walked away, Der Twitchy decided to gripe about the Yankee foreigners. Evidently, our shoes gave us away, although I suspect my borrowed U.S. Army duffelbag had something to do with it, too. He glanced nervously in our direction, made several disparaging remarks, but evidently decided against a kampf against Yanks who had an average of several inches and forty pounds plus on him. We decided to impersonate well-mannered English tourists and ignore him.

It worked. At the next stop, Meister Wippel departed, no doubt returning to his place of unemployment, and a friendly German woman quickly approached us and apologized. She gave us an almost-certainly sanitized account of his tirade, and tried to assure us that all Germans weren't jerks. We gave the fuggedaboutit response, reassured her we had liked our stay in Bavaria and Germans in general, and left the car at our stop, international amity restored. After all, how could we hate Earth's beer capital?

Did I mention we were there during Oktoberfest?

Still, I expected worse when we arrived in France to spend a couple of days in Normandy, right at the tail end of our European odyssey.

Didn't happen. In fact, the opposite was the case. The Normans were delightful folks, friendly to a fault. And the cuisine? Rod's right: French food rules. I had this sauteed fish that to this day leaves me drooling in remembrance. French bakers, right down to the hot dog stand outfits, are the living masters of the art. The earthy delight of walking the streets of Ouistreham, munching on a fresh baguette and taking in the atmosphere, is one of my most treasured memories.

Ouistreham sits right on the English Channel. Even the name of the village, with its "-ham" ending, evokes a time when it was under British rule. Perhaps ironically, then, Ouistreham became the destination of a decidedly different kind of British beachgoer on June 6, 1944.

In nearby Arromanches, you can still see impact craters, preserved with concrete, which gives a feel for the firepower employed that day. Even the remnants of the artificial "Mulberry" harbor built by the Allies are still visible, far out to sea.

We were looking at a burnt-out gun emplacement in Arromanches when an older Frenchman approached us. The weapon, apparently a small anti-tank model, was in the open air, but in a dugout behind a locked gate. The gun appeared to have seen better days, with obvious burn marks and a thick coating of rust. The Frenchman, having overheard our conversation, greeted us in both French and broken English. He was relieved when Steve responded in reasonably fluent French. He still took a run at it in broken English for the benefit of monolingual Dale and Tim. After greeting us and confirming we were Americans, he took out his wallet, and showed us a laminated card. Steve helped to explain that this was proof of his veteran status during the Second World War. To emphasize the point, he said something about liking Americans because they had liberated his country, and to further drive it home repeatedly said "friendship, friendship." He was aware that even then, American tourists were not always persona grata in the Republic, and wanted us to know he definitely did not have that mindset.

It was at this point that he filled us in on the history of this particular gun emplacement. What we didn't know is that a large number of non-Germans fought alongside the Wehrmacht that June morning. These soldiers were generally men from the Soviet Union, and had hated Stalin. While quite happy to fight the communists, they were decidedly less enthusiastic about fighting American and British troops.

The Frenchman explained that this particular gun crew had evidently been among the least enthusiastic:

They had been chained to their gun. They had died chained to it, too.

The Frenchman told us this story without anger or emotion. He noted our shocked faces, and nodded sadly. He seemed to be telling us this story to remind us of the hellish regime that had held his country captive, and how that grip began to be broken on D-Day. After he finished, he again said "America. Friendship, friendship." He shook our hands and left. We were quiet for a little while afterward.
That moment, and the Frenchman's gratitude and friendliness have been with me ever since. He, like many of his countrymen, knew the difference between the type of people who would chain other men to a gun emplacement to fight for them, and those who came ashore that gray morning to break those chains. He was still grateful for it.

So, if you, like me, are sorely tempted right now to give up on the French as irredeemably treacherous weasels, remember: the corrupt adulterer who runs the country and the oily talking hairpiece of a Foreign Minister are not all of France.

Not by a long shot.


Friday, March 07, 2003

Heather: I almost went to work that morning. Seriously.
If you have to ask which morning, you haven't been paying attention. Sure, the cramps (ha, ha) woke me up along about 2:30, and kept happening so I couldn't really get back to sleep. I finally gave up at 5:30 when Maddie and Dale got up (her decision, not his). I really didn't want to go in for false labor AGAIN, I had grades to put in at work, I had more stuff to check before progress reports were due Tuesday, my sub was coming in that morning to get briefed on where each class was... I was being induced in 36 hours! It couldn't be happening already!
I actually had a compromise worked out in my head. I would go in just for the morning, leave at 11 telling the (probable) truth--I thought I might be in labor but no, my water hadn't broken.
Then my dear wise husband asked the relevant question: "Will you really be able to teach, how you're feeling?"
Okay, you win, hon. Reason prevailed. We dropped Madeleine off at her aunt Misty's, only a 15 minutes early instead of hours like last time and sped to the hospital. Upon arrival, I made it clear that if I were in labor I wanted an epidural, so put my name on the list now. I was thinking of the Call-Ahead Seating idea.
Upon examination, we were told I was 100% effaced and dilated to 4. Today was the day.
He was born at 1 PM, that day. If I'd gone in, the custodian Chuck would have delivered our son (he's a retired firefighter and has delivered 5). Hey, with him, the school nurse, and two health teachers, plus my previous experience, we'd have been okay!
Right. Dale would have had my head examined.
Look at what we did!

For pictures of the newest Price, go here.

They aren't posted for long, so I suggest you look sooner rather than later.
Brief Update.

Dale: Mommy and baby came home on February 26. Thank God for Mom, who came down to help out all week. Maddie loves her, and calls her "Neemie," which delights Mom to no end. She kept the house running during the transition to a "children" household. Thanks, Mom!

As far as my boy goes, he is much different from his sister--quieter, more laid back. I got the sense of this from the moment he was given to Heather, and quickly stopped crying. Then he was placed in the baby warmer, which he found to be just fine. He stretched out his arms and almost immediately went to sleep. Maddie didn't stop crying until she was handed back to Heather for the second time and started nursing.

I think what accounts for it is the difference in the way the two were born. Maddie was an induced birth--evicted--and was ticked about it. The lad was born the old-fashioned way--when he was good and ready, right after a mad dash to the hospital. In contrast to his sister, he almost never cries, and never without reason--the diaper is soaked, he's really hungry and so forth. Maddie wanted the world to know her generic displeasure at random intervals.

Heather's nursing him, which means a transition through jaundice for the first two weeks or so. His jaundice is almost gone--just a hint of yellow in the whites of his eyes, fading fast. This, coupled with his easygoing demeanor, earned him his first nickname from me:

"Mellow Yellow."

Heather said it was awful. But she was laughing as she said it....

How does Maddie like her brother? She spent a day or so wondering about it. Once, she literally turned a corner, saw the Cube in the bouncy seat, and stopped dead in her tracks. She had the oddest, most tentative look on her face. It was not a happy look, to be sure. Plus, Heather would carry the baby around, and whenever she came close to Madeleine, Maddie would say "Away!" and wave Heather and D3 off.

Good news/bad news: A big part of the problem seems to have been caused by Maddie's illness. Care to guess?

Ear Infection Number Seven. We are going to the ENT later this month. I've seen my daughter boil with fever and have the related coughing fits for the last time.

Ever since Maddie started to recover, her attitude has changed. She likes the "bay-bee," and has held him, even gesturing to Heather to give him back. She gently touches him, and has given him three kisses. The corner has been turned. Until he tries to share "her" toys, that is.

There's more to tell, but that will have to wait for more free time.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Yeah, right...

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