September 30, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Thirty three years ago today, Matt shot out of his mother. He looked, by all accounts, something like this (perhaps with a pointier head--that's Emily's picture). He feels much better now.

Many happy returns!

September 27, 2005

Come See the Cooing!

You know, if you've been wanting to see my kids but have been putting
it off, this is the perfect time. Not only are we really busy (and
Matt's birthday's coming up, inconveniently located, as ever, at the
beginning of the school year! ;-) ), but Emily is cooing and smiling.
A lot. She seems to have picked up tips from Curran, The Incredibly
Happy Baby, over the weekend. Even diaper changes are a treat at this

Also, at the rate Laura is pushing herself to learn things, if you're
here, you'll probably get to see her pick something up. The kid is just
drilling herself! I watched her basically treat a book on colors like
flash cards yesterday..."o.k., I know THIS one, and THIS one. What's
this one again? Check with Mommy. O.K. I've got it. I know THIS
one, and THIS one, and...yes...I know THIS one, now, too." I am just
trying to stay out of her way (and secretly hoping a) that she always
loves to learn that much, and b) that all my students were this
devoted. Though I may have to start strategizing ways to get her nose
*out* of books at some point...or hiding the naughty ones for a
while... ;-) )

September 25, 2005

Renewed and Refreshed

I had a wonderful time on the retreat. It was held at Triangle Lake, which was a very peaceful spot. My only beef was the distance we had to walk between where we slept and retreated and where we ate...there was a bit of a hill, and Emily got kind of heavy!

We focused on sabbatical: what it is, how to get to it, what to do on one, and why it is so difficult, especially for women, to make the time and space for one. In one of our discussions, I mentioned my sewing room, and how nice it is to have a space set aside just for me, just for that activity. We wondered why more of us didn't have some place like that. And then I said, "And how many men have a *shop*?" I'm not blaming's just that we have to find a way for women to have their own space, too, and to have it be O.K. socially. Maybe it's a side effect of that whole "women run the home" thing; no one thought of setting aside a space for R&R since women were supposed to have the run of the place. But that was all for work, not for rest. Bah. Everybody needs a little spot.

All in all, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I had the chance to get to know some of my fellow church-goers, and lots of people held Emily and enjoyed her (and Curran, the VERY happy baby who also attended.)

Matt and Laura had some good daddy-daughter bonding time while we were away, and it was nice to be reunited one and all yesterday afternoon. She started learning the ABC song while I was away, and Emily has begun smiling and cooing! (we are suckers for that.)

Pictures are here, mostly of the people I went with. :-)

September 21, 2005

Who's that Girl?

Having gone to the doc today for Emily's two-month check up (all is well: 80% in height, 90% in weight!, no apparent signs of secondary infection so far from the Family Cold), I heard again how much alike our girls look. (and it was from the doctor, who notices these things since she sees a lot of babies...). I've thought so from the start, though I get funny looks from people (Matt :-P) when I say so.

So, here's the challenge. Which one is which? (Matt is disqualified, since he took both photos...and he lives here!) I might reveal the answer at some later date...we'll see. I tried to make it fair by looking for similar poses at around the same age.

Apart from the doctor's appointment, which Matt kindly came home early to help out with, I've been trying to get packed for my weekend. I leave tomorrow for a women's retreat with my church, and won't be back until Saturday. Since I haven't pumped that much milk (and Matt would quail in terror at the prospect of two little girls and him...all Mama...), Emily is going along, too. I'll update when I get back. Meanwhile, I've left you with the pictures. Go ahead, take a guess....

September 20, 2005

On the Mend...

I'm glad to report that we all seem to be improving. Matt escaped with a mere scratchy throat for 24 hours, while Laura, Emily and I have all been....draining. Ick. Laura is the grossest, and of course, the most able to elude the clutches of a tissue-wielding grown up. I actually said to her today, "Yuk! How can that NOT bother you???" Emily does pretty well as long as she's propped up; you wouldn't know she has a cold, really, except that when she's laid down flat to be changed it takes her a while to clear out the accumulation of...stuff. Otherwise, she's in good shape. As for me, I feel better, mostly, but I have that sexy, three-packs-a-day smoker voice, which would be wonderful except it kinda hurts to use it, and a cough. That, too, affects Emily; I imagine nursing on a cougher must be something like getting your elbow jiggled randomly when you're trying to sip your soda. She manages, though.

No one sent any soup, but since Laura keeps asking for it and then not eating it, perhaps it's just as well. I think perhaps there's nothing like illness to intensify todllerishness: she is more clingy and cuddly, and more disobedient, all at once. At the same time, I've been on fire to do things. It's that weird thing that happens sometimes with colds (even without cold medication)--I get bursts of energy, then crash because I've done too much. I moved a little furniture today, did laundry, changed out the crib (washed all the animal/dolly friends therein, dried same in time for nap), organized Laura's clothes drawers (which had been un-organized one day last weekend when Laura practiced a mandatory clothes evacuation maneuver on them), and generally made the nursery a safer place for a climbing short person. It didn't make for that exciting of a day, but I'm exhausted, naturally. Perhaps it's my body's way of making sure that I'm able to sleep well later.

Matt, on the other hand, had a more exciting day. Among other things, there was a natural gas leak at his school, so they all had to evacuate. Fortunately, the students were told to take their stuff in the classes with them, since it was into the next class period before things were fixed up and everyone could go back to work. Also fortunate was the could have been raining as they hiked 1/6 of a mile to the other campus to line up and be counted. I am happy to report, however, that FEMA was not involved. Perhaps that explains the speedy resolution of things.

September 19, 2005

The Family Germ

I don't know where we caught it, but a cold's got all four of us. It feels like a run-of the-mill virus to me, but it's a little rough on Emily; she's eight weeks old today, and still just breathes through her nose.

Send soup.

September 17, 2005

Party Animals

One reason I've been so lax about posting is that it's been kind of a hectic week. Matt had things that kept him late at or on the way home from school each day but Friday, and I was trying to get the house back into some kind of order since we had many people over last night. Between me being pregnant and then in recovery, nobody's had much time to do things like clean the kitchen floor (it was OOKEY!) Inviting people over (especially ones who haven't been here before) is always a good spur for me to clean. And I was at least partly successful (that floor did get clean!), though I don't think it would pass any white glove tests.

My children were not especially cooperative. I've noticed that they feed off each other; the bad days are shared, and the one good day was also shared (ah, such angels they were! It was Wednesday, and I needed it since they were both obnoxious stinkers on Tuesday--the day Matt got home latest, naturally. How do they know???) I have noticed, too, that usually, when they're *really* obnoxious, the next day is a good one. Perhaps the rottenness tires them out, too, and they just can't help being good? Or maybe I've learned something new about how to un-rotten them by the next day?

On the other hand, the party was a blast. Our friend Bruce was here from D.C., on one of his semi-annual trips to visit his friends and family, and there were, I think, 13 adults, three toddlers, and two infants in attendance. Some random vignettes:

~Dennis letting me know that the "Got Milk" post had entirely Too Much Information for him.

~Ty and Dave discussing windows in the "Man Group" in the kitchen (while our men still congregate, I do just love that it was in the kitchen. And they were even cooking pizza at the time!)

~Carol and Ella playing with the Fridge Phonics thing (many of the toddlers and their keepers had fun wandering around with the letters, and eventually sending them back to their home on the fridge. "Home, home on the fridge...")

~the flames alarming Joe as he carried Bruce's birthday cake out to the living room (there were 33 candles on that puppy, and it was HOT). I got Joe to carry it since I thought I might trip. Bruce said he was surprised, since we didn't advertise it as a birthday party. :-)

~Laura sidling up to Erin on the couch, with a come-hither look in those big blue eyes and a beguiling smile, saying "Cake?" (Now, where did she learn that? Yes, I do puppy-dog eyes, but I don't remember doing them lately, particularly in front of her. Is it in the DNA?)

~Erin sitting on the floor, saying "There are two bites of cake left, one for Laura and one for Jonah," and feeding them in turn like little birdies (though Laura already had had her piece of cake; she's quite an opportunist).

~Me pointing out to Eileen that our wine glasses are actually water goblets, so they're fuller than they look. She didn't care, but Bruce wanted more wine, too, so he cut her off.

~Susan getting baby Elisha to stop crying (until she started again, anyway).

~Dave letting us know that that thing in our front door is called a "speakeasy". Wonder if that's where the name for the bar came from, or if it was the other way around? We think it's cool, anyway, and are glad to know what to call it. "Peep hole" didn't quite describe it...

~Joe remarking that this was fun, just like Christmas, with all the kids playing with each other while the adults were able to talk.

~Robyn and Bruce staggering out the door at 2:00 AM (it was 5 AM by Bruce's time!!), after a wonderful few hours spent just talking and getting caught up. I miss that, especially as an introvert who can't get one on one time with everyone at a party this big--I didn't even get to talk to Maria or Carol much, sadly.

I am not a party animal at heart, but I do love to entertain, and it was a good-sized group for our house; full, but not so that we were tripping over each other. I know Laura had fun, too; her idea of a good time is getting to play with Jonah AND Ella. She was sad when each one left. I can only hope everyone else enjoyed themselves as much as we did!

Catching Up, and Letters

I know, I know, it's been too long since I posted. Life is like that sometimes. Deal. ;-)

Last weekend, Matt's fundraiser garnered about $350; they had to end it early since the thunder and lightning started. No one wants to be responsible for teenagers running around in the lightning. It is, however, $350 more than the team had when they started the day, so, hooray! The next day, Sunday, was a whopper; we went to church, picnicked, Matt managed to get to the store while Laura and Emily took a brief siesta, and we went to the library before they closed at 5:00 (I am still not sure how, since we didn't leave church until 1:45 or so...). It was good to see the Vic again!

The library was a hoot. Laura had been earning "book bucks" all summer for the hours she spent reading (o.k., being read to), one "buck" per hour, and Sunday was the last day to spend those "bucks" at a little shop set up for that purpose in the library. She got a little sort of magic-wand thing, with mylar streamers and something that rattles in the end of it (10 bucks) and the first American picture book ever: "Millions of Cats." (the remaining 20 bucks; we read more, but you get raffle tickets for any time over 30 hours). Having waited literally until the last few minutes of the last day, the selection was less than stellar. On the other hand, she's really enjoyed the wand, and the book is one that I remember from my childhood, so I'm glad to have it. If you've never read it, it has a refrain with a great, driven meter (try saying it!) : "Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats!" Certainly an appropriate choice for our household.

The other fun part was that I had, oh, about a minute to grab some books for myself. So I rolled Emily over to the paperbacks, and grabbed virtually at random, trying not to get anything I'd already read. Sort of the blind date approach to reading, I guess. As a result, I'm part way through Tom Clancy's "Rainbow Six", which will probably end up being a read-it-once guilty pleasure.

On a related note--since it goes with reading, doncha know--Laura has learned all her letters (the capitals, anyhow.) It wasn't on purpose. Grandma Pat gave her a bag full of soft, stuffed letters shortly after Emily arrived (or before? I forget now...) So she's been learning with those, as she carries them over to me to ask what they are. She's been learning shapes at the same time, which I don't think is a coincidence--she's getting that whole symbolic/spatial intelligence thing going on. Then, our neighbors--they of the double stroller--brought over a toy they're not using anymore called Fridge Phonics. It has a whole set of the alphabet, and each letter can be "plugged in" to a base unit that plays a little tune and tells you what the letter is and what it says. So now we have a not-yet-two-year-old who can't always make herself understood (who can?;-)), but knows the alphabet. And some of its sounds.

September 12, 2005

Got Milk?

Last night, Emily had an unusually extended, intense round of her usual evening crying time. It was probably something I ate at the church picnic. After that, though, she slept through the night. I don't mean the "medical definition" of five hours (and who came up with THAT stupid rule, anyway? Five hours is NOT a full night's sleep! Maybe doctors needs to get a *leetle* more rest...). No, she slept from 9:45, when the screaming stopped, until 6 A.M. Bliss! But...

The breasts are wonderful things. In addition to titillating men, they serve a useful nutritive function. However, just like cows' udders, the "working girls" (that's how I think of 'em) tend to get on a schedule. They're used to being emptied on a regular basis, including at night. So they're used to Emily waking up at night. Since she didn't, I was pretty desperate to be "milked" ("de-milked" would really be more accurate!) when she finally did wake up. But she wasn't all that hungry this morning (of course!), so the job didn't get done. I can do many things with a baby in my arms, but using a breast pump is not one of them, and Emily definitely was an in-arms baby today. She would fuss and cry when put down, so I'd pick her up, thinking, "Oh, at last, my relief is near!"

And then she would fall asleep without eating much if anything. So I suffered until around mid-afternoon, when both w.g. were *finally* fully emptied and feeling normal again. Aaaaaahhhhhhh....

And while we're on the subject, a word about size. Let's just say that before bearing children, I didn't know they *made* bras in this size (I am not a C, nor a D...we'll just leave it at that!) When I'm done with these bras (and can again walk upright!), they could probably be used as hot-tub covers. While it's sort of fun to be of actual epic proportions--especially until my tummy shrinks back a bit more; it's nice to have something sticking out further than it!--they frighten me. What if they decide they don't like the government of my body? They could revolt, and it would be like Texas and Alaska leaving for greener pastures.

I feel for my babies, too. What must it be like, to be a small little tug boat, docking with this massive battleship? They are each bigger than Emily's head, still. Perhaps that is why I've never been good at being extremely discreet; not only have neither of my children been consistent about eating, they've also both turned out to be messy--Emily likes to have her face covered in milk before she decides to settle down to eating, and even then I'm often saying, "Emily, you have to *open your mouth* in order to eat"; Laura's favorite thing was to really attack, get the milk flowing, and then detach and pause for thought two or three times. And, of course, the sheer size involved means that I usually have to smoosh myself out of the way of Emily's little nose. Otherwise, all you hear is this soft whistle, followed by a gulp, followed by a snork--no air!, followed by a big gasp. And there is more milk everywhere, as the baby backs away to breathe. As one of our friend says, "I'd have to have four hands to be discreet." I'm not sure that would be enough for me! And even if I could manage it, there'd be milk everywhere on my clothes, so I'd be having my own private wet T-shirt contest.

All that said, I'm glad to do it, and glad I've "Got Milk." It's all part of the adventure of parenthood, and fortunately, it usually makes me laugh. Especially when they're empty and the *baby* is full.

September 9, 2005

As a news junkie, I continue to be fascinated with the unfolding tragedy that follows in Katrina's wake. At the local level, we have our own little taste of FEMA's ineptness, as Oregon is readying for 1,000 of the displaced. Or maybe not. Or maybe 500 will be here tomorrow. Or maybe no one's coming at all. While I understand the rationale for those who are being moved (or not), in that this is a long way from home in space and in culture, you'd think the organization could figure it out a little better.

For the scope of the disaster in New Orleans, this site was cool. It takes the area (square mileage) covered by flooding and transposes it over various cities so that we can visualize it. Here's Portland's.

In a bizarre juxtaposition of circumstances, I've been reading "The Heart of Christianity." The Vic loaned it to me quite a while ago, and I got as far as the first chapter and then got distracted; I'm trying to finish so I can give it back. Also, I haven't been to the library in a while and I needed something fresh ("Feed me, Seymour!"). Anyway, I like it; the author contrasts what we now think of as "traditional" Christianity with an "emerging paradigm" that better fits modern needs, and also looks for bridges between the two. Throughout, he is thoughtful and respectful, even as he's pointing out internal contradictions in one or the other way of thinking. I just finished the chapter on Jesus, in which the author basically points out that Jesus was a freaking radical socialist who encouraged breaking down the traditional religious power structure of his time. He also is quoted as saying things like, "Consider the lilies" and "Blessed are the poor" and "That which you do to the least of these, you do to me". Those who know me may wonder what makes me a churchgoer; I don't even strike me as very church-y. But we found a church that reminds us of these things as good examples to follow. Anyway, it all strikes me as particularly relevant now, when there are so many who are poor who need help, and will continue to need help...and there are the many who aren't anywhere near the Gulf Coast, but who are definitely the "least" to be thought of.

On a completely unrelated subject, I've managed to do yoga (though very little else!) three days in a row now. Laura likes watching the "Daddy" on the BEETCH! Today, I was feeling energetic (or masochistic) and did part of the post-natal yoga vid I have. The instructor is a turban-wearing Los Angelan who somehow channels all of the negative stereotypes of that locale into one person, complete with a nasal voice that sounds like she's just finished smoking some (organically grown) primo doobage. She is, however, a closet sadist, as one can discover when doing her exercises. Most involve using your local homegrown baby as resistance, ballast, what have you--I've always said you HAD to do those exercises once you get started on one, because the only alternative is dropping the baby. In additional to a little sore, I do feel virtuous for having done it. And Laura enjoyed looking at the babies used as examples. (Oh, and she has started doing some of the moves with me. It's nice to have company, and she's *awfully* cute as she tries to figure stuff out. For aficianados, the kid does a mean Cobra.)
Some Laura-isms that I must write down for posterity:

Yogurt is "Yo-doh-doh" (and a bottle of rum)

After a burp: "Oh, Day-doh!" (A reference to David, a clearly ADHD--or perhaps just five-year-old--boy who stars in a series of books chronicling his misadventures. One of the books--not the one called "Oh, David!", of course--shows him burping excessively while saying "ExCUSE me" (the candle flame is bent; the flowers in the vase are wilted.)

"Mean Daddy" and "Mean Mommy" (when we jokingly say we're mean because we've done something that violated the Toddler Bill of Rights. We have established that in our house there is also a "Mean Baby" and even a "Mean Laura").

Looking in a mirror: "LawPupPy" (for Laura-B.; I know, because she points to herself and says "Me," too.)

All the abbreviations she makes for book titles: "Moon" for Goodnight Moon (and "Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me", for that matter), "Hugs" for "How About a Hug?", etc. Favorite is "Boom boom" for "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear." If you've read it, you'll know why that's funny...if not, check out the library!

Speaking of books, she's quickly become addicted to Madeline ("MadLINE!") Sing it with me: "In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines/Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines." A sad relic of my years of public speaking is the facility to quickly memorize anything...whether I want to or not!

September 7, 2005

Today was a little rough; not even Laura got enough sleep last night, I think. That sort of thing ripples into the next day. I'm hoping whatever it was (and I do have a guess...) has worked its way out of Emily's system. She's been sleeping a lot better this evening. Here's hoping it lasts....

Poor Matt; it was his first full day of teaching, which apparently went o.k. We'll try and get him caught up on sleep tonight, though, since there's still a lot of stuff to do this week. He has a fundraiser on Saturday (pop can drive), and we have to go to church on Sunday to welcome the Vic back from her sabbatical (besides, they're having an all-church picnic. Num!) So there's no time to be down.

On the other hand, I'm glad to report that my "bounce" is back...I miss that when I'm pregnant. What I think of as "bounce" is that which makes me realize that, if I can't sleep, I might as well get as much done as I'm able (and thus, the second load of laundry is in the dryer. Stuff like that.) When pregnant, I have no bounce. Confronted with lack of sleep (or any other tragedy), I simply collapse in a hopeless heap. This is loads better!

I'm depressed with the developments on Katrina. Can't say I'm surprised, but depressed. People are still being evacuated, and the blame game has already begun. Although I think I have a fairly clear idea of who shares the blame (and there are many!) for the magnitude of the disaster, I'm trying to keep my mind on the people who are alive and need help (it's getting harder by the day, though.) It's hard, for me at least, to focus on needs when I'm angry. I also haven't heard very many solutions; most of what I've read or been sent seems to focus on who did what to whom, or on what *should* have happened, not what ought to be done in the future. Guess that's what happens when you've done policy debate; I'm always looking for a plan of action! So, while I'm thinking and paying attention to all the verbiage, I'm trying not to let it get to me. I am still thankful every time I flush the toilet; that does help keep me focused on what matters.

September 6, 2005

We had a social weekend. (For those of you who get withdrawal symptoms when I don't post every day, just assume we are having too much fun to post. Or, working. :-) ) We got to hang out with our friends the Pickerels on Saturday, just eating ice cream and watching the girls be themselves. Sunday, a BBQ at Dennis and Maria's with the other Usual Suspects. Laura got to play with Jonah AND Ella, and against the odds Matt and I had fun, too. (I say, against the odds, because 1) Laura had no nap, except for the last five minutes of the car ride there, and 2) She has taken to kleptomania where other people's drinking vessels are concerned. Fortunately, our friends are relaxed.)

It's nice to know people are reading the blog, which I heard from several sources. I'd probably do it anyway (Matt says he likes it: "It's like reading about my own life!" Um, that would be because it IS your own life, or at least the 65% we share...he's been up in the middle of the night doing diaper changes. ;-) ), now that I've begun, but it's nice to know there's a real audience. I'll try to be consistent about how often I post to support my loyal readers.

Monday was devoted to last-minute school preparations, and getting Laura caught up on sleep. Success on both counts!

And now, a minor miracle (I thought of calling the Pope, but I'm sure he's busy. Besides, I'm not one of his flock...maybe I'll get the Archbishop of Canterbury on speed dial...). I did yoga this morning! This is a miracle for two reasons; the lesser of the two is that six weeks after my last pregnancy, there were a few things my muscles just wouldn't DO (notably, being able to suspend my bent legs to one side and the other of my torso when lying on my back--I just wasn't strong enough through the abs.) Either I'm way stronger from schlepping Laura around for the past 22 months, or it was the bed rest that weakened me. Maybe both. Anyway, the stretching did wonders for my back, which is getting a work out lately between carrying both girls and nursing in bed (comfy in that I don't have to get up--and therefore, wake up the whole way--but it sometimes requires comic contortions to get us connected.) The second miracle, of the more major variety, was that Matt wasn't here; the girls let me do it for twenty whole minutes! Emily cooed in the bassinet, looking at a colorful crib mirror. Guess that's one advantage of carrying her all the time; being down somewhere is a novelty. A similar thing worked with Laura: since we don't even watch movies with her, she was pretty interested in the yoga instructor on the video. We decided that it wouldn't do her any harm to see a video with no action to speak of, and no commercials. It didn't hurt her fascination any that he was stretching on a beach ("BEETCH!") Since she does "baby yoga" already (stretching her ankles up around her ears, etc.), I figure when she gets over being fascinated, she might just join me. Time will tell....

Of course, I didn't follow the directions. I wasn't exactly "free from other distractions", and so the two minutes or so of guided relaxation were not as relaxing as BC (Before Children). Still, I'll take what I can get.

September 3, 2005

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Obviously, I got through Thursday alright; Laura is having some adjustments, though, getting used to Mommy being able to physically enforce orders again (i.e., picking her UP off the couch when she's standing on it!). It is nice to be able to just grab her for hugs when I feel like it (or nose rubs. "No WUB!" ) I also realized Tuesday that I honestly hadn't changed her diaper in at least six weeks, though I've been doing Emily. The contrast is, to be blunt, a bit like a human standing next to the Statue of Liberty! My, how they grow....

Yesterday, Jonah came over to play. I took Emily, and Matt took the two toddlers, and as far as I know, everybody had fun (I know all of us did, and judging from the squeals of toddler glee, especially during "Chase", Jonah did, too!) It's a golden time when they have someone else who'll chase them endlessly, and who is not so big or strong by comparison that there's a clear winner and loser in disputes over toys (Full disclosure: generally, it was Jonah who was wronged. We tried to administer justice quickly, though. Some day, Laura will learn to share...and then be bitter when Emily breaks her things. Ah, youth...)

Matt, being with them all day, was particularly struck by the difference in development and language ability (they're six months apart, give or take). For instance, if you ask enough, Laura will get her sippy cup from wherever she's left it. Usually. It may or may not make it to where it was supposed to be going (the dinner table, for instance), but she'll find it for you. Any discussion about it on her part may or may not be intelligible. Jonah, on the other hand, not only collected both their sippy cups when asked, but dropped Laura's off at her high chair with a "here ya go" without being asked. *I* was impressed, too. Anyhow, it was a good time.

September 2, 2005

Some thoughts for the curmudgeons who always pop up around now...

History has shown us that it's generally pointless to blame the victims of any disaster. Sure, you can gloat about your perfect hindsight. But it doesn't help the victims any, and it seldom prevents another disaster. It also tends to make you look like a bozo. Here's why:

You may think, "It's stupid to build a city below sea level." Granted. It's also stupid to build one where it's subject to Arctic temperatures all winter, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, drought, non-oceanic flooding, and, a special favorite here in the PNW, next to ACTIVE VOLCANOES. In short, it's fairly impossible to find the perfect place to build; the Earth is just like that. It's a wild and woolly place, and the people in New Orleans did o.k. there below sea level for a long time. Besides, being located above sea level is no guarantee against flooding; think back to 1996 and you may realize what I'm talking about.

You may think, "Everyone should have evacuated." Granted, sort of. Some people were supposed to stay for some basic services. Others were, for whatever reason, unable to leave (the parents of the NICU babies there come to mind; you'd have to be really, really crass to blame them for having a newborn during hurricane season, especially since some of them were surely preemies!) Still others didn't have the means--money, or relatives elsewhere--to evacuate. Many of those went to the shelters, and we've all seen what a rough time they've had. Still others did not leave their homes at all.

First, I'm sure we would have left. But we have the means to leave, and relatives who live here and there and everywhere. Not everyone is so fortunate. I think it's fairly obvious by now that plans for those who stayed were less than well-thought out, to say the least. Those folks are suffering who did as they were told to do. Second, I can think of two or three of my nearest and dearest who, in the same situation, would have stayed in the city (I come from some stubborn folks!) So before any of us get too high and mighty, we should keep in mind that it could just as easily be someone we love and care about in the same spot. Third, many--most?--of those who left will not have much, if anything, salvageable to return to, and they are in fairly sad straits now. Thousands and thousands of those who did exactly as they were told to do in the initial evacuation are now in trouble, and straining other communities with their needs. I can't think of anything you can blame those victims for except for having been in New Orleans at the wrong time (see above). You have to assume that at least SOME of those residents lived there for economic reasons, and I imagine lots more lived there for the same reasons people choose to live anywhere: it feels like home, their loved ones are near, they grew up there. Finally, anyone watching the news can see that this hurricane hit areas besides the Big Easy. All along Mississippi's Gulf Coast is a huge mess, and there are direct impacts all over the South.

To put it mildly, a lot of people need help. Looking for reasons to blame the victims is a pretty pointless exercise, and frankly, is pretty mean-spirited. One other thing to consider: think about how many other nations have offered us their help. I haven't seen any of them nitpicking; they are simply asking what we need and how they can assist. Seems to me that that's a great example to follow.

If you were going to donate or volunteer to help, but were feeling curmudgeonly, I hope my words may have swayed you a bit.

If not, may I suggest you Hug your Local Volcano? (It can't hurt, and might save your bacon down the line; I sure wouldn't count on help from others, if I were you....)

There are a plethora of places you can donate, easily located in the media, but here's the grand-daddy of them all, of course:
American Red Cross

To see what other folks are saying on this topic, visit:

And to see what some folks in New Orleans are up to, check out:
The Interdictor