Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Miss Monica!

a day late, but here it is...

Dear Monica,

Today is your 1st birthday, and I am happy to say that we have all, officially, survived the first year of your life! This is no small thing for me and your daddy. We have learned a lot about what it means to be selfless, gentle, playful, and persistent. And you have learned the most of us all! In the past year, you have learned to smile, make many noises, wave bye bye and hello, sign “more”, crawl, stand, walk a few steps, feed yourself, and say dog (dah). Wow!

Tonight, as 7pm came around, I was drying you off after your bath and putting your pajamas on. You were laughing and playing with such incredible joy. When I realized that this precious moment was at the time you were born, tears welled up in my eyes because it was a year ago that you entered the world crying. Now, you go to sleep for the night, laughing. What a gift we have in you!

I am so glad that God brought you into my life. I love being you mother, and I am looking forward to growing with you through all the years we have together. You are best first born daughter I could ever ask for.

I love you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obituary of the Late Mr. Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Apparently, this has been circulating around the internet for years. I just saw it, and thought it was worth posting. I miss old Mr. C. Sense.

Note from original author, Lori Borgman: This piece was first published March 15, 1998 in the Indianapolis Star. It has been "modified" and "edited" by others and circulated on the Internet, even sent to me several times. Imagine my surprise to see it attributed to some guy named Anonymous. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I take having my work circulated on the web as a compliment.

Dinner in KobeTown

Here's a little narrative about Kevin's latest evening meal:

So I had my first eel experience. For appetizers, there were what I might call “eel chips”. Basically, it was just dried eel bones. There was also eel liver for an appetizer. Dinner included meso soup, which had some kind of eel part in it. Then the main dish was grilled (or blackened, I’m not sure) eel on top of rice. The flavor was mostly soy sauce based, so not too bad. The flavor and texture were not too much different from fish. However, the thought was what killed me. I kept picturing the eels slithering around in my head and my brain kept telling my stomach to reject it.

I forgot to mention that it was a lot of eel too. A couple pieces would have been no big deal, but it was a lot. Like maybe twice the size of [a] tilapia [filet]...I survived, thank God for beer. Afterwards, we stopped at a coffee shop for dessert. I was very glad to eat some pastries to get the eel flavor out of my mouth. I am also chewing lots of gum. I would say this was my biggest challenge yet. But I feel good about it because halfway through, they offered to eat the rest of my eel, but I finished it all.

Way to go, Kev. If someone would have told me when we got married that my donut/pb sandwich/pringle eating husband would be feasting on various eel dishes in a few years, I would have wet myself for laughing too hard. Miracles do happen.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Photos from the Far East

Kevin is in Japan again, and he sent some pictures, complete with captions!


I don’t even think its (eating octopus) strange anymore, just chew, swallow, and chase with beer

The Shinkansen (bullet train) with old design (foreground) and new design (background).

Himeji Castle

Sunset behind Akashi Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Failing A Test With Dignity

I got an email with these little beauties today and I couldn't help but share. I think my favorite is the rogue elephant.

At the bottom, there's a little story from Kevin's graduate student instructor days. I wish he had a picture of that one.

When I was teaching an undergrad class at Michigan, one exam problem asked the student to calculate the power output of a reactor given a host of information. One student had a bunch of calculations, ultimately crossed them off, wrote "1.21 jigawatts", and drew a picture of the Delorian from Back to the Future.

I gave them some partical credit due to the high quality of the Delorian drawing which included a driver that looked somewhat like Michael J. Fox.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Baby Tunes etc.

Kevin and I recently noticed that Monica is starting to respond more to music. Singing songs has always had a claming effect on her, but now she does the "baby dancing" which consists of rocking side to side or bouncing up and down when she hears a melody she likes. It's very cute!

Thinking this would be a good time to start playing children's music for her, I went to the library and found some classic playtime songs, lullabies and even some traditional african music. We've listened to most of them, and to be honest, she hasn't shown a real clear preference toward any of them. Even more honestly, there are some CDs I can't stand but for more than two minutes. But I have rediscovered a love of Raffi. I still remember the lyrics to "Baby Beluga" and "Down By the Bay." Classics. It is so great to have an excuse to sing and dance around to them again.

I also realized that my mom may still have a bunch of music on cassette from when Beth and I were wee ones. I wish I could easily transfer the music to CDs or even better, MP3s. What kind of equipment would you need for that? I bet people do it, but it probably costs an arm and a leg.

Speaking of cassettes, the audio of my sister's baptism is on cassette. You can hear her screaming, pretty much the whole time, and the minister says, in between wails, "Whoa, she means business." I think I should have that immortalized on MP3...

Maybe Monica will have a lot in common with Auntie Beth.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gathering More Evidence

A while ago I posted about a suspected alliance between Monica and The Dog. Well, let's just say the suspicion is confirmed, or at least there's quite a bit more evidence for it.

Last week, Monica and I went to lunch at a friend's house. They have a dog, and while we were there, Monica poined at the golden retriever and said, "Da! Da!" a number of times. It was most exciting because most likely, she was saying "dog." (Monica has said "Mama" and "Dada" a few times, but has not been quite so pointed as she was with the dog.) Since then, she has continued to say, "Da!" and there are many times when that obviously refers to Buck.

Fast forward to Wenesday. Monica is eating lunch in her high chair. Toward the end of her feeding frenzy, she grabbed a chunk of potato, threw it on the floor in a very purposeful manner, pointed to the ground (where the dog usually lies, waiting for such an event) and said, "Da! Da!" My first thought was, "Nah. She's not calling for the dog." But then, she did it again. The dog was outside at the time, so I let him in and he careened over to the high chair and inhaled the potatoes. Monica just grinned.