Monday, January 30, 2006


My baby is almost two and we are in the weaning process. Until shortly before Christmas she was waking up to nurse at 2 and 5 am, which kept my milk flowing well, even though I did not resume pumping when I went back to work after Katrina. With my older two children I quit pumping at a year and they both weaned completely by 15 months, basically figuring  the little milk they were getting wasn't worth the trouble. Since unlike the others, the baby wasn't sleeping through the night, I knew the milk would last longer, but once she started sleeping through the night, I knew the beginning of the end was here. It is almost funny to watch her. She crawls in my lap holding my nursing pajamas (her security blanket) and says "nurse". She then sucks for a while, tries changing positions and then switching sides, sure that things will work the way they once did. It's like she hates to quit--but doesn't get the satisfaction from it she once did. She was always my best nurser, a working mom's daughter who hated bottles and only took what she had to during the day. While there is a part of me that is getting tired of having her hanging on me, she is, in all likelihood, my last baby and I feel a sense of loss knowing that I'm not going to be doing this again.

Tonight the thought entered my mind that there is another weaning going on in my life right now. My mom is dying. She was supposed to come home from the hospital today with hospice care. She has been sick for about three years now and is getting down about it.  She is starting to be in pain at times, while the only "problem" her disease has given her up until this time has been extreme fatigue. We've all known for a long time that she was going to die sooner rather than later, but hearing the word "hospice" was like a punch in the gut--even though at Thanksgiving I was wondering if she'd make it to Christmas. Just as weaning the baby is a natural process of separation with steps that are pretty identifiable if you know what to look for, so too is the death of the aged from chronic illness. There is the "I'm ready for this to be over with" contrasted with "Once its gone, it's gone for good" and the knowledge that as I must wean the baby, so must I say goodbye to my mom.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

More about Katrina

I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, though I have spent my adult life in suburban New Orleans. I have been to Long Beach several times since the storm (see pictures from Christmas) but due to time constraints and roadblocks, have never really gone sightseeing--before today that is. I went to visit my parents but took a route that put me down on the beach several miles west of their house, and what I saw just made me sick, even though I had been told that's what I'd see. For 98% of the coast that I saw, you could see two blocks back--there was nothing there but oak trees. There was one small stretch, for anyone familiar with the area, of Scenic Drive in Pass Christian, which while it overlooks the beach, is up noticeably higher than the beach and the houses on which are often set back quite a way from the road, where the houses survived, with some even looking repairable.

One other thing that survived was the SS Hurricane Camille. Hurricane Camille hit the coast in August, 1969 and was "the worst hurricane ever" (at least until Katrina). One thing it did was wash a tugboat across the highway onto dry land. Some entrepreneur named it the SS Hurricane Camille and built a gift shop next to it. While the gift shop did not survive Katrina, the tugboat did--and it is where Camille left it. like this

Saturday, January 21, 2006

School Projects

What can I say--I hate them. Right now my daughter and a friend are working on their project for the school social studies fair. Their title is "What Damage Did Hurricane Katrina Do" and it includes a report they spent the better part of a weekend working on, a backboard they spent two days on (one taking the pictures, the other printing them and putting the backboard together) and a model--theirs is of the Superdome. They spent several hours today on it, and they still have to paint it. At least with those two, my contributions have been limited to proofreading, some research direction, chauffeur duty for the photographers and thinking of the Superdome as a relatively easy yet relevant model. They tried to make FEMA trailers out of craft sticks last weekend but they looked more like jewelry boxes than trailers. At least the girls have enjoyed working on the project (and having the excuse to have a couple of sleepovers. Next it will be my son's turn, and he requires more "supervision". What can I say, I hate school projects.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Musical Math?

Here is a database of math and science songs. It never occurred to me that there could be enough songs about math and science to justify the creation of a database, but I guess I was wrong.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bishop Olmstead and NFP

This article stating that Bishop Omstead of Phoenix is going to start to require all engaged couples to complete a full NFP course before marriage seems to be the topic of the day on several blogs I read, so I'll join the crowd and give my opinion here.

First of all, you deserve to know my beliefs about birth control. Basically, I accept the Church's teaching--IOW I choose to obey it, but I don't intellectually agree with it. The idea of someone using a condom just doesn't bring out the moral revulsion that say adultery or theft or pornography or gossip does. However, I am Catholic. I believe in the authority of the Church, and believe that if I reject that authority in one area, I'm not able to trust it in any area.

One thing I've found interesting reading about this on blogs is that people on both ends of the spectrum have complaints. The complaints from the left are the usual "keep out of our bedroom" type, along with "what's the difference between NFP and artificial birth control if you are using them to avoid conception?" Those on the right state that while NFP is allowed in grave circumstances, using it to avoid conception is not supposed to be the norm and believe that making all engaged couples learn it indicates that it is supposed to be the way married life is to be lived, rather than being intimate without regard to your current fertility status.

I think it is obvious that the Church in the US today is doing a terrible job teaching about sexuality and marriage. People are not only rejecting the teachings they know about, they are ignorant of many of the teachings that exist. I know I was well-aware that the Church forbade artificial birth control, but until I got on the internet I had no clue that the Church's teachings on sexual expression and procreation went further than that (except that I knew abortion was wrong). I know that the endorsement of NFP we got from the couple who prepared us for marriage was lukewarm--and they had five kids including one late-life blessing. I know that my thought at the time was that if those (including the priest who married us) whose job it was to push NFP weren't trying any harder, why should we buy it? I think that Bishop Olmstead is at least trying to teach the Catholic view of marriage, and by requiring NFP classes, is giving couples the skills they need to at least move in the right direction. Further, by requiring that people take an NFP class, he is saying that learning about the Catholic (as opposed to secular) view of marriage is important, and that HE actually believes what the Church teaches.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

More Katrina

My daughter and a friend are working on a project for the school social studies fair. Their title is "What Damage Did Hurricane Katrina Do?". They have to do a report, a model and a backboard. Today we took my digital camera out to Lakeview, the part of New Orleans that was flooded by the break in the 17th Street Canal levee. Lakeview is a middle to upper class area and it is right across the infamous 17th Street Canal from Jefferson Parish, which is where I live. Life in Jefferson Parish is becoming more normal every day. FEMA trailers are popping up everywhere, but you also hear daily stories of people moving back into their houses. In Jefferson Parish it is easy to think the recovery should be done soon. Lakeview brings up back to reality. Most homes in Jefferson Parish that flooded were flooded with rainwater that was not pumped out quickly enough. They got several inches to a couple of feet of water. Lakeview homes had six to ten feet of water in them. I believe the power grid has been turned back on, but an electrical inspection is necessary before power can be restored to individual homes--and that is going very slowly. We saw a few FEMA trailers, but not many. Most houses appear to have been gutted--the contents, sheetrock and flooring had been removed--but some looked untouched. The girls took the pictures I have posted below.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Medical Research

Most of us have a medical condition (or two or more) that we are trying to learn more about, either because we suffer from it or because someone in our family does. There is a lot of medical information available on the internet, but separating the wheat from the chaff can be a big job. is an excellent article about doing medical research on the internet and I'd advise bookmarking it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Need Answers?

Try a site that is celebrating its first birthday. Unlike most search engines which give you a list of websites to browse and nothing more, gives you information about the topic on which you searched, along with links to selected sites. A search for "Walt Disney World" brought up a Wikipedia article on it, along with links to various websites about it. A search for my mother's medical condition brought up a dictionary definition of it, an article about it from (the article, not a link to it), a Wikipedia article about it, and to pay for all this knowledge, a list of books I can buy. The information was written for the lay person and generally seemed to comport with what I know (since I'm not a medical expert, I won't comment as to the technical correctness of the information). It gave links to a couple of sites I know to be of high quality on the subject. Give it a try, you might like it.

Finding a Real Live Person

I don't know about you, but I get so tired of listening to "push 1 for English or 2 for Spanish" followed by "push 1 for sales, 2 for customer service, 3 for accounts payable, ....." which is then followed by another set of buttons to push, which may or may not give me the information I need, and may or may not get me to a person who MIGHT be able to help me. I guess I'm not the only one who feels this way because there is a website which tells you which button to push to get as quickly as possible to a real human. is a cooperative venture so if you have some extra time and want to try to beat the system, lend them a hand.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Anybody Out There?

Am I writing just to see myself in print, or is someone actually reading all (or even some) of this?

You Never Know

Today we had a New Year's party and invited a lot of old friends we haven't seen in a long time. Most who came were people we knew when we were single, who got married about the same time we did and who had kids about the same time we had our two older ones. The older kids are in seventh and eighth grades now, and it was a shock to see how much some of them had grown. After a while, the talk among the adults turned to "have you heard of or seen......" Various old friends. One of my friends said something that gave me food for thought, something I'm going to share with you. She said "we never know how we have affected the people who come through our lives, whether for good or for bad". Being with old friends, especially this post-Katrina holiday, reminded me of all the people who have been in my life--family, friends, co-workers, students, Girl Scouts, fellow parents, fellow parishioners--the list goes on and on, and I pray that the effect I have had has been more good than bad. Happy New Year!

View My Stats