Friday, September 09, 2005

Babyblogging: Musical Prodigy?

Of course, I'm joking in the title. I have no idea if Preston has an aptitude for music. I just thought he looked really cute standing next to his "piano." I have to laugh all the Baby Einstein-type toys for infants. Yeah, I'm going to try to teach my kid how to say dog in three different languages before he's 6 months old (I'm exaggerating...a little). Robert Deniro's character in the movie "Meet the Fockers" (which is hilarious btw ) plays the achievement-obsessed ulta-disciplinarian grandfather to a tee. How about letting kids learn the basics first and develop at their own pace? It's a pet peeve of mine when parents brag about how their kid read Charles Dickens or tossed a football like Tory Aikman by the time they were two and a half. No wonder kids get stressed out nowadays.

Anyway, Preston's almost 9 months old and has eight teeth (all the better to bite Mommy with). He's a very happy, chatty little boy--except when he's around strangers. I tend to be very (off the charts!) introverted, so I hope he doesn't take after me. I'm amazed at how fast he's growing. One day couple of weeks ago, he started pulling up on the furniture and now he's cruising around the house like a pro. It won't be long until he's running around the house chasing the cats under my bed.



Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and Emergency Preparedness

Yes, I know it’s been a lo-o-ong time since I last posted. My husband and I are building a house, and I’ve been going crazy getting things going. We’re not actually building the house ourselves, but we’re acting as the general contractors and hiring sub-contractors to do all the work. Anyway, we just got the foundation going and supposedly the process moves much quicker after that. I’ll post more about the process of building your own house later.

With the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a lot of things are on my mind. First of all, I feel so bad for all those people stranded or homeless in New Orleans and Mississippi and wish there was something more I could do. I attended a Biophysical Society meeting in New Orleans at the very convention center where all those people were trapped last week and it was horrible to see their suffering. Our family has donated money and I’m sure that our local church will send a group to help with the clean-up once things calm down.

On the first Sunday of every month, members of my church hold a fast where they go without food or drink for two meals (usually breakfast and lunch) and then the money that would be used for those meals (plus whatever extra you can give) is donated. The money usually goes to needy members in the local area, but when national disasters happen part of the funds go the areas affected. There is also a general humanitarian fund that can be donated to at anytime (click here if you want to donate to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts).

Anyway, my point is that one of the primary functions of almost all churches is to provide charity for others in the community. Each church does its part, so even if we can’t all agree on doctrine, at least we can work together to help each other in times of need.

Another thing that this disaster brings up is emergency preparedness. My heart just broke seeing all the families with small children stranded with little food or water and no diapers (yikes!). I wondered what I would do in that circumstance and how I could prevent it from happening to us. The key is being prepared. My church has urged its members for decades to have a 72 hour kit, and a year’s worth of food on hand in case of emergency—even if you live in an apartment or have a low income. Now a year’s worth of food may not be worth much if it’s suddenly soaked by flood water, but it is quite useful if the main bread-winner in the family gets laid off. I have friends that lost their jobs after the tech bubble burst, and food storage and savings accounts helped them out tremendously. See these links for more information on assembling your own 72-hour kit and for food storage tips.

Our family keeps two 5 gallon jugs of water and two 10-gallon plastic bins full of food and other supplies as our 72 hr kit. They can be tossed into the back of our car or carried in the event of an emergency. Some people use backpacks but they are more expensive. One system for food storage I like is spending $5 per person every week on food set aside for storage. The types of items purchased vary weekly or monthly. The key is to store extra food that you use all the time and that your family will eat. Fifty pounds of cracked wheat or 200 cans of cream of mushroom soup won’t do you any good if you never use it and it goes bad.

Another thing the tragedy in New Orleans impressed upon me is the importance of being able to defend yourself, your family, and your home. We can’t depend upon the government—local or federal—to defend us immediately if order breaks down in our area. This is one reason why the 2nd amendment is so important. Every American has the right and the duty to defend themselves, their families, and their property. Unfortunately, there are always criminals that prey on the weak and the helpless, even during natural disasters. It is up to the good citizens of a community to arm themselves so that they can defend each other. I’ve done my part by purchasing a gun and learning how to use it responsibly. I will certainly train my son to use a gun responsibly when he is old enough.

As far as the blame game, the whining, and the race-baiting goes—ENOUGH ALREADY!!!! There will be plenty of time after the stranded people have been rescued and the dead have been properly buried to find out how each affected area could have been better prepared or how the rescue and relief efforts could have been more quickly expedited. The people of Louisiana and Mississippi eye need leaders that will direct them and give them hope so that they can get back on their feet and rebuild their communities. Whining, swearing, and threatening governments officials (you know who you are) with physical violence on public television is unseemly and repulsive, especially for city or state politicians. Blaming everything on “Whitey” is not helpful either. We’re in this together as Americans and we need more rolling up of sleeves and less bickering if we’re going to rebuild these communities.