Sunday, March 30, 2008

Other Random Weekly News

Can you believe this handsome devil will be 40 soon?

Josie Update:
Josie is doing awesome, charming strangers everywhere with her cute smile and doll-like appearance. She is way into sitting up now and loves sitting on the floor, grabbing her toys, and putting everything into her mouth. She has also started trying out all sorts of people food. With Lucy we introduced her to food like all the books say, one thing at a time, starting with vegetables. With Josie, partly out of laziness and partly out of a desire to stimulate her interest in spices and flavors, I am letting her try whatever I eat. I break everything up into extremely small pieces or mash it up first. So far, she likes everything: garlic bread, pasta, beans, pizza, on and on. We don't have any food allergies in our family and a doctor friend suggested that most food allergies (except peanuts and dairy) manifest as only a mild rash anyway.

The only Josie downside right now is that she is making us crazy with her terrible sleep habits. She bothers me every hour from 7:30 PM until 11:3o PM. After that she starts sleeping for two hour stretches but still often ends up sleeping with us in a safe position swaddled in the boppy on my lap. She is very determined to get what she wants at night and so far Mitch and I haven't had the willpower to lay the smack down on her with the sleep thing....Plus we've done a lot of things wrong with her sleep-wise. She likes to go to sleep while eating. She likes to sleep on me. We feel bad for her because of all the weird antibiotics she has to take that mess up her stomach. My working means she has to get all of her boob-time at night. It's pretty much a disaster that we will have to fix in the next month or so.

Lucy Update:
Lucy had a great week visiting with her grandma. Today we went to the Harbor and she rode the zebra on the carousel. Grandma Jo also got her a new swimsuit and swim shoes. Of course she has been wearing her swim shoes constantly since she got them.

The Rest of Us
Mitch and I are good, if exhausted. We are still recovering from our week in the hospital with Josie and are looking forward to getting back to our regular routine this week. Mitch is gearing up for his big birthday bash in two weeks. Can you believe he will be 40 years old? Despite all his gray hairs, he's still quite the spring chicken and is still learning new tricks (like how to play the mandolin).

The cats are the same as ever, furry, slightly flea-ridden, and annoyed by the kids. We've seen a bit more of Katafanga this weekend since Barbara has been petting him and Seth and Elise are out of town.

A Compliment from the Oldest Living Doctor
While in the hospital we had several visits from the attending pediatrician, Dr. Fricker. He introduced himself to me as the oldest practicing doctor, and truth be told, he did look pretty darn old. One day I saw him and one of the resident pediatricians while I was strolling the halls with Josie in the Bjorn, dragging along her i.v. pole. As we passed them, he said hi, and the resident exclaimed that Josie was, indeed, "the cutest baby ever." A nurse who was there asked her who had told the resident that Josie was the cutest baby ever and the resident replied, "I heard about her from the oldest living doctor." Then the nurse said, "why is she so darn cute???" And Dr. Fricker replied, "genetics."

A Second Useful Thing About Gray's Anatomy
So Gray's anatomy has become a pretty annoying show. I am sick to death of Meredith and McDreamy and Izzie and George are pretty annoying too. Several episodes have jumped the shark (the ferry boat episode, need I say more?). But actually being in a teaching hospital made me thank Gray's anatomy for its rather accurate portrayal of the power structure of a large teaching hospital. Last week we got to meet resident doctors, attending doctors, the chief resident, nurses, and an added component, care partners. Having watched a lot of Gray's anatomy was helpful in deciphering all of the various players in the hospital.

By the way, the first useful thing about Gray's is how often they kill off characters that one grows attached to during an episode. All that death makes me cry over a lot of episodes but is helpful in trying to deal with one's own fear of death.

Growing Things

The summer that my mom died I grew a beautiful garden. We were living in a rental house in Davis, CA that had totally crap soil, a deep, Central Valley clay layer. After killing a number of sunflowers and other hard to kill plants in that crappy soil, my summer of death memorial garden focused on many, many glazed pots full of various flowering plants. We had a small concrete patio and I filled it with all sorts of beautiful perennial flowers - jasmine, roses, poppies, anything colorful and bright. I also grew tomatoes, peppers, and basil in clay pots that I set in kiddie pools so I wouldn't have to water them every day. I spent many afternoons and evenings out on the back patio drinking tea and watering my plants. I constantly added to the garden, stopping at Ace Hardware on the way home from school on my bike and filling the front basket and two rear baskets with plants, pots, and potting soil.

Gardening was a way of remembering my mom. She was a wonderful gardener. In the 1970s when most of the families in Pullman, Washington (and small towns everywhere) were eating salads of iceberg lettuce and crappy greenhouse tomatoes, my mom was growing rocket (arugula to you yuppies), lemon cucumbers, pear tomatoes, green arrow peas, raspberries, corn, Jerusalem artichokes, zucchinis, basil, mint, cilantro, basil, tomatoes, strawberries, and so much more in her three separate garden plots. She had a garden in our backyard, a raspberry patch in the side yard, and in the vacant lot across the street she had gotten permission from the elderly neighbor lady who owned it to grow a whole other garden. My dad helped out some but it was mainly my mother's garden. My brother and I didn't do much in the garden and I don't have too many memories of actually gardening with her. We occasionally picked weeds out of the corn patch for a penny a weed. We complained when we had pesto for the third night in a week during basil season, when she disguised excess zucchini in various forms like pasta sauce and zucchini chocolate cake, and when she made us deliver baskets of excess vegetables to all of our neighbors. I think the garden was a refuge for her, in part, from us when we were too loud or obnoxious or fighting too much (which was pretty often).

Mom would come home from work, put on her faded and patched blue jean overalls and her tennis shoes, and head out into the garden to pull weeds or put down mulch. Growing my own garden felt like getting in touch with a private side of her, her garden self. Growing my own garden reminded me of all the different ways that she cared for us, including growing all of these healthy fruits and vegetables for us to eat all spring and summer.

Now I am gardening again. This time for my own daughters. Lucy loves to pick things, rocks, flowers, palm fruits, seeds. She gathers as many as she can, cramming them in pockets, into bags, and picking up more and more until they spill out of her hands. So now I am growing things that she likes to eat and can pick herself - tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, eggplant, strawberries and carrots. Mitch built us a small raised bed in our only sunny spot right in front of the house next to the driveway. He painted the 4x 6's a beautiful shade of blue.

My current garden is inspired by a combination of square foot gardening and the latest issue of sunset magazine. In true Christy fashion it is a hodge-podge of various ideas and doesn't really stay true to either of these models. I used the soil mix of square foot gardening (one third peat moss, one third vermiculite, and one third compost) and also their grid pattern (one square foot sections). But instead of planting a single species per section (too homogeneous, not attractive enough), I mixed up the species in each box. My own research in restoration plantings indicates that plants do better when they are planted in mixed species groups (also a common idea in a lot of permaculture gardens). We'll see how it works here. The sunset raised bed garden is beautiful and I used many of the same species. However I didn't plant zucchini or other squashes (we're not big fans of squash) nor green beans because we don't have the climbing space.

Right now I'm fighting off snails and earwigs that are eating all my basil, cucumber seedlings, and sunflowers. Mitch put a strip of copper on the outside of the bed to keep out snails and I put out cans of water with tunafish oil trap earwigs. I feel bad about killing the earwigs since they are only trying to make a living but I can't have them decimating my garden before it even gets started!! Once the plants get a little bigger I will let them have their snack.

In this year's garden, in remembrance of my mom's gardens, I also planted a lot of spicy smelling marigolds. I hear they are also supposed to repel bugs. I hope Lucy enjoys this garden as much as I enjoyed my mom's.

Marigolds and insect-damaged cucumbers in my new garden.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Will they grow back?

Do you remember the Simpsons episode where Homer gets his arms stuck inside the soda machine? Numerous people try to get them out and eventually the fire department is called. The firemen tell Homer that they are going to have to cut his arms off, to which he replies, "Will they grow back?" At this point in the story one of the firefighters says to Homer, "Wait a second, you're not still holding on to a can of soda are you?" And Homer replies, "Your point being?"

Lucy is a lot like Homer Simpson in this regard. Whenever we get ready to leave the house she rushes around in a frenzy collecting all of her "things" that she needs to bring with her. These things typically include several pennies, some rocks, sister bear, Lion, maybe some plastic dinosaurs, and various and sundry other goods. As we exit the house, her arms are typically bursting with goods.

Today as we walked towards the mall with Grandma Jo, Josie, and Mitch, she had sister bear, Lion, a necklace, and her green purse. She immediately found some Magnolia seeds that she wanted to pick up, at which point she passed off Lion and her purse to me. By the time we reached the mall she had accumulated several rocks, seeds, flowers, and was still clutching sister bear and three pacifiers.

She needs to grow a couple of more limbs just to carry all of her stuff...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Furry Turncoats

Once upon a time my friend Tiffany got mad at her cat Pooh for, at times, preferring Elise's lap to her own. At least I think that is the incident that inspired Mitch to write and sing a song called Little Furry Turncoats. It was an excellent song. I can't remember any of the lyrics except for the part about furry turncoats. Well now we have a furry turncoat of our own. Our cat, Katafanga (pictured above) has abandoned our house for the peace and tranquility of Seth and Elise's neighboring abode. Perhaps it has something to do with the absence of small yelling people in Seth and Elise's house. Or maybe it is the better furniture for napping or the sunnier windows for lying in. Whatever it is, we never see our fat cat until after 10 PM every night when Seth and Elise boot him out of their house, close the cat door, and force him to come home for the night.

Loyalty, it's just not a word in a cat's vocabulary...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Blog, How I Love It So

I thought I would just drop a quick note on why and how I love the blog. When I was little I was the consummate snooper. I loved to see what everyone in my family got in the mail. I was forever looking in closets and behind closed doors. Trying to overhear phone conversations, looking through keyholes, listening at grates, you name it, I did it. I couldn't help myself. I think my driving curiosity was a mix of a desire to understand the world and all human relationships as well as a need to know as much as possible about the environment around me so that I could gain some sense of predictability. My mom had a wicked temper and a hidden drinking problem so despite lots of routines and general good vibes at home, there was a certain amount of unpredictability and randomness that can freak out a small person.

Anyway, enough self-justification. Suffice it to say that I loved and still love, glimpsing the secret inner lives of others. And I still have a strong desire to understand the world, both physical and metaphysical. Add to that my inability to work on anything for longer than 10 minutes, my desire for instant gratification, a streak of "look at me, look at me. See me, hear me." And there you have it, an instant recipe for blog love.

I like to look at the blogger blogs of note and often one blog leads me to another and another. It is like a treasure hunt of spying, a plethora of posting, a multitude of media. I am having a ball.

There is a strange tension in writing actual posts. Once I get past the fact that I only have twenty minutes while I am awake and both the girls are asleep and that every second I send typing away on this computer is time not spent doing yoga, reading a book, or having a quality conversation with friends or family. After all that, I still have to reign in my impulse to spew everything, personal, political, politically incorrect. While I would have done this in the past, and have been known to shout out expletives during particularly obtuse lectures in graduate school, or to tell everyone at a party in a loud voice about some crush I had or about how some well-known ecologist was an obnoxious a-hole, I'm trying to adjust more to the realities of life as an adult without completely squashing my own personality and the joy of sharing.

So reading blogs is a joy and an adventure. Writing my own blog is a fun exercise in creativity and restraint. So here's to blogs in all their diversity and diversions!!

P.S. I used to wonder why anyone would enable posting on their blogs. I would see the random stuff that strangers would post and think, "who needs that crap? Why would anyone let anyone else write stuff on THEIR blog? Get your own blog darn it." Now that I have comments enabled on my blog, and no one ever comments, for me, it is about getting some voice crying back from the wilderness. Some sense that someone out there somewhere is actually reading what you are writing and has a thought about it. But then again, that's probably not the case. The mighty girl website has a tagline that says, "Famous Among Dozens." That's probably true for most of us!

O.k. I'm going to go a read a book now. Maybe tomorrow I'll do some yoga.

good night.

Surgery Success!!

Josie had her surgery today and she came through like a champ. She was her classic guy smiley self up until they took her into the procedure room (which did make me wonder whether she has been pulling my leg all these months with all of the eating every two hours...she hadn't eaten since 2 AM the morning of the surgery and she didn't have surgery until 11:30 AM. Yet she was still chipper. So why does she yell in my ear every two hours all night long acting like she is starving???).

Her surgery was a trans-urethral ureterocele puncture (for a super technical summary of ureterocele puncture research look here). The cast of thousands of doctors involved in the procedure all seemed very satisfied with how it went. The pediatric anaesthesiologists (who even knew there were such things, although I am very happy that there are...) thought that 6 kg (13 lbs) was plenty big for safe anaesthesia. The pediatric urologists said the procedure went smoothly with no complications. And Josie, well Josie cried with the voice of a 30 year smoker for about 15 minutes but now she is back to her smiley self (they put a breathing tube in which gives a person a sore throat).

In all likelihood we will be discharged tomorrow and will get to go home. Yay!!

On a side note, if you ever consider spending time in a hospital only a few months before they are moving to their new super swanky multi-billion dollar digs, I recommend strongly against it. It's sort of like being in Panama after the Americans turned the canal over. All of the infrastructure is falling down around you and no one seems to care. In Panama all the highways were full of potholes and the railroad no longer ran. Here at the UCLA med center all the walls have holes in them, the ceiling tiles are falling down, and the men's room is more full of graffiti than the bathroom in a New York subway station.

We'll have a chance to check out the new hospital when Josie comes back for her full-on reconstruction/repair of her duplicated system (two ureters instead of one).

Hopefully my next post will be more about something fun like a funny thing that Lucy said or somewhere cool that we went with Grandma Jo. Enough of this medical hoo-ha.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Little J-Bean Goes to the Hospital or Too Much Doctor Time for the Brighams

If only curious George were here to keep her company. Our little Josephine the Bean (J. Bean for short) has a non-functional kidney draining system on her right side. Some day I will write the details of this crummy condition in a post that will be titled 22 lbs (it's 70% written in my mind already). But today I don't have the energy for that. Suffice it to say that Josie has more medical intervention planned in the next ten months of her life than Mitch, Lucy, or I have had in our entire time here on Earth.

Unfortunately the hospital shenanigans started this weekend with a kidney infection and a trip to the UCLA med center emergency room. Josie and I have been hanging out here in the UCLA pediatrics ward having a good old time (NOT), ever since. Josie has an endoscopic surgery to puncture her ureterocele scheduled for sometime tomorrow. Grandma Jo is arriving into LAX as we speak to provide general assistance and Lucy wrangling. Yay Grandma Jo!! Big thanks to Grandma Jo for leaving the peace and tranquility of her home in Colorado to enter the craze of southern California. Big thanks to Grandpa Jim for loaning us Grandma Jo.

Lucy had her first visit to Josie and I at the hospital today. She had a great time riding a tricycle up and down the hall and pushing a doll in a doll-sized wheelchair. Josie is currently napping and is blissfully unaware that she will soon be having yet another venipuncture since the freaking surgeons and the pediatricians can't get their games together enough to figure out how much blood, and for what tests, they are all going to want together. Instead, we get to have a venipuncture for the pediatricians at 2:3o and a venipuncture for the surgeons at 5:00.

In addition to all of this wonderfulness, my good old Dad is going to see a radiologist on Wednesday (same day as Josie's surgery) to see about his radiation needs. So we Brighams are pretty much not feeling the medical intervention love these days. I mean, in a way we are. We'd rather be here than dead but really, we'd rather be eating ice cream on our sofa watching a bad action adventure film. So in the grand mood ring of life, we're currently somewhere between blissfully happy and mired in misery.

Josie is holding up like a champ and thankfully she won't remember any of this. We walk the hospital halls together, her in the baby bjorn, me in my dirty clothes and dirty hair. And Josie smiles at all the people we go by and they can't believe that she is a patient here because she looks so healthy (except for that I.V. coming out of her foot that, by the way, took 6 tries and 3 blown out veins to put in).

So just in case any of you were wondering if my posting on a Tuesday at 3 PM indicated that I was violating my no posting at work rule, you can rest easy knowing that I am not, in fact, at work.

Good luck tomorrow Grandpa Tom and Little J. Bean. Your mom and dad (or daughter and son-in-law), curious George, and countless others are all thinking of you.

I want those eggs!!!!

Lucy loves hunting for Easter eggs, even if they are filled with rubber stamps and stale peanuts.

Easter is a huge holiday for me. This might be surprising to some of you who know that my parents are both atheists, with my dad actually being kind of a dyed-in-the-wool, crazy, born again kind of atheist. But despite all this, Easter was a big thing in my family growing up. Both of my parents are big gardeners and we lived in a place with relatively harsh winters with lots of snow (Pullman, Washington in no Anchorage, Alaska, but we did get our fair share of snow days growing up and I did frequently cross-country ski on the streets in my neighborhood. Not so much any more thanks to global warming).

So I think my parents were just excited about spring and needed an outlet for all of that enthusiasm. Thus the atheist family next door (us) did more on Easter than many of my catholic friends (except go to church of course). We would have a big dinner of ham or some other meaty thing. And best of all, we would have a big Easter "egg" hunt. I put egg in quotations because we hunted for a lot more than just eggs. My dad was really the main present-giving force behind Easter and he would buy us all kinds of good stuff and put it all in various sized baskets that he then hid around the yard. My mom got us Easter gifts for the baskets too but she tended to stick more to candy and small gifts like fluffy stuffed chickens, rubber stamps, socks, and things like that. My dad typically got my brother and I each one big Easter gift that we would search for madly. I still remember the Easter that I got a walkman. That was AWESOME!!

The point of all this is that even as an agnostic, Easter still holds a special place in my heart. This is our second Easter with Lucy. Last year we had a great time hunting for plastic eggs full of raisins, grapes, and blueberries with our friends Becca, Rob, Ava, Seth and Elise. Ava and Lucy loved looking for the eggs and for weeks after Easter every where we went Lucy was on the lookout for plastic eggs hidden in the shrubbery.

This year I went a little overboard for Easter. I only had 1.5 hours to shop for Easter supplies on the Saturday before the big day. The good thing about shopping the day before Easter is that most Easter goods are on sale. The bad thing is that you don't really have your pick of the candy and so you might not be able to find cadbury creme eggs (the normal kind, not any of these new fangled varieties).

With my limited time frame and my longing for Easters past, I went all out and bought 38 plastic eggs for stuffing and hiding, three Easter baskets for filling with treats for Lucy, Easter pots for my friends Seth and Elise, and enough new socks, underwear, and baseball hats to fill a canvas Easter sack for Mitch. I got a variety of goodies to put in the eggs for Lucy including a complete set of alphabet stamps and a few jelly beans. I also used some pantry staples like stale goldfish crackers and peanuts. I even made an easter basket with toys in it for Josie.

It is the night before Easter and the kids are finally in bed, asleep, we hope. I have out all of my Easter eggs and am carefully putting one letter stamp in each egg, when all of a sudden, we hear Lucy wailing about the bug on her wall as she come hurtling down the hallway. I leap up to try and stop her from seeing all of
the Easter swag but I don't make it in time. As she rips open the door in full wailing, bug-distressed glory, she catches a quick glimpse of the eggs on the floor. In an instant she changes complete course from bug misery to the hoard-monkey that she is as she loudly yells out,


p.s. The easter egg hunt was a great success although I think 38 might be a few too many eggs for one two year old. There is still a plastic egg containing the letter X at large in our yard somewhere.

p.p.s. Mitch finally wrote a post to his blog this week and it is AWESOME. He put a lot of neat links into his blog post so I am trying to follow his lead here by including a few more links.

Elise and Josie on Easter morning (does she look like she has a kidney infection to you? Three hours later we were in the E.R...)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sporty Sporterson - Stupid USC

My basketball buddies - Mitch, Tiffany, Jason, Ava, Rob, Becca, Seth, Elise, Lucy,
Me, and Tim (Tim can be an honorary basketball guy even though he doesn't follow sports...)

I should have known not to go with those rich prep school types from southern California - those darn namby pamby USC basketball players got punted out of the March Madness madness in the first round, completely screwing up my bracket. I had USC going all the way to the elite 8.

We have been doing brackets and paying some amount of attention to March Madness for the past four years or so. It was our friends Jason, Rob, and Seth that sucked us into March Madness. Some how, 4 years ago we got invited to participate in a weekend long basketball love fest at Seth and Elise's house. In my first ever bracket back then, I picked A LOT of underdogs. I tended to pick teams based on things like I never picked any Texas team to win, EVER. I let my dislike of barbecue (see my earlier post on barbecue), high heeled shoes, and our current president, to rule my basketball picks (sorry Stu and Kelly, where you live is very nice...). I also hated, or as my dad would say, intensely disliked, all the basketball powerhouses like Connecticutt and Duke. So I regularly picked other teams that I liked more from the west, like Gonzaga (near my childhood home in Pullman), or Oregon, to beat these teams. I also liked to pick teams with cool names like Xavier. Needless to say, I didn't do super well in that early bracket.

This year I found myself going more with some standards that had high rankings like USC, who got booted in the first round! Although this year my totally unfounded emotional ties also may have matched up pretty well with actual basketball skill. Ever since day 1, I have loved Xavier because of their cool name. I am also a big KU fan because that is where my parents met and I love Lawrence, KS. So this year I have Xavier and KU in the final, with KU winning it all. We'll see how that turns out.

Mitch always picks KU to win it all, even when they aren't very good. So this year, when they are really good, might actually be his lucky year too.

Our friends Jason, Tiffany, Becca, and Rob are all in Mississippi (where Jas and Tiff now live) watching the basketball games together and eating popcorn. Although that gives me big FOMS (Fear of Missing Something), and I am actually missing something, I'm glad that they are living large in the march madness madness. This weekend we will tune into some games as well, and I will root for the few lower ranked teams that I still picked, like Butler over Tennessee (don't ask why, I have no idea) and we will all be joined together across space by the basketball bug.

Looking back at my bracket this year, I feel I am getting jaded, worn down by expectations and experience. I should have picked more underdogs! What is the fun of only picking the expected? Look at the awesome wins of San Diego over Connecticutt and K State over USC. Back in my early days of bracketology I would have picked K State over Connecticutt (because K State is where Mitch's grandma went to school) and San Diego over USC (a state school and a great city over those snobby USCers). So next year I will try to get back to my roots.

One other random thing about March Madness, it is amazing how much picking teams makes you care about the games and the outcomes even if you don't know anything about basketball. I think we should all make brackets for the presidential election and senate and house elections and run office pools on that - maybe then voter turnout would be higher.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ordinary Wolves

My friend Marti lent me this really great book recently, Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner. This book took me into a world that I had never even imagined previously, the high arctic in Alaska. A long time ago I read Two in the Far North, Mardy Murie's autobiography about Alaska (also an amazing book) and this reminded me a little of that world. But Kantner's Alaska is full of modern contradictions - the white family living in an igloo while modern Inuits live in drafty houses in town. The book is full of amazing imagery of living out on the tundra in Alaska, subsisting on caribou meat and little else. Then on top of the simple physical descriptions there is a whole cultural subplot of the only white kids in a native world plus the main character's journey into modern America when he goes to Juneau.

The book is very literary with writing that can occasionally be difficult to follow. The story is told through the voice of two main characters, a white boy growing up with his dad, brother and sister in an igloo in remote Alaska, and the wild wolves that surround them.

I have never read another book like this one. It completely immersed me in a foreign world that was very far outside of my previous experience. A fascinating read for anyone interested in wilderness, Alaska, wildlife, the modern adaptations of native societies, how native Alaskan might have lived in the past, the costs of modern culture, and on and on. Read It!!

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I've read a lot of really good books recently so these great books may get a bit of a short shrift in these reviews as I try to review them all. I got the latest Khaled Hussein book for Christmas and it is really good. I enjoyed Kite Runner although I thought the ending was a bit too tidy.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is the story of the recent history in Afghanistan as told through the lives of several female characters. The writing is beautiful, with amazing descriptions of the country. Reading this book also really brought home the reality of the different cultural and religious groups within Afghanistan and what a huge toll all of the years of fighting has had on this country and its people.

I highly recommend this book. Great narrative, beautiful writing, interesting history, and super relevant to the current state of the world.

My Little Sandal-Wearing Tea Drinker

Well she wouldn't let me take a photograph to show you myself, but when I got home from work today what do you think I found? Lucy goosie wearing sandals with socks underneath and playing with her teaset (thanks Grandpa Tom and Grandma Sue). I love it! Another sandal-wearing tea-drinker in the family!! Eat your heart out Mr. "smells good tastes like water." (that is how my husband describes tea).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You don't need those seven I.Q. points, I swear.

Our freezer is full of white gold

When I was in college there was this guy in my physics class who was really smart - scary smart. And I thought, "that guy is just a couple of I.Q. points away from being destined to be a gas station attendant for life." It is a fine line between really smart and totally non-functional. In my personal opinion (which is all this blog is about...), a person can be too smart. Incredible smartness is often accompanied by a total lack of commonsense. Plus people who are too smart can sometimes see all to well the darkness that is an essential part of existence and it leaves them mired in an inability to do anything, make any progress. Anyway, my point here is, I think a person can be too smart. Super smart is good but supernatural smart can be very, very bad.

When Lucy was a baby, she was not a big fan of the boob. I was a somewhat nervous first time mom and I had a lot of stress about doing the breastfeeding thing right. It didn't help that 20 different nurses told me 20 different ways to breastfeed and each one insisted that their way was the ONLY way to do it. The upshot of all this over-information and stress and Lucy's personality was that Lucy spent a significant amount of time as an infant actually yelling at the boob. This was not what I would categorize as quality mother-daughter bonding time. The culmination of this rocky relationship between Lucy and the boob was a camping trip with my in-laws where we didn't notice Lucy's 3 month growth spurt, starved Lucy, messed up my milk production, and ended up supplementing with formula. All and all, in the end, Lucy ended up only breast-feeding for about 4.5 months.

I had tons of guilt about this and about how I was a horrible working mother who wasn't doing right by her child. There are several studies showing that breastfeeding makes your child smarter (7 points smarter in fact see: Although now it has come out that this effect depends on your genes (do you have the FADS1 or FADS2 gene?). I used to joke that I made Lucy stupider but that she needed to drop a few points in the I.Q. department. Seriously, she is already a genius child (everyone will agree), so I figure my shortened breastfeeding time just saved her from the gas station attendant fate.
When we had Josie I set a goal for myself of breastfeeding for 6 months (feeding your baby exclusively breastmilk for the first six months is the recommendation of the American Association of Pediatricians). This may not sound like much but let me tell you, it is a pain in the insert anatomically correct reference here. It can be hard to maintain your milk production when using a pump for so much of the time. Pumps are nothing like babies in how they extract the milk. Anyway, for me it has involved a lot of quality time with my breast pump in public bathrooms, in the car, behind trees, on a metal folding chair in the bathroom at the office, etc. But this Sunday I made it!! I made it to 6 months and I am still going strong. My freezer is full of breastmilk and the mammary glands are still going strong. So as long as the milk holds out, I'll keep dragging around my breast pump into awkward places. I figure Josie needs the leg up in the I.Q. points since she isn't getting all the one on one parental attention that Lucy got.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I love getting my hair cut. I love the shampoo head massage. I love the spinny, reclining chair. I love the cutting and the clipping and the powder that they brush on your neck. I love all the hair falling on the floor and even the itchy little stray hairs that get left on your neck after a haircut. I especially love the fresh head feeling of a new haircut.

I had a great hair dresser in Davis, CA, Barb Scott. Barb has a great fashion sense and while she never really did exactly what I asked her (her own sense of style was too strong and had to be obeyed), I was always happy with the haircuts that she gave me. I miss Barb's haircuts and the beauty salon therapy session that accompanied them.

Now that I have two small children, taking the time for a professional haircut has fallen by the wayside. I sometimes make it to supercuts to get a 20 minute o.k. haircut. But it is no Barb Scott experience. I haven't made it even to supercuts for several months. So now I cut my own hair myself by looking the mirror and cutting with giant Fiskar scissors whatever I can see. I end up with a vaguely mental patient haircut.

And now I have the pleasure of continuing a Brigham family tradition - doing your own kids haircuts. Both Mitch and I have cut Lucy's hair and she loves it! This weekend I managed to stab her in the neck with the giant fiskars by accident (I didn't draw blood) and she still loved her haircut. And it looks darn good if I do say so myself (compare her corn photo to the photo above and you will see my handi-work).

My dad used to cut my brother and my hair for years using some weird little hand razor thing he had. He gave us bowl cuts, very similar to what Lucy is sporting in this photograph. I am very happy to continue the tradition as long as Lucy continues to tolerate it.

You have to learn how to do THAT?

Lucy learning how to eat corn on the cob.

This weekend one of our many activities was teaching Lucy how to eat corn on the cob. She loves corn but hasn't eaten much of it actually on the cob, the best way to eat it. We bought corn on the cob at Underwood Family Farms after riding the ponies and feeding the goats, bunnies, alpacas, and sheep. So at dinner Lucy was trying to figure out how to eat the corn. She asked us, "You eat the whole thing?" And then once Mitch explained to her that you only eat the outside, then she started instructing me on how to eat corn.

"Mom, Mom!! You only eat the outside. Only eat the outside Mom!". Then she spent another ten minutes point out the six uneaten corn kernels left on my cob.

It is truly amazing all the things you learned to do before you remember, like keeping your spit in your mouth, walking, not peeing in a diaper, and, eating corn.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I miss my dog.

Cleopatra the wonder dog. I miss her so.
I'm learning how to put captions under photos. So here is a picture of my dog Cleo. She died last year of mast cell cancer. I miss her a lot. She has great big ears that you can't see in this picture. Some day soon I will post another picture of her where you can see her ears. She was my super buddy.

Hate Barbecue, Love Whales

My print zine had a regular feature called Rants and Raves where I complained about things that were annoying me of late and wrote accolades to things that I found wonderful and quirky. This is my first on-line installment of Rants and Raves.

Hate Barbecue - Rant
Yesterday I had the pleasure of a trip to the Huntington Botanical Gardens for work ( I went to give a short presentation on how invasive plants are wreaking havoc on national parks, and my park in particular. I was excited to get to go to the Huntington for work and the junket included a tour of the new Chinese Garden with the director of the Huntington and a free lunch to boot. I must admit that I was pretty darn excited about the free lunch. I have a hard time getting up in the morning lately, perhaps due to the fact that my extremely cute baby freaking wakes me up every 2 hours, or one hour, or 30 minutes, all night long. I can't motivate to make my lunch the night before or, even worse, I fall asleep at 7:30 while putting the aforementioned baby to bed. Either way, I've had trouble with the whole lunch thing recently. So when I learned that I got to go to the Huntington, get a garden tour, and a free lunch to boot, I thought, "hot diggity dog, tomorrow is going to be a good day!!" Little did I know that the free lunch was going to be...barbecue.

Let me just say, that as a vegetarian, barbecue pretty much sucks. I like veggie burgers and tofu dogs as much as the next person, perhaps more. In fact I use tofu dogs as a litmus test of places I would be willing to move to: if it has tofu dogs in at least one of its grocery stores, then I could move there. But to be honest, I like my veggie burgers fried on the griddle with olive oil. And I like my tofu dogs with chili. I find both of them to be average at best when grilled. Yes, there are yummy portabello mushrooms grilled but they don't contain much protein and I need my protein! I'm not a big fan of cooked vegetables and that lack of enthusiasm extends to most grilled vegetables. So overall, barbecue is not my cup of tea. And recently, I have been to at least three functions (two of them National Park Service functions that you would think could at least give a nod to the groovy vegetarians among us) that were freaking barbecues. I've had it with barbecues. ENOUGH BARBECUE ALREADY!!

And there is more freaking barbecue to come. In May at our 24 hour species inventory called the BioBlitz (see for more info. on the BioBlitz), the free celebratory dinner for all of us scientists is, you guessed it, barbecue. Come on people, this is California for goodness sakes. Can't we do a little better in the culinary arena than barbecue???

Love Whales - Rave
When I was an undergraduate at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington (an awesome school by the way), I had two friends who studied whales, April Randle and Kristin Rasmussen (awesome people by the way). And I used to give them loads of crap for being so cliche and studying whales. Who doesn't want to study whales? In fact people used to ask me if I was a biologist, why didn't I try to talk to dolphins (of course if you're a biologist, you should talk to dolphins). Anyway, one night at a party Kristin and April got me to look at this cool book of whales, and I think at one point we might have seen a whale exhibit, and eventually I admitted that perhaps there was something to this whole whale love thing. They are pretty freaking cool. This may be one instance why something is popular for a good reason.

Then after moving to Ventura, I've gotten to see dolphins, both small and large groups, swimming in the ocean at different times. And they are so awesome that it makes me all teary-eyed just to see them. They seem so darned happy.

So yesterday, as I was driving back from my barbecue at the Huntington, I heard this great story on NPR on the show The World, about how this dolphin helped rescue two beached pygmy sperm whales that had beached themselves in New Zealand. It was the coolest story. People had been trying to get the whales to go back into the water and swim a narrow channel back out to the ocean for hours but they were having absolutely no success. The whales were determined to stay mired in the sand. The volunteers had pretty much given up and were getting ready to euthanize the two whales because they would die soon by being crushed by the weight of their own organs after being out of water so long.

Then along came this dolphin that people had seen swimming along the beach on several previous occasions. This dolphin was known for playing with people and being very inquisitive. The dolphin swims up and it starts talking to the whales. Obviously the people couldn't understand what the dolphin was saying but the whales were talking back and all of a sudden the whales had a complete change of attitude. They moved off the sand with the help of the people and followed the dolphin through this tricky narrow channel and out to sea!!!

They have patrolled the beaches for the last several days and the whales are gone, successfully rescued and swimming happily in some other part of the ocean. The dolphin, however, has been back to the beach several times to hang out. The main volunteer (a biologist who studies whales - as all good biologists should), actually went into the water and gave the dolphin a pat on the back. Hear the story from PRI here More on pygmy sperm whales here

What an excellent story. I just had to pass it along. Of course it made me cry. Those whales and dolphins, they sure do kick butt. Who wouldn't want to study them?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Climbing goats, peanut butter and jelly, and so much more.

We had a delightful weekend here in lovely Ventura. The weather was sunny and in the 70s and there was lots of family fun to be had. On Friday we went to the Underwood Family Farms fruit stand and animal farm in Somis. Lucy had a great time feeding the goats, sheep, and Alpaca carrots and eating quite a few herself. Even Mitch fed a few goats. We're planning on going to the full-on farm in Moorpark soon to pick fruits and vegetables and ride on the ponies.

On Friday night Seth and Elise babysat so Mitch and I got to go out to dinner and a movie for the first time since Josie was born. We had awesome pizza and spinach salad at Meridians and then went to see The Band's Visit. It was an interesting movie. Very well acted with interesting characters.

Saturday we worked in the yard, pruning back the jungle (some day soon check out my garden mistakes post) and then went to the park. Most excellent as always.

Sunday we went out to lunch with Seth and Elise (Lucy had PB and J), and puttered around some more. And of course I started up my blog! And there it is, a typical christy, mitch, lucy, josie weekend.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Today, while Lucy was hanging out with our buddy Elise, they had the following exchange.

Lucy, looking at Elise changing clothes, "You have boobies?"

Elise, "Yes."

Lucy, "You can feed yourself?"

My This I Believe Essay

I don't think this follows the letter of the law for This I Believe essays. I think it is a few words too long. But here it is, nonetheless. See for details.

Yesterday when my daughter wanted to play with the broom that her cousin was currently sweeping with I made them take turns. Explaining that she had to wait two minutes to get what she wanted to a year and a half old wasn’t easy. Convincing her to give up her prized broom to her cousin a mere two minutes later wasn’t a popular idea either. When I started thinking about trying to write a This I Believe Essay, it was easier for me to think of what I thought other people believed then to try and articulate my own beliefs in a concise way. So I started telling my friends what I thought they believed. Since it was mostly positive, this pushy move was received relatively well (see my list of other people’s beliefs in this issue of Boomvang). Since I told my main man Mitch what I thought he believed, he was kind enough to do me the same favor and help jump start this essay. Here’s what he said (finally we get to the tie-in to the start of this essay), “You believe in fairness and that one person can make a difference.” Now this isn’t what I would have said but it does resonate with me and the choices I have made in my life (like timing the broom usage of toddlers).

When I was growing up and my brother and I would fight over something or he would get something that I didn’t get, I would cry to my mom, “That’s not fair!!!” and she would reply, “Life’s not fair.” I think she was trying to harden me to the realities of life in a way that her mother never did. Her mother was a sweet, church-going woman who didn’t break my mom to the realities of a world that doesn’t share readily so I think she was trying to do us a favor by breaking it to us early that life wasn’t fair. This concept completely backfired with me and resulted in an excessive concern for fairness in all personal and world relations. I know life isn’t fair but I don’t think that should be an excuse for not striving to make it as fair as possible. How does this actually come into practice in my life? Well, not as much as I would like it to. Some amount of beliefs are about striving. Here’s how I strive for fairness. I’m not psyched on living on the backs of other people’s misery so I try not to buy things made in sweatshops or by underpaid children. But it’s hard to tell what things are made that way and I do still get sucked in by bargain stylish goods made in far away countries for which I know nothing of their provenance. I try to buy fair trade goods like tea and chocolate. And every summer I help mentor ten super smart high school kids from innercity and rural school districts in southern California that are under-funded and under-staffed. It’s not fair that some of these kids don’t write as well, or read as well, or think of themselves as well as some of their wealthier, suburban counterparts. I don’t know all the ins and outs of why this is, but I have seen this unfairness in action. So for ten weeks every summer, these kids work for us and we work some on their reading, and writing, and confidence. They work hard for us, and they get paid, and the underlying message we give out is, “You are smart. Your work is worth something. You can be a scientist, or an artist, or a park ranger. Go to college. Kick a**.”

I’m not as active politically as I would like to be. And I don’t do enough for global fairness. I don’t do anything to help fight AIDS, or global poverty, or even local poverty. But like I said, values are about striving. And in the words of Monty Python, “I’m not dead yet.” So there is always tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after.

So what about the one person can make a difference thing. That sounds a little holier than thou. The idea there is that if you can do something you like, and make a living at it, and have it be a little bit of a positive contribution to the world, then that is a great thing. For me, I’m trying to give a little bit of a help to the plants of the Santa Monica Mountains, a globally rare ecosystem outside of Los Angeles. I do little things like pull weeds, and bigger things, like try to think about how people can do things differently and help out the plant world (like not plant heinously aggressive weeds in their yards right next to a national park). There’s other things that individuals do to make a difference, like adopt animals from the pound, and make their neighbors banana bread when they are sick, or planting sunflowers next to the sidewalk. It all adds up.

For my last paragragh I just want to list some other things that I believe in. It’s always good to end with a list, in my opinion.
I believe in a good story,
and in the independence of cats,
that sunshine can sometimes be oppressive,
and that everyone deserves a good park,
that all plants are not created equal,
and that the potato is the best vegetable.
I believe that nothing beats a peer-reviewed journal for information gathering,
and that baked goods go a long way towards happiness,
that orange, or maybe yellow, or possibly green, is the best colorand that niceness is under-rated.

Something From Nothing

I wrote this after Lucy was born. Another Boomvang 3 article.

To Re-CaP
You may recall from previous editions of Boomvang that I am not a big fan of death. I could do without it really. Decidedly not a fan. Well, while I am still not a fan, I am coming to some sort of an understanding with death. To re-cap from before, so we can all start on the same page, my issue with is death is, well really there are many, but one of the major issues is one day you’re here, eating tofu chili dogs, sitting on your dog-fur encrusted sofa, enjoying an episode of Sports Night, and then ka-bam! no more you. Here today gone tomorrow is not my favorite concept.

Trying to Get Along
So here’s what happened to make me feel a bit better about the here today gone tomorrow aspect of existence. I was walking around, minding my own business, when ka-bam! I had a baby. So it wasn’t really like that, but you get the gist. All my life there has just been me inside my body, and then all of a sudden, there was a whole other person in there. A person with a heartbeat, and feet to kick me, and arms to hit me. Where did this person come from??? I understand biologically what happens, the egg, the sperm, the meiosis, lots of mitosis, chromosomes coming together, little lizard looking thing in my uterus (ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny), yadda yadda. But seriously, one minute there was nothing, and then one ejaculation later, there was a whole new person on the planet (let’s not get into the whole when does life begin debate – just suffice it to say that at one point there was me and mitch and cleo and katafanga and kathmandu, and then at one point Lucy got added into the mix).

So how does this relate to a fear of death you say? Is it that all the crying and poopy diapers made me want to die??? No, of course not. Is it that sleep-deprivation made me feel like I was already dead??? No, of course not. It’s like this, if birth is something from nothing, then it makes sense to me that in order to have something from nothing, you’ve also got to have nothing from something. And that is where death comes in, nothing from something. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without something from nothing so I guess I am going to have to make peace with nothing from something.

Can I just say this though, could all those scientists working hard on longevity get busy because I don’t want to become nothing from something until a really, really, really, really long time from now.

My Two Da-das

I wrote this last year for a print version of Boomvang #3. Since I'm transitioning to an on-line version of Boomvang I am reproducing it here as a post instead.

Despite what it sounds like, this is not a fictional account of two gay men and their son. It is, instead, an account of how one should be careful what one teaches one’s child to say. We all know this rule already from numerous funny stories involving extremely small children saying shit and the f-word at inappropriate times. But who would have thought that teaching your child to say da-da would be a mistake?

We have a daughter, Lucy, and she is the cutest baby ever. Sorry to all those other babies out there but I must speak the truth. So this extremely cute baby started learning both spoken words and baby signs around 6 months. The first word she said (at around 5 or 6 months) was baby. She said baby when she saw herself in the mirror or babies on the yogurt container or babies in books, etc. etc. Baby was a big hit. I don’t want to contemplate what it means about her future that her first word was completely self-referential and was said for the first time while looking in the mirror (let’s just say that I won’t be surprised if she ends up like Bob Dole saying things like, “Lucy likes yogurt. Lucy is a hot babe.”).

Anyway, so here we are and Lucy knows how to say baby, ball, shoe, sock, and a few other things. So one day I decide that it would be great if she could say da-da. Mitch stays home with Lucy every day and takes her to the park and to kids shows, and lets her climb on his back, and picks up the food she throws on the floor. So I thought it would be a nice gesture if she could refer to him by name, that name being da-da. So I spent a few hours over the weekend saying da-da and pointing at Mitch. And it wasn’t long before she was enthusiastically saying da-da, da-da, da-da any time Mitch was in the vicinity. And I must say that the first time she said da-da and gave him a big hug that Mitch did get a small tear in his eye (it could have been all the dog fur flying up from the carpet but I’m just saying…).

Here’s the catch. After a few days of only calling Mitch da-da, Lucy decided that I was a da-da too. If Mitch was a da-da, then clearly I was also da-da. No amount of ma-ma, ma-ma, ma-ma from either mitch or me could get her to convert over to ma-ma. So we would have funny interchanges like this. Mitch is at home with Lucy and he tells Lucy that ma-ma is coming home. I open the door, she runs into the living room and shouts “da-da!!”. Or, Mitch is trying to get Lucy to put on her shoes and she says da-da, da-da so she picks him up. At which point she gets really annoyed and reaches out her arms to me saying da-da, da-da, as if to say, “no you idiot, the other da-da.” We spent a lot of time pointing at me and saying ma-ma to which she would reply, “da-da, da-da.”

No amount of cajoling or instructing could convince her that she needed another word for me when clearly da-da was sufficient for both of us. Why bother with ma-ma when we were both obviously da-da? In fact, I think she got some amount of delight from rubbing my nose in all the da-das. She’s no dummy and when I would say ma-ma, she frequently laughed delightedly as she vehemently declared da-da, da-da.

So, there we were, the two da-das. What can I say, my daughter believes in economy of language (I don’t know where she got that from – definitely not me). It wasn’t until about a month ago, when she was around 15 months old, that one day she decided that she would call me ma-ma. Now I am ma-ma about 65% of the time and da-da around 35% of the time.

Take home message, think twice about teaching your kid the name of the dog. Before you know it, we’ll all be Cleos.

Which came first, the chicken or the Lucy?

Mitch and I have planned all along to have two kids. We decided about two weeks after we met, while we were riding our bikes to school, pedaling through the Vons parking lot, that we would have two kids and if they were a boy and a girl, we would name them Miles and Lucy. We also thought we would like to have one child biologically and maybe adopt the second one.

Well since those early planning days in 1995, we have actually had two daughters. We had our first girl, Lucile Linnea Brigham Allen (Lucy Goosey), in 2005, and our second girl, Josephine Jo Jacobson Allen (Josie Bean) in 2007. We ended up having both of our kids biologically out of laziness, economics, and an inability to deal with the complex logistics of adoption versus the simple logistics of just getting it on.

We settled on two kids from the start because both of us have siblings that we are pretty darn fond of (Stuart for Mitch, Jeremy for me) and both of us have found having a sibling in the family arena to be a plus. Many of my closest friends are only children (Tiffany, Sarah, Allie practically-speaking) and I think only children ROCK. So I'm not knocking only children. Just for us, we decided on the zero population growth option of two.

When we started down the road of number two, and my belly got fatter and fatter, we started wondering out loud what our second child would be like, especially in light of our first child. Everyone who knows her will acknowledge that Lucy is a total force of nature. She talks a ton, loves people, is bossy as all get out, and pretty much tries to run the show around here. So both Mitch and I wondered whether Josie would have to be some sort of shy retiring flower, just by nature of the bold niche space being all taken up by Lucy. I was pretty not keen on this idea because I feel like I somewhat got stuck into the pigeon hole of being the "good" one in my family due to my brother's sometimes questionable behavior as a youth and my mom's off again on again sickness. So I really want Josie to be able to be whoever she is regardless of Lucy.

Of course, that's not how life really works, is it? Your personality is probably 65% you and 35% your experience or something like that, where your parents and your siblings and everything else are parts of your experience.

So far, Josie is only 6 months old but like her sister, her personality traits are showing up early. She seems to be more calm and contemplative than Lucy and less liable to glom on to any old random human being who wanders by. So she does seem to be pretty different from Lucy and more towards the calm and less towards the melodramatic in comparison to L.B. (another Lucy nickname). Which leaves me wondering, could it be happening already - Lucy's shaping of her sister's personality or is Josie just by nature a more calm person? In other words, which came first, the chicken or the Lucy?

Six word Autobiography

The other day while catsitting for our friends Seth and Elise, I noticed a new clipping on their refrigerator. It was called Really Short Autobiographies or something like that, and it was a collection of six word autobiographies from the Los Angeles Times. Two of my favorite ones from the article were "Put whole self in, shook about." and, "Lots of Lucy, little bit Ethel." I thought to myself, "now here is a project I can really get behind." Even I have time to come up with six words to describe my life so far. So here they are, a brief collection of my brief autobiographies.

1. Sometimes pee when laughing, worth it.
2. Hardly ever bored, friends, babies, books.
3. Sage-smelling pants, pacifier in pocket.
4. Whenever possible, took naps.

And this contribution from Mitch (he thinks this is my autobiography), kicked ass, took names.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Beans and Rice

Mitch (my main man) and I are vegetarians. Well, fishetarians really. We eat any fish on the Monterey Bay Aquarium green (and sometimes yell0w) list. My friend Matt calls this West Coast Vegetarianism. Anyway, suffice it to say, that other than my yearly forays into bacon (to be covered in another post, see OB-over baconed), we don't eat much poultry, beef, lamb, pork, etc. We decided when we had kids that we would not ask them to be vegetarians but we wouldn't stock our refrigerator with lots of chicken sticks either. What this means practically is that our girls (2.5 and 0.5 years in age) don't eat much meat. Josie (0.5 years) actually doesn't eat any meat at all since she is a breast-milk only kind of person at this point.

One of the unanticipated, yet hilarious, offshoots of this lack of meat eating is that Lucy (2.5 years) doesn't recognize any play food meat items as such. Instead, she thinks the peperoni pieces on her wooden pizza set (from Aunt Tiiffany and Uncle Jason) are beans and rice and she calls pieces of pizza that she makes with them on them her "beans and rice pizza". The pepperoni pieces in the First Five pre-school fake food set she thinks are berries.

So far Lucy doesn't seem to like meat much anyway. The times she has had turkey, chicken fingers, pepperoni and other meaty items with family or when we are out to eat, she has not been keen on. She is a big fan of the bacon that our buddy Elise sometimes gives her.... That might be genetic.

Only time will tell what other random noise having fishetarian parents will generate. For now, I say rock-on beans and rice pizza girl.

Welcome to Boomvang

Welcome to my on-line somewhat more chaotic and less edited version of my zine, Boomvang. Expect a lot more about babies and dirty laundry and a lot less about anything highbrow or requiring more than 10 minutes to create in comparison to the print version of Boomvang. Also, this on-line version will contain 90% fewer swear words than the print version. Sorry but now I have kids and work for a government agency, so I can't get too crazy in the public arena.

Onward with Boomvang on-line! By the way, someone else already had the blog name of, can you believe it? There are just too many of us out here typing away into the void. Someone else also already had the e-mail address of christycrow. So much for individuality!