Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween! (photos and weekend recap too)

Happy Halloween from the li'l ladybug (and me too). ;)

What's everyone doing for Halloween?

Ava and I are heading over to Jody's work in the afternoon. They've invited the kids to come up and do a little parade around the office. Plus, just outside of where he works is the "munchkin masquerade" each year, where all the local businesses hand out candy to the kids.

After that we are going to hang out with some friends, get pizza and play games. Should be a fun day! We were contemplating going to a kiddie Halloween party that a friend was throwing as well, but she (the hostess) came down with something and called it off anyway. It sucks that she's sick, but it probably would've been too much for us to do in one day anyway.

I'm thinking about dressing up for the evening. I tried on a few things that I could come up just from my own closet tonight. I'm leaning towards going as a goth girl, though I might chicken out. I don't want to scare any of the little kids. ;) Jody's going as a "bad ass." He pulled out his old leather jacket, which combined with his bald head makes him look rather menacing.

We had a good weekend here. I exchanged the camera bag I bought last weekend for a bigger one (backpack style) and picked up a tripod. I also did some reading of "Understanding Exposure" while hanging out at Border's (sans Ava and Jody) Friday night and read more of my camera manual last night and now have a basic understanding of shooting in manual mode. Yay! My pics aren't really crisp, but they aren't completely black anymore either. (Woot! Woot!)
Here's something I made today after I caught Jody and Ava napping together on the couch.
Also got some cleaning/organizing done in the house today. I have a whole table full of things to either sell or give away. I'm really on this kick of needing to get rid of stuff we're not using and/or won't be using anytime soon. Hooray for decreasing clutter! Now I just need to start listing the stuff on Craigslist or Freecycle and hope it goes bye-bye.

Back to photography (sheesh, can't shut me up about it, can you?), I got a few cool shots of a butterfly (who was kind enough to pose for me for a couple minutes while I figured out what mode to shoot in) and some flowers yesterday when the three of us went out for a lil walk in the neighborhood.

I'm totally enjoying playing with my camera and am looking into taking a photography class. There's one being offered for digital photography at a local photo store, but I'm not sure if it's what I'm looking for or not. I need to call and get more info. Oh, they are also doing an open photo show in November which I'm contemplating submitting a picture for. Anybody can enter, so why not, eh? Then I can say I've been featured in a photo show. ;) hehe. Even if I don't enter, I plan to go check out the show and see what other photographers in this area are doing.

Hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween. :)

Friday, October 28, 2005

The lactating witch

Love this! Fun way to promote breastfeeding while celebrating Halloween. :)

Breastfeeding Witch Causing Stir In Vermont

(CBS4) BRATTLEBORO, VT One Halloween display in Vermont is causing people to look twice, and many can’t believe what they see.

David and Lauren Petrie of Brattleboro decked out their home for Halloween. But it’s not the pumpkins that are attracting attention. It’s “The Witch Lactation Station.”

That’s right. The Petrie’s holiday display features a breastfeeding witch, complete with a gourd breast and a baby witch doll.

“I would hope if witches have babies and the witches would have to feed their babies, they would nurse,'' Lauren Petrie told the Brattleboro Reformer. “I am also advocating being comfortable with nursing in public.”

Some in town say the display is inappropriate, particularly because their kids are asking questions. Others can see the humor in it, and say it’s a great way to raise awareness of breastfeeding.

The Petries say they have no plans to take down the display. “We are having fun with it,'' David Petrie told the Reformer. “My four kids were breast-fed and we believe it is the best way to feed a child.''
Breastfeeding Witch Causing Stir In Vermont

As for - "Some in town say the display is inappropriate, particularly because their kids are asking questions." - Uh ... so??? God forbid their kids ask questions. Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed a baby. That's what boobs are there for. I'll never understand that argument.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sharing a few pics

The pics below were taken with my new camera a couple days ago at the park. Jody thinks they are awesome. Of course, he is the daddy (and husband), so go figure that he's slightly biased. I'm too chicken to post them on the serious photography forum I visit, but I figured it was safe to post them here. ;)

Seriously though, I'm open to any and all constructive criticism. I won't learn if I don't know what to do differently. And I just have to say, it's so hard to get decent shots of a 16-month-old who is ALWAYS on the go (and loves to hold sticks - in front of her face no less!).

Thanks for looking. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Baking fool

In between trying out my new camera, proofing pics and learning various things in Photoshop, I've been a baking fool the past couple days.

This weekend I baked and pureed three of the seven pie pumpkins we got at the farm a couple weekends ago.

Yesterday I made pumpkin cookies with a super easy (and low fat - I think!) recipe I found on All Recipes. I'll post it below. The cookies are very moist and cake-like and perfect for a lil pumpkin I know who only has four teeth so far. (Is that cannibalism?) ;) (On a side note, I don't think she will have just four teeth for long. She's been having trouble napping the past couple days and tonight seemed to be in quite a bit of pain from her teeth/gums. She's doing better after some Tylenol and Maggie - the dog - time.)

Then tonight I baked two pumpkin pies (using the recipe on the condensed milk can). That was a bit more challenging, especially since I sloshed a bunch of the pie filling out onto the cookie sheet they were going to bake on. Jody suggested using a turkey baster to fill them back up (so I didn't have to move the full crusts/tins around) and that worked much better. I have to remember that trick for filling them the next time I bake them. Maybe I'll try to get an artful pic of them before they are consumed. ;)

Oh, and a couple days ago I baked the pumpkin seeds as well. A friend recommended putting cayenne pepper on them so I tried it out. It adds a nice kick and is something a little different than plain old salted seeds (though those are yummy too).

Now I have to figure out something to make with my other four pie pumpkins. I might try out some pumpkin bread or maybe some soup. Mmmmm. Those both sound like they'd be great frozen and reheated on a cold winter day. :)

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

1 (18.25 ounce) package spice cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin (I used 2 cups pureed pumpkin)

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease
cookie sheets.
2 In a large bowl, stir together the cake mix and pumpkin
until well blended. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the
prepared cookie sheet.
3 Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow
cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing
to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I got it!

What you are looking at is my brand new camera! Yes, we managed to track down a store that had it in stock this weekend. (Thank God for Best Buy and their 18 months no interest financing!) I am now the proud owner of an Olympus Evolt E-500 - my very first SLR camera! :)

I've already taken hundreds of pics with it over the past few days, just trying to get a feel for it. I have so much to learn, but I like it so far. :)

I also received my first photo order today. Exciting! And all of my friends and family have been really encouraging about me starting up a photography business, which has been wonderful.

I have soooo much to do and learn before I really get it off the ground. I have a feeling I'm not going to be blogging much as the wheels are set in motion, though I'll try to post periodic updates (and, of course, pics) and check out my blogroll when I can.

Thanks to everyone who's supported me in this new endeavor. It feels awesome to have something I'm so excited about again (other than parenting stuff). :)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

What's goin on this weekend

Yesterday I did another photoshoot. This time for my friend and her family on her daughter's first birthday. It was definitely more challenging to shoot six adults (mom, dad and two sets of grandparents) and one almost toddler than it was just two adults (and a baby on the inside). ;) But I learned some things and that's always exciting. And I got some pictures that I feel good about. I lucked out and got a cloudy day yesterday too so that helped a lot with the outdoor lighting. (Direct sun is a bummer to take pics in and it's sunny here MOST of the time.)

I went to a couple stores this week to see if anyone is carrying the new Olympus that I want but nobody has it yet. :( It's available from a few places online, but even then there seems to be a couple week wait for it. I guess good things come to those who wait.

This weekend we need to bag up our leaves - groan. I've already done a couple bags as the leaves began to fall, but now that the big backyard tree is nearly bare I'm sure we have at least 15 more to do.

We might also get out and do something fun outdoorsy since it looks like we have a beautiful couple days (weather-wise) in store.

Tomorrow we're going a first birthday party for the little girl that I just photographed. That should be fun. I know Ava will enjoy hanging out with all of her friends. :)

What's everyone else doing this weekend? Hope you enjoy yourselves. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

HNT # 6 - A beautiful belly :)

This beautiful belly belongs to a friend of mine whose maternity photos I took this past weekend. She's 37 weeks pregnant in this photo and looks amazing! She's a picture-perfect preggo! :)

Happy HNT (Half-Nekkid Thursday) y'all!!

Other HNT players are here.

Guidelines for HNT are here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Auntie is in the house

After more than two glorious years without AF (Aunt Flow, aka my period), she's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

I have mixed feelings about her return.

On one hand, I'm glad to know that I'm ovulating again, and whenever Jody and I decide that we want to start TTC (trying to conceive) again, I'll be uh, for lack of a better phrase, primed and ready. ;)

On the other hand, I've really enjoyed two years without having to worry about bleeding, pads, tampons, etc.

On the third hand ;), I'm ready to be done with pads and tampons and try out the DivaCup that I've heard so much about. LOL I know, it's pretty weird to be excited about something like that, but you already know I'm a little off. ;)

Between these last two posts, I think I've shared more than enough personal information for one day, so I'll go now. :oP

Oh, poo

Ava was having some naked time in the house the other day (can you already see where this is going?), when she walked up to me with something in her hand. Yep, you guessed it. It was a nice fresh turd. Ewww.

I was so shocked to see poop in her hand (and then mine as she so sweetly handed it to me), it took me a second to figure out what the hell it was.

We immediately flushed Mr. Hanky down the toilet and commenced to some serious hand washing.

Thank goodness she's such a good sharer. ;) I can't imagine if she'd hidden it and left it for my discovery at a later time. *gag*

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fabulous weekend

What a fun, yet super-busy weekend! :)

On Saturday morning, Jody, Ava and I drove up into the foothills to check out the park where I planned to take my friend's maternity photos the next day. I found a couple spots that I liked and took some pics of Ava and Jody.

Saturday afternoon, I went up to the community garden by myself for a few hours to clean up our plots. A friend and her son came up too so we chit-chatted for quite a while. It had been weeks, if not a couple months, since we had time to gab like that.
Saturday evening, Jody, Ava and I went to Target to find some black leggings and a shirt for Ava to wear under her ladybug Halloween costume and we got dog food as well.

On Sunday morning, I had my first real photoshoot! I thought it went very well. The couple was really easy-going, terrific to work with and they looked super cute in their matching clothes for the shoot. :) I took several pictures of them in their matching clothes, then they changed into their comfies for a few more candid shots.
Here's a link to the proofs if you want to check them out:
Maternity photoshoot

Then Sunday afternoon we met some friends at a farm for a hayride out to all the different vegetable plots where we could pick as many veggies as we could carry. I got 7 pie pumpkins in addition to a bunch of potatoes, cucumbers - Ava loves them, green beans, beets, chili peppers, tomatoes and beautiful Indian corn! There were carrots and some squash as well. It was a pretty fun time and the weather was beautiful, if not almost too hot!

Last night I worked on the photos from the shoot. I'm happy with how they turned out.

So that's about it. I have to return my friend's camera to her this week and the thought of going back to my Kodak EasyShare camera is enough to make me want to cry. :oP So I think I'm going to make the investment in a new camera soon. We can't afford it, but I plan to pursue the photography business and can't do so until I have a decent camera. Hopefully it will pay for itself! ;)

Not sure how much blogging I'll be doing this week. I feel like taking a break. Could be because the weather's been so nice lately, I just want to be outside. Guess we'll see how it goes.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Happy and healthy

We just got back from Ava's 15 month well-child appointment, a little late (she's almost 16 months) but that's ok. She is the picture of health. She weighed in at 27 lbs., 6 oz. (90-95th percentile), and was 32 inches tall (90th percentile).

Dr. S said that Ava is the "healthiest breast-fed baby she's ever seen." I don't know if she says that often or not, but I will take it as a compliment.

I had some concerns about Ava's bowleggedness (Jody says she runs like John Wayne) but Dr. S assured me that kids' legs don't straighten out until they are 4 or 5 years old, so nothing to worry about there.

We also talked a bit about her eating habits (or lack thereof) lately. She gave me a handout on decreased appetite and eating in toddlers which is perfectly normal. I just have to trust that Ava will eat as much as she needs and not force food on her. Easier said than done, but I am going to try to relax about it. She also said it might help to let her eat before she nurses, something I tried doing for a while and then got lazy on, so we'll get back on that kick again. There were some other tips on the handout that we will try following as well, such as letting her feed herself entirely and giving more finger foods. I just need to accept that mealtime is going to be messy and find some better bibs!

Oh! Also asked about when it's ok to start giving peanut butter. She said all docs are different, but she thinks right about now is fine. She suggested doing almond butter first (which we've been doing for a cpl weeks now anyway) and then peanut butter.

I shared with Dr. S that article I recently wrote about here that states: "The longer a mother breast-feeds, the higher the fat and energy content of her breast milk." She was very interested in it and thanked me several times. She said that this goes against what they had previously been lead to believe and she really appreciated me bringing it to her attention. Yay! Hopefully she'll share it with the other drs in the practice and maybe this will help them become more supportive of moms who choose to nurse past 12 months.

Before she examined Ava, Dr. S mentioned that between 15 and 18 months is usually the hardest time to examine kids because they just won't tolerate it, but she likes to still give it a try. Well, Ava let her do it with no protesting whatsoever. (Yes, I'm bragging.) She said that's the easiest exam she's had on a 16 month old in a while.

She asked me if Ava's watching TV at all. I told her no, but once in a rare while I will use it as a distraction - like I turned on PBS this morning so I could cut her nails. It worked well and she got a couple minutes of Sesame Street. Anyway, she said that was good. (Funny the things doctors latch onto to ask you about, no?)

The other thing we talked about was potty training/learning. She said it's good to have her potty in her play area, which may make her more likely to use it. She was doing good at going on it whenever I put her on, but has been regressing lately. I'm not concerned. She's got plenty of time to learn. She also suggested using a small reward for every time she goes on it. She mentioned giving her one M&M or one Skittle or something (What?? Does she not know me at all? LOL I told her Ava's never had candy.), and then she said maybe she could watch 1 minute of TV or get a sticker or something and that seemed a lot more appropriate to me. :)

We also got Ava's third DTaP shot today. Even though we aren't doing the majority of the vaccinations or delaying them (read why here and here), DTaP is one that we felt was important for Ava to have after she turned 1 and her immune system had been built up a bit. Hopefully we won't have any reactions. I'm not sure if it's coincidence or not, but the last two times she had vaccinations, we ended up in the ER a few days to weeks later for other illnesses. So of course, I am suspicious, but I'm also hoping it was just a fluke.

Anyway, hooray for a happy, healthy lil girl! :)


In other happy news, I sold most of my maternity clothes (with the exception of a couple shirts I'm saving) today. I decided to get rid of them since a) most of them are clothes I wore to work and wouldn't be comfy in around the house and b) I'm a lot smaller than I was when I got pregnant with Ava so they probably wouldn't fit me if I were to get pregnant again anyway. I'm putting the money away as I save to buy the Olympus Evolt camera. ::insert Amy drooling all over the keyboard here:: ;)

We've got some fun stuff planned for the weekend. I think we might hit another pumpkin patch tomorrow (went to one last weekend and it was a lot of fun). Also plan to stop by the community garden for some clean-up work. I'm doing my first maternity photoshoot Sunday morning, then Sunday afternoon Jody, Ava and I are going to a farm for a hayride with a bunch of families. :)
Happy weekend all! :)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

HNT #5 - Daddy/Daughter

Simple and sweet - this week's HNT is daddy/daughter feet. :)

Happy HNT (Half-Nekkid Thursday) everybody! :)

See more HNT folks over at Osbasso's! Or read the Guidelines for HNT.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Some Ava pics

I've been playing around with my friend's camera, trying to get a feel for it the past couple of days. It helps to have an adorable subject to photograph (yes, I'm biased), but doesn't help that she won't sit still for more than a second at at time. ;)
Anyway, here are a few pics I've taken of my lil sweetie.

Sitting with our pumpkins (pumpas).

Time for a bath!

Playing with leaves.

Fun with sticks.

Waving to a duck in the pond.

Also, I finally scored a toy shopping cart today. (I've been trying to track down a used one for a while now.) I was driving by a kids' resale shop and noticed a little boy in the doorway with a cart. I went in and asked if it was for sale and found out the little boy's mom has JUST brought it in. I paid $7.99 for it and now Ava has something to push her babies (and everything else) around in. Yay! :)

Thriving on one income

Tomorrow is our second Cherished Children API (Attachment Parenting International) meeting. I'm especially looking forward to it because we are having a financial advisor (someone Jody and I had an initial consulation with) speak about surviving and thriving on one income. I think we'll have a really good turnout because money (or lack thereof) is such an important issue for so many people who want to have one parent stay home with the kids while the other works.

This particular financial advisor is the father of three - two biological children and one adopted - and his wife stays at home with them. So he definitely sees the value to having one parent stay at home and likes to help others achieve it as well.

Jody and I met with him about a month ago to help get our finances in order, develop a budget, find out what else we can do to make ends meet, etc. We have a lot of paperwork we need to complete and information (tax returns, insurance policies, 401K info, etc.) to gather before we go back to see him again. It's coming along slowly but surely, though I am the one pursuing most of it and trying to keep us on track.

Since Jody works only a few blocks from where our AP meeting takes place, he might stop in for a while. We had one dad come to our first meeting and are hoping to attract more and more since a lot of the information we cover in our meetings is beneficial to the whole family. :)

I can't believe it's already after 2 p.m. today! Ava woke up early this morning, played around for like an hour and a half, then we both went back to sleep and didn't get up til almost noon. Oops! Anyway, I feel like the day is practically over and it only just started for us. I'm glad I got my baking done yesterday and Sunday - 4 loaves of yummy zucchini bread with chocolate chips.

We're off to run errands and take some pics. I'm borrowing a friend's (super wowee) camera for the week to get accustomed to it because I'm using it to take family pictures for her on her daughter's first birthday in a couple weeks. I'm loving the quality of pics I get off this camera. Can't wait til I can afford a nicer one for myself (and my future photography business)! Ahhh, someday! :)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Winter storm (what?!) headed our way

This from The Weather Channel:




Well, I'm off to bed. It doesn't sound like we should get hit too hard by this so I hope we won't lose electricity in the middle of the night or Monday or it's gonna get downright cold in here!

I'm so not ready for snow yet! It's barely fall for pete's sake. :o(

Update 10/10/05: Guess it was a false alarm. It didn't get cold enough for snow where I live (whew!), but we sure are getting a lot of rain.

What Amy needs and more

I woke up at 4:30 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. So after an hour of laying in bed, I decided to get up and online. I did some photography research and a little catching up on blogs and, before I went back to bed and crashed for a couple more hours, found this fun idea on Kristi's blog.

Go to Google. Type in "(your first name) needs" Use the quotes (come on, you knew that, right?) for it to work. Pick five (or more) random "needs" you have and list them.

It's pretty amusing what results you get. :oD Give it a try and post yours on your own blog.

Here are my top seven picks (because I couldn't stop at just five):

1. Amy needs a drug-dealer's testimony to free a teenager wrongfully accused of murder.

2. Amy needs to either wake up or start getting some extra will-power.

3. I don't believe that Amy needs sex.

4. A little shy and laid-back, Amy needs to find a home where she can spend her golden years and be a cherished member of the family.

5. Amy needs to contact her phone service and have her number listed so her adoring public may contact her directly and quit bothering me.

6. Amy needs some therapy, if you ask me.

7. Amy needs income.

Also wanted to give a shout out to everyone who donated money to the Fourth Annual Boobie-thon. The total amount raised this year was $9240.40 — $7885.00 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation — and $1355.40 for the American Red Cross. That's awesome!! :) Thank you!! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, click here.

And lastly, going hand-in-hand with #7 above - "Amy needs income" - I want to announce some new Halloween designs I did for my online shop. (Pretty sly, eh?) ;)
The onesies for babies and t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and jerseys for kids say: "Mama's lil pumpkin" "Daddy's lil pumpkin" "Grandma's lil pumpkin" and "Grandpa's lil pumpkin." So if you are looking for a cute gift idea for a little one this Halloween, check them out. :) Thanks!
Here's an example:

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Blogger Boobie-thon 2005

OK, OK, I know the title is a bit suggestive. And the contents of the Boobie-thon site are definitely suggestive (the main page is work-safe, but the picture pages are NOT). BUT, BUT, BUT,'s all for a good cause.

The Blogger Boobie-thon is in it's fourth year of celebrating and honoring boobs (of both women and men) while raising money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and this year, also the American Red Cross to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Anyone and everyone (18 years old and up) can submit pictures to the site. Covered boob pics go on the free page and bare boob pics go on the password-protected pay-to-view page. Donors must pledge at least $50 to see the uncovered boobs.

As I said, both men and women participate, including several breast cancer survivors. All photos are posted anonymously. Participants can have their website linked on a participants' page in random order, but there is no tie to the picture (so no one knows who's boobs are who's!).

$8696.30 was raised in 2004. This year's total raised so far is $6790.40 (last updated 4:35 p.m. EDT on 10/06/05). The event officially kicked off on Saturday, October 1, 2005, and will run through 11:59 p.m. EDT on Saturday, October 8, 2005, so there's still time to make a donation. Even if it's $5 or $10, every bit counts.

The Boobie-thon was featured in a WIRED magazine article. From the article: One blogger says
"she still thinks the Boobie-Thon is "genius."

"It's a way to flip it around," she says. "We take our power back. It's like, 'These are our boobs and we're raising money with them.' It's not done in a trashy way at all."
It should also be noted that
...this is not porn. "Our (website) host does not house pornographic websites on (its) servers, and does not consider our content as such," Robyn (founder of Boobie-thon) says. "Although some breasts are uncovered on the password-protected site, we do not accept sexually explicit photographs."
I wish I would've learned of this earlier on so that I could do my part to promote it and breast cancer awareness for the entire week.

Help support breast cancer research, education and outreach by making a donation today! No amount is too small! Or if you are feeling adventurous, submit your photo.

Fellow bloggers, if you'd like to put up a link to the Boobie-thon on your site, go here.

What's that? You want to know if I submitted a picture for the cause? Yes, yes, I did. Three in fact. Which ones are they? Well, here's a hint - they are (or will soon be) posted in the free section (so, yes, my boobs are covered). ;) Two were just for fun and one includes a PSA about the correlation between breastfeeding and the risk of developing breast cancer. That one I will share with you here.
From the American Cancer Society website- "Some studies have shown that breast-feeding slightly lowers breast cancer risk, especially if the breast-feeding lasts 1½ to 2 years. This could be because breast-feeding lowers a woman’s total number of menstrual periods, as does pregnancy. One study found that having more children and breast-feeding longer could reduce the risk of breast cancer by half."

Here are a couple articles with information about how breastfeeding can help lower the risk of breastfeeding:
- Extra breastfeeding 'prevents cancer'
- Can breastfeeding protect you from breast cancer?
- What Causes Breast Cancer?
- 101 Reasons to Breastfeed

Make a donation today! :) Thanks!

Hmm, I was just thinking about it and I'm guessing they won't be able to post that pic of me and the babe cuz she's a minor. Arg. Guess we'll just wait and see what they do with it. Here I thought I was being so creative. I guess it's the thought that counts, right?

Update 9:15 p.m. 10/6/05: They used my breastfeeding pic after all. (It's on page 5.)Yay! :-)

HNT # 4 - Footsie

It's time for another round of Half-Nekkid Thursday. I missed last week's since I was on vacation and admit I didn't prepare well for this week's. My daughter brought a shoe out of my closet to me earlier in the week and as it sat here beside me this morning, I decided to throw it on for an impromptu pic for HNT. So here's my foot and shoe (and a little leg). :)

Now go see who else is playing HNT this week over at Osbasso's! Or read the Guidelines for HNT.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

A few weeks ago, Jody and I watched "Hotel Rwanda." For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, here's a description from Netflix:
Amid the holocaust of internecine tribal fighting in Rwanda that sees the savage butchering of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, one ordinary man (Oscar nominee Don Cheadle) musters the courage to save more than 1,000 helpless refugees by sheltering them in the hotel he manages. Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte and Joaquin Phoenix co-star in this powerful film (sort of an African version of Schindler's List) directed by Terry George.
Despite the fact that it's about genocide, it wasn't excessively gory. I was worried there was going to be a lot of blood and gore (and almost didn't watch it), but there was not and I'm glad that I saw it. One of the special features on the dvd said in order to appeal to a broader audience, they chose to focus more on the story involving this family's struggle and the love between Cheadle's character and his wife, rather than the gore of the gruesome atrocities being committed against the Rwandans.

I was amazed to discover that nearly 1 million people died in 1994 when the majority tribe in Rwanda, the Hutu, attacked and slaughtered anyone of Tutsi, the minority tribe, decent and the Hutus who tried to protect Tutsis (like Paul Rusesabagina - Cheadle's character - who's wife and children were Tutsi).

I was appalled to learn that the United States did not intervene. This was just 11 years ago! 11 years! Not 50 years! Why was this allowed to happen? Why did no other country intervene? Hundreds of thousands of children, women and men were murdered with machetes and gunfire, while the rest of the world stood by doing nothing.

It was inspirational to see the way this ordinary man was able to use the hotel and his wits to save over 1,000 people from being murdered, but so sad that the situation got so bad and nobody stepped in to help him or others.

What's sad is that I don't even remember any mention of this. I was in my freshman year of college at the time so I was certainly at an age to know what was going on in the world around me. While I doubt I watched the nightly news, I still can't believe I didn't hear about it. One million people dead in a holocaust and none of my professors mentioned it?

I found an article on Unicef that discusses the lasting impact the genocide had on the Rwandan children. Thousands were orphaned.
"Ten years later, the children of Rwanda are still suffering the consequences of a conflict caused entirely by adults," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "For them, the genocide is not just a historical event but an inescapable part of daily life today and tomorrow."

By the end of the genocide in 1994, 95,000 children had been orphaned.

"The children of Rwanda witnessed unspeakable violence," Bellamy said. "Tens of thousands lost their mothers and fathers. Thousands were victims of horrific brutality and rape. Many were forced to commit atrocities. The impact of the tragedy simply cannot be overstated."

Bellamy said the anniversary must be marked with renewed concern for those continuing to suffer from the genocide.

"We are all still accountable for supporting reconciliation and healing, and for ensuring that such atrocities never happen again," Bellamy said. "'Never again,' means holding perpetrators accountable, and restoring dignity to the victims by commemorating or alleviating their suffering."

Even more important, Bellamy said, is to meet this anniversary with a renewed commitment to ensure that the world never again allows such a catastrophe to go unchecked.
If you are interested in learning more about the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, I highly recommend you watch "Hotel Rwanda ."
Or read more here:
- How the genocide happened
- Preventing another genocide
- Living among the dead - A survivor's story

"Never again." I certainly hope not.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Our trip to MA/VT (long, with pics)

We arrived home Saturday afternoon from our week-long trip out east to Massachusetts and Vermont. I honestly wasn't planning on spending any time in Vermont, but once we got out there and discovered how close we were (about a 30 minute drive), how could I resist? We actually ended up doing the majority of our sight-seeing in VT.

Here's a (long) recap of our week (with pics):

Saturday, Sept. 24
Got up around 3:45 a.m. for our drive to the airport. Miss Ava awoke on her own while Jody and I were getting ready downstairs. We heard a thud and thought she'd fallen off the bed (which is only a few inches off the floor - a mattress and box spring without a frame), but no, she had gotten out of the bed and was coming out to greet us, chipper as could be! :) She stayed awake for the ride to the airport and most of the first flight (to Chicago where we changed planes). She slept more on the second flight, and traveled wonderfully. Once we got into Boston Logan, we picked up our luggage and met my parents (who had driven out from MI) out on the curb. We then had a 2 1/2 hour drive to the resort we were all staying at for the week. We stopped for dinner on the way there (at a dive restaurant - we were all desperately hungry), then proceeded to the resort where we checked in and crashed for the night.

Our resort (Vacation Village in the Berkshires) was quite nice. Our condo had a living room, dining room, full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, fireplace, jacuzzi tub and patio.

Sunday, Sept. 25

Ava and Jody got up early while I slept in. I woke up to Ava crying and obviously in pain. She'd fallen head first into the edge of the coffee table. :( She got quite a goose egg and bruise on her noggin, but other than the initial crying, she seemed unphased (thankfully!).
Jody, Ava and I used my parents' car to drive around town a bit. We stopped at BuckSteep Manor and saw wild turkeys.
Then we went to PriceChopper for our groceries for the week. While I was standing in the meat section trying to select some chicken, I got caught in the middle of a conflict in store between a crochety old lady and her husband and a store employee. It went something like this:
Employee (talking in my direction): "What was that? I couldn't hear you. Can you speak a little louder?"
Old lady (shooting dirty looks back at the employee): Flips him off. (Presumably for the second time.)
Old man (to the employee): "You're a real asshole, you know that?"
Employee: "Eat mine!"
At that point, the employee walked away. A lady standing next to me exchanged "holy shit, what was that?!" looks with me, I grabbed my chicken and walked away to find Jody and Ava. Oh my!

Later that night, Jody, Ava and I walked around the resort, while my mom made spaghetti for all of us for dinner.

Monday, Sept. 26

It was a rainy day. We slept in and lazed around our condo for a while.
Later in the afternoon, Jody, Ava and I drove to Williamstown and went to an old cemetery where many headstones dated back to the early 1800s. (Morbid girl that I am, I took some pics.)
We decided to continue on to Bennington, VT, since we were so close. Gas was cheaper there than in MA, so we filled up the tank.
That evening we went to The Chower House for dinner with Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, Sept. 27

Drove to VT with Mom and Dad to summit of Mount Equinox. "Mount Equinox reaches a height of 3,816 feet. From the top there are views to New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Quebec." We had a picnic lunch on the mountainside on our way down. Stopped at The Chocolate House for confections and I picked up some Vermont maple syrup (yummy!) to take home. The electricity went out while we were there.
Went back to the resort. Ava and I napped. Mom made a yummy chicken dinner for us all.

Wednesday, Sept. 28

Drove with Mom and Dad to the top of Mount Greylock (3,491 feet) in MA. Jody, Ava and I hiked about 4 or 5 miles on the Appalachian Trail. We were surprised how rocky and steep a lot of it was. Had I known better, I would've packed my hiking boots instead of my tennies. Oops. The trail was smaller (narrower) than I imagined it would be too. It was a nice hike though, but I think I prefer hiking in the Rockies.
Mom and Dad picked us up on the road after they went for a smaller hike.
Went back to the resort and made our dinners separately in our rooms.

Thursday, Sept. 29

Had a lazy day. Stormy weather. Ava and I took a long nap.
Jody, Ava and I went to some gardens and arboretum for a nice walk around. Although the storms had cleared up, it was still really windy.
Went out to dinner with my parents for pizza (which was excellent!).

Friday, Sept. 30

Jody picked up our rental car so that we could drive ourselves back to Boston to catch our flight the next day.
Jody, Ava and I drove back to VT to see five covered bridges - three in Bennington, and two in Arlington. I took several pics of the bridges. We also saw Norman Rockwell's home and Robert Frost's home, though we didn't take tours of either.
Went out to dinner with Mom and Dad to Zucchini's. Stopped at an ice cream place on the way back to the resort.

Saturday, Oct. 1
Got up at 2 a.m., left for the drive to Boston to the airport at 3:15 a.m. Was about a 2 1/2 hour drive (Ava slept nearly the whole way). Ran into construction and a detour right before the airport exit and had to get off the expressway and go into Boston. Eep. When we got back on the expressway, we were past the airport exit. Stopped at a Walgreen's for directions back to the airport. We drove by the harbor as the sun was coming up on our way back. Had we not been so frazzled about not knowing where we were going, I would've taken some pictures. It was beautiful. Got to the car rental place, returned the car and took shuttle to airport. Long lines at check in and security, but we made it through with some time to spare. Our plane left late and subsequently got into Dallas late. The four hour trip from Boston to Dallas seemed incredibly long. Deplaned (took same plane to Denver), got some lunch. Got into Denver around 1:30/2 p.m. Caught shuttle to our car. Drove home. Napped. Ahhhh. :)

We had a great time. It was nice to spend time with my parents and Ava enjoyed seeing her grandparents and saying "hi" (A LOT) and giving kisses.
Jody and I managed to score some alone time a few nights after Ava went to bed. That was very nice. :)
The three of us enjoyed having a jacuzzi tub in our room. Jody and I would sink down in it and Ava walked around because the water was so deep. /sigh/ I will miss that!

Thanks to the generosity of my parents (loaning us their car, springing for dinner several nights), we were able to enjoy a relatively inexpensive vacation.

We didn't get to see the foliage I was hoping for - the leaves were just starting to change colors - but it was still very pretty out there. I didn't realize how brown and dead CO looked until our flight home and I could compare the two states.

Anyway, a good time was had by all. I'm very thankful for a fun-filled first family vacation. :)