Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bob the Builder Award: Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

"One of 16 children living in squaler in Yemen, Nujood was married off at about age 10.  Though her husband vowed he'd wait for sex until she reached puberty, he raped her on their first night together.  After months of abuse, Nujood goes to the courthouse, where with heartbreaking naivete she tells a judge she wants a divorce.  Supported by the legal system, Nujood gets her wish.  A dividend:  Her case has brought international exposure to the archaic practice of robbing girls of their youth--half the girls in Yemen are married before age 18.  Nujood's story ends with her back in school, given a rare second chance to start her childhood over again." 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A postman named Joe

I cannot stop loving that new family history show--"Who Do You Think You Are?" on Friday nights on NBC.  We DVR it and watch it on Sundays after church.  What a treat.

This week, they researched Matthew Broderick's history.  The short of it is was he had a grandfather who was quiet.  Not a man of many words, and Matthew wanted to know why. 

Come to find out, Matthew's grandfather, Joe--the man of few words, had a big story to tell.

Winner of the Purple Heart.  Medic in World War 1.  Won the Silver Star.  And happened to not mention a word of it to his family.

Matt found out he had another great grandfather who served in Civil War.  This grandfather fought and survived Gettysburg, the same exact location that Matthew played his famous movie roll in "Glory."  The same battle, the same field as his ancestor. 

Grandpa was shot in the head and killed by a musket.  He ended up being buried in a grave in Merietta outside of Atlanta.  Unknown Soldier grave number 2469.  He laid in rest for 143 years, lost to his family and human kind...until now.

Matthew the movie star said something that I will never forget.  Speaking of his grandfather Joe, the man of few words, Matt said, "To me, he has always just been Joe the postman."  Until now.

There is such power of knowning your ancestry.  If you do not know it, you should learn it.  You will never regret it.  :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

St Patty's Day Dinner

We had some beloved guests for St Patty's Day Dinner last week and I thought you would like to see a small sampling....I love to host a dinner with a special theme!

Smoke thought he got an invite

The Tom Clan showed up in full festive gear...

One guest reminded me of someone from my past...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The First Annual Great American Fly-Off

Spring fever has hit the family and last week, after 4 days in the bed with a horrible flu, I dragged my keister to the park. 

Remember swinging and jumping out of the swing...?
We went with some Allisons and best buddy Vincent, and this is what come out of the Fly-Off:
Best Form
All Natural

Overall Winner--Vincent

Dirtiest Landing

The Girl was in a photo mood

This is Tom's girl--I love this shot I took

Would you like to see how a "clone" shot is made?

You start with what you want the clones to be doing...

sample of shot two--notice the tri-pod...it is on auto timer

Finished product
(see the peeking girl at the bottom?)  :)
Come on spring, bring your sunshine

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It is called Fistula

If my sister-in-law who gave birth last week had lived in Africa, chances are that she would now have developed a whole new set of problems in her life.

It would be called Fistula. 
What's that?  Fair warning:  If you are male (or female for that matter) you might not want to read this. 

Today I am feeling real and I wanting to really say it.  I took a class in the UN about this topic, and it is time you learn about it for yourself.  I have thought about it for two weeks, and I am tired of thinking
about it all alone.

Fistula holds no respect for money, fame, status or education.

And I quote: (remember, this is just one country's example)
Rural Ethiopian girls traditionally receive their first water jar at age two. By age eight they are carrying loads of water, wood and grain that are much too heavy for their physical size. Despite females being assigned the beast-of-burden role, if food is short, it must go to the boys before the girls. This favoritism exacerbates the stunting of girls’ bones, particularly in the pelvic region.

In Ethiopia rural, poor and often illiterate girls are betrothed between ages of 9 and 13. Married two years later, they usually begin having babies usually by 15 years of age while their bones are still undeveloped. Rape victims may be as young as seven. Whether married or raped, most Ethiopian women have at-home deliveries under dirty conditions with no clean water.

The fistula damage begins early in the labor process when babies become lodged in narrow birth canals, blocked by underdeveloped pelvic bones. This obstructed labor lasts for an average of 3 to 4 days, sometimes as much as a week. During that time, repeated, futile contractions cut off blood to vaginal tissue compressed between the fetal head and the bony pelvis. This tissue becomes necrotic, sloughs off and a fistula (opening) develops between the bladder and the vagina, the rectum or both. The uterus squeezes the unborn babies to death in 95% of fistula cases. The girls are left mourning, traumatized inside and out.

These meant-to-be mothers soon realize that, rather than gaining the status of having produced a child, they are incontinent due to their fistulas. Urine and feces continually trickle down their legs causing sores and soaking their clothes. Due to the resulting stench, husbands, families and communities ostracize these victims, forbidding them from using the village well, which in most cases is their only water source. Because delivery is often on the ground, dirt often enters the uterus and thus many women die from septicemia and other gynecologic injuries. Fistulae can lead to kidney disease and even death. Many of these women drink as little as possible to avoid leakage and thus become dehydrated. Some victims of fistula choose suicide as the only escape from living as a pariah.

Did you know that the US answer to fistula is called a Caesarian Section--C-section.  Chances are if you had a C-section here in the states, you would not/could not have had one in Africa and the risks of fistula happening to you are very real.  There are an estimated 2 million women and girls living with this every single day.  Those are the ones who survive.  A woman dies every single minute in pregnancy or childbirth, almost all occurring in Asia or Africa.

There are two countries that this is rampent.  Afghanistan and Nigeria.  Not passing judgement on culture or religion.  Just stating the facts.

My sister-in-law holds a Master of Education and is the director of an environmental education center in California.  My foster sister, who gave birth last month, is a foreign diplomat to Tanzania, holding a Masters degree from Columbia University.  Both had C-sections.  What would their story be if they were in Ethiopia or Nigeria?

The experts say that the number one cause of fistula is children having babies.  Their bodies cannot handle it.  Their bodies weren't designed to do it.  The number one cause of children having babies is child marriage.

That, my friends, is a subject for another day.  Another day very soon.

If you want to know more, go to http://www.endfistula.org/

Monday, March 22, 2010

Guest UN Blogger: Christy, the professional photographer

One of the women that humbled me in New York was Christy, the professional photographer for our group.  She does super great work and you can see it on her web site.  She wrote a wonderful blog about the people in our party.  She has some great shots so you can see their neatness in person.  She has put it into words much better than I can.  Enjoy.  :) 


Friday, March 19, 2010

Guest Blogger: Grandmother Meredith--Announcing the arrival of Baby :)

Elizabeth Rose
"Our stunning Baby (daughter of Genie and Brian ) arrived late last night, Thursday, March 18th, at around 11:15 p.m. and weighed in at 8 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 and 1/2 inches long and she is strong and healthy (pictures to follow!) and positively gorgeous with fat rosy cheeks. As we left the hospital around 12:30 midnight she was doing all the appropriate newborn activities! Genie did an outrageous job in over 20 hours of labor however a C-section was necessary in the end due to the fact that she is her father's daughter and was just a bit too large. So there you have it. More to come. Genie looked positively beautiful as we left and the father was overflowing with love and enthusiasm.
Yeah!!!!!!!! It is so-o-o-o cool!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Our little family secret heads to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

What you are about to read is true. 

We have an ABBA lover in our family.  Whew, I said out loud.  Say it again, Val.  

We have an ABBA LO-VER in our family. 

Now mind you, he is not your ordinary sort of ABBA fan. You know, the kind that listens to the regular radio and sings along to "Dancing Queen."  Or even the one who understands the reason why a Swedish band made a song about a mexican revolutionary.  It goes much deeper than than that.

You might think that it is our own Mr. Fun.  Makes a good guess.  He is a dancing king of sorts, but alas.  It isn't.  It is Mr. Fun's Dad.

And for those of you who know Mr. Fun's dad, you won't believe what you are about to read. 

Mr. Fun's dad, Mr. Doctor, is a very mellow sort of guy.  Not too sentimental or attached to most anything, except some of his clothing he still wears he had in medical school (he is over 60 now) and some of his more favorite copies of books like "How to track anything in the mexican beach sand" or "How to mush the Ididarod on $5 a day and not get divorced."  Other than that, he basically has to be strong armed into any sort of family function or just skips it all together.  It isn't that he doesn't love the family, he is just a practical sort of man and it isn't how he is wired.  Just doesn't feel it.

Except when it comes to ABBA.

Did you ever see that Seinfeld where Elaine dates a guy who basically falls into a coma-like trance when he heard the song "Desparado" by the Eagles play?  That is Mr. Doctor for any ABBA song.  No joke.

Last night, flipping through the tv, we hit the biography of ABBA on cable.  They were talking about Bjorn and Benny and it made our hearts sort of flutter.  Like they were talking about uncles or members of our family.  We found out that they were just inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week.  I am sure it was sweet music (no pun intended) to Mr. Doctor's ears!  I need to send a congratulatory card. 

The Girl has heard Mr. Doctor talk about ABBA more than ANY other subject in her whole life.

When we lived in SLC and Mr. Doctor had been strong-armed into a visit, one of the absolute first things he would do to settle in was go to the front room and put in our ABBA Greatest Hits cd.  For the duration of the trip, when he wasn't at what was required, he could be found there, laying quietly on the couch or floor, listening to the cd over and over. 

When he bought a new truck several years ago (at least 8 I can recall) part of the selling point was the 5 cd changer came with it.  I burned 5 copies of that beloved cd (the same cd mind you) and sent them.  They have resided in the truck ever since and as far as family folklore goes, he has never taken them out.  Point:  he has been listening to the same ABBA cd in his truck over and over for at least 8 years.  :)

One Christmas I put together a poster-sized collage of pictures and song lyrics for him.  I hear it ended up at the clinic office. 

Suffice it to say he is a fan.

The two most unbelievable fan pieces are as follows: 

When "Momma Mia" came out in musical theater, Mr. Doctor flew from AK to San Fransisco for one day just to see it. 

When Mr. Doctor hears ABBA, talks about ABBA and their musical gift or their record-breaking career, often times he weeps.  No, I am not kidding.  The most strange piece of that is last night, watching the biography of their story, the music critic from the USA Today newspaper cried when he talked about them as well.  He said the very same types of things that Mr. Doctor has been saying all these years. 

I don't think we are old enough to "get it."

This is what I decided.  You know those tones or pitches that teenagers and young people can hear that we older folks cannot.  Or whistles that dogs hear and we can't.  Maybe there is something with the ABBA music that older folks can hear that we can't. 

Our sincere congratulations to ABBA and their induction in the RR Hall of Fame.  Right next to James and the Boys from Metallica.  

I gotta go.  I have to go write a congratulatory note to their biggest fan.  :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

One reason of many

I found one of many reasons why I am
not planning to move to New York City.
This is some granola bars.
Notice the price.

This is here at home the next week.
Have a great Monday.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Good news, all the time


NBC has a website called Good News. It is like a Loony Bin blog but on super steriods.  I thought you might enjoy it.  :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bob the Builder Award: Patty, the Queen Mother

See this chick....this is minutes before she presented to the United Nations.  Look how cool she is...not a drop of sweat anywhere.  Isn't she beautiful? The Girl edited this picture for me.

She is affectionately known as the Queen Mother in Africa and Patty here in the states.  She was one of my roommates in New York and wow!  Talk about a go-getter. 

She provides a voice for those who are voiceless in Africa--women and children.  She has been there so many times that she said she stopped counting after her 15th trip. 

And she, my friends, does it all as a volunteer.

If you ask her her story she will tell you that she had a feeling one day she should go to Africa and help the orphans.  So she did. 

It is true. It is no denying that she is one of my new "besties." 

She shared the story of women giving birth in beds with yucky or no sheets.  So the next trip she hauled over some sheets for ladies to have.  Small offering for us, no doubt, but not so small to them.  She said something that I believe and try to live:  "Everyone has their sheets to give." 

The point being is that while she goes to Africa to help the people there, I can give my "sheets" here at home to the homeless or running the book sale at the elementary school.  Or be nice to my kid's friend. 

Perhaps your "sheets" include donating to your church a little extra, snowplowing a driveway or giving some food to the food bank. 

As my other compassionate bestie, Marilyn, says-- find your passion
Good luck in finding your sheets.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bob the Builder Award: 10,000 volunteers who gave their hour

"At 6:15 pm, Saturday night we hit the One Million Meals for Haiti. Our total count was 1,091, 288 meals. We had over 10,000 volunteers come and help us pack meals for two days. You were AWESOME!"  From the Salvation Army

Just a quick update to the blogs of 2 weeks ago about stuffing bags with rice for the starving.  This is how many meals that the volunteers of Kansas City put together during those two days.  Go world.  :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


New York has a few folks in it.  About 17 million I hear. 

It was strange to me to find folks all alone in such a crowded place. 

Folks in a lonely place.  Emotionally, not physically.

Grand Central Station
I liked going here.  My mother has always said our home
is like "Grand Central Station."  She is right in one way...
we have lots of friends here.
However, with the train station those people are
always on their way somewhere else in a hurry.
At our house, people don't hurry through. 
Which I am glad for.

Little Italy.
As the Man Prom King says...a photo with a story.

Photographic evidence that I really was at the UN--
not in Tahiti recovering from a hair transplant surgery.
No really, I knew a guy who shall remain nameless that did that.

This was interesting.
It was noonish, and she had stole away in the UN Building
to pray to Mecca.  I happened upon her while I was
going through the photo exhibit.

The reason why I found this so ironic was that
not just two minutes earlier, I had been in a side room
called the Meditation Room, and I was praying to my God
thanksgiving for my opportunity this week. 
When I saw her, it made me think that she and I are
not that different.  I wanted to tell her about the prayer room
across the lobby, but she was kneeling over for so long I couldn't
get her eye contact.  If I had tapped her shoulder, I would have
defiled her and she would have been unclean to pray so
I let her be.  It was a tender moment for us
both to share, with out her even realizing it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Empty Boxes

I was 17 when I attended my first true camp.  It was leadership camp for high school student leaders from around the state of Alaska.  I went with my foster sister Juniper since we were our student body Activities Chairs. 

We packed everything in one suitcase (remember Darrell?) and thought our shifty ways were enough to convince the leaders to let us sleep in the same room, thus be on the same "team."  We were afraid to be separated.

Those leaders...those pesky "we've heard it all" teachers knew better.  We told our sob story of having to share out of one suitcase.   Darrell the Director smiled with a big grin and handed me an empty box. 

My suitcase for the week.

I wonder if that single experience could be listed on my list of 10 defining moments?  Yep, that empty box inadvertedly facilitated something that I think is contributing to why I am sitting in JFK right this second, sipping my soy hot chocolate and listening to Backstreet Boys...yes, a guilty pleasure (sorry Brother Brian--you got all the Metal Music genes).

When Juniper and I got stepped off the plane from camp, my mother has always said that we looked like we had been run over....in a good way.   Much how I look like today, without the doubling chin and arthritic spine.  :)  She said we looked different.  No doubt my mother knows best.

I came "home" to my deep soul self that week in 1986.  It was so impactful.  Like I was born to do it....like some people are born to play hockey.  :)

By being separated from Juniper in our room and team, space opened up the opportunity for me (and her) to step out of our comfort zones.  We found some wind that week for our fledgling wings and I haven't looked back. 

This summer I will attend my 14 and 15th leadership programs.  Mr. Fun calls them "Happy Camp."

Having just spent the last five days at the United Nations (and I have the t-shirt to prove it) with the international womens' conference for the whole wide world, I can hardly process it.  It was like Heavenly Father himself gave me a new empty box.

I am not saying that suddenly I am going to help save the children of Africa.  But maybe I will. 

I am not saying that I am going to help build a program at an Indian leper colony.  But maybe I will. 

I do not have the skills to stop fistula in young women.  But perhaps I will learn them.

Maybe I will not win the Nobel Peace prize.  But maybe I will.  :)

I guess my thoughts are today that I am thankful for this chance of a lifetime.  Perhaps it was just a tender mercy from God. But perhaps it is more. 

Thanks to the Worldwide Organization of Women for inviting me to attend, especially one SUSAN and ALASKA.  :)


Post Script:
For those of you who are LDS like me, you should quite pleased or proud.  The ladies who delivered their presentation for the conference who share our faith rocked it.  All those church talks in Primary and Sacrament meetings have obviously paid off.  They did not talk about the LDS Church or it's doctrine, but the larger doctrine of serving their fellow men as the Saviour would have us do.  I sat straight and tall for my fellow sisters, knowing the feeling of the Spirit their words invoked.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Happy International Women's Day

Today, March 4th, across the world, it is International Women's Day.  If you know me, you might know that today is my birthday so it is seems like a perfect holiday for me to share a birthday with.  :) Roar!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wanna take a field trip? New York....Neeeeew Yoooooooork

Greetings from Park Avenue (no, really) New York, New York.

I am in a hotel room with all these talented and amazing women.  I am so humbled that it makes me want to cry.  No, really. 

I have some photographs to share with you,  but not from this pesky laptop.  I will "field trip" them with you later.  Just think of me as a reporter (my tiny volunteer work is as about as significant and contributory as a reporter with a camera and no gun with soldiers in Iraq fighting the guys who think differently than we westerners do) imbeded in the tank....just hoping to share the stories I am living with you.

First and foremost, this is NOT a man-bashing session. There aren't lesbians everywhere, not that it would matter if there were.

There are 2,000 movers and shakers women from around the world, gathered here together, discussing issues that that matter most.  Trafficking of women and girl children.  The stoning of women to death.  The economic impact of climate change on women.  The exploitation of females in media.  Creating lives for lepers.  Teaching african children how to stay alive from AIDS.  The weighter matters of life.

I have never been to New York and I am really liking the city.  It is not as dirty as I thought it would be.  It isn't as crowded as I thought.  I like it.

My brain is tired tonight so I am off to bed.  I have a fun list of things I have done.

I was going to type something but I just forgot.

The good news I got from home tonight was that The Girl got a 4th place finish for the State PTA for one pieces of her artwork and a honorable mention for another.  :)