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August 31, 2005

Like I've been saying

People think I'm exagerrating when I say that New Orleans is basically Third World.

Well, the host on CNN made the comment that what we're seeing there now with all the looting is what one would expect from a developing world country. It's not an exagerration. I was not surprised at all.

The people were not homeless (now they are, as everyone else). They're poor. (Not to condone the looting or anything. I'm just not surprised.)

The poverty in the city is staggering. It upsets me so much that the areas with the worst flooding--the 9th Ward and St Bernard Parish--are some of the poorest. Is this a coincidence? Now they have even less.

Scott has a little information regarding Chris's former place of employment, which is now underwater. here and here, for those of you wondering...

aftermath blogging

I haven't followed the news so closely since 9/11. I'm looking at all the water in disbelief.

What's been interest is all the blog coverage. I've been reading the following updates:

Irish Trojan. This guy doesn't seem to have a personal connection to NOLA, but is good at gathering news bits.

New Orleans Metroblogging. They have a good post on what flooding in NOLA really looks like. As I said before, flooding is so sporadic, it's hard to know how deep the water is throughout.

Livejournal New Orleans. At this point mostly people asking for info.

nola.com. With the Times-Picayune (local paper) online, their blog NOLA view, and pictures.

WWL (local TV station). They have live streaming on the website (if your internet connection allows), which has been playing a lot of helicopter footage. This has been nice, because locals who actually know the area and can tell you what you're looking at are narrating (as opposed to the quick video clips of generic New Orleans that CNN and the like have been playing). They probably have the most frequently updated blog.

CNN has also sent out a couple of staff bloggers who are reporting from the Gulfport/Biloxi area.

So looks like mainstream media is taking advantage of this whole "blogging thing".

My friend who is a nurse said that they are safe and dry still this morning at Children's Hospital, but they were beginning to fear looters. Hopefully that is under control there. (Where in the world do these guys think they are going to take this stuff?! I'm just appalled.) She said they were predicting about 3 feet of water by this evening. (I'm telling you, New Orleans doesn't flood evenly.)

Oh yea, and we got new Philly-area cell phone numbers...check your email. If you want it, and didn't get it, leave a comment.


August 30, 2005

still watching

The blues song "When the Levee Breaks" keeps playing in my head.

A levee at the lake has been breached. It's right near the home of some of our good friends. They have a two-story place, so I hope at least the second stays dry. They are at one of the hospitals where she is a nurse and were safe when we talked to them last night.

I just feel like crying. I can't believe we just moved away from there!

Looking at all the pictures, though, it is still hard to know how to interpret the flooding. There are parts of the city more prone to flooding than others. Of course, they'll show the worst flooded parts on the news. So let's say the whole city floods, one part could have 18 feet of water, and it's very reasonable for another to only have 8. Where we used to live never flooded. During tropical storms somebody on the news would be standing thigh-deep in water, while we barely had any sidewalk puddles.

With a levee breaking, though, the flooding has got to be incredible. Water pouring in to flood the bowl of a city.

(our cell phone numbers seem to be working again.)

August 29, 2005

stats and the boy

Ellis had his two month check up today. (Okay, so maybe it was more like almost 11 weeks checkup, but who's counting?) He's my big boy weighing in at 11lbs, 11oz, 23 inches. I don't what percentile that is, but it seems to be fairly average, which is pretty good for somebody who was born four weeks early. He got two shots. I hate it when he gets shots, but he was very brave. It's really nice, because we can walk over to the pediatrician's office. She has an office in her home, which is just a couple of blocks away.

Ellis is getting really fun and interactive. He smiles at us and stares into our faces, cooing and gurgling. He lights up when he sees his toys and laughs at them. Sometimes we put them in the line of flail, so maybe soon he'll get some degree of hand-eye coordination. In the past couple of days, he's taken to finding his thumb--it's this process of sucking on his fist, circling around the fingers until finally he lands on his thumb, which he seems to find the most calming thing to suck on. I'm enjoying the fact that he's learning how to settle himself. It's so fun to watch him grow!

I'm making little movies of him on our digital camera, and pasting them together in iMovie. Problem is that I can't seem to get them into an mpeg file...only avi, which they're recorded in, or quicktime's mov. Any ideas? I've got to get the movie over onto Chris's computer with the dvd burner. Hmmm. Yea, they're not the best quality movies in the world, but they're decent, and we'd like to preserve them somehow.

Katrina updates

I never thought a hurricane would ever actually hit New Orleans. They always warned us about possible dangers, etc, etc. Everyone knows the story: New Orleans is a bowl between the lake and the river. A hurricane would just fill up the bowl. Yikes! I didn't think it would happen!

For updates visit nola.com. Levees are already being breached. Reports say that the levee is breached in the 9th Ward....where Chris's former students are from. We weren't worried about our friends, knowing that they had all evacuated. Chris was most worried about his former students. The 9th Ward is where the worst New Orleans poverty and many projects are. Many people couldn't leave. So we're hoping that they got to safety.

And...uh...our cell phones don't work, because we still have New Orleans numbers.

August 28, 2005

wow!

Sure am glad I don't live in New Orleans anymore! This is storm worth evacuating for!! (unlike some others) I know our friends there have left.


August 25, 2005

a girl's best friend

Now that our stuff is here from New Orleans, we're unpacking a few choice boxes. The rest are finding hibernation in the garage. Of the things we need books figure prominently. We have our shelves set up. Our desks set up. And Chris has been unloading a few of the book boxes, ones that we may need for our respective jobs as high school English teacher and at home dissertator. And, even more excitingly, Ellis's burgeoning library.

I'm reminded in the part of Howard's End where Helen and Margaret find that Mrs. Avery has unpacked their books. They fit so well at Howard's End as if beckoning the sisters to their rightful place. The books needed the women.

It's nice to see my old friends. I think I feel a little less aimless. I need tomes to hold my feet down.

August 24, 2005

thinking things through

I really appreciate all the encouraging comments from folks.

I realized that as I writing last night that perhaps my attitude seemed a bit cavalier. I don't really know. I did want to say that I truly am feeling pretty calm about everything. Believe me, I'm not one to deny myself tears, but I really am doing fine. A little apprehensive about how to proceed and all we'll need to do, sorting through it all, but overall fine.

I think it's partly a combination of the Lord's giving me calm and the fact that really when I look at him, I don't see him not hearing yet (except for the fact that he doesn't startle), so perhaps it hasn't really hit me. (I do feel a little sad that he probably won't be able to enjoy music like I do.) Maybe I'm in denial. Maybe I keep hoping that as he gets bigger and grows and further develops that his hearing will resolve itself. I don't know. I just keep thinking about the Dubles and how they lost their little boy, and I have a strong, healthy boy. So there's a lot to be thankful for.

There is also a sense in which I don't really know what to mourn over yet, because there is just not a lot defined with regards to the nature of his hearing loss and how much hearing assistance (whether in the form of hearing aids or even a cochlear implant) will be able to help him. Maybe with assistance he can have a normal hearing life. There are just still so many unknowns.

August 23, 2005

ears to hear, or not?

Today we had the next test for Ellis's hearing. The tests before were just hearing screens to determine on a black and white level whether or not he has hearing loss. On the test today they hooked up electrodes to his head and inserted these things in his ear that they played different frequencies on. They were testing his brainwaves for response. The doctor played through a range of frequencies to see how Ellis would respond at each pitch. For instance, he may respond to higher pitches but not lower ones. Well, Ellis didn't respond to any of them.

At Ellis's age, a complete no-response still doesn't tell them a whole lot, but it probably rules out the slight-hearing-impaired category. As he grows older and they repeat tests and see how he develops behaviorly to sound, they'll get a better understanding on the extent of his hearing loss. In the meantime, there is an extensive early intervention program in our school system that we can take advantage of even now as the seeds for his communication skills are being planted.

There are two basic types of hearing loss: conductive, which has to do with outer and middle ear and could be due to something as simple as fluid in the ear, and sensorineural, which is hearing loss caused by damage to the sensory cells and/or nerve fibers of the inner ear. It appears that Ellis most likely has the latter.

We're still really calm about it all. We'll do everything we can for him to help him with this particular challenge, of course, but this is not a tragedy. What would be a tragedy is if Ellis did not turn to Christ. We pray that God will bring His little child to Himself, using any unique challenges He's given him for his sanctification. And in that respect, Ellis is in no more need of prayer than any other covenant child.

We would appreciate prayers as we get to know what we can do for him so that we can help him the very best we can. I will say that the thing that overwhelms me the most is the possibility that we might have to learn sign language. That always has been a really intimidating language to me. I mean it's not like it has Latin roots or anything.

hello, social life

Since coming here to Philly, we've reconnected with old friends and made new friends pretty quickly. In fact, one could even say that we have *shock* a social life! There are several people at our church that are around our age/station in life--some couples, some singles, some babies. We're all roughly the same education, the same interests, the same experiences. The majority are on an academic schedule, whether grad students or teachers. A whole group of people like us!! In the past few weeks, we've hung out, watched movies, eaten dinner, renovated a new home with various people. It's so fun. We've never had this before!! Ellis usually just hangs out with us. Everybody wants to hold the baby anyway. Sunday night, though, I left him for the first real time (other than a quick run to the gas station) with Grammy. It was only a couple of hours. This could be really nice.

Last week we did go to Lancaster for a couple of days. My family was actually gone on vacation.
We enjoyed staying in their empty house, turning it into a mini-vacation. Our primary reason for going down was to visit my friend Erica from LSU whose mother lives in Lancaster, too, incidently. We had a great time, talking about school, life, etc. Even though I was glad to be done with coursework, I do feel wistful about not starting classes with everyone else this week. Cool thing: Erica's mom gave us a canoe! Can't wait to try it out!

Last week our stuff arrived from New Orleans. Yep, we're really moved.

August 17, 2005

quality japanese technology

On Sunday evening we went to hang out with our peer group--the post-college crowd, most of whom are seminary students. We had a great time, and I hope we'll get to hang out with them a lot.

The bad part was that Sunday evening was the last time I saw my cell phone. Over the past couple days of looking for it, I deduced that it must've gone flying when I tripped and went sprawling on the downhill walkway at the apartment complex. (Don't worry, I wasn't holding the boy.) I called the apartment office this morning, and sure enough, someone had turned in a phone earlier today. That means that for two very rainy days, it sat on its landing spot on the ground. And, folks, it still works!

August 15, 2005

Happy Two Months!

Today Ellis is two months old!

Right now he is sleeping on his little blanket that sits by my desk so that he's near me as I work.
This month he's graduated from newborn to baby, filling out with all the cute baby chubbiness. I just want to pinch his little cheeks! He fit into the 0-3 month clothes finally. It's because he's such a good eater. What a piggy! When I give him a bath, I have no make sure I get into all his fat crevices to weed out lurking lint.


This month he's also made his presence known in the world in a much more compelling way. His cries have gone from the newborn squeak to a full-blown wail. The problem is, he is still so cute when he cries that his mommy and daddy just laugh. Poverino! He has always been a wiggler, but now his wiggles mean something! He even wiggles in his sleep. Sometimes he wiggles completely off his nap blanket. As he wiggles across the floor it almost looks like he's crawling. He's a strong kid, that's for sure. He has no problem lifting his head up off the floor or my chest if I'm holding him. He lifts himself up on his arms and looks around.

Because he's getting bigger, he's also sleeping a bit longer, waking up every 4-5 hours. One night he even slept for 7 hours, which made Mom very happy. Way to go, Ellis!


He makes hilarious faces, too. Whether he's in play mode, sleepy mode, or fuss mode, he always has us cracking up. Sometimes he adds sound effects to his faces. When he wakes up, he stretches his arms way up and grunts and groans just like daddy does. And if he thinks Mom and Dad are just way too silly, he scowls at us.

This is the month we found out that Ellis has hearing loss. So we'll see what God has in store for him.

Ellis is the best!! We just love him to bits!!

August 13, 2005

you goin' somewhere?


foreign film follow-up

Well, my question of the day turned out to be rather fruitful. I'm in the process of spicing up Netflix, so I'll add some to the queue.

Out of the suggestions,
These are the ones I have seen:


  • Amelie--yea, it's a given. love it! that's one I own.
  • Kolya--involves a cellist and a little boy. I saw this with you, Charity. I don't remember much. It's on the queue for a rewatch.
  • Il Postino
  • Ponette
  • Babette's Feast--love food movies!
  • Mostly Martha--ditto!
  • Life is Beautiful

These are the ones I have not seen:


  • Spirited Away
  • The Motorcycle Diaries
  • Y Tu Mama Tambien
  • All About My Mother
  • Central Station
  • Nowhere in Africa
  • Triplets of Belleville
  • Zelary
  • Monsoon Wedding
  • A Very Long Engagement
  • Spicegirls Nausicaa
  • Jean De Florette & Mannon of the Spring

Might I suggest a few more?
Das Boot, German (1981) This is a a submarine movie. It is astounding. One of the most suspenseful dramas I've ever seen. One thing that is really interesting is that they're filmin in the dimensions of the submarine...not a set with extra room for cameras, so you really get the sense of the claustrophobia that is so essential in submarine movies. (Yea, I've seen a lot of submarine movies. It's one of Chris's favorite genres.)

L'Auberge espagnol, French (2002) If you've ever studied abroad, you'll love this, because it captures the indescribable experience that it is. The journey from fear and loneliness in a strange country to your becoming a new person in it.

Les Choristes, French (2004) A new prefect joins a boys' reformatory school and channels their energy into a choir. I really liked the music...it's still in my head.

Well, I was goign to list a whole bunch, but the boy is waking up. If you want any more ideas, let me know.

later
I'll just list the following few: Afterlife, japanese (1998); Le gout des autres (The Taste of Others), French (2000); Lola rennt (Run, Lola, Run), German (1998); A bout de souffle (Breathless), French (1960); Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg), French (1964) this is the next one I'd like to own.

Ok, since we all don't have anything better to do in the heat. Watch some movies!

August 12, 2005

i would just like to say

that Ellis slept for SEVEN HOURS last night!!!

Yea, I've been groovin' all day!

August 10, 2005

Can you hear me now?

When he was born, Ellis did not pass the hearing screen they give newborns in the hospital. They tried it twice, and he failed twice. I've been watching him. He doesn't seem to be completely unresponsive to noises, but at the same time he doesn't seem to respond the way he should, for instance he doesn't really startle at sharp noise, like if you clap by his head or slam a door.

We had a follow-up appointment with an audiologist today. They gave him the same hearing screen again, and he failed again. So then they went to the next level of testing, where they're testing brainwaves. It's kind of freaky seeing little electrode thingys attached to your kid's head. He failed that one, too.

Now these tests can't really tell much except a yes or no to the question of hearing loss. Even if there's the littlest bit, it will result in a fail. So, since he failed these tests, the answer is yes he has some hearing loss. The next level of testing is how much. It could be very slight or medium or severe. Next week we'll take him in for that test.

I'm not really worried, at this point. There's not a whole lot we know yet. And at every level of impairment there's help, all the way down to a cochlear implant for the most severe hearing loss. Of course, I want Ellis to be perfectly normal, but at the same time, I know that God has made him the child He wants him to be. We're praying that God will help us be good parents and will give grace to Ellis to help him with this challenge.

August 9, 2005

hmmm

If you only know how much I didn't write about sleeping. Sorry, folks. I guess I'm kind of mono-subject mode. I realized that I've written a lot about it lately. I've so got to get out of the house.

Interesting discovery today. While spicing up our Netflix queue, I realized that you can watch previews for many of the movies! Cool!!

Ok. Totally geeky Question of the day:
What is your favorite foreign film?

August 8, 2005

uuhh...

...Mom, shouldn't you be working on your dissertation?


cool stuff

Bob is making a Children's Shorter Catechism board book for their kids. I'm so going to steal his idea!

You can now buy art cards of original Katie Knutson works! I'm a little disappointed that Vessel didn't make the cut. But I love what she chose in the end!

Wow! I have such amazing, gifted friends!

sittin' here

I'm having kind of a bum day. We've been having really terrific days, so I suppose I'm due one.

Ellis has been doing really well sleeping. As much as I enjoying having my baby close, when it comes down to it, I do not really like co-sleeping, because I don't sleep great, and I can't wiggle around to find a comfy spot, and the bed we're sleeping in isn't big enough for three. (Our stuff arrives from New Orleans this coming weekend woohoo!!) So I took the tummy-sleeping confessional to heart and put him on his tummy. Quelle surprise! he likes it. So I put him back in the packnplay, and he began sleeping from 12-4 and 4-7/8 am. Go Ellis!!! Life has been fantabulous! I have felt full of vim and vigor. I've cooked nice meals, cleaned scary corners, and read a new Amazon arrival on medieval theology.

But then last night I thought, hey, I can't go around putting my baby to bed at midnight! what kind of habits will he get!? I don't want to all of a sudden find ourselves in a bedtime rut. It's early to bed now while we're still ahead! So yesterday evening, we came home from church, and I fed him and put him to bed by 9. After minimal fussing (remedied by someone running to put the pacifier back in), he went to sleep. He woke up at 1.30 and then again at 5.30. But I still went to bed at midnight, because we had people over. The clincher is this: he wasn't tired anymore at 5.30.

For some reason, I just couldn't snap awake...all day. I've just felt barely alive, and weirdly disconnected from Ellis. I feel like his cries are far off yet right there. This is the first time I've just felt so blah about taking care of the baby. I hate feeling this way. I look at him, and he's so completely dependent on me, my sweet, little boy. He really is the cutest thing in the world. I'm so not going to stay up until midnight tonight. We really have been doing well, so I think it's just my tiredness today.

***

I'm enjoying our "new" church more. We had visited this other one that was smaller, more urban and were excited about the possibility of contributing to it, but there are a few things about it at this moment in time that we're not quite sure about. For one thing, they're looking for a new pastor. Now, on the one hand, we'd like to be the type of people that wouldn't be swayed finding a church in such a weak time. We'd love to just jump right in and be a help. But, on the other hand, they've had a lot of applications, and well-qualified, gung-ho candidates. And we've heard a few things about the pastoral search that have made us raise a few questions. In the meantime, the pulpit supply they had when we visited was just terrible! I don't why they refused the presbytery's offer of stated supply...it seemed kind of, well, un-presbyterian. So I think we'll check it out again when they do decide on someone.

So we're back at the church where C's parents go and where he went when he lived here. Right across the street from Westminster Sem. It's a really big church by OPC standards. But it's a wonderful, loving congregation, and after visiting this other church, I felt so much better about being at this one. It's sort of "back in the bubble" for me, too, but that's ok. In New Orleans, there were absolutely zero connections to my previous life...PCA, Covenant, Cono, which was a little weird since I had never lived without those connections before. But after awhile, I really liked it. I was much more "on my own." Now, though, I'm back. But that's fine, too. There's Cov people at this church, but there's people I hadn't known before, too, who I really like. Like I said, it's a wonderful congregation, and the preaching is always quite good. The community is more theologically vibrant. There's lots of people our age (Seminary helps with that) having babies, too. Ellis has a peer group, which is fun. There's always transitions, though.

I'm so excited because our pastor from New Orleans (our closest friends there who now live in Maine) is going to come baptize Ellis next month. I can't wait to see them again!

August 5, 2005

thrifting

We went to another thrift store yesterday. I'm enjoying the vastly improved thrift store opportunities in Philly. We had gone to one a couple of weeks ago. I'm trying out different stores in the area. The first one was great. Had TONS of stuff and great organization (for instance, they organized shirts by color!) and it was super cheap. I had gotten like 4 pants and 5 shirts for a total of $20. The downside of that store was that there was nowhere to try anything on. It's hard to buy pants without trying them on.

So we went to another today. Not as big selection, or quite as well organized, but nicer overall, with pleasant, clean try-on rooms. But it was pricey for a thrift store. Hmm. The one thing this store had, though, was FURNITURE. Awesome furniture. As soon as I walked into the furniture room I went crazy for these two benches! And Chris said I could get them!! I was just looney about them. Unfortunately, I need to do a little work on their finish. I just love their shabby-chic look as they are. But the paint is peeling a bit, so I was thinking a light sanding and sealing would be good? I don't know. I'm going to have to look into a bit. The benches are happily ensconced in the garage now waiting for the day when we get our own place.*

*Don't know if I've mentioned it or not...we're staying at C's parents for a little while, beefing up savings so that we can actually buy a house, rather than get stuck in the rent pit. Grad school and Christian school teaching haven't exactly done wonders for our wallets.


August 4, 2005

happily fed


August 3, 2005

breast is best!

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, Kristen has written a couple of posts about different topics. Worth a pop over there.

I didn't realize the breastfeeding needed so much promotion, because everyone I ever knew b'fed, but I guess that just shows what a tight little group I grew up in. (What!? Not everyone in the world has cinnamon rolls and boiled eggs for Sunday morning breakfast?!)

But, really, when you look at the benefits of b'feeding, it's kind of a no-brainer.

August 2, 2005

Family times

It's nice being close to family again. My mom can just call up and ask if we'll come for supper on Saturday, and because an hour drive separates us, instead of a twenty-one hour drive, we can say 'yes! we'll come!'. The occasion this past Saturday was one final dinner together before my sister and her husband move to Pittsburgh. We were all together except for my one brother who just moved to Iowa.


(trying to get Dad to pose nicely)

We grilled steaks, eating in the cool breeze of the back yard. Peach pie and pictures followed in the waning light. And the cigar smokers were serenaded by the hymn singers as their lusty song streamed through the open windows.

August 1, 2005

horrors!

The music critic for The New Yorker, Alex Ross, has a blog. He is not on my list of favorite people. :-P

still a student

So life as Student has changed. It's mostly a time issue: how to use the time I have (which isn't much, it seems). It's also an energy issue: when one still doesn't as much sleep as sleeping through the night affords, how does one really feel up to thinking? So Time and Energy are against me. What do you do? Isn't Time always our enemy, though?

The other problem that is making functioning very difficult right now is Lack of Direction. I'm working on a paper that I have macro-direction for, but I'm not sure what to do daytoday. Sometimes I wonder if I just translate a whole bunch of the texts I'm working on, that everything will become clear. But since translating is a long, slow process, when I actually sit down to try it, I'm quickly overwhelmed and wonder if there's a more time effecient way to do this. As far as I know, the texts I'm working don't exist in English edition to give me a leg up. But that's problem better anyway, because then I won't the English polluting my mind when I'm looking at the Latin. Whatever. My other tack is to find out a lot about the texts themselvess--a nice article telling what is significant about this treatise, blah, blah--, but that is also easier said than done. Perhaps I'm writing said article, who knows? Probably what it comes down to is fear of Latin and the need to overcome it.

The other project is the...uh...dissertation. Yea. How do you do that? I dunno. I guess I should just read and absorb and not worry about it. But that seems too directionless, and I want a plan with things I can check off of.

I'm going to go to Penn's library to see if I can get borrowing privileges. That should help some.

I just feel kind of out of it. I mean, obviously, i just had a baby! I should feel out of it. But now that he's almost 7 weeks old, I'm feeling better, and I really do want to do stuff, but somehow can't make this desire turn into functionality. And I'm feeling slightly pressured with time and financial restrictions (i.e., the sooner I have a viable topic, the sooner I can apply for grants).

I also have to be honest. The thought of not going to classes in the fall is gloomy. An empty year dependent solely on my self-discipline stretches before me. I should welcome it. Time to focus just on baby and dissertation. And I do welcome it, but at the same, I think I will feel a little wistful.