Thursday, January 31, 2008
For those of you who may not know, Love Without Boundaries is a wonderful organization that helps children in China's orphanages. They help arrange and pay for surgeries, provide medical care, foster care, and nutritional and educational support. You can visit the website to read more about them here, just finish reading this first!
LWB is taking part in a Giving Challenge sponsored by Facebook. They are in the last 24 hrs. of the challenge and need as many people willing to donate $10 as possible! The charity with the most individual donors giving $10 or more by February 1st will win $50,000 for their charity. They are currently in first place but may not stay that way for long. If they win this money, LWB intends to use the funds to save the lives of orphaned children in China needing heart surgery. Since heart surgeries average $5000 in China, the prize money could help ten children have a second chance at life!
What's really cool about this is that the contest counts each individual donor, not just total dollars raised. So 20 people responding with a donation of only ten dollars will have a greater impact (towards winning the prize money) than one person giving $200. You know you will blow ten bucks on something stupid today anyway! Yes, you will. You'll buy a few mochas, or new lipstick, maybe some Odor-Eaters or new boxer shorts, or something really, really stupid, like bread and milk. But nothing that costs you ten bucks today will be life-changing. Wouldn't you rather use it to help a baby whose life can be changed? Come on... Help a kid!
Their website talks a little more about the challenge here if you need more information, BUT-I would rather you click here to go to their Facebook page. You can read about the contest there and donate. You will need to join Facebook to do it, but you can always delete your profile afterwards if you don't go for that kind of stuff.
LWB also has a blog at: http://lwbchinablog.blogspot.com/
I received this email this morning:
Amy Eldridge posted an announcement to the cause Love Without Boundaries Foundation.
Subject: Final 24 hours plea
My message is a bit long today but I hope you will read it to the end. We have just 24 hours left in the Giving Challenge contest on Facebook. 24 hours to try and stay in the lead. And we can’t do it without you. As I type this, I am staring at the photos of 12 babies who are hurting because they were born with heart disease. Their eyes truly haunt me, first because they are orphaned and as a mother it is hard to accept that any child has to be sick without a mom or dad to comfort them….but second because I know that without surgery, the pictures I have of these children might be their last. Do you know how small a baby’s heart is? And how fragile an orphan’s life is when that tiny heart has a defect? These pictures are of children who are blue, children who are tired, children who NEED OUR HELP. I also have on my desk the photos of children whose hearts we have healed. They stare out at me with pink cheeks and smiles, and in many…with their new adoptive families. THIS is what it is all about. Saving lives, giving a second chance, and allowing a child to find their family and know complete love. In the next 24 hours we have a chance to give the GIFT OF LIFE to 10 more children in need. The charity with the most unique $10 donors at 12 noon PST on February 1st will win $50,000. Heart surgery in China averages just $5000 per child, so with that prize….ten children can have a second chance at life. I am not going to ask you today to find 10 more donors, or even 5 more donors to help us. I am asking you to find just ONE person in your life that hasn’t donated and to ask that person to please help you save a life. For just $10. If all of us do this, we could have over a thousand new donors in just one day. How often do we spend $10 on things that last just a moment? $10 for two fancy coffees, $10 for a movie and popcorn, $10 for a dinner out. How about for today, for the next 24 hours, we all find $10 for something that will last a LIFETIME. $10 to save a baby’s life and allow a priceless child (who is orphaned and totally innocent) to get a second chance at finding a family to love them. Find just one friend in the next 24 hours, and encourage them to join our cause and donate. $10 for the life of a child. Of all the money you have spent this week….this might be the most important. Thank you EVERYONE for keeping LWB in the running for the top prize. We love our supporters and give thanks everyday for the amazing generosity, compassion, and kindness you show to those who live as orphans each and every day. We truly are a family, bound together by the belief that every child born on this earth matters. Here’s the link! http://apps.facebook.com/causes/view_cause/51591 Let’s do it for the kids.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The news isn't exactly hopeful right now. Instead of talking about it, I'll just post the recent statement from the USDoS and let you read it for yourself:
Warning Concerning Adoptions in Vietnam
The Department of State warns potential adoptive parents and adoption service providers of the risk of initiating new adoptions from Vietnam at this time. The 2005 Memorandum of Agreement, required by Vietnamese law to authorize adoptions between the United States and Vietnam, expires on September 1, 2008. The United States is strongly committed to continuing intercountry adoptions from Vietnam if possible. Our primary concern is to ensure that the children and families involved in the adoption process are protected from exploitation. The Government of Vietnam shares this concern. Both countries acknowledge that more needs to be done. Discussions about revision and renewal of the Agreement are a priority for both governments, but there is no certainty a new Agreement will be in place on September 1. In view of the processing time required in Vietnam from placement to the Giving and Receiving Ceremony, an adoption process begun now cannot be completed before the current Agreement expires. We do not know whether the Government of Vietnam will continue to process pending cases if the current Agreement expires before a new Agreement takes effect. Moreover, given concerns about the existing level of protection for children in Vietnam, it is unlikely that the Agreement can be renewed in its current form.
The United States Government stands ready to support Vietnam’s efforts to strengthen and improve accountability in its adoption system and to develop its capacity to regulate adoptions. In some cases, our background investigations have revealed evidence of irregularities, ranging from forged or altered documentation to cases where children have been offered for adoption without the apparent knowledge or consent of their birth parents. In response to these problems, in November 2007, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Department of State instituted new procedures to verify that children identified for placement meet the requirements of Vietnamese and U.S. law, before the child has been adopted under Vietnamese law. The Embassy strongly advises prospective adoptive parents not to travel to Vietnam until they have received notification from the Embassy that their case is ready for final processing and travel is appropriate. Parents should contact the Embassy immediately if anyone, including their adoption service provider, encourages them to travel to Vietnam prior to receiving this notification. The Embassy can work together with adoption service providers, Vietnam’s Department of International Adoptions, and local authorities to resolve issues such as the scheduling of a Giving and Receiving Ceremony. We continue to urge Vietnam to comply with the terms of the 2005 Agreement and to establish a process that protects the interests of all parties involved in adoptions.
The above statement can be found here: http://www.travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3939.html
They followed that with this FAQ sheet:
VIETNAM INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION CONCERNS
1. Q: What are the problems with the present Agreement that warrant a renegotiation of the MOU between the two countries at this point in time?
GVN has not complied with specific terms of our 2005 bilateral Agreement on adoptions which both parties agreed were essential to a process that is transparent and protects the rights of infants and families.
2. Q: Does the USG want to end all intercountry adoptions from Vietnam?
The USG does not want to end adoptions from Vietnam.
Instead, we hope that this renegotiation process will result in concrete steps towards establishing a more transparent adoption process with the safeguards necessary to protect children, birth parents, and adoptive parents.
Field investigations by USG personnel have revealed evidence of fraud which undermine the reliability of the adoption process in Vietnam.
This evidence requires us to scrutinize individual cases carefully to verify whether the children involved are actually eligible for adoption under Vietnamese and U.S. law.
3. Q: Why is the U.S. Government issuing this warning?
Vietnamese law, not U.S. law, requires a Memorandum of Agreement. The current Agreement expires on September 1.
We hope that a new Agreement can be finalized before that date.
We cannot predict, however, whether this will be the case and want prospective parents to be aware of that risk.
4. Q: What steps has the USG undertaken to address concerns about fraud and baby-selling while it is negotiating a new MOA with the Vietnamese government?
The USG has instituted the Orphan First program, under which the USG conducts field investigations to verify the child is eligible for a U.S. visa before the adoption is finalized in Vietnam.
Orphan First allows us to address questions of fraud before the adoption is finalized and spare American parents the pain of learning that an adopted child is not eligible for an immigrant visa.
5. Q: What is the USG doing about the families whose cases have been issued Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs)?
The USG is doing everything in its power to complete these cases quickly.
We know that the period of review of adoption cases is difficult for families, but the U.S. government has a responsibility to ensure that any irregularities in these orphan adoption cases do not undermine the validity of the petition or visa application.
6. Q: What is the current status of the NOIDs?
Specific questions about NOIDs should be addressed to USCIS, which has responsibility for this process.
Further, out of respect for the privacy of individual families, we cannot discuss individual cases.
7. Q: What is the USG’s goal regarding intercountry adoptions from Vietnam?
Our goal for Vietnam and for all countires is an intercountry adoption process solidly based on the standards set by the Hague Adoption Convention.
We have strongly urged the GVN to accede to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, to promptly draft Hague compliant adoption legislation and implementing regulations, and to develop a child welfare infrastructure that will bring Vietnam into conformity with Hague Standards.
That came from here: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3940.html
Also- another blogger, Tracy, has done the work of explaining all this and giving her take on it, as well as providing some additional links. You can read it here. She has saved me the time and trouble. Thanks, Tracy! I'm being a lazy blogger, I guess. Or a depressed one.
If you have a question about what the DoS statements mean- just leave me a comment or email me and I'll do my best to answer... But maybe not today- OK? I just don't want to think or talk about the whole mess right this second.
The fact that our agency has not received referrals yet for the first batch of dossiers that were submitted last May, just makes the whole thing seem scarier somehow, and the future of our adoption even more uncertain. We knew lots of uncertainty would be involved when we signed on with a pioneer program and we prepared ourselves for that, but we weren't expecting those uncertainties to include the possible shut-down of the country program we chose. As I've already told you guys, there aren't many other countries we qualify for, so we are really wondering what will happen next. I know you will naturally want to ask, "So, what are you guys gonna do?" Good question. Excellent question. We'll let you know when we have an answer to it. I don't think anyone really knows for sure how this whole thing will play out. I'm definitely down in the dumps about all this right now and I'm concerned, BUT I'm not losing faith or hope yet. Just because things don't look good, doesn't mean they can't still turn around. There's still time. It's not over til the fat lady sings, right? And you guys know I don't sing.
And thank you very much to those who left comments on yesterday's prayer request for my friend, and to those who prayed for her. Please keep those prayers coming! I appreciate it and I know she does, too.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Today is a departure from my typical stupidity to ask for your prayers. I have a friend who is going through something horrible and desperately needs to feel God's peace, comfort, guidance and direction TODAY. Unfortunately, the details are much too personal to discuss here, and I realize it's very difficult to sincerely, fervently, and effectively pray for someone when you have no details. But I'm asking you anyway. I'm calling upon those of you who are faithful prayer warriors to PLEASE set aside a few minutes each day to lift up my friend. Call her Jane Doe, if you want to, God doesn't care. He knows who she is and what she needs. God knows every detail. This person is going through trials that would break the heart of every mother out there. I'm even going to pray for YOU that God won't let you rest until you remember to pray for HER, so how do you like them apples?
Here's how I'm praying for her today...
That God will:
Let her feel His presence in her life and in her situation today.
Show her He's with her in the midst of these heartbreaking circumstances, and has not abandoned her to her suffering.
Give her comfort, and increase her faith to be able to persevere and trust Him.
Show her clearly what path He wants her to take and give her peace about that choice, and the endurance to follow that path.
Help her to remember He has a purpose in this. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer. 29:11
Open the doors of blessing in her life, and give her the desires of her heart.
Remind her she is loved and is not alone.
Thank you, Everyone. I know God will lay this person on someone's heart and mind today, just as He has put her on mine. Let's get to work and lift her up!
Monday, January 28, 2008
Some of you are much too young to know what I'm talking about in this post, so you will have to call your moms and ask her. Young people... Geez.
- Peter Fonda. The original Joe Cool-Bad Boy. Mr. Easy Rider. Motorcycle Guy. Peter Fonda is now Mr. Time/Life Flower Power Infomercial Guy. It's time to call the agent, Pete. Things aren't looking good. Wearing a leather jacket does nothing to counteract the effects of hosting this show, you know. You are now in the same category as Barry What's-his-name (that old fart who was Greg from the Brady Bunch), and that little tiny creepy dude from The Monkees. Do you really want that, Pete? Do you? Seriously, not a good career move.
- Joe Cocker. They showed some very old footage of him I'd never seen before- way before his Saturday Night Live/funny John Belushi imitation days (and if you're already lost with these references, maybe you should just sit this one out. Don't even bother calling your mom. Go watch "Saved By the Bell" reruns, then come back later). He was really young. And yet, he was every bit as spazzy and herky-jerky as I recall him being later on. I just always assumed years of drug use made him that way, but apparently he started out like that. Does he have some sort of condition that I am unaware of? Have I been making fun of someone all these years who couldn't help it? That's the type of thing the Lord frowns upon, is it not? Do I owe Joe an apology?
- Tommy James... of Tommy James and the Shondells (Crimson and Clover, Mony Mony, I Think We're Alone Now) was seriously weird-looking and kind of creeped me out a little. I'd never seen him before and 3:00 in the morning, in the dark, was not the time for us to meet. He had Joan Jett hair, a girly outfit, and... I don't know. He just wasn't right. It will be hard to get back to sleep. I'll have to turn on my closet light. Tommy owes me an apology.
- These kinds of commercials always have a host and a co-host. While one is talking, the other will stand there looking at his/her partner, nodding in agreement. He/she will then turn and look at you, still nodding, and begin to do the contemplative, I-totally-agree-with-what-this-idiot-is-saying "frown-smile." You know, where the person is smiling, but the corners of the mouth go down instead of up? This seems to be a standard infomercial maneuver. I hate that. Why do they always do that?
- Whiter Shade of Pale. Who can explain the meaning of this song's lyrics to me, please? It's a pretty song, but I don't get it. "We skipped a light fandango, turned cartwheels cross the floor. I was feelin' kinda seasick. The crowd called out for more. The room was humming harder, as the ceiling flew away. When we called out for another drink, the waiter brought a tray. Blah, blah, blah..." Is it possible that I am not as deep and philosophical as I think I am?
- Ladies who look like they could be, and probably are, called "Nana" by someone should not make statements like, "I was born to be wild." It makes people want to vomit. I cannot stress this point enough. All of America, and most likely Canada, agrees with me, Ma'am. You should be stopped.
- Should I be embarrassed to admit that I kind of wanted to buy this collection after investing so much of my time into it?
After this one ended, I flipped to a different channel and... Cripes, there's Larry King. Is something wrong with Larry? Has he gone nuts and CNN forgot to tell us? He seems senile. He's 96 years old; it may be time for a gold watch, Dude- know what I'm sayin'? If he's such a great interviewer, shouldn't he let the people he's interviewing finish a sentence? Isn't he supposed to LISTEN to their answers? Am I not understanding the job of an interviewer? Moving on... Let's give Pam Dawber a chance to convince me I need EyeQ. She almost did, but Pam Dawber has always gotten on my nerves. Nice try, Pam. You almost had me, but... Leeza Gibbons is currently selling Sheer Cover on another channel and a paid (oops, I mean satisfied) user just tearfully admitted that this product not only healed her skin, it healed her spirit. How cool is that? See Pete, you should've auditioned for the Sheer Cover gig instead, buddy.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I haven't had a chance until now, but I wanted to tell you how much "fun" we had last Sunday and share with you a little epiphany I had around 3:56 that same afternoon.
Some Einstein involved in the Children's Ministry of our church decided it would be "fun" to take the entire Children's Church to see the new Veggie Tales movie. Some other Einstein volunteered my services to accompany them and help watch the kids.
OK, that was me. I'm the other Einstein. I offered to go along and help. Dear, Jiminy, what was I thinking?
At first, I was told they had enough people going, and thankyouverymuch but we won't need you. BOOYAH!
Then on Sunday afternoon, Darrell foolishly answers the phone. Next thing I know I hear him agreeing to drive the kids in our van, and saying weird crap, like, "Oh, she did? No, I didn't know that. She didn't mention it to me, but I guess I can. Sure, yeah, I'd be happy to go. Yeah, no problem at all. I can do that. I'll be up there a little before 4:00." Next thing after that, he's flipping wildly through the phone book. I wanted to know what he was looking for. He wouldn't tell me- mostly because, as I would learn later, he had decided to stop speaking to me, but also partly because he was trying not to cry. I looked over his shoulder and I could almost swear the book was opened to "Hit Men, Merciless." This is how Darrell's mind works. As a Christian man, he believes having me whacked would be preferable to searching the phone book for "Attorneys, Divorce." You at least gotta appreciate the guy's steadfast commitment to keeping his marriage vows, and taking that whole "til death do us part" thing so seriously.
I must admit, I was chuckling a tiny bit on the inside. OK, it was on the outside. And it was more than a tiny bit, actually. If tears streaming down my face is considered more than a tiny bit of a chuckle. God must really, really like me, I'm thinking. I get the glory of volunteering, yet Darrell is the poor sap who winds up having to go. How fantabulous is that? Life is good.
Later, the phone rings again. And because Darrell has gone up to the car wash to vacuum all the kids' crud out of the van, and also because I'm an idiot, I answer it. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Moments like these are why answering machines were invented. It was the Einstein at church who planned this whole thing, calling to verify that I am also going, right? That's what he meant when he called Darrell. He didn't know for sure if he'd made that clear, but they were hoping we understood they wanted both of us to go. We did understand that, right? Crap. The laughter suddenly dies. "Sure," I say. "Sure, yeah, I'd be happy to go. Yeah, no problem at all. We'll both be there. No problem." These are the biggest lies ever told by one Christian to another. Life is cruddy.
We get to the church a few minutes before 4:00 and, as the kids start arriving, we slap on our smiles and start loading one precious angel after another into the van. Somehow, we wound up with nine (NINE!) little girls, most of whom are between 4-7 yrs., in our vehicle. We take off down the road, and that's when the epiphany struck: Children's Ministry... Not my thing.
All is going well enough, though. Darrell's pretty good at disguising his sobs as laughter, so all the little girls thought he was having a great time on the drive over. I spent the 20 minute ride deeply entrenched in my happy place, and reminding myself that the only things I'm ever going to volunteer for in the future are "chocolate taster," or... nope, that's pretty much it.
We get to the theater and go inside. Then I make another ginormous mistake. I hear myself saying, in a voice much too cheerful to be my own, "What do you want me to do to help?" Gaawwww... What the...?
I'm told the kids lining up at the snack bar are going to need help with ordering and paying. Helpful tip: Avoid this job at all costs. Trying to help 19 small, irrational, overly excited people ask for Reese's Pieces, no wait- popc- no, an icee, wait- how much money do I- OK, M&, Reese's Pieces and a small drink, and pay with a sockful of nickels, is not something you will ever, ever, ever want to do. I'm exaggerating, of course. Nobody actually had a sockful of nickels. If they had, I would have hit someone with it and would currently be awaiting my arraignment instead of talking to you. Days pass, or so it seems. I realize, sometime during child #8, that I don't especially like small, irrational, overly excited people. No, not at all.
Darrell went inside to save a section of seats for all of us: 19 kids, 5 adults, and me. He leaves me without any cash, of course, and unable to buy my own kids any snacks. I had to borrow from Einstein, and seriously considered, for just a second, how easy it would be to take his twenty and make a break for it to the mall across the street. I could have called a cab. I could have been free. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I stayed.
We go in, find Darrell, and sit down. All is proceeding smoothly. Then "The Distribution of the Snacks" begins. If your not familiar with "The Distribution of the Snacks," there is a proper procedure to follow that includes spilling an Icee in your lap (specifically in your- um- nether regions), thereby causing yourself great personal discomfort and embarrassment for the remainder of the movie.
The movie begins.
How was it? HOW WAS IT? Why the *&%# are you asking me that? You some kinda wiseacre? How could I possibly know that? Man, I oughta...
Here's how the adults, and me, spent our time during the movie: Look to your left to check what kids are doing and to make sure we're not slacking off on "The Distribution of the Snacks." Look to the right and do basically the same thing. Repeat.
Now, it's time for... Anyone? Anyone? Yes. The bathroom trips, of course. I get the pleasure of being asked to take a beautiful little red-headed 4 yr. old girl to the bathroom. Fine, no problem. Bri sees that I'm going and jumps up to go, too. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this interesting little tidbit about my daughter before, but Bri's bladder is uniquely timed to "go off" at the exact same moment as anyone and everyone else on earth. If you have to pee, she has to pee, guaranteed. It is one of nature's unexplained miracles. However, this is not one of her most endearing qualities. But, whatever. Fine. No problem. I can handle two little girls. I decide to hurry before anyone else feels the urge. In my race to get up the steps, I accidentally push beautiful little red-headed girl to the ground. Hey... Too bad. If you can't handle it, you shouldn't have come. Is that mean? I felt like it may have been a little mean.
We get to the bathroom and little red-headed girl needs me to hold the door shut for her. I hear weird little beeping noises coming from her stall, so I stupidly inquire, "Is that a cell phone?"
"Yes," says little red-headed girl (it was a toy phone).
"Are you making a call?" I ask.
She responds, as if this is completely normal, and what everyone does while using a public toilet, "I'm calling my friend from preschool."
"Oh," I say.
Back into the theater to finish the movie. I try to make some sense out of the plot line and get into the story a little bit but, by this point, it's too late. Something about pirates. That's all I know. The rest of the show is pretty uneventful, thank God, other than the fact that I discover, after repeated attempts to get his attention, that Darrell is still not speaking to me.
Fast forward to the trip home. Time to count everyone and make sure they all get back into the van. We assemble the same group of nine we started with and Darrell peels out of the parking lot, muttering something that sounded slightly unkind to himself, but when I ask him to repeat it, he says nothing. He does mention later (to no one in particular- and certainly not to me) that we need to stop for gas. Dear Lord, help me. My mind begins to race as I realize this will involve leaving me in the van alone with 9 freakishly giggly, talkative, argumentative, insane little gifts from God while Darrell pumps and pays for the gas.
I decide to inject a little much-needed comic relief into the situation by saying the oldest girl (10 yrs.) will have to pay for the gas, and the youngest (4 yrs.) will have to get out and pump it. Apparently little girls don't find me quite as funny as I do. The older girl looked scared to death, and nervously said, "OK," as she reached for the $1.75 she had left from the movie. The youngest girl (the same little red-head from the bathroom), looked like she might cry. Oh, great. No sense of humor at all. Inside, I was thinking of suggesting she whip out her little phone and call someone who gives a... hoot, but I didn't. Fortunately, my own daughter knows how much fun her mother is, and told them I was only joking. Crisis averted. Kind of.
The ride home was very loud. Very... Loud... I cannot accurately convey what I truly want to say here, because I would never want to hurt the feelings of a beloved church member. Let me just lovingly say that the ride home made me long for the days when I was an alcoholic. Right about the time I thought I would not be able to stand one more minute, little red-headed girl raised her cell phone above her head and asked, "Would anybody like to make a call?" Darrell and I laughed. Granted, it was that maniacal laugh you hear just before the poor laughing idiot bursts into tears, but still- it was a laugh. And it made everything OK. Kind of.
We made it back to the church without screaming at, or harming anyone, so overall I'd say the trip was a success.
As I was leaving I heard myself telling one of the Children's Leaders that I would happily accompany them in April when they take the kids to the zoo.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
As I've said in previous posts, we are eternally in the process of remodeling our home (kids, that's called "The joys of being married to a contractor") and the next room to be completed is a bedroom for Tucker and the new baby. I'm thinking we could just as easily finish it as a room for her and ask her if she could tolerate living here with us, at least until she's feeling steady on her feet again. I'm not sure she's that brave, though. Putting up with this crowd would be asking quite a bit of her... It's asking quite a bit of me, actually. I know there are days I don't feel up to it, so who could blame her? The people here are nut jobs.
And now... It's time to announce the results of our little poll. Clearly I am vindicated, friends. The votes have been counted and they are overwhelmingly in my favor. A whopping 35% of all Americans, and possibly a few Canadians, say my pie eating habits are awesome (at least I could tell that's what you meant, even if you couldn't come right out and say it).
A few of you understandably took exception to my use of the word cheese in reference to Velveeta. I am willing to concede the fact that Velveeta is not actually cheese and I apologize if my misuse of the term offended or upset anyone. To be honest, I'm not sure what Velveeta is. Can anyone really know that?
The final tally is:
Choice 1: Perfectly normal. I've heard of it, but don't eat it.- 9 votes! You're missing out on a great comfort food, but thank you for your support!
Choice 2: Odd-sounding. I've never heard of this.- 4 votes. What a fortunate opportunity this has been for you, to stumble onto my blog and discover what will soon become your favorite way to eat apple pie.
Choice 3: Perfectly normal. I've tried it and like it.- 10 votes! YES!!! SEE? In your face, kids! In... Your... Face!
Choice 4: I've tried it and hate it.- ZERO votes! This is an important one. It supports my theory that if you try it, you can't possibly NOT like it. You have to give it a chance. Let that warm, apple-y, cheesy goodness do its work. You will be a happier person, I promise.
Choice 5: I don't care if it's considered normal or not, I would never try this.- Only 5 votes. These poor, pitiful souls are obviously just picky eaters, who are also a little closed-minded, frankly (said with love of course- no offense), so their votes can't fully count towards the final tally- we'll be generous and count them as half, so that's 2.5 votes.
Choice 6: Ketchup on tacos is way more gross than cheese on pie. Leave your mom alone.- This is the biggie. 22% of the voting population (6 awesome, wicked-smart people) think my kids' eating habits are gross! America has spoken, kids. A scientifically conducted poll has proven that my kids are even more freakish than I am. YEA!!! Oh, cripes. That's not necessarily something to be proud of.
Here's your bonus for participating, as a personal Thank You from me. I'm giving you some free Velveeta trivia, compiled through hours upon hours of careful research on my part, causing many sleepless nights. What can I say? I'm a giver. Now, when you are asked about Velveeta tomorrow, and chances are you will be, you will be prepared with these fun, fabulous Velveeta facts. Go ahead, astound your friends.
- Velveeta is technically a "pasteurized processed cheese product." According to Wiki, it cannot be called a "cheese food" because it contains less than 51% cheese. Hmmm.
- It's been around since 1928. I believe this date is referring to the carton currently in my fridge. And yet, it never spoils. How amazing is that?
- It has 1/3 less fat and calories than cheddar cheese. *Hence, the taste being not as... good.
- It contains: Milk, Water, Milkfat, Whey, Whey protein concentrate, Sodium phosphate, Milk protein concentrate, Alginate, Sodium citrate, Apocarotenal (color), Annatto (color), Enzymes, and Cheese culture. YUMMY!! *Some of those words sound like cancer-causing stuff to me (apocarpeltunnel?).
*Not that that's a bad thing... just in case Kraft is reading this and wants to sue me. Yeah... The big dogs at Kraft Foods read my blog. ; )
Thank you all for your participation and your support. I appreciate it. Cheesy apple pie is awesome. This is now indisputable fact.
Monday, January 21, 2008
4 Jobs I've Had:
1. Hair stylist (We were supposed to stress the word "cosmetologist." Sounded more professional and scientific, I guess. Like you may get a free weather report or something with your haircut... No, wait- that's meteorologist. I can't ever keep those two straight. And now, thanks to Tom Cruise's shenanigans, we always hear *scientologist* which only further confounds me. I keep thinking the scientologists should be the ones giving the weather reports... Sounds more science-y. But, as usual, I digress.)
2. Accounts payable clerk (I'm bad with math and numbers, and I helped keep the books. Isn't that awesome?)
3. House painter/wallpaper hanger
4 Movies I've Watched Over and Over:
1. Coal Miner's Daughter
2. It's a Wonderful Life
3. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou
4. All the animated kid's movies: Toy Story, etc.
4 Places I Have Lived:
1. Grandview, MO
2. Kansas City, MO
3. Belton, MO
4. Current home (somewhere in the Midwest with corn and wheat and cows and crap)
4 Shows I Watch:
1. The Office (Best show on TV)
2. Dick Van Dyke (on DVD)
4 Places I've Been:
2. Memphis, TN
3. Matamoras (sp?), Mexico
4. China- Wuhan and Guangzhou
4 People Who Email Me Regularly:
4. I cannot think of a 4th. That's kind of sad.
4 Favorite Things to Eat:
1. Really good Chinese or Thai food
2. Jack Stack BBQ in KC (nothing else like it!)
3. Pie/Cobbler: Apple pie with Velveeta, Peach pie, Pumpkin pie, whatever...
4. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate
4 Places I'd Rather Be:
1. Just returning back home after picking up my son in VN.
2. Somewhere tropical, warm and beachy.
4. Universal Studios with my kids.
4 Thing I Look Forward to this Year:
1. Bringing our child home from VN!
2. Watching Alex graduate HS (I am going to SOB and make a complete idiot of myself).
3. Nick's wedding (again with the sobbing. Actually I'm going to get back at Nick. When Darrell and I got married, Nick was around 9 or 10. He was Darrell's best man. When the pastor told everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes to pray, I peeked over at Nick just in time to see him... How shall I word this? Let's say he was *relieving a problem he was having with a wedgie.* I applaud his sense of propriety in waiting until people closed their eyes. If you're going to dig for wedgies, what better time to do it than prayer time? I think I should stand up at his wedding and do the same thing. Don't you?).
4. Health, happiness, and blessings for my family.
I'm tagging: Rebecca, Tracy, and Jeff and Nancy. That's 4 people, but only 3 blogs. Is that cheating? If you've already been tagged, you're in the clear.
Friday, January 18, 2008
**Unrelated personal news- My MIL has broken her other hip (she broke one last July 4th, too- along with her elbow). This happened just yesterday and she went into surgery late last night. Darrell is with her, but I don't have any news yet. Please keep her in your prayers. She is such a sweetheart- I love her to pieces, and feel so bad for her. She was still having trouble with pain from the last break when we saw her at Christmas. If you don't hear from me for awhile, that's one of the reasons why- my mind is on other things. Upon my return, we will discuss the poll results and declare me the winner.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Will someone out there please tell my family that it's not disgusting, or strange, or something I just made up, to eat Velveeta cheese on apple pie? Please??? My parents and their families are from Iowa and Minnesota, and cheese on apple pie is normal up there. I've eaten it that way all my life. It's great! Surely, I'm not the only one. And how can people who dip potato chips in ketchup, and put ketchup on their tacos, have any room to talk about my pie-eating habits? Some of these same individuals- with their discerning, disapproving palates- eat corn dogs, for Pete's sake. Corn dogs.
One quick story... When Mike was about 4, we were taking a long trip in the car. All was quiet in the back seat, until I heard a loud, very cheerful voice say, "You're selfish, Mommy!" I turned around to see Mike looking back at me, with the sweetest, most sincere little smile on his face. It was obvious he was trying to say something kind and loving to his mama, and honestly had no idea he was misusing the word. He was beaming at me, proudly waiting for my response, and expecting me to be happy about it. I was. I said, "Thank you, baby. That's so nice of you. You're selfish, too." He was thrilled. He reached out trying to hold my hand. It was one of those very sweet moments when you wish you could just freeze them and make them stay like that forever. I waited a long time to set him straight, because I just didn't have the heart to burst his little bubble. Over the years, "You're selfish" became one of our family's favorite sayings; a term of endearment of sorts, along the same lines as "I love you."
Mike was such a chubby baby, his neck disappeared for over a year.
My Little Chuck NorrisMike got into a large can of Ovaltine for a "nack" (snack). You wouldn't believe how many little chocolate hand and footprints I had to clean off my floors and cabinets. They were everywhere.
Showing his muscles
Rock on, Mike.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Hey, I just noticed that this is my 100th post! I wonder what will happen when I hit the publish button. Do balloons drop from the ceiling, or anything? Does Ed McMahon show up with one of those giant fake checks? Who sweeps up the confetti? This is really exciting. I'll let you know what I win.
I am the original A.D.D. girl. I've never been formally diagnosed with A.D.D., but in my case, no medical degree is required. It's pretty much a no-brainer. Anyone who knows me- No, anyone with eyes, ears, and a 1st grader's ability to reason could make the diagnosis (are you snickering right now, Lanie, thinking how true that is?). If you go back and read through some of my previous posts, you'll probably even see evidence of it. Anyway, what does this have to do with anything? Well, Tuesday is Michael's 16th birthday. Don't see the connection? Just hang on. We'll get there.
This year Michael said he wants nothing but money for his birthday. He's saving for some stupid, useless-but-ridiculously-expensive-gadget, that I will view as an irresponsible, ill-considered waste, and then it will wind up broken, probably due to his own negligence, which he will deny and then try to blame on someone else, just like the time he went sledding with his brand new ipod in his pocket and it never worked right again after that, but it somehow wasn't really his fault because it was probably defective all along, then we will argue and I will tell him just how foolish I thought it was that he wasted his money on it and why didn't he just listen to me in the first place, then this never would have happened, and... Oh, I digress. But, it's so hard not to with all these fond memories swirling around. Good times. Family fun.
Back to our story... Mike only wants money. No party, no nothing. Not even a T-shirt (which I already bought, BTW. Our family has a thing for funny T-shirts). Just cash. Whatever I would have spent on each balloon, streamer, and donkey tail, is to be deposited directly into his hot little hand. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it? A sentimental sap, that Mike is.
So, when we don't have a party or some big, expensive activity planned for a kid's birthday, I let them plan The Big Birthday Dinner, and I try to really fuss over them and make them feel special. Of course, I also let them choose the type of cake they want every year.
This year, Mike doesn't want cake. Fine. Whatever you want, Mike, it's Your Day. He wants apple pie. Fine. We'll have birthday pie. No, wait- he wants TWO apple pies. He thinks (quite accurately) that one pie will barely go around in this household, and he won't get any seconds. He doesn't want to arm wrestle his father for the last piece of pie, so... TWO apple pies. I can't say that I blame him, because I do make awesome apple pie. I realize, as a Christian, I shouldn't be a prideful person. I'm not supposed to boast. But a good Christian woman should be counted upon to always tell the truth, correct? So truthfully speaking, with no pride involved, I make awesome apple pie.
Mike also wants fried apples with his Big Birthday Dinner. Again, I must truthfully and humbly confess that my fried apples are pretty tasty. They're all buttery, and cinnamon-y. Yum! They go great with pork chops, which is what Mike has requested. I've never personally had the desire to follow fried apples with apple pie, but whatever... An evening of apples it is (and what is this kid's deal with apples, anyway? Isn't that just plain weird?).
Now, let's do a little math... There are 9 apples in each pie. That's 18 apples, if I'm not mistaken. I will probably have to use another 9 to make the batch of fried apples. We're up to TWENTY-SEVEN flipping apples, yes? And have we figured out yet WHY someone would want or need to eat apples both with the meal, then again as dessert after the meal, or are we still working on that one? I know I'm stumped. Can we all agree that something is not quite *right* with a person who craves such large and abnormal quantities of apples?
WHO, exactly, has to sit there peeling and slicing the &%$# TWENTY-SEVEN apples? Is it the A.D.D. girl, who cannot stand any repetitive task? Hmm? Is it the one who is driven crazy by having to do the same thing for longer than five minutes? The one who is ready to jump up and flee from the worship service at church if a chorus is sung more than 3 times in a row? Huh? The one who is so easily distracted in a store, that the older children have to remind her it's a No-No to walk off from her little ones when she sees something shiny? Why, yes, Michelle. I believe it is.
It IS the A.D.D. girl who will be inhumanely and diabolically forced to sit on a kitchen stool, with eyes wet with tears and shoulders shaking with each sob, for hours (how many hours? 4? ...40?) peeling, peeling, peeling, slicing, slicing, slicing 27 apples. And how am I supposed to teach school during all this peeling and slicing? I am a one-task-at-a-time kind of girl. I won't be able to give my full attention to phonics beyond "A is for Apple." Math will be: If you have 10 apples, plus 17 more apples, how long does it take for Mommy to cry?
You know, all I did was have a baby. I played games, read stories, kissed boo-boos, suffered through Barney, and was- in every respect, if I do say so myself- a fabulous mother. Now, that baby grows up and wants to... what? What is he up to? Is this payback for not having any sympathy during the Ipod Incident of 06? What kind of sick, twisted torture is this?
My punishment is more than I can bear. How will I endure it? Straps and restraints of some kind will be involved, I'm sure. Medications will be required. It may even take armed guards to make me stay in that *#$% kitchen and finish the job.
I will need someone to show up at my house early Tues. morning to anoint me with oil and pray over me, that much is certain. Any volunteers? If you come, bring an apple peeler.
Friday, January 11, 2008
To be completely honest, when I first discovered, at age 26, that I had a half-brother, my first concern was, "Oh geez, I hope I didn't date the guy" (I didn't, BTW... A round of High Fives, anyone?). There was another case in the news several months back about a sibling couple in Germany. They have four kids, and are determined to stay together, in spite of the father being sentenced to jail for incest. Their situation is a little different though, and harder for the squeamish (like Chelle) to understand, because they knew they were siblings when they "got together." Shall I say it again, or do I try to be mature about it? Nope. Here it comes. EEEWWWW. EEEWWWWWWWW. Vomiting in my mouth. And EEEWWWWWWWWWW.
The details of the following story are pretty sketchy, and in fact, I kind of wonder if this could be an invention on the part of the lawmaker to get his agenda pushed through. Regardless, he has a point. I think he's right. Whether or not this did happen; it could and has happened. And people do have a right to know from whom and where they came.
British case forces review of rights of children to know identities; AP
LONDON - Twins who were separated at birth got married without realizing they were brother and sister, a lawmaker said, urging more information be provided on birth certificates for adopted children.
A court annulled the British couple's union after they discovered their true relationship, Lord David Alton said.
"Everyone has a right to knowledge about their lineage, genealogy and identity. And if they don't, then it will lead to cases of incest," Alton said during a telephone interview Friday.
Alton first revealed details of the unusual case last month during a five-hour debate about a bill that would change regulations about human embryology.
"I was recently involved in a conversation with a High Court judge who was telling me of a case he had dealt with," Alton said according to a transcript of the Dec. 10 debate. "It involved the normal birth of twins who were separated at birth and adopted by separate parents.
"They were never told that they were twins," Alton said. "They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation."
Alton gave no additional details and would not reveal the name of the judge who told him about the case.
The High Court's Family Division declined to discuss or confirm Alton's account about the twins.
A child's right to know
Alton, an independent legislator who works at Liverpool's John Moores University, said the siblings' inadvertent marriage raises the wider issue of the importance of strengthening the rights of children to know the identities of their biological parents, including kids who were born through in vitro fertilization.
Under British law, only a mother has to be named on a birth certificate. Such certificates also are not required to identify births that result from IVF or to identify the sperm donor.
In addition, British law does not require parents to ever tell children that they were the result of donated sperm.
Alton believes this should be changed.
Alton said he favors an amendment to the Human Fertility and Embryology bill — which is still being debated in the House of Lords — that would require birth certificates of children born from donated sperm to say that and to identify the genetic father.Referring to the twins' case, he said: "If you start trying to conceal someone's identity, sooner or later the truth will come out. And if you don't know you are biologically related to someone, you may become attracted to them and tragedies like this may occur."
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Monday, January 7, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
I wasn't finished feeling sad and outraged over that whole thing with the Dutch diplomats (If you were out of the country or something and don't know what I'm talking about, I first read about it here on Mrs. Broccoli Guy's blog), and now this; something new to lose sleep over.
If you've read my blog in the past, then you already know I have an enormous pet peeve regarding the use of the word "own" in connection with adopted children. It infuriates me. For a refresher you can click here to see one of my previous posts on this subject.
I've pointed out before that the biggest problem in talking about this type of thing here is that I am either preaching to the choir, and chewing out PAPs who already agree with my feelings and can wholeheartedly love and accept a child as "their own," or I am talking to friends or family members who have not and will not be adopting, and don't fully understand what I'm ranting about. Bummer. I have no real way of reaching my target, as this is the only platform I have. Regardless, I have to try anyway. There's always the one in a million chance that the right person will see it. So here we go...
Most parents enter into the adoption process ignorant about a few things. I know we sure did. But thankfully, we all learn as we go, and by the time a child joins our family, we have hopefully become more educated, enlightened, and ready to be good parents. However, some of us are self-centered, spoiled brats who are still too childish ourselves to even consider having a child, through any means. It's to the second group I'd like to direct the following comments. If you're in the second group, chances are you don't realize it because self-centered, spoiled brats are rarely aware they are self-centered and spoiled, so read this anyway and see if any of it sticks.
I'll start with a no-brainer: If you are not prepared to lay aside your own selfishness, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. The truth is, we are all self-focused to some extent before children come into our lives. But the heart of a true parent, is one that wants to lay self aside in order to focus on a child. Once that kid is in your house, your life is no longer about you. Agreed? I believe adoption parenting requires an extra measure of maturity. Truthfully, your child may not like you after the adoption is final. There is no complaint department or return desk. You're stuck, friend. So you better make darn sure you're ready to stick. This little person whom you've loved within your heart and mind for months or even years of waiting, does not love you back right away. Your ego will get bruised. Your feelings will be hurt. It's not pleasant to wait so long for this child to arrive only to feel their body stiffen and pull away when you want a hug. It's disappointing. But it's not about you. You cannot focus on your *self.* To love a child, is to make a decision to be committed to that kid from now on. That's what love is. It's not the warm fuzzies. It's the day in, day out choice to remain committed, whether or not you're getting anything out of it.
If you are interested in adoption, but would like to have YOUR OWN kids first, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. Is that harsh? Yes. But as long as your heart is still making a distinction between "blood relatives" and those who are not, and you are thinking about genetics and DNA, you will not be able to provide the adopted child with what every child needs: to feel completely, totally, 100% LOVED and ACCEPTED for who they are. Do not fool yourself into thinking the child will never know you feel this way. OH, YES THEY WILL. YES. THEY. WILL. *Of course some adoptive parents have turned to adoption only after struggling to have biological children. Had they been able to have a child "the old-fashioned way," they may never have adopted at all. There's no shame in that. I'm not talking about the chronological order of events, here- I'm talking about a mindset and an attitude of the heart. I'm referring specifically to people who view adoption as a "lesser" method of creating a family. My heart aches for parents who have had to struggle with the heartbreaking disappointments of infertility or pregnancy and child loss. I would never want my comments to be misinterpreted as being directed at you.
If you think of yourself as some benevolent, charitable do-gooder who loves the feeling you get from dropping change into the Salvation Army bucket, and you're willing to provide a home for some poor orphan because you are so incredibly awesome, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. Yes, the Bible says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (Janes 1:27)," and I completely believe and agree with that, but it also says, in Romans 12:3, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." In other words, Get off your high horse, if I may paraphrase God Almightly. Maybe you could go pick out a puppy from the humane society. Do not try to do your good deed by adopting a kid. Kids do not need a noble benefactor. They need parents who are able and willing to love them unconditionally for the unique and precious treasures they are.
If you find yourself being focused on the cost of the child, as opposed to the cost of adoption, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. If you are constantly thinking of the $30K you're putting into this kid, you will most definitely wind up disappointed when the kid does not live up to your expectations (which will happen. We all have hidden expectations of our children- adopted or not) and you fail to get your money's worth. Maybe you should put that money into something that is more likely to perform to your expectations, like a car. Even then you might get a lemon, huh? Oh dear... Do some APs view their adopted children as "lemons?" You bet they do. You cannot place a cash value on the life of a child. They are priceless. Adoption is expensive. Suck it up and deal with it, or don't adopt.
So, why should a person adopt? That's not really something one person can answer, but I think it should start with this: Because you want to love a child; A child of YOUR OWN.
I have so much more I could say, but again- I feel as if my point is misdirected at those who need to hear it the least. It's a very helpless feeling. Plus, as usual, I've talked waaaayyy too long. So I'll shut up. Gosh, why do you guys keep putting up with all my babbling? I might as well go take a shower and put the coffee on. The little ones have their first basketball games this morning. I'll post a picture or two of them later.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
And now for the rambling. I have a shocking revelation to make. You will never believe this, but at one time I was half-way intelligent. Back in the days before my vocabulary was reduced to 1st grade level words, and most of my inquiries revolved around somebody's bodily functions/fluids (i.e. "Are you sure you don't have to go? Maybe you should just try to go."), I had me some smarts. My vocab. and grammar skills were... well- in existence at least, back then. Can you believe it? She, user of too many of these: ... , and these: , , and these: ( ) , actually had grammar skills at one time. Do not call me a liar. It's not nice. In school, I loved anything to do with English: English Comp., English Lit., English, English, English. My original plan before my Prince Charming swooped in with his appealing promises of knocking me up five times, moving me to a tiny one-horse town, and offering me this enviable life of leisure as a fat housewife, was to be an English/Reading teacher for hearing impaired kids. I'm slightly hearing impaired (did you guys know that?) and I know sign language, so that seemed like a natural fit for me. Anyway, back to my point, which is: I like reading, writing (other peoples', not my own) and books. I love books. And since I hardly ever have time to sit down and read "**big girl books" anymore , what with homeschooling, laundry, keeping myself stunningly beautiful and my figure in shape by getting in all 11 servings of chocolate as recommended by some association somewhere, I've been forced to turn my reading interests towards my children. In my constant search for good kids' books, I've discovered that there are some highly cruddy adoption books out there. Some great ones, too- but I've bought more than a few disappointing ones. I have a little section on the side of this blog where I've listed a few of the children's adoption books we like (some more than others, and some Bri likes although I'm not a huge fan), but I thought I'd pull a couple of our favorites off the list and share them with you. Feel free to comment and give your opinions of these or add others you like. As always, you're not allowed to comment if you disagree with me and hate my choices. Only people who agree with me are allowed to comment. That is my policy here, and it is strictly enforced.
...Only kidding. You knew that, right?
**(Ha. I originally said "adult books," up there where it says big girl books, but I think that means something slightly different, so I thought it best to edit myself. That's funny.)
One of my favorites! There's nothing too difficult for a toddler to understand in this one, so it's a good starter book. The story never mentions words like "adoption," or "interracial," etc., yet it conveys the fact that people don't have to look alike to be a family in a very sweet and simple way.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
So, what do you think of 2008 so far? Frankly, it's not making the best impression on me. Today, I say it s*cks. Sorry. My attitude is bad right now, I know. So what better thing to do than go online and share my bad attitude with everyone else? Things are not going well in my pathetic little neck of the woods. I'm not feeling well for one thing, and I'm all backed up on laundry... AGAIN. Apparently, you're supposed to KEEP washing the clothes. Hmmm. Go figure. They don't just miraculously stay clean? I was not aware of that. Oh, and have I mentioned I'm fat? I'm a horse. I'm disgusted with myself. Yeah... good mood we got goin' on here. I'm just having a bad day. I'm sure tomorrow will be better.
Poor little Bribee Deebs BASHED her head trying to jump off her bunk bed ladder the other day. It was the biggest lump I've ever seen. You would think after this many kids, especially so many boys, that stuff like that would no longer phase me. But when I pulled back her hair to see where it hurt, I honestly almost vomited. My stomach did that horrible flip-floppy thing. It was so gross. Totally caught me off guard. I also felt horribly guilty because when I first heard the commotion, I didn't realize it was a catastrophe. I just thought it was rowdy playing, and I was actually on the verge of making some Mom comment like, "See what you get for being wild?" when I saw the bump. I have never seen a bump that big on someone's head. I started freaking out and telling Darrell we need to get her in the car and go to the ER right NOW. But Darrell is always the calm voice of reason during times like that. He looked her over, checked her pupils, asked her some questions, etc... When he asked her, "Who's the Pres. of the United States?" and she answered, "George Washington," we knew everything was going to be OK. He got her all calmed down, then carried her into the bathroom to see her bump. Of course, she started to cry again when she saw it. Then I said something like, "See what you get for jumping off the ladder?" I can't help myself. The mom comments find their way out of my mouth no matter what I do. We did call an Urgent Care clinic and talked to someone there, just to be on the safe side, but didn't have to end up taking her in. She's fine, thankfully- just lumpy.
Now she has a black eye and looks like she was in a bar fight. Here are a couple shots of the leftover bump, which is NOTHING compared to how it looked the first day. Of course what kind of mom would I be if my first thought was to reach for a camera when it happened? These were taken today, 3 days after. The photos aren't very good, and the black eye doesn't show up well, but trust me- it's there.
Someone told me the other day she checked my blog a couple times and hasn't seen anything about the adoption, like she was thinking, "Isn't this supposed to be an adoption blog, you idiot?" Yes, it is. We have no adoption news to report and probably won't for a loooonnnng time. I have a little counter on the side that shows how long our dossier has been in VN, and that counter will be tickin' away for MONTHS before we have any news, most likely. So sit back and get comfy. Grab some popcorn. And listen to me talk about really stupid things. I'm sure you have nothing better to do.