Monday, January 25, 2010

Yeah, we're a little odd out here in the desert...

Yesterday as we drove to church, I kept spotting the snow covered mountains over the tops of the houses. I could see Pinal Peak outside of Globe, about 60 miles away, covered in snow, and Four Peaks, about 40 miles to the northeast. With all the city pollution washed out of the air, they looked close enough to reach out and touch.

I realize that a dusting of snow on a few peaks is not a big deal to the majority of the country. But to us desert rats, it's a big deal.

So after drooling over them all day yesterday, Levi and Noah and I loaded up after dropping Ella off at kindergarten and headed out for a closer look.

I'm not sure Levi and Noah really even noticed that we were driving, such was their electronics induced coma...

However, once we got out there, they were excited to get out and go do some "exploring."

The road up to the peak takes over an hour of dirt road driving. And I know from experience that if there is snow up there, you need four wheel drive at least, and chains would be preferable. So rather than make the drive up to find only an impassable road and a dusting of snow, we just got close enough for a good view and then wandered around the desert and saw how much mischief we could get into.

Warning: Their mother may want to avert her eyes for the next several photographs, as the level of risk-taking allowed by their father likely exceeded the bounds of responsible parenting... ;)

They got their first lesson in desert hiking: Always watch out for poky plants (which would be pretty much all of them.) Despite the constant warnings, Levi managed to go crashing over a cactus, but by some miracle avoided getting even one spine embedded in his feet.

We found a fairly large saguaro, which they stood dangerously close to, considering it could have easily crushed them if it happened to fall over at that exact moment...

We risked broken limbs and gravel rash by leaping off of cliffs...

And finally, we played far too close to the busy road...

Finally, as proof that I get far too excited about a little bit of snow (as if we needed proof, you say...) here is a photo from 1997...

...which I then replicated with the new ride. Luckily, those full coverage vinyl graphics that I ordered showed up just in time for installation on Saturday. Paige is going to be thrilled when she returns home!

(Ok ok, so there may have been a little PhotoShop involved in the above picture. But you've got to admit, the van would look sweet with those graphics. You should leave a comment to encourage Paige to let me do it, as she isn't quite sold yet...)

The dangerous duo, unscathed at the end of their explorations...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Phoenicians emerge from their caves...

Paige headed to Michigan today with Luke, to see her new niece for a few days. So naturally, I took the older three on a trip to Grandma's house. Paige claims that every time she leaves town, I head to Grandma's, supposedly so that Grandma can watch the kids, and I can relax.


We had big plans of seeing the effect of all the water dumped on Phoenix over the last week. I haven't heard the official totals, but predictions were that we would get something like 5 or more inches of rain in a few days. Considering that our yearly total is typically around 7 inches, that is a lot of rain for this area.

I considered heading up to one of the lakes, to check out the water releases from the dam. But a call to the ranger station confirmed what I suspected... if it rained hard enough for them to release water, it also rained hard enough to close the roads. Bummer. I wanted to see raging water blasting out of the bottom of a dam.

I am sure Paige was relieved though, because she was sure I was going to lower the kids on a rope down the face of a dam, so that they could get a better view. Or some such stunt. She encouraged us to go feed some ducks at a nice calm park pond. She apparently thinks I can't be trusted to watch my children on my own, and will carelessly risk their life and limb without her motherly oversight.


So we headed up to Grandma's, and stopped to see the raging, might Salt River, flowing bank to bank...

Hmmmmm. Looks pretty much like Tempe Town Lake does the rest of the year, only muddier. Not exactly what I was hoping for. And don't worry Paige, they were told under no circumstances to climb the wall, so as not to be swept away by the raging torrent. ;)

After picking up Grandma and Aunt Gina, we headed out for the White Tank mountains, where there is a waterfall that flows only when Phoenix gets enough rain. I hiked it a few years ago, in the rain, and watched the water level rising in the wash. It was an awesome hike, with beautiful scenery, and virtually no one else on the trail. Here was the waterfall on that hike...

And on this hike? Well, let's just say that when it rains for 5 days straight in Phoenix, and we are all cooped up in our houses, more than one of us had the same idea...

The waterfall is off to the right, out of the picture. I didn't even get a picture of the actual waterfall, because I was a little worried I would drop the camera in the pool while ferrying the kids across the little rock path that had been build across the middle of it. You can see people walking across it in the picture above, and the water was several feet deep on either side of the semi-submerged path.

I count at least 68 people in the photo below, all attempting to make their way to an area the size of my living room, to get a view of a waterfall that probably has no more flow than a single fire hose. Myself, and three kids included. You would think all these desert dwellers had never seen rain or flowing water before. ;)

The kids had fun scrambling through the rocks. And don't worry Paige, I was very close by at all times so as to not let them fall to an untimely death. ;)

Noah missed going through them the first time, so I had to take him back around so he could do it. And Paige, as you can see, I was positioned at the bottom of the rock to catch him in case he should slip. ;)

If there is a puddle, of course you have to throw rocks into it. And don't worry Paige, Aunt Gina was standing very close by so as not to let them drown in the murky water. ;)

Levi had to stop to check in every drainage pipe along the trail to see if there was anything interesting. "Nope, only dirt!" he said after every one. And Paige, I was very close at hand for every pipe on the off chance that a rattler should have leapt out and bit his nose. ;)

I told the kids to pose on the rock so I could take their picture. Then Grandma insisted on joining them, because she wanted "to make it in some of the hike footage on your dang blog." She also said something about "not wanting to have to be in my rain boots and underwear with an umbrella to do it!" So there you go Mom... you on the blog! No need to resort to rain boots and underwear...

Perfect day for a hike to see a rare sight in the desert...

Friday, January 22, 2010

37 years ago...

Via the Corner, I ran across this video quite a while ago. It's a video from Northland Family Planning Center explaining that women who have abortions are good, that it is a normal experience, that women don't need to be perfect, or martyrs. Apparently the motto at Northland is:

"We do sacred work that honors women and the circle of life and death. When you come here, bring only Love."

Perusing the rest of their website reveals some other interesting tidbits, such as this page purporting to provide information on options for pregnant women. It asks a question, "Is now the right time for me to bring a new life into the world through my body?" You can then select one of three answers for additional information:

No: In which case, you are directed to a page entitled "Abortion: Which method is right for me?" This page has a very short section on making the decision, then dives right into the technical details of what to expect with the various "procedures." In other words, the assumption is that you will have an abortion and only need to decide which method to use.

I don't know: You are directed to the "Pregnancy Options Workbook." Reading through it, you run across info like the following:

Everyone who is facing a pregnancy must answer one basic question: "IS THIS THE RIGHT TIME FOR ME TO BRING LIFE INTO THE WORLD THROUGH MY BODY?"... Here are some other questions to think about. Do I want to have a baby? Will the child have a father who is “there”? Can I afford to have a child? What will happen to my goals, my hopes, my life? What will happen to my partner´s life? Who can help me raise a child? Can I raise a child by myself? How will my family react? My friends? How will this affect my other children (if any)? Is my body healthy enough? In other words: "Is this the right time for me to be responsible for a child?"

Is it just me, or is the general theme of that reasoning one of "have you considered how difficult it would be to raise a child?" as opposed to highlighting the blessings of children? Reading some of the additional data, it seems to mostly be presented in similar fashion, ie the "costs" of having children. Abortion is of course suggested prominently as an option, along with plenty of resources on obtaining one.

Yes: Here's the kicker. You would expect a page on caring for your baby, pre-natal care, what to expect, etc. But instead, you are linked to the exact same page as the "I don't know" answer. While the "not keeping the baby" answer leads to almost no discussion of choices and the assumption you are having an abortion, the "keep the baby" answer leads to an attempt to talk you out of it.


Several years ago, I ran across this article, describing the practice of "selective reduction." That would be the euphemism for killing one or more babies in a multiple pregnancy, while leaving others alive. The article is still hard to read, even though I've read it multiple times. I just have a hard time even fathoming it. It's long, and disturbing, but I encourage you to take the time to read the whole thing.

Now Emma [the pregnant lady] was on the table, and everybody was looking at four fetuses on the sonogram. The screen had been turned so that even Emma could see it. Evans [the abortion doctor] decided that in addition to B [the doomed baby], he would eliminate D [the other doomed baby], because of its position, farthest from the cervix, and most accessible after B. Just now, on the sonogram, D happened to be visible, moving and waving. "D is really active. That's what I hate to see," said Jane [the pregnant lady's partner], who had woken up in the middle of the night worried about the "karma of what we are doing."

Evans prepared two syringes, swabbed Emma with antiseptic, put the square-holed napkin on her stomach. Then he plunged one of the needles into Emma's belly and began to work his way into position. He injected the potassium chloride, and B, the first fetus to go, went still.

"There's no activity there," he said, scrutinizing the screen. B was lying lengthwise in its little honeycomb chamber, no longer there and yet still there. It was impossible not to find the sight affecting. Here was a life that one minute was going to happen and now, because of its location, wasn't. One minute, B was a fetus with a future stretching out before it: childhood, college, children, grandchildren, maybe. The next minute, that future had been deleted.

Evans plunged the second needle into Emma's belly. "See the tip?" he said, showing the women where the tip of the needle was visible on the ultrasound screen. Even I could see it: a white spot hovering near the heart. D was moving. Evans started injecting. He went very slowly. "If you inject too fast, you blow the kid off your needle," he explained.

After Evans was finished injecting, D moved for a few seconds, then went still. Now, as we watched, there was something called the effusion: a little puff. "When I see that effusion, I know it's done," Evans said, taking "one last look at D before I come out," to make sure D was gone.

"Want to see your twins?" he asked the women, who did. On the ultrasound, he showed them the living fetuses, moving vigorously in their sacs. The women thanked him profusely. "Thank God there are people like you," Jane said.


AFTER THE PROCEDURE, I ASKED EVANS IF WHAT HE HAD JUST DONE WAS AN ABORTION. "Technically, this is not an abortion, a procedure that kills the fetus and empties the uterus," he said. "The bottom line is, abortion ends the pregnancy. We don't end the pregnancy. We very specifically don't end the pregnancy."

Tell that to the babies you just "reduced." Seriously, I can't even fathom that this is reality in this county. I can't fathom seeing my child on an ultrasound, and then watching a doctor plunge a needle into him and kill him... and then thanking him afterward. I can't fathom looking at Noah or Levi every day for the rest of my life and realizing that he had a twin... but we killed him. And at least in this article, most of these are performed on women who went through great trouble and expense to get pregnant in the first place by artificial means.

Absolutely mind-blowing. And not what I would call "good" or "normal" in any sense of the word, by any of the parties involved, as Northland Clinic would have you believe.


A second article on how ultrasounds have shown some abortion workers the truth of what they were involved in. Dr. Harris, when she was 18 weeks pregnant, performed an abortion on an 18 week old baby. "Harris felt her own child kick precisely at the moment that she ripped a fetal leg off with her forceps:

'Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes—without me—meaning my conscious brain—even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling—a brutally visceral response—heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life.' "
Amazingly, she is still performing abortions. Others, however, are not. Read the whole article for some points of their stories.


Finally, for an excellent book on abortion and right to life issues, which also delves into more general theological arguments, check out Scott Klusendorfs "The Case For Life" See here and here for reviews. Not much I can add to what they said...


Pray for our country, that 37 years ago legalized the murder of the most defenseless of people...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our boys are doomed in grade school...

...if this is still the state of affairs.

(Disclaimer: All following ranting is based purely on the facts noted in this article. I know nothing other than what I read there.)

Ok, so 11 year old kid attends a "magnet" school in San Diego. In other words, a school for smart kids. Not only that, but this school "emphasizes technology skills." In other words, the smart and nerdy kids. And said kid brings a "personal science project that he had been making at home to school."

You would think this would be a fairly common experience at the school for the smart nerdy kids, and would be no big deal.

But you would be wrong. So, so wrong...

The vice principal apparently spotted this little deviant showing his creation to his friends, and thought it might be dangerous. Police were notified, school went into lockdown, was then evacuated, bomb robot was sent in, device was x-ray'd.

And the device they discovered? Surely some horribly sinister device, right? Only if you consider an empty Gatorade bottle with some wires and electronics to be a weapon of mass destruction. The student said it was supposed to be a motion detector of some sort.

Apparently the authorities at this school lack the common sense God gave a donkey (either due to genetic deficiency, or some lame zero tolerance policy) and none of them could look at an empty Gatorade bottle with some wires and determine, as people who teach... you know... technology... that it wasn't dangerous.

But "The student will not be prosecuted...Police and fire officials also will not seek to recover costs associated with responding to the incident"

Well phew! What a relief that you aren't going to prosecute and fine the smart kid for inventing a motion detector and showing it to his buddies. I'm frankly surprised that kind of terrorism isn't illegal in California yet!

However, "authorities were recommending that he and his parents get counseling."

He get what!?!?!? Are you kidding me?!?!?

Oh yeah, "fire officials also went to the student's home and checked the garage to make sure items there were neither harmful nor explosive."

So smart kid invents motion detector, shows to buddies, sends school into lockdown, narrowly avoids prosecutions and fines, has house rifled through, and is likely sent to counseling. Oh yeah, and has his hard work confiscated.

At a school whose entire mission is to encourage kids to "cultivate their technology skills."

Way to go guys! Sounds like you really encouraged that kid! Sheesh...

Just for reference. I graduated high school in 1995. Not really that long ago in people years, but apparently eons ago in "common sense" years. I put off speech class until senior year, because while I loved physics and calculus, speech class absolutely terrified me. One of the speech types was a "demonstration speech." I searched for the one thing I thought I could talk comfortably about and explain how other people could do it.

My speech was on "how to build a potato gun."

Which I did during the course of the speech. And then demonstrated a functional device.

With a real potato.

And real fire.

The whole class went out to the football field, I gave my speech, and then launched a few potatoes from one endzone to the other.

Then somehow I ended up in a multi-school speech competition. I've got to imagine my speech teacher signed me up, because I can't fathom that I would volunteer to speak in front of an even larger crowd. Regardless, I gave the speech again, this time inside a classroom, using a potato substitute (ie. foam ball.) But still real fire. And was then somehow selected to do it in front of the whole competition. Again, using real fire.

I've got to believe, based on the prevalence of stories like the subject of this post, that such a stunt, attempted today, would land me straight in Gitmo.

Seriously... I hope our boys make it through school without being arrested...

One of these maps is not like the other...

2008, Kerry vs Beatty

2008, Obama vs McCain

2010, Coakley vs Brown. Notice anything different?

In 14 months time, Massachusetts went from a blanket of almost solid blue, and a 62% to 36% win for Obama, to almost 3/4 red, and a 52% to 47% win for the Republican senate candidate Scott Brown.

In Ted Kennedy's old seat, who had held it for 46 years.


Let's hope this is a sign of a change. Culminating in, ohhhhh, 2012 or so...

Arizona snowstorm

You know they are Arizona kids when they want to go dance in the rain.

In January.

Without pants.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Arizona sledding

Proper footwear? Check!

Daredevil accouterments? Check!

Ummmmmm, sled? Check!

Hill? Check!

Men have been using the wheel for thousands of years to increase their productivity. Noah purposefully avoids using them...

Also some drain exploring. No one tell this kid that when his dad and best friend were young, we poured flammable liquid into these, let it vaporize, and then tossed matches in to make a giant blow torch...

And finally, they wanted to make sand angels...

Link to the album and bigger pictures here

Saturday, January 16, 2010

These two should really get together

One of them wasn't paying very close attention...

She made it!

After a few days of pounding the pavement, she made it to her goal of 80 boxes of cookies.

Of course, her goal immediately expanded, because she wanted to get the t-shirt for her panda bear as well. So she hit up every relative and acquaintance she could think of, from the state of Utah to Oklahoma to Michigan to Tucson.

Looks like that panda will get its t-shirt!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Backdated posts, and my sincere apologies...

As Paige has informed me, not everyone uses Google reader to organize their reading. Therefore, some of our loyal blog readers may have missed the following posts, as they did not debut at the top of the actual blog page due to the fact that I backdated them so that they appeared roughly in chronological order...

I apologize profusely for any inconvenience. I will refrain from backdating posts in the future... ;)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The aftermath...

2 gallons of slightly sour OJ...

Mmmmm, tasty!

"Dad, this empty! This empty!" he said. Apparently the straw trick only works with Sunkist oranges...