Project 365

Happy New Year! I have an ap on my iPhone called Project 365 – where you’re supposed to take a photo a day and add it to your 365 journal. So then I pulled up my blog that I’ve neglected for quite some time to see that Word Press is promoting their own Project 365. So I’m wondering can I do it? Would I do it? I’m guessing no – but what the heck – it’s worth a try!

So here I go for January 1, 2012…..

We are so truly blessed!  Our son Sydney and his family arrived on Christmas Day.  Our daughter Lindsey and her family moved to Minnesota in August and spent most of the week here too – even having (as Grant and Bennett call it) sleepovers several nights!  It was so wonderful to have everyone around.  The only thing missing was all of the snow we hoped to have for the kids to enjoy.  Last year at this time we had lots and hardly a snowflake has fallen yet this year – of course!

2o12?  Seriously – where in the world have all the years gone?  It seems such a short time ago that our own children were excitedly anticipating Santa.  Now it is just as much fun to watch them with their own children reliving the experiences that we had only a few years back.

There is so much to journal about our week together – I think I’ll just jot down a little each day as I sit here by myself cursinig my diet, when everyone has gone home and Steve has gone back to the office.

I’ll sign off for now and be back (with a little luck) tomorrow……

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Losing My Baby Saved My Life – seriously??

I have watched Oprah over the years with a bit of wonder – what kind of woman could rise from the projects and end up as the queen of television and a bazillionaire to boot?  Well, now I know. 

I was curious about the replacement for Larry King that I hadn’t ever heard of before and hey – he got Oprah as his inaugural guest.  I was impressed with Piers Morgan but as I listened to the interview with Oprah I sat in stunned silence.  Did she just say that losing her baby, who she had absolutely no connection to, saved her life?  Nah – can’t be.

Thousands of us have tried over the years to get Oprah to do a show on stillbirth knowing the power of her audience.  And, after all – she did have a stillborn son at age 14.  She should ‘get it’, she should understand the pain and anguish that families of stillborn children endure.  Surely she still carries the hole left in her heart by the loss of her son.  She would surely understand how overlooked the issue has been in terms of medical research.  However all of those pleas over the years have fallen on deaf ears. 


“Oprah had no remorse about her baby dying, and even tried suicide to end the pregnancy….” blarred a headline promoting British broadcaster Pier Morgan’s interview with Chat Show Queen Oprah Winfrey on Monday night.  (Full article pasted below)

I can appreciate her difficult childhood and the abuse she endured.  But does that justify the loss of her son???  The fact that she wouldn’t have been the class president or a forensic speech contestant is more important that her son? 

Ok – I realize she was only 14 and without a support system to speak of.  But, seriously – it has been over 40 years – don’t you think that somewhere along the line she would come to terms with it all and have some remorse about that poor innocent child? 

So I’m coming to the conclusion that she stepped on her son’s potential to make sure that she could get to be in that speech contest or to be class president?  Is that how she has risen to the top of the world – by, squashing others to achieve her ambitions?  Oh Oprah, I will pray for your soul but I will not support your ambitions any longer.

Read it for yourself if you have the stomach……


Oprah Pregnant At 14: “Losing My Baby Saved My Life”

“Oprah had no remorse about her baby dying, and even tried suicide to end the pregnancy….” blarred a headline promoting British broadcaster Pier Morgan’s interview with Chat Show Queen Oprah Winfrey on Monday night.

In a candid chat with CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, Winfrey, 54, admitted that she considered committing suicide after she fell pregnant at 14.

“Getting pregnant was a result of bad choices, not having boundaries, sexual abuse from the time I was 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13,” the talk show queen revealed during Piers’ debut.

Oprah contemplated suicide and tried to drink laundry detergent in attempt to abort the baby herself. Winfrey’s mother sent the pregnant teen from Wisconsin to Nashville to live with her strict father, Vernon. Not knowing his daughter was pregnant — declared: “I would rather see a daughter of mine floating down the Cumberland River than to bring shame on this family and the indecency of an illegitimate child.”

Winfrey, now 56, “hid the pregnancy until my swollen ankles and belly gave me away.” A few weeks later, the baby boy died shortly after delivery.

Oprah, now a billionairess with her own cable television network, believes losing the child — which she “had no connection to whatsoever” — was her “second chance” at a normal life.

“When the baby died, I knew that it was my second chance,” she said. “So I went back to school, and nobody knew. Because had anybody known at that time, I wouldn’t have been able to be head of student council. I wouldn’t have been able to be speaking champion in forensics. … I wouldn’t have been chosen as one of the two teenagers in the state of Tennessee to go to the White House conference on youth. None of those things would have happened, and the entire trajectory of my life would have been different.”

A large number of Americans tuned in to watch Oprah tell-all about her unexpected teen pregnancy. Piers Morgan Tonight averaged 2.1 million viewers on Monday night. That’s more than triple the average ratings for Larry King Live, which left the air in December after 25 years.

Posted in Family, Stillbirth | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Things aren’t always as they seem…..

If you’re old enough to remember black and white television you’ll surely remember the CBS program called Mr. Ed.  My Dad always had an appropriate cliché for every situation and one he used occasionally was “Just remember Mr. Ed isn’t who you think he is.”  He would use this cliché to encourage thinking beyond what you are told or what you see.  Kind of like saying – there may be more to the story.  I knew what he meant when he referred to Mr. Ed but it wasn’t until much later that I fully understood the story behind the cliché.

If you’re too young to remember, or perhaps Alzheimer’s has already set in, let me refresh your memory about Mr. Ed.  He was a talking horse.  Yup – the whole show was staged around a talking horse.  The show premiered as a syndicated show in January of 1961 and was added to the CBS primetime lineup that October. 

But, Mr. Ed wasn’t a horse!!  You see, the horse that was actually chosen for the role just didn’t work out the way they had planned as he got too distracted by the cameras, lights and commotion and wouldn’t perform on command as he was supposed to.  The producers were about to throw in the towel on the show when one of Mr. Ed’s trainers suggested that they use a zebra from a California animal park.  The zebra was well-trained and could do all the tricks that Mr. Ed was supposed to do on camera.  Using a zebra for the role just didn’t really feel right but, the producers discovered that a zebra in black and white television lost its’ stripes and appeared to be a solid color!  So – Mr. Ed was really a zebra!  In one episode the finicky Mr. Ed ran away from home because he wanted to be a zebra – so the producers discovered that if Mr. Ed were in front of a black fence – his stripes would appear!  So Mr. Ed ran away and ‘became’ a zebra for one episode!!  Things aren’t always as they seem!  Well, the producers had a hit show on their hands until color television came along several years later.  In the beginning, only occasional shows were shown in color.   CBS had decided to have its prime time shows in color – but, what would they do with Mr. Ed?  Their solution for one final year was to move Mr. Ed to a non-prime time slot.  And that was the beginning of the end for Mr. Ed.  Not everything is as it seems but the truth is usually forth coming! 

Dad used a lot of clichés (which would be good subject for another time), and they frequently pop into my mind when certain situations arise.  I guess his ‘lessons’ were that deeply ingrained in my mind.  This one came to mind yesterday as I learned of yet another urban legend that sounded absolutely incredible.  I could hear Dad urging me to look further to see if there was more to the story – sure enough, there is. 

PS – Oh, and MR. Ed was really a female zebra named Amelia!

Posted in Family, General, urban legends | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14th is Valentines Day – a worldwide celebration of love and romance, marked by giving red roses and chocolate hearts or by sending valentines.

Often derided as a “Hallmark holiday,” Valentines Day – also known as Saint Valentines Day – is certainly a boom for greeting card companies, florists and chocolatiers. But long before the mass marketing, Valentines Day was still a high point for courtly love.

So, how and where did the holiday get its start? And who is Saint Valentine and why has he become the symbol for love?

For starters, Saint Valentine is probably not just one man, but rather any of a number of martyred saints named Valentine or Valentinus, derived from the Latin word for valor. According to Christian tradition, all of these Saint Valentines are believed to have been martyred on February 14.

The first Valentinus, Valentine of Rome, was a priest and doctor, who treated even those patients who could not afford to pay him. The second Saint Valentine was beheaded for protecting Christians from the Romans. And the third is Valentine of Terni, a bishop believed killed during the persecution of Emperor Aurelian.

While these saints likely bestowed upon Valentines Day its name, they still do not explain the holiday’s love connection. To understand that, one has to go back even further in history – to the Romans.

Historians believe that the holiday of love derives its origins from the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia. On February 15, the Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercus, to honor and thank the wolf god who watched over the Roman shepherds and their flocks.

While Lupercus doesn’t seem to have much to do with romance, there was a number of fertility customs associated with his feast. In one of these rituals, women would put their names on slips of paper in a box, to be drawn out by men. The two would then be coupled up for the duration of the festival – or for the rest of the year in some cases. This fertility-friendly feast gives some clue as to the romantic – or at least procreative – nature of the holiday. But we don’t celebrate Saint Lupercus Day on February 14th. So, how did the Valentine saints become associated with the Roman god?

Legend has it that in the 3rd century, the Roman emperor Claudius II banned marriages to prevent draft dodgers. Only single men had to go into the army – and too many young men were getting married.

A Christian priest named Valentinus of Rome ignored the ban, continuing to officiate marriages in secret. Valentinus was caught and sentenced to death – an order carried out on February 14. Another story tells of a priest named Valentinus who was jailed and later executed for helping Christians. He fell for his jailer’s daughter and sent her plaintiff love notes signed “from your Valentine”.

In the late 5th century, Emperor Gelasius declared February 14th a holy day in honor of Valentinus (probably the first, but perhaps the second), allowing Christianity to adopt some of the love day customs previously associated with paganism.

The traditions were reworked, however, to honor the Christian martyrs. For example, instead of boys pulling girls’ names from boxes, both boys and girls chose names of martyred saints to emulate for the year.

It took nearly nine centuries, until the advent of the Renaissance, for Valentines Day to return to its earlier love-based roots. With Romantic art, poetry and music flourishing, the time was ripe for a celebration of love.


Posted in Family, General, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Crying Shame……Stillbirth

STILLBIRTH. I’ve decided that the term is an euphemism because no one likes to call it what it is – infant death. By definition, stillbirth is the death of an infant of 20 weeks gestation or more before he/she is born. Some countries actually define it from 24 or 28 weeks gestation. Personally, I prefer the 28 week definition because the point of viability seems more closely aligned with this point in the pregnancy. But that is a moving target – modern medicine is able to save babies earlier and earlier all the time.

But the definition is really of no consequence because the reporting requirements vary from none to very little from state to state. There is some concern that to begin consistently counting stillbirth is a back door approach to the whole abortion issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Abortion issues have absolutely no bearing on stillbirth issues. We are talking about babies that are dearly wanted and loved. I’m sure the opinions about abortion are across the board in stillbirth families but no one even talks about that because the topic isn’t relevant at all. We simply must have standardized reporting to states. Politics must not interfere!!

Even without formal statistical reporting to states, we know that at least 26,000 infants die before they are born in the US. That is 80 every single day. Yet only those families that have been personally impacted are raising issues. Without formalized statistical reporting we cannot definitively prove the numbers (and many believe them to be much higher). Without proven numbers the research monies are not dedicated. Yes, there are those researching stillbirth – but, they are primarily independent individuals that have a personal passion for preventing stillbirth.

From empirical evidence we know that many, many stillborn babies were completely healthy before their precious lives were snuffed out before birth. But again, it is difficult to prove because there are no requirements for autopsy in the case of stillbirth. A big issue here is that unlike autopsy in many other situations – the families must pay the bill. Stillbirth should be treated like any other unattended, unexpected death and autopsy must be required regardless of ability to pay.

I have lots of concerns about the stillbirth issues. One that is becoming more prominent for me is that traditional medicine requires practice based upon evidence. Translated that usually means that a formal research study – preferably, double-blind placebo controlled, is necessary to document anything that has the potential to change practice. The problem in this case is that to do traditional research in this regard is both unethical and immoral. You simply cannot withhold diagnostics and treatment when an unborn life is concerned. I keep coming back to the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians – in part they swear “I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”  Again empirical evidence in cases of stillbirth is clearly showing a pattern of events that are common from one case to the next.  But, the obstetrical community is resistant to changing their practice based upon this  overwhelming information because it isn’t “evidence based ” as a result of formal research.  My argument is – if we “do no harm” then why not?  Truth be known it is only because third-party payors (aka Insurance Companies) require ‘approved’ protocols.  I believe in my heart that obstetricians would do everything in their power to insure that each and every pregnancy results in a living, breathing, screaming infant – after all the oath they took said  I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”  – not that of the third-party payor!  But they are under constant scrutiny and criticism from third-party payors and it’s a shame. 

One clear-cut example is a hospital in Japan where every pregnant woman receives an ultrasound examination at every prenatal visit.  Stillbirth rates in that hospital are practically non-existent.  Why do only ‘high risk’ pregnancies deserve such prenatal care in the US?  Every pregnancy should be considered high risk and afforded every current technology available.  There are more examples – Group B Strep testing for one, that should also be revisited. 

There are so many other issues in the stillbirth discussion that need to be mentioned.  I’ll save that for another time…..

Please visit to learn more about how you can help prevent stillbirth.  If you are pregnant or know someone who is visit – a program of the Star Legacy Foundation.  Until we can have comprehensive prenatal care, parents must be their baby’s advocate!!

Posted in Stillbirth, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A much needed vacation……

Steve & I took a few days to get away recently and went to Belize.  We stayed at a fairly new resort that was recommended to us by a business colleague of Steve’s who lives in Belize City.  It was called the Placncia Resort and Residences  – just a short distance from the village of Placensia.  Much of the resort is still in development but it is a lovely and very relaxing place.  It was advertised as ‘all inclusive’ but as it turned out ‘almost all inclusive’ would be a better term.  Only the food at the buffet was included in the price and only local liquor was included.  It would have been nice to have a pizza at the pool bar or dine in the restaurant without additional charges. 

Belize is generally a very poor country.  The staff at the hotel come from 2-3 hours away to work and we were told that the average wage isaround $7,000/year (US).  They come to the resort and are provided room and board and uniforms and work 10-14 days straight and then go home for a few days before returning.  The staff were all delightful and very friendly.  Never once did we feel like they were expecting to be tipped.  However, I must say that tipping in that setting actually felt good.  You truly felt like it was appreciated and needed but not expected.  BUT – when we got the final bill for our stay – the facility had automatically added in a 10% tip!  The ‘all inclusive’ part didn’t include that either.  I just wonder how much of that 10% really goes to the staff? 

The resort is building a casino and additional condos in addition to a new international airport.  THAT will be nice – getting there was an all day affair (Minneapolis – Atlanta – Belize City and then a 10 passenger aircraft to Placencia). 

I can’t help but think that the development of these types of resorts is or will make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for the local residents – but, I wonder how long it will take until it spoils the local flavor of the village?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So why all the flap about the national debt?

Ok – I’m not a rocket scientist but as I put away the Christmas decorations I’m listening to the news channel on TV going on and on about the severity of the national debt.  I get that part but what I don’t get is why it is so difficult to deal with it? 

At home if money is tight and we find ourselves with more debt than money – we adjust our lifestyle to right the situation – right?  Reduce our spending, increase our income – correct the balance on the balance sheet!  Right?  What is so hard about that?  How many people have second and third jobs when they find themselves in a pinch?  How many of us need all of the luxuries we have when we’re really in a pinch? 

So – on a national level it seems to me we need to reduce spending and increase income just like at home.  Simple – right??? But it appears to me that the real issue is that all of our elected officials are more concerned with their next re-election rather than doing what is right.  Oh no – don’t reduce spending in my district, I might not get re-elected.  (Pork, pork, pork – I like my bbq but we have to eliminate pork from politics!) Oh no – don’t raise taxes, I might not get elected.  

So what if…..we go on a national diet where everyone shares equally in the pain of fixing the problem?  Cut spending across every department, division and desk in government by – say, 10%, freeze wages temporarily, moratorium on hiring  – no ifs, ands, or buts.  I’d love to know what that would amount to. (Who really thinks the answer is bumping up the credit limit?  Seriously??) And then, I wonder if a national sales tax wouldn’t be better than income tax?  The more you have the more you spend – it would mean that the haves and have-nots would pay proportionately.  And then we have to do something about welfare…..but, that’s a rant for another time! 

WAIT – I know!  What if we passed a law that says our elected officials can only serve say, two terms – period.  Eliminate the career politician.  Do you suppose they would then start doing the RIGHT thing rather than the popular thing back home?  (Oh and when running for that second term – don’t do it while you’re on my time clock – you were hired to do the nations business not further your personal agenda!)

I really don’t know the answers – but, I do know if I was running a business called the United States of America I’d fire all the upper management and start over!!!

Posted in Genealogy | Leave a comment