Monday, October 29, 2012

Heartbreaking story about Sandy

Because of the massive storm hitting the east coast this evening and the power outages across lower Manhattan, a number of hospitals have experienced power failures. The NYU Hospital has had to evacuate patients from its NICU and PICU, hand-bagging the babies and carrying them down nine flights of stairs to take them to another hospital.

Those of us who have had babies or children in the NICU or PICU can only imagine the terror these poor parents must be experiencing. I remember the horror parents felt when they would arrive and their baby had been moved without the
ir knowledge--the first thought was always that the baby had died. (This never happened to us; we were lucky that way.) 

Can you imagine how these parents are going to feel when they learn their children have been moved, and they do not know where? And what about the micropreemies who are on high-frequency ventilators, like Chris was for 6+ weeks? He wouldn't have survived long without the ventilator. It just breaks my heart to imagine this scene. 

When I posted this on Facebook, one of Chris' nurses, Sheila, said this:

"I remember the power going out in the old unit. We had to hand bag for about 20 minutes. Horrible! Can't imagine how the nurses are coping in such a terrible situation. My heart is pounding just reading this."
Please keep these babies, their parents, and their caregivers in your thoughts and prayers tonight and in the coming days, along with all the others who are being affected by this horrible storm.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ten firsts: Monday listicles

This should be fun. Bridget at Twinisms came up with this week's topic, "Ten Firsts."

1. First surgery: As I've written about before, I was born with a cleft lip and palate and had to have surgery when I was just a few weeks old. That was the first of many to come. I remember one of my hospital stays as a child. I was in a large children's ward, and my parents brought me the Dr. Seuss book Red Fish Blue Fish and one about a child in the hospital.  I must have been four or five at the time--it's one of my earliest memories.

2. First concert: John Denver, the Memorial Coliseum, sometime in the 1970s. He played for three and half hours, and I was spoiled forever after. Now when I go to a concert and it's only 90 minutes, I feel cheated! John Denver set the bar high. I played a lot of John Denver in the 1970s, with my easy guitar songbook. I was so sad when he died!

This is what he looks like now--
yes he's on Facebook but I am not friends with him!
3. First kiss and first boyfriend: It was my first Catholic Mike (my husband is also a Catholic Mike, for those of you who don't know me in person). He lived down the street and went to Jesuit High School. The first kiss occurred during truth or dare. He had a paper route, and I remember getting up at 4:00 a.m. to ride on the back of his bicycle and go on his paper route with him. Our song was Elton John's "Your Song," and he gave me an album of Steve Miller's Greatest Hits. He turned out to be a jerk, though. He broke up with me and then wanted to get back together. When I said no, he waited for me after school one day and as I was walking down the street, he dumped a bucket of water over my head. I kept walking, and my sister stayed after to berate him (and the guy washing his car who lent him the bucket and water). 

4. First job (not counting babysitting): In junior high I was a busgirl at the Village Inn Pancake House and worked Saturday and Sunday mornings. I wore a white shirt and black pants and always smelled like (fake) maple syrup. I remember that the boss kissed me once when I brought him a cup of coffee, which was weird and made me feel highly uncomfortable. My next food service job was working at Arctic Circle (now defunct fast food restaurant). Suffice it to say that I did not enjoy food's the best reason to graduate from high school!

5. First time the police visited my house: When I was in high school, I had a coed birthday party. The boys all left around 9:00 or 10:00, and we said goodbye to them (noisily) in the street. About a half hour later, my girlfriends and I were sitting around our living room eating chocolate chip cookies, when the police showed up at the door. They had a call about a wild party. We always suspected our grumpy neighbor across the street, Mr. Holly. We found this very amusing, and I think the police did too.

6. First (covert) alcoholic drink: Although my parents would occasionally give us sips of their wine, my first real underage drink was a rum and coke. One New Year's Eve, my sister and I were spending the night with a friend, Dee, and her parents had left us unattended. She raided her parents' alcohol stash and we had rum and cokes. I didn't like them much then and I don't like them now. Perhaps that was a good thing...I didn't drink alcohol until I was in my sophomore year in college and moved into a coed dorm.

7. First car: A 1967 Buick Special, so big that I could hardly see over the dashboard. My aunt had given our family the car for me to learn to drive. Because my parents thought we shouldn't be given things like cars, it became our family car, and both my sister and I learned to drive in it. It was very safe because it was so huge! It looked just like the car on the right. We called it the "Blue Bomber"!

8. First airplane flight: We didn't have a lot of extra money when I was growing up, so vacations consisted of camping or road trips. So my first airplane trip was after my junior year in college, when I flew down the bay area with dorm friends Kristin and Xena to visit another friend, Christine, in Sacramento. I remember touring San Francisco; drinking daquiris by their backyard pool, which was ringed with large rosemary bushes; drinking Danielle Steele novels (ugh!); going to the theme parks; and floating down the river in inner tubes. 

First weekend in Japan, on the train from Osaka
 going back home to Wakayama
(Debbie, our friend Abby, me, and one of the unscrupulous ones)
9. First trip abroad: After graduating with an English major and working as a nanny for my cousins Annie and Elena in Seattle for the summer, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my life. I applied, on a whim, for a job teaching English in Japan. I told myself that if I got the job, I would go. The job offer asked me to report for work in one month's time. I knew no Japanese, had never been out of North America (the only trip out of the U.S. was the Canadian side of Niagara Falls), and was not prepared to leave the country. Fortunately I persuaded my college roommate Debbie to come along with me, as she was waiting to get into physical therapy school. Thank goodness she said yes. Our first few days and months in Japan were exciting and stressful. For example, we arrived at Narita Airport in Tokyo and had to find our way to the Shinkansen (bullet train) alone, somehow. Once we finally got onto the train (much later than all the native speakers since it took us forever to figure out to get there), no empty seats were left. After a 24-hour flight (we flew Korean Air, through Seoul), we had to sit between the carriages, with five suitcases between us, for a further 3-1/2 hours to Osaka. Then when we arrived, we called our employers and they told us to find a hotel (it was midnight). Together, we INSISTED that they meet us and take us to a hotel. Hardly anyone spoke English, and no one helped us with our multiple heavy suitcases. It was a rude awakening! Later on we had to fight our unscrupulous employers to get adequate housing and fight again to get some furnishings. I can't imagine enduring all that alone. Fortunately, things got better. We had a great year of adventures, and I of course met Mike and stayed for another two years. Another college friend, Jean, joined me in Japan the following year, and yet a third friend, Tami, came during the third year.

10. First house: Mike and I lived in a 700-square-foot apartment when we first got married, and three years later (in 1993) we decided to spend the money he still had in savings from Japan (which we were planning to spend on a trip to Europe) and use it as a down payment on a house. Some friends gave us the name of a fantastic realtor, Judith Rolfe, who worked with our small budget and helped us find a charming little bungalow in an up-and-coming neighborhood (on 31st between Division and Clinton). Judith is still our friend to this day, and I just had lunch with her last week. We loved our little 1910 house with built-ins and box-beam ceilings, but decided to move again six years later, when Chris was three--we needed a yard. We still miss living in southeast Portland and whenever we're in the neighborhood we drive past our old house! I don't seem to have any photos available of the house--I'd have to scour my boxes in my basement and scan one. So you'll just have to imagine it!

Thanks to Stasha at for organizing Monday Listicles. 

Reclaiming the pro-life mantle

Thomas Friedman has an excellent editorial in the New York Times on the need to redefine and reclaim the mantel of "pro-life." Personally, I've always used the term "anti-abortion" instead, because that names the issue more specifically. The only problem with that term is that it implies that the opposite is "pro-abortion," which no one is, in spite of the accusations to the contrary.

Friedman discusses the recent spate of hard-right conservatives spouting on about rape and abortion, He laments the decaying influence of the "ever-more-aggressive far right Republican base" that is pushing the abortion issue hard and doing everything in their power to push out moderate Republicans. Friedman encourages those of us who are worried about the safety of women's right to choose to own the issue and name it...and not allow those who seek to vilify women's rights to call themselves pro-life. They are not pro-life, they are against a woman's right to choose and control her own body.

"In my world, you don’t get to call yourself 'pro-life' and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself 'pro-life' and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself 'pro-life' and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a 'pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.' I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as 'pro-life.'
'Pro-life' can mean only one thing: 'respect for the sanctity of life.' And there is no way that respect for the sanctity of life can mean we are obligated to protect every fertilized egg in a woman’s body, no matter how that egg got fertilized, but we are not obligated to protect every living person from being shot with a concealed automatic weapon. I have no respect for someone who relies on voodoo science to declare that a woman’s body can distinguish a 'legitimate' rape, but then declares — when 99 percent of all climate scientists conclude that climate change poses a danger to the sanctity of all life on the planet — that global warming is just a hoax.
The term 'pro-life' should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth. That radical narrowing of our concern for the sanctity of life is leading to terrible distortions in our society."
Perhaps instead of referring to those who oppose a woman's right to choose as "pro-life," we should call them  "pro-conception-to-birth," unless they support programs that help those children who are born into poverty and neglect...unless they fight against war...unless they fight to combat climate change.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Open letter to Richard Mourdock

In an incredibly touching video, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry delivers an open letter to Richard Mourdock on the subject of rape.

She describes from personal experience how her own sexual assault has affected her life:
"Sometimes I still flinch when I’m touched a certain way, even if it’s the loving embrace of my husband," she said. "Even some seasons of the year are harder for me. Those of us who are sexual assault survivors call these triggers. We spend our lives — the lives we lead after the attack — avoiding and managing these triggers."
And explains what rape means to a victim:
"You see, Mr. Mourdock, the violation of rape is more than physical. Rapists strip women of our right to choose, of our right to say no, of our right to control what is happening to our bodies. Most assailants tell us it is our fault. They tell us to be silent. Sometimes they even tell us it’s God’s will," she said. "That is the core violation of rape– it takes away choice. Richard, you believe it is fine to ignore a women’s right to choose because of your interpretation of divinity. Sound familiar?"
She bravely explains what it's like to survive sexual assault, and how important that is to the psyche:
"When we survive sexual assault, we are the gift. When we survive, when we go on to love, to work, to speak out, to have fun, to laugh, to dance, to cry, to live, when we do that, we defeat our attackers," she said. "For a moment, they strip us of our choices. As we heal, we take our choices back. We are the gift to ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation when we survive."
I applaud her courage and insights.

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Republicans for rape

First of all, why on earth are middle-aged politicians jumping up to claim their 15 minutes of fame by defining rape? You'd think that the Republicans might put out a memo to all their cronies asking that these (mostly) men just keep their mouths shut! But each time a throwback-to-the-1950s politician expresses his neanderthal opinion about what is and what isn't rape, it becomes more crystal clear what the Republican agenda really is all about.

It shows their clear disrespect for women and their belief that women are (1) making up stories that they've been raped, (2) to be blamed for rape because of the way they dress or act, (3) not capable of making their own decisions about their bodies, and in some cases, (4) deserve to be raped because they are women.

I am stunned that independent-thinking women who value their own freedom and rights would vote for these buffoons. Even if they believe that Romney will be better on the economy or job creation (or whatever other reason), do they really believe that their rights are not going to be trampled in the next four years if he wins the election?

Here's proof, in their own words, of what Republicans really believe about the worth of women:

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down”
--Todd Akin, Republican congressman and senate candidate (MO), 2012

"When life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something
that God intended to happen."
--Richard Mourdock, Republican senate candidate (IN), 2012

"The right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, but nevertheless...a gift of human life, and accept what God is giving to you...
rape victims should make the best of a bad situation."
--Rick Santorum, Republican senator and candidate for president (PA), 2012

"Richard and I, along with millions of Americans, believe that life is a gift from God."
--Republican senator John Cornyn,
supporting Richard Mourdock's statement about rape-induced pregnancies, 2012

"If it's an honest rape, that individual should go immedately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen."
--Republican senator and presidential candidate Ron Paul (TX), 2012

“I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”
--Chuck Winder, Idaho Senate Majority Leader (R), 2012

"If you go down that road, some girls, they rape so easy."
--Republican state rep Roger Rivard (WI), 2011

And further on back in history:

"A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life." --Bill Napoli, Republican state senator (SD), 2006

“By getting married, the woman has consented to sex. That's what marriage is all about. Maybe these girls missed sex ed. It isn't rape. It's a he said-she said where it's too easy to lie about it." 
--Republican activist Phyllis Schlafly, 2007

"Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse."
--Douglas Henry, Republican state senator (TN), 2008
"I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade."
--Sharron Angle, Republican representative and candidate for U.S. congress (NV), 2010

“A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse …It appears to me … you invited him over… the appearance is of consent.”
--Ken Buck, Republican senate candidate (CO), 2010

And the granddaddy of them all:

"If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”
--Clayton Williams, Republican candidate for governor of Texas, 1990
(fortunately this comment lost him the election to Ann Richards)

According to experts, up to 60 percent of rapes in the U.S. go unreported, only 25% of reported rapes result in arrest, and one in six women will be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime. That means out of sixty of your friends, ten have been or will be attacked. I am so angry that such a serious, invasive, and horrific crime has become treated so lightly and jockeyed about in political rhetoric. How dare they make light of such a serious crime? In response, some clever bloggers have created a (mostly) satirical site:

Mitt Romney is much more polished than these kneejerk loudmouths, but he has continued to support Richard Mourdock in the latest of these outbursts. That speaks volumes.

Friday, October 26, 2012

11th carnival down, 5 to go!

Because of the way we spaced out our three sons, we will be at our elementary school for 16 years straight. That means 16 school carnivals! It's not my favorite event of the year (too crowded and noisy for me), but the kids definitely love it.

Nicholas in "jail" (a favorite feature of the carnival, for some reason!)
The principal enjoys playing the part of the jailer

Getting his face painted

Harry Potter in an Indiana Jones costume

Kieran with his friend Jack

Kieran won a cake for being "best dancer" at the cake walk, and both kids walked away with stuffed animals and candy. We didn't win any of the raffle prizes, but the boys enjoyed themselves as usual!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The troubling Mormon question...

Yes, the big elephant in the room in temple garments. Mitt Romney belongs to a church that believes in the suppression of women's rights. He's trying to convince undecided female voters that he is on their side, claiming now that he supports contraception and gender equality (only in Afghanistan though), and refusing to own up to his opinion on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (he did not support it at the time, and now refuses to state a straightforward opinion).

However, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) does not believe that women are as spiritually worthy as men. All LDS men are automatically members of the priesthood, just by their gender, and given authority to speak for God. Women are categorically denied that right; in fact, a teenage boy has greater authority over any woman.

Mormons claim that women are essential to their religion (two LDS missionaries told Mike, in Japan, that women were critical because they made "wonderful casseroles"!), because they alone can bear children. This is the sole purpose for an LDS woman--to be the keeper of the hearth and raise a family. Even after death, while their husbands are ruling over the planets, the women continue to bear their husbands' "spirit children." But the church insists that they are "choice daughters of our Heavenly Father...and a greater power for good" (unless they get uppity, of course!)...and "in the marriage relationship, women and men are equally important."

As we know, when Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith, women had even fewer rights than they do now, with the practice of polygamy. Even though polygamy has been abolished in the modern-day LDS church, women still cannot enter heaven unless they marry a man who goes on a mission. Although the LDS church shares many restrictions on women with the Catholic church, this heaven-admittance thing goes one step further.

LDS boys and girls are taught about gender roles and expectations...the men clearly lead their families. "Feminists are described as 'the Pied Pipers of sin who have led women away from the divine role of womanhood down the pathway of error'" (Laake 176). 
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “I sincerely hope that our Latter-day Saint girls and women, and men and boys, will drink deeply of the water of life and conform their lives to the beautiful and comprehensive roles the Lord assigned to them” (“The Lord’s Plan for Men and Women,” Ensign, Oct. 1975, p. 5). 
So where does that leave Mitt Romney? Even though he claims he considered BINDERS FULL OF WOMEN for his cabinet in Massachusetts, in reality only 2 out of the 19 judges he appointed were women. His wife has never worked for a paycheck and is proud of that fact. And she had five sons--Eureka!

The LDS church has strict policies forbidding:
  • Abortion
  • Artificial insemination
  • Birth control (even though they are not supposed to "judge each other," they are also reminded that sexual relations within marriage are for procreation, in addition to love)
  • Caffeine, alcohol, and smoking
  • Chastity
  • Homosexuality
  • In vitro fertilization and surrogacy
  • Sex education (should be taught in the home)
  • Sperm donation
  • Surgical sterilization
Mormon men are schooled in the way of business, and the LDS church is a highly successful business itself. By running businesses under the church's mantel, they avoid paying taxes. Mormons tend to patronize each other's businesses and hire each other when given the chance.

This is not to say that no Mormon women work outside the home and live independent lives, but the stay-at-home mom is held up as the highest standard. One has only to google "Mormon women work outside the home" to find scads of LDS web sites, such as this one, holding up the principle of family coming first for women. I too believe it is ideal when one parent is able to stay home and be the primary caretaker--in our family, it is my husband who stays at home. But I have a very difficult time imagining that Mitt Romney would support fair pay for women, hire women on his cabinet, and appoint female Supreme court judges, when he has been trained to believe that women belong in the home.

Before the first debate, the Daily Beast had an article encouraging Jim Lehrer to ask Mitt Romney if he stands by the LDS church's view of women. As we know, this subject didn't come up, unfortunately. The article talks about Mike Wallace quizzing then-president Gordon B. Hinckley, "whom believers considered to be a living prophet,God’s representative on Earth, on the subject of women’s rights--not that long ago, in 1996: 
“Now that blacks can be priests, the current issue is whether Mormon women will ever be priests?”
“Men hold the priesthood in this church,” Hinckley said.
“Because God stated that it should be so. That was the revelation of the church. That was what was set forth.”

At the end of his interview with Hinckley, Wallace said:  “There are those who say: ‘This is a gerontocracy. This is a church run by old men.’”
Hinckley smiled: “Isn’t it wonderful?”
The LDS church is instituting new rules for missions to reduce the number of unmarried Mormons, and girls in Utah were recently barred from their homecoming dance because their dresses are too short. If LDS women do speak out against the sexism in the church, they risk being excommunicated, such as these women:
  • Maxine Hanks, excommunicated, editor of Women and Authority: Reemerging Mormon Feminism.
  • Deborah Laake, excommunicated, author of Secret Ceremonies.
  • Margaret Merrill Toscano, excommunicated, questioning the status quo and challenging the patriarchal hierarchy.
  • Lavina Fielding Anderson, excommunicated, collected stories of people (mainly women) who have been abused by the Mormon ecclesiastical system. Edited the book Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective.
  • Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, disfellowshipped for talking about God the Mother and disagreeing with Mormon Church leaders in public.
  • Sonia Johnson, excommunicated, for publicly supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and denouncing the LDS church's political activities against the amendment.
Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on so many issues...from Afghanistan and Detroit to abortion and birth control...I expect that if he were to be elected he'll let down his "moderate" guard and follow his religious instinct on all matters. 

I'm not suggesting that he would be disrespectful to women. In my experience, Mormons have a huge love of family and the LDS men I have known love and respect their wives, even if they are not considered equal members of the church. 

But how can a man who has been a bishop in the LDS church promote women in leadership positions, ensure access to birth control and infertility treatment, work to ensure rights for gays and lesbians, and work for pay equity...when all of these things go against his church tenets? 

And then there's the whole question of men were not allowed to be ordained as part of its lay priesthood until 1978...they were no better than women!

In this blog I've been critical of the Catholic church in the past, even though I'm married to a Catholic and worship as part of a Lutheran-Catholic community. Women cannot be priests, and the Vatican has some similar stances on social issues as the LDS church. But here's where the similarities end. The vast majority of Catholics use birth control. Many have had abortions. You'll even find organizations in some progressive Catholic churches supporting gays and lesbians. There's a womanpriest movement, even though it's shunned by Rome. A large number of Catholics feel that they can be Catholics without agreeing with everything the Vatican or their local priest says. They quietly live their own lives and their own beliefs. This is much less common in Mormonism (where family, community, and conformance are all highly important), and Mormons are much more likely to be shunned or excommunicated if they do not follow along.

So what does this mean for us if Mitt Romney wins? I am guessing that people who vote for Romney-Ryan long for the 1950s. That's what a Romney administration will look like. George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, who at least did name a few female leaders (Sandra Day O'Connor, Condoleeza Rice), will look like raging feminists in comparison.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ten costumes ten days before Halloween: Monday listicles

Today's Monday listicle is ten Halloween costumes. We are a costume sons are forever dressing up in costume, not just on Halloween! I thought I'd go back in the archives...

1. Halloween, 2004 (Mickey and a ladybug)

2. Playdate with a friend (Tigger and two Cookie Monsters, 2004)
3. Winnie the Pooh at the zoo (2004)
4. Another Cookie Monster and a cop (2005)

6. Little Einstein (2005)
7. Howie Mandel/Charlie Brown/Simon Cowell, Pooh (again), and Superwhy, 2007

8. Three firefighters, Dash, a cop, and a punk rocker (2008)
9. A vampire and Scooby Doo (2009)
10. With my cute little pirate!
This year we will have Indiana Jones and Audrey 2. Stay tuned!

Thanks to Monday Listicles (organized by Stasha at for organizing Monday Listicles. (I love her Edward Scissorhands!) Check out some more!

My sister, my friend

Happy birthday to my little sister, Nadine!

Nadine was born a few weeks after my second birthday, and it was love at first sight!
 (Okay, well, that might be a slight exaggeration...
word has it I was a bit ambivalent at first, as most older children are!)
As a small child, she was very serious and shy, unlike me!
We soon became playmates, as she got more interesting!
My favorite childhood photo of the two of us!
Nadine and I were best buddies, but we also fought hard. We would actually pull hair, hit, bite, and spit (she was the spitter!). I remember friends visiting and expressing the disbelief that we actually ever fought!

Being girls, we were incredibly close but we also got sucked into manipulative dramas with other friends. I remember getting together with family friends, the Morgans, who had three girls of similar ages. Nadine and I would each pair off with one sister and then we would have huge fights with the other pair. Another shared friend would try to snare our loyalty and pit us against the other one. We were so mean to each other, when we weren't playing music together, doing crafts or sewing, sharing books or clothes, going shopping, listening to music, or hanging out. 

We were very different, too. She spent a lot more time on curling her hair, I remember, than I did. When we would go to buy fabric together (our mom taught us how to sew), I would walk into the fabric shop and choose my fabric within 10 minutes. Nadine would pore over the bolts and--apparently--try to find a fabric that closely matched the photo on the pattern. I would be bored to tears, because I would always make my decision so much more quickly. I believe Nadine's patience and deliberation were two key factors in her ability to become a physician. I never would have had the patience for all that memorization and years of school and training. She knew exactly what she wanted, and she put in the time and hard work to get it. Just like in the fabric store! Now she is an exceptionally caring and conscientious doctor.
At our grandma's wedding with our cousins Becky and Kim (with Tim in the background)--
Nadine and I played the guitar and flute together,
 and we each made our dresses
We had a lot of silliness in our family growing up--
Here's us singing "King Jesus Is All" on a trip to the beach
I wish I had a photo of the time we dressed up as Elton John (me) and Kiki Dee (Nadine) and sang "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" in a performance for our parents. In between fun and games, though, we were pretty awful to each other as teenagers, as only teenage girls can be.

My graduation from high school (with our brother, Stephen)
Family outing to the Columbia Gorge
When I went off to college I finally realized how much I loved my sister. I wrote a song for her 16th birthday during my freshman year in college, and I remember crying as I was singing it to her at her party! Living apart made me realize how dear she was to me and how lucky I was to have her as a sister and best friend. (Of course, by then, we had grown up a lot and rarely fought any more!)

When she joined me at PLU a couple of years later (I was a junior her freshman year), I was so happy! I was the social chair of our dorm, Stuen, and looking back I'm horrified to remember what we put those incoming freshman students through (initiation!). I also remember Nadine's shock the first time she ever saw me drunk. Neither of us drank, smoked, or did drugs during high school, and I only started drinking alcohol during my sophomore year of college. She was very concerned about me!

Although Nadine was a biology major and I was an English major, one experience we did share was Spurs. (Nadine's sister-in-law, Judy, was also a Spur.) Sharing a dorm for a year was fun, and then I moved off campus with some friends. Nadine and I shared many of our college friends from Stuen, so we did a great deal of our college socializing together.
With our friends at a birthday brunch
for me in our off-campus house
Singing at church in China on Christmas Eve
We also both worked as a nanny for our cousins in Seattle when they were very small. Then the fall after I graduated from PLU, we both left for Asia within a few weeks--me to Japan to teach English, and Nadine to spend her junior year in China with a PLU program. I visited her in China for Christmas and New Year, and she came to visit me in Japan in February.
Party in Japan when Nadine visited
One of my favorite photos of that era--visiting Oregon from Japan one summer,
 in the Rose Garden--I'm wearing Nadine's sweatshirt
Fast forward a few years--I got married, and Nadine was my maid of honor...she went to med school in Wisconsin and then did her residency in Portland. We spent a lot of time together as couples, and Mike and David got along famously.
Before children
With Nadine at her medical school graduation--
we were all so proud!
Christopher was born in crisis. Then Nadine and David got married and I was her matron of honor and Mike and I sang at their wedding. As the years have passed, we have continued to share so much. She was so instrumental to us when Christopher was in the was incredibly helpful to have a doctor in the family to help translate what was going on, and she visited Christopher regularly on her own. She and David are Christopher's godparents. For five years, he was the only child in our extended family. Both Nadine and I endured many years of infertility, and we supported each other through each loss. Then finally Ryan came along (Nadine and David's firstborn). 

With Ryan as a baby
And then the babies kept coming! All boys. Six of them--three for her and three for me! After sharing the infertility, then we began sharing childbirth. Nadine was there for the births of Kieran and Nicholas, and I was there when Daniel and Garrett were born. I will never forget that moment...such a gift to share those moments.
With Kieran and Ryan
With twin nephews

Twins' baptism

The last baby! (Nicholas' birth day)
With the new little cousin/brother
With the six puppies (as it often feels like!)
Now that we have all these puppies, we don't get to see each other nearly often enough! I hope that someday we can live closer together or find a way to spend more time together. Not a day passes when I don't realize how fortunate I am to have Nadine as my sister and one of my dearest, most beloved friends!
Vacationing together in Vancouver BC in 2010

And in 2011 at the beach
Celebrating our October birthdays earlier this month
Today has got to be a very bittersweet day for Nadine, because they had to put their beloved Golden retriever, Ashley, to sleep on Saturday, while she was away for the weekend. We are all feeling so sad about Ashley--she was such a sweet dog and member of their family!

With Ashley last year
Happy birthday, sweet Nadine! You are a phenomenal sister, mom, wife, aunt, doctor, and woman. I love you so much!