Friday, March 31, 2006

I could be a US Citizen! If I wasn't one already that is...

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 9 out of 10 correct!

Could you pass it?

Okay forget the questions on the written portion of the exam...could you afford to buy citizenship in the US?

Do you understand why people are illegal here?

What do you believe about it?

Are you a bumper sticker toting member of

Or are you more

Anderson, Stuart - (Director of Trade and Immigration Studies, Cato Institute)

"Throughout our history, immigrants have come to America, established themselves and been joined by other members of their families. That process has brought us energetic individuals and strong families who have enriched our economy and way of life."
(The Los Angeles Times, February 1996)

Do you disagree? Please, explain yourself. Really. Use facts, please.

Everyone I know has spent years and thousands (or tens of thousands, depending on family size) of dollars. And those are just the Canadians, lured here by companies who demand their skills.

Let's start with this...US citizenship requires health tests, and health care. So if you don't have insurance, can't afford it, don't qualify for Medicaid (b/c of lack of citizenship)...then what?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Joy of Parenting #1: When they stop breathing

This photo shows basically the same sort of setup we have now for the baby. Oh she just love love loves it. (insert sarcasm here)

There is nothing in the world worse than watching your child struggle to breathe.

The baby came down with a (so I thought) mild tummy bug over the weekend. We all did. Just a little nausea and some runny stool.

Then my older daughter got a slight cold and I kept her home Tuesday...but she was fine Wednesday, which was the day the baby started showing signs of the cold.

By 3 a.m. this morning (mind you Day 3 of No Sleep Whatsoever following Week Two of Frequently Interrupted, Poor Quality Sleep) the baby was seeming more than a little congested, had developed a fever, and seemed a little short of breath now and again.

By 7:45 I was getting really concerned and called the doctor's office, "Hi my baby is pretty sick, she's struggling to breathe, sort of like stridor, but very wheezy and more intense."

The receptionist said, "The doctor can see you at 10:50."

I thought, hmm maybe I am overreacting. I guess they don't think it is a big deal. And, she is acting fairly normal, sick and cranky, but fairly normal. We put her in the shower.

By 8:45 I was getting panicky. She was getting listless and stuggling worse to breathe.

By 9 she had crawled in my lap and laid down and sort of passed out. I know from falling asleep normally in my lap and this, which was not normal. This was "little body had to collapse and put every bit of effort into trying to draw in a breath."

I wacthed her for a bit, and it didn't get worse, but the rattling, wheezing and struggling to breathe seemed pretty bad to me.

I debated calling my neighborhood medical team, or 911 for an ambulance, but in the end decided it would be fastest to load her in the car and race to the doctor myself.

My heart has never beat so hard in my life. I drove 60 miles an hour to the doctor. Honking my horn and yelling MOVE to all cars. I kept checking back on her and her chest was still moving, but very struggle-y, and she wasn't moving.

I walked in with a listless, unresponsive baby.

As calmly as possible I said to the receptionist, "My baby is listless, unresponsive and struggling to breathe and I need a doctor now."

She said, "Do you have an appointment?"

I said, "Yes but later and she is having trouble breathing NOW. I need a doctor now, please, okay?"

She says, "Well sign in and leave your insurance card and I'll get her chart..."

And I said, panic edging out deadly calm, "Do you not get it??? The baby is barely breathing. I need a doctor NOW."

She says, "What's your last name?"

And I said, deadly calm voice edging out panic, "MAJOR MALPRACTICE LAWSUIT IF YOU DON'T GET A DOCTOR NOW NOW NOW!"

Oh NOW she gets it.

Now I am ushered into the emergency room.

Now a nurse and doctor come flying in.

Now they strap oxygen on my baby and start doing things to her.

Good grief.

Two breathing treatments later, her O2 was still way low.

Then my doctor gets there and we try some more.

They start sucking blood, cath her for a urine check and start saying scary things like, "No response in right lung, ketones and blood in urine, high protein, call the hospital..."

She is "revived" and acting more like an alive baby after treatment 2. More like herself. By treatment three she is fighting me. That was a relief, much more so than any aggravation. O2 still not up to bottom of normal level.

We are ushered to the hospital.

They run more tests, restrain her and X-ray her, ask if she is eating...tell us they will tell us this afternoon what is wrong with her.

Then our specialist is there and they are saying things like asthma and pneumonia and RSV and bacterial infection spread and decreased kidney function and other scary things.

Then my doctor is there teaching me how to ventilate the dealie wop (no idea what it is called) and how to string the tubing from the other thingie and how to do the puff thing and giving me a drug schedule and I am wishing I had something to write it all down on.

Then they send us home, until we all know more.

At home, for some reason, we feel more calm, more in control. We talk to friends in the know, read the instructions for the inhaler, run google searches n the Internet for asthma flare and bronchitis, and sucessfully give our first inahler treatment using the aeromask to our vehemently protesting baby.

Friends in the know remind us she is a baby. Her lungs just might not be their strongest yet, but there might not be a long-term implication here.

This morning I had a major huge cloud of anxiety hovering around me because she is so tiny and the human body suddenly seemed so fragile, and if I ever lose her I will never ever be able to move again.

My mind knows it IS NOT that dire. This is not the case. We are fine.

But you tell that to my heart.

It's not pneumonia, it's probably bronchitis, doubtfully RSV. We still don't know what's wrong with her kidneys-bladder. We'll still do the breathing treatment b/c no matter what is wrong, she is still struggling.

But what a day...what a roller coaster.

By Julie Pippert
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© 2006. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Secret Agent Man...What do you do out of paranoia?

I've got my eye on you...but do I mean you or do you mean me?

Okay this "what weird paranoid thing do you do?" has turned into a fun conversation with friends.

First to mind, my largest weird paranoid thing I do is get all Maxwell Smartt secretive about using my debit card and PIN number.

I pay cash (read: debit card) everywhere. This means I have to key in my PIN.

There is no visual or sound privacy. Have you noticed that?

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP it screams for each number I press.

And what is with everyone crowding you in line? Are they trying to spy on me? Personal space people. Keying in a PIN is like voting. R-E-S-P-E-C-T the privacy!

So like a junior at the SAT, I sort of cup my hand for semi-privacy and fake press numbers so in case someone is watching, or trying to snap a photo with a cell phone camera, they won't know the numbers I press.

This is my security measure.

I will continue to fake you out. I take pleasure in this game, apparently. Stick it to the man, man!

A friend who understands this reminded me about checking the ATM for false fronts.

Okay...start making Dateline, 20/20, tinfoil, black helicopter, and paranoia jokes now.

Although actually, I count on CSI for my crime-prevention tips.

Next time, let's talk sheets, blankets and pillows as Personal Protection Devices from monsters, real and Inc.

By Julie Pippert
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© 2006. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Portrait of the Artist: Itzchak Tarkay

A painter, a watercolorist, a graphic my opinion, Tarkay is a fantastic example of contemporary figurative art.

I progressed to beng a Tarkay fan sort of the same way art progressed from Impressionism to post-Impressionism to figurative art. In other words, I took the same journey. I started with the Impressionists, and for a while, Monet et al were my favorites. Then, my tastes changed and I preferred the brighter, more geometric styles of the post-Impressionists. Then I found Tarkay and learned about figurative art. My Monet-Matisse-Tarkay serigraphs hang in the same room, sort of in order of discovery.

I think Tarkay is one of the softer, more gentle prodders when it comes to the expressive portion of figurative art. His work looks lazy and relaxed to me, in general. The ladies, posed lounging, often at cafe tables, remind me of the Sunday afternoon I'd like to have. I heard once that their somnolence is actually respect for the lost.

See, Itzchak Tarkay, born in 1935, was sent with his family to the Mathausen Concentration Camp when he was nine. He was freed by the Allies a year later, and his family immigrated to Israel in 1949, where they joined a kibbutz.

By Julie Pippert
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© 2006. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.

Deliberately vague week recap

Usually I write these entries and imagine an audience. But often I feel like it's really just for me. So I want to use it to write out...just some things going on, thoughts about it, etc. SiteMeter is like my conscience, reminding me that I am, after all, posting on the Internet, openly, so anyone anywhere can read this. This requires a level of discretion. I have to be a bit deliberately vague.

This has been a week of highs and lows.

Does anyone remember The Story of Us?

I don't much, but I do remember one detail from it. At each nightly family dinner, Michelle Pfeiffer would briskly ask each family member to recount the day's high and low, briefly. One liners. They'd go around the table, fling out the high and the low and then I don't remember what else. I loved that idea, say the high and low. But then, then what do you do with that tidbit? How does it fit in? Do you discuss it?

I'm more of a storyteller, but stories require details.

So this week, I'm just going to try to do brief recap a la Katie Jordan.

High: I'm a valuable contributor at work
Low: The money has run out

High: I have a great group of friends. Wonderful people, with huge hearts, open minds, and always ready to be there, for fun or support.
Low: My kids are maniacs who don't sleep.

High: I can be a good friend too. I have matured past thinking I know what is right and need to shove, and now understand better about listening and guiding.
Low: Work money has run out, things are more complicated, and I still have no other income source. I might have to lose my wonderful sitter.

High: The low slow day.
Low: Work and money issues escalate. Tired of feeling Traumatic.

Friday...Many ties
High: Getting my washing machine fixed, finally. A wonderful evening, after other wonderful evenings, with good friends. Thinking up a solution about the sitter that might really work out for the best for everyone.
Low: An e-mail I got that seemed to highlight my failures and downplay my achievements. TIE for first: End of the week, and no call back as promised for a job prospect.

Combined with lack of sleep and overall stress from that, layered with the rest of it, by yesterday I was a fairly on edge person. And so was the family.

I decided to do Quick Change! to improve matters. I said, "Let's go get the car seat!" It's well past time to upgrade everyone to proper fitting seats. Out and about can sometimes change the tune. Apparently I was the only one who felt broken, or at least the only one who felt the need for a Quick Change! My older daughter was watching Land Before Time, with no desire to change her circumstance. My husband was playing a game on the computer---the sort that takes four hours to quit. My younger daughter was happy to have the playroom and toys all to herself.

I couldn't seem to get anyone to budge. So I decided to go alone. Out alone anyway.

No sooner do I get in the car and start it than everyone is rushing out: huh, what, wait.

So I do. To my regret. I would have loved that time alone. Especially compared to the whine, rant, tantrum, scream and generally unpleasant time it became.

Today is gorgeous weather. My house is a mess. I want a better day. I'm ready to talk about all that is going on. It took some times to process but I am ready. Now I need to find willing ears. And clean my house. And enjoy this day.

By Julie Pippert
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© 2006. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Brick house...she's mighty mighty...lettin' it all hang out

Since having kids, my figure is what could politely be described as a brick house...only not 36-24-36, add a few (or more).

I now get more attention chest-level than ever, and mainly from my own baby, who constantly likes to eyeball, or preferably reach down my shirt and check that the boobs are still there, haven't run off to seek fame nor fortune.

They're there all right. Boobage on the chest, under the arms, hitting the old waistline muffin top.

My 40D bras (parachutes really) are feeling very, very small and tight. I try to blame the dryer, "Evil machine, shrinks all my clothes!"

But really, I think it's the baby aka my Siamese twin attached at the boob.

Still I refuse to buy more bras, since I'm going to stop nursing Any. Day. Now. Is there a 12 Step Program?

I have less patience with nursing this time. Less enjoyment. I feel irritated my babies never would take bottles or pacifiers. I get tired of "whipping out the boob" or fighting off my aggressive baby who, if I won't willingly strip, will forcibly rip the shirt from my body.

Usually. Usually I am feeling all done with it.

Other times, it's an amazing realization that my body grew and still nourishes this developing little person.

But---mushiness aside---let's be honest, it's a great bargaining chip, "I grew you in my body, labored for 49 hours to push you out, and then sacrificed BONE to nurse you to the miracle you are today, and now, NOW you want to tell me I'm a mean girl and you don't love me...just because I said no, we aren't going to go out and get donuts for snacks."

You know I'm kidding. I don't say that to my precious children. I leave out the pregnancy part since, by far, that was the easy bit. Not to mention...any excuse to go get a donut. ;)

Anyway, you could rail at this face? You could say no, wean? You are a better person than I, then. My kids are spoiled. So? They aren't rotten. Just well-nursed.

By Julie Pippert
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© 2006. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Love The Forest Lover

I didn't discover The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland in any organized or well-researched way. I was visiting my mother, we ran to Wal*Mart for diaper rash cream, and by the cash register a pile of Discount Books beckoned from a table.

As any bookaholic knows, a pile of books is utterly irresistable. I waded and dug through the pile, growing discouraged, until I saw Susan Vreeland's name.

I had read her Girl in Hyacinth Blue and found it original, albeit a bit pale compared to the lush story by Tracy Chevalier that I read at about the same time (Girl with a Pearl Earring for the record). It was sort of an Allende to Garcia Marquez. Allende grew on me, so I thought, let's give Vreeland another chance. I had liked her other book, after all.

I'm glad I did.

The Forest Lover
is absolutely brilliant.

It's about Emily Carr, "one of Canada's greatest and most loved artists. Feeling a spiritual connection with her subjects, Emily Carr painted both the landscape and native villages of Western Canada in a unique and modern style that was rejected during its time of production. After years of travel throughout the forests of British Columbia, failing health caused her to remain close to home where she wrote seven books based on her life. Today Emily Carr is highly regarded throughout the world and considered a national icon in Canada. Through reading her books and the study of her paintings ( in poster form, or original ) one is able to grasp just how incredible this woman was."

Vreeland captures the character, the emotion, and the art fantastically well. I can easily see each piece of art and scenery. I won't wax on reviewer-style too much. I'll simply say this is a well-written book, with excellent characterization and scenery and I love love love that it is about an artist. I can completely relate to the character. Her struggles as a liberal and liberated person are also riveting, and challenging while appealing.

Read the book.

There is a Web site for the gallery she created that has lots of interesting bits about her, and her vision. There is also a Web site about her that has some nice examples of her art, and information about her.

It's amazing.

She's amazing. Vreeland's book has motivated me to go out and learn more, read more about Emily Carr, particularly the books she wrote. I think that means Vreeland succeeded well with her book.

By Julie Pippert
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© 2006. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Egging on Kevin Covais is just so....very

When I watch Kevin Covais on American Idol I think, "Isn't he cute, good for him," right along with, "Would you people quit voting for him already?"

(Bear with me, we'll get back to the, "You watch American Idol?" in a moment. Actually, we'll save the whole "How I am addicted to reality TV" for another discussion if you don't mind.)

Kevin Covais. How in the world did he get to this point? I honestly don't see whatever it is that others see, and so that makes me suspicious. Not of myself but of their motives.

Perhaps he simply keeps exceeding Paula and Randy's expectations. Who would expect this gawky little kid to get out there and actually, with some degree of confidence, sing? And usually in tune and on time.

But honestly? I think they've *created* the fascination.

I think KEVIN COVAIS: SEX SYMBOL and AMERICAN IDOL is a paper doll.

When I watch him perform, he sings "eh okay" and he dances "oh please stop" and he looks...well, he doesn't look like a star, and I'm talking appearance not surface looks.

Consider his performance in your mind side-by-side with Chris Daughtry's performance. Hmm, should they even be in the same competition?

I don't think so.

Why do I care.

Because, the effusive gushing is overdone to the point to feed my suspicion that this is, frankly, a prank. And it makes me feel sick inside, to see them encouraging him for their own amusement.

It reeks of Heathers. Or Veronica (because maybe there is a heart or conscience in there somewhere).

See, I think that it's like high school. The popular kids think, "Ha ha wouldn't it be funny to convince Larry that he should sing in the high school musical." They set out to hatch this ill-conceived plan. As kids will.

So Larry gets up on stage to audition and does eh, okay. But the kids, in tight with the drama teacher, convince her that, really, he is much better than this and give him a part.

More bolstering, all done with the expectations that come the Big Day, Larry will Goof Up and give everyone a big laugh. <--- That's the rationalization, by the way, for the act, "Awww, we were just joking, it was only for a laugh, we didn't mean anything wrong by it." And that sickens me too.

Playing with someone's ego is appalling and vicious.

Back to Larry. Big Day. He doesn't goof up.

Instead of being upset at the loss of the laugh, the kids are a little impressed with their creation. He becomes like a pet. In the cafeteria, kids holler, "Sing, Larry sing!" And he does, gets a little known for it.

I suppose one could ask, if Larry never finds out, what is the harm?

That is a loaded question.

Underneath it all is the teasing. The gushing is a little overdone, and I don't believe Larry is that stupid. He gets the attention like a little puppy dog in a circus, "Dance doggie dance." But he's not really a part of things. The girls don't really date him, and the boys don't really invite him to parties. It is harmful, hurtful.

At the end of the day, he's a pet, a prank, a joke.

Not cool in my book.

Paula and Randy never really have anything to say about his performance other than a laugh, Paula with her "oh squish squish" (get a dog already Paula), and Randy with his, "Dude, you did better than I expected."

Not nice. They don't give him real feedback because face it, he's not a real competitor. He's Paula and Randy's pet, and that is mean. Bottom line, not skipping about the issue mean.

Egging him on is just so...very.

Paula, Randy, quit feeding your own ego. It doesn't, for the record, make you look nice.

By Julie Pippert
Artful Media Group
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© 2006. All images and text exclusive property of Julie Pippert. Not to be used or reproduced.