Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hurricane Rita, Category 5, To Hit Me Dead On

Never in recorded history has the Houston/Galveston area experienced a Category 5 hurricane. The Great Storm that took Galveston in 1900 predates modern weather categorization, but it was so devastating that even 105 years later, Galveston has still not fully recovered.

Rita can hit 100 miles from here and we'll still experience hurricane force winds.

We're boarding up our house. We're stocked up on water and food, clothes, medical supplies and ammunition. Yes, ammunition. It's a rough neighborhood, even in good weather. In disastrous conditions...well, hopefully our old friend from school who lives down the street will use his A.K. 47 for good instead of evil. I wish I were kidding.

Our area is not under evacuation order. We're staying here, since our land doesn't flood, unless my husband decides otherwise. Even if the kids and I get out, my husband is staying to provide EMT services, and my dad and brother are staying. My mother-in-law is with us. Mom and Grandpa and Grandma, who live across the street, were going to evacuate, but Grandma had to go to the hospital yesterday and has not been released. So Mom and Grandpa are going to hole up in their house (which is on even higher land than my house). Grandma's hospital is going to be locked down.

Pray for us. We really need it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Random wonderings

How do you measure the worth of a person?

My instinct is to deny the size of their estate or the greatness of their celebrity status, but those things clearly matter to the world at large. When a poor man dies, he gets a small obituary. When a movie star dies, or a multi-millionaire, he gets his picture on the news while Tom Brokaw talks about how famous he is.

But maybe it's not so much the fame and fortune that matters, but the influence that goes with it. When President Regan died, there was all this talk about his influence on conservatism and the economy and politics in general. When great evangelists and other religious leaders die, there is talk about the influence they had on the population and on the individuals closest to them. But where does this leave the relatively unknown? Surely they have impacted lives in less obvious ways. Are they not worth just as much? Does their worth depend on what kind of influence they've had?

And what about deeds? How does that determine your value? Do you add all the good ones and subtract the bad ones? Do you get more points for saving someone's life than for talking them through a mental breakdown? Do all the small good things add up to one big thing? If you kill one person but save the lives of two others, does that put you ahead? Do the rules change if you're engaged in military combat on behalf of your country?

Are you worth more if someone believes in you? Are you worth more if you believe in yourself?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Potty Training Nightmare

Seriously, how long is it supposed to take to potty-train a child? My daughter Gina is nearly four years old, and not until the last month or so has she made significant progress in the art of using a toilet.

Even that progress, I notice, is limited to our own house. Send her to my mom's, or my mother-in-law's, or sis-in-law's, or pretty much anywhere, and she won't do it. She has to have her "triangle," which is what she calls her special Sponge Bob toilet seat topper that allows her the comfort of a soft seat and the security of knowing the hole is too small for her to fall in. She will scream bloody murder and pee on the bathmat rather than sit on the toilet without this object. Gina won't even approach the toilet if the bathroom light (a.k.a. the potty light) is not on. And, for whatever reason, she won't let anyone but me help her in the bathroom, though I suspect she might be willing to let her oldest cousin (a ten-year-old girl) help her.

Whenever I leave her with family, I always say "Remind her she's wearing panties. Ask her if she needs to use the potty. Show her where it is. Here, put her triangle on your potty. Make sure the light is on." But still, Bizarro Dad or I get a phone call saying that she's wet herself (and promptly got a towel or wipes and began cleaning the mess herself), and did we pack any extra clothes?

Then there's the overnight situation. I've kept her in a diaper at night because she generally comes to bed with Mom and Dad (with all four of us in one bedroom, this is to be expected). She usually wakes up with a dry diaper, but wets it shortly after she wakes. Well, now I'm making her go to bed on her own mattress (located on the floor next to my bed). So last night I put her to bed in panties. I instructed the family to leave the bathroom light on overnight, and I reminded Gina that if she woke up and needed to pee she should get up and run to the potty. I told her to remember to go potty as soon as she wakes up in the morning. And, because I'm crazy but not stupid, I laid down two of those absorbent changing pads on her mattress and a towel on top of those. I kissed her good night.

About six this morning the baby woke up screaming. Gina's mattress is right in front of Sia's crib, so I have to step on it to get to the baby. Guess what I felt on the mattress?

Gina seemed not to have been bothered by it, because she just rolled over to the right. She didn't even take off her panties. In fact, I'm not even sure she was awake when she peed.

When I finally got the baby calm and back in her crib, Gina promptly got up and crawled her stinky self into my bed. No way was I letting that fly. To the tub she went.

This is driving me nuts. Anyone have some advice? Anyone know where to get a twin-sized absorbent, leak-proof mattress pad?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Yes, I'm a little late...

...but it doesn't matter. Please contribute monetary donations for Hurricane Katrina victims to the Red Cross, or, if you're near the refugee areas or disaster sites, volunteer . There is especially a need for anyone with medical experience (bring your credentials, please) and people with senior leadership skills. Contact the Red Cross to find out specifically when you will be needed. The fear is that the volunteer effort will drop off after a week or a month, but the need will not, so please try to follow the organization's schedule. If you choose to contribute money, save your receipt! Some companies offer donation matching, but they can't match your donation if you don't have your receipt. And if you can't donate money or time, go donate blood!

If you are in the Houston area, contact your local schools, charitable organizations, and food banks to see if they are holding any donation drives. Do not take your donation directly to the refugee areas unless specifically directed by Red Cross to do so. Many schools are hosting refugee kids and are accepting donations at those locations. The following are a list of needs that you may be asked to donate:
Clothing (all sizes, from baby clothes on up)
Shoes (tennis shoes, sandals, etc.)
Toiletries (toothbrushes, deoderant, shampoo, etc.)
Feminine products
Nursing pads
Baby wipes
Formula and bottles
School supplies (including backpacks)
Medical supplies (latex gloves, bandages, medical tape, alcohol, antibiotic ointment)

Please also keep the volunteers themselves in mind. Many have been working for three straight days, and all they want is someone to get them a cup of coffee, but there is no coffee to be had, nor any coffee machines.