Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carving our Jack-O-Lantern

The Law Families club had a pumpkin carving party last Saturday. Leland really enjoyed helping Dad carve a traditional jack-o-lantern.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Princess Classics on Ice

Last weekend my mom, Aunt Barbara, both my sisters, and the 5 granddaughters went to see Princesses on Ice in Charlottesville. It was so much fun. We had great seats and everyone had a great time singing along to the songs. Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Mulan, Snow White, and Belle each skated to a few of their songs. Then Cinderella was the Grand Finale with Mickey and Minnie Mouse as special guests to the ball.

It wouldn't be a family event with Nana without a group picture.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Boxerwood Gardens

Some of my family and friends somewhat teased me when we were preparing to move to small town Virginia after spending a year in Southern California. They would say "how are you going to survive just going to a regular park after a year of visiting Disneyland (or Sea World) once a week?" Well in Lexington we have this wonderful place called Boxerwood Gardens. It is actually 31 acres total but we spend most of our time in the small Play Area complete with a mud kitchen, tunnels, small creek, sand area, hammock, and twisty trails. It has become our new favorite place and is minutes from our home. No traffic to park, no long lines, and last week we were the only family there. Nothing beats laying on the grass trying to catch the leaves falling from the trees or watching my girls swing in a hammock, not even Disneyland.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pumpkin Patch

A few weekends ago while we were in Maryland we went to a Pumpkin Patch. Leland had a good time playing with her cousins and feeding the animals.

Lucky for me Uncle Todd and Dad were willing to help her feed the animals.

I still can't believe it's been so warm. We feel like we might as well still be in California. T-shirts and flip-flops and it's mid-October. A few of the leaves are starting to change color but not too much yet. Lack of rain and all this heat, we may skip fall all together. I really shouldn't complain because I'm sure when it does start to really get cold I will wish for this great 75 degree weather.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bill Nye made me an Environmentalist -- well, sort of

Today is Blog Action Day, a day where bloggers around the world are uniting to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Being that I claim to be an environmentalist and a blogger, I thought I should post something. Be forewarned that this is my soapbox for today, so it is long.

Over the past five years I began to realize how much I love working with environmental and land-use issues. For 3 1/2 years, I was a spokesman for environmental agencies in the State of Maryland. I loved learning about and advocating on behalf of protecting our influence on God's creation - the Earth. In the 1 1/2 year, my most interesting law courses have dealt with property concerns, land-use and the environment.

Because in Maryland everything revolves around the Chesapeake Bay I was able to realize, that I really love water issues. I was especially enthralled with impacts of impervious surfaces, stormwater runoff, and wetland degradation. Then last summer, I had a blast working for San Diego Coastkeeper, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting San Diego's water resources.

While my green side has really come out in the past 5 years, I have been amazed at how many memories of growing up that I look back to and say, "I was always an environmentalist." I was great in science classes, especially biology, so I assumed I wanted to be a doctor; but even in high school I really didn't like studying anatomy and physiology, so I should have known medicine was not the place for me. What I really enjoyed was basic biology as well as issue-related social science courses.

For the past few years I kept recalling an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy I had seen years ago that stuck with me. If you never saw the show, you missed out on one of the greatest tools for teaching children science. In this particular episode (#57 - Wetlands), Nye outlined the importance of wetlands through fun and informative clips. Check out the goofy opening to the episode.

Introduction Clip

At times, I would be in a meeting where scientists where outlining why protecting wetlands was so critical and I would recall how Bill Nye had already taught me the exact point they were saying. I kept wishing I could see the show again and even got online to look into buying that episode on DVD - but it was $50 through Disney Educational Programs. Well during my Fall Break last Thursday, I took Leland to the library for reading time and was perusing the children's DVDs for her to check out something and I struck GOLD. Bill Nye the Science Guy was in my local library - the DVD, not the actual Bill Nye!

I checked it out and had to copy some clips to my computer to teach my family some of these important things (I am not distributing or making any money off of them so I hope I didn't break copyright laws). Anyway, I now present a few clips where Bill Nye effectively teaches in a few minutes what so many environmental advocates have difficulty doing in hours of presentations, public service messages, brochures, or websites.

Clip #1 - The Importance of Wetlands
First, why are wetlands so important? Bill...

I love this miniaturized wetland demonstration. Let's look at some other clips that demonstrate more about what wetlands are good for.

Clip #2 - Overdeveloping Wetlands Causes Flooding and Wastes Money
Bill... for those Republicans who may think environmental protection is only for pansy tree-huggers, can you explain why is it actually a bad financial investment to develop wetlands? In other words, use a business/financial argument for protecting wetlands...

Bill makes a good point here. If we fill in the wetlands, where does the water that would have been there go to? Unfortunately, the answer to this question was demonstrated in late-August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina was actually not too strong of a Hurricane and it didn't even hit New Orleans directly. Nevertheless, years of draining the marshes and bogs for development and channeling the natural flow of the Mississippi River had stripped the delta of its natural flood protections.

I recently saw an absolutely terrific IMAX movie about this issue - Hurricane on the Bayou. Check out the website, but I highly recommend the movie. Before the storm hit, the filmmaker went to Louisiana to make a film about what might happen if a Category 5 Hurricane approached the ravaged coastal areas surrounding New Orleans. By coincidence he ended up being there to see just how well-founded that concern was.
Just imagine a chunk of land the size of a tennis court being submerged into the open water every 13 seconds and you get a picture of how quickly the coast of Louisiana is disappearing. It is this same marshy land – land that teems with widely varied wildlife, fertile agriculture, major industry and one-of-a-kind culture – that in the past served as a vital “speed bump” that helped to slow hurricane damage and protect Louisiana from the tragic flooding of storm surges. Scientific studies by the Army Corps of Engineers suggest that every 2.7 feet of wetlands can reduce deadly storm surges by a foot. Without wetlands restoration, recovery efforts in New Orleans may all be for naught because it is only a matter of time before another monster storm comes the city’s way.

Unfortunately, this is one of the very few voices calling for changes in New Orleans instead of rebuilding the city. The current efforts to rebuild are only setting the city up for the next hurricane. Billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted instead of curing the problem and preventing people from entering another dangerous situation.

The local politicians are too afraid of losing their next election to tell people that parts of the city (including many people's land) should just be abandoned. The federal politicians feel so guilty about screwing up the situation in the first place, that now they just want to throw money at the locals so that they stop complaining to the media. In the end, they are all guaranteeing that in the coming years, we will see a Katrina Part II.

[By the way, if an IMAX crew ever comes to film you, RUN. A similar coincidence occurred when the Everest IMAX crew went to film an ascent up Mt. Everest only to witness the most tragic events ever seen on Everest.]

Clip #3 - Using Man-Made Wetlands in Development

In another section of the show Bill admits that cities and development have to occur somewhere. He goes on to explain how we can use artificial wetlands to minimize the impact of development upon the land and water.

This type of artificial wetland mitigates the impact of development and impervious surfaces (i.e., parking lots) by filtering the water and providing a place for the water to seep into the ground naturally. Just imagine the reduction in water pollution if every parking lot of a certain size was required to put in one of these.

Well, I need to wrap this up. Ashley says that our blog readers don't want to read this kind of stuff, but I hope it gives somebody some insight or entertainment. Perhaps most of you are stay-at-home moms just keeping up with our lives, but I believe some of our best future politicians fit that description. My first major political campaign was a mom and school teacher who later went into politics and did lots of great things for her community, her county, and the State of Maryland.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Funny Story

As most of you know we are trying to potty train Leland. It has been halted by many events but this may have set me back months!

We were at the mall (of course not here in Lexington, there is no mall here, but in MD) anyway, while we were there Leland says she needs to go potty. Now I know that her saying that means she really already went, but trying not to discourage her I take her to the bathroom. I went into a family restroom which is bigger than a stall so I could step away from her. Who can really go potty with another person right on top of them staring?

Well public toilets are a bit bigger than toilets at home, yes you know where I am going with this?? She fell in! All the way in (the back of her shirt was all wet) The toilet had an automatic flush so as soon as her little head dropped below the sensor it started to flush, swirling the water around her cute little bum.

Leland is crying as I pull her out of the toilet and try to dry her off. I felt really bad but was also trying not to laugh. Once Leland pulls herself together enough to talk she says "Mommy, I don't want to go swimming in the potty!"

I think I'll stick to the little potty at home for a while.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Girls

We have a great story time at our local library. They do it twice a week and there is always a theme for the week. The lady will read a few stories then there is always a craft.Last week the theme was whales. Leland kept breaking out in the "Shamu! Shamu!" chant waving her arms like a whale fin. You have to have been to a Shamu show at Sea World to understand what I mean or ask Leland sometime to show you.They made this awesome bubble maker out of a plastic cup, a piece of fabric, rubber bands, and a straw. You were also supposed to wrap this whale around the outside of the cup so it looked like bubbles were coming out of the blow hole, but Leland loved making the bubbles she wouldn't let me put the whale on.

I took Lucy to her 4 month check up last week. She is getting so big. She is almost 27 in long! That puts her in the 95th percentile. She is growing out of her 3-6 month clothes very quickly.She coos all the time and is rolling all over the place. She loves her big sister so much and yells to get her attention a lot of the time.I still can't believe how she looks nothing like Leland did at this age. My sister, Christine, thinks she looks like me as I am right now, but not how I was as a baby.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My buddy Tom

Here are some other pictures of my buddy Tom. (Click on the pictures to see larger versions.)

At MDP, we used to tease our friend Matt Power about never hanging anything on the walls in his office. Finally, Tom took matters into his own hands and "decorated" the office himself. Matt is a city boy and got quite a surprise with Tom's piece of rural Maryland.

As Ashley mentioned, Tom and I played golf very frequently. He was tons of fun on the course always bringing TONS of clubs, drinks, and snacks. He liked to use this funky driver - "the pod" - to throw off people, but he could hit it very far (see pic below from June 2003 in Ocean City).

One of my favorite golfing stories with Tom occurred in the very early spring one year. You see, Tom and I are both from Southern California where there is no such thing as golfing "season", so we would get antsy in late winter and would get out as soon as the weather cleared up. On this particular day, we were playing Francis Scott Key golf Course in weather in the low 50s. We arrived at a par 3 where the green is elevated and tucked into a semi-circle of tall trees. We were frustrated that the group in front of us (of which there were very few on that cold day) failed to replace the flag in the hole. Nevertheless, we both hit - and did very well landing in the middle of the green. When we got up the hill, we saw why the flag was not in the hole; the entire green was covered in a sheet of ice and snow, more than 4 inches thick in some places. Some people think that being Californians would make us more hesitant to go out in the cold, when in fact, we had the mindset that we would never allow the weather to dictate when we could play.

This is a picture of Tom on his motorcycle. When he purchased it, I was afraid he would hurt himself, but now I am glad he found something he enjoyed so much.

Here is video of Tom from our first MML Convention in Ocean City. Tom, myself, Aaron Tomarchio and Steve Hershey got a 2 BR condo together, saving the agency a few hundred dollars from the traditional separate hotel rooms. Tom did the dishes, but could not find dishwashing liquid, so he use dish soap in the dishwasher. The result was quite bubbly.

Our dear friend - Tom Rimrodt

Our dear friend Tom Rimrodt passed away on Sunday afternoon. We feel so blessed that we were able to travel to Maryland last week to visit with him and his wife Sheryl during his last days. Tom was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year. We received a call on Thursday afternoon that Tom was not doing so well and was in the ICU. Within 45 minutes we were packed and on the road to Maryland. Thanks so much Kristen and the Benners for watching our girls so we could go to the hospital to visit him.
Tom & Sheryl Rimrodt, Aaron Tomarchio, Matt & Susan Power with Chuck at our wedding Open House in Feb 2004.
Tom was the first visitor after Leland was born. He came so quickly he still had his golf spikes on.

Tom and Chuck worked together at the Maryland Dept. of Planning. He was Chuck's friend, mentor, and golfing buddy. Tom and Chuck would play golf once a week for a lot of the time they worked together. I know that my husband is a better man because of his friendship with Tom.

We have many things in our home that were Tom's: our dining room table and chairs, matching banquet, a computer desk that he made, a windbreaker (it was a giveaway at a golf tournament and Tom went back to get one in my size because he thought I would use it more than he would and Chuck and I could have matching jackets), and a great beach mat (again that Tom thought I would use more than he would. I used it almost every time I went to the beach while we lived in CA).

I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have of the gospel of Jesus Christ to know that my husband will see his friend Tom again one day. I know that Tom was welcomed by his loving Heavenly Father. Our thoughts and prayers are with his sweet wife Sheryl and his mother Sophia.