Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On a lighter note...

I found this article today about an insurance company, Pemco, based in the northwest and thought it was hilarious. Below is an excerpt:

Even if you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, you probably have some stereotypes about us lurking in your head. Well, here’s a dirty little secret -- for all our talk of individualism, all of your stereotypes about us are true.

We are a region of smug hybrid owners, recycling fanatics and recumbent bicycle commuters. We love to broadcast our beliefs via bumper stickers. Before we moved here we may have been more fashionable, but now we see nothing wrong with wearing socks with our sandals, preferably paired with those pants that can unzip to become a pair of shorts should the weather improve. If we want to get fancy, we might throw a fleece vest over the whole ensemble.

Our region is home to many long-haired, caffeine-addicted, socially challenged software geeks. Far too many Pacific Northwesterners are still sporting the bad hair and flannel shirts of the elsewhere long-forgotten grunge era. The only thing we love more than using our rain barrels and compost bins is boasting to our friends about them.

The regional insurance company Pemco Insurance knows all this, and it’s created a brilliant ad campaign around it. Using the tagline “We’re a lot like you,” Pemco manages to poke fun at residents of the Pacific Northwest without offending us. (Of course, if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know most of us would be far too passive-aggressive to say anything even if we were offended).

I went to this website, that showed all the different personalities from the northwest. Each personality profile lists things like where they're spotted, what vehicle they drive, what they eat, etc. It was funny (I literally did laugh out loud) to see how true some of the stereotypes are about people from the northwest, especially while living on the east coast.

A few of my favorites:

Profile #15: Recumbent Bike Commuter (I had a professor who was one of these).
Profile #45: 50 Degrees Shirt's off guy (Sun's out. Shirt's off. It's that simple.)
Profile #56: Sandals and Socks guy
Profile #76: The Super-Long Coffee Orderer

My Latest Recommendation

This week I read this book: Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo, by Murat Kurnaz.

It blew my mind. I experienced a range of emotions as I read: anger, outrage, empathy, confusion, admiration, and a constant sickening in my stomach.

Kurnaz is a Turkish citizen, born and raised in Germany, who was arrested in Pakistan a month after 9/11 and held prisoner for five years. He was born in 1982, as was I.

I think every American should read this book. This is the epitome of why I'm against the use of torture. Besides the fact that this man was innocent (and that American officials knew after six months that he was, yet left him in the camp for five years), the part that got me upset the most was the inhumane, savage way that he, and many like him, were treated, by American soldiers no less.

I couldn't help but wonder about our military. I have many family members and friends who have been, and still are, a part of the military. I absolutely respect them for their dedication to what they feel as a life calling. However, the idea that we systematically brain wash these men and woman to see our enemies as trash, that we train them to treat our enemies as less than human, worse than dogs, causes me to question the entire process.

Fine, some people believe in the use of torture for protection. Regarding this, I must come back to my previous post in which I say, "What would Jesus say about this?" And I don't think ANYONE can tell me that Jesus would say, yes, you can torture for the safety and benefit of others. That goes against everything Jesus represents. Regardless, the torture that happened to this man should cause even those who believe in the use of torture to pause and think.

This innocent man was tortured in every way imaginable. The American soldiers were unbelievably cruel. Were they trained to be like this? How can they consciously deprive other human beings of basic needs? Kurnaz was often subject to solitary confinement which included days and weeks, sometimes months in tiny cells. Sometimes the cell was air conditioned to the point of refrigeration, sometimes it was a cell with no oxygen flow. He experienced water boarding, being hung for weeks by his shoulder blades (the man next to him died this way), sleep deprivation for more than three weeks straight, being assaulted by women soldiers. A common practice was when the prisoners were allowed to shower, they would soap up, and then the Americans would turn the water off and say, "sorry, time's up." If a prisoner went to the "doctor" for an ailment, they often came back without body parts. The disrespect that Americans showed for the Muslim prisoners included blaring the national anthem while they did their daily prayers, throwing the Koran on the ground and stomping on it, forcing men to look at women and be touched by them inappropriately (Muslim men are not to even look at women in the eye, let alone touch them in any way). The list goes on and on.

There's so much more to this book, like the fact that Americans were paying Pakistan officials to bring them suspected terrorists. Did anyone stop to think that maybe they'd be motivated by the monetary compensation and bring innocent men to the Americans? This happened repeatedly, as in this case.

I'll stop here. But I do recommend the book. Here's a summary of the book and more about Kurnaz's experience, if you want more information. It's a quick read, and it's more than enlightening.

I'm pretty worked up about all this, especially knowing that there are innocent men still in Guantanamo at this very moment being treated in this horrific fashion. All in the name of protection for American citizens. My question is, who is protecting these innocent men? And why are American lives worth more than any others? That seems to be racist and elitist on so many levels.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Can an evangelical be a democrat?

I stumbled across this article today, and found it fascinating after my most recent "sermon." The article is called, "How would Jesus Vote?: I am an Evangelcal--and a Liberal. Really. "

Just read it.

Quote of the day

"A true patriot does not confuse government with country. A patriot's loyalty is to his country, and loyalty to country requires holding government accountable."

~Paul Craig Roberts

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today's Sermon

As much as I don't want to be "too political" on my blog, I have become more interested in many issues over the last few years and enjoy dialoguing about them. The name of my blog, "Fade 2 Gray," comes from the idea that not all issues are black and white, and that there are some gray areas to certain issues in which I want to educate myself on and may not have an answer for. (I blogged about some of these issues in one of my very first posts-"Would Christ be a Pacifist?").

All that to say, I've been thinking a lot about the life and journey of my political opinions over the last few years. Having grown up in a pretty conservative Republican home, I began searching during my college years to decide what my own beliefs and thoughts are.

Obviously I don't have the time or space to go into every issue, and at times I find myself struggling to articulate myself in this area, so bear with me. This is just to get the juices flowing and the discussion started.

One of the issues I have wrestled with a lot, and still do, is the idea that many evangelical Christians are tightly associated with the Republican party. Growing up I realized that this seemed to be based on a few specific issues: gay rights and pro-life issues dominate, and gun control issues are sprinkled in there as well.

In college I read an editorial in our school newspaper that got me thinking about how many Christians grow up to be Republican based on these issues alone. As I began to explore my beliefs about Christianity and my own faith during college, it made sense that I would explore my political affiliations simultaneously. I began to study more of the issues that define the two political parties and was surprised at what I found.

As a Christian I have come to believe strongly in the words of Jesus to look out for the poor and needy. Attending an Evangelical Quaker school, dating (and eventually marrying) a Quaker, and studying these issues led me to believe in the importance of social issues concerning the plight of the less fortunate.

As I have studied the personhood of Jesus Christ, I have learned to ask myself the following question as a sort of litmus test on many issues: "What would Jesus do?" And often, "What did Jesus do?" Obviously, this is only speculation, and thus only my opinion and thoughts of what I think Jesus might have done in a given situation, based on his words and actions found in Scripture, but it has become a way for me to make decisions and form opinions on issues that may have at one point been a gray area for me.

(If you have never read In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon, I highly recommend it. Written in 1896, it's the story of a church whose people pledge to live a year asking themselves "What would Jesus do?" This book was life changing for me, and is where this idea of using that question as a litmus test came from. This link is the entire book reprinted online.)

(A few) Thoughts about how Jesus lived:
-Spent time with the outcasts, the poor, the unwanted, the misfits.
-Talked repeatedly about how difficult it is for the rich to get into heaven-encouraged those with money to give it away, to not feel the need to store up treasures on earth.
-Encouraged people to love others through providing basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.

-In regards to war and violence (another issue that I won't go into too much now, but formed beliefs about using this same litmus test), I have come to believe that Jesus would not advocate for war...Ever...No exceptions. I know that will poke some people the wrong way, but I really, really cannot imagine Jesus EVER approving of fighting as a means of solving issues. I don't have any answers for how to solve diplomatic issues of today as they are complicated and span years of policies, decisions, and pure human error, but that cannot and should not justify killing others...regardless of the enemy. I think Americans do a good job dehumanizing our enemies in order to justify what we do to foreigners (wars in general dehumanize the enemy), but when asking myself the question, "How does Jesus feel about each of these individuals?", I can't bring myself to believe that God loves us more than them, or that he would see killing as an acceptable process to achieve peace.

Back to poverty. These seem to be important issues to Jesus. Priorities, in fact. Economically speaking, Republicans tend to promote helping the wealthy whereas Democrats focus on programs to help people in need. Granted, there is a whole discussion regarding whose responsibility it is to help the poor, the government versus the Church, and I would like to think the Church could handle this completely, but I just don't think it's a priority in enough evangelical churches. But this is somewhat of a separate tangent.

Many ardent Pro-Lifers are Republican simply for that issue. But what about after these babies are born? It seems Republicans are concerned with saving these babies (and bravo for that), but what about those babies that are born destitute, impoverished, or in abusive situations? Why isn't that an important issue to more Christians?

Recently I read some opinions in response to this article about Obama's recent comments in PA regarding the "bitterness" of the economically disadvantaged. It turned into a discussion regarding political party issues, as well as how values form public opinion. The author argues that "economic policy should be more important than social and cultural questions," because Republicans often vote solely on the Pro-Life issue, only to elect a Republican who focuses on economic issues, especially tax cuts, and ignore the issue of "saving the unborn." (I disagree, however that economics should be the only issue that voters consider). I found myself nodding in agreement at places, and I wanted to share a few of the comments to provoke further discussion:

There is an asymmetry between the wealthy Democrat voter and the working class guy who votes for the Republicans because they are thought to represent ‘family values.’

One difference is that when the Democrats promise more progressive policies to end poverty, even if it means reducing the affluence of the wealthy, they are promising something that they can deliver through legislative action.

When Republicans bang the ‘pro-life’ drum, they are promising something that they cannot deliver through legislation. So long as Roe v Wade stands, there are constitutional limits to the extent to which the state may infringe a woman’s right to control her reproduction. Of course, Republicans can try to change this by changing the courts, but such a promise itself implicitly infringes upon the constitutional separation of powers. We may conclude from this that such Republicans are largely disingenuous. As Thomas Frank points out, values voters vote to save the unborn and, once elected, their Republican legislators deliver capital gains tax cuts — not the saving of the unborn. But, of course, they knew that when they campaigned under the pro-life mantle. Conclusion: they manipulated the values voters, because they knew they couldn’t deliver what they promised and knew that they would deliver that which they did not promise. (Show me the Republican who campaigns on a platform of further enriching the rich!)

And another comment:

I have continually wondered why Christians would choose a Republican that protects the interest of big business. Making rich people richer goes against the teachings of Jesus.

While I can understand the abortion issue, in the past when abortion was illegal rich people were able to buy safe abortions. In addition, many Christian have had abortions.

It seems a logical conclusion that people are a victim of partisan deception or they have not studied the issues to understand the ramifications of voting for a Republican. As personality profile research has shown, people think differently. Some think more with feelings and others more with logical facts. It is often difficult for us logical thinkers to understand why not everyone understands our logical facts.

I want to clarify that I don't think any political party is completely right on all issues, and there are a lot of gray areas that are difficult to discern and that don't have black-and-white answers. What I do think is that there needs to be an on-going dialogue, especially among evangelicals, regarding more than just a small handful of issues.

As Christians we need to be well-informed and educated on issues. We need to put the needs of others above ourselves. We need to find ways to clothe, feed, and house the needy. We need to have a holistic approach to our faith, not just focus on a handful of issues and allow those to represent our entire belief system. We need to study the life of Christ and live as he did. We need to not simply accept what one or two dominant personalities proclaim, people who come to personify, erroneously, all evangelical Christians.

Jesus was a radical-he went against the status quo of his day.

And so should we.

Any thoughts to further this discussion?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our Due Date

Today is April 21st. Today is the day Michael and I were due to have our first baby, so naturally I've been reflecting on all sorts of things recently.

It's been 7 full months since the miscarriage, and we're doing well. Honestly. I feel healed in so many ways (though I know it will never leave me completely). It's definitely been a process of going through stages. At first we were in shock-heartbroken, confused, and solemn, yet trusting. I think that one truth through this whole process is that Michael and I have been trusting-we have trusted God from the first moment. We can't explain why this happened to us, though we had conversations of a theological nature in which we attempted to search for clues (not necessarily answers). We can't explain the peace we've had that comes from trusting, except to say it's from the Lord. It's not logical by the world's standards, but it doesn't have to be. Actually, I remember thinking repeatedly over the first few days and weeks that I couldn't imagine going through something like this without having the faith to trust that God is sovereign, and though we can't understand it all, we can trust that He does.

I've experienced anxiety in many forms over the last several months. Anxiety about the future (isn't that where most anxiety lies?). At times I find myself afraid of going through the process again. Our family seems immune to a perfectly healthy pregnancy and that is scary to me. Many friends and family came out of the woodworks to share with us their own stories of loss and grief, and frustration in trying to conceive. In many ways this was comforting, to know that we are not alone in this pain. In other ways, though, I find that it also makes me realize all that can go wrong in the future. But again, this brings us back to the Truth that we must trust in the Lord.

We've learned over the last several months:

-To trust in the Lord's timing
-The importance in communication through grief
-That it's ok to share our pain with others because it may touch the heart of someone else
-God loves us and really does want His best for us
-God has definitely put in our hearts the desire to be parents
-Patience (Still learning this one)
-As much as we want to know everything, sometimes there aren't acceptable answers to life's tough questions
-Difficult situations do refine us as people, as a couple, and as Christ-followers
-God hugs us through the love and support of friends and family
-We are blessed with wonderful friends and family
-Our spouse is our best friend and our most important earthly relationship
-Tears are a gift, a natural release on so many levels
-We can't control everything
-It's important not to take blessings in our life for granted. We are given so many gifts, and so often we forget to be grateful.
-Pain and grief do ease with time (and with the Lord's help), no matter how much pain we have endured

I still find myself tearing up at unlikely or unexpected moments. Oftentimes it involves seeing and/or holding a baby. I've always been sensitive and prone to crying often, but I see that as a blessing. It's an outlet for me, though sometimes I wish I wouldn't cry so easily when it makes others feel awkward or uncomfortable.

I have noticed a change in my reaction. It used to be that shortly after our loss, when I'd see a baby or small child, I'd look at the mom and think about what I would be missing out on. It would be a reminder of what I had lost, and what I wouldn't have any time soon. Now however, when I see little ones, I am once again excited about the future. I find myself looking forward again to having that experience myself and often try to imagine what that experience will be like, rather than focusing on where we would be had we not experienced a miscarriage.

All this to say, we're surviving. It's been a tough road, but we have learned a lot about ourselves, about Christ, and about life. We've grown closer together as a couple and are excited about what's around the corner. We're thankful for our amazingly supportive friends and family.

Without a doubt, this experience has increased our excitement and anticipation for the sweet day when we will hold in our arms our own little baby Chapman.

Local Tourists

Last weekend we headed into Philly for a fun day of tourist activities. Nick and Lindsay were in town, and our friends from Oregon Joel and Cherice came down from Princeton.

We hit all the good places: Liberty Bell (from the outside), Independence Hall, Arch Street Meetinghouse, Art Museum steps (Rocky's famous run up the steps), Reading Terminal Market (Amish Food Market), Ben Franklin's home and printing press, Besty Ross' house, Love Park, oh yeah, and Starbucks. We also grabbed a cheesesteak from a cart on the corner next to Independence Hall.

The weather was amazing, in the 80's, and we had a lot of fun walking around all day in shorts-I even wore sunscreen! I'll post a few pictures soon.

It was a blessing to see some family. Nick and Lindsay left yesterday morning, and a few hours later we went back to the airport to pick up Amy, Tim and Isabelle. Tim had a layover before his connecting flight to Boston, where he will be working until Friday. Michael and I have really looked forward to having family here (and getting to see our niece Isabelle). Fortunately I am not working much this week so I will get to spend lots of time with them, as Michael is in the middle of finals. Tomorrow we are heading to Lancaster to see the Amish.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More PA Politics

It's going to be 83 degrees today. I am so excited for the warmth and sunshine of spring/summer.

Today Hilary Clinton will be at Radnor High School, where I was substituting until two months ago, discussing the war in Iraq.

Tomorrow Barack Obama will be on a train passing right through our town. I kind of want to go to one of the rallies at one of his stops.

Being in Pennsylvania during this historic time has been very interesting. The local papers are filled with interviews, updates, and endless articles about both democratic presidential candidates. The debate on Wednesday night, at the Constitutional center, has so many talking about the upcoming vote on April 22.

I hope and pray that Tuesday will answer some questions for us all. As interested as I am in all this, I feel like it's starting to drag on, which I think may be helping John McCain.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Those Highly Paid Teachers...

This is posted in a few classrooms where I substitute:

An editorial from a newspaper:

"I, for one, am sick and tired of those highly paid teachers. Their hefty salaries are driving up taxes and they only work nine months a year. It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do-babysitting! We can get that for less than minimum wage. That's right, I would give them $3 an hour and only the hours they worked, not any of that ridiculous "planning time." That would be $21 a day (8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with 30 minutes off for lunch). Each parent should pay $21 a day for these teachers to babysit their children.

Now, how many do they teach in a day...maybe 30? so that's 21 x 30 = $630 a day. But remember, they only work 180 days a year. I'm not going to pay them for any vacations. Let's see, that's 630 x 180 = $113,400.

Hold on! My calculator must need batteries. Wait a minute, there is something wrong here!" (Mark Konetski).

I had a conversation recently with a teacher who is taking graduate courses. In one of her classes she read about a study that showed that teachers only spend 10-20% of their time focused on actual valuable educational activities, planning for and actually teaching students. The rest of the time is made up of paperwork, grades, meetings, paperwork, dealing with parents, catching up students who were absent, and more paperwork. It's a frustrating system, but someone has to do it...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One Reason I Don't Like Being A Substitue...

About a month ago I substituted for an English teacher and had a horrible experience with one of her classes. It was my worst subbing experience thusfar. I've never even come close to having a class that awful. I had to leave her a very long note about many individual students and the class overall. I had students that were giving fake names, blatantly refusing to cooperate, and had to send one student down the hall. It was a learning experience, and after that day I have spoken with their regular teacher as well as many others about what I could do differently next time and what discipline options I do have as a substitute. I had come to believe through my student teaching experience that sending students to the office is a last resort, but I'm learning that as a substitue, and maybe even specifically at this school, it is encouraged to send students out when they are disruptive, since I have no other leverage.

Yesterday I had the same class again.

And though I didn't think it was possible, it was even worse than the first time.

As soon as I received my assignment and learned I'd be subbing for this teacher again, I had to mentally prepare myself. I knew I needed to be strict and firm from the beginning of class. I was nervous, and was even shaking a bit at the beginning of class. (If that surprises you, it just goes to show how much this class had gotten to me the first time).

I began class with clear, specific instructions to be on task. This didn't happen, and as I walked around the room, students were just sitting in groups chatting. About half the class was working diligently, but the other half were loud and obnoxious. Eventually I asked a group of students to move back to their original desks, and they refused. Soon after, another group of students began to throw pencil shavings and paper dots from the hole punch at each other. Kids starting yelling "Fight! Fight! Fight!" I immediately delegated new desks for the students to sit at, and as expected, one student involved in the shavings-dot fight refused. I told him that I would send him to the office if he refused, and he said, "I don't care if I go to the F****** office." "Fine," I said, and I called security to have them escort this fine young man to the office. In the mean time, my investigation into the fight led me to conclude that another student was equally involved, and when security arrived he was sent to the office as well.

This calmed the rest of the class down for 5 or 10...seconds. I regrouped the class and proceeded to lead a class discussion about the article they were supposed to have been reading and answering questions about. As I did this, one student literally stood up and began walking around the room, talking to her friends. Another student continued to poke the boy in front of her with her pencil, which caused him to over-dramatically start screaming and asking to see the nurse. Pure chaos, yes. So, I told the girl to move seats (this being a girl who earlier had blatantly ignored my request to move and at least pull out a piece of paper and look like she was working). She looked up at me, and said, "I'm not moving anywhere." I just stared at her. Really, I was speechless. This whole class just moved me to a mixture of anger, frustration, and speechlessness, and left a knot in my stomach that lasted until I left work at 2:30. Even as I write this my stomach is slightly turning.

I walked over to the teacher's desk to look for a Referral, and couldn't find one. With only a few minutes left of class, I told her to stay after class.

I informed her that because I couldn't find a Referral, I would be leaving a note to the teacher regarding her blatant disregard for my instructions. A student absolutely CANNOT refuse to follow instructions that explicitly and not have any consequence. In retrospect, I think I should have actually sent her to the office as well, because in truth, her teacher may not do anything about it.

This morning I had mixed feelings: What if I get to school this morning and I am assigned to this teacher again? Should I request to not substitute for this teacher again? Would that be showing some kind of weakness as a substitue? What would I do if I have them again? Then I started thinking, Maybe I do want them again...and I can lay down the law even more. I think I'd require no talking, only working, and I'd send out uncooperative students. A new meaning for Zero Tolerance. Either way, I arrived to find a new assignment and a sense of relief.

But I think I'm ready to face this group one more time this year. Maybe I'll get that chance. And if not, at least I can say with confidence that even if the students didn't learn anything yesterday, I did.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Politics in Pennsylvania

As the Pennsylvania Primary on April 22nd approaches, the PA media is full of updates about the race, the candidates, the issues, and the voters' opinions.

I read this article published in The New York Times on Friday, April 4, and at times I was almost at a loss for words by the comments. The article was about a small town in western Pennsylvania, Latrobe, home of Arnold Palmer, Mr. Rogers, and the banana split, where PA Senator Bob Casey announced his endorsement for Obama. The article, "In Ex-Steel City, Voters Deny Race Plays a Role," was about just that. This small, former steel town is 99% white, and many are not voting for Obama.

According to the article, "When dismissing Mr. Obama, voters in this former steel center, whatever their racial feelings, seem almost compelled to list their reasons, if only to preempt the unspoken race question." The townspeople feel the need to clarify the point that it's not because of race that they dislike Obama. They do so much clarifying, in fact, that one begins to wonder if race is in fact an issue. Here are some of the that people in this town won't be voting for Barack Obama:

-"How can I vote for a president who won't wear a flag pin?"

-Except for his politics, he seems like a good thing for the country.

-"I don't say this because he's black, but the guy just seems arrogant to me, the way he expeccts things to go his way." Couldn't that just be confidence?

-Because he speaks very well, but has not talked about reviving the coal industry.

-Because he voted "present" too often as an Illinois state senator.

-Because he would not command respect of the military. Says who?

-Because there is something unsettling about his perfect calm. Ok, now they're digging for excuses.

-"I don't see Obama as a 'color,' but I do think he needs to get away from mimicking Dr. Martin Luther King. I'm not degrading Dr. King. I liked what he stood for, and it's a shame what happened to him. But Obabma needs to be his own person."

-"When I worked in the steel mill, there were always a few guys who were black. But you wouldn't even know they were black, we got along so well." Is that supposed to be a compliment, that they were more "well-behaved" than most blacks? Really?

-"It's not about race. It's about a feeling I have."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

April Showers Bring:

I'm excited that it's April. A lot will be going on this month, and I know it will fly by quickly.

-When April is over I will have only a month and a half of teaching left for the school year. So, I have started looking for a summer job, and I think I'm going to nanny. I put an ad on craigslist and am meeting with a family tonight. I'm hoping to find just the right family and kids.

-A few months ago we were saying that by the end of April or May we'd like to know where we are headed in the Fall. Unless things move very quickly it looks like April may be out. But that's ok. Patience is a virtue, right?

-Michael's siblings are both coming to visit this month, but unfortunately missing each other by about 8 hours. Nick and Lindsay are coming in a couple weeks to visit NY where Lindsay will be going to graduate school in the Fall. They leave that Sunday and then Amy and Isabelle fly in that afternoon. Tim will be in Boston for work and is going to come down when he's done. Michael and I are both SUPER excited to see family (we haven't seen anyone since Christmas), and of course, we can't wait to see our niece who we've only seen when she was a week old. I can't wait to hold a baby!! (See next bullet point). And, we may get to see our other very close friends who will be in Virginia for a conference, and are going to try to drive up and visit. We are so excited for all these visitors!

-April 21st: The day I was due (by my calculations-we never actually went to the doctor while I was pregnant). I feel very aware of all my friends who found out they were pregnant at the same time as us, and are almost due or already had their baby. It's weird for me to think that I would be 8 1/2 months pregnant right now. I'm really thankful for the timing of Amy and Isabelle's visit, because I will get to hold a baby on the day I was supposed to be holding my own.