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Friday, June 25, 2010

Fred Comes Back to the Library

I'm so proud of my library for participating in Take Your Dog to Work Day for the second year in a row!

Fred and I had a great morning, visiting with patrons and co-workers. {And one of us might have gotten a bit of a nap...}

It was fun to let him explore this little corner of my world.

Fred Comes Back to the Library

One more reason to love my job...

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I've been feeling nostalgic lately. Probably because we haven't been home in about six months. We're planning a trip at some point this summer but can't pin down the dates just yet. So I can't count down the days or anything to make the time seem to pass more quickly.

{Sidenote: I always feel selfish when I talk about being homesick here. We have so many international students who can only go home once a year...or every 3-5 years. Good reminder that I should count my blessings.}

Nevertheless, here are some of the things I'm missing...

the river. alabama public radio. jumping on the trampoline. keller festival. spring park. fourth street. first tuscaloosa. coffee at heritage house. browsing at coldwater books. publix. {food should get its own category} pimento cheese sandwiches and sherbet milkshakes from the palace. shaved ice {can only get sno cones here}. krispy kreme {ours closed}. dreamland. cypress inn. casa. chocolate biscuits from the citgo. having coffee and solving the jumble with dad. and i'm nostalgic for the past. college days. the smell of my grandmother's kitchen. and mom. always, always mom. even though i know she's in a better home now.

How about you? You nostalgic for anything these days?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two questions...

1. Does every college town have a bar called The Library?

I know Tuscaloosa did, and Fort Worth does. I've heard the attraction is for kiddos who want to be truthful with their more academic-minded parents, but would also rather imbibe than study. :) This way, they can say, "I'm going to the library" and please both parties.

2. How many books is too many? We're, er, overflowing a bit in the McBookworm household, and I thought this exchange on Penelope Trunk's blog was interesting...

In my 20s, my walls were covered in books. But once I realized that living a life buried in books is a sign of dysfunction, I’ve been trying to cut back.

When some of her readers questioned this, she responded...

I think there are a few standards. One is if you have to earn more money to buy a bigger living space to house your books. Get rid of some so you can work under less pressure and have extra time to read. [Also] Why do we need to live with a thousand books? I think only to show how smart or well read we are. And, frankly, if you have to announce that then you're probably not.

Interesting thoughts. We're almost to that bigger living space point. I don't think we have them to show off, though, since they take up so much room that we can hardly have anyone over. ;)

Do you have book limits? How many is too many?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Date Night at the Car Wash

I told you that Jason and I love us some cheap dates. He cracks up at my level of excitement for going to the car wash (which I sing pretty much the whole time we are there).

When I was growing up, my dad washed all of our cars at home by hand (he's still pretty meticulous with his vehicles), or I'd occasionally run mine through the quicky wash at the gas station. I'd never done the whole take-it-somewhere-and-wash-it-yourself thing. But this is fun stuff! (And we had a little fun with the camera while we were there, too.)

That hose is powerful; it's a two-handed job (Jason tells me to hold it like a shotgun).

Jason getting tokens...

Lots of washing options!

And we get the inside nice and clean, too.

So, there you go. Date night for less than $5. Good way to cool off when it's 100 degrees outside, too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wrong Number!

*Update* Apparently, my phone number has been "spoofed." Verizon says they can't really do anything about it as long as the spoofers aren't racking up tons of international charges on my phone.


So, I'll be changing the ol' number come next month. And not answering numbers I don't recognize until then! :)

OK, blog friends, tell me if I'm overreacting here.

I've gotten almost 15 wrong number phone calls in the last three weeks. A few have been traceable (thanks reverse phone directory!) and just random people here in the area. Fine...I could write those off. But almost half have been from "restricted." And I'm getting as many as four from "restricted" on some days. No voicemail, of course.

To me, this is unusual for a cell phone (we don't have a land line). I don't think I've gotten this many wrong numbers in the last five years! And, unfortunately, Verizon doesn't offer blocking for anonymous phone calls.

I generally don't answer if I don't recognize the number, but it's still starting to bug me. Jason thinks I should just keep ignoring them, but I'm wondering if it's worth the hassle of changing my number.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Commiserations?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Congrats and Links

Random picked Michelle as this month's winner! I'll DM you on Twitter for your address--congrats!

Meanwhile, it seems as if it's been awhile since I sent any links your way. So here ya go!

The city of Birmingham is closing five libraries... Sad! I used to love the cozy Homewood branch when I lived there.

And Sirsi is leaving Huntsville...

Now moving out of Alabama...

Wikipedia is reaching out to librarians...Yippee! Sometimes I think Wikipedia often gets a bad rap. As I heard someone say once, it's a great place to start researching--just not the appropriate place to end it.

Emory is now offering downloads of 19th century books...very cool site!

The Library of Congress is enhancing this resource...

50 literary tours across the world...

And, finally, not just a search engine...a knowledge engine...

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

This weekend, we...

Took a few more pictures of downtown when we met up with my pal Shelley and revisited that yummy chocolate shop...(sadly, no pictures of Shell or the chocolate)...

Got an early start on our fifth anniversary celebration in the parking deck...

Went to a pool party, where Fred tried his best to steal a few bites...

And, somehow, it all passed very, very quickly. How was your weekend?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stephanie Wincik Interview

I was thrilled to be able to talk a little further with Stephanie Wincik about her book! You can find more information about the author at her website.

Can you talk a little about your professional experience and what prompted you to write the book?

I’ve worked as an RN in the field of developmental disabilities for about 27 years. Even though I work very closely with many individuals who have Down syndrome, I was unaware of the astoundingly high rate of abortion of babies with Down syndrome (around 90%) that was occurring in the United States and throughout the world. About a year ago I stumbled across this statistic “accidentally” while browsing through a book on autism. Initially I was sure it had to be an exaggeration, but after some research it turned out to be correct. After that, I felt compelled to write the book in an attempt to educate both medical professionals and expectant parents about the realities of raising a child with Down syndrome—the diagnosis and prognosis is not nearly as dire as it was even a few decades ago, but the notion that having a child with Down syndrome is a tragedy is still pervasive in our society.

How did the world change from viewing those with Down syndrome as divine in some cases to the more negative perceptions we see today?

I think that overall, the world today places a much higher value on physical perfection than perhaps was the case centuries ago. People with Down syndrome, although not as perpetually cheerful as they are often stereotyped to be, generally possess a great many positive inner qualities—compassion, tolerance, kindness, an ability to appreciate life’s small pleasures—that in today’s fast-paced society may not seem useful in our constant race to “get ahead.”

I was surprised to see that so many physicians encourage their patients to abort babies with Down syndrome. Is this the main reason such a great number are aborted, or does the problem rest more with parents who don't want an "imperfect" child?

Overwhelmingly, the main reason for the high rate of abortion appears to be lack of updated information about Down syndrome on the part of physicians, nurses, and genetic counselors. Time and again while writing this book, I spoke with parents of children with Down syndrome who related horror stories of the negative information they received from medical professionals when they discovered their child would have Down syndrome. Most parents felt pressured to abort after being told that their child would only be a “burden” both to themselves and to society as a whole. Very few parents reported receiving accurate, balanced information about raising a child with Down syndrome, and some parents who chose to abort later regretted their decision after meeting and talking with other parents of individuals with DS. Often parents choose to abort simply out of fear that they are not equipped to care for a child with DS, but many of their fears could be relieved if only they were presented with the correct information before making their choice.

You asked some thought-provoking questions about eugenics and where the practice of aborting children who have physical challenges (or even might develop problems) will stop. What trends do you see that could give us an indication of which direction society is headed (making these practices either more or less prevalent)?

I usually tend to think on the positive side, so I believe that despite our new-found ability to predict which children will be born with physical challenges and to abort them in favor of a more “perfect” offspring, cooler heads will prevail in the end. Certainly some parents will still insist on trying for so-called perfection, but with ongoing education about eugenics and the pitfalls that await if we continue on our current path, the trend toward routinely aborting these children will decline over time. Also, as people with Down syndrome continue to become more visible in their communities—attending college, holding jobs, volunteering, etc.—the stigma of the diagnosis will gradually begin to fade away, allowing more of these individuals a greater chance at life.

You talk about how inclusion of people with Down syndrome would be a big part of the solution to helping others understand their gifts. How do you recommend that readers put this into practice, and can you offer any additional solutions to the problems discussed in the book?

Education is the key to solving this problem. Medical professionals must be trained using updated information about the quality of life now enjoyed by people with Down syndrome, and in turn, prospective parents will receive accurate information about what to expect as they raise their child. Ongoing inclusion of people with Down syndrome and other challenges in all areas of society will eventually lead to the desensitization of the general public to “non-typical” people—in other words, when you work and play alongside someone long enough, over time the differences between you begin to appear less obvious. My suggestion for readers is to try to view individuals with Down syndrome as they view themselves—just regular people who strive to be accepted and to live normal, everyday lives.

How does the perception of children and adults with Down syndrome in America compare to that in the rest of the world?

Perception of individuals with Down syndrome varies widely throughout the world. Some countries are overall more accepting than America. For example, in Great Britain, physicians and other health professionals receive special training in caring for non-typical individuals as part of their medical education. On the other hand, Spain has a significantly higher percentage of Down syndrome abortions than nearly anywhere in the world—an estimated 95-97%.

What's next for your work with Down syndrome? Any other books coming up?

Right now I am focusing on getting copies of the book out to OB/Gyn offices, medical and nursing schools, and Down syndrome parent organizations in an effort to raise awareness and provide education on the termination issue. For my next book, I’ve been toying with the idea of a book on spirituality and Down syndrome. Although I have not yet done any formal research, anecdotal information seems to suggest that many people with Down syndrome appear to be more “tuned in” to the spiritual side of the universe than perhaps the rest of us are—an intriguing concept that I think is worth exploring further—we’ll see!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tiff of All Trades...

I know all of us wear a lot of hats.

Primarily, I'm a wife, a dog-mom and a librarian (all of those within the sphere of my overall purpose in life of being a follower of Christ).

But, in the last few months, partly due to the DIY craze out there, partly looking at stuff and thinking "I could do that!" and partly due to my penchant for taking on too much, I've found myself also taking on the roles of...
reader-writer-reviewer-manager-musician-chef-foodie-painter-photographer-videographer-moviegoer-runner-seamstress-crafter-furniture refinisher-decorator-theologian-sports aficionado-budgeter-organizer-local expert-googler-traveler-hostess-party planner-napper-potential home buyer-shopper-freelancer-poet-calligrapher-tweeter-facebooker-blogger-graphic artist-techie

And I found that something started to slip. Several things started to slip. The NorrisCreations cards and bookmarks, paintings and doodads that I was pretty pleased with at first started to look like they belonged more on Regretsy than Etsy. (Not that I was ever quite good enough to start an Etsy shop...I just had fun making things for friends and family. And those Etsy links are to two shops where I would spend all my money if I had any.)

I continued to be disappointed in my cooking skills when one new recipe after another failed. I got behind on book reviews. I felt guilty when I didn't have time to work out. The list goes on. But, basically, I felt frazzled all the time!

And I didn't feel like I was doing a great job at my primary roles in life, those first three important ones. The wife, dog-mom and librarian ones. Not to mention my extended family roles--daughter, aunt, sister, niece, friend--which should all take precedence over video editing. And I really really really don't want the biggest one--my walk with Christ--to suffer.

So, I'm starting to simplify. Notice I say starting. ;) Because, like most things in life {I'm learning}, it's about the journey more than the destination.

I tend to think our life is pretty simple as it is. We have one car. No cable, internet, magazines at home. We almost never shop for anything other than groceries and books. But we still manage to fill the time...not just to fill it...but to stuff it like the giant veggie burrito I ate last night.

I haven't made any huge changes yet.

But I did buy some cute notecards that were half price at Half-Price Books instead of making them myself. I have stopped trying to be more creative with cooking {because, while I'm not giving up all of the above roles, I've come to realize I'm just not a foodie...seriously, we ate Mexican food for three nights this week. Chips with cheese and bean tip, bean tacos and veggie burritos. And I'm totally fine with that.}

I had already cut way back on the book reviews I'm taking on for the other blog. I've also cut back on the social media stuff. Or at least tried to be more efficient with it. I've done a bit of cleaning out and organizing around the house, took down the curtains and rearranged the furniture to create more of a calm, open space. And I've been trying to pray more. Because I've heard that the busier you are, the more you should pray. It shouldn't make sense, but it does.

Anyway, that's it for now. Maybe I'll share more about it here. Maybe, in the interest of keeping things simple, I won't. :) But I've found that just blogging about stuff like this reminds me of my goals and, somehow, helps me feel accountable.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and any suggestions you might have on keeping life simple!

Making a Case for Life

Making a Case for Life: A New Definition of Perfection by Stephanie Wincik

Conditions such as autism and Down syndrome have existed within the human gene pool for centuries; is it not possible then, or even likely, that there is a good reason for their presence?

Author Stephanie Wincik makes the case that there are many good reasons to stop the practice of aborting 80-90 percent of children with Down syndrome.

That statistic is right; read it again.

From a human rights standpoint, when considering rationalizations for the termination of fetuses with Down syndrome, we must contemplate the possibility that the widespread extermination of an entire class of people essentially for the convenience of those who are considered "normal," is coming dangerously close to the practice of eugenics.

Wincik, a registered nurse who has worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for almost 30 years, was terribly disturbed by this trend. She wrote Making a Case for Life to educate readers about common misconceptions related to Down syndrome, to highlight the often unique gifts these individuals have to offer, and to advocate for their greater inclusion in society.

Wincik does not take a side in the greater abortion debate, but she still asks a lot of important questions. What are the motives behind physicians' recommendations that these children be aborted? If this is the beginning of a trend, what's next--recommending abortions for children with autism, blindness, or those who are likely to develop cancer? Further research is needed, and she has provided some good starting points.

It is rare for anyone who has a long-term, personal relationship with someone who has Down syndrome to then be an advocate for their elimination.

While there is plenty of research in the book, Wincik also includes a couple of interviews with families who have children with Down syndrome that make the research more personal. It's very difficult to read these stories and then argue that these children cannot lead perfectly happy, well-adjusted lives and be functioning, contributing members of their families and of society.

Finally, readers have several pages of resources and a great bibliography to get further information or learn more about helping.

I'll admit--I couldn't review this one entirely objectively. I have a friend who is in the process of adopting a child with Down syndrome, and I know several other families who have happily welcomed individuals with Down syndrome as well. And I'm just horrified by the idea that these children shouldn't be allowed to exist--not even have a chance at existence--because they don't fit some random definition of what normal should be.

I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in getting involved or just knowing more. I'm hoping to have an interview with the author soon, but here's something to ponder until then.

When you think about everything we don't understand at this point, it seems a bit absurd to imagine that we possess the know-how and foresight to arbitrarily decide whether or not a certain child should be born...We humans continue to persistently overestimate our ability to understand and control the natural world, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Summer Smells {good in noun, not verb}

If you know me in "real life," you probably know I'm not a huge fan of summer. {Or if you read this post last year.}

In fact, as our weekend temperatures got dangerously close to 100 {in June. June!}, I asked Jason if we could seriously look into a colder climate after we wrap up this round of school. Well, we have five long years to discuss it.

But, on the positive end...I do like a lot of the smells of summer, and I realized that most of these center on food...

  • Lime {perhaps my absolute summer favorite}
  • Cilantro {I've been adding these first two to almost every meal, and I love it when my hands smell like them for hours!}
  • Celery {Also makes for a good hand-smeller!}
  • Granny Smith apples
  • Coconut
  • Strawberries
  • Charcoal
  • Freshly cut grass {who doesn't love this?}
What delightful smells am I missing?

Sweetening the Summer

OK, so not much response on the ol' Memorial Day Giveaway, huh?

How about, for June, we try sweetening the deal:
I'll choose a random winner on Flag Day (aka Monday, June 14). Just leave a comment to enter!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Cheap Date

Jason and I love to go on cheap dates!

We both had coupons to try Chick-fil-a's new spicy chicken sandwich this weekend, so we headed to the mall.


And so spicy!

They even had spicy tablecloths on the "VIP" tables. {Of course we sat there. We were making the most of cheap date night.}

The next day, we hit the library and stocked up on Monk, Numb3rs (it hurts my soul to type that) and 30 Rock (well, that one was from Blockbuster) and beat the almost 100-degree heat with Sonic's happy hour...

How was your weekend? And what's your favorite cheap summer activity?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Benny and Shrimp

Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

Benny and Shrimp (aka Desiree) meet at the cemetery where they both feel obligated to make regular visits--her to try and grieve for her dead husband, and he for his mother.

They both to seem to be merely existing when they meet and fall in mad, crazy, explosive love.

But they soon learn that they have very "different normals," (a concept that has been almost as important to my own marriage as personality types).

Anyway, Shrimp is a librarian (always a plus in a book for me)...erudite, organized, quiet, modern. Benny, meanwhile, is a farmer...funny, exuberant, but who also wants a wife who will be a lot like his mother. And Shrimp is decidedly not.

It's an interesting story that examines grief and opposites and how doing the right thing is hard, but how sometimes figuring out the right thing is even harder. The end was a bit ambiguous to me, but it was a translation from Swedish, I believe. I could be missing something from one culture to another because the translation itself was nicely done (by Sarah Death).

The characters are flawed, of course, but still pleasant...and a bit quirky--but not in a false way. You feel as if you could be friends with them. Well, I think I'd be better friends with Shrimp. :)

Favorite quotes...

Everyone has their own method for getting a grip on life.

Didn't I just know it! She looked like somebody who reads books all the time, voluntarily. Long ones, with small print and no pictures.

Maybe being bullied is the fate that awaits any child who's been brought up to consider themselves the eighth wonder of the world, and doesn't encounter grim reality until they get to school.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Seminary: A Mini-Introspection

I've had trouble writing this post.

I've been thinking about it a lot. Since we're winding down this first chapter of seminary life, I wanted to take a look back at the past three years and evaluate. Do a big "This is what we learned" post. Because it's been a big three years. Things have changed. We've changed. We're continuing to change.

But I've been having trouble putting it down in words {usually not so much an issue for me}. ;) Maybe it's because I've had the crud or been scattered or...who knows. I've been pretty introspective, but I just haven't been able to get it all down on the ol' blog. sum up...let's just say that God has humbled us--again and again--through this boot-camp experience we call seminary. There have been losses and frustrations and testing and tears and weariness...but also joy and peace and provision and love and friendships and learning.

We are different people than we were three years ago. Our priorities have shifted; our desires have, too. And, boy, have our politics ever changed! But God is still having to work on us...on perpetually pulling our focus away from ourselves, back to Him and then outwards to others.

And I imagine He'll keep doing that during the next five years that we plan to be here. Because we are so far from where we need to be.

So, that's it. Seminary: no official wrap-up. Just a mini-introspection as we do the next thing.

Read from the beginning...