Life in Tornado Alley

Photo by Anita Westervelt/FEMA

Sirens blaring, they hunkered down in the shelter until the “all clear”. They emerged with blinking eyes and found a neighborhood unrecognizable, everything demolished. What havoc Mother Nature can wreak. Grateful that this time nobody died, they will fix the broken things.


Best Picture Commentary: No Country for Old Men

Apologies for the radio silence, but I had to step away and pay close, close attention to my new granddaughter, Miss M. She’s the cutest baby ever (well, next to her mom and uncle Kyle)! But time to get back to business, and as I watched this Best Picture winner at the beginning of the month (maybe even the end of March), it’s time to get some commentary out of the way.

Best picture for 2007, based on a book written by Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men is another violent, disturbing movie. But there was something about this one. Was it like a train wreck that you could not look away from? Something like that, but not because it was so bad, but because it was so good.

no-country-for-old-menThe 3 main actors were all outstanding. Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss, welder and Vietnam vet who finds a fortune in the desert, and is in a run for his life to keep the money, and finally, Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh, the hitman and bad guy central to the story. Bardem won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and rightfully so.

Unlike a lot of movies out there, the themes of this movie will stick with you. Fate, predestination and chance play out as the lives of the 3 men become intertwined. And Chigurh’s twisted moral code will leave you doing a double take.

This is a movie that I would watch again, as I am sure I will see so much more on a second viewing there is so much there.


Instructions? What Instructions?

Seven months into her pregnancy, my daughter and her husband knew everything they needed to know about being pregnant. They realized, however, that they did not know anything about what to do with the actual newborn baby. So they did what any self-respecting parent-to-be in 2016 would do… they went to the internet and ordered a bunch of books.

Bringing a baby into the world is the scariest thing two people will ever do. You are responsible for another life. What if you make a mistake? It is so natural for new parents to want to know as much as possible.

The world has changed since the days of the elder woman passing on their knowledge to the younger. Now, with the transient nature of our western culture, the grandmother is often not available. When she is, it seems that her advice might be considered outdated. A common theme that I hear from other grandmothers and would-be grandmothers is how much things have changed since we had babies. Everything from feeding to sleeping arrangements to supervision seems different. If you were a child before 1978 (when car seat laws began to take effect) I bet you’ve had the conversation about how you rode in the back of the station wagon or slept in the window well behind the back seat on a long car trip!

My mother used Dr. Benjamin Spock’s book as her baby care bible. Dr. Spock was a pediatrician and author whose word on parenting was the final word. When I raised my children, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton was the go-to expert, though there must have been others. The internet? Hah!

Now there are so many books available with an equal number of opinions and judgments, what’s a new mother supposed to do?

Relax. That’s the advice my grandmother gave me in the middle of the night about a month after my above-mentioned, now pregnant daughter was born. It was one of those pace-the-floor nights where she would not or could not settle down. In my sleep deprived, near hysterical state, Grandma told me that this, meaning caring for a newborn, was the easiest it got when it came to raising children.

That’s right. The easiest time. In other words, babies are easy as compared to toddlers, to elementary-age school kids, to that tween age, to TEENS!  The bigger they are, the more challenging it gets.

Seriously. Don’t panic.

Look! Adults!

Skeptical during the first hearing of this strange advice, I believe her now, having successfully raised two children to adulthood; and by successfully, I mean they are alive, mostly well-adjusted, self-sufficient adults who survived all the mistakes that their dad and I made.

Keeping in mind that babies do not come with instructions, if the books quell your anxiety, read them. They can guide you through the rough patches when you think everyone else’s child is perfect and yours is the only one that never sleeps. I can’t deny it’s also fun to know when babies sprout teeth, when they start to walk, and when all those other amazing milestones you wait and wait for happen. But I posit that the following is all you need to know about caring for a newborn.

Keep them safe and warm with full bellies and dry bottoms, and love them with all your heart.