I haven’t really noticed but apparently Rhonda hasn’t been blogging as much lately.  I’m sure the world that exists on the internet has missed her creative ideas, insightful writings and stunning pictures.  I’ll follow in her pattern with a minor variation instead of ten on tuesday I’ll go for thirteen on thursday (not that I’m trying to one-up her; and I guess she already has her 15 on 15 so I’m really just a compromising kind of guy).

1.  It was Rhonda’s birthday last week.  This may have been the first year I never bought her a present.  A few weeks back she bought a relatively expensive item (which was a great deal apparently, that’s what we call the Yawney purchase principle in our house – the attractiveness of a purchase is directly related to the price off the original; for those of you who know Mark Yawney, that’s the driving logic behind so many of the fun items that he owns – that’s my opinion not necessarily his) and said it would be for her birthday.  I just kind of let that stand.  It felt kind of weird to let her buy her present and not buy her anything at all.  I did take her out to dinner at least.

2.  I think Rhonda has many nice friends, but there is only one that I’ll talk to on the phone for more than a minute or two, and it was nice to talk to you the other night (I assume at some point you’ll read this and can probably figure out who you are; it’s more interesting that everyone else is left guessing).

3.  I probably shouldn’t put this on but Rhonda has been having some difficulty sleeping (an ongoing issue made much worse by that thing growing in her uterus).  So she brings this up with her doctor (whom I won’t name but does not work in Raymond).  The doctor offered her some ativan for sleep and Rhonda turned her down.  Not sure if I was proud or disappointed (of Rhonda – not the doctor).

4.   Rhonda is at a cookie exchange right now.  What better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus than bringing home 10 dozen cookies.  As a side note, some people have mentioned it’s sometimes hard to tell if I’m sarcastic or not and I think it’s even harder to ensure people understand sarcasm is intended when you write something.  So, in case you weren’t sure, I was being sarcastic.  No offense to others in the exchange but Rhonda’s baking is plenty good I don’t know that I really need anyone else’s cookies…

5.  Our baby is due in January.  We’ve had baby names narrowed down to two for quite a while (and leaning towards one), which seems very practical.  I like both of the considered names but I kind of liked it better when we didn’t have a clue for the name of our last baby and I researched names after Oliver was born (of course we didn’t know he was Oliver at the time) and almost convinced Rhonda to go for the name Bram.  Rhonda was born with her own theme song (for those not sufficiently cultured – it’s ‘Help Me Rhonda’ by the Beach Boys, youtube it, it’s still classic).  If we would have named Oliver Bram he would of had his own music collection (for those too cultured – youtube Sharon, Lois and Bram – I’m a fan in particular of One Little Spider and of course have a soft spot for the use of the tuba in their catalogue).

6.  If you haven’t noticed I’m a big fan of parentheses.  In typical blog fashion – let me know if you’re for or against the amount parenthesis use so far.

7.  It’s almost 22h00 and Lucy just got back from participating in the 14th annual kids choir with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra.  It’s a good thing Rhonda isn’t home or else she’d be pretty annoyed that I’m writing this while Lucy is explaining to me how she sat there for a half an hour, sang for six minutes and then sat there for a while after that – while she’s eating because she missed supper earlier.  She’s a great little singer and a genuinely fun kid to be around.

8.  I think it’s important to be well-rounded and thought I’d suggest an article for all of Rhonda’s regular readers that may be a bit outside what your typical reading habits may cover.  Even if you don’t read it you should suggest your husband or significant male other read it.  I don’t know how to fancily (is that a word?) embed links so I’ll just tell you what to google (chuck klosterman are you entertained).  Initially it’s about the Greg Popovich – David Stern rift (that I’m sure you all feel you’ve read everything there is to read about) but then it goes on to talk about the deeper meaning of sports (if there is such a thing).

9.  Lucy is still awake.  From the table I hear – without any conversational lead-up (I also like to use dashes in ways that I’m not sure are totally correct).  “Hey dad, since you’ve been a doctor people in my class always tell me when see them for an operation at the clinic or hospital.”  After trying to explain that I’m not a surgeon (not sure it was a successful explanation) I ask, “who told you that today.”  Lucy, “well no one today but it happens most days.”  Despite the fact that it seems like pretty much everything that goes on in her head comes out her mouth I’m still left wondering how she arrives at certain points.  [Square bracket’s mean this is a total add-on after I’m done everything.  I got to the end and realized that Lucy made a couple appearances but the other kids didn’t.  A few of my favorite things about my kids lately.  Sometimes Alden will be reading a book and there will be music in the background and he’ll start tapping his foot or hand – I like that he gets into the groove of stuff.  When I come from work Eli makes me feel like I live in a commercial by the way he yells, “Daddy” and runs to give me a hug.  Nothing can take me from utter annoyance to pure joy faster than an Oliver smile (I wanted to make some analogy with my Dad’s driving around town – which can involve sudden stops / starts – but I couldn’t come up with anything smooth enough).

10.  I’ve sent emails to MP’s a few times.  I recently emailed my MP (Jim Hillier) about bill C-398.  I’m not an expert on the bill but it is related to a program that was established a number of years ago to enable medications (made by generic drug companies but that are still on patent) that treat HIV / AIDS to get to Africa cheaply.  Bill c-398 was not a new program but rather changes to an existing program that from what I am led to understand has done little to nothing to help treat the AIDS epidemic in Africa.  The initial response I got from Mr. Hillier was someone who worked at his office that he reviews all emails that he gets.  I was encouraging Mr. Hillier to vote for the bill (which he didn’t when it went before government last week and it didn’t pass) but also questioned his particular stance / thoughts on the issue.  I sent a reply asking again for an answer – I have yet to hear back* (I may have mentioned that when I lived in Nova Scotia my MP out there, Peter Stoffer, called my house directly within a day or two of an email I sent him – I guess there’s a reason he was voted the most fun MP to work for and he’s well known for his ‘All Party Party’; he may be NDP but it’s hard not to like the guy).  Anyway, it may be a bit of a done issue but I’d advise you rather than spend an extra 15 minutes on pinterest today, google bill c-398 and see what you think.  *Since I originally put this up, Mr. Hillier has responded.  I’ll put his lengthy reply below, which regardless of your take on his stance is an appreciated thing.  As I said I’m not an expert on this issue.  I think there’s some validity to the claim that this program is perhaps not the most effective / efficient way of dealing with the AIDS crisis in Africa but some of his other concerns with c-398 aren’t as convincing to me but decide for yourselves.

11.  I’ve recently been reading “Understanding the Book of Mormon” by Grant Hardy.  He’s a Mormon and a professor of history.  The book was published by Oxford University Press if that tells you anything.  It’s full of insights that I feel downright silly (not sure if I should use that word, I’m 34 and should probably come up with something more suitable but it’ll work I guess) for not having thought of myself.  There are hundreds of little interesting details in this book (that are meaningful not just different) but he presents early on a list of 10 observations about the Book of Mormon.  Number seven on that list is that Book of Mormon, “is basically a tragedy.”  His words are, “It is somewhat surprising that Mormonism – generally regarded as an optimistic, forward-looking faith – has as its foundational scripture such an unrelenting record of human folly and ruin.”  He does clarify that that gospel message itself is not really tragic at all rather, “The tragedy…is that so few people take advantage of God’s compassionate offer.”

12.  Along those lines I’ve been thinking about some of the hard things in life lately (you could call them tragedies) and wondering if they could have been prevented.  Of course, there’s lots of tragedy that can be prevented but some bad stuff will happen despite our best intentions.  This applies to life generally but I’ve been thinking about it in regards to health in particular.  A recent example that has been in the news is around mammograms – maybe they aren’t as helpful as we’d like them to be.  Google ‘Meri Kolbrener mammogram’ and you’ll find an interesting article on Slate (yes I read Slate and no I don’t regularly go to the ‘Double X’ portion of the sight but the medical headline on the mainpage caught my eye) about this issue.  It can be a bit embarrassing at times how often physicians can (or at least should) say that we really don’t know.

13.  I feel like I should come back to talking about Rhonda for the last item here.  I hope I haven’t alienated too many of her core readership (I don’t think 13 on Thursday will become a regular occurrence so don’t avoid coming back because you’re concerned I might share opinion on prostate cancer screening).  I think Rhonda has had a blog in some form or another for probably 7 or 8 years.  She’s gone through times when she has regularly posted and others where she’s gone blog-silent for weeks.  She’s hit a bit of a blog-wall lately I think.  We were talking the other night about why she blogs.  I can’t answer for her and she wasn’t really sure herself when we talked.  Initially we lived ‘across the nation’ (inside joke, as in just her and I) and so it was a useful way for her to show family pictures of our kids and such to grandparents etc.  At some points she’s used her blog to connect with what I would call the ‘crafty community’.  Whether it’s recipes, crafts or home decorating projects she shares.  As time has gone on she has shared lots of wonderful pictures – that seem to be getting better and better.  She’s started her Spiritual Sundays a while back, which I think is a meaningful reflection of her inner goodness.  She doesn’t do it too often, but every now and then she’ll write less about the happenings and events of life and capture something a bit more thoughtful and timeless.  I, and I think others appreciate those even if they don’t happen too often.  Rhonda is a wonderful person and I hope everyone that does look at her blog from time to time enjoys connecting with her however brief and indirect it may be.  Rhonda likes connecting with people, I think it may even be the thing that she does best.  This blog is just part of that.  On some level most people enjoy connecting with other people, but they sometimes don’t know how or are worried about doing it right.  Rhonda is good at it and she just does it.  She is willing to share of herself and appreciates anything that is shared in return.  I sometimes think about how the internet is this wonderful thing that can connect people all over the world (and then get a bit more cynical when I get a cat-spam-email or glance at facebook to see meaningless status updates).  But when Rhonda’s little blog works well it makes the big internet seem like a good idea after all and can connect people in a way that makes the world seem like a friendlier place.