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Saturday, April 30, 2005
So Cute!
I think this would be a nice addition to the living room or office!

My Hero
Apparently, it's dangerous to give a baby a pizza crust. Jay had a great time munching his pizza crusts (he seems to be getting teeth in the middle up top now), and dropped the ends on the floor, where he later found one and, after a little dilly-dallying, got it caught in his throat. Thank God for Daddy, who reacted swiftly and effectively (and then took Jay upstairs for his nap)!

Thursday, April 28, 2005
My Semi-informed Perspective on the Economics of Medicine, Part Deux
The following just occurred to me: we don't want access to healthcare limited by personal wealth, right? This is precisely the reason people are dying in Africa for lack of a $5 antibiotic while we don't have to pay full price for a couple of boxes of contact lenses. If we're really concerned with some concept of social justice, why don't we send our vacation money to Doctors Without Borders? Why should it end at the Atlantic Ocean or the Rio Grande?

Yes, it is a fallen world, and yes, Jesus said the poor would always be among us, but how much does that excuse us from? It's a scary thought for me, anyway...

My Semi-informed Perspective on the Economics of Medicine
As a former PhD student in economics, and as someone who is currently employed in the health insurance industry, I can't help thinking about this sort of thing. Of course, given the high costs of health insurance, lots of people are thinking about these sorts of things. And now, post-Terri Schiavo, even more ideas about what medical care is and should be are being posited by commentators hither and yon.

As a Christian, I can't help but be sympathetic to the idea that a person's life is worth more than any amount of money. In a way, that is true. However, money is not just a pile of paper or a calculated balance in a bank account. In our world, money (being a unit of exchange) can represent any number of things. Not just a fancy new car, but a meal taken to the rescue mission, or medicine for tsunami victims. Bottom line: the old cliche "it's just money" isn't really true. This is the economic concept called opportunity cost for you non-dismal scientists (or dismal non-scientists) out there.

Insurance is a wonderful thing, since most of us don't have cash on hand to pay for treatment of a collapsed lung or a sudden bypass surgery. Insurance is also an insidious thing, since we have used it to pay for so much that it's become so expensive that many people can't afford to buy insurance anymore. Add on the cost of medical malpractice suits (which raise healthcare providers' costs of doing business), and increasingly expensive (and better) technology, and before long we'll all be faced with spending our whole paycheck on medical insurance or joining the ranks of the uninsured.

Socializing medicine won't change basic economic facts. Doctors and hospitals need to be paid, no matter who's footing the bill. Socialized medicine can reduce medical expenditures, but only by rationing medical services. Proponents of socialized medicine like to point to other countries' successes, where they can be found, but fail to take into account the lifestyle differences between Europe, where people walk everywhere, eat relatively nutritious food, and work 30-hr weeks with 3 months of vacation, and the US, where we live in our cars (not even walking to the end of the driveway to pick up mail), eat supersized fast food meals (not that I've got room to talk) and work 50 hour weeks, often losing our use-it-or-lose-it vacation days.

Tort reform can help, and getting people healthier can also help (this is the latest trend in healthcare cost management: find out who is going to cost you money and encourage those folks to take better care of themselves), but we can always find new ways to spend money on people who are sick. We've gotten to the point where people feel entitled to whatever healthcare services they desire, and don't think they should have to pay for it. Unfortunately, there is a cost involved every time we go to the doctor, whether we like it or not. I know there are tragic inequities involved when we start tying things to money, since regardless of what something is worth to you, you can't buy it until you possess the requisite wealth.

There are quite a few ways of getting around this, charities and insurance pools, for example. Of course, the beauty of it is that these are examples of people setting aside money they could have used for vacations or flat screen tvs in order to make money available for someone's dialysis. Just think what you could pay for by not buying your Lamborghini!

Nonetheless, not every healthcare expenditure is justifiable, which is why as much as I value the sanctity of life, I don't hold with keeping brain-dead people on respirators, defibrillators, etc irrespective of cost. That money could be better spent in sending antibiotics to an African village, or a defibrillator to a South American hospital, where many more lives could potentially be saved.

Economics is a disinterested way of making that decision. I know it's a crummy way, but as I said above, we can circumvent the economics. Divorcing the two has led us to where we are now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005
An Uplifting Read
Check out this touching account by Joy. You won't be sorry!

Friday, April 22, 2005
Jay's latest hobby is grinding his bottom middle teeth against his upper canines (don't know where the incisors are up top...) It gives me the heebie-jeebies and is vastly entertaining for him.

Thursday, April 21, 2005
Baby Pictures
From a furrier species...


Trying out a sippy cup
Posted by Hello


Hello I like to SQUEAL
Posted by Hello


Mr. April
Posted by Hello


Scooting around in my post-Baptism giraffe suit
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Is it Just Me?
Or is this article really obnoxious? I guess I used to think it was cool for rich people to be unapologetic about being rich, but this guy seems to be unapologetic about wasting money. I hope he doesn't call himself a Christian, at any rate. If you ask me, he does enough of a disservice to run-of-the-mill conservatives without tainting the already maligned "Religious Right". Could he at least throw a bone to the compassionate conservatives and tell us that he gives more to charitable causes than the Clintons or Gores (considering what they give, I don't think it could be considered bragging...)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
We're in Trouble
The only big laugh from Jay today was in response to Kostya's warning bites and tail-between-his-legs (not really, but close) retreat.

Saturday, April 16, 2005
Habits of Highly Successful Babies
Just over the last week Jay's picked up a couple of new tricks. When he's ready for his next spoonful of food, he will now open his mouth about as wide as it goes and wait for the new delivery. Yesterday, he started squealing, and hasn't stopped for very long since (apart from the nearly 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night!) He'd squealed occasionally over the past several months, but he seems to have just realized it's fun and he can do it again and again!

Thursday, April 14, 2005
Another week gone
I didn't vaccuum, I didn't plant my poor gardenias. They keep tipping over as more and more plant food leaches off. I didn't plant my azaleas either, but at least they are snugly nestled in a thicket of weeds and volunteer money plants. The money plants are actually nice to look at, despite their odd shape and homely leaves, since their purple flowers tower over the pests :-7 I pulled enough weeds away from my peony that I think it will actually bloom this year, unlike last year, when it budded very nicely before fizzling out, either from a late freeze or from being choked by undesirables. Anybody want to come weed my flower beds? (Kidding ;) )

The baptism went off according to plan, and not one of the seven (!) wee ones burst into tears in front of the congregation. As you might imagine, this was one Sunday when the front row was full (if there were any fights over the front of the sanctuary, I missed them). The picnic following the service was fun, and we had beautimous weather. The shelter turned out to be a good size, since the perimeter had a rail wide enough to seat folks fairly comfortably even though there was only room for a few at the tables. We were so glad to be able to spend time with family- it's been so long since we saw them. Jay got a bunch more toys and clothes from the grandparents and Aunt Mindy, who was smart enough to remember her camera on Sunday. Her photos are here. As Christina mentioned, Jay was exceptionally good-natured despite not getting much sleep on Sunday, but then, he was in his element- surrounded by adorers.

And oddly enough, my arthritis went into hiding Saturday and Sunday, returning Monday morning with somewhat diminished fury, compared with previous weeks. Unfortunately, I've been in enough pain that I was too slow on two occasions today to arrest Jay's precipitous descent from a piece of furniture. I just can't have him in bed with me if Paul's not there because I want to keep sleeping, so I don't move much, which means I am too stiff to keep up with him. That makes me sad, because it's so nice to snuggle and snooze with him early in the morning. He sure is a tough little laddie- after falling off the bed, he let out a loud howl and then just lay there, looking around, while I tried to get my body working well enough to pick him up off the floor. Good thing he's tough, poor kid!

Thursday, April 07, 2005
Domestic Harmony
Too cute!!

Baby Jay Update!
Six month check-up was Tuesday. The boy weighed in at an impressive 20 lbs, 2 oz, and was 27.5 inches long. Three shots later, he was sad and tired, but left with a clean bill of health despite the fact that he's been pulling at his ears occasionally.

The grandparents and some others are coming Saturday to attend Jay's baptism Sunday. Then we'll have a celebration with lots of family and friends at a not-quite-large-enough picnic shelter near the church. Thankfully, the weather is supposed to be good!

Yes, I am having trouble sleeping tonight. How did you know?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Baby Jay fan club photo #2
Posted by Hello


Why yes, I do have a mouthful of teeth poking at my gums, and it doesn't bother me a bit!
Posted by Hello


Listen very carefully, my pet, or I shall have to chew on you.
Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Interview by Kristen
1. If you were to peek into the future, what do you see your life like in ten years? Hmmm.. in ten years, we might possibly be wrapping up our second four-year term with MTW in Ukraine, with a ten-year-old who knows several languages, and possibly another offspring or two with similar language acquisitions. Oh, and I'm sure God will have fixed all my major flaws so that I will be a good housekeeper, a tremendous cook, a resourceful, helpful and patient wife and mom... or maybe He will just help me to fight my worse tendencies better.

2. As a former Lutheran, what do you appreciate about that tradition, as opposed to Presbyterianism?
Coming from a family of dyed-in-the-wool Lutherans, I could go on and on, but I'll try to be concise. I miss the liturgy, the church calendar (especially the observation of Lent, Easter, and Reformation Sunday), and the hymnody I grew up with (e.g. Built on a Rock, singing the "right" words to A Mighty Fortress, using texts with the tunes I'm [still] used to with the corresponding texts; refer to the LBW online)

3. If money were no object, where were you vacation this year?
If money were no object, I'd take my whole family (at least those who would come) on a Luther tour in eastern Germany. If I couldn't take extra people, we could go around visiting (and finally meet Jay's cousin Marta!)

4. When were you diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis? What is the biggest lesson you feel you have been taught by this condition?
I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in 5th or 6th grade. Probably the most important lesson (which by now has been repeatedly drilled in) for me was that I do need other people. I always had a bit of an independent streak, but it's been pummeled into the ground from time to time.

5. What blogger would you most like to have lunch with and why?
I'd like to have lunch with Joy or Angie because they have been such great encouragers. Also, they have cute grandchildren and children, respectively, so if they could bring the little ones it would be even better!

[Kristen, I hope you like the color I chose for your questions ;) ]

If you'd like to be interviewed, leave a request in my comments and I will attempt to fabricate some profound queries for you!

Update: I was trying for Carolina blue, but on a different screen it looks more like Duke blue, and none of Bloggers colors looks especially like what I was trying for. Oh well!

Sunday, April 03, 2005
KB ;,

True to My Word
On my very first post I mentioned my intent to be verbose in obscurity, and today, at least, I'm living up to it. My arthritis keeps teasing me, making me think it's going back into remission so I can ignore it again for a while, before it returns and just batters my hopes of painlessness to little biting shards. A lot of little proddings have reinforced to me this week that this is something I need to submit to God to use as He will.

In the midst of this realization and my new attempts to relinquish my arthritis to Him, He has been faithful to remind me of his care for me. The first praise song we sang today includes the words "I'm trading my sickness, I'm trading my pain, I'm giving them up for the joy of the Lord". I have to say I have never really understood this song. Who wouldn't trade pain for joy? I guess the point is that if you immerse yourself fully in realizing the goodness of our God, your pain will be inconsequential, but it always sounded to me more like they were saying, "hey, just believe, and you won't be sick anymore". Not true! Anyway, I guess God wanted me to think about that.

The sermon was about persevering despite suffering. It included a reminder that God had seen Israel's suffering when they were imprisoned in Egypt. Perhaps I'll start referring to my flares as "being in Egypt". That didn't really seem to be the point of the sermon, but that's what stuck with me, and that's probably what I needed most.

Then, these two beautiful posts from Joy have been a real blessing to me. Isaiah 43 is my absolute favorite passage, and God (oddly enough) knows when I need to be reminded of it. All of this to say, I'm not the only one true to my word.

A Great Man
Has gone to be with his Master. Join Christina and me in praying for those who will designate the next Pope.

Can We All Agree
That if this is true, what happened was not only a gross miscarriage of justice, but also the result of malicious intent on someone's part?

(via Jellybeans and Chocolate- not just an Easter blog ;) )

Friday, April 01, 2005
Who Knew?
Hey, just because he stuffed classified documents in his socks doesn't mean it wasn't inadvertent...

Body vs. Soul?
An interesting question from an Eastern Orthodox writer: to what extent can we separate our consideration of the two, and what implications does this have for brain-damage patients?

And as an aside, why do we brag that we are not emotionally invested in the Schiavo case? Does compassion kill rational thought processes? Even if it does, are we not called to love our neighbor? Doesn't that give us an emotional stake in it?

How to Suffer
This is a thought-provoking article about the infirm Pope. It is also more than a little convicting to me, having spent much of the day feeling sorry for myself because of my own physical condition (which is, of course, wonderful by comparison). I should be praising God that I can straighten my leg again instead of whining about how hard everything is. I need to pray for the strength to be a good witness, not simply for the pain to recede.

Misnomer of the Day
Anyone ever gotten a red cent from a "fortune cookie"?

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