Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Conversations With God

I love to read. I am not a happy camper if I don't have a book on my nightstand. My preference is for non-fiction, specifically metaphysical, spiritual topics. This probably all started about 12 years ago when I first read "Life After Life" by Dr. Raymond Moody. Reading his collections of near death experiences ignited a hunger in me for more knowledge of the unknown. Over the years I have read many books on topics such as near death experiences, psychics, past life regression, miracles, coincidences, auras and reincarnation. You name it, if it can't be explained rationally, than I will probably have an interest in it.

Of all the books that I have read, the ones that intrigue me the most are the "Conversations With God" series by Neale Donald Walsch. He started this series in the mid-90's when he was on the brink of total frustration with life and he decided to write a letter to "God". To his surprise, "God" responded. He turned this dialogue into a series of many books. They are so simply written and contain some of the most mind-boggling information. I am currently reading the latest called, "The New Revelations". I am afraid that I am going to finish this one way too fast. It always leaves me hungry for more. To make one thing clear about these books, when it refers to "God" it is not referring to any type of religion. "God" was just the term that the author understood this unknowable entity to be.

These books have complimented many of my beliefs since I am not a religious person. I was raised with minimal Christianity, but I never felt in my heart what people seem to make you believe that you should feel. So, throughout my life, I compiled my own belief system and I just so happened to label what I believe in as "God." When I first read these books I was astounded to see a lot of my own beliefs on these pages. It was then that I realized that there was absolutely nothing wrong with living without religion.

Anyway, the reason that I am going on about these books is because I am searching for anyone out there who also has read these books. No one around me has read them, nor do I believe that they are interested. I lent one to my niece, but it wasn't of her taste. I goggle searched for forums, but oddly enough, I couldn't find any. I know there has to be people that are buying these books! So if you are a fan, or even if you think that they are a bunch of garbage, leave me some comments. I am dying to know what other people think!

(note 1/29/03: I just found a great forum right on cwg.org, not sure how I missed it. I would still love to hear comments on these books if anyone has read them!)

Posted by Sharon     Return to Sharon's Cyber Scrapbook

Sunday, January 26, 2003
One Year Ago Today...

One year ago to day, I woke up at 4:30 AM with an intense contraction. This did not phase me, for I had been getting braxton-hicks from mid-pregnancy on. I tried to go back to sleep. Ten minutes later, I feel another one. I realize that I am not going to be able to sleep. So, I get up and watch television. I notice that I am getting a contraction every 10 minutes, so I refer to my "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" book. Just what I thought, false labor. I am not due for another 2-1/2 weeks. My husband wakes up around 8:30 AM to find me on the couch. I explain to him that I am having false labor. He looks at me with big eyes and says, "We're going to have a baby today!" I reply that there is no way, because I don't feel any different. So, we get ready and head to the hospital for our final Lamaze class. All the way there, the contractions continue. When we get to class the teacher asks us if we had any changes that week. We explained that the doctor told us the day before that I am 2-1/2 centimeters dilated and that I lost my plug and that I have been having contractions all morning. The teacher's eyes get wide, and she says, "Maybe we'll have some show and tell in class today!" But, I think to myself, no way, I am not in labor. We still have 2 and a half weeks before this baby arrives. So all throughout class, I gave my husband a nudge when I would get a contraction so he could write down the time. By the end of class they were coming rather frequently. We asked the teacher what she thought. She said that false labor was really tricky and it is possible that is all that it is. She told us to come along for the tour of the maternity ward and she would ask the nurses what they thought. At that point, the contractions were starting to get a bit uncomfortable. The maternity ward was rather slow that day, so they got me a bed and hooked me up to the monitors. They checked me out and informed me that I was 3 to 4 centimeters. They wanted to hook me up to an IV incase I request the epidural. I refuse to be hooked up to a machine just yet because I want to be on my feet. My husband and I pace up and down the hall. The contractions were getting unbelievably painful. It was amazing how good I felt when one was over. I was getting to the point that I wanted the epidural, I couldn't take the pain anymore. The epidural is a tube that is inserted with a needle between two vertebrae of your spine. (Sounds painful, but it's nothing next to a painful contraction that comes every minute!) It numbs you from the waist down. I start to feel so much better! My mother arrives at the hospital and she signs some papers that allow her to stay for the birth. I still can't believe that I am having a baby today! By a little after 8:00 PM the doctor informs me that I am ready to start pushing. The first few minutes of pushing weren't bad, but once and hour passed and the epidural started to wear off, I was ready for this to be over!! Finally at 9:29 PM the doctor says, "It's a girl!" That's when it hit me! Oh my God! I just had a baby and it's a girl! We didn't find out the gender during pregnancy, so we were shocked when he made that announcement.

What a day that was and what a year this has been! It's been the fastest year of my life. Being a parent is such an awesome, beautiful responsibility. You can't imagine the feelings that you are capable of having until you have a child yourself. I just love being a mommy and witnessing my baby as she learns and grows. Today, my little pumpkin is one year old.

Happy 1st Birthday Maleena!

Posted by Sharon     Return to Sharon's Cyber Scrapbook

Friday, January 24, 2003
Animal Compassion

This week, I was either super sensitive or my compassion for animals is even stronger than I realized. Earlier in the week, I noticed that my one cat, Chatty, wasn't around for a while. I got concerned and started calling him. After several minutes of searching the house, I found him in our bedroom just sitting there. My instincts were telling me that something was wrong with him. Every night, my husband and I scream, "Who wants treats?!," and both cats are there meowing up a storm. Chatty wasn't interested. That was when I knew that my instincts were correct. He slept by my feet all night, not getting up once that I knew of. In the morning when I got up he was almost limp by my feet. I ran downstairs crying to tell my husband that I was really worried about Chatty. We decided to watch him throughout the day and possibly call the vet. Luckily, later in the day he showed small signs of improvement. He ate a small amount, he used the litter box for the first time in well over 12 hours, and he sampled a small taste of water. The next day he was completely back to himself. I knew this was so when he brought me his foil ball to play with. We have all been sick off and on over the past few weeks. I think he may have picked up a bug from us. I'm so happy that he is back to normal, because my cats are like my children!

On Monday, I was grocery shopping and I had to walk by the lobster tank. I felt an extreme sadness as I did. I imagined what it must feel like to have my hands tied behind my back and shoved in a small room with a few other people. We are all just standing around wondering why we were taken from our homes. We begin to realize that death is on the way.

Yesterday, I watched a little bit of Dr. Phil. I caught two commercials that brought tears to my eyes. One was for Dawn dish soap. They were showing how they use Dawn to remove oil on ducks that was caused by oil spills. It was sad to think that the things we are doing as humans is causing misery for these poor little birds. But the good news is that Dawn can help save a few of these poor little guys. Visit SaveADuck.com to learn more. The other commercial was for Perdue Chicken. They were talking about how they have the meatiest chickens and there was this scene where they are making a chicken bench press. I know it was supposed to be a funny commercial, but with my frame of mind, it made me sad. Besides, if they really showed people how they made their chickens "meatier" nobody would dare to eat it anymore.

Sorry about the rant, but I am very passionate about animals. I feel that they are as alive as we are and they deserve respect too. I always try to picture myself in their place. What would we do if another species came along that was smarter than us and hungry for our flesh? Life wouldn't be much fun anymore.

Posted by Sharon     Return to Sharon's Cyber Scrapbook

Saturday, January 18, 2003
Bad, Bad, Bad Service

Have you ever had an experience with a business, retail store, or a doctor that left you feeling less than satisfied. How many times have you walked away feeling like you just had such bad service that you feel compelled to write a letter? That happens to us often, but usually we end up forgetting to write the letter.

Back in December, my husband decided that it was time to get his eyes examined and get new glasses and try out some contacts. After finding out that AAA offers a discount at Lenscrafters, he decided to give them a call to find out how much a visit would cost. To his surprise it was reasonable, so he made an appointment. When he found me in the mall after his appointment, he shocked me with a bill for almost $400!!! They charged him with other fees, like a fitting fee, which was never explained to him. They also charged him $100 for 2 boxes of contact lenses. I was furious, for I only pay $20 per box. They took it upon themselves to give him a more expensive prescription. After he realized how bad he was ripped off, he went back in to see what they could do. They matched 1800contacts.com's price which knocked about $30 off the bill. When he went back to pick up his glasses, he received snotty treatment from one of the workers there when he asked to have the other fees explained to him. This was enough inspiration for him to write the letter. His letter was written to the doctor who works in the same space as Lenscrafters, Jesse A. Mantel, O.D. Basically, he explained his situation and how he felt that he was ripped off and how he was disappointed with his experience with office. Well, you would think that a doctor of optometry would be fairly smart and do one of two things, respond with an apology, or just ignore the letter. Nope, not this doctor. I have never seen anything as ridiculous as this in my life. He actually took the time to write back and this is what he had to say:

January 15, 2003

RE: Response to patient dissatisfaction letter dated 12/31/02

Dear Chuckie:
Thanks so much for the heads up on the wonderful experience you had at our Robinson office. It is amazing to me that it took thirteen years for a patient to bring up the fact that our fees are off the deep end. Maybe spending so much time purchasing vacation homes, sports cars and diamonds for my wife has made me lose sight of what the wonderful people of Western Pennsylvania really want—and that is free eye exams and discontinued contact lenses! Because of your wife’s brilliant insight, I have decided to slash our exam fees to $5.00 for an entire family; as well, we will no longer charge “fitting fees” since most patients self prescribe anyway. Contact lenses are now free of charge for the next two million patients; that way there will be no bickering over us ripping off the price conscious consumer.

Of course, I will have to make a living somehow, so I have decided to fork up the three million dollars needed to open a Krispy Kreme donut shop. I assume even CEO’s like you can afford a few bucks for a dozen melt-in-your-mouth artery cloggers. Just think, the money you save on your families’ eye care needs, your wife can use at Costco for her gynecologic exams? I hear the maintenance staff does pap smears for 39 cents if you purchase a cherry slushie at the snack bar!

Thanks again for allowing me to see the light!
Sincerely, The Next Donut King

PS: Do you prefer glazed or jelly filled? When I get up and running, I’ll make sure to send you a dozen, free of charge of course!

I have never seen anything so unprofessional as this in my life! This doctor just humiliated himself. My husband has contacted several local newspapers because we feel that they might be interested in hearing about this one. Can you believe this? Has anyone ever gotten a response like this from a professional? I am still in total shock and disbelief. I really hope for Jesse A. Mantel's sake that this was not actually written by him. But I can guarantee that if it was, he would never admit to it!

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Thursday, January 16, 2003
My Little Clone

When I was 11 months old, my mother had my photo taken in a little blue sailor outfit. Since she loves to save stuff, she still had the outfit after all these years. When my daughter was born, she passed it along to me. I decided that when she was 11 months, I would take her picture in it. (I wanted to have it done in a studio, but since it's winter and it's a summer outfit, I decided to put my photographic skills to the test do it myself) I was amazed when I put the two photos together. I could always see some resemblances to myself in her, but when I looked at the pictures I was shocked by how much we actually do look alike! Here are the pictures. Can you guess who is who? :) (Keep in mind that I had to reduce the size and quality of the pictues. The originals are much better!)

Posted by Sharon     Return to Sharon's Cyber Scrapbook

Monday, January 13, 2003
Search Engine Keywords

I love it when my fellow Bloggers post the keywords that people have typed in search engines to find their sites. Since I've been getting a few interesting keywords myself, I thought that I would post them here. They aren't as good as some that I've seen posted elsewhere, but they're interesting nonetheless. Some of them just make you wonder what the heck people were really looking for!

  • "thoughts on having a baby"- Well, I think it's great, but I don't know if reading my website is really going to help you make this life changing decision...

  • "Why am I a vegetarian?" +pictures- I don't know, why are you a vegetarian? You know why I am, but sorry to disappoint you by not providing pictures! Perhaps I should have linked my story to some slaughterhouse photos or something.

  • "pregnant photo contest"- I love photography and all, but a pregnant photo contest? Hmm, maybe there's a niche here for something new!

  • "ghost accident police photo" - Oh my gosh, an accident involving a ghost and the police?

  • "female werewolf" - I'm sure they didn't find what they were looking for here!

  • "thoughts on birthdays" - Hey, a day that you get presents for staying alive for one of earth's revolutions around the sun, I think they are pretty cool.

  • "cyber relationships do they have to finish" - I suppose that when you turn the power off of your computer, they do...

  • "look for the ghost picture" - This one may have actually found what they were looking for.

  • "scrapbook bike riding" - I should start a scrapbooking website since most of my keywords are people searching for scrapbooking ideas!

Posted by Sharon     Return to Sharon's Cyber Scrapbook

Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Do I Want Another Camera?

I think I have an obsession with cameras and taking pictures. I have a really nice Canon Rebel 35mm camera and a Kodak DC3200 1 megapixel camera. I totally love the Canon Rebel because it takes fantastic pictures. For only being one megapixel, the Kodak also takes really nice photos.

Since I have discovered the website, iStockPhoto, I have become more interested in digital photography. You upload your photos and if they are approved, they put them on their website so people (mostly designers) can download your pictures and use them in anything like magazines, websites, etc. For every download that you receive, you earn ten cents. That really isn't anything, but a lot of people use this website, so a lot gets downloaded. The more pictures they accept, the more money you could make. I get more enjoyment out of seeing my photos getting downloaded, than the thought of making 10 cents. It flatters me to think that someone has a use for my photo. I would like to do this professionally one day, so it's a good stepping stone.

So back to the camera...I am eyeing up this Canon Powershot A40. It's a two megapixel camera that also has aperture and shutter speed options. It's more than I want to spend, but I think that I am going to do it anyway. To help pay for it, I am going to sell my Kodak DC3200. I have been watching Ebay to see how much they are going for. I paid $200 for it a couple of years ago, and it looks like I should be able to get around $75 for it. If you or anyone you know is interested in a digital camera, feel free to contact me!

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Thursday, January 02, 2003
Sorry Baby, No Television For You...

It seems as though since the birth of my daughter, my husband and I have become quite aware of how much trash is on television these days. To be honest, I never really gave it a second thought before I became a mother. I guess I even enjoyed (and sometimes still do) some of the garbage on TV. But it feels as though someone switched on a new light and I see things from a different perspective now. Since our baby joined us almost a year ago, my husband felt strongly about not introducing her to television. I didn't feel as passionate about the idea, but it's really starting to grow on me. I don't mind if the TV is on in the background and she notices it, but I will not put her in front of it to watch a show. As a requested Christmas gift, my husband received a book called The Other Parent by James P. Steyer. He is learning a lot about the effects of media on our children and how television has changed since we were children. The book also states that the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) strongly recommends no television at all until at least the age of 2. A baby who spends time in front of the TV set is likely to have decreased brain development, according to this organization. I feel more confident now with our decision to keep television to a minimum, since our child has grown quite fond of books. It makes me so proud when she holds up the same book (her way of asking us to read) five times in a row instead of a video that would not include participation on my part. I do realize that this will become an issue sometime down the road (and God only knows what will be allowed on television at that time) but until then, we will play, learn and read and worry about TV another time.

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