Monday, March 31, 2008

100th post!

To celebrate the 100th post on the Todd Pad I thought I should do something special...but nothing comes to mind, so here's a big high-five to everyone who stops by:


Thanks for the heads up D.W.!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I couldn't believe this at first!

We know intelligence among animals varies: a dog is a lot smarter than, say, a beetle and a dolphin is smarter than both. The other day while we were at the zoo (yes Sue, those photos are coming!), I remember telling Sarah about a study I read a few years ago in which they described how intelligent elephants are. Indeed, elephants are one of the few animal species that is self aware enough to recognize that it is looking at a reflections of itself when presented with a mirror. Well, when I first saw the following video I thought, "No way. No way!" Well, as our surfer friends would say, "Way!" Check this out:



I looked up some info about this to verify its truthfulness and apparently it's all true:

From Wikipedia (read the whole article HERE):

Elephants are one of the world's most intelligent animals. With a mass just over 5kg, elephant brains are larger than those of any land animal, and although the largest whales have body masses twentyfold those of a typical elephant, whale brains are barely twice the mass of an elephant's brain. A wide variety of behavior, including those associated with grief, learning, allomothering, mimicry, art, play, a sense of humor, altruism, use of tools, compassion, self-awareness, memory and possibly language[1] all point to a highly intelligent species that are thought to be equal with cetaceans[2][3] and primates[4][5].

Aristotle once said that elephants were “The beast which passeth all others in wit and mind."

The Talent of the Trunk...

"Ramona paints effusively yet thoughtfully, pausing to look carefully at her canvas before choosing each color"
They may be the smallest of the elephant family in size, but the endangered Sumatran elephants housed at the Bali Elephant Safari Park are truly big on talent - the talent of using their trunks for painting! Meet the ARTISTS!

Putting paint strokes to paper is simply an extension of an elephant’s usual penchant for drawing on the ground of their natural habitats. Generally elephants would use sticks, pebbles and leaves to make pictures in the sand and earth, but are now picking up a paintbrush and turning their trunks to a much loved hobby and creating amazing Elephant Artifacts! See their ART GALLERY!

The painting phenomenon for Bali Adventure Tours Safari Park elephants started in 1999, when two inspired artists, who established an Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project, came to visit the Park. The artists taught our elephants to paint inspirational works of saleable art to help raise awareness and funds for the Parks own Elephant Foundation. The results? – Elephant Artifacts that have seen these jungle matriarch's works turn into international conversation pieces in art circles around the globe.

Now, not all our Safari Park elephants can paint! Those who can are taught to hold paintbrushes with the tip of their trunks, and encouraged to communicate their message through color and individual designs. Like all artists though, some of our elephants are temperamental at times and will not paint until they feel the right mood strikes them!

Also:

How does an elephant get into art school?

The schools are started at elephant camps, so they don't have to travel far. Not every elephant can paint, though -- maybe only 10 percent.

Are they good students?

Juthanam [a 7-year-old who lives in Lampang] and Ramona [a 5-year-old who lives in Bali] are the sweetest ones. They are smiling all of the time. They are kids. We work mostly with younger elephants; supposedly they are easier to teach. They're also smaller. When they get to my age they are gigantic, and the boys have these huge tusks. It's kind of scary. Some seem to enjoy it, but they can't paint for very long because they get bored and start looking around. Some do it quickly. Juthanam is a very careful painter; it takes her so much time to paint. She'll hold the brush in front of the canvas without touching the surface. You are waiting and thinking, "Juthanam, please get on with it." Then -- blip -- she'll make a tiny mark.

Do you think my dog could paint?

The thing about elephants is they have this unique organ, the trunk. It has 50,000 muscles, much more than the hand. It has a sense of smell; it breathes. Imagine if your hand had a sense of smell. It's amazing, really. And art is born out of necessity. There are 3,000 elephants with no jobs. We can't set them free because there is no wilderness. Animal art, social concerns, environmental concerns -- all these important subjects of the end of millennium got connected in this project.

Click here to read more

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Japanime Carter

Carter loves to watch me mess around with photos in PhotoShop. The other day I promised him he could help me make him into a "monster" and this is what we created. This is how Carter would like if he were in a Japanese cartoon:

I found this quote and then saw this picture



“Babies are always more trouble than you thought - and more wonderful.” - Charles Osgood

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Windows says the darndest things!

We've all received strange, incomprehensible error messages from our computers, but I don't think I've ever seen one this strange or hilarious (click to enlarge):

Monday, March 24, 2008

Say hello to "Bum-Bot"


So, imagine you're a low-life (that's easier for some of you than for others) and you're lurking in a dark parking lot selling drugs or whatever it is you do as a low-life. You adjust your cigarette to one side of your bearded mouth and set down your 32 oz. bottle of Miller High Life (the "Champagne of Beers" as the *label proudly states) in order to free up your hands to urinate when, suddenly, you hear an electrified voice boom out, "Get out of here! You're trespassing on private property! Leave now!" The noise is so sudden and deafening that you nearly swallow that last, precious cigarette. You look around but see nothing. The warm beer is soon back in your hands and you turn to your buddy, Big Willy, and begin to say, "What the $#%& was that? I nearly..." but the distinct sound of something rolling across the gravel and broken glass of the parking lot stops you and you turn to see...nothing.

"Get out of here! I repeat, please leave!" You're now thoroughly confused, but if it ain't the cops, you're not goin' anywhere. Then, without warning, a powerful blast of freezing cold liquid hits you with such force that it causes you to turn and run, well, stumble, towards the broken gate at the opposite end of the lot from which you and Willy had emerged ten minutes earlier.

Little do you know that you just got jacked by...BUM-BOT!

Read the article at cnn.com HERE
.

*Click to enlarge

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Seeing things

You've seen these before in some form or another, but here's a new one I came accross on Digg.

Stare at the white mark in the middle of this picture for about thirty seconds then look away and blink rapidly or, and I prefer this method because it's more "impressive," close your eyes and stare into the darkness of your eyelids and wait about 10 seconds. Another option, and maybe this is the best one, is to then immediately stare at a blank, white or light colored wall.

Of course what is happening is that as you stare at a picute like this for an extended period of time, it leaves a temporary impression of some sort (I forgot what kind though; anyone know?) upon your retina (?) and when you look away, you can still see the bright parts of the image.



Name change



I've changed our family's blog URL from dannytoad.blogspot.com to thetoddpad.blogspot.com
I know this is going to mess up everyone who has linked to us from their own blog because now they'll have to manually click on our name and edit the address, but I felt like it was better to have the actual name of the blog as the URL. I chose the old name last year when I first started blogging and did so without much thought and it's been bugging me every since. Even though Sarah isn't a big blogger (yet!), this definitely isn't just my blog anymore and my last name is Todd not Toad as a few people have pointed out (DannyTodd was taken, so I thought I'd go with Toad since it's a long standing joke to refer to Todds as Toads).

So go ahead and copy and paste the new address and make the change, or don't...but just remember, you'll be doing a disservice to the millions of rabid readers who demand, simply demand, access to THE TODD PAD! Ok, two gradmas and three friends might be slightly confused, but that's a tragedy in and of itself!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Some food for thought

Just some poetry and quotes from which I recently took great pleasure. I've thrown my commentary in to provide some context to these ideas.



“I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done for them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor – such is my idea of happiness.” -Leo Tolstoy
The older I get the more the concept of happiness being akin to the quote above makes sense to me. Right now I want a bigger house, a larger car, and a higher paying job. Why do I want these things though? Do I want to be better than someone else or show off what we can obtain. Absolutely not! We want these things mostly because we have a larger family now and they allow us to provide for our needs and, yes, some wants. I realize, I truly realize, that these things do not bring about happiness. I said to Sarah the other day that "money can be a contributing factor to one's happiness." The operative words in that sentence are "can be" and "contributing." We all say money isn't happiness and while that is true, money can help bring about happiness but happiness itself doesn't come from any tangible thing, is radiates from within the core of our beings and it's produced on demand. I think the important thing is to figure out what it is and how to foster it. For me, happiness comes primarily from truth and the relationships I have with those around me. Everything else-money, cars, toys, etc.-are appendages to life and that happiness but they could all disappear tomorrow and I can honestly say I'd be happy to the degree I could survive and support my family.


"There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea and the music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but Nature more."
— Lord Byron
I can't say I love nature more than man. I love my family and friends more than I love nature, but I don't even think it's a fair comparison because in my view everything emanates from the same source with the primary difference being that some "creations" (for lack of a better word and to avoid going into greater detail) are sentient and autonomous, such as human beings, while others do not, such as a tree. I believe a tree is conscious and is vitally important and is to be respected, but is obviously not the same as a human being. There's a line that some of the more extreme environmentalists cross which blurs their vision on this subject and, in my opinion, perverts their perspective to the point that they get things "twisted" and fear more for nature than for humankind. For me, watching my child learn or seeing the sun break through the clouds are both powerful spiritual experiences but inherently different.

"Rather than Love, than Money, than Fame, give me Truth."
— Henry David Thoreau
I would rather be a self-actualized poet living on a commune knowing full well the meaning of my existence, or a father of two married to a wonderful woman making relatively little teaching English to disenfranchised youth, than a powerful investment banker who drowns his consciousness in whiskey every weekend to forget about the pointless of life any day and I'd choose the former over the latter time and time and time again. Be true to thyself, or "to thine own self be true" (Shakespeare) or, going back even further, "Know thyself" (Socrates). He who does not know himself (or herself) is truly destitute.

"It should not be denied... that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West."
— Wallace Stegner
I'm glad I live in the West. We live at the "end or edge of the world."

"If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, the possibility of life is destroyed."
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
I still remember changing my major to English and this quote sums up why I did so. Reason is powerful and is necessary to live a productive, happy life, and it definitely has its place in religion and spirituality, even at its core, but there is something to be said for the "wild" and unnameable aspects of life. For me the mysteries keep me alive and each time one is uncovered, there is another one to pursue. I think without this aspect to life that I couldn't go on; I'd be overcome by sheer boredom!

"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."
— Christopher McCandless
If your unhappy with your job, your spiritual or physical state of being, emotional state, etc. then get up, shake things up! It makes me sad, and sometimes furious, when I see people who know why they are not happy and are not willing to move, to act, to get up and seek something, even when they don't know exactly what it is. Perhaps when Jesus talked about being like little children he meant, amongst other things, to pursue the world in a manner that demonstrates our belief, or faith, that with a sense or spirit of curiosity and hope there is always a cure for whatever ails us!

"...the sea's only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong. Now, I don't know much about the sea, but I do know that that's the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your own hands and your own head..."
Bear Meat by Primo Levi
My note: Primo Levi was an Italian holocaust survivor and I studied him while at BYU. I think we often forget just how fragile we are and, at the same time, how much potential we have in our bodies, in our hands and in our heads. Modern society does this to us because we become so trusting and reliant on our technology and modern comforts. This is why I plan on going camping more when Carter's a bit older. Right now I don't feel like saying, "OK honey, I'm leaving to do some real camping, you know, the kind without an RV. Have fun with the kids!" Once he's a bit older though, it'll be great for us to spend more time bonding and he'll be big and strong enough to hike.

Death's a fierce meadowlark: but to die having made
Something more equal to the centuries
Than muscle and bone, is mostly to shed weakness
— From "Wise Men in Their Bad Hours" by poet Robinson Jeffers (As quoted by Louis L'Amour in his memoir, Education of A Wandering Man)
I'm still thinking about this one, but I do know I like it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Third post...

For my third and final post of the day I present some vintage posters all of which are 100% historically accurate just like the movie 10,000 B.C. (by the way, I don't know why some of the images aren't showing up, but I am not going to take the time to fix them all, so if you want to see them, just click on 'em--*EDIT: I deleted the links, it was just too hard for me to look at them since they were so ugly):

Segway



10,000 reasons not to watch this in the theater

http://www.latinoreview.com/images/user/10000bcpic1.jpg
Do yourself a favor and stay in the present: 10,000B.C. is worse than I could have imagined. This will be a short review because I really don't have a lot to say about this movie other than that I implore you not to waste any money on it. If you're simply compelled to check out the CGI in the movie, which is decent, make sure you do so on DVD so you can make fun of it as you watch it. In fact, now that I think of it, this is one of those movies which lends itself perfectly to a treatment from the peanut gallery.

My dad and brother-in-law Adam dragged me out to see this. Good thing I didn't shell out any of my hard earned money to see this because I would have asked for a full refund. The plot, acting, and overall theme were all quite weak. Historical accuracy went out the window in the first five minutes, which is fine, I can accept this as a fantasy, but things only became more and more laughable. I could actually anticipate when the next action sequence would come because the pacing was so predictable.

The main gripe I have with this movie is that it tried to be too many things to too many people and it failed on all counts. It wasn't a great action movie, it wasn't very funny, it definitely wasn't serious, and it never had any real sense of pathos. When I was supposed to feel sad, I felt bored and when the action was at its height, I didn't once fear for the characters because things were surely going to turn out great. I won't spoil anything, but there are a few truly absurd moments awaiting anyone who dares tread that deep into this one.

My personal grade: D+
Overall grade for my friends (if you're in the mood for "TV grade," midnless entertainment): C+/B-

Dying of thirst on the ocean

http://www.christopherwalkerart.ca/other_artists/Melton_Dorian/images/rowboat_otterlake2_500x346.jpg
*EDIT: My "quotes" are actually paraphrases (Sarah wanted me to add that since she said I took a lot of things out of context, etc. but hey, that's what I do best!)

Sarah and I were remarking just the other day that we feel richly blessed with many wonderful friends yet, somehow, we often feel that we spend far less time "hanging out" with friends than most. We then went through a litany of reasons why we are not the kind of people who constantly have friends over or spend inordinate amounts of time talking on the phone with our friends. First of all, we're busy:I work, go to school, and have a busy calling; Sarah works full-time taking care of kids, part-time (usually one eight-hour shift per week) at Kaiser, and has a busy calling. But, we figured, those things don't stop others from having friends over a couple times a week or vice-a-versa . We then remarked how we spend quite a bit of time with our families. Both of our parents live relatively close and the majority of our siblings-all of mine and one of her three brothers- are close. In fact, we spend every other Sunday at one of our parents' homes for dinner.

The conversation then turned to whether or not we are "good" friends. Human nature being what it is, we started off naming all of our poorest qualities. "Well, I talk too much sometimes," I said. "Yeah, and I'm trying not to gossip anymore so I'm probably a little dull," remarked Sarah. We talked about pride, the fact that we have a small house, and named a bunch of reasons why we are terrible people. We realized, suddenly, that this whole conversation was a bit off.

"We have tons of friends that we love and if we love them, then they probably love us back, isn't that the way things usually go? We just aren't "hang out constantly" kind of people, and there's nothing wrong with that." We then named about ten people Sarah had seen that very week at the park, etc. and I discussed the fact that I tend to go do things when I see my friends, like fish, skii, watch a movie, or camp with my friends, things that you don't do during the work week or every weekend (I could, but then what kind of dad would I be?). We also realized we had a really fun, unique double-date to eat Indian food and watch "Bride and Prejudice" with some friends planned for that Friday (by the way Holly, you make "da bomb" Indian food<--just imagine "Colly" from the movie saying that in his Indian/Californian accent). At that we laughed and realized how over-analytical we are and realized that most of our friends are just as busy as we are (I'm thinking specifically of you "Mel and Jer"). On a more serious note, however, we made a pact to make sure that we strive always to be charitable, out going people and to make sure our friends do know we love them and are there for them (unless that means actually hanging out with them, JUST KIDDING!). I don't know if other couples ever think about this, or feel a bit like recluses. It's not that we ever feel reclusive, especially since Sarah is out and about at the park, doing pre-school, shopping, taking the kids to the library with her friends, etc. but it's just that we don't "go out" a lot or get a babysitter very often. Maybe that's the norm though for most couples? Actually, I just realized why I personally don't hang out with my friends very much. I made plans to go fishing tomorrow with my buddy Josh but had to call and bail on him at the last minute due to a number of things out of my control. No wonder he texted me, "Im about 2 take ur # off my cel." (; He'd never do that. To make up for my waffling I am definitely going to have to call in sick so we can take advantage of the bass spawn which will begin in earnest in a few weeks.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Every once in a while...

...we all deserve a laugh. This guy "plays this off" perfectly! I truly hope they put this on the news as is.

Reporter Owned By Sled - Watch more free videos

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Musings, News, and...WE LOVE YOU!



Yes, I'm not working at the school for another week or so and that's why I've been able to spend more time posting to the blog and playing with the format. I finally decided to go with a very simple format and the title you now see above which I cooked up in photoshop elements (the stripped down, easy to use version of Photoshop). I see other people's blogs that are so fancy and I get the urge to create a really unique photo title coupled with a flashy, colorful design. The bottom line is that I'm not really that good at web/graphic design and every time I've tried to plug in a background or go with a photo title the whole thing ends up looking jumbled and tacky. Please don't get me wrong, I think colorful templates and background are great, they just didn't work for me. I'm sure if Sarah ran the blog, she'd have something really cute, but since I'm the blogger around here, deal with it (smile)!

Anyway, I don't spend an inordinate amount of time with the blog, although I'm sure I spend far more time than many since I love to write and don't watch as much TV as most of my friends and family. I know that may not seem to be the case because I've been much more active in the last several months than ever before. My secret, however, is the fact that I'm pretty quick at editing photos and typing since I'm a self-professed nerd, so I maximize my time online. In addition, I am often attached to a computer since I spend a lot of time in the lab at the University and, these days, Sarah goes to bed about an hour or two before I do so I'm up watching TV, reading, and online. In the mornings she lets me sleep in for an hour or two and then I stay up with Claire so she can lay down when Carter takes his nap for an hour or so. It's a tag team effort around here!

Some quick news items:
-Carter has been crazy lately and has even hit Claire with toys, etc. We're doing our best to deal with the situation without spanking, yelling, etc. We put him on time out, offer him choices, limit TV time, etc. etc. Three is his toughest age yet, but we have faith that, with time, he'll pull out of this. Thanks again to Jen who related to us her similar experience with Chase who is a very well-behaved boy. Carter is simply becoming more jealous of Claire these days because she's beginning to become more of a little person and less of a blob.

-Claire is beginning to make those darling little "talking noises" now. She babbles and makes the "da-da" sound. It was funny because Carter was convinced she was saying "Dadda." She can also roll around and crawl a little bit, but she's not officially able to crawl forward quite yet.

-Sarah is doing fine. She's still YW President and does a fine job helping the young women reach their spiritual and temporal goals, runs daily, spends time with her friends at the park, does preschool, takes Carter to "tumble tots," shops (mostly for food...hey, I'm a teacher!), and works once or twice a week. I fall more in love with her everyday and am so grateful that she puts up with my analytical (read: annoying) nature!

-I shaved my goatee and have decided to dedicate myself to a clean shaven appearance. I don't know if that is actually news, but to me it's a drastic change. Sarah didn't even notice! I am now only four months from finishing my program at the University of Redlands and I'm quite excited to be done so I can focus on everything else on my plate. I'm excited to go fishing with my good buddy Josh sometime this week and snowboarding with my friend Tony from work next week (I won lift tickets at work). I always say that if I don't get some sort of bump or scrape while I'm off track then I'm not fully living.

We're going to spend next weekend down in San Diego at a hotel with the kids since we're buying year passes to the San Diego Zoo; yes, there'll be a lot of photos from the zoo here from that point on.

I guess if the most important news is that I feel we're happier as a couple than ever before. We've really been focusing on being mindful of our thoughts, words, and actions in all situations. In this sense we're working together as a couple better than ever as we strive to do our best raising children at home, working in our respective professions, serving those around us, praying, studying and meditating regularly, and discussing what THIS (life, existence, whatever you want to call it) is all for. This "middle class lifestyle" of working and raising children that is so often ridiculed and derided in the media is what we've found has brought us the greatest sense of happiness. Some reject it, and that's they're choice, and I believe others simply throw all of these ingredients into the pot of life and think if they stir, everything will turn out perfectly. Now, I don't want to come off as if Sarah and I are setting the standard for others to follow, for we have our fair share of ups and downs of course, but I think what so many people are missing is the ROCK or the spiritual foundation that provides the base on which a family is built. If a couple doesn't share the same long term (and by that I mean eternal), spiritual goals, then the recipe can go bad. Although we are faithful members of the LDS church and share our faith with pride and passion, I just wish more people had some base, some spiritual foundation, on which to build. I see the effects of selfishness, infidelity, dishonesty, etc. all around, breaking down society and causing spiritual devolution. It breaks my hearts when my students give me saddened expressions when topics such as divorce, domestic violence, sexual abuse, etc. and how they can overcome the feelings and trials they are facing at their tender age by focusing on setting goals, striving for personal excellence and developing the inner life that will help them overcome the diverse challenges they face and will continue to encounter as they go through life.

I must close now, I've written far more than I intended. I hope everyone who reads these words realizes how much Sarah and I appreciate you; whether you're a friend, a family member, acquaintance, or even a stranger, we really love you and desire that all people obtain the peace and comfort that we have found in life as we strive to live like the Savior, even Jesus Christ. Although we respect people of ALL FAITHS, we have found our ROCK and, despite the storms that threaten our peace, we are in the place we always new we could find if we didn't give up. Now the challenge is to endure and never look back as travel this narrow yet joyful path.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Success!

Genetics are a pain! About four years ago I was diagnosed with elevated triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food as well as in the body. At the time I was pushing 250lbs but I never felt an urgent need to lose the weight because I carried it better than some, and no one ever gave me a hard time (Sarah would occasionally tell me she worried about my health, but she never compared me to a beached whale or anything like that).

Anyhow, I lost some of the weight over time and by blood tests looked better. Then, about a year or two ago, I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease. Fatty liver (also known as steatorrhoeic hepatosis or steatosis hepatitis) is a reversible condition where large vacuoles of triglyceride fat accumulate in liver cells. Despite having multiple causes, fatty liver disease (FLD) can be considered a single disease that occurs worldwide in those with excessive alcohol intake and those who are obese (with or without effects of insulin resistance). The condition is also associated with other diseases that influence fat metabolism[1].

In other words, I was eating so much fat that it was sticking to my liver and slowly killing me. I was in the same condition as hardcore alcoholics find themselves in after years of drinking. That, along with the fact that my grandfather died of a heart attack a few years ago and a dad who has had multiple heart attacks and who has diabetes type II, really put THE fear in me. I realized that I was addicted to overeating and hadn't really realized it.

How I lost it:
Step one was to think about the fact that I believe in a law of health called the Word of Wisdom which sets forth strict guidelines about what is appropriate to eat (lots of grains, veggies, fruit and meat/cheese, etc. sparingly). I believe in this law and so it was time to live it.

Step two was to remember that God never gives a commandment that is impossible to abide by.

Next, I began getting rid of my worst eating habits which basically meant giving up the triple layer late night quesadillas that I'm famous for. I also cut out the cheap fast food which is the equivalent to crack if it were a drug.

After that I began controlling portions. It was easier for breakfast and lunch but more difficult at the evening meal because of Sarah's fine cooking. Finally, I began exercising and counting calories (and now "points").

I would be remiss not to give a huge amount of credit to Sarah. Her great example of healthy living was always there for me to imitate and watching her lose weight after courageously having our babies made me realize it's all about WILL power and FAITH. It's scary to step out into the darkness because we're used to our routines and it's scary to feel the pain of hunger which, I might add, subsides considerably once your body begins to transform.

Why share this? Well, I'm proud of what I've a accomplished, but more than that I want to inspire others to take the steps toward better health. I might also add that as the body heals and transforms, so does one's spirit. By carefully watching what goes into the body, it's easier to begin thinking about what we put in our minds.

Click on the image below to see the stats of my weight loss (I starting using fitday.com about a year ago and thanks to this website I have a graphical depiction of my weight loss). One of these days I'm going to post some before and after photos eventually.


Oh yeah, I am about to go in for another blood test and I'll find out more about the health of my liver. My physician told me, however, that just by losing the weight that my numbers she back at the "normal" level.

Carter, Milk, and Animated Expressions

Carter is both the king of milk guzzling and of animated expressions. Here's proof to satisfy both of these audacious claims (click to enlarge):



Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mt. Rubidoux Labor Day Excursion

http://www.inlandempire.us/attractions/postcard_images/frankmiller_bridge.jpg
Here are more photos and videos taken during our most recent excursion to the summit of Mt. Rubidoux located here in Riverside. For those of you who are not familiar with Mt. Rubidoux, here is a brief historical overview of it:

Length and Grade of Paved Trail -
"Uproad" - 2 ¼ miles
"Downroad" - 1 ¼ miles

"Mount Rubidoux is an isolated granite hill rising from the east bank of the Santa Ana River, on the western outskirts of the City of Riverside, California. It is about a mile long, extending southeast from Seventh Street in a direction about 30 degrees west of south. Its summit is very nearly opposite Thirteenth Street and about one mile west of Main Street. Elevation 1364 feet above sea level. … (The Story of Mt. Rubidoux by DeWitt Hitchings)

It's a wonderful little hike that affords gracious views of the city below. It's especially nice during the sprting and fall when the weather is more "reasonable." Pushing a double-seated stroller is no easy feat but makes for a great work out. Next time we go, I hope you can join us!

Here's a shot of Sarah getting Claire out of the car upon arrival. Note the license plate which is slightly bent in a few places, that's from me pulling in too far and hitting the washing machine in the garage. And you thought doing things that was a woman's job? Actually, I have a key hanging in the garage that allows us to know how far we've pulled in, but when I use my punching bag in the garage I move it and often forget to put it back up. Now you know why our license plate is bent. Was that really worth relating? Probably not, but I am not going to erase it now that I spent the time typing it out.

CLICK ON THE PHOTOS TO ENLARGE:




Hey, two cuties!


Carter's always been known to crawl into trunks, dryers, closets, etc. and here he demonstrates the spacious interior of our car's trunk or, as the British say, the "lid."




Here comes Nanna!


Ned and Ella join us a moment later.


Loadin' the kids up. Pushing them up the hill is the real challenge of the short hike.


We've got a big ole convoy, across the USA, cooooonvoooy!




I love nature and I feel like I don't get to see enough of it, at least as up close as I'd like (I love to gaze at the mountains as I drive to work in the morning, especially when the wind has pushed all the smog up and away). So here are a few "nature shots":

This palm looked spectacular in the morning light and thanks to the recent rains was particularly verdant.


This mountainside of cacti somehow brought about a feeling of decay and danger. Make sure to click on it for a higher (not super high however) res version.


Riverside really is a beautiful city, indeed this area of California is quite beautiful, but you wouldn't think it when you're driving on the freeways or trapped in any one of the myriad of clone like suburban neighborhoods. From the trail on Mt. Rubidoux, however, you can get a better idea of what early pioneers and the native Americans who inhabited this region saw when they lived upon this part of the earth.




For Carter, the primary purpose of the hike is far removed from any thought of beautiful views or cardiovascular exercise, he's interesting in one thing and one thing only: spelunking. The last time we made the hike we did so with April and Weston and we found a "cave" for Carter to explore. It's really not much more than a space underneath a large boulder, but Carter loves it nevertheless. This time Ella went through as well but it took some coaxing to get her to make her way out.

Climbing up


Excitement bulds






Entrance


One more look back for verification


The other side (exit)


Ella joins Carter but plops down at the moment of truth


"Come on Ella!"


Carter to the rescue!


Talking about the near the death cave experience over a pretzel stick or two


Dang California tree huggers! <--say it with a Texas accent.

My favorite photo of the whole bunch at least from an artistic stand point. I love the light composition. This is very near the summit (click to enlarge):


Sarah and Claire at the summit


Nanna holding Carter (other side of the mountain is not so pretty although you can see the Santa Ana river bed)


There are many dedicatory items and Catholic symbols on Mt. Rubidoux, the foremost being this large white cross which is visible from miles away.






Blogger: The Todd Pad - Edit Post "Mt. Rubidoux Labor Day Excursion"

The Todds


A few short video clips from the hike:

video



Carter was later injured by the "polio" pipe which caught a crack in the ground and then dug into his chin. Good thing it only had a half-inch layer of rust on it!


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Focus on Claire (and musings on parenthood)

These days Claire demands more and more attention; as her mind, body, and spirit develop, she is more aware of her surroundings. Whenever one of us-usually mommy-walks out of the room she's in, she turns on the water works and wails like she's being attacked by a hoard of those little carnivorous dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. We often comment on the fact that if Heavenly Father hadn't made babies so cute, our job as parents would sure be a lot more difficult. Despite Claire's constantly growing need for one-on-one attention, our primary concerns in relation to parenthood revolve almost entirely around Carter who is internalizing more and more of the world around him which, as any parent knows, often means we're dealing with minor rebellions against our rule. Despite the constant struggle to channel Carter's undying energy, we feel incredibly blessed that we have a healthy, happy little boy and we know that his incredible energy is the sure sign of a healthy, happy man in the making and that makes the work of raising him less of a chore and more of a blessed adventure.

Now for the Claire photos (CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR LARGER VERSIONS):

First off, we present Claire in the famous "Ducky Pajamas." Carter used to wear these and some day I'll dig up a photo of him in these so we can compare. This picture makes me smile in that she looks so innocent and has her arms out to balance herself. Isn't it amazing to think that at some point it required balance to sit and that someday it will require balance to stand as we grow older!


Church dress.


Yes, that's a beret in Carter's hair. Don't ask me, that's Sarah and Carter's doing.


"It's like palming a mini-ball