Thursday, August 30, 2007

OpEd: ACLU DOES GOOD??????

Without mincing words, when I read about actions the ACLU is taking, I find them despicable and damaging to our nation. I believe the American Civil Liberties Union could do a great deal to help civil liberties by truly promoting virtue, ethics, and decency toward all Americans while at the same time preserving individual agency. I usually think of them as their own special interest group with a very political agenda and a far-from-righteous ideology. I admit that I follow only cases that make the headlines, and that my conservative background may sway my first impression. But even as I try to give them the benefit of the doubt in many situations (examples withheld because I can't think of any), reason usually gets the best of me and I get all fired up at their ridiculousness.

Tirade aside, I am pleasantly pleased to present this article found on ldslivingonline.com. It surprised me that the ACLU is capable of doing something positive.

Mormon student, Justice, ACLU Join Up

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Justice Department is joining the American Civil Liberties Union in backing a student who lost his state-funded merit-based scholarship because he left college to serve a two-year church mission.

The department's Civil Rights Division filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday in U.S. District Court in Charleston on behalf of David Haws, a student at West Virginia University.

Haws, a Mormon, is suing a state scholarship board, alleging it violated his First Amendment right to freely exercise his religion. His attorney argues that by denying Haws' request for a leave of absence, the board forced him to choose between his religion and his scholarship through a state program, known as PROMISE.

The Justice Department noted that the PROMISE Board grants deferments for military and community service, and that by denying a deferral for religious purposes, the board was placing a lower value on religious deferments.

Haws' attorney, John Matthews of the West Virginia chapter of the ACLU, said he was surprised by the federal government's support.

"Obviously you don't always see or think of the ACLU and the Bush administration being on the same side," he said.

An attorney for the state declined to comment.

The state's request to dismiss Haws' lawsuit notes that Mormon missions are encouraged, not required. Haws was "under no compulsion to choose between the tenets of his religion and continued receipt of the PROMISE scholarship," the motion reads.

Haws, who has a 4.0 grade point average, returned to West Virginia this month after spending two years helping to improve conditions for Hispanic workers in Western states. He has re-enrolled at WVU, and the university has agreed to defer his tuition at least through November while the lawsuit is pending.

Haws' lawsuit seeks the reinstatement of the scholarship and a change in the PROMISE Board's scholarship policy.

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Associated Press

LAUREL COMMENCES INTO ACADEMIA


Wednesday, August 29th, Laurel Cupit began her first day of pre-school. She handled the transition smoothly. When asked to recount what she did at school, her only response was, "We played follow the leader!" She seemed very happy and excited to go back on Friday. It seems she enjoyed eating lunch at school and playing with toys. She didn't have a potty accident and didn't go to timeout, so the day should be counted as a success! So far, she likes her teacher, Ms. Tracy. She has 13 children in her class and she goes from 9:30 to 1 pm three days a week.

Her mom didn't shed a tear, and unlike many mothers, felt very little sadness when dropping her off. Her mom was a little sad that Laurel didn't have more to report about her day. Laurel's Mimi counseled Laurel's mom that from here on out, it will be at Laurel's discretion what information gets reported at home. This will take a while to get used to.

Laurel's favorite part about going to school is wearing a "pack back."

Monday, August 27, 2007

SURGERY SUCCESSFUL FOR TOUGH TODDLER

A lot of waiting may have been the most exhaustive part of Brant's first (and hopefully only) surgery. Brant, accompanied by his parents, arrived oh-so early at the day surgery center, per the instructions of the doctor. This extremely early arrival, however, seemed to be unnecessary. Thankfully, the hospital staff was sympathetic, friendly and courteous and even presented a wagon to occupy Brant during the long wait. He had fun with it for a few minutes, but the most successful distraction was going up and down the escalator with his dad.

After the first wait, Brant was welcomed back behind the glass. His next room had a t.v. and the family was very excited to be in time for the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (a Brant favorite). Brant was restless and quite frustrated that he couldn't have his juice, but other than that, he did remarkably well.

Eventually the anesthetists spoke with us, and the doctor came in to explain the procedure. Pretty soon, Brad and Maren had to say goodbye as the nurse carried him away to the operating room, all the while listening to his pathetic cries of "Hold you, hold you!" Translated, this means, "Mommy, hold me, PLEASE!"

At this point, Brad headed off to get some breakfast. He encountered another adventure on the way...to be posted about later.

After Brant's surgery, he was beyond "fussy". The nurses in pre-op were much more forth coming about what to expect than the doctors. The doctors said fussy, the nurses said agitated, mad, and confused. When Maren finally saw him in recovery, he had lots of wires attached to him. His least favorite was the pulse reader taped to his big toe. He really wanted to get that thing off. Eventually he was distracted by his juice cup. This happy, sweet boy, was not himself for about an hour. However, by discharge time, he was good natured enough to try to climb up the baby bed in the waiting room.

In the end, Brant's little bump is gone, off to some lab somewhere, and in place he has some sutures and a little piece of medical tape. He hasn't touched it once, so for now he may not even notice it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

HEALTHY BOY GETS THUMBS UP

Brant Cupit reached the 18 month milestone about 2 weeks ago. Today, he had his scheduled appointment with Dr. Melton to make sure everything is on track. Laurel came with the family today and the visit was a great experience.

The nurse helped to remove Brant's shoes so that he could be weighed and measured. Maren placed him on the infant scale. The digital screen read something unintelligible. Maren lifted Brant and tried again. The same reading appeared. Brant needed to go on the big kids scale. He was a very good boy and held still just long enough for the nurse to determine that he weighs 34 lbs. Next, he was measured on the table. He is 34 inches long. Maren talked to Dr. Melton about Brant's weight, but he assured her several times that his weight was okay. He's a big, tall boy! He said that as Brant gets older and more active he'll thin out. Maren says she keeps waiting for this to happen, but he just keeps growing proportionately. All in all, the appointment was uneventful. Brant received two immunizations and got a clean bill of health from the doc. Here are a few more special characteristics about the gentle giant. He surely is more than just a big boy. Brant loves Elmo. He loves to drum. He can turn a lot of things into a set of drums. He loves his sister Laurel and wants to be in the same room with her most of the time. Brant loves books and recently has taken a particular liking to animal books. He loves horses and elephants. When he tries to say elephant, it comes out like "apple juice." His vocabulary is too numerous to list or even count. He has figured out that he gets sympathy and hugs when he gets hurt. Just the other day, Mother caught him lightly tapping his head against the wall, then rubbing his hand on his head and saying, "hurt." He did this repeatedly. He's a smart boy! Brant rarely cries when he wakes up. He just waits patiently in his crib until someone comes in to check on him. Mother has to press her ear against the door occasionally to listen for him moving around to figure out if he's awake. Maybe it's time to use the baby monitor! When someone does come in to get him, he gets super excited, jumping joyfully with a great big smile or even a silly pant. One time he bounced so high that he came down and hit his chin on the railing of the crib. Ouch! It was only a few minutes before he was happy again. He loves to dance, and he does this cute little chicken-wing flap with his arms when he's in the groove. He loves his Daddy, and as mentioned in an earlier post, gets very excited when he comes home. He doesn't like to go far without his cup, and he seems to get overheated quickly. He has precious curls that his mother adores. It may be some time before his first haircut, because curls are not common on either side of his family. They will be enjoyed for awhile before they get chopped off. Per his mother's opinion, the best thing about Brant is his incredible hugging ability. He's a fantastic snuggler, and gives hugs that can melt anyone. Discipline may be difficult as he gets older because he's so darn lovable!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

HONEY DO BECOMES HONEY DID

Part of the pleasure and privilege of homeownership is the requisite new name that Realtors and lenders conveniently omit from the disclosures at settlement. Once the keys are placed in the hands of the first-time buyer, he or she accepts the new appellation of Harry Homeowner. With this new name comes the pledge to visit Home Depot and/or Lowe's at least twice a month. In the case of a young married couple, the husband should not be surprised to find a permanent, ever-growing list affixed to the refrigerator (or elsewhere in plain sight) of Honey-Dos.

For illustration, take a look at the Cupit home. Tasks are added monthly, if not weekly, to the short and long-term needs-to-get-done list. Unfortunately, with two small children, birthday parties, baby showers, college football (and basketball), Saturday morning cartoons, and family outings, the list almost always takes a back seat to "more important" priorities. Yet, occasionally, a Saturday must be designated for tackling the list!

"We find we can get the most done when college sports are not a temptation," says Maren Cupit. She also says its a great blessing to have willing in-laws only an hour away. "We couldn't do it without the help of Papa K," says Cupit. "GG helps a ton too because she occupies the kids while the men are working."

This Saturday was hugely successful for the Cupits. Brad and Ken were able to fix a slow draining sink, repair an ever-running toilet, adjust the spring on the storm door, install enclosed blinds over the window in the front door, and repair the bed-post. The Cupits also report that it helps to have motivation. "My parents are going to be here in 2 weeks, and I really want to get some things around the house done before they arrive," reports Maren. The Cupits still have things to accomplish on their list, but they love the feeling of marking things off.

Monday, August 13, 2007

DAUGHTER ADORES FATHER

Some may argue that fathers don't matter; that in the eyes of most children, fathers fall far behind mothers in children's preference. Perhaps many fathers don't appreciate the influence they have on their kids. To the contrary, at least in the Cupit household, Daddy, and time with Daddy, is extra special. Laurel and Brant run to the door when Daddy comes home in the evening. Brant gets so excited, he even does a little dance and giggle.

To illustrate the point, a few pictures are included here. First, Laurel loves to go work with Daddy in the yard with her "favorite" toy. This toy is a kid's edger that was purchased at a garage sale. It doesn't make any noise any more, despite the efforts of Uncle Craig to fix it, but it's still one of Laurel's favorites because she gets to be just like Daddy.

Second, some girls like to play dress-up. Laurel is no exception. One evening, Laurel put on Daddy's tie and shoes and declared, "I go temple, Mommy!" Pretty cute, huh?

Friday, August 10, 2007

LAUREL ACCEPTS AID


Thursday morning, after a decent breakfast and a few more prayers for success, the Cupits set out to finally get Laurel's new hearing aids. After a quick stop at Michael's house to drop off brother Brant, the family headed on to the wellness center to see Miss Dawn. Mother and Father had talked extensively with Laurel to try and prepare her, but they were very nervous about her reaction to this new permanent accessory.

Upon arrival, the family almost immediately headed back to the office where a large cardboard mailing box was sitting on the table. Miss Dawn started putting things together right away. She explained lots of different instructions regarding the cleaning and care of the hearing aids. She also gave Laurel a little stuffed otter with velcro hearing aids that she can play with.

Dawn began to put the earmolds in, but Laurel had too much wax in her ears. Dawn had to clean them out. Laurel certainly did not like this part. After she removed the wax, she put the molds in and then aids. There is also a special rope attached to Laurel's aids that clips to the back of her shirt. This way she won't lose them if they come out for some reason. The clip has a little bear on it. It resembles a pacifier clip.

Laurel's first reaction was a quiet, little smile. She shrugged her shoulders timidly just a little. She seemed to like the aids. She did ask once to take them out, but on the whole, she didn't resist. Mother and Father noticed an improvement almost immediately when we stepped out in the hall. Laurel started to run down the hall. Maren called Laurel's name one time at a conversational volume. Laurel instantly stopped and turned around.

Later during the day, Laurel did take out the hearing aids, so Maren had to put them back in right away. The adjustment period may take a week or so. The family all went to Chuck E Cheese to celebrate. Laurel's doing great! Hopefully, her speech will improve in the near future.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

FAMILIES REVISIT 'RAD'

For one fun night, just a few crazy hours, some local families traveled back in time to the decade of florescent everything. The Cupits totally enjoyed the party at their old church. The whole family attempted to dress in appropriate costume.

Hair styles seemed to be the best way to authenticate the appearance of life in the 80s. Brad sported the sweatband and flattened one half of his hair. Brad nostalgically remembers the days when he truly did wear this 'do to school...sans the headband of course. Maren tried for the slicked back sides and poof on top, but the humidity of the summer night did not work in her favor. Laurel tried for a side pony tail and the once popular "wave" bangs. The side pony tail lasted about 5 minutes in the car, so the party-goers never had the privilege of seeing it. Brant may quite possibly have won the Cupit family award for best hair. Brad fixed him up with his very first mohawk.

Guests at the party commented that the costumes and music were rad! They were treated to fantastic karaoke performances, including a fantastic rendition of Madonna's Material Girl. Maren still can't get the song out of her head. She can be heard singing it in the shower while trying to get the gunk out of her hair.

Perhaps the best part of the whole event was the finale cake walk. Laurel and Brad participated together and won the most delicious homemade carrot cake. That's one part of the 80s that Brad would love to revive!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

CARS (AND KIDS) GET BATH


Thursday morning, Laurel Cupit and friend Ayden with some help from their mothers, converted the Cupit family driveway into a carwash. Both the van and the jeep (Ayden's car) enjoyed a much needed bath. By the end of the morning, Laurel and Ayden had both had their turn in the suds bucket. The Cupit Carwash soon became the Cupit Swamp, as Maren and Stacy must have refilled the suds bucket at least 4 times. Laurel, Ayden, and even Brant know how to turn on the hose. Everyone got a little wet :) Brant decided about halfway through that he would prefer to go inside and watch Elmo. He did rejoin the group when things turned more exciting. The carwash closed down just as the temperature was heating up. The whole gang came inside for some a/c and chicken nuggets. What a great time!