Tradition

As is tradition in my house, it's Boxing Day and as of 10am everything Christmas related is boxed up, put away, swept and gone. No tree, no garland, no decorations. Gone.

As much as I did enjoy Christmas this year - I'm still happy to have it all gone. The clutter was starting to drive me nuts.

Of course, there are still some traces left behind. Like the ridiculous amount of leftovers in the fridge and treats on the counter. And the gifts are still here, of course.

Particularly, my most favorite gift. The one that I got a week before Christmas.

A beautiful Ruby:





Everything else was just icing.

Happy Christmas Irish fans! Your team wins a bowl game!

Congratulations Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans! Your team has won a bowl game!

OK,so it wasn't exactly against BCS-worthy opponents (nor a great surprise) - but the 49-21 annihilation of Hawaii was one heck of a performance.

Jimmie Clausen came into his own, didn't he? 401 yards passing, five TDs - including a 69 yards bomb to Golden Tate. Was this the quarterback who was so merrily inconsistent through the first 12 games of 2008?

And as it's Christmas, I'm happy for you. It's good for college football that you guys go the win. Now enjoy the sun, and we can't wait to see something a little better than your 2008 offering in 2009.

Remember - college football NEEDS a strong Notre Dame Fighting Irish team - regardless of if you love them or despise them.

Here's ESPN's take on things - via YouTube.

OK, so who's looking forward to Boise State-TCU?

You might laugh when I ask this question: who's looking forward to Boise State - TCU?

But one person is the VFA. First of all, because this website loves its college football and secondly is because it's the battle of a #9 vs #11 team.

In a fair world, Boise State may well be playing Utah for a national title. After all, both teams went through the season completely unbeaten.

Boise State, that team with blue turf and a knack of scheduling college football games at any other time than the norm (remember the time when they played a game at 9am PST in an effort to get the East Coast voters interested?), are pretty damned good this year.

The big reason is running back Ian Johnson (yeah, that one, who proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend after the Broncos' shock Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma), who ran for over 700 yards and 12 touchdowns to cap a breathtaking career in Idaho.

For TCU, they've had their fun too. Forever living in the shadows of Texas, Texas Tech and, er, Texas A&M (although they can legitimately say that they are Texas' third CFB superpower after the Aggies' dreadful 2008), the Christians (sorry, Horned Frogs) have a strong running offense, led by Joseph Turner and Aaron Brown, who both have put up near-500 yard seasons.

They've also beaten then ninth-ranked BYU this year, and run those Utes pretty damed close.

This Poinsettia Bowl is going to be a lot of fun - and expect some points from two teams who rank in college football's top 20 for offense.

VERDICT: A classic. Boise State 45, TCU 43

Why the NFL needs Michael Vick back

On Jan 9th, 2009 (or thereafter), it seems that Michael Vick will be released from prison.

You know the story about Michael Vick. I don’t have to go into it, apart from saying that I doubt he’ll ever be speaking to his friends (or his mother) again – especially those who helped to bankrupt him while had his time in the big house.

Am I the only person who thinks he should reapply to play in the NFL, and be welcomed with open arms?

First things first, it's not as though Michael Vick's involvement in crime is worse than other convicted felons playing in the NFL (Jamal Lewis, Ray Lewis and Leonard Little all have marks on their copybooks - and there are a number who darned well should be on this list).

Secondly, the NFL NEEDS someone like Michael Vick. In his short stint in the NFL, Michael Vick was a human highlight reel. He transformed the rules of a being a big-time quarterback - if the arm couldn't get the 10 yards, then the legs probably could. Sure, Minnesota Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson is out of that ilk, but there's no Michael Vick. Sorry. The fans may say that they don't miss him - but why did they talk about him so much when he WAS playing, then?



Thirdly, Roger Goodell's let a LOT of things go in the NFL. Sure, he's made a small fortune for the league in fining people, but he's let a lot of things go. After Michael Vick - who had enough screwed out of him while he was on the inside - comes out of jail, he's got to let this one go, too.

Happy Birthday Joe Paterno!

It's Joe Paterno's 82nd birthday. We should be celebrating...

Here's my note about the greatest coach college football has ever seen - bar none.

Quite simply, Joe Paterno is the reason why I root for Penn State Football.

In 2003, I saw a documentary on ESPN Classic about Joe Paterno and his love for his players. He broke down and cried in the interview. It really got me. I said: "If that's the sort of coach that Penn State have, then I'm rooting for Penn State." I really haven't looked back since - even though 2003 and 2004 were less than fun (I can name the 6-2 home defeat to Iowa as just one of the less-than-memorable losses".

But since then, he's turned around what had been a flagging program. 2005 - with the decision to play outstanding freshmen Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams- was a banner year for Penn State, with the roars ringing round Happy Valley in celebration of a Big Ten title. Then, the cheers were louder in Florida a month or two later after an emotionally exhausting Orange Bowl victory. The 2006/7 season brought forth another winning season and another January bowl victory. 2007 wasn't wonderful - but PSU still won a Bowl game, and 2008 once again saw the phoenix rise from the flames, the Nittany Lions celebrating with a journey to the Rose Bowl and their second Big Ten title in four seasons.

In those four years, Joe Paterno's cemented his iconic status. What other 80-year old injures his hip demonstrating an onside kick, or becomes the hero of Happy Valley for telling a driver that his girlfriend was "his problem"?

He's cranky, but he's got passion - and another three years.

Thanks for everything Joe Paterno.

Alex Ferguson

How she got here...

Following are the details of Ruby's birth. I've tried to "water it down" as much as possible but there are still some gory details - so you've been warned.

~~~

We left our house at 7:30am on Thursday to head to the hospital for our 9am NST. The hospital is downtown Vancouver and we're out in the burbs so at that time of the day we wanted to leave early enough so that we'd get there on time no matter what traffic was like. Also, I wanted a muffin and a chai tea latte.

Got to the hospital and parked - parking attendant asked how long we'd be parked in the lot for and I told him that it shouldn't be longer than 2 hours. Pfft!

Went to the maternity ward and was hooked up on the NST by 9am. Had fantastic service and an NST nurse that knew her stuff. (Thank god.)

So after being hooked up to the NST for 45 minutes with constant monitoring and some worried looks by the NST nurse, she told us that there were some unusual accelerations and decelerations in the baby's heart rate. She said that she needed me to go for an ultrasound immediately. Previously, I couldn't get in for an ultrasound at the hospital for this day because they were booked until January - which is why I had been scheduled for an ultrasound the following day at a clinic. The NST nurse said that it couldn't wait until the next day.

Of course Steve had a big panic on his face while we were waiting for the ultrasound but I reassured him that it was nothing, and baby is fine and that I probably shouldn't have had the chai latte before I went in for the test. I seriously thought that the bit of caffeine and spices might have made things appear odd on the NST.

We had the u/s which was totally casual. We were told that the baby was about 8lbs6oz and still sitting really high up - against my bladder. After that we were told to bring the results back up to NST.

The NST nurse ripped open the sealed envelope and said, "JUST AS I THOUGHT! Your amniotic fluid is low. You stay right here, I'll get the OB and she'll give you a consult as to what needs to happen next."

Ha - obviously I've spent too much time with midwives as I thought "consult" meant they would tell me what's going on and then give me some options. Not so much. The OB came in, looked at the test results and said, "You're not going home. Your fluid is too low. We're going to need to do a mock induction on you to see if the baby can handle labour. If she can handle it, we are going to induce you, if not you'll need an emergency c-section."

And that was that. The end of my life as I knew it.

So Steve went home, grabbed the hospital bags, took Quincy to the babysitter, locked up the house and by the time he got back, I was admitted into my *room, showered, gowned and ready to start the "Oxytocin Challenge" (IV drip that induces labour and contractions while they monitor the fetal heart rate to see if baby can handle labour.)

One of my midwives was there by then and she told me that there was a very slim chance that I would be able to deliver the baby normally. She said that the baby's apparent size and high location were not good indicators for me. She said I could skip all this testing and labour all together and go for the c-section if I wanted. I declined and said that I at least wanted to try.

We passed the Oxytocin Challenge with flying colors so I was given a Cervadil suppository to soften and dilate my cervix. They said that they would put in a new Cervadil every 12 hours until something happened.

The first Cervadil did nothing. I slept through Thursday night fairly easily. The next day they put in a new Cervadil at about 11am after checking my cervix to see minimal progress. I spent Friday bored out of my skull and getting irritated and anxious. Nothing was happening. My other midwife popped in and we had a good heart to heart about the c-section option which I was starting to think about since there seemed to be such minimal progress. We made a game plan that if my next Cervadil still showed no progress within the next 12 hours, I would opt for a c-section on Saturday.

However at about 4:45pm I started to get crampy. Then the cramps got kind of rhythmic. I ate some dinner around 7pm and was told that they would give me a shot of morphine around 9pm to help me sleep through the night. The pain got stronger and stronger, but I opted to wait for the morphine until 11pm when they were putting in my next Cervadil so that it would last me longer through the night.

When the Cervadil was inserted at around 11:20pm, I was fairly uncomfortable and looking forward to the morphine. At that point, I was about 1 1/2 cm dilated. I got my morphine shot and was told to stay sitting for the next hour to try to help the baby come down into my pelvis. The sitting up lasted about 10 minutes - when I had to lay down on my side because I was in full labour and feeling an intense amount of pain. The contractions were pretty much right on top of each other.

My nurse came and got me out of bed to get me to pee at around 1am and my water broke.

The midwife was called and arrived shortly after.

I laboured for a couple of hours with the aid of gas for **pain relief.

At about 4am I said that I needed to barf. The nurse said that this was the 4cm barf. Apparently most people barf when they get to 4cm dilated. This made me feel happy that I must finally be making progress!

At that point the midwife did a cervix check... and Steve tells me that he will never forget the look on her face. Her jaw dropped and she exclaimed that I was fully dilated! She jumped up from my bed and ran for the door, saying that she had to go get an OB for a second opinion. She almost made it out the door when I said, "I NEED TO PUSH!!"

So she came running back in the room, and I started pushing immediately.

Steve's face was about 2 feet from Ruby's "entry way" the whole time. He was in complete and utter awe of the whole experience. I pushed for 28 minutes - 9 pushes. And then at 3:48am, Ruby came out. They gave her right too me and I held her to my chest and said "Hello Ruby!" Steve was overcome with emotion and needed a moment in the corner. Then he got to ***cut the cord.

Ruby weighed 7lbs12oz - not exactly the big bruiser we were told to expect.

I held her for a few minutes until they took her and cleaned her up and handed her to Steve while I tried to deliver the placenta. I was always told that this was the easy part. Not so much. It wouldn't come out and I started to bleed. Every time I pushed, blood gushed out. Steve said it was like a waterfall off the end of the bed. They had to induce labour again (oh god no!) via an Oxytocin shot in my thigh, and I pushed and pushed but for over 30 minutes but only ****blood would come out.

Just as the OB was called in to intervene, it finally came out (to my great relief). The OB saw me and the baby and initially thought he was in the wrong room. He had just been in a few hours earlier to insert my Cervadil and to check my cervix which had showed minimal dilation. He couldn't believe that we already had a baby.

The midwife tells me that if I ever have any more babies, I should go to the hospital immediately upon feeling labour as this all happened so quickly. She said my body is made for having babies - how ironic considering the difficulties of Ruby's conception.

Also - so much for all that c-section talk. I'm very glad I persevered and did it on my own with as little medical intervention as I could get away with considering the induction.

Steve said it was the most amazing experience he's ever had. Me too.



*The night Steve and I got married, our hotel room number was 414. Two days later we landed in Mexico for our honeymoon and our room number there also happened to be 414. Oddly enough, my hospital room was... 14

**The next day I felt like someone had punched me in face. My jaw was so sore from bearing down on the gas mouthpiece.

***Steve says it made him feel bad to cut the cord. He said it was holding her and I together and he didn't want to "disconnect" Ruby from me.

****I was told later that I lost a lot of blood and it was on the very high end of being "normal". They told me it was very close to being a hemorrhage. This explains why I've been so weak and shakey - sometimes nearly fainting, over the past week.

Penn State......National Champions!!

No, we're not trying to "do an Elijah" and look to the future of Penn State football, but we're talking about Penn State's Ladies Volleyball side, who once again won the National Championship in Omaha, Nebraska.

They beat second-ranked Stanford 3-0 in a not-very-close final, to close out a season where they lost exactly ZERO games and gave up only TWO sets all season long - and that was in the hard-fought semi-final win against Nebraska.

Losing two sets all freakin' season? Are you kidding?

Does anything compare to this? Seriously?

This is exceptional.

Rose Bowl Preview

“Cry ‘Havoc’, and let slip the dogs of war”

William Shakespeare: Marc Antony





It seems ironic that we’d be using this quote about Penn State. The last time Joe Paterno read the World’s Greatest Playwright, it was before the Indiana game of 2004. Penn State were 2-9, and Nittany Lions program – almost like their coach’s career- were stumbling around like a punch-drunk fighter.

Parterno’s words turned into inspiration, and the Nittany Lions went on to beat Indiana – and win their next game. In 2005, the Nittany Lions won the Big Ten Title and the Orange Bowl. 2006 and 2007 brought forward two more winning seasons and two more bowl victories.

In 2008, Penn State was just one game – or one kick at Iowa, to be exact, from joining the ranks of the unbeaten and being in the National Championship Game. But on January 1st , 2009, Penn State will be once again under the focus of the world: they play USC in the Rose Bowl. It’s up to them to show the world’s college football stage that they can paint The Tournament of Rose Blue and White.

THE REGULAR SEASON

If Penn State can complain mightily that they were one game away from the National Title game in Miami, then USC can do that as well.

Unlike the BCS disaster that was the Big XII South this year, there was no great problem for these two conference-winning behemoths: the Nittany Lions lost on the road in cold Iowa in the second last kick of the game, while the top-ranked (at the time) Trojans were dreadful in the first half of their game at Oregon State because turning things around in the third and fourth quarters.

Ironically, both teams had their biggest games against Ohio State. USC brutalized the Buckeyes 35-3 in Los Angeles on the second day of the season, while Penn State won on the road in Columbus (probably a harder feat) 13-6.

THE DEFENSES


Both defenses – which ranked in the nation’s top five – didn’t really look back after the losses.

The safeties at USC – Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison have been so good that they’ve been idolized by ESPN The Magazine – and they’ve only given up 1,474 yards….all season.

Penn State’s defensive ‘backfield’ - which features Lydell Sergeant and Antony Scirotto – was 12th (2016 given up).

But it’s in the trenches that both sides will have a ‘Battle Royale’.

On Penn State’s side, defensive ends Aaron Maybin and Maurice Evans have been virtually unstoppable all season long (apart from Evans’ small clash with the law earlier this year). Linebacker Navarro Bowman’s also a stud. They’re coached by probably the best defensive coordinator in the land: Tom Bradley.

On the USC: watch out for wandering linebackers Rey Maluaga and Brian Cushing. Cushing once informed VFA that he would have like to played for Penn State – but it’s probably certain that he won’t be too upset about missing out on Happy Valley when he’s counting his NFL millions. Maluaga can say the same.

Both teams will also say this: they both haven’t faced an offense like each other’s this year. Have both defenses actually faced Grade ‘A’ quarterbacks this year? Seriously? Both offenses will post the ‘D’s the biggest tests.

OFFENSES

Penn State certainly has the pick of the wide receivers, with Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood all blessing Happy Valley with unbelievable numbers over their school career.

Derrick Williams was back to his best in 2008, proving to be an ‘everyman’ for the Spread ‘HD’. He should probably think about starting if current incumbent Darryl Clark gets hurt! His back-up, Pat Devlin, has already left Happy Valley, with the rumours having him going to Delaware.

Clark, though, has been fantastic for the Nittany Lions. He threw for over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns this year, and controlled the high-octane offense. He’s also a threat out of the pocket, which could be an X factor for a blitz-happy Trojan defense.

Speaking of X-Factors, Joe McKnight will be hoping for a Rose Bowl like he had in 2008. Although he didn’t exactly tear up the world this season, he’s a frightening proposition for any defense- even something as good as Penn State’s. He’ll be catching balls thrown by an exceptional Mark Sanchez – who ranked higher than Darryl Clark in the end-of-season quarterback stats.

On the ground, Penn State’s rushing game (Evan Royster, Stefphon Green) is as good as USC’s CJ Cable and Stafon Johnson - both of whom are considering the NFL – but this game’s going to be about the defense.

Expect something low-scoring.


View From America’s Prediction: Sorry Lions – close, but no cigar. USC 21, Penn State 17

She's heeeeeere....



Ruby Lynn made her presence into the world on Saturday, December 13th @ 3:48am. She weighed 7lbs12oz and was 21 1/2 inches long.

We're happy and doing well (albeit "slightly" exhausted) at home.

Here's some pictures...

Couple of hours old:

Ready to go home from the hospital:

Alleluia: There is life after Clark

Alleluia - There is life after Darryl Clark.

Kevin Newsome, considered one of the best of this year's bunch of quarterback prospects, has made a decision to become a Nittany Lion.

We're expecting him to redshirt his first year and - if he doesn't get into trouble - start in the 2010 season after the departure of Darryl Clark.

What makes this all better is that Newsome - who plays a handsome piano, by the way - decommitted from Michigan, who had a double whammy of a crappy day after their defensive coordinator Scott Shafer humbly stepped down.

But back to Newsome.



His first game - if all things go to plan and Clark stays injury free in 2009 - will be in Tuscaloosa against Alabama in 2010. Nice way to start your college career, Kevin.

Needless to say, Nittany Lion nation should be pretty darned happy - especially after the signing of big-time defensive back Gerald Hodges.

Paterno for another three years?

The Joe Paterno haters may not like this news, but according to Pennlive (quoting Fightonstate.com), he's ready to sign a three-year deal.

Quoting 'university sources', Fightonstate says that (only God knows who that might be), he'll be with us until 2011.

After an 11-1 regular season, a Big Ten title, and a forthcoming trip to the Rose Bowl to visit the mighty USC, that might well be something to be excited about.

Now, about bringing handwarmers next time the boys take a trip to Iowa in winter........

And what's more, he should be running on a new hip - although we'd ask that he DOESN'T try any more onside kick demonstrations.

BlueWhiteIllustrated are leading on the news that sicknasty quarterback prospect Kevin Newsome might sign for our beloved Nittany Lions - and apparently PSU are in the frame.

And with Pat Devlin out, this might be the push that leads to Newsome - a four star prospect out of Virginia - signing. I wonder if he's had the spaghetti treatment from Sue Paterno yet?

He plays the piano....



And some pretty good ball....

College Bowl Predictions

The college football world's gone quiet for a bit and so I've been able to sit down, and thoughtfully go through my predictions for bowl season 2008-9. It took five minutes.

So here we go (and I'm not predicting scorelines):

EagleBank Bowl: WAKE FOREST beats Navy

New Mexico Bowl: FRESNO STATE beats Colorado State

St. Petersburg Bowl: SOUTH FLORIDA beats Memphis

Las Vegas Bowl: ARIZONA upsets BYU


New Orleans Bowl:
TROY beats Southern Miss

Poinsettia: TCU beats Boise State in a CLASSIC

Hawaii: NOTRE DAME gets its first bowl in in 156 years over Hawaii

Motor City: CENTRAL MICHIGAN gives the Motor City something to cheer about

Car Care:
WEST VIRGINIA beats North Carolina - and Pat White shows why he's going to the NFL

Champ Sports: Dial up another one for Bowden: FSU beats Wisconsin (who wish the season would end).

Emerald Bowl: CAL beats Miami in a classic. But Miami show why they'll win the ACC in 2009.

Independence:
If someone cares, it's not me. Louisiana Tech over Northern Illinois.

PapaJohns:
NC STATE beats Rutgers

Alamo: Penn State were there last year! MISSOURI hammers Northwestern

Humanitarian:
MARYLAND beats Nevada - but nothing's easy for the Terrapins

High-scoring Holiday: OREGON beats Oklahoma State for one reason: they had the ball last. This should be a thousand yard offensive classic.

Texas Bowl: RICE beats Western Michigan

Armed Forces Bowl: AIR FORCE beats Houston

Sun: PITTSBURGH beats Oregon State, thanks to LeSean McCoy, who may well be the best running back in the nation in 2009.

Music City: BOSTON COLLEGE beats Vanderbilt

Insight: KU beats Minnesota.

Chick-Fil-A:
GEORGIA TECH runs through LSU, and Les Miles thanks God he scheduled cupcakes early on.

Outback:
IOWA beats South Carolina. Watch out for Shonn Greene!

Capital One: GEORGIA beats Michigan State, with Knowshoun Moreno making everyone cry.

Gator: CLEMSON beats Nebraska

Rose Bowl: USC beats Penn State. I love Penn State, and this game's going to be very close indeed. But I can't see past USC for this one.

Orange: VIRGINIA TECH over Cincinnati. And why is the Big East a BCS Conference, we ask ourselves again.

Cotton: TEXAS TECH hammers Mississippi as Graham Harrell gets people talking about him being a potential top pick.

Liberty: Team of the first two games of the season EAST CAROLINA beats Kentucky.

Sugar: ALABAMA beats Utah, and everyone looks at Nick Saban as though he's the anointed one. And if Saban brings it all home in 2009, then he may well be....this is a very good Crimson Tide football team.

International: UConn over Buffalo.

Fiesta: TEXAS are angry. VERY angry. Ohio State provide the perfect target to take out some rage.

GMAC:
BALL STATE get over their stunning MAC loss and beat Tulsa.

And finally....

The BCS National Championship Game: Oklahoma 38, Florida 35. It's going to be a classic...and a high-scoring one at that.



Sam's World: Oklahoma's Bradford wins the Heisman

Outplayed in the Cotton Bowl by Colt McCoy en route to a 45-35 loss to Texas? Check.

Outplayed Graham Harrell as you and your team massacre Texas Tech 65-21? Check.

Put up 4,464 yards and 48 touchdowns en route to a Heisman? Check.

Sam Bradford beat out Tim Tebow and that chap McCoy on Saturday night, claiming a Heisman trophy.

But get this: the last three Heisman trophy winners (Reggie Bush, Troy Smith, and Tebow) haven't won college football's ultimate prize: the National Championship. Jason White, Oklahoma's last winner? Ouch.

And Sam Bradford says that he'll look at his options about whether it's a good idea to think about playing in the NFL.

The NFL could really do with some good young blood right now: but Bradford could probably do with one more year - as could Tebow. Colt McCoy's already said that he's coming back - and if all three do come back, then one thing's for sure: we are in a golden age of college football quarterbacks.

Now, about that National Championship.

Giving love out there to AQ Shipley!!

Congratulations AQ Shipley!

Not only were you one of the centerpieces in Penn States 11-1 season, but you also won the Rimington Trophy for Outstanding Center in 2008.

You must be very proud....We Penn State fans sure are....

Bad News for Mount Nittany: Devlin to transfer

You remember that quarterback that came on the in the place of a concussed Darryl Clark and led the Penn State Nittany Lions to a monstrous victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus?


You remember the guy that went from a cert at Miami to backup at Penn State - despite doing nothing wrong?

Now, Penn State's down a backup, because Pat Devlin's said he's going to transfer.

And if Darryl Clark gets injured, Joe Paterno has NO scholarships on roster for next season. Niiiiice!!

Who's going to play backup next season IF Clark gets injured: TWO STAR RECRUIT CURTIS DRAKE??

Good luck to you, Pat - but your timing - a month before one of Penn State's biggest-ever games - is absolutely terrible.


We leave you with a good memory, Pat: Michigan State 2008.

You like?

Trying to keep busy and keep my mind off... things, I've been tackling project after project after project in the past week or two. Some big, some small.

Revamping my blog is one of the smaller projects but I'm just as pleased with how it turned out as I am with some of the other projects I have recently completed. Such as:

~ baking cookies, lasagna and mashed turnip to freeze for future consumption
~ cleaning the bathroom (more than once)
~ being so on top of the laundry it's ridiculous
~ washing and vacuuming the floors multiple times
~ decorating for Christmas (yes, that's right)
~ wrapping Christmas presents
~ cleaning out my purse
~ scrubbing the patio/deck
~ organizing the shed
(which has been used as a dumping ground since we moved in in August)
~ organizing the storage closets downstairs
(other such dumping grounds)

Some of the bigger projects I really shouldn't have been doing considering the discomfort I have when I'm moving, but I cannot stand to just sit still and do nothing. Believe me, I have paid a painful price for doing some of these projects.

The blog was just a small thing, but it was an enjoyable, relaxing little project. One that I could do while sitting down, as to not aggravate my back or other painful areas. And I really like how it looks. I think this is my favorite look so far.

Astute readers will have noticed that I've added a new feature called "Twitter Updates". Twitter will show a series of mini-updates that I post periodically (whenever I feel like it). So you can check in whenever you like and see what I'm up to, even if I haven't written a post. I've located it on the right hand side, below the "People I Check in on Regularly" section.

Because I know that sometimes you just can't get enough Tarable.

Hope you like the new look and feature!

I am not a circus freak

I am 5"2 and 9 months pregnant. Really, really pregnant.

It has become really hard to find any clothing to wear outside of my house that actually covers my entire belly. Here's a little fact that you maybe didn't know: maternity clothes are not made for normal women for an entire pregnancy. They are made for small asian women for the duration of their pregnancy or they are made for the rest of us for up to about 7, 7/12 months of pregnancy. I currently own one, ONE shirt that I can wear outside of my home that covers my entire belly. And one pair of pants that I can wear in public.

I have also developed a "disorder" called SPD - which is very painful and uncomfortable and makes it difficult to do everyday things like... WALK. Get in and out of bed. Turn over in bed. Get in and out of a car. Basically anything that involves moving my lower body.

So besides the 9 month pregnancy waddle, I also hobble and limp a bit when I walk, and I take small slow steps. I'm really uncomfortable. And yes, I'm a little self conscious.

If you could put yourself in my shoes for a few minutes, you would realize that going out in public isn't really a lot of fun these days - just for these reasons alone.

So here's something that adds to my displeasure of being in public right now - people STARE.

Yes they do.

They don't just notice my belly and then look away, they openly gawk. They do a double take even, when they see me!

I don't get it. And I don't like it. It's fucking rude, and it's ridiculous that grown adults do this.

Now, I am fairly used to being stared at, or even getting the odd double take - because of my sleeve tattoo. People glance at it, look at me, some do a double take. Some people gawk. And I have gotten used to it and I usually just ignore it. I do understand that a 5"2 woman with a sleeve is not your everyday flavour. And with my normal, everyday appearance, it can be shocking to some people. (Yes, even in today's day and age, go figure). (I also know that people aren't staring at me because of my tattoo these days because my one and only out-in-public-shirt is long sleeved.)

But women are pregnant all the time. There are pregnant women EVERYWHERE! It's a normal, everyday occurrence! It's not odd, nor is it unusual to see a woman with a swollen belly.

So why then? Why do people do this???

Oh and I'm not talking about the odd person who sees my belly and smiles at me. No, that I could handle. I'm talking about your average men and women in society who should know better, and who look at me like I just finished my shift at the circus but forgot to take off my sequined body suit and my purple wig and I am walking around with the Wolf Boys in tow.

Steve and I went out to run errands yesterday and we went to no less than 5 or 6 stores. And in each and every store, people would see me and stare. Some people would turn around and whisper to each other and point. Yes, even point! People don't even bother to try to hide that they're staring at me. Or glance and then look away. No, they just openly gawk - with no consideration about the person's feelings (or possible temper) that they are staring at.

So at our last stop yesterday - the grocery store, as we were standing at the till while we paid and the grocery bagger bagged our groceries, I was irritated with the bagger (a young woman in her 20's) for continually looking at me. But when I walked around from behind the counter and she stopped, turned around and did a double take looking at my belly and then casually turned back around to the till again after getting her fill of shamelessly staring at me - I stopped. I stood behind her and looked at her stupid head and pulled back my arm... I realized that I was about to smack the back of her head when I saw the look of horror on Steve's face as he realized that I was about to clobber this broad. Luckily this brief eye contact with him brought me back down to a reasonable level of pissedoffedness so that I could control myself and not cause a scene in Safeway.

Today I think I will look into a grocery delivery service so I don't have to leave the house anymore.


Please don't leave a comment that tells me how wonderful and miraculous pregnancy is and that I should be proud of my belly. I know all that. I am proud and happy and ever so thankful for my pregnancy. However, the miraculousness of it all started to wear off a few weeks ago. And that doesn't expunge the fact that people are so inconsiderate and rude. And also because I've now heard this comment 358 times.

And please don't tell me that I only have a little while longer to go so I should enjoy every last minute of it - because the last week (or weeks) of pregnancy are the longest and most difficult of all, particularly with a disorder that makes the smallest of movements painful. And also because I've now heard this comment about 427 times.

Bitter, snarky, commiserating comments only please.

I am trying to keep my sense of humor through all of this but it is waning.

BCS Selection: Oklahoma - Florida and no surprises

After all the shenanigans, we now know: Oklahoma and Florida will get together for the National Championship.

With the weapons at both quarterbacks' hands, it should be one heck of a football game.

And in case you missed it:

Penn State will play USC in the Rose Bowl - and the guys on ESPN don't think the Nittany Lions have a hope in hell of beating the Trojans - apart from Lou Holtz, who reckons it's going to be close.

Texas and Ohio State will get together in the Fiesta Bowl. This is going to be a classic. This could be the last time to audition for the NFL scouts for Colt McCoy - and will be for James Laurinitis and Beanie Wells. I can't wait to see Ohio State's defense battle against Texas' high-octane offense - don't the Buckeyes have a point to prove after the USC debacle earlier in the season?

Utah and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl hardly gets my juices flowing - simply because Alabama didn't exactly keep me awake this year (they don't have the sort of "fireworks" offense that other teams do, but it's effective) and Utah has been pretty good, beating ranked teams TCU and BYU in the Mountain West. They've also won in hostile territory - if you count beating Michigan in The Big House hostile.

And in the Orange Bowl - Virginia Tech and Cincinnati get together. These teams don't exactly stand out - Virginia Tech's 9-4 record and Cincy's 11-2 one was by virtue of being simply the best in a medicore (admittedly the ACC is a better medicore one than the Big East) conference.

OH, AND....

Boise State will be a little pissed, after being rewarded for an unbeaten season with a frickin' Poinsettia Bowl spot....against TCU (they don't even get a BCS Conference!!!).

AND BEFORE I FORGET....

A FEW FUN MATCH-UPS FOR YOU

Oregon vs Oklahoma State

Miami (FL) vs Cal

Wisconsin vs Florida State

LSU vs Georgia Tech

Clemson vs Nebraska

Boomer Sooner: Oklahoma is the Big XII Champ

You may not like the fact that the Oklahoma Sooners 'won' the Big XII South and went to the Big Game in Kansas City.

You may not like conference championships at all.

You may not like the fact that Bob Stoops likes to run the score up on teams.

But you have to admit: the Oklahoma Sooners are playing some great football right now.

Let the scoreline of Oklahoma 62, Missouri 21 not deceive you....Oklahoma were FIFTY points better than Missouri in this game. The Tigers once again couldn't deal with the fact that Oklahoma's offense started to click in the second quarter, and Chase Daniel fell apart. But Sam Bradford didn't - showing the college football world why he is a front-runner for the Heisman.

Bradford's Oklahoma Sooners have been sensational almost all season long - and lately unstoppable. They are the first team in 89 years to score 60 points or more in a row for five straight games. They have scored an NCAA record amount of points this year.

But Oklahoma has all the tools, too.

Juaquin Inglesias is a great punt returner and a superb wide receiver.

Jermaine Gresham is going to play on Sundays at tight end.

Backup running backs Chris Brown and Mossis Madu are both frighteningly quick. And now that DeMarco Murray seems to have injured his knee - they'll be the ones to test their opponent in Miami. At least they should be, right?

Oklahoma's defense is opportunistic and very, very good - Missouri may have put up 354 yards of offense, but most of that was in the fourth quarter with the Sooners winning 48-14 at the time.

And I bet the 'D' can't wait to meet up with Tim Tebow, who made the remark that he "wouldn't mind playing some of those Big XII defenses". If that's not bulletin board material, then nothing will be.

Get ready for this, Nittany Nation: USC are going to the Rose Bowl

Penn State vs USC. The Rose Bowl. January 1st, 2009. Be there. Be square.

USC - again- didn't do a whole lot on offense against a gruesome UCLA team - putting up 478 yards of offense - but only 28 points (including just SEVEN in the second half), but it was enough for the Trojans to claim yet another Pac-10 title.

Although it looked early on in the season that USC's win over UCLA would have them singing songs about Miami, this season - they'll have to be satisfied with yet another conference crown. That small screw-up at Oregon State did the job.

Don't worry, USC fans, Penn State know how you feel. They were just seconds away from their own National Championship dream - only to have their hopes crushed at Iowa. But the Big Ten Championship was enough of a celebration.

And Joe Paterno's pregame conference will say exactly the same thing - and will be true this time- that USC is a "good football team".

THE MATCH-UPS.....OHH....THE MATCH-UPS

So now what will a superb USC defense do against a Penn State's "Spread HD" offense? Will Penn State's vaunted running defense play as they did in the Ohio State and Michigan State games, where they stifled Beanie Wells and Jevon Ringer, or will they stumble as they did against Shonn Greene? Will USC's cornerbacks and safeties- ranked the best in the country on pass defense - be as good against a class quarterback in Darryl Clark as they were against the dross of the Pac-10, or will they finally meet their match against Penn State's wide receiving trio of Butler, Norwood, and THAT MAN Derrick Williams.

'No Reason to get excited", sings Dave Matthews. Sorry Dave- the 2009 Rose Bowl should give any college football fan EVERY reason to be excited.



And they'll be Song Girls!! Yaaaaaay!!

Chomp! Chomp! Florida wins the SEC

The last #1 vs #2 match-up was a pretty awesome one when Ohio State and Michigan got together in an absolute classic in 2006. It was as good as advertised.

The 2008 version - featuring BCS heavyweights #1 Alabama and #2 Florida - in the SEC Championship Game - was on a par with that.

While there wasn't the offense in the 2008 version compared to THAT game, it's probably because Florida's Tim Tebow and Alabama's John Parker Wilson - combined - are not better QBs than Ohio State's Troy Smith or Michigan's Chad Henne were in 2006. Tim Tebow IS better than Smith or Henne (or Wilson, as he proved in Florida's 34-21 victory), Wilson simply isn't.

Tim Tebow - without an injured Percy Harvin - was Florida's offense. He ran, he threw, he yelled. A lot. While 'Bama stuffed Florida's running game (the Gators had better pray Harvin's better in January, or they'll be relying on Tebow once again against Texas/Oklahoma/God Knows Who), Tebow made the big plays with his arms with tight end Hernandez, and the rest was one big Gator celebration and a smiley Urban Meyer.

But the defense, friends, was much better than that 2006 clash.

Both teams were brilliant on the defense. Florida's receiving corps proved to be better than Alabama's secondary, but Alabama's front line stuffed the run into oblivion. In the same reckoning, the Gators' secondary managed to (just) stop Julio Jones and the rest of the Tide's receivers, but the Gators' running defense found it difficult to stop Alabama's Coffee and Ingram.

And the special teams? They actually cancelled each other out. Neither Florida's Brandon "LeBron" James nor Alabama's Javier "Gilbert" Arenas managed to fly like their NBA namesakes, making the SEC title game all about one man....

Tim Tebow.



BUT NOW....

But now, here's where 2006 and 2008 seperate. Ohio State vs Michigan in 2006 was always going to decide who was going to go to the National Title Game. Alabama vs Florida in 2008 doesn't actually mean anything's certain - apart from the fact that it's next year, Mr Saban.

Texas lead Florida in the BCS, Harris and Coaches' polls. The Longhorns are 2nd to the Gators 6th in the Computer Polls, and the Computer Average (whatever that means!!) puts Texas at .940 and Florida at .820.

In other words, Florida may have won the regular season battle, but will the computers let them win the war?

In 2008 - and Texas themselves should know this - nothing will surprise.

Penn State for Miami, anyone??

Beamerball once again rules the ACC

I'd be lying if I said that Virginia Tech is the standout team in the ACC, because to truth is this: There were NO standout teams in the ACC.

The ACC was full of fair-to-good teams beating each other, in an effort that elevated it to the SEC ranks of parity. I'm serious.

Having said that, the 30-12 beating of 17th ranked Boston College was pretty awesome viewing.

The defence was pretty awesome all the way through, giving up just 12 points to a not-too-shabby Boston College offense, and stomped on the Eagles' rush, giving up just 44 yards on the ground. Ouch.

They also created four turnovers (and gave away three themselves) in front of a Jacksonville Stadium crowd of 55,000 people. As it goes, they didn't miss an offensive showpiece (or any teams with a hope of going to the National Title), but quite simply - this game could have been played at Carolina's stadium or even Washington's Stadium - Florida only has two ACC team in Florida State and Miami - and we haven't had a Miami-FSU ACC title game yet.

But that's another story. The story today was about Frank Beamer and a Hokies team that has seen rejuvenation in quarterback Tyrod Taylor (if you don't know him, think a better-behaved Michael or Marcus Vick) and a good running back in Darren Evans.

And now we're tasting Oranges in Virginia once again. Anyone want to bet against this team winning that January game, too?

AND ANOTHER POINT FROM FRIDAY NIGHT:

What the heck happened to Ball State. For 12 games they looked - and were- unbeatable. The team just couldn't stop scoring points. And then Buffalo happened. Sorry, Buffalo? That team that regularly appeared in ESPN's 10 crappest football teams? Well, the Bulls won Buffalo's first Championship in years in football when they caused four Cardinals fumbles and claimed the MAC Conference title in a 42-24 thumping.

Out of character

I recently did two things that were really out of character for me:

# 1. I went *out* to a movie, WITH Steve (ok, I could stop right here and this would be out of character enough), and watched a movie that had just recently been made into a motion picture from a very popular book that everyone is raging about and that also happened to be a genre that I would normally snub. The genre being "vampire movie".

And by now you could guess that we went to see "Twilight".

And I'm going to blame it on the pregnancy hormones here, but I actually enjoyed it. And I might even have a crush on the hottie young vampire - Edward. When I first saw him in the movie I thought, "Pfft! Young girls these days don't have a clue what a real hottie looks like.", but within about 5 minutes I was madly in love with him and started contemplating how I, myself could go about becoming a vampire so I could spend the rest of my life with him and his big kissy lips and his sexy eyes and his sparkly skin.



# 2. I bought a CHRISTMAS CD. Yes, a Christmas CD. The other day there was an ad on TV for an Elvis Duets Christmas CD and I suddenly felt compelled to own it. I felt that I just had to have it. I love it when Elvis sings Christmas songs.
(What!??! I love it when Elvis sings what??)
And the CD stuck in my head for a few days before I purposefully went into a music store and proceeded to seek out said Elvis Christmas CD. I went looking for it people! What is going on with me??? And then! And then? No sooner had I paid for it did I rip open the plastic and put it in the CD player in my car! I turned it up and sang along to most of the songs (yes, I knew the words to Christmas songs!) and I let it play over again almost 3 full times. Guess what else - it was only November 30th. Not even December yet. That's a big no-no in Bah-Humbug Land.

And do you know when the last time I bought a Christmas CD was? It was 1998 and I bought the soundtrack to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". (And this was long before all that Jim Carey Grinch imposter crap.)

~

Pregnancy is scaring me. It is turning me into a completely different person. What's next? Will I go trade in my Jeep for a station wagon? Haha ha! Oh.... wait a minute....

Week 15 Predictions

WEEK 15 PREDICTIONS

A lot of people have accused this year’s college football of being boring…..including me.

Is that because week in, week out we’ve seen the favourites win? Or is it because that once again, we find ourselves arguing about the BCS and its ‘amazing’ formula.

But that’s another argument – Oklahoma are in the Big XII Championship Game whether we like it or not, and here’s what the VFA reckons is going to happen on Week 15…..

Big XII Championship Game: Oklahoma vs Missouri

Even if you are outraged that Texas didn’t get to go to the Big XII Championship Game, you’ve got to admit: this Oklahoma team are good.
Sam Bradford and his offense are scary, scary good – even if the defense really isn’t the best in the world – although it is certainly opportunistic. But with the weapons that Stoops has on offense, who cares if the ‘D’ might give up 45. The ‘O’ can score 401.
But Missouri aren’t to be discounted on this one. The Chase Daniel-Jeremy Macklin hook-up is still scary, and if Oklahoma fail to stop Macklin on punt/kick-off returns, this game should be closer than many think.

Prediction: Oklahoma! See you in the National Championship! Oklahoma 45, Missouri 35

SEC Championship Game: Alabama vs Florida

Oh God. The old clich├ęs come out: heard the one about the unstoppable force (Florida) against the immovable object (Alabama’s ‘D’)? Haven’t we all? Both teams are playing with exceptional confidence – something that you’d expect from two teams that have lost a total of one game. The eyes of Gator Nation – and the NFL – will be on Florida QB Tim Tebow, although he may well be hurt by the loss of Percy Harvin, who looks unlikely to take a part in Saturday’s festivities after getting injured against Florida State. Florida should definitely be worried about Alabama, though: Glen Coffee’s a superb running back and Nick Saban’s certainly got playmakers in Javier Arenas and Julio Jones, who have frightening speed. The ‘X-Factor’ may be Nick Saban, who’s not used to losing big games. Will this be one of them?

VERDICT: Rammer, Jammer, Yellow Hammer. How about Alabama? ‘Bama 31, Florida 29

ACC Championship Game: Boston College vs Virginia Tech

The ACC were incredibly overlooked this season – simply because everybody (apart from Duke) was really pretty good. It was only after an arduous 14 games of college football that we got to the ACC Championship Game. While it’s not too eyebrow-raising to see VT in the ‘Big One’, how about Boston College? Wasn’t Matt Ryan’s leaving meant to see an end to the ‘Good Years’ of BC? Well, it’s obvious that’s not the case. This should be a good – if defensive – one.

VERDICT: Don’t expect too many firworks – but it’ll be a nailbiter. BC 28, Virginia Tech 25

UCLA VS USC

I’ve made this point particularly about Penn State’s Rose Bowl opponents designate: USC’s passing defense is only exceptional because the Pac-10 doesn’t have any good quarterbacks. There you go – I’ve made it again. UCLA can be as motivated as they want: USC’s winning the LA Derby by 30.

VERDICT: Gotta love the Song Girls. USC 45, UCLA 15