Thursday, March 30, 2006

Another Nickname

I have numerous nicknames. A plethora. And yet, somehow I manage to keep them all straight and answer to any and all of them. Different friends have different nicknames for me, and I cherish them all. Each one is special in its own way.

I have one more nickname now. It was given to me by my friend and teacher. The "rule" is that if you know a deaf person for awhile, and they get to know you and your personality, they will give you a "nickname". It is a shortened version of your name, and incorporates something to do with your personality.

Yesterday I was given my very own sign name. I will be able to have this sign for anyone I know and I'm probably the only one with this particular sign (as opposed to my real name which my parents didn't think was popular when they named me). Hmph.

I am excited to have my own sign name. It's the first initial of my name combined with the flourish of a "smile". Because yes, I do smile quite often. OK, alot. Enough to have been nicknamed "Smiley" by someone at every job I've ever worked at. So it's perfect. And it's one more step to becoming more involved in the deaf community.

I'm thrilled.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 2:28 PM | 13 comments

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Warning: Not for the faint of heart, or The Easily Grossed Out (TEGO or Me/Yo)

There were two paragraphs in the attached article that FREAKED.ME.OUT. Has anybody else ever heard of this??? A baby born with two fetuses inside of it - the result of incomplete triplets??? "Doctors removed two fetuses from a 2-month-old girl. The fetuses were originally triplets, but two of them grew inside the third and died there about halfway to term. The dead fetuses weighed two pounds. Such "fetus-in-fetu" cases occur twice in every million births."

Or the baby girl born with two heads, the results of "incomplete twinning??? "The Egyptian girl was born with a parasitic twin head attached to her own, the result of incomplete twinning. The parasitic head "was capable of smiling and blinking but not independent life."

ugh. full body shiver. ugh!!! I could NEVER be in the medical profession. EVER.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:43 AM | 12 comments

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Geography 101

Some Interesting and amazing facts

Alaska: More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska.

The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20 percent of the world's oxygen supply. The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that ~ more than one hundred miles at sea, off the mouth of the river ~ one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon River is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States.

Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country. 90% of the world's ice covers Antarctica. This ice also represents 70% of all the fresh water in the world. As strange as it sounds, Antarctica is essentially a desert. The average yearly precipitation is about two inches. Although covered with ice (all but 0.4 percent of it), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.

Brazil: Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around.

Canada: Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. Canada is an Indian word meaning "Big Village."

Chicago: Next to Warsaw, Chicago has the largest Polish population in the world.
Detroit: Woodward Ave. in Detroi t, Michigan, carries the designation M - 1, because it was the first paved road anywhere.

Damascus: Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.

Istanbul: Istanbul, Turkey is the only city in the world located on two continents.

New York City: The term "The Big Apple" was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930's who used the slang __expression "apple" for any town or city. Therefore, to play New York City is to play the big time ~ The Big Apple. There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland, more Italians in New York City than in Rome, Italy, and more Jews in New York City than in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Wilderness: Percentage of Africa that is wilderness 28%. Percentage of North America that is wilderness 38%.

Ohio: There are no natural lakes in the state of Ohio, every one is man-made.

Rome: The first city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome, Italy in 133 B.C. There is a city called Rome on every continent.

Siberia: Siberia contains more than 25 percent of the world's forests.

SMOM: The smallest sovereign entity in the world is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM). It is located in the city of Rome, Italy, has an area of two tennis courts, and as of 2001 has a population of 80, 20 less people than the Vatican. It is a sovereign entity under international law, as is the Vatican.

Sahara Desert: In the Sahara Desert, there is a town named Tidikelt, which did not receive a drop of rain for ten years.

St. Paul: St. Paul, Minnesota was originally called Pigs Eye after a man named Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant who set up the first business there (bootlegging).

Roads: Chances that a road is unpaved in the USA ~ 1 percent Chances that a road is unpaved in Canada ~ 75 percent.

United States: The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are meant to be usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 5:12 AM | 9 comments

Monday, March 27, 2006

Dallas Flower Power

My parents have family passes to the Dallas Arboretum, and unfortunately, I've only been twice in the last year. My momma and I went on Friday and it was a sight to behold. It's time for Dallas Blooms, and so my FAVORITE flowers (Tulips) were in full bloom. If you are anywhere close to the Dallas area, I highly recommend you go! So without further adieu, here are some of the views. I say some, because I took over 100+ photos. The day was PERFECT by the way.

Don't the pansy's look like they have little faces?

The "Eiffel Flowers" and my Momma

One beautiful day + lots of flowers + one digital camera = 1 happy Amstaff Mom

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:35 AM | 14 comments

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Three, count them THREE of my co-workers (buddies) are leaving the company this week. BUMMER. I've eaten alot of cake and pie today to send them off, and it's always sad to see someone go. sniff.

I am SERIOUSLY considering going back to school to become a sign language interpreter. I'm excited. And nervous. But mainly excited. I'm going to meet with one of the advisors tomorrow to see how many of my credits will transfer over. Fun! I am truly enjoying signing. Really, really enjoy it. So, hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to school I go.

That's the latest and greatest for me.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 2:03 PM | 11 comments

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quality Time

I had my first 3- hour prayer time last night. I really hope it won't be my last. It was really a very special time to just stop, read my Bible and pray. I've never done anything like it before, and I'm sure I wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been a requirment. But I'm really glad I did.

I spent alot of time in the Psalms. Wow. Verses that I've read many times before really spoke to my heart. Verses that I have never read were like tasty morsels. I was amazed at how many songs I recognized from the verses I read. At least 10. I also spent some time reading Proverbs 31, and even the Song of Solomon (*blushes*).

I lifted up my family, co-workers, friends, and those of you in my blog family that had specific requests ( I included you last night "Faith" without even reading your comment.)

It was time WELL spent. I hope to do it again soon.

I meditated on one of my favorite verses, and I will share it with you. It had been too long since I thought about this verse.

Psalm 19:14
"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Wow. Convicting to say the least.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:27 AM | 7 comments

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Prayer Requests?

Tonight, our Bible Study is spending 3 hours in prayer. One hour in prayer for God's will, one hour for our friends and family, and one hour in prayer for ourselves. I've never spent this much time in prayer at one time before. It will be individual prayer time, each going to a different room to pray. If you have any prayer requests that you would like me to pray for tonight, please let me know and I will pray for them. It is an honor for me to pray for you, and it help keep any distractions from my mind if I have prayer requests and burdens on my heart. If you prefer not to list any requests in my comments section, feel free to email me.

I'm really looking forward to tonight. Please pray for me too - that I will remain focused in my one-on-one time with God.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:02 AM | 7 comments

Friday, March 17, 2006





posted by Amstaff Mom | 6:31 AM | 5 comments

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Another Reason I Want to Learn ASL

The police officer that interpreted was invaluable to this family in their time of need.

Teen struck by train's snowplow
Reigning Miss Deaf Texas had been sending text messages to friends, parents.
By Tony Plohetski
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Shortly before 2 p.m. Monday, Tara McAvoy was walking about a foot away from Union Pacific railroad tracks in South Austin, sending a flurry of text messages from her cell phone to family and friends. Police said McAvoy, the reigning Miss Deaf Texas, typed one to her parents, both of whom are hearing-impaired, letting them know she was walking from the family's home on Waterloo Trail to her mother's workplace on Evergreen Avenue. Austin police Detective David Fugitt said McAvoy, 18, had always taken a path along Lamar Boulevard — the distance was a little more than a mile — but told her parents in the text message that she was walking along the tracks. Minutes later, the snowplow on the front of a 65-car Union Pacific train, which authorities said extended 16 inches on both sides of the tracks, struck McAvoy. She died at the scene. "As the train approached, they sounded the horn and got no response," Fugitt said. "They activated the emergency brakes but were unable to stop in time." Fugitt said he is not sure whether McAvoy would have felt vibrations from the train and said she might have been distracted. Gene Mirus, an instructor in the deaf studies department at Gallaudet University in Washington, said deaf people often have a false sense of security when walking along train tracks. "It is easy for deaf people to walk on railroad tracks under the premise that vibrations would warn them of an oncoming train," Mirus wrote in an e-mail. "Contrary to what most people think, there are no vibrations on railroad tracks." Mirus said he is working on a national campaign to educate deaf people about the dangers of walking on railroad tracks. Austin police and Union Pacific officials said Tuesday that they are continuing to investigate the accident. Union Pacific spokesman Joe Arbona said trains are equipped with devices similar to black-box recorders in airplanes to collect data that should help determine how quickly the crew began sounding its horn and trying to stop. "One of the things that is particularly painful within the context of this poor family is that the engineers actually had to witness this, knowing that when you get into a locomotive, there is no steering wheel," Arbona said. "As you can imagine, they are pretty shook up about this whole thing, too." McAvoy graduated from the Texas School for the Deaf in 2005 and won the state pageant in June. She was scheduled to compete in the national pageant in California this year. She had been a cheerleader, a basketball player and an honor roll student at the Texas School for the Deaf. Fugitt said McAvoy was walking northbound on the tracks near Oltorf Street and Thornton Road in the same direction as the train, which was hauling a fleet of cars from Mexico to St. Louis. He said the train's conductor and engineer first spotted McAvoy crossing a bridge as they rounded a bend in the tracks. They initially thought she would get out of the way and began sounding the train's horn. Arbona said the crew went into "emergency mode" and began trying to stop the 4,700-ton train. "You are looking at a pretty heavy train that would take at least a mile to stop," said Arbona, who did not know the train's speed at the time of the accident. The train struck McAvoy about 40 feet from the bridge. Taylor Schimek, the day manager at the Music Lab, a nearby recording and rehearsal studio, said he was setting up microphones and moving chairs inside a practice room when he heard the train blaring its horn. He said the train continued to block Oltorf for hours. "The train sometimes will be parked like that, and so I thought it was a regular thing," Schimek said. Fugitt said he understood from officers at the scene that McAvoy's father had planned to pick her up at her mother's office and came upon the scene. McAvoy's father communicated with a police officer who knows sign language and found out that a teen had been killed by a train. McAvoy's parents remained at the accident site and helped identify their daughter. They could not be reached for comment Tuesday. "They're having a hard time, and it's understandable," Fugitt said. "Obviously, she had a lot of family and friends, so there is certainly support there."

posted by Amstaff Mom | 11:49 AM | 3 comments

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life is So Short

I went to go sign with my friend this morning and he showed me a copy of this article that he had printed out. He knew her, and her parents, and he is considering going to her funeral. So very tragic. None of us know how long we have on this earth. I'm reminded of this often, but especially today.

Miss Deaf Texas struck by train, killed
10:59 AM CST on Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Associated Press

AUSTIN – Tara Rose McAvoy, the reigning Miss Deaf Texas, died Monday afternoon after being struck by a train, officials said.
State pageant director Laura Loeb-Hill told The Associated Press via e-mail Monday night that McAvoy, 18, had been deaf since birth.
Also Online
Official site: Miss Deaf Texas
McAvoy, who won the state title in June, was to represent Texas at the Miss Deaf America pageant this summer in Palm Desert, Calif., according to Loeb-Hill.
Witness Carlos Burgos told Austin television station KTBC that the train was sounding its horn right up until the time the accident happened.
Authorities believe McAvoy was walking near some tracks when she was struck by a Union Pacific train.
McAvoy had represented Texas "with dignity and pride," Loeb-Hill said.
McAvoy graduated last year from the Texas School for the Deaf, attended Austin Community College and then started at Gallaudet University in January, but had returned to Texas, Loeb-Hill said.

Another sad story. I loved this game show when I was a kid. "No whammies, no whammies, STOP!"

'Press Your Luck' host, wife killed in plane crash
08:28 AM CST on Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Associated Press

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – A former TV game show host and his wife were killed Monday morning when their small plane crashed into Santa Monica Bay shortly after takeoff on a volunteer flight for a medical charity, authorities said.
Divers called off a search for a third person late Monday after authorities concluded only two people were on board.

AP Peter Tomarken
The bodies of Peter Tomarken, 63, host of the hit 1980s game show Press Your Luck, and his wife, Kathleen Abigail Tomarken, 41, were identified by the Los Angeles County coroner's office.
The plane was on its way to San Diego to ferry a medical patient to the UCLA Medical Center, said Doug Griffith, a spokesman for Angel Flight West, a nonprofit which provides free air transportation for needy patients.
Tomarken, the pilot, was a volunteer for the group. Authorities said the plane was registered to him.
The third person authorities initially believed was on board may have been the patient, said Coast Guard spokesman Tony Migliorini.
"We believe the third person was the person they were going to pick up," he said. "When they filed the flight plan, they said three persons were to be on board. That's why we had to presume they had three and did the search."
The plane apparently had engine trouble and was headed back to Santa Monica Airport, located about two miles inland, but went down in about 19 feet of water about a half-mile southwest of the Santa Monica pier, authorities said.
Luis Garr said he didn't hear the engine but heard the splash as the plane "kind of landed into the water."
"It's a big splash, a huge splash. ... Then it started going down," Garr said. "The wings were still floating so I was, 'Get out! Get out!' because the door was still available to get out and nobody came out. So the plane kept going down, down, down."
Tomarken's death was first reported by Entertainment Tonight.
Press Your Luck was known for contestants shouting the slogan "Big bucks! No whammies!"
Tomarken's agent, Fred Wostbrock, said his client's first game show was Hit Man!, which ran 13 weeks on NBC, followed by the four-year hit Press Your Luck on CBS. He also was on Bargain Hunters, Wipe-Out and Paranoia.
"He was always a fun guy to be around, and he just loved the genre of game shows," Wostbrock said.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 1:02 PM | 5 comments

Monday, March 13, 2006

200 Posts

Today marks my 200th Blogger post. Quite a feat for me, being a non-writer and all. I've seemed to have covered a wide range of topics but have had certain themes. Vacations, Amstaffs, my walk with Christ, my friends and family. I've learned alot about myself while blogging. It tends to make you more introspective at times. I've also learned alot about you, my blog family.

I've changed names, addresses, and looks. I think I've changed too. I know I've learned alot, as I've read far more than 200 posts.

I've made great friends, both in the blogosphere, and in the "real" world. I look forward to continuing to grow in these relationships and to see what the next 200 posts will bring.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 8:31 AM | 10 comments

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Signing My Heart Out

When I first started learning to sign, Deals shared with me a hilarious story of how she signed during an interview because she had been practicing her signing constantly. Now, I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND what she was talking about. I'm signing to everyone these days. And maybe, just maybe, if I get good enough, I'll sign to you via Castpost. But not yet. It's been so fun though, because I'm actually teaching others some signs. Fun!

Today, in the cafeteria, I met my deaf friend for lunch. One of the cashiers has seen my signing with him yesterday, so today she asked me if he was indeed my friend. She wanted to know his name and how to sign "hi". How fun! I've introduced him to my friends, showed him where I worked, and the other departments. So now I've been able to teach him things too!

What's scary is that when people are talking to me, I'm picturing the signing in my head. That or I'm actually signing. I've even tried interpreting for my friend a few times, but it is hard to think of the words and translate them into ASL. I think I would thoroughly enjoy becoming an interpreter for the deaf, I just don't know when I would find the time and money to go to school. It's 36 college hours for a certificate in ASL. When you combine that with already being gone 11 hours a day with work, and then the colleges are at least 45 min. away, it's very difficult to plan for. We'll see though.

Meanwhile, I'm all about non-verbal communication, even when I'm not blogging. (Which I realize I've been slacking on lately, but work has been exceptionally busy lately). So watch out people, if you see me, I'll probably start teaching you signs next!

posted by Amstaff Mom | 12:54 PM | 9 comments

Friday, March 03, 2006

A Song to Sign

No, that wasn't a typo. Our sign language teacher has on the syllabus that we are going to get the opportunity to learn how to sign a song of our choosing. On my way to class last night, I heard one of my favorite worship songs on the radio. Third Day is in concert in Dallas, and I so wish I could go. I've been to two of their concerts and they are the perfect combination of worship and rock. PERFECT.

I think I'm going to cheat and learn some of the words today when I go say "hi" to one of my signing friends. The hearing community is so blessed to be able to have the gift of hearing music. It's something I've taken for granted all my life. To watch the deaf sign in worship is amazing. The expressiveness of their actions reflects what they feel in their hearts.

There is a young woman at our church who has Down's Syndrome. Down's affects her ability to sing, but she has learned to sign and to watch her express her love for her Creator brings much of the congregation to tears. She periodically signs for a singer and even travels to some conferences to share her gift. It is so touching to see.

So here are the lyrics to the song I want to learn to sign...

King of Glory
Lyrics by Mac Powell / Music by Third Day
From the recording: Offerings, Track #1.

Who is this King of Glory that pursues me with his love
And haunts me with each hearing of His softly spoken words
My conscience, a reminder of forgiveness that I need
Who is this King of Glory who offers it to me

Who is this King of angels, O blessed Prince of Peace
Revealing things of Heaven and all its mysteries
My spirit’s ever longing for His grace in which to stand
Who's this King of glory, Son of God and son of man

His name is Jesus, precious Jesus
The Lord Almighty, the King of my heart
The King of glory

Who is this King of Glory with strength and majesty
And wisdom beyond measure, the gracious King of kings
The Lord of Earth and Heaven, the Creator of all things
Who is this King of Glory, He's everything to me
The Lord of Earth and Heaven, the Creator of all things
He is the King of glory, He's everything to me

posted by Amstaff Mom | 6:28 AM | 10 comments

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

High School Meme

I seem to frequently steal memes from others, usually from Tracey. Here's another one.

1) Where did you graduate from and what year? It was too small of a school for me to identify this.

2) Did u have school pride? Not really. Most of my church friends went to public school, including my h.s. boyfriend, so I always went to the games at his school instead of mine.

3) Was your prom a night to remember? It almost wasn't. I went to two proms my senior yr., on the same weekend. Mine was on a Friday night, it was a banquet really, not a prom. (Baptist schools don't have dances). Afterwards, we went bowling until the wee hours of the morning. Instead of staying at my friend's house, we went back to my boyfriend's house for 2 hours of sleep. (note: please don't read anything into this, it was innocent - honest.) Mom found out and forbid me to go to his prom on Sat. night. She finally let me go, but I had to be home early.

4) Do you own all 4 Yearbooks?Yes. And my 1st-4th grade ones too.

5) What was the worst trouble you ever got into? We got caught eating at El Fenix for lunch by a teacher our jr. year. Got caught skipping a class once. I always got caught. It was a Senior tradition, that on the last day of class, you shredded your uniform in some form or fashion, got your shirt signed by all your friends, and then had a shaving cream fight in the halls. Cleanup wasn't very fun though. I have the whole thing on video.

6) What kind of people did you hang out with?All sorts.

7) What was your number 1 choice of College in HS? Early h.s. it was A&M, later it was TWU or SWT State.

8) What radio station did u rock out too? Rock out to? The Edge, when it was 94.5. Alot of country though in hs. 96.3, 99.5

9) Were you involved in any organizations or clubs? The choir. The band for the first yr.

10) What were your favorite classes in high school? English, History, Bible.

11) Who was your big crush in High School? 9th grade: James. 10th grade: Michael. He was a senior when I was a soph. He died a couple of years ago, he was a Navy SEAL. 11th, 12th grade: my boyfriend. Is that a crush though?

12) Would you say you’ve changed a lot since high school? Yes, I think so.

13) What do you miss the most about it? Hanging out with my friends.

14) Your worst memory of HS? I'd rather not say.

15) Did you have a car? No, but one of my friends had a Porsche. I used to ride home with him.

16) What were your school colors? Red and Blue.

17) Who were your fav. teachers? Mr. Davidson and Mrs. Durrett.

18) Did you own a cell phone in high school?No one did.

19) Did you leave campus for lunch? Yes, the time I got caught my jr. year. We had off-campus lunch my senior year. That was nice.

20) If so, where was your fav. place to go eat? Great American Hero

21) Were you always late to class?No.

22) Did you ever have to stay for Saturday School?Thankfully this wasn't an option. I did get a couple of detentions for forgetting my tie on chapel day.

23) Did you ever ditch?No — except for “Senior Ditch Day.”

24) What kind of Job did you have?Gap Employee

25) Do you wish you were still in high school? No, that chapter is closed.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 5:31 AM | 5 comments