Backyard Spring Snow In El Paso

Here are just a few pictures from my backyard from the snow we received here in El Paso earlier this month:

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It is not much, but this definitely qualifies as a big snow storm by El Paso standards:

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Fortunately my fish in my pond survived yet another snow storm this year.  I have in fact only had one fish so far die this year from the cold.

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Picture of the Day: Grilling Steaks

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Here are some steaks my wife and I grilled on our Asian BBQ in our backyard.

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My El Paso Jogging Course

I do a lot of jogging and it was actually one of the factors I considered when looking for a house to purchase in El Paso, Texas.  One of the reasons I liked the house that my wife and I ultimately bought was because it was adjacent to the desert that extends to the north of El Paso:

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It is out in this desert that I measured myself out a four mile long jogging course that has nice sweeping views of El Paso’s Franklin Mountains:

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Here is the midpoint of my jogging course looking towards the north and the distant Sacramento Mountains:

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It was here at about this point that back in December I saw a mountain lion cross the dirt road about 50 yards in front of me:

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I often see coyotes while jogging out here, but that is the only time I have ever seen mountain lion out in the desert.  Fortunately it was a small mountain lion, so I wasn’t too concerned about it.  The mountain lion probably wandered out of the mountain to catch some easy rabbits to eat due to the cold winter weather that has probably made hunting in the mountains difficult.

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I tried to jog my course about twice a week though in the winter months I got to force myself to get out there and run because it is so darn cold.  I will have to bring my camera out with me sometime on one of my early morning runs because the sunrise over the mountains can be quite scenic at time.

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The Story of How Our Daughter Was Born

For you all that follow me on Facebook you probably know already that I am now a father for the first time.  Our daughter was born on Monday November 30, 2009, but the story of her birth actually begins the day prior.  Early Sunday morning at about 1:30 AM my wife, Miok woke me up to say she was having contractions.  I called the Army hospital her in El Paso to ask if I should bring her in or not.  They told me that when she her contractions are one every five minutes to go ahead and bring her in.  At about 9:30 AM her contractions were coming every five minutes so I went ahead and drove her to the hospital in the midst of the beginnings of some nasty weather.

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View of snow falling from my wife’s hospital bed.

The doctor checked her out and told me to go ahead and bring her home and come back when the contraction reach every three minutes.  I was a bit annoyed by this because my wife was exhausted and in a lot pain just to get to the hospital and now I was going to have to bring her all the way back home again.  So I brought her back home and around 10:00 PM the contractions were hitting her every three minutes.  So I called the hospital again and they told me to go ahead and bring her back to the hospital.  By this time my wife was in so much pain she could barely walk and now the nasty weather had turned into a full blown snow storm outside that I had to contend with as well.  Yes a huge a snow storm in El Paso!  To make matters worse my wife wasn’t physically able to get into my Ford because the seat was too high, so we had to take her Hyundai to the hospital instead.  So here I was driving slowly through a snow storm, late at night, in my wife’s little Hyundai while she was in extreme pain wanting to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

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Miok in extreme pain at the hospital before receiving any pain medication.

When we arrived at the hospital I had to get one of the soldiers pulling duty to come help me get Miok out the car and get her into a wheel chair.  The soldier went and brought my wife to the labor and delivery section of the hospital while I went to go park the car.  When I got to labor and deliver the doctor told me that she decided to go ahead and admit her into the hospital.  That was a big relief.

Later on that night the nurses offered my wife an epidural because of the immense pain she was in.  My wife decided to take the epidural, but the anesthesiologist would not give it to her because my wife could not understand some of the medical jargon in the disclosure paperwork.  In English school in Korea they don’t teach the students medical jargon such as hemoglobin because how often what they use that word?  Heck some of the words in the paperwork like clonidine and fentanyl I didn’t even know what those were much less someone from Korea.  Anyway I told the anesthesiologist I could call my wife’s Korean-American friend who is a nurse to explain to her what the medical jargon is in Korean.  She said no, that it had to be someone in the hospital.  Get this their translator at the hospital was someone from housekeeping who was on leave for a week.  So they started calling her home at 2:00 AM in the morning to translate for my wife.  It took them about two hours to get ahold of the translator and she explained the jargon to Miok.  This whole time I had my wife’s friend who is an actual nurse on stand by, but was unable to use her because of hospital buearacracy.  Yeah, I was pretty pissed.

Anyway once Miok got her epidural she quickly began to feel much better since the entire lower section of her body was made numb.  However, the baby was not ready to come out yet and the nurses were hopeful that maybe sometime after sun up the baby would be ready to be born.  However, when the sun came out that morning the baby still wasn’t ready.  The sun did provide us with some nice views of the snow fall outside though.  The snow had actually stopped for a little while that morning, but it eventually started coming down heavily again later that day.  It was the easiest the most snow fall I have ever seen fall in El Paso.

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Snow fall outside the hospital.

Next the nurses hoped that by lunch the baby would be ready, but it still did not come out.  So once dinner came and passed that is when the doctor came over to see what she could do.  She gave my wife some additional enducement medication, lessened the epidural medication so my wife could feel the contractions better, along with personally helping to deliver the baby.  She was finally able to get the baby to come out and it became obvious why the birth took so long because the baby weighed 8 pounds and 4 ounces.  For those of you who know my wife, you all know she is a small woman at five feet and one inch.  After experiencing the birth of my first child I have to say I have a new respect for what women have to go through giving birth because my wife went through a lot of pain during the birth and even now as she heals up, she is experiencing a lot of pain.  Needless to say I am quite proud of Miok.

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Minee after her birth at the hospital.

Anyway our daughter Minee despite the difficult nearly two day labor, turned out to be a perfectly healthy baby so far.  She does nothing but eat, drool, and poop just like all babies.

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If you are wondering we named our daughter Minee because it is a Korean name that also has an English equivalent because I have known of a few women with this name such as Minnie Driver.  It is important to us that she is able to speak both Korean and English so we both speak to her in both languages.  We want her to be able in the future to communicate with all her relatives in both countries.  She even has relatives in Japan so my wife may even try to teach her some Japanese as well.

Anyway we the celebrated the birth of our daughter the next day with some sparkling grape juice which the hospital was nice enough to provide for us.

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Besides drinking some sparkling grape juice look at the view outside as the sun rose over a dense fog bank that had settled over the lower valley that El Paso sits in:

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The Army hospital sits up on the side of the Franklin Mountains and looks down on the city.  The snow storm was the worst I had seen in El Paso and now this was the worst fog bank I have seen here as well.  I drove home to take a shower, change clothes, and grab a few things for my wife and I could not believe how thick the fog was that led to a few accidents that I seen as I drove home.

Anyway my wife ended up spending Sunday through Thursday in the hospital before she and Minee could both come home.  Here is a picture of Minee in her car seat for the first time for the drive home:

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So far Minee has been very well behaved as long as we keep her on a consistent feeding schedule.  If she is full she is happy and spends most of the day sleeping in her crib.

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And if you are wondering, yes I do help my wife feed the baby when she isn’t up to doing the breast feeding:

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All in all it has been great so far but the real challenge is going to be when I have to go back to work next week.  My wife is going to have to handle the majority of the parenting duties during the day and the tiredness of waking up at night to feed the baby is probably going to start hitting me more when I start working those long hours again.   Anyway I hope everyone enjoyed the posting and pictures and hopefully you all one day can meet our beautiful daughter as well.  Cheers.

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Our Home In El Paso, Texas

One of the biggest benefits of moving back to the US for my wife and I was the collapse of the housing market.  We had been thinking about getting into the housing market for years and we have decided to hold off because we had figured the housing market was inflated.  We considered buying a home a few years back in Washington State and we actually came very close to buying a home in Australia as well as an investment property, but by doing our research we felt both housing markets were inflated, so we held off.  When the housing collapse happened both my wife and I were greatly relieved because if we had bought a house in the area we were looking at back in Washington State for example we would have been hammered by the loss of value in the home.  Since we held off from buying we had saved up a very large down payment for a home when we moved to El Paso:

It is great being a home owner and my wife and I are really enjoying our home that we got at a great price from the seller who we talked down by $20,000 because he was so desperate to sell his home.  We have so far been enjoying our new life here in West Texas, which neither of us are from. We have lived outside the US for so long now that everything here actually feels new and fresh now.

Here is a quick tour around the outside of my house.  As can be seen in the above picture my front yard has no grass and is composed of all rock which is about the norm in El Paso since this is the desert.  I do have in my front yard a number of small trees and this very large bush with beautiful flowers that I have to keep trimming because of its non-stop growth:

I have another couple of nice bush along the fence line with my neighbor that also has some very nice colorful flowers on them as well:

These trees and bushes at least add some nice color to my front yard that would otherwise look pretty plain if it was just composed of rock.  I have some ideas to make improvements on my front yard, but right now I am focused solely on my back yard because it is composed of nothing, rocks.  However, as can be seen in this picture I have an ongoing landscaping project I have been working on:

I have slowly but surely shoveling up the rock and installing stone path ways.  The open area you see in the above photo is where a artificial lawn is to be installed.  In future postings once I complete the work in my backyard, I will show everyone the progress of the landscape work I have been doing.  But, I can tell everyone that it sure is nice to be able to make home improvements to your own property instead of someone else’s.

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My Backyard Landscaping Project

When I bought my house here in El Paso my backyard was literally nothing but rocks. As can be seen in the below photograph I have done a lot of work in the past few months shoveling out rocks and putting in stones and an Asian grill plus landscaping the flower bed:

I still have a long way to go to shovel out all the rocks and eventually put in grass and even a fountain.  That is one of the great things about owning a home is that all the work I am putting into landscaping will ultimately improve the home’s value.  I will post updates as I continue to make improvements on the backyard.

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Our Home In El Paso, Texas

One of the biggest reasons my wife and I had for returning to the United States from Australia was the collapse of the housing market.  We had been thinking about getting into the housing market for years and we have decided to hold off because we had figured the housing market was inflated.  We actually came very close to deciding to buy a home in Australia as well, but by doing our research we felt the Australian housing market was inflated as well.  When the housing collapse happened both my wife and I were greatly relieved because if we had bought a house in the area we were looking at back in Washington State we would have been hammered by the loss of value in the home.  Since we held off from buying we had saved up a very large down payment for a home and with the collapse of the housing market now was the time to buy real estate in the US.  So we packed up and moved to Texas and bought a home here:

It is great being a home owner and my wife and I are really enjoying our home that we got at a great price from the seller who we talked down by $20,000 because he was so desperate to sell his home.  We have so far been enjoying our new life here in West Texas, which neither of us are from. I have lived outside the US for so long now that everything here actually feels new and fresh now.  So it is great to be back and I will be blogging about being back in the US as well as continuing to blog about Australia, which by no means is behind me as work commitments will ensure I remain involved with Australia and many other places in the world I get to travel to. 

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Return of the Backyard Cockatoos

I was typing on the computer today when I heard a loud commotion outside from none other then once again from my friends the cockatoos:

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These cockatoos have been driving nuts lately because they have been tearing apart the big gum tree in my backyard.  When I go outside to rake up the mess the cockatoos literally sit up in the tree and fling branches at me.  This is an unusual behavior from these extremely smart birds that I haven’t seen before.

Anyway now there was just one cockatoo waddling around my backyard and making a tremendous amount of noise:

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I soon found out why because he was calling out to his friends that it was clear to join him:

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I had a park ranger tell me that cockatoos will often send one cockatoo forward to scout out an area to make sure it is safe and then it will yell back to his buddies that the coast is clear for them to join him.  And join him they did as my backyard was quickly filled with cockatoos:

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These cockatoos don’t eat the grass but actually pull out the roots of the grass and nibble on them while also looking for worms.  The park ranger had also told me that while cockatoos are grazing somewhere they tend to keep a lookout in one of the trees to look for any predators.  So often cockatoos appear to take off in unison for no reason and that is because there look out warns them of something that it sees coming towards them such as maybe a big eagle or a dog.

As much as I like cockatoos, the way they are destroying my backyard makes me think that maybe it is time to get a dog.

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Cockatoos

I really like Australian cockatoos. Yes they are noisy to be around at first but I have long since gotten used to them. They come to my yard often and are fun to watch clown around among each other as well as pick on the smaller birds. These birds are also highly intelligent and I have even seen a cockatoo that was trained to talk by its owner.

However with that said the cockatoos that come to my yard are starting to get on my nerves because they are tearing up my gum tree:

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A gang of about 15 cockatoos have been sitting in the big gum tree in my backyard picking off the branches which are falling all over my backyard and covering up the grass:

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It is bad enough I have kangaroos tearing down my fence line, but now I have cockatoos destroying my entire yard. I went out there to rake up all the branches and the cockatoos were literally throwing branches at me when I was raking.

This is the first time I have seen cockatoos have this strange behavior. Never before have I had such trouble with cockatoos. If anyone knows why this gang of cockatoos is acting so strange please let me know. Hopefully this gang that is causing the current problems will just move along eventually because I am tired of raking up after them.

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Who Destroyed My Fence?

I came home the other day to find my backyard fence destroyed!:

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Who could do such a thing!  Click below to find out:

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