Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Perfect Post for August

A Perfect Post

I am a rabid blog hopper and a few weeks ago, I came across Whatever, Mom. I've enjoyed reading this blog and a couple of days ago, this post describing a mother's efforts to give birth to her child went up. I think it is a beautiful post. I considered a home birth for a nanosecond (nixed by Paul and insurance concerns) when I was pregnant with Marley and really wanted to have a natural childbirth. Alas, it wasn't in the cards for me with either pregnancy. There are things you wish you knew and things you might have done differently and things you don't have any control over. The important thing, though, is the result. I was fortunate, during both deliveries, to have the support of my husband and sister-in-law at both births. Actually, at my daughter's birth, I had three friend present also! Anyway, this post made me remember the births of my children and reminded me of just how difficult yet wonderful the process of giving birth is for the mother. I hope you enjoy reading it.

To check out the rest of the August Perfect Post awards go to Surburban Turmoil or Petroville. Lindsay and MommaK will have them listed.

Note: I posted this early due to my um, er medical procedure tomorrow at the of dawn. The rest of the August Perfect Post awards will be up tomorrow, Friday, September 1st.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Holiday at the Beach and This, That and the Other

How do you think I'd look in that dress and hat?

Holiday at the Beach
Okay, okay. It was vacation. Doesn't holiday sound more, I don't know, something, though? I spent much of my time at the beach reading over 900 pages of The Forsyte Saga: A Man of Property & To Let. As I said in my last post, I brought oodles to read with me and then stumbled across Galworthy's tome on the apartment's bookshelf. I've been meaning to read it for awhile after watching bits and pieces of the mini-series on PBS. So, if I throw in a few Forsytisms like mentioning problems with my liver for which I'll need a tonic or that one must never, ever live off of your capitol and describing things as 'jolly' or 'rumtee', please forgive me!

It was good to get away and while, as my friend Michelle would say, you go into a family vacation with managed expectations, it turned out quite well. We rented an apartment adjoined to a private residence in Carlsbad. There was a balcony overlooking the beach which backed right up to the house.

The kids fought a little but well within reasonable boundaries. Colin, as he has been the last few trips, was so helpful it would not have been possible without him. They boogie boarded, played in the sand, watched Cartoon Network, snacked and then started all over again. I read, cooked a little, read, rinsed off my daughter's sandy body, read, fetched dinner, read. By Tuesday night, my vision was blurring but it was a treat.

Tuesday day, my friend came down with one of her sons, the other being in school already. Here is a picture of her son making a sand angel:

Mind, this was very black, dirty sand. My son seemed to think it was from tar. I don't know but up close, it looks like this:

Isn't that yucky?

We arrived back home, safe and sound, this afternoon. I had the following letter waiting for me:

Dear Mary Bogan,

Hallow my loving sponsor. How are you with your entire family? I hope your all fine being over by the grace of God. Anyway once again I am glad happy to express my special regard to you the way you have remember me once more. Receive special and warm greetings from my mum and my dad including my sisters and brothers. In additon to that let me take these golden opportunity to give out my thanks to you that I have receive the money that you have sent to me which is US dollars 25 which is equivalent to 1813.73 KShs and I use to buy clothes and shoes and may almight heavenly father bless you and you more.

Lastly say hallow to your entire family, friends and relatives. Remember to pray for me and my family the way we are doing for you. Byebye. We shall continue to communicate to you when God wishes.

Your loving child, Saitoti Mpere.
I love getting these letters from the child we sponsor at Christian Children's Fund. The horrible, terrible, I'm-embarassed-to-say-it part though is we have never written him! We have sponsored him for four plus years now. We send extra money for Christmas and his birthday but never a letter. Every time I get one of these it is equal parts joy and guilt inducing. Joy-inducing because of the gratitude and sweetness of each letter. He is thirteen years old and I love that he signs off, "your loving child." Guilt-inducing because of the whole non-communication from our side of things.

I know, why don't you guys hold me accountable? Every once in awhile, drop a comment and ask me if I've written to Saitoti yet? Surely with the entire blogosphere (okay, the 15-20 some odd people who check in) involved, I'll get off this computer and write one letter. (Actually two. We just started sponsoring another child in Uganda named Rachel. So, ask me about Rachel, too.)

School starts tomorrow. I am ready. I think Marley is past ready. She needs her class and her classmates. It isn't like I'm singing that song from the Office Depot commercial but I am glad to have the two Wild Things gone from 8:00 - 3:00. Marley is easy because she has the same teachers as last year and most of the same classmates. She is in a multi-age program and--keep your fingers crossed it doesn't get interfered with--she will be in the same class through third grade. Colin, well, I know he will be fine but he is starting high school tomorrow. He has arranged to meet a friend there a little early. He missed orientation, so there is a little wondering of where to go first, etc. He'll be fine, but I'll breathe more easily when he is home and I know how his day went. (What little information I can pry from his less-than-communicative lips.)

Tomorrow I am planning on making scrambled eggs and chocolate chip pancakes for their breakfast. I asked Colin a few days ago which he would prefer this fall: hot breakfast or dinner on the table. His answer? Both. That's not what I asked I said. I asked which you would prefer. Breakfast during the school week and dinner on the weekends. Okay. I'll work on that. This should give you a scary glimpse into the life of my poor children. Because I am a slob (see 100 things post) and disorganized (Don't hate me because I'm an ENFP!) my children usually have cold cereal or a toaster waffle for breakfast and rarely have a real sit down dinner. And when I say rarely, trust me, that is not an exaggeration. So, I am determined that I will be feeling better because of the CPAP and thus, I will have the energy to create a more homey environment for my children. I am starting slowly though. No point in shooting for the moon.

the Other
Um... let's see. What "other" do I have? Oh, I know. In the lovely absurdist theater that is my life, I scheduled a combination endoscopy/colonoscopy for the second day of school. That means I will be making chocolate chip pancakes and eggs while drinking Ensure tomorrow morning. It also means my children will be coming home about the time I am supposed to start my Fleet laxative crud. Did I mention my husband is out of town until late tomorrow night? What was I thinking?

Well, that is it for now? It is 9:14 pm and I have to eat something yummy (the last treat before the liquid diet) and watch Bones on the digital video recorder before heading off to dreamland with my CPAP mask attached firmly to my head. (It is 10:21 now. Something went wrong and Bones didn't record. Grrrrrrrr. Teenager error, I am sure! Oh well, Project Runway, CSI NY flip-a-thon it is.)

I am so the envy of all my friends and acquaintances.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Still "gone fishing" but couldn't let the day go by without Sleeping with Bread

Well, I am stuck with...




but remembered that today is Sleeping with Bread Monday and I couldn't let that one pass me by. So, here goes:

In the last week, I am most grateful for... opportunity to get away for a few days. I wasn't sure it was going to happen, but it did. Yeah! We are staying at the beach and I mean at the beach. It is right outside our window. The sunsets are beautiful and the temperature is perfect. I brought oodles to read but was waylaid when I found a complete set of The Forsyte Saga by Galworthy. I've seen part of both mini-series on PBS and had been wanting to read it. I'm almost half-way through, so I need to keep at it! ;) Of course, I'm in the middle of Rilla of Ingleside and I'm supposed to be working on The House of Mirth of book club but sometimes you just have to read what is in front of you and that means setting some others aside.

However, in the last week I am least grateful for...

... the realization that I am too dependent on the modern conveniences of life. We don't have very good cell reception here, the apartment phone only lets you make local calls, the dial-up is prehistoric. So, it isn't that these things are lacking or unavailable here, it is how much I want them. I'm only gone for four days and I'm feeling the pain of a slower life. (Sigh!) I need to take this to heart and ponder what changes I may need to make when I get home.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Gone Fishing

If you know me, you know that I have not really gone fishing. I'm not that kind of gal (not that there is anything wrong with that!) The family is going on a quick get away before school starts next week. I'm not sure what access I will have to the internet, etc., so I may not be back until later in the week.

In the meantime, I leave you with some of my favorite quotes:

"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. "
Jonathan Swift

“We have, in fact, two kinds of morality side by side; one which we preach but do not practise, and another which we practise but seldom preach. "
Bertrand Russell

"You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows. "
Bob Dylan

"Variety's the very spice of life that gives it all its flavour. "

William Cowper

"Is not life a hundred times too short for us to bore ourselves? "

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"The Future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is."

C. S. Lewis

"Science fiction is no more written for scientists than ghost stories are written for ghosts."

Brian Aldiss

"To know how to say what others only know how to think is what makes men poets or sages; and to dare to say what others only dare to think makes men martyrs or reformers—or both."

Elizabeth Charles

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing."


"Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. "

Ambrose Bierce

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. "

Phyllis Diller

"While not exactly disgruntled, he was far from feeling gruntled. "

P. G. Wodehouse

"There is nothing to make you like other human beings so much as doing things for them."

Zora Neale Hurston

"The best way to kill an idea is to take it to a meeting."


"At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgement."

Benjamin Franklin

"Too many bricklayers make a lopsided house."
Chinese Proverb

"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean; who is neither tarnished nor afraid. "

Raymond Chandler

" You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance. "

Ray Bradbury

" There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden, or even your bathtub. "
Elisabeth Keebler-Ross

" I rent everything, other than the gift of life itself, which was given to me without any predictable lease, a gift that can be withdrawn at any time. "
Jerzy Kosinski

" Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. "
Anais Nin

“ The gospel is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. "
Garrison Keillor

"You can not give another person that which you have found, but you can make him homesick for what you have."
Oswald Chambers

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are some of your favorite quotes?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Nurses of Vietnam

This past weekend, a documentary aired about women nurses in Vietnam. It coincided with the station's airing of China Beach, a early 90's drama about women in Vietnam. I recorded it because I knew I would be interested in it. I have had an interest in the women veterans of that war since reading Home Before Morning by Lynda VanDevanter for my American history class at UTD and because my uncle served in Vietnam in the early 70's. After watching the documentary, I knew I wanted to write about it here but I feel at a loss as to what to say.

The women featured in the documentary and in the book, Home Before Morning, experienced a year in Hell. Most of them were less than one year out of nursing school, in their late teens or early twenties. They were often promised that if they joined the military they wouldn't be sent anywhere dangerous. Some of them signed up specifically for duty in Vietnam. I remember one nurse saying that her father, a non-demonstrative man, gave her the biggest hug ever as she left and said brokenly, "I have four sons but it is my daughter I am sending into war."**

Upon arriving in Vietnam, life turned absolutely upside down. These women easily spent 10-14 hours on a shift. Steeped in blood, often without the proper supplies, they worked with doctors in a way that was not common in the states. The doctor's had to depend on them and give them more responsibility and they met that challenge heroically. More than one nurse has recounted encountering a burned soldier, holding his hand or touching his arm, only to have his blackened flesh come off with her hand. Chest wounds with shredded hearts and legs hanging by a tendon were amongst other common casualties. It wasn't unheard of for a nurse to perform an amputation. Sometimes the best they could do was reassure a soldier that he was in good hands knowing that soldier would probably die. When they were off duty, the women nurses played hard just like the men. Anything to shut out the horror that had just been and would be again soon.

After returning from being "in-country," the nurses were in a different situation than the male veterans. While the men also had a difficult time adjusting, they at least had each other as they continued their term in the military or they were better able to find each other. Of the thousands of thousands of men who served, only about 5,000 women were there so they were more isolated from each other upon returning to the states. They had no one to talk to typically. Their families usually didn't ask or want to hear about life there. They expected their daughter or sister back as they remembered her not the utterly broken woman who was returned to them. These nurses experienced post-traumatic stress disorder like the men but it was much longer before it was recognized in them.

If they continued to nurse, they found themselves in a subservient position without the respect of the doctor's they worked with now and they were not allowed to use any of the more advanced skills and training they learned in Vietnam. I remember in her book, Lynda Van Devanter eventually found her way into emergency dialysis nursing. Routine nursing was not for her. Emergency nursing provided the same burst of adrenaline that she experienced during her tour and emergency dialysis required incredible skill.

As I watched the documentary it reminded me of the interview portions of Band of Brothers. Sixty years later, the veterans of Easy Company still are haunted by and emotional when speaking of the horrors of World War II. Thirty years later, these nurses are no different and still have nightmares, deal with depression and still have questions about why the war happened and how they ended up there. Eventually, more and more nurses received help. Lynda Van Devanter herself was instrumental in raising awareness of the particular issues of women veterans. Many people worked together to honor these women and their service and in the early 90's the Women's Vietnam Memorial was erected. I hope to visit it someday.

Who's to say why one issue, topic or story strikes a chord that resonates more than another? There are so many stories of hardship and horror, recovery and redemption out there. Why did this one affect me so much? As I said, my uncle served in Vietnam. In the few years before he died, he opened up more about that experience. Knowing and loving someone who was there is probably part of the reason. Reading about Lynda Van Devanter's experience also impacted me greatly. But there is something greater about their words, their faces, their tears that makes my heart ache and I can't express it any more clearly than that.

Here are just a few links available about nurses in Vietnam.

The Women of the Army Nurse Corp During the Vietnam War

Jeanne Diebolt's Keynote Address at the Women's Memorial

Nurses and the Daily Horror of Vietnam (This is the article which discusses the documentary I mentioned.)

I wrote about my Uncle L.T. here and here and here.

**The words of the father in this story are paraphrased.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It's a quarter to three...

New CPAP mask hurting nose




2:45 am? Might as well check Bloglines and do some blog surfing.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday

In the last week, for what am I least grateful?

I'm starting with the "worst" side of things today because I just want to get it out of the way. If I can vent this then maybe my mind and spirit will be more clear to know what I am most grateful for. I'm also going to be greedy and talk about two different issues.

The first thing I have been least grateful for this week is the noise level in my house. Actually, it isn't just in my house, it is anywhere my daughter is. She has always been a noisy one. While my son had his bursts of temper and was very talkative, my daughter is all about grunts, screams of delight or screams of anger, whistling. . . IT NEVER STOPS. Lately, her volume knob has been stuck at 11 and the rest of us are at our wit's end. This makes the rest of us more irritable and so guess what? We get louder in our efforts to quiet her down. It is not pretty. Throw in the chemical reaction when Son A is infused with a little Daughter B and it is quite combustible. I was trying to carry on a conversation in the church lobby yesterday and realized I was getting some horrified stares. My son and daughter were like two cats hissing and swiping at each other. Does anyone else ever put their kids on time out from touching each other?

The last thing today I am least grateful for is my visit to the home health care company today. I have my CPAP and it should all be fine; however, when I got there they asked me what mask I used? It was on the paper work. They didn't have any of the mask I used in stock. I thought it was a big deal which mask you used in your sleep study. When I asked about insulating covers for the tube to help with condensation, the respitory therapist looked at me like I was crazy. Why is it that whenever you deal with more than one group of people with any medical issue, you get told something different at each step. (Picture me now, fists clenched, jaw clenched, grrrrrrrr noises being made and steam coming out of my ears.) I just cannot deal with that and in my sleep deprived state, I am beyond Beyond in trying to deal with it.

Moving on...

In the last week, what am I most grateful for?

I do finally have my CPAP machine. The mask issue got worked out today and if the substitute one doesn't work, they can order me another one. This has been a long road, and although I have to expect some adjustments to make in getting used to the machine, it is just the two of us now. Me and my new sleep shadow doing our best to make the best of this sleep apnea situation.

I am relieved...
I am anxious...
I am hopeful...
I am wary...

I am ready.

Go check out Michelle of ky coop cast and Sheila of Musings of a Mommy to read about their Sleeping with Bread Monday.

NOTE: To learn how to Sleep with Bread, click on the link in my sidebar. I'd love for you to join me in this spiritual exercise.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Life, the Universe and Everything: Blog Style

Blog Life
It feels like a long time since I've posted, but it was only Tuesday. Thanks to those who commented on my "cuteness" in electrodes instead of laughing at me! We'll see how generous they can, with any true integrity, be when I post pictures of me wearing the CPAP shrapnel next week.

Instead of thinking about writing, I've been investing most of my blogging energy in cruising around finding new sites to read. I've noticed that I'm not as interested in some of the blogs I've been reading the last few months. There are a few, tried and true, that still having me coming back for more but like a husband with a wandering eye, I'm looking around. Also, for a long time I've done a particular booking meme but my interest in it has waned and I don't know when I will go back.

I am excited about my Sleeping with Bread meme that I started a couple of weeks ago. BubandPie joined in this week and I was very honored. She even used my new Sleeping with Bread button! Although I don't have high aspirations for major blog traffic and recognition, I would love for this meme to catch on. It has been such a wonderful spiritual exercise for me. I would love to share in it with others.

In my quest for new bloggage, I've come across some very well written posts and had some comment dialogue with the authors. A lot of them are readers and have me quaking in my reading boots just a little bit. I once had someone tell me I was the best reader he knew but I think these women put me to shame. We have, however, a lot of books in common from The Boxcar Children to Charles' Williams' Descent into Hell. How fun is that? Throw in a little Myers-Briggs interest and my plate is full.

My blog life hasn't been confined to the blogosphere, though. Last week I had lunch with my sister-in-law. She has a blog and so we spent time discussing our writing. We are very different. I am writing extemporaneously. It makes sense. I'm an extrovert and usually don't even know what I'm thinking until I've said it out loud or written it down. I may get more "disciplined" later but I'm happy for now with this approach. She is an introvert, and a very good one at that, and so she is more methodical. Posts are agonized over before that publish button ever gets hit. Differences aside, we are both being challenged by our blog posts. Muscles are being worked out; we are getting in shape. For what? Who knows but we are loving it.

A few years ago, we bought a large entertainment center. Until then, I was a seasonal furniture arranger. Twice a year (the closest thing to seasons here in So-So Cal: warm and cool) I would get the bug and move the living room and dining room furniture around. Well, the entertainment center is too big to move around so I have no good options for a furniture change up. I'm not too different with my blogs. I've gotten a little tired of the same old look. I've changed them around a little bit but HTML is like my entertainment center and my blog look options are limited. So, I've done something I will never do in real life. I've hired a designer. Actually, I've hired two! Oh, the extravagance! Izzy of Izzy Design will be working on this blog sometime in the next few weeks and Kelly at Nello Design will make over Tales from the edge in late September. I'm so excited I can hardly wait.

the Blog'verse
As I said above, in my looking for some new blog crack to get high on, I connected briefly with some other bloggers. In some cases, visits to blogs were responded to with personal emails. I emailed a couple of bloggers to comment on something in particular I liked about their blog or an unusual interest we both shared. I received responses from both of them. Chantal of Bread Crumbs in the Butter was kind enough to look over my blog and offer some asked for constructive criticisms. Veronica of Toddled Dredge took time to recommend some books she thought I might like. This is the great thing about blogging. It's not like a wedding I have to drag my introverted husband to. People are there because they want to be and they are usually friendly, interested and willing to converse.

Typically, I stay within a very narrow circle in the blog'verse. Moms, books, individual blogs. In other words, personal blogs about life and the stuff of life. I avoid political blogs. Other than book blogs, I don't peruse any hobby sites. Every once in awhile I stumble across some comment war in a blog and my chest closes up and my stomach knots up. I can't deal with the conflict so I just stick my fingers in my ears singing LA LA LA at the top of my lungs trying to avoid it altogther. I like my quiet little neighborhood. There are some tussles once in awhile but I just side step them and come back when everyone has cooled off.

Anyhoo, in the blogging cul-de-sac I've been hanging out in, there has been a lot of reflection happening about the quantity of time spent blogging. Time is finite. Hours of blogging take away from other parts of life and people are feeling the pinch. They are talking about taking time off or setting better boundaries to leave time for silly things like paying the bills, sleep and spending time with family. Mommy off the Record wrote about this blogging crossroads and the response was strong. She struck a nerve. She has since posted her Ten Commandments of Sane Blogging which I think any serious blogger should consider taking to heart.

and Blog Everything
Along with the general discussion of blogging boundaries, Mommy off the Record also found a site called Bloggers Anonymous. I really was laughing so hard I almost cried and I don't usually use do that when I'm reading. If you spend any quantity of time blogging at all, you need to go and check it out. Especially the 10 Mock Signs and Blog Intervention posts.

If you are familiar with Douglas Adams you know that I am a fan, hence the name of this blog, the description under the heading of this blog, the quote at the footer of this blog and approximately seven books in my library. A few months ago, I published a post which used his Hitchhiker's Guide entry format to make fun of blogging. It is transcribed from the soundtrack to the movie. I posted it because it is funny and because I think we bloggers need to be able to make fun of ourselves so it doesn't hurt so much when we realize others are making fun of us! I send you to Bloggers Anonymous with the same purpose. As wonderful as blogging is, we need to keep our sense of humor about it and our heads in the "real" world, too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

To sleep, perchance to breath: It's hard to strike a pose in your jammies and electrodes.

As I prepared to go for the latest sleep study, I mentioned to Paul that I was considering bringing the camera to get a picture of me wired up. I asked him if he thought that would be weird. "No way!" he replied. He is also planning on taking pictures of me as I sleep with the CPAP on. I didn't take pictures of me the morning after because I was too tired but you would have seen the hair that is looking okay in this picture all squished up and mussed every which way. It's worse than normal morning hair because there is about six globs of electrode paste in there. Also, there would be red marks on my face and neck because I am apparently allergic to the tape they used this time.

So, here I am, in all my sleep study glory, ready to embark on my full night with the CPAP. When I saw this picture, I decided that it doesn't actually look that bad because you can't see the electrodes that are in my hair and behind my ears and on my legs. Still though, you get an idea. At this point in the evening, I had watched Cold Case while waiting for the technician to finish with another patient. The technician was the same one I had for the previous study so in the hour it took to hook me up we caught up on old times. Around 11 p.m., it was lights out and time for business.

I won't go into all the details because they are boring. It wasn't a fun night, but better than the first study. It was successful in that I finally achieved the REM sleep necessary for the titration to be successful. I did actually sleep a little about this much. While there some near panic moments, I beat the claustrophobia down. In the next 2 - 5 days, I'll get my equipment and we'll be off on the next leg of my sleep apnea adventures.

On a side note, it is funny to me, and a little sad, that every time I say I'm cranky now, my daughter bursts into a sing-song voice and announces: "Sleep AP-neaaaaa!" I'm looking forward to no longer being necessary!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday

Well, here I am fresh off the latest sleep study. I am now fully titrated. (Titration is the determination of the optimal pressure for you to use on the CPAP machine.) Because I got home less than an hour ago, I am just now getting to this Monday's Sleeping with Bread.

Still being a little fuzzy from last night, I was stumped as I looked at the SWB questions so I am going with the straight-from-St. Ignatious consolation/desolation combo.

In the last week, what gave me consolation?

I've been going through old pictures--which you know if you've been checking out Tales from the edge of sanity. Looking at pictures of my kids, our friends' kids, me as a kid has been giving me a nice, warm fuzzy feeling.

  • When I look at pictures of me as a child, I am happy to see that I wasn't the invisible, homely child I often felt like.
  • As I spoke about last week, looking at pictures of my friends' children makes me grateful for the community that I experience with these families.
  • Finally, when I see those pictures of Colin and Marley, well, what mom doesn't melt when she sees chubby faces, new teeth, sleeping bodies. It is just too Too for words. I turn into one of those raving lunatic, gusher moms who just wants to talk about eating up those yummy kiddos 'cuz they look so scrumptious. How ridiculous am I? But hey, what's a girl to do?

In the last week, what caused me desolation?

Let's see, would it come as any surprise that it has to do with sleep apnea? I am soooooooo looking forward to the day when I do not have any need to talk about this. For this past week, because Paul was out of town and the kids both had obligations every day, I was pushing what is reasonable for me to get accomplished. Mind you, this doesn't include cooking and cleaning. Right now, getting them fed junk food, Marley bathed (occasionally) and everyone where they are supposed to be is my limit. So, last night, while I have felt more prepared for this study, I started experiencing some anxiety before Paul dropped me off. I realized I was close to tears when Paul asked me how I was doing, so I asked begged him to pray for me before I went in. I settled in while I waited for my technician to begin the electrode attaching process. (I do have a couple of pictures which I will post later.) During the night, as they tried different settings, I was physically uncomfortable with some of the pressures they tried, my body was uncomfortable from some of the straps and there were times when I was afraid:

  • afraid they wouldn't get a air pressure number
  • afraid I was going to freak out and start crying
  • afraid the night would never end.

But the good news is this desolation ends with more consolation:

They did get an air pressure number; I only freaked out a little (on the inside where they couldn't see); and, the night did end around 9:15 this morning when they woke me up. I have my numbers and I should have the machine in my grasp within a couple of days. I am really on my way to feeling better and I am ready.

Now it's your turn...

Thursday, August 10, 2006


She walked into the classroom, son’s hand in hers, and looked at all the desks, searching for his name. Colorful and inviting, the walls were decorated and the room ready for its new students. Today was the kindergarten tea, a time for her son, along with his classmates, to see his classroom and to meet his teacher so that he would be more comfortable for his first day of class. She didn’t anticipate any trouble. He had attended preschool on that campus for three years and she worked at the church office just across the parking lot. He was in comfortable and familiar territory.

As she showed her son all the room had to offer, a wave of emotion swept over her. Afraid she would start crying, she made excuses to leave early. Hurrying out, she took some deep breaths and the emotion subsided. What was that? she asked herself. She was confused by the strength of feeling and unable to identify the specific emotion. She knew some mothers became emotional as their children started school but surely this was too strong a feeling to be that. Besides, she told herself, he had been in preschool for so long and would just be across the parking lot from her. She hadn’t thought this would bother her.

Pushing the thoughts and emotions aside, she went about her business the next couple of days. The first days of kindergarten were uneventful. Her son was fine. She was able to suppress any overwhelming feelings yet was never completely at ease. Friday came, and with it, the first school chapel. This was the only day the children had a specific dress code: shirts with collars and pants for the boys, skirts or dresses for the girls. No shorts allowed. The no shorts rule presented her with her first power struggle of elementary school. He only liked jeans or shorts and t-shirts. No collars on his shirts and no fat pants--his name for anything other than the hand-me-down Wrangler jeans he favored.

“It’s the rules. You have to wear this.” she stated patiently.

“No! I want shorts!” he demanded.

“You can’t wear shorts. It says in the student handbook. No shorts. I read it. You have to respect the rules even if you don’t agree with them.” she attempted to reason with him. Eventually, she won the battle but not without losing her patience and it was exhausting. At the chapel hour, she headed over to the auditorium to sneak a peek at her little boy. The students filed in, class by class. She noticed one student, then another and another in shorts.

"Wait a minute. What is going on here?" she thought. Spotting Karen, the school vice principal and a good friend, she made her way over to her.

“Karen, so many boys are wearing shorts. The handbook said no shorts.”

“No, dress shorts are allowed.” Karen answered matter-of-factly.

“I read through it more than once. I’m sure it said no shorts at all. I would have let him wear shorts. He wanted to wear shorts,” she began to get distressed.

“No. It says dress shorts are acceptable.” her friend reassured her.

She did not believe this and wouldn’t accept it until the manual was brought out. There in black and white were the words she had missed for some reason.

“For boys, acceptable dress includes collared shirts including knit polo shirts tucked in, pants, dress shorts, belt, sneakers...”

The dam burst of tears was released. All that fighting and struggle for nothing. Her friend tried to console her but she wasn’t in a place to be comforted. The emotion that began the day of the kindergarten tea was released now like a tidal wave and it had to run its course. She made her way back to her office sobbing. She would get the tears under control until someone would walk by and ask her what was wrong.

“I made him wear pants! I’m a horrible mom!” she wailed. The men in her office, while sympathetic, did not quite understand this response. They humored her and gave her hugs, reassuring her that she was a wonderful mom. Although the shorts issue didn’t make sense to them, they were dads and knew not to reason with a mom in this state. After she calmed down, she decided to try to at least alleviate her mistake. Rushing home, she picked up some suitable shorts and took them to his class. After asking permission from his teacher to help him change, she took her son into the class bathroom. As she helped him, she apologized tearfully.

“I’m so sorry, honey. I read the handbook wrong and you are able to wear nice shorts.” He was happy to have shorts but otherwise seemed none the worse for wear. Obviously this was an experience that scarred only the mother and not the son.

Over the next few days, with a little distance, she began to recognize the emotion she had been feeling: grief. That first shocking emotion that day in class was grief. She realized it now. It was the same feeling she experienced at the death of her grandfather, her brother, her grandmother. It didn’t make sense to her, though. Nobody had died. Her son had just started school.

Eventually she realized it wasn’t about being overprotective or nervous about her son’s readiness for school...

It wasn’t about being a horrible mother...

It wasn’t about shorts...

It was about what his beginning kindergarten represented: the death of his unencumbered life and his entering into a world of expectation and responsibility. He was no longer a child free of the world. Her baby was hers alone no longer. He was part of the world now.

He was ready. She was not.

Izzy over at Izzy Mom recently talked about her daughter's first day of kindergarten. This post, combined with Colin's starting high school in a few weeks, got me started remembering my son's first days of kindergarten and my less than composed response to it some nine years ago. It should be noted that when Marley started kindergarten last year, it was a little emotional for me, but I still practically skipped all the way to the car!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Life, the Universe and Everything (10 p.m. ramblings)

Um... Right now, it doesn't feel like I have much of one. Although, if you think about it, when people say that they don't have a life what they mean is they don't like the life they have. So, I guess I will be honest and say it. Right now, I don't like the life I have. (I'm listening for the sound of thunder indicating the nearness of lightning. No thunder. I don't think I will be struck down by lightning for that one.) The foundation of my so-called life is fine. Husband, two kids, two tiny little pets, nice suburb. Check. Check. Check. Check. On the surface, I cannot complain. And really, I don't want this to be a complaint. This is just my 10 p.m. ramblings.

My jaw is perpetually clenched. I believe it is closely related to the disorder that I am tired (get it?) of talking about. Perpetually Clenched Jaw has been causing headaches daily the past weeks. I am basically confined to the house after 4 pm because Paul is gone for a few days. I'm an extrovert without many "extras" to vert with. Like the puppy in this picture, given the right circumstances, I will go looking for company. Right now, the circumstances aren't ideal. That probably has a lot to do with the vast comments I have been leaving on blogs over the entire blogverse. Long. Wordy. Comments. And checking the comment conversation multiple times per day.

My schedule is determined currently by gymnastics camp drop off and pick ups, summer school drop off and pick ups and errands. My attitude is challenged by my chaotically dissheveled home and my empty fumes checking account.

The complaint fest above? Basically cabin fever. As usual when I write these life, the universe and everything post, I implore you to ignore it. Once I get some sleep, I'll feel okay. Once Paul gets home, even better. My head has plenty of perspective but my spirit is just getting in the way tonight.

(8 a.m. the next morning - update: I was just posting over at Tales from the edge of sanity, and I realized that I did get to have brunch with one friend on Monday and I will get to have lunch with my sister-in-law on Thursday. So, I take back a little, that I haven't been able to have people around me. But, I contend that it does go to show how much of an extrovert that I am. Two get-togethers in a week aren't enough for me!)

the Universe
When I was looking for an image to place above, I first did an image search for "lonely" before deciding to go with extrovert. Sadly, many of the pictures that came up when I searched for "lonely" images were pictures of arms that had been scarred by cutting. I am so saddened by this. I may be lonely with a lower case "l" because of some temporary circumstances but I cannot imagine being so lonely with a capital "L" that I would take a razor to my arm and cut it hoping that physical pain would make me forget my emotional pain.

Something was told to me today that made me cry.
Something that isn't about me.
Something that isn't appropriate for me to discuss here at this time.
Something that there isn't anything to do to stop it or make it better.
Something I knew was coming.
Something that should make a person cry.


A certain VIC (Very Important Celebrity) has been getting a lot of attention lately for some VBB (Very Bad Behavior.) I find myself having great sympathy for this man and his family because of a theory I have. A theory that sometimes when a child is raised with certain words and behaviors you never fully escape them. Consciously you might reject them but when you face certain difficulties these words and behaviors might rear their ugly heads. This is an anecdotal theory meaning that I have no proof this is the case but I know--from my own experience--that the words and behaviors that surrounded me as a child come back to haunt me. On any given day I fight to keep those behaviors away from my children and that I have lost that fight some days.

I think I am too tired for much of "everything." It is now 10:52 p.m. If I don't get to bed soon, I will be sorry tomorrow. Maybe you guys can tell me a little bit of the everything in your lives right now. I wouldn't mind some company.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday

Welcome to Sleeping with Bread Monday, a new meme I started just last week. If you don't know what it is, scroll down to read the story and explanation that go along with it. If you are joining me today in this meme, simply post yours in the comment section or create your own post and then leave a link in the comment section for us to follow. Each week, feel free to answer any of the questions posed below or rephrase it in a way that suits you best.

My question and answers for the week:

For what am I most grateful?

This week I am most grateful for my community of friends. I took my two children and two of my friend's children to the beach last Friday. Watching them play and boogie board in the water, I was struck by how much they had grown and by how long we had known each other. My son is the oldest, 14, but he was only around 4 when we started hanging out with these particular friends. I was at the hospital when each of their children were born and our children are growing up together. They've always known each other. When I was young, we always spent holidays with aunts, uncles and cousins. My family has dispersed, and although my son did grow up to a certain extent with a couple of cousins, we have very little family in the area now. But I am grateful that my children have "substitute cousins" in the form of all the friends we have here.

Least grateful?

I think, when I look back over the last week, that I am least grateful for the way I feel physically and its effect on me emotionally. I am just plain tired of being tired and irritiable. I feel like I'm in the last stages of a marathon. And, although I am still somewhat nervous about by ability to cope with the C-PAP treatment, I am so sick of all this that I am looking forward to next week when I can start using the contraption. I pray that it will go well and I can feel like myself again.

(If you don't know what this being tired and C-PAP business is all about, you can click here and here.)


The Sleeping with Bread Story and Meme Explanation
During the ing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, "Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow." (Linn, Dennis et al, Sleeping
With Bread
, p.l)

These are the beginning words of a book that introduced me to a practice called the examen. The orphans held on to what nourished them and were thus able to sleep peacefully at night. The examen, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, helps a person hold onto what spiritually nourishes him by looking at what is giving him consolation in his life or causing him desolation. It allows someone to express his gratitude to God for the good stuff and turn to him for solace for the bad stuff.

It is quite simple. You simply ask yourself, in the last day/week/month what gave me consolation and what caused me desolation. You can also phrase the question in any of the following ways:

* For what am I most grateful? Least grateful?
* When did I give and receive the most love? The least love?
* When did I feel most alive? Most drained of life?
* When did I have the greatest sense of belonging? Least sense of belonging?
* When was I most free? Least free?
* When was I most creative? Least creative?
* When did I feel most connected? Least connected?
* When did I feel most fully myself? Least myself?
* When did I feel most whole? Most fragmented?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

What's your score?

No. Not your hotness score. That's what you first thought, didn't you? Shame on you!

woman reading

The score I'm talking about is your readability score. What's that you ask? Let me tell you: It is a score lets you know the approximate grade level equivalent of the writing on your website. Oooooo, lit major fun!

I found this over at Mom-101's blog. Of course, I have to do what I am told and she told her readers to check it out. Here is my score:

Reading Level Results

Total sentences: 676
Total words: 9042
Average words per Sentence: 13.38
Words with 1 Syllable: 6216
Words with 2 Syllables: 1626
Words with 3 Syllables: 781
Words with 4 or more Syllables: 419
Percentage of word with three or more syllables: 13.27%
Average Syllables per Word: 1.49
Gunning Fog Index: 10.66
Flesch Reading Ease: 67.07
Flesch-Kincaid Grade: 7.23

My take on all this? I think 13.38 words as the average per sentence is a little ridiculous. What am I doing? On the other hand, that Gunning Fog Index of 10.66? That means, according to the chart below, that I'm as readable as Time and Newsweek. But then apparently, Time and Newsweek must also have a grade level score in the junior high range? Hmmm... Maybe that's not such good company to be keeping.

Either way, this was a fun and interesting exercise. If you want to try it, click here.

Fog Index Resources

6 - TV guides, The Bible, Mark Twain
8 - Reader's Digest
8 - 10 - Most popular novels
10 - Time, Newsweek
11 - Wall Street Journal
14 - The Times, The Guardian
15 - 20 - Academic papers
Over 20 - Only government sites can get away with this, because you can't ignore them.
Over 30 - The government is covering something up

P.S. For Michelle, guess where this painting is? For the answer, click here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Summer Memories - Three Things Thursday

Camp Seely

1. Camp Seely, in Crestline, California, is the summer camp of my younger years. My grandfather, a Free Will Baptist minister in the Los Angeles area, usually brought as many grandkids as possible with him to this camp every summer. I think I went most years between first and seventh grade.

This is a picture of the lodge area where we would have our morning and evening services. One of the fun things to do at camp every year was to hike to Heart Rock. It was very pretty with cold, cold water and to a little kid it was incredible that there could be a heart shaped rock.

Going to this camp for so many summers is definitely one of the highlights of my childhood.


2. The above represents my best efforts at scanning an old-fashioned camp picture of mine. I don't know how many of you ever experienced having a group photo taken using one of those big rotating cameras. If you click link below each photo, it will take you to Flickr where you can roll over the first two and see notes which show you all the members of my family and a couple of friends from camp. I think it is unusual for a kid to go to camp with so many family members present. I always shared a cabin with my grandma, my grandpa always had a camp job--dean, snack shop, something--and for two years, my mom was the camp cook. Note: We are all dressed up because at Camp Seely, the Free Will Baptist version in the 70's, was very conservative. Girls and boys were completely segregated. They didn't swim at the same time. You were not allowed onto the other gender's side of camp. And, you dressed up for evening services. Every night. No exceptions.


3. Ah, here I am, in a very BOLD red and white striped shirt. I loved that shirt. When my school picture was taken just a couple of months later, I was wearing this shirt. I don't remember very well the girl I am standing next to. It was fun to see people year after year. Sometimes, I would get to see some of the camp kids at the monthly area youth meetings. We meet once a month at a roller skating rink. After an hour or so of roller skating, we would all congregate for devotions.


Like I said, Camp Seely is one of the highlights of my youth excepting the nightly that was the altar call where, in true fire-and-brimstone tradition, we were told nightly to repent now or it might be too late! Those altar calls, along with the whole cold war fear and too many episodes of the Night Gallery led to many, many nightmares and much stress for much of my childhood. Somehow though, I was always able to separate it from what I thought about God and it never put me off of Christianity.

Anyway, that is my contribution to Three Things Thursday this week, a meme of Sheila's she plays faithfully every week. I play occasionally and this week, with its theme of summer memories was too good to resist!