Friday, September 29, 2006

The Return of. . . Dunh, Dunh, Dunhhhhhhhh. . .

Six Degrees of Booking

This is something I did a couple of times in April. First on my own, then as part of a meme called Booking Through Thursday. I thought it would be fun to do again. In case you don't know, it is a play on the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. In that game, you can supposedly pick any actor and within six "moves" connect that actor to Kevin Bacon. I decided to do it with a book picked randomly from my library one day. Anyone feel free to play. I won't tag anyone in particular. Just let me know if you did it so we can all go check it out.

The rules are simply to connect any six books, which you've read, from your personal library. The connections can be personal to you or drawn from the book or authors. It is completely up to you. Previous examples are here: Six Degrees of Booking and Six More Degrees of Booking. Today, I had my son pick a book for me. After rejecting a book on magic (his,) a crossword puzzle dictionary and a Beatles anthology book (my husband's,) he picked:

  1. Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was a text for my Reading and Writing Texts class at University of Texas, Dallas. Exploring stories that are retold, we also watched the 1930's movie version to explore what aspects of the original story the author (in this case, director) took with him and what new things he brought to the story. The next book in our Frankenstein story progression was:
  2. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, a retelling of the Frankenstein story according to my professor, Dennis Kratz. The man/animal creatures in this book remind me of:
  3. Clay's Ark by Octavia Butler. This book is about a virus which is brought back to Earth by astronauts. The virus causes mutations in the victim and they become very animal-like. The children born to them even more so. The alien hybrids spread the virus to others by scratching them. The virus gets into their blood immediately and begins the transformation. The transformation through blood reminds me of:
  4. Dracula by Bram Stoker. I've always loved vampire stories even modern versions like Buffy and Angel. If it has a vampire in it, I will at least check it out. Dracula and his other vampires are the living which leads me to:
  5. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol. We shift from the fantastic here to story of a businessman, Chichikov, who buys up the names of serfs whose names are still on the government census rolls. Nikolai Gogol is a Russian writer, as is the writer of:
  6. A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I read this a few years ago as part of a spiritual exercise. It is a look at the live of a man wrongly imprisoned in a Siberian labor camp. The horror of his life is made bearable by his losing himself in the routine of his day and the determination to stay as sane, human even, by doing his work and doing it well.

There you go, my Six Degrees of Booking. Remember that if you read this, consider yourself tagged. No need for a direct invitation. Also, don't forget to leave a comment here letting us know you played so we can enjoy your post.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In which I attempt a very difficult writing assignment. . .

. . . and am embarrassed to post it, but I have to post it, because a typical brat over at nonsensical text asked for some writing prompts recently. I told her about Bub and Pie's torture device--I mean writing assignment--which she used to give to one of her writing classes. The assignment was to write a 500+ word autobiography. Very shortly a typical brat had hers, vagueness personified, up and I have been shamed into writing my own. I can't suggest a writing prompt for someone I am unwilling to do, can I?

So, while this feels like I am getting ready to go for a ride on a scary roller coaster, sweaty palms and all, here, without further ado, is my 500+ word autobiography:

Driving as quickly as he dared over an Oklahoma country road after Thanksgiving dinner, my grandfather escorted my mother to the small town hospital hoping against hope his next grandchild would not be born in his car–which I wasn’t, because my mother managed to wait until she got to the hospital for the general anaesthesia it was common to use in the mid-60s–for the circumstances of my birth provided enough drama for him: my mother, his oldest child, had already given birth almost six years earlier to an illegitimate child, a boy, and my parents had seen fit to end their marriage practically before it had begun, my mother barely pregnant--not a very good track record for a preacher’s daughter--and he didn’t know yet that in spite of the circumstances, I would bring him much joy, first for the love that we shared for each other, the love of any grandfather for his grandchild, and my love for the only grandfather I ever knew--who in many ways was also a substitute father to me--and next for the love we shared for the Lord, a love that began for him twenty or so years before my birth and for me which started a few days before the early winter morning when I was fifteen and I got up early–so that it would be just the two of us–to tell him I had asked Christ to be my Savior and to ask him if he would please baptize me, to which, of course, he said yes, baptizing me just a few days later at a small Free Will Baptist church in Southern California, although this love was not without conflict and pain--the pain for me coming when I was seventeen years old and he and my grandmother moved back to Oklahoma after years in California and I cried for the fear that I would never see him again, especially because of his heart problems, and for him the conflict that came with my not choosing to go to a Free Will Baptist church and college, instead opting for an independent Christian church and an affiliated small, private college nearby–that conflict and pain, however, did not interfere with our love for each other, and I did get to see him many times after he moved and he eventually accepted that my faith would take roots in a different church and he took solace in the fact that the doctrines of his and my churches were actually closely aligned and even sent me a copy of his favorite commentary of the book of Romans while I was studying that book of the Bible during college--a class in which I am still proud to have received an A+ grade on my final paper, along with the comment, from an esteemed, yet wacky professor, that it was “suitable for publication”--and as the years went by, my grandfather’s health worsened and though he lived to see me married, he died before I finished an undergraduate degree in Literary Studies, had my two children and helped plant a new church, but I am grateful for having known him, for his love and for his getting my mom to the hospital on time that Thanksgiving day in 1964.

And Professor B&P? The following is for you:

  • Final word count: 549
  • Flesch-Kincaid grade level: 16
  • Passive voice (% of finite verb phrases): 4
  • Sentence complexity (100 = very complex): 81
  • Vocabulary complexity: 16

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It has been a little while since. . .

. . .I did a life, the universe and everything post. I've switched the order up a little bit because the universe is a little harsh today.


When I met with my doctor to discuss the sleep apnea, he recommended that I, ahem, lose a few pounds. Because I am a busy mom, blah, blah, blah, he recommended I do weight training with a personal trainer. He said that weight training will give me better results in a shorter amount of time per week. So, weeks later, I finally found an affordable trainer who will work with me a few times, set me up on a program and then we can meet to adjust the program. (If you are interested in more affordable personal training, try your local university. They often provide it for roughly half what you would pay someone at a gym.)

Anyway, as I was warming up on the elliptical machine, my trainer, herein referred to as Sonny Boy since I am old enough to be his mother, started describing the new facility that is being built on campus. It will have a pool, cardio room, a juice bar, a rock wall. At that point, I thought, cool, there is going to be a Rockwell's! Rockwell's is this amazing bakery near here. Then I had a reality check. He said rock wall, not Rockwell, R-O-C-K W-A-L-L. Shoot! I guess you can see why I need an exercise program.

Actual picture of a Rockwell's cake.
Doesn't it look yummy?

On Thursday I have a meeting with a graduate advisor so I can ask questions about the reading program here. They offer a Master's in Science as well as a certificate on top of that which gives you an emphasis in post-secondary education. My hope, at this point, would be to get a job at a community college teaching reading development and critical thinking. Here's hoping my brain has not atrophied completely after 16 years absence from academia.

I was looking at some descriptions in some Meyers-Briggs books today and I found the following description of my type (ENFP) as a parent: "As parents, ENFPs are devoted although somewhat unpredictable in handling their children, shifting from a role of friend-in-need-rescuer to stern authority figure." This is so true about me. As much as I enjoy many of my ENFP qualities, I don't really like this. I don't expect to be a perfect parent but I don't want to be Mommy-friend one minute and Mommy-dictator the next. Gotta work on that. (As I type this, my son just got finished calling me a Nazi-commie. I kid you not. Of course, in this instance, it was completely unjustified!)

I was supposed to take a trip to meet up with one friend in Cincinnati and another in Kentucky. That trip isn't going to happen now. When I knew this was a possibility I told Paul that I might still need to get away. By myself. Just for a couple of days. I think I really need it. Any suggestions for somewhere in So-So Cal that would be good for a by-yourself vacation?


I was washing dishes and stuff while I had iTunes playing through the computer speakers. I didn't have it on a playlist, just random selections from the whole library. I wrote down what songs played and here they are:

  1. Teenage Lobotomy by the Ramones
  2. iTrip beep (iTrip allows me to play my iPod through my car radio.)
  3. iTrip beep
  4. Jesus Means All to Me by Howard Seratt (Sun Records Gospel Collection)
  5. Last Train by Jaycob Van Auken
  6. Wicked Man by Ben Harper
  7. Black Moon Creeping by the Black Crowes (Paul's CD)
  8. Wondering Where You Are by Tyrone Wells
  9. Indian Giver by the Ramones
  10. She by Gram Parsons (Paul's CD)
  11. Go Tell It On the Mountain by Bruce Cockburn (Christmas CD)
  12. Kiss the Children by Gram Parsons
  13. Fly On by Burning Tree (Paul's CD)
  14. Beautiful Grace by UP Worship (our church CD)
  15. One Rainy Wish by Jimi Hendrix (Paul's CD)
  16. Raining in my Heart by Buddy Holly
  17. I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me
  18. Psycho Therapy by the Ramones
  19. Gospel Train by the Jones Brothers (Sun Records Gospel Collection)
It was a little heavy on the Ramones (not that I mind that) but that's the shuffle option for you. You never know what you are going to get.

What songs come up on your iTunes when you hit the shuffle button?

the Universe

The universe section is taking a more serious turn for the story of the woman who killed an entire family in St. Louis, Illinois is weighing heavily on my heart. If I understand correctly, this woman knocked unconscious a woman who was seven months pregnant then cut the fetus from her. Sometime around this, the woman also drowned the victim's three young children and stuffed them in the washer and dryer. She passed the baby off as the product of her own failed pregnancy before finally confessing to her boyfriend that the baby wasn't hers. She is being held on about five million dollars bond and a psychiatric evaluation has been ordered.

They posted a picture of the three kids along with the news story and they look so sweet all together. How can anyone do that? I know people do it. It happens. But how do they get to that point?

There are just no words for it all.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday: with Complaining and Relief

Note: I've been updating links at the bottom of the page as I notice other bloggers who are Sleeping with Bread. So, if you keep getting a new post notification, I'm sorry! :) Mary-LUE

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

Well, it may sound childish, but I am least grateful for responsibility. It sucks. Please Understand Me describes an ENFP (my type) as "not likely to be interested in the less-inspired routines of daily maintenance..." I am too much of an unstructured personality and my husband was gone for ten days. Ten days of doing the pick ups and drop offs for school alone. Ten days of grocery getting, meal handling, etc. I have help available to me and I do take advantage of it; however, the responsibility of getting that help arranged aggravates me. How pathetic do I sound? I know I do but I am just trying to be honest. Paul has actually been back since Tuesday night, but the responsibility hangover continued for several days. y, all I wanted to do was climb in a hole, alone, with chocolate and soda--real, full of sugar, Coca-Cola--some books, the television and a computer.

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

5:58 p.m., Tuesday, September 19, 2006

That is the time and day and date that Paul walked into the skateboard shop this past week. I was there with the kids to get Colin new skateboard parts. At 5:58 p.m., Marley got to throw herself into her daddy's arms. At 5:58 p.m., I got to resume partnering in responsibility for the kids. We could again divide and conquer, after dinner Paul going one way to get Marley home and my going another to get Colin to a youth activity. The next morning, I made breakfast, Paul drove Colin to school, I finished getting Marley ready for school and Paul drove Marley to school. Back and forth, sharing the burden and the joys. That is the way it should be.

Also Sleeping with Bread today:

a typical brat of nonsensical text: Sleeping with Bread Requires Sleeping.

Terri B of Tip of the Iceberg: Sleeping with Bread Monday:Traffic Time and Reading Time.

life girl over at life girl joins us in SWB also.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Little Bit of Family Time

I've been a little post-happy the last week or so. Two in one day. Go figure! And normally I do family stuff over at Tales from the edge of sanity, but I thought I'd share a little bit of my daughter and husband with you from a recent trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Friday, September 22, 2006

About a Movie

I watched a movie last night. In it, the main character finds out his girlfriend has been out with another man. He'd been trying to call her to tell her a good friend's father had died. He tried the friend she was supposed to be with and she didn't answer the phone either. He headed over to where the family of the man was gathering and saw his girlfriend's friend. This led to questions and suspicians. Finally, he knew. She was with someone else.

Not suspecting that he knew, his girlfriend comes home. She doesn't understand why she is upset. He confronts her and asks her who she was with. She continues the lie, insisting she was with her girlfriend who was having marital trouble. She finally gets that he really knows something and confesses. He goes crazy. He slaps her. She is begging for him to listen to her. It didn't mean anything, she says, please talk to me. She continues to plead. He is yelling at her to get out. Just get out. She refuses. Overwhelmed, he grabs a huge kitchen knife and screams at her once more to get out. She doesn't believe he is going to hurt her. She knows he wouldn't really do that. He chases after her. She gives up and leaves.

The rest of the movie is about her pursuit to regain his trust. She loves him and understands now that she was just scared about the future. Eventually, she is able to get him to see and the movie ends with you knowing they are going to try to pick up the pieces of their lives together. This kind of bothered me. The fact that he slapped her and grabbed a knife was never brought up in the story. I'm not sure that it is a good message to show someone who resorts to violence when upset as a good relationship option.

But first I need to confess something to you. I lied a little about what happened in the movie. The roles were really reversed. It was the guy who messed around and the woman who did the slapping and knife-wielding. And my concern is this: in a society plagued by violence against women, is it wise to show a woman hitting a man and it not being questioned or examined in any way as part of the story?

I don't know why last night this stood out to me. I've seen plenty of movies where a woman slaps a guy across the face, sometimes a drama and sometimes a comedy. I think my mind was already headed down the path of questioning during the previews. In one comedy/romance, coming soon to a theater near you, a woman punches a guy when she confronts him about his infidelity. It is done in a way that people laugh when they see it. So, you see, I was already thinking about whether portraying women hitting men is a good idea when the movie started.

I have been on the periphery of a domestic abuse situation as a friend trying to help, so I may be a little more tuned in to depictions of violence. Sunshine Scribe recently wrote about the problems of violence against women. There has also been a lot being written lately in the blog'verse about feminism. Maybe it was all these things combined. Additionally, I have always been very sensitive to inconsistencies in causes. (I don't want to explain what kind of consistencies I am talking about because I don't want to get off track. And it will take us off track. Believe me.) I am careful to call it inconsistency and not hypocrisy because I don't think of it that way. I see in causes sometimes a lack of thinking all arguments through to their conclusions and a fervent, passionate, well-meaning lack of perspective. I wonder how many women will go see this movie, feminist-minded women, violence-denouncing women, who won't question the depiction of violence against a man. I shouldn't use women only in this example. How many men will do the same? Isn't it understood that women, by far, are the victims of domestic violence by men but that domestic violence against any individual is wrong? Man, woman or child?

Overall, I liked the movie. There was a little too much, um, shall we say, sexual activity for my particular taste. I prefer the good, old-fashioned fade out; however, it did examine relationships at different stages and the difficulties they face. It showed people at a crossroads, facing a now or never precipice, deciding to make a change in their lives. If only they had shown the woman obviously struggling with her desire to strike out but reining it in; or, if they had talked about her response. I don't know.

There are always "if onlys," aren't there?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Lesson from the Tortoise and the Hare

I was reading a post today over at Sunshine Scribe. She was sharing her frustration at the lack of hours to her day. She is especially busy with work right now, has a young son, etc. Just a few more hours to each day to exercise, reflect, pursue other goals. She gave a sample of her typical schedule. She was concerned about the lack of balance in her life.

After commenting that reading that schedule made me want to take a nap, I gave her the following unsolicited advice:

All those things you want to do for yourself? Give yourself time. Be patient yet persevering. It may seem like a mountain to climb, all those goals, but slow and steady wins the race.

As I typed it I realized it sounded like advice from Cliches R Us but I meant it and I believe it to be true.

Later today, I was at my counseling appointment talking about the extra special irritability I have been feeling the last couple of days. This discussion segued into one about the changes I have been making to increase my overall health: consistency with my CPAP therapy; changes in my diet; an exercise routine. Was I irritable because I wasn't getting enough out of the CPAP therapy yet? Will I even feel much better on the CPAP before I get the diet and exercise thing under control? Was I only crabby because my husband just returned from a ten day trip?

We talked about perspective, options for changes I can make, and how it is understandable I would be crabby. Keep at it, be patient and give yourself some credit was the gist of it all. Then, as I was walking out the door, she said: "Slow and steady wins the race."

I'd like to say that I took a moment, let that sink in and moved on determined to heed my own advice that God saw fit to boomerang back at me. No, in pure extroverted, motor-mouth fashion, I launched into "Omigosh, I just told somebody that today! That is so crazy! I can't believe that!" I continued this internal monologue after I left the office, a blabber-mouth even in my own mind.

Eventually though, I did pause to really think about it. How funny is it that you feel like you can give advice to someone that you are in need of yourself! Actually, I think that probably happens all the time, but how often do your actual words get served up to you within hours of you having given said advice?

Well, point taken, Lord. I get it. I need to give the CPAP therapy more time. Don't try to get the diet and exercise under control too quickly.

Give myself time. Be patient yet persevering. It may seem like a mountain to climb, all those goals, but slow and steady wins the race.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The books that saved my life--or my children's lives.

Often I read blogs by moms who have babies and toddlers. Being well out of that stage myself, the posts on the frustration of sleeplessness, the terrible twos, potty training always brings back memories. Ah, such lovely memories. Believe that if you want to, I've been thinking I would like to share my favorite books on parenting. I've read many and there are some that really resonated with my style of parenting (Nurture by Nature) or reinforced the values I believe to be important for my children (Nurturing Good Children Now); however, if I could only pick one series of books to ever use as a parent, it would be these.

Louise Bates Ames wrote this collection of child development books sponsored by the Gesell Institute of Human Development. Each book covers one year in your child's life. A few of the titles are: Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender; Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy; Your Four-Year-Old: Wild and Wonderful. With titles like these, you can see she understands the puzzling contradictions that our children can be.

The important thing to note about these books is their emphasis on child development not parenting philosophy. While there are definitely some views expressed in certain areas, the overall aim is to help you understand the developmental steps your child is taking and how it leads to certain behavior. If we understand the pendulum swinging between equilibrium and disequilibrium we will be prepared to make better choices as we parent.

The books were written many years ago so you will need to get past discipline being described as punishment and dated descriptions of what kinds of amusements children enjoy such as a phonograph record. If you look past this though, you will find an excellent tool in understanding why the love of your life has suddenly started having tantrums, insists on doing everything alone, always has to win every game or always wants mommy instead of daddy.

The past few months the six-year old version has been my lifesaver. Swinging between loving and defiant, the book describes a six-year-old as "a paradoxical little person, and bipolarity is the name of his game." This book describes my Marley to a 'T'. Stubborn? Check. Indecisive? Check. Loves Mommy? Check. Hates Mommy? Check. Oppositional? Checkity, check, check, check! The disequilibrium stage occurs during the first six months of six and we are getting close to the equilibrium stage. Oh, I cannot wait. I've been counting down the days and if you had passed by me at a restaurant the last 5 months, you might have heard me muttering under my breath: "Just six more months" over and over again. But I know that equilibrium is coming and so I can be more patient, avoid certain hot button six-year-old issues and keep my sanity. And I owe it all to Louise Bate Ames. Thanks Louise!

Having said that, we all have days, no matter how many parenting books we've read, classes we've taken or how large our trusted pool of parenting advisors is, where we just throw up our hands. My friend, chickenone, of ky coop cast recently had such a day. She turned that frustration into a post called Book Smart? and it is sheer brilliance. I encourage you to go read it. It will make you laugh. I promise.

With a wild thing like this, I need all the help I can get!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday - With Indecision and Randomness

As I have pondered which form of question my Sleeping with Bread will take today I cannot decide which of the usual questions to use:

  • 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?

One question or answer just isn't coming through loud and clear so it is time for a ramble. In the last week, I have felt, oh so many things.

I have felt the joy of watching Marley and Colin at Disneyland. They have gone on rides together. Colin let Marley hold his hand on Space Mountain. They have battled the evil Emperor Zurg and spun themselves silly on Roger Rabbit. Having kids eight years apart, it is nearly impossible to keep them both happily occupied at the same time. Thank you, Walt Disney, thank you.

I have been tired. So tired. My own poor choices in going to bed around midnight instead of 10 pm. Some adjustments to my new breathing mask for my CPAP contraption. Walking around Disneyland when I am out of shape.

I have been a little bit excited at the prospect of going back to school to get my Master's. If it happens, it will complicate my life and be hard work but it might be a very good thing.

I have been sad. My dear, sweet friend--the daughter I never had until I had a daughter--is having a hard time. We spent 45 minutes on the phone this week, her in Australia and me in California. Most of my time was spent saying, "I know, I know" and "I'm so sorry." She is facing grief and regrets, piled one on top of the other. In listening to her, I have a glimpse of what it might be like for parents with grown children. You can listen, be a support, possibly help in material ways but they have to face their own problems. You can't make their decisions for them and you can't kiss the boo-boo and make it better. I cried when she told me she wished she were back in California and living with me again. I cried because there is no turning back in life. You can refuse to move forward or you can move forward in whatever way you can manage. But there is no turning back. She knows all this but needed a shoulder to cry on. My sweet, sweet girl.

I have been lost in a good book. A couple in fact. There is nothing like finishing a book and the satisfaction of a story well read. Or the melancholy of a story well-written but sadly ended. Or the bittersweet ache of a story you are so lost in you aren't quite ready for it to be over.

I have been at my wit's end with my daughter. One moment I am in wonder at how she is growing. Teeth are falling out with alarming frequency. She is so proud of her hairstyle that she chose, telling people around her, "My hair is pretty today because I have two big rubber bands on the top and two little ones on the side." I am grimacing as she says this because truly, her hair looks horrible but she is so proud. What am I to do? I am amazed at my reluctant reader as she sounds out words and guesses at others before looking up at me to make sure she got it right. The other moments find me counting to ten and thankful the windows are open. I'm less likely to become a shrieking maniac if I know the neighbors are listening. She is underslept and adjusting to school, a full day and more work expectations. She is full of fits and starts and oh. . .

I could stand for my husband to come home. He has always traveled but he is gone now for longer trips. These days of traveling have their ups and downs. They bring into my life too much structure which I chafe at. Last night, Marley cried for her daddy as I put her to bed. "I want my daddy!" she wailed. Me too, I thought. Two more days, baby. Two more days.

I have felt at home in my little community of church and friends. Our small group met for the first time in about a month. We always have such lively, intelligent discussions. There is so much respect and love in this group. I know there just can't be any better group around! Also, after church on Sunday, we were able to hang out at a local pizza place with more friends, the kids playing and the adults talking. In the words of Bill McNeill of WNYX Radio, "Good times, people. Good times."

So, what "bread" can I take to sleep with me tonight? Joy, the satisfaction of a good book, pride in my daughter and son, excitement at new prospects.

And what difficult things can I reflect on? Tiredness, sadness, frustration, loneliness.

Such is life's journey, isn't it?

I would love to hear about your week. Care to join me in Sleeping with Bread?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Front Yard Spam

We've always had the occasional flyer, business card, pamphlet placed on our front door/steps. Yesterday, though, when I opened the door, the following all came flying through the front door. At once.

Anyone know where I can get a front yard spam filter?

Friday, September 15, 2006

While the husband is away. . .

. . .I get a little lonely. A 14 year old son and a 6 year old will keep me busy but aren't always enough company for me. I've noticed since I began hanging out in the blog'verse that there is a pattern to my commenting.

When Paul is in town, an average comment might be about this long:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Nullam vulputate sollicitudin eros. In non magna. Mauris iaculis fringilla metus. Proin ultricies mi feugiat justo. Maecenas sollicitudin risus ut lacus. Fusce elementum lacus sit amet metus. Vestibulum ac quam. Etiam tincidunt, arcu non cursus egestas, tellus tortor elementum orci, in vestibulum.

When Paul is out of town, an average comment might be about this long:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Proin turpis. Suspendisse nonummy tortor vitae odio laoreet rhoncus. Ut purus. Duis nulla. In scelerisque magna at ligula. Nam non ipsum. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos hymenaeos. Maecenas vestibulum est semper quam. Donec lacus nisl, elementum vel, ullamcorper nec, euismod id, libero. Nam massa. Etiam laoreet, pede quis interdum tincidunt, lacus nunc auctor mi, vel euismod nunc elit rhoncus lectus. Suspendisse sed metus. Phasellus lobortis, eros at tincidunt mollis, justo mi commodo est, ac vehicula nisi metus sit amet urna. Quisque sollicitudin lorem nec libero. Donec dolor turpis, porta ac, condimentum iaculis, dignissim sed, quam. Fusce erat. Vestibulum condimentum mauris non ligula.

Proin eget ante quis lacus molestie mollis. Aliquam convallis dolor ut arcu. Morbi vel turpis vitae est tempor fermentum. Etiam pellentesque ornare ligula. Suspendisse potenti. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos hymenaeos. Proin dolor tortor, consequat non, rhoncus ut, semper ut, purus. Nullam egestas lectus non dui. Mauris malesuada turpis id tellus. Etiam nec urna.

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My apologies to bloggers everywhere who have been the recipients of any recent, long-winded comments. Also, my thanks for not deleting them!

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Let me introduce you... Tyrone and Elina Wells.

Tyrone and Elina are friends of ours. They are both talented singer/songwriters who are currently touring the eastern U.S. Tyrone is promoting his new CD, Hold On and Elina, joining her husband, is getting a chance to perform some songs from her first CD, Elina.

Tyrone has been pursuing his music career for awhile now and Paul and I have seen how much his already amazing God-given talents have been cultivated. His skills as a songwriter have grown tremendously and his voice--well, you have to hear it to believe it. He has had successes along the way with several songs being used in different television shows. All his hard work has come to fruition in a recently signed contract with Universal Records. I don't know how long it will take to get the Universal version of his recording, but you can buy the current one here.

Elina spent a lot of the previous year working on a local television travel show. With that behind her, she turned her efforts to this first recording which Tyrone produced (and Paul played guitar on a few songs!) It is a beautiful little CD. Marley's favorite song is Speak to My Heart. I think Constantly is my personal favorite.

In addition to being very talented, you would be hard-pressed to find two more wonderful people around. They are committed to their families and each other. They are passionate about the world around them as evidenced by their recent trip to Nicaragua to visit and minister to orphans and families who live in the trash dumps of Managua. Elina is a sweet spirit who I was able to get to know more in the year or so before her wedding. She is so great that I actually got on a plane last September (I do NOT like flying!) to fly with my family to Hawaii for her and Tyrone's wedding. Now, Tyrone is a cool guy, but if he had married someone else, I'm not too sure I would have braved the trip over the ocean--a really big ocean. ;)

I'm taking the time to introduce you to these two because I am excited to share that a song they wrote together, Dream Like New York will be the featured credits song in the new animated movie Everyone's Hero. New York is a special city to both of them and the version Tyrone recorded is part of the movie soundtrack. So, check out their websites at and There are music bits to listen to and a tour schedule. It is a college tour, so if you are old like me, pretend you are young again and check out a show. Also, if you go see Everyone's Hero, don't forget to wait for the credits to roll. You will love this song.

Oh yeah, one last thing, if you go to Tyrone's site, don't forget to listen to the song When All is Said and Done. He just put it up there in honor of the fifth anniversary of 9/11. This song is so amazing. It is a modern day Danny Boy. (I hope you take that as a uber-compliment, Tyrone.) I defy you not to cry. If you listen and don't get emotional, email me and I'll send you a dollar.

Vietnam, a memoir

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the nurses who served in the Vietnam War. It was inspired by a documentary on television of the same subject.

A few days ago, I came across a story online of one Vietnam veteran's journey back to Vietnam to the site of a prolonged battle for territory, as told by his wife who accompanied him. It was part of a series on that country by The Hot Zone, the website where Kevin Sites, for Yahoo News, is going to every country in which there is a significant armed conflict in one year.

As I am wont to do when the subject of the Vietnamese War comes up, I started thinking about my uncle who was a veteran. I also started thinking about my awareness of that war, what it was about, where it took place, etc.

As a child of six, if you had asked me if I knew of the country of Vietnam or heard about the war there, I would have had to answer no. Instead, I could tell you that one summer day, as my aunt watched my sister and I, the phone rang. We were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for dinner. Mom would meet us there. My aunt cleaned us up and dressed us in our cousin’s sunsuits. All of my aunts, uncles and cousins were there. Grandma wasn’t happy about something. We took pictures that day. My mom, her brothers and sisters and my grandparents smile for the camera, the sun in their eyes. I am in the background wearing a red and white sunsuit swinging on a tire swing.

I know now we were saying goodbye to my uncle before he left for the army and Vietnam.

Sometime with the next year, I knew the name Vietnam and that there was a war but I didn’t really understand anything about what was going on. I just knew that my aunt had these cool bracelets. They were metal and had names on them and letters: POW or MIA. I learned that POW meant Prisoner of War and MIA meant Missing in Action. I knew the names of men that were POWs and MIA.

I know now that my uncle could easily have been a POW or MIA but, fortunately, he wasn’t.

More time passed and my uncle came home from Vietnam. We gathered at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I was happy because somehow Uncle L.T. was special. He was much younger than my mom and his brother and sisters. I loved seeing him. He was the coolest grown up. My sister asked him if he killed anybody in the war. I was shocked that she asked the question but I wanted to know the answer also. He said he probably had but he didn’t know for sure.

I know now he surely killed someone in his time over there. He was only 18 or 19 years old.

As I grew up and went through school, elementary, junior high, high school I knew very little more about Vietnam than I did when my uncle was there. It was said by some to be--and I didn’t think to question--the only war the United States had ever lost. I knew the movies Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now had something to do with the war. I must have been taught about the war in history class but I cannot remember any of it.

I know more now about the history of the war but I also understand how very little it had to do with the Vietnamese people or their well-being.

When I was in high school, I came across a story. It was a story about a Christian soldier in Vietnam. In despair over his situation there, he cried out in prayer, “Lord, why am I here?” He looked down and saw a Vietnamese New Testament opened to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20.) All the fire and brimstone preaching I had listened to all my life had not been enough, but this call to join God in his work did the trick. I prayed a prayer of commitment to God later that night with my high school pastor. The following Sunday my Grandpa baptized me at the Bell Gardens Free Will Baptist Church.

I know now that the Lord used this story of Vietnam to call me to him.

After high school, I saw movies like Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. Sometimes the movies helped me understand. Sometimes I was repulsed by the anger and bitterness of those who had gone. After I got married, I finished college. My American history professor had us read Home Before Morning about a nurse’s experience in Vietnam. Reading that not only helped me understand a woman’s experience there but gave me insight into the soldiers’ experiences also. During those years, my uncle didn't talk much about the war. He told me that he hated it when people got bogged down in the war and blamed it for not being able to move on in their lives. He told me that before it became known that he was an alcoholic--a church-going, Bible teaching, communion meditation-giving alcoholic. By the end of his life, he had just married for the fourth time and his relationship with his daughter was strained, to say the least, because of what she endured for years. He had times of sobriety but his journey was a rough one.

I know now that although he didn’t look like the stereotype of a Vietnam veteran, his life was scarred nonetheless. I also know that there are many other veterans out there, from any war, who look like anyone else on the outside but have thick scars on the inside.

One day after coming across pictures at my mother's of his Christmas in Vietnam, my uncle told me that was his favorite Christmas ever. When asked why he said because it reminded him of the church in Acts 2:42 "...they had all things in common." It wasn't until a few years later when I heard the rest of the story. That Thanksgiving he had been in one of two transport helicopters. They were fired upon. The next moment he watched the other helicopter fall out of the sky carrying his fellow soldiers' to their deaths. They spent the next weeks in the field. Finally, at Christmas, they came back to the base for some R & R. Depressed and exhausted, they faced Christmas away from their loved ones. Somehow, they all ended up coming together, reading letters from sweethearts, friends and family to each other and sharing what gifts had made it through the mail. They barbecued hamburgers using raisin bread for the buns. They forgot, briefly, the horrors they endured day after day.

I know now that no matter how difficult your circumstances in life, if you have good people around you, you can find joy in the midst of pain and fear.

Years after that, my uncle sent me an email. In it, he told me about a book. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. He said it came the closest of anything he had ever read to describing what it really felt like to be a soldier in Vietnam. In the email, he described trudging through the jungle, day after day. It was tedious, uncomfortable, relentless. Suddenly they were fired upon. A soldier near him had half his head blown away. He was still making noises so my uncle performed a field tracheotomy on him and the medics took him away. They all got back up and went on trudging through the jungle. Business as usual. A day or so later, they got word the wounded soldier was dead. They kept walking.

I know now that there are two soldiers on the Vietnam Memorial who share the name of the soldier my uncle told me about. One died in October the year my uncle would have been there. There is something about knowing that name and knowing it is on the war memorial that makes me feel close to Uncle L.T.

In 2004, at the age of 52 my uncle died of a ruptured abdominal aortic anuerysm. Surely the years of heavy smoking and alcohol abuse contributed to his death. No one could say with any certainty that had he not gone to the war he still wouldn't have become an alcoholic. I remember though the words of his childhood friend at his funeral. A friend who remembered him before and knew that afterwards he was not the same person.

I know now that he was another victim of the war although his death came 30 years later and his name will never go on the wall.

The last picture with his brother and sisters not too long before he died. Unfortunately one sister, my Aunt Margaret, had passed away a few years earlier so the picture isn't complete.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sleeping with Bread Monday

Update: In the last few days I have added several posts to my 9/11 recommends. If you haven't had your fill, they are very good.

Today's SWB falls on the fifth anniversary 9/11. I wrote and posted last night about my 9/11 story, which is essentially that I don't have one. I am relatively unscathed by the tragedy that took place as far away from my side of this country (the continental part, at least) as possible. I guess in the five year big picture, I would be grateful that I have, as yet, no personal losses from 9/11 or the War on . But in a way, that is something that saddens me as I wonder if I might not have been changed more by the country's experience if I had chosen to be. Because I haven't experienced those kinds of losses, have I just selfishly gone on, business as usual? Might I be a different person today?

So far I have read a few of my regular blogs' posts on this fifth anniversay about their experiences and I have found them to be very moving. I will put a link to them at the bottom of this post in case you are interested. Over the next day or two, I may add to it as I read more.

Still, I want to carry on with this week's Sleeping with Bread.

In the last week, what has caused me desolation?

I have been a little discouraged the past couple of days in my CPAP therapy. I was cruising along using the machine at first three hours, then five and then seven hours per night. I think I was beginning to feel a difference. Then, the last two nights, the mask just hasn't seemed quite right. I've felt a need to fiddle with it. It sounds like there are leaks if I don't lay down just right. Last night I only slept with it for about five hours and I can feel the irritability surfacing. It feels like such a set back. I twiddled with the mask earlier and hopefully tonight will be better.

In the last week, what has given me consolation?

After breakfast with a friend a few weeks ago, I have been toying with the idea of going back to school to get a Masters in Science in Reading with an eye towards teaching reading development at the community college level. The purpose is two-fold: I have always loved going to school and would like the challenge; and, if anything were to happen to Paul, I would feel better having some real options for a career. Paul and I were talking about it at lunch this past week, how long would it take, etc. And then Paul commented that it was a shame (that I couldn't just go get a job) because. . . "you can do anything. You would be so great in a business administration position or people management." We both acknowledged that the problem is my being out of the work force for awhile and not having the connections/experience/credentials that would give me the chance. A chance that I could really do something with.

My consolation is Paul's total faith that I could succeed in business. He believes I have talents and skills that could be put to good use for a company. He thinks I would be a great supervisor of people. I've never had any job like that but he sees qualities in me that, having been in the corporate world for the last 20 years, he knows are valuable to an employer. Maybe this doesn't sound like much but it means something to me because I know my husband. He is not the tell-your-wife-what-she-wants-to-hear guy. He gets in trouble for that--a lot.

So, thanks honey. . . You score points for that quality this week. Just remember the next time I ask you if my rear looks big in these pants: lie!

9/11 Recommends:

2996 Project (This site coordinated 2,996 volunteers to write individual memorials to each of the 2,996 victims of 9/11.)
Mom-101 for DOB 9/11
Life of 'Pie for From a Clear Blue Sky
Kvetch for Personal Effects
Halushki for If Only
V-Grrrl in the Middle for My 9/11 Story
notes from the trenches for the day after
Tip of the Iceberg for Remembering 9/11 (This is my sister-in-law. Her regular blog is Tip of the Iceberg but this was written on a different blog called Mimorian. Written in June after she saw the movie United 93, it has the same quality as most of the other recommends on this list: a personal and unique view of the day.)
Found in France (now Poppy Fields) for her untitled post. This very short but sweet post is the one that brought tears to my eyes.

The Truth about 9/11

No, this isn't a call to accept some alternative conspiracy theory.

This is about my truth and 9/11 which is simply this: it hasn't had a big enough impact on my life.

Five years ago, I was getting Colin ready for school and Marley was doing whatever 16 month old toddlers do around 7:00 in the morning when the phone rang. Paul had left for a road trip that morning. He loves to drive and when possible will take the car on a work trip. He had called to tell me to keep the television off because two planes had hit the World Trade Center and one hit the Pentagon. There was another plane missing. He wanted to make sure Colin didn't see the news.

I didn't know what to say. "This was all on purpose? Who did it?" Paul had no answers for me other than yes, it looked intentional. I got irritated at Paul because he didn't have any more information for me--he had told me all anyone knew at that time.

For the next few days, Colin was my primary concern. I kept the news off when he was at home. I carefully questioned him about what he was hearing at school. There were some outlandish things he was told by other kids so I did my best to counteract with as much truth as I thought a nine year old should hear.

The days went by and I experienced sympathy, tears, anxiety. I had no ties whatsoever with anyone affected by the attacks. As it became time for me to travel on a plane, I was prepared for the new rules and made allowances although I was frightened. I had never been a great flyer before 9/11 and now my nerves were definitely worse.

The "War on Terror" began. So far, I have no personal connection with anyone who has lost anyone in the war.

The television and feature films about United Flight 93 came and went. I didn't watch them. I have a hard time watching a tragedy when I already know the outcome, fiction or non-fiction. I wouldn't watch Braveheart because I heard how Mel Gibson's character died. How could I watch a true story about the last moments in the lives of these people? I don't have the stomach for it. When the trailers for the Oliver Stone World Trade Center movie came out my insides clenched as tight as any fist. I wouldn't see that movie either.

That's it. Throw in higher gas prices which I figure might be lower if the world events of the last five years hadn't happened and that's it. I know that I am not the same person. There is a pre-9/11 Mary and a post-9/11 Mary but I'm afraid that the distance between these two women is not what it should be.

Five years later, what can I do about that? I'm not sure. I will though, take time in the next few days to pray.

I will pray for the survivors and those in the military who are in the thick of it in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I will pray for the world we find ourselves in and for wisdom for those leaders who have the responsibility to act in this world.

I will pray for protection for all peoples from the radical factions of any race or religion who are doing Satan's work in this world.

I will pray for forgiveness for my unbending life and pray that the Lord might take my heart and mold it as he desires. In so doing, I will be the post-9/11 Mary that I should be.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Room with an Obstructed View

Colin is at his first high school football game tonight. He skateboarded over to his friend's house with a few dollars in his pocket and by now they've headed over to the game.

From our backyard you can hear the sounds coming from the high school stadium. I wish I could watch him. I wonder who he will talk to. Will he watch the game or just hang out talking with his friends? Will there be girls hanging out with them?

It reminds me of a story someone once told me about his first day of school. He wanted so badly to walk to school on his own. His mother relented. . .
She just followed him in the car.

If there were any way I could get away with it, I would be following my kid around tonight--with a camera. Not to make sure he is safe. I just would love to watch him as he enters this next stage of life.

Of course, that is what this next stage means for me and Paul--our view of his life is now obstructed.


This is so sad :(

I read last night about a giant panda accidently crushing one of her newborn babies. How sad, I thought. Their births are so rare. It is too bad she lost one. Well, at least one survived.

Then I read this headline:

Panda inconsolable after crushing newborn twin

Now, I'm really sad and thinking about Ya Ya not just the panda species.

Poor Ya Ya.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

And now... the unveiling

I don't even know what to say... Here is my new blog makeover designed by Izzy of Izzy Design. She was very patient with me as I asked her to try a border here, get rid of that reference, can you put some stars in the footer. I love the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-inspired banner. It suits me to a tee!

If you like it, go over to her design pad and click on some ads.


An Interior Monologue

Why do they get to have all the fun?
No one would do anything like that for me.
It’s not fair.
Nothing good ever happens to me.

What is the matter with me?
Why do I feel this way about them?
Don’t they deserve what is happening?
Why does their good fortune make me feel excluded?

I’m just not content with myself today.
Nobody really cares about me.
I’m still just that invisible kid from high school.
I’m just everybody’s second best friend. Never the first.
Why am I so unattractive to people?


I feel hot inside.
I show nothing of this self-talk to the world.
I almost literally shake myself.
It is as if I forcibly grab the steering wheel of a car I am riding in
to change the direction in which I am headed.


Stop it!

This is not the truth.
I will not embrace this envy.
Envy is ugly. Inside and out.
I am not unloved.
I am not invisible.
Get over yourself already.


I go about my day. Still shaken by this unexpected appearance of Envy in my life. I don’t understand why it happened on this particular day. As the day goes on, though, I am able to move past it. By the next day, I am back to being myself and relieved to be rid of the horrible feelings.


Years ago I would have followed Envy down the road for a very long time and far too often. Now, it is only at infrequent--though sudden and unexpected moments--that I am gripped by the feelings of inferiority that leave me open to Envy.

Benjamin Franklin said, “At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment." I have experienced the truth of this saying. I am grateful for its veracity; for with the judgment that comes with age, I have been able to see more accurately the truth about myself and to dismiss the lies that have sought to bring me down.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Lesson in Reading for My Daughter

I decided to spend the morning reading Rilla of Ingleside today. I had been reading it when, on vacation, I got sucked into the vortex of The Forsyte Saga. 900 plus pages, the first day of school, and a colonoscopy later I was reading to rejoin Rilla on Prince Edward Island.

I made myself comfortable in the bonus room and quickly became engrossed as Canada sends forces over to Europe to "join the fray" of the Great War. As Rilla's brothers, friends and love interest all join up, she takes in a war-baby to raise and starts a junior Red Cross group. Things were getting a little emotional (this started about half-way in and didn't let up until the end) when I felt a "thunk" on my book. My daughter, busy watching The Lady and The Tramp in the same room was trying to get my attention by flicking her finger on the cover of my book. She didn't want anything--just wanted to get my attention.

"Marley! Don't touch Mommy's book!"

A few minutes later...


"Marley! Don't ever bother someone when they are reading a book!" Now, I know that little piece of advice is NEVER going to be listened to but I decided she needed to start learning the value of reading by learning that I value it so much I don't want to be disturbed when I am doing it. (Read: I wanted her to stop bugging me so I could finish my book in peace.)

She had that look in her eye. That I-know-I'm-not-supposed-to-do-this-but-I'm-gonna look.

It was time to get serious.

"Marley. You need to listen to me. Bugging someone when they are reading a book is very bad. That person is likely to be very annoyed. It's like sticking your finger in the guinea pig's face. It's likely to get bit. You wanna get bit today? No? Good, now let Mommy read her book!"

It should be noted here that we have two guinea pigs and that one of them has bitten Marley two times.

I'm not sure if Dr. Sears would have handled it that way but I did get to finish my book.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Scoop on My 'Scopes

I promise I won't go into detail here...

Just an update for those who've been following along. I have survived my esophogealblahblahoscopy and colonoscopy. Anyone who's had one will tell you the prep is the killer. I just couldn't manage that stuff you had to drink and only got about half of it down. Fortunately it was enough. My doctor likes to sedate the patients so I got my happy shot and then woke up in the recovery room. That was easy! The results? Again, I won't go into detail but my ailments are fairly common: GERD, diverticulosis and mumble, mumble. What's that? You didn't catch that last part? Sorry, it won't be repeated. Other than the prep, I was very uncomfortable after the procedure for a few hours, but am feeling pretty good now. My plan for the future: NEVER HAVE ANOTHER COLONOSCOPY EVER AGAIN!

Thanks for those who sent comments or emails my way and this is hopefully the last medically related post from me for a looooooonnnnnggggg time! ;)