Friday, December 28, 2007

Year End Contemplations - Of a Mostly Bookish Nature

I will probably do a proper year-end Sleeping with Bread post sometime in the next few days; however, I thought I'd get the blog-posting juices flowing with some meandering thoughts. Maybe if I just start writing, without worrying about creativity and cleverness, something creative and clever will start coming out eventually!

First things first... some sidebar info:

New Scenic View - a little British Comic Relief wit Catherine Tate and David Tennant.

A New Quote - from atypical brat's progeny

I also just updated my sidebar with books I've been reading. It looks like I finished about 28 books for the year. I suspect that is a middling average number. I look at the list and some of the books seem like they were read ages ago. I see that I read fewer and fewer books toward the end of the year. (School of course). I can see that the last few books of this year have been what my husband might call "light and fluffy." (You have to hear him say light and fluffy in his silly accented way to get the full impact.) In general, I have been all about romance and period dramas, not just in books, in viewing as well--from two versions of Pride and Prejudice, two versions of Jane Eyre (I don't care what anyone else says, Charlotte Gainsbourg is a stellar Jane and William Hurt, although physically not the type and a wee bit too long in the tooth, a heavyweight contender for Rochester.), Wives and Daughters, North and South, and moving into the 20th century, but still a period drama, Foyle's War. I'm just finished with Series 2. Thanks goodness for Netflix. I love Michael Kitchen.

As the year ended, I also got sucked into the vortex of some 19th century inspired fan fiction. (Imagine me cringing a little here as I write this.) It has been a lot of fun. There is a lot of really bad stuff out there. Many uses of the words frisson, tendrils, ministrations, ambit, etc. Some of it has been quite nice, though. It has been a way of staying in a well-loved story and imagining what happened next to Jane and Rochester or Margaret and John. Through the fan fiction board, I also became acquainted with a fan fic writer who ended up getting a publishing contract. Two of her books have been published so far. You'll notice More Than Love Letters in my sidebar by Rosy Thornton. I haven't read her second book yet, but MTLL was a fun romantic comedy written in the form of emails, meeting minutes, etc. There are some laugh-out-loud moments and I actually got a little teary at the end. Rosy and I have engaged in a little of our own email correspondence and it has been a treat to e-meet an author. (Hi Rosy!)

Back to books... I realized as I was looking over the book list that there are many books which I have bought this year but have not yet read. I think in 2008, I will convert my book list to show books bought AND read--that will be interesting.

Well, this post is getting long. There is more to contemplate than my reading habits for the year. I find that Christmas and New Year is a time I spend thinking about my Uncle L.T. I also made some resolutions for myself last year. Resolutions I failed at meeting. Utterly failed at meeting. But I also experienced a lot I didn't expect to. There is definitely alot of yeast for that Sleeping with Bread post I have rising, ready to bake.


Well, this post did some meandering but I don't see much in the way of creative or cliver--maybe next time! ;)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Joy

Merry Christmas to the Blogosphere... Here is a clip of something I find sublime in the truest sense of the word:



I'll be seein' y'all around!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

November update with lots of () and ...

Wow! I can't believe I haven't posted since the day after Halloween! I think that is definitely the longest bit of time between posts on this blog. I am a little chagrined to think of all the time I spent bemoaning how little time I would have for blogging when I started school. I actually managed somewhat nicely until November. Multiple papers, out-of-town visitors, etc. conspired to finally knock the wind out of my blogging sails. My Google reader regulary informs me there are as many as 180 posts to read. 180 posts??!!!! I periodically hit "Mark All As Read" and move on.

School is slowing down though. I have: one paper to write this week (reporting on my teaching of a reading comprehension strategy to three students); one Power Point presentation showing a lesson plan which incorporates technology in the classroom (Guess what? My lesson involves blogging!); four chapters from my content area literacy book; and, one online response project. That's it. After those few assignments I will have completed my first semester of grad school. Yeah me! (And, of course, yeah! Paul, Marley and Colin for having to live through it!)

Marley Update: I've had many people ask my about Marley. I pretty much left everyone with a Strep Throat cliff hanger. She perked up within a couple of days of being on her antibiotics and has been fine ever since. I has some apprehension because about day 7 of her medication she went on strike and refused to take the pills. We got one or two more in her after that and I intended to call the doctor to either get his okay to stop or a prescription for some liquid meds to finish her out. Of course, I became distracted and never got that call made. She hasn't had a relapse and it has been a few weeks, so I think we are out of the woods on this one.

Other than that, life is, you know, what you might expect. Paul is gearing up to hit the road after being home for weeks (lovely, lovely weeks). Colin prepares for his driver's license permit and behind-the-wheel driver's education. (Theoretically I am happy for him and ready for him to drive. Seeing as how he has not actually driven a car yet, it remains to be seen if my theoretical acceptance will translate into actual acceptance that my baby...sniff... boy... sniff... is DRIVING!!!!

Oh yes, life-wise, tomorrow, 11/26, is my birthday. 43. In spite of all the good things going on in my life, I face 43 with less enthusiam than 42. I can't say why. I know I've enjoyed being an age that equates to the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. What does a has-been Ultimate Answer do when she leaves that magical number behind? I guess we'll find out this year.

There is so much more to blog...

  • I never got to finishing BubandPie's tag of five influential books...
  • I've been on a period costume drama DVD binge: both Pride and Prejudices (Firth vs. MacFadyen: I have my definitive fave, but at the risk of an all out Darcy War, I will remain silent as to my preference), Wives and Daughters, North and South (again!)...
  • I've also been reading all those books (as ebooks of all things).
  • School! I've learned so much about content area literacy and adult developmental education. I am enjoying what I'm learning and am excited to share some of it here...
  • Sleeping with Bread. I've not baked my bread of gratitude here for such a long time, yet there is so much to be thankful for...
  • In January, Paul and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage... so much to blog about that!

I've missed the companionship I get in the blogosphere. I wish I could have kept up with everyone and kept everyone up-to-speed. But well, isn't there some saying about wishes?

School is winding down... I'll get back in the swing of things. At least until January 18th when my spring semester starts and I am taking 9 units. (9? Oy!)

In the meantime, I leave you with this poem... just because I like it:


There Is A River by S.A. Griffen

there is a cheerful ignorance
a chance meeting and
luck like gold that cannot be
mined or stolen
a common atom
a dance
and stars that trick the
water with their
certain magic
do not wash your wars in it
take your holy rituals to the
precious fountains built by your
agencies of fear
press your
wine from the fallout
and drink victory
for yes
there is a river
a giving river that will
sing you safely
a river of
light
final
fast
and
free
where you can
disrobe
and leave your casual sadness
walking sideways at the
shore
meet me there
whoever you are
and we will agree to
swim it
together

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007: 101.7 Degrees

Medical Update Below




Posted by Picasa


Fortunately, this was after trick or treating. Well... it perhaps wasn't fortunate for all the people she came into contact with. I feel so bad for her, she is really in a bad state. Her head hurts, her tummy hurts, her throat hurts, she can't get comfortable. Poor Supergirl! There must have been some Kryptonite in the candy!

************************************
The next day...

Marley's fever continued to rise last night and it was clear she was in a very sorry state. Because we knew there had recently been a couple of cases of strep throat in her class, we took her in to the doctor first thing this morning. With a temp of 103 (45 minutes after acetaminophen), a red, swollen, pus-y throat, swollen glands, and a headache, the doctor felt comfortable diagnosing strep throat without doing a throat culture. He's been Marley's doctor since the day she was born and has been through her febrile seizures and the resulting antagonism she has felt for anyone in a white lab coat since then. She handles things much better now, but the doctor told me that in addition to her having every clinical sign of strep, it was also Marley--which I took as meaning that he knew she would not easily allow her throat to be swabbed.

So, after 48 hours on antibiotics or 24 hours without fever, she'll be cleared to go back to school.

Yeah Cefzil!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I fell in to a burning ring of fire...

I was wrong.

There are not fires to the north, south, and west of me.

There are fires to the north, south, west, AND east of me.

Lest you become too alarmed. I cannot see any fire. I cannot see any smoke.

But I can smell smoke. The Air Quality Management District is advising all people to stay indoors as much as possible. The kids have to have recess, lunch and P.E. inside. Can you imagine how much fun their teachers are having?

Here is a handy little fire map I downloaded from a news site. I drew a wobbly little star in MS Paint to show our approximate location. We truly are in the middle of a ring of fire.



One thing on my mind during all this, other than my burning eyes and lungs, is all the firefighters who are working so hard and who are so overextended. A state of emergency was called for Southern California today. There are too few resources to fight this many fires, over such a large area, all at the same time. I'm not Catholic, but I might just ask the patron saint of firefighters, St. Florian, to intercede on behalf of the men and women of the California Fire services.

Monday, October 22, 2007

So much life, so lttle time to blog...

Life has been busy. This news is no surprise as I've been droning on and on about it for weeks and weeks.

It's good, but it doesn't allow for much bloggy relationship building.

So, here are a few bullet points:

Izzy the Incredible just did a blog makeover for me at my family blog: So Cal Cinema. Check it out when you have a chance. It is very retro and fun and just my style.

While I still have a lot to do for school, my first ginormous paper is turned in. I don't know what grade I'll get, but I'm getting to the point where an assignment is not inducing quite so much intestinal distress. I'm proud of the preparation and work I did on the paper and I hope the teacher appreciates it, too!

There's been no time to bake up a Sleeping with Bread post, but I did make a cake from a mix and my daughter says I am the best cook ever. (Oh! How low the standards of a seven year-old!)

I'd love to start a series based on my Surprised by Waltzing post. I got the idea after watching Superman: Doomsday with Marley. (Slightly inappropriate at times, I have to say.) In the special features of this recently released animated movie, the decision to kill Superman in the comics and how they brought him back to life elicited that feeling of joy in me which I described in the waltzing post. The community of the team working on it moved me. The emotional involvement the artists and writers still feel is incredible. There are a couple of occasions where they are moved to tears as they describe scenes from the comics. Tears formed in my own eyes as I watched. You never can tell when joy is going to jump up and get your attention.

As if there were any need to confirm my geek status, I watched Transformers the Movie... and of course, I loved it. Optimus Prime is the coolest AutoBot ever!

Fires are raging -- all around us here in So Cal. We are literally ringed with fires to the North, South and West of us... probably to the East as well but I'd have to look it up to be exact. There are other parts of the country where you experience the smell of fire entwined completely with the air and ash adrift on the wind. I don't know how many places, though, experience this once to twice a year. This is a particularly bad batch of fires. At least one area is burning thanks to the sick minds of one or more arsonists. This is also the first time that I know someone who had to evacuate. Fortunately it was just for a few hours. The wind was so fierce last night that we lost a portion of the fence and some shades. A neighbor lost a tree. People are encouraged to stay inside and use the recirculate function on their air conditioning units.

It is definitely Fall in So Cal.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Life, the Universe, and Everything: Friday Night Catch Up

Life:

I promised to be back Friday and I sometimes keep my promises.

My brain is still drained, sprained and otherwise constrained.

Still, I soldier on...

The week really hasn't been that bad. Mostly, I am just tired. I spent about 11 hours working on a paper last Sunday (insert impressed noises here) and when I went to bed for the night, the body was willing but my brain was like a frozen computer and I couldn't find the Ctrl-Alt-Del keys. I finally went to sleep at 4:00 a.m. If this is the impact that paper writing has on me, I'm going to have to have a writing curfew to allow for four hours recovery time. The rest of the week involved extra hours at the church office, catching up on sleep, Paul traveling, etc.

This morning I woke up after some fitful sleeping and thought to myself that I didn't see how I could possibly put clothes on, make lunches, and drive the kids to school.

So I didn't.

We had in impromptu LUE family vacation day. It was AWESOME!!! Why was it awesome? Because the kids got along all day and I was able to leave Marley with Colin while I went to the chiropractor and store. After I got home, I lazed around in my pajamas, watching tv and napping off and on. HEAVEN!!

Of course, there was a cloud to my silver lining. Marley was too well-behaved, too cooperative, and too self-sufficient. It couldn't last and it didn't. But that's okay. She's bathed and waiting for Daddy to come home with her Krazy Kryptonite purchased from THE BIGGEST MALL IN THE WORLD!!!!


the Universe:

I officially do not know what is going on in the universe. Last night, my bleary eyes were scanning internet headlines and I found myself reading headlines which were follow ups to news stories I wasn't familiar with.

I think this might be a grad school phenomenon.

Everything:

BubandPie tagged me for a book meme and because I am at reduced capacity, I am going to do it in installments.

Installment One:

What was the last book I read?

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham. I recently read The Painted Veil and loved it, so when this selection came up for my book club, I was excited--until I saw the 600 pages or so I had to read. It took me quite a while to plow through this book, but it was definitely worth the effort. Philip Carey grew on me and I found myself alternately frustrated at him for spending too much money or going back to Mildred or broken-hearted for him because of the lack of warmth and understanding in his life. The historical context interested me also with references to the rise of the German philosophers, changes in religious thought toward the end of the 19th century, and post-Impressionism in France.

Stay tuned for installments Two through Six: Five Meaningful Books I've Read.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ugh...

Brain hurts.

Body tired.

Can't form sentences.

Just drove through KFC to get a chocolate cake. Needed chocolate. Bad.

Marley asked for a side of macaroni and cheese to go with the ramen I was making for her.

I guess we've been to KFC too much lately.

Big paper due on Thursday. Be back on Friday.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Surprised by Waltzing

Sometime in the first year after I graduated high school, I read Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis and his definition of joy as "an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction" captivated me. Joy, to Lewis, was a feeling inspired by any number of things from encounters with nature to the sound of friends' laughter. Eventually, as he sought out these moments of joy, he began to believe the emotion he was experiencing was a recognition of the divine which creates in us a longing for God.

At 18, I sensed the truth in his words. I knew that joy as he described was different than the happiness we are often taught should be our life's aim.

At 18, I felt I had experienced those longing glimpses into the divine.

I'm sure I had, but as I reflect on my life with its grown up burdens and responsibilities... as I consider the sad and tragic circumstances that can befall people, those glances of joy are more poignant to me. Sometimes they are almost boringly obvious: the heart-bursting ache that comes with a glance at my son or daughter; the gasp that comes with the sight of the local mountains, freshly covered in the snow after a storm. I think these are universal experiences which don't lose their depth of meaning in their prevalence.

Sometimes, though, I get that sense of Beauty and Longing in places I wouldn't expect. Today, Sober Briquette picked up on a recent post of mine in which I chose a shopping cart to represent myself in a transportation metaphor. Her choice is great and the options she eliminates along the way are very funny. At the end she embedded a You Tube clip of Van Morrison singing with The Band from The Last Waltz.



The Last Waltz has been on my mind of late. We have the DVD and Colin recently purchased The Band's Greatest Hits (along with The Best of Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett's Greatest Hits and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band--this kid has great taste in music). The film brings back fond memories. The first time I watched it was the first time Paul and I discussed forever. But more than that, the film and the music in it evokes in me a sense of the sublime. It is just so good it almost hurts--that good hurt.

Here's where my descriptive powers will fail me. How do I go beyond the Valley Girl-like "It's so awesome!!!" to communicate how the interviews with the members of The Band, along with the footage of amazing musician after amazing musician singing and playing with the band is just a little slice of heaven here on earth? How can I explain that I see God in the community these men had with each other or that the musicianship seems to be the quintessential example of being in the moment with the music? I don't know.

I'm not really a music person. I like lots of music but I don't pursue music in my life and I'm not musically literate. I can't tell you anything about what makes a good song. There's something more than music going on in The Last Waltz, though, and it surprised me with joy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: Better Late Than Never


I don't know quite what happened on Monday but I did not get my Sleeping with Bread post written.


Well, I do know what happened. Life happened. School happened. Sleep happened.


So I find myself with a few moments to reflect and I ask myself...


When in the last week (or so) have I found consolation?



  1. meeting with my friend with whom I do my spiritual formation exercises

  2. taking time to spend with book club friends discussing Of Human Bondage

  3. watching Marley and Colin play outside together yesterday

  4. praying the prayer offices from the Northumbria Community

  5. getting some reassurances in different places and from different people that I just might manage this school thing

  6. watching Heroes (remember I'm a minor sci-fi/fantasy geek)

  7. we almost have enough money saved to renew our Disneyland passports (This is something that we can do as a whole family and anytime you can amuse both your 7 year old and your 15 year old, it is worth doing.)


When in the last week (or so) have I found desolation?



  1. not spending enough time with my family

  2. stressing over a 'B' for a paper and totally overcompensating on the next one (I'll have to sneak in another consolation here to say that the professor gave everyone a chance to rework the next one and I figured out the 'B' was for something very minor that is easily corrected in the next one.)

  3. a couple of things which I'm not at liberty to discuss in a public place but which are both saddening and stressful

  4. missing out on a movie with a friend because I forgot I had book club

  5. loss of sleep due to minor vomitage by daughter

  6. minor physical ailments which are more irritating than serious


Further Contemplations


All in all, it seems that each week since I began grad school I have learned something new about managing my life.


Last week, I learned that my brain will not meet the challenge of reading two chapters, back to back, of Content Area Literacy. Application? Don't save all that reading for the morning before class.


Over the course of the last few weeks, one question I started to ask myself and I think, after this week, I'm finding the answer is this:


Is this rollercoaster of stress that I am experiencing since starting school a natural response to my situation or is it just me and that peskly personality of mine not responding well to it all?


The conclusion I'm coming to? Yes, it is stressful for a 42 year old woman who hasn't been to school in 17 years to find herself in a graduate program for which she lacks a lot of the essential background of teaching experience. However, after stressing out for a day because I got a 'B' on a two page paper, upset that I was two points below the class average, and contacting the professor to ask for his suggestions before the next two page paper was due, I suspect that the hills and valleys I've been experiencing relate more to my own issues and personality. Application? I need to get a grip and settle down. I need to stop looking at every (perceived) setback as "THE END OF MY GRAD SCHOOL CAREER!" My body can't take it. My heart can't take it. And, I most assuredly know that my family can't take it! (Poor things. Psycho Mommy is scary!)


And so, as Picard might say to Riker, I just need to "make it so." (I told you I was something of a scifi/fantasy geek!)




Sunday, September 23, 2007

Um... I don't think so!

Julie over at Using My Words recently posted her celebrity lookalikes. I did this once before months and months ago but thought I'd try it again. I remember the first time gettng some very intereting results.

These were results were interesting but in a different way. Is it just me or is the main point of commonality between me and these celebrities (many of whom I've never heard of) just long, swept over to the side bangs? And then in the middle of that pack of people is Vince Vaughn? I don't think so.

I should try a different picture and see what results I get.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

8 Random Facts

The Rules:

I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.

Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.

People who are tagged need to write their own blog (about their 8 things) and post these rules.

At the end of your blog, you need to choose people to get tagged and list their names.

Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

8 Random Facts/Habits About Me:


  1. I'm a closet hopeless romantic. I just watched North and South, a BBC production, and was swoony for hours.

  2. I love leftovers for breakfast.

  3. I walk sideways downstairs.

  4. While I like to pretend that I am not vain, I do have a designated facial-hair manager in case of coma.

  5. I remember remembering things from my childhood but no longer actually remember them. Thus, things I once believed were true, I am no longer sure of. Did you get that?

  6. Since last year when I had a colonoscopy, I can no longer drink lemon-lime soda or ginger ale that is the least bit flat. I have a complete PTSD response to the prep drink. I'm gagging just typing this.

  7. I have terrible posture.

  8. I was sought after to be on my high school's academic decathlon team--because of my C average. How flattering is that?

I tag...




Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I, Shopping Cart


I was at a meeting on Sunday afternoon at church to discuss the formation of new small groups. The question was asked, "As you move through your life, what kind of transportation are you?"

For some reason, the image that came to mind for me is a shopping cart--with one wobbly wheel. Well, it caused people to laugh and I was trying to be funny, but there was more to it than that.
I really do feel like a shopping cart with one wobbly wheel.

That wobbly wheel just keeps pulling me off course and it takes a lot of effort and energy to move in the right direction.
Hmmm...
That's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: with Dread and Longing

I'm cheating. It is actually Sunday night but I don't think I'll have time to bake my weekly bread tomorrow. I have a very short paper to write, a house to get in shape before the babysitter comes, and processing the church contributions for the week, and class at 7:00 p.m.

As I sat down to ponder the last week, I realized that my "best" thing and my "worst" thing were both on the same day, within an hour of each other in fact. The best way to put it is...

In the last week, when did I feel most alive?

After taking most of the summer off, my small group at church met on Friday night. Knowing that leading the group will be a challenge while I am in school, I brought a choice of materials for us to go through. Both books were from the same publisher, Renovare', a publisher which has amazing material that easily allows for people to take turns leading. We chose between a book called Living the Mission and one called Prayer and Worship. We sampled a little of the one we ended up choosing, Prayer and Worship, and it was during that time I felt most alive. Why? The lesson led us through a Psalm, 42:1-8. It is the one about how one longs for God the way a deer pants for water. As a group, we discussed longing for God and it was a wonderful time sharing with others whom I've been in community with for a long time. Good company and good conversation. I loved it. Really stunning was this quote from St. John of the Cross:

"The longing in your soul is actually His doing. You may feel only the smallest desire for Him. There may be no emotion about it at all. But the reason your desire rises at all is because He is passing very near to you. His holy beauty comes near you, like a spiritual scent, and it stirs your drowsing soul. (Living the Flame of Love, Stanza 3)
I think God's holy beauty came near and woke my drowsing soul as our group shared and prayed with one another.

Sadly, shortly after I was feeling something completely different in my soul...

When in the last week did I feel most drained of life?

After the meeting was over and some of us were just hanging around visiting, I realized I was feeling a sense of dread. Saturday morning was going to be one of those days with pictures for soccer, a baby shower, stopping by the church office to unlock it so someone could get in, a soccer game, Paul preparing to go out of town. Saturday would be shot and Paul would be on a plane first thing Sunday a.m. for business. The dread was from antcipating the lack of down time over the weekend which woud be followed by a busy week without Paul's help.

I survived Saturday, Paul left this morning and I managed to make today productive without overly stressing me or the kids. I still have a long road to travel this week but after years of Paul traveling I have learned that my anticipation of a tough week is almost always worse than the actual week itself. Still, in the moment, it did feel like my soul was draining away, leaking from multiple holes.

I'm glad it was just for a moment.



Other SWB posts are linked up here.


P.S. During my busy Saturday, I got some cute pictures of Marley at her soccer game. I used one to create a new banner for my family blog. If you just have to see them, go check out So-So Cal Cinema, the Mary-LUE family blog.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sleeping with What?

For those of you who are newish to my little universe, I have a meme that I started called Sleeping with Bread. Examining that which gives me consolation and that which causes me desolation is one way to keep me grounded and grateful. I actually set up a blog dedicated to linking up other Sleeping with Bread posts. This summer I took a little sabbatical from my weekly baking. For an extremely unstructured person, I was feeling a little burned out--not on the exercise but on the weekly execution of it. It is time to get back in the habit, though. A few new people have started participating and while my schedule is crazy right now, I think it is healthy for me to take the time to reflect, even when I feel I don't have the time--especially then.

So, this week, I look back and consider when I felt the most fragmented and when I felt the most whole.

Feeling Fragmented

This is easy. How about every day of the week? The weight of a lot of new responsibilities has been weighing on me heavily and evidencing itself in a nervous stomach, irritability and mixing up my words. I'm letting things get to me that I shouldn't and I'm not opening myself up to things that I should. It sucks.

Feeling Whole

Two things stand out to me from this past week. One, I felt most whole when I finally sent myself to my room to spend some time with God. I indulged in two books, Celtic Daily Prayer and Sacred Space. I journaled my responses (in a journal that hadn't been touched in too, too long). I breathed in. I exhaled out. I set aside the worries of my days and acknowledged that I was allowing my fragmented feelings to take control and let in other feelings of anger and bitterness. I asked God for his help. (What a novel concept!) Now, I just have to accept it.


The second thing is a simple one. I took my son and three of his friends to go swimming at the university pool. Our family went several times this summer and Colin was looking forward to sharing the experience with his friends. (The big appeal is the diving pool with two regular diving boards and one high dive.) He'd tried to work things out a few times but I was too busy with unexpected things which came up. I felt whole because I was getting a chance to give my son something he wanted and because of the joy I felt in just watching these adolescent boys go crazy in that pool. Front flips, back flips, cannonballs. They did it all--over and over again. The in-the-moment joy they experienced transmitted itself to me. My heart felt lifted and lightweight.

If you are interested in finding out more about Sleeping with Bread, you can go to the SWB blog or check out Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life. There is also an excellent version for children called Making Heart-bread. What I especially love about the children's version is that I think it is also an excellent tool for helping children learn to recognized their emotions.

Sleeping with Bread is a Christian exercise but it isn't Christian only. I encourage you to try it. I think you'll like it.






Friday, September 07, 2007

My Virtual Trophy Case

I've been blessed with an embarassment of riches in the bloggy bling department lately.

First, Mommy off the Record nominated me for my first Perfect Post. The concept of grief as it applies to sending your beloved child off to school in my rerun of Kindergarten
hit close to home for her. Thanks MotR!

Perfect Post Award for August 2007

And in rapid succession, I was awarded the following awards -

From Aliki at World of One Thousand Different Things:



From Sophie at A Hole in the Fence:



And finally, from Julie at Julie Pippert: Using My Words (formerly the Ravin' Picture Maven:



Thanks to everyone who gave me these acknowledgements and who also said nice things about me. It is truly a blessing at this time when I am feeling a little out of my element. By my own choosing, my life has been turned upside down. A little love from some friends feels nice right now.

(I'll pass these on officially sometime in the next couple of weeks. I wanted to say thanks now before I forget.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A brief update... just in case you were wondering.

Not good: Humidity making the temperature feel 5 - 10 degrees hotter than it really is.

It could be worse: It is only in the 80s with a "RealFeel" in the low 90s. A few days ago, it was 105 pickin' degrees with a RealFeel of who-cares-anymore.

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Not good: Stubbed my toe. Ouch! Ouchity-ouch-ouch!

It is worse: It is the same toe I stubbed, broke, whatever last Spring. The one that hurts for weeks and weeks and still hurts on occasion if I wear the wrong shoes.
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Not good: Tomorrow is Thursday. THURSDAY! Thursday is my long, long day. I spend it trying to get things accomplished, like reading chapters on Content Area Literacy and the APA Publication Manual, before 3:30 when I head over to school for 5 to 6 hours of classes. I come home exhausted but hyper and hungry.

It could be worse: I turned into loner-Grad-school-chick tonight and blasted through almost all of my reading and some miscellaneous assignments. Tomorrow I just have to get my work done at the church office, read one chapter on study skills (a timely chapter, I have to say), and prepare a mini-class for Marley's class on poetry recitation. Really, it could be worse.
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Good: My husband is in town. He installed the small window unit-air conditioner in our bedroom so I can sleep. He took care of everything from 4:00 p.m. on tonight, including getting a grande, decaf mocha. Ahhhh. Yummy.

It could be better: Where's my maid? I need a maid. There is shrapnel from Point A to Point B in this house, worse than usual, and I just can't do anything about it. Too hot. Too busy. Too much in need of temporary vegetative state.
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Eh, not so great: I've been too busy to comment on blogs the last few days. I feel like I'm missing out. I've read a few posts, but not too many. I don't like that my time is so tight and my energy for even reading blogs is so low right now.

It could be worse: Once things cool off and the school routine gets going, I'm sure it will be better. I know that my class work will intensify but I'll manage. And you guys aren't going anywhere, right? You'll still be waiting for me when I have a few moments to visit, right?
Hello?
Hello?
Anybody there?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

To Sir, with Love: A Hump Day Hmm-er

I started school two months before my fifth birtday. In California in 1969, the cut off date for school entry was the first week of December. I cleared it by two weeks. I loved kindergarten. I was excited to learn how to read. For some time it had been the joy of my family to hear this constant refrain while driving:

What does that say?

What does that say?

What does that say?

I remember coming home from school one day and telling my mom that I knew how to spell our last name! I proceeded to tell her M - U - R - P - H - Y. I was embarassed to find that my teacher hadn't taught me the correct spelling. (Can you imagine a kindergartener in this day and age not being taught how to spell her own name? It is a different time with different expectations, both at school and at home, isn't it?) My mother corrected me: M - U - R - P - H - E - Y. The name spelling would be an issue almost everywhere I went until I got married and took my husband's equally Irish but more straightforwardly spelled last name. I don't have a lot of clear memories of kindergarten, but other than that minor disappointment, I think it was pretty smooth sailing.

Somewhere along the line, things began to change.

I don't remember when it started exactly but sometime I began to realize that I wasn't well liked by my fellow students. I was awkward. I usually wore hand me down clothes that had very little in common with the current fashion trends. I became aware that how things were at home for me wasn't the same as the other kids. I was raised in a single parent household when that wasn't quite as common as it is today. We often had spare relatives living with us. I learned to brush my teeth when the school did a section on dental hygiene. (I cringe when I write that but it is the truth.)

I never had "my group" of friends. I didn't necessarily hang out alone but I didn't belong anywhere. On a good day, I hung out on the fringes of the "regular" kids. On a bad day, I stood mute in answer to the question, "Do you like wearing that dress?"

I write all this so that you can understand my perception of my self and my life in elementary school. I write all this so that you can understand the impact of the teachers in my life during fourth and fifth grade.

The best--B-E-S-T--teacher in the school was Mr. F. This designation was transmitted subconsciously through the children's hive mind. We just knew. Imagine my delight when I walked up to the school, alone (Again, how times have changed.) and saw my name on Mr. F's class list.

I can tell you that I was not disappointed.

Mr. F team taught with Mrs. V. They had a huge double classroom with a folding dividing door that was very rarely closed. I really had two teachers that year. Two wonderful teachers who were positive and who helped me get excited about learning and who were very patient and gracious to me when they had to point out or correct my deficiencies. My penmanship was atrocious and I was sent that year to the learning center. (Atrocious writing skills are apparently genetically transmitted and both my children are afflicted.)

Mr. F walked over to my desk one day. He crouched down next to me and started talking to me about my writing. While I obviously don't recall the exact words, they went something like this:

Mary, I want you to go to the learning center to work on your writing.
Everyone needs help sometimes and I think this will help you so that it is easier to read what you write.
What didn't get said but what I understood:

I know this is hard for you. There is nothing wrong with you. You're
a special girl and getting sent to the learning center doesn't mean you are bad.
The year came to a close and I spent the summer of 1970 doing whatever latch-key kids do: watching TV, reading, roaming the streets, walking to the liquor store to buy candy and soda.

The summer ended and I walked up to the school to see whose class I would be spending my time in for fifth grade. There it was. I had Mr. F again! He was teaching a fourth/fifth combo and I was one of twelve fifth graders who would be in his class. Ecstatic is probably not too strong a word for my nine year old feelings.

As fifth graders in a class and a half of fourth graders, if you included Mrs. V's class, we had the chance to lead small groups and learn more independence. For math we were shipped out to the other fifth grade teachers according to ability level. All through the year, we also had the distinction of being Mr. F's fifth graders. This honor was all the more wonderful when he told us that he had picked each of us to be in his class. Wow! To a kid who felt less than special, this had a huge impact on me. More so because I didn't have a dad in the house growing up. Positive male attention? Well, I lapped that up.**

Somewhere in that two years in Mr. F's class, I also had the joy of two student teachers--identical twins. H and R were so much fun. They were bright, enthusiastic, pretty and young. We were all in awe of them. While I can't say that I had any special connection to them as a student, just having student teachers, and such unique ones, made that time in school seem more special.

As others today join Julie in pondering school for this week's Hump Day Hmm-er, I reminisce about those two most special years of elementary school. I also think about Colin and his special year of elementary school, third grade. His teacher, Miss B., was a hybrid of Mr. Rogers and Mother Theresa and I am not exaggerating. I think about Marley and her experience so far. She has had the same two wonderful teachers since kindergarten. This year, a third has been added to share a part-time contract with one of the others. A graduate of this same multiage program, Miss J. is thrilled to be teaching in the class she grew up in. I know Marley is going to love her, too.

What an impact a teacher can make in the life of a child. For some, like me, the impact came in the positive attention and in the communicating that I was smart and likeable. For Colin, it came with a teacher who saw past his impulsive behaviour and never lost her patience with him. Never. He still looks back, at 15, and remembers that. The impact of Marley's teachers is yet to be fully known but I suspect being known and understood and challenged in a safe environment by three superb women is going to have a long-term affect on how she sees school and learning.

Education today is not all that we would want it to be. Challenges face administrators, teachers, parents and children. Everyone has an opinion and it seems like there is no consensus. But...

BUT...

We should never underestimate how large the impact of a warm and loving demeanor, loving boundaries and even a consistent smile in the classroom can have our kids. I know the affect it had on me. Thanks Mr. F, Mrs. V., H & R. You made a difference.


Hump Day Hmm


**My experience with a male elementary school teacher was such that I a saddened by the lack of them today. They were more common in the late 60s and early 70s. I think there are more kids like me who could use that influence.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

LUE Rerun: Kindergarten

Perfect Post Award for August 2007

With so many of the bloggers I read experiencing children starting kindergarten this week, I decided to dust off the archives and republish this piece I wrote last year. I don't know that my experience with my son beginning his school career is the same as what these women will experience. I do know, though, that it will be something they will remember--always.

Kindergarten

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.”

“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 paaaaaants! 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.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Good Samaritan

Hump Day Hmm

"There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

"A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I'll pay you on my way back.'


"What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?"

"The one who treated him kindly," the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, "Go and do the same."
Luke 10:25-37, New International Version

Several days late, this parable from the Bible is my contribution to the Hump Day Hmm-er.

As I thought about the people in my neighborhood, I knew that all I could really write was about how litte I know about my neighbors. I know about half the names of the people living on my street. I talk to a few of them. We aren't close. We don't hang out in the front yard shooting the breeze. It's been eleven years and I don't really see it changing.

But, as I pondered the subject, the story of the Good Samaritan came to mind. The ultimate neighbor story, I think. The word Samaritan has an entirely positive connotation for most people. But there was a time, let's say around the time that Jesus was alive, when hearing the word Samaritan did not bring up warm fuzzy images of helping others. No, the Samaritans were outcasts. They weren't accepted. That fact is what makes this story revolutionary for its time. The people who were looked up to and respected in Jesus' circle had no mercy. The man who would not have been spoken to by these respectable, religious men--they might even have crossed the road to avoid contact with him--he helped the man in need.

I hope that in my life I can embrace being the kind of neighbor Jesus talked about. To the world, I might be considered one of those respectable, religious people. I am not an outcast. I go to church. I'm a leader in my church. I never want to be so busy, so puffed up with myself, though, that I pass by someone who needs my help. I hope that I can have the Samaritan's heart, one that will go out to others, not only to stop and help, but go above and beyond in doing what I can for others.

Blog Business

On posting:

It seems like I've got a rush of little posts that will go up this weekend. I'm sorry about stuffing the Google Reader and Bloglines boxes. With my new schedule, I'm not quite sure how blogging will fit in and so this might be it: days of nothing and then multiple posts in a couple of days. It seems like it is better to do more short posts than create one gargantuan post about lots of things.

On the Scenic View:

A while ago, atypical pointed Antique Mommy's series called The Box. Orignally published as several posts, she has merged them into one. It is a story both riveting and moving. While my life story is not similar in facts, it is similar in that I, too, know about finding out things as an adult that fill in some of the blanks of my childhood. The things you don't know definitely can have a impact on your life--and the life of your children. This has been on my mind this summer because of something that came up with my son and a decision I made as a result. If you have some time, I think reading The Box would be a good use of it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Because of Riley

Riley over at All Rileyed Up posted some personality tests results recently. I already know I'm an ENFP (just like her) but I did do the Multiple Intelligences test. It is totally correct I think, but I was surprised because at some point I had started to think of my self as a visual learner. This was because of a tendency I noticed to communicate and see things in my mind in metaphors. It's like this... Maybe that has more to do with my not being very detail-oriented. My intuitive perceiving nature has a hard time explaining how I know what I know. Any Myers-Briggs specialist out there to confirm or deny this?

Click to view my Personality Profile page



I also took the Book Quiz that Riley referenced. I didn't like any of the books it said I was (not the books really, just the comparison). I am so not Ulysses! I am not Confessions of St. Augustine. A Prayer for Owen Meany? Eh, maybe-ish. And Watership Down? I'd like to be, but I don't think that's me either. I went on to try the State Quiz (Nevada), the University Quiz (Case Western) and the 2008 Presidential Candidate Quiz (Dodd-Kerry). None of these fit. I'll just have to stick with the Myers-Briggs.

What a week!

Life has gone from zero to 60 in just a few days. (I may be repeating myself here.) We were dealing with soccer practice which wasn't too bad, just two times a week. I was preparing myself mentally for school to begin when word came that our business manager at church had resigned. Could I give a few hours per week to do the deposits, accounts payable, etc. We are a small church and not having these things done in a timely manner would be a disaster. I have covered for this area in the past--two years ago--and so the leadership asked if I was available. I thought I could give 5 - 10 hours per week, but of course, the first week or two took longer. Following all the minutiae of processing checks, entering them into the finance software, etc., take some getting used to.

This week, I attended my first Master's classes. I was a little nerve-wracked about that, which was intensified by my commitment to helping out at church. I'm not very good at having too much schedule to deal with. However, while I was somewhat anxious, I was also certain that I could manage it for a few weeks. One of my classes is only five weeks long and my hope is that the position will be filled with a new, full-time employee in about the same amount of time. (Let me add here that the church is compensating me for my time.)

All of this was further complicated by an issue I was having regarding Marley. She was going to go with her grandparents on a trip. I should have been more than happy for her to go. She's gone with them before; she would have had fun; I am always more than happy to dump share my children with others. Always. I had an uneasy feeling about it which I couldn't shake. I tried to dismiss it. I said she could go. As it got closer to her leaving, I had to sit down and spend some time in prayer and meditation.

During that time, what came to me was this: maybe I was feeling this way because of so many new obligations that were coming my way--maybe not. I spent time examining the anxiety I was having about school and work. I ended up admitting to God that I just didn't know what to do about Marley and the trip. I asked for help. Should she go or should she stay. As I said that prayer, a feeling washed over my heart. That may sound weird but that is exactly what happened. I realized that when I thought about work or school, my anxiety rested in my gut. When I thought about Marley going on the trip, I was feeling something in my heart.

I walked out of my bedroom and went to talk to Paul. I started crying. I can't really explain why. While he wasn't having the same sense that I was, he completely supported me. I spoke to a couple of other moms and the consensus was the same: listen to my heart. So we did. Marley stayed home. I want to explain that I wasn't having any sort of premonition. There was no specific fear that something would happen to her. It was just an overwhelming sense that she shouldn't go.

All of this has left me a little exhausted this week. I am grateful, though, for friends to talk to about it and to Paul for accepting what I was feeling. Marley's grandparents were very accepting when we said she wasn't going. We never really had to explain why. So, whether it was just some sort of emotional overload or some sort of guiding from God, I am at peace with it all. Further, I was able t get everything I needed to get done for work in about 10 hours this week and after my first round of classes, I think I can do it. The work schedule will be heavy, but not too hard. The "graduate level" writing that I was stressing about is not going to be an issue. They want plain, straightforward writing with good content and decent grammar. I can do that.

I feel like I just crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope. It was scary. I was wobbly but I didn't fall. Whew!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Matters

A new Friendship blogger award! Genevieve Olsen over at Bella-Enchanted wrote the following just 16 days ago:

So I have noticed a lot of blog awards out there lately, and it has gotten me thinking about nominations. Who would I nominate for say the rocker girl blog award. And then I started thinking that the Gals I am reading do rock, but there is more to them, there is caring, friendship and inspiration too. So I am starting my own blog award! This award will be awarded to those that are just nice people, good blog friends and those that inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world! I am naming this award the Nice Matters Blog Award I will begin my naming a few of those that I feel deserve this award and I would like for those awarded to name 7 others. That is it! Feel free to use the above button to tell everyone that someone thinks you are nice!

I had never been to Bella-Enchanted before today. However Aliki of World of One Thousand Different Things was quite rightly awarded the Nice Matters Award and in turn, she gave one to me. Thanks Aliki.

I am always curious about who starts these awards and will sometimes track back to see if I can find the originator. I got lost pretty quickly with this trail of bread crumbs and so I googled "Who started the Nice Matters Award." And guess what? Google knew!

So now it is my turn to award the Nice Matters Award.

1) Pam of MarillaAnne. Pam is a great encourager. Although her blogging has slowed down in the last few months, she is by nature a gatherer, an initiater of good deeds and an overall ray of sunshine. She takes things to heart, such as BooMama's crusade to raise money for Kelli who was in need of money to keep her insurance going while she waited for a kidney transplant. Pam matters.

2) Beck of Frog and Toad are Still Friends. I give Beck this award because she writes nice. Nice as in well. She has a wonderful sense of whimsy that will steer directly into the profound. Many a day I walk away from my computer remembering how precious my children are and vowing to remember that every day. Beck matters.

3) Maddy McEwen of Whitterer on Autism. Writing with the intention of keeping things light, Maddy writes with much self-deprecation about life with her family, two of which, her young sons, have autism. I think it would be easy to spend time focusing on the negative or getting passionate about how the world looks at children with autism. However, she makes me laugh almost every day as she recounts her children's perspective and unique way of looking at the world. In doing so, I am in awe of her perspective and, I think, given a fresh point of view which I hope I will carry with me. Maddy matters.

4) Shari of Lambs by the Ocean. I found Shari's blog one day and it wasn't too long before we realized we knew some of the same people. What a small world the blogosphere can be! Shari posts many of the beautiful pictures she takes along with poems and songs or just her own simple words of gratitude and appreciation for life and creation. She just had a beautiful baby girl (Congrats you guys!) and I can't wait to read about parenting from Shari's bright point of view. Shari matters.

5) Atypical of nonsensical text. Atypical and I have made much of the sense of twinship we've discovered in each other. She is the introvert. I am the extrovert. There have many a time that I truly am amazed at reading what she has to say for I have thought the same thing. Atypical gets the Nice Matters award for her gentle love of the inane and her thoughtfulness. She has often pointed out to me blog posts which she thinks I will enjoy (and I always do). She always has a fresh, engaging thoughts on any subject. She also wrote a very special poem just for me! Atypical matters.

6) Meredith of Poppy Fields. There are two blog which have been major sources for my blogroll: BubandPie and Toddled Dredge. It was over at Toddled Dredge that I first found Meredith. She is a gentle soul with two beautiful children. An American ex-pat in Provence, I can not get enough of her writing about life in France. She posts beautiful pictures, writes about food, her music, her children. What comes across so strongly is that she has a lovely life and that she knows it. She makes me want to go to Provence. Meredith matters.

7) Tabba of Mrs. Incredible. Tabba's Nice Matters award is being awarded for more specific events--not that she isn't always nice. A while back Tabba wrote about two people she came across where she lives. Taking a risk, in more ways than one, she sought out and gave food and attention to these two people. I admire Tabba. I agree completely with what she did but I don't know if I would have had the personal courage or conviction to do the same. Thanks for the example, Tabba. You matter.


This is an open ended award. Anyone is free to nab the button and give it out. You don't have to wait until it is given to you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Just a quick note to say…

…life has gone from slow and lazy to somewhat insane a full two weeks ahead of schedule. So, if I've been somewhat lacking in commenting and posting, that is why.

…my new computer should get here today!!! I ordered it three weeks ago and at one point the estimated delivery date was August 31. Fortunately, whatever delayed component was missing came in and I will actually have it in my hot little hands for my first class… this Monday. THIS MONDAY!!! I think I'm getting a nervous stomach over the idea.

…HOT. HOT. HOT. It had to happen sometime. The summer has been entirely too comfortable. Mother Nature has waited until my life went a little crazy and my husband was out of town to turn on the heat. We only have one wall unit A/C on the far end of the house. Not good.

…there has been much discussion of the nature of blogging in regards to race, inclusion/exclusion, etc. I've not been able to participate but in the last few days the story of the blind mice and the elephant has been coming to mind:

As the story goes, seven blind mice discover a strange Something near their pond, and each day a different mouse tries to determine what the strange Something is by examining a part of it. "It's a pillar," says the first; "It's a snake," says the second"; "It's a spear", says the third. "It's a rope, it's a fan, it's a cliff," say the others. On the seventh day, the white blind mouse takes the time and trouble to run up and down, back and forth, end to end, on the strange Something, and discovers that, while the Something has characteristics of each of the other findings, it really is an elephant! The other mice agree after they examine the elephant fully. "The Mouse Moral: Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole."

I have a hard time trying to speak to the nature of the blog universe because it is so vast. It is as deep and wide as the ocean. What is true for my little corner of this world might not be true elsewhere. I think, as discussions on this topic continue to take place, that it would be helpful to define the depth and breadth of one's travels through the blog'verse. For example, I travel almost exclusively in so-called Mommyblogger circles. I make some stops in other places, such as mysecretennui, the blog of a 20something grad student from Cleveland or the all new adventures of Wyndham, a writer-type dad from England. While I can certainly state my opinion on how I think things ought to be, no matter where in the 'verse you are, I can only write about how things really are in my limited world of the 70-something blogs I frequent.

Let's see, that would be 70 out of how many? (Is there any data out there on exactly how many people have web logs?)

…this post was typed in my new Word 2007's blog posting template. Theoretically, I am going to hit publish and it will both save this as a file on my hard drive and publish it to Blogger. Oh what a wonderful world!

P.S. It worked! Very cool. I didn't check to see about how to label. I'll have look into that. Must have labels.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Joys of Parenting OR Is there an MRI Machine in the House?

Is it possible for an altercation with your seven year old daughter to cause a brain bleed?

If so, then that explains the pain in my head after Marley had a complete malfunction after soccer practice. Now, I'm used to her shenanigans at home but this one resembled something out of a cartoon complete with a tiny mushroom cloud going "POOF" right over her little blonde head.

I was in no mood to listen to her carry on. I was embarrassed. I could not get her to talk to me about what had upset her. Of course, she had no problem telling me about all sorts of other stuff she was unhappy about including but not limited to:

Not wanting to be on a yellow team with a stupid name
Wanting to be on a pink team with pirate in the name
Not wanting to be in the "light"
Wanting Colin to come to her practice
Announcing she is not going to practice next week

And so on and so on.

After passing her off to her father upon our return home with the words: "You need to come out here and deal with her," I proceeded to abdicate all parental responsibility and took a couple (okay, fine--three) ibuprofen. I then waited to see if my brain bleed was going to be fatal.

So far, it hasn't been. So far.

****flip****

Lest I make my daughter sound like a complete monster-child, I will say that her coach works the girls pretty hard. They come running in for water breaks two or three times during practice with faces red from exertion and the heat.

I was also finally able to get her to tell me what had upset her. Her friend's sister has practice immediately following Marley's. I had told her after the last practice that we would stay and play on the playground with her friend. Her friend didn't show up and she was upset.

****flop****

Lest I sound like I am excusing my daughter's bad behavior. I'm not. She has a will of iron which I am sometimes at a loss to deal with. But she received appropriate consequences. Hopefully, they will have made an impression on her.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I've been frantically looking through boxes hoping to find my marriage certificate or my social security card. Arghh!!! I know they're somewhere. It's a long story but I went looking for both of them today in the place they should've been and they weren't there.

As is the usual case when I am poking around the pictures, I am hit with wave after wave of nostalgia. Since I've been struck with it, I thought I'd share it with you all.


Whoa baby! I think I was near to bursting in this shot.
This picture was taken by the massage therapist who kept
me going during my pregnancy. Unfortunately, I can't remember
how far along I was. Far enough by the looks of that belly.


Would you look at my perfect days-old baby girl?
How much better could it get?


You might think this is pureed peas all over Marley's face.
You'd be half right. This is pureed peas after she'd thrown them up...
all over the place. At least she's happy!


Here I am around 8 months old, I think.
Um... more chubby than cute.
Cool hood ornament.



A Walk Down Memory Lane, Part 2

Also found in my mad scramble for my marriage certificate and Social Security card...

the best Mother's Day card I ever received... EVER!

Front of the card:



Back of the card:



Pretty funny, eh?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Too Much of a Good Thing: A Hump Day Hmm-er PSA

Hump Day Hmm

The prompt for today's Hump Day Hmm-er is Too Much of a Good Thing.

Well, I can start with what I think is too much of a bad thing. (You might want to skip down a bit if you are not interested in a long-winded rant about my daughter's ear.)



This is my daughter passed out on the couch. She was up around 5 a.m. because of an earache. She went back to sleep around 5:45 a.m. and at 9:30 a.m. was still asleep. She is missing a day of Art Camp because of the earache that won't go away--at least not for long. Since the second week of July we have been trying to tame this earache beast. To no avail. I was sure it was swimmer's ear, an external ear canal infection, because she was in pain when she touched her ear and when she opened her mouth too wide.

Doctor Visit #1: It isn't an external infection, it is an inner one. Give her this five-day antibiotic and keep her out of the pool.

One week later... Her ear starts hurting again. She was in the pool one time at the end of the week with ear plugs. Except for the absence of fever this time, the symptoms are the same including pain when pushing on the ear.

Doctor Visit #2: Her ear is a little bit pink. The ear infection is resolving itself still. Don't give her any more medication except for ibuprofen if her ear hurts. Don't know why it hurts when she touches it. Maybe she is getting some molars that are exacerbating the problem. Keep her out of the pool until her ear stops hurting.

Two weeks later... She has been kept out of the pool for about 10 days. She gets two days (Thursday and Saturday) splashing in a small, inflatable pool in our front yard. On Saturday, I notice her digging in the "bad" ear. I ask her if it hurts. She assures me she doesn't. On Sunday, the same thing happens again. I ask her again if it hurts. She tells me no that it just itches. Sunday evening she is crying that her ear hurts again. I put her back on the ibuprofen.

Monday I call the doctor's office. At visit number two, he had given me a prescription in case she got worse. Because we had days of no ear pain, I think I should call him first. The nurse returns my call and says that he should see her. I make an appointment for Wednesday (today). Yesterday afternoon, Marley starts complaining about her ear. Usually, it is a morning/evening kind of thing because of the cooler air. I have to give her an extra dose of ibuprofen. During bedtime, she is avoiding teeth brushing and in the fuss she bumps her ear. She starts bawling because it hurts. Bad.

After she goes to sleep, I decide to look up swimmer's ear. Just for kicks, you know. Here is what I found:

If your ear aches and you pull on it, wiggle it or push on that little bump (called the tragus) in front of the ear canal and it really hurts, you don't have just any old earache. You have swimmer's ear, an inflammation of the external ear canal (known in medical circles as otitis externa).
I sit on the couch, watching a re-run of House (one of the two "It's a tapeworm!" episodes) and I am fuming. Why should it take three co-pays, possibly two prescriptions, and two different doctors to figure this out? Earaches don't just ache. They hurt... a lot. I remember them vividly. I remember swimmer's ear especially as I had two very bad cases of it, one as a teen and one as an adult.

Grrrr...

Anyway, I just had to get that out of my system. Hopefully when we go for Doctor Visit #3, I won't snap at the doctor. In general, I find him to be quite good. After all, he is the doctor who listened to a teary, desperate woman last year as I told him my list of symptoms which all sounded like hormones and depression and accepted it when I told him that I knew it wasn't hormones or depression. He asked a few questions and shipped me off for a sleep study.

But I am not leaving this doctor's appointment without some ear drops for my daughter.

Moving on, you probably have forgotten that this was supposed to be a Hump Day Hmm-er post. Without further adieu...


The Sun.


A flaming ball of fire. If Earth were too far from the sun, life couldn't exist on this planet. If Earth were too close to the sun, life couldn't exist on this planet. We are just the right distance.

That is a good thing.

Even so, there is still a thing as too much sun.

Too much sun trying to get a tan and when you are older, you might look like this:

(This is actually a rock, but you get the idea, right?)

Too many sunburns, or just too much exposure to the sun in general and you might get this:

(I know, I know, it is disgusting. But skin cancer just ain't pretty, that is all there is to it.)

I was inspired to write about too much sun because I saw that sun picture online today. It made me think about someone I know who has just had two surgeries to remove a melanoma on her leg. Married, mother to three, she is pursuing alternative medicine to heal her body.

I think about a favorite blogger who is waiting to have a mole removed and biopsied.

I remember the eight moles I have had removed. The last one over three years ago. Four or five of those moles were dysplastic nevi, the kind that are more likely to develop into melanoma. (Why haven't I been to the dermatologist in so long?)

I still enjoy getting out in the sun. (I've never, ever been one of those sun worshiper types. A little bit of sun just feels good.) If I am at the beach I always wear sunscreen. However, I've become more diligent about it even for every day use. I always wear sunglasses and often a hat. I've considered a one-woman campaign to bring back the parasol. Some of it is vanity. My skin looks older than 42. Blech! I am also more diligent because I know I am getting to the age where things start to happen. It doesn't mean it is going to. But it might.

The sun is good. We can't live without it. It is a force to be reckoned with, however, and we should be careful about thinking there is no such thing as too much sun.


For more information on sun protection and skin cancer, try The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Total Perspective Vortex

Apparently it really is "Geek Week" here at Life, the Universe and Everything as evidenced by this post in which I quote Wikipedia* on information pertaining to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as it relates to a recent incident in my life.


The Total Perspective Vortex, in the fictional world of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is the most horrible torture device to which a sentient being can be subjected. Located on Frogstar World B, it shows its victim the entire unimaginable infinity of the universe with a very tiny marker that says "You Are Here" which points to a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot.

I got a little blog'verse style taste of the Total Perspective Vortex this weekend. I received the following comment on my For Maddy post from Nicki Mann:

Hey! I am in the same room with you at Blogher... the one about exclusion/inclusion. Great question you asked... I think thats the kind of thing everyone would want to ask but didn't want to be the person to say it! :D

Well, obviously it was a mistake since I was on my couch at home and not in Chicago with the BlogHer crowd. I emailed her back and apparently there was a woman in the inclusion/exclusion panel discussion who has a blog named Life, the Universe and Everything. She said something Nicki thought was interesting and she googled her blog. My profile picture was apparently a close enough match that she thought she'd arrived at the right LUE.

I decided to use Technorati to search for this woman's blog, this woman who looked somewhat like me and had chosen the same title for her blog. Quite a few results turned up.

I stopped counting after 20.

I guess I don't feel so clever and unique after all.

Sigh.

Oh well, at least I have the coolest looking blog** named Life, the Universe and Everything.



"Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information." Michael Scott, Dunder Mifflen, Scranton, PA

**Coolest looking blog design influenced by the work of Douglas Adams is courtesy of Izzy of Izzy Design and Graphics.


P.S. I have finally gotten around to putting up my Rocking Girl Blogger award. It is very pink, you can't miss it. Snoskred of Life in the Country very graciously awarded it to me a couple of weeks ago. Thanks Snoskred! I'm supposed to pay it forward and will do so sometime this week or the next.