Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Care to go for a walk?

A few weeks ago, Meredith posted a photo of the view walking down to her little town. She suggested that others do the same. Well, I didn't get it done right away; it got put on my to do list for a couple of reasons: 1) I had to find the camera; 2) The days were too hazy; and 3) The view out my front door is less than spectacular. We've had some wind and some rain, though, which always brightens up the place so I thought I'd invite you to go for a virtual walk through my neighborhood.

There's only one picture for the first mile just to let you know how ordinary my street is. As we take a turn uphill, you'll see the view improves greatly. Now, this will be a long walk. Have you got your good shoes on and a bottle of water?

Well, this last mile is pretty much the same as the first. Ordinary, tree-lined surburban homes. We won't stop to take any more pictures. In fact, we need to hustle because I'm supposed to meet Colin at school to sign a paper. By the time we get back to my house, we'll have walked for 90 minutes and 4 1/2 miles. It's quite the workout, but with your good company and the great view, it isn't too bad, is it?

Thanks for going for a walk with me. I much prefer to walk with a friend. (I'm sorry that the virtual walk can't completely convey how beautiful a day it was. The photos lose the true sense of depth and distance which is present in real life.)

P.S. If you don't make a habit of visting Meredith at Poppy Fields, I recommend going through her February posts. Hunter feasts, village views and Speedo vending machines! It's a must read month.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I Think, Therefore I Am... a Thinking Blogger

Several years ago I bought a book of essays on parenting titled Mothers Who Think. I was first drawn to it because Anne Lamott contributed both the foreward and an essay and I was on a Lamott kick, but I also considered myself a thinking mother. A friend asked me some time later, "Well, what does that mean? Mothers Who Think?" I was at a loss to explain because all the words that wanted to come out of my mouth sounded snobby. "Well, they're mothers--who think. Um, uh, well, you know, they didn't stop thinking when they had kids. Okay, well, they're all writers and are more intellectually inclined, um, uh." I stopped myself before saying they were smart mothers. This Geico auto insurance commercial reminds me of the dilemma in which I found myself.

Like the therapist in this commercial who realizes that her point of view might be considered insulting to the caveman, the title of this book seemed self-explanatory to me and it was only when questioned that I realized it could be considered insulting to other women--the mothers who weren't drawn to the book based on its name. If you're not a mother who thinks, then what are you? A non-thinking mother? Ouch, that might be considered more than a little rude.

Similarly, when I first saw the Thinking Blogger award/meme, I didn't think too much about it. I was happy for Bub and Pie--hers was the first blog I saw had been awarded. She always makes me think. In fact, I had previously nominated her for Most Thought Provoking in the Share the Love Blog Awards. (Even when addressing a topic to which I don't relate, I am always spurred on by her intellect which both intimidates me and inspires me to exercise my brain.) Quickly, like a virus, the Thinking Blogger awards began popping up on several of my regular reads. One day, I traced Bub and Pie's award backward to their originator, Ilker Yoldas at The Thinking Blog. There were some very cerebral reads along the way and I began to wonder exactly what constituted a blogger who thinks.

Then I received a Thinking Blogger from Julie, The Ravin' Picture Maven. Shocked and awed, I've had to sit and process this for a couple of days. While at the time I bought Mothers Who Think I definitely considered myself intellectually inclined--albeit on the lower end of the Brainiac scale--as a blogger, I haven't automatically identified myself in that way. There are probably a few reasons for this, from my extemporaneous, haphazard writing tendencies to my feeling out of my depth being a Bachelor of Arts holder in a sea of Master's and Doctoral degree holders. Plus, I have not challenged myself intellectually in the last few years. In fact, the opposite is true. When not dealing with church crises and personal crises (both my own and others'), I have had my head stuck firmly in the mass media sand, preferring feel good movies and television to a well-written book, a philosophical discussion and the nightly news. So, my initial reaction is to question whether or not I am a blogger with the intellectual capacity to be so designated. I'm not one to look a blog-awarding gift horse in the mouth, though, and I have to say that I respect Julie's intellect enough that I'm going to take her word for it. If she sees fit to call me a thinking blogger, well, a thinking blogger I must be.

I've also been thinking more about this question of what constitutes a thinking blogger. Ilker Yoldas would say that a thinking blogger is one that has "real merits, i.e. relative content, and above all... really get(s) you thinking." Lorelle Van Fossen at The Blog Herald raised the standard even higher by declaring that a thinking blogger...

...makes me want to tell someone about what I just read. Not later. NOW. And, without a doubt, they make me want to write about what I just read. I can’t help myself. I have to share the passion! It's almost a religious experience.

Dang! I'm beginning to feel like the caveman in the Geico commercial. If my blog doesn't meet someone else's expectations of real merit and relative content, does that mean it doesn't have any? If I don't inspire religious ecstasy, does that mean I am not thinking? Just like I instinctively knew what is meant by the term "mothers who think", I know what other people mean by the term "blogger who thinks". But I'm going to set aside their characterizations. Relative content is, well... relative and I save my religious experiences for Jesus. So, I guess I need to come up with my own definition of a thinking blogger, one which is summed up in the title of this post. I think, therefore I am a thinking blogger. The very act of choosing to blog, considering what you want your blog to be about and then writing post after post tells me that any blogger is a thinker, just as I would now assert that every mother thinks. Awarding a Thinking Blogger then becomes, for me, noting those blogs whose authors' writing about life, the universe and everything resonates in me and gives me words, images, thoughts, or emotions to ponder--or even just a relationship to care about. Someone out in the 'verse who, because of blogging, I now spend some part of my day, week or month thinking about.

That being said, now comes the truly hard part, choosing five bloggers to receive the Mary-LUE verison of a TiBby (my own personal nickname for the Thinking Blogger). One dilemma I face is whether or not to re-award bloggers who have already been tagged. I checked the original "rules" and there is nothing to say that you can or cannot do so. One of the first awardees took this rule upon himself, though. It seems somewhat logical but I'm torn. There are definitely a few who I would dub a Thinking Blogger if they had not already been so knighted. I'm going to try without double dipping (The metaphors are mixing like crazy here.) I'm also forgoing tagging my "real life" friends. My TiBbys will go to people I know exclusively from the blog'verse.

And the TiBbys go to:

Alpha DogMa. I feel a need to tag her quickly because it is just a matter of time before someone else does. Alpha DogMa has joined in with Sunshine Scribe's Flashback Fridays and is doing a great job of making this regular feature her own. In particular, Flashback Fridays make me think because I always find a subject (what happened to that special friend) or feeling (fondness for someone who taught you something important) to which I relate. More importantly, one of her Flashback Friday posts inspired me to seek out my best friend from junior high. I don't think I would have taken the steps to do that if AD's post hadn't influenced me first.

Atypical of nonsensical text. I don't remember if I found T first or if she found me, but as we've gotten to know each other better, it is clear that we have lots of introspective tendencies in common. Although I'm an extrovert and she is an introvert, she often writes words I could have written myself. I think I do the same for her. Our little joke now is that we are twins separated at birth. T makes me think with her "lower level" ponderings and because I've found a friend who I might never meet in person but is a friend, nonetheless.

Tara of Uphill Idealist. Somehow I came across Tara at her previous blog, Greetings from Experiment House. With a fondness for Madeleine L'Engle, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and a passion for ministry, it isn't any wonder this poet-philospher gives me something to think about.

Darlene at I stumbled across Darlene during NaBloPoMo. She had posted a Sunday Scribblings about being a passenger in your own life which she titled "Drivers Wanted". I was floored by this post and gushed about it in her comments section. In reexamining the post a day or two later, I realized that I had focused so much on the excellent writing that I felt a little insensitive to the heart of the piece which looked at life after the loss of her two babies. I emailed her to apologize and she graciously replied that no apology was necessary. Since then, we've become blog buddies, faithfully reading each other's posts, occasionally emailing and even exchanging art. As she expresses herself artistically on her blog, she allows us to share in her personal journey. Darlene makes me think about love and loss and grief.

EnnuiHerself at mysecretennui. Another NaBloPoMo find, EnnuiHerself and I are very different. One of the few non-parent blogs which I visit, mysecretennui is a world of a single, twentysomething grad student from Cleveland. Whether she's writing about pursuing a research degree, trying to get out of Cleveland, ranting about the musical Cats or the new superintendent of Cleveland schools, I love hanging out over at mysecretennui. EnnuiHerself makes me think about life outside of my realm of marriage, motherhood and So-So Cal suburbia.

Of course, based on my own definition of what makes a thinking blogger, you can assume that anyone I take the time to read makes me think. Picking only five was not easy. I encourage you to take time to check out not only these five, but any blog from my blogroll.

Thanks again to Julie for giving me this chance to rant and rave and pick and choose. This is the best blog award I've ever received... (You know what's coming next, right?) the only blog award I've ever received. Ba dum bum!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sleeping with Bread Monday: Mostly Grateful

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

This past Wednesday I attended a funeral and it was at this celebration of a life well lived that I found many things for which to be grateful.

First, there was the woman herself. Arlein died after a long, long bout with aplastic anemia and breast cancer. She died in her home; friends and family, knowing the end was near, took advantage of the opportunity to share some last moments with her. I'm sure there was very little left unsaid when she passed away on February 14, 2007. Her husband requested that her body not be removed from the home until after midnight so that she would be home with him for at least some part of their 49th wedding anniversary, February 15th. (Every time I think about that, my heart scrunches up a bit with the ache and the beauty of it.) She was a woman of special grace who always looked to God for help in her troubles and for answers to her questions. It sounds trite but she was truly one of the nicest people I've ever met.

I'm grateful to have known her.

Arlein was one of a group of four friends which included my Aunt Margaret. Through my aunt and because I also worked with all the women at the same church, I became friends with each of them. My aunt was the first to die, almost nine years ago. Her death came at a time when I was overwhelmed by life and consequently, I didn't grieve her death well. Life got in the way. Arlein's funeral brought back memories of Aunt Margaret. Welcome memories. Warm memories. Bittersweet memories. I could experience those memories, pause for a moment while I did, and then move on. I still miss her but...

I'm grateful for my funny, opinionated, passionate, clean freak, vulnerable aunt.

The funeral was held at the church I worshiped at and worked at for years. It was a mini-reunion of sorts. My aunt's and Arlein's friends, grieving at this latest loss, nonetheless took up position in Room 215 to serve food at the reception which followed the service. I found myself at the back table with them and we chatted and caught up while filling pitchers with ice and water, laying out sandwiches and setting out desserts. Although I am young enough to be their daughter, I feel like one of the girls. Before I left, we made plans to get together for lunch soon.

Although I don't get to see them often, I am grateful for the warmth and companionship these amazing women give to me.

Of course, I also saw several other people I knew from working at the church. Inevitably, they asked about my children, the one they knew firsthand, Colin, and the one they only knew about because I didn't have her until after I stopped working there, Marley. Colin was a fixture at the church office from about two years old to six years old. These also happened to be some of the years I was most challenged by He Who Wishes Not To Be Mentioned. My co-workers heard and experienced many HWWNTBM stories and a couple of them came up at the funeral.

There was the couple who remembered Colin and his uncanny way of saying things which seemed beyond his years. They also remember his love of the Lion King, especially the story I told them about the day my son, around 2 1/2 years old, attacked me as I sat on the living room floor. Grasping my throat in his hands, he knocked me on my back and kept repeating, "Tell them the truth!" I was at a loss until I remembered a certain scene from the movie and was able to reply, "I killed Mufasa!" Having responded with the correct dialogue, my son released his choke hold and went on about his business.

Another woman, who no longer works at the church, started to say that she remembered something HWWNTBM said once. Before she could repeat it, she stopped herself thinking she had confused my son with someone else's. This son had once rolled down the window while her friend was driving, stuck his head out and yelled...

"That was HWWNTBM," I stopped her, mid-sentence. I refreshed her memory as to the details of the story. HWWNTBM and I were on the way to picking up his daddy at the airport. He was five years old and he and I had had a very rough week. This rough week continued in the car as we drove along, at which time he rolled down the window, stuck his head out and started screaming, "Help me! Help me!" I was completely in a panic thinking he was going to say that he was being kidnapped or some such dire circumstance. No, my darling boy continued, "Help me! Help me! My mom's an idiot!" I pulled over and gave him the never-stick-your-head-out-the-window again speech. Half-relieved that I wasn't having to explain to a policeman that I had not, in fact, kidnapped this kid and half-stunned at his outburst, I continued on my way to the airport so that daddy could relieve me from my post. By the next morning, I could find the humor in his outburst as did my co-workers.

These are just two of the many, many stories I could share. I love these stories. Remembering them, I see how far we've come, me and my boy. I was often at my wit's end with him and was not prepared for the challenges parenthood would bring. In addition, those specific years were especially rough for me emotionally as I had to grapple with many serious issues--in addition to parenting a spirited young boy. But that kid made me laugh and cry and wring my hands and burst with pride at his brilliance. I'm sure there are still many challenges for us but...

I'm grateful for that blond-haired, blue-eyed, imaginative, fierce little boy. He grew up too fast.

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

Hmmm... writing about all the lovely things I have to be grateful for in the last week seems to have created a thick fog over the things for which I wasn't grateful. I have some vague memories of headaches from needing a chiropractic adjustment and some challenges getting Marley adjusted to school after a week of sickness. But hey, that's nothing compared to the good stuff, is it?

Links to other Sleeping with Bread posts can be found here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Going Down in Flames

(If you already made it to this post, I apologize for the new post alert in your feed reader. I had some glaring mistakes staring me in the face this morning and I couldn't let them go. I guess trying to write a post while supervising two young girls isn't the brightest idea.)

Yesterday I did something I am usually loathe to do: I took myself for a walk. Now, don't get me wrong; I love walking. Except in the dread heat of summer, there is very rarely a bad day for walking here in So-So Cal. But I hate to walk alone. Give me blue skies, mild temperatures and a warm body by my side to keep me company. Please. But my walking schedule has been erratic lately and I'm trying to chisel a healthy woman facet on my already dazzling self and it was either walk alone or not at all.

Of course, faced with such a solitary sojourn, I had to dig out my faithful iPod. I had recently loaded up a new album so it was a good excuse to listen to it. So picture me now, starting out slowly as I wind up and down the hills of my neighborhood. I am so proud of myself:

"Look at me. I'm walking. I can do this. This is easy." Soon, however, I have this to say to myself:

"Good Lord, (huff, puff) I can't do this. I have to stop. This is impossible. I don't want to be healthy." Some version of these two mental exchanges takes place alternately for my one hour walk. Finally, I finish, legs tingling and body sweating. I did it. I walked alone!

Excuse my waxing poetic about that major accomplishment in my life. I really came here to share the lyrics of a song I listened to on my extreme trek. The new album I just put on my iPod is Long Island Shores by Mindy Smith. Superb music, let me tell you. But the song I want to tell you about isn't on that album. It is on her previous album, One Moment More. It was easier to hit "Play All" Mindy Smith songs so after Long Island Shores, the One Moment More album began. As I listened to Down in Flames, I realized why I love her music so much. Although I imagine that her life and mine are very different, almost every one of her songs relates an emotion that I've felt or reflects a situation which seems familiar to me. This particular song, Down in Flames, resonated for me so much as a mother. The picture of someone confiding to a stranger, struggling over her day, reminded me of all the different mom posts I read and it seemed as if on any given day, this song could be one of our theme songs.

"Down In Flames"

I don't usually take chances
Most would easily agree
Something in your eyes
Is saying you can ease my heartache
I have a burden in sight
And I know you're just a stranger
If you cannot understand
There's too many times
I've lost my chance to talk with an angel
Too many to count

And life's so hard
It's the little things that seem to be getting me today, yeah
Life's so hard
But I'm doing what I can to not to be getting down
I'm going down in flames
Going down in flames

I would tell you I am happy
If I wasn't so damn sad
And the loneliness both overwhelms and keeps me empty
That's how it's been for a while

And life's so hard
It's the little things that seem to be getting me today, yeah
Life's so hard
But I'm doing what I can to not to be getting down
I'm going down in flames
Going down in flames

I need some direction
I need someone to listen
Someone to tell me that they know

That life's so hard
It's the little things that seem to be saving me today, yeah
Life's so hard
And I'm doing what I can
Oh, yeah, I'm doing what I can
Hey, I'm doing what I can
Going down in flames
Going down in flames
I'm not feeling the emotion expressed in this song at this moment in time. As a mother, though, there have been many a day in which it seemed I was going down in flames, every little thing adding fuel to the fire. I imagine many of you have, to0. Listening to this song, I feel less alone.


Side note: My presence in the 'verse has been sporadic this past week. Mostly I've just been recovering the the mutant virus that threatened life on Planet Mary-LUE. Mind you, I wasn't sick, just my Wild Child; however, I was out of circulation as much as she was and it is taking me a while to get back in the swing. I'm sure ya'll be seeing me more this week. (Did I use that correctly, Pam?)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sleeping with Bread Monday: with Filial Ague and Maternal Angst**

When did I feel most fully myself?

Interestingly, I felt most fully myself while caring for my sick, febrile daughter. I struggle with living completely in the moment. It is easier for me to live in the questions of life: Who, What, Where, When, Why; then, exhausted, I look for a way to shut off my brain: books, TV, etc. While I believe that there are strengths which come with having my ever active brain, I think I also tend to miss out on some of the warp and woof of life. With my Wild Child's viral malady this past week, the questions of life, the universe and everything tended to disappear and what mattered was being her mother and doing what I could to take care of her.

When did I feel least myself?

In between those moments of pure mothering, there were glimpses of a long-standing identity problem this week. Its genesis in a crisis I was involved in over the course of two to three years. I've been planning a post devoted to this subject (identity crisis, not two to three year crisis) but I don't know if I will ever really write it. Suffice it to say, that I sometimes I struggle with what seems like--and part of me knows it is more perception than reality--the loss of who I once was, a person who intuitively knew what to say in the moment to a person in need. There's a lot to this questioning. Was I ever really this person? Is my pride getting in the way? Is she gone forever? Should she be? Is there some divine lesson I should be learning through all this? (I told you it is exhausting to be me!)

The wrap up on this doughy SWB post today is as follows: Marley is finally better after seven full days of fever. She'll be going to school tomorrow. Yippee! Sustaining that level of mothering for one full week wore me out! ;) As to my identity crisis, I have to say that it is not an all-consuming crisis. It comes and goes and I'm sure that being isolated for a week from most of my usual contact with the outside world contributed to its rearing its head right now. Although I don't like this particular struggle, I wouldn't be surprised if it all works out in the end with my having learned some huge life lesson. It usually works out that way, if I'll let it.

**I L-O-V-E and its lovely companion, without which today's SWB title would not be possible.

Links to other SWB posts can be found here.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Word Beads & Book Memes & Blogging To Do List

Word Beads: Fever Reigns (A True Story)

Marley's fever mechanism grinds away unabated.
My simplistic mind grapples with the consistent registration
of degrees on the thermometer.
Seven days.
This virus has become in my mind a behomoth,
a thundering bison leaving trampled behind it
my daughter's body, her schooling, my plans and birthday celebrations.
Wretched virus!
Word Beads, a weekly meme, can be found here.

For ennuiherself, in response to being tagged for the 123 Book Meme. Thanks Ms. Ennui for what I believe is my first meme tag!

1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book & the author.
3. Turn to page 123.
4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Tag three more folks.

What is the What
by Dave Eggers

Bor is in the south of Sudan, the region called the Upper Nile. The people there are like you, but different. We're all Dinka, but their customs vary.

I can't tell you much about these sentences because I'm not that far along in the story yet. I'm reading this book for my book club this month and am very excited about it. I like Dave Eggers and this story of the journey of one Lost Boy is compelling, to say the least. When I finish it, I am going to try to write a decent review and share it here.

Officially, I am supposed to tag three people to do this meme. I know this one has been done by a lot of you, so I'm going to hope that I tag three people who haven't done it yet. Terri B., Sheila and Chickenone: Tag! You're it! (If you have already participated in this meme, maybe you can tag someone else in my name.)

Blogging To Do List:

In no particular order:
  1. Finish draft on identity.
  2. Finish draft on what to expect when you blog mean and nasty in the name of changing the world and then get forced to resign a good gig. (Add kindness button to sidebar.)
  3. Take picture of scenic view of hometown like Meredith did recently over at Poppy Fields.
  4. Get back to more creative writing like I did during NaBloPoMo.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Blogging Rite of Passage

At some point it seems, many bloggers will do a post about the search results which have led unknown people to their blog. I check my stats a couple of times a week and have had my fair share of URL referrals from Google searches. To be honest, though, with a blog name like Life, the Universe and Everything, I mostly get hits from people who've googled just that, life, the universe and everything. I also get the occasional hit from a sleep apnea search or personality reference. Last night though, I finally scored a search that tickled me. It is still pretty ordinary but if you google "everything about the universe" I am the number two Google hit!

Apparently I am just not here to talk about life, the universe and everything, I am able to answer everything about the universe, second only to the yokels at Pretty impressive, eh?

Blog Status Update: I have decided to turn off word verification. 1) It will make life easier for you who honor me with your comments; and 2) maybe it will keep anyone who comments here from experiencing a vanishing like the one I wrote about recently. Hopefully, the Blogger filters will work the way they are supposed to and I won't get spammed to death.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: with Joys and D'ohs

As I approached this SWB post today, I realized that I'm in something of a mood. I'm sure hormones are a major factor in this moodiness. I told a friend today that I had thrown out the junk in the fridge because I wanted Paul to clean it. I found myself irritated with him about it and I hadn't even asked him to do it yet! That's a no win situation for him, isn't it? Then I found myself about to cry when I was watchng The Incredibles with Marley earlier. (The scene where Helen is trying is trying in vain to get Syndrome to call back the missles.) So, instead of writing a thoughtful post based on the SWB questions, I though I'd share about some of the joy in my life this week... and maybe some of the "D'oh!" moments, too.

First, the joys. I was poking around my picture boxes and found some pictures that I just love.

This is Marley about 8 months old. Looking at it six years later, I recognize something in her expression that I didn't see then. I'm sure when I took it I just thought she was making a cute, scrunched up face. Now... now I see the face that I've seen a thousand times since--her wild thing face. When she is feeling feisty and full of herself, we often are treated to that face and usually an accompanying snarl. I'm not sure that I've always appreciated that expression but I've come to know that it is the essence of my live-in-the-moment, no-holds-barred, free spirit daughter. I keep going back to this picture over and over again. I am amazed at how strongly her personality was developed back then and, in that way that all parents are, astonished at how much she has grown up.

See, all grown up (sort of) and there's that face!

Here she is about four months old. Look at those chubby legs and double chin! This from a girl who, aside from when she was born, was never above the 10 percentile in weight her first 18 months. She still managed some rolls. We had just come home from buying her that doll and I laugh when I see how big it was next to her. It also cracks me up that she and the doll are positioned the same--even their hands are held the same way. (This was probably the one and only time she wore a headband bow. I was never a big fan of them, especially the ginormous tulle ones but her daddy absolutely detested them.) She still has that doll although there are one or two above it now in her hierarchy of doll love.

I also came across pictures of He Who Wishes Not to be Mentioned, and although I will respect his desire not to have pictures shown (this week at least), I will share a story about him which brought me joy a few days ago. HWWNTBM had an assignment for English to write a letter from the point of view of a character in a story they had read in class about a teenage girl who is raped and copes with it by becoming mute. The students were to write a letter ten years from the time of the story to either the rapist, the girl's art teacher or her best friend. HWNTBM was struggling to get started and told me he didn't know what to write. These letters were to be read aloud in class and he wanted it to be good. I tried to give him some ideas of approaches he could take. Eh, he wasn't too thrilled with my suggestions. "I'm just going to start writing," he told me and that was that.

A day or two later, I asked him how the letter ended up. He shot me a sideways smile and said that it went "good." He proceeded to tell me that his letter had the girl disclosing to her former art teacher that she was a superhero. Her secret identity by day was an emotionally scarred artist. By night, though, she was a superhero who hunted rapists. I loved his approach (the teacher had offered complete creative control on the assignment) especially the superhero aspect. (I'm a superhero fan; X-men, Justice League, Batman, The Tick--I love them all.) Mostly though, I found joy in his creativity and in his pride in himself. I think an assignment like that could be difficult for a 14 year old. Putting yourself in the position of someone who's experienced something traumatic and trying to imagine what they might have to say 10 years later? I think that kind of insight is hard for a lot of people, not just a teenage boy. But HWWNTBM made it work and I felt joy in his success.

Now, a couple of D'oh moments.

I was drinking a Cherry Coke Zero last night. Paul took a sip and said that it was the real thing. No, I countered, it's diet. I picked up the can and looked. Sure enough, it was regular Cherry Coke. So, little Miss Weight Watchers had been drinking the real thing for a couple of days and hadn't realized it. D'oh! So much for my point tracking.

This next one falls into the category of Mother of the Year. Marley has been sick since yesterday. She's been running a fever and had a little bit of a cough and stomachache (no vomit, though, whoopee!) I rarely take her temperature because she fusses about it so much and all I have is a glass thermometer. I also wasn't giving her Tylenol because I've always been told that unless they are feeling really bad or the temp is pretty high, it isn't necessary. The fever is just their body working on the infection, blah, blah, blah. Well, I had to go out and run some errands, so I decided to go ahead and buy one of those ear thermometers. Marley's cheeks were red and I thought maybe I should make sure her fever wasn't too high. Well, I get out the thermometer to take her temperature (are you guessing where this is going?) and it was 104.3! Double D'oh! I gave her Tylenol immediately and she has now settled into the 102 range. Goodness, I should have my mothering license revoked.

Well, I guess those are my joys and D'ohs this week. As always, you can find links to more Sleeping with Bread here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I wrote a comment today on Alpha DogMa's most recent Flashback Friday post. (Her Flashback Friday posts are worth commenting on.)

I typed in the word verification, signed in with my Google id and password and hit enter.

I read my comment after it was published.

I went about my merry way, blog surfing, walking, taking Marley to her basketball game.

I went back to Alpha DogMa's blog to check other comments on the post.

My comment was gone.

Hmmm... I thought to myself. Maybe I accidently commented on the wrong post. No. No comment on the post previous or after. Maybe my comment was so offensive that Alpha DogMa deleted it. (I'm not sure how a comment on David Letterman could be that offensive.) But there was no "this comment deleted by blog administrator" notification. I know it does that because I've deleted comments before.

I know I'm not crazy. Well, not that kind of crazy. And this has happened before. Two or three times when I've gone back to check on the comments on someone's post. I convinced myself that it was just me. But it is not just me.

Have this ever happened to you?

Friday, February 09, 2007

ROFL with Mr. Clean

ROFL button

Well, it's that time of the month. No, not that time of the month. It is time for the monthly ROFL awards hosted by Mommy off the Record and Izzy Mom . My award for January goes back to the very, very beginning of the month. Laughing is definitely a great way to start any new year and that is exactly what I did when I read All Rileyed Up's "My First Stab at a New Year's Resolution Gone Horribly Awry." When I read the following, I knew I was going to be in for a good laugh:
Who is familiar with this product? Let me just start off by saying—I KNOW DRUGS WHEN I SEE THEM. Something is very drastically wrong with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, because nothing should work this well.
I was not disappointed and I don't think you will be either. So scoot on over to Riley's place and get All Rileyed Up. You'll be glad you did.

For a list of all the ROFL awards for January, you can go visit either Mommy off the Record or Izzy Mom.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: with Apnea and Archives

As much distaste as I have for being labeled, as much as I resist identifying myself as a SAHM mommy blogger, a Christian blogger, a dieting blogger, etc., there is just no getting around my struggle this week with sleep apnea. And so, I risk repeating myself and boring people and defining myself as "the sleep apnea, diet and exercise blogger" today as I Sleep with Bread by asking these questions.

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

I've been doing Weight Watchers online for just over four weeks now. During that time, I've also been very consistent with my walking. The two combined have made for a decent weight loss and an overall feeling of health. To be able to walk almost three miles in just over 45 minutes feels great. It is still a physical challenge but far more easy than it was when I started. I think I am even carrying myself a little straighter these days and although I haven't lost that much weight, my body seems lighter and I go about my business. The company of other moms from Marley's class and other friends when I walk feeds my extroverted soul and gives me a sense of spiritual well-being as well as physical. Additionally, being out in nature refreshes me. I live in an ordinary Southern California suburb. The norm is rolling hills and beautiful weather. Unless we are getting some infrequent rain, we are usually blessed with a temperature between 65 and 85 degrees and pretty blue skies. What's not to love about that? Yes, I have definitely felt alive this week as I pursue better health. Of course, there is a shadow side to all of this...

In the last week, when have I felt most drained of life?

Hi. My name is Mary-LUE and I have sleep apnea. I've discussed the adventure that is sleep apnea in the past. I was diagnosed seven months ago and began CPAP treatment five months ago. The treatment helps. It really does help. However, there have been two periods where my allergies have acted up above and beyond what my current allergy treatment regimen handles. When that happens, the extra congestion makes it more difficult to breathe with my CPAP contraption on. I'm in the midst of one of those cycles and have only managed more than four hours of sleep on my CPAP machine 4 times in the last 24 days. That is not good enough.

Last Sunday I woke up and knew that I could not face the day. I stayed home from church and hid in bed most of the day. It isn't just a matter of feeling tired. Too many nights without my REM cycle sleep and I get by turn irritable and overly emotional. I might snap at you or burst into tears. I teetered back and forth on this sleep-deprived seesaw all week. Saturday, we took Marley to a college women's basketball game. My sister-in-law's boss has a daughter on the team. We thought it would be fun (it was) and that it would be good to show Marley that girls do play basketball since she is not lovin' her coed team. I crashed about 11 a.m. and went to go lie down for an hour not sure if I could make the game at 2:00 p.m. I did pull myself together but as we settled in to watch the game, I just wanted to cry. For no reason. Just cry. Arghh! I hate it because I know what is causing it and yet knowing doesn't stop what is going on.

I've been trying to resist wrapping every SWB post up with my big picture perspective but I cannot leave it with the emotional ball of mess that sleep apnea lobs at me. I do believe that it would have been worse if I weren't exercising and eating right. I know when the current allergens leave the air, I will go back to getting more hours of sleep on the machine. And, I am fortunate to have been diagnosed and given the resources to treat my condition. So, it sucks. It really, really sucks but it was worse and it could still be worse... but it isn't. I'm very grateful for that.

My posts detailing my diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea:

To sleep, perchance to breathe...

To sleep, perchance to breathe: a boring but informative update on my adventures in sleep apnea

To sleep, perchance to breathe: it's hard to strike a post in your jammies and electrodes.

For a list of other SWB bakers, you can go here.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Leaving: A Perfect Post

A Perfect Post – January 2007

It has been awhile since I awarded a Perfect Post award. It isn't because there hasn't been any worthy posts to come my way. I've just been doing other things. This month, though, I was thrilled to see a certain blog pop up in my Google reader with a new post. It had been months and months since Cyn Kitchen had graced the blogosphere with a post, and after a brief post explaining her absence, she came back with a power-packed piece describing her son's leaving for the military.

If you are a parent, these words will suck you right in:
Did nobody warn me? Or was I not listening? One day my oldest son was here, driving me nuts, making me laugh, giving me bear hugs, and the next day he was gone.
If you aren't a parent, you will still be struck by this woman's writing. So, get yourself on over to Cyn's Kitchen and be amazed. And while you are there, do check out her archives, especially What They Really Meant to Say Was..., about the angst of getting published, It Could Be Worse, which anyone who has ever been a preschooler's mom must read, and her hysterical description of life as a coffee shop owner, How I Got This Way.