Sunday, December 28, 2008

Marley and Me and Marley and Me

(May contain information that to some people may be considered spoilers.)

My daughter has been obsessed with the movie Marley and Me ever since she saw the first trailer for it. What's better than a movie in which a main character has your name? Weeks ago, we bought the junior version of the book, Marley, A Dog Like No Other. The last week or so, every time a commercial comes on she squeals like a 60s teenager watching the Beatles.

Today was finally the day. We went with her best friend and her family to see the movie. In many ways, it was what I expected. I laughed. I cried. There were many scenes that reminded me of our dog, Bob (aka Robert Otis). There was more of the "human" side of the story than in the junior version of the book. I can't compare them because I haven't read the actual book. I suspect that the mischief Marley got into was actually downplayed for the movie.

What I didn't expect, though, in a PG rated movie--that the film production company had to know every dog loving girl in the United States was going to want to see--was the sex and violence.

Sex and violence you ask? Okay, it wasn't like a Quentin Tarentino film. However, there were some things I wasn't too sure about. Jen and John, Marley's owners decide to have a baby and we get to see that it involves some activity in the bedroom. We also get to see them take their clothes off to go skinny dipping. These scenes are really nothing compared to what you will find in your average PG-13 movie, but they were still more overt than I, personally, would prefer. My last quibble is one scene where a neighbor is attacked and stabbed during a home robbery. We never see the attack, but we hear Marley barking, a scream, and then John rushing outside and helping the neighbor who is holding her side that is bleeding. She states that "he" threatened to stab her if she screamed, but she screamed anyway. Oh... I was just not really comfortable with this bit of real world danger popping up in the cute doggy movie.

I don't know. Maybe I am overreacting. I certainly don't think my daughter suffered any lasting damage. I do wish I knew about the scenes beforehand so I could have prepared her for them. I also joked with my friend that maybe we would not need to have "The Talk" with our kids about how you make a baby, after all.

What do you think? Have you seen the movie? Do you think my concerns are valid?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from the LUE Family

Here we are at our Christmas Eve service. One of the nice things about our new facility is that the seasonal decorating is done for us! We took advantage of this very nice tree to get our biannual family portrait. I take what I can get folks, so if I have to live with a goofy teenager and bribe my daughter with gum--so be it.

 


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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Monday, December 22, 2008

The First Annual LUE Christmas Tree Tour

Have a Very Meme-y Christmas

I was tagged by Lamont of Uphill Idealist to do this meme. I actually did it on Facebook first. I'll let the tags on Facebook count, but if you want to do this one, go ahead. It is an easy, quick, and fun one to do.

Here are the rules:

Rules

1. Take a picture of yourself.. riiiiiight.. NOW!
2. DO NOT change your clothes. DO NOT fix your hair.. Just take a picture.
3. Post that picture with NO editing.
4. Post these instructions with your picture.
5. Tag 10 people to do this and leave their pics as a comment!

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Sleeping with Bread: Grousing and de-Grousing

Are you ready folks? The first part of this ain't gonna be pretty. Selfish and childish, maybe. Pretty, no.

What do you have to grouse about this week?

Well, as long as you asked...

Our sink is leaking.

My grades aren't in (I am a freak about seeing the grades.)

Mini-migraines and other "girly" issues.

Banks. Grrrr. I hate banks.

I forgot one. How did I do that. It was something good and petty, I promise you.

Trusts. Estates. Lawyers. Partnerships. Arghh!!!

Personal boundaries... hate setting them. Hate that it is necessary to set them.

People ignoring personal boundaries. Grrrr AND Arghh!!!

I just want to stamp my feet and clench my fists and pout. (And maybe stick my tongue out to boot.) Okay, let's look at the big picture here.

How can you de-grouse this past week?

Marley was elected class president. She was so excited and proud. It was a tie and she will share her office with Jake. They will alternate days performing the duties of the office: take roll and lunch count, write the day's agenda on the whiteboard, lead the pledge of allegiance, and dismiss people to lunch or or "line up" events.

All I have left for Christmas shopping is stocking stuffers... just little stuff to go in between the "big" stocking stuffers.

I went to an ornament exchange last week. I saw the former principal of Colin's school, who is an old friend and who was the guest of honor at the party. I also saw Colin's 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade teachers. It was so fun to see them all and to see the women who had such an impact on his life, especially his 3rd grade teacher. I've talked about her before but she is a cross between Mr. Rogers and Mother Theresa. No joke. You cannot begin to believe that such a wonderful person exists. She has adopted two abandoned children, one who had multiple physical issues and learning disabilities. She always has a kind word. It just makes me feel better about the world whenever I've been talking with her. (You know she's wonderful when a sixteen year old boy will tell you that.) Anyway... it was fun to get out to a little party. Coincidentally, carolers came by and we were able to share our party goodies with them.

One of my teachers let me revise a project so that I could get a better grade. I had a good grade (A-), but I wanted a better grade so that I could keep my GPA at 4.0. She was very nice to allow her anal-retentive, grade-obssessed grad student do this. Thanks to Prof. Z.

I finished a good book this week, The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchet.

All that big picture stuff... healthy kids, my husband's job seems secure, a house to live in, cars to drive, etc.

I got two walks in this week (not including this morning's walk in the rain.) I need those walks. They may not be as far or as fast as they could be, but they still happened.

On those walks, I was not alone and I got to visit and chat with a friend each time.

We ordered a Honey Baked Ham for Christmas. Yummy!

I think that's all the de-grousing I have in me today. Not too bad, though, is it? There are good things in my life. Always, there are good things. I need to remember that. Right now, the last week or so, some of what I mentioned in the grousing section has been becoming more difficult. My way of dealing with serious difficulties is a combination of avoidance and detachment. Things are getting difficult to avoid, and with that, my ability to detach is tested. (I am not recommending detachment as a coping mechanism.)

So, I am having to deal with difficult things and make difficult choices. The result of behaving in a mature manner in the crisis stuff makes me want to act like a child in other areas of my life. My poor family! So, if you are the praying type, I would appreciate the prayers. I think things are going to get more uncomfortable before all is said and done.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: the Highs and Lows of Parenting

The Highs...

A few weeks ago, I shared the drama\trama that was The Class Play. Marley was cast in a role that she did not like and there was much weeping (hers) and gnashing of teeth (mine). A lot of listening, some "discussion," and one bribe later and Marley was willing to give it a go.

Last week we witnessed the fruits of our efforts to persuade and her hard work. There were six performances of the play. Marley did very well and a couple of moms actually came up to her and told her that she and her fictional son were their favorite part of the play. Of course they whispered this to her because they didn't want her own kids to hear their disloyalty.

It was an exhausting week to be perfectly honest. Getting Marley in and out of her costume and helping with mics... then having getting to watch the show for all six performances. (They did do a great job, but still--six times is at least four too many.)  I am very proud of her though.  She did her German accent and hysterical mommy of a chocolate fudge boy bit very well.  She knew her lines and blocking.  She endured having medical tape applied and removed multiple times. (It hurts!) It really was hard work.

I'm posting a couple of pictures. I didn't get too many but when I get more from other parents I'll ask permission to share. The kindergarteners and first graders are a must see. The kinders were candy and the first graders were the Oompa-Loompas. You will just die from all the cuteness.

Mrs. Gloop and her little snausage-vausage,
Augustus in front of the vat of chocolate.


Marley gets her mic checked.  She was being a little silly because
the sound guy wanted her to do jumping jacks.  This was before the second morning's performance and the kids were a little tired.


You can see why I don't have more pictures of my kids. 
This is their attitude toward having their pictures taken.
We did not get through the week without bribes
of chewing gum and soda in exchange for smiles.


the Lows...

In very, very sad news, we lost a member of our church this past week. His death was sudden and unexpected and it has left many of his friends in shock and sadness. Although I have known J. for years, I wasn't really more than an acquaintance. He was friends with many of my friends, though. I knew his parents years ago at our old church. As a parent, I cannot help but think about how I would feel if it were my child who died.

J. was supposed to play drums at church this past Sunday and so there was an empty drum kit that served as an extra reminder of our loss. The theme for this Sunday was Love for the second week of Advent. (We are a week off the regular schedule, I think.) I had been asked to do the Scripture reading and a meditation. I was somewhat at a loss for words but was able to find a passage from a book that had some words appropriate to both Advent and the loss.

I am thinking of J.s friends and family every day. I hope that the they are able to find comfort in each other and God at this time. I know loss... but not one as close as this one is to them. My heart aches for them, truly. I am also extremely grateful to have my family with me, safe and sound.

I'll end this with a particular Scripture that came up multiple times on Sunday. Without any discussion or coordination, it was in one of the songs we sang, in my meditation and in the communion meditation. I've been in a King James kind of mood so I'll use that version, from Romans 8:38-39...

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Quirks R Us

Tonight I made myself a cup of tea.  The the tea kettle started whistling.  As it did, I realized that I have developed this quirk in my tea making.

Some years ago, I read that when you make tea, it is supposed to be boiling water that you pour over your tea.  The same article said that Americans don't know how to make/serve tea.  The water is never hot enough.

Ever since then, I will not turn off my whistling kettle until my cup is warmed (a whole other quirk) and the tea bag in place.  If I haven't prepared the cup while the water is heating up, I just leave it whistling until I am good and ready.

Now, I know perfectly well that 30 to 60 seconds is not likely to make a difference in the tea. But if I turn it off before the cup is ready, the water won't actually be boiling.  

That's just silly.

What about you?  Care to share a quirk or two?


The State of the Blogger Address

DeEDMo is, indeed, DeaDMo.  I haven't exercised since those sit-ups, although I can claim busyness of an extreme nature.  I won't have succeeded in exercising daily in December, but I am getting back on track--today.  Between a 10 a.m. meeting and a 7 p.m. gymnastics lesson for Marley, I don't have much on the books.  Exercise will happen today. 

For all intents and purposes, my semester is over!!!!!!  There are one or two little details to finish up--a reflective journal entry to write for the program and a meeting with one instructor to go over the key assignment--but the real work is done.  Yippee!!!!

Finally, this is what greeted me on my home page this morning:



Looks like this blogger has some reading to do over the next couple of weeks.

Friday, December 05, 2008

DeEDMo Update

Well, the third day in and I failed.  Boo Hoo!!!!  I had two productive days (in general) in a row and then my body distracted my brain.  At two in the morning (yes, a time I should have been in bed), I remembered that I hadn't exercised.  I considered doing a set of sit ups but decided against it.  It was two in the morning!  I was afraid any exercise would cause me to stay awake even longer AND it was already the next day anyway.

Bad Mary-LUE!

However, whether it redeems my failure or not, I did go for about a three mile walk the next day, Thursday.  Something I felt later on that day, I can tell you.  Still, it felt better to go on the walk and feel a little bit wiped out than it did to NOT exercise.  I have plans to go for another walk with the same person next week.  We would schedule more but with Marley's class play next week, it will be tough to coordinate our schedules.

I also have to confess that today is not looking so good.  I have a splitting headache (not a migraine) which I might be able to contribute to a complete Mary-LUE malfunction today.  I had two separate conference calls today to deal with issues surrounding my father's trust and estate. It is mind-boggling to say the least.  Have I mentioned the importance of having ALL your affairs in order when you die?  Trust me.  It is very important if you own anything of value. Probate, estate taxes, CPAs, trustees, lawyers, appraisals--it goes on and on.  

After the first call, I came home and just kept myself from having a cry-fest.  After the second phone call, I had to struggle to keep from banging my head against the wall.  In the long run, the calls were more productive than not (fingers crossed), but it is exhausting for a non-detail oriented, conflict-avoidant person.

Anyway... that sob story is just to say that I pretty much retreated to my bedroom after that and pulled the covers over my head.  Now, it is 8:33 p.m. and I am not feeling very motivated.  I am anti-motivated--um, unmotivated?--to get my bottom up off the couch.  I'm hoping that writing this and confessing my previous lapse will help.  We did put up the leaning tower of Christmas tree, put out the nutcrackers, and tucked Marley in.  Maybe if I relax for a half hour I can manage those sit ups or the stretching tape.  

I'll let you know tomorrow if I did.

Happy Weekend!

Update - 10:05 p.m.  I actually did 80 sit ups.  I'm sure I'll be feeling it tomorrow, but the power of blog accountability worked!  

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I have sober briquette to thank for this...

In my 28th NaBloPoMo post, I made a comment about not being able to do anything for 30 days that I really needed to do, but I could get NaBloPoMo accomplished.

Sober briquette commented on that commented by saying that, "...now you know that if you made the commitment to exercise every day, you could do it."

Gee thanks!  Now I keep thinking about that and feeling like I should do something about it.  Of course, what better way to hold myself accountable than by announcing it on this blog.  (Shhh... I know I have announced good intentions in the past.  Shhh!)  Taking NaBloPoMo as my inspiration, I am creating my one woman challenge: December Exercise Daily Month or DeEDMo.  I had to add that extra 'e' or else it would day DEDMo and I didn't like the sound of that!

My commitment is very low key.  I will do some form of exercise every day in December.  It might be my AM/PM stretch DVD or a quick walk around the block.  I may get inspired and go for a really long walk.  Somehow though, something will get done.  Hopefully I will see enough benefit to see me to January when I will hopefully begin a proper exercise program.  I have a hard time seeing myself being successful at school next semester if I am not feeling more energetic.

So, DeEDMo is a challenge for myself.  I am not making badges, buttons, or dohickies of any sort. If someone wanted to join me that would be great.  I love company.  Either way, I will post my daily bit.  The side bar is kind of full right now, so I will probably just do a quick post on days I am not already posting.  

I've already done today's exercise (and I did exercise yesterday).  Here is my official tally:

December 1, AM Stretch workout (25 minutes)
December 2, AM Stretch workout (25 minutes)

Wish me luck!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: with Thanks and No Thanks

Thanksgiving week lends itself to examen questions of gratitude. One less decision to make. I like it.

In the last week, when did you feel most grateful?

Well, I didn't have to cook on Thanksgiving. We did have to work on the house, but we worked a little throughout the week and some that morning (mostly Paul) and it all worked out. The day was relaxing and yummy.

I also felt grateful for lots of birthday wishes. Facebook is awesome if you like people wishing you a happy birthday. I had a lot of wall messages, a couple of phone calls, a few birthday presents. My friend Julie made me a birthday dinner when we all were at their house on Friday... salmon, steak, mashed potatoes and more. YUMMY!

I was very, very thankful for Colin and Paul. For reasons to be disclosed in the next section, I was not that productive. Paul kept busy on the kitchen and other parts of the house. Colin did quite a bit of picking up, some vacuuming, and other odds and ends. All without complaint. That is deserving of the Nobel Atypical Teenage Behavior Prize.

In the last week, when did you feel the least grateful?

Let's see. Marley was sick on Tuesday and Wednesday, so Tuesday night I was up with her a lot. Her moans from a high fever woke me up every couple of hours. She will not take ibuprofen or acetaminophen right now. It is sooooo frustrating. I also had a paper due on Wednesday, which was my fault because it was due the Wednesday before. I had been very busy and under the weather due to a migraine, so I asked for an extension. Picture me tired and settling into my paper on Wednesday, early afternoon, when a migraine strikes. Again. Within two weeks. I actually laughed. Welcome to the LUE House, otherwise known as the Theater of the Absurd. I wasn't laughing a few hours later after pushing through to get my paper done. It knocked me out. I wasn't moving too quickly on Thursday but was able to enjoy the day. Friday found the LUE family on their way to see friends. After being there for a couple of hours, BAM!, Migraine 3. I grabbed my meds, drank two cups of coffee, and persevered. I had to lay down a couple of times but managed. Since then I have not felt well. Sensitive to light, headache-y and nauseous.

When I get into a migraine cycle like this, I start to get very depressed. I can handle one once in awhile, but so close together I have this frustration with getting so many and then a fear of getting another one. Right now, I have too much to do to. I can't keep getting these migraines. I need two good weeks. Two weeks. I had plans on getting at least a few things done for school over the break but I got nothing done. I even missed my class tonight because I wasn't up to it.

But still...

I am feeling better tonight. The hormone fluctuations should not present a problem for the next few weeks. Fingers crossed and a lot of prayer and I will get through this. (I actually went forward in church for prayer. I never do that!)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaBloPoMo: It is Finish-ed!!!!

Cue the heavenly choir. I made it. It wasn't always very pretty, but I did it. I have been beating myself up a little bit about the quality of my NaBloPoMo posts this year as opposed to two years ago. I just went, though, and glanced through all of that year's posts and they weren't as spectacular as I remembered. I think the main difference between that year and this is that I did take time on a few posts to do some creative writing. I did a Writer's Digest prompt and a couple of weeks of Word Beads. I was not up for creative writing this year. Shoot, with the migraine invasion, I barely made it through the month.

I am glad I did it though. I found a few new blogs--that is always fun. It was thirty days of discipline--always a challenge for me. And now I get to put up my "I did it!" badge. That is kind of cool.

I am going to leave you with one of my works of creative writing art from two years ago. I had forgotten all about this one. It was a prompt from Writer's Digest in which you were to write a 20-line poem (rhyming or nonrhyming, your choice) about your favorite possession that cost you fewer than $10. I cheated and wrote 24, but it was fun to write and fun to go back and read. I hope you enjoy it!

Paperback Writer

As I sit here and ponder just what to write,
my deadline is coming right at midnight.
So in quest of a prompt--no, I do not jest--
I head on over to the Writer’s Digest.

And there it is, my prompt for the day:
for under 10 bucks, my favorite possession to say.
It doesn’t take too much of a look
to know that my fave is the paperback book.

Might it be a Burke book by Vachss?
A book which spurs me on to fax
my local state senator to say,
"Make those pedophiles go away."

Or that man of the horses, Francis, Dick?
There are so many that the titles can’t stick
in my brain along with the plots.
But I love those horsey books lots and lots.

A paperback book, the size is just right
to take with me everywhere, day or night.
On a restless day I have only to begin
to read over again one of my dear friends.

Paperback books there are so many!
How do I, among them, a favorite choose?
For one of them to win means
all the others must lose.


30 down, 0 to go

I did it!



Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tale of a Nutcracker

Marley and I took a little trip to the happiest place on earth. No, not Disneyland--Target. Okay, it isn't the happiest place on earth, but we had some shopping to do and I had a Target gift card. Marley wrote down our list: shoes for her new dress, shoes for the play, tights for her new dress, tights for the play, a new holiday tablecloth, paper plates. I also knew I wanted to look for a case for my new iPod Nano. As we wandered around Target I saw nutcrackers. Every year we buy a nutcracker. I think we have been doing it for about 10 years. Anywhoo, I thought that it would be a good idea to get our Christmas nutcracker. Bad idea. Target's idea of nutcrackers this year include a Captain Jack nutcracker, a military man nutcracker and this:



A pop star nutcracker. Of course Marley assumed it was a Hannah Montana nutcracker, which is the one she wanted.

No!

No!!

No!!!

Christmas celebration begins after Thanksgiving and pop star nutcrackers are forbidden. Is that too much to ask?  The LUE family nutcracker is just going to have to wait until a more suitable one can be found.

Pop star nutcrackers! Ridiculous.

Dividers Pictures, Images and Photos

You may have noticed the gigantic Salvation Army kettle in my side bar.  I'm trying to raise money in my little virtual kettle.  If you are cool with the Salvation Army and have a dollar to two to spare, you can click on the kettle and drop in a few virtual coins.  My goal is $125.00.  If you can help great.  If not, no worries.

29 down, 1 to go

1 to go!!!!!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Life, the Universe and Everything: Black Friday Edition

Life

I'm writing this post in the car on the way home from spending the day with friends. We headed out around lunchtime and hung out, had a nice dinner, hung out some more, watched the kids play Jenga and then got in the car. These are friends who used to live two blocks away and when they moved (five years ago?), it was quite an adjustment. It was a perfect day-after-Thanksgiving day to have. One fly in the ointment was the onset of another migraine. I think this one was triggered by my looking at too bright of a light. I know that I am extremely light sensitive at times and I am pretty sure when the disharmonic convergence of too much stress and/or hormones happens, a bright light will set off a new headache. I took my medicine and just worked through it, at times stopping to lie down and close my eyes.

When I get into one of these migraine cycles, I really start to lose my positive attitude. I forget how minor my migraines are in comparison to some. I forget that I have a lot of excellent support to take over for me. I forget that there are worse maladies in the world. I just start to get into my "woe is me" mode. I want to shout and shake my fist at the headache gods. Only my fear that the headache gods are as capricious as the Greek and Roman gods holds me back. I'm afraid I'll be sent on a 20 year odyssey or made to push a rock up a hill, only to have to repeat the task the next day, and the next, and the next. No, I'll not risk their wrath.

(No longer writing from the road. The roads were too bumpy and a shaky screen coupled with a migraine makes for car sickness extraordinaire!)

Marley is shipshape today. No fever or sore throat. I think she might end up with a stuffy nose but that is preferable to the fever.

Let's see… oh! On the way to our friend's house, we got a close up view of some of the fire damage from a couple of weeks ago. On the south side of the freeway we saw completely blackened hillsides with charcoal trees and burned out condos. On the north side of the freeway, it was looked more like a culinary torch had been at work, the hillsides looking more like a crème brulee. It was hard to imagine what it would have been like when the flames were burning. Seeing it on television just can't be the same.

As we head into the weekend proper, we will be very busy. Our church is moving tomorrow and Sunday we'll have services in the new location. There is homework to do and laundry to do and, of course, with all this on the agenda, I want nothing more than to go see some good movies. I doubt I'll get the chance. It may have to wait until Christmas break.

the Universe

Paul was asking me why the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday. I don't know the real reason, but after today, I might say because people die the day after Thanksgiving. A Walmart employee was killed when a crush of shoppers pushed through the entrance of a store. I think that was in Florida. Here in California, two women broke into an apparently bloody fight. The men they were with brought out guns and shot each other. Both men died. This was in a Toys R Us. I guess this isn't any more mayhem than happens on any given day in this or any other country. Somehow, though, I associate it with this mad consumerism that has people up at 4 a.m. to wait in line for a Nintendo Wii or Furby or whatever it is they have to buy. I also know this is a case where I am taking evidence and using it to support my extreme prejudice against the holiday shopping frenzy. However, I can't keep thinking about that Walmart employee. Did he have children? Will the holidays ever be the same for his family? Ugh. It is just so sad.

While all this gift buying madness was going on, there are situations all over the world which are scary and heartbreaking. The most recent hostage taking rampage in India is one example. The names and stories of individuals are beginning to be known. I once read that it takes the individual to bring the horror of any larger situation to life. I think there is some truth in that. Over 100 people shot and killed sounds bad. A rabbi and his wife killed, leaving behind a small child? The tragedy comes into a fine focus. It is harder to gloss over it all once I've heard a specific story like that. I still remember, during the Bosnian-Serbian conflict about 10 years ago one story I heard on the news. A young couple was separated in one of the refugee camps. They tried so hard to stay together but she was sick with pneumonia or something like that. In order to get treatment, she had to leave to go to another camp. Her husband called her his Juliet. At the time the story was aired, he had not been reunited with her. I wept over that and I still wonder sometimes… did he find her—his Juliet?

Everything

I don't know if this post is coherent at all. I am pretty nauseous. The nausea tends to be worse when I do what I did tonight, push through and try to function. It doesn't feel so bad when I am doing it. I was able to enjoy my conversation with my friends, eat dinner, have a good time. Now, though, I feel sick.

So why am I blogging? Because it's NaBloPoMo 2008! This is really ridiculous. What is it about this month of blogging that has me so committed I will blog through homework assignments, child illness, migraine, holidays, birthdays? I can't keep a commitment to myself to exercise regularly but I better not miss a day of NaBloPoMo. I'm not sure I understand it all. Anyone have any ideas?

Until tomorrow…


 

28 down, 2 to go

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Hangover

I would love to write a list of all the things I am thankful for today, but it wouldn't be heartfelt--or should I say headfelt.  I've got a little bit of headache left over from yesterday's migraine.  An enjoyable, yet longish, day of Thanksgiving family visiting has left me on the couch and watching TV with Paul.   I have lots to be grateful for, truly, but it is like trying to drive with fogged up windows.  You know the road is there, but you can't see it!

I did get in a little more birthday celebrating today.  One SIL and BIL gave me a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble (Yeah!) and my other SIL brought me a DVD of Terry Jones' Medieval Lives.  It is pretty fun.  He spends each episode focusing on one type of person and then using a mix of characters, animations and straightforward historical documentary narration, he tells the story of the lives of women, peasants, monks, etc.  He makes history very engaging and makes a point of bringing to light misperceptions of the time.

Marley is doing much better today.  Right about the same time my migraine kicked in, she perked up.  Her fever, although still present, started going down and she started bouncing around.  I had planned on taking her to the after hours medical office but it seemed clear she was on the road to recovery.  I always feel bad for Marley and Colin on holidays because there are usually no other kids.  She was invited to spend a night at a friend's and so she is getting to socialize and Paul, Colin and I are getting a very peaceful, bounce-free, screech-free evening!

Tomorrow we will all (the Teenager included) head out to a friend's house to visit for the day. They live about an hour away and we plan on hanging out all day and into the evening.  This family used to live two blocks away and I was very, very sad when they moved.  It will be nice to get away, leave the books behind and visit with good friends.

Well, I guess that is it for now.  Terry Jones is talking about the lives of medieval minstrals. Can't miss that!




27 down, 3 to go


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Fastest Post Ever

Not necessarily in this order:

It's my birthday today.

44 years old.

New iPod Nano 4th gen.

Up and down all last night with sick daughter.

Paper finished finally.  Any good?  Who knows.

Migraine.  (Seriously?  On my birthday?)

Too embarassed to Twitter migraine status since I was so busy Twittering my daughter's temperature fluctuations.

Newly met niece called me to wish me a happy birthday.  Very sweet.

Facebook friends give me greetings galore.  Thanks.

Ugh.  My head.

Hosting Thanksgiving at our house.  Need to clean.

My head.  Ugh.

What a day for a birthday.  Still it could be worse.  I could have had to evacuate due to the rain like my friend did (at 2 am!)

Signing off.



26 down, 4 to go


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Into the Celebrity Fray

I'm not much for blogging about celebrities.  There are a few reasons for this but the most important is that I am not clever enough to pull it off.  I've written the odd post about Paris Hilton (as a wordsmith) or Mel Gibson (as a drunk driver) but for the most part I am content to let others be clever and I laugh.

Today, though, I read a more serious article about Michelle Williams and her grief over the death of Heath Ledger.  I think one reason this article stood out to me today is that I've had a few conversations with people about grief lately.  (The caveat here is that I take everything I read online about a celebrity with more than a grain of salt.  For the sake of this post, let's assume she was accurately quoted in a reasonable context.)  

When asked about how she was doing, she said this:

"I guess it's always changing," Michelle finally offers. "What else can I say? I just wake up each day in a slightly different place -- grief is like a moving river, so that's what I mean by 'it's always changing.'"

Then, as her eyes well up again, she notes, "It's a strange thing to say, because I'm at heart an optimistic person, but I would say in some ways it just gets worse. It's just that the more time that passes, the more you miss someone. In some ways, it gets worse. That's what I would say."

I knew someone once whose young daughter died unexpectedly. About a year later, he and I were talking and he said that someone had, in frustration, said to him, "It's been a year."  My friend looked at his friend and said, "Yes.  It's been a year.  I haven't got to see my daughter in a year!"  I'm not sure how easy that idea is to understand unless you've lost someone.  The best way I can describe it is to imagine that your child/spouse/friend is somewhere and you can't see them or talk to them in any way.  Would a year seem like a long time?  Would it be hard to go that long?  Should you be over not talking to them after that long?

I know that things get better after you suffer a loss--eventually. I know that.  It is a years-long process, though.  Not a months long one.  However, I think that unless you've experienced it, you cannot grasp the enormity of it all. I am sorry for Michelle William's and her daughter's loss.  I'm glad though, that she shared so openly about it. I hope that her words reach out to others who have experienced it.  People who can say, "A moving river! Yes, grief is a moving river.  It is always changing."  I hope there will be a little comfort for them to know that someone understands.



(I have suffered many losses and have written about them ad nauseum, but I haven't lost a child, spouse or close parent.  I don't want to compare my losses to that of a child or spouse or close parent.  Without taking away from the signficance of my grief, I think those losses are more significant in a way than mine.)




25 down, 5 to go

This post brought to you hours early by my daughter's sore throat/fever and my son's stomach ache. I was afraid if I waited until later to post, I would miss the deadline due to vomitus eruptus.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bob and Me

Marley has been so excited because the movie Marley and Me is coming out.  I guess if I were a kid and a movie was coming out with my name in the title, I'd be excited too.  She wanted to read the book but I explained the book was for adults and too hard for her to read herself.  Of course, at the bookstore one day, we found the junior version, Marley, A Dog Like No Other.  It said it was for ages 8-12.  She is definitely more on the 8 year old end of things rather than the 12 year old, reading-wise, but we bought it, anyway.  She read it and when I would ask her about what was happening, she would reply, "I have no idea."  (A sure sign she was reading a book that was too difficult for her!)  She insisted she was doing fine and so when she finished the book, I asked her about the end.  It was all fine, she said.  Marley was sick but he got better.

???

I happened to know that Marley did not get better.  I turned to the last few pages of the book and showed her a few key words that indicated Marley was not living happily ever after.  I got a shoulder shrug and that was about it.  Except that being a reading major now, I was not content to let that go.  We would read the book together.  Well, Paul and I have taken turns, so I've missed out on some of it.  Unfortunately, I'm getting all the bits at the end where Marley is going deaf, half-blind, and suffering through arthritic hips.  Tonight I had to stop every half a page to get myself under control. I soldiered on and managed to finishe the chapter.  Paul will have to finish the book with her. I can't even think about going to see that movie.  I'll need two boxes of Kleenex, a bottle of ibuprofen, and therapy.

It wouldn't be so difficult (I'm not that much of a softy), if it weren't for Bob.  Our Bob.  While I doubt anyone would buy a book about mine and Paul's life with that dog, there are definitely a few good stories to tell.  Bob shared some personality characteristics with Marley the dog.  He was enthusiastic beyond belief and Paul and I were often at out wit's end.  Physically, like Marley (the dog), he also had arthritic hips. He was very uncomfortable by the end and when we ripped up the carpet to have the hardwood floors refinished he changed completely. It was like he aged years overnight.  It broke my heart. So, when I read about Marley getting older, I remember my dog--because he was defnitely mine, not Paul's.

In honor of Bob, I am reposting something from my other blog, So Cal Cinema.  It has a few pictures of my boy and Paul in his Sally Jesse Raphaelesque frames that were so popular at the time. It also tells a funny story about Marley's remembering him.  

Here you go, from August, 2006:

Speak, Bob! Speak! (Speak to My Heart!)

Bob tries to convince Paul to give up some yummies.

The following conversation took place in our car Sunday on the way to church. Playing in the cd player was the first song, titled "Speak to My Heart," from our friend Erin's (also known as Elina) brand new CD.***

Colin: "Did you hear what Marley just said?"

Me: "No, what did she say?"

Colin: "She said, 'Colin, does this song make you remember Bob?'"

????

Paul and I chuckled and Marley made don't-make-fun-of-me noises. We laughed, because, if you don't know, Bob was our dog who died almost 4 years ago and "Speak to My Heart" is a song about falling in love. Marley was only 2 1/2 years old, but she remembers him. Her grandparents have a big, stuffed hound dog which she calls Bob. She calls Grandpa on the phone and asks to speak to Bob. At that point, Grandpa uses his doggy voice so that Marley and Bob can talk. I guess the song was just melancholy enough or something to remind her about how she feels about Bob being gone. I don't know. I just know that I will definitely have a different point of reference every time I hear that song!

Bob as a puppy. He was just a few months old here. I don't know if you can accurately assess the look in his eye from this picture but I would call it his Make Me look.

This is our last picture of Bob taken just a few days before he was put to sleep. Boo Hoo! (He kind of looks like he knew the jig was up, doesn't he?)

24 down, 6 to go

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Evening Musings

10:37 p.m.

Oy! My back hurts.  I get down and dirty with the housecleaning and dinner making and laundry doing so seldomly that I forget that it is all hard work.  Work makes my back hurt.

About five years ago, Paul and I had a floor refinsher come in and repair and refinish the hard wood floors in our living room and dining room.  (Yes, we rent but it was worth the expense.)  The man we hired was 800 years old... okay, maybe not 800, but he had his contractor's license awarded to him in the late 40's.  FORTIES, the WWII Forties.  

There is a point to this story, albeit an unnecessary one.

So, this ancient floor man, when he got up off of his knees, made a groaning sound like you would not believe.  There is no combination of letters that can represent the sound this man made. It may be a wee bit of exaggeration on my part, but I feel like that groan sounded!  (Pity me, please.)

But enough of my aching back.

It does feel good to get something accomplished.  This is the most productive I've been in a long time. I've had a proper dinner on the table three nights in a row, which, for me, is a major accomplishment.  Marley will actually have a week's work of clean clothes in her dresser when she wakes up tomorrow!  Paul and I have even made a plan for Christmas, when to get out the tree, put up the lights, etc.  (Of course, making a plan and the following it are two very different things.)

In other news, this was the last Sunday that my church held services in their current location. Next week, we meet in a shiny, new, cosier auditorium.  I'm looking forward to it even though I will be working in the nursery and will miss the service.  Still, I'll be in the new nursery.  I hope that everything for the move goes smoothly.  I am actually planning on pitching in with the move (more aching back) unless my school work is screaming at me too much.  

Let's see, what else was I going to tell you?  Oh!  I have been a very bad blog reader this past week or so. I haven't been as good at coming by and worse at commenting with the exception of a few episodes of commentolalia (my term for a comment that just won't shut up.)  I apologize if I have neglected anyone.  I can't even blame it all on school. I think I've just been a one part hormonal, one part introspective and two parts tired.  I was so bad I didn't even comment on the Sleeping with Bread posts linked up at the SWB blog.  That is bad.  Very bad.

I won't promise to be better this week.  It is a holiday week, I do have a lot of school to get done over the break, I am trying to keep my dinner on the table streak going...  Hopefully, though, I will get on over to demonstrate my mad commenting skills.  If you're lucky...  (kidding... just kidding!)

Off to fold that last load of laundry (not the last load to be finished... just the last load to be processed for the day... I have at least five more loads to go!)

Night-night!

23 down, 7 to go (one more week!)


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh for a Way Back Machine

It may just be that I'm close to entering the Red Tent but I am feeling very emotional these days about my daughter.  There is just so much stuff surrounding her these days.   I am so aware of where her life is right now--more than I was with Colin (probably because she was an infant when he was this age.  Oy.  Now I feel guilty about that.  He was, in some ways, completely neglected at that time.)

ANYWAY...

Tonight while Paul, Colin and I were still lounging at the table after dinner, Marley was be-bopping around the house.  She passed by Paul and he stopped her to inquire if she'd been growing.  Paul and I have this tendency to ask this of our children in an accusatory tone: "Hey! What have you been up to?  Did you get taller last night?"  Because, really, it is astounding how you can look at your child one day and see a different, taller version the next. It is very unsettling.

We took her to The Wall of Measurement and she had not really grown any in the last month. But there are other differences.  Paul and I both see them.  The parents of her classmates see them.  She is changing. But the changes aren't just physical.  Her interests, her ability to manage herself, her awareness is all changing, too.

And I can't help but think about her future--both immediate and not so immediate.  Maybe her recent experience with being cast as Mrs. Gloop is influencing me.  Her disappointment was total.  She is, as I hope she will time and time again, turning her disappointment into a positive experience.  But I know there are so many more out there.  Lurking, like John Irving's Under Toad, waiting to catch her unawares.

She will feel unloved.
She will feel unattractive.
She will feel unimportant.
She will feel less than.
She will want something and not get it.
She will not want something and get it anyway.
She will be hurt by others.
She will hurt others.

It just goes on and on.

But I watch her at gymnastics, getting to ring the bell because she did a pullover by herself for the first time.

I see her confidence building.

I hear her teacher telling her what a wonderful job she is doing as Mrs. Gloop.

I see her confidence building.

I see her being given responsibilities in her class because she has been working at being a good role model for the younger kids.

I see her confidence building.

I hope it is enough.

I hope that she can internalize the positive experiences and the disappointments because together they are the warp and weave of life.  You become the person you are by how you deal with both.  And I pray for her.  I pray incoherent, gutteral, purely emotional prayers because the words are inadequate to cover all the protection and blessings I want for her.

And then I pray for myself to survive it all. Is there any way to get back to the simplicities of this age?

Marley, 18 mos. old


22 down, 8 to go

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Twitter Experiment: An Update


Just about one month ago, I went down the rabbit hole that is Twitter.

A couple of weeks ago, I was not too sure what to make of the Twitter world.

Tonight?  I have to be honest, I am not completely sold.  There is a feeling of being at a party and only catching single lines of conversation here and there.  As long as I keep the number of people I follow to a minimum and focus more on making my updates and replying to just a few updates by others, it isn't too bad.

I read something today though, that is encouraging me to keep up my Tweeting.  For some reason, I looked up Twitter on Wikipedia.  There are some interesting facts, some good and at least one, not so good.  First, the not so good:  Twitter collects any and all personal identifiable information. It considers that information an asset and may or may not sell it.  (According to Wikipedia)

The good new--or at least interesting news is that during the reign of fire Southern California experienced a year ago, the Los Angeles Fire Department was able to use it.  NASA tweets during certain Space Shuttle missions or to break news like the discovery of ice on Mars.  The Prime Minister's office (of Great Britain) uses Twitter to post updates on the goings on of that office. Twitter was found to be more effective in keeping students updated during the Virginia Tech tragedy.

I don't know, I think that is very interesting.  I see some possibilities here that I didn't before. I'm still not 100% sold, but I am going to try it out a little longer. After all, this is the age of Web 2.0.

21 down, 9 to go.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Decision Has Been Made: Spring Semester

As you know, I've been dithering about my schedule next semester.  I received some good opinions on both sides of the heavy load vs. really heavy load.  As I sat and let it all stew simmer, I could not get these thoughts out of my mind:

The picture of being free for the last few weeks of Marley's time in the K-3 multiage class.  She has been in this amazing environment for the last few years and I want to be there for the Lasts.  The last campout, the last field trip, the last author's tea.  If I am taking a research and methodology class in summer school, I won't be able to be there--not if I want to pass the class.

I waste more hours on any given day than there are in a day.  I know there is time in my life for this.  I've estimated that taking the extra class, along with doing the internship will be like taking 12 units of school.  Most of my friends in the program are working full time and taking six units. This is not climbing Mt. Everest.  It is more like having a full time job.  People do that every day and it is only for 16 weeks.  

Finally, I look to the summer and consider having 9-10 weeks off in between graduation and (fingers crossed) starting my teaching career as opposed to having 3-4 weeks off.

You see where this is going, don't you?  I am going to take the extra class.  I'm going to have to really look ahead to see what I can get accomplished over the winter break, including beginninga consistent exercise program.  It will take discipline. I made the decision yesterday after spending some time on the phone with a friend.  She knows me.  She knows my limitations.  That discussion was the little nudge that pushed me in the direction I had been leaning.

I can do this--for 16 weeks.  Just 16 weeks.


20 down, 10 to go

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A LUE Writing Contest

What:  Take the words at the bottom of this post and write a story of interest to a third grade girl.  She is an English Language Learner and does not have a  lot of cultural background references.  

Why: This semester I have worked with one particular third grade girl in my assessment class.  She has patiently endured reading inventories, interest inventories, spelling assessments, auditory and visual discrimination tests AND tutoring in word study/phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension strategies, etc.

Because my student is an English Language Learner, I have spent a lot of my time working with her on vocabulary.  Vocabulary is important for any student, but especially important for someone learning a new language.  Each week, I picked three or four words, created flash cards with visual aids (my silly drawings) and had her work on both word recognition and meaning.  As we near the end of our time together (two more sessions), all the assessments and tutoring are finished.

My professor was just saying that if you can only do one thing for a student, teach them a word. Vocabulary knowledge is a key that unlocks so many doors in learning.  I would love for my student to retain the words she had learned with me.  I also would love for her to have something special to take with her.

Why Not Me?  Um... I can ramble in a blog and write a poem every decade or so.  Creative writing, however, is not my strong suit.  I read so many wonderful writers, I thought someone out in the blog'verse could come up with something way more engaging than anything I could ever write.

Who?  Anyone who reads this and is interested.

How? Take the words that I will list at the bottom of this post and write the best story you can that appeals to a third grade girl.  Keep the concepts fairly simple and references to pop culture a minimum.  She isn't very familiar with those types of references.  Send your entry to me at marylue42 at csu dot fullerton dot edu.

When:  Submit to me on Monday, December 1, 2008 by midnight.

On picking a winner:  I will judge the entries based on creativity and appropriateness.  If I have more than one contender, I will ask a few friends to help me choose.

What does the winner get?  In addition to the good feeling of creating something special for an eight year old girl, the prize of this contest will be a $20 gift certificate to Amazon.com to be delivered by email.  With the winner's permission, I will also post the story to Life, the Universe and Everything.

So, what do you think?  Does this sound interesting to anyone?  If it doesn't sound interesting to you, maybe you know someone who would like to try.  Pass the word.  I think my student will love this and remember it for a very long time.

If you have any questions, give me a holler, here in the comments or by email.

Here are the words.  There are 27 of them if you include peek, wave, and pull and their 'ed' versions.  The words were chosen because they were in stories we read or they met certain needs.  Some taught inflections, affixes, prefixes.  Some taught phonics rules OR exceptions. Some were chosen because they were multisyllabic.  Most of them were also on a national third grade vocabulary list.

Direction
Imagine
Measurement
Peek and Peeked
Pull and Pulled
Wave and Waved
Brought
Thought
Rough
Though
Appear
Disapper
Underneath
Slippery
Thermometer
Emergency
Continue
Escape
Discouraged
Gather
Idea
Route
Strawberry
Electricity

Good luck!


19 down, 11 to go

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hittin' the Wall

Day 18 of NaBloPoMo.

I don't know what to write.  There.  I said it. I didn't want to say it, but I did.

In lieu of actual content, I will tell you about this cool software application I found.  It is called Live Ink.  It is designed to increase reading rate and comprehension and ease eye strain for online reading.

It is pretty cool.  It cascades text according to meaningful phrases and in a pattern that is easier on the eye.

Look at this:



Kind of cool, isn't it?  You just click on the arrow to read the next page.  It does feel surprisingly comfortable on the eye.  You just open the reader, highlight the text you want, click on the parse-y thing, and there you go.

I downloaded a 30 day trial and have been using it. It really is easier to read online text. The best part? I decided to use it with Marley as a fluency exercise. Fluency is essentially 1) accuracy in decoding; 2) automatic processing; and 3) expression during reading.  Fluent readers are more likely to be good comprehenders.  

Anyway... Marley's teacher has been working with her on her fluency.  I downloaded the Live Ink reader with some grade appropriate text from the Time for Kids website.  I asked Marley to read some of the text without Live Ink.  It sounded like her usual oral reading.  I had her read more of the text on the Live Ink reader.  There was a distinct difference in her pace and expression.  I think it might be good practice for her, similar to another fluency exercise called Fry's Phrases. Having students read these phrases, not sentences, has been shown to improve their fluency.

Um... so now you know about Live Ink.  I am considering paying for a subscription, which isn't inexpensive.  However, I think I'd like to have it available for Marley and myself (eye strain relief sounds great to me) and I bet it would come in handy for all the tutoring I will be doing next semester at the community college level.

So, there is my product placement, reading lesson.  I hope to have a more interesting post for you tomorrow. Although when I think about it, my paper is due at midnight.  You might be getting my plan for a college reading and learning program!


18 down, 12 to go 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bonus Post: A LUE Rant

I grew up in the good old days.  Get that?  The. Good. Old. Days.

What were the good old days you might ask?

The days when you put TWO SPACES between sentences when you typed them on a typewriter on a word processor.

Sometime in the last year, Blogger has decided to go all one-space on me.  Which is fine.  Except it is not fine because I keep getting these off-kilter lines in my published posts. (Do you see that?) And because it is one of about, oh let's say, TWO things that I am obssessive about, I have to go back and fix them and then republish.  I have to.

Arghhh!!!  How am I supposed to work against years and years of punctuation indoctrination?

What's next?  no capitals at the beginning of sentences?  anything goes sentence enders; are we to become an ee cummings world/

The madness has got to stop.

Sleeping with Bread: Burnt Toast

FRENCH BREAD! Pictures, Images and Photos

Okay, I am the kind of person who likes to rearrange her furniture twice a year. I get bored with the same thing month on end. So, to embrace my fickle, changeable side, I am dispensing with the Sleeping with Bread logo today. Don't you think this little piece of French bread is cute? Besides, the toasty look goes with the past week California has been having.

I haven't heard all the latest, but I know in our area, most--if not all--of the evacuees have been allowed to return home and the freeways are open. In California, you just pretty much can't survive without your freeways.

I wrote a lot this week about personal stuff this week... Marley and the Meltdown, Politics and Loathing in the Blog'verse. I kind of got a lot of my reflection out of the way. But, at the risk of being repetitive, I will go with a gratitude theme this week. It is almost Thanksgiving after all.

So...

In the last week, what have I been most grateful for?

Emily and her thoughtful response to me at her blog
Encouraging emails and comments I received
Shari for sharing her journey with me
Marley for working through some hard, third grader stuff
Paul for not running away from me (!!)
Colin for getting a B average and being pretty much self-sustaining
Marley's teachers--over and over again
My assessments are done!!!! I still have to write a ginormous case study for this class, but the assessments are done!!!
Dr. KBA--the behind-the-scenes, knows what needs to be done professor in my dept.
Life on Mars... love, love, love that show (I'm beginning to gush about it. It's embarassing.)
I figured out how to get rid of the "Friends You May Know" recommendations on Facebook.

In the last week, what have I been least grateful for?

Fires, fires, fires
Uncivil discourse
Migraines
Ill-considered trusts and wills
I have a lot of Ts to cross and Is to dot before the semester ends
Laundry
Dishes
Dirty bathrooms
Star Trek doesn't come out until May

And with a new twist...

What perspective has this introspection brought to you?

I think it is clear that I have more on my "to be grateful for" list than my "not grateful for" list.

Thank you, Lord. Seriously.

divider SM star trek Pictures, Images and Photos

C'mon over to the Sleeping with Bread site and read some more post by other SWB'ers.








17 down, 13 to go

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Insta-Post, part 2

Here are a few more pictures from yesterday and today. The fires still burn. Hundreds of people have been evacuated. So far, it looks like Marley's school will be open tomorrow. However, schools in several neighborhoods will be closed tomorrow.


16 down, 14 to go

(I would still try to post something more substantial, but I'm a little migraine-y, yesterday and today.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Insta-Post Recipe

Ingredients:

1 local brush fire
1 camera

Combine ingredients and voila!


This picture was taken from the top of a hill about two miles from our house.  This is a fire in Brea... there are also fires in Yorba Linda and Corona.  While the L.A. fires are fairly far away, this one is not.  You can see all the brown grasses and brush on the hillside and understand how this situation is dangerous.  We have also been sorely lacking in rainfall for the last couple of years.

I just read on Facebook that a friend of ours had to evacuate her house in Yorba Linda. Hopefully it will still be there when she gets back.


Friday, November 14, 2008

A title escapes me...

but those ever favored ellipses do not! (Really, I don't what it is about those little dots, but I just love 'em!)

I am dead on my feet tonight and I just remembered I owe the NaBloPoMo gods a post sacrifice. I guess the title could have been Mary vs. the Volcano! I do feel like I have a brain cloud.

As tired as I am, I am feeling well tonight. The tiredness is from a few days of messed up sleep. I took a nap at 10 am yesterday. 10 am!! I slept for 2 1/2 hours, so it is little wonder that I did not go to sleep until after 1 am. I kept myself busy tonight and refused to take a nap. Maybe I'll get to sleep before midnight. Woo Hoo!!

There is good news to report on the Mrs. Gloop front. Marley worked on her lines this morning before I woke up and then we worked on them together before she left for school. She was excited to get to school because it was her day, along with the other third graders, to work with the director. I was optimistic that she had processed most of her disappointment (at least until it was time for the padded costume.)

I had decided to talk with the teachers to give them a heads up about what had happened last night and to ask them to keep an eye on her for me. I went to pick her up early, hoping to find my chance to talk to one or both of her teachers. The kids were still in the multi-purpose room working with Mrs. S., the director. Mrs. J., one of her teachers, saw me and approached me. She told me, without my even saying anything yet, that Marley was doing a great job so far. She and her little (not so) Augustus had made all the kids and teachers laugh with their performance. Mrs. J. said she thought that Marley and her fictional son were going to be the funniest part of the play.

Granted, it is just the first day of rehearsal, but I am so happy to hear that Marley was really going for it today. During lunch, which the third grade girls eat with the teachers every Friday, the other girls and the teachers all complimented her on her performance. Mrs. J. said that you could see Marley pick herself up and hold her body differently. (Doesn't that make you want to cry happy tears?)

I still explained to Mrs. J. the drama of the night before, and she will watch Marley to make sure she isn't having a hard time. My hope, though, is that the positive reinforcement and success she experiences will get us through. Mrs. J. also said that she will talk to the director about the degree of padding Mrs. Gloop requires. Marley is smaller than her "son" and Mrs. J. is thinking the contrast of a taller and chubbier Augustus and a shorter, thinner Mrs. Gloop might actually be funnier. I want to balance being sympathetic to Marley with helping her see that some things just have to be done a certain way, so if she has to wear the padded suit, so be it. Right after I finished talking to Mrs. J., my friend Rebecca leaned over to tell me that Marley was doing such a great job, she was so funny, etc. Yeah! More positive feedback!

After school as Marley and I were walking to the car, I talked to her a little about how she felt and explained that I had received a glowing report from Mrs. J. She played it very casual but then told me, "Mrs. S. said I was funny, too." You have to know Mrs. S. and how the children view her to know that this was a big deal. I was also able to give Marley some good, albeit tempered, good news. Mrs. J. is pretty certain that Marley will wear a mic for the show!

I could tell that I needed to start pulling back and stop talking about it. She was going to get self-conscious about it, but what a turnaround! We may still have some bumpy moments--she isn't all that happy about one scene where she has to squish her son's cheeks--but I am very optimistic and relieved... and grateful for my friends (bloggy and otherwise) who listen to me, Marley's teachers and classmates who encouraged her, Paul who was as much at a loss as I was but supported my instinctive, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants parenting.

Mostly I am proud of Marley, first, for being honest about how she felt.  I never really explained that for all the drama, she did a pretty good job of using her 'I' statements.  I feel sad, It hurts my feelings, etc.  She pulled herself together and had such a positive attitude.  I can't wait to see her performance in a few weeks.

14 down, 16 to do 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tales of a Third Grade Extra

Marley has been cast as Mrs. Gloop, the mother of Augustus Gloop, in her class production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She had her heart set on the role of Veruca Salt but seemed to accept yesterday her given role.

That was yesterday. Today, after the play meeting, she dissolved into hysterical tears. She doesn't want to wear a padded costume (the Gloops are a hefty family), she doesn't want to take German language classes (I tried to explain she just had to say her lines with an accent), she was upset that she NEVER gets an important part, and the ultimate insult? She doesn't think she is going to be one of the children chosen to wear a mic.  (She might get mic'd but without knowing for sure I wasn't going to get her hopes up.)

Seriously. What's a mom to do? The third graders get the "bigger" parts. The kinders are going to be candy, the first graders and a few second graders are the Oompa Loompas and all the other roles are divided among the rest of the second and third graders. Marley is not the best actress or singer of the bunch. She got an appropriate role. She got a role with more lines than the previous year. But she is devastated.

This is no my strong suit as a parent. On one hand, I understand why she is upset. Getting to wear the mics is something all the children covet. She's not stupid; she knows that Mrs. Gloop is not a key role. She wants to be a star. On the other hand, every person can't be the star. There are other kids who are more talented--or at least louder. She is a part of a community and this is not the first time she is going to be disappointed with her part, whether it be on stage or in life. Do I tough love it or just lend a sympathetic ear.  Do I do some combination of both?

I probably spent 10 minutes just watching her cry and feeling a combination of helpless and frustrated. Finally, I pulled out the big guns: bribery. I know, I know, it is the evil parenting technique designed to spoil your children and give them a sense of entitlement that will hinder their every relationship.

BUT (watch me defend myself here)...

This is not a common practice of ours.
This is not an everyday experience of hers.
I didn't know what else to do.

I told her that I understood why she was upset, but that the director gives out the roles and there is nothing we can do about it. I said we could talk to her teachers so they at least knew she was sad; however, her teachers would not change her role. I told her that if she cooperated with her part, practiced saying her part in a German accent, cooperated with the padded costume, and exhibited a good attitude, we would buy her a new Nintendo DS game.

She sobbed and sniffed a little more, but it wasn't too long before she started quizzing me. Could it be a new game and not a used game? Could it be any game she wanted? Could we go get it today after we ran her lines?

Great. Another dilemma. Another parental cave in. After telling her that the point of a reward is to get it at the end so that her cooperation was insured, I decided that I couldn't take looking at her tear-streaked face. I am such a sucker. (Paul will agree with me.) We compromised and she knows that if, at any point, she doesn't cooperate, she will have the game taken away. (And I know I will follow through with that--no problem.)

As I type this, she is sitting on the living room floor trying to figure out how to buy another puppy on Nintendogs: Lab and Friends. In a few minutes, we'll run through her lines again. She needs to practice saying "I vant" instead of "I want." Wish us luck!

13 down, 17 to go

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Readers Have Spoken...

(edited to include a post link)

...but I still haven't made up my mind.

The poll results were pretty much split down the middle, so I guess at least that is validation that this isn't an easy decision to make.

While I was waiting to meet with my grad advisor, I ended up speaking with a professor who is going to be on my project committee.  She suggested taking the research class and using the key project for that class, a lit review, as my review for the project.

Then I met with my advisor who said that the type of review in that class isn't the type of review I need for my project and that the timing might not work.  The research class paper is due toward the end of the semester, but the lit review of my project will be due my mid-March.

See, even my professors can't agree!

I did talk more with professor number one and she did have a good idea for me for my tutoring class.  Instead of working with the wee ones (elementary), I can do an independent study version at a community college.  This would be in addition to the internship I am doing, but it would be more experience AND a professional reference.  The reference is important because I need four references to graduate, two professorial and two professional.  Because I don't currently work in the field, I am a little stymied in that area.  This will fulfill multiple obligations for me.

Thinking about doing work on two different community college campuses (it can't be at the same one) and writing my project has me reconsidering the extra class.  Professor One--who I tell you is so full of insight and behind-the-scenes information--told me she can get me into a cohort with the reading department.  A cohort is a group of teachers who are all going through the program together off site.  The class would be online, but it would be all reading students and taught by a teacher who works well with the reading department.  I think that might be nice.

Thank you all for your input.  It isn't possible to work ahead in the research class, but if I work ahead on the project during the winter break, it would make taking the extra class more possible.  I do need to balance how the family will be affected and not just my own desire to finish.  If I wait, it will only make seven weeks difference.  One week in between the end of the semester and the start of summer school and then six weeks of summer school.  I will finish the first week of July and still have about five weeks off before work begins.  

So, at this point, I haven't officially decided but am not going to register for the class right now. If Professor One can get me into a cohort for the spring AND I make some good progress on my project in the meantime, maybe I will take the class.  By delaying, I'll have a better feel for how I am feeling physically, etc.

red diamonds divider 250 Pictures, Images and Photos

I was going to talk about other stuff today, but felt like I should follow up with the school thing.  I've been having some insomnia, which is a common occurrence during a certain time of the month.  I also have insomnia when there is anything on my mind.  This past week, the disharmonic convergence of both hormones and issues has kept me up some nights.  In the middle of the night, when I am tossing and turning, I am brilliantly eloquent and can think of all sorts of wonderful ways to communicate what I am thinking and feeling.  In the morning?  Not so much.

Will I ever end up writing about it?  I don't know.  I think I am feeling uncomfortable with some of the "discussions" going on in the blog'verse these days.  With all the talk about California and Proposition 8, there has been some language used that I am saddened about.  People are talking about hate and being clever and passionate and emphatic and talking about love and then going on to say that people who voted for Proposition 8 are hateful, unfeeling, unthinking, illogical people.  It is frustrating for me.  Regardless of your position on the issue of same sex marriage and homosexuality, dialog is not encouraged by painting a portrait of so many people with just a few broad strokes.  It does not do credit to either side--at least not to me.  I can only speak for myself.

I did have one very positive experience at one blog friend's place.  I took a chance and stated my thoughts on the issue and she responded wonderfully.  Did I change her mind?  I doubt it.  I wasn't really trying to.  I just wanted to share a different perspective.  Thankfully, she listened, asked some questions and then listened some more.  To my friend: Thank you.  I can't tell you how wonderful that was. 

My insomnia, though, is linked to more than just political issues.  It is also linked to past situations, unresolved relationships.  What the past and politics has in common for me though is the feelings that come up.  I feel silenced--by my own fears and desire to avoid conflict, by the knowledge that sometimes speaking up is not the right thing to do, by my belief that sometimes it just won't do any good.

Can you believe that the personal part of all this is coming up because of Facebook? I keep getting these "You might know so-and-so" messages.  So-and-so's I have issues with.  So-and-so's I never got to have my say with.  I am also reading parts of conversations between people I know and the people they know.  Sometimes those wall-to-wall conversations talk about things that make me angry--or sad--or whatever.  These people are not doing anything wrong. Because of Facebook's open forum, I am eavesdropping in a way.  It has just made me realize how much I have just moved on without thoroughly processing.  There will never be perfect understanding and reconciliation, but I have a responsibility to myself to deal with my feelings. (Kind of sucks, but that's the way it is.)

On a more positive note, here is one man's blog project that I appreciate:


Until tomorrow,



12 down, 18 to go