Thursday, August 28, 2008

I am an old fogie.

I was watching an old Steve McQueen movie today. Bullitt. 1968. As I watched Mr. McQueen muscle car his way around San Francisco, I was reminded of how different my life was growing up from what my children experience.

There were no fax machines. In the movie, they had an old machine that hooked up to a phone and took forever and was huge and has this big spinning drum for getting copies.

There were no ATMs. As the two detectives in the movie search a woman's matching pink leather travel cases, they find traveler's checks. Traveler's checks? I had forgotten all about them. You didn't go visit another state without those. It was one more thing to add to your check list of things to do before you could leave on vacation.

All the women wore hats. Now, I don't really remember a time when the women all wore hats. I was too young. However, when I was little, women wore hats all the time when they went out and everyone dressed up to get on a plane. You wore your Sunday best. Now, you wear whatever you want.

Apparently--and I'll have to compare my recent experience with planes with the plane shown in the film--there was enough aisle room for two people to walk past each other without scooting into a row of seats!!!! That is just too mind blowing for me to imagine. There was Stevie boy, inching his way closer to the bad guy through an entire plane load of passengers going the opposite direction. I think my jaw actually dropped when I saw that one.

And of course, being the good old days, anyone and everyone could just waltz around the airport and on to airplanes with their concealed weapons. Yikes! No X-ray machines, no security lines. Just masses of dressed up people filing into spacious planes potentially carrying guns.

I don't really know the point of this post. It's not like I want to go back to the days of traveler's checks and start wearing pill box hats with matching purses. It was just a huge reminder of how much life has changed in the last 40 years and how much I just take it for granted--and how much at a loss my kids would be if they got magically transported to 1968.


P.S. On a completely unrelated note, I embarassed myself the other day by not realizing ALL DAY LONG that I was wearing my bra inside out. How is that possible?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chatting About Books: A LUE PSA

As with most fields, reading educators have professional organizations. With my plan to focus on postsecondary reading, I have joined the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE) and the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA). I've also joined the International Reading Association (IRA). The IRA publishes several reading journals, hosts conferences each year and publishes Reading Today six times a year with news for reading professionals.

In my most recent copy of Reading Today, there was a piece about Chatting About Books, a free podcast which reviews the best children's literature and includes discussion with parents and children, as well as reading experts. I went to** to check out these podcasts hosted by Emily Manning. Although the entire website is geared toward teachers and other educators, I think parents will find them a great resource for finding new books and hearing ideas about how best to engage your children in reading. The podcasts focus on grades K through 5 and are thematic. Each is approximately 15 minutes long. You can subscribe to them using an RSS feed or iTunes (Just go to the iTunes store on your computer and type in "Chatting about Books" and you can hit subscribe). There are also notes for each episode on the website.

I listened to the poetry episode and loved it. In this particular episode, the guest was Sylvia Vardell, a professor at Texas Woman's University. She has authored POETRY ALOUD HERE, POETRY PEOPLE, and CHILDREN'S LITERATURE IN ACTION. She also has her own blog, Poetry for Children.

The Chatting About Books podcasts are located in the Beyond the Classroom section of under podcasts. Also located on the Beyond the Classroom section of the website is Text Messages, podcasts geared toward reading recommendations for teens.

** is maintained by the IRA and NCTE (the National Council of Teachers of English). It is a non-profit site designed to provide access to the best research-based practices and resources in language arts.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wanted: Blog Recommendations

This is my last Monday of summer vacation. Next Monday I will be obligated to my new Diagnostic and Prescriptive Teaching of Reading class. I will also be taking an online class on the Foundations of Postsecondary Reading and Learning. I spent almost $400 on 7 books for both classes. Yikes! I'm glad I am getting a scholarship this semester. It will cover the cost of the books and a little more.

Between now and then, my goal is to FINALLY finish my case study for the class in which I took an Incomplete. I've had all summer to do it and I've managed to avoid doing it all summer. My school papers, books, etc., from last semester are a mess and it will take a couple of hours of sorting and filing before I can even dig out the old case study notes.

The house is not the worst it has been this year but there is laundry to do, dishes to do (by hand, the dishwasher is busted), bathrooms to clean, etc.


With all that to do and the semester coming up, I thought I'd do some more avoidance by asking for some blog recommendations. What is one blog you read and love that you think I would love to read?

P.S. I've avoided posting this because it has our last name on it, but what the heck. Here's someone I know and love...

Open Mic TV- Paul Bogan

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

You know that old story about the pessimist child and the optimist child who are presented with a room full of manure? The optimist child just knows that given that big pile there's a pony in there somewhere.

Well, I've been thinking about doing a Sleeping with Bread post for quite awhile now but have struggled with what to say. There's the potential for me to dwell on the big pile right now but I know that there's a pony in there somewhere. A pony covered in something smelly, maybe, but a pony nonetheless.

Without further adieu...

So far this year, what has left you feeling like your glass is half empty?

I feel like I am looking at a system-wide failure right now. Physically, I haven't exercised in months and months. School was so time and energy consuming AND I didn't have someone to exercise with due to conflicting schedules. Combined with my sleep apnea therapy not working out for months and I am something of a wreck. I've gained quite a bit of weight since December and I just don't feel good about how I feel or how I look. Blech!

Spiritually, I am in the same boat. I have not paid attention to my spiritual formation and it shows. Maybe not to the general onlooker, but it shows to me and I feel somewhat paralyzed to address the issue.

In regards to relationships, I am a weak participant on almost every level. I've become somewhat isolated due to my lack of energy and time. Although I have more time now that school is out, I am such a sloth that I am not making much effort to connect with people.

(Are you getting sick of this whining yet? I promise I am going to move on to more positive stuff soon!)

My dad died this year. It is a situation and history so complex that a Gordian Knot is the best metaphor to describe it. The story continues to add to its complexity with the administration, or rather, attempted administration of the trust. Additionally, this summer, I have been dealing with other family issues. Junk from the past. Nothing new going on--just reminders of what has been.

Finally, we've been dealing with some issues with my son's jaw. It started locking up and wouldn't you know it, he is one of less than 5 percent of people who complete orthodontic work with potential TMJ problems. It just kills me that he has to deal with this and until we know for sure (and it is very likely) that he won't need surgical intervention, I'm not going to be at ease.

I was talking with a friend the other day about all of this and I remembered the Undertoad from The World According to Garp. All of this stuff combined makes me feel like the Undertoad is there, lurking in the waves, waiting for me.

Okay, finally...

What in the last year has left you feeling like your glass is half full?

Paul has been incredibly patient and understanding through the whole "year of getting used to grad school." He values, I think, what I am doing and what it means to me and how it can benefit our family.

Colin has been a pleasure this year. Of course, he is a teenager, so we're not talking perfection here. Beyond some stereotypical conflicts with grades, sibling interaction and what not, I have been very proud to see how he has been handling himself. He's been great about his license and is taking the privilege of driving very seriously. We've had some conversations about Life, the Universe and Everything and I have to say, he has impressed me with his insights and outlook. There are definitely some areas in which he is farther along at 16 than I was. He's a kid who inspires trust.

Marley is growing up. I love watching her change as her body and mind continue to grow. She is back in gymnastics and I get such a kick out of what she can do. She has had the opportunity this summer to meet family who are about her age and spend lots of time with friends. She is eager to enjoy her life and although that can be exhausting for Paul and I at times, I love her joie de vivre.

School has gone well. I've learned a lot and met a lot of great people. I went into this program with an idea that I would enjoy and am thrilled to find that I not only enjoy it, I think I am going to be good at it... once I am finished. I still have a year to go and I won't finish in May 09 as I planned. Instead, due to a scheduling problem with some classes, I will finish in July 09. No worries. I may not get to walk for commencement but I will get to look for work for the fall.

So, while there is lots of stuff which is weighing me down somewhat, there is still so much to be grateful for. And... so much of this stuff is within my power to change. I can exercise, I can pay attention to my spiritual formation, etc. If I can work on some of those changes, the balance can be shifted significantly and I won't be look at a glass half full OR empty, but a glass that is simply full and overflowing.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Artichoke of Great Neglect

Well, I am trying to post on a more regular basis but am at a loss for words today. I think I've lost my blogging mojo and I need to blog more to get it back... but I am at a loss for words... (Is this Groundhogs Day enough for you?)

Anyway... I did try to write a clever post about my morning in Jury Assembly Room 3 at the Orange County Courthouse but it just didn't work. (I can say that Jury Assembly Room 3 sports some comfy chairs, free wireless, shows movies during the lunch break, and is conveniently located right next to the cafeteria. Also, the judge who welcomed us must work on the side as a Baptist preacher. He was quite the speaker and advocate for our jurisprudence system.)

So... I must blog. I... must... blog... (and use as many ellipses as possible!) Hence, I give you pictures of my greatest gardening accomplishment--which came through my greatest gardening neglect. Never watered, never fertilized, never tended beyond its first potting. I present to you...

the Artichoke of Great Neglect. (I'm sure my offer for a gardening show on The Learning Channel is in the mail!)