Friday, October 31, 2008

My Cheerless Leader

Marley and Paul went to Target a couple of weeks ago to get a poodle skirt so that Marley could be a 50's girl for Halloween.

Somehow we ended up with this:

From The Cheerless Leader

Okay... it isn't our usual thing, but what the heck. What better time than Halloween for a cheerleader with no cheer?

Here are a few pictures from our night (the previous one was from last night when she went to the local farmer's market with some friends):

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: Connectivity

One day late and two interim posts later, I am finally getting this post written. As I look over the questions, I am struggling a little to settle on a set. The week is a little hazy. One highlight stands out, so I think I will use it to get this post going.

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

10 years ago, I started a small group at my church. It was intended to be a family group with the kids having joining the adults for part of the time and having their own little group the rest of the night. The group eventually grew fairly large and the joke around church was that it was its own church. More time passed the the group shrank (shrunk?). There were about five families who stayed together, though, until the last year and a half. Since then, kids' schedules, overwhelming jobs, you name it, it just became too difficult to get together. So I officially pulled the plug a few weeks ago. Everyone was sad but everyone was just holding on because of the history and relationship and we all knew it was time to let go.

Saturday night, a few of us got together for a potluck. It was a relaxing time of talking, eating BBQ tri-tip, kids running around. You know that feeling you get when you walk in the door after a day of work or come home from vacation. That sense of "Ahhhhhhhh." That's what it felt like. Coming home.

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

I think I am feeling a general sense of disconnectedness these days. One of my main ways of keeping in touch with people was the phone. It just doesn't work that way right now. I go days and weeks without talking to close friends. My grad classes, which were providing me with a new circle of friends, aren't providing that this semester. One class is online and the other one is tutoring and lecture with no real breaks. By the time we get out of 3 1/2 hours of class, we all head home as quickly as possible. On top of that, Paul was out of town all week. It is much easier to deal with his trips now that the kids are older, however, it was one less adult to interact with. I need people!!!

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Don't forget to check out other Sleeping with Bread posts here. We've had some new participants in the last couple of weeks. Why don't you go see what they have to share.

A Good Enough Reason

Is liking the cover of a book a good enough reason for buying one?

I was over at buying the next book for one of my book clubs, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. One of his other books also popped up, When You are Engulfed in Flames. The picture on the cover is a Van Gogh painting. I believe it was a study during his time at art school. I saw the actual painting when it was at Los Angeles with that big Van Gogh exhibit that toured about 10 years ago.

Anyway... I loved the painting, I love Van Gogh's work, et cetera, et cetera.  

Still, is that a good enough reason to buy the book?

P.S.  I am still planning on that Sleeping with Bread post.  

Monday, October 27, 2008

LUE Blog Bits and Bobs

I will be writing a Sleeping with Bread post later tonight, but first I have a few odds and ends to tidy up.

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I ran my first poll over the last week.  An astounding seven responses!  Who knew?  In answer to the question of how a blogger should respond to comments, it is a tie!  What a relief.  Since I get to be the tie breaker, I vote for replying in the comments.  Now I don't have to figure out how to get a skywriter to reply in all parts of the U.S. and some of Canada.  I don't think I have the budget for that.

Stay tuned for new, even more thrilling polls.

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I am somewhat regretting my last post.  Do they have Blog Goggles?  Do you know that mail thing you can set up for gmail now?  When you try to send an email at times you designate, it gives you a sobriety test.  If you fail, it won't send the email.  I wasn't drunk when I wrote that post, but I should have known better than to post anything political so close to the election.  I had to delete one nasty, nasty anonymous comment... and well, it is just frustrating.  I wasn't trying to promote McCain or Obama and I don't want to have that conversation here... so I just should have said nothing.

I should have forced myself into that sensibility armor after all.

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In completely unrelated news, all my word verifications that I have come across today are decodable.  By that, I mean I can "read" them. Granted, they are nonsense words, but still.  Isn't that wierd?  Here are the words:  Tableche, Evilis, Pesse, Polsan, Caila, Pines (that's an actual word!)  Is the universe sending me a message?  I don't know.

red line Pictures, Images and Photos

I think that is it.  I'm off to the real world now.  Like I said, I will be back late this evening with my bread post.  In the meantime, have a great day!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Electoral Two Cents: the Ideal versus the Sensible

I am a born idealist.  I want things to be the way they should be.  However, being an idealist in this world is painful.  Very painful.

I am emotionally sensitive (too sensitive).  I hate conflict.  I am passionate about the things I care about.  Being emotionally sensitive, conflict-avoidant and passionate about issues makes maneuvering through this world difficult.  Very difficult.

I have developed a few coping mechanisms.  Chiefly, I have become a "sensible" person.  Sensible is not in my nature but it is now second nature to me.  I like it.  During an election year, though, my sensibility armor fails me.  (It sounds like a superhero device, doesn't it?)  You might think that is because of the issues.  No, it is because of two things:  the facts--more accurately, the lack of facts--and the behavior of the louder voices in the arena.

I know I am not the only person who is dismayed by the tenor of the political debate.  One of my favorite bloggers (of all time) recently wrote:

"This is the first election that I've witnessed and consumed via blogs. It's been shocking to watch bloggers face off over the blue/red line of US politics, while decency and respect falls into the chasm that separates them."**

I was so, I don't know, comforted to read that someone else is disconcerted by the rhetoric.  I understand the passion behind the rhetoric, but I wonder--pardon my simplistic attitude--if some of us overheard our children talking about people that way, would we condone it?  Most people I know go through great lengths to teach their children to think, speak, and behave toward others in humane ways.  Why can't we do the same toward those who have different political beliefs?

Lately I've had a song going through my head...

In Europe and America,
Theres a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you
I don;t subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

Sting wrote that song at a time when we were still concerned about a direct conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.   I kept wondering why I was thinking of that song right now.  It is rather obvious, though, isn't it.  We have our own Cold War going on in this country.  There is a tendency to act as if "the other side" is inhumane, unpatriotic, unfeeling, and malicious.

The good thing is I don't believe most of us act that way to one another in our "regular" lives.  My neighbor on one side of me might have an Obama sign up and on the other side one might have a McCain sign up.  I do not think it would affect their basic treatment of each other.  At least, I hope not.

The other issue that troubles me during this election season?  Facts.  There are places for you to check the facts.  One place is  Some of the news organizations will also do that after a debate.

I hate it.   

What???  How can I hate that?  Well, it's easy.  I hate it because it is necessary to have these fact checking sessions.  I can't stand that I live in a world that accepts the distortions of election campaigns.  There are no non-offenders here, too.  I noticed a website yesterday that has a McCain Lie Counter.  I cannot respect that.  Both sides have misrepresented information.  If you are going to represent your side as a side that has the ethical high ground, you better be honest yourself.  (I don't want to hear the "McCain has told more lies than Obama" argument on this one.  A liar is a liar.)  If you place a lie counter on your site, it should show the mispresentations of both sides.

Over two years ago, I wrote this:

"Sometime during the last presidential election with its usual onslaught of name-calling, fact-blurring loveliness, I had a dream. (I really did.) In this dream, I decided to start my own political party. I can't remember the actual name I was going to give it but it had something to do with being the Party of Reasonable People. We would not have any political platform other than committing to being rational and kind in our dealings. I realize this is more of a club than a political party, but it was a dream, after all. The Party of Reasonable People would be a grassroots movement that would sweep the nation. No matter what side of an issue you were on, you would have the reassurance that you could agree to disagree and there would be no hate-mongering.

I woke up that morning with an incredible sense of well-being. All warm and fuzzy inside, it took a minute or two for reality to sink in. I was crushed. It was only a dream and I knew, in my heart of hearts--as a good, old southern minister might say--that it would never come true."

Sadly, I still think that my dream will never come true.   I would rather my idealistic energy be used talking about the issues, but I have found few outlets for reasoned discussion.  My sensibility armor may fail me entirely this year for I am seriously considering not voting for President in the coming election.##  My idealism might not be able to be quenched enough this year.

**I haven't referenced the specific blogger for a reason.  She knows why.  Favorite Blogger:  if you want me to give credit where it is most deservedly due, let me know.

##I would not abandon the voting process altogether.  Local issues, propositions, positions, etc., I would still vote for.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Unforgettable Firsts

I am reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett for one of my bookclubs.  (I am only in two.)  I was struck by the first line of the book:

"When the lights went off, the accompanist kissed her."

What a great first line.  It leads to all sorts of questions.  

"Kissed who?"

"Why did the lights go off?"

"Did he kiss her because the lights went off?"

Immediately you want answers to your questions.  That line draws you in.

It reminded me of another one of my favorite first lines from Charles Williams' War in Heaven:

"The telephone bell was ringing wildly, but without result, since there was no-one in the room except the corpse."

You get a picture in your head right away of this scene and again, it raises questions and draws you in to the story.  It also made me want to answer that phone!

There are some very famous first lines in novels:

"Call me Ishmael."

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Anyone have trouble connecting those first lines with the novels they come from?  I didn't think so.

This first line rumination got me, well, ruminating some more...

What are some of your favorite first lines in novels, short stories, non-fiction?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole

First Blogger, then occasional flirtings with MySpace.  A renewed relationship with Facebook.  And now?  Now I'm checkin' out Twitter.  I might as well just get in line to have my consciousness transferred to the web.  

I'm a hopeless case.

If you are a hopeless case... or at least a Twitter user, click on my Twitter badge and connect with me.  Right now it's just me!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: with Gratitude and a Little Less Whining than Usual (Just a Wee Bit Less!)

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling so fragmented.  I could almost close my eyes and see reflections of myself in a million pieces of broken mirror.

Last week, I couldn't even pull myself up out of my physical misery to explore the consolations I knew were there.

This week? I am better.  Much better.

Oh, I am still feeling fragmented, but not to the same extent.  And the consolations I asked my blog friends to provide for me?  Just awesome.  From appreciating that I have no children in diapers (and that I am not yet in them) to a lovely anonymous comment about my ability to self-reflect and everything in between.  It was so uplifting and, yes, consoling.  Thanks everyone!

My only real issue with Sleeping with Bread this week is how late it is.  Mondays, for this semester at least, are marathon days.  I spend the day reading, writing theory to practice cards, scrambling to create a lesson plan for tutoring... and THEN I go to tutor for an hour before sitting through 2 1/2 hours of lecture and discussion.

Are you tired?  'Cuz that makes me tired just writing it!  Still, I persevere.  I will keep it simple, though.

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

  • You guys!  Thanks for reading my angsty posts and writing nice things in my comments.
  • Marley.  For the last few months Paul and I are just amazed at how she is growing up.  She was soooo happy making those cakes.  That happiness is just typical of how excited she gets about so many things, friends, fabric painting shirts, making fondant icing, doing gymnastics, the Naked Brothers Band show.  The list goes on.
  • The rest of the fam.  I am fortunate that I have the family I do.  And we are all well and healthy. I am very grateful for that.
  • No migraines!  
  • Sleeping with Bread.  The meme is going well.  We are getting a few contributers each week and it seems like new people are finding it.
  • A new due date on a paper.  My online class professor changed a due date from this Wednesday the 22nd to Sunday, the 26th.  Paul is out of town, there is a chili dinner fundraiser this week for Marley's class and I have done hardly any reading for the paper.  Thank you Dr. 505!
  • Life on Mars.  Love that show!
  • My bed.  I'm sitting on it as I type this and I am sooooo looking forward to going to bed and sleeping tonight.

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

Wow... I am actually having a hard time thinking of stuff.  Let's see.  I guess it is just the usual.  I'm not eating right, exercising, or sleeping like I should.  Same broken record.  But right now, that's pretty much it.

I guess I have something else to be grateful for.

If you are interested, there are more Sleeping with Bread posts linked up here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Angst and Icing

Somehow, I started typing this post to share a project Marley and I worked on last night and I keep backspacing to delete all the parental, existential angst that keeps coming out instead.

Only I could manage angst out of icing.

Last year at the school carnival, I was talking with one of Marley's teachers and the subject of right brain versus left brain preference came up. I am decidedly a right brain, metaphor happy, start with the biggest picture before zeroing in to make a point, person. Thus, angst and icing.

So, I will try to summarize. Marley and I made cakes with fondant icing. I wish I was the kind of mom who did this kind of thing for her more often. Done.

The cakes:

After several episodes of Amazing Cakes (WE tv), she has been rabid to bake a cake. I looked up a recipe for fondant icing, whipped out a boxed cake mix and lo, please watch a slideshow of our creative process and the resulting creations:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dear Anonymous

Yes, my brain is boggled a bit trying to figure out who you are! I hope you will let me know your identity. I don't know if it qualifies as playing catch up with long lost friends if it is only one way!

Regardless, thank you for the lovely comment.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pause and Consider

In the blogosphere there are many neighborhoods.  There is the mommy blogger neighborhood, the autism neighborhood, the political neighborhood, the green neighborhood.  The list goes on and on. In my recent travels through the blogosphere, I came across a new neighborhood recently.

The neighborhood of infertility and pregnancy loss.

Unfortunately, it appears to be a fairly large place to live.  One neighbor I've been getting to know there is Antigone.  Her blog is called Antigone Lost. Antigone's blog packs a power punch as she shares her life story.  It is heartbreaking at times, but it is also full of joy as she chronicles her current pregnancy.  She is about 27 weeks along with a little boy whose blog nickname is Perseus.

October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Remembrance Day in the United States.  Here is a quote from a September 30th post on Antigone Lost:

October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in the United States. More than 25,000 children are stillborn in the United States every year leaving mothers, entire families and communities devastated. Estimates of the rate of occurrence of stillbirth make it at least as common as autism.

Stillbirth is not an intractable problem. Greater research would likely significantly reduce its incidence, but good research requires good data. H.R. 5979: Stillbirth Awareness and Research Act is under consideration by Congress. This proposed bill would standardize stillbirth investigation and diagnosis, thus providing more data for the needed research. Better research means fewer children born still.

While I haven't been personally affected by stillbirth, I did have a miscarriage almost 19 years ago and I know several people who have lost little ones at mid and late stages in their pregnancies.  I encourage you to take a moment to read Antigone's post in remembrance of the losses people have suffered and in support of the Stillbirth Awareness and Research Act.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: In which, YOU, the reader, participate.

I was cruising through my Google reader and read a post by Here in Idaho's Will (who I assume is Mr. Here in Idaho). Will has started a bloggy art project called The Satisfied. It is a happiness project. You should go check it out. I did. But I realized that right now--today--in this moment, I didn't have any satisfaction to share.

I'm cranky. So I will post my Satisfied another day. However, I still have a Sleeping with Bread post to write. A post that is supposed to look at both consolation and desolation. But I can't--look at both today. I don't have it in me.

Oh, don't worry. It isn't that serious. I just... well, let me get to the desolation bit and we'll go from there.

In the last week, what has caused you to feel desolate?

Migraine. Migraine. Oh, and migraine again. Now, the actual "migraine" came and went on Thursday night. However, this particular migraine hangover has been pretty nasty. I am unreasonably irritable. My tummy hurts. I am exhausted. I am emotional. It has come and gone in waves from Friday through last night. Yesterday I really thought that I was gearing up for a second headache. It didn't happen, but I am concerned that it is going to.

And I don't have time for that this week. I have tutoring today. My case study (from last semester!!!) to work on. I have a paper due next week for my online class. Oh yeah. I have a family to take care of, too. The lion's share of that job has been falling on Paul.

It is taking all my focus.  

So now we come to the reader participation portion of this post.  You either know me from reading this blog or from real life.  I need some consolations.  I just don't have the mental acuity to write my own right now.  But I know they are there.  Not "feeling" them or not having the energy to focus on them does not remove their presence from my life.

So friends, I would be most obliged if you would leave me a consolation in my comments.  It can be a big picture thing, i.e., the sun is shining, whatever OR it can be something specific to my life that you have gleaned from knowing me, through this blog or real life.

I'd appreciate it.

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Don't forget to go check out the Sleeping with Bread blog to read what others are sharing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Posting Under the Influence. . .

. . . of a migraine hangover.  And yes, that is a real term, too.  Also known as migraine postdrome

Anyway, I am better today, but yes, still feeling fatigued, irritable, emotional, etc.

So. . . remember that when you read the following:


What is really laughable is that because the picture is incredibly discreet, all people can say is that she is apparently breastfeeding.  Apparently.

This is not news.

It might have been news 50 years ago.  A woman breastfeeding on the cover of a magazine.  It should not be news today... especially because you can't see anything!!!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Migraine Primer

M is for Mental Tasks, as in difficulty performing

I is for Irritability, as in my family is on the receiving end of

G is for Gastric Stasis (yes, a real term), my tummy shuts down

R is for Rabbit Hole, as in rumor has it Lewis Carroll had migraines and pasages in Alice in Wonderland describe them

A is for Aura and Appetite, as in lack of

I is for d-I-zzy, as in. . . Wait!  that doesn't work. Oh yeah!  Go back to M is for Mental Tasks, as in difficulty performing

N is for Nausea, as in "at least I'm not vomiting"

E is for Energy, as in I have no energy

S is for Suck.  Migraines suck!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sleeping with Bread: Just Under the Wire

Whew! After a long day of schooling, first prepping and then actually attending. . . I am home, fed, pajama'd and ready to bake some bread.

The question which is popping out at me tonight has to do with feeling whole and fragmented. The problem is, while there were definitely good things to the week, I can't say there was a feeling of wholeness. Fragmented? Yes. Whole? No.

I guess I am going to have to lose some of the Examen's normal symmetry.

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

All the time. Schoolwork is looming over me. I just need my own personal film score playing discordant, anxiety-inducing music whenever I think about what I need to do.

In general, my moods are somewhat erratic right now. My brain:

Hey! Everything is lovely and beautiful!!! 

Ten minutes later...

Hey! There is no end to this dreary existence!

It is just ridiculous.  There is a part of me which hovers above all this, as if I'm astral projecting, which understands this emotional turbulence.  It's hormones, it's sleep deprivation, it's yada, yada, yada.  Living through it, though is not fun.

However, not all the fragments of life are bad right now if I just take a good look.  So...

When in the last week did I feel most grateful?

When my daughter's teacher told me how much Marley is blossoming this year.  She participating in class discussions.  She's being a model and leader in class.  She is engaged in her reading (at school, at least).

Keeping to the education theme, Marley has her own little blog.  She's had it for awhile, but now that I've "Hannah Montana'd" the blog template, she's been more excited about it.  Her teachers, going above and beyond the call of duty, have been faithfully reading and commenting on it. (As well as some family and friends.) How great is that?  Do you know how excited a kid can get when she hears that her teacher just left a comment?  Very excited!  

These are the same teachers who host the Lunch Bunch every Friday.  The third grade girls all get to eat lunch with the teachers and talk.  I asked Marley what they talk about and she said, "Oh, we talk about what is good that is going on and what is bad that is going on."  It's her own little elementary school version of the Examen!!!  Again, teachers who are going above and beyond the call.

I did more exercise last week than I have in weeks.  Two good sessions on the treadmill and one good housecleaning workout.  (I know most people do the housecleaning thing all the time.  I don't--so it counts!)

Let's see...  I know there is more to the past week to be grateful for.  My brain and body are shutting down.  Two chapters on the 6D Model of Reading, one theory to practice card, one lesson plan for tutoring, one tutoring session, one scoring of an Informal Reading Inventory, and two and a half hours of lecture/discussion.  Yeah.  I'm brain-dead.

So, here's to this week, to appreciating the good stuff and having the strength to deal with the bad stuff.



Don't forget to check out the other SWB posts!!!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

It's Time for Some Bing Bing!!!

(For illumination on the Bing Bing reference, watch this.)

Terri B. over at Tip of the Iceberg gave me this little bit of bloggy love last week. Thanks Terri!!

As is the usual custom with blog love, when you receive some, it is polite to give some.  In this case, the "You Make Me Enjoy Blogging!" award suggests giving some love to three other bloggers.  And, since it is in bad blogger form to turn around and give back an award to the awarder, I can't give this one to Terri.

I do enjoy blogging because of Terri, though.  She and I started blogging around the same time and with the same purpose in mind.  Since that time, though, she and I--true to our natures--have gone in different directions.  I write on the fly about whatever enters my mind.  I do have some intentionality, Sleeping with Bread posts, etc., but generally, I'm an off-the-cuff girl.

Terri, on the other hand, is very thoughtful and deliberate in her posts.  She has slowly but surely found her blogging voice.  Not surprisingly, if you know her, it has a lot to do with books.  She writes great book reviews and has become an early reviewer for groups like Library Thing.  She has even posted her first author interview.  If you are looking for a good book to read, check out her reviews.  Her taste is eclectic enough that I think you'll find something you'll enjoy.

So, now that I've got my sneaky awarding-the-award-without-really-awarding-the-award out of the way, here are the official "winners."

For becoming a real friend, even if we don't "talk" that often, the YMMEB goes to...

Atypical of nonsensical text.  We live on opposite coasts.  She's an introvert.  I'm an extrovert. (Yes, even in blogging it shows!)  Somehow, though, we've figured out our brains are quite alike and it sometimes seems like it would be easier to just point you to any one of her posts to describe how I think or feel about something.  Our running joke is that we are twin daughters of different mothers.  

In the category of "You make me feel like dancing laughing," the YMMEB goes to...

Jozet at Halushki.  To read Jozet is to love her and laugh--at her, with her, at others.  Somehow or another, you will laugh.  I don't know what else to say except that when I read her, I invariably laugh.  Out loud.

And our last award of the post, for the most unique voice in my blogging world...

Beck over at Frog and Toad are Still Friends.  Beck has it all.  She will make you think.  She will make you laugh.  She will make you cry.  She will make you hungry. (Her food posts are yummy!)  She is both commonsense and whimsy.  And she does all this in her very own voice, which I have started calling Beckian.  Most of you may know her already.  If you don't, I suggest you click on over there right away.

As with any blog award, there are many others in my Google reader who I would love to give this award to.  I have chosen just three out of about 59 blogs I currently read.  If reading them didn't make me enjoy blogging, I wouldn't read them.

Have a great weekend everyone!