Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Review in Pictures

Talia's birthday cake
Zoe's birthday cake

Family photo at the end of January
Playdough art by the kids in February

More playdough art

School art by Aaron
Melina at ballet (in the blue stripes) in March

Sock hop!
Coloring eggs in April
Milk mustache in May
Fun with friends (I) in June

Fun with friends (II) in June

Walloon Lake sand building

Porch sitting at the cottage at Walloon Lake
Melina's July birthday
Fun with a new cousin
Back to school in August
Melina heads back to school in September
Aaron in the basement lab in October

Climbing a tree (Talia)

Hide and seek (Zoe)
Aaron's birthday cake on November 1

Sharing Aaron's loot

Fun at a local metro park
Merry  Christmas!

Silly kids

This year is dedicated to our dear friend, Ferdinand.  We miss you, buddy!
Ferdinand, 1999-2012


Happy New Year to you all!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Boob Tube

Talia:  Mom, can, um, can Zoe and I watch TV?
Me:  Yes.  Fifteen minutes and only 15 minutes.
Talia:  Fifteen minutes?
Me:  Yes.
Talia:  Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on your car insurance.
Me:  Obviously, even 15 minutes is too much.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Car Envy

I drive an old Oldsmobile.  It isn't too old, but it is a 2001 model with over 100,000 miles on it.  Actually, when you think about how old it is, I find it remarkable that it has just over 100,000 miles on it and not more.  However, even better than being old and an Oldsmobile is that the car I drive is a MINIVAN.  I have four kids.  It really is no surprise that I drive a such a car.  But put MINIVAN and OLDSMOBILE in the same sentence, and that sentence just screams soccer mom or some other phrase that makes me cringe.

Someday, I plan on driving something more sporty, more fun, more in line with what I consider to be my personality.  I haven't looked around, considering I'll be wedded to the MINIVAN for years to come, but yesterday, for 45 seconds, I had a glimpse of the future.  A sleek sedan with heated seats and zero crumbs.  No Trader Joe's stickers on the windows, and I could actually see the floor, which was clean.  The brakes worked well, as did the accelerator, and the feel of the wheel in my hands was awesome.

Here's the story:

I was out running along a main drag near my home.  I happened by a long line of stores, some just opening, some still closed, and a Starbucks serving coffee to all the sleep deprived people that needed to drag themselves into work.  As I approached the corner, a little past Starbucks, I looked to the left.  There was a car that had front ended a mound of snow, and a driver trying to dig said car out.

"Do you need any help?" I shouted as I ran close.  "I'm not that strong, but I can do something."

"Well, yes.  Actually, if you get in and drive the car, I think I can push it out.  I just got rid of the last of the snow in front of the car."

"It's an automatic, right?  Then okay, I can do that," I said, as I hopped into the BMW.  I put the car in low, as instructed, and left the door open, partially so I could hear the guy when he was behind the car and partially so I wouldn't get trapped in a car.  I am a wary and cautious runner, after all.

"Go ahead and give it some gas," the man yelled.  I stepped on the accelerator, lightly, and we moved forward slowly.  I gave the car a bit more fuel, and we progressed further.  "Head that way," he hollered and I turned the car a bit to the right so as to maneuver it onto a clean street. 

Once the car was completely out, I placed the car in park, and exited the vehicle.

"Thanks," the man said. "I know it isn't fun stopping a run."

"Hey, you are welcome.  I got to help someone.  That's even better," I replied, as I ran off down the street.

Forty-five seconds at the most.

And now, I want a new car.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Greats

This has been a GREAT Christmas already, rife with much emotion.

As in...

Oh, GREAT!  We don't have to travel anywhere (relief).

Oh, GREAT!  Marco's is open and I don't have to cook Christmas Eve dinner before heading out for the children's mass (thankful).

The girls look and sound GREAT at mass, singing with the chorus (pride).

What do you mean?  Santa came while we were at church?  How GREAT is that?  So very cool, I think (happiness).

Hey, Tim, the kids are in bed now.  All of them.  It would be a GREAT time for sharing some Christmas joy, if you know what I mean (insert inappropriate feeling here).

It's 5:40 am.  What are you awake for?  Oh.  You threw up?  GREAT, just GREAT (sarcasm, but I probably didn't need to tell you that).

Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Busy-ness

Happy Christmas Eve! 

The kids are so stoked (yes, that is exactly how I would describe it) that Christmas is finally arriving that I haven't been able to sit and write about my thoughts.

And considering we need to leave here by 4 pm this afternoon to hear the girls sing at mass, I won't be doing any writing now, either.

So I hope you and your family, if you indeed celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful and very merry day.  And if you don't celebrate it, I hope you have a very peaceful and quiet day.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's a Wrap!

My semester ended on the 15th.  I gave my finals and took a few days to peruse the dismal grades.  In the end, with the extra credit I gave, the students of both classes managed to squeak out an acceptable grade distribution.  

However, as with any semester, there are some students who just aren't happy with their grades, and they want to blame the instructor.  This is the email I received from one young lady.
I was under the impression that you were going to curve the grades at the end of the semester? I was only wondering because my grade is so close to a B and was still holding out hope that I could make it to the B.
My reply?
I repeatedly stated over the course of the semester that I have to wait until the end of the course to see if a curve is needed.  Usually, the grades even themselves out due to the extra credit that I give.  In some circumstances, I do need to curve.  So far, based on the grades I am seeing, I probably will not have to, but I am still in the process of looking at the grades.  

I see that you did not turn in the two extra credit assignments that I posted [20 points total as mandated by the department].  Had you done those and gotten full credit, you might have been a little closer to the cut off.  I would keep that in mind for next semester when the instructor posts extra credit.  If I am mistaken and you sent those items to me electronically, you need to forward the email you originally sent with the time and date stamp on it, and I will put them in the gradebook.

Let me say to you that at the beginning of the semester, when I introduce myself, I tell the students that much of the class is conducted electronically.  I post updates, reminders, and grades online, as well as make links and class assignments available.  In addition, the extra credit opportunities are posted on the course website.  We were together for 16 weeks.  If the student had a problem with those policies, she had plenty of time to speak up and tell me about it.  Instead, this is what she said:
I did not do the extra credit. I do not own a computer, so the electronically sent extra credit I was normally not aware of.
Way to pass the buck.  She's stuck with a C.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Magic 8 Ball

In our living room on Thursday morning...

"Will I be a ninja?  Will I be a ninja?  Will I be a ninja?" Melina chanted, shaking the Magic 8 Ball.  Someone must have told her to repeat the phrase 3 times.  I looked up to see Melina staring, with a furrowed brow, at the ball. "This isn't doing anything!  Mom, can you help?  What does this say?"

"Bring it over here, honey, so I can look."  I was a few steps away, so she made it over in one second.  Melina handed me the Magic 8 ball.  The light was dim, and with the cloud cover and rain yesterday, there was no light coming through the windows.   "Uh, I can't see it.  Hold on a moment.  Let me finish this up and I'll help you."

Melina took the ball, headed back to the chair she had just vacated and started shaking the ball again.
"Why can't my mom see it?  Why can't my mom see it?  Why can't my mom see it?" she said.

I just shook my head and laughed.  

 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hi!

Melina is almost 4.5 years old.  She has been speaking clearly for a very long time, and has known and used the word Hi, since before she was 1 year old.
Melina:  Hi!
Me: Hi to you, too!
Melina:  Mom, what does Hi mean?
Me:  Hi?  You know what that means.
Melina:  Well, I don't really think that I do.
Me:  Well, it is a greeting.  It is something you say when you see someone.  You know?  As in, Hi, how are you doing?
Melina:  Well, no, I really don't think I know what it means.
Me:  ...Um...Okay.
I stood in the kitchen and looked at her.  Just looked at her.  I had nothing else to say.  I think sometimes she is teasing me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hard Copy

Today, my loving husband thought he'd be helpful and send me this message:
If you don't feel like shopping the book around to publishing houses, there's always this option:
Love,
Timmmie
The book to which he is referring is my Harvey story, the one I lovingly call Jupiter Girl, because I have not yet come up with a better title.  And no, Tim didn't misspell his name in the closing.  From the get go, he's always put the extra m in there.  I think it was his way of being quirky way back when we were dating.  Perhaps I should have realized he is just weird.  But that is, of course, for another post.
 
So of course his email intrigued me.  It made me think of what my long term goal is.  Why, pray tell, am I writing this novel?  Good question, don't you think?
 
I don't have a lot of answers these days, but I do have the answer to that particular question.  I am writing this novel because I want to.  I have a story in my head and I want to tell it.  I want to share my ideas with other people, and I want for kids to smile when they read the mission Laney Rollins goes on and think, Huh, that was a good story.  The novel doesn't need to win any awards, but I'd like for it to be well-written, and a good story, plus I'd like to hold it in my hand.  A real book, with real pages, published by a true publishing house.   
 
Which means, I might not go down the road to which Tim refers in the link above, but I thought I'd provide it anyway, for those of you who might be interested in trying to capture the ebook market.  Good luck! 
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vacation Time

The kids are done with school this Friday, December 21st, for two weeks.

"Yes!" one of them yelled.  "Vacation!  I can sleep in!"  Knowing that, it had to be one of the girls.  Melina and Aaron especially don't do anything close to sleeping in later than 6:30 am. 

"Cool," the other said, an enormous grin breaking out on her face.

"Cool for you, anyway," I replied.  The tone of my voice must have alerted the twins to something, for both of their heads jerked my way.  "I don't get a vacation."

"You don't?" They both said.  I wanted to say jinx, but I declined.

"Nope.  I still need to get up every day and take care of you guys, right?  I might not be teaching, but what job do you think is more difficult?"

"Oh.  Yeah.  And daddy doesn't get a vacation, either," Zoe said.  "He only has Christmas Day off."

"That's right," I replied. 

I thought maybe this conversation would then meander into how the kids are lucky to have some time off; how the kids could be more helpful during their vacations, since it would be the right thing to help me out and give me somewhat of a vacation; how we could make plans to have a great vacation with perhaps everyone sleeping in a bit.  But in classic kid style, the conversation screeched to a halt and abruptly turned in the opposite direction. 

"Mom! We have this new song.  We need to sing it to you.  By the way, we made it up," Zoe said.

"And it goes to the tune of the Backyardigans' Ready for Anything," Talia added.

If you haven't heard that song, this is how the original lyrics read (thank you, Metro lyrics):

We brought lots
And lots of gear
Let's go down the list
And make sure it's all here

Maps and shovels, check
Cables and ropes, check
Flashlight and sneakers, check
Bubble bath soap, check

We're ready for anything,
Anything, anything

And here is the girls rendition:
 
We brought lots
And lots of beer
Let's go down the list
And make sure it's all here
 
Budweiser Light, check
Michelob Light, check
Rolling Rock and Coors, check
Yuengling, Bell's, check

We're ready for anything,
Anything, anything

Yes, my sweet little innocent girls sang this.  I'm sure Aunt  Tara would be proud, but now I'm really ready for some vacation time!
 
 
 
 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tested

Didn't that last post just make you wonder?  What could possibly keep me from spouting something?  I mean, I'm the one that talks about everything:  from chin hairs to books to social commentary.  And I'm sure you were asking yourself how I could put you on hold, right?  Admit it, you waited with bated breath.  FRN, I know you did.  Well, read on, but do not judge.

The short story is this:  I took a pregnancy test.

I usually don't need to take pregnancy tests.  We've had this conversation before, the blog and I, but let me remind you that my cycle is a pretty regular textbook type of 28 days.  Well, it used to be anyway, and once I knew the signs and symptoms of ovulation and all the rest, it was pretty easy to not get pregnant.  Until Melina.  The anomaly.  The one conceived even when there were no signs of ovulation.  The result of a union on day 6 when I never ovulated before day 15 (did I forget to mention that there would be some TMI in this post?)  Our miracle baby.

While I cannot imagine a life without Melina (who can, really), since that time, I won't let Tim near me without proper protection.  I don't care if ovulation occurred 5 days ago. If I am not a day or two away from my period, the hat must stay on.  But a little while ago, 9 days to be exact, the hat did not need to stay on.  And so it didn't, and I didn't worry until 3 days after my period was due.

What?  I thought to myself.  I had the premenstrual symptoms:  a little cramping, some heartburn.  So where was George?  Could I have miscalculated?  Did I look at the wrong date and only think that my period was due?  Had we indeed had relations at what I would consider the wrong time of the month?  Should I take a pregnancy test?

My rational self told my insecure self to stuff it.  Look at the calendar again, rational self said.  Right there.  You can see the writing.  You're fine.  But insecure self took to the plate again and batted the ball out of the park.   Your cycle has been changing.  Maybe you didn't get it right.  Maybe, just maybe, you are pregnant.

The thought of being pregnant permeated my entire day.  Who am I kidding?  It permeated a couple of my days.  How would I handle having child number 5?  And what if 5 turned out to be 6?  I am nearing 40, you know, so multiple eggs might have been released.  The thought of twins again tormented me (even though our twins were actually pretty easy to take care of), and while I am sorry to admit it, I need to tell the truth:  there is a reason we only have 4 kids.  It's simple, really.  I am done bearing children.  Or so I thought.  Despite the fact that many people feel as though they will accept as many children as God gives them, I am not one of them.  I do not have enough faith in God to know that we'd be able to provide for them all; I do not have enough faith in myself to be mentally stable and present for more children than we now have; I do not have enough faith that my body would even be able to sustain another healthy pregnancy.

On my long run this morning, which I figured I better try to get in because if I was indeed pregnant, the days of long runs would be dwindling, I just about had everything figured out.  The baby would be born in September, after the kids had gone back to school.  I'd quit teaching for a while, and try to concentrate on book writing and keeping myself sane while adjusting to another child.  By the time I got to mile 5 I had moved Melina and Aaron into the same room and figured out how to borrow a crib and a car seat.  Maternity clothes?  I'd just go to Goodwill.  But we would need to buy a new car, probably a Suburban. 

After my class today, I stopped and bought a pregnancy test.  I really didn't think it would be positive.  I had no symptoms other than no period.  But I thought, I need to do this, just to know.  So I did.

And now, we have errands to run this week.  I need to go get some more tampons.  Tim needs to go get a vasectomy.


Friday, December 14, 2012

...

I am suspiciously silent today.
Which means this could be the calm before the storm;
Before the torrent of a very long post.
Then again,
It might not.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Little Known Science Facts

I love science, really, I do.  I've loved the subject since I was a kid.  My parents bought me anatomical models to paint.  I owned a Gray's Anatomy Coloring Book.  I possessed a couple of boxes of different kinds of rocks, some of which were polished and bought from a museum, and I always avoided earthworms after a good rain.  I was more interested in looking at the little squirmy things up close when they were whole rather than after they'd been squished.  I don't really know how to explain what fascinates me about science, but something about the study of all these living things has a hold on me.

Except for bugs.  I have a slight problem with bugs.  Sure, it is cool that ants can carry so much more than their size.  And, I can appreciate the beauty of a butterfly, a bumblebee, or the praying mantis.  But this?  This link to a lovely little Cereal Leaf beetle in juvenile form?  This sight was so terrifying to me that I asked Tim to shut my account and turn off the computer for me.  I couldn't look at the screen long enough to click the close button.  I'm not ashamed to admit that horribly silly, but true fact.

The picture in the link above is copyrighted by Gilles San Martin, so I didn't share it here. I dare you to search for more, just as upsetting, photos.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Driving Miss Daisy

In the kitchen yesterday:
Me:  Oh!  I need to get that dog license!
Melina:  For who?  Shadow?
Me:  Of course for Shadow.
Melina:  Why does he need a license?  Does he need to know how to drive?
Episodes like this remind me of why this blog will someday be very important to my kids.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Taking a Stand

Last week, Zoe and Talia came home from school all in a dither.

Z:  Mom!  Some kids got recess taken away.
T:  But we didn't, since we were in the art room.
Me:  Why?  Why did recess get taken away?
Z:  The kids were apparently not behaving.
T:  We don't know what they did.

The next day, the girls walked in the door with long faces.

T: We all got recess taken away.
Z: But we didn't do anything wrong.  It's just that the majority of kids are misbehaving.
T: And now we have to do spirit classes during recess time.
Z:  Yeah, the teachers gave us a list of 33 things we did wrong.
T:  If we have a problem with it, we're supposed to talk to Mr. C

Mr.  C is the principal, someone we all very much like.  He is fair and really, overall, a great guy and wonderful principal, in my opinion.

Me:  Well, do you have a problem with what the teachers are doing?
Z:  Yes.
T:  Yes.  We might lose out on going to the amusement park.
Me:  Then I guess talk to Mr.  C.  Write him a letter.  Do you want to?
Z:  Yes.
T:  If Zoe does.

Much to my surprise, the girls sat down this weekend to write the letter.  Tim and I both discussed the situation with the girls, and I transcribed what they said, trying to leave most of the letter in their words.  Zoe and Talia ended up composing a respectful piece telling Mr. C. that they did not agree with the teachers' decision, and that a good number of kids still are behaving as they should be.  They also gave a few suggestions of what they thought might help the situation, one of which was opening the lines of communication between the school and the parents (even now, I've heard nothing from the school regarding this "bad" behavior that has been going on.)

We printed out the document.  The girls signed their names at the bottom, after practicing their cursive signatures a couple of times.  We folded the letter, put it in an envelope, and Zoe wrote Mr. C's name across the front.  The plan was to hand deliver it the next morning (Monday). 

The girls almost forgot the item they worked so hard on when it came time to leave for school yesterday morning, but aside from that, I have to say that I am really proud of these girls.  They truly believe that the teachers could be doing something different with this situation, and given the opportunity to voice their concerns, they took it. There is no way I'd have done this in Fifth Grade.  And there is no way I ever thought my quiet, introverted twins would have chosen to take this on.  But take a stand, they did, and I am unbelievably pleased by their actions. 

Mr. C caught Talia at lunch yesterday.  He said he liked the letter.  I am betting he was surprised that of all the kids in the Fifth Grade to say something it was these two.   We have yet to see what happens.

***

By the way, you might have noticed that when I have a conversation with both girls, they each tell a bit of the story, and by the end, I know the whole thing.  This happens, every time.  They tell stories together as if it is being told by one person, although they also use the pronoun we a lot (go figure).  A weird twin thing, I think.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pearly Whites

The ideas that pop into my head at the most mundane moments of my life...

Would you, if your life depended on it, be able to identify your very own toothbrush in a line up of toothbrushes? 

I think I would.  It isn't that I always know what color my toothbrush is (I just get whatever is on sale), but as I stood brushing my cutters last night, I noticed something.  Apparently, I don't rinse my polisher too well.  Oh, don't get grossed out.  I do rinse the bristles until they gleam with only water droplets and I let them dry appropriately so as not to collect anything in them.  But the part of the brush where you grip it...where the thumb and forefinger come together? That part of all of my toothbrushes tends to collect toothpaste.  In fact, in a couple of days, if I don't take care of it, I'll find a little collar of dried dentifrice sitting on my Oral B precisely at that point.   

So there you have it.  Check out your own toothbrush.  See if there are any identifying marks that might save you one day.  If you have as many people in your family as I do, knowing which toothbrush is yours could very well come into play in the future. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

High Maintenance

Yesterday afternoon, it finally happened.

Melina asked for her first piece of beauty equipment.  We've already been through ribbons, hair gel, hair ties, barrettes, head bands, and bandanas.  We own scads of tights, mostly in pink, and the sheer amount of ruffles in her wardrobe is astonishing.

But this afternoon, in a uncharacteristic whiny little voice, Melina said, "Mom, I need my hair wavy."

"Well, I guess we'll need to put it back into braids," I said.  The previous night we'd managed to place 3 braids into her fine silky tresses.  She wore her hair down and wavy to school.

"But that will take too long. Can you curl it?" Melina asked.

"The curling iron won't make it wavy."

"Well I need it wavy."

In a moment I now realize was a bad parenting moment (or maybe not), I went ahead and gave her an idea.  "I guess we could put a hair crimper on your Christmas list."

No sooner had the words escaped my lips and I found myself slapping myself on the forehead.  Kicking myself in the bum.  I was an enabler of high maintenance Melina.  

Her eyes lit up.  "Okay, mom, can you put that on my list?  And put a check on it."

I guess I better go do some shopping.

***

The odd thing about this child, is that on every other count, she is not high maintenance.  Melina doesn't mind being shuffled around during the week, helping me do errands.  If she doesn't get what she wants, she usually doesn't complain and is happy with an alternative.  On a normal day, I find that I do not have to indulge Melina, and therefore, sometimes, when the time is right, I do.  Not that I need to explain myself to you, dear readers, right?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hidden Books

I knocked on the girls' door quickly and went in.  Talia rushed to cover a book with her pillow, a look of extreme guilt creeping into her eyes.

"What are you doing?"  I asked.
"Reading," she replied.
"And what are you reading?"
"A book."
"What sort of book?"
"A book," she said, again.

All sorts of thoughts spun through my head.  Did she have Twilight under her pillow?  I won't let the girls read that series yet, but I have the first two books, and a friend of theirs is just finishing up New Moon. Or was she reading a kid book and was embarrassed for me to see it?  Was it a note from a friend, or worse yet, a boy?  Two seconds and all of those questions made the loop through the brain circuit.

I stepped into the room and pulled up the pillow.

And there it was...Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way.

I kid you not.  Talia, apparently, is interested in reading about natural childbirth.  Well the only thing better than a mom that teaches (and loves) anatomy and physiology would be a midwife or an OB.  She'll have to deal with second best.

"The pictures are interesting, aren't they?" I said.
"Um, yeah, they are a bit strange.  A little gross, too."
"Yeah, well, the good thing about being the one who has to push the baby out?  You don't have to see any of it."

She laughed.  And looked relieved.  I laughed and looked relieved, too.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

And the Winner is...

Goodreads, a site I love because I get many ideas for books to read, just announced its choice awards for 2012.  Emphasis on the word choice here, because we all know that reading is very subjective.  Well the list completely confirms that notion for me.

The winner for fiction?  JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.  I have not yet read it, but I have been told by many trusted readers not to waste my time.  Furthermore, the Goodreads rating is only 3.31 stars.  And so I wonder, is this book really worthy of the title for best fiction?  Or is the book just riding the coattails of Harry Potter's success?  I am guessing the latter, but if I choose to read it, which I should, then I guess I can make a better judgment.

The winner for best mystery and thriller?  Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  Well, I did read this one, but I did not agree with its rating of 4.01.  The blurb for the book, as provided by Goodreads, reads:
Marriage can be a real killer.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
Well, I just don't agree.   Flynn might be one of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, but I can't say that I found this book worthy of critical acclaim.  Her characters did not garner any sympathy from me.  The main characters, Nick and Amy, used each other and deserve every little bit of comeuppance that manages to head their way.  I was able to put the book down and at least for me, it didn't have the draw of a nasty addiction.  By the end of the book, I realized that Flynn's work just didn't live up to the hype.  Gone Girl went back to the library and thank goodness, is gone from this girl.

Now this one is no surprise, but the winner for best Romance is 50 Shades Freed, by EL James.  These books are so popular, I am sure I don't have to say much here.  Poor writing, too much kinky fuckery and very little plot.  I think the book garnered a 3.93 rating simply because people were rating with their loins, if you know what I mean.  I guess I need to remind myself, again, that reading and writing are subjective.  Insert chant here, right?

I started to lose hope with the list.  I thought, is there even one book that I have read and think is completely deserving of the title?  And finally, as I looked at the list on the left side of my screen, I found it.

In the Young Adult category, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars took the top prize.  And, if you've kept up with this blog at all, you know I read the book, loved the book, recommended the book for book club, read the book again, bought the book, and will read the book at least one more time in the next couple of years.  In a previous post, I talked about my love for all things John Green, and in the interest of keeping this short, this is his best novel yet.  I will be curious to know if he can do better, but if anyone is up to the challenge, I think it is John Green.

So all of this talk about reading, writing, subjectivity, and lists made me think of my own writing, which still seems to be getting nowhere, fast.  Sure, I have a draft finished, something I said I'd have done by November 30.  But now, I have to go back and fill in a few holes, big holes, and I am finding that difficult to do.  I have page upon page of my own questions, questions from my writing group, and concerns I might have, and to be honest, the whole thing is overwhelming.  What I need to remember is this:  If I just get the manuscript finished, and I am happy with it, I can add myself as winner to the top of my own list.  Right?







Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sense of Style

Who am I to judge fashion?  I just have trouble with this concept.  Running in a skirt can't possibly work, can it?  Anyone care to explain it to me?



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

These Things I Know

That I could live in a more temperate climate and be happy.  Sixty-five degree Decembers are just heaven to me.

You can never have so many friends that you can't fit in a few more.

And that you might find those friends in unexpected places.

That it is difficult for me to say no to people, except when it comes to my kids.

There is something to be learned from everyone and every situation, if you are open to learning.

That my tolerance for intolerance is getting a bit low these days.

The value of touch and a great big bear hug can do wonders for just about anybody.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Three Words

Not every Sunday, but some Sundays, a few lady friends and I meet up while the kids are at Sunday school.  We sit and chat, have a cup of coffee and a doughnut or bagel, and recharge for the week.  I find these ladies funny, and fun, and to be quite honest,  I look forward to our meetings.

Even though alcohol is not involved (it is just 9:15 am in the morning, and Sunday of all days), we can get pretty loud; there are a lot of laughs at our table when we inhabit it.  We discuss our kids, our husbands, our jobs, our pasts. And so far, there are no off-limits topics. 

Well, this morning, we learned from someone who shall remain nameless that she worked at a summer camp with a person (we'll call her camp counselor from here on out) who didn't like three words.  I can appreciate that.  The topic had come up and all of us admitted to not liking certain words.  I happen to abhor the words bowel movement and regurgitate.  Something about those just makes me shudder.  Another person didn't like the word vomit.  You can see how all of our words sort of relate.

Well, camp counselor -- someone I have never met and probably never will -- claimed to dislike these three words in particular:  caress, moist, and panties.  Furthermore, she told the kids at camp that she didn't like them, so the children would run around and annoy her by shouting out those words.  I about fell off my chair when my friend revealed all of that.  Those three words, in connection with one another, can bring about a story of their own, and not in a good way, I might add.  After she told us those words, a loud guffaw escaped from each of our lips.  I don't know about anyone else, but the visions in my head ran rampant, and later on in the afternoon, I still couldn't get those three words out of my brain.  I found myself chuckling to myself all day yesterday.

So here's my question.  What three words annoy you?  I might, as a creative writing exercise, try to take three words and come up with a short story that centers around them.  And yes, perhaps I'll try it with caress, moist, and panties.  I am no EL James, but I might be able to do some justice to them.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Huh?

Early Saturday morning with Aaron:
Aaron:  Mom, can I show you how I hang this ornament on?
Me:  I'm watching. [Really, I was, but I also needed to check my school email.]
Aaron:  You hang it on like this, and then this [he takes the ornament off again to adjust it...it has to be perfect] and then like this.
Me:  I see.  Great.
Aaron:  What?
Me:  Great...[blank stare from him]...that you put it on there.  
I look into Aaron's eyes and the look on his face indicates that I am crazy and I know, I just KNOW, that he forgot he was showing me how to hang up his special ornament.  That's life with Aaron.  And this will be proof to whomever he marries that he was always like that.  Sorry, honey, you chose him.  I was just special enough to be blessed with him. 

And what the heck?  How old am I?  Haven't I figured out how to hang the ornaments yet? 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Look Alikes

Most people know that I have been blessed with identical twins.  I've written about my life with them before.  They are a constant source of pride and amusement.  Most people also know that these identical twins look very much alike.  Yeah, I know that is the definition of identical.  But I went to school with a couple of sets of identical twins, two of which could easily be discerned.  Zoe and Talia are often confused for one another, and except for their glasses' frames and stripes in their hair, many people can't tell them apart.

Yesterday, Melina and I were looking at some of our homemade ornaments.  There are quite a few that the kids made at school when they were young.  These ornaments have the kids' pictures, and it was apparent very early that the only one Melina could identify was Aaron.

Melina:  Mom, who is this?  [She held up the ornament for me to see.]
Me:  Well, who do you think it is.
Melina:  [Leaning in real close.] Uh, who do you think it is? [Her emphasis there.]
Me:  [Laughing] Melina, I know who it is.  Can you tell?
Melina:  No.
Me:  You can't tell the difference between  your sisters?
Melina:  Uh mom, there is no stripe.
Me:  Oh.  Well then, read the back of the ornament.  

The child can't quite read yet, but she can identify her name as well as those of her siblings (and the words the and little).  So, she read the back of the ornament, which said Talia on it, and skipped on her way. 

The question is, will Melina ever be able to tell the girls apart? 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ironies

I could not get away from my parents' house fast enough.  It wasn't them.  It was me.  Or rather, the fact that I didn't belong in that town.  It didn't matter what I did, I just wanted out.  And so, I went to college and never looked back. (Yes, I realize that between my sisters and me, we could flesh out the plot of a Sarah Dessen novel very well.)

And here I find myself, 20-some years later, connected via the internet to the place I once despised.  What? the reader says. You willingly plug yourself in to the place that shattered your dreams like a dropped spun sugar ornament? You know you don't have to admit that the place is out there.  You can, aside from the times you see your mom and dad, just choose to ignore it. 

Yes, yes, I could.  Except that a couple of years ago, on a trip to mom and dad's, I found a fantastic radio station.  And from where does that station broadcast?  At a university just outside where my parents live.  Like many stations, at Christmas time, they play holiday music 24/7.  But this isn't just your parents' music.  We do get Perry Como and Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and Eartha Kitt.  However, they also play Harry Connick Jr, Christina Perri, Jack Johnson, and Matthew West. I've been opened to the world of Brandon and Leah as well as David Ian.  And of course, now the kids ask for it.

So on days like today, when Melina and I are at home, bopping to Christmas music as we fold the clothes, I listen to the local weather and news (which isn't all that local considering the station is 4 hours north of here), realizing that all of the details are ones I had hoped to long forget.  Which just means, in the spirit of Christmas, that I need to forgive so that I can forget.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Updates

It takes a lot to shut me up, but apparently, this virus had the power to do so.

Lest you think we're wasting away over here, bombarded with the remnants of the super-bug that was, we' re not.  On the whole, we are feeling better.  But I've got plenty of catch-up to do these days, especially with respect to my classes, so I thought it best to stay on the down low.

Oh, and there is that little something I am supposed to have finished by November 30.  What was that again?  Oh, yes, my draft.  The first draft of my story that currently goes by Jupiter Girl for lack of a better title.  Will it be done?  Well, yes, it will.  I never said the draft had to be a great one, you know?

And that is that.  Sorry to be so short-winded.  I've coughed so much over the past several days even thinking of talking and/or writing wears me out.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thank Goodness It's Over!

Once upon a time, my parents, who always seemed to me to be planners, decided, on a whim, to take us to Chicago.  That decision in an of itself seems harmless.  But the time frame they chose was at Thanksgiving.  Heading to Chicago without much of a plan during the holidays didn't prove to be very smart at all.

The whole weekend left a bad taste in my mouth.  We tried to stop for gas and snacks and found nothing open.  The gray skies and cool winds we thought we left behind in Michigan followed us the entire way into the Windy City.  The streets were packed with cars, which left our car packed with expletives.  And when we made it to the hotel?  Was there solace in the warm novelty?  Not quite.  My parents, at least the way I understood it, hadn't given a thought about dinner reservations.  They had figured (incorrectly) that the hotel restaurant would be serving to guests of the hotel even if they didn't have a reservation.  Thankfully, the manger found us a table in the restaurant.  I remember at that point that I was very hungry.

I've grown up since then.  My sister has lived in the Chicago area for years now, and I've gone to visit many a time, erasing the memories of that first visit so long ago.  And so, I had such hope for this Thanksgiving when she said, "Come to Chicago."  Sure, we'll come.  I swallowed the bitterness of that first Chicago Thanksgiving.

I should have been wary. I should have known better.

Especially when I woke on Wednesday with a raging headache.  "You know what would make this worse?" I said to Tim before we left for the 5 hour trek.  "If I had my period."

Yeah, I should have kept my big mouth shut.  My cycle had just ended, but had I any sense, I would have never uttered that phrase aloud. In retrospect, I'd endure a second cycle just to have avoided what actually did happen.

We rolled in to my sister's driveway with my head still stuck in a vice.  A cough tugged at my chest, and I ambled over to rest on the couch.  My night was filled with Ibuprofen and little sleep, merging into a Thanksgiving day that dawned bright and sunny but that saw me no better. Heat flushed my cheeks and my head filled with fog.  I sat around most of the day, still coughing.  Melina caved sometime that day, and late that evening (or maybe in the wee hours of the next morning), after a most lovely dinner cooked by my brother-in-law, Tim left the bedroom to begin I don't know how many rounds of vomiting. 

I'll spare you the details.  I think Tim's problem was actually a migraine that fell on top of whatever virus I had that he then contracted.  Melina is now on the side of getting better; Talia fell with the bug late Friday, and Zoe today.  Only Aaron hasn't given in to the dark side, and I am sure it is just a matter of time.  I know my sister well, and I am sure it didn't cross her mind to send us packing, but I certainly would have understood.

Despite all of this, there is a lot to be thankful for.  We made the journey to and from Gina's house in good shape.  Sun filled the sky most of the days and the cousins played well together.  It was good to see my family and know that we are all loved.

Unfortunately, the trip did nothing but confirm my original feelings about Chicago at Thanksgiving.  I have no plans to return for that holiday in a while!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cheesiness


It seems like a feat to get kids to sit still.  And so when Aunt Tara or Aunt Gina says to smile for the camera, we're lucky to have 1 kid say cheese.  In this case, we managed to get 5 out of 7 cousins to say it, in one space.  Plus, the smiles were all nice.  We'll try again, on another outing, to get everyone in one picture.



Left to right, Melina, Zoe, Aaron, Catalina (on lap), Ava

Monday, November 19, 2012

Does Not Compute

"Hey Tim," I said.  "Do you think I should color my hair again?" 

The red stripes have faded, and while I realize that everyone and their mother now have colorful stripes in their hair, I kind of like the red haze that hangs in front of my eyes. I might just want to do it again, but I thought I'd see what Tim had to say.

"Well, sure.  If you want to," he replied.

I realized, within the span of a few moments, that I had asked the wrong question.  What I wanted to know was if he liked the color in my hair. Clearly, he didn't get that.  And I can't fault him for it.  I really didn't ask that question.  I just thought he'd figure it out. 

But this is Tim we're talking about.  He is not only male, but Tim.  Clueless, scattered, absent-minded Tim.  The man who can solve a differential equation with ease but can't quite manage to remember to each lunch.  And those kids of ours?  He can't remember names anymore; they are just numbers.  (Just kidding, but if we had any more, he might get to this point quickly.)

I won't belabor the point.  But our little conversation, or lack thereof, has given me the reminder to converse properly with my mate.  I must make sure the input is in proper order for him to compute and put forth the expected output.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Loving Aaron

I love him. I really do.

But at 6:30 in the morning, when I am trying to work on my story AND post an online quiz for my students, I don't want to hear about Angry Birds.

Nor do I want to listen to the details of Temple Run, or Subway Surfer, or any other game that the kids have uploaded to the tablet.

In fact, the only thing I'd like to hear this early on a Saturday morning is the sounds of his breathing as he sleeps soundly. 

When pigs fly, as they say.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beginnings

I enjoy listening to most of Taylor Swift's songs.  I find the tunes to be catchy and the lyrics often make me relive times in my life.  Last week, in the car, I heard her new single, Begin Again; I sat back and simply enjoyed the melody.  It wasn't until the 2nd time that I heard it that I realized once again, I'm walking down memory lane with a song written by a 22 year old.  Which also makes me think that maybe Taylor's done a bit more living than I had by 22.  Of course, our living was just different.  Apparently Taylor's biggest problem these days is that she doesn't want to be seen twice in the same dress.  I wear the same jeans all week.  You can see how our experiences might differ.

Anyway, the Begin Again refrain goes a little like this:
But you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause he never did
I've been spending the last 8 months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again

It wasn't in a cafe and I have no idea what day of the week it was, but I distinctly remember beginning again when I was about to turn 25.  My boyfriend of two years and I had broken up in February, and I'd spent the next couple of months trying to figure things out, mostly with myself.  Life looked broken and burned, and my world at the time had pretty much ended.  And then I met Tim.

I resisted at first, I really did.  I mean, I responded to his phone calls and emails; I went out on a couple of dates.  I even smooched the poor guy (or maybe he smooched me).  Everything on the outside implied I was trying, but inside, turmoil raged.  How would I get over my past relationship? Could I get over it?  Was I ready to be over it and was I ready to begin again? 

I actually spoke about Tim to my ex (we're still friends to this day, so at the time, it didn't seem weird).  I can't remember what he said, but I distinctly remember sitting in the car, in the front seat, letting the tears run down my cheeks.  They were symbolic tears, I see now, washing away the past, the insecurities, the fears.  I needed to let them fall in order to move on and begin again.  And obviously, it worked, because here we are, almost 15 years later.

And sometimes it is the little things, like a song, that remind us of all that is precious in this life.  Go out and enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rude Awakening

I've posted before about breakfast table conversations.  I find that I need to keep my computer handy because the things that come out of the kids' mouths at that time of the morning are often things I just don't want to forget.  This morning was no exception.

Zoe:  Melina, what are you going to do when you grow up?
Melina:  What?
Aaron:  What are you going to do?  What kind of job are you going to have?
Melina:  I am going to be a princess.
Talia:  You can't be a princess.  You need a job.
Melina:  Well, you know something?  There are real princesses around here.

I didn't pipe up, but I certainly would like to know about whom she is talking.  The only princess I see is her, and we are trying our best not to raise her that way, if you know what I mean. The day she realizes that her siblings are telling her the truth, that she cannot just be a princess, and that she actually needs a job, well, that will certainly be her awakening day.  Remind me not to be here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Traffic

Here's a question for you. 

How much internet traffic is too much?  Clearly, I don't need to worry about that.  I don't broadcast the existence of this blog, therefore the traffic here is limited. Perhaps I should promote the reading of such a delicacy.  I mean, if I really want to be a writer, shouldn't I strive to gain readership?  On the other hand, do I really want everyone to know that my kid nursed until she was three and that my boobs are so small now I don't need a bra?  Yeah, I'm not sure about those.

Maybe the better question would be how much internet traffic is too little?  Would anyone miss me if I go?  If I move on to bigger and better things, would you wonder what we are doing?  Would you yearn to hear about Aaron's antics and Melina's mannerisms?  Would you?

Just asking.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lamentations

I want get up from my desk, run out of the room, and scream down the hallway.  I am sure that security would be called, and considering I am proctoring an exam, right now, I can't do that.  But be sure that inside my brain, that event is happening.  I'm out of the building, jogging on the concrete, letting the wind whip through my hair.  The farther I can get from this class, the better.

Ah.  I feel a bit more balanced already.  What tipped me, you ask?  The following:
Question 5:  The cell membrane of a muscle fiber is known as the:
a. Sarcoplasm
b. Plasmalemma
c. Cell wall
d. Sarcolemma
If you've ever taken a bio course, the word sarcoplasm might stand out to you.  You might think back and say, we'll I've heard of cytoplasm, which is found inside of a cell.  Even though I don't really know what sarcoplasm is, based on the similarity, I won't choose it.  A cell membrane is found outside or surrounding the cell, not inside.  Well, if you had that conversation in your head, then congratulations.  You are smarter than my class.  The same class that sat through my lectures and heard me mention that the plasma membrane of the muscle fiber has a special name.  It is the sarcolemma.  By the way, sarco means flesh.  That should make sense, as we're talking about muscle.

That one really isn't what did me in, though.  When I got to the next page, I shuddered: 
Question 9:  The smallest contractile unit of muscle is the:
a. Myofibril
b. Sarcomere
c. Myosin filament
d. Actin filament
I admit, this one might be tougher for you.  But in class, when I taught the hierarchy of muscle, I said (and I know this because I say it every time):   We are looking at the sarcomere.  It is made of myofilaments, and it is the smallest contractile unit of muscle.  I am going to repeat that, because everyone gets it wrong on the exam.  The sarcomere is the smallest contractile unit of muscle.  

So you see why I am mentally out of here right now.  I'm thinking on running by the river and just tossing the whole set of exams into it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hearing Things

I was lying in bed, taking care of some writing, when Zoe walked in.  She flopped upon the mattress and hung her head.
Me:  What's wrong, Zoe?
Zoe:  Daddy didn't listen to me.
Me:  Did he hear you?  You know Daddy can't hear very well.  [This has happened in the past.]
Zoe:  He heard me.  We were looking at a math problem and I wanted to tell him my answer.  But he didn't listen.
Me:  Well, okay.  Let's talk to him.  But maybe you and Talia were speaking at the same time and it was just too much.
Zoe:  No, Talia wasn't talking.
Zoe went downstairs to get Tim.  In the meantime, Talia came up.  Zoe told her the same thing she told me.  Both of them decided that at the time Zoe was trying to tell Tim her answer, that Talia was indeed silent.
Me:  Zoe is upset that you didn't listen to her.
Tim: Umm, sorry.  Were you trying to tell me something at the same time Talia did?
Zoe:  No, Talia wasn't talking.
Tim retreated for some time into his head and replayed the whole event.
Tim:  I had my head down, didn't I? 
Zoe:  Yes.
Tim:  I was grading the papers and I was looking down at the table.  I thought your voice was Talia's just telling me the answer again.  Sorry, honey.
Me:  Zoe, he can't always tell the difference in your voices.
Zoe smiled.  Tim did a little test, with his eyes closed.  He had the girls say some things and he picked the right voice with the right girl.  But I'd bet two bits that in a non-controlled setting like the one in our dining room, he'd get them messed up again.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

You Know You Are Getting Older When...

It must be something about November.

If you don't know what I mean, check this post from last year.

I found Tim yesterday, in the bathroom, trimming hair from his ears. 

That is something my dad does, not my husband, right?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Results

After last night's election, two things are clear:
  1. My brother-in-law is no longer looking to move to another country.
  2. My father might just be taking up where Dave left off.
Living in a house divided means that we have so much to talk about.  Except that you are supposed to steer clear of politics, right?

Whether or not you like the fact that Barack Obama was elected for a second term last night, let's hope that the entire government can come together and remember who they are working for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Had to Share

The gems that come from kids' mouths should be celebrated.  Every day.  So, I thought I'd pass this one on.  For the record, Ava is my niece and Tara is then, obviously, my sister and Ava's mom.

Ava:  Momma, I like President Obama, but how is he allowed to be President?
Tara:  Uh, why wouldn't he be allowed to be President?
Ava:  Because he wasn't born in the United States.  I thought all Presidents needed to be born here.
Tara:  Ava, he was born here.  Who told you he wasn't?
Ava:  They showed us a movie in class today Momma and HE WAS NOT BORN HERE.  He was born in Canada.
Tara:  What?  Hang on, back up.  They showed you a movie in shcool today saying that President Obama was born in Canada?  Ava, people say a lot of things about different Presidents, but he was not born in Canada.
Ava:  Oh, maybe it was Justin Bieber.  You're right, Mom, Justin Bieber was born in Canada.  He can't be President.

I have to say that Aaron came home today also telling me that Justin Bieber cannot possibly be president because he was born in Canada.  He wasn't quite as confused, seeing as he is 8 and Ava is only 5.  I can only say a huge Thank Goodness to the fact that Justin Bieber can't be president.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Did You Say?

I had my doubts about Super Why today, until I realized the kids weren't saying JERKS, but GERMS.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thoughts

It amazes me what elicits flashes of Jack Handey these days. 

There I was, getting ready to unwind the cord on the vacuum cleaner.  I looked at the cord, wound around the hooks on the back, and realized that the cord looked funny.  It had been tied up in a figure 8 instead of in its usual oval.  The oval is the easiest and most compact way to do it, but clearly, there are other ways to wind that cord.  But again, it looked funny, and it made me stop and think.  And poof!  A deep thought.

My mom had wound the cord in the way to which she is accustomed.  It wasn't bad, just different.  And yet the method was not entirely best for this vacuum, considering it needed to be stored in a very tight closet.  I probably don't need to draw your attention to the fact that right there, right there, was the Jack Handey moment.  It crashed through my fog like a streak of lightning; like the red at the back of a throat full of streptococcus bacteria. 

How many times do we do what we are accustomed to?  How many times are those actions just not quite right for the situation?  And how many times do we go ahead and do them anyway, instead of possibly learning another way to go about and do something.  If you are anything like me, you've done that quite often.

Changing is a big thing for me.  I resist it usually, but when I look around and try to see the different methods out there of accomplishing events in life, both big and small, I am often astonished at all there is to see.

By the way, I won't be asking my mom to wind the cord the way I do it.  She vacuumed the whole house, after all, without me asking her to do so.  I think even Jack Handey would admit that you don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Will Wonders Never Cease?

Another exam, another dismal mean.

That isn't the wonder.

The wonder got to me after class.  A student said, "It's not you.  I need to accept responsibility.  That wasn't a hard exam, I just didn't study as well as I should have." 

Be still my beating heart.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

And One Other Thing

The little red head is 8 today!  I truly can't believe how quickly the time has gone.  So, I'll have to post his lovely Angry Birds eclair cake here in the next couple of days.  I promise to keep it short.

Happy Birthday, Aaron!

Tapping

Tap-tap-tap-tap. Pause.  Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap.

Hear that?  It is the sound of my fingers, furiously hitting the keyboard, as I try to finish my draft. 

I'll try not to check in here until one month from now, but I always have so much to say, that is going to be difficult.

Maybe I can let myself blog as a treat:  for every page of my draft done, I can go ahead and write a sentence or two here. 

Until I see you again...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Halloween can be frightful, right?

I just graded Exam #4 for my weekday class.  We covered Muscle and Nerve, and those are two very tough topics.  Knowing that, I allowed my students to bring in a cheat sheet.

The mean is a 65%, with the following breakdown (the number is the number of students who received that grade):
90-100%:  2
80-89%:  4
70-79%: 3
60-69%: 9
Below 60%: 7
I asked the students to report on their exam whether or not they'd used a cheat sheet.  One person received a 28% and didn't use a cheat sheet.  I hate to be crass, but I don't think a cheat sheet would even have helped this poor soul. 

Frightful, indeed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Friends

Aaron had a friend over yesterday afternoon.  His mom and sister came with him, since this child hasn't had too many play-dates with other kids.  I can't stand that term, play-date, but since it is now in use and fits the sentence, we are going with it.  Anyway, this child that came to play happens to be a very special child.  Even if I didn't know that, I would have known the minute he walked in.

Me:  What do you have there?
Him:  I brought my elements book and one on the Middle Ages.
Me:  So cool.  Aaron and the girls would like both of these.
His mom:  [She smiles.] He really wanted to bring his math dictionary, but we couldn't find it.
Me:  [I smile.]  Maybe next time.

Match made in heaven, these two!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Saturday Scenes

Last year, some of the things that occurred in the 4th grade trumped anything that happened at my school.  Apparently this year, things are different.  I must be reasonably happy with the 5th and 2nd grade teachers, because I haven't posted any whiny complaints here about them.  On the other hand, my classes are so rife with tension, conflict, and apathy, that the 2nd and 5th grade never really stood a chance.

Two Saturdays ago, I walked into class, prepared to give Exam 3.  I waited for the students to trickle in, and noticed that 3 of them were missing.  This is a class of 15 students; you know when 3 aren't there.  I waited for a few minutes and then went ahead and started the exam.

All last week, I checked my email and had nothing from the three students.

This past Saturday, I walked in the door and was accosted the minute I unlocked the door.

 Student #1 (S1):  I need to go.  I've had some really weird things going on at home.  I tried to email you about the test last week, but I didn't have many bars. I was in the hospital with my grandfather, who had 3 heart attacks in a row.  Now, my aunt needs help.  I'll be back Wednesday.
Me, inside my head: And you couldn't think to check on that email?  See if it ever got sent?  Have a message put in my box?
Me, to the student:  I am sorry about your situation.  I do allow 1 makeup exam, so you can take it next week.  But since we have Exam 4 scheduled for that day, you will be taking 2 exams.
S1:  That's fine.  Thanks.  I gotta go.
Me:  [I shake my head.]  Hmmm...
Student #2 (S2):  I wasn't here last week, either.
Me:  I know.  What happened?  
S2:  I couldn't get a ride.
Me, inside my head: Okay, I can appreciate that, but WTH?  An email?  A phone call?  Something to let me know you care?
Me, to the student:  I do understand that, but I expect you to let me know as soon as that happens.  You need to tell me that you won't be able to be here.  I'm sure you overheard me talking to S1...you can make up the exam this one time.  But you'll be taking two tests next week.
Student #3 (S3):  By the way Christina, I am staying to make up that exam this week, right?
Me, inside my head:  This sounds familiar...we talked about this, but I remember asking her to email me a confirmation.  But I'm done.  Just done.
Me, to the student:  That's fine.
S3:  Thank you.
Me, inside my head:  She can't send an email, but at least she has manners.
Lest you think I am a pushover, I really do have a 1 more chance and you are out policy.  This stems mostly from the fact that I teach at a community college.  Community college students have lives, unlike University students, and I find that I need to be more accommodating.  However, it's a fine line between accommodating and letting someone walk all over you.  I plan on staying on the right side of the line there.

My only question is this:  society is so plugged into technology at all times, so why, oh why can't someone send a simple, stinking, email to their instructor?  Just asking.




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bad Catholic

While it isn't just a Catholic thing, keeping holy the Sabbath is amongst the list of things I don't do.  I guess you can call me a bad Catholic.  Go ahead and do it...you won't bother me. 

Why don't we keep it holy and why won't it bother me?  Because Sunday is the day I get many things done.  Just today, we (as a family, so at least there was some quality time involved) cleaned the lower level of the house, made cookies for a party, and started on the laundry.  We read a couple of chapters out of a novel and got the backyard raked and somewhat ready for the winter.

In conjunction with my last post, if I can get all of this done on a Sunday perhaps the rest of my week will progress nicely.

Hope you all had a great weekend.

P.S.  Who's betting I can't keep my mouth shut for all of November?  I'm betting against myself at this point. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Living

Wake-up time comes too soon these days. Lucy the cat or some other noise will wake me.  Sometimes, Tim has fallen asleep on the couch, and the creak of the floorboards as he ascends the stairs at 4 am rouses me from my slumber.  It takes all I have to go back to sleep, and oftentimes, it just doesn't happen.  I lie there with my eyes open until I decide to tiptoe out of bed.

Usually, I quickly get dressed, put some dishes away and power up the computer.  I find that those early morning minutes are great for writing, especially if I have my warm cup of coffee in hand.  Of course, I've been pouring a bit more regular coffee into my decaf/regular concoction.  I guess at least it isn't rum.

The early morning wake-up has been affecting my mood, though.  Simply put, I am tired.  By the end of the day, I am especially feeling the effects of the fatigue.  I get crabby and irritable, and combined with the hormonal shifts that are now occuring (yes, I think I am officially perimenopausal), I don't much like who I am.  I told Tim the other day that I need to be fixed.  (And I don't mean that I need to be spayed, although that wouldn't be a bad idea.  The OB informed me at my checkup that now is the time they see oopsie babies.  As much as I like kids, I don't want to be one of those persons.)  Something within me needs to be fixed.

The problem is, how to fix myself?  I'm not sure, since I am not truly certain what is broken.  Apart from taking some time away from everyone, which just isn't feasible, I have no good ideas.  I guess I could try to minimize my stress level, but right now, that isn't going to happen either.  I have a lot on my plate, and until the semester ends, I am stuck with it.  But the stress gets to me on a daily basis.  I can feel it in my hands that shake from time to time, my stomach that churns, and especially in the irritability that seems to compound with the number of events scheduled for the week.  The casual observer wouldn't know it; even a good friend might not see it.  I get to work on time, I do my job relatively well, and I manage to get everything done at home that needs to be done.  Kids get to activities, dinner gets on the table, the house is relatively clean, and other odds and ends are mostly tied up.  I guess you can say that I get it mostly done, but it (whatever it is) certainly wasn't enjoyable along the way.

And there lies the key to my fixing, I think.  If I can figure out why life doesn't cause me as much joy anymore, then perhaps I can get at the heart of the matter.  Is it hormonal changes?  Is it SAD?  Is it depression?  It could be any and all of the above, and to be honest, that scares me.