Monday, April 30, 2012

Rounding Out the Month

On this last day of April, I just thought I'd round out the month with one last post.  That way, we will have 23 posts for the month of April instead of 22.  And as everyone knows, 23 is a prime number.  Prime numbers happen to be one of Tim's favorite things, and since Tim actually started this blog, I thought it might be fitting to post a topic in which he has interest (other than the kids).

But my interests do not lie in prime numbers. Therefore, I can only truly say that a prime number is nice.  Hence, the short post.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Surfer Girl

Melina decided to use her kickboard as a surfboard in the tub.  She even wanted to wear her new swimsuit. 

She had a blast! And it was a good opportunity for a couple of cute pictures.











Friday, April 27, 2012

Ready to Write

I am taking the plunge.

I signed up for a fiction writing workshop taught by a real-live, published author!  My friend sent me the link, and after thinking about it for 10 minutes and realizing that if I never try, I never will, I went ahead with the registration.  I can only hope that the other writer wannabees will be both graceful and compassionate in their comments on my fiction write-ups.  I am hoping to learn quite a bit over the next couple of weeks.

Cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Control

I took it upon myself to do a little cleaning today, considering we might have weekend guests.  I will confess that I do not clean every week, as I should, although the kitchen and the bathrooms get wiped down quite often.  The toilets especially get time from me.  And we vacuum incessantly, so I don't think we are living in filth.

But cleaning got me thinking, of the days before Tim and the kids.  To the times when I kept my apartment spotless.  If I had more time now, I would find myself trying for that here.  But I learned long ago that certain things take priority, and the welfare of the kids and their homework comes before a house that has been ridden of the dust.  And then I thought, where does this need for this cleanliness come from?  Why do I cringe at all the clutter?

I am no therapist, but I think it stems from my need for some level of control in my life.  Which means we need to go way back here.  To a time that I still lived at home with my parents.  No, I am not here to blame my parents for this.  But I can say that, as we all probably did, for much of my early life, there wasn't much I could control.*  I had no control over how my parents ran the house.  I had no control over whether or not I had good friends.  I had no control over which direction my early life would take.  This doesn't matter for some people, like Tim, but for me, I think I internalized my shaky and uncomfortable feelings and channeled them into controlling what I could. 

I don't know if that is really true, but I do think to some degree it is.  I feel comfort in a clean and decluttered home.  I like things to have their places, and I find that I get discombobulated by too much stuff.  In fact, I've been known to get downright crabby when the weekend comes and too many things are strewn about the house.  I apologize to my family for those times.

The situation could have been worse, I think.  I'm grateful I chose something somewhat benign to call a neurosis.

*I realize that someone here might say something to the effect that we all have some control over the things about which I spoke.  And that is true.  For example, I was raised to be polite and kind, and you'd think a person like that would have many friends.  Sadly, that isn't the case.  Therefore, my perception that I had no control over it.  In the end, I made decisions and had to live with the consequences of those decisions.  But, as I always like to say, that topic is for another post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dashed Hopes

About a month ago, a friend asked if would be interested in taking a ballet class for grown-ups.  I thought it would be a fun thing to do and so I quickly said, "Yes, send me the information, please!"

I looked up on the internet where to find ballet gear and had settled on a tank, ballet skirt, and tights all in black.  Melina wanted me to change those tights to pink, and so in the interest of pleasing my little one, I planned on wearing pink tights.

Yesterday, I found out the night of the classes has been changed from Monday to Wednesday.  Wednesday night is reserved for Tim's baseball games, and since Tim is always accommodating when I want to go out running, I wouldn't possibly ask for him to give up baseball, just so I could don an almost tutu and fulfill my dreams of dancing on stage.  Doesn't he know the impact Billy Elliott had on me?!?

Are you eye rolling yet?  You don't need to take out the tiny violin.  I never had dreams of dancing on stage, nor do I have the need to wear a ballet skirt and tights.  If the ladies have fun this year, I'll look into it again next summer, when the girls just might be able to hold down the fort long enough for me to head to a quick ballet lesson.  If you'd like to join me next year, please let me know!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Making a Comeback

When I was younger, the hippopotamus was my favorite animal.  I had figurines, stuffed animals, pictures, and books, all of which either were hippos or featured hippos.  My mom even found a garden statue once.  While I have given away most of my hippo paraphernalia, the garden statue now sits inside my house and is used as a doorstop for the basement door.  Who would have thought?

I also had a very special hippo friend.  He happened to go by the moniker of Harvey, and was what one would call an imaginary friend. Technically, I created Harvey for the purposes of telling stories in our school newspaper.  The moderator asked me to fill the creative writing slot one winter, and I made up a story about a kid and his imaginary friend, Harvey the Hippo.  I'd like to say the characters were similar to Calvin and Hobbes, but they weren't quite so brilliantly written.  I've got a lot to learn from Bill Watterson. Anyway, one of the stories that featured Harvey attempted to explain the existence of Santa, to some degree.  A few other stories were also written for the newspaper, but then I had my life to live.  So I pushed Harvey aside and haven't really thought of him too much since then.

Imagine my surprise last night when, all of a sudden, a story started brewing in my head.  The stars?  A kid and Harvey the Hippo.  I pushed Tim off of the computer, pounded out a couple of paragraphs, and sketched a crude outline of where I wanted to take this thing.  I'd like to share it with Aaron, especially, because I feel that it will be a story for the early elementary school bunch.  I plan on having the girls as readers, and if you all would offer up your kids, I'll send you a copy, too, when it is done.  With the amount of spare time I have, it will take a while to get this thing going, so don't wait with bated breath.

But for those of you that knew me when, I am happy to say that Harvey the Hippo is making a comeback.  I hope he does so with style!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Promises

I promise:

To stop opening the bag of chips from the bottom.

To lock the top of the outside garbage after putting a bag into it.

To stop complaining about the lack of sun.

To try to be more positive on a daily basis.

To stay up later a couple of nights a week so that Tim and I can actually have some time to chat.

To post no further details on my children's development that might embarrass them.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Being Judgmental

I try not to judge people.  Yes, I can be hard on other people, especially members of my family, but in general, I try to abide by this philosophy:  If you are a good person and you aren't doing anything to hurt someone else, then I will let you live your life the way you want to.  Really, who am I to judge?

Anyway, I was checking up on people yesterday.  I had enough time to check on some blogs and see what various people I know/used to know were up to.  One of these persons is very much the same as me, but very different.  We both value education, hold post graduate degrees, understand the benefits of homeschooling, and consider ourselves Christian.  The differences between us lie in how those characteristics manifest themselves in our everyday life.  For the sake of clarity and anonymity, I will refer to this person as Claire.

Claire chooses to home school and bring her children up by the Bible.  I choose to supplement our schooling at home (while entertaining the idea of home schooling) and bring my children up knowing God, but not necessarily by the Bible. She believes that God is all-knowing and righteous, but quick to anger.  Claire's children are to obey her without question.  I believe that God is all-knowing and righteous, but I don't believe that he is quick to anger.  In fact, God is benevolent and kind, and pretty patient with all of us sinners, if you ask me.  Furthermore, while I do believe that the kids should listen to us, sometimes I don't mind if they question me.  I can be wrong. 

You might wonder why I like to check up on this lady, considering these differences.  Well, she has a lot to say that I do like on her blog, and I get a good update on their soon to be 8 kids.  I also like to know how her husband is doing as he is the reason I even know about them; I used to play volleyball with him in grad school.  But considering all of our differences, every once in a while, I find Claire's posts to be difficult to digest.

The latest gastronomically challenging post was put up a while ago.  It had a link to a pastor that ranted for 14 minutes on how awful books such as Twilight and its sequels are for kids these days.  He started off okay.  He has a thirteen year old daughter, and he would never let her read any of the books by Stephenie Meyer, he said.  Well, I agree with him here.  Even though the books might be housed in the teen fiction area of your local library, I don't think they are for the younger teen crowd.  Our girls have expressed interest in reading them, but I am still holding out, and probably will until they are in high school.  I don't think the girls would be afraid of the vampire or the werewolves or the fighting.  They just don't need to pick up on any romantic innuendos at their age, you know? 

The unsavory part of the pastor's diatribe came next, though.  He started to tell his audience how wrong Stephenie Meyer is for writing them.  Instead of placing the blame on the parents for letting their young 12 year old read a book meant for perhaps an older teen, he decides to blame the author for writing it.  What?  Are you serious?  Meyer is a writer, for goodness sakes!  Creative writing has been around for ages, or didn't he know this?  In fact, the Bible itself is purportedly inspired by God, but I am willing to bet that some creative writing might have gone on back when that big book was first put together.  How can you possibly place the blame on the author?  Talk about passing the buck.  Isn't preaching to people one Sunday on taking responsibility for your own actions, and then blaming an author for something you don't want your child to read the next Sunday a bit hypocritical?  Am I the only one to think this? 

Well, that was just the tip of the iceberg.  He went on to say that his problem with the Twilight series and others like it was that they concern everlasting life that did not come in the form of redemption by Jesus Christ.  The books speak about the concept of eternal life, but there is no connection to Jesus.  Well, I hate to tell him this, but not all people even believe in Jesus!   If I told him that, what do you think he would say?  He might try to refute me, or tell me that if these people don't believe, then they will never attain everlasting life.  You should have seen me shaking in my shoes.  I was so mad, I wanted to pound my fist into the computer monitor. 

I sat back, letting my blood pressure lower, and I went back to Claire's post to see what she had written.  She had not put much except for the YouTube link.  But at the top was something to the effect of, "Please tell me you don't read this!"  And that is when I lost it.

Because I just don't think that you can even comment on something if you have never read it.  From the comments she had below the link, it was obvious that neither Claire nor her cronies had read the books.  They were taking, on blind faith, that what this pastor said was right.  It didn't matter that he probably had not read the books either.  It didn't matter that perhaps he was looking more into a story than he should.  It didn't matter that he effectively told his congregation to stay away from a whole slew of books because he heard something about them or looked at the cover art and deemed them unworthy of reading. 

It does matter that his attitude scares me.  It matters that he passes judgment before looking inside.  It matters that he preaches this to flocks that then spread that word even further.

Haven't they learned not to judge a book by its cover? 

And perhaps I just judged them.  I didn't always say I was successful in abiding by my philosophy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Normal Development

While I realize that Zoe might be somewhat embarrased at some point that I have posted about her, I still plan on doing it.  I just wanted to get that out of the way.

Yesterday, the following conversation occurred at our house.

Talia:  Mom!  I think Zoe is growing breasts!
Me:  REALLY?  [I was skeptical.  Just last week I had seen her in the shower.  There was nothing going on.]
Talia:  Yep. 
Me:  I'll be right there.

I walked out of Melina's room and ran into Zoe.

Talia:  Sorry, Zoe.  But I told mom.
Zoe:  That is okay.
Me:  Honey, you might be embarrassed, but can I please check?
Zoe:  Sure.

Zoe lifted up her shirt, and a plethora of emotions overcame me.  My child, while slightly embarrassed, was perfectly willing to lift her shirt up for me.  I must be doing something right!  Then, I was slammed with the thought that my first born (by a minute), my little Zo Zo bean, was growing breasts.  I couldn't believe it.  Sure enough (and I won't go into details because I think that really would be too much), Zoe has started developing breasts.  My little baby is a baby no longer.

Development of the human body is amazing, if you ask me.  That should not be surprising, considering the field of study I went in to.  But remember, I had taken a peek last week.  Last week, and there was nothing on that little chest!  Even more amazing, is that we have our own little science experiment here at home.  I asked Talia to lift her shirt, and she has nothing.  She looked like Zoe did last week.  So, being the nerdy scientist that I am, I went and wrote down the momentous occasion on the calendar.  I will be curious to see when Talia's body begins to follow the same road.

And so, here we are.  Sitting at a point in our lives where changes will be making their way known, fast and furious to me, slow and laborious for the girls.  A point that is both exciting and heartbreaking, and most all bittersweet.  

***
On another note, Aaron woke up the other morning and went into the bathroom.  He opened up the toilet and pulled down his pants and said, "Mom, why is my penis doing that?"  And there his penis was, standing at half mast.  Inside I was laughing.  I told him it was normal and we went on our way.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

And So It Goes

I finished the rather large PDF version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, I did not actually read the entire thing; I found myself skimming much of it. The sheer amount of intimate information was just too much for me. I was literally tired of reading about it! And that is the truth. I wouldn't say that I am a prude. I just couldn't bear to read any more details. TMI!

I also found that I had no idea about toys, if you know what I mean. Of course who hasn't heard of canes, whips, handcuffs, and restraints, although I have admittedly never used them. (Shocking that I haven't, right?) But as to other paraphernalia, I was in the dark. Because this is a family blog, I am not even going to mention some of the objects I read about. I cringe just thinking of some of them, that is for certain. That Red Room of Pain really was outfitted well, if you are into that kind of thing.

Did I enjoy the book, though? Yes, and no. The PDF version was essentially a fan fiction version of the story, using Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen as the main characters. I would assume that some editing did occur before the published version went out. Of course, E. L. James changed the names to Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. The author also changed the location. But I am curious about any other changes. For those of you that read or are reading the published version, you will have to let me know if the editors took out the 1000 instances of oh my, he's hot, she's ready, or multiple other phrases that popped up too much and too often. Again, this is a family blog, so I hesitate to go much further into any other phrases that might have stood out. I got a little distracted by those phrases; the dialogue wasn't as polished as much as something a practiced author would churn out.

Part of the story that I did enjoy came at the end of my PDF. I don't know about the actual published product, but the PDF had a couple of outtakes at the end, parts of which were told from the point of view of Edward/Christian. A friend of mine didn't like that point of view, as she found it disturbing. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed reading about his point of view. I think if E.L. James had written the entire book, perhaps alternating points of view with her chapters, she could have had a real psychological thriller on her hands. It was interesting to me why Cullen/Grey is the way he is, and what his past would reveal. But since the story is pretty much from the point of view of Isabella/Anastasia, you miss out on details that could reveal a great plot.

I also wonder about the reality of the female character. Don't get me wrong, I did like her ability to stand up to Edward/Christian. At first I thought she was going to be a real wuss, somewhat like the Isabella character from the original Twilight. Isabella pretty much relied on everyone else to save her. Anastasia doesn't necessarily do that. But, she is a young, naive, virgin when she meets Christian. I find it a bit difficult to digest and believe that she would jump into such an extreme type of relationship when it was her first one. If a hot specimen of manhood such as Grey had approached me at her age, I'd have likely run the other way!

Anyway, I just admitted to reading "mommy porn," right? And I am still standing! I don't feel guilty about it in the least, although I made sure to keep the tablet away from the kids when I was reading. I do have to tell you, though, that it felt a bit strange when my sister told me that she threw me under the bus. "What do you mean?" I said. "Oh, I told mom you suggested that I read it." Hmmm. I am going to assume that my mom will forget about that conversation entirely.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Caped Crusaders

If you are a regular of this blog, you know that Melina has been going through a superhero phase. Thank goodness, is all I can say. There is only so much pink I can take.

Yesterday, we went to book club at a local Starbucks. I made sure to shower after I ran, and put on clean clothes for our jaunt to the book club. Melina made sure to grab her cape. She went dressed as Batman.


The above picture does not have the black cape, but she loves to put the whole thing together, and was happy to sip a hot chocolate at Starbucks. She then decided that she wanted to ask people if they knew who she was. She started with the book club ladies -- all 8 of them. Most of them guessed Batman, and were rewarded with a big Melina smile. If they replied Batgirl, she quickly corrected them: "I'm Batman!"

After she had gone through all 8 ladies, she asked a friend of mine to take her up to a random man in line. They politely asked him if he knew who she was. He looked at her and said, "Hmmm, Batman?" Melina replied, "Yes!" and pumped her fist in the air. The man in line chuckled, as did many of the other patrons.

I was wildly amused by Melina's antics. Sure, I think she is funny in her little outfit, and I love to see the look of pure joy on her face. But I was astounded that someone to whom I gave birth would willingly, without my encouragement, want to go up to a random stranger. I've had very little experience in this regard with the other kids. It was awfully refreshing.

Lest you think Melina is a one man Superhero lover, I am providing a picture of her in her Wonder Woman outfit. It is missing the circlet that goes around her head. Aaron made it for her, but we didn't get it in the picture. We did get the golden lasso, though.


We also have Aquaman (orange shirt and green pants), Spider man, and just today, we got a Green Lantern T-shirt that will come in handy this afternoon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Part Canine

This post probably falls under the I never knew that about you category. In fact, I might never have told anyone this, because it makes me seem strange. Whoa! I know what a few of you might right now be thinking. We already know you are strange! Right? No really, keep reading. This is somewhat weird.

Back when I was a kid, I used to think that I was part dog. You read that correctly. I am not kidding.

I was not certain of the breed, but right about the time I was eight, I was pretty sure that somehow, someway, my genes were not entirely human. It was all because of my ears. No, they weren't pointy or furry or even overly large. But every once in a great while, I would hear a high frequency noise in one ear, and no one else seemed to notice.

I remember asking my friends in school if they could hear the ringing that I did. All of them looked at me like I was crazy. Perhaps I was. But I knew I heard something, and the only thing I could equate it to was the dog whistle I read about in a magazine once. I thought perhaps our neighbor had blown his dog whistle, and that I somehow had the ears to hear it. There was often a buzzing sound that accompanied the high frequency sound, and sometimes a rushing as well.

I don't actually have a logical explanation, but today, it happened to me as I was standing in the kitchen. I was stirring my enchilada sauce when all of a sudden, I heard a whine, and then a rush, and to be truthful, my ear seemed energized. The noise that I was hearing through the affected left ear was sharper and clearer, and I could hear better, for just a bit of time, out of that ear. Weird, no? It was gone in a few seconds, but it had me thinking of the times when I would have sworn I was part canine.

I realized once I was older that the chances of me actually being part dog were quite slim, but when I met Tim, he was startled at how well I could hear. Many noises that I heard, he couldn't, and he could be in one part of the house speaking very lightly, and I'd still hear what he was saying. He told me I have bat ears. But since I had a bad experience with a bat once (Haven't heard that one? Perhaps I need to share it), I think I'd rather have dog ears.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stumbling Around

Every once in a while, when I am done reading a blog, I hit the next button at the top of the page and see where the old internet takes me. Sometimes, I stumble onto some very good blogs. I found a great poetry site once, and a few full of wonderful photographs. I have also found quite a few family oriented blogs, similar to mine, that I enjoy reading. It is good to see other people struggling and enjoying the same things that I do.

Today, I stumbled across one of those sites but the last post occurred late in 2011. It got me thinking. What happened to keep this person from posting? She already worked full time as a teacher, so she didn't go back to work. Did they move, and she doesn't have the time to update? Or did something awful happen to them? I hate to dwell on the negative, so maybe instead they just had quadruplets, and are just too tuckered out to post something to benefit people like me. I'll never know, but I would like to know.

Which means that when I am done with this blog, I will let you know. And if I am incapacitated, will one of you dear readers hack into my account and write a final post? I would appreciate it. I don't want to keep all those random blog readers worried, you know.

Friday, April 13, 2012

John Green Fan

About a year ago, my friend suggested that I read something from John Green. (Yes, Kelsey, that was you. I should probably have an entire post devoted to you and your book recommendations. I cannot thank you enough.) I picked up Looking For Alaska and read the entire thing in one day. I moved on to Paper Towns, and realized that this John Green guy had something. A something that made me want to read more of his books. A something that made me borrow every single one from the library and then wait for his next one to be released.

You might wonder what that something is, and I do find it difficult to articulate. But I will try to do so in the event you'd like to become a fan of Mr. Green.

1. John Green is an author with an intellect that shines through. His writing is not only thoughtful and provocative, but it is chock full of good vocabulary. I have, on occasion, been forced to pull out the dictionary when reading one of his novels. The word usually looks familiar, but the true meaning is something I have long forgotten. (Don't worry, I haven't aged so much that I can't get the contextual meaning. But sometimes, I want to know the real definition. Plus, when I was little, I often liked to just sit and read the dictionary, so these days, pulling out the dictionary gives me a brief whiff of nostalgia.) When you read one of his books, you might need to pull out other reference material as well, considering he often quotes other people, texts, or subjects with which you might not be familiar. Cool.

2. John Green is a nerd, in every sense of the word. In fact, he and his brother established a website about 4 years ago that brought together a community of nerds, a bunch of creative and unique people, as they say. They termed this community Nerdfighters. If you have any interest, go check them out here. While I don't know the man personally, he probably is what our principal likes to call a learner: Someone that wants to learn from each situation and will help others learn as well. Let me tell you. I learn from John Green, on multiple levels.

3. John Green usually puts math into his novels. Math! Let me say that again. Math! If that doesn't scream dork to you, I don't know what does! Part of the reason I loved An Abundance of Katherines (and I may have posted about this before, so sorry for the redundancy) is that John Green actually worked a formula into the book. The main character, Colin, had loved a number of Katherines. All of those relationships failed. Colin subsequently came up with a theorem that he used to predict the outcome of relationships. If you want to see the equation, go here. It is quite impressive.

4. John Green creates complicated characters, both male and female, that usually are strong characters. I love characters with grit, feeling, and intelligence, and almost all of his characters are built that way, with a little quirk thrown in. The dialogue that spews forth from his characters mouths makes me laugh, cry, and think, and if someone can do all of that in a book, I am hooked.

I just finished The Fault In Our Stars. If you haven't read it, you might want to stop reading now. If you think you might want to read it, but don't mind a little bit of spoiling, then you can continue.

In short, Hazel Grace Lancaster has terminal cancer. She meets Augustus Waters, an osteosarcoma survivor, at support group. In that first meeting, Augustus admits that he fears oblivion. He says, "I fear it like the proverbial blind man who's afraid of the dark." (p. 12)

I was intrigued by his fear, for some reason, and then bowled over by Hazel's response. She said,
"There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you." (p. 13)
Hazel continues later on the same page with:
"And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that's what everyone else does."
Many people would have thought, who is she to say that? But not Augustus. He replies with a cool, "Goddamn, aren't you something else."

Over the course of the book, both of these young lives are changed. The characters are rich and the dialogue doesn't disappoint. The math is subtle, but present. I found myself laughing at moments, and then feeling bad about laughing at someone that has a terminal disease.

I'd love to give you more quotes from the book, but I hesitate to do that, as then I'll spoil all the fun. But I am going to share with you one more little section. This part came up about 5/6 of the way through the book, and touched me greatly. I can't give the details as to why or when this came up (and it might seem obvious, but then again, there might be a twist here), but Hazel says the following:
"I am not a mathematician, but I know this: There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful." (p. 260)
If that paragraph doesn't make you stop and think, then I guess maybe you won't like John Green. But for what it is worth, I hope you do.

P.S. Anyone that can fit in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock into a story is all right, if you ask me. Tasha, are you interested now?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Never A Dull Moment

In my world, we call the school; the school doesn't call us. So anytime I see the phone number of the school pop up on our caller ID, I brace myself. Questions start to swirl in my mind: Who is sick this time? What happened on the playground? Who had to go to the principal's office? You see? I try not to be negative, but again, we call the school. The school doesn't call us!

So yesterday, when the school called, I thought perhaps Talia had fallen victim to mono. The secretary identified herself first, and was quick to follow that with, "The kids are all okay." Um, thank you. Glad to know that from the get go.

She proceeded to tell me that Aaron was essentially attacked by a kid on the playground. The kid did not like what Aaron was doing (he was pretending to be a zombie, with his arms stretched out) and so the other child scratched his face. She told me that the child drew blood, and that the scratch was a pretty good one. She had cleaned him up and sent him on his way, but she wanted to tell me what happened. Again, um thanks.

Well, Aaron walked in the door with a good size band-aid on his face. The scratch looked fine, but I was glad that the child had not gotten his nails near Aaron's eyes. No sooner had Aaron walked in, when the phone rang. It was the principal. He was checking to see that Aaron was okay, and he wanted to let me know that the incident had been taken care of. The parents of the other child were notified, and Aaron had absolutely done nothing wrong. I was glad to hear it.

The rest of the evening, our phone was quiet. Too quiet, in my opinion. If the situation had been reversed, not only would I have called the other child's parents and apologized for what my child did, but I would have hauled Aaron over to their house and had him apologize in person. As of right now, we've still heard nothing. But Tim did hear that the child has been suspended and that the school has suggested counseling. Apparently, this was not his first infraction.

I am curious as to what will happen when I see this child's parents at school. I don't know them well, but we do see one another at school functions and chat. I know that I would be mortified to encounter the mom of a child that my child had hurt. Perhaps these people will not feel the same.

All is well that ends well, in my opinion. But according to Aaron, it could have gone better. Last night he looked up at me and said, "Mom. If he had scratched me really hard right on my forehead, and it scarred, then I would look like Harry Potter!"


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sacrifices

As most of you know, I finished up teaching last November when the quarter was over, and I took a self imposed hiatus for the Winter quarter. It is now Spring quarter, and I have not gone back. It isn't that I didn't want to teach, it is that the pickings were a bit slim. The school is transitioning to semesters, and therefore the number of sections they have to offer adjunct faculty is few. Even if I wanted to teach, the times are not always convenient for me. So, Tim and I discussed it, and I decided to just keep being a full-time SAHM for a bit. That will likely last until next January, because the Fall semester won't have much to offer me, either.

Well, when I first realized how much time I'd have on my hands, I rejoiced. I ran around the house, decluttering and reorganizing. I had energy to spare, and figured I could get a lot done. And I have. My presence at the kids' school has increased, and I feel that I am more aware of what is going on in the kids' lives. The kids are able to do more extracurriculars, which I think they enjoy, although I do feel as though I live in my car. Of course, that means that Melina also lives in the car, and that is the first sacrifice we've had to make.

How bad is it that Melina needs to be taken everywhere with me? And will it impact her? In some ways, yes. I am sacrificing the time that we could be using to read, write, or snuggle. She definitely gets less art time from me, and fewer hours outside. She doesn't realize it is a sacrifice, but I do. I only hope the other kids realize, someday, how lucky they are that I am home and that Melina is a trooper.

When I was thinking of all of that is going on right now, I also got to thinking about other sacrifices. Namely the ones that we make when we have children. I am not talking about the countless strawberries I let my kids have when I really wanted the strawberries, but I guess I could be. Those little sacrifices are no less important than the larger ones. The ones where we decide to forgo a career to stay at home with the little people. Due to my brief teaching break, I have had several people ask if I will be going back. Can you stay home forever? How do you feel about this break? How would you do staying at home? I've gotten it all.

I can say this. Right now, as much as I'd like to have an established career, and one that I look forward to each day, I don't. I enjoy teaching, but I find it just as rewarding, if not more so, to help out the students at the school as a volunteer. I can also say that, as I have said before, it has come to my realization that I would like to be a writer. My fingers are itching to do something about that situation, but when I think real hard about what becoming a writer might entail, I think that perhaps now isn't exactly the right time. Whether it is teaching, writing, or making my way as a baker (yeah, I've thought of that, too, but it all comes back to writing), I think perhaps this break came at just the right time. It has forced me to think about what I want in life. Life as a mom, a wife, a family member, and a member of society. Who knew it could do all that?

But the question always comes back to whether or not this break will impact my career in a bad way. In essence, have I sacrificed my career for my kids? No one has asked me that, but it is the one I think about the most. Many women deal with this dilemma and many think about it even before a child actually arrives. Getting back into the workplace after having kids is difficult. That is why many of us keep our foot in the door. I've kept my foot in the door not only because of the difficulty of going back, but also because of the difficulty of staying at home all day long. Staying at home most of the time has gotten easier, partly because the kids are older. Our conversations have changed, and we are learning together. It isn't all potty and poop anymore. I doubt I could do it forever, but in the interim, I am enjoying it.

Perhaps I have sacrificed my career (I can just see my Ph.D. committee collectively cringing right now), but apparently, it suits my world. I have no regrets, and when I think about taking this small break, I get somewhat excited. Sure, maybe this break will be bad for my teaching career, but perhaps it is just the right fuel for starting another one. As long as I am open to change, and realizing what needs to be sacrificed and what doesn't (my sleep, fine; the kids sleep, no), I think I can find my way in the crazy maze of life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fears

I fear that:

The standards I set forth for an education are much higher than those set by the state in which I live.

We had our summer in March of this year. I am cold right now, and I don't like it.

I will go insane trying to keep this house in order.

I complain too much and too loudly on many things.

The wrinkles on my face are going to overtake the smooth skin, and it is going to happen soon.

I won't live up to the expectations of my kids

The superheroes have invaded our house, and as much as I love superheroes, we just don't have all of their costumes.

Melina thinks that I can fashion said costumes from anything in 30 seconds flat.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I Think She Missed Something

Someone who shall remain nameless forwarded an old version of Fifty Shades of Grey to me. Apparently, the story started out as fanfiction. The characters were originally named Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen.

One of my big problems with Twilight was that Meyer's vampires had bodies like stone: hard and cold to the touch. Without a working heart, there was no blood to pulse. How Edward ever managed to consummate his relationship with Bella, I will never understand.

My question to E. L. James then, should be somewhat obvious. Has she ever even heard of a refractory period?!?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Chatterboxes

It is the Friday before Easter, known as Good Friday to us, and a good Friday it is. We woke up cold, but we woke up. So we thanked the good Lord. Don't worry, I have not gone preachy on you overnight or anything. Sometimes, you just have to remember all of the good stuff you have in your life, and be grateful for it. And so I am.

Thanks to the multitude of viruses we have been battling as of late, we have no plans to travel over the Easter weekend. Likewise, no one is coming to see us. I am under the impression that our families really don't need an Easter bunny that just keeps on giving or a virus that sticks around until Pentecost. And to be honest, I just don't mind that we will hopefully have a calm and quiet Easter weekend at home.

My only concern is that if the weather is not nice, Tim and I might be trapped inside with our kids.What? Why is that all of a sudden a problem? Well, I will tell you. Our children have become very talkative. Chatty, loose-lipped, you have a name for it? That they are. All four of them have been talking me into the ground lately. And I don't know what to do about it.

One thing the kids like to do is tell stories. But how many times can I hear the same story? Four times, because I have four kids, of course. And if one kid tells me something, you can bet the next kid will come up not even 5 minutes later and tell me the same thing. If I say that I already heard the story, they tell me that no, I haven't. They have more details to give. Details my eye! In the end, all I hear is blah blah blah, because by the 4th time, I am just tired of hearing it! I haven't told them this, but if I turn on the faucet and clean the dishes, I get a little reprieve from hearing that story again. I just have to remember to shut the water off and give an appropriate response.

I know how bad that all sounds, because I know how important it is to listen to your kids, to make their feelings feel valid, and to make them feel significant. If I didn't think I was doing a somewhat adequate job there, I'd probably be more apt to listen to the same story again and again and again.

And the talking doesn't stop there. At dinner the other night, there was a round robin of words going on. It was almost too much for us to keep up with. (So much that I just ended my sentence with a preposition, and because I am still so raddled, I am not going to fix it!) Tim and I looked at one another, and promptly had a vocabulary lesson with the kids -- we taught them verbose and loquacious. Very cool words, if you ask me. Just not when you live with 4 people that can be described that way.

The weird thing is, both Tim and I are what I'd consider non-talkers. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot to say (as evidenced by this blog), or I think I have a lot to say, but I am not a big talker. Unless I know someone well, I don't say much. I'd rather grab a book and sit in the corner than be put into a pit with people I don't know. Tim could say the same. And so here I am, on Good Friday, completely happy and thankful that a virus came into town. It might have wreaked havoc for a bit in the house, but it saved us from sitting in a car and having to listen to non-stop chattering for 4 hours.

(Yes, I know that when the kids are older and out of the house, I will be begging for them to come back and make some noise. And I won't be mad at you when you remind me that I said all of the above.)


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Voice, Batman!

Melina has been a bit under the weather the last few days. She picked up a virus somewhere and I think it triggered croup. Two nights ago she had the barky cough, and now, she has a nice wet one. Sorry. But I simply state the facts. She won't be going to school again today, although I will probably drag her with me over to the elementary school to help out. Oh the woes of being the last kid.

Well, yesterday we decided to have some time with the Superfriends. We had borrowed the first season's volume from the library. I don't know who was more excited, Melina or me. We popped in the DVD and went to town.

First off, I recognized four things.
  1. I still love these people!
  2. There are lessons to be learned way beyond what I realized the first time I viewed the Superfriends.
  3. These episodes are far more entertaining and hilarious now than when I was a kid.
  4. We have underestimated the power of Casey Kasem.

Let me briefly explain. One of the episodes we watched had to do with a scientist who was trying to change weather patterns. I was amazed at how much information we could actually gleam from the Superfriends' conversations. They taught us a bunch about weather, the patterns that could be made, and technical words. Melina now knows what a barometer is. Of course, she also now knows Holy Hades! It's hot in here!

We also watched another couple of episodes, and I found myself laughing my behind off. I am certain I did more laughing yesterday than I ever did way back whenever I first watched the show. The laughter stemmed mostly from the dialogue. To wit:

Batman: [Looking for Wendy and Martin]...Probably climbed the mountain.
Robin: To see what they could see?

Robin: [After climbing a gigantic plant] Holy Jack and the Beanstalk! I'm really getting up in the world!

Batman: What does it look like?
Marvin: Well, uh...it looks like a U.
Superman: It looks like Batman?

Robin: King Midas! The kids were right. This is solid gold.

Batman: [seeing Aquaman on a stingray] That's our Aquaman. Always traveling in style.

One of the most amazing features I noticed yesterday was how many characters Casey Kasem voiced. I knew he had lent his voice to Scooby-Doo and Robin; I knew he used to host the American Top 40 on the radio. I had no idea that he was the voice of plenty of secondary characters on the Superfriends and other shows. Check him out at IMDB, and you will be more than impressed, if you ask me. I don't know if I am more in awe of the fact that he has lent his voice to so many characters, or that he feels just fine saying sentences like, "I've got to glue on these eyelashes real tight. That trip to Mars is a long way."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Finding Your Niche

How many times have you felt like you were trying to keep up with the Joneses? Does that describe you? Thankfully, the times that I have felt like that in my life are few and far between, and hover mainly in the past, somewhere between adolescence and college. I remember those times fondly, despite the need to be like the Jones family (at one point, we actually had a Jones family on the street, but oddly enough, I didn't compare myself to them), possibly because of the positive influences that dotted the landscape at the time.

In any case, for whatever reason, I feel compelled to tell you to stop. And no, I am not necessarily pointing my finger at any one reader. I hope that all my readers are confident in who they are and what they do, but I do know that it is human nature to feel inadequate at times. Well, try to stop that. Try to dwell on the beauty that is you. Feel the love emanating from my words, and embrace what makes you, you. Whether that be the fact that you can diagnose someone accurately, even over the phone (you know you who are), teach a dog the laws of physics (and the dog will actually understand those laws), find the good in anyone, or leg press 208 pounds (a shout out here to Tara, because yes, that is just impressive). Find your niche, and go with it.

I'll see you on the sunny side of the street, bringing a freshly baked casserole and a big old smile to the Joneses.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Addicted

The reference librarian and I were chatting the other day, and we both decided that we are addicted to books. I probably should chart the number of books I have checked out from the library; the graph might make a pretty (and impressive, at least to Tim) picture.

Well, this morning I was dropping off some of the books I have read, and picking up the ones I had on reserve. I quickly glanced at the New Fiction book rack (I prefer to read fiction, because it is easier on my head usually), something I usually do, just in case. And there, at the bottom of the rack, was a book with an American Gothic-like cover. I looked closely, and read the title: The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten, by Harrison Geillor. Immediately I thought, Twilight and Lake Wobegon spoof? Let me at it! So, I brought it home. I plan on starting it this evening.

Has anyone read it? I found reviews on the internet, but I'd like to know how you felt about it, if indeed you have read it.

***
Speaking of reading (and perhaps addiction, but not mine), a few friends of mine are reading the famed Fifty Shades of Grey. If you have not heard of that title, I am betting you are cut off from all technology. After all, I don't watch television, but my computer presence has allowed my path to cross it. Personally, I don't know that I could stomach reading it, but I am curious to know if any of you have? And feel free just to email me personally, if you are embarrassed to admit that you have indeed read what some consider to be "mommy porn." By the way, that is NOT my description. I will say again that I have NOT read it, and therefore I will leave the judgment by the wayside. On the other hand, some feminists have decided that a consensual relationship such as that depicted in the book may be empowering for women. I'll let you decide. Just let me know what you decide!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools!

I tried to think up something nifty to fool you all with today, but I did not want to jinx myself or my family, and thus, I abandoned the project. Instead, I have a question for you.

Tim asked me this morning the following question. If I had the ability to know the winning numbers ahead of time, would I play the lottery? Obviously, this question came up because of the mighty large jackpot that was up for grabs the other night.

I thought for about two seconds, and replied that I would, but then I'd give most of it away. Not just to family, but to all the causes I think are worthwhile. I could help so many people in such a short time. It would certainly be a case of the end justifying the means, but yes, I would play the system.

So I am wondering: Ignoring any other factors, would you play?