Saturday, February 28, 2015

Trying to (Not) Sleep

We took a quick little trip yesterday--we were gone for just over 25 hours--and Melina stayed up way too late last night. She's a carefree, go-with-the-flow kind of child, who when tired, falls asleep no matter what. And she does so quietly. See for yourself.



Friday, February 27, 2015

Such a Light Shade of Grey, I'll Call it Ivory

Warning: I usually try to keep family-friendly information within this blog, but today's post goes slightly beyond what might be considered appropriate for the little ones. Consider yourself warned.

I love to laugh. The feeling of warmth and relaxation that spreads through my body after a good chuckle is similar to the same one I experience after a spectacular run. And as most of you know, I could use a laugh these days. (If you've been keeping up with me, you know I've been crabby, shall we say, as of late. If you've been keeping up with me, you also know I'm refusing to focus on that fact, and I'm adjusting my attitude. Laughing helps with the self-adjustment.)

What's so funny? The website for Astroglide. Now, I'm not sure the company has changed the site recently, but considering the theme looks to be all Fifty Shades, then yes, I'm going to say Astroglide is trying to capitalize on the Fifty Shades Phenomenon. Case in point: their new marketing campaign where you can "find your shade" of Astroglide. If you "dare," you can get a free sample.

Even better (if you're into that sort of thing), you can "Win a pleasure package and find your deepest shade of Grey." The site says how to win that package (get it? package? so funny!): "Enter our 'Purple Room of Pleasure' contest for a chance to win one of three Pleasure Package grand prizes, including a $50 American Express® gift card, Astroglide lubricant, a signed copy of Dr. Jess’ The Little Book of Kink, a bondage kit and more!"

If I haven't scared you off yet, then you can also check out a link to their page on kink. Yes, they have a link to "A Lighter Shade of Grey: the Beginner's Guide to Kink." I'm guessing that might be for those of you out there who just can't stomach inserting silver balls into your nether regions. (I don't really know. I clicked on the link and then had to get something out of the microwave.)

I'm laughing, but I would guess I shouldn't. All companies need to make money, and once the novelty of the name wore off (Astroglide is a much better name than K-Y Jelly, don't you think?), perhaps the company was scrambling for something new and exciting. What could be newer or more exciting than trying something different with your partner and Astroglide, right?

Yeah, I'm still laughing. But I think I'll stay on the shade of Grey that's so light, it's almost Ivory.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Swift Kick in the Pants

Just yesterday, I thought about taking a break from writing. And by break, I mean a break for myself where I don't actively improve any piece I've already started. My break then, would not include the writing down of any new ideas...that would be a completely ludicrous thing to do. But once the new idea jumped from my head to the page, I'd back away from doing anything with it.

Part of my reasoning with respect to this break is that I'm feeling many things right now: overwhelmed by my four jobs (teaching, parenting, editing, and writing); crabby that the weather is so bad; frustrated that I'm still not back to running; tired from the long winter. Yes, in short, I'm a complete mess at times, although I think I've been holding myself together pretty well. And a few days I ago, I wallowed in those feelings of being overwhelmed.

I knew I wouldn't wallow long, that I shouldn't wallow long, but I wasn't sure what would snap me out of the funk.

Well, the universe sent me a message today, in the form of a Caring Bridge update. You see, I have a friend who lost her right eye in March 2009 to ocular melanoma, which is a rare (and aggressive) form of cancer. According to one of her updates way back then, "There is no cure for this cancer, and few treatments which may extend life, most of which are still in clinical trial phase. Without treatment, median life expectancy is about 6 months. With treatment, it is about 2 years or so, but there is a bit of variation, with a very few patients making it 4 or more years." Those words are depressing, but I want you to realize that here we are, almost to March 2015, and she's still with us.

Her time hasn't been easy. Since that initial diagnosis, she's battled tumors strewn throughout her body, undergone treatment to try to eradicate the tumors, and juggled her treatment schedule with her home life. Yes, that's right, she has three thriving children.

When I received the update today, I knew in my gut what it might say, and her chosen title says it all: "More progression, and harder treatment." Sadly, more progression means the tumors in her liver are growing, and that she still has tumors riddling the rest of her body. If anyone can wallow in a situation, it would be this lady. And yet, she's not.

My friend wrapped up the summary of her life right now in this way:

"I certainly wish the cancer were not progressing along like this, but I'm oddly at peace with where things stand. I feel like the kids are as taken care of as I can, I've got the help I need to rest as much as my body will allow, and I'm able to focus my time and attention where I want to, rather than where I must (other than treatments). The fiddle that is being built for me (and U) is coming along nicely, and I'm so excited about that. J provides a daily dose of giggles with her clever jokes, and U's progress with math and science is amazing. A is happy and stable. That said, there is always the big question mark hanging over my head as to how long and when things will take the 'big' turn for the worse.  I can usually avert my eyes, but the bigger the tumors get, the harder that question mark is to ignore. But, in the mean time, back to trying to sleep (in spite of the pain med's best intention to keep me awake) and see what tomorrow brings!"

Incredible. Amazing. A message full of hope that tomorrow might bring something different.

I might still take my break from writing, but I certainly won't be feeling bad about anything that's going on in my life right now. If my friend can stay strong in the midst of personal chaos like that, I can accept the challenge to do so myself. Sometimes a swift kick in the pants comes in the most unexpected ways.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Signature

On Monday, February 23, I proctored my second exam for the semester. The weather conditions around here have been dismal: we've had one official delay that affected my class and a few days of weather bad enough that some students never made it to class (although the school never posted the official delay). But with our lovely friend, the internet, the students knew an exam would happen this past Monday.

Yet when I showed up to class, a good eight or so students were missing. Not a single one had emailed me to let me know why they weren't coming, and one student--get this--came into the class (late, mind you) and said, "I'm not ready. I'm really not. Can I have an extra day?"

Tim thought I was crazy to cave to her demands, but this student has a very full plate, and truthfully, not much hope of passing this class. Maybe it was a moment of weakness that pushed me to say yes to her, or maybe I just felt like affording her some kindness.

In any case, I expected a few students to email me regarding their situation, but as of Monday night, only one person had done so. Tuesday morning, I sent out the following email:
I understand that we've had a wacky few weeks, but I would have expected all students to show up for Exam 2. Back in the beginning of the course, I stated on my information sheet, "There are no make-up exams." I do modify that statement at times, such as when someone contacts me ahead of time to indicate a conflict. However, for this 2nd exam, no one contacted me.

Most of you have internet access and even email capabilities by phone. Please be courteous and let me know ahead of time if you will not be in class for the exam.

For those of you who missed this exam and have not spoken to me via email or in person, you will now need to take the optional comprehensive final.

Rules are in place, not to be harsh, but to be fair to everyone in the class. Plus, the lessons you learn in school can always apply to life. Think about if you missed a big meeting at work and didn't bother to speak with your boss. You might be fired over similar behavior.

We'll continue with Chapter 8 tomorrow.
Of course, after I sent the message, a slew of emails popped into my inbox. I answered them politely, but as I read each one, I realized something: teaching is just like parenting. I need to stay on top of these students whether I like it or not because someday, I'm not going to be there to hold their hands. Next time I send out an email to my class, I'm going to sign it, Mom.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Yahoo Groups

Anyone out there use Yahoo Groups? We use them for Literary Mama, and I like them, because I can link up my Gmail account to them. So when someone emails, I can reply directly using my Gmail account. I don't like them, because when I send a message or reply to a group message, I'm never quite sure that the message goes through. I should see the reply pop up in my inbox, and the only place I see it is in the sent mail box. So I wait to see if people reply, and many times, they don't.

If you use Yahoo Groups AND you can tell me how to clear the mess up, please let me know. I'd love to fix this issue, stat.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Before I Sleep

Each week, I post an Author/Book of the Week post on Facebook via The Plot Sisters. Since I've been reading Ella Enchanted to Melina as of late, I decided to showcase Gail Carson Levine. She is quite the prolific writer, that's for sure. But as I perused her biography, one little statement stood out the most. It said, "And I collected rejection letters for nine years until an editor wanted the manuscript for Ella Enchanted."

Boom. There you have it. I guess I have years to go before I sleep.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rewards

A friend shared a quote today that adequately sums up my feelings on any one of my stories. If--at the end of this writing journey--I could call myself half the writer that Alice Munro is, I would consider myself lucky.
“I want my stories to be something about life that causes people to say, not, oh, isn’t that the truth, but to feel some kind of reward from the writing, and that doesn’t mean that it has to be a happy ending or anything, but just that everything the story tells moves the reader in such a way that you feel you are a different person when you finish.” – Alice Munro

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Flying Pigs

These questions from a student popped into my inbox this afternoon: What is the plasma membrane? What does it do? What makes it up? Does the membrane like or hate water? I knew where she'd gotten the questions. They are from a study guide I posted for chapter 3. What subject does chapter 3 address? Cells. 

So color me amazed when I read the student's response: I want to say the plasma membrane is a lipid bilayer and proteins in constantly changing fluid mosaic. But I can not figure out what it does, what it makes up, and if it hates water or likes water.

Amazed might not be the proper word for my feelings. Something like gobsmacked might better describe what I felt sitting in front of my computer. Sure, the student had a portion of the answer correct. Yes, the plasma membrane is a lipid bilayer. Yes, it has proteins embedded in it. Yes, we consider the membrane to be a fluid mosaic. The student clearly had no trouble copying the words I'd given them on an outline. But from there, she can't quite make the proper connections. Which makes me wonder what in the hell she was doing while I was lecturing. 

I  mean, what does the plasma membrane do? After we described the plasma membrane, we spent days--yes DAYS--on what the membrane does for a cell. I repeated, over and over and over again, how the structure of the plasma membrane--including the phospholipids, integral proteins, peripheral proteins, cholesterol, and glycocalyx--how all of those structures helped the plasma membrane do what it needs to do. We talked about all the nitty gritty things she probably thought weren't important: diffusion, active transport, vesicular transport, and brought it back to the big picture--that the plasma membrane helps keep things in and other things out. And she doesn't have a clue as to what that membrane does. REALLY?

I shouted expletives at the screen and set about righting this student. I emphasized that she needed to look in the notes, perhaps read the chapter (novel idea there), and maybe even look on the internet (yes, I had to suggest this). I wanted to tell the student to do all of this next time before she sent me questions like these, but alas, I'm too nice. In the end, I answered her questions and hope that come Monday, she'll be able to put everthing together and pass the exam.

When pigs fly, as they say.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thought of the Day

I could quit writing tomorrow and most people would be none the wiser.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

With a Little Help from My Friends

Today in the land of frost and snow, we have a day off. The snow isn't the problem, but the cold temperatures are. We're sitting right now at 6.3 F, with a wind chill of -10. It could be worse, people. Much worse. (As in the -40 F recorded at the Baraga/Marquette County line this morning. Yikes.)

So I can't complain, but I can say that I need some amusement--a little diversion from the fact that we'll be indoors for much of the day, AGAIN. In an effort to find something to make me laugh, I keyed in a quick statement on Facebook this morning: Since many of you are home with your kiddos today, I'd like to play a round of "It's so cold..." Just fill in the end of that sentence, however you see fit. No censorship from me. I simply crave some amusement, and yes, I'm using you. Thank you. Now, ready, set, go!

The responses trickled in, many of which placed a huge smile on my face. I've removed names to protect the innocent. I don't care about the guilty. You know who you are:
  • It's so cold I enjoy doing the dishes just to keep my hands warm. Now my legs and feet are another matter as I'm standing in front of the open cupboard. Open so the pipes don't freeze. Kids are still sleeping in very warm beds.
  • It's so cold we may actually drive our kids to school. And it's so cold I will get out my mom's huge down coat to walk to work. And I'm In Maryland!
  • I have my coat on inside!
  • ...that Lake Champlain froze over.
  • My nostrils freeze when I breathe through my nose.
  • It's so cold that I am considering grocery delivery.
  • My teenage child will wear a coat without being nagged instead of a sweatshirt outside and is wearing real pants in the house and not gym shorts.
  • Parts of Niagara Falls have frozen--I know that's far from here but relevant, I think--true story.
  • Ice covering Lake Michigan out as far as the eye can see.
  • It's so cold that I had all four cats sleeping in bed with me last night.
  • My room temperature butter isn't spreadable.
  • I'm eating subway (blech) because it didn't require walking outdoors.
My literary favorite:
  • My window coverings look like they have icicle beards.         
And my two overall favorites:
  • It's so cold I can't even swear when I'm outside. I just sound like a librarian "Sh-sh-sh."
  • It's so cold my dog wees out a peesicle.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tell Me How You Really Feel: 17

"Goldfish," she said. "I'd never give my children goldfish."

At first I thought she was talking about a pet, but within a moment, I realized she meant the little cheese crackers made by Pepperidge Farm. You know, the "Snack that smiles back!" or something like that. I didn't say anything to her as a rebuttal. Instead, I thought about the bag of goldfish crackers sitting in my cabinet.

And then, I went to work. Looking up just how bad a goldfish cracker is and what's so bad about it. I knew that the snack would probably have too much sodium and very little protein. It's a salty snack, for goodness sakes. But when I saw the ingredients (photo by Kimberly Sullivan at https://kimsulli.wordpress.com/tag/goldfish-crackers/), I admit that I stepped back a little.


The smiles I could live with, but I had to wonder about the rest of the ingredients. Why did the crackers need all those ingredients, and what did they mean? (Now, don't get on my case. Yes, I'm a scientist, and yes, I look at labels, but my kids don't eat Goldfish every day, nor do they eat them in large quantities. I'm of the "mostly good food" in our house camp.)

So I kept searching online, and what I could find was this: Goldfish crackers contain GMOs, most likely in the oils the company uses to make them.

Holy crap! All these years I've given these small crackers to my kids and eaten them myself because we all like them and we've been getting GMOs through them?!?

I'm not the only one who didn't know this. A lawsuit or two has been filed because of this little-known fact, but not really because the cracker is made with GMOs, but because Pepperidge Farm had the nerve to call the snack Natural. (They no longer use the term, by the way.) I agree that the company shouldn't have used the the word, but I also think that our country is lawsuit crazy.

Now, if you really know me, you know that I'm not that torn up that my family has ingested these GMOs. On a routine basis, we eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and I usually steer the kids toward a good snacks. We try to buy organic when possible (as long as the act isn't cost prohibitive) and we buy milk that comes from cows that aren't treated with hormones. Now, as I said, we don't eat Goldfish often. The crackers are not a staple of my children's diets. If they were, I'd likely move on over to the Annie's brand, although the kids don't like those cute little bunnies as much. (Of course not...they're better for them.) But Goldfish? I'm not going to quibble about the multitude of ingredients in Goldfish.

And here's why: those fish, on many occasions, have saved me. On long car rides to eastern Pennsylvania, in crowded movie theaters, at long church services, in the pharmacy when we're waiting for antibiotics to be filled. Little fingers can pick them up, and dogs can clean them up when they've spilled. And, as the kids have aged, I began to realize their usefulness as manipulatives: if you have 12 Goldfish and eat 4 Goldfish, how many do you have left? In short, my children have benefited from many a Goldfish.

An even more healthful option? Make your own.

But I gotta tell you how I really feel, and that's this: I don't have time to make my own Goldfish. GMOs be damned, I'll likely buy a bag from time to time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Which TV Mom Are You?

The moment I saw the title of the quiz--Which TV Mom Are You?--I knew I was done for. Of course, I had to spend the few moments answering stupid questions, questions so irrelevant that at the end of the quiz, I asked myself why I even bothered to spend the time taking the quiz. (We've gone over this before, many times, right?)

Now those of you who know me probably remember that I don't watch much TV. Based on the picture that accompanied the quiz, I could identify only one mom by name: Clare Huxtable. And to be honest, I wouldn't have minded ending up with an answer that my parenting is in line with hers. She remained calm, even in the midst of chaos, and she was smart, too. I'll take those characteristics anyday.

But alas, after answering such questions as:
What time do you wake up?
What is your favorite breakfast? (They didn't have a picture of what I prefer to eat in an ideal world.)
How many hours do you work on a regular day? (Duh. All moms work all day. Oh, they meant outside the home.)
Do you cook every day?
Pick your favorite form of punishment.
Do you have a tattoo?
Pick a snack for your kids.
Pick your "the kids are sleeping drink."
I received the answer:
You are Marie Barone! You wear the pants in the family! You are a strong, loving and opinionated woman who will do anything for her family. You always say what's on your mind, and you don't care what other people think of you. Oh, and you are an amazing cook. No one, we mean NO ONE can resist your delicious food!
I've never thought of myself as completely opinionated, but perhaps I am, in a passive way. And, I do wear the pants in the family, but again, in a more subtle manner. However, I don't always say what's on my mind, and I'm not an amazing cook. (Just ask the kids. We're having breakfast for dinner AGAIN tonight.)

But my curiosity got the best of me, and I wondered if I could tinker with the quiz...manipulate it to give the answer I sought. (What is the answer I sought? I don't know. But I really didn't want to be considered opinionated for some reason.)

And this time, I received:
You are Kitty Forman! You are a loving wife, warm mother, and one heck of a funny drinker! You work hard (at the office and around home), and you appreciate your alone time. You like to laugh, drink, and play some not so PG games with your husband! 
Strangely enough, Kitty Forman does describe me much better (Have you seen me with alcohol in my system? You know how much alone time I require.), although Tim would likely dispute the last sentence of the description. Now if I could just combine Marie and Kitty...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ready, Set, Go!

Trolling the internet this morning, I found a real gem.


The kid on the right is the one I always wanted to be. I'd like to think I'm that kid now.

This week's goal? To find our inner artist. Ready, set, go!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Is This It?

I'm a little worried.

Last February, and the February before, I found myself in the midst of a tornado of sorts: a story showed up in my head, and made it to the paper in short amount of time. I worked in a frenzy--a good one--and my efforts paid off in the form of two novels. This February, the well is dry, and I wonder if my creativity has come to an end.

If I really think about the circumstances surrounding my creative bursts, I know that I had fewer obligations: I wasn't teaching as much and the kids didn't go as many places. In short, I simply had more time to write than I have these days.

I'm not complaining about the lack of writing time. I'm making an observation. And, I wonder if my circumstances change, if I find more writing time, will the words flow? Or is this it?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Thoughts on Valentine's Day

There's an ecard out there that says,"It's Valentine's Day. Hooray! That means chocolate is on sale tomorrow." My thoughts exactly.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Two Thoughts on Clean

1. I am so glad people choose to come visit us, or our house would never actually get cleaned.

And

2. Why, oh why, can't boys keep a toilet seat clean?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sharing

I see an increase in activity on this blog when FRN (faithful reader from the north, aka Tara, aka my younger sister) shares one of my posts. The concept makes sense: if I share a post, I am asking people to read it, so my readership (for that post anyway) goes up.

So the question then is this: should I always share my posts? And by share, I mean, broadcast the post's presence via our lovely friends Facebook and Twitter. (Any other form of social media, well, I don't use them.) I hesitate to do so...who wants to read about urethral meatoplasty or bad oven repair besides my actual family and friends? I'm guessing all the blog writers out there, those who are actually trying to maintain a blog for professional purposes, are shaking their heads at my measly attempts here. And we all know the reason for my blog...I've said it many times. I'm writing all the details of this life down for posterity's sake, really. I want to let my kids know why I'm insane, instead of having them look at me like I'm nuts but not understanding why. (Oh wait, didn't I once say I maintained this blog so the kids really know me and how much I love them? I guess maybe my reasons have changed...)

But sharing is like self-promoting, a concept I have trouble with, so I've brought myself full circle. And miraculously, I've determined the answer. No, I won't share all of the posts. These words are oftentimes drivel, really. And ain't nobody got time for that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tell Me How You Really Feel: 16

I currently have two posts tumbling around in my brain for this Tell Me How You Really Feel segment. Both of the topics have been addressed before, somewhat, but both of them also have come up again recently. Based on my available time today, I'm choosing the easier one.

I received an email yesterday from a teacher who passed on a link regarding gifted children. (Yeah, those of you who read this blog faithfully probably know where this is headed. You know I'm not a fan of the term, gifted, because in essence, I've been taught, and have come to realize, that all of us are gifted in some way. Some of our gifts are simply less well-pronounced than others and may not manifest in traditional ways. For example, and I'm not one to pat myself on the back, I really do have the gift of common sense. But I can tell you with certainty that no school would have placed me into a gifted program for it. However, the characteristic serves me, and the many others who call me The Voice of Reason, very well.)

As most people do when presented with an email including links, I clicked away and a new page popped up in front me, thrusting the title, Living With the Ups and Downs in my face.

I chuckled (you'll see why in a moment) and moved on down the page, where the site had highlighted the opening of a book entitled, Helping Gifted Children Soar. (Notice that I did not link up to the book. That's my very small act of rebellion, in case you were wondering.) The excerpt said:
Parenting a gifted child is like living in a theme park full of thrill rides. Sometimes you smile. Sometimes you gasp. Sometimes you scream. Sometimes you laugh. Sometimes you gaze in wonder and astonishment. Sometimes you're frozen in your seat. Sometimes you're proud. And sometimes the ride is so nerve-racking you can't do anything but cry.
I don't know about you and your family, but after having four children, I can say with complete and utter honesty, that parenting ANY child is like living in theme park full of thrill rides. And while I know nothing about the authors, I do know that you don't need to be gifted to understand the rules for title capitalization. Living With the Ups and Downs should be written Living with the Ups and Downs.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wisdom from David Nicholls

Having read--and truly enjoyed--One Day, by David Nicholls, I found myself excited to begin his latest novel, Us. The first chapter drew me in, and I found myself leaning into the page, interested, a feeling of happiness surrounding me. I even said to Tim, "You might want to read this book. The protagonist is a male scientist." You know, like Tim should read every book that features a male scientist because that, of course, also describes my husband.

As my reading progressed, though, I realized that whatever I felt when reading One Day would not be replicated in this new book. Sure, I liked the characters: Connie and Douglas are memorable in their own right, with quirks and mannerisms that seem to jump from the page. I could get lost in the characters. But the plot wasn't doing anything for me. While Nicholls possesses the ability to weave together the past and present almost seamlessly, the plot strewn within that past and present didn't hold my attention.

In the end, I skimmed the book, so I can't truthfully write a review of it. But during that skimming process, I found myself stopping, staring, rereading, and writing down page numbers. Hidden within a story I couldn't quite finish appropriately are nuggets that tug at my heart.
I had always been led to believe that ageing was a slow and gradual process, the creep of a glacier. Now I realize that it happens in a rush, like snow falling off a roof. p. 8
And another one:
...my wife at fifty-two years old seems to me just as attractive as the day I first met her. If I were to say this out loud, she would say, "Douglas, that's just a line. No one prefers wrinkles, no one prefers grey." To which I'd reply, "But none of this is a surprise. I've been expecting to watch you grow older ever since we met. Why should it trouble me? It's the face itself that I love, not that face at twenty-eight or thirty-four or forty-three. It's that face." p. 8-9
In case you think I only concentrate on romantic love, I don't. Thankfully, here at our house we're not yet in the position that Douglas holds, but the lines below hit me right where it hurts.
I have had some experience of unrequited love in the past and that was no picnic. I can tell you. But the unrequited love of one's only living offspring has its own particular slow acid burn. p. 49
And I've left the best for last. Or should I say worst. The book houses a ton of quotes I could choose to share that affected me. This quote, though, is the one that will haunt me, remind me not to be the way Douglas is at times. It's a quote to live by, if you ask me.
"When did it start, Douglas?" she said, her voice low. "When did you start to drain the passion out of everything?"
You want more? You'll have to get the book for yourself. I found enough in this book that I liked. I'll give Nicholls another chance, with his next novel. It's the least I can do for an author who makes me think about the way I'm living my life.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Her Life

She doesn't call me anymore. Nor does she answer when I call her. I'm not sure why. Perhaps she thinks if she stays away from me, she won't have to answer my nagging questions. Questions that only brush the surface as to what the hell is going on at her house. That's what I'd like to ask her, but I have too much respect for her, for what she should mean to me at this point. So, I let her behavior slide and sweep my questions under the carpet. For now.

Some day, I plan on pulling out those long-buried questions, shake the dust and crumbs off of them, and present them to her, all tied up in a box with a butterfly on it. I'll expect answers, but I know that even then, the answers won't come. Because they can't come. And I'll be left in the dark, wondering about all the reasons that lurk beneath her behavior.

The only action I can make now, is to march on with my own life, and let everything else go. It's her life, not mine. She's taught me that lesson more times than I can count.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Befuddled

Once again, I open the book, ready to be wowed. And once again, the so-called bestseller disappoints me. Do I expect too much? Am I reading the words all wrong? Why can't I find books that sing to me anymore? Can anyone help?

That's all, folks. I have grading to do.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It Happened That Way...

Aaron walked out of the bathroom holding the tweezers between his fingers.

"Mom, these tweezers need to be washed." He wouldn't meet my gaze, but he pushed the tweezers farther into my line of vision. What had he been doing with the tweezers?

"Uh, okay. Did you use them to take a piece of mucus out of your nose?" I asked him. I know it sounds odd, but sometimes, the mucus can be so dried and stuck that I have used tweezers to extract a piece of it from my kids' noses. Thankfully, they all know that the tweezers should be washed before they put it near their noses and again afterward.

Aaron's cheeks flamed red. "No."

"What did you use it for then?" My curiosity was piqued. I turned toward my little guy, keeping my ears wide open.

"Well...I had a splinter. In my...penis."

My mental self laughed so hard, but having a splinter in a penis doesn't sound fun. At all. "How in the heck do you suppose that happened?"

"I don't know."

I don't know, either. But I do know that if I didn't write this down, no one would have believed it to be true.

(And do not go there. The kid is ten. I'm hoping not to walk down that road for many years.)

Friday, February 6, 2015

My Life in Quotes

My mom is a quote lover. I guess I could say the same thing about myself, but I collect quotes differently than she does. Mom posts quotes on her office walls, sticks them into notebooks, and keeps them in her kitchen. I, on the other hand, put them here, on the blog.

I have no plans to become a quote blog (just like I have no plans to become a recipe blog), but I will keep posting them as I see fit. Why? Quotes inspire me. They direct me. They help me get where I want to be in life.

Today's quote? It's a good one:

If you don't like where you are, then change it. You are not a tree.
~Jim Rohn

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Long Week

Today is Thursday. The school week started on Monday. (I know I'm telling you facts that might seem obvious, but you'll see why I do so in a minute.) Since Monday, Aaron has:
  1. Forgotten his math homework at school. (She told me to put it in my math folder. So I did. Did I look at it to see what it was? Uh, no.)
  2. Forgotten his planner and homework folder at school. (Can we go get them, Mom? I have homework to do.)
  3. Forgotten his folder here at home, in the morning. (Should we take it to him? Yes, yes. He has assignments to turn in and a project to work on.)
If I had forgotten three major items in my day job, my students would be all over me. If had done the same here at home, my kids wouldn't let me live it down, plus, they'd be disappointed in me. If I did the same over at Literary Mama, I'm sure the senior editors would have something to say. The kid needs to learn to keep his crap together, not get sidetracked by a shoelace (really, this happened), and most importantly, know that I won't bail him out every time.

Three strikes, kid. I guess you're out. And yes, this has been a long week. (Even though it's really only been three full days.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tell Me How You Really Feel: 15

I woke up this morning feeling slightly dejected. Bumps and potholes dot the writing road, and I wonder--daily--why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm not complaining...I'm taking on this quest willingly and I have a supportive team. But I often think about all the other ways I could be spending my time...

And then, as I am wont to do, I check on a few of my friends...see what they have been up to while I've been sleeping. Low and behold (my old bio professor used to say that, in every class), a friend posts a little reminder. 


When I write, I feel the most full. In many ways.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Oh What a Feeling

Every once in a while, I like to look and see what we were doing a few years ago. The blog is a great way to do that, so I'm glad we started it. (By we, I mean Tim and I. But really, Tim started it. I perpetuated it. I'll still say we, though.) So just for kicks, I looked back at February 2009. We didn't write much then. I didn't have time, as Melina was not even a year old yet. And that meant that we had two kids in second grade, a kid in preschool, and a baby. Nope, not much time to do anything really. But I found this post by Tim, where he talks about our bookworms.

A warm feeling engulfs my chest when I realize that all four of our kids have blossomed into bookworms. Gone are the days where we need to read to them. We still do read to them, especially Melina, but it's not necessary.

In fact, now, I have to threaten to take away the books because instead of doing math, the kids are curled on the couch, book in hand. It doesn't matter if they've read the book before, or if it's fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, or science fiction. If the item has words, they will read it.

Math is important, too, kids, I say, as I reach for the book and close it. But deep down, I know the feeling that reading gives them. And what a feeling it is.

“Reading is dreaming with open eyes.” ~ YoYo

Monday, February 2, 2015

Length X Width

Cold dark winter days remind me of many things. One of the most important is this:


Sunday, February 1, 2015

It's a Messy Life

Everyone has the potential for a messy life. It's how we react to that messy life that speaks to what sort of person we are.

I'm not here to speak of my messiness or point fingers at your messiness. What I want to ask is, when did our messy lives become everyone's business? Is my messy life in competition against your messy life?

I don't think so. But I'll help you through your messy life if you want me to. All you need to do is ask. And if I need your help, I'll ask for your assistance.