Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Forest and the Trees

I've had my laptop for a bit now.  I enjoy using this computer, and so do the kids, although I don't let them use it often. Remember I said that.

Anyhoo, you'd think that, for as long as I have had this contraption, that I'd have at least figured out how to use it.  But no, I haven't.  I can do everything I need to do, but I just found out yesterday that I clearly have not investigated this machine thoroughly.

I was listening to a video on YouTube, and I wanted to increase the volume.  I moved my hand to the mouse, and I had planned on hovering over the volume control button in the lower right hand corner.  Before I could do that, Zoe reached over and pushed a button located at the top of the laptop.  Apparently, it is the volume button.  When did she figure that out?  Probably the first time she used this computer.

It is funny how one quick, innocent act on the part of a child can make me feel so old.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Them Apples

Tis the season for Honeycrisp apples. 

During this season, my usually frugal self hides under the nearest rock.  Because these lovely red fruits can run $2.50 a pound, when I can usually get a whole bag of organic applies for less than $4.00.  And what does $2.50 get you?  Sometimes, it is only one apple.  Heck, these apples can grow so large one of them can feed an entire family! 

Sweet, crisp, the taste of pure fall.

I'm glad tis the season for Honeycrisp apples.

P.S.  Doesn't that just sound like an elementary school age post?  I swear my kids didn't write's just been a long week.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wearing Myself Out

I fell asleep at the dining room table last night, shortly after the last of the kids went to bed.  Tim found me slumped over my textbook, pen in hand.  At least I wasn't drooling.  And at least I didn't fall asleep at dinner time.  That would have just been embarrassing.

But how in the world did that happen?  I guess I'm feeling the strain.  I didn't get enough done for my classes during the summer, and now, I need to make sure my notes are okay and on track.  Changes need to be made to exams, study guides are in line to be created, and of course, there is the ever- present grading to be done.

Add all of that to the piles of kids' homework that seem to need me as a life coach, the soccer and piano transport job I take on each fall (thanks, Tim, for bearing the brunt of that soccer), and the bits of volunteer work at the kids school, and this teaching thing is looking like the thorn in my side.

Don't I say this every time I get back into teaching?  How nice it is to have time just to sit and think?  I don't get that this semester.  I don't get time to read a novel, or clean the house or barely sit and take a potty break.  The whirlwind of activity is starting to make me feel crabby and obviously tired.

So last week, when the college called and said, Sorry lady, we might not have a class for you next semester, I almost wet my pants with glee.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Making of a Real Princess

Melina:  Mom, can you polish my doll's eyebrows?
Me:  [WTH?] What does that mean?
Melina:  It has to be that, mom.  We need to polish her eyebrows.
Me:  Why?
Melina:  It is for the dance class.  She wants her eyebrows to look nice.

She looks at me like, Don't you know?  No, I don't.  Melina forgets she is talking to someone that takes minimal time with upkeep.  I sit here in jeans, fuzzy slippers, and a light fleece jacket.  I did do my hair this morning, but only because we needed to be somewhere.

Melina: I named this up.  You could use washable pencil or washable marker for her eyebrows.

Now, we are getting somewhere.  I imagine that she just might want to fill in the doll's eyebrows.  Where did she get that idea, though?  I've never done that in my life.

Me:  Do you want me to draw over the eyebrows?
Melina:  No.  She has them already.  
Me:  So get a marker and show me what you want.

Melina takes the marker, pink of course, and brings it over.  She uncaps the marker and positions it in her right hand.

Melina:  Steady, steady, here we go. [I am not kidding, she says all of this as she tries to apply the marker to the doll's eyelashes.]
Me:  Honey, those are her eyelashes.  I thought you said eyebrows.
Melina:  Okay, okay.  Yes, we can put it on the eyebrows.  You will be able to see it there.

Now, her lovely 18 inch doll sports fuschia eyebrows, and next in line on the creativity front is a crown for her head.  She's never looked better.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Aaron on Chemicals

I am sad to report that Aaron is sick.  He has some virus that seems like strep, but isn't.  We took him in to the doctor, just in case.  The doc doesn't think he has Coxsackie, either.  I am fine with that; we don't have good luck against the Coxsackie virus around here.

I don't like to see Aaron sick.  He lies on the couch, flushed face into the pillows, and tries to rest.  He is quiet and withdrawn and overall, not himself.  Usually, at that point, I give in and feed him some Ibuprofen.  Within the hour, poof, he is back to himself.

As much as I don't enjoy seeing sick Aaron, it is almost as tough to have Ibuprofen-laden Aaron around.  Why, you ask?  Because that child doesn't stop talking once that lovely chemical has bound to its receptors.  So far this morning, Aaron has told me about Angry Birds, the new Dr. Who episode, his theory on why dinosaurs have gone extinct, some of the things that happened in school last week, why the cubes on the Rubik's cube are or are not different, and a plethora of things I cannot remember.  My brain, I will admit, had to go into auto-pilot just to survive. I know I was simply saying, "Yes, that's great," for many of the things he told me.  I can't stand doing that, but I also can't possibly pay close attention to everything he says.  It makes my head ache, more than it already does (I, too, might have a version of this virus).

Not all is dismal when Ibuprofen-laden Aaron comes out, however.  In fact today, he worked wonders.  His talking and overall silliness, along with a new coloring book and set of markers, kept Melina busy -- very busy. The two of them sat at the dining room table for over 2 hours this morning while I caught up on some calls, started dinner, and got 1/2 of our house cleaned.  I put cleaning on the top of the priority list so that maybe, just maybe, we can get this virus out before it strikes anyone else.

Maybe I should hope that he isn't better by tomorrow?

Monday, September 24, 2012


On the family room TV:  The Wonder Pets. 

Trickling down from the radio in the girls' room:  One Direction

Welcome to the dichotomies of life. Nuff said.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pick Ups

In the sad-but-true category today:  Tim and I had our first date in a very long time.  That sounds great, right?  That is the true part.  The kids were at Sunday school, and we had an entire hour and 15 minutes to ourselves.  Since last week was crazy (as was the week before that and the week before that one), we did not get to sit and sip coffee and munch on bagels, or take a stroll through the park.  No, we went to the grocery store. Obviously, that is the sad part.

Until I sent Tim off to get something, and then the whole situation got funny.  Courtesy of Kroger.  At one point, Tim was looking for me, searching up and down the aisles after he had gone in one direction and I had gone in another.  A customer service person came up to him.

CS:  Anything I can help you find?
Tim:  No, I am just looking for my wife.
CS:  Well, I guess I can't help you with that.
Tim:  That's okay, I see her now.
CS:  Ah, pick up in aisle 5, huh?
Tim:  I didn't know it was that sort of store.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sleepy Time Digs

"Hey, can Daddy put you to bed tonight?" I said to Melina.

"No, you."  She points to me.

"But you haven't seen much of Daddy today.  Remember you asked for him to put you to bed the other night," I said.

"Well, he sat next to me while I ate my orange.  That's enough of Daddy for today."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Almost There

Don't ask how or why but a surge of adrenaline pulsed through my body today and brought about 15 more pages and at least 3000 more words on my Harvey story.  It is in the home stretch.  I can feel the end in sight.  I can actually see the end in sight. 

Sure, I need to go back and make sure that I am showing and not telling.  I also need to make sure I've been using active and not passive voice and all the other things a writer does to make a story better.  But I am almost there with a first draft!  I would shout it from the rooftops if I thought any of you could hear it! 

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dates That Stick

Some dates, you just don't forget.

And I am pretty certain that on September 20, 1983, tragedy struck my small microcosm.

We opened the front door to head out to the carpool, and in an instant, our lovely dog, Holly, bounded out of the door.  She had seen a dog across the street, and just needed to say hello.  Unfortunately, a car interrupted her in the street.

I saw the whole thing and I am grateful I don't remember details.  Holly limped back home, and mom ushered us to school.  When we returned from school, Holly was no longer there.

I've briefly written about this incident before, most likely when Ferdinand was sick.  I don't intend to dwell on it today.   But I do hope to never forget it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Well That Explains It


If you read yesterday's post, you know that I lamented the fact that ice cream containers are smaller.  I'd had a day, if you know what I mean, and was drowning myself in a 1/2 cup of ice cream (which is now 1/12 of a container instead of 1/16 of a container) because that is all we had.

In the post, I concentrated on the ice cream, as opposed to what caused my day to become a day.

Of course, things are often explained in the morning.  Right before I left for work today, an old-time friend --  some call her Aunt Flo, I tend to refer to said friend as George --  made an appearance.  Five days early.  Which is better than 5 days late, because everyone knows what happens when my friend is late. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Missing Me Some Ice Cream

It was the kind of day that has me sitting here, in front of the computer at 6:24 pm, with a 1.5 quart container of ice cream in front of me.  Had the container been full, I just might have eaten the whole thing.  Thank goodness there was only about 1/12 of the ice cream left when I hauled the container from the freezer.

Which gets me thinking about why there was only 1/12 of it left.  (Don't worry, FRN, this isn't about the math.)  It's because of inflation.  It used to be you could get a half gallon of ice cream at the store (that's 2 quarts to you, FRN).  Then, it was 1.75 quarts, and they hoped you didn't notice.  Now, we're down to 1.5 quarts, and you have people like me complaining that there isn't enough of the good stuff to go around when the chips are down.

Which then gets me thinking of chips, chocolate chips.  I can load up on those.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Let Me Give You a Tip

If you happen to be in my class, then you need to know something about this first exam.

1.  I goofed on one question and asked something we didn't cover.  I told you this, and therefore, you started the exam with two points that I gave you.

2.  I looked at the exam after I graded it and saw that 91% of you missed a question.  Why did that happen? I thought to myself.  If that many people missed it, there must have been a reason.  I looked at the question and realized that it had not been emphasized.  So, I tossed that question, too.  You now have four points to your name, and all you did was show up.

3. I walked into class today and gave you 4 minutes to answer the 4 most missed questions (aside from the one I tossed out).  I then let you discuss it with your neighbors for 4 minutes.  Any questions you get right, you will get 2 points extra.  Any you get wrong won't count against you.  What does that mean?  You could get a maximum of 8 extra credit points for questions that you have already seen and answered (and should have gotten right).

4.  You now have 12 points that are completely unearned, in my opinion.  If you didn't pass the exam, it's your own fault.

5.  You should not, under these circumstances I just exhibited, have the nerve to argue with me about a question.  That is just rude.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We've Hit a Milestone!

I don't actually have much to say here.  I am frantically trying to finish up: 1. a critique for my writing group tomorrow; 2. some notes for my lectures; 3. a chapter of my own manuscript. 

However, I had to mention that today, right now, I am putting up the 500th post!  Woo-hoo! 

I know that number isn't many compared to some bloggers out there, but it is pretty huge to me. 

Thanks for continuing to read.  I hope to make the next 500 even better.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Hate To Say It

Sometimes, I wish my students read my blog.  If they did, they'd get an earful from me today.  Since they don't, you will get an earful.  Feel free to log off now.

Here is how I teach my classes, in case you were wondering.  I post online both the actual PowerPoint file and an outline version of the PowerPoint file for the students to print out and bring to class.  I find that it is impossible for them to scribble everything I say down, and by providing these items, I can spend more time on getting through the material and helping them understand it.  My outlines/PowerPoints are not completely comprehensive.  There is plenty of material that I say in class that is simply prompted by the slides.  That, in my opinion, is the point of the words on the slide:  to remind me what I want to say.

So, at the start of every semester, I tell the students that they MUST attend class and take notes.  If they don't take notes, they will not succeed.  You cannot pass a test of mine by simply sitting in class and listening.  Inevitably, you will miss something important that I said.

Well, I gave my first exam yesterday.  I didn't get a chance to scan the exams until today, and I was horrified to find a mean of a 60%.  I almost fell over.  There had to be something wrong.  I checked my key, and luckily, there were two errors on the key and one question that so many people missed, I threw it out.  I calcuated the mean again, and it is still only a 65%.

I'd like to think that maybe it was just a tough exam, but I looked at it again, and really, it wasn't.  The questions the students missed are those that could really only be answered if they had been taking notes.  And so, I am going to say it here, since as I said, they do not read this blog: 


Friday, September 14, 2012

What a Girl Wants

I was standing on the front porch yesterday afternoon as Aaron walked up the driveway.  Melina ran towards him.

"Aaron!" Melina yelled.  "We got a new book from the library!"

"Okay, I don't really care," Aaron answered.

"But it is a Batman book!" Melina said.

"Well, I don't like Batman,"  Aaron said.

"Well I do!" Melina replied.

"Well I don't care," Aaron said. 

"Hey Aaron," I interjected.  "Don't you think that you could be a bit more polite to your sister?"

"Mom," he said, "It's honesty.  And girls like honesty."

I stifled a chuckle, but a huge smile broke out on my face.  Apparently, he'd read that in the comics.  So there you have it, all a girl wants is honesty.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Birthday Goof

39 years ago (give or take some days now), I was a late birthday present for my dad.  I missed his birthday by 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Growing up, we always had 2 separate celebrations, with 2 separate desserts, on the 2 separate days.  I appreciate that my mom tried to give us both a day to celebrate, but to be honest, I don't know if it bothered me that much. (Or course, maybe this was because she always made things so separate and distinct.)

This year, my mom and dad were here visiting when our birthdays rolled around.  So were Gina and the girls.  Extra people meant that we could have a bigger cake, so mom and dad went to Kroger and got a nice bakery cake, complete with a lovely birthday message. 

"Check it out, Chris," my dad said.  "It looks nice."

"It sure does, Dad," I agreed.  "But who is Dan?"

"Oops.  I guess they misheard me," he replied, looking sheepish.  "It should still taste okay."

As if messing up someone's name could affect the taste, you know?  It did taste just fine.  In fact, I ate too darn much of it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I need to go on record here for a moment.  I need to say that Harvey the Hippo burst forth from my brain sometime in the early 90s.  I wrote a couple of stories with him as one of the main characters, and a little while back, another story started to brew.  But let me say again, that he has been in my head for ages.  Ages.  AGES.

So here I am, 82 pages and almost 25,000 words into my Harvey the Hippo story, and what do I find?  This.

Which makes me ask, should I continue with my story?  And if I do, should I change Harvey the Hippo to Kevin the Kangaroo or something like it?  In my mind, I can't.  This story is about L and Harvey, not about Kevin.  But I do wonder if, should my story ever get published, will someone bring up the similarities to Fama's idea?  To be fair, her manuscript is not published yet, so I best not worry too much.  I don't even think our plots are anywhere near similar.

By the way, Tim says to check out her bio.  In another universe, that could be me.

Monday, September 10, 2012


"Shhhh," I said.  The talking continued.

"Shhhh," I said again.  Tim's voice carried up the stairs.  The girls laughter reverberated across the room.

"Please guys!  SHHHH!" 

And then I realized it.  I have become my mother.  She constantly shushes people from talking too loud.  She shushes people when they guffaw.  She shushes my dad on the phone.  It isn't a bad or rude shushing; I think she just prefers the quiet.  Much like myself.  And if she is anything like me, and I suspect she is, if the outside environment is relatively peaceful and quiet, then the internal environment follows that peace and quiet to a place of serenity.

But ugh.  Becoming my mother already?  Aren't I too young for that?

Sorry mom.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


You know those dreams that you sometimes have, the ones that seem so real, and then, you wake up, but you want to do something because of what you dreamed?  Yes, those.  I had one last night.  It wasn't bad, nor was it good.  But it made me want to say I am sorry.  Not to everyone, but to one person in particular.

I cannot give details on the person that might be.  It doesn't mean the person reads this blog, it just means I don't feel like going back to that time in my life.  But I will say this:  I am sorry.  Sorry for hurting you, sorry for doubting you, sorry for not giving you the chance to explain yourself, sorry for not being a bigger person.  I was young, I was foolish, and I could come up with many more excuses, but then I'd think that really, I haven't grown up since then.  And I have.

So please accept my apology.  Simple as that.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Early Mornings

Our kids now range in age from 4 to 10.  Great ages, right?  For the most part, they are self-sufficient and they can sleep through the night.  Furthermore, they pretty much wait to wake up in the morning until after 6:30 am.  I could ask for more, but then I'd look at myself as selfish.

So lately, now that I am teaching 2 classes and trying to finish writing two novels (I am going to be positive and therefore I am calling them novels instead of stories), I find myself creeping out of bed between the hours of 5 and 6 am.  The last two nights, I have been downstairs by 5:30 am.  I am just trying to find peace and quiet.  Something that, as you can imagine, is pretty scarce around here.

This morning was a morning that I quickly dressed and made it to the kitchen by 5:32 am.  I brewed a cup of coffee, grabbed my morning bowl of toasted oats, and sat back to listen to the silence.  It was heavenly.

The downside to my early morning activity is that I am tired by 8 pm.  It is coming upon that now, and to be quite frank, I am ready for bed.  Too bad I have more lectures to prepare.

See you in the morning! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kid Down!

I am perpetually amazed at the power of bacteria. 

Isn't that a great sentence?  Doesn't it just rope you right in?  If not, you won't offend me.

Let me back up and tell you a story.

About three weeks ago, right about the time Gina and the two nieces were to visit, Melina came down with a cold. I really wanted to see Gina, but at the same time, I did not want to give her infant any germs.  Heck, I didn't want to give her 4 year old germs, either, but she is a bit sturdier. 

So, I bleached; I Lysoled; I washed the sheets, the comforters, and pillowcases; I wiped off the toys multiple times a day.  And for the most part, the germs were kept at bay.   I think Zoe and Talia both had a day of the sniffles, but that was about it. (I think if Gina and the girls came down with the virus, they'd have told me by now, but then again, you never know.)

Fast forward to last night when, just before dinner, Zoe complained of a sore throat.  "Well, Zoe, you don't get enough sleep.  I told you guys not to chat and stay up so late."  I am sure she rolled her eyes at me.  My back was to her, so I couldn't see.  But I use that excuse all the time:  you need to sleep or you will get sick.  I truly thought the virus that Melina had harbored a couple of weeks back had finally taken Zoe.  When she also complained of a headache, I looked in her throat to make sure it wasn't bright red.  I also felt her lymph nodes, which were fine.  We've had enough strep around here to be able to diagnose it ourselves.  A little ibuprofen for the headache and a drink of water, and Zoe was off to bed.

This morning, I went in to wake up the girls, and the heat from Zoe's body could be felt from a few inches away from her.  I do not exaggerate.  The kid was hot.  I went through my protocol:  I had her open her mouth so I could see her throat, which was now red, and I again felt her lymph nodes.  Aha, they were swollen.  The thermometer read 102.5 when it beeped, and I put a call into the doctor.  I was certain it was strep.  I won't bore you with the details, but just as we were getting ready to leave for the doctor, the poor kid vomited. 

I did bore the doctor with the details, and one rapid strep test later (it was positive quickly) we were off to the pharmacy.  I have to be honest, I was rooting for strep.  The only other alternative is Coxsackie, a virus with which we are also on intimate terms.  I wanted something that could be treated, considering that at least one other child in this house is likely to contract the sickness.

 For now, we are one kid down, but if I were a betting woman, I'd say that Aaron is most likely the next to fall.  No, he doesn't share a room with  Zoe, like Talia does, but past experience says he is a strep magnet.  As always, I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Today dawned bleak and dreary.  After getting the kids ready for school, I laced my running shoes and threw my hair back into a ponytail.  I kissed each child on the forehead, and opened the front door.  The blast of humid air took me back a little, but I had no choice.  The run would be short, I had the time, therefore I would go.  I waved at the kids and Tim and headed out.

Despite the wet air, I found myself pumping my legs faster than normal.  Don't get me wrong, I do not run quickly.  But today, I was a bit quicker than I had been in a while.  I don't have an explanation for why. Perhaps I was just determined to get my run finished.

I charged ahead, up the small hill and over the bridge.  I turned left and then right, and went into the deep, dark, forest.  On a day like today, the space exuded dankness, and the ruffle of the humid breeze kept me company.  Up ahead, I could see a person jogging.  I couldn't see who it was, or how fast they were going, but they were moving.  As I approached, I realized the person was a middle-aged gentleman who moved along at his own pace.  Not too slow, not too fast.  But I would pass him easily.

I tend to be a very social runner.  Although I almost always run alone, I always say hello to anyone and everyone.  Sometimes I get a reply, and sometimes I don't. 
"Good morning!" I said, as I approached the man's side.  "Good morning," he said, and then continued, "You are an inspiration."

"Oh!" I exclaimed and then laughed.  "Thank you for the laugh."  He didn't say much, and in that instant, while I ran past him, I found my manners.  "Thanks, really," I said, pulling ahead and running away.

I chuckled for a bit, stretched my arms out at my sides, and shook my head as I continued my run.  I almost stopped at that point, though, as I realized that truly, I handled the whole situation in the wrong way.  I know what he meant in his statement.  Here he was, a man on the other side of 50 perhaps, being passed by an barely under 40 woman.  I imagine that he probably thought to himself, if only I could go that fast.  Perhaps I can.  Maybe I'll work my way up to it.  If she can do it, so can I.  He was inspired by my ability to run effortlessly by him, and he had thought to compliment me.  And what did I do?  Throw the compliment in his face.  I didn't even have the decency to simply say thank you and move on.  What kind of inspiration could I really be?

I thought about turning around, and apologizing to the man, but by then, I had turned up another hill, and I didn't know what direction he had chosen.  So I thought to myself, how can I right this?  Well of course, by trying to be an inspiring person every day, and to be aware of those things, events, and people that inspire me.  I don't have time to list them here, but every one of you readers has been an inspiration to me in some way.  Some ways have been big, others small, and not one would I trade for anything.

I learned my lesson this morning.  Try to live your life as if you want to be an inspiration to many.  Doing so can change your life.  And if someone gives you a compliment, always, always, smile and say thank you.  It is the right thing to do.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

12 Years!

Of wedded bliss.

Okay, maybe not all bliss, but mostly bliss.

12 years seem to have gone by quickly.

Thanks, Timmy!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

First Haircut, First Day

Yeah, it takes me a long time to do certain items on my list.  Posting pictures is one of those things.  Back in July, I think, Melina got her first haircut.  She essentially had 1/2 inch taken off the bottom of her hair.

  You can't tell much by the length, but the ends are nice and even now.  She loves going to see Miss Chrissy, so being put in the chair was not traumatic.  You can tell by her face, no?

And of course, two weeks after the first day of school, I finally get around to putting up a picture of that momentous occasion.  The girls are in fifth grade, while Aaron is in second.  Melina will be in her 2nd year of pre-school, but that doesn't start until September 17.  Here's the usual picture around the tree.

 The stripes in the girls' hair worked out well, as you can tell.