Friday, November 30, 2012

Look Alikes

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thank Goodness It's Over!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012


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

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

Does Not Compute

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Loving Aaron

I love him. I really do.

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

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

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

When pigs fly, as they say.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rude Awakening

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

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

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

Monday, November 12, 2012


Here's a question for you. 

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

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

Just asking.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


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

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

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

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hearing Things

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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

You Know You Are Getting Older When...

It must be something about November.

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


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

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Had to Share

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

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

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

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Did You Say?

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

Sunday, November 4, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Will Wonders Never Cease?

Another exam, another dismal mean.

That isn't the wonder.

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

Be still my beating heart.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And One Other Thing

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

Happy Birthday, Aaron!


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

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

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

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

Until I see you again...