Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Great April Ending

Melina had a few little ladies over today and they decided to hit the foot spa. A great time was had by all, although the water was, at least at first, ice cold. I took the picture before they hauled out a load of picture books to read while they relaxed.

I hope May is just as nice as this last day of April was.

Monday, April 29, 2013


I was going to post about one's ability to rationalize, and how I felt that if one finds the need to do so, to rationalize and rationalize again after making a choice, that perhaps the choice wasn't the correct one in the first place.

And then I thought that someone out there, a writer much better and more profound than myself, had to have spoken about rationalization before.

Sure enough I could find a quote. In fact, the one I liked best is from Ayn Rand (something I find so ironic for many reasons that I won't go into here): “Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions.” 

Go think about that for a bit.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Honest Replies

I gave my last exam of the semester yesterday, which included two questions for extra credit.

The first question said, Assume that a woman could be an "on-demand" ovulator like a rabbit, in which copulation stimulates the hypothalamic-anterior pituitary axis and causes LH release. Due to the LH release, an oocyte was ovulated and fertilized on day 26 of her 28 day cycle. Why would a successful pregnancy be unlikely at this point.

Most people tried to answer the question. They probably thought about the question with respect to the uterine cycle (or at least I hoped they did) and if nothing else, realized that at day 26, so close to the end of the cycle, the endometrium would be almost ready to be shed, resulting in menstruation. Even if the fertilized oocyte successfully made it to the uterus to implant itself, we have to figure in the travel time it takes to get from the uterine tube to the uterus. The journey takes more than two days; by the time the oocyte would make it to its destination, the lining would have already been shed. Hence, the likelihood of pregnancy is slim to none.

I could go deeper into the best response and talk about the hormone levels at this point in the cycle, but the topic would be rather boring for you (as if this hasn't already bored you to tears). Had the students studied everything I taught them, they'd have gotten the answer right. But they didn't. Most attempted to write some gobblygook, and I had a grand time trying to figure out exactly what they meant.

Except for one student, who so honestly and eloquently wrote, I am not sure why a successful pregnancy would be unlikely. It is what it is, they say.

Thank you, student. Thank you. If this man is on the line between grades, I might just push him up to the higher one.

Friday, April 26, 2013


I discovered many a thing about a certain character of mine last night and this morning, when I was working on a homework assignment given to me by the author who runs my 2nd ever writing class. The course is entitled Character Treatment. Our plan is to learn more about our characters and how to make rich and vibrant personae so that our stories can, of course, be deeper and more satisfying.

So what did I learn?

I learned that Philippa, an almost 17 year old girl, is really quite fiesty and wants to do more with her life than her mother has accomplished with hers; that she has never thought about sex but all of a sudden seems a bit more interested, and wonders who in the world she'd be willing to do something like that with, and if she did consider doing that, what would it feel like? I learned that even though she's been sheltered all of her life, she can cope well, and that she will battle for what she wants and thinks is right. She is brave, she is smart, she is actually a more solid character than I originally imagined.

I can't say that all of my characters are this well-thought out, though. I have one, named Daniel, who plays an integral role in Cecilia's story. But I am just now realizing that he needs to have a bigger voice; his point of view begs to be told. I'm willing to find the time to investigate his story, and to do so, I need to apply the discovery process to him soon, so that I can find out what he needs to say, who he is, and what drives him.

The cool thing about this is that the whole process can be applied to oneself. Don't be afraid at what you might find.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cookie Cutters

In a Bucknell alumni magazine, under Reviews & Criticism, I ran across the following blurb about a recent book:
Tweak It (Center Street): Negotiating a busy career, attending kids' recitals and mailing the Christmas cards before the holidays are not problems for Cali Williams Yost despite a resume that reads -- deep breath -- wife, mom, former commercial banker, founder and CEO of the consulting firm Work + Life Fit, media commentator, author, Mashable Top 14 Twitter career expert and blogger, one who is consistently cited on Forbes.Com's list of Top 100 Websites for Women. She takes to task employers or workers who insist on one way: sacrificing personal lives for work. Her most recent venture is the "Tweak It" program, which draws on the experiences of "naturals," men and women who make small changes in routines to keep everything that matters in the daily picture.
I have to be honest, I walked away with a bad taste in my mouth after reading the blurb. First, the paragraph was neither a review nor a criticism, more of a look what's been published recently. I expect alumni magazines to get it right, and it didn't. (Thank goodness this wasn't my alumni magazine; mine would have done just fine and properly placed the paragraph. Go Blue!) Second, I didn't appreciate the use of the words, deep breath, and then a list of what the author has accomplished. Perhaps it's my own insecurities here, but I felt as though whoever wrote the blurb was trying to shove down our throats all the things that this person did in a day, and say to us, if she can do it, why can't you?

Which is sort of what I imagine the book to be about (I admit, I have not read it). How you can tweak your lives to effectively get everything done in the day that you want. If you want to work and be a parent, you can make simple changes to try to balance your life, and those changes -- and here's a shocker -- will be different for different cases! Maybe I only have to sacrifice a full-time career because of my four kids and the priority I place in them, whereas someone else might have to sacrifice her love of volunteering because of her career.

But what if what you want is simply a list that looks like this: wife, mom, chauffeur, former certified public accountant, founder and CEO of the firm One Woman + Husband + Kids + Animals, local school volunteer, writer, parenting expert and blogger, one who is consistently cited on kids' list as top 100 moms. What if during your day you have the uncanny ability to start and finish the laundry, put the house in order, magically make meals appear on the table, read books for book club, manage to do grocery shopping, gardening, and teach your children to read. None of the descriptions above are solely mine (Come on, can you see me as a CPA? Ever?), but I thought to myself as I read the blurb that, here we go again. Let's read another book on how to make everything work well in life, so that all of us can have what we want and when we want it: career, family, home life.

I, for one, am sick of those sorts of books, and even though I am not a complete SAHM, I am here today to say, if you want to be one, then go for it. Even though you haven't had the opportunity to run a Fortune 500 company or be cited on the top of anyone's list but the PTO's, I still applaud you for doing what you want, regardless of what society says you should be doing.  I thank my lucky stars each day that I have the opportunity to stay at home as much as I do. I also thank those same stars that some of the people I know do not stay at home as much as I do. Let's all stop thinking that one cookie cutter is the only option.

And that, my friends, is probably what the book is trying to get at. But because some goofball decided to write up a blurb that made me want to hurl the magazine at the wall in disgust as I shoved one of my homemade cookies into my mouth, I'll never know.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What About...

I participated in a Run for Boston event on Monday night. In our little neck of the world, about 2000 people gathered to run a 2.62 mile loop on the local high school track. You can imagine that the track was packed. I wouldn't call it a run so much as a run/walk. Either way, the event, which was happening all over the country, probably raised a large sum of money for the folks affected in Boston. While there was no entry fee to run, the sponsors sold Run for Boston T-shirts at $20 a pop. One hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit OneFundBoston.org. Awesome cause, awesome way to raise money.

But what about the people of West, Texas? Different circumstances, but a tragedy nonetheless. I don't find it any more difficult to find sympathy for one set of people over the other. Do you? But I do find it more of an effort to discover how to help these people of West, Texas. I did an online search on funding for both causes, and Boston came up with search results galore, while the results for West, Texas, were minimal.

So I thought it might be useful to help those people out in West by at least letting people know the ways they can be of assistance. Do a quick internet search of your own and dig up what you can, or else use this article, which has a couple of useful links. Now you can't say you didn't know how to help.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not Me

In a very uncharacteristic and anti-Chris-like move, I just said to myself, Screw you, Salmonella, and licked the entire brownie bowl clean. Then, I moved on to the spatula. And it was very good. I should say excellent, even. Worth every possible future gut-wrenching moment.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Things I Should Have Said

I always feel a little funny when I write a blog post about someone. Okay, well not when I write it about my family, which is the point of this blog. But if I mention a person with which I am very familiar, I think to myself, should I post the information I have? So I try to keep things pretty anonymous around here, and then go ahead and write because by golly, 20 years from now, I want to remember all the things that happened, not just the few that might stand out.

And so it was when I wrote the letter to the girls on Monday. I knew that while the child in question did not read my blog, that her mother might. And I wondered if I should mention to the mom that I was writing about her child. I thought about it, tossed the idea around in my mind, and then forgot about the whole idea of talking to her mom. I kept names out and didn't mention any identifying characteristics, and since there are several moms around here that read the blog, I could have had any one of them at my door asking was it my daughter? Thankfully, no one did.

I have to say this. As much as I wrote that my kids handled things well that day, they don't always. It could have just as easily been one of the girls who said something inappropriate because they might have held a grudge or been mad at another person. To date, they haven't done so outside of the house because they are too shy, but they have been caught standing by when they should have spoken up, an act I find just as unpalatable. These kids are only in 5th grade, and while we hold them to very high standards, they are going to make mistakes. My kids included.

But the girls are still awesome, I'm not going to lie. And so is the girl that chose unwisely the other day. If I didn't think so, if I thought she was a bad influence, she would not be welcome at my home. This is the sort of girl that most people like and some people would like to be: friendly, polite, smart, pretty, a general all around good girl. And after posting, I realized that I felt somewhat awful about the fact that her decision was a learning experience for my children, although I'm certain that she, too, learned quite a bit from this situation. I thought about how I'd feel if I read about my daughter and I started this post. It just took me this long to actually get it up here. (Speaking with her mother today reminded me that I had the post sitting in my account.)

The thing is, I learned a lot from what happened, too. The incident reminded me of so much, of how difficult it is to be on the brink of hormonal changes, how hard it can be to channel negative energy in the right direction, and how easily we can slip from a moment of filled with goodness to one rife with negativity. She made a mistake, plain and simple, something we all do everyday, something that makes us human. And not something that makes us less awesome.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Water Bottles

I went out last night with some ladies to send off a friend who is moving to North Carolina soon. We made plans to check out a local wine bar, a place that had a great atmosphere, but nothing by way of non-alcoholic drinks. The server looked at me with bugged eyes when I inquired if they had decaffeinated coffee. Apparently this was not a low octane place.

So, I settled on sparkling water. They carried the Voss brand, seen below. Had they lined it up with the Special K brand (by Kroger) or the kind we get from Trader Joe's, I wouldn't have been able to tell you the difference. And because I paid $5 for something I enjoyed less than the tap water that flows from my home faucets, I took the bottle home.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Math Errors

I stumbled across this awesome towel today (see below). Aaron would love it, because it lists some of the digits of pi. Yes, he's as nerdy as they come, and due to the influence of Tim, Aaron states that pi is his favorite number. I will admit that we have a pi pizza cutter in our kitchen utensil drawer.

 But the marketing gurus got it all wrong here. The cost of the towel (or rather, a set of 2 kitchen towels, mind you) is $29.99. If you are going to charge almost $30 for kitchen towels, why wouldn't you go ahead and set the price at $31.41?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Two Cents

You can go ahead and hate me now, because what I am about to say is going to hurt. And let me also tell you that we are all entitled to free speech, even if you don't agree with me. All you have to do is close your browser and never come back to this hole in the wall, okay? Fine. I've warned you.

Let me first say that I am crushed by what happened at Boston on Monday. I've held the thought of running the Boston Marathon in my heart for years. And while it isn't on my bucket list, I have toyed from time to time with the idea of making it a goal of mine someday. Of placing the race on my bucket list and making the long trek to the famous finish line happen. Well, you can darn well bet I won't be doing that now.

To which some of you will reply, Don't let the actions of a few change your life. Why let the egregious yet cowardly acts of these people determine where you'll go? It has more to do with the fact that other more significant and spiritual goals lay higher on the priority list that exists in my head. In the end, if I want to run Boston sometime, I'll find the ability to get there, provided my body doesn't give out first.

Let me also throw in here, before my thoughts turn tumultuous, that as usual, the media has jumped on this event with a vengeance. And of course, they've mangled it well. It is truly awesome that we have the ability to know things in real time, but let's get the facts right and not start a nationwide panic. And although the thought has been eloquently stated elsewhere already, let's take a brief moment to mention to the media that it is never okay to camp outside the house of a family who just lost someone. It doesn't matter if the person was 98 years old or 8 years old, as was the case with the Richard family. Learn some manners people, will you?

But up until now, you might not have found anything wrong with what I've said. You aren't going to despise me because I don't feel like trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon this year or next. And you might actually agree with what I just wrote about the media. So what might cause some stomach upset? Is the suspense getting to you yet?

You're going to be frustrated with me because I am putting words to some of the thoughts that certainly march through my head, those that could rest quietly in your own minds when you see media coverage of the Boston tragedy.  Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Look around and count your blessings before you complain. Again, I am relying on the unreliable media here, but there have been a handful of articles addressing the families of those victims that lost limbs but kept their lives. One woman in particular grieved over her two sons, both of whom were seriously injured. While I feel for this woman and her boys, and can sympathize (Really, I do. I've been running for the last 20 years; I can't imagine waking up and knowing that I'd no longer be able to do that.) that a runner without legs will never be the same, these two still have their lives. I am certain that the Richard, Campbell, and Lu families would give anything to have the life of their loved one restored, wounded or not.

2. Outpouring of support is lovely, but where are you when things go well? I really don't' like to point out the obvious negative nature of that comment, but I am. I love to see humankind at its best, which is often the case after tragedies. How many people have banded together after Newtown, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia? The ability of the American people to dig, and dig deep, into their lives and pockets in order to help one another is great. But I am sad to report the well-known fact that it takes something like this for us to do what's right: to open our hearts, homes, lives, and pocketbooks to a fellow human. We should be doing this all the time, not just when the chips are down. Because, quite frankly, the chips are down for many ordinary people every day. Count yourself lucky if you aren't one of them (which sort of goes back to #1).

3. The event will provide more fodder for the Obama haters. I'm not the President's biggest fan nor am I his greatest proponent, but I can guarantee that many people have already blamed what took on place on Monday on him. They'll take the idea and run to his doorstep that because he hasn't done enough to act against terrorism, accounts like this can happen. We already know that you can't blame one man and his party for the fact that some insane people fashioned and placed bombs at a running event. May I remind the outspoken Republicans to whom I refer that Bush was president when 9/11 happened.

4. In the end, whoever planned the act actually succeeded, but most of the casualties will be our own doing. The number of lives lost to the blasts was minimal; those that were hurt could have been much worse. So on the surface, it looks like Boston will come out, strong and fighting. I hope they do, and I hope the marathons of the future surge with participants, people that say screw you to the select few that try to bring others down. However, the people behind this might be smarter than we think. They know that Americans are our own worst enemies. That we have factions that battle daily and the chasm is growing wider every day. Between the people who pull in the gun debate issue after seeing this news to the groups that blame the president (see above) the American public loves a good argument and we fight with each other, our very own countrymen, on a scale that rivals no other. I'll say it again. We could possibly be our own worst enemies. Charity starts at home.

And there you have it. My two cents on the situation, thoughts that came to mind the moment I saw the news reports. I grieve for the families that lost their loved ones, and I hope the wounded can rest and recover peacefully. How great would it be to never see something like this happen again? Good luck to those running the London Marathon over the weekend.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ocean Poems

The girls came home yesterday with the usual math homework, and an assignment to write a poem.

"We need to write a poem about the ocean, Mom," Talia said.

"Cool, sounds good to me. Does it have to rhyme?" I asked.

"Yes. And no haiku. I can't write any poems besides haiku," Zoe said.

Zoe made a grave error there, in saying she can't write when really she just didn't want to. I waved off their hesitation and launched into a brainstorming session for what the ocean reminded them of. The list of words included: sea, salty, briny, fun, blue, sand, cool, beach, swells, shiny, sea glass, shells, surf, waves, dolphins, and peaceful. It was a pretty good list and something they could work with.

"You know what word comes to mind when I think of the ocean?" I asked them.

"No." Two voices, same word.

"Warmth," I said.

Their eyes bugged out of their heads. "Warmth? Why?" Zoe asked.

"Because the one time I was in the Keys, on a boat, and the air temperature was lower than the water temperature, so in order to warm up, I jumped in the ocean. It felt like a nice bath to me."

"Oh." I guess they didn't have much to say.

They started on their poems and came up with a rudimentary rough draft, a draft I knew their teacher would not be happy with.

"Mr. V expects more from you two, you know. Don't just say sun, describe it. Is it a hot sun, a warm sun, a lemon sun, a piercing sun, a hazy sun, a lazy sun?"

"Mom, how can a sun be lazy?" Talia asked.

"This is poetry! You can make it anything you want it to be! And yes, a sun can be lazy!" I walked back into the kitchen, shaking my head. These two, despite their ability to write, clearly don't enjoy it the way I do. The chance of one of them saying that they'd like to be a writer someday is probably very slim. Whatever. I write enough for the both of them, I guess. They can choose something else, right?

In the end, the poems they wrote were pretty good. No haiku of course, so Tim rescued the day with his own ocean poem. And here it is:

The wave smacks my face
I go under and taste salt
then sand fills my mouth

Monday, April 15, 2013

Open Letter to My Twin Fifth Graders

Dear Ladies,
You came home one day this past week with scowls pasted to your beautiful faces. A furrow creased each of your brows and you both twisted your fingers as you admitted to me that a friend of yours, a good friend, had said something not nice about someone else. She called her flat face, Mommy, one of you said. And to be honest, I don’t remember which of you uttered the words. The other followed up with, And that just isn’t nice
I was pleased that you both acknowledged the transgression; we’ve taught you well enough to know that even though the term wasn’t a standard one, like stupid, dumb, idiot, jerk, or a whole host of other pejorative words, the way in which the description was used, wasn’t, as you said, nice. We discussed the subject of name calling and bullying and how we should behave at home and school and beyond, until someone came to the door and you both flitted away, gracefully, after placing a sweet kiss upon my cheek.
I watched you, out of the kitchen window, as you left our yard; your backs grew distant, twin blond heads, bobbing down the street in an attempt to keep up with a different friend. I turned toward the kitchen island and began to chop vegetables for dinner, and thought about the comment this young girl had made. Based on my interaction with her, I knew she understood that a description like flat face would be hurtful to another classmate. Even if she tried to pass off her behavior as teasing -- something I could imagine her doing when her mother, mortified by her behavior, mentioned the incident to her -- in her heart, the friend knew it was wrong. I felt sorry for the one that was called the name, and hoped that the girl who said it at least had the decency not to speak the words to the girls’ face.
As I am wont to do, the longer I diced the carrots, the more my mind began to wander. I thought about a previous conversation we had, the one in which you revealed someone at school was a bully, someone that I would never expect to exhibit such abhorrent behavior. I thought back to the times I’d heard people speak ill of one another, at a game, or at field day, or at a simple school event. And I thought to myself, here we go; we, meaning both of you and me, are on the cusp of a brand new journey here, one that begins next year, in middle school, and drags us through high school and college. Life and the way we live it will be morphing, and they are doing so right now, obviously.  The question is, am I ready for the changes?
Of course, that’s really a rhetorical question now, isn’t it? (And if you don’t know what the term rhetorical means, girls, please, go look it up. Find a learning opportunity in everything, right?)  I know the answer. I am not ready for any of the transformations that might be happening and will occur in the near future. I want to hang onto you, my children, as you are: the innocent souls with angels’ wings. I am not ready to experience what your fluxes in hormones have already oh-so-subtly started. I am not prepared for the mood swings that might attack at odd times and the possible rage that simmers beneath the surface. I am not ready to help you face the insecurities of being too fat or too thin; too smart or too dumb; too short (because, let’s face it, ladies, you’ll never be too tall); too quiet.  Take your pick and someone, anyone, can find something different about you, some characteristic the person can hone in on and point out to you in a way that might be, not nice.
You might not have the right nose, clothes, or shoes; your hair might be too straight or too dark; your knees too wrinkly or your skin too freckly. Believe you me, in the years that come, if someone wants to hurt you, they will. Because you will be vulnerable, you will believe what they say, even when it isn’t true. And how am I supposed to shield you from all of that? I don’t think sitting next to you in class and at lunch time will be so welcome in middle school and beyond, do you? Can you imagine a mother who follows her kids to college? As much as that behavior would help me keep you from much harm, it would be inducing another completely beastly form of other danger to you and your psyche. And it would be a complete disservice to you. You both need to grow up, so you can live your own life, find your own loves, and create your own families, whatever type of family that might be. I need to cut the strings. If nothing else, these past few weeks have shown me that severing the ties comes a littler earlier than I ever expected.
The only thing I can say is that I will try to be ready for whatever the two of you  and the future decide to throw at me. I’ve been through the stages before, because, believe it or not, I was once your age. So I’m hopefully full of enough wisdom to use what I know and learn from the situations you two wee beast endeavor to present. I will apply the knowledge I have for the next big confrontation, and most importantly, I’ll attempt to reach out to those around me, open up the lines of communication, and rely on my friends who already went through it with their own children. Hopefully, the steadfastness of our relationship now (yours and mine) will give us an advantage and help get us through to the next big stage. If not, I am not against pulling out the big guns: a whole lotta running and an even larger amount of prayer.
But this whole metamorphosis of body, soul, state of living, etc., isn’t about me. It’s about you and your discrete journeys. You might be identical twins, but you both know you are completely distinct as individuals. Each one of you needs to realize that the time has come to make a leap of faith. So really, the better question to ask is, are you ready? Are you ready to batten down the hatches and stick to your beliefs? Are you ready to show some backbone when someone says something not nice, directly to your face? Will you stand up for your friends and family and look away when someone mentions that you aren’t smart enough because you know, inside, that God made you just as you’re supposed to be, and that really, it is not a question of what the insecure, mean girl says. It’s what you know to be true inside of you.
And so, when all of the turmoil of the next few years starts to brew (and I’ll be honest, let’s hope the brewing is minimal and pretty painless), I want you to remember this conversation we had the other night. Remember how you both came into my room. Zoe, you flung yourself onto the bed while you, Talia, headed into the bathroom to brush your teeth. Mom, you (Zoe) said to me, do you know who my two favorite people are? I placed a bookmark between the pages of the novel and closed the covers together. No, who? I anticipated that Zoe would say Talia, who was oblivious to the conversation we held thanks to the closed door and the running of the tap water. You and Dad. You’re just awesome. You snaked your arms out and gave me a shy hug. You know what, Zoe?  I replied. You’re awesome, too. Not surprising to me, Talia said the exact same thing when she was finished with her teeth.
I want you to think back to our dialogue when you have a bad day, or can’t quite get the math problem right, or think that your nostrils aren’t shaped like those of the girls in the magazines. I hope you’ll think about it, too, when all in life is going right for you. You are awesome. You are special. You are unique. And you are my daughters.  I can’t think of anything, anything, more awesome than that.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Wouldn't you know it? I'm not up to the minute on the DSM-5 breaking news, but information about bras? I'm on it.

If you pay any attention to this blog at all, you know I'm open about my breasts. They've spent many an hour feeding my children and have a tendency to give in to gravity at times. The twin peaks (or not really, see previous sentence) have also shrunk. I've told you before that band-aids can be used as a regular restraining device for my mammary glands. In fact, over the winter, I don't even wear a bra most of the time.

Well, I stumbled upon this little tidbit today that says, "Bras do nothing to help support a woman’s breasts and could even be doing damage" (http://www.connexionfrance.com/Bra-support-damage-professor-Rouillon-back-pain-nipple-14626-view-article.html). I whooped with glee! Finally a good reason for not wearing the bra other than sheer laziness. Yippee!

And then I read the rest of the article, which, I will be honest, was not from an academic journal. Should I find that, I will try to read it. But according to the online article, the study was limited to 320 women between the ages of 18 and 35, which is "not a representative of the global population of females" (http://www.thelocal.fr/page/view/breasts-better-off-without-bras-french-study#.UWqBtMpvDmg). Also, there is no indication of breast size. Either way, the premise is that without a bra, women's bodies will adapt; muscle tissue will grow, and internal support will cause nipples to lift in relation to their shoulders. This sounds like the opposite of sagging, no? Could it be we've been mislead all these years?

The jury is still out, I guess. More research needs to be done and the results need to be scrutinized. I can't imagine a women with a DD chest saying that she feels comfortable without a bra, but then again, I've never had a DD set of boobs, so I shouldn't try to speak. But if women of all shapes and sizes abandon their bras, society will need to adapt to the change. (And good luck with that one.) 

I'm all for keeping my girls healthy and happy and if that means no bras, so be it. But when I run, I'll continue to strap them up, no matter what size they are.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

It's Official

I'm not sure how I missed the news the first time around, but I did.

Apparently, the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is set to be released on May 22, 2013.

Changes made to this edition? The inclusion of behaviors that, since they will be listed in the manual, can be categorized as psychological disorders. For example, hoarding will now have its own diagnosis, instead of being stuck under the umbrella of obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is a good thing, I think. People who hoard excessively might need some time and attention from a good mental health professional.

Another example? Temper tantrums. I'd be skeptical about this one, except that I've seen some severe temper tantrums in my life (not necessarily from my own kids). These outbursts will now be considered a disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). While I don't think every child who has a temper tantrum has DMDD, I am certain there are a few who do. If this recognition of a possible disorder helps some kids and parents, than so be it.

But I'm not a hoarder and I learned to regulate my emotions long ago. So why then, pray tell, am I blogging about this? Because according to the DSM-5, my on-again, off-again habit of skin picking will place me squarely inside the book, making me a person with a mental disorder.

Is that really shocking to any of you? I don't think so. Because I didn't need this news or the book to tell me that I'm a person with a psychological disorder, but now, it's official!

Disclaimer: I shouldn't have to say, but I will, that mental health disorders are nothing to be laughed at. I truly believe that there is no normal...we're all on a continuum between the textbook ideal and non-ideal. We learn to live with what we're given, and some of us need a little help to make it to the place we'd like to be. Thankfully, I can control the skin-picking with a quick "Stop that!" in my mind, at least in the summer. In the winter, my skin is so dry, it practically picks itself off.

I will also say that I haven't even addressed the diagnostic and insurance issues this new edition might bring to the surface. As I always say, that's for another post.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sleep Dance

Mommy, I need you to sleep lif me.
And because she rarely asks,
I throw back the covers and enter the cocoon,
folding my legs up against my chest
in an effort to sleep on the bed, sideways.

At 2:15 in the morning, I listen to the silence.
The whir of the ceiling fan, the small sniffs of the
fiesty little creature next to me.
I close my weary eyes and hope that slumber will overtake me.
That even though my body curls in an errant position,
my brain can shut off.

My eyelids flutter open to see, in the dim glow of the pink princess night light,
two hazel gems, staring at me,
a sweet smile pasted on the countenance in which they belong.
Her soft fingers find my face,
and trace a loving path from my cheek to my chin.
I love you, Mommy, she says, and turns her head away.

I know when time has marched on,
when the 5:05 watch alarm rings,
I will throw my arm over my bleary eyes and groan.
Peeling my body from the contorted position in which it will have set for 3 hours,
I will attempt to extricate myself from the bed,
without waking Sleeping Beauty.
It is a dance I used to do often,
one I thought I'd never miss.
And yet I do.

I hope she needs me to sleep lif her again, soon.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Energy Placement

Sometimes I post items so that I can remember all of this life later.

As if I will ever forget the monstrosity that is the girls' room, I posted it here. Despite the bins, the shelves, the bunkbed, and the three closets they have in their room, we are still left with scenes like the one above. All too often.

The girls walk into their room, with the grand plan of cleaning it; and they do, for a short time. The books go back on the shelves and the clothes go into the hamper, whether they are dirty or not. And five minutes later, they get distracted by a thought, or a piece of paper that should have been thrown out long ago, or the laughter of the other one as she encounters a picture one of them has drawn. They crumble in a fit of giggles, all hope of cleaning now out the window.

I could yell and scream and demand that the room be cleaned. I could throw all of their personal belongings into a trash bag and say that if they can't keep it clean, they can't have it all. I could pull out my mean mommy persona and take drastic action. But at the end of the day, is it so important that their personal space be kept spotless?

That's a question I ask myself as I close the door on the girls' room and bask in the cleanliness that is Aaron's room. And Melina's. They tend to take after me and have a penchant for less clutter and more structure. Their toys usually live on the shelves and their clothes hover in the drawers. When it comes time to clean one of their rooms, it isn't an all day event. If I could have four children with a tendency toward neatness, I would, but again, how important is it?

I thought about that quite a bit yesterday, as I went about my business. Would I rather they keep a clean space, or that they are gentle and kind souls that help other people? Should they spend their time cleaning their room, or practicing the piano? Later on in life do I want them to say that their mother had a clean home, or allowed them to foster their creativity?

There's a fine line to figuring out what is really important in this life. If the clutter extends into the hallway, you can bet I'll be putting the proverbial foot down on making the room clean. And because we'll have visitors soon, the girls will be forced to place items back in their respective spots so that the floor can be used as a sleeping space.

But as for asking them to reach my high standards on clean and decluttered living? I think their energies should be placed elsewhere. It took me a long time to figure out where to put my own energy; many things demand it that should be ignored. Perhaps I'm doing them a favor later on in life.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Melina: Mom, that's a really big gobble on that strawberry.
Me: A what?
Melina: A gobble. A gobble of whipped cream.
Me: Oh. I think you mean dollop.
Melina: Yes. I did.

Monday, April 8, 2013


I have to give credit to a woman I'll call Kim.

I've mentioned her before. She updates her FB posts, every day, with tidbits about Ian Somerhalder. Don't know who he his? Google him. He's the young man that plays Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries. And if Kim has her way, he'll also take on the role of Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades movie.

I've commented on Kim in the past because I feel for her husband. It's one thing to really like a celebrity, but to continually post how much you lust after a person, especially one known for kinky fuckery, seems a little harsh to me.

I've often wondered what her husband really thinks. I could ask Tim. Inquire how he'd feel if I spoke about Matt Bomer all the time. (I think he is absolutely gorgeous, and he can sing, too. Of course, he's gay, so the potential threat is less.) I know I would feel inadequate and insecure if Tim referred often to someone he found attractive. (Thankfully, Tim likes Jodie Foster; someone I, too, can admire, and who also is gay. What is up with us? Perhaps we really are meant to be.)

Anyway, this past weekend, Kim had the experience of a lifetime. She attended a convention centered on The Vampire Diaries and wheedled her way to a hug and a picture with her hero, Ian. She knew what she wanted, went after it, and achieved her goal. The look on her face in the picture is priceless, really. I might not entirely approve of some of her methods (and truthfully, who am I to judge this person...if it works for her and her family so be it), but I have to admire her wherewithal.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Restroom Issues

My life is an open book. Which explains why I can post things like what happened yesterday. If you can't read between the lines, that is your warning that a post considered TMI will follow.

Melina and I were headed into a building at a local historic museum.
Me: Oh rats. I forgot to go to the bathroom.
Melina: That's okay.
Me: Yes, it is, but I need to change my tampon. Remind me to use the bathroom after we find Mrs. K and Mrs. D.
We registered at the front desk, and waited a few minutes for our friends. After they had arrived and registered themselves, we proceeded toward one of the doors to begin our tour. The inside of the space had very large windows, floor to ceiling, that allowed Melina to see far and wide outside the building.
Melina: Mommy, Mommy! I see something you can use.
Me: What honey?
Melina: I see somewhere you can go to change your tampon.
I shushed the sweet child as her mouth formed the word tampon, thanking my lucky stars that the lobby wasn't too full that day. I followed her gaze and saw that she'd focused on a port-a-potty at a nearby construction site.

Not quite the best place to take care of feminine hygiene needs, but at least the little lady looks out for me!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lighten Up

The other day, the school began sending home the invitation for the annual volunteer celebration. I have already received two of them and might find myself with a third, since three of our children currently attend the school. I've wondered about the repeats, the waste of paper, but I've talked to the PTO (I'm not a part of it but I have friends that are) and they've explained that while they do try to conserve paper, it is more important that whatever news needs to be shared gets home to the parents. I still feel as though there could be a "family" list that sits in the office and some way of making it so that people with multiple children only see the information once. I do wonder how much paper and printing that would save. 

However, I digress. That is not the point of today's post. What is? The two letters came home under very different names. They both had the proper first name, but one had Tim's last name and one had something that looked like it was trying to be mine. I laughed when I read them. The fact that I have not changed my name sometimes causes problems. People simply aren't sure what to call me. And even though I'm registered with the school office with my own last name, because they see me with the kids, they often call me Mrs. M. No big deal. Again, I laughed, and then made a very grave error.

I posted to Facebook what I thought, was a tongue in cheek comment. I said something similar to this:
"Hey PTO: After all the hours I put in over there, do you think you could make sure my name is correct? Chris M is fine, even Chris M [an alternate spelling of Tim's last name]. But Chris C [horribly misspelled]? Don't worry, I'll still be a faithful volunteer. And thank you for the hard work you do."
Friends "liked" the post, especially those that spend half of their lives spelling their names out for people and I thought people would know that I was kidding. I have dealt with an incorrectly spelled last name for almost 40 years. Why would it really bother me now? A snafu on the list and a volunteer who didn't know me probably explained the whole thing, right?

Well, a friend called in the evening and told me that my post generated a few bad things for her that day. She happens to be PTO Co-President. She said, "I just want to tell you that I know you didn't mean any ill-will with this, but this is what happened." She then went on to say that two things occurred because of my little post:
  • Someone called and said, "Hey, where is my invitation to the celebration?"
  • Someone else called and said, "How could this happen? She puts in a lot of hours there. Make sure it doesn't happen again."
In effect, my friend had to waste her time and energy on something that she should have never had to waste her time on.  I am so glad she called because her communicating what happened directly to me meant that I could explain that I never meant anything by it (she knew that) and I could also explain that I was sorry it happened.

However, I can only say that people really need to learn to direct their energies in the proper directions. And I don't mean my friend. She had every right to call and inform me of her day. But the people that called her (and I'm not certain how many actually did contact her)? In my opinion, find something else to complain about. Not all communications from the school get distributed at the same time. Teachers forget to pass things out all the time, or don't have a chance to do so. If you are expecting a flyer to reach you, don't panic until the end of the week, and then make a nice phone call to the office to inquire about it.  In addition, I would never, never, never take an incorrectly spelled name to heart, nor would I castigate someone over it. That ain't my style. I learned a long time ago to let go of such things, I lightened up my life, kept the important stuff and tossed out the trivial. I think a few people could stand to do that as well.

Had I been my friend, I would have calmly explained to the first person that flyers don't always reach the intended recipients at exactly the right time (which I am sure she did). And the second person? I'd have said, "If you know Chris at all, you know she's kidding. No big deal." Which gets me thinking I need to delete a few of these "don't quite know me" friends from my list.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bittersweet Symphony

I find myself surrounded by music. Whether it be the songs that ring from Melina's mouth or the tunes the girls play on the radio, much of my life moves forward with a song. Which is why a creative project popped into my mind and sits there, tethered, with no plans for leaving. I just need to find the time to do it.

The plan? To define my life, or write about phases of my life, using song titles and lyrics. I've already started collecting titles, and have looked seriously at lyrics, but again, it will be a long road to accurately reflecting my life this way.

The most appropriate title for yesterday is a no brainer.  I took Melina to the school for her kindergarten evaluation. In usual Melina style, she needed to get gussied up before heading out to the school. This time, instead of sparkles, sequins, or sashes, she was momentarily back in her superhero phase and ran up the steps of the school dressed as Supergirl. The bright red and blue of her costume looked just awesome with the long pink and grey hounds-tooth coat over it!

I smiled as I watched Melina charge toward the front door of the school, a symphony resonating in my ears. A bittersweet one, of course. The lyrics to the song aren't appropriate for my feelings, but the title is. She's the last one of my wee beasts to be moving toward this momentous occasion of really starting school. She's on her way to reading by herself, she can almost zip up her own coat, and even though Melina states that she wants to be lif me all the time (that's supposed to be with, in case you didn't know), the moment that gigantic yellow school bus rolls up in the fall, I'm already certain she'll climb aboard with confidence and barely look back.

We are exactly where we should be. It's difficult for me to remember to savor the sweetness of this stage and ignore the bitter.

Monday, April 1, 2013

No Foolin'

It hit me yesterday that I have written two novels.

Two! Novels! In one year! One within the span of a month!

And, I have a third one that stands 2/3 of the way done (it may never get finished) and a fourth that I hope to keep working on.

Will they be published? The 1st and 3rd, probably not, unless some major inspiration descends that lends itself to awesome rewriting. But the 2nd and the 4th? I'm gonna try.

These aren't 100,000 word novels, nor are they John Green-worthy, but they are my attempts to tell a story, and I had a fantastic time writing them, the 2nd one especially. And I bet even John Green had some dumpy writing along the way, or at least I'd like to think so.

Of course, the calendar says it's April 1st. I'm glad I can say that I ain't foolin' about this.