Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mr. President, please let me through your police barricade

President Obama came to visit me today for the second time in 2 years. Wow!

Actually, I'm all for the president coming to town for a whirlwind tour, even if it is for PR purposes. (Um, Repubs do it, too. Don't be hypocritical.) Not only was it good for the president, but it was equally good for Kokomo. We seem to be in his good graces or those of the PR gods. NY Times articles. Stories on national news broadcasts. Personal visits from the president. Ah, good times are had by all when the stimulus money gets spread around. But, in all actuality, Obama's stimulus money has essentially saved Kokomo from the fate of Marion and Anderson. I'm all for that if I'm living here. By the way, Obama spent over $90 at a bakery here in town buying doughnuts and cinnamon rolls. That's kinda hard to do, I think. That's a whole bunch of stimulus money (whoa, I'm joking) right there, and his daughters better have gotten some of the goods. I admit, I now want to go check this bakery out.

But herein lies the heartrending issue for me. President Obama was leaving his gig downtown on the square at 3:00 this afternoon. I pick up Abby from the sitter at 3:00. I drive through downtown to get to the sitter, which happens to be absolutely, positively, as far away as can be managed and still within Kokomo proper from where my job is. The whole schedule for his 3 1/2 hour trip was kept so under wraps that I was NOT aware of this conflict. But I quickly found out when it was a) too late and b) too late. I managed to become completely enmeshed in the presidential snarl, which ordinarily I wouldn't much care about, enjoy even. It's really something of an out-of-body experience trying to pick your way through roadblocks in Kokomo, IN because the President of the United States just happens to be about 2 miles south of you and heading your way. Weird situation, really.

This next thing that I'm going to say kinda sums up my entire motherhood experience to date (though I like to think that I'm getting better). When I got so enmeshed in the traffic snarl that it appeared that I was going nowhere quickly, I found myself completely agitated, panicked almost. I could not get to my daughter! I was stuck and could not get to my daughter! In hindsight, I'm really scoffing at myself...oh heavens to Betsy. Really.

We'll pretend that I had an angry confrontation with an armed sniper where I verbally demanded admittance to the path that I desired, whereupon he caved to my wishes. Instead, I jagged around cop #1, pleaded with cop #2, turned around, came back to cop #1, pleaded some more, and was allowed to commence on my way on my improvised route, which, incidentally, took me through a historic neighborhood of Kokomo that I had heard about but never driven through before and was completely taken with the super lovely architecture of the stately homes.

What befuddles me still is the roadblocks. The path whereupon the President would be leaving downtown and heading back to the highway was *not* the only path that was barricaded by armed guards. What??? Is this meant to confuse potential assassins? Let's block off four consecutive, parallel streets so that no one will know which road the procession will travel down, even though it's obvious because all but one are quiet little residential streets. And, my final barrier that I had to "break" through was west of where the President was and was going to be traveling. There was utterly no way that any car even remotely associated with the hubbub would be coming to where I was finally stuck.

So in the middle of my mini meltdown, I called the sitter with an I-won't-be-there-on-time-but-I'm-coming-as-quickly-as-these-darn-cops-will-let-me message. Why would this even be a concern? I'm fully comfortable leaving Abby there all day, but once 3:00 strikes, someone turns into a pumpkin? To my credit, our neighbor called me moments before I called my sitter with an equally frantic I'm-stuck-in-traffic-and-can't-believe-it-arrrgggh! message because she wouldn't be home to let her daughter into their house and would I please let her in our house until she got there? We chuckled about that just a touch, and funnily enough, ended up one in front of the other once I got Abby collected and was on the way home.

Still, it was a humorous experience and an interesting memory. This guy has some cool power and importance to require such protective measures. Regardless of political affiliations, it's pretty cool but only because it was slightly inconveniencing one time. I don't want him to move in beside me.

Friday, November 19, 2010


In honor of Thanksgiving, this is the fourth in my This I Believe series.


I saw a story in the paper today (front page, hard to miss) about how Americans are changing their perception of what constitutes a family. I kind of wish that I had it in front of me right now so I could rattle off some statistics from this poll, but truthfully, I don’t need it. I know the gist of what it said: Americans are shifting their thinking away from the traditional nuclear family to a broader sense of the term that encompasses more nebulous boundaries and a variety of configurations.

I see this in my own family, too, though I would never have thought of such a possibility when I was younger. And I’m not writing here to label my belief of what is “right” and “wrong” about what the make-up of a family should look like, especially given that one definite thing I’ve learned in the last decade is that there is no one right way. I can respect that, and often find myself wanting my way to be just like someone else’s way.

I believe that when Abby is in her twenties, the idea of “family” will be radically different from what it is even now. That’s okay; we change. But what I believe in most wholeheartedly is that “family” will always revolve around love, acceptance, and memories. To me that is what “family” has always been and what it continues to be, regardless of who makes up the dynamics of the “family.”

I also believe that Abby will grow up with a definite understanding that her family is vitally important to her life, the foundation upon which she will stand as she both succeeds and fails. Family will not desert her and will be the first to cheer for all of her accomplishments.

It will be interesting to see our family in ten or twenty years. Will it be more reserved like my side or boisterous like Ben’s? At what point will our family be complete?

I believe that the day Abby was born, my perception of family changed. It is so delightful to be our own little subunit of two greater families. And this little family of three chooses to abide by that familial triune: love, acceptance, and memories.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


(This is the third in my This I Believe series.)



I feel like I need to preface what I am about to write with the disclaimer that I love my country. I love it and have always been nothing but proud to be an American. Even when our country makes silly mistakes and screws up, I’d still rather be an American (I totally disagree with you, Johnny Depp). We all make mistakes. There is much to appreciate about being a citizen of this country.

So here comes the part that I have carefully choose my words. I don’t believe in Veteran’s Day as is. I don’t support blind hero worship of a job that someone chooses to do. I just don’t. In no way am I trying to devalue what our military personnel do for this country. I really appreciate those who are willing to take these risks for what they believe in. I find that admirable. And I don’t mind having a day devoted to the remembrance of all of our service men/women past & present. But, I do object to hero worship of persons who choose to take on this job. Where is Firefighter’s Day? Police Day?

My school has a teacher who is uber invested in the Veterans Day program that we hold at our school every year. Therefore, my school hosts an extensive Veterans Day program every year. It’s really uncomfortable for me to be around for the week, especially Veterans Day itself. Blind, unquestioning hero worship.

Do we need to post Facebook statuses to prove that we too appreciate those in the military?

Do we need to stop and shake someone’s hand if we see a person in fatigues?

Do we need to unthinkingly recite the Pledge every morning to prove our devotion to our country? Doesn’t this seem rather…wrong to anyone else? Militaristic?

I’m all for my country, but this just rubs me wrong. I believe that patriotism should not be forced. Love of country can be a really powerful emotion, but let’s leave it as a choice, eh?

It’s difficult to find the wording for a topic like this to convey what I really mean. Thanks for reading. Please don’t send me hate mail or stop talking to me. We can disagree and still be friends or at least in dialogue with each other.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just because pictures

I'm wasting a few minutes on here, so here are a couple of recent pictures that I like.

Ben raked the yard last weekend, and while it looked like a pitiful amount of leaves before he started, in actuality, it turned into a couple of decent piles. Much like snow, Abby didn't like laying down in them, but she romped and frolicked with big smiles.

Abby really enjoys numbers now, including counting Daddy's fingers. Here's a quote I heard coming from the direction of the couch tonight: "Abby, don't put that finger up all by itself!"

On a random sidenote, I find myself preoccupied with thinking about whether (or not) we should add another baby to our household. True story--on down time, I have surveyed a couple of my students about whether or not they appreciate having siblings or prefer being an only child. I pick the brains of my teacher cohorts, too. Unfortunately, the results are inconclusive. Can someone just tell me yes or no? Please???

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why can't my child eat food?

Why? Arrrrrrggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've gone out of my way to not give Abby processed foods as much as possible, to always have a fruit and a vegetable as part of her meal, to give her organic foods when possible, to not introduce crutches like ketchup and syrup as staples to convince her to eat, to do everything that I possibly can right so that she'll eat food because she likes it. I've tried SO hard!!!

Yet she'll only eat certain foods, in certain situations. I feel like I'm holding my breath every meal to see if she'll eat. The kid just seems to eat the same things every day. EVERY day. Little variation.


Friday, November 5, 2010


(This is the 2nd posting in my This I Believe series.)

* * * * *

I have no idea how one human brain can hold so many snapshots of their life. What an incredible amount of things that one person can remember! And how thankful I am that there is such a thing as the capacity to remember. How many absolutely vital parts of my life would be lost if I could not remember the people around me and the places that I have been. This may be one of my favorite God-given gifts.

And memories are so perfectly personal. I love that no one else can remember the sound of Ben’s voice that April day in the Peace Garden when he proposed or the rush of euphoria when I first saw Abby and thought how amazingly, perfectly beautiful she was (I admit, I’m not someone who things that babies are inherently adorable; I was expecting a wrinkly little red thing). No one can possibly remember those moments just like I do. It’s impossible for someone else to have the same memory no matter how I describe it; those are strictly mine.

Of course with the sweet memories come the depressing, hurtful, and melancholy ones as well. But we have to have these, don’t we, in order to better appreciate the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful ones? I choose to be thankful that the sheer amount of fantastic memories I have far far outweigh the less than stellar ones.

Several years ago, my Grandpa Eager died as a victim of Alzheimer’s. I don’t know for certain that he lost all of his memories, but I do know that if he couldn’t remember who he was, his family remembers for him. I’ve heard repeatedly how people live on through others’ memories, and while I don’t disagree with that, I don’t know as it captures exactly what I believe. I think that other peoples’ memories of us also serve the necessary purpose of helping us remember who we are before we die. For every moment when we are lost or forget who we are, someone else has the gift of a memory to remind us, to pull us back within ourselves.

I always have a hard time replacing pictures in frames. Something about that, like it’s hiding a memory, seems wrong to me. This is something that I’ll gladly be a packrat for; what better purpose is there than to hoard memories? Keep a camera ready and your memory album open. It’s good to review them once in a while and meander down memory lane. This, I believe.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Something that doesn't seem to be important but actually is

Today I'm starting a series of fifteen blogs all about something that I believe in. And, every blog is themed so that I'm not just writing about complete randomness. This is reflective of an ongoing portfolio of work that I'm teaching with my Composition classes this semester. I love this assignment and have secretly been wishing that I could take part in it, but none of my students have asked me to write anything, so I'm going to force the issue here and demand my limelight and flex some creative(r) writing skills that are quite rusty. This assignment is based on an NPR forum titled "This I Believe" that began in the 1950s and has been running again lately. Anyone can submit an essay, and they must be 300-500 words about something that the essayist believes in. So here goes. I'm dipping my toes into this liberal, belief-oriented manner of thinking that I totally dig and want to share in some capacity.


Sitting here for even one minute (and while watching tv), I came up with a list of several “things” that don’t seem like they should have any meaning but really do. Here’s four of my favorites.

72%. And you can find it in the bottom left drawer of my desk at school (e.g. my “food stash” drawer). 72% dark chocolate. Good. Crunchy. Dark chocolate. 2 squares nibbled during homeroom after lunch is the difference between a productive 24 minutes and a distracted, scrounging for something sweet 24 minutes. Just a few bites of gooood chocolate means that I get stuff done. It’s so worth it.

$25/month. This is my fun money. My petty cash that I can hoard or burn for all that anyone can tell me otherwise. It’s freedom and just enough to make life more interesting without too negatively affecting more important things, like Abby’s education and my retirement. From my perspective, $25 means: a few runs to Starbucks in the morning on the way to school; two candles; a cute ____________; a ticket to watch the new Harry Potter movie; half of a Panini press; good, crunchy, dark chocolate. I really believe in that little bit of luxury to make the work hours worth it. There needs to be a little bit of “me time” to foster a moment to breath—little bits of pseudo-meditation.

Socks. Match the socks to the outfit. Always. It just makes life more put together, lets you be in control. Match the socks to the occasion. Who doesn’t love the feeling of brand new socks when they’re all soft and cushy?? There’s a great scene in Finding Forrester where Sean Connery’s character comments that he always wears his socks inside out and never more than once, that way the seam on the inside doesn’t chafe against the skin and each day is just worth the comfort of new socks. Another reason to wish you were four again—you still get to wear really cool, brightly colored socks with flowers and cartoon characters on them.

Calisto. I create a lot of documents in my gig as a teacher. I’ve kind of become a font snob. (You may or may not know that I’m already a self-proclaimed pen snob.) Depending on the type of document I’m creating, I have a short list of different fonts to fit my needs. Calisto is high up on my list of fab fonts. I just love it. Classic yet quirky, kind of like my cumulative vocab tests. Isn’t it fitting to match your font to what you’re communicating? Another form of unwritten communication, kind of like body language on paper? The font must fit the need. A small part of my day, but a detail worth the effort. Absolutely.

There is worth in small things that are all around us, factoring into our general well-being and humor. And the small things can truly make all the difference. This I believe.