Tuesday, March 29, 2011


This is the 11th entry in my This I Believe series.


I believe in life in many ways, but lately, it has been in figurative rebirth.

While lately I’ve been mired in my own work both at school and at home, I see subtle signs of rebirth all around me, especially as I gaze longingly out of the window.

*My lilac bushes that Ben and I planted when I was very pregnant are going to be the first fresh burst of green leaves this year.

*A pair of finches have been scoping out last year’s nest, looking for a suitable place to guard this year’s batch of babies.

*Weeds are already becoming a nuisance.

What a perfect time of year to write about LIFE because it rushes at us everywhere we look right now. Every day seems to have its own reminder that yes, God’s creation is one of LIFE—pure, simple, love.

This year, I find myself actually itching to grow something, which has never been much of a hobby of mine, mostly because since I’ve moved out of my parents’ house, I’ve never had the means to really grow anything of consequence. But I’ve realized that my burgeoning interest in growing things rather corresponds with my new role of mother. (By the way…this still seems new to me. She’s nearly 2, and it still hasn’t really sunk in, I don’t think!) But this makes perfect sense to me; surely the same endorphins and chemicals that control our mothering instincts also correlate with the desire to grow other things. Essentially, isn’t it all cultivation in some manner?

I believe that you need to be aware of the resources around you in order to cultivate life to the best of your ability. To that end, I have about 50 peat pots cuddled together on a sunny patch of floor in my classroom because that is the resource that I have to meet my needs. I believe that we shortchange ourselves when we only recognize the easy route—Taco Bell and Monster energy drinks.

Regardless of whether the life is wanted or not (e.g. those never ending thistles), I truly believe that it is much more tenacious than tenuous. And that’s good! We can live in a world that we know will rebound, rebuild through dormancy, and re-emerge in some glorious capacity. How truly awe-some!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nights in Rodanthe

Egads, you're thinking. She's reading Nicholas Sparks?!?! Well, yeah, I did. Everyone's entitled to some book candy once in a while, right?

Actually, I ran out of books and out of time to head to my public library to get whatever is next on my list. So a few weeks ago I posted that my next book chat would be about an Eli Wiesel book. Surprise! Actually, I only got a few pages into it while in a pain induced delirium and then it was due and didn't have the fortitude to start over again. It came across as pretty abstract at the beginning, and at the time, I was totally not in that mind frame. Instead, I meandered down to my school library a few days later and figuratively begged for something to read. While a lovely, sweet soul, our librarian missed the mark with me; she tried to get me into some teen sci-fi. Um, nope. I barely acknowledge adult sci-fi. It's so...SCI FI. Ick. I've read Asimov, once. And I've befriended Bradbury and Wells at times (albeit by default that I have to teach them). At this point in my life, that's enough.

When I found Nicholas Sparks, it was meant to be at that moment on that day. He's actually been on my reading list more lately because right now I teach a class that literally is all about reading for the sole purpose of pleasure. I get to read a lot of journaling about what the kids are reading, which is a lot of Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks. The rom-com fan in me adores a good romance, even one that is drenched in the schmaltz. I chose Nights in Rodanthe simply based on the movie. Loved it. Love Richard Gere. Love Diane Lane.

Liked the book okay. Sparks isn't ever going to be mistaken for a really good writer. But he's productive, and he's consistent, so that works in today's publishing world. Nicholas Sparks is a brand now, not unlike Stephen King or J. K. Rowling for that matter. But, I appreciate that his writing is fairly clean and honest even if far fetched at times. And that book read seriously quickly, like I-read-this-in-the-space-of-one-week-reading-primarily-during-the-47-minute-class-period-every-day. (At this point, if you're a fan of reading, you should be slightly envious that this class is in my teaching load this semester. It's heavy on me reading and light on me teaching because it's designed to be that way, not because I'm a pathetic excuse of a teacher.)

Enjoyable. Fairly forgettable. I liked the movie better. Will probably read another one or two of Sparks's books simply because they're so convenient to read during this class.

The best part of the book is...the name of the town. I adore it. Rodanthe. Very New England/Cape Cod style housing/bed & breakfast-y.

Teaser for next month's book chat: no idea! I'm not currently reading anything except my computer screen lately. Suggestions???

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bless You!

My little family went up to Harlan this weekend to join my larger family in celebrating my dad's 60th birthday today. It was loud, chaotic, and giggle-some. All-in-all, it was much fun and lots of laughs.The birthday boy with my niece.

Abby kept wanting my brother, "Unca Joe," to get on her rocking horse. So he did!

She really loves the Bob the Builder belt. Boooobbb the builllllder...Can? We? Fix it?!? Booooobbb the Builllllder...Yes! We! Can! (You gotta sing it.)

Abby and I were hanging out by ourselves and getting ready for church this morning. She had been fed, diapered and clothed before I got my breakfast. So I finally get to sit down with a bowl of "fakes" (she has trouble with the "l" sound). The little bug wanted up in my lap, of course, to help me eat my cee-we-a. This resulted in her sneaking in a bite every so often. Half way through, she's hanging onto the spoon, leans over the bowl to take a bite, and straight up sneezes into my bowl.

Yum. I still finished it. I figured that we've shared worse. :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011


This is the 10th in my This I Believe series.


Right away I’m going to admit that I have never thought of myself as much of a goal person. Arrogantly, I think this is because I have generally been able to succeed with whatever I’ve wanted to do, and what disappointments have come along in my life have never been crushing. Okay, I didn’t get the job or well, I guess I live in Kokomo now, but it is what it is, so what next?

But in actuality, as I think back over the years since I graduated from high school, I really have been fairly goal-oriented. I’m realizing that goals also moonlight as short/long term outlooks. I like the term “outlook” or “plan” a lot better than “goal,” which to me has always come across as somewhat stodgy and snooty sounding. “My goals for the future are…” But to me, saying “I plan on…” sounds more realistic, down-to-earth and attainable.

So I plan on…graduating. If you’ve been paying any attention to my random bloggings and postings for the last couple of years, you know that this has been a very consuming focus of my life for the last couple of years. Unfortunately, this may turn out to be a $12,000 investment in nothing given the way that Indiana Republicans are treating education right now. (And just for the record, this last statement is not indicative of how I vote or how I am registered. It’s me expressing disappointment.) I find this beyond unfortunate since I chose my degree so that I become a better teacher. I really dislike having to re-think my GOAL. I need certainty, and this engenders ambiguity.

But my plans quickly coalesced to be part of a “we” once I got to college. Blessed indeed, my goals have always been accepted by my “we” partner. Thinking back now, I know that my parents treated my goals the same way that my husband does—supporting them, encouraging me in them, providing the basis upon which I could both succeed and fail gracefully.

As I become more and more enmeshed in the lives of teenagers, I’m becoming used to the shock that so many have no basis of support that I have always had. When I taught at Frankfort, the common goal among students was to get out of high school some way (not necessarily through a graduation ceremony) an d then work in a factory or as a beautician. I still think about that accepted and depressing outlook for life.

I admit that goals need not be absolute but they need be addressed. Goals are really a window into the soul in a singular way. I believe in the validity of goals, and while not necessarily comfortable to reckon with, they are…there. Like the clothes in your closet, it’s good to shift them around sometimes.

Friday, March 4, 2011

from A to frozen peas

Here's a quick little update snippet for cool and bizarre things that Abby is doing or into right now.

A-Z: this kid has about 1/2 of the alphabet down pat! I dont' have a concept for when this is normal, so humor me if you're rolling your eyes on your side of the computer monitor and thinking "ugghh...she's bragging about something that is so commonplace by Abby's age." To me, it's fantastic. Plus, she says some of the letters so cutely that it's always enjoyable reading our plentiful letter books and playing with our letter magnets and bath letters. (coo: Q, effffff: f, emmmm: m). Letters, letters everywhere!

frozen things: Abby's favorite way to eat corn is frozen, and she's always willing to pop in a stone cold pea. She adores frozen blueberries. This means that sometimes I get her to eat some veggies on the sly while I'm getting dinner ready when I ever so nicely let her eat some of the veggies that are going into dinner for the night.

pigtails: There is no more perfect hairstyle than pigtails. I suggest them for boys. Instant adorable. Dreadfully hard to get them to stay in sometimes.

boop boops: Today, we took one last romp outside in the boop boops even though it was in the 50 degree range and there was no snow to be seen before they'll probably be retired forever. I'll have to get her some rain boop boops to replace them, I suppose. How cute will that be?!?

evi, e-o, to-be: She can spot our cats (or our babysitter's cats) from 100 yards away. Eagle eyes.

busss! yeh-yo busss!: We are hardcore into anything that resembles a bus, sounds like a bus, smells like a bus, or is yellow. We know the hand motions to every verse of "The Wheels on the Bus" and sometimes make up new ones.

nursery rhymes: Where is Thumbkin?, Old Mother Goose, Goosie Goosie Gander, The Duke of York, Ring Around the Rosie, Shoo Fly, The Farmer in the Dell, Old MacDonald...we love them all. And she can verbalize enough and carry a tune well enough so that I can generally pick out which one she wants to do or what she's singing. For some reason, Goosie Goosie Gander is a bathtime favorite.

chickie: She can finally pronounce this word fairly clearly rather than "chee-cheech." But her absolutely positively favorite lovey, a pair of 6-mo. size blue leggings are still "P-T" (pants).

hocks: She loves to give hugs and pats you so sweetly when she does. The best ones are the sneak attack "hocks" that are so gentle and heartfelt.

"yu-yuu mama" = happy mama :-)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Alchemist

I interrupt my recent barrage of non-fiction save-the-world-one-vegetable-at-a-time book reviews in favor of this one that, frankly, seems deceptively easy but is in my own humble opinion, fantastic. The teacher in me is glorying in the depth and the message. The reader in my loves that it was a quick and at times humorous read. And so I introduce The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. But, you know me, I do have a penchant for Latino/a writers (kind of).

My two favorite reasons why everyone should read this book:

1. "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting"
2. "...people need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want"

I have #2 on my board at school this week and a kid randomly commented to me today that he really likes it. A 17-year old hormonal, self-absorbed teenager noticed it and thought about it and determined that it is...good. Hallelujah.

The whole book is basically an extended proverb, or, rather, a series of related proverbs. So, yeah, it is a bit preachy and completely obvious what the author's intent is, but still, the message is important and gains momentum through being repeated throughout.

Everyone has their own personal journey. It's your choice whether you fulfill yours because it is your choice whether you abide by the omens that are around us every day and it is your choice whether you act on what you see. In the end, the treasure if yours if you are faithful to your quest. I really like it.

I first wanted to read this book after a senior I had four years ago read it for a project in my World Lit. class and it sounded really intriguing, but it's been on my mental bookshelf ever since, until now. Now, I shall praise it to the rafters and encourage all who inquire that yes, they should read it!!

It was also fun to read right now because I read it primarily at school during a class that I affectionately refer to as my 2nd prep period. The class is an elective where kids come to my room and ... read. Pretty much all day. Every day. Read. No teaching required on my part, which means that if I'm caught up (or caught up enough), then I pull out a book and luxuriate in the freedom to read at work for 47 minutes of my day. And on this schedule, I zipped through it in about a week. While I had it on my desk, one of my honors students (a junior) noticed it and struck up a conversation with me about it because she has also read it though years ago. So it was fun when she'd ask me every day "Where are you at now?" And then she tried to bite her tongue and not give anything away other than "I hate the ending, oh I can't stand that ending! The ending is...uggghhhh!" For the record--I liked the ending. I thought that it was basically the only way for it to end, the perfect ending if you will. I especially like that it was so completely unexpected for me. After all of my years of avaricious reading for both fun and school, I feel like if a book can hoodwink me, then it deserves props. It's like movies, too; who doesn't enjoy a good twist at the end?

Next up I have an Elie Wiesel book (fiction). I "started" it two nights ago while I was at Med One trying not to cry because of the horrible horrible pain in my right ear. But it is too figurative and intentionally vague at the beginning, so I only made it 8 pages and have no idea what happened. I'll have to start this one over again. Maybe tonight while I undergo my ear therapy. (Oh the pain, please let it go away! I go on the record to say that Monday afternoon/night was way worse than my entire labor with Abby. And it's still hanging around like the worst muscle strain ever. I mean to sound pitiful here. Please please pity me. I don't want to be the only one.) So we'll see...Elie Wiesel or something else? Don't know yet, but, oh, the possibilities!