Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Still sittin' at the kids' table

Gone Girl epilogue:  I pounded through the last 200 pages of the book, which lived up to the hype from cover to cover.  Strap yourself in for this one--the twists don't stop-a-comin' from beginning to end.  I was wrong about what I thought the ending would be, but it was still a good one, so I don't feel cheated.  For what it's worth, here's my pick if you ever want to read a book with truly unlikeable protagonists.  That doesn't happen a lot.

In other news, another holiday is approaching quickly.  Another chance for wonderful food is coming.  Another special day where I don't have to do any of the cooking is upon us.  That's a bit too benign.  I greatly appreciate having the luxury of wallowing in delicious holiday food, make no mistake.  Granted, Easter isn't a top food holiday with my family, but we still have much of it and good times are plenteous as well.  What I really mean is that Easter is another special day where I don't GET to do any of the cooking.

I have a mum and a mum-in-law who are both skilled cooks and enjoy the kitchen scene.  I have brothers/sisters-in-law who pitch in a-plenty as well.  Inevitably, I always feel like I'm forcing others to let me bring food to family shin-digs.  And to me, whatever I make & bring needs to be some amount of awwww-yeah and wow mixed together.  I want to bring the bowl, platter or basket that people hover over and slur "Whoa, who brought this...???" to each other.  When I passed from "still in college" to "supports herself without the help of parents," I felt like it was well time to join the adult foodie conversation.  When I inherited some food-loving in-laws, I thought surely this would be a place where I could craft a niche for myself. 

Yet inevitably, my mom gives me the "Oh, there's going to be so much food anyway, you don't have to worry about it.  Just bring yourself and your family; that's enough" speech.  My hubby's mom rather pulls the reverse with the "Oh...well...what do you want to bring?  Salad?"  PLEASE just let me bring something.  And if I tell you that I'm going to bring bread, don't make rolls.  I make really good bread.  And, salad...pssshhhhhh.  I'm falling off the meat-eating wagon big time (I do love me some veggies), but salad of any variety does not whisper let alone scream HOLIDAY! 

It's a small handful of days before Easter weekend with a couple of family meals in the works and another opportunity to actively participate in the service of feeding some of those who know me best and consequently whom I love the most.  And I don't have any food plans put together.  Cause I'm still figuratively sittin' at the kids' table, throwing food at the cool people, trying to get their attention.  This really isn't such a bad problem.  Not at all.  In our families, even the kids get some pretty tasty bits and a lot of laughs besides.

"A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety."  --Aesop     

Monday, March 25, 2013

Gone Girl

I don't usually get caught up in hyped books.  Heck, I don't usually have time for books.  Until now, baby!  I've fallen into a jobless funk where if it doesn't concern my immediate household needs, I'm pretty much oblivious.  But, I'm buzzed on reading right now, and I kept hearing talk about Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, including some praise from one of my absolute favorite undergrad professors, a pretty brilliant mind for literature.  And...

It's fantastic.  Ridiculously fantastic.  The descriptions are crazy good.  The plot is crazy good.  Each chapter is alternately narrated by the husband/wife protagonists and their reciprocal cliffhangers are crazy good.  The overt profanity, however, is not crazy good.  Not wholly necessary most of the time.  Prudish, I'm not with quality writing, but profanity for the sake of profanity, not appreciated.

With 80 pages left, I know there's another twist, and I don't feel that I have recognized it yet.  That's a delicious way to read sometimes.  

I'm only up for a short post tonight, so I'm ending with a cutie bit of 3-year old erudition.

Abby and Daddy were playing tag throughout the house this evening (a favorite game).  At one point, they collapsed, giggling, to catch their breaths.  A moment later, Abby chirps "Okay, Daddy.  I'm full of air again...let's go!" 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

He's the oldest, I'm the youngest & that's why we're still married

Allow me a moment to set the scene for this post. 

I'm in our kitchen, ignoring whatever is dirty & hanging out on the counter until it gets thrown into the dishwasher.  I'm working on my third bowl of rice pudding.  Seriously, I ate at least 1/2 of it by myself tonight.  (At some point, I'm not going to be burning a free 500 calories a day and will need to seriously address this addiction to sugar.)  I was letting the boy type his email at the table in silence as requested so that he could concentrate on the point he was making.  I'm thinking that I haven't blogged in a few days, but right now, what is there to post about?  Abby spent 24 hours puking repeatedly, about 15-20 times, literally.  Between 2:30 a.m.-5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, I lost count.  And at the end of DAY THREE, I'm done with it all and worried that she has consumed the caloric equivalent of one bagel since Saturday at supper.  I'm staring down into my white, sticky goo liberally interspersed with chocolate chips, and I think that maybe I'll blog about chocolate.  I might have enough to work with on that one.

Then, I park it in the recliner to throw out a couple of emails before I crash for the night with a book, and the boy starts talking to me again (earlier email done, I guess), and he manages to talk about both science fair and running in the same short conversation.  This is after I ever so lovingly poked some gentle fun at whatever episode of Star Trek he was watching earlier.  And then I realized that I have a blog post spontaneously happening.  Here it is.

Why are we married?  It doesn't make much sense if you put it down on paper.  Did you catch my references to running, science fair and Star Trek earlier?  In the first 18 years of my life, I had no interest in them or little connection to anyone who did.  A couple of weeks ago, we were talking about a track meet that Ben's girls were running in, and I was throwing down the lingo with the best of them.  Half-jokingly, I concluded with something to the effect of "Yeah, and I'm disappointed in myself that I know this."  I still don't much care about split times and what a medley is and why a burst of speed is like an explosion of power.  And I care even less about science fair.  And (shockingly), even less about Star Trek.  Actually, that one trumps them all.  Blech.  But I like the boy.  And I like talking with and listening to him.  And what else are we going to talk about: diapers, tantrums and nap times?

He indoctrinated me into the NFL and I fostered him in the joys of MLB.  He taught me that white cake with white icing is good, even delicious, and I showed him that brussel sprouts can be yummy (that one seems lopsided).  He introduced me to track meets and I encouraged him to read something other than science fiction.  All in all, our interests seem pretty disparate yet they're also fairly cohesive.  It just kind of works with our personalities; we're the antithesis of needy and that's kind of cool for us. 

He's the oldest among his siblings while I'm the youngest.  Birth order is probably a lot of the reason why we're down with being married to each other.  And I guess that it's better not to marry your clone.  So I'll keep on cheering for scientists-in-the-making and attending track meets.  He did figure out how to extend a layover on our flight home from our honeymoon so that we could catch a Braves game in Atlanta.  That was pretty sweet, and he earned some wifely support for that gesture.  I'm still drawing the line for Star Trek.  It might take a Braves season ticket for me to support that hobby.        

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thinking surrogacy

We're done producing our own biological children.  I've been forthright about it whenever asked, so it's not a secret that I'm throwing out here.  But here it is in writing: DONE.  We feel that our family dynamics are just right and complete.  That's not to say that I don't feel little twinges every once so often, even while still having my own baby bopping around the house.  Any time I put away a piece of clothing that was especially tiny or especially adorable, sometimes when I see a cute preggo shirt, and often when I see a tiny little bundle stretching and mewing, I catch myself sighing a little bit with the I'm-never-going-to-experience-that-again kind of sigh.  I was blessed with two "easy" pregnancies, ones that were even (dare I say?) enjoyable more of time than not.  Take out my proclivity to nausea for a couple of months at the beginning, and the rest was cake.  The deliveries and recoveries were even easy peasy, especially the second time around, which was almost embarrassingly so.  So, you know...why not do it again?  I'm thinking surrogacy, and I'm thinking pretty hard about it.

My family may be set, but there are many many couples who have a void that they physically cannot fill.  I think that the idea of surrogacy most appeals to me because I see it as a service that I can potentially provide for someone else who needs help.  It's something of an essential need to be able to reproduce, and for those who are unable, I can't imagine the gamut of self-doubt and self-destruction that they must endure.  Those who can afford surrogacy have most likely also undergone extensive testing and/or other invasive procedures, all of which adds up to many, many dollars devoted to producing a healthy child, to completing a family picture.  These are the people who have likely never been dependent on others for help before, and I imagine that couples who pursue surrogacy are likely to be especially vulnerable and learning new variations of qualities such as humbleness and thankfulness. 

Funny pregnancy aside: a year ago while pregnant, I was sleeping every night with just a sheet, I was that hot (even in the winter with our thermostat set at 68 at night); now, I sleep in a sweatshirt under a down comforter (even with the thermostat set at 70 at night). 

I think I could do it, but I haven't delved into it enough, yet, to fully understand the hows of being a surrogate.  Admittedly, I am a little leery of it simply because I don't believe that it is regulated in this state, and I'm a little uncomfortable with for-profits running the show.  But that could totally be wrong...I need to do lots more digging and talking.  I just keep thinking why not

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A ghost walks into a fireplace...

If you were to put a blanket over your head and walk around like a ghost, you might bump into things.  You might even do it on purpose and giggle about it.  You might even walk into the fireplace.  Hypothetically...


This one just looks silly, but if you look closely or zoom in, you can see the nasty cut on the underside of her lip in the bottom one.  

If it was a little worse and we needed to take her in for stitches or something, I'm sure that we would have been taken into separate rooms and questioned individually about what happened. Her lip is much better already, but for a couple of days there, it did look like she had been on the receiving end of someone's force. 
In happier news, Abby finally (finally!) is down with pedaling rather than getting around Fred Flintstone style.  Her other, more traditional tricycle was a garage sale find turned hand-me-down, and it's not the easiest to pedal.  This little pink number, however, runs like butter.  And what with the spurt of warm weather following the spurt of snow, she took it out for a spin.  Someone slap a helmet on that kid!  This particular one even has turn signals if the batteries are up and running, which is good considering she's technically riding on our street...

Monday, March 11, 2013

When "princess" is a bad word

For this week's family movie night, Abby chose Disney's Snow White.  Up to this point, we've mostly relied on animal documentaries like March of the Penguins and Disney's nature series (which are GREAT).  My child isn't ready for the movie theater quite yet, though; she's a jabberer.  Constant questions.  Constant commentary.  Still, it's good conversation.

It took us three nights to get through all of Snow White, all 84 minutes of it.  On movie nights, we like to get Abby into her jammies and ready for bed before we have some tv time.  She chose this movie undoubtedly because she has the Snow White book on her bookshelf, which was given to her when my niece got too big for them.  She also has the books for Hercules, Spirit of the Cimmaron, Beauty and the Beast, Aladin, and probably others.  Apparently, my niece likes this kind of thing.  As for us, we would be perfectly happy to not have any of the princess-y, Disney, uber-marketed producting in our house for our kids.  But here, they're just books, and that's not all bad, right??


Except for the overt weakening of female characters.
Except for the false masculinization of flat characters who still somehow save the day.
Except for the (really) scary evil characters.
Except for the adult themes.
Except for the Barbie-esque illustrations.
Except for how girls are now labeled and assumed to be a "princess" in the same vein as these stories.

Actually, we have some decided issues with this whole pantheon of children's entertainment.  We are those parents

Lest you think that I spent all of the movie seething and biting my tongue, fear not.  Abby and I enjoyed watching it together.  I kept my negative opinions to myself, and she was full-out laughing quite a bit.  (She's apparently a big fan of the dwarfs.  Slapstick comedy is not lost on this little one.)  But Snow White is not high on my list of favorite children's characters.  She's completely inept (except at housework), she's mincing, she's demanding, and she's ignorant.  I know that this movie was created in a wholly different era, but still...hello, stranger danger?!?  Does she really need to prettily hold out her skirt and bend flirtatiously when she is knocking ever so daintily on the dwarfs' door before she barges in and (inexplicably) takes over the house?

Snow White aside, I find myself talking about death and killing more than I want to now.  I'm not being hypocritical here because obviously while I could simply get rid of these books and encourage other television choices, I'm trying to use these moments as an avenue to talk with my child about dangers.  For a healthy three-year old, there is no true sense of what it is to either kill someone or what it means to die.  She sees the fish floating in the tank and skips on by, oblivious to how it won't start moving again.  I know that we need to address these topics, but I don't much enjoy it when I see pictures of guns in the books (what, Dr. Seuss?) and the evil queen falling off a ledge to her inevitable doom.

Maybe this is why I loathe it when others, especially strangers, so quickly smack the "princess" label on our daughters because they're girls.  We're doing our best to raise two girls who are anything but these prissy prima donnas, and there's no chance that the magical animated hand of Disney is going to swoop in at the pivotal moment with a well placed Prince Charming. 

As long as the mass marketed stuff stays with the occasional tv time, then we can live with it.  (I still don't think I'm being that hypocritical, but we do enjoy some Thomas and Super Why around our house though these brands both fall under the "mass marketed" label as well.  The message just isn't the same...)  Our daughters will just have to deal with the disappointment of not having princess sheets and princess dress-up costumes, though.  I'm sure they'll be fine.   

Thursday, March 7, 2013


This week, I registered Abby for a 4-year old pre-school class for next year.  She loves pre-school (told me so today, again).  It started off kind of shaky with promises of peach smoothies for a treat if she had a good day.  She's not what you would define as someone who enjoys new situations and being around strangers.  Pre-school was this new experience for me, primarily, this year as I've never been the parent part of the educational process before, and I'm learning that every year henceforth will be a new adaptation to this role.  I'm in a groove with two days a week gig now, but next year it will be three and in the mornings instead.  Then, we'll be in for one more year of pre-school or else kindergarten.  And, whoa...we're feeling pretty ignorant.

To quote my spouse, "I don't know anything about elementary school!"  We may be licensed teachers, but elementary school is its own beast, one that neither of us proclaim to understand. 

*I don't know what signifies the difference between an okay kindergarten program and a really good kindergarten program.

*I don't know how much technology is too much for this age.

*I don't know how different programs will help my skittish kid adjust.

*I don't know if she will "be ready" for it.  I suspect she will, but...

*...I don't know if that signifies whether she should go at age 5 or not.

Most importantly, we don't know what school system we want our kids to enter.  Given the looser districting that I mentioned in the last post, we feel a little overwhelmed as our children are not obligated to attend the district that we live in.  Thank heavens on that one.  We bought our house with no intention of ever sending our children to the district that it is in. 

But there is a HUGE push for K-12 technology, not just in this area of the state but everywhere.  We are both certainly wary of what appears to be complete immersion in constant screen time at such a young age. 

I spent some time this afternoon skimming through a few of the local school corporations' websites, and shocking to me, there is virtually no information on any of the sites to answer any of my many questions.  I feel frustrated already, and "the choice" is still one year away.  One of Abby's pre-school teachers always spells her name "Abbi" (though why that's the de facto spelling for her is beyond my understanding), and this bothers Abby who has known how to spell her name for a year or so and is very proud of this as her identity.  For a three-year old, that's a big deal how you are addressed.  For an adult to mess up something that is vital to her self-awareness is understandably frustrating.  I've debated a little about whether I want to or am willing to be "that parent" who steps up for their kid when the child doesn't have the words or willingness to solve the problem.  And I decided that I won't, at least in this situation.  Abby has to learn that other people make mistakes and that some mistakes aren't really a big deal.  I've spent enough time interacting with "that parent" and I don't really want to be that way though I know that those intentions are often sincere.  But given the overt lack of information readily available for what I feel I/we have to know in order to make an informed decision about what we think is kind of a big deal, then I forsee myself having to be "that parent" in this respect.  I don't relish this part of my job.

I leave you with a quote from Brigham Young.  I may not agree with you in many a way, but this thought I kinda like.  And, I have 2 girls, so it's a little apropos.  (Future post--how do you raise girls to be girls yet not buy into being girly??)

"You educate a man; you educate a man.  You educate a woman; you educate a generation." 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Giving up

Here's a man who did what I desperately wish I had the guts to do.  This man had a typed resignation that he intended to read before what I would presume to be a school board.  Resignation letters, at least in this state, are public documents (e.g. open to future employers should they so desire to read them when vetting a candidate for a position that they need to fill).  This man in this video epitomizes, in my estimation, the very essence of the hurricane of discontent consuming today's educators.  I, for one, empathize with his frustrations and feel that I can share his I've-had-it-ness.  Fundamentally, teachers want to be allowed to teach, to do the job for which they have been trained and not be second guessed and dictated to by those who have not.  What boggles my mind is how "they" don't believe that, whether you want to point fingers at lawmakers or the general public, it doesn't often seem to matter.  In education, unfortunately, it's something of an escalation of emotional warfare that neither side seems to be doing much to mitigate.

When I was an undergrad, I was told at some point, perhaps in an education class?, that 50% of newly minted teachers were out of the profession after 2 years.

My first year teaching, fresh out of college and less than a decade ago, was nothing like my last year teaching.  Not even remotely.  Technology has exploded and is now the dominant factor in every classroom, in every school.  In this state, a property tax law went into effect which subsequently opened district restrictions, allowing students to essentially go to whatever school they want to so long as the school will accept them.  This, by default, has turned schools into something resembling for profit entities, advertising their services and working the "one up" factor against local competitors.  I've been in faculty meetings, multiple times, where we (teachers) have been directed to "sell" our school, to be the best in hospitality so that parents will want to send their children to our school--to be the five star hotel (not my analogy).  I have not been in faculty meetings where we have been told to be the best educators so that parents want to send their children to our school. 

Whether this man has a true grievance with those in his school who wouldn't listen to him is for the sake of this post beside the point.  From my vantage point, I hear frustration, hurt and a true desire to be an educator.  I hear the voice of an individual who wants to teach in a world that seemingly doesn't want teachers so much anymore in favor of those who are willing to be directors. 

In the last few weeks, I've come to my own realization that I just flat out miss interacting with students.  They're quirky, interesting, and decidedly vulnerable.  I just miss them.

Serious part of the post over with, here's a story.  My three-year old has those days where she's really three years old.  We had both the squeezing toothpaste into the sink episode and pouring nail polish on the tan carpet and shredder episode, all in one day.  Nail polish does not readily come out of either cloth or carpet.  That was said too nicely...nail polish essentially does not come out of cloth or carpet, especially when it was about an entire bottle's worth.  There are only so many places in this house that things can be locked up.  Kids lull you into a false sense of security and then they do THIS kind of junk.  Now I have these Pollock-esque spatters to fume over along with the crayon scribbles on the walls.  To quote my (literally) red-handed daughter, "Oh, fiddlesticks..."