Diapers and Dragons

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My soul is empty
My heart is aching
Food is ashes in my mouth; wine as bitter as tears
My eyes are swollen with much weeping
My limbs are weak and cannot support me

How long will my sin burn inside me?
How long will my world shatter in endless pain?

I have forsaken those I love
And wounded what I cherish most
I am less than the dirt beneath my feet
I am lower than the worms crawling within

Let the pain be placed upon me only
Let my shame wash over me alone
Grant me strength to continue when I wish to lie down
Grant me patience to perservere when I desire only to cease breathing
Grant me courage to look my sons in their faces
Grant me mercy and forgiveness beyond all that I deserve

For I deserve nothing
And yet need everything
And know not where to turn.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bungee Jumping

Life has been like this for me lately. And I don't like bungee jumping--I have a terrible fear of heights and free fall--so this is not excitement and adventure for me. I have been at some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my entire life this last week. I don't know if there's ever been a point when I've been taken to such extremes in such a brief space of time before.

I can't talk about the details. They're too intimate, too personal, and would betray some of the people I love the most in the world, including myself. Emotionally, I've reached a point of near numbness, not sure where to turn or what to say or do that would fix all the things that have gone so very wrong and get back what was so very right. I've been crying out to God, greats bursts of wordless need because I don't even know how to put my emotions into words, don't know how to do more than offer it up because it's more than I can handle and utterly out of my control.

If I'm silent here for a while, it's because I can't speak. But if you have words to offer me, please do. I just can't promise a reply.

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Son, the Punk Rocker

So last night as I sat in the living room wiping The Widget's nose and waiting for DramaBoy to finish pooping so I could go wipe a different part of anatomy, I heard an unusual noise coming from the bathroom. DramaBoy had insisted the door be closed so that "[The Widget] can't come in, Mommy!" and he had apparently decided to make the most out of the echoing acoustics. To my mild shock and wild amusement, DramaBoy produced a remarkably Screamo-like* rendition of "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep"--rhythm, pauses, and dramatic emphasis included. It's hard to put into writing, but essentially he was screaming the lyrics at the top of his lungs, with a markedly "musical" aspect:

BAA! BAA! -----------------BLACK SHEEP!
BAA! BAA!------------------BLACK SHEEP!
HAVE----YOU--------------ANY WOOL!

All that was needed was a driving cacophany of electric guitars and drums as accompaniment!

I'm so proud.

*It should be noted that while I am aware of Screamo through my students, it's not a genre I particularly like. The lyrics can be quite powerful and well-written, but for some reason I prefer some actual melody and, oh, SINGING in my music. You know, rather than having ballad-like lyrics screamed at me.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


My mind started automatically making this meme last night as I was driving home with a cheerful and chatty DramaBoy in the back seat (The Widget was at home with Grandma, since he had a cold). I had reached into my pocket to get my keys and discovered...well, I'll get to that.

You Know You Are a Mommy When...

...you reach into your pocket for your keys and discover a small toy car, snotty Kleenex, and week-old grocery list.
...you can carry on a ten-minute conversation with a three-year-old child.
...you can discuss the relative merits of Imagination Movers vs. Yo Gabba Gabba or The Little Einsteins, especially in terms of their educational and musical qualities.
...you can sing the theme songs to the aforementioned children's shows.
...you refer to the aforementioned children's shows to remind your children of the lessons learned ("Remember what Yo Gabba Gabba says? 'Inside voice! Qui-et!'").
...you sort of hope your child doesn't finish the rest of his turkey sandwich because you could really go for some of that right now but you don't feel like making another one for yourself.
...you've decided that Chicken McNuggets are a food group. And hey, they can come with juice or milk and apples these days instead of pop and fries!
...you find yourself discussing the frequency, color, texture, and other explicit qualities of poop with your spouse.
...you just sigh and reach for a wipe if you discover some unidentified shmear of bodily goop on your hand/face/shoulder/arm/leg/someone stop me...
...you enjoy the taste of chocolate you get when you kiss your child goodbye as he's diving into his bowl of Cocoa Puffs in the morning.
...you laugh at the idea of separating colors and just throw that big load of kids' clothes in the washing machine together. Hey, you set it on gentle wash! That counts for something!
...you can interpret complex comments and requests based on a combination of simple hand gestures and grunts, with perhaps a facial expression thrown in for variety.
...you can translate the word "guck" into the correct meaning out of a dozen possible meanings.
...you clap with genuine delight when your child pees or poops in the potty.
...you have to try really, really hard not to immediately say "Well, MY child...." when someone else talks about how cute/smart/funny his or her child is. Sometimes you even succeed.

There are countless more, but that's a good start. And just for fun, because I want to, I'm tagging Katy at Treasured Chapters, Riley at All Rileyed Up, Sue at navel gazing at its finest, Julia at {Here Be Hippogriffs}, and Heidi at Hortus Deliciarum. So there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

'Tis the Season

My friend Katy suckered me into this--I read her latest post, as I loyally (and with great delight) do every time one pops up on my blogroll, and there at the end, she tagged me by default, since I read it. I'm it. Turn about is fair play, since I've tagged her several times. So here we go:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Either, depending on the gift, who it is for, and how wrappable it is.
2. Real tree or artificial? I was raised with artificial trees, since I grew up in the tropics where real ones weren't, but we faithfully choose a real one every year now. After ComputerDaddy's parents divorced, he started going down to the nearby tree lot and buying a small tree and dragging it home behind him as a gift to his mother. Christmas isn't Christmas to him without one. There's something very special about the sight and smell of a real tree.
3. When do you put up the tree? When we get the time, sometime in the weeks after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. We have to do that soon, but not sure when...
4. When do you take the tree down? Before it bursts into flames. Preferrably.
5. Do you like eggnog? ComputerDaddy LOVES the stuff. I keep trying it in the hope that it will grow on me. So far, not so much. Despite the rum. I'd rather just drink rum cream and forget the egg and/or nog. Mmmmm, rum cream...
6. Favorite gift received as a child? The beautiful two-story seven-room-plus-a-full-balcony wooden dollhouse that my grandfather built and my grandmother decorated when my sister and I were younglings. We played with it for years...
7. Hardest person to buy for? ComputerDaddy, his father, and my sister.
8. Easiest person to buy for? DramaBoy. It's more about NOT buying everything we find. The Widget is easy too, but gets a lot of hand-me-downs.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yep. Haven't put it out lately because it's pottery from Africa and far too breakable.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Conceive, plan, and never actually carry out Christmas cards--that's what you meant, right?
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A too-small, ugly, BOY'S belt from family friends who somehow forgot both my age and gender (I was in sixth grade). Bizarre.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Oh geez...I love many. Um, Elf. I laugh every time.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Around Thanksgiving.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Probably. I don't recall a specific one. I know there are a few presents that have been donated or returned. That's recycling...
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Christmas Eggs: wrap slices of bacon around the sides of muffin tins, crack eggs into the middle, and pour a bit of tomato juice on top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake and enjoy!
16. Lights on the tree? What? You mean there are barbarians who DON'T use them?
17. Favorite Christmas song? Again, a toss-up. I love What Child is This and Silent Night and Breath of Heaven (a la Amy Grant) and Jewel's renditions of Ave Maria and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
18.Travel at Christmas or stay home? We generally travel to my father-in-law's for Christmas morning. We spend the rest of the day either other family's or our house.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? There's Sneezy and Happy and Grumpy and Doc and...Oh, wait...
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A point of contention for me and ComputerDaddy. I always had an angel; he always had a knot of garland and perhaps a star. Garlands were new to me. We compromise: there is a knot of garland with a wee delicate white angel nestled within, lit by lights.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Oh, definitely morning. The only time we do such a thing on Christmas Eve is if my sister and brother-in-law are in town and will only be here that day before heading up to his family for Christmas. So, yes, this year.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The radio stations that not only start playing Christmas music TWO MONTHS before Christmas, but apparently can only play the same forty songs over and over--and not all of them are the good ones, and the only newer ones they play are the HORRIBLE ones, like boy band versions and such. Ick. Oh, and the fad gifts that people will literally trample over other people to get. Did you hear that a doorman got killed that way at a WalMart in New York this year on Black Friday? And people just kept shopping...
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Eclectic, all the way. Ornaments should have memories, not just be beautiful.
24. Favorite Christmas story (besides THE Christmas story)? I'll have to go with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas on this one.
25. Favorite Christmas tradition? Gathering with extended family, whoever it may be, on Christmas Day. I love my little family of four, but the spirit of Christmas needs to extend outside our little quartet.

And now YOU are tagged! Go on, you can do it...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Conversation with a Junior Philosopher

DramaBoy: What are we going?
TeacherMommy: We're going home.
DB: I like home!
TM: I like home too. I'm glad you like it at home.
DB: Sometimes I like to be home; sometimes I don't.
TM: Do you like being at school sometimes?
DB: Yes, sometimes I do like being at school. Sometimes I don't.
TM: That makes sense.
DB: Next time, I will do it yesterday.
TM: Um...OK. That would take some doing.
DB: There is another Ian yesterday.
TM: You mean a Past Ian? I guess if you're talking about the Ian you used to be instead of the one you are now, you're right about that.
DB: What kind of Ian am I?
TM: You're a Now Ian.
DB: But there is another Ian.
TM: There's a Past Ian in the past, and you're the Now Ian in the present.
DB: But I would like to be the Past Ian!
TM: But that would make me sad, because I wouldn't get to see you.
DB: Is there a Mama Past for the another Ian?
TM: Yes, there's a Past Mama who's always with the Past Ian. And I am the Now Mama who is with you, the Now Ian.
DB: Yep. That's the way it goes.
The Widget: Guck.

Thanksgiving Redux

The first time I ever attempted a turkey, I nearly destroyed my downstairs neighbors' apartment.

Eight years ago, ComputerDaddy and I had just moved into a nice apartment not far from where I began teaching, and I decided to host Thanksgiving for the first time. This meant I was In Charge of the turkey.

So I bought a turkey, guessing madly at how large of one I would need for five people (TM and CD + CD's mother and sister and sister's boyfriend). I also guessed madly at how long it would take to defrost said turkey. I mean, how long could it take? I gave it a day in the fridge.

When I woke that morning and pulled the massive turkey out of the fridge, it was rock hard. Not all was lost, however, as I still had hours and hours before people arrived. So I placed the turkey in the sink, still in its wrapper, and ran warmish water over it. Since this was no doubt going to take a while, and I had no concept of water conservation at that time, I left the turkey, water, and sink in this state and went off to do Other Important Things.

Some unknown time later, as I puttered about my bathroom, turkey completely forgotten, I heard a great hammering on the door and my neighbor's voice shouting unintelligibly through it. I rushed to the door, and a panicked Angelique cried, "Turn it off! Turn the water off!"

The turkey had, as large objects will do, settled in the sink and plugged the drain quite nicely. The water had continued to run. My kitchen floor was a pool, the carpet into the dining area was noticeably darker and squishier, and the water had started seeping through Angelique's walls in her kitchen directly below mine.

It's a good thing she already liked me.

Thanksgivings have been much less dramatic since then and have, generally speaking, run much more smoothly. Until this last one.

ComputerDaddy and I woke with the kidlets and began a leisurely morning preparing for guests. My sainted parents had come over the day before while we were at work and done most of the deep cleaning that was desperately needed, so we just had the floors, some decluttering, and decorating to do. I had a nagging feeling as I made a late-morning run to pick up a few things along with the required Starbucks peppermint mochas that perhaps I had forgotten something. But what could it be? People weren't arriving until 12:30 or so, we weren't eating until around 3, and I wasn't responsible for nearly as much food as usual this year. And I'd already picked up a new tablecloth and napkins, so I didn't have to iron an old one.

After we finished sweeping and mopping and vacuuming and such, we attempted to add two additional leaves to the table. This is when things began to Go Wrong. I did not have the strength to help ComputerDaddy convince the stubborn leaves to fit properly, so we would have to wait for my father to arrive. So no pre-arrival table decorations. I couldn't find the candles I thought I had in storage for the candelabra in the living room. My parents arrived, and as I led them into the house, I looked at the clock. Nearly 1 pm. And it hit me.

I hadn't touched the turkey. It was still sitting in the refrigerator, and I had meant to get it out early as I had also forgotten to transfer it from the freezer early enough and it had only had about 28 hours to defrost. And it was NOT roasting in the roaster as it should have been for a good hour or so already.

Let me shorten this tale for you. Picture, if you will, the following:

1. TeacherMommy wailing and gnashing her teeth as she runs warm water over a turkey with only the slightest trace of defrosted flesh on the outer surface.
2. TM, again with w. and g. of t., trying desperately to tug those $%*#@ bags of giblets that the sadistic poultry companies think should be stored in the turkey's body cavities out of a mostly-frozen carcass.
3. TM snarling at ComputerDaddy and her father as they hover and try to Fix It for her.
4. TM finally dominating the giblets, which are thrust aside disdainfully. The (thankfully medium-sized) turkey is placed in a baking dish and shoved within the (thankfully large) microwave to defrost for a FULL HOUR.
5. CD whisking TM out of the house on a fruitless quest for possible alternatives at Meijer should the turkey go All Wrong; also to pick up the cranberry sauce that TM had forgotten and to get more Starbucks drinks in an effort to Calm Down.
6. TM becoming even more despondent upon her return to the house when she realizes that (a) now ComputerDaddy's sister and (different) boyfriend will not be able to stay for dinner, since it will be around 6 instead of 3; and (b) her new tablecloth looks like a napkin on the newly enlarged table, and the sadly wrinkled tablecloth from bygone years must be used instead.
7. TM becoming resigned to disaster when the sweet potatoes are left on too long and splatter into mush when poured into the strainer. Her famous candied sweet potato casserole must now add the adjective "pureed."
8. TM throwing her arms into the air when she realizes that she has completely forgotten to take the forlorn giblets and make her lovely, smooth, gourmet giblet gravy that was the third item on her short list of (three) food items to prepare.

And here is why I am thankful, so thankful, despite it all. The turkey roasted swiftly, once defrosted, in the wonderful time-saving, oven-freeing electric roaster that my beloved mother-in-law gave me several years ago. It emerged juicy and perfect. Everyone agreed that that the sweet potatoes were even better pureed--my brother, who was a lone hold-out in the sweet potato worship in bygone years, actually ate two helpings. My wonderful father whipped up a lovely gravy with only the drippings and some flour in a fraction of the time I would have spent.

ComputerDaddy's pumpkin pie was a lovely, perfect ending to a lovely, perfect meal. My mother and sister and brother and I sang Christmas carols as we cleaned up afterwards; the kidlets went to bed late but happy with the assistance of their beloved grandpa; I chatted with my mothers over pie and coffee as the (grown-up) children raced each other in Wii MarioKart. I am blessed beyond measure, and for this I am thankful.

And next year I will conquer the turkey once again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

DramaBoy, My DramaBoy

I'll try to post pictures later. Writing did not occur last night, and those pictures are still at home. And yes, I know this is obnoxiously long. Forgive me.

Yesterday, as per my post, was DramaBoy's third birthday. I had been excited for him (and us) for weeks, as was he, but it wasn't until yesterday morning as I watched his gangly boyish form run about, no trace of baby remaining, that it hit me. I have a three-year-old. And three is, somehow, officially Not Baby and Not Toddler, even though he's been Not both of those for some time. My mother said on the phone that it really wasn't difficult for her to assimilate because he's been so Threeish for quite some time. And at school he's been placed up with the three- and four-year-olds for months.

But it didn't really hit me until yesterday morning. He came in the bathroom as I was brushing my teeth, and he went potty. He stood to do so. As I watched him to make sure his aim was on target, I looked with new eyes at his lanky body, the slim long legs and flat stomach, the long neck and well-formed head with a cap of hair (recently) neatly trimmed in that generic boy cut. There is no trace of Buddha Baby chubbiness remaining. His jaw is strong and defined (and such an indicator of his iron will, let me tell you), his nose is taking specific shape, his hands and knees bear scrapes and bruises rather than dimples. He is Boy.

I still remember him as a baby. He was beautiful, perfect, well-shaped in that way that is the result of a cesarean birth rather than vaginal. I am not entirely biased in my view of him as a beautiful baby. Friends, family, and strangers alike commented on it; no few declared I should get him into baby modelling. He knew how to pose for a camera, that's for certain! He was also one of those babies that somehow looks like a miniature person rather than Baby, if you get what I mean. A few friends called him Little Man. We called him SqueakerMouse.

He was so very little, in our eyes. 6 lbs. 7 oz., 19 inches long, with dark blue eyes (later switching to green hazel with hints of brown), and a full head of dark hair. We were typical first-time parents, filling hours of digital tape with videos of him lying on beds, on couches, on floors, on laps. Ooh! He twitched! Ahh! He looked at the other side of the room! Aww! He waved his little fists in the air! You know what I'm talking about. And he squeaked. For a long time this was his preferred mode of communication when he wasn't wailing at the top of his lungs. Thus, SqueakerMouse.

We delighted in every new accomplishment--smiling, rolling over, scooting around the room, sitting, standing, walking, talking--and tried very hard not to gloat about how very bright and precocious he was. We agonized over his late crawling; he hated "tummy time" and had to be practically forced to crawl. We solved this by purchasing a funny little blow-up plastic cylinder that contained bells and would make delightful jingling sounds when he braced himself against it and pushed it about the room on his knees.

The nicknames changed with his development. He became Froggy when he discovered his legs and started experimenting with diaper-changing interference. He become Monkey when he discovered his arms and legs were good for more than waving about. He was Nugget for a long time, just because. When his innate sense of drama (sometimes more along the lines of melodrama...) revealed itself, he became DramaBoy.

And he talked. Oh how he talked. His first word was "doggy" (or, as he put it, "goggy"), closely followed by "Dada." He resisted saying "Mama" for a long time, much to my despair, but finally deigned to acknowledge me verbally. By the age of thirteen months I counted twenty-seven words that he could say coherently. We chortled in private over our son's obvious superiority over other children.

And he kept talking. He added word after word to his repertoire, frequently on a daily basis. He developed a love of trucks and called out his discovery every time he saw one--with a minor but oh-so-key pronunciation error, namely that he could not pronounce the "tr" combination and replaced it with "k". You can imagine our horror when he would exclaim with enormous joy, "Look! A big black k*ck!"--and of course, do so in as public an arena as possible. He used prepositions and adjectives and proper syntax far earlier than those baby books said was likely or even possible. I'm simply a bit nervous that with his gift of gab and gregarious personality he'll end up with a career in politics and I'll have to eat my words about politicians!

He had, and has, an infectious smile and joy in life. He notices EVERYTHING. He can spot a single white balloon floating forlornly in the all-white, very high rafters of a Best Buy. He detects the slightest thing out of place or added to the clutter of our house. He registers the most surreptitious attempt on my or ComputerDaddy's part to sneak a secret smackeral of something that we don't want him to have. He asks question after question, he plays tricks and makes mischief with a roguish twinkle in his eye, he lavishes us with cuddles and hugs and kisses. He empathizes without thinking about it, tuning in to the mood of the house or room or nearest friend. Rooms seem to light up a bit more when he bounces in.

He was, and is, a strong-willed child. He is contrary for the sake of it, delights in pushing our buttons, and resists us on many fronts. We are all three of us stubborn and quick to anger, which leads to some epic battles. ComputerDaddy and I have had to plumb new depths of patience with him, especially since he is very smart and can, if we give him a chance, catch us out on points of logic. We must explain on a daily basis why he does not get to do and have everything that we can, and his frequent mournful refrain is, "But I'm not getting bigger YET!" My mother's exasperated curse placed upon me at the tumultuous age of twelve has come to fruition with my firstborn.

I am torn. Part of me wants to catch him in amber and preserve this beautiful, frustrating, joy-filling, astonishing creature for all time. Another can hardly wait to see what amazement the future holds, what he will become. I can only hope and pray that he will learn to temper and train that exuberance of spirit, not crushing and hiding it, but rather directing it towards accomplishing amazing things in his life. Until then, I can only be thankful that somehow, miraculously, I get to be his mother.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The First Moment of Motherhood

This one will be long, but then, I have a lot of memories to impart...

Three years ago today ComputerDaddy and I woke up early. It didn't take much--I had slept little with a mixture of excitement and quasi-terror all night. I had filled myself as much as my compressed stomach could take the day before at the one Thanksgiving in years that I had not hosted. I hadn't even done the turkey; my only provision was my famous candied sweet potatoes that are an absolute requirement every year (I think my sister-in-law would still consider it a successful Thanksgiving if nothing else was on the table.) Otherwise, I had eaten and drunk nothing since midnight.

ComputerDaddy drove. It was snowing, one of the first real snows of the year, and it was bitterly cold. We hadn't done a hospital tour or practice run, which we regretted, as we nearly got lost navigating the difficult route to Providence Southfield, a good 40-minute drive with no easy access off the freeway. MapQuest didn't help much, either. We arrived almost ten minutes late, which had me panicking, sure that they would turn us away and say that they would have to reschedule because we had missed our check-in window.

I needn't have worried. They checked us in cheerfully, sent us up to the prep area, and our waiting began. There were various tests, a divestment of all clothing, the donning of that little hospital gown that doesn't fit even when you aren't carrying an oversize beach ball in front. ComputerDaddy shot a "before picture" that betrays my mixed emotions. A good forty-five minutes after I was supposed to enter the operating room, they finally wheeled me in. ComputerDaddy was taken off to scrub up, and they did the final preparations.

I had been terrified of the spinal epidural, because I'm terrified of needles and had seen (much to my horror) a video of what it looked like to get one. Again, lots of needless (ha ha, just saw the pun) worry over nothing--I barely felt a thing, and since it was all happening behind my back, I didn't have anything to see and therefore cause a reaction. My lower body went numb shortly after, and they strapped my arms down to the unsettlingly cross-like apparatus. A curtain was erected over my chest; a mirror on a pole was wheeled over so that I could see the miracle happen when (and if) I wished.

ComputerDaddy came back, only his gorgeous brown eyes showing above the surgical mask, and held my hand. It began.

It's hard to explain what a cesarean section feels like. There's no pain and really no other sensations until they begin to remove the baby. You see them moving about, you hear their cheerful conversation, and then the tugging begins. It's like someone is wrestling with your insides, and perhaps that most of your interior is being removed, but there's no pain at all. Odd. Surreal, even.

And then they moved the mirror so I could see it: the amazing, jaw-dropping, beyond-words sight of my own child, the fruit of my womb, the love-made-flesh joining of ComputerDaddy and myself being lifted from my body. He came into the world, paused, took a breath, and began yelling. Dramatic from the beginning.

My eyes filled with tears. I hadn't anticipated the sheer emotion of the moment. ComputerDaddy's were welling as well as we looked at each other and he kissed me tenderly. They did what they do with these new lives on the other side of the room, with much rattling of metal and vociferous complaints from our feisty firstborn. Then they brought him, wrapped and mumbling in sleepy warmth, and placed him in ComputerDaddy's arms.

I love ComputerDaddy with all my heart, and I love my parents and siblings and friends dearly, but there is a different kind of love that is reserved for one's child. I know not all mothers bond with their children immediately, but I fell in love with that tiny, perfect being in the instant I laid my eyes upon him. There were no reservations.

It's been a long road in the three years since then. I will likely post later today about who DramaBoy has become, hopefully with pictures once I pull them off my home computer. But this morning as I watched my little boy, baby no longer, do the things that seemed impossible he would ever be big enough to do back when he was our little SqueakerMouse...

I remembered.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Passing of an Orya

Sigh. I guess not many people read my blog, or at least are willing to leave a comment, because all of two (2) two (II) people left any comments/guesses on my post about DramaBoy's vocabulary. Sigh again. I feel lonely and unloved.

I could wait for another week or two to see if people are just out-of-town/under-a-rock/bashing-their-computers-against-the-walls-in-frustration-over-tech-issues before posting the answers. But in order to make today's post, I must reveal at least one answer. If I do one, might as well do them all. Since no one probably cares anyway. Not that I'm bitter.

(Breathe. Relax. Release. Woooo-saaaaa.)

So here are the answers to the puzzle:

What Was That Again? Peculiar Pronunciation:

1. banilla logut = vanilla yoghurt
2. basint = basement
3. aldagader = alligator
4. Orya = Eeyore
5. ginkle ginkle little tar = twinkle twinkle little star
6. cawkit = chocolate

I Think You Mean... Silly Syntax and Wacky Words:

7. pumpkin patch = jack o' lantern
8. What kind of grandma/sister/friend is it? = Which one is it?
9. What are we going? = Where are we going?
10. I need to get on my dress. = I need to get dressed.

Congrats to both Kathleen and Riley, not only for being the ONLY ONES TO GUESS, but for getting so many correct!

I should note that DramaBoy is actually quite a bit more accomplished in his language and pronunciation than that post may have indicated. Not to brag or anything. Much.

And kidlets grow up. Just last week DramaBoy sang "kinkle kinkle little star," giving me quite a start with the change in consonants and the successful addition of an "s" to "star." It was a first on that one. And last week he officially stopped his adorable and much adored use of "Orya" for "Eeyore." ComputerDaddy and I are in mourning. I'm considering wearing an armband. Grey, of course.

Last year (or was it the year before? My memory is swiss cheese...) my sister gave DramaBoy a beautiful, soft, huggable stuffed Eeyore of the classic Winnie the Pooh persuasion. Classic Eeyore is always to be preferred, of course.
We are talking rather than .

DramaBoy promptly named him "Orya," his semi-reversed version of "Eeyore." Which delighted us. And Orya he has been ever since. Until yesterday.

Last night I was relaxing on the couch, with ComputerDaddy on the other end, and I wanted a few last snuggles with DramaBoy before he had to go off to bed. Orya was on my lap, a remnant of the Pile Toys on Mama game DramaBoy had been playing earlier. The following conversation ensued:

TeacherMommy: Will you come cuddle with me and Orya for a little bit?
DramaBoy: It's Eeyore.
TM: No, that's Orya. That's his special name.
ComputerDaddy: You called him that when you were really little. His name is Orya.
DB: No, it's not! It's my Eeyore!
TM: (pouting) It can't be Orya?
DB: (gently, with pity) No, it's not, honey! It's not.
CD: Can you say "Orya," just for Mama and Daddy? Just one more time?
DB: "Or-ah."
CD: "Orya."
DB: "Orrrrr--aaah."


DB: I think I can't say it. I think I forgot. I did that yesterday. I think I forgot.

It's the passing of an era. He turns three tomorrow, and he will never be quite so much a little boy again.

Numbers Meme

I'm a little lacking in the snarky comments on this one. Sorry.

1. One thing about the holiday season I hate: Christmas decorations going up three months before the holiday. Come on people! I think it should be a law that no Christmas decorations, items, sales, or music is allowed until the day after Thanksgiving.
2. Two bad habits: Fingering my hair and dog-earing (personal) books
3. Three jobs I’ve had in my life other than my current one: Telemarketer, waitress, babysitter
4. Four things on today’s to do list: Grade vocab quizzes, buy birthday party stuff for DramaBoy, put together little gift bags for DramaBoy's classmates for school tomorrow, and read books to my boys
5. Five people I miss the most: Melissa, Lauren, Ariane, Mom, and Dad
6. Six places I’ve lived other than where I am now: Ferkessedougou, Cote d'Ivoire; Horsely's Green, England; Albertville, France; Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire; East Lansing, Michigan; Southfield, Michigan
7. Seven things I’d do if I were a billionaire: Pay off all my family and friends' debts (as well as our own), buy a house with a huge library and buy all the books I want, travel the world with ComputerDaddy (I guess the kidlets could come too), fully support all my family and friends who are missionaries, set up scholarships for young people of various sorts, fill my closet with gorgeous shoes, and RELAX.
8. Eight places I'd like to visit before I die: Australia, New Zealand, Venice, Prague, Japan, Kenya (again), Ireland, the Caribbean
9. Nine people from history I'd love to meet: Jane Austen, William Shakespeare (to see if he was really the author!), Dorothy Parker, Queen Elizabeth I, Eleanor Roosevelt, Allen Ginsberg, Emily Dickinson, Mary Magdelene, Anne Boleyn
10. Ten years ago I was: so much less mature than I am now. Though I'm sure that in another ten years I'll think the same thing about the current me.

I'm going to be totally unexpected and NOT tag anyone for this blog in particular. But if you'd like to play along in the comments or in your own blog, go for it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two Wolves Within

A retelling of a Native American legend:

An old Grandfather, whose grandson came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, said, "Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times."

He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me: one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

"But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.

"It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into the Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which wolf will win the fight in your heart, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."

How Fluent Are You?

I've mentioned before that DramaBoy is extremely verbal. He started talking quite young, and his vocabulary grew very rapidly--more rapidly than his physical development could keep up! As a result, he's had some entertaining pronunciations and grammatical choices. I've also mentioned that he struggles a little with pronouncing "s" in combination with other consonants at the beginning of words. Generally he just leaves off the "s." The results are rather cute, so here's a "tory" in honor of my little guy using these truncated words..see if you can figure them out:

One night, Piderman woke up from a cary dream about a pider that was throwing ticks and tones at him. Piderman decided he needed some chocolate milk, so he went to the kitchen to make some. He climbed up on a tool to reach the chocolate mix from the cabinet, then grabbed a poon to tir it all up. As he was tirring the milk, he tarted to wobble on the tool.

"Oh no!" Piderman said. "I pilled my milk!"

After Piderman cleaned up the mess, he realized there wasn't any more milk in the jug. So he decided to go to the tore to get some more. As he was swinging from building to building, he potted a mean man beating someone up.

"Top!" Piderman cried. He swung down on his pider-silk and Bam! Pow! the mean man ran away, cared and crying. Piderman helped up the other person and discovered it was MaryJane, wrapped up in a red carf because it was so cold outside.

"Thank you, Piderman!" she said. "That tupid, cary man wanted to take my purse, and he wouldn't believe me when I told him I left it at home. You are my hero! Wait until I tell Peter Parker you saved me!"

Piderman smiled, made sure she got home safely, and swung off again under the bright tars to get some more milk from the tore. He knew he'd get to hear the tory all over again the next day when he took MaryJane out on a date. Little did she know that her hero was her boyfriend!

The End

Wasn't that fun? :)

That one was kind of easy--after all, you just had to add an "s" to the beginning of words! Not everything he says is so easy to figure out. I'm listing some of the better ones--the ones that get folks who don't know him as well scratching their heads--and I'm challenging you to post your interpretation. No cheating and peeking at other comments!

What Was That Again? Peculiar Pronunciation:

1. banilla logut
2. basint
3. aldagader
4. Orya
5. ginkle ginkle little tar
6. cawkit

I Think You Mean... Silly Syntax and Wacky Words:

7. pumpkin patch (this isn't what it seems, though there's an embedded clue...)
8. What kind of grandma/sister/friend is it?
9. What are we going?
10. I need to get on my dress.

Are you up to the challenge? Ready, set, GO!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Still Believe

Santa Claus is still alive and kickin'. I've never truly lost my belief in him as a symbol, if not a flesh-and-blood person, even the year when we spent Christmas in the mountains in France. I was in third grade. We woke up Christmas morning (or rather, Noel morning) and were about to pounce on the presents when one of my parents gasped and said "Santa forgot to fill the stockings!" So my sister and I crawled back in bed and closed our eyes as tightly as possible so Santa would come back and fill those stockings to bulging. We were smart kids--we knew what was going on. That didn't make Santa any less real.

And now that I have small children, the opportunity to bring Santa to life is so much fun. DramaBoy is old enough this year to really get into Santa, and I was already thinking about starting a "letter to Santa" tradition when I read Riley's post on All Rileyed Up about Macy's Believe campaign.

This is such a very cool idea! Macy's is encouraging people to write a letter to Santa, stamp and address it to Santa at the North Pole, and mail it at one of the special mailboxes placed in Macy's stores. For every letter mailed, Macy's will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organization that makes wishes come true for terminally ill children. Talk about a campaign that taps into the spirit of giving!

So write a letter to Santa this year, have your children write a letter to Santa, have your friends and family write a letter to Santa, and help make wishes come true.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oh Yeah, Them!

I was scrolling back through my posts, because, hey, I'm addicted to reading what I've written, and I realized that very few of them are really about my kidlets. I thought when I started this blog that most of my posts would be about them, as are those made by my dear friend Down Under, Lauren. Apparently not so. It's most likely a reflection of just how self-centered I really am that most of this blog has become about Me. Me me me me me.

To be fair, I have created many wonderful posts about my boys in my head. Invariably this occurs when I am driving or cleaning or trying desperately to get said boys to do what I want/desire/seriously-frickin'-need them to do. By the time I get to a computer, either the posts have been lost somewhere in the loopy labyrinth of what used to be my mind, or some other drama has occurred that just HAS to take precedence. Like, oh, sinus infections or insanity.

But yes, my children are a significant part of my life, and yes, they do deserve some recognition on this blog. So here are some of the latest happenings in the Diapers side of life:

1. DramaBoy is really, truly, completely daytime potty trained! He proudly sports a variety of theme underwear each day (it's just not right if there isn't a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Handy Manny character, dinosaur, or collection of sports equipment riding around on his cute little butt.) He is practicing standing up to pee--and thankfully his aim is quite decent! He still wears pull-ups to bed, but most mornings he's fairly dry, and I foresee a bright future of underwear only. His independence is quite admirable, but we're still working on getting him to understand that really he still needs our help with wiping and that yes, he really does need to wash his hands EVERY time. He also has recently discovered that underwear makes a Really Funny Hat.

I'm sure future DramaMan will be so THRILLED that I just posted all that.

2. The Widget has been transitioning into the Toddler group at daycare and is Loving It. The Toddler Teachers comment almost every time on how well he is doing and how naturally fitting into that group comes to him. He is quite upset on the days he still has to go to Infant II--when he realizes which door I'm opening, he frequently turns on his heel and heads determinedly back down the hall. And now there's a whole new set of teachers to be Amazed and Astonished by just how much food he packs away each meal, and how very focused indeed he is on that food. At least he waits patiently (to a point) with his little hands folded. As long as he sees that people are actively preparing his meal, that is.

We are also hoping that he will start verbalizing more now that he's spending so much time with the toddlers. Unlike the ever-verbose DramaBoy, who had a vocabulary of 25-30+ words by the age of 13 months, The Widget says his select few favorite words of no more than two repeating syllables and uses grunts and finger-pointing for the rest of his communication needs. This weekend we noticed him trying to say more words and even "asking" for the words of various objects and pictures. A hopeful sign.

3. Both boys have new shoes. DramaBoy has been complaining lately that his shoes were "getting too big" for him (he gets his sizes confused sometimes), and he told us emphatically that he just HAD to have shoes that light up, just like Nathan (a friend at school). We could not deter him from this point. Have I mentioned that he is a strong-willed child? There were no tantrums involved, thankfully, but he rejected offering after offering because the heels did not flash when he stomped his feet. It turns out both boys were wearing shoes at least a half size too small, so both of them got new shoes, and DramaBoy's clean white sneakers flash a cheerful red both in the heels and on the straps when he joyfully runs about. They also have new hats and mittens, with snow pants and snow boots to come in the near future. This is all Very Important in the lives of small boys, especially with the thin layers of snow that have appeared in the last week holding the promise of Winter Fun.

There are all sorts of amusing anecdotes to share, but they will have to wait for another time. I have taken enough time out of my day, and stacks of quizzes and papers are glowering silently from the tree-killing swath of white covering my tables.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh Dear.

I added the funky little "Quote of the Day" gadget at the side a little while ago because I kinda like quotes and I figured it would make me look more intellectual than I actually am. But I took a look at today's quote by Joseph Conrad (he of Heart of Darkness and other deeply depressing pieces of the Literary Canon) and groaned. For those of you reading this after that quote is long gone, it is "We live as we dream--alone."

I think this may be one of the most depressing ideas I've seen in a while, though it does explain a good bit about his writing. I suppose, from a purely philosophical point of view, this could be true--we are in our own heads, mentally isolated from everyone else, and cannot ever truly know what others are thinking. (Unless you're psychic, which I think probably doesn't really work that way anyhow, if it even exists. And how uncomfortable would that be? I'm not so sure I want to know what everyone's thinking!)

But I don't buy it. We aren't truly alone. If we isolate ourselves, that may be true to a certain extent, but even then I believe we're connected to a Higher Being who never is absent. It's easy to feel alone, but I believe this is a trick of our own minds, a shutting off of our connection to one another and to God.

Our dreams are at their most potent when we share them; so are our lives. I refuse to be alone.

What do you think?

Five Things Meme

Today's meme is Five Things I Want My Kids to Know (Before They Grow Up). I had a massive list and tried to choose five that were somewhat more interesting and not the ones everyone thinks of, like "Always Wear Clean/Nice Underwear." Though people, it's true. It's part of Murphy's Law: the one day you grab that ratty pair of grey-not-because-that's-the-real-color underpants off the top of the pile is the day something will require you to strip down or be stripped down to said underwear. Or someone will pants you.

1. Whoever said "Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you" was an idiot. Physical pain is ephemeral. Bruises fade. Bones heal. Words can inflict the kind of injury that bleeds for decades.

2. Just because someone says something is "cool" or "uncool" doesn't make it true. Sometimes you just have to be the rebel who goes against the flow. Besides, it's the rebels and mavericks who end up making things cool in the end anyhow. James Dean? Bill Gates? Cleopatra? Indiana Jones? Oh yeah.

3. Freedom and Security (a.k.a. "Safety") are often mutually exclusive. To have the one, the other often has to be set aside. The politics of the last many decades have misled people all over the world about this one. And it says a lot about a person to see which they choose.

4. Just because something is "natural" doesn't mean it's safe or even good for you. Cyanide is natural. So is salmonella.

5. Don't forget to say "I love you." Say it with as much meaning and sincerity as the words deserve, say it often, and say it to everyone you love--family and friends alike. You never know when they need to hear it the most or when it might be the last time.

And now I'm tagging five people who will no doubt do this with far more humor than I did:

1. Katy at Treasured Chapters

2. Veronica at Toddled Dredge

3. Beck at Frog and Toad Are Still Friends

4. Fiddledeedee at Fiddledeedee

5. Sweatpantsmom at Sweatpantsmom

Have fun!

Sorry about the Silence

I've been fairly quiet on here lately. Last week was an odd one for me. I was having some very strange sensations and feelings that were putting me very "off," to the point where people were asking me if I was OK. I was jittery and couldn't stay still; I was easily irritated; I felt tired all the time; I was starting to feel a vague and increasingly intense anxiety about everything and nothing. I suspected that the (rather strong) antibiotic I was taking for my sinus infection might be the culprit, since these feelings would start approximately 45 minutes after my morning dose, but kept saying that I'd just put up with it because the antibiotic was curing the infection.

Thursday it went too far. I was acting very oddly that day. Coworkers were concerned. I nearly had a panic attack--for no reason--in the afternoon, and then blanked and lost time while driving that evening. Thank goodness the boys weren't in the car! That night I went online to see what the side effects for Biaxin actually were. Lo and behold, the "more rare" and severe side effects included major mental reactions including sleeplessness, jitters, anxiety, and so on up through full-fledged psychosis! And the websites I viewed all said the same thing: If I was experiencing these side effects, I should stop taking the medication immediately and seek medical attention. I was in tears--partly in horror that I was experiencing such a thing, and partly in relief that I wasn't just going crazy! (Because, you know, that was sitting in the back of my head. TeacherMommy has finally cracked. Call up the men in the white suits and toss me in a padded room.)

When I went to see my doctor, I saw the other one--not the one who'd put me on Biaxin. Both doctors in the practice we go to are excellent, and they have been incredibly wonderful with all four members of the family through all sorts of health issues, but the one I saw on Friday seems to be a little more aware when it comes to conventional treatments. She was completely unsurprised to hear I'd had these side effects. She'd had them herself in the past, and she said she was starting to avoid prescribing it because so many patients had experienced similar things. Apparently these reactions tend to be more common the second or third time that people take the drug, which explains why I was fine when I took the same thing last winter.

As much as I like the other doctor, I think I'll be making an effort to see this one more consistently.

And at least I didn't end up strapped down and screaming in a hospital bed somewhere.

That would have really sucked.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Feeling Patriotic

I'm so glad we're finally getting off all the presidential candidate bashing and finally focusing on what's REALLY important in the election of Barack Obama.

Honestly, people, how can we even take ourselves seriously in this country?

Monday, November 10, 2008

When Elections Enrage

I think I've said before that I'm pretty much leaving politics out of this blog. This is not because I am not involved or interested in politics, but because it causes so much controversy and conflict. I know that the few people who read this blog have widely differing opinions on politics and the latest election, and I'd simply rather not Get Into It here, since this is not a political blog per se. Besides, I'm a registered Independent, my own ticket was split just about half and half depending on the person's position and platform, and ComputerDaddy and I didn't even vote for the same presidential candidate. We are not a Straight Ticket household, by a long shot.

However, I'm more than willing to blog about the angst and anger that the election caused and is still causing on both sides of the Great Divide. I tend to be a bit cynical about politicians, and even more cynical about the people behind them. I believe the framework of the System in this country corrupts even the best and most well-intentioned of people who enter it, and while change may be all to the good, I am pretty much sitting back for now: I'll believe it when I see it.

In the meantime, I should have Known Better.

Not about the candidates: about the angst. Before the election itself, I was heartily sick of the endless campaigning and junk mail and negative ads and phone calls all day long. I mean, how much money was sent spiralling down the drain on all that crap? I'm sure there are SOME people who watch the ads and read the fliers and listen to the recorded calls, but they must surely be in the minority. People I know who bother to educate themselves about the candidates do so with purpose. They watch the debates. They go to websites. They read the newspaper or the online equivalent. Meanwhile, we're gathering up hundreds of pieces of brightly colored paper and card stock and stuffing them in our garbage bags (or maybe, if we remember, the recycling bin), hanging up for the hundredth time upon hearing an obviously recorded message starting with "Hi! I am insert name or party here and we need you to..." (Click), and fast-forwarding through the endless stream of "My name is insert name and I approved this message." Thank goodness for DVR. Not to mention fending off all the "polls" and "surveys" that are usually thinly disguised attempts to "educate" the masses according to a particular bias.

And that's not all. The blogs, the emails, the endless online chatter even in forums where people go to get away from real life (yes, even in World of Warcraft, people!): everyone had an opinion. And while opinions are good to have, so very many of them are NOT educated opinions. Even worse, many of them in this past election were based on vast conspiracy theories and/or outright bigotry. It's all very well and good to object to a candidate's politics. It's another thing entirely to object to his/her ethnicity or gender. I was sick to death of the anti-Obama "He's a one-man terrorist cell! Assassinate the slur of your choice!" And the anti-Palin "A WOMAN can't be VP! What would happen if McCain dies? Everyone knows a woman can't run the country!" and so on. Regardless of my own position (and it wasn't an easily decided one, folks), I couldn't stand the bigotry and mudslinging and downright idiocy on both sides.

So as Election Day arrived and I did my civic duty, I comforted myself with the idea that this would come to an end. And to be fair, most of the junk mail is gone and the phone calls are down to one every other day ("We'd like to conduct a post-election survey. It will only take a few minutes of your time!" HA!), not counting the random ones with dead silence on the other end which I am assuming are the leftovers from various incompetent candidates who don't know how to make the damn things stop. However, the ranting has not. I had completely forgotten the post-election angst. People on the Obama side are crowing in delight and even descending so far as the "In Your FACE!" level of childishness. People on the McCain side are mourning, declaring the country a disaster area, muttering about moving to Canada, and replacing their "McCain/Palin '08" bumper stickers with ones saying "Don't Blame Me! I Voted for the Republican!"

I am, frankly, tired of it all. I'm tired of people shoving their opinions, misguided or not, in my face every moment of the day. I think we should have a National Month of Political Silence just to let us all Get Over It and relax for a while. That can get us through Thanksgiving, at least. And maybe then, once it all started up again, I could just laugh and turn my radio to the channel that's playing non-stop Christmas music. And I'd sing merrily about wanting a hippopotamus for Christmas and the little drummer boy, focusing on a time of renewal and change and beginnings that has everything to do with joy and, in my opinion, very little to do with which person will be running the country, at least in name, for the next four years.

A-B-Cs of Me

I saw this meme over on Fiddledeedee and thought it looked fun. I am an English teacher, so the alphabet is my friend, although I certainly hope that students have learned a bit more than the alphabet by the time they reach me!

A - Available: Nope. As per last week, I've been with ComputerDaddy for 13 years and counting.
B - Best friend: This has changed over the course of the years, and there are those who are still very close, but my bestest female friend is a wonderful person named Melissa.
C - Cake or pie: Oh, definitely cake. Especially chocolate. Except for homemade pumpkin pie, preferably made by either ComputerDaddy or his mother. Oh, and the absolutely luscious apple pie sold at Erwin's Apple Orchard. Pricey, but to die for! I had a big ol' slice last night with a glass of milk--it's one of the few things that actually makes milk taste good to me!
D - Drink of choice: Coffee. I can't start a work day without it.
E - Essential item you use everyday: Um...my computer(s), I think! I go into a panic when either my work or home computer stops working.
F - Favorite color: Used to be green, then blue, but currently is purple.
G - Gummy bears or worms: Ooh...that's a toughy. I guess worms, but really only when they're included in that so fun Dirt Pudding--you know, when you take chocolate pudding and mix in chunks of Oreo cookies and gummy worms, then sprinkle the top with crushed Oreo. If you really want to have fun with it, you can put it in a big clean flower pot and stick a rose or something in it. Great fun with kids!
H - Hometown: Ferkessedougou, Republic of Cote d'Ivoire (a.k.a. "the Ivory Coast") in West Africa. I know. Kinda different. And yes, I am Caucasian. You wouldn't believe how many people can't remember the region and assume I'm from South Africa instead.
I - Indulgence: Nutella, scooped by the spoon. And Godiva chocolates. And books. Lots and lots of books.
J - January or February: Do I have to? February, I guess, but they're both my least favorite months of the year.
K - Kids: Two boys under the age of three and a husband and a dog and a cat. Oh, and about 150 at work. I am a busy woman.
L - Life is incomplete without: Books.
M - Marriage date: The legal one or the wedding? Um, November 7th for the legal one, and June 27th for the wedding.
N - Number of siblings: 2--one sister, one brother, both younger.
O - Oranges or Apples: Oranges, if they're those massive ones from North Africa with the peel so sweet you can eat it along with the segments. Though I do love a good Granny Smith with slices of cheese, especially Muenster. ComputerDaddy introduced me to that joy back when he was still ComputerBoyfriend.
P - Phobias/Fears: Heights. I nearly fell to my death over a waterfall when I was four and I've never recovered. Though I love plane rides and roller coasters--but then, they're not freefall. Strap me in a bungee or a parachute and I'll be dead of fright before I hit the ground.
Q - Favorite Quote: "If you care about something, you have to protect it--if you're lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it." (John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany)
R - Reason to smile: The pink Smurfette t-shirt and fluffy white bathrobe that ComputerDaddy left for me in a box on our bed Saturday night. I knew there had to be a reason he was gone so long getting a haircut...
S - Season: Oh, definitely Autumn. There's nothing like it. I just wish it lasted longer. Winter has arrived already here, as demonstrated by the barren trees and the layer of snow that greeted me this morning. Thank goodness for garages!
T - Tag: I tag Katy at Treasured Chapters, Lauren at Sparkling Adventures, and Heidi at Hortus Deliciarum.
U - Unknown fact about myself: Whew...this one is tough. Not too much that the people who actually read this blog don't know. At least, of the sort of thing I don't mind them knowing! ;) OK. How about this: I have a secret, shameful taste for trashy romance novels. Every now and then I get a craving and get one, reading it secretly where no one can see the cover...I know, I know. Bad TeacherMommy!
V - Vegetable you don’t like: Pureed squash. *Shudder*
W - Worst habit: Like I'd confess that here! Of the type I'll actually ADMIT to, Procrastination. It gets me in a world of trouble.
X - X-rays: Um, sure? Kinda scary when everyone else has to wear lead aprons and you're there exposed to the radiation, but necessary at times.
Y - Your favorite food: I love food too much! This depends on my mood. Maybe, as a group, cheese.
Z - Zodiac: Capricorn. Except when I took Astronomy in college the professor said the dates for the signs are no longer accurate because the Earth has changed its position relative to the stars and constellations since the Zodiac was first determined, so I would actually be a Sagittarius if they fixed it. Which goes to show it's all bunk anyhow.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Panegyric

Meaning "a hymn of praise." It's a 10th grade vocab word this week, so I may as well put it to practical use!

Today is Election Day, which could elicit a post from me about the system, the candidates, the proposals, the junk mail and phone calls, and/or the idiocy of many people during an election season--particularly this one--on both sides of every issue. But I'd rather keep politics out of this blog, since it's so dang divisive, and besides, I have something better to write about.

Today is the thirteenth anniversary of Being With ComputerDaddy.

Thirteen years ago this afternoon I called up ComputerDaddy (who was then ComputerFriend) after an exciting football game in which Michigan State University beat the University of Michigan--for many, MSU's biggest game of the season, and for me that year, the first time I bothered really watching (or caring) about some stupid football game. I was too excited by the result to return to the literature essay I had been writing until the cheers from the nearby stadium prompted me to turn on the TV, and I knew he had been at the game. I caught him just after he walked in his dorm room, and we chattered exuberantly about the game for some time. Finally I asked him if he wanted to go get a coffee or something, since I didn't feel like writing any more, and he agreed. (Later, I discovered he was supposed to attend a post-game party, but his friends swiftly released him from his plans upon hearing that he was ditching them for a Girl.)

We talked for ages over coffee about this and that, learning more about each other than we had in previous conversations. I knew him mostly because I was friends with his roommates, so we hadn't gotten to know each other very well before. And as I talked with him and listened to him and gazed into those oh-so-expressive brown eyes of his, something shifted. He says my eyes started getting "all googly" and I started smiling at him in a certain way, and he knew that all it would take was a few words from him and I would be His.

And so I was.

Thirteen years later, a great deal has passed between us. There have been good and bad times, as with any relationship, and there have been times when we didn't know if we were going to Make It. But in the end, it has always been worth it to be His.

I'm going to cheat a little and not actually write a hymn. And I'm going to blame my sinuses, since my creative juices are running a bit low. But I will list just a few of the many reasons why I love my man.

1. I love his eyes. His were the first I ever really noticed, even before we started dating, and even now they catch me. I especially love the way his eyes shift color with his emotions, conveying so much more than words can say alone.

2. I love his sense of humor. It's often subtle and rarely shown except to those with whom he is comfortable, but that means I get to see it most of all. Sometimes he's downright wacky, and other times he sneaks in a dry little comment that takes a while for my brain to register. I aspire to be as funny as he is capable of being, though I know I fall far short.

3. I love his honesty. He doesn't always open up as much as I'd like, especially when he's very busy and focused, but he's unfailingly honest and forthright. This, of course, is not always comfortable or even comforting, but it is a great virtue and is, again, what I aspire to be.

4. I love his geekiness. By this I do not mean "nerdiness"--he has never been that--but I mean I love all the things that make him a Geek. His brilliance with computers, his love for fantasy and science fiction, his love of all sorts of non-conventional games, his "toys": the list goes on. I love many geeks (family and friends alike are full of such people), and he is my own personal one.

5. I love his mind. He challenges me to stretch my own mind and look beyond my comfort zone, to even consider possibilities that may frighten me. It is too easy for me to grow comfortable in a mental rut, and he has helped me grow immeasurably because he would not let me stay there.

That's just a short list. And I won't go too deeply into just what it does to me when I see him in certain outfits that emphasis certain body parts, because that would be TMI, but rest assured that I think he's a hotty too. Those black carpenter jeans and the shirt he wore on Halloween--let's just say that it wasn't just the kids in their adorable costumes that I was admiring!

So Happy Anniversary, honey. May there be many, many more.

And Happy Election Day to the rest of you!

Monday, November 3, 2008


It's a sinus infection. Oh joy.

My mommy was shocked to hear that I went to work today. And I'll be going tomorrow too, unless my head explodes overnight (with the way it's feeling, that's a distinct possibility). I have to save those sick days for desperate situations, such as when the kids are really sick...

So I shall trudge onwards. Sinus wash, here I come!

By the By

I'm still sick. I will be visiting the doctor this afternoon to see if this is a resurgence of the sinus infections I had almost chronically last winter.

And I still have papers to grade. The sets of tests are finished, but I still have five sets of papers waiting for me to even touch them. They're looking angrier and angrier every time I move them from one place to another. I may wear leather gloves to pick them up when I finally do. 44 1/2 hours until those grades are due...


Ah, High School. For ComputerDaddy, those were the years. He was a studmuffin there--not the jock kind of studmuffin: the totally cute band geek studmuffin who all the girls oohed and aahed over. He probably wouldn't have given me the time of day (though he's TOTALLY into my high school pictures with the early 90's perm. I roll my eyes at this.) My experience was a bit different. Let's see what I can remember:

1. Who was your best friend? My perception of this changed depending on the year--there was Charity my sophomore year (the kind of "friend" who uses you, so no longer a friend since I have a backbone now) and Cilla my senior year. But looking back, my real best friend was Lauren, because we roomed together in boarding school for three years and were there for each other through it all, even when we weren't hangin' out much. We maintain contact to this day, which says a lot, since she's way over in Australia.
2. Did you play any sports? I was the sort of girl who always got a B in P.E., because I did OK on the quizzes and tried, but wasn't all that good. However, my moment of stardom came in ninth grade when I was the Championship goalie AND winning All Star goalie for my intramural Floor Hockey team (think hockey played in a walled court with a rubber ball.) Then my knees went bad in 10th grade and that was that. On the plus side, I got a waiver for P.E. and it stopped messing up my GPA!
3. What kind of car did you drive? Ha. Car? I lived overseas and went to a boarding school. I didn't even have the basic permitted bike. But I learned how to drive in a manual Toyota pick-up truck, as I recall. Something like that.
4. It’s Friday night. Where are you? If I was at home, then probably reading in the living room. At school, I was attending whatever event the school had created for high schoolers that Friday. The one year I was in Michigan, I occasionally was hanging out with the aforementioned Charity and two other friends I had that year. Woot! I lived a crazy life, people.
5. Were you a party animal? Um, pretty much think I answered that in #4.
6. Were you considered a flirt? I really wanted to be one. But the answer is no. I was awkward. Really awkward.
7. Were you in the band, orchestra or choir? Orchestra in 10th grade, the one year I was in a school that had one--I played the flute. And choir in 11th. Then our choir teacher left and we didn't have a replacement. Boarding schools in West Africa have limited options.
8. Were you a nerd? Sigh. Yes. My claim to fame was being top dog in anything Literature-, Writing-, or Speech-related.
9. Were you ever suspended or expelled? HA! I was too "good" to have any of that happen to me. Boring much?
10. Can you sing the fight song? We had a fight song?
11. Who was your favorite teacher? Without question, Mrs. "H", my tenth year English teacher. She is still my role model. She still teaches at that school in Michigan, and she's still a favorite of just about every student. A close second would be Mr. Baxter, my senior Bible teacher. He was an older guy, but boy did he teach well. And he didn't shove his ideology down our throats like some other Bible teachers.
12. What was your school mascot? Eagle, I believe.
13. Did you go to the Prom? We didn't have one--we had a Junior Senior Banquet, put on by the juniors for the joint junior and senior classes (sophomores were servers). It was mandatory attendance. I went my junior year with a blind date--a friend's friend who'd flown out to visit for a few months from Michigan--and did not have a date my senior year because there was a SEVERE dearth of males.
14. If you could go back, would you? Oh dear god, no. Well, maybe, if I could be cooler and more confident, more like I am now. But I'd probably just regress, so no.
15. What do you remember most about graduation? Our salutatorian was so sick with food poisoning that she had to be carried up the aisle by her boyfriend and ended up bolting from the auditorium a few minutes later. Several other people were sick too, and sat on the podium looking green the entire time.
16. Where were you on Senior Skip Day? No way to skip, since we had a closed campus and everyone knew everyone's business. We did have a school-sponsored Senior Class Trip, however, which was for a Whole Week by the beach, so ours was better.
17. Did you have a job your senior year? I was a computer lab monitor. The first ten hours a week were mandatory and unpaid by the school, and every hour after that paid something like 30 cents. I DREAMED about minimum wage.
18. Where did you go most often for lunch? The dining hall. We all did. All week. Even weekends. Yum.
19. Have you gained weight since then? Is this a rhetorical question?
20. What did you do after graduation? Went to college in Michigan. Met ComputerBoyfriend, who became ComputerHusband six years later and ComputerDaddy four years after that.
21. What year did you graduate? 1995
22. Who was your Senior Prom Date? Didn't have one, remember? Except the boy I really WANTED to have as a date had already asked someone and then we sort of started dating and so we were shooting longing glances across the room but then he dumped me because it was just a senior fling for me and he was a junior AND he turned out to be a total psycho pervert freak SO....I'm kinda glad I went solo.
23. Are you going/did you go to your 10 year reunion? Went by without a whisper. We're scattered all over the globe now, and the people who were senior year class officers weren't really into the whole organizing thing. Oh well.

They weren't the worst years of my life (junior high wins that honor), but I really am glad they're over. If I were to go back, I'd change a LOT of things. But then, perhaps I wouldn't be the person I am now--for better or worse, who knows? There's a reason time is linear.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oh Well--or Not

I had not one but TWO terribly interesting and insightful posts I had in mind to post today. Neither one is going to make it up here. One was a charming story about DramaBoy. The other was an absolutely AMAZING idea I had at about 8:00 this morning. I now have no memory whatsoever what the idea was.

You see, I'm sick. It's been creeping up on me all week, and I was crossing my fingers and hoping hoping hoping that it would just be allergies, but alas. Today was the second morning in a row I woke up coughing--one of those deep, chesty, painful coughs that sort of brings up whatver nastiness is in there but doesn't quite. My sinuses are full. My throat is raw. My head feels stuffed with cotton wool. Sudafed, that marvelous invention (curses on the deliquents who make it such a pain to procure!), helped me get through much of the day, but the bug is now taking a firm hold.

I have been surveying with increasing dismay the pile of papers that still remain to be graded before Monday. I waded through several sets already today, while my students worked on quizzes, but there are still five class sets of formal essays and two class sets of novel tests' written responses that are mocking me. "You could have graded us days ago!" they sneer. "Remember how you were going to tackle us on Tuesday? Remember how you had hours in which ComputerDaddy was working late and the kidlets were in bed and you chose to play online instead?" Their edges curl in contempt. I'm sure they'll slice me viciously when I work with them this weekend, inflicting punative papercuts that I will have to bear in humble penitance.

I do this every time. I start out the year/semester/marking period with determination that This Time I will be organized, timely, and efficient. No more random papers covering every available space on my two (yes, two) desks in the classroom, no more towering piles of essays threatening to spill over at the slightest touch, no more procrastination. But as time moves on, all those good intentions fall by the wayside, and by the time the grading period is nearing its end, I am in desperate straits. I can and often do learn the hard way, but this lesson is not one that seems to stick.

So no special posting for you. Just a whine about feeling like crap and facing an unpleasant task that is completely My Fault.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Woohoo! I'm It!

My first official tag! An old childhood friend ("old" as in a long time, not "old" as in SHE is old--sorry about that, Kathleen!) tagged me on her blog Treasured Chapters, and now I get to do it too! Of course, this means I have to tag people. Hmm...

Anyhow, it's the 7 Random Things About Me tag that I've seen going around elsewhere. First, we must put the rules in play:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and put the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 weird or random facts about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and link to their blog.
4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a note on their blog.

So here are some items that might qualify me for a Questioning Look at the very least...

1. I'm a little OCD about numbers and letters. By this I mean that they need to be round, complete, and make sense in the part of my brain that misfires on several neurons. Years ago ComputerDaddy had a CD player/radio in his car for which the volume dial displayed numbers from 1 to 80 (why that number, I don't know.) I would obsess over the number set for the volume, not because of the level of the volume, but because it had to be a number ending in "0" or "5" or that had some other symmetry, such as "33" or "44." Though "11" wasn't OK, because it was just past "10" and therefore a little too Off. ComputerDaddy would occasionally torment me by slyly moving the dial a tick or two and waiting to see if I would notice and fix it. Along the same lines, when people write letters/words, the letters need to be completed. An "o" needs to meet properly at the top. The crossbar of a "T" needs to touch the vertical line. And so on. If this isn't done, I get completely obsessed about that little error and can't focus on anything else until it is either fixed or erased.

2. Monkeys/primates either love me or hate me on sight. I have been attacked twice by monkeys and once by a chimp. I still bear the scars from the damn chimp. Stupid Lulu.

3. For years I've wanted a coy little tattoo somewhere where only Special People (i.e. me, my doctors, and ComputerDaddy) would ever see. It would be a dainty little cat's pawprint. But I'm terrified of needles, so this will never happen. Besides, pregnancy, two c-sections, and the ensuing wreckage of my body has made me rather glad I never gained a permanent ink mark that would have stretched and become misshapen.

4. I have actually corrected grammatical errors on public signs--only a couple of times, and they were on those restaurant signs that are done either in chalk or marker and can be discreetly corrected when no one is looking. These errors almost invariably involve the abuse of apostrophes, such as "Soup's of the Day." What is the soup possessing, I ask you?!?! Stop using apostrophes for plurals, people!

5. The two hemispheres of my brain have extra connections. This results in a coordination problem: You know how when little kids move one hand or the fingers on one hand, the other hand/fingers mimic the movement? People are supposed to grow out of that as their two hemispheres disconnect over time. Mine didn't disconnect enough. This was particularly problematic when I was learning to drive, especially since I learned on a stick shift. When I moved my right hand on the gear shift, my left hand would jerk the steering wheel. When I moved my left hand to toggle the turn signal, my right hand would jerk the steering wheel. When I would move one hand to push my hair out of my face, my other hand...you get the picture. Driving was a very scary proposition for me and my passengers until I finally overcame the problem. These days my large motor movement is under control: it is only my fine motor that still has issues. I still clench my left hand into a fist when I write on the board in class so that the fingers on that hand don't tremble and jerk along with my right hand's movements.

6. I LOVE Nutella and ChocoNut (which I just found out I can get from Canada and may just require a trip across the border). I can quite happily sit with a spoon and a jar of either delectable chocolately delight and demolish the whole thing. It's terrible and wonderful at the same time.

7. When I was a little girl, I had an imaginary identity as a woman named "Diana" who had about 22 children. There was no husband in the picture, as far as I can recall.

The problem with tagging is that most of the people whose blogs I follow don't know I exist--I am a Lurker Extraordaire--and have probably done this one already because they are the High Mommies of MommyBlogging (um, that's "High" as in "High King" sort of thing. I'm not insinuatin' anything. Whew. I'm doing really well today!)

OK, so I tag:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

This weekend ComputerDaddy and I took the kidlets to our favorite cider mill, meeting up with some friends we haven't seen in ages and who have a new kidlet of their own. Their boys are the same difference in age as ours, just a year-and-a-half behind us. My dear friend says she now has a new level of understanding and appreciation for what we have been through. I told her it gets easier in some ways (a little more sleep) and tougher in others (trying to herd TWO mobile children somewhere--there's an ongoing debate as to whether it's like trying to herd chickens or sheep.) They had a couple of friends along, one of which had brought his four children as well. So we were quite a group.

For the most part, it was fun. Both kidlets enjoyed standing on hay bales and poking their heads through the cutouts in those painted boards that are made-to-order Kodak moments, DramaBoy got to ride on a large rusty tricycle over bumpy tracks through monster tire tunnels, DramaBoy also got to ride on a small and placid pony, and both boys got to pet some goats. We take our cider mills seriously here in Michigan: they're not just places to get cider and donuts, they're miniature amusement parks and tourist traps. Minus the rollercoasters.

We finally stood in line to purchase our apple spice donuts and fresh-pressed cider, which we then fed into a plethora of gaping mouths rather in the manner of adult birds feeding cheeping chicks. We tried to find a place out of the wind, but we were only able to mitigate the chill somewhat. The autumn cool had officially ushered in a taste of winter's bite. After a while, my little kidlets in their cute denim jackets were shivering and complaining. We had to leave the rest of the group to continue on in their quest for pumpkins and a hay ride without us; we bundled the kidlets in the car and went in search of winter coats.

Walmart had too few options, despite attractive prices (I know, I'm going to hell for shopping there, but hey! My wallet thanks me), so we bundled them back into the car and went off to Target. You detect a trend in our shopping choices? We didn't visit Meijer only because they usually have an even worse selection of children's clothing than Walmart.

Target was the place. The coats were twice the price of Walmart's rock-bottom, no doubt sweatshop-produced outerwear, but they were thicker and softer and had hoods. DramaBoy selected matching ones for himself and The Widget--muted pine green with a pumpkin-orange lining and mottled light- and dark-brown faux fur edging around the hood. Never may it be said that my child does not have taste! Not for him the neon green and navy blue coat! Not for him the flashy Disney merchandising! (Well, maybe the latter, but we didn't show him those. We have standards too, and they're often based on price.)

The moment was capped when we slid the coat on for a fitting and pulled the hood over his head. His eyes lit up, he felt the faux fur, and he said:

"I'm the Big Bad Wolf!"

And as we laughed and smiled at his adorable precociousness, he glanced at me with a slightly worried look on his face and assured me:

"But I'll be a NICE Big Bad Wolf!"

How could we resist? The Widget also gained a new coat, thus dubbed the Little Bad Wolf in my mind at least, and we merrily went on our way to pay for the coats and venture once more into the frigid not-yet-winter-but-you-could-have-fooled-me Michigan air.

It's not a search for buried treasure, but you take what adventure you can get.
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