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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time Warp

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Time is making fools of us again. ~J.K. Rowling

Ebay and I had a little jump back in time last week.

Ebay had his wisdom teeth out last Friday and since he had all four wisdom teeth out at once, they gave him anesthesia and knocked him all the way out. This was the first time that Ebay had been under general anesthesia. But Superdude had been under a couple of times over the years, so I felt like I knew what to expect. But Ebay coming out of general anesthesia had reaction I’ve never seen before. Not that I’ve had that much experience with anesthesia myself… so maybe some of you can tell me if Ebays reaction was in the realm of normal… or not.

The procedure itself only took about 20 minutes. But as his dad was driving him back home I got two phone calls from a clearly hysterical Ebay on the other end of the phone. Once he got home I met him at the car and have never seen anyone so upset – at least not since Ebay was little and was pitched a fit about his melted ice cream cone making him all sticky. Ebay was crying (tears and everything) and so disoriented. He just reminded me for all the world like cranky toddler Ebay at about 3 years old. We helped him downstairs to his room so he could lay down and spent a combative couple of minutes trying to help him get his shoes and socks off – combative because he didn’t want our help, he wanted to do it himself (just like when he was 3 years old). I don’t think he fully understood where he was but he did decide that he wanted some juice. So I went upstairs to get him some. A minute later I hear him crying at the bottom of the stairs.

Mom: What are you doing?

Ebay: I want some juice.

Mom: I’m getting your juice, You need to go and lay down.

Ebay: No! I’ll do it myself!

I head down the stairs because I don’t want him coming up in is wobbly state.

Mom: (In my best stern Mommy voice) I’ll get the juice for you. Now you turn yourself back around and get back to bed.

Ebay: (Wailing) Why are you mad at me!

Mom: I’m not mad at you. You just shouldn’t climb the stairs right now.

Ebay: Oh...I thought you were mad at me.

So I get him back to bed and get a little juice in him. But he is still breaking into fits of uncontrollable weeping about every 30 seconds or so.

Ebay: (Wailing again) I’m supposed to be at work. I’m going to get in trouble.

Mom: No, no. You told them you weren’t going to be there today.

Ebay: No I didn’t …I didn’t! I’m supposed to be at work.

Mom: Well, I’m pretty sure you told them, but I’ll call them and tell them you’re not feeling well.

Ebay: Oh…ok.

About 30 seconds later…

Ebay: You’re supposed to be at work. What are you doing here?

Mom: I took some time off to look after you.

Ebay: (Wailing louder now) That’s really nice of you!

At this point he’s asked for his Teddy Bear (that has lived for the past 10 years or so in a decorative nostalgic spot on the shelf) and his blanket (that needed to be tucked around him and straight and smooth just like the little freak wanted when he was 3 years old) and we had found some Tom and Jerry cartoons on TV. Unfortunately this particular cartoon found Tom the cat being tormented for some reason by a pair of enchanted scissors chasing him around trying to cut his tail and his fur.

Ebay: (Wailing yet again)Those scissors are really mean!

Mom: Do you want me to change the channel?

Ebay: Yes, this is too scary.

Now I admit,all of this was pretty funny really. But I was having a hard time fully appreciating the humor because it was really freaking me out. I kept searching his face for some sign that he was just messing with me or that 18-year old Ebay was coming back to the surface. But all I was seeing was a confused little boy that was just so sad. I found myself talking to him just like I did when he was a little guy and I would try to calm and distract him.

Mom: Do you remember you had your wisdom teeth out?

Ebay: I did? Do I get to keep them?

Mom: I don’t think so.

Ebay: But why not? (starting to cry again)

Mom: Well…why do you want them?

Ebay: For the Tooth Fairy!

Mom: Oh right. Well, I’ll have to get them for you.

Ebay: Oh…ok.

There was a whole bunch of equally funny/bizarre interchanges with altered Ebay. But it was really was a weird couple of hours for me trying to figure out if this reaction was normal or if I should be worried. I was gratified that my little boy still apparently needed his mommy, but we’d already been there and done that when he was a little guy in 1995 or so - when was Ebay 2010 going to be making an appearance?

He finally started to calm down and drifted off to sleep for about 10 minutes. Thankfully when he woke up after that little nap it was like his brain had rebooted or something. 18 year old Ebay was back. Still woosey and fuzzy, but in a much more familiar way and with no memory from about 30 seconds after the needle went into his arm at the dentist’s office.

I have to admit I was really relieved to have him back 'cause from my perspective, time travel isn't all it's cracked up to be

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Great Costume Hunt

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photo found at comicsninja.com

Halloween costumes have been a recent hot topic at our house in the 5-and-under crowd. My 3-year-old's little witch costume was easily acquired, but my 5-year-old, Hubba, has consistently insisted on being Boba Fett from Star Wars "because he has a jet pack and carries two guns." For two weeks I have searched various stores and internet sites in the hope of finding a child-sized Boba Fett costume at a reasonable cost - to no avail.

Yesterday I discovered that a local "Bullseye" store (as Hubba tends to call it) carried the child-sized costumes. I loaded up a few of the crew and off we went to make all of Hubba's Halloween dreams come true.

They were out of his size.

"Hubba," I told him, "these are all too big. What should we do?"

Without blinking an eye he said, "Oh, well. I guess I'll be Darth Vader."

Not a minute later he had changed it to a pirate, then a skeleton, then a firefighter, based on what costume happened to come into his line of vision.

Frustrated by his fickle ways, I stated that he might as well just wear the same firefighter costume that I made for him last year.

"Okay." He answered. "Let's go, then."

I was shocked by his indifference. So much time would have been saved if we had just reached this conclusion to start with! However, I quickly realized that the fault was mine. Despite the fact that I have fond memories of wearing the same cheap, plastic WitchiePoo costume over and over for years as a child, it never even crossed my mind to have Hubba wear a repeat costume from the previous year. Why?

I think that, as adults, we tend to make things much bigger than they are in a child's mind. He wants to be Boba Fett? Well, then - I will search to all ends of the earth until his request is granted! And then when I find the costume in a crumpled heap in the back of his closet a couple of days later, why am I surprised? He is five years old. He is living in the moment.

I wonder sometimes if it is easier to make children happy than we think. I wonder if we, the adults, are the ones who are guilty of over-stimulating their brains with our own ideas of what they should want. (Don't even get me started on Christmas.)

We got home, dug out the old costume, and Hubba is perfectly content to be a firefighter again. Lesson learned.

Granted, I did hear him ask his older brother if firefighters ever wear jetpacks or carry guns. So maybe he'll be a gun-wielding fireman.

I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Journal Entry

Pin It I sit tonight in front of my laptop.

I still have a pile of journals to read, papers to correct, and grades to put online. This is not even beginning to mention what there is still left to do to prepare lessons for a class of 28 students in the morning.

Yet, tonight I write. Why? Because tomorrow (or rather, today) is my day to post, and this is something that I committed to do. Since I made a promise to myself, I plan to follow through unless I am dead, dying, or incapacitated.

As of right now, I am none of these.

I drove into my parking stall around 7:00 tonight and gathered up my various odd and ends. I immediately set about getting as many things done as I could. Yet, despite my best efforts, the pile of ‘have-tos’ and ‘better-get-tos’ all screamed from their varied positions on the kitchen counter, and I found myself inundated up to the eyeballs. All too often I find myself drowning in a sea of work, to which there is no foreseeable end.

Episodes of The X Files were put on hold as I plowed away at the mountains of papers set before me. Finally, I decided that I needed to stop. The clock was rolling past 10:00 and I knew that if I didn’t get a bit of sleep, I’d regret it in the morning and be just about as worthless as the sun above clouds and rainbows at midnight.

Yeah, you get what I’m talking about.

I decided to read over just a few more students' journal entries before stopping for the evening. As I did, I found myself musing over the snapshots of moments and snippets of their lives. I laughed at the antics over the weekend with friends. I smiled as I read over their lists of favorite books to read. I marveled at their family weekend trips. I felt a sense of despondency when I read about the death of a loved grandfather.

One hundred million little insights into their individual lives.

I picked up one journal and commenced reading.

This was a good one to read.

Instead of trying to summarize this boy’s thoughts, I present it here. Just know this…as I read over what he’d written, the hours of extra work seemed worth it. The irate parents I’d dealt with didn’t seem quite so bad. The lack of sleep over the past week seemed not quite so tiring.

This, my friends, is what teaching is all about.

Thanks, Joey.

P.S. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but rather sharing that – more often than not – sometimes the thing we need the most to recharge our batteries is right there in front of us simply disguised as more work.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pants on Fire

Pin It I'm having some issues with one of Autumn's teachers.

Issues that cause me to send emails, make phone calls, and schedule conferences with the principal.

I'm trying to be nice (well. okay. maybe not "nice," per se. I'm trying to be civil.) but what do you do when your child comes to you and tells you that a teacher is just plain mean. Not once. Not twice. Several times.

There was the whole "if you don't stop taking notes, your life is going to get really bad, really fast" comment. And now "shut up" and "you kids are the dumbest ones I've ever taught." There's a good friend, who teetered on the edge of pulling her child totally out of this teacher's class, but in the end decided against it, because it would necessitate changing his whole "team" of teachers. There are the parents from the past, who have informed me that this person has been in three or four different schools in the past eleven years, and that I should save every piece of paper because a grade may not be entered in the gradebook.

I've never had an issue like this with a teacher before. The teachers both of my children have had have been amazing. They have cared about their students, contacted me immediately if there were concerns with homework or whatnot. They've been the kind of teachers that you really just had to buy a Christmas present for...that good. This one, though, is a different animal.

It's a case right now of "she said"..."she said," in which the teacher is saying that what Autumn said occurred absolutely did not occur. Perception is a curious thing. Depending on what side of the fence you're sitting, I suppose that different words and intonations can carry different meanings for individuals. There's unfotunately not a lot of ambiguity in "shut up," though. I feel fairly solid as far as what Autumn is telling me. I can generally spot a lie from this child ten miles out--she's that terrible. In the passage of this story, though, told several different times to both her father and myself, there was no guilty shifting of the eyes or body language to indicate a falsehood. She looked at us straight on, and told us exactly the same details, time and again.

Someone, though, is clearly not telling the truth.

It will be interesting to see just whose pants are on fire at Thursday morning's conference.

Friday, September 24, 2010


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I taught first, second and fourth grades before taking a sabbatical as a software trainer for a year - traveling all over the US of A and seeing a lot of the insides of airports, airplanes, hotel rooms, and conference rooms. I have since returned to teaching (just a glutton for punishment, I guess), and currently teach 3rd grade. I also work very hard at being my nieces' and nephews' favorite aunt by spoiling them shamelessly.

As I was getting ready for school to start this year, I hung a sign on my classroom wall that a friend gave me a few years ago. "Simplify". I decided that this would be my code to live by during the school year. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and want to create great lessons and experiences for my students, so I spend a lot of time at school. Unfortunately, I do not have enough hours in the day to do all the things I would like to do at work and keep a balance in my life.

Enter first day of school. I began the school year already falling "behind" as I wasn't able to have everything done that I wanted to before the daily demands of a teacher's life took over. But you can't stop time. Or beg for just one more week. I tried it. The clock just kept ticking.

Ever since then, I have been working a lot of overtime hours and bringing work home in the evenings and on the weekends, and feeling like one of those cartoon characters who is running so fast their feet are a blur but they aren't moving anywhere - all they are doing is creating a big hole to sink down into. Rather than "catching up", I have barely been getting the things done I need to from day to day, with more and more being added to the "back burner" for a "later" that never comes. I have tried to figure out why this is. Certainly there is more than ever expected of teachers, as we deal with larger class sizes and less prep time (1 1/2 hours a week when you are teaching at least 8 lessons a day just doesn't quite cut it). But also I think I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get my feet under me in a new grade.

Well, this week I came to the point where I realized living like this has got to stop. I am tired (literally) of not getting enough sleep and having to drink a Diet Coke to get through a day. I am tired of never having any real down time during the week. I am tired of extra responsibilities at work that take away from my classroom preparation. I am tired of feeling scatterbrained and forgetting and misplacing things. I am tired of always rushing around and ending up being late anyway. I am tired of a seriously cluttered house and car that I don't have time to clean. I am tired of not leaving work at work. I am tired of not having time or energy to exercise or read my scriptures or go to the temple. Can you tell I am just tired?

So, anyway, back to the code, "Simplify", which I have forgotten in the mad rush of school starting. A couple of friends this week have reminded me to take a step back and figure out what I can do to lighten the load. How I can chip away at the mountains of "back burner" items that constantly weigh on my mind. And they have reminded me to not take life so seriously. Take time to go for a drive. To go out to eat. To laugh. To stay in bed on a Saturday morning and read a book. To get a massage. That it is OK to let go of some things, even though they might be good things.

I am going to simplify my life. Starting now.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Customer Service

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A budget tells us what we can't afford, but it doesn't keep us from buying it.
William Feather

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but Ebay works at a bank. Actually, Superdude works at a bank too – a completely different bank. Ebay and Superdude’s employment opportunities came about in a completely separate ways. Ebay did an internship with his bank during his senior year in high school and was fortunate enough to be hired as a teller just days before graduation. Superdude basically just got lucky with who he knew, had a good interview. I like to think that it’s somehow significant that both my boys are bankers (lowly peon bankers - but still). Just how it might be significant I’m not really sure – but you never know.

Anyway, both Ebay and Superdude are enjoying their jobs and are learning a lot about public relations. But, like Jim Morrison said, people are strange and while both boys are very careful about protocol - never disclosing specifics, they do have some good stories about the trials of customer service. It seems that some customers can be a little nuts when it comes to their bank accounts, understanding how the banking system works and then coming to terms with the limitation of what lowly tellers are able to do.

For example after serving 300 people a day, a teller might not automatically know your account number just by looking at you. Also, the bank probably won’t be able to refund the money your wife spent from your joint account even if she spent it without your permission. And before you throw a fit about being absolutely sure that you set up an account and deposited money in that account and the bank"damn well better find my account and get me my money before I...” be sure you didn’t actually set up the account at the Wells Fargo across the street.

My favorite banking predicament to date though happened to Ebay just a couple of weeks ago. Ebay was working the drive-thru and a slightly-older-than-middle-aged woman drove up. She wanted to pull some money out of her account. However, when Ebay tried to complete this transaction he found that her account was overdrawn.

Customer: “What? How can it be overdrawn?”

Ebay: “Well Mam…in your account history I can…um….see a couple of…um…. different transactions that um…might have been…um…the problem.

Customer: “Well what are they?”

Ebay: Well…um….I’ll just um….give you a printout…so you can um…see…um…”

Now this exchange doesn’t make Ebay sound like the most articulate or helpful of bank employees. But I’ve seen Ebay in action and he is very articulate and yes, even perky when he’s in teller-mode. The problem here…the thing that was turning Ebay from perky/helpful bank teller to blathering squeaky voiced teen-geek was where the point of sale occurred (official bank-speak there).

The transactions were from what I guess you’d have to call a “specialty store” in the area. A store that specializes in special garments (and other items) of a romantic nature…if you know what I mean (wink-wink, nudge,nudge). This is the kind of store that there are probably a lot of in Las Vegas. But here in middle of Mormonland there’s only a few - actually I can only think of this one. This specialty store has a provocative flirtatious little name and has been savvy enough to promote their business by a couple of prominent billboards along the freeway – one of which Ebay passes every day on his way to and from work. And poor Ebay just couldn’t bring himself to say the name of this specialty store out loud through the drive-thru speaker to the slightly-older-than-middle-aged female customer and in front of his fully-grown-woman female co-workers….it's just not a good out-loud name.

Ebay told me this story with a kind of sheepish/mortified expression on his face like somehow he’d actually been the one that had gone to the “special store.” And I of course helped him out by laughing uproariously and reveling in his embarrassment and discomfort.

Poor Ebay. I like to think that specialty-store-lady may have appreciated Ebay’s manners -what a nice young man to be so discrete regarding her somewhat blue transaction history. The truth of course is a lot less noble...but a lot funnier.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Still Glowing

Pin It I am trying really hard not to write every post during the time I am pregnant about being pregnant. However, today I am cutting myself some sleep-deprived slack.

The above comic pretty much sums up my day yesterday.

I am not used to having any sort of difficulty beyond restless legs during pregnancy so all of my latest developments are new experiences for me.

I couldn't sleep or breathe until almost 6:00 this morning thanks to my newest pregnancy-induced malady: allergies. I did not want to call my doctor at 1:00 am to ask which allergy medications were permissible to take during pregnancy (I was worried it would come across something like: "Hey, Doc. Did I wake you up? Well, it's for good reason! I have a stuffy nose.") even if I have likely funded the purchase of his home, car, boat, season passes to ski resorts and sporting events and trips around the world with all of my pregnancies combined. I talked to a nurse this morning who told me to try some Claritin or Benadryl. Let's keep our collective fingers crossed that it works. The good news is this: it is likely that the allergies will clear up after delivery. 6 months down, 4 months to go. (Because did you know that women are actually pregnant for 10 months? It's true.)

Another new thing for me this time around is a sore coccyx - which is just a fancy way to say that my tailbone hurts. All the time. It just started last weekend, but it is constant. When I walk, when I sit, when I bend down or vacuum or go grocery shopping my tailbone aches. I don't get it. The (sarcastic) best part is this: there is nothing to do about it except to carry around a donut-shaped pillow to sit on. As much as I'm sure this would be helpful, the embarrassment of carrying a pillow around with me everywhere outweighs the mild pain. I'm living with it and I'm okay with that. The (for real) best part is this: it should go away after delivery.

As I mentioned already, my repeat offender during the last few pregnancies has been RLS, better known as Restless Legs Syndrome. In the past it has been kind enough to leave me alone until I am about 7 months along. This time it decided to show up at 5 months but I have enough experience with the beast to know how to control it. Except now there is this little tidbit - allergy medications tend to make the symptoms of RLS worse. How awesome is that?! I can't wait to see how things go tonight. The good news, though? (Wait for it.....) RLS disappears after the baby is delivered.

Yes, there are many reasons why I will be excited to get this newest little one into my arms - but despite the blows that this pregnancy has delivered the best part will be the official face to face meeting of this life I carry inside of me. I can not wait to be rid of these pregnancy-induced inconveniences but it is all so very worth it to be able to welcome a new tiny person into our family.

I can not wait to fall in love all over again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Morning Artwork

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Every morning I wake up.

I hop into the shower.

I get ready.

I look out the window.

Some mornings I'm greeted with an array of clouds scattered across the heavens, but lately the mornings have been barren of these celestial ships.

I find myself breathing out a sigh of disappointment when there aren’t clouds for sun’s rays to illuminate as the day begins. There is just something about being greeted with the gloriousness of light slathered over waking skies. After all, clouds are the sun’s canvas on which to paint the beginning and ending to each day.

Hoping for cloudy days ahead.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Pin It I'm watching Babies, which came out some time ago and I've only now bothered to view. It follows the infancy of several babies, each from a different culture. Showcased is Africa, rural Mongolia, urban Japan, and the United States.

It's fascinating.

While the differences in cultures are remarkably, sometimes painfully portrayed, the babies themselves are almost interchangeable.

The babies in Mongolia are driven around, with their toddler siblings, on motorcycles. They mouth wafers, and tug on the tail of the cat that lives with them. They gaze in wonder upon the rooster that visits them in their bed, strutting along the edge of the mattress curiously. As they grow older, they are actually leashed to the bed post, with just enough room to play with a roll of toilet paper upon the floor.

The babies in Africa roll, gleeful and naked, around in dirt, lowering their faces to mouth up whatever might be laying around. They wear no diapers, stick their hands in the mouths of the canines that live with them, and battle each other for a worn out plastic water bottle. Their bottoms are wiped dry with a corn cob, which is then tossed back into the dirt. There are no fathers present.

The babies in America and Japan are cocooned in webs of protection--car seats, a neatly vacuumed floor, sterilized bottles. They are carefully weighed and measured each month. They have bedrooms and cribs, brightly decorated with stimulating articles. They are read to, and played with, by both mother and father. They belong to Mommy and Me groups, where they look with disdain upon the woman singing strange things and making weird faces.

All, though, are curious explorers of the worlds around them. They converse with expression and attempts at language with their caregivers. They do the same "I'm sleepy" eye rub, and throw the same tantrums over an uncooperative toy. They stand to walk on the same tottering legs, and clap hands proudly when they succeed. They cry, gurgle, giggle, and coo just like their counterparts around the world.

They're really kind of an amazing look at the wonder and marvel it is to be human.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Not the Good Kind

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I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better. ~Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh, 1903

This is not a great blog post.

I want to warn you about that just in case you’d like to stop reading now and go spend the next couple of minutes doing anything more worthy of your time…like folding socks or something.

I’ve had a rough couple of days.

It’s been rough because I seem to have one of those mystery illnesses that sneak up on you, stuff you in a sickness sack and shake you around for awhile.

I don’t like mystery illness. I don’t like illness in general, but at least I can understand the ones that make a little more sense - the ones that have recognizable symptoms. I guess I want to know what to expect when I get sick.

You know…

Your throat gets scratchy, your nose starts to run…you’re getting a cold. You’ll feel gross for about a week and be blowing your nose a lot for a couple of weeks after that and have a great excuse to eat some great chicken soup.

Your head hurts, your body aches…you’re getting the flu. You’ll feel really gross for 3 or four days and have a great excuse to eat some great chicken soup.

This one’s been kind of weird though. It kind of snuck up on me in the guise of just feeling extra tired (how did I know I wasn’t just being lazy – ‘cause I can be really lazy). Then my head started feeling kind of heavy, like I it would be better if I could just take it off my shoulders and set it down on my desk for a few minutes. But I guess because I couldn’t take my head off, it started to ache…a lot. Then because my head hurt so much my stomach started getting upset and because my stomach was upset I started to….well you get the idea.

It hasn’t been the good kind of sick either. You know the kind of sick where you’re sick enough to stay home, but not so sick that you can’t still kind of enjoy an unexpected day off…catch up on videos, watch some trashy daytime TV, finally finish reading the frivolous novel. No, no, this has been the kind of sick where you want to just be unconscious as much of the time as possible until the whole thing passes.

And it is passing…I’m not dying or anything even though I haven’t been brave enough yet to try the great chicken soup. But for now I'm going back to being unconscious for awhile.

And you should go back to folding those socks - don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Marrow of Life

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It was Henry David Thoreau who once penned the words, “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

What does this mean? What is he saying? Why did he say it?

While I cannot speak for Mr. Thoreau, and I guess it really isn’t that important to me, I know how this applies to my own life…

I was with a friend of mine recently. We went out because of a life-changing event in the pathway she is walking. This event is not necessarily a good thing.

As we talked we enjoyed our dinner—as well as each others’ company—I couldn’t help but think about the simple pleasures I have in this life. The things about me which I often take for granted. I hope you will forgive my indulgence by mentioning a few of these varied bits and pieces…

  • Eating spoonful of cookie dough, as the sweetness of it beckons you to fetch a glass of milk.
  • Walking on a brisk afternoon as the scent of autumn wafts about on the breeze.
  • Watching a sunset as it sets the sky ablaze in an orchestra of color.
  • Wearing a brand-new pair of flannel pajamas, and feeling the warmth of a blanket wrapped about you on a frosty night.
  • The smell of freshly-baking bread and eating it, fresh off of the loaf, with little wells of melted butter like lakes on its surface.
  • Talking to a dear friend for hours on end about nothing in particular—and enjoying each others’ company with so many common experiences we’ve shared.
  • Watching the stars above you, as they watch you back on a warm, lazy summer night with an ensemble of crickets lulling you into slumber.
  • Listening to that song…you know the one…the one I haven’t heard it in such a long time and then suddenly, there it is again. I love it even more than the first time I’d heard it.
  • To shoulder a backpack and head out into the lonely windswept desert hills and not see another soul for days on end. It’s just she and I.

You might say that tonight was yet another reminder to me that life is meant to be lived deeply—and to the fullest.

“Live life so completely that when death comes like a thief in the night, there will be nothing left for him to steal.”

- Unknown

Image not-so-shamelessly stolen from here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Riding the Wave

Pin It I've been riding a wave for quite some time now. It tosses me up to its crest for days of positivity and then rips me back into an anxious, despairing trough. I can see the shore in the distance, sunshine glinting on a white sand beach, but no matter how hard I try, I just can't quite get there. For every stroke I make, there's a counter-tug of the current that pulls me back.

It has sucked.

I've wanted to plant my feet on that sand so badly for so long that I've been consumed by it. My yearning has been so single-minded that I've avoided or neglected many other aspects of my normal self. I couldn't think about other things. There just wasn't enough room in my ocean.

Don't get me wrong. I've taken care of business. I've paid the bills, put supper on the table, tended to the children, washed the clothes, cleaned the toilets...I've tried to distract myself with soccer practices and Youth meetings and a new meatloaf recipe, but a part of me--some would say the most significant part of me--was off riding a wave. Wondering if this would finally be my time to land, all briny and flushed with exhausted triumph, on that beach.

I'm finally there: two beautiful pink lines on a pee stick.

Some of you, that remember http://hintonrae.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/beauty-from-ashes/ , are probably wondering what the heck happened. Why have I been yearning after a baby all this time, when I made this decision to shut the door on that? That's a long story, and really the only one I've been able to write much on in the past several months. It's where my heart has been, plain and simple. I'll post a bit at a time, once I've done a little editing, to my own blog. To be very brief, I never really felt as though giving up was what the Lord wanted me to do in this situation. I prayed ceaselessly for wisdom for both Duane and myself, and ultimately Duane ended up agreeing to give me a little more time. Rather grudgingly, but still... My two pink lines are a testament to God's faithfulness.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


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If I only had a little humility, I'd be perfect.

Ted Turner

In our staff meeting at school the other day, we were trying to come up with some writing prompts for an upcoming writing assessment. Basically we want to see how well the kids can write, spell, structure an essay, punctuate etc. These assessments usually revolve around a persuasive essay, so we try to come up with a couple of prompts (ideas to prompt the students to write) that the kids may actually be able to form an opinion about.

Because these are kids that are in detention, we were also trying to kick around some ideas that might introduce some ethics into the discussion. We kicked around some variations of the following ideas:

- How would they advise a younger sibling or friend that was considering experimenting with drugs?

- Should young people be compelled by law to go to school or should it be their choice?

- If you knew you could steal something and get away with it should you do it?

The kids here would definitely have opinions and mostly likely experience with each of those questions, and I do too. I don’t even have to think about the first one as I have come to have strong opinions about drug use. It wouldn’t take me long to make an argument either about kids, society and education. But that last one, if I’m being really honest with myself, does make me pause a little bit. It’s not that I believe that stealing should ever be condoned. It’s just that I know I’d have to think about it a little more…because recently I did.

A couple of months ago, for some reason I can’t recall now, I had some cash to deposit in my back account. I do remember that it was $180. I hardly ever deposit cash into my account, plus $180 is kind of a lot of money for me, so you’d think I’d remember where it was coming from, but I can’t. So at the bank drove around to the drive-thru, which was very busy with several cars in each line. After a few minutes wait, it was my turn and I put the deposit slip with my $180 in the “little-tubie-thing” and up it went. A few minutes later I heard the teller’s voice on the intercom asking if that would be all for today? Yep, that’s all - and back the tubie-thing came with my receipt. Except, that wasn’t all that was in the tubie-thing. Along with my receipt showing that a deposit was made into my account was the envelope that had held the $180 cash – with the cash still in it.

Now before you call the police or the bank authorities or whatever I should tell you that I sent the tube back up, called the teller and told him that it looked like he’d forgotten something. He was very relieved and thanked me profusely because that would have been some trouble for him at the end of the day. But I have to tell you I was still kind of bothered by the whole episode. I was bugged because even though I did the right thing, I had really considered not doing the right thing. When I saw that money still in the tube along with the receipt proving that according to the banks computer the money had gone into my account, I realized that there was nothing to stop me from just driving away with twice the money I had started out with. Wow, that would really come in handy. What would I be able to do with that extra cash? $180 wouldn’t mean anything to the bank, but it surely would to me and it’s not my fault that the teller was too dumb to keep the cash.

And then, just like any other self-respecting criminal element, I started considering the odds – how likely was it that I’d get caught? That teller would be short at the end of the day when he tried to balance – probably $180 short. He would then go back over his transactions for the day and that $180 deposit would probably stand out for him. There’re also a lot of cameras around the drive through. If he’s missing $180 they might decide to check back through the video of the day. Would they be able to see that I had pulled more than just a receipt out of the tube? And even if they couldn’t, be sure about what I pulled out of the tube, it’s not like they don’t know who I am, my name , address, phone number, account number – would they call me to ask? And what would I say?

All of these schemes and possibilities flew through my head in the space of about 15 seconds or so it’s not like I’m a candidate for the next Ocean’s Eleven heist. But I still considered it - and pretty seriously for a few seconds there anyway – which totally blows! I am a mother for heaven’s sake! I have raised children and given the honesty speech more times than I can count. I have sat through countless hours of religious training of one sort or another that has included A LOT of exhortations towards honesty. Come to think of it I have given countless hours of religious training myself with plenty of lessons for the kids about honesty. I have worked in public education for the past 12 years where the moral character of teachers and staff is pretty important. And I have had plenty of chit-chats with one kid or another about how important it is to be honest. But even after all of that I was still tempted by the dark side.

Sigmund Freud once said “Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.” So maybe that trip to the bank was the moral equivalent of a weekly spin class and 15 sets of crunches. I recognize that at the end of the day the really important thing is that I was honest. I guess my problem is there are so many thing that I struggle with, I suppose I thought that stealing was one that I could check off the list. Maybe though, much like my abs, the muscles get soft if you don’t use ‘em. All I know is that after the rush of decidedly unethical thoughts and feelings I had while sitting in my car at the bank drive-thru that day - I'm keeping it on the list.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Being A Responsible Pool Owner

Pin It On Labor Day I noticed that all of the summer items at a local SuperStore were being clearanced. Well, we have always wanted one of those backyard pools, so I decided to splurge and buy one. At half-off, it really couldn't be passed up - and there are sure to be at least a few more opportunities to use it before the real autumn weather hits.

Before setting the pool up I read over the instruction sheet that came with it.
The first thing that caught my eye were the warnings:
I was going to have to remember to tell my kids these things. Especially the No Diving rule. I actually considered laminating the entire sheet and posting it near the pool for future reference.

However, as I continued to read, I became increasingly confused.
If I keep a working phone near the pool... well, isn't that sort of an electrical appliance?

And then...
Fencing? I had no idea I was going to need fencing. This pool was turning out to be more expensive than I thought. And time consuming as well since I need to call the city and find out what the local codes for swimming pools are.

I went ahead and got the pool all set up so that the building inspectors could see for themselves that I knew what I was doing. I figured I could get some fencing later. I also took the liberty of filling the pool all the way to the top since the instructions said that was okay.
Can I tell you a secret? We cheated a little bit. We went ahead and used the pool on Labor Day because the city offices were closed and we couldn't get a building inspector to come make sure we were following city codes until later this week.

The kids loved it - although I had to remind them a few times about the No Diving rule.

I am so glad that someone would go to all of the effort to print out that instruction sheet. Without it, I'm not sure the installation would have gone so smoothly.

May I present: The Pool!

Don't be jealous.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Circle Game

Pin It I sit here this evening like so many times before, finding myself thoughtful and reflecting on my life and all of those things which have made it what it is today. There are times I have made mistakes, traveling down roads I wish now I’d never taken.There were also moments that I'd made - what I'd considered - grand contributions into the lives of others.

I thought about Mom today. I imagined myself out alone in the desert. I reminisced on my childhood. I contemplated of the onset of Halloween. I thought of another birthday which will contribute one more year into my time on this carousel-ish world - spinning in an endless pattern.

As I consider these individual parts of my life which contribute to the sum of the whole, I find myself realizing that there is something so much more, something beyond the scope of this life and the trials and successes it affords us in the day to day grind.

It's when I remember that all of the events and situations in this life are temporary I have hope. It is this which helps me to carry on day to day. I do have a song or two I particularly like right now by Steven Curtis Chapman. They are a few reminders that we are all still but travelers along this road known as life, and even with each turn of the seasons we are truly not home yet.

But one day, we will be.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Life of Riley

Pin It According to my husband, I have the life of Riley.

I'm not really sure who Riley is, but he (or she) stays home and does whatever the heck he (or she) wants to do, whenever the heck he (or she) wants to do it. And writes blog posts in between.

Now, I could lie and tell you that this was said very gently, as to not hurt my feelings, but you may recall that we have been married for fifteen years. There's a certain syllogism there that many of you may be familiar with. Where there is marriage, there is discord. Where there is fifteen years of marriage, there is voluble discord.

So I have the life of Riley. I get to get up past the bootie crack of dawn, I get to work out, I get to take lunch whenever I want, I get to watch Tivo'd television, play on the computer, and...there was something else. Oh, yeah--take a nap if I want to take a nap. AS IF.

All of this was to say, simply, would I please just put his underwear in his drawer while I am busy having my life of Riley. I have no problem with that, really. It's just that...dang. Laundry is just so futile. You wear it, toss it in the hamper, sort it, wash it, dry it, fold it, sort it, and store it neatly in the correct drawer, and within a day or two, it's right back in the hamper. I mean, really. What's the point? Why can't you just pick it up off the floor from it's neatly folded stack?

It's kind of like making the bed. What is the point of making the bed in the morning, anyway? You're just going to un-make it and mess it all up around twelve hours later.

I don't think I really have the life of Riley, though. Staying home is tougher than people think. Cleaning toilets...total ick. And working out: I tried it once and I was sore for three days. I don't think I'm cut out for it.* And then, you have to be super-organized and remember things like when the kids' lunch accounts are about to run out, and which days the one has soccer practice and the other has tumbling, and which days you're supposed to carpool with Cici, and then there are Truly Terrible Things like cleaning monsters from the refrigerator...

All he ever sees, though, is me in a puddle at the end of the day. Maybe I should save all of the hard labor for the four-o'clock hour?

*And actually, I'm totally teasing. An awesome, quick workout is Jillian Michaels' 20-minute, 30-Day Shred. She'll kick your butt for around 4 days, but then you'll get into a good groove and stop feeling like you're going to die and start feeling like you may possibly make it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Zucchini Season

Pin It If you have a garden and even one zucchini plant is a part of it then chances are you've got more zucchini than you want. I'm here to present you with two ways to get your neighbors to accept your offering of surplus zucchini with no complaints.

The first (and, admittedly, easiest) way is to load your trunk up with the excess zukes on a Sunday morning. Drive to the parking lot of the nearest church building and leave your gifts on the front seat of any vehicle that is unlocked or, even better, has its windows rolled down. You should be able to easily deplete your stash before anyone knows you were even there.

The second (and generally more well-received) method is to turn your zucchini into something tasty and deliver the treats to the homes of your intended recipients. Yesterday I went for option #2 and make my kids' favorite - zucchini muffins.

What's that? You want to know how to make zucchini muffins? Well, then - I love providing recipe posts with more pictures than are necessary. It sort of makes me feel like the Pioneer Woman, only much less popular. And with no awesome giveaways.

Let's get right to it!

First you'll need to go and find your biggest, ugliest zucchini. Even those baseball bat sized ones will work. Here's mine:
If you're lucky enough to have a food processor (how do you like those flowers in the background? Nice touch, eh?)
with a grater attachment
then the next step's a breeze. Just cut the zucchini in half, then quarter each half. If your zucchini is monster-sized you may have to cut it into smaller portions. It just needs to fit into the chute of your food processor. Then grate away and you'll end up with this:
Behold, grated zucchini. For those of you who only have a hand grater, you'll only need 4 cups worth so you can stop the arm workout once you've grated enough.

Put all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. This includes flour,
baking soda,
baking powder,
and cinnamon.
I tend to go heavy on the cinnamon but you do what you like.

Here's what it all looks like in the bowl before mixing the dry ingredients together
and here's what it looks like after mixing. (See? I told you. Unnecessary photographs.)
In a separate mixing bowl you're going to beat the sugar and eggs
for a couple of minutes
and then add some applesauce.
Let zucchini join the party
and a teaspoon of vanilla
along with some nuts. That is, if you like nuts. (I do - and hey, you are what you eat, right?)
Now you're going to pour the wet stuff
into the huge bowl with the dry stuff and stir them together just until there are no flour glops left.
Get your muffin pans ready by spraying them down.
(This picture is totally posed, by the way. The pans were already sprayed but they just looked like empty muffin tins so I took another picture with the spray action. None of the other pictures are posed at all. Nope.)

Fill each muffin pan as full as you want. I've never been good with the whole 2/3 or 3/4 full thing and they always turn out just fine. I made some mini muffins along with the regular sized ones:
because everyone knows that cute, little things are more irresistible.

Put those babies (regular size) in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so. Unless you're making minis - then you'll cut the baking time in half.

Does making muffins ever make anyone think of a joke? Because I think of this one every time:

Two muffins are in an oven. One says to the other, "Is it hot in here?" and the other says, "AHHHH!! A talking muffin!!" Gets me every time. Love it.

Once they're nice and golden you take them out of the oven, talking or not, and set them on a cooling rack.
When they're no longer too hot to handle you can start to eat them.
Or package them up in some recycled container, make them look cutesy and send your kids to the neighbor's place with a batch.
Ziplock bags work, too.

When the neighbors call and ask for your recipe just tell them you'll get it right to them - then fill a grocery sack with zucchini and send it over with the recipe stapled to the front. You'll be their favorite.

It's win-win.

Marvelous Zucchini Muffins
(This recipe can easily be halved if you prefer a smaller batch.)

6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon (mine are heaping)
4 cups sugar
8 eggs
2 cups applesauce
4 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds (walnuts or pecans are good, too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. Combine sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add applesauce and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add zucchini and vanilla and blend well, adding almonds while blending. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir just until batter is evenly moistened. Spoon into prepared muffin tins. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let stand on cooling racks for at least 10 minutes.
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