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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Love That Kid

Pin It Here's what I've been up to the past six months...his name is Truitt:



Although I certainly didn't intend for it to happen in quite this fashion, he's kind of taken over our lives. It's All Things Truitt here in the White House.



And that's okay, because we've managed to journey from the hellish land of colic to a veritable funhouse. Truitt is a jolly baby, most of the time, which is fabulous because it helps the fact that he refuses to sleep during the day.

He has just started his attempts at crawling, which are hilarious to watch.



Who can resist a bear on the bootie? Not me.



In all seriousness, we've been busy. To give you the short version of the past six months:
--Truitt arrived.
--He cried.
--He puked.
--I did massive amounts of laundry.
--He cried some more.
--He puked some more.
--I washed more clothes.
--He cut some teeth.
--He stopped crying when he received his share of magic fairy dust.
--He started to chortle at the dog.
--And recently he started trying to crawl.


That's pretty much it. And, oh--he believes he can fly. He believes he can touch the sky.




Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's Been A While

Pin It I logged onto Blogger and was given a quiet reminder that I had another site.

This site.

Ah life, with its intricacies, business, and all of the things that make it what it is. I guess it’s safe to say that with my job, my photography, and the myriad of everything else, Four Perspectives has taken somewhat of a backseat in my life lately.

…oh, it’s still here, it just now sits on the proverbial back burner of all the things I need to do and accomplish, never seeming to be that pot I notice to be boiling over and in the need of the most attention.

When I saw that the last post on this site was a month ago—mine being back on September 1st—I was thinking that something most certainly needed to be done about this.

And so I am.


I awoke this morning with a feeling that autumn has now kicked into full swing, and it’s always at this time of year I’m given a reminder of what life is—what it could be—and what it isn’t. It’s a changing of the guard and movement into a holiday adorned with rich colors and a season festooned with a chill in the air and heaps of leaves to wade in up to your ankles or knees.

I love this time of year…I long for it like oxygen, but I don’t wish for the long, cold of winter to be here. I would wish for the fall season to last a little bit longer though and give me the world adorned in her best fashions.

In honor of this, I wanted to build you a list of tunes for the season…list of music to share the feeling of wonderment that I do at this time, but unfortunately, the songs were not available on Playlist for a readily made alliance of awesome. To remedy this, I decided to upload a few tunes to my server and link them in, but I soon found that the songs I linked had already been blocked due to copyright restrictions.

Oh, my friends…for this I apologize.

So for you I had an autumn playlist, which should have filled beyond brimming with forty to fifty songs, but instead has only about ten. This is unfortunate because I felt that these captured something about the season…that magic and feeling autumn brings; after all, you probably know that there’s not too many autumn carols out there.

Because I can only I give you what I can in the playlist, I will tell you the names of those which I cannot give.

Deal?

Happy autumn, and Happy closing of the year.

- Teachinfourth




  

This Time of Year - John McCutcheon
The Silver Run - John McCutcheon
Is My Family - John McCutcheon
Soup - John McCutcheon
Wintersong - John McCutcheon
Waiting for Snow - John McCutcheon
Mending Fences - John McCutcheon
Closing the Bookstore - John McCutcheon
When Fall Comes to New England - Cheryl Wheeler
If These Walls Could Speak - Amy Grant
Let it Fall - Sean Watkins
When You Come Back Down - Nickel Creek
See Right Through You - Jerrytown
River - Joni Mitchell
Southbound Train - Julie Gold
Island of Time - Patty Larkin
I Have a Song - Lucy Simon
Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
You've Got a Friend - James Taylor
Copperline - James Taylor
Song for You far Away - James Taylor
What About - Peter Breinholt
Teeming Autumn - David Tolk
Autumn Road - David Tolk
Holocene (edited) - Bon Iver
Can't Find My Way Home - Blind Faith
Set the World on Fire - Britt Nicole
You've Got a Friend - James Taylor

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Fancy or a Feeling?

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If there were no God, there would be no Atheists. ~G.K. Chesterton

So I was talking to a friend the other day about God.

This friend is kind of wishy-washy about religion and actually professes to be leaning towards atheism. By the way, this friend was not Teachinfourth – just in case ya'll were wondering after his searching for God post awhile back -although we have spent a fair amount of time sorting through faith,belief and other such ethereal topics. Anyway this mostly atheist friend was trying to explain why believing in God just doesn’t make any sense to him. He believes that people just use God as an excuse to explain whatever coincidence they want to explain. He is an atheist on logical grounds – there is just no proof that God isn’t just a figment of mankind’s imagination.

I have to say that he is right. Believing in God is entirely illogical…and I like to think that I’m a pretty logical person.

But I believe in God anyway.

Now, I do not have a perfect faith, but I do believe there is a God and that there is a plan.

I was trying explain my faith as we were talking and I hit upon this analogy. Of course I didn’t think of this analogy until the day after our conversation…it would have been much cooler and more satisfying if I could have formed this argument in the moment of debate…but whatever.

Here’s what I think…

Belief in God is all about feeling and intuition in the same way that being a parent is all about feeling and intuition.

I mean, when you have a new baby there are times when you simply don’t know what it wants. You’ve fed it, changed it, burped it, rocked it, sung to it, and the baby is still crying. Because you hopefully want to be a good parent (and because you really want to get some sleep), you keep trying to figure out what your baby wants. Through trial and error you slooooowwwwly come to recognize the signals that your baby is throwing out there. You can tell the hungry cry from the cranky cry. You can tell the “I’m just throwing a fit” cry from the “something is really wrong” cry.

Now to anybody else a baby crying is just a baby crying - could mean anything or could mean nothing. But to you, the parent who has spent hours and hours and days and years studying this child, that cry means something…something specific.

Can you prove it?

Well…maybe not.

But you know what you know and you feel what you feel whether it’s logical or not.

Believing in God is a quest. A quest for a feeling that helps you find answers to questions that, like your baby's cry, only you might understand. It takes a lot of time and a lot of practice but eventually, slowly, you start to recognize the signs...and then maybe even start to sleep through the night.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Of Mice and Me

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Women are afraid of mice and of murder, and of very little in between. ~Mignon McLaughlin

So I’ve had to take kind of a mental health month away from several of my normal hobbies and pursuits (like blogging) this month. My mom had to have hip replacement surgery. This is a relatively common yet still pretty serious procedure that, I’ve learned, has a fair amount of post-operative what-nots to go along with it. All in all things have gone pretty well, Mom is recovering well…and I have discovered that I was absolutely right when I decided that nursing was not the profession for me.

I’ve also discovered that Doctors and Nurses and Physical Therapists and the like often use the very same tone with their patients (and the family members of their patients) as did Ebay’s Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Jones. I’m not saying this is a bad thing necessarily. Hip replacement surgery is generally performed on folks of…shall we say advancing years, and taking a tone reminiscent of Mr. Rogers is actually very soothing and reassuring…but also slightly comical…at least to me.

In other news, we’ve been hit with pestilence of biblical proportions at our house this week. Ok, ok…maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. But on the same night Ebay and I discovered, seriously, the largest spider ever seen in captivity on our living room wall. And simultaneously, while we were arguing about who was going to deal with super-spider (Ebay is just no use as a man when it comes to spiders), a mouse ran along floorboard of the very same wall!!!

What the freak!

Now I don’t really ever like spiders much. But I don’t mind mice out in the woods and fields and in Beatrice Potter books. But I seriously don’t wanna live with ‘em!

This is the first mouse we’ve seen since moving into the house, so hopefully it’s just a solitary rodent soul looking for seclusion, or facing some initiation into a mouse fraternity perhaps. But whatever the reason, we’re having a visit from the Orkin man tomorrow ‘cause I already have enough trouble sleeping at night as it is without mice dreams and spider nightmares. Not to mention that my mom is using a walker right now. Running, screaming and jumping on the furniture to get a way from a mouse (or spider) while using a walker after hip-replacement surgery might cause the nice Mr. Roger-esque Physical Therapist to alter his soothing tone…don'tcha think?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thinking of Home

Pin It I’ve been dwelling lately.

I’ve been thinking about Cloverleaf Beach on the Columbia River.


It’s been on my mind for the past several weeks.

I do a photo meme each week and someone posted a set of images from a trip they took. One of the shots this week reminded me of this little beach I went to all throughout my growing up which is located in Eastern Washington.

The funny thing is that I started to dwell on this even before I saw the image…the photo just made it more pronounced for some reason. This week I started to catch faint whiffs of pine needles and the scent of river air occasionally as I made to go into my house or left my school in the late afternoon/early evening sun—though no pine trees were nearby.

It’s odd, really...after all, I haven’t been to Cloverleaf Beach in years.

If it was feasible, possible, or in all reality if I were able, I’d drive there tonight and sit on the beach. I’d take off my shoes and soak my feet in the cool water. I’d lean back and gaze out at the expanse of the river, allowing the gentle lapping of that shimmering water against sand to ebb and wash away the dust and worries of everyday life.

I’d breathe in the sweet scent of pine pitch heavily laden in air.

I’d soak in the heat wafting from the sand, and burrow my fingers underneath its coarse grains.

I’d listen to the rippling of the water and the cries of birds as the creaking of the old floating dock as it moved about in the center of the swimming area.

I’d wait as darkness fell and the chime of crickets swept over the area like the gentle rolling of thunder down distant canyons.

I’d feel as if I were home.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Saying No

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I finally self-diagnosed myself with a condition I’ve long suspected that I’d been the carrier for.

Over the span of years this ailment has had ample opportunity to gestate, grow, and mutate into something far more perpetually grotesque than what it originally started out as: something innocent and benign…and I’m sure that there are those out there that would have originally called this a blessing; however, it grew into nothing shy of an obscenity over the blight of years. In fact, I have a feeling that some of you may be carriers of this particular disease as well:

The inability to say no.

I remember being asked to do things for work, family, church, friends, and various others that I didn’t mind in the slightest over the years. When asked if there were any volunteers, I found myself suffering from what some have been known to call, ‘helium hands,’ and the willingness to help out when nobody else seemed to be willing.

This was all fine and good—well, for a while.

I learned something important about myself over the years, though. While it’s good to help others in need, there comes a time when one needs to realize their own limit, and admit to themselves—and to the world—that they are not the Superman everyone might think they are, especially those of us who are perfectionists with Narcissistic tendencies…such a dangerous combination; I don’t know what Mother Nature was thinking when she threw those two permutations into the mix.

So, here I start off with perfectionism? And you ask me to do something on a grand scale? If it isn’t grand to begin with, chances are…I’ll try to make it become so.

I remember my second year at my local university when they needed someone to take charge of the children’s carnival for Fall Fling. Nobody would head up the program and it seemed that it was doomed to be a failure. However, somebody mentioned that Teachinfourth was in the Elementary Education Program and therefore, he would be a prime candidate for the job—after all, that makes sense doesn’t it?

Without a team of any sort at my disposal, I went about organizing a program I had no experience at. I spent countless hours planning, replanning, organizing, reorganizing, working, reworking, stressing, restressing, panicking, repanicking, and so on, and so on - all with a very limited budget.

And then, when things finally reached their worst, I turned to a few of my neighbors to help me out because I couldn’t take on a venture of this magnitude completely on my own, and not have it totally blow up in my face.

I think I might even have generated a stomach ulcer or two…but the night’s festivities were festive, and the fun was fun. The kids loved it.

Then I stayed and cleaned up everything afterward.

Fast-forward ten or so years into the future, when I finally came to the realization that it’s good to sometimes tell people no. After all, there would be times that to someone else—a simple job or task—that for somebody else (like myself) who needed it to be perfect—it would take hours until it was done right. While that other person simply wanted it done, I would want to make sure it was done with grandeur and awesomeness.

In other words: all they wanted was Panda Express, I was wanting to give them P.F. Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory for dessert.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times I still say yes.

Friends come and ask me to take photos.

I love photography, you know.

But there are times I tell people no to sessions as well.

I simply do not have the time or energy to devote to them with being a full-time teacher, blogger, person and everything else in my life that is spinning about me. I have to think about my sanity…sometimes. Besides, I’m really not looking for helium hands anymore; I let the air out of those things months ago. I really don’t need relapse…or another intervention.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Post About the Next Post

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I’ve decided to change it up a bit this week—for next week. This week’s post reflects what next week’s post will be. Please let me know what you’d like me to write the next post about from the available list. The choices listed are either the titles, or a phrase which will be used in the said post.

Thanks,

Teachinfourth



Fake it Until You Make It.

It was like a scene out of Lord of the Flies.

And so I said No.

A Funeral for Myself.

The Polaroid.

I’m an Addict.

Cranyons.

The Attic.

The Exhilaration of Life


Photo garnished from www.ivanwalsh.com

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hansel, Gretel, and Katy Perry

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I stood in the midst of my classroom yesterday afternoon, feeling lost—somewhat akin to the mood I imagine lingering about Hansel and Gretel as they found themselves disoriented deep in the forest and surrounded by wild and ferocious animals.

I sank into one of my student’s chairs.

I’d worked at the juvenile detention center for a hefty chunk of the summer, and spent a good portion of it putting my classroom back together again—all the king’s horses and all of his men had nothing on me, I’ll tell you that. However, even after hours of work, there were all of those little things that never seemed to find their places. At home, I’d automatically shoved them into the junk drawer where they’d magically find their way into another day’s adventure at some clandestined future moment, when they were most desperately needed…like the room of requirement at Hogwarts.

Alas, my classroom was not Hogwarts.

…at least not yet.

There would be no sorting ceremonies, quite simply I was Hufflepuff…I took everyone, not the brave, not the crafty, or the most clever...I would take the lot: the hodgepodge mix of what makes a classroom what it is.

If I had a choice I think my classroom would be Slytheryn. It seems that the Slytheryns always seem to have the most fun.

I arose from my student’s chair and looked longingly at my empty Dr. Pepper cup from Walker’s Gas Station down the road from previous working visit.

Okay, Teachinfourth…work. You’ve got to get to work…

Into the playlist went a repeated sampling of Katy Perry songs and I tried my best to find my way out of the forested jungle of my classroom.

My desk is still a pile of the unknown, but the rest of the classroom looks pretty great.

Tomorrow is ‘officially’ my first day back to work for meetings and such, through truthfully, I’ve spent a good chunk of the summer there. However, I’m still hoping that the trail of breadcrumbs will lead me to where I need to be before Thursday’s Back to School Night. After all, all of those little wild animals will come, whether or not I’ve found my way through that dratted forest…

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who Are You?

Pin It
A weed cannot stop being a weed

It is simply what it is destined to become.

A thistle cannot become a rose.

A skunk cabbage cannot change to a rhubarb plant.

They are what they are.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and how we cannot alter the fact that we are human beings; we cannot change that we are people any more than any other creature can change its species or genome.

There is something that we can change, though. We can change our nature. We can alter the decisions we choose to make from day to day…we can decide how to treat others around us.

There is nobody that controls our destiny.

We are whom we decide to become.

Who are you today?


Image garnered from here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Gluten" for Punishment

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In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired. ~Author Unknown

So, awhile back I wrote a piece called “Requiem for the Perfect Chips.” It was about one of our favorite little mom and pop Mexican restaurants and how they changed their wonderful chips. Well I think that now I’m going to have to write a requiem for pretty much all of my favorite food.

Here's why.

I just haven’t been feeling quite right over the past little while, extra extra tired, extra extra cranky and some other kinda weird girl stuff going on if you know what I mean. Since it was time to go to the doctor anyway, I got the number for this super efficient Nurse practitioner that kind of goes beyond the normal screenings to check for hormones and allergies and stuff like that.

So along with all the embarrassing girl check-up things, I had a bunch of blood drawn so they could test it for all this other stuff. Well, I just got the results back a couple of days ago and while there’s nothing terminal or anything, I believe that my life (or at least my eating habits) has just changed forever.

First of all, I found out I have hypothyroidism which means that my thyroid gland isn’t producing enough of the hormone that it is supposed to efficiently run my metabolism. I’m actually a little bit gratified to hear this because I’ve felt for a while now that I diet and exercise and diet and exercise with about as much result as an iceberg at the North Pole (a pre-global warming iceberg that is). Second, I’m apparently super anemic. I’m told that normal iron levels are around 120 (I don’t know 120 of what…grams, milligrams, parts per 1000?) but that my iron level is at a 7. My vitamin B12 level should be 1200 and it’s 400. My vitamin D level should be 80 and it’s 17. Sounds like it’s amazing I could even drag myself to the doctors appointment doesn’t’ it? So needless to say I’ve got a thyroid prescription and I’m also taking a bunch of vitamins and I’m probably looking at having IV iron infusion therapy too.

But on top of all of that…actually adding to all of that is the fact that my blood tests show that I have food allergies. I haven’t been aware of any food allergies in the past. But I’m one of those lucky adoption kids and I just don’t know anything about my family medical history. Superdude has allergies. He is allergic to Penicillin and super sensitive to different kinds of soaps and detergents. I told the super-efficient Nurse Practitioner about this and she said that if one of my kids has allergies, chances are that I probably do as well. So she added that to my blood panel and found that I am allergic to Gluten…wheat gluten…as in bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, pies, cakes and pretty much everything else that makes life worth living. Add to that that I’m also allergic to eggs which are in the cakes, cookies, pancakes not to mention breakfast burritos and pretty much anything at IHOP. And then just to top it off I’m allergic to Cow’s milk. At first I thought, well, ok. I don’t really drink that much milk anyway. But then it started to hit me…yogurt, cheese, pudding, chocolate, butter and worst of all ICE CREAM (WAAAAAAAHHHHH!!).

I’ve only had a couple of days to absorb this and I’ve really been trying to focus on the positive…you know, focus on all the food that I can eat rather than on everything I can’t. Rice is still ok; Corn is on the good list. All the fruits and vegetables of course…including potatoes, which means French fries (whew!) But I did my first round of Gluten-Free shopping last night and it’s pretty bleak. First of all – Holy-Super-Expensive-Food-Batman! I bought a little loaf of gluten-free bread for almost $6. It feels like cardboard and tastes like sand. I think I’m pretty much going to have to look at it as just the best way to convey peanut butter into my mouth (but without milk, why bother eating a peanut butter sandwich?).

In reality, even though I’m fussing and pouting about this I really am going to hit it hard. I’m going to give this gluten-free, dairy-free thing a serious try and see if it works. See if I feel better, see if I lose weight, see if I have more energy and focus and all of that.

To be honest though….I’m already starting to dream about Ice Cream.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Muddy Feet

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GUEST BLOGGER: Rebeckah

Rebeckah is a 35 year-old mother, social worker, and photographer. She enjoys spending time with children. She believes that every person can make the world a better place by being kind. Rebeckah lives outside of Philadephia with one husband, one kid, and one cat. She also enjoys raquetball. You can find more of her at Life with Kaishon.


You know those days?

Those days when you have a ton of things to do for work; when none of it is making sense?

When it is raining and dismal outdoors?

This is what happens to Kaish on those days:


Seriously.

On a sunny, happy fall day, when muddy feet would make me smile, they are nowhere to be found!

But when I up to my eyeballs in paperwork, when I am racking my brain about what to make for dinner, when I am popping Advil like jellybeans…

This happens!

And he WALKS through the house to show me.

I kid you not!

Now, I would like to say I handled it with grace and love.

I did NOT!

I yelled.

I think I scared the neighborhood kids.

Oh well...

After we got out to the garage and started getting clean, I got nicer : )

and I smiled.

And I listened to the story of how they were playing at the ‘pond’

(which is really a sewer…in case you were wondering)

when Kaish fell in.

I thanked God for the precious boy he gave me!

The precious, wonderful boy!

The boy who loves mud!

And then I did something that always makes me smile!

I forced them to let me take a picture.


Only Shoshi complied!

Did you play in the mud when you were young?


My Daddy used to take us out to the edge of the cornfield in the summer after it had rained.

That mud felt glorious!

I have to ask my Mom how she felt about clean up!

I am sure she was DELIGHTED...

Two Days Late and A Dollar Short

Pin It Teachinfourth, here it is a Thursday and you are finally posting? What’s up with this?

Yeah, I’m a slacker…tends to happen on occasion with all of us, doesn’t it? My dad used to call it being a day late and a dollar short.

In this case it’s two days late…and probably two dollars.

In the pregnancy world I’m told that this is not so much a big deal – you know – being two days late, but this is Mel’s day. I guess it’s a good thing I had dinner with her the other night, and we had a great time enjoying each other’s company, so I figure that she won’t mind…of course I didn’t ask her permission though.

I guess a good thing she and I are such great friends.

Good friendships.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately.

It seems that the older I’ve been getting, the more selective I’ve gotten in those I include in my circle of ‘good’ friends. That circle appears to get smaller and smaller all the time, too.

Of course, when I was in elementary school the circle was HUGE. My attitude back then was something more like, I’m having a birthday and I want the WHOLE WORLD to come (after all, more guests = more presents) but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my circle of friends has diminished drastically. Not that I don’t have friends. But those that I choose to hang out with on a regular basis seems to have declined drastically over the passing of years.

I was thinking of this the other night when I went through my Facebook account and deleted all of my contacts, everyone, even my family members. I remember thinking that I didn’t have anywhere near 600 friends and that some of these people were simply those I’d pass on the street and wave to, and probably not have more than a two minute conversation with.

I couldn’t even pass the Facebook test with some of them.

It felt liberating. Nobody could say that I’d simply deleted him or her and was a jerk; after all, I’d deleted everyone.

Today I’m up to somewhere around 150, people started to notice that I was no longer their contact and I’ve started to get some re-requests. However, this is still a far cry from where I started.

I’m comfortable having fewer friends.

I’d like to have five gourmet chocolate chip cookies rather than an entire boxful of those that just aren’t quite so delicious.

So, I’m two days late.

And probably a dollar short.

Well, that’s what my dad would say.

But at least I have some good friends.

And it’s a Thursday.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Nephew, My Uncle

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GUEST BLOGGER: KAREN

Karen is not a teacher, but she hopes to be one when she grows up. If she ever gets around to it. In the meantime, she enjoys life in Southern California, spending her free time at Disneyland, and watching the Angels play baseball. Despite her proximity to Los Angeles, she prefers gazing at the stars in the sky to the stars of Hollywood, and her blog A Peek at Karen's World, is as random as she is.

The Nephew will be 6 in a few weeks, but most days you’d swear he was closer to 40.

Since I have no children of my own, it has long been my mission to become the undisputed Favorite Aunt. The fact that he doesn’t have many to choose from is beside the point.

To firmly secure my position of favored relative, I recently spent an entire day with The Nephew, in which I learned a valuable lesson. The lesson being that he has now come to that age where he’s decided that if you don’t agree with him, it’s because, clearly, you didn’t hear him.

(It’s scary how much this kid and I have in common.)

We were in the car. I took him to a movie. Part of my quest to be the Favorite Aunt included introducing him to his first Jim Carrey flick. Sadly, he didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. But at least he liked the penguins.

As we were driving, we passed a miniature golf place that also has a few roller coasters perfectly visible from the freeway.

“Whoa! What’s that place?” His eyes were wide with wonder.

“Scandia,” I answered, thinking that he might still be too young to have any real fun there.

“No it’s not,” he said. “That’s the berry place.”

The berry place?

“What berry place?” I asked.

He started to hum something that reminded me of a TV commercial.

“Are you talking about Knott’s Berry Farm?

“Yeah,” he said. “That’s Knott’s Berry.”

I smiled at him and shook my head. “No, buddy. It’s not Knott’s Berry Farm. That place is called Scandia.”

I thought his five year-old sensibilities would know I was telling the truth, but he was sure he knew better. It’s weird because stubbornness doesn’t run in my family AT ALL…

He insisted that it was, indeed, Knott’s Berry Farm even though he’s never been there and has no idea what it looks like. “You aren’t listening to me,” he said. “That’s Knott’s Berry Farm. You don’t even know.”

It should be noted that I was perfectly aware of how silly I sounded, arguing with a boy fresh out of kindergarten. But he needed to KNOW that he was WRONG.

Finally, he said, “Okay, it’s not Knott’s Berry Farm.” I sighed with relief. “It’s The Mountain.”

He was referring, of course, to Magic Mountain. Which is some 60 miles away and another place he’s never been.

“[Nephew], listen to me. That is not Knott’s Berry Farm. It is NOT Magic Mountain. You are wrong. It’s called Scandia. I don’t know why we’re even arguing about this.”

Silence overtook the backseat. He stopped talking and I was relieved to think he had finally understood and started to believe me. And then I heard singing. I glanced into the rearview mirror to see him sitting there in his booster seat, feet kicked straight out in front of him, his hands crossed over his chest. He rocked back and forth, singing:

“What’s wrong with Kaaaa-ren?
Why isn’t she listening to me?
Does she even HEAR me?”

I heard, all right. Loud and clear.

He may be nearly 5 going on 40, but I’m 34, going on 4.

Maybe I should start calling him my Favorite Uncle…

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life in the South (of Utah)

Pin It I moved to the covered front porch and sat on one of the rocking chairs, letting the cool evening breeze cool my skin as I gazed out over the deep auburn glow on the rock cliffs of the eastern ridge, rising up like a tidal wave above pecan trees lining the opposite side of the road. Earlier today the neighborhood trees had been buffeted quite a bit by a gale and Michelle’s youngest mancub – a few years older now since the last time I’d written about him (well not counting the post from last week) – had run amongst them though neighbors’ backyards as they rained down pecans by the fistfuls upon him from the blustering winds.

But, as night falls, all is now calm and still on the street before me.

A few birds chirp as a light breeze stirs the leaves slightly. The laughter of a few neighborhood children drift up the street as the chime of crickets join the thong. The last few rays of sunlight wink out of sight and the blanket of night wraps itself around the neighborhood.

From under the covered porch I sit on a rocking chair, smelling the night breeze and relishing in its coolness as the night as the pale glow of accent lights twinkle green, red, yellow, and blue—changing colors like lights on a Christmas tree.

My phone is silent.

My wireless is haphazard at best.

I’m more or less cut off from the world at large.

It’s a good – as well as different – feeling.

I lean back in the rocking chair and close my eyes.

Life is wonderful...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Feminine Mistique

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One is not born a woman, one becomes one. ~Simone de Beauvoir

So I mentioned a few weeks back that I was indulging in some massage therapy to help with…well with tension and the tight back muscles that come with all that. I don’t do it as much as I probably should. I really only do it as often as I can afford, but it has really helped and I can certainly feel when it’s getting to be time for another massage.

Now this is massage therapy, so there’s a certain expectation that it will be pretty “New-Agey” if you know what I mean. There are scented candles and a lot of books about cleansing your energy pathways and centering your chi or whatever. I find it a little abstract and ethereal sometimes – but who am I to judge? My back hurts, these people can help me so bring on the ocean wave music and green tea extract. But this last time I got some news that has stuck with me some over the past week or so since my last massage.

It’s pretty standard that my left side is more sore and tight than my right side. I haven’t really been able to pinpoint exactly why, but when I think back I believe it has ever been thus. This last time though, perhaps because I hadn’t been there for awhile, I was quite a bit tighter than usual and my massage therapist really had to work the lower left. At one point she said she was just going to step out for a minute. I thought from all the effort she’d was putting in that perhaps she was just tired and needed a break. But no, she wanted get her reference book and check out something about my body. Of course with my face squished into the face holder donut I’m thinking “Oh crap, what has she found back there?” When she came back she announced that the tightness on the left side in the lower back and hip area means, according to “the book”, that I have issues with femininity and could in fact be suppressing my femininity.

Issues with femininity?

Suppressing my femininity?

What does that mean?

I think I’m ok being a girl. I mean, I was a tom-boy growing up, but I wasn’t so much a tomboy that I didn’t enjoy getting a new dress. I’ve never been a really girly-girl, but I’ve always been ok being a girl – I’ve never wanted to be a boy that I can recall. On the other hand I don’t paint my nails. I don’t have my ears pierced. I don’t like wearing jewelry, I don’t like wearing floral patterns….or any patterns at all really. But on the other hand I enjoy making flowers and jewelry for other people to wear (like every other gay designer in the world come to think of it). And hey, I also own a pair of red suede pumps with 3 inch heels. I don’t take them out for a test drive much, but I enjoy looking at them from time to time (possibly something else I have in common with gay designers). I’m not currently married but I have been…twice and I don’t believe I’ve switched my gender preference without my knowledge. Daniel Craig + Russell Crowe+ Mr. Darcy still equal swooney heart palpitations. On the other hand, being single – let’s face it - I probably am suppressing something.

I must say all this confliction has been very vexing and hard to navigate. So maybe I should try a weekend of Bridget Jones’ Diary and Gilmore Girls and see how my back feels then. Or maybe I’ll just go shoe shopping - that's a pretty girly - feminine thing to do. And if I don't actually carry my 900lb purse that generally hangs across my left shoulder, perhaps then I'll start to feel more feminine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Mancub - Appropriate Decisions

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The other evening I ventured into the living room with my laptop from the home of my friends down here in Hurricane, Utah. On the flatscreen was a movie I’d never seen before playing vaguely from somewhere in the background as I rhythmically typed away at the keys of my blogpost for today. Everyone else had left the room with the exception of Michelle’s youngest mancub. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the movie, but working on my post when one of the characters said something.

It was the one particular word that caught my attention.

This isn’t a word one uses in civilized conversation. In fact, this isn’t a word one uses in any type of normal conversation.

The mancub looked at me.

He asked me what that word meant.

A blankness flashed across my mind.

This was not a topic to be broached by someone to their friend’s kid because the subject matter. Heck, this wasn't even covered in the 5th or 6th grade maturation sessions at my elementary school.

I made ready to deflect the boy, letting him know that he should ask his dad at a later time what this particular thing was, but the mancub seemed to catch the gist and said, “Oh, I get it…this is something inappropriate, isn’t it?”

I concurred with the statement and felt a rush of pride in this boy as he went on to say, “Then I don’t think this is a movie we should be watching,” right before I was about to suggest changing to something else.

We watched The Incredibles instead.

I’m still proud of him for making that decision - and for parents who teach their children about making appropriate decisions...even when they aren't always there to help them do it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Four Overly P.C. Parents of First Graders

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GUEST BLOGGER: CHEESEBOY

Hello, my name is Cheeseboy, but it could be 'Teachinfirst', as I teach first rather than fourth grade. But I'll tell you what, you can call me Abe. I like to blog. I blogged on my very first try, too. You could read more of what I've written over at The Blog O' Cheese, but only if you're awesome like that... 




Dear Principal,

It has come to my attention that a first grade teacher at your school is having the students sit on the floor "Indian style". I'll have you know that my child is 1/16 Cherokee Indian and I find this deeply offensive.

Further, I'd like to point out that it is a complete misnomer that American Indians sit with their legs crossed all the time. Look, they have chairs just like everyone else. (Yes, occasionally they do sit with their legs crossed on the chair, but that is generally the exception, not the rule.)

I implore you to require this teacher to stop using this horrifically offensive phrase. I'd never ask children to sit "White Man Style"! (Sitting like you are watching a NASCAR race while eating mayonnaise with a Hooters waitress in your lap.)

Thank you for your time,

Beatrice Footinmouth
1/8 Cherokee Indian
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Dear Principal,

It has come to my attention that a teacher at your school has recently replaced the phrase "Indian style" with "Crisscross Applesauce". I would like to voice my concern regarding this issue.

My name is Chris Kelley and I was one half of the 90's rap duo "Kriss Kross". My daughter is now in the class that this phrase is being used. I have to say that I am deeply hurt and offended by this. During our band's heyday, we never once sat on stage with our legs folded. That would have made for a very awkward moment.

I would appreciate it if you spoke with this teacher and told her to stop using this offensive language.

Thanks,

Chris Kelley
Jumper

PS: I would also like to express my dissatisfaction with the removal of "backwards clothes day" from the school calendar.
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Dear Principal,

My son recently came home from school and told me that his teacher asked him to sit "Crisscross Applesauce" on the floor.

My name is Dale Mott, owner of Mott's Applesauce and I can assure you that we did NOT intend our applesauce to be spread on the floor and sat in by a bunch of children. I presume that you will remedy this situation.

As a thank you, I have included a free sample of our sauce.

Thank you,

Dale Mott
Owner, Mott's Applesauce
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Dear Principal,

My name is Gerald Smartington, CEO of "Frankleton's Pocketless Pants".

In the last couple weeks, my daughter has come home from school complaining of her teacher asking her to "sit on your pockets". I'll have you know that my daughter does not own a single pair of pants with pockets on them.

I am deeply offended by the use of this phrase. What ever happened to sitting "Indian Style" or "Crisscross Applesauce"?! I think you will find that as our business booms more and more of your students will not have pockets on their jeans.

Unless you remedy this problem, I will have my lawyers look into what can be done.

Thank you for your time.

Gerald Smartington
CEO, Frankleton's Pocketless Pants

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Eating Our Words

Pin It Have you ever said something before and then immediately regretted it?

I know that I have.

I think there have been times in each and every one of our lives that we’ve said something that we wish we could take back; however, once we’ve said those particular words, it has already become too late…they suddenly become history. The terrible thing about words is that they also seem have a way of coming back to haunt us…

You see we live in a world where much of the communication we have is shared verbally, as well as with the written word. Obviously you must be a person who shares things with written words because you’re reading this blog post. But how often have you been reading something and then had to reread, positive that you must have read it wrong? After all, there’s no way that somebody would have written that and put it out there for the entire world to see.

Yeah, you know the kinds of things I’m talking about.

Sometimes these choice little tidbits have been put on peoples’ blogs, or on their Facebook statuses, and these individuals were seemingly confident that the person they were writing about would never see them.

But like I said before, words have a way of coming back to haunt us.

My good friend, Karen, from A Peek into Karen’s World once said, “We've gotten so used to our LOLs and JKs, and hiding behind a computer screen that we often forget [that these] there are real people on the other side with real feelings.‬”

Now, I’m not saying that we should sugar coat everything we write, but we really should be more careful that the things we put online aren't things we wouldn't be willing to say to someone else face to face. Chances are, our words will come to find them somehow, and then have a way of coming back to us as well.

I think of Madonna, a woman known for her singing for the past few decades – but slightly less well known for the books she’s written for children. One book Madonna wrote a few years ago is set in 1949 and is titled, Mr. Peabody’s Apples.

Mr. Peabody is a baseball coach and teacher in Happyville, USA. One day, he finds himself coming to an empty baseball field and wondering why. One boy, Billy, the batboy, approaches him with a desolate look letting him know that another student spread a rumor that Mr. Peabody was a thief after he’d seen him taking apples from a local market.

Mr. Peabody was instantly judged by the people of the town—and most of them started to avoid him after that. Mr. Peabody decides that he needs to show this rumor-spreading student, Tommy, that what matters is the truth – not how things might simply appear. He teaches Tommy a lesson about how important it is to carefully choose our words and to not cause harm to other people around us.

The lesson is simple, and yet powerful…like feathers in the wind.

We use words to communicate each and every day. I know that I do. I try to make it so that I choose my words carefully.

Do I always? Unfortunately not.

Am I trying to do better? Absolutely.

In the words of Thumper’s mother from the movie, Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

What wise words indeed.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Merely Surviving

Pin It I watched the film version of Cormac McCarthy's The Road last night, Truitt snoozing docilely in my lap and the kids playing Battleship in the other room. I'd read the book several years ago, working my way through it fits and starts, unsettled by the sadness of its story and message. It's one of those works, though, that deserves a second, closer look. There is so much there in way of character and symbol, image and theme.

The film version was no less beautifully "written" than the text, the actors and cinematography all poignant words on the screen. There was this one scene that tugged at me, a flashback where the protagonist recalls a pivotal conversation with his wife. In it, she raises the question of survival in their post-apocalyptical world. They live in a world where humanity is all but non-existent, and existence itself is marked by constant struggle for food, shelter, and protection from bands of cannibals. As a mother, she comments that the day their son was born was both the best and worst day of her life. She means to end her life as soon as she has the opportunity.

"It is not enough," she tells her husband, "to just survive." Unspoken is her desire to live fully, and see her son live as well.

Later, as they make their way through a barely recognizable ash-strewn world toward more southerly climes, the father pauses for a brief stroll through memory lane in his old childhood home. While his son looks on in confusion, he touches a doorframe that bears the faint measurements of a growing boy. He reveals the holes in the mantle where stockings once hung. He traces the pattern of a sofa cushion lovingly. His son,though, does not and cannot understand his attachment to these things. He has never known this childhood. His own has been filled with tramping through a barren world, scavenging for meals, flinching from human contact. He does not know what it means to have holidays, and relationships, and comforts.

He knows how to survive. But is he truly living?

It's hard to envision a world such as this. As a mother, I hate to think of a time when my children would need to be consumed with survival over living. There's a Suzy Sunshine part of me that holds on to a faith in the greater good of the human race...I have to believe that we wouldn't simply give way to that tiny terrible ego that's in us all, but would instead take whatever circumstances we were dealt and turn survival into living.

Whoa...unto the Hypocrite

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Your religion is what you do when the sermon is over. ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It’s ironic that we have a kind of heavenly theme going on here at Four Perspectives this week. Ironic because I’ve been thinking a lot about something that we talked about in my Sunday School a few weeks ago. I say my Sunday School class because I actually teach the class which is, again, ironic since I’m not really convinced I understand the gospel well enough to teach it to anyone else. But it’s the 14 to 18 year-olds so we can kind of…learn together.

Anyway, we’re studying the New Testament this year, which I have found to be a little tricky sometimes to translate into teen-speak. First of all the speech patterns in the New Testament are just hard. I don’t know if it’s the translation from Latin or Greek or whatever language it was originally written in to English, but it can be very stilted sometimes and awkward to read. I’ve always kind of thought of it as the scriptural equivalent of reading Shakespeare. Plus it’s hard sometimes to get the kids to engage in what is essentially a history lesson about the life and ministry of Christ. There’s not always a general theme of the day, sometimes it’s just a story about what happened and what he did. But on the other hand it’s the first time I’ve had to teach the New Testament, chronologically that is, and studying it has given me a lot to think about. Some of these thoughts coincide nicely with acceptable doctrine and some others probably veer off a little into blasphemy. Ok, maybe not blasphemy, but certainly occasional irreverence.

For example, I’ve mentioned before that I’m still not sure I agree with the Lord’s chastisement of Martha when all she wanted was for Mary to help her out a little bit. But through more reading I've realized that maybe the problem wasn’t so much that Martha wanted Mary’s help, it was that she was judging Mary for not helping – which I have to admit sounds familiar. I find myself wondering too with all of the blind people that Jesus heals, did they ever have a hard time adjusting from being blind to suddenly having their sight? They don’t really mention that anyone freaked out. And not that they wouldn’t have been grateful, I’m just saying it must have been tremendously disorienting.

But none of that is actually the thing I’ve been thinking about. A few weeks ago the lesson was from Matthew 23. In this chapter, Jesus is dressing down the Pharisees for being hypocrites. The Pharisees were the chief priests and elders of the Jewish people. They were pretty critical of Jesus because he was very unorthodox; healing people on the Sabbath, not stoning the woman taken in adultery and generally just for claiming to be the Son of God. But rather than worry about what the Pharisees thought of him, Jesus pretty much spent the whole of Matthew 23 telling them that everything that they are doing in their lives to show how righteous they were to the world was complete crap. It was crap because their intention with all of their tithes and offerings sermons and prayers wasn’t to prove their devotion to God, but for all of their works to be seen of men.

The dictionary says hypocrisy is pretending to be what one is not or pretending to believe what one does not. I think that anyone who has ever been involved with any organized religion can sometimes pretend to believe something that you may not have a sure knowledge of. Sometimes we go along with tradition or convention because it is simply the easiest thing to do. And I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing to do – it’s just difficult to sustain. Eventually performance needs to converge with belief otherwise the devotions and offerings become hollow and can turn into something we do just for the admiration of other people.

But with all due respect to Jesus, I also think that sometimes it can be the other way around.

In my readings about hypocrisy for this lesson, I came across an idea: hypocrisy is the opposite of integrity, which is not just honesty but unity of personality. I found myself wondering, do I have unity of personality? Do I behave one way with some people and another way with others? I have to say….I think I do.

I have a friend that is going to come and teach at the detention center school for a few weeks this summer. He’s a little apprehensive about this because it’s a completely different venue than he’s used to plus it’s, you know, it's a detention center. So I asked him to come by so I could show him around a little bit, he could meet some of the guys and just acclimate a little bit. This friend has known me for a long time and knows that I am not what you would call a jolly soul. I am not Miss Merry Sunshine. It takes a concentrated effort for me to shake off the little black rain cloud, put on a happy face and not just find a shadowy corner from which to observe and make sarcastic (and sometimes snarky) comments. I mention this because as I was introducing him to the guys he saw me being, well, other than I usually am. I was happy, I was smiling, I was, dare I say, friendly. He mentioned this as we were walking back to my office – as in “who the heck are you and what have you done with Mel? I have to admit that he was right. I decided a while ago that the guys have plenty of other people in that environment to tell them what is wrong with them and that it just wasn’t my role add to that. So, I do make a concentrated effort at work ( with the students anyway) to be cheerful, engaging, encouraging, happy and generally happy to see them.

But does this make me a hypocrite?

Technically I suppose it does. It’s definitely schizophrenic Mel syndrome and not unity of personality. But I like to think it helps the guys…and I think it helps me too. I have a quote hanging up in my office that says; Misery is easy. It’s happiness that takes work” and I do have to work at being happy. But with this job I have incentive to make that effort at least a little bit every day and I find that it has been good practice.

Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:25 that Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. I believe that – I really do. Actions should converge with beliefs just as faith without works is dead. But just maybe, even though I'm faking it a lot of the time, if I keep working at it, the happier house will be the one that becomes stronger and that will be the one that will stand. Even Jesus might approve of that kind of hypocrisy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Garage Sales or Garage Swaps?

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GUEST BLOGGER: Nancy

I blog about the blessings and absurdities of everyday life. I am a writer, a reader, a bike wife, a mom, and a music fan. They don't call me Aunt Blabby for nothing... 

Looks like spring has finally come to stay. The robins are chirping, the allergy-prone are sneezing, and every weekend the street corners in my neighborhood are blooming with garage sale signs, as households attempt to part with the detritus of another year of American accumulation.

I understand the concept of a good, sinus clearing garage sale, one that leaves the seller (slightly) enriched and clutter-free. It's just never been the outcome of any garage sale in which I've participated.

When I was growing up in suburban upstate New York, the Neighborhood Garage Sale was one of the social events of the year, a day where everyone sat out in their driveways in folding chairs and making change from a shoebox full of cash, all the while yelling affectionate insults at their neighbors about the quality of their items for sale.

On the appointed Saturday morning in June, nearly every driveway in the Virginia Colony subdivision was filled: racks of outgrown clothing, bikes with bent frames, boxes of books and record albums. Like lions stalking a slow-moving antelope, cars that we didn't recognize would cruise slowly up and down the streets before we'd even opened for business at 7:30 am, stopping with the wheels on someone's lawn to issue forth a passenger who would examine a floor lamp or treadmill before hopping back in to move on down the line.

My mother had a pricing system honed through years of practice. Each item had a little white rectangular tag marked with the initials of the family member who'd put it up for sale, and the price. The cashier on duty (also my mother) would take the buyer's money, peel off the label and stick it on the appropriate page in a wirebound notebook, one for her, one for my dad, and one for each of the three kids. Over the course of the day, as the hagglers descended and tried to talk us down on price for wilted stuffed animals and rickety chairs, I'd sneak a quick glance to see how much I'd earned.

That number in mind, I'd hop on my banana seat bike and cruise up and down our street trying to figure how I could blow my newfound fortune on something else. Maybe Carol Flannigan is selling her 10-speed, or Lizzy Cooper is finally parting with her Madame Alexander dolls! If there are parents and educators out there worried about the deterioration of a child's math skills over summer vacation, I heartily recommend setting the child loose on a garage sale with a budget of $7.89. They'll be doing long division and multiplication like MIT students in no time, figuring out how to get spend every penny of it (but not a cent more.)

The trouble is that as the day wound down, the parents began doing the same thing. Mom would stroll off down the street to see what was happening at the Melich's house, and when she got back she'd tell Dad to go take a look at the table that was still sitting in the driveway over at the Crane's, wouldn't that work better in the upstairs hallway than the one they already had? In the meantime Mr. Meyer would stop over and take a couple of swings with the aluminum tennis racket Dad was selling, mentioning how his old racket got broken when his son used it as a golf club. "Got change for a $5, Nance?" he'd ask, reaching into a worn out leather wallet.

By the time the sun set on our community garage sale, our neighborhood would have completed a massive transfer of goods, with a net change in wealth of exactly zero. It was Potlatch, Rochester -style.

Which is why I don't do garage sales. I can't afford that kind of de-cluttering.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Are You there, God? It’s Me, Teachinfourth

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I’d always been taught that there was a God.

I’d been told that he was our Father. I’d been taught that he lived in heaven and was always looking down on us, giving us help and guidance along the journey we take along this road known as life.

Without question throughout my adolescence I believed this. I never doubted that God was there; I never mistrusted that He wasn’t. I knew that He was orchestrating the pathways of the stars and planets - The Creator, The Navigator of the universe itself, intertwining our lives together in a masterpiece we would someday look upon and understand the true beauty of...

That is, until recently.

Now, it wasn’t as if I woke up one day and simply decided that God did not exist; it wasn’t anything like that…it was that I just started to wonder when I looked up into that big space above me.

I think it may have started with the death of Arlene.

I remember it like yesterday, sitting alone with her in the silence as the minutes passed on. In one of her more lucid moments she looked over at me and began to cry. “I don’t want to die.” She whispered, the tears flowing down her cheeks.

I cried, too. Knowing that there was nothing I could do as the cancer slowly ate away at her body from the inside out.

I was powerless.

She was scared.

And so was I.

After an excruciating few weeks she was finally whisked away from this mortal frame, and I was left behind.

I think that it is in moments such as these that people seem to find themselves dithering one way or the other. They either seem to find solace in the belief in the afterlife, or they carry a bitterment and anger directed toward the heavens – possibly even to question the very existence of a higher being. Perhaps the need for a God.

I recall a scene from the movie Signs when Mel Gibson’s character, Graham, is consoling his brother, Merrill, when he is in a moment of distress. In his character’s words:

People break down into two groups. When they experience something lucky, group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance...what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?



As the years compress themselves together like the body of an accordion, I find myself slipping from one group to another. I discover that in my life, though having traveled a myriad of pathways and scores of years, I find myself wanting more, wanting the knowledge it to be deeper than it was.

I look at the heavens; I think of a world where there is no God.

It is a terrifying thought.

I have no voices that speak to me. I have no angels that descend from the heavens bearing tidings. I see neither grand miracles nor seas being parted—making way for me to pass through as the armies mount behind me.

Yet, I look upon the world around me, I see the looming splendor of the majestic mountains. I breathe in the heavy scent of lilacs and stand beneath the towering Redwoods. I feel the warmth of the setting sun on my face as it turns to gold and melts into a skyline of liquid indigo and buttery maroon. I stand at the edge of the ocean and feel the salty air as it coats my nostrils and the waves pound upon the shoreline and reverberate in my chest. I gaze at the billions of stars as they burst forth from the shadowy skies like handfuls of glitter blown about by the winds of spring. I stand in the midst of a thunderstorm as the rain drenches my skin, feeling the torrential downpour saturate me as the ominous clouds twist and moil overhead and jagged streaks of lightning shatter the skies.

I’ve been taught that God is our Father. I’ve been taught that he lives in heaven and is always looking down on us, giving us help and guidance along the journey we take along the road known as life.

Without question throughout my adolescence I believed this; I never doubted that God was there. I never mistrusted that He wasn’t; I knew that He was orchestrating the pathways of the stars and planets - The Creator, The Navigator of the universe itself, intertwining our lives together in a masterpiece we would someday look upon and understand the true beauty of…

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Love You. Please Go To Sleep.

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Dear. God.



And I don't mean that in the irreverent "OMG!" sort of way, but rather a prayerful, on-my-knees sort of way.



It's been nearly three weeks since Truitt was born. I haven't had a nap since the Tuesday after I came home, which would be...let's see...precisely ten days ago. Do you realize what ten days with no nap feels like when your child does not sleep at night? He alternately smiles (and I am thoroughly convinced it is not gas, but a precocious sense of the absurd), coos, fusses, screams, guzzles milk, poops, pees, blinks, watches CMT, sticks his hand down my shirt to grope me, and pees or poops some more, necessitating another diaper change. This is usually around the time he falls asleep, naturally. All of this generally occurs over the course of a two hour span of time, two to three times per night.



I can't nap during the day because there's just too much to do--laundry, making bottles, picking up yesterday's mess, making supper--all of this to take care of the other members of our family and just to keep myself sane with some semblance of order, honestly. And to keep it real, Truitt really doesn't sleep all that much during the day, either.



I am coming to the realization that I was pretty spoiled with Autumn and Lawson as infants. They were what I'd term "low-maintenance." They'd be finished with a bottle within ten or fifteen minutes and you could lay them down in the crib, where they'd drift sweetly off to sleep for another five or six blissful hours. Not so with Truitt, this child of my heart. He clings to contact, falling asleep in my arms and jerking to instant alert upon being laid in the crib, demanding that I spend just a little more time holding him, even as my back aches, and my arms feel like spaghetti, and my eyes are heavy with three a.m. grit. I almost wonder if the urgency of his need isn't linked somehow to the power of my own longing for him all those months ago.



I know God is smiling at me, full of gentle good-humor when I feel like screaming in the middle of the night, "Was it really necessary for you to fill your britches right then? Couldn't you save it for, say, the five a.m feeding?" He's smiling, and in the face and form of that wriggling baby is the knowledge sent: this too shall pass. So enjoy it.



Tuesday, May 31, 2011

There's Something About Lilacs

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I was driving home from work a week or three ago.

Not a big surprise when you think back on my biking episode—which is the reason why I’ll probably stick to driving to school for the rest of my life. On the particular route I choose to take each day, I pass numerous yards with large green bushes decorated with enchanting purple blossoms around this time of year.

I just love these purple blooms with the aromatic scent that seems to saturate the cotton-fluff air, and is one of the most telltale signs of the shifting of spring to summer.

Now, I’m not a big flowery kind of person; I mean sure, flowers are nice, I enjoy seeing from time to time, but that’s about it. Yet, with these tiny, lavender blooms there is something more. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that the elementary school I attended when growing up had several large lilac bushes lining the front of the building. Maybe it’s because they’re the same color as the huckleberries we went out to pick high up in the summited mountains, or even quite possibly it’s because they remind me so much of Shasta grape soda, and the ‘Purple Cows’ my family used to make on occasion instead of root beer floats.

Nonetheless, I’ve always enjoyed the scent of these violetish flowers that usually seem find themselves spent by the end of May.

There’s just something about that fragrance…

Not long ago I was driving home late from work and found myself passing by numerous bushes of varying shades and hue. Realizing that I simply couldn’t stop in someone’s yard and pick these, I enjoyed them from a distance—and yet I longed for that lilac-y smell. That’s about the time I noticed a few wild bushes growing next to the freeway—two or three of differing types. I pulled my car off to the side of the road and picked a couple of the clumps.

They smelled like childhood.

I took them home and put them in water but was discouraged to discover that they only lasted two days before they wilted and were lifelessly gone.

Such is the fate of all wonderful things.

So now I think that maybe it's time to invest in a real-life lilac bush…or perhaps a good air freshener, after all, it will probably last longer.

Oh, and just in case you were interested...I’m posting over at my own blog today, too.

The first photo is courtesy of yours truly while the second was pilfered shamelessly from http://www.myrecipes.com

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Complimentary Complaints

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What flatterers say, try to make true. ~German Proverb

I find that I don’t know how to take a compliment. I was complimented some yesterday so this has been on my mind today.

Working where I do, at a detention center school, it’s important that the students have a lot of positive reinforcement when it is deserved and it is equally important, helpful and generally just an all around good idea for the students to be able to show their appreciation for those around them as well.

Towards this end, at the close of every term we have a little ceremony. The teachers give awards to the students for various achievements and then we bring some kind of food for the guys. Since they basically eat “school food” for 3 meals a day and are teenage boys, any kind of alternative to the regularly scheduled menu is always welcome. Since I like food, I have a lot of experience in preparing food and I have been a mother to teenage boys, I generally take on the task of bringing in the fun food.

This makes me very popular with the teenage boys….at least once every term anyway.

On the side of earning the compliment, I do try to make a good effort with the end of term food. We had the latest party yesterday morning so I (with Ebay’s help) spent several hours the night before making giant breakfast burritos. Last term we had a nacho bar, and the term before that I brought in J-Dawgs (which are some of the greatest hot dogs ever created). In short, I like to make these parties something the guys can look forward to - a break in the regimented detention center routine.

I believe that effort is important.

I’ve come to believe over the years that it is important to put as much effort as possible into programs for young people and for the young people to see the effort and hopefully realize and believe that they are worth it. And also hopefully remember to pass it on - you know, pay it forward someday.

So the guys are always enthusiastic and complimentary about the parties – which is just as it should be and I appreciate it, I really do. But strangely it also makes me uncomfortable. Even though I recently read some advice about how to graciously accept compliments (ironically on a website about social anxiety disorder) as weird as it sounds, I’d really almost rather just drop everything off and not come back till the next day. I’ve been thinking that perhaps I’m uncomfortable because secretly I know I’m really doing it all for me. Doing nice things for these guys, especially for these guys, makes me feel happy. It makes up for all the parts of my job that I don’t really like all that much. So yes, I spent hours cooking 5lbs of hashbrowns, 5 dozen eggs and 10lbs of sausage. But it also gave me an excuse to get away from thinking about the data entry and the spread sheets for a few hours. So guys, if you liked the burritos - I’m glad and the effort was worth it for me…and so are you.

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