Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Every year, I boohoo my way through Memorial Day and Veterans Day services at my church and PBS. I am touched and moved. Any time I look at the flag, I get choked up. I can't hear patriotic music without having my heart fill with the magnitude of their sacrifices. This phenomenon lasts the whole year through.

And not just the grand sacrifice, but all the little ones, too. The days that they never spent with their families. The milestones that they should have celebrated with their spouses, their kids, their parents. The anniversaries, the birthdays, the births, the first steps, the first words, the first days of school, the snow days, the family dinners....that they were not there for and they can never go back and redeem.

And even the possibilities...that are lost...

I know a young man who is a marine. He and his family have always felt strongly about their involvement in government, local, federal, etc. It should come as no surprise that as a young man, he took that sense of duty and felt called to military service. He signed up, with his family's support, concerns, and love. He was in Iraq for less than a month, involved with communications, when he was shot. He has had surgeries into the double digits to try and repair the damage that was done. They have not been as successful as was hoped.

He has been in surgeries, therapies, has had pain medications, addictions, and deep struggles with depression. I have learned a whole other side of veterans. The abyss that is after care.

We see glorious gifts of sacrifice. We see triumphant reunions. We do not see these men broken, struggling, and hurting. I have learned the appalling statistic of "Eighteen veterans a day commit suicide; 6,000 a year". That is more military that we have lost by their own hand, than on the battlefield.

I urge you to be appreciative of the military personal that lost their lives securing yours. I beg you to be aware of the losses of those who gave up so much so you could take your day to day for granted. But I entreat you to pray for those who are back, broken in body and spirit. Hurting after heroically standing in the gap for you. I plead with you to stand in the gap for their soul. I implore you to write to them, call them, be a true friend to them and their families. They now need you to rescue them.

Please don't forget them after the fanfare has died down. Please be their hero.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Real Work

A friend of mine posted THIS LINK up on her Facebook page in honor of her husband. And I LOVED it. I loved it even more when I went and read THIS entire testimony, by Mike Rowe, later, when I had time.

And I thought I'd to it add a little rant of my own. It comes in several parts.

#1) I think school is over sold. I mean, really, it is getting too full for it's britches. I believe that "school" has an inflated sense of self.

School has it's place, but practical, get into it EDUCATION is far more important. When I was in 5th grade, I had a teacher who was a little crazy. In the very best way. We would study things holistically. When we studied Mesopotamia, we read writings from then, stories written by them, dressed like them, cooked like them, ate like them, even went to school like them...sun-up to sundown, one day. I've never forgotten any of it.

You can make me read books about stuff until my face turns blue, but send me out to actively get involved in it, and I remember and appreciate it.

I can go to the grocery and buy my food, but kids today don't even appreciate the pre-packed genius anymore...not until they have to make bread from scratch, weed and tend a garden, or can their own applesauce or tomatoes.

I think that we lost a huge opportunity when we went to college. I believe with my whole soul, that we should go back to apprenticeships. Not only would we appreciate our "degree" but we would have a solid idea of the rest of our lives! I know SO many people who went to school, went to college, got a degree or two and realized that they hated that job 3 weeks after they started. They had, however, mortgaged their future with debt, and so stay for 30 years. Despising every minute.

Not only would we know before 2, 4, 6, 12 years of education had passed, whether or not we liked our job, there would also be no "learning curve" once that job started. I know very few jobs where you show up the first day and know everything. Even once you get a job, there is usually on-the-job-training. So, why are we in school for years first????

#2) Also, education has allowed, as was mentioned in both links, a snobbishness to rise up between technical, vocational, self-made, and highly educated people. If we were all in the trenches together, I think a sense of the interdependence would be clearer. I certainly have a affinity to teaching math. I cannot put a car together if it breaks. Do we both need each other? Yup. If "I" hadn't had to suffer through 4.5 years of college to get my degree do you think I would be so smug?

I have dreams of learning how to fix my car and learn how to do plumbing and pouring concrete so it would run, not leak, and not look like a kindergartner's plaster of paris project...I hope to figure out some of it. I have a healthy respect of those who learn and do. And anybody who does look down their nose at the "dirty job" workers? My advice, do it your own dang self. What? What is that you say? You can't??? Then SHOW THEM THE RESPECT THEY DESERVE!!!! (And this goes both ways. I know many self-made people scorn those that got a degree, even if that degree was necessary to fix their problems.)

#3) School hurts those that do not learn like Suzy Average. I should know.

The most practical example I can give you? Me. I had planned to go into medicine. Occupational Therapy to be exact. I did TONS of volunteering, and I had a real natural ability. I liked the problem solving aspect. It made sense. I was told by every single person I shadowed that I had a knack for it. Since having Elise, I have asked her Occupational and Physical Therapists stuff, that blew them away, and they had to go do homework on, and even on occasion, shared my conclusions with their peers. True story.

College decided that I should take Physics in order to get this degree. Um. Okay. So I took it. It was not made for me. The funniest part? I failed it the first time. FAILED. What? You feel scorn and pity at my stupidity? I GOT AN A in the Physics Lab (you know, the place where you practically use the knowledge?). It was 25% percent of my grade. AND I STILL FAILED!!!! Do you know hard that is??? I took it a second time, and passed with a C total grade...but I had hurt my GPA to the point that I couldn't get into any OT programs. Even though I was competent in the actual field and in the practical usage of the taught information, I didn't get the "gold star" to actually pursue my passion.

I went into education, ironically. I like to think that I was able to encourage some of those upside-down-thinking people still duking it out with THE SYSTEM.

During which time, I met Darrin. He was a trouble-maker. He had an attitude. He had bad grades. He was surly. He was angry. He was hurting. He had a IEP (Individualized Service Plan) for Special Education. He did horribly in his core classes. He made it difficult for even his peers to learn in class.

Crazy person that I am, I had my 7th graders make tin lanterns for Christmas. They were just empty soup cans that I had them bang holes in with nails. When you put candles in them, they were cool. He never did his work, but I think that the shock of my unorthodox lesson plan, and the opportunity to make the class under us cringe from the racket, caused him to join in. His lantern was intricate, beautiful, and full of truly professional precision. It was the most gorgeous one that was made the 2 years we did it (300 some odd students). I ooh-ed and aahh-ed over it. And he was so embarrassed. But he gave it to me. I didn't have a single behavior problem from him for the rest of the year. I went to shop and asked the teacher there how Darrin was, told him of my pleasure watching him on our project, and was told that he was one of the best students, that he was incredibly technically talented.

So why do we keep removing the vocational/technical programs from our high schools??? Why do we want to beat down these kids who excel with their hands, and make them wallow in their ineptitude with geography until they are 16, at which time they drop out and populate our prisons, because they never had an opportunity to succeed???????

#4) As both the links pointed out, if we did not denigrate jobs that looked like work, and respected them, we wouldn't have class warfare. Or sky-rocketing unemployment. And an unexpected impact? We wouldn't have to import illegals to do it for us and hurt our economy. If we filled our own jobs, then they wouldn't have reason to come over here. We wouldn't have to be putting up fences and law enforcement.

#5) And we could let men be men. Boys be boys. Kinesthetic learners wouldn't have to suffer until the age of 16 or 22... The men we all respect?? They didn't have fancy educations. They did what they had to do. John D. Rockefeller Sr, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Andrew Jackson, Henry Ford, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers....(Need I go on???) They made our lives better. What are we doing in return for their efforts? Trapping brilliant people in to learning disabilities and failure. Killing the American Dream.

SO. You may find this odd coming from a woman with a college degree in education, married to a man who has a graduate school dual degree. But if my kids don't want to go to long as it isn't laziness prompting them to live in my basement...I am not married to the idea of school. Get Educated. Work hard. Work Very Hard. Make a difference. Pursue a passion with no illusions of "just deserts" without the time and effort. You will be successful. And I don't care if you have degrees out the wazoo or just a herculean work ethic....

And I will be proud. Very proud.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Actual Jane Austen Challenge

Jane Austen 30 Day Challenge
(I found this HERE)

1. Favorite Austen heroine.
2. Favorite Austen man.
3. Favorite Austen book.
4. Favorite quote from the books.
5. Favorite moment in the books.
6. Favorite movie adaptation.
7. Favorite Austen couple.
8. Least favorite couple.
9. Most hated foe of a heroine.
10. Most frustrating family member.
11. Least favorite book.
12. Least favorite Austen heroine.
13. Least favorite Austen man.
14. Favorite love confession from the books.
15. Favorite love confession from the films.
16. Least favorite film adaptation.
17. Moment that made you sad/cry while reading.
18. Moment that made you smile/happy while reading.
19. Moment that made you laugh while reading.
20. Moment that made you mad while reading.
21. Favorite Jane Austen-related photo.
22. Favorite Austen female casting decision.
23. Favorite Austen male casting decision.
24. Favorite supporting character.
25. Favorite family connection (i.e. sister-sister, mother-daughter, brother-sister, etc.)
26. Favorite casting cameo from the films.
27. Favorite quote from the films.
28. Favorite moment from the films.
29. Favorite character back story or secret.
30. Character you most relate to.

"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort."
Jane Austen

Confessions of a Janeite

I ADORE Jane Austen. I mean, JANE. Not the movies, although they do have a lovely place in my happy thoughts...

I am planning on an indulgence to kick off my summer. I am going to re-read my favorite (all of 'em!!) Jane Austen books. Then I plan to wrap up my summer with a 30 Day Jane Austen Challenge. HERE it is, in case you'd like to join me. (I'll post it up in a separate post for your ease.)

If you choose to do it, PLEASE TELL ME!!! Email me, link up your blog, message me on Facebook...I want to know where my Janeite Peeps are!!!

Until then, I plan to post one (at least) Jane-Related post each keep us in the mood! :)

After all:
"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
Jane Austen

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Music for the Hump Day #1

LOVE this song...enjoy!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Deep Thoughts Down the Drain

Today is not a deep thoughts day. I wanted it to be, but they apparently all went down the drain.

The thought of the day? Does your hair age? Yes, it will change color, grey and all that…but does it get dry and brittle like your skin as you age?

The reason I ask, is my recent experience with shampoo. I used to be able to wash my hair with bar soap, and it would do okay. I mean, not great, but in a pinch, it got by. Recently, my hair has been disinclined to behave. So I have actually broke down and bought it products to whip into submission. Things have been going well under the new regime, but my actual hair, which is still baby silky (dandelion, remember?) has been dry and unhappy, distinctly fuzzy. I ran out of shampoo a while back. I have long been a fan of Suave in the fruity flavors…plus it’s cheap, it used to be a buck, but now with the economy, it is a whopping $1.50. Anyway, I was not planning ahead (as usual) and realized that I had no shampoo, so went and got my travel sized Garnier Fructis out of my trip kit. And lo and behold, my hair was happy, smooth, and not so dry. Huh. SO, I used it until it was gone…yay, happy hair!! It ran out, and I was back to my strawberry Suave…boo, sad hair! Huh.

I went out and bought the real sized Garnier, and spent *gasp* $3.50. But my hair is 18 year old happy. Seriously, is my hair old? Demanding coddling, like my skin has been lately? Terribly strange. I guess when I turn 40, I will have to buy $5 or $8 shampoo? It is an interesting thought…not deep, but certainly a matter for research… :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rat 5-9-11

I have not ratted myself out for a while. I am not proud of this, but I have not lost momentum, I have actually gained ground. I've just been tired.

I completed Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred...granted it was in about 90 days, but I pulled it off. I did lose some weight, and then put on some muscle. Which is good and depressing all at the same time, because although you put on muscle, you also put on some I was at a neutral weight loss, but I looked better and my jeans fit better. Good, but not great. I was feeling more like my old self. When I first started, I took so long between workouts because I had to let my muscles regroup and heal. Then it took a while between workouts because I was adding other workouts, in-line skating, running, stationary biking, etc. so I didn't get bored. I felt like it got me in shape enough to get in real shape.

Then in a fit of craziness, I ordered Insanity, an exercise program that is made to brutalize your body into shape. There are rotating workouts so you don't get bored, and so your body has a chance to regroup, but then again, not really. Ethan did the P90X workout, by the same company, and lost about 22 pounds. And while it would have been smart to just use it, I just could not face an hour and some for each workout. SO.

I actually really like it. I like that the workouts are all under 45 minutes...I like that just when you feel like you will die, they do stretching... I like that it works. I have lost an inch off my waist and 4 pounds in 3 weeks. And it is the kind where not only are you losing, but you can see the muscles show up. I am feeling so much better about myself. I am tired and sore just about everyday, but I am feeling healthy again. PLUS because the program is so brutal, you get to EAT! I am following their diet, and I actually find myself having to eat at the end of the day because I am UNDER their recommended amout of calories for my day...when was the last time you were on a diet like that!!!???!!!

My favorite new recipe that is in their nutrition booklet is the rice bowl. Brown rice, peas, and corn then you add chicken or a scrambled egg...and that's it, nothing else. (Although Ethan and Gabriel like soy sauce on it.) It is yumm-o and the kids like it. Elise is thrilled when I make it, and she will actually eat the peas and corn and beg for more...which is a plain ole shock.

My other absolute favorite food discoveries? Slicing an avocado longwise, salting it just a tiny bit, and wrapping it in some turkey sandwich meat...Mmmm! So good!! Also I discovered that the Laughing Cow spreads have the same number of calories in it as mayonaise, but it is nutritionally better. AND if I use it on my sandwich instead, I can leave off the cheese without feeling ill used. If I put cheese on with it, it is LUXURIOUS!!

I really didn't want to post that I was doing Insanity, because it promises such dramatic results...what if I don't get those dramatic results?? But I read something that my "coach" said, that if you don't have the guts to tell people that you are trying something, then deep down you are giving yourself a way out...and that really struck me. So now you know the reason for my rat today. I am not giving myself a way out. I am going to fight through this program, dagnabit!! I am about to start the 4th week. Then I get a recovery week, and then the abuse starts for the second month...which is supposed to be harder. And I'd just like to say, that if it is too much harder then you will find me rocking in a corner...I am genuinely scared of the second month. But you want to know something weird? I like the workout instructor, still. I usually could take out a hit on the exercise instructor of any other program I've done, after about a week...even those I liked.

I will let you know how things are going in about 3 weeks, which will put me half-way through the second month....if I'm not dead. Plus is gives me a pride incentive to stick to it!! And then it's only 2 weeks til I can say I made it...which I can totally do, right??

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mother and Her Babies

All I wanted to be when I grew up was a mama. I had no back-up plan until I was 13. Then I was going to be a large animal vet. Then in high school I discovered that I was a good teacher, so that became the plan...there were a few other changes, but that ended up sticking. But regardless of the plans that came and went, wanting to be a mama was the only constant.

And you want to know why I wanted to be a mama? Because mine was so good.

We made each other crazy. There is no denying that. She made me have a nervous breakdown about once a week, and I am sure I returned the favor, but it was behind closed doors. She never, not once, made me feel like a stress, a disappointment, or a frustration.

I know that I was a mystery to her, we were not alike in our wiring make-up...but she even found ways to coddle my biggest issues. Instead of allowing me to chew the snot out of the car seats and my clothes, she let me chew on her glue sticks before they made it to the hot glue gun. She let me wear the same 4 Ocean Pacific shirts and 2 pairs of jeans my entire 6th grade year, washing them regularly so I could. I flat refused to wear uncomfortable shoes, so she would break-in shoes for me. No lie.

She borrowed her weight in library books every week. She bought me audio books and crayons out the wazzoo, so she could get stuff done. She read Little House on the Prairie books until she was blue in the face....often "reading" quite literally in her sleep as she fought with drowsiness when my brother came into the picture.

She made grilled cheese sandwiches and hot breakfasts. She wrote notes for school lunches.

She would come pray with me when I got scared in the dark. She would lay in bed with me until I calmed down, sometimes sleeping with me through the night.

She would make mushroom soup for me when I was sick. Fill hot water bottles for my stomach. And read some more.

She drove across Cincinnati to pick up a huge box of Barbies just for me. She helped dress them, she talked my dad into making me a Barbie house. She bought it carpet and made it furniture. And she is not a particularly crafty woman. But she did it for me.

She read Steven Kellogg, Russell and Lillian Hoban, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the list is positively endless.

She was there for everything.

She homeschooled me when it became clear that public schooling and my crazy self was not going to be a good fit.

She took on nauseatingly complex craft projects for my birthday parties with quite a few little girls involved as "helpers".

I like looking at her childhood pictures, because she always has a baby doll. Better than 90% of her pictures until she was 4 or 5 has a doll in them. I like to think that she was practicing. Practicing loving. Practicing being patient with bizarre antics. Practicing reading. Practicing being never alone. So that when she finally had me, she had the big stuff down.

I am beyond thankful that she is my mother. I know she wasn't perfect, but I sincerely doubt anyone could have handled me with as much grace as she did.

I am thankful that she was always there.

I hope I can be half the mother to my kids that she has been to me.

Happy Mother's Day!!! I am so very thankful for you!!

"Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Proverbs 31:28-31