Thursday, December 29, 2011

Literary meme, part the second

Here's the second part of the literary meme. Part the first is here.

12. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I can't remember a dream involving any of these things. Isn't that strange? I read so much, and I can definitely be put in A Dark Mood by a book that results in disturbing dreams, but none that I can remember involve the actual writers or characters of a book. 

13. What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Wow. I just...I don't want to sound snobby, but I can't read truly lowbrow books. I mean that literally. My brain will not keep processing the words. I like genre fiction, but it has to be competently written. Okay, I thought of something! I read the Twilight books. I could tell they weren't well written and I kept on reading through all the cliched gushing about Edward's perfect ice-cold...chest (that did not sound appealing at all to me, by the way). Stephenie Meyer may not be a great writer, but she's a genius as far as I'm concerned. How did she turn off my inner literary snob switch?

14. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Ulysses by James Joyce. I wasn't even forced to read it but I had a summer off before I went to graduate school and so I checked out a book to help explain the zillion allusions and I read it so I could feel like I belonged in grad school. (I am SUCH a nerd). It was hard going, but parts of it were actually pretty great when you understood what Joyce was doing.

15. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
I haven't seen any Shakespeare plays I'd consider obscure. Of the ones I've seen, Richard III was the one least performed, I think. Sir Ian McKellan played Richard and he was amazing.

16. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
The Russians, based on how many books I've read by Russian authors versus French ones. I suppose the Russians fit my naturally gloomy worldview better than the French.

17. Roth or Updike?
I've read more Updike, although neither is my cup of tea, really.

18. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Sedaris. Funnier and more disciplined in his craft.

19. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?
Shakespeare, hands down. Paradise Lost is one of the major texts I can't believe I wasn't forced to read and that I refuse to read on my own (Moby Dick is the other). Hey, I was raised on the King James Version--I don't need to read Milton's version. As for Chaucer--I've never read all of The Canterbury Tales and of course only in translation. I just found out we are going to read part of Canterbury with the seniors after all and I am wondering how to keep them interested in it. Probably by pointing out that the Wife of Bath is bawdy and letting them figure out the risque parts for themselves.

20. Austen or Eliot?

21. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
See #19 above.

22. What is your favorite novel?
Mad wrote, "It’s really hard to choose just one, don’t you think?" Yes! It really is like being asked to choose a favorite child. I do love Pride and Prejudice. At one time it was tied with The Great Gatsby but I'm worried that teaching Gatsby is making me love it a little less.

23. Play?
Hmmm. I really like The Crucible. Even after teaching it (coming up after the break, too.) "Because it is my NAME!"

24. Poem?
"The Second Coming," by Yeats. It seems like it speaks of our times:
      "The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are filled with passionate intensity."
It was published in 1921.

25. Essay?
 Nothing's coming to mind. I could probably list something by C.S. Lewis here and it wouldn't be too far off.

26. Short story?
SOOOOO hard! I'll go with "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor. It's hard to beat a Flannery O'Connor short story. When I was trying to write fiction, she was my idol.

27. Work of nonfiction?
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

28. Who is your favorite writer?
Well, let's say Jane Austen. And Flannery O'Connor, although I don't read her very often because she's so fierce.

29. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
I'm going to agree with Jennifer Weiner and say Jonathan Franzen. I've read several of his books and short stories when I subscribed to The New Yorker (although I haven't read his most recent novel,  Freedom) and I basically thought, "Meh" after each one.

30. What is your desert island book?
I'm going to cheat and assume we can take an author's collected works. It may sound cliched, but I really would take the complete works of Shakespeare. Comedy, tragedy, romance--how many writers can do all of them? Plus I only understand Shakespeare when I'm reading it out loud, and if I were on a deserted island, I'm sure I'd act all the parts out as well, to entertain myself.

31. And…what are you reading right now?
I'm actually between books. I just finished The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, which I didn't love, and I think I'll probably read a book I got from work next (we do a book exchange for Christmas since we are English teachers). It's called Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I'm ordering a Kindle tomorrow with my Christmas money and can't wait!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

After-Christmas Thoughts

Today has been a lazy day. As if I haven't been lazy almost every day since the holidays began! I am spending most days in my sweatpants, and dread putting on real pants, as the waistbands insist on reminding me that I've been eating too many goodies.

But never mind--in this week between Christmas and New Year's, anything seems possible in the near future: eating healthier, getting up earlier to exercise, getting the house organized with the piles of new toys...

I often start getting anxious when we are home with--not nothing to do; there is always plenty I could be doing (see list above for ideas) but nothing concrete. Give me an appointment and I'm fine. I know it makes no sense. My therapist used to call it "free-floating anxiety." Meaning, I suppose, that if I am too free to float, I get anxious. So I am alternating being lazy with actual useful tasks like laundry, making a grocery list--short, manageable tasks that don't make me feel overwhelmed.

We drove back yesterday from visiting Justin's family in South Louisiana. It's a 6 1/2 hour drive without stopping much, and the kids were real troupers, even without a portable DVD player (long story--we had to borrow a truck to bring tools). We also learned that our dog, Gidget, gets carsick. Thankfully, she was in her kennel and we could change out the towel in there--and she only threw up once on the way back. If it didn't cost so much to board animals....

I was happier to find out that my idea to listen to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on audiobook interested Miss Pink more than reading it with me. I don't know if she's ever going to love Narnia as much as I do, but at least she got interested and wants to listen to the next book whenever we have a trip longer than across town. Success!

Speaking of success, the kids were happy with the presents they received. SO glad I am raising kids who seem to be easy to please and thankful. Someone in my Twitter stream linked to a Twitter account called @fart whose owner compiled all the tweets of teenagers who were furious because they didn't get either an iPad, iPhone (or the right color of iPhone, OMG) or a CAR for Christmas. After reading those for a while I didn't want to live on this planet anymore. I also wanted to yell at my kids, "Don't you EVER act like this or I am not responsible for my actions!" Miss P's biggest present was an iPod Shuffle and Mr. Blue got a Lego space station. They also got cool stuff from both grandparents, and a few aunts and uncles, so they are very lucky children. My job is to make sure they understand that none of these things are a given, nor are we entitled to them.

And now I kind of want to remind myself of all of that, since I have a new iPhone and am about to use my Christmas money to buy myself a Kindle, but then I also want flat-heeled brown boots and new jeans and in fact an entire new winter casual wardrobe since I am officially sick of all my clothes....See how hard it is not to get the wants?

My family is safe, warm, healthy, well-fed (REALLY well-fed), and together.I am thankful.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some laundry to fold.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Literature Meme part the first

School's out--it's time for me to blog again! And because I don't yet have the mental energy to write about what's actually going on around here (at the moment my children are wrestling on the living room floor while I do my best to ignore them), I'm going to do this literature meme which I got from Madhousewife. Like her, I bet I will do it in two parts because: see above for lack of mental energy. But I do feel like writing something, so here goes.

1. What author do you own the most books by?
I do not feel like getting up to count, but it's either Alice Munro or C.S. Lewis. Quite different from each other, but I obviously loved both of them enough to buy a lot of their books.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
Other than the Bible? I don't think I own multiple copies of any book. At one time I had two copies of Mere Christianity (Lewis again). Oh, never mind, I do have two copies of Pride and Prejudice.

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Not at all. I think that's a false rule. I love the person who wrote, "That is something up with which I will not put" to show how awkward it is to always avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Hmmm. Like a lot of women who read, Mr. Darcy comes to mind, although I have to admit that is influenced by Colin Firth's portrayal of him. I had to fan myself quite often when reading Outlander; that Jamie Fraser is something else. But I don't think that was love.

5. What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children, i.e. Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Probably The Great Gatsby, since I'd read it a bunch of times already and I read it six times last year (once with each class of juniors).

6. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
  The Chronicles of Narnia. Yes, that's a series. No, I can't figure out how to turn italics off for this entry.

7. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
Let me check Goodreads. Okay, I'm back. The worst one I finished (and some of the books I didn't finish weren't the worst, I just couldn't get into them at the time) is called The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. I quoted another reviewer in my review, which I will quote again here (how meta!)

"Stereotypical characters. Predictable, illogical plotlines. Full of cliches." Ugh. I skimmed it to finish but shouldn't have wasted my time--it ended exactly as I was predicting.

8. If you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be?
I think I would force them to REread To Kill a Mockingbird. I think most ninth graders are not thoughtful enough to get more than the most basic message ("Racism is bad!") from that book, and they would get more out of it when they are more mature.

9. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
I don’t know. I don’t pay attention to that stuff.

10. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
As Mad said, "Most of the books I would like to see made into movies have already been made into movies. Bad ones." I used to want another version of Gatsby and now they're making it (is it done yet?) I desperately wanted the Narnia books to be movies and now they're kind of disappointing. I have a T shirt that says, "Movies: Ruining the book since 1920." Although I am interested to see what they've done with The Hunger Games.

11. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
I don’t know. Ulysses, I guess. I don't think anyone's likely to try to film that, thank goodness.

More tomorrow!


Sunday, November 27, 2011


 I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving if you celebrate Thanksgiving, and if not, a wonderful Thursday and subsequent weekend! As for us, it was our year to visit my dad's side of the family in Arkansas, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with them. I have four cousins and two of them have kids now (and the third has one due in six weeks), and it's awesome how much the kids enjoy playing with each other. It helps now that they remember each other even though we have to go at least six months without seeing them! Miss Pink and my oldest cousin K's daughter are both 8, and they remind us so much of us at their age. Mr. Blue and A's son, also 5, played football and kickball and basically any sport played with a ball every waking moment. K also has a 5 year old girl who flitted around with whatever group she wanted to join, and A's almost-two-year-old little boy stole all our hearts. A also has a 10-week-old baby girl, who was in much demand for snuggles.

I ate enough to make me change into my stretchy pants as soon as decently possible after dinner, but I was a little disappointed that there were only about three tablespoons of dressing left over. My aunt told my mom to make only one pan since there had been too much left over when we had two pans last time. Oh well, we made up for our lack of extra dressing by having lots of extra desserts. I had offered to make chocolate-chip pumpkin bread and chocolate-chip cookies (shut up, chocolate is important to me) because I only knew about a pumpkin pie (which I don't like) and a "Death By Chocolate" thing with brownies and chocolate mousse and whipped cream and crushed Heath bars. Which, YES PLEASE, but to me the important thing about Thanksgiving desserts is that there be MANY of them so you can get a sliver of each one and alternate bites of them, going around and around the plate until you collapse into a diabetic coma...and then do it all over again that night. My aunt and cousins did not disappoint me. There was also a coconut cake and a peach cobbler and a pecan pie. So six desserts if you don't count the pumpkin bread, which you shouldn't because we only ate that for a SNACK.

Speaking of food, my uncle and cousin W have become vegetarians since the last holiday we spent together. My youngest cousin, whose name also starts with K, and I were discussing if we could ever be vegetarians and he said, "I don't think I could ever give up bacon." And I agreed. So I suggested a new lifestyle choice: baconarians. Baconarians eat vegetables, fruit...and bacon. Think about it. What isn't made more delicious by bacon? I think we're onto something here.

So now that Thanksgiving is gone, I can finally start to get in the Christmas spirit. (Not by shopping on Black Friday--there is not enough anti-anxiety medication in the world!) Miss Pink's 9th birthday is in two weeks and then Christmas is upon us. Here's to a great Christmas in 2011!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Made of Awesome

It has come to my attention that I only post when school's not in session (and then not very often). Well, that's just the way it is, I guess. I miss blogging, I still read plenty of blogs, and I even think about posting something that's too long to go on Twitter but my brain just doesn't seem able to put coherent thoughts together after I get done with everything else I need to do. But today was the first day of my Thanksgiving break and I spent it sleeping, watching TV, reading, and eating or providing food for the kids. It was awesome. It was so great to have a weekend day when I didn't have to do anything that day because I wouldn't have the time or energy to do it come Monday. And also, having older kids is wonderful. I have been dreaming of the day when they would let me sleep in (well, 7:30's not too bad) and could pour their own cereal, which they did today with some "encouragement" from me and Justin. Although Mr. Blue kept asking me to get up and make the blueberry muffins until I finally did. And THEN I went back to sleep. 

Justin finally has time to work on the remodel of the master bathroom. He already did the shower earlier this year and it is so nice. Today he took out the old vanity and redid the plumbing so the new sink will be in the middle (the next best thing to having two sinks) and also put in some sheetrock so there will be a pocket door giving us some privacy between the bedroom and the sink/closet area. He was the very opposite of lazy today, and he is nice enough not to even comment that I was a total slug.

Last night the first Twilight movie was on TV and we finally watched it. I read all the books but I had deliberately resisted watching the movies. (I do this a lot; I hold out against a trend and then finally cave when it's no longer cool to jump on the bandwagon. Examples: knee-high boots, Facebook, and now Twilight.) And it was just like the books: I could tell how ridiculous so much of it is, but I was powerless to resist watching it. Like crack for the female brain. I kept snorting derisively but didn't change the channel, and I even checked to see if the next two movies were coming on, which they were not, except on Showtime, which we don't have. For some reason they aren't even available to rent from U-verse, which is
not even right, since they have been out for a long time. How am I supposed to get my Twilight fix now? I've found that it's like a fever: best to let it run its course.

(YA fiction sidenote: I'm not even waiting to watch The Hunger Games movie when it comes out. I won't be at the premiere or maybe even get to the theater to watch it, but I won't wait several years, either. Today I read most of the book Divergent, which I'm betting will become a movie, too, and that should be good too. Both of those heroines are at least stronger than Bella.)

When the movie was over, Justin said, "I know why Edward had to have all that hair. If he was bald like me, his head would sparkle so much everyone would know he was a vampire." And then right before we fell asleep, he busts out with, "I can't stop fantasizing about how beautifully my head would sparkle in the sunlight." We laughed until our stomachs hurt.

Now that is true love. Awesome.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Week of School

Our principal said in his instructions for the first week of school that our goals were:
1. Nobody gets sick.
2. Nobody cries.
3. Everybody eats.
4. Everybody gets home safely.

I'm not sure if that happened for all 1600 kids at my high school, but at least in our family, we accomplished those goals. I wondered if I would cry the first day (Mr. Blue is, of course, my baby) but although I felt my eyeballs get a bit misty, the feeling passed quickly because he was already settling down to put together a puzzle. And he and his sister were in fact fine and enjoyed the first week. They both have wonderful teachers. We are blessed.

And I hope the parents of my students will be able to say that I did a good job teaching their children. Because even though they look like they're grown up, with their makeup and muscles, their parents still think of them as their babies, especially on the first day of school.


Friday, August 5, 2011

What I Haven't Been Posting

  • I am SO unmotivated to do anything beyond sleep, eat, feed the children, and read. I'm blaming the heat. In case you haven't heard, it's been extremely hot--all over the South, but I'm referring to where I live, in Texas. We've had 34 days straight of over-100 degree temps, and if it keeps up through next week (and it is predicted to), it will break the 42-day record set in 1980. I was relieved to learn from several friends that I'm not the only one who has lacked the energy to do more than get into survival mode and stay there.
  • Another thing that was bumming me out was the puppy's insistence on pooping in the house. She was "mostly housebroken" when we got her, meaning she holds it all night long and almost never pees in the house. Yet she was going into the bedrooms or behind a chair and pooping once a day, in the afternoon or evening (she always poops and pees in the yard when we take her out first thing). This would be after we had taken her outside and given her the chance to go!  It turns out we weren't doing it right by letting her free-roam in the house when she isn't totally ready. We needed to fully crate-train her. If she's not on her crate or outside, we keep her on a leash in the house by our side (she won't go if she can't hide. Even outside we have to ignore her before she will settle down and go--she is a modest young lady!) Anyway, it was important for me to realize that Gidget is a dog, not a child, and that being in her kennel is not a punishment (we are giving her a small treat, or peanut butter in a hollow "bone," when we put her in the kennel, and now she goes in it more willingly. Obviously we will let her have more freedom as she develops more control. It's been an  interesting experience and I'm glad we are making progress.
  •   I agreed to have a Mary Kay party because I went to one a month ago, liked the products but didn't have enough money to buy them all at once. If people buy things at your party you get free stuff. But the catch as I get closer to the day: I HATE asking people to buy things on my behalf. You should have heard me tell a friend about the party: "You don't have to come, or if you come, you don't have to buy anything..." I would be the world's worst salesperson. It's good that it will force me to get my house clean all at the same time, but I am kind of torn between hoping that not enough women will come (you have to have three) and then feeling that NOBODY LIKES ME ENOUGH TO COME TO MY PARTY. Oh, social anxiety, you suck. At this point I don't even WANT the skin care stuff--I just want to never talk to the lovely, sweet young woman selling it EVER AGAIN.

  • Funny kid story: at church the kids' ministry series for the past few weeks has been "I Love My Bible." There's a song that lists all the books of the Bible (and it's much cooler than the one I learned in Sunday School). Miss Pink decided to learn all the books with AND without singing them. When she was first learning the New Testament, she threw in "Colorations" and "1st and 2nd Testamonians." Oh, those Testamonians, always testifying everywhere they go! A friend told me that when she and her daughters were discussing the Apostle Paul's conversion, her younger daughter said, "You know, when Paul was struck blind on the road to gymnastics!"
          I love how they hear things.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weird Shakespeare

I read The Weird Sisters this weekend, and I enjoyed it. It's about three sisters (duh), but they are not really all that weird. The title refers to the three witches in Macbeth, and I don't actually think it's a good title for the book, because the sisters aren't anything like the witches, even if you take into account that the earlier word "wyrd" means Fate. (I was going to go off on a little English-teacher lecture there about the connection I think the author was trying to make, but I've decided not to.) Anyway, Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia are the daughters of a famous Shakespearean scholar, and they all quote Will whenever possible. Which is quite a bit.

And me being me, that put me in the mood to read some Shakespeare myself. Recently I went to see As You Like It, so I reread that. (I will have to teach Macbeth next semester so I will get plenty of weirdness then.) I felt physically horrible all day, but the play successfully distracted me. And I felt like rather than merely lie on the couch all day, I lay on the couch READING SHAKESPEARE. Clearly I was engaged in a worthwhile activity! Also, it was interesting reading it with a background of the TV shows "Victorious" and "Wipeout" blaring in the background while my children stayed in their pajamas all day eating everything in the house that was not nailed down. My refined culture: let me show you it!

Anyway, even if you do not enjoy reading Shakespeare for fun like all of us cool people, The Weird Sisters is an enjoyable book. All three sisters return home to the sleepy college town they grew up in, each with her own secrets. I know that sounds like every chick lit novel ever, but the author does a good job characterizing Rose, Bean, and Cordy. If I like the characters, I want to find out what's going to happen to them, and this novel didn't disappoint me in that regard. Also, I don't have a sister, so the insight into that relationship was intriguing: the sisters alternate between jealousy and loyalty at the drop of a secret. Yet they also learn that life won't allow them to remain trapped in the same roles they have always assigned themselves in their family.

Here is where I wish I had a perfectly appropriate quote from W.S. to sum up The Weird Sisters. What about this famous one, from As You Like It:

                                            All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And each man in his time plays many parts....


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Newest Member of the Family

So this weekend we adopted a puppy from a rescue organization. It took a while--we had to fill out an application, talk to a volunteer on the phone to make sure we are decent people, visit the dog's foster home and make sure we all got along, then wait for someone to call three people we had listed as references, have someone else come over to do a home visit, and meet the original volunteer at the pet store before the foster mom brought her to us. All of it took a couple of weeks.

It might sound excessive, but they are just trying to make sure their dogs go to a good home. All of the volunteers were very nice and helpful. Since I haven't owned a dog as an adult--and it's been a long time since Justin has, too--it was nice to get the latest information on the best food, healthiest treats, and which things not to waste your money on. So the pet store visit, which at first seemed pointless, turned out to be a good thing.

Our puppy is a little 10-month-old terrier mix named Gidget. That's what they'd named her and we kept it because it fits so well. She's 9 pounds--perfect for scooping up on your lap and cuddling with her. She is settling in very well and seems to enjoy being here with us. We love having a doggie around...clearly this was the right time and the right dog for us!

Without further ado, here are some pictures.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life List: 100+ Things to Do in My Lifetime

In January, I read a book called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and I found it very interesting. One of her suggestions was to make a life list--a bucket list, if you will--of things you would like to accomplish with the rest of your life. The idea is that by being intentional about things you want to experience, you will spend more of your 168 hours a week working toward making these things happen.

I liked the idea, made a list (with a little help from Justin and Miss Pink) and then got buried in work and didn't look at it all spring. Yet somehow I accomplished or worked toward some of these anyway--they must have gotten into my subconscious. Also, some of the first few are things I'd already done before making the list, because they are pretty important things (and because the author said I could!)

So without further ado, here is my Life List (in no particular order):

1. Graduate from college. (May 1996)
2. Meet an amazing man and marry him. (June 7, 1997)
3. Go to graduate school. (2000-2001)
4. Buy a house. (April 2002)
5. Have children. (December 11, 2002 and February 23, 2006)
6. Finish re-doing the kids' rooms (working on it; bought the bedspreads in June 2011, now we just need to  paint)
7. Put 3 months' salary in savings (started with the tax refund we got in June 2011; will set up automatic withdrawal into savings)
8. Learn to make the no-knead bread I have a recipe for.
9. Return to England and visit some things I didn't get to the first time, including Windsor Castle and Stratford-on-Avon.
10. Attend a performance of one of Shakespeare's plays at the Globe Theater.
11. Take (or have someone take) more pictures of myself. Seriously, it's ridiculous how old the pictures on my blog and Twitter account are.
12. Save for and buy an excellent mattress. (done, April 2011)
13. Have a family photo session every year.
14. Buy only clothes that I love and feel great in. (so far, so good)
15. Commit to exercising at least 3 times a week (SO not doing this right now)
16. Push myself to exercise harder rather than barely breaking a sweat.
17. Read The Chronicles of Narnia aloud to the kids. (We are planning to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when Miss Pink gets back from camp--so this was a good reminder.)
18. Go on an American history tour up the Eastern seaboard when the kids are older.
19. Visit San Diego.
20. Write a book.
21. Get it published.
22. Clean out the garage.
23. Keep it from piling back up again.
24. Vacation at a dude ranch.
25. Learn conversational Spanish.
26. Go on an African safari.
27. Visit New York City.
28. Make some scrapbook layouts about me.
29. Take more "everyday" photos and scrapbook them.
30. Landscape (i.e. plant some shrubs in) our front yard.
31. Buy a gas grill and use it more than we do our charcoal one.
32. Ride in a helicopter.
33. Swim with dolphins.
34. Learn to shoot a pistol.
35. Become certified to teach Advanced Placement classes. (will take 1st Gifted & Talented classes in July 2011).
36. Teach Pre-AP or AP classes.
37. Go snorkeling.
38. Adopt a dog (Done July 2011).
39. Live in a house with a library which has a library ladder.
40. Write a 6-figure check to a ministry.
41. Listen to 1,000 new songs. (15 down)
42. Teach a college course.
43. Send birthday greetings to friends and family members on time!
44. Take the kids to Disney World.
45. Inspire at least one student per year to read more of an author they discovered in my class. (Done for 2010-11!)
46. Make Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls.
47. By the time my kids are 18, make sure they know how to do all household chores and manage money.
48. Become debt-free.
49. Visit Hawaii.
50. Experiment with new makeup colors and products.
51. Read or re-read all of Shakespeare's plays.
52. Host a fancy dinner party by candlelight.
53. Visit Italy.
54. Read or re-read all of Flannery O'Connor's short stories and letters.
55. Watch all the movies on the AFI Top 100 list.
56. Make our bedroom an inviting, restful place.
57. Go on a camping trip with the Girl Scouts. (done, May 2011! And I never want to go again!)
58. Create meaningful traditions that are unique to our family for major holidays.
59. Find and wear a good red lipstick.
60. Read a cognitive therapy book about anxiety and implement its suggestions.
61. Buy cute pajamas/nighties (done, but this will need to be kept up)
62. Visit Australia.
63. Get more frequent pedicures (meaning more than once every 3 years)
64. Get a facial.
65. Get laser hair removal (In progress, first treatment done.)
66. Attend a black-tie event in a fabulous dress.
67. Visit New Orleans and eat at some famous restaurants.
68. Eat at Paula Deen's restaurant.
69. See Joel McHale's act in person.
70. Rent a motor home and go on a cross-country trip including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park.
71. Read at least one spiritually inspiring book per year.
72. Subscribe to The New Yorker again.
73. Have a regular date night with my husband.
74. Use my Android phone as my day planner Done! I can't live without it now.
75. Buy a pair of custom-made jeans.
76. Buy at least one quality cashmere sweater.
77. Buy picture frames and keep current pictures of my family displayed in them at home and at work.
78. Own and wear some beautiful vintage clothes.
79. At least twice a year, buy a style item that I have never tried before. (June 2011--gladiator-style sandals)
80. Sponsor a child through Compassion International.
81. Go whitewater rafting.
82. Ride in a hot-air balloon.
83. Buy a classic, high-quality leather purse and keep it for years.
84. Go on a carriage ride with Justin.
85. Try sushi.
86. Eat at a fondue restaurant (Done, June 17, 2011! I'm hooked--it was delicious.)
87. Hire a personal shopper.
88. Get a manicure to see if it keeps me from biting my nails.
89. Lie on a quilt in the back yard and look at the stars.
90. Get a waffle iron since we've wanted one forever!
91. Begin having weekly family devotions.
92. Get my ears pierced when Chloe gets hers done.
93. Swim in the ocean at sunrise.
94. Kiss the Blarney Stone.
95. Have afternoon tea at the Ritz in London.
96. Visit the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
97. Visit Washington D.C.
98.Take a self-defense class.
99. Read something from the Bible every day.
100. Start and end each day with prayer.
101. Introduce someone to my Savior.
102. Tell (and show) my family I love them every day.
103. Love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

I plan to revisit the list and post about notable experiences from it as I have them. Since I turn 36 on Friday, it's time to get started making some of my dreams come true!


Monday, July 4, 2011

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  ~Erma Bombeck

                                       Happy 4th of July!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Tomorrow Miss Pink leaves for camp.

This is not the first time she's been away from home--she's been to several two-night Girl Scout camping adventures without me, and last week she stayed at her cousins' in another state for four nights before seeing us. For some reason, though, this feels different for me.

I've never been a clingy mother. Mostly because Miss Pink wouldn't let me be one. On her first day of kindergarten, she was so excited that not only were we there before any of the other kids, but we were also there before the teacher. The student teacher was there, and she showed Miss P her seat and gave her something to play with. I hovered in the background, holding Mr. Blue, wondering what my role was. Shouldn't I be at least misty-eyed that my first-born baby was starting kindergarten?

I thought I'd stay until some other kids and parents--or at least the teacher--arrived. But Miss Pink had other ideas. Without looking up she said, "You can go, Mom."

"Really? You're sure you want me to go? Because I could stay a little--"

"No, I'm fine. You can go."

At least she let me hug her! I left, feeling a little confused, but not distraught. I knew she'd be fine--after all, she'd told me so herself--and she was.

It's not that she's unattached to us (somehow I feel I need to add that disclaimer--but is it only to protest that I'm not a bad mother?) When we're together, we snuggle and giggle and talk about all kinds of things. I'm pretty sure she tells me all her secrets (the child has a transparent face, like me and her father, thank goodness). It's just that when she's ready to go, she's ready. Last year she wasn't ready for camp. This year, she says she is.

And I believe her. I just don't know if I am. Because before I know it, she's going to be ready to fly farther away, to places I've never been. And all I can do is promise that she can always come home until she's ready to fly again.

Last week, Justin and I called her on her second night away. She talked to us in a distracted way ("What are you doing?" "Talking to you." *giggle*) and after about five minutes, she said very politely, "Mom and Dad, could you please hang up now, 'cause I really want to go play." What could we say but "Okay, bye, we love you!" as fast as we could before she hung up?

Even when we arrived, she was still engrossed with her cousin and the eight kittens the girls had been playing with all week. Yet when we came home, I hugged her before bedtime and told her I'd missed her. She hugged me back and whispered, "I was a tiny bit homesick." Well, you certainly fooled me, kiddo, but that's good to know.

Sometimes I think that parenting is all about spending the first years of our children's' lives creating a safe place so they will feel secure, yet the irony is that the purpose of the security is to allow them to develop an independent spirit so they can venture out into the world without us. As parents, our job is to work ourselves out of a job. Miss Pink may be making this task a little too easy for my taste, but I know she still needs me to be here when she returns to tell me all about her adventures.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Must-See TV?

When the school year ended, I used some rewards points to get an Amazon gift card. I ended up using most of it for kids' books, but I also got myself a journal I've had on my wish list for some time.

I've been wanting to journal again and I love to make lists, but thought some prompts might help me come up with something worth reading, and maybe provide blog fodder as well.

Some of the lists won't work for the blog. Things like "List the places you have lived"--if you don't live here, the place names won't mean anything to you, and I'd rather not let any stalker-types know exactly where I live. Plus the list wasn't that interesting.

Or "List the strangest places you've had sex." Um, no thank you. Since this is a journal (and a blog) my children (or even my grandchildren--eek!) might read someday, I don't believe I'll be doing that.


Today I answered this prompt: "List your favorite TV shows of all time."

When I started thinking about it, I realized that there are very few shows I used to love that I still enjoy. When I'm done with a TV show, I'm DONE. It is dead to me (apparently). So here are the very few shows I have watched for a number of years and have not tired of (yet).But it could happen. So WATCH YOURSELVES, TV writers.

  • I love "What Not to Wear" and have for years. Even though I know all their advice by heart.
  • "The Soup" never fails to make me laugh.
  • We still watch "CSI: NY" although it's already iffy for me and if Gary Sinise leaves, so will I.
  • "Looney Tunes" with Bugs Bunny and company are my favorite cartoons of all time.
  • I don't actually watch these any more since I've seen every episode and sometimes more than once, but I still think "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Seinfeld" are funny.
Maybe I should have listed "Shows I Have Watched For Multiple Seasons and Then Gave Up On."
  • "American Idol." I KNOW. But it was tempting to be watching what everyone else was watching. But then Simon left...and I realized I was only watching to see what he was going to say. Plus it was taking up too much of my time, even with a DVR.
  • "Lost." I realized during the second season that the writers were just making mysterious crap up and that there wasn't going to be a satisfying explanation at the end. I think I was right to stop watching.
  • "Alias." How many times could there be a secret organization bent on destroying the world if it gets its hands on mystical artifact unless Jennifer Garner gets dressed up in a hot outfit and kicks some butt? 
  • "Heroes." Again with the convoluted plot which was cool at first, what with all the secret identities and double-crossing, but then just disintegrated into senselessness.
  •  Back in the mid-90's, I was glued to my couch on Thursday nights for NBC's "Must See TV,"  especially "Friends" and "ER." I didn't follow either series to its finale.
So, basically, I'm not very loyal when it comes to TV shows. I don't even want to watch my favorite episodes more than twice (I feel the same way about most movies, which is why we don't own many DVDs). I realized that this is very different from the way I feel about my favorite books. I've read some of my favorite books ten times. I think it has something to do with the difference between actively using my imagination to revisit a fictional place or an idea, and passively watching an idea brought to life on the screen. I know this isn't true for everyone, but it seems to be the case for me.

Anyone got some shows that have stood the test of time for you?