Thursday, September 9, 2010

My child, king of left-brained creativity

As I watch my baby turn into a little boy, I am constantly amused and horrified at his imagination. He's a kid, an "all-boy" at its finest. He likes dinosaurs, cars, and letters. And when I say he likes letters, I mean the A-B-C type of letters. Right now, everything in life with him is broken down into letters. Aside from the usual stable of imaginary friends, he has begun to add 26 more.

Our day often involves discussion of letters, what they say, what they do (which starts with the letter sound), and what color they are. For example, quite often, there is a blue K kicking its way through the house. Or, as today, there was a red J jumping down the hallway. This can be complete with body twisting to make the shape of the letter. Though some of the shape making doesn't make sense, as in the letter C requiring you to wrap your arms about yourself.

His writing is full of letters too, and not necessarily in any order, but I am gathering sheet after sheet after sheet of random letter scribblings. It's amusing, but aren't most kids drawing pictures? If I ask him to draw a cat, he'll tell me no. He'd rather write the word cat. On the bright side, his writing is improving, but I am worried about other aspects of his creativity.

Perhaps this all stems from being right handed. Letters are logical and ordered, like math, and logic and order are domains of the left side of the brain. The right side, which controls left handedness is spatial and artistic. It's why I can't do math or taxes and why I love the diagramming of sentences. I don't worry too m uch about his imagination. The child comes up with all sorts of stories and involves so many things in them, I find it hard to keep them straight. He makes up songs and we have a very good time together playing in the realms of his world... I'm afraid we've broken him though. He's so full of life and so vivacious that sending him into the real world would crush him, I'm afraid. I love who he is, but the rest of the world won't understand him and that terrifies me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oil and Apathy - a rant

In general, I am anything but apathetic. I run into apathy quite a bit while teaching though. It drives me insane to see people who don’t think they can do anything or don’t care enough to change anything. The explosion in the Gulf today is an example of more apathy in action.

We depend on oil so much that we plumb the bowels of the earth to dredge it up, and then we seem to be surprised when things don’t go as easily as planned. Twice this summer, we’ve wreaked havoc on nature and things went badly. And yet, people seem surprised again that something bad has come from humanity’s greedy nature. What did they think was going to happen?

Business as usual to the oil companies seems to mean bitching about having to follow regulations and then demanding help when their efforts NOT to follow regulations lead to something bad… Like an oil spill or a rig explosion. They then turn around and try to blame someone else, anyone else, for their own mistakes or, in the case of BP, try to minimize the damage and pain they have caused.

And people seem to be OK with this. Why? Because actually doing something about it might put them out a smidge. They might have to take action or pay attention to something outside their own wants and desires. Or, even worse, they feel locked in to the situation, so why bother? What happened to the country that rose up against the British Tyrants and established the Democratic Republic? What happened to the people who fought for civil rights and justice? Has cable and fast food really turned our nation into this?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I did on my Summer Vacation

So, I have been very absent from my blog this summer. I imagine y'all would like to know where I dsappeared to and why. The easiest answer, I wanted a summer break. A lot happened, a few things changed, and we did get a new family member.

At the end of Spring, we had a roommate who had moved in, got a girlfriend, and then moved out. This threw a lot of plans into disarray and confusion since we had begun planning for the future with him in mind. One thing it did do, however, is solidify the desire that Big Guy and I have towards getting out. We hate where we're living, and we need to change. We know we're not signing another lease there and no matter what, we are done. While we won't be moving with the roommate, we will be moving with our Little Guy.

Speaking of Little Guy, we ended up cutting off the wonderful curls he had. I cried. I was trying to trim his hair so he didn't look quite so emo. I told him to hold still while I trimmed, and he did not. The resulting cut made the child look like a mini-Hitler, minus the moustache. We couldn't have that, so Big Guy took him into the bathroom and we shaved his head. He was bald. He cried and I cried and it was a horrible situation altogether. I tried to tell him he looked like Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He wanted none of that. "I don't want to look like Aang," he wailed. "I want to look like (Little Guy)!" It was heartbreaking.

He's also developed a dramatic streak a mile wide. I don't know where he gets it from but, holy christ, is he good at it. I've been keeping a record of some of the more amusing turns of phrase and incidents from him on his own Facebook Fan Page. Join up and follow along as the kid drives us all insane.

And, not too long ago, we had a new family member make his appearance. My sister had her baby, Baby G. This adorable infant has already surpassed Little Guy's record in weight and length. My son is freaking tiny but his cousin will apparently be built like a tank. Hopefully, this means an automatic bodyguard for the evil genius when they are older.

I've also been doing some writing for Demand Studios. It's not that I don't love you guys, but they pay more for writing than I've been earning from here. My goal is to actually earn som scratch for the fams! You can follow some of my writing at eHow. I do intend to get back into blogging now that summer is winding to a close. We didn't really do any of the activities I wanted to do this summer, which is rather depressing, but hopefully we can arrange things and do fun stuff this fall!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

If a picture is worth a thousand words...

Some days I am entirely enthralled with the intelligence and creativity my child possesses... 

And then there are other days...  And on those days, I am blessed to get a picture of it for posterity's sake...

I am totally saving this for the future girlfriend.  I may even blow it up to poster size for his future wedding. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ten Minutes

10 Minutes. I can't even imagine having 10 minutes all to myself.
What would I do? Where would I go? What insanity could I get up to?
Realistically, I'm aware that 10 minutes isn't that big an expanse of
time. But the idea of having 10 minutes of peace is almost enough to
make me giddy.

Right now, I feel like everything is scheduled to a minute, even my
free time. During the day, my time is taken up with Little Guy and
prepping for the evening. If it's a class night, I am getting things
arranged and making sure I have everything I need. If it's not a
class night, I am either preparing for the next class or getting the
stuff done that can't get done on nights that I teach.

I enjoy teaching and I definitely enjoy being a parent, but it really
leaves you little in the way of downtime. I acheive much by
multi-tasking. The more I can get done at once, the bigger the
potential for free time. Though, Free time is a misnomer. There's
always something that needs to be done. Though, if I had 10 minutes
of free time, I would sit. Just sit and enjoy the peace and quiet.

There's very little in the way of peace and quiet, especially with our
Little Guy. Currently, he's all over me trying to read what I'm
writing as I write it. My typing time is filled with: "What word is
that mommy? What are you writing?" Once we finally get him to settle
down, it's time for Big Guy and I to go to bed as well. Then, I take
advantage of his sleep time the next day to cram in writing that I
need to get done.

I really can't imagine my life any other way. I love the busyness our
Little Guy brings to our lives because, for the most part, he is a
delightful and cheerful child. He's remarkably smart and remarkably
quick and also remarkably busy. With the weather the way it is, I've
been trying to take him outside in between rainy bouts. He needs the
outdoor time to release some of that energy.

I wish there was some way to harness and bottle that energy. We might
actually turn a profit off his seemingly limitless amount!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Finding peace in upheaval

I wouldn't even know where to begin in discussing the insanity of the past couple weeks. We had a roommate, but now we don't. We were going to move, but now we aren't. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose! We're back to the three of us living in the house and still planning on moving. The commune idea is, unfortunately, dormant for now. I'm still trying to figure out what happened and why and kind of relieved I don't have to deal with anyone else's flakiness any more.  Flakiness is good in biscuits, not friendships!

I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the situation, but that's mostly due to things happening so fast that I'm still not sure what happened. As far as I know, it wasn't a big blow-out, which is good. There are things that concern me, but, as Big Guy told me when this happened, there's nothing I can do and it's not really my place to say anything.

We had also found a perfect place that would have worked wonderfully, but then things shifted right in the middle of trying to get it which led to lots of acrobatics on Big Guy's and my parts trying to get things all sorted out. In the middle of doing that, the place got rented out from under us. I'm irked about the acrobatics it required (which should have been completely unnecessary) but not horribly upset. It's back to the drawing board in terms of houses but we know what we want and we know what we can do. We've also decided that if we do try the commune idea again, we're going to start it on our own and let other people join. That way it doesn't matter if it takes off or not, we're still settled.

So, I've been practicing centering myself and finding silver linings along with looking for a new place to live. And I'll add to that, trying not to be concerned for our former roommate. Big Guy and I have already discussed how to handle this and we're in complete agreement. I just hope that our plans for the worst case scenario don't come to fruition. Someday, I may be able to talk to him about all of this, but I don't think that day has arrived and, hopefully, it will be a long way in the future. I'd rather be wrong in this case than right.

I finished the Song of Ice and Fire books and loved them... Right up to the end of A Feast For Crows. A Dance With Dragons has been in the works for 5+ years and GRRM shows no signs of finishing it. Little Guy has been reading up a storm and making up stories about everything. His latest stories have involved people and things from a couple animes we watched, The Last Exile and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Combined with Fat Princess, his stories involve swordfighting, flying and firebending. Between that and begging me to watch Monty Python, I love this kid.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Little Guy is Spirited not Strong-willed

I'm confining myself to the same strictures I put on my students and forcing myself to sit and write for 10 minutes straight.  Well, at least as straight as a parent who is home with a 4 year old can make it.  Right now, I'm up to about a minute of uninterrupted time.  I'm seriously impressed. 

Currently, Little Guy is ensconced in the hall with his cars.  I can't get him to finish his "brep-fast" of a banana on a hot dog bun smeared with peanut butter.  He asked for it and now he won't eat it.  Meals have become a battle ground.  Short of forcing him to sit, we're stuck with fighting him every step of the way to eat.  This has become the new "potty" argument. 

One of the things I have done recently is look up advice on "Strong willed" children.  I immediately decided I didn't approve of the group who had take "strong willed" as their banner phrase and instead decided to go with the parents of spirited children.  It may not seem to make sense, but I've discovered the advice on parenting "strong willed" children seems to advocate breaking their spirit and bending them to the parent's will.  Advice on parenting "spirited" children seems to advocate working with the spirited child and encouraging them to keep their sense of self while working within the bounds of society. 

I don't want to break his spirit or individuality.  He's going to need it as he gets older.  I want him to be able to make his own decisions and to be firm in his convictions.  I want him to not be afraid to stand up for the right thing, even if most people disagree with him.  I don't think that forcing him to follow a narrow path is the best way to do that.  Of course, I also have issues with society as a whole right now. I don't want him to follow the path that so many people seem to follow and be apathetic and content with the status quo. 

I think spirited children are our future and quite likely our only hope.  If we're so keen to make them fit into the cubby holes that society has deemed appropriate, we will never improve the situation in our country.  If Edison or Lincoln had done that which was expected of them, we would still be enslaving people by candlelight.  And, unfortunately, he has me for a mother.  I hate following the well-worn paths.  I'd much rather poke around and discover what I can find on my own.  I want him to feel comfortable doing that too. 

What this means for me, however, is a long period of time where I will be frustrated and irritated because my son has a mind of his own.  I just have to let him learn some things through trial and error.  Right now, we're not going to go outside because he hasn't finished breakfast.  Once he finishes breakfast, I will go out with him and turn on the sprinkler and let him play to his heart's content.  But he's being his spirited self and I suspect that won't happen before I have to get ready for work. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer came in like a freaking Lion

Summer has come to Indiana unexpectedly.  Two weeks ago, we were fretting over frost advisories and today it's supposed to be in the upper 80's.  Sadly, this is common for Spring.  In April and May we have an equal chance of building a snowman or going swimming.  But eventually we will settle into the super-hot temps of summer and I'll complain that I wish it was cooler. 

On Mother's Day, we went out to my mom's house to go shooting with the rifle and had to wear warm clothes.  We went back this past weekend and we were sweating like crazy.  Shooting is fun, though my shoulder hurts for a day or two afterwords.  On Sunday night, I was sitting in my chair and I stretched and I heard a maswsive crack as the bones in my shoulder rearranged themselves.  I could actually feel the shift.  It was rather disconcerting. 

The arrival of summer also means that it's time to spend more time with Little Guy outside.  At some point today we are going to go outside and play in the sprinkler.  He loves the sprinkler and I love watching him play.  Right now, he's becoming such a little boy.  The baby aspects are disappearing and he's developing a little boy body and little boy legs.  I find myself looking at him and wondering where the baby went. 

Though watching him play as a little boy provides hours of amusement too.  Yesterday, Big Guy took him to the park while I was working.  Little Guy decided he had to pee and went to a corner of the playground, dropped trou, and peed.  Big Guy said the first clue he had that Little Guy was doing something he oughten't was a fellow park parent shouting: "He's peeing!  He's peeing!"  So.... We can never show our faces there again.  Of course, while we were regaling Whiteybare and his girlfriend with this story outside lst night, Little Guy went over to the lot next to us and started peeing again.  


"What are you doing?!" I shouted. 

"I'm peeing all over the place!" Little Guy shouted back with a grin.

I think he's definitely his father's child. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

I want to move NOW

We're looking at houses to move our group into. Whiteybare has claimed the front room for his own, but I'd really like to get a place where he feels more comfortable coming into the public areas of the house, and I believe that will only happen once we get a place with him. I'm always afraid that we're making him feel uncomfortable or unhappy. That worrying leads to hovering and, if I am not careful, will drive him insane.

I just want everyone to be happy and the idea of the commune is such a cheerful happy one that I can't help but want to make it a reality. Unfortunately, we have a ways to go before we can start forming the commune. One of the first steps is going to have to be forming the LLC. After we find a rental for our group where we can start setting aside money, we'll also start to build up money for a down payment. After we have some money set aside for a down payment, we'll look at houses and land. From there, we can start doing the communal thing.

I wish we could get started on it now, but there is no chance of that happening. We don't have the money for a down payment, and, even if we did, we don't have the credit for a loan. I'd love to be able to make a deal with someone in the area where we pay money for the land over a contracted period of time with someone who likes and supports what we're doing. Unfortunately, such deals are not in existance where we need them. We need to stay in the area where we currently reside. Whiteybare is a returning college student and needs to keep the in-state tuition. I am pretty well settled in my job and really could not find work like it elsewhere. And Big Guy needs to keep his job to pay his ex and cannot switch out unless it's for a higher paygrade.

In the meantime, I deal with the uncomfortable, impatient feeling. I want to be out of there NOW, and I know we can't get out NOW. So, I feel restless and irritated, ready to jump out at the word go. Unfortunately, this only irritates myself and my husband. Big Guy feels frustrated because I am not thrilled and he feels bad because it isn't what we want and he can't provide it for us right now. I try to keep my feelings, in that case, under wraps. I'm not a person who hides her emotions easily though, which only makes me more restless. Little Guy may pick up on the restlessness but it only serves to make him more hyper, a feat which is amazing enough considering his current level of hyper.

I tell myself that things will work out for the best. In the grand scheme of things, we are pretty well off. We have a roof over our heads, food for our bellies, and many luxeries that others do not have. I'll just be glad when we get to do our own thing.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Video of life in the moment

Canon has released the PowerShot SX210 IS, which combines the ability to take great photos & also shoot high definition video. Canon and JuiceBoxJungle sponsored me to write this post, and talk about what shooting video means to my family.If you sign up for JuiceboxJungle, tell 'em Kittencaboodle sent ya! 

I'm a camera junkie.  When we bought our digital camera five years ago, I was seriously pregnant with Little Guy and we had decided it was a better idea to buy a digital camera considering how expensive film processing was and how many pictures we were likely to take with a new baby.  And we were right.  I have tons and tons of pictures, including the very first pictures of the newborn baby Little Guy. 

I have shot some really cute videos that were important to my family.  I also try to catch little things, funny situations that really epitomize what our family was like at that moment.  It's been a tumultuous year, and I would be lying if I didn't say that looking at old videos and photos didn't produce a bittersweet feeling, but I have come to accept what has gone on in my life and embrace the positive things that the change has wrought. 

My life with my husband and son has always been semi-crazy and the videos and pictures don't do it nearly enough justice. Our life now is no less crazy than it was before, it's just a whole new form of crazy.  I am content with the direction in which our life is moving.  Life is what it is, and we'll see where it takes us.  I'll try to catch video of it on the way. 

People need boundaries

For the most part, class is going well this month.  Admittedly, we’ve only had 3 class periods, but the students are becoming more interactive as they figure out what kind of class this is and what I am willing to deal with.  They seem pretty accepting of the stricter rules I’ve put down because I have established a clear boundary to my empathy.  I can be the good guy and then if they cross the boundary, they know what the repercussions are.  It’s almost like raising kids. 

My son, by the way, doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of boundary besides the definition of “something you cross or push”.  I’d swear the child was 14, not 4. When Whiteybare moved in, I informed Little Guy that he was NOT to go into Whiteybare’s room without express permission.  I even defined the boundary by the piece of wood across the threshold.  At that point, my child slid his foot halfway over the piece of wood and stopped.  When I caught him he pulled his foot back and then slowly did the same thing with his arm.  When I redefined the boundary as any part of the piece of wood, he laid down on the floor with his head in his hands and inched closer to the threshold. 

He’s lucky I love him.

This weekend is Mother’s Day. I adore my mom; I think this is well known.  Despite the craziness she passed down to me, she is still a wonderful mother.  And this weekend, we’re going to see her. I can’t wait until she gets her “new” car plated so I can go back to seeing her on a weekly basis.  I miss my Mother-daughter days. We used to have days like that when I was little, where I would spend time with my mom only.   We did shopping then too, but I always loved spending time with my mom.  I remember that was one of the things my step-father hated. He felt that my wanting to spend time with my mom was a sign I was “cowed” by her and under her thumb.  I suspect anyone who knows me would be amused by the idea that I would be cowed by anyone, and my mom would find it funny that I was cowed by her in particular. 

Why do I get the impression that my son will be the same way? 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We can't communicate and we're too lazy to care

Writing should be an important topic in schools, but the more I teach, the more I realize it’s not stressed nearly enough. This month, I am teaching a “Fundamentals of English” college course. This course teaches the basics of English to students. I cover parts of speech as well as basic writing skills, and I try to do it in 12 hours a week for four weeks.

Really, it’s not nearly enough time. The students need more time to practice, more time to assimilate the information, and more work to do. In some cases, I deal with students who don’t have a clue what a complete sentence is, let alone how to identify a run-on sentence. There are also students who just don’t grasp why the parts of speech are important, even after I give my puzzle analogy. I tend to work my tail off these four weeks and go home exhausted every night, but I also find it more fulfilling than the higher level classes.

In the higher level writing courses, they have been jaded to the writing process and just don’t want to do it. They have also reached a certain “in school laziness” where they are more willing to slough off the work to the last minute. In the Fundamentals class, they are at least still somewhat excited to the new process of school.

But, in all cases, the writing abilities of some of my students saddens me. How is it that our country is producing graduates who don’t know how to communicate properly? And why have we let it go on thus far? Currently, we are a nation at the top of the heap, but we can’t bring ourselves to educate our children to continue that trend. Instead, we produce citizens who don’t know what their rights are, don’t know how to communicate those rights, and, even worse, are too apathetic to care.

It seems the baby boomer generation, the one that produced the changes in the 60’s and 70’s, did not imbue their children with the same restless spirit. Well, most of them at least (I know my mom did). But they also did not give their children the work ethic that our grandparents had. Our country has lost its inventive spark because it’s too much effort to create, whether it be creation of the lightbulb or creation of a book.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An out of town visit

As most people can attest to, I am not a morning person.  In truth, I hate mornings.  They make me tired and cranky.  And yet, yesterday I willingly removed myself from the warm confines of my blankets and pillows to go on a road trip to Holland, MI.  My sister-in-law lives up there and it's "Tulip Time".  Plus, we missed her at the birthday gathering in February and this was a great excuse to go see her. 

The tulips were beautiful and I really wish I had brought my camera.  I was a ditz (and tired) however, and I left the camera sitting at home on top of my desk.  I blame a lack of caffeine.  It was a great trip up there though.  We got there and had a cookout with my sister and brother-in-law, went and enjoyed "Tulip Time" and browsed the shops downtown.  I realized while I was there that Holland reminded me a great deal of a bigger St. Joseph, MI.  It seemed like the same quwaint, artsy shops that had high prices to take advantage of the tourist influx. 

At that point, I was greatly pleased that I had the advantage of growing up in a tourist town.  I know the city probably uses the money it gets from "Tulip Time" in a very similar fashion to St. Joe, but I also know when to pass on the prices.  Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of adorable, cute stuff there.  But there was also very little that I could not live without.  (Except for tea, because, really, who could live without tea.)

I know we're heading into the "Lake Michigan Shores" tourist season where people from "the big city" come in to visit and spend money.  We had the Blossomtime parade this weekend as well, an event I gladly missed.  Pretty soon the beaches will be crammed with people and the festivals will start.  This area is a great place to live, full of natural beauty and a wide variety of natural resources.  But that also means it brings in the tourists.  And I'm not a big fan of large groups of people.  They tend to be mean and stupid.  This is only the beginning of tourist time around here.  Soon the roads will be jammed with out of state plates, and I'll smile sweetly while inside I struggle to contain the festering rage they provoke. 

On the bright side, much of my time will be ensconced in classes and figuring out what's going on in my own life.  What we're doing, where we're going, and whether or not I'm going back to school for my Master's.  I want to go back, but I also don't.  Change makes me very nervous, very unsettled, and very unhappy.  Hell, I still prefer Christopher Eccleston as Doctor Who and it's been years since that changed.  We're on a completely new Doctor now and I'm still sorting out my feelings about that.  The stories are good, don't get me wrong.  But they've changed the intro, updated the music, changed the pacing, changed the Doctor, and even changed the Daleks.  How could they change the Daleks!

Bah...  Monday approaches and I'll start a new class for a new month and I still need to prepare my lecture notes for tomorrow.  We'll see how it goes! 

Friday, April 30, 2010

Finally! The end of April!

Today is the first day in a long while that I have had a chance to sit down and write. My class for April finished yesterday and I submitted the grades last night.  Whiteybare also moved in officially this week, so that has added to the busy schedule of the household. But, I now have a 3 day break before my May class begins. Whatever shall I do with all this spare time.

Well, today I made strawberry-blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Admittedly, they came from a mix, but Little Guy doesn't seem to mind too much.  I'm looking forward to making actual strawberry muffins when our strawberries start producing this year.  Provided, of course, that we get to them before the animals do.  I also have plans for an Italian Beef pizza at some point, on homemade pizza dough. 

The dough would obviously be made in our breadmaker (which has been a gift from the gods).  And requires the leftovers from the Crockpot Italian beef Sandwiches I made this week. (Thanks to!)  I had plans to do this whole homemade dinner thing, but our kitchen is a mess and I can't stand working in it.  There isn't enough room or clean dishes, and I end up getting all tense inside.  It's generally  Big Guy's job to do the dishes but, like everything else, dishes fell to the wayside with all the other chores. 

I am also going to work on the calendar and family room today and start getting our schedule back on track.  I want to get this place back to a point where I don't want to set it on fire and run screaming into the night.  Though, with a 4 year old hurricane running through the house, that may NEVER happen. I need to get done what I can today.

This weekend we're going out of town, though things aren't going to be nearly as pressed as I thought they were. Saturday we're heading up to Holland, MI to see my sister-in-law.  Sunday is NOT Mother's Day.  I say that only because I trule thought it was for the past month.  It's a welcome surprise though because now I'm not trying to figure out how to fit everything in. 

Monday starts my May class and I am teaching Fundamentals of English again.  It will give me a good ten minutes at the end of class to write something while the class does their freewriting, so I hope to get back on the blogging track as well!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend's end with guns and bread

I love weekends with my family.  This weekend has been an excellent weekend in terms of recharging the batteries.  We've been clearing out space for Whiteybare which required  moving much of Little Guy's stuff into his room.  We moved his car table which holds his collection of Hot wheels and his train set into his bedroom.  We also moved the TV and PS2 into his bedroom.  I'm feeling kind of torn about that one.

On the one hand, we are now one of "those" parents.  The ones whose four-year-old has a TV and PS2 in his bedroom.  On the other hand, this effectively limits what he can watch.  When the TV was in the front room, it was hooked up to cable and Little Guy discovered Cartoon Network.  I wasn't too thrilled with him watching it since I prefer that he watch good programming.  I became even less pleased when this new programming he had discovered led to him actually punching people and laughing about it.  That was a swift trip to no TV for a while.  However, now that he has the TV in his room, it's not connected to the cable and I know exactly what he can watch. 

But moving the rooms around wasn't the only thing we did this weekend.  We also picked up our Mosin Nagant rifle from the gun store.  Big Guy and I spent the evening yesterday cleaning it off, wiping it down, and learning how it works.  It's a beautiful bolt-action rifle that we've polished and cleaned up nicely.  We're looking forward to target practice out at my mom's place and maybe even hunting.  We were talking about how great it would be to have a Thanksgiving turkey that we just caught ourselves.  Yum!  Needless to say, it was pretty cool getting a gun made in the 1930's all cleaned up.  Big Guy and I Were talking about how cool it would be to find out the history of our gun in particular, but I wouldn't even know where to begin. 

This morning we woke up too late for "church", so I made coffee and waffles instead.  I added powdered sugar and vanilla and made a large batch of waffles.  Little Guy ate about 5 waffles and Big Guy and I decided we could not find better waffles even in a pancake place.   I put the pack of uneaten waffles in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  It will make a great breakfast throughout the week.  This evening, I even dug out an old jar of strawberry jam that hadn't set to use in bread. 

We got a breadmaker off of Cheapcycle for $25 and have definitely gotten our money's worth.  We've made loaf upon loaf of bread, spending only the money needed for the flour and the sugar.  It's been working out extremely well.  Currently, I have the batch of bread with strawberry jam in the breadmaker in an effort to produce a good breakfast bread. This will leave our day-to-day bread free for sandwiches and give us a good, hearty fruit bread for breakfast.  I have plans for cherry bread and perhaps even berry bread.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wanting to go from Urban Homestead to Homestead

Economic times have become dark indeed, and desperate times, as they say, call for desperate measures.  When Whiteybare (as he wants to be called) showed up at our house and told us that he was losing his home, Big Guy and I didn't even flinch.  Our natural inclination was to say: "Stay here, we'll make room for you."  From there, we discussed our own burgeoning unhappiness with the community we live in.  So we decided that the group of us would get our own place and we'd do the hippie thing, grow our own food and work together, become a truly extended family. 

After that, we thought we might be able to do this with a few more friends, but the planning just didn't work out for a variety of reasons.  But, in the past 2 weeks, we've done pretty much nothing but look at houses and try to find good spaces on craigslist.  It's been frustrating to say the least.  But, even after the fall of the initial commune plan, we're still going to go ahead and try to form a mini commune.  We also have more time adn a wider variety of places to choose from, even if we're renting and not buying. 

Honestly, I recognize that what I am looking for is probably out of our reach, but it doesn't stop me from wanting better.  The goal is a house in the country with a big yard for gardening, a fireplace, and room enough to raise animals.  I guess you can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl.  So, right now we're looking for a place to rent that's "good enough", or a house on Land Contract that suits our needs and our wants. 

With Whiteybare moving in, we have someone who agrees with and understands our desire to find a country place, so this partnership should work very well.  He gets a place to live, and we all get an extended family with the same values and desires.  In addition to that, Big Guy has picked up a rifle and we're going to look into going deer hunting this year.  It's exciting, the little steps we're taking.  I just wish we could take the big step and get a place of our own. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Celebration, EC droppers, and the end of Spring Break

I hope everyone had an amazing and peaceful holiday! We handled it pretty well. We woke up, woke little guy up, and enjoyed the fun seeing what the Easter Bunny brought him. We also discovered the bunny had hidden candy-filled eggs around our yard. Little Guy thought this was awesome. We went over to my in-laws house for a brief visit before we went over to my mom's house and discovered the Easter Bunny had indeed been busy. Little Guy got another basket and another chocolate bunny!

When we went to my mom's house, Little Guy wanted to go out right away and feed the chickens, ducks and the goat. He chased after Mocha the goat with a handful of hay, desperate to get close enough to touch her. However, unbeknownst to the rest of us, there was an attack rooster on the prowl. While he was chasing after Mocha the goat, Little Guy tripped and fell. The "Bad Rooster" was on him in a flash, pecking and scratching at him. We rescued the screaming boy and carried him up to the house. On the way there, I decided it would be a good plan to get him to feed and interact with Good Chicken so that Little Guy didn't develop an irrational fear of them. We got him a cup of food and while he fed the chickens on the deck, Big Guy, my mom, and I used sticks and a bat to keep the bad rooster at bay. It worked too. By the end of the visit, not only was Little Guy not afraid of the chickens, he was also chasing the bad rooster with a stick telling me he had to "whack dat bad rooster". That's my boy. Once the fear is over, it's time for vengeance and retribution.

Tonight begins my class schedule again. I feel like I'm almost totally unprepared, but that's nothing new. The beginning of the month always makes me feel that way. I'm teaching a Comp II class this month which means a great deal of paper writing and grading involvement. However there are other events which shall prove, at the very least, interesting. It's enough to be a blog entry in and of itself.

In the meantime, Top 5 EntreCard Droppers for March are:

Dave Lucas
The Third Uncle
Orient Lodge
Computer Aid

Monday, March 29, 2010

One blog, one tree - Writing my way to carbon neutrality

carbon neutral offers and shopping with

I received information that the average blogger is anything but carbon neutral.  In fact, annually, a blog can generate an average of 8 lbs. of carbon!  So, I am working to make this pretty, pink blog a greener place to read.  I am joining the "1 blog, 1 tree" movement and having a tree planted to neutralize the carbon emissions caused by my blog. 

During the Spring and Summer, I suspect I do my fair share of combating global warming.  I plant and grow flowers and veggies and love my outdoorsy stuff.  I don't know what we'll grow this year because we're looking at potentially moving.  But even if I can't grow a lot this year, I'll at least have a tree in my blog's honor. 

So, in an effort to encourage greener living, I will encourage you to join the "1 blog, 1 tree" movement and do your part to minimize your carbon footprint.  Remember, we can always use more trees!  I will also encorage you to take other steps towards a self-sustainable lifestyle.  These are things you can do in both the big city and out in the country.  Grow a garden.  It can be in containers on a patio or balcony or you can plant them in the ground.  There's nothing quite like fresh veggies right from the plant!  Plant your own tree, bonus points for a fruit tree!  Volunteer at your zoo or park.  Pick up garbage from the road in front of your residence. 

Good luck and let me know how it goes! 

Friday, March 26, 2010

This month has been rough!

Well, this month's class is over and I am thrilled to reach the end of the month.  this month was harder than usual due to the illness that went raging through the house.  After it laid us up for a week, I realized that I had lost so much time and missed the grading I needed to get done.  It was horrible trying to catch up.  But last night at 9:30, I filled in the last blank spot in my gradebook and submitted my grades. 

Another month down and now I have a week off.  This break is definitely needed and I will be taking advantage of it.  Part of it is going to be spent finishing the recuperation process from this illness.  There will also be cleaning, crocheting and hopefully calmness.  I need to do some prep for next month, but I am free baby! 

Little Guy and I are going to continue to work on the potty thing.  He's still balking at the potty,  He wants to do what he wants to do and doesn't want to take a break to sit on the potty.  It's turning into a major headache but I cannot give in.  We've relegated diapers to sleep-time.  And, unfortunately, I've learned that sleep time cannot include rest-time in the front room because he'll take advantage of it. 

However, this weekend we have a birthday party to attend and I am rapidly realizing that Easter is approaching and we have gotten NOTHING for Little Guy. This needs to change. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Just shoot me

So... Where have I been? If you're familiar with Stephen King and
The Stand, then you're familiar with "Captain Trips". I had his close
cousin. We've all been sick around here, even Little Guy and it has
totally sucked. (Yes, I know that is not proper English Teacher
wording, but it really has totally sucked.) Whatever we got stemmed
from Big Guy's place of employment and he got it first.

It hit Big Guy during our anniversary weekend and really put a damper
on things for him. By Sunday he was feeling bad enough to not go to
work on Monday. After he came home early last Wednesday, the illness
broke and he started feeling much better. Unfortunately, that is when
I started getting sick. I made it through Thursday and Friday and
then was out for the count over the weekend. We took Nyquil, Dayquil,
everything we could get our hands on. I drank cup after cup of tea
and attempted to stay hydrated because I was blowing my nose
constantly. By Sunday, Little Guy had started sniffling and he was
obviously not feeling good.

He's doing better today though, so it appears he got a mild case of
it. I'd hope that was due to our foresight when Big Guy got sick
where we started pouring orange juice down his throat and ensuring
that he ate all his fruits and veggies and his vitamins. Right now
he's sniffling and coughing like the rest of us, but he doesn't seem
to have caught the majority of the aches, pains and general malaise
that went with this bug, lucky little booger.

So, I am still alive, and I have not forgotten about my journal. My
illness put me extremely far behind in grading though and this week is
that last week of class for the month. Grades are due for me on
Thursday and I still have an entire set of papers to grade. I've been
busting butt to get it done, but I can't seem to catch up. Luckily, I
have tomorrow and during the day on Thursday! Wish me luck!

"It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today,
but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making
sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better
than the one we inhabit today." - Barack Obama - A Blog about Urban
Homesteading and Crocheting and the craziness that goes with both


Friday, March 19, 2010

Parenting while sick - the gift that never stops giving

Well, it's happened.  Big Guy's cold has worked it's insidious way into my body and now I am huddled up at home with a stuffy nose, headache, achy body, the works.  Right now I've dressed Little Guy in a diaper and laid him down for a nap because he started whining over a mess he made which precluded playing with a particular toy.  While I was trying to clean it up, he started doing this screechy scream thing because he wanted it and he wanted it now.  I gave him a five count and when he kept pushing, told him he was going down for a nap.   This screechy scream is always a bone of contention between Little Guy and his parents. 

I know my patience is at a low point right now, and I try to balance it out when I know I'm not feeling well. Parenting while sick is so very difficult.  Trying to figure out the proper way to parent and ensure you aren't too harsh because your patience is low or too lenient because you don't want to deal with things is one of the biggest issues.  Right now, I am relatively certain that he needs a nap and I need a time out from him or else I am going to have a mommy meltdown.  And, when you're sick, minimizing stress needs to be a key point.  You may enforce the rules more closely when you're sick, but that's OK.  Enforce the rules, but make sure you don't go overboard too.  

For sick parents who are home all day with the little ones, it may seem like your time with them will never end, particularly when the normal routine for a stay at home parent extends, in general, until the child goes to bed.  I recognize that, for the most part, I have Little Guy on my own during the day and then, on nights where I don't teach, Big Guy and I split the parenting at night.  On nights where I teach, Big Guy gets a half-measure of the day's activities and then we work together when I get home.  Tonight, though, I've already told Big Guy that he needs to take over with Little Guy when he gets home.  I'm not going to have the energy to chase Little Guy or nail his butt to the potty chair. 

Little Guy wants to do all the normal things we do, which often means climbing on mommy like a jungle gym and having a playmate who will pretend with him.  Thanks to the achy muscles, the jungle gym was closed today and, while I could definitely applaud his imagination, I was too brain-dead to help come up with more stories.  I am sure some of his afternoon meltdown is simply a frustrated reaction to the change, and I wish I could make it better for him.  However, I don't want him to get sick, so snuggles and kisses are off the table for today. 

As it is, being curled up on the sofa with the laptop and some tea has helped to recharge the mommy batteries, but I still think both of us need at least an hour's time out.  Little Guy's stopped being mad about being stuck in his room and I can hear him playing.  I can let it go because he's not wound up and I know that eventually he will fall asleep.  I will continue to curl up on the sofa and maybe even allow myself some time playing Bioshock 2.  The goal is to relax without letting Little Guy walk all over me or allowing myself to overextend and become even more ill. 

And hopefully I'll see you on the flip side of this cold. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

As I sit here with coffee that contains a shot of Irish Creme in my cup, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Saint Patrick's Day.  Big Guy is still sick with his cold, so he won't be celebrating to hardily.  I, however, embrace my Irish heritage on this day.  The irony does not escape me that today, we celebrate the triumph of Irish Catholicism over Paganism.  I can only give a wry smile over it. 

Admittedly, Saint Patrick's day is not really an Irish holiday, but more of a "diaspora" holiday.  We've turned it into a holiday for everyone to remember their Irish heritage, no small feat when you consider that the third largest ethnic group in America is the Irish.  Of course, my family tends to add to that number, throwing ourselves whole-heartedly into our Irish history.  Mom says we'd probably be considered "Shanty Irish" and it's always amusing to see how my family interacts with each other.  People will fight, yell, bitch and snipe at each other....  And then 10 minutes later it's pretty much forgotten.  Why?  Because you're family, and that's what family does. 

So, go out and embrace your family.  Raise a glass in memory to the ones who are gone and enjoy time with the ones still here.  That's what I did. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Potty training body parts

Stephanie at The Dirty Mommy blog discussed an amusing tale with her young daughter showing her anatomy smarts on the playground.  I think most parents can recognize how embarrassing it is, particularly since kids seem to pick times when you least expect to be having that particular discussion. 

We've been dealing something similar with our Little Guy.  We try to use the correct terms for his body parts and he seems to understand it pretty well.  He's known for a while that he has a penis.  However, he's reaching a point where he's now recognizing the difference between boys and girls.  So far we have established that (always at the top of his lungs) Little Guy has a penis, Daddy has a penis and boy-cat Tiger has a penis.  He's always so proud of himself for identifying them.  Petting girl-cat Caitlin, on the other hand produced shock and concern. 

Caitlin was sitting on my lap, getting pettins, and I was scritching that little spot where the tail connects to the body because she loves that and always arches her back for more.  As we were petting her, Little Guy noticed that there was something different about her. 

"OH NO MOMMY!" he screeched.  "Where is Caitlin's penis?  Where did it go?"

I explained that Caitlin was a girl and, therefore, did not have a penis.  Big Guy and I both emphasized that boys have penises (penii?) and girls do not.  So far, we have not had to deal with what girls have instead.  Now, however, he's just as proud of his knowledge of who has a penis and who does not.  This is becoming even more important to him as we work on potty training and he spends a good portion of time nude.  This makes it difficult to try and enforce appropriate times for identification because right now he needs to be naked to get to the potty in time.  Add to that, our desire to not give our son body issues and sometimes the embarrassment reaches epic levels. 

On Sunday, as I was preparing to take a shower, a very naked Little Guy burst into our bathroom proudly announcing that "Mommy has no penis!" 

Er, yes, thank you.  Go find Daddy. Go sit on the potty.  Go do SOMETHING else! 

"Little Guy has a penis!  It's naked, see?"  Cue typical boy dance.  "And dancing!" 

Yes, I know.  Go into the family room. 

"I have a butt!  It's naked too!  See?" 

Luckily, Big Guy appeared to shoo our son into the family room and his little potty.  I know I need to thank my lucky stars that I have a smart, clever son.  He puts pieces together and figures things out much faster than I expect.  Now, if we could just get him to understand the importance of using the potty!

Related Seeds:
Are Anatomically Correct terms okay? 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Where did you go, my lovely?

So I disappeared from the internet this weekend, but I promise it was for a good reason.  This weekend, Big Guy and I celebrated our 6th anniversary and I made a concious decision to stay away.  I guess you could say I abandoned you for love. 

Our weekend went r eletrively well.  It started around 3 pm on Friday when Big Guy showed up at the door with a cake and dinner.  The cake was made by a local bakery and was a recreation of our Wedding Cake top layer with frosting roses on the top made to look like my bouquet.  We ate dinner (and cake) and played video games.  However, the joy was not to last. 

The next day, Big Guy woke up feeling bad.  Sore throat, cough, snuffly nose, all the hallmarks of a cold.  We went out for a little bit, stopped off at Krispy Kreme, picked up a few items to help with the potty training of Little Guy and then came home.  Big Guy played a video game and we putzed about the house while I tried to get Little Guy to use the potty on a regular basis.  However, Little Guy's lack of nap caught up with him and he ended up being put to bed early due to a fractious nature. 

On Sunday, Big Guy was still feeling off but we were up "early" due to a strange noise and an even stranger smell.  We got up to find our Rainbow Vacuum cleaner was on, thanks to our cats.  And, since Big Guy had forgotten to empty it the last time he vacuumed, we were smelling the old, dirty water being churned about.  We turned it off, cleaned out the vacuum and then decided to go out for food  It was then that we discovered "Dayligh Savings Time" had occured.  It wasn't 9:30, but 10:30 in the morning. 

We got Little Guy up, went to Ryan's and then came home.  Big Guy was still not feeling well, so I let him relax and play while I graded and then we went to bed.  It wasn't an amazingly romantic weekend, adn could have been better for poor Big Guy, but we did have a good time with each other.  Today, Big Guy called in to work and is still sleeping away in the bedroom while Little Guy adn I continue to work on potty training.  Wish us luck! 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Anniversary Weekend

This weekend, Big Guy and I celebrate six years of marriage.  It's so hard to imagine that we have been together that long, and yet people still talk about the party that was our wedding.  It really was a remarkable party that was a blast.  We were going through some pictures with his parents and came across some pictures from later that evening that will make great blackmail pictures for our friends. 

Being married to the love of my life has been an amazing experience and one that, like any marriage, has been full of ups and downs.  Big Guy and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to counseling and learn how to communicate better with each other.  It ended up being  one of the best things we could have done for ourselves and for our marriage.  Aside from learning to communicate more effectively with each other, it also reinforced how committed and devoted to each other we are. 

Even more importantly, with all the horrible things hat happened over the last year, I am not sure how effectively we would have dealt with things.  Because we were able to improve our communication, we ere able to connect with each other even when the kids left and my aunt died.  It also enabled us to get through the job reduction he suffered with minimal conflict between us in our most stressful times. 

As it stands, I am happy we found each other.  We're on the same page regarding the raising of children and the way a marriage should work which makes any situation that much easier.  We know each other well enough to know what the other person's answer is likely to be and respect each other enough to not commit to things unless we're absolutely certain the other person is on board.  I feel like I have found a real partner who is devoted to our family and treats me like a princess. 

In a time where 50% of all marriages and 80% of all second and subsequent marriages end in divorce, we are lucky to beat the odds against us.  Even more importantly, we recognize how truly wonderful it is to have each other.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Potty Watch and Midterms

I'm taking advantage of the silence this morning to sit down and write this entry.  Little Guy is still asleep and so my busy day hasn't started yet.  I watched my Orange County Housewives reunion show and ate a bagel.  I'm enjoying the silence so far. 

Yesterday was full of screaming and wailing as I put the kibosh on fun times unless potty time was implemented.  By the end of the day yesterday, I was more than ready to close the day with a seriously strong drink.  I am realizing that my son is more than capable of holding his own line, even in the face of an upset mommy and daddy.  However, because of that, I spent a lot of time with an angry, screaming, whining 4 year old who could not understand why mommy would not help him or give him what he wanted. 

Tonight is the midterm night for this month's class and they have a paper due tonight as well.  I am still scrambling to finish up the papers from the first week, and I have almost finished.  However, a comment from a student threw me into a tizzy and now I am trying to decide how or even if to approach it with the students who were upset by it.  Right now, I am leaning towards getting a feel for the emotions of the class today, a full 48 hours after "the incident" and seeing if it needs to be addressed or not.

In the meantime, I'll get back to grading.  Ugh.   And here's Little Guy...  Time for another day of potty drama and cuteness! 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Back on the potty

Now that the weather has been warming up and our house isn't so cold, I am getting Little Guy back on the potty training train.  He's not happy about it but we've got to get this done.  I never thought I would have an untrained 4 year old, but he hates having to sit and take the time to go to the bathroom.  Of course, he also hates it when we have to take the time to change his diaper. 

Today, however, I tried a new trick.  There was no playing on Starfall or watching of TV in the front room until he used the potty.  There was definite wailing, gnashing of teeth, and overall unhappiness but the stubborness finally broke about 10 minutes ago when we had pee in the potty.  After a bit of celebratory yays and dancing, I flipped the breaker back on (because he knows how to turn on the computer and  the TV), and he is now happily playing away on Starfall. 

I've also told him that if he tells me when he has to go potty and doesn't use his diaper, then I will leave it on.  We'll see if this works.  I'm not so keen on using his education as an incentive to use the potty, but we're running out of ideas and this is something he cares enough about to work. My goal is not to break his spirit and give him enough encouragement to do this on his own, but I  have to get him to use the potty. 

A lot of the sites I've read say that this is something that kids have to choose to do on their own because this is the first choice they really have any influence over.  I just wish he'd choose to do what I want him to do.  I am really looking forward to his choice to use the potty. Wish us luck! 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pre-K leanings

Little Guy and I have been frequenting the Starfall website.  The child is reading like a maniac and having very little difficulty.  Big Guy and I discussed the issues with the school systems in the area and have narrowed down the systems we will allow our son to attend.  We've also discussed our concerns regarding socialization and extra-curriculars.  Although, after watching the news, I am rapidly becoming convinced that the only way to ensure your child is well-rounded and can play in sports or have an instrument will be to homeschool them. 

Three of the school systems in the area have been in the news recently due to financial troubles.  I've made my position clear and we agree that there are two school systems that our son will not attend.  We also narrowed down the systems we will let him attend.  There's only one school system that I will truly feel comfortable letting Little Guy attend.  There's one system that I will grudgingly let him attend. 

Big Guy and I discussed some of the concerns with homeschooling, especially the socialization aspect, and discovered that we agree on everything.  Most of our differences right now stem from the fact that we are placing importance on different aspects of schooling.  My focus remains on education, Big Guy thinks that giving him access to a structured social life is important.  However, we may have found a way to get around that while we live here.  I'll keep you informed as we move along that path. 

However, Little Guy is devouring the letters and books on Starfall and I am now looking for a similar website to let him practice math skills.  I think we are good at learning numbers though since, with very little help, he can count up to 140.  I do want to start practicing pattern recognition though,  Suggestions? 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spiritual Sunday - Sacrifice

 Last Week

Sacrifice is a difficult subject to discuss because it is such a difficult thing to do.  However, this is the season of sacrifice.  There are many religions that focus on the idea of fasting and sacrifice as we move through winter and into the spring season.  Christianity has Lent which leads, of course, to Easter (or Ostara), Muslims have Eid-Al-Adha, even Ancient Rome explained the cycle of the seasons using a mother's sacrifice of her daughter and the daughter's return at the beginning of Spring. 

The idea of sacrifice, purposeful sacrifice, is something we all dislike.  We give up so much in the day to day struggle of life, why should we be forced to give up more?  We give up time with our family, comfort, and sleep for work.  We give up money, time, and happiness for our family.  But the idea of sacrifice is supposed to remind us of the good things we have, the happiness we find in our lives. 

We do sacrifice on a daily basis, and we do it to have some of the good things that we enjoy.  I have sacrificed a certain amount of financial freedom to be home during the day with Little Guy.  If I worked during the normal office hours, we might have more money, but I believe that Little Guy would suffer for it.  By that measure, Little Guy himself requires many sacrifices.  We stopped being nearly as independent once we had a child and our free time is now spent with our little monkey.  Again, we judged the sacrifices we make as parents to be worth it.

It's difficult, sometimes, to look at the sacrifices we make and find something worthwhile in them.  I struggle with that too.  I look at the difficulties we have and the struggles we endure and sometimes I have to fight off the negativity by reminding myself of the good things we have.  I also make it a point to remember the fact that we are better off than many others.  Big Guy and I have jobs; Little Guy is happy, healthy, and amazingly smart; we have a roof over our heads and a car that runs; and, even more importantly, we have each other and appreciate that fact. 

It's important to examine the sacrifices you make and the good that comes from them.  Remember that our sacrifices give us one thing even more important than anything else.  Our sacrifices give us hope.  It gives us hope for a better life, a more comfortable home, a happier family, and a better attitude.  It is the spring to the wintry darkness in the rest of our lives. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oo-ee-oo He looks just like Buddy Holly

Yesterday, I managed to make a wonderfeal meal out of a tragedy.  It also proved my point that everything happens for a reason.  I have been trying to get back to planning menus and trying to use what we have.  Unfortunately for me, I may have planned too well.  Last nights meal was supposed to be oven roasted chicken.  However, I unwrapped the chicken and realized rapidly that there was no way we were going to eat this meat.  It had already gone bad.  I was so upset. 

However, the night before I had picked up some store-made fried chicken after work and had picked up enough to act as a couple meals, most likely a couple of lunches.  But I certainly had enough for a mixed dish.  So, I sped up the menu plan and made the meal I had planned for the leftover roasted chicken.  It was a completely made-up and yet it turned out better than I could have imagined.  It's a relatively easy Cheesy Chicken Casserole recipe.   And we would not have been able to have it had I not picked up that fried chicken. I'll include the recipe at the end of the blog post. 

Yesterday, I also took advantage of the lack of school-teaching to get some important things done like folding laundry and I also trimmed Little Guy's hair.  I loved his hair style, it was definitely in keeping with his personality.  It was kind of wild and free, and definitely marched to the beat of its own drum...  However, Little Guy doesn't believe in using napkins.  That, apparently, is what his hair is for.  And, as it got longer, the harder it was becoming to prevent.  So, after his bath yesterday, I made a valient attempt to cut his hair.  That meant trying to get him to stand still for a few seconds. 

What actually happened is I managed to get parts of his hair cut short.  It is DEFINITELY not a professional hair cut and I am thrilled that his hair is curly enough to hide some of the mistakes I made while trying to get him to hold still.  As Big Guy pointed out though, it's short in the back and longer in the front...  And with his hair being the way it is, it's totally a "Buddy Holly" hair style.  What have I done?

Sadly, with both his father's and my eyesight, he's likely to need glasses like Buddy Holly too.  I hope that the mad eating of carrots that I did during the pregnancy may help him to avoid too terrible of eyesight though.  Poor kid. 

But now, the recipe:
Easy Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Leftover chicken pieces
1 family size can Cream of chicken soup
1 can mixed vegetables
1 can corn
1 cup shredded cheese
1 tube large flaky biscuits

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear up the chicken and  remove from the bone.  Put chicken, Cream of Chicken soup, veggies, corn and carrots in a large baking dish and mix with the cheese. 

Open the tube of biscuits and tear each biscuit in half and layer across the top of the mix.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Another Month, another class

Class started last night and I am teaching Comp. II this month.  I actually miss my Fundamentals class because they, at least, recognize they have a problem and need to be there.  I have been faced with students in the upper level comp. classes who don't understand why they need to know how to write.  There are times that attitude is very daunting for a professor.  No one has yet said something like that to me this month, but the month only has just begun. 

The biggest problem I had last night came in the last half hour of class when a number of students just got up and left.  They decided the class was done, and therefore they left.  This was while I was still lecturing.  In response, I gave the remainder of class a homework assignment that the others will not be able to make up.  I would like to know what prompts people to do that.  Our classes are scheduled until 9:50 at night.  If we get out early, so much the better, but  if we don't then we don't 

Honestly, though, that lack of caring and respect towards education is exactly why I am glad I teach at a college.  In high school, you are required to care whether or not the students care.  In college, I am there to teach the students who are there. If you show up and participate n my class, you'll get much more out of it.  If you choose to show up and not participate or not show up at all...  Well, that's your problem not mine.  I give the students plenty of opportunities to pass and give them more help than I probably should, certainly more help than Big Guy feels I should give them.  I do want them to pass though.  I want them to succeed. 

But, in the end, their choice whether to put forth the effort or not remains their choice.  If they choose not to, I cannot help them.  And that is the worst part of teaching.  I can't make them stay, I can't make them participate, I can't make them do what they need to.  All I can do is present the information and interact with those who are interested.   

Despite that, for some reason I do love to teach. I love getting in front of people and discussing the finer points of books or grammar. I like teaching a subject I am truly passionate about, and honestly, how can you NOT love the English language or grammar.  It's intricate and twisty because we stole so much from so many other languages. 

Part of that has to do with the British Empire's desire to control the entirety of the globe.  But it also has to do with everyone wanting to take of the islands of Ireland and England.  The Vikings and the French most notably donated quite a bit to the formation of the English language, but then the English went everywhere else on the crusades and, as a result, assimilated so much.

When you start explaining that to the students, they start to perk up and pay attention.  It gets better when you explain how all literature is tied in to sex and they start really listening.  All of a sudden, English becomes an interesting subject.  And my goal in teaching is that the majority of my students end up leaving my class more interested in the subject than when they started.  I think I'm doing OK. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Beg, Borrow and Write

So, if you haven't noticed, I have started a support this blogger page.  I read an article which smacked some sense into me and made me bite the bullet to do so.  It asked what your reasons were for writing your blog and pointed out that, if you want to earn money from blogging, you have to be shameless.  So, I swallowed my pride and have put up a bit of begging.  I apologize in advance. 

Now, I will admit, most of my motivation in putting fingers to keyboard and blogging stems from my own deep-seated need to write. As I explain to my writing students, writers have a love-hate relationship with writing.  It controls you, forces you to write and then smacks you upside the head.  The writing process sucks.  You put everything into your writing, and then you look at what you've created and, as a writer, realize that you think it sucks.  It's horrible.  So then you re-write, and re-write, and re-write...  Writing is a cruel mistress, capricious and mean. 

But, writing can also earn you a bit of cash.  I have done freelance writing for pay, and I have tutored in writing for pay. My real-world job involves teaching people how to construct viable essays and papers. And, I have obviously monetized this blog.  (Hello Google, thanks for giving me some pay.  I <3 you).  If you are a good enough writer, if your writing can resonate with people or interest them in some way, they will come back.  Most of the information you find on blogging says that you need to figure out what the hot topics are and write on those, but I am a stubborn, prideful little wench and tend to write about things that I find interesting. I have to accept that it may mean I will never become popular, but I also believe that the sheer force of my personality and the fact that I'm just so darn cute will win out over that. 

If it doesn't, I'll rely on the fact that my son is so darn cute. 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spiritual Sunday - Virtues and Vices

 Last Week

Virtues and vices go with the duality of the spirit.  I remember having to memorize both the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Godly Virtues in my days as a Catholic Schoolgirl (tm).  Almost everyone knows the seven deadly sins thanks to Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey.  The virtues are always a bit harder.  But, when you look at them, it's just common sense.  Most religions simply tell us what we already know, but need to hear nevertheless. 

The Operative: What is your sin?
Mal: Aw hell, I'm a fan of all seven.  But for now, I'm going to have to go with wrath.
- Serenity

Lust, Wrath, Greed, Gluttony, Pride, Envy and Sloth.  The Seven Deadly Sins.  That's a scary name for these items. The names themselves sound horrible, using the words that have the most negative connotations attached to them.  Wrath instead of anger, lust instead of desire, and sloth instead of laziness. It is designed, in part, to make us feel better about ourselves, because we are all guilty of following those sins.  I have reveled in feelings of anger and let them overcome common sense at times.  And we've all experienced lust, though not necessarily in a sexual way.  Have you wanted a higher position in your job and been willing to step on someones fingers to climb that ladder?  Have you wanted something so bad you could taste it and been willing to do anything to get it?  Well then, hello lust. 

The virtues, on the other hand, are more difficult to remember.  Humility, Mercy, Chastity, Patience, Love, Temperance and Fortitude.  They are a reminder that too much of a good thing becomes bad.  It's fine to take pride in your work, but you have to be humble enough to accept that there are things you can't do.  It's fine to want more, but that wanting needs to be balanced out with an acceptance that there are certain things you can't have or are not good for you.  People have a more difficult time remembering them because we are hardwired to pay attention to the things that are bad for us.  It's the adrenaline rush that goes with being bad. 

We like to think of ourselves as creatures that are normally morally good.  But we do need to embrace and accept the not so good side as well.  That dark side has enabled us to survive as a species.  I'm not suggesting that you give in to every whim that crosses your mind, nor am I saying that it's OK to screw over your fellow man to get ahead.  I am saying use common sense.  For the most part, we know right from wrong because our society has instilled it in us.  Follow your heart, and if you have to stop and ask yourself if you've gone too far, chances are you probably have.

Next Week