Thursday, June 28, 2012

Free Writing

I went to a conference this week. I wasn't sure what to expect from the Education and Business Summit, since I'm not a business teacher. My step-mom was skeptical too, but I did manage to come away with some good ideas for things to do in my classroom.

One of my favorite sessions was "Which Disney Character Are You?". I am a Disney girl. I have been a fan since I was little. However, I'm not a big Princess person. Maybe I've always been a tomboy at heart. My favorite Disney character was, is, and shall always be Winnie the Pooh, or Pooh for short. He is a bear of "very little brain", but he has a heart that is larger than anyone else's. The presenter, Ms. Flowers, asked us to think about Disney characters and their leadership. She used examples (movie clips!!) from Toy Story (Woody), Up (Ellie), and Mulan (Mulan). We discussed their different leadership styles. I was really hoping for some kind of multiple-choice quiz, but was disappointed. Ah, well. We did get to watch movie clips, so that's a win in my book.

Another session that I really enjoyed was titled "Personal Narrative: Writing to Find a Career You Love". The presenter was again Ms. Flowers. And yes, I got her contact info, because she was GOOD! In this session, she gave us some information, and then gave us some instructions on how to do a free-write. It involved writing, without stopping, whatever came into our heads, whether it had to do with the topic or not. Not worrying about grammar, or punctuation, or spelling. What a great thing to tell students. We just want to get them writing.

At that point, she gave us a prompt and told us to write for ten minutes. My first thought was '10 minutes!? Is she crazy?' I couldn't imagine writing for that long, nonstop. The topic was "When I was six years old, I wanted to be..." I managed to write for the allotted ten minutes, without stopping. I wrote a whole page of notebook paper. I wished there had been more time, because the end kind of snuck up on me. Wow! Of course, my hand was terribly sore. It took several minutes for it to feel normal again. Then it was time for prompt #2: "Before I die, I really want to ..." If you'd like to see it, here you go:

Before I die, I really want to have one of those big anniversaries. I've been married for 12 years so far, which is not a terribly long time. I don't even mean 25 years, though that seems like a worthy goal. And that one isn't too far off, so it's too easy. I want to make it to 50, ideally to 75. I know that a lot of it has to do with how long I live, which I don't really know how long it will be. But my paternal grandparents celebrated their 50th Anniversary - silver - back in 1998. I remember  the big service in the church. My cousin Kelly gave a beautiful speech about how inspiration their marriage was to all 16 of us grand kids. There was a reception to celebrate afterwards. All of the family was there. Us from here in SC; my aunt and uncle from CO. It was a beautiful celebration. You could really tell that grandma & grandpa still loved each other. Not too long after that, Grandpa passed away. I will never forget the morning I got that call. Even though Grandma lived for several more years after that, it seemed like she was just doing time until she could join him.
My maternal grandparents celebrated their 50th too. What is it about that generation? Were they a special kind of people, or are we today missing something fundamental?

Anyway, I just wanted to share. I particularly liked this one, and again felt let down that the time had ended. I plan to keep editing that one, to make it something special. Wonder if I can come up with a topic to free write on with my students. For them six wasn't really that long ago, and they are too young to think about what to do before they die. Any suggestions? 

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Bestie Rocks!

My best friend since forever (high school) recently was kind enough to mention my blog on her blog. She got this neat-o award: the Kreativ Blogger Award. [Which kind of bothers me, because can you at least spell "creative" right?]

She is totally deserving of this award. Michelle, over at Dry Spell, is an AMAZING writer. She always has been. When we were in school, we would write these stories about our alternative selves, doing things we would never have the courage to do in real life. We all three wrote them, Mich, Suzy, and I. The Awesome Threesome. Smiling now at the memory.

Anyway, I thought I'd give her a shout back out, since she is so phenomenally wonderful. At being a friend. At being a mom. At being a daring cook. At being a photographer - seriously! And especially at being a writer. Because she is. A WRITER. She has been retelling our story from the Lake Austin Spa Resort trip, the one I tried to describe and couldn't. I just can't find the words. Michelle, on the other hand, is telling the story in the most beautiful prose imaginable. This was her first post about it: Tuna Cavatappi Be Damned. Start there, and tell me if you can't wait to read more. I was there, and I still can't wait to read. 

So, even though she didn't really nominate me, I wanted to say THANK YOU, Michelle. It is an honor to be mentioned in your top 10 blogs, even though I am a sporadic writer at best.

I'm not going to do all that other stuff, like telling you about myself or nominating other blogs. Mostly because I wouldn't know what to say about me or other blogs to send you to. I don't have time to be online reading anything, other than Michelle's blog. I do keep up with some of my favorite writers on their blogs, but not often enough. Darn kids. 

By the way, the silence this afternoon? Feels good! 

Ahhhhh! Bliss! 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Sound of Silence

Ahhh, bliss!

What do I hear?


Well, just the air conditioner.

I'm in a hotel. By myself. Yeah, that's right. No kids. :)  No husband. :(

I'm going to a conference for a few days. For work. And they're putting me up at a hotel. My own room! With two beds! I can bed hop from night to night!

But it's so quiet. There's no TV going. There's no whispering in another room. There's no sound of snuffling and snoring through a baby monitor.

What? I'm what? Lonely?

But I've been looking forward to enjoying some quiet time! (Imagine this in a whiny voice.) With three boys at home, don't I deserve to enjoy some peace and quiet?!

Don't you hate it when you look forward to something for a while, then the reality falls short of what you were imagining? Like at Christmas, after you saw Santa. You'd given him your list, and you just knew that he was going to finally bring that Barbie Dream House. Then on Christmas morning - no Barbie Dream House. "Guess Santa ran out of those!"

Whatever, Mom and Dad.

Why am I not enjoying this lovely, quiet time? I can read in peace, without someone interrupting me. (Honey, I'm looking at you!) I can write my post without someone looking over my shoulder. I could go get a drink from the vending machine and I wouldn't have to share!

Oh, man! I miss my kids! I miss their whispers. I miss the snoring. I miss the jumping up to give me a hug goodnight. I miss their sweaty, little boy smell. Okay, not that. But the rest, I do.

I miss my hubby. I miss his cuddling on the couch ... well, I won't really go into all that. Let me just say, I miss his incessant TV watching too. Who am I going to watch Franklin and Bash with Tuesday night? I might have to turn the TV on, just so I feel like he's here with me.

Hope my babies will be okay without their mommy. Hope mommy will be okay without her babies.

Well, I have two more nights to enjoy my silence. Maybe the quiet will feel less empty tomorrow.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Too Much Fun!

Wow. Just wow.

This was the first week of crazy summer vacation. I don't know what I was thinking. I get these ideas in my head, like HEY! Let's do fun stuff! In the summer!

And I forget that I'm the only adult in the house, which means I'm the responsible one. Ha.

So Monday, we went to the zoo. It went well. The boys insisted on posing with every single brass statue animal that they could find. And of course, I had to take their pictures. And of course my stupid camera on my stupid phone wasn't working properly. So I lost about half of the pictures I took. And if I can figure out how to get the pictures it did take onto my Chromebook, I will surely post them. Because my kids are nothing if not cute. Very cute.

We saw most all of the animals, except that damn komodo dragon. All the signs pointed to the reptile house, but then D-man had a dirty diaper while we were looking at the crocodile, so we had to skip the last bits. Little disappointed there. Luckily, my mom and her partner renew our family membership every year, so we can go back as much as we want.

We ran into any number of zoo workers on this trip. They were so nice about answering questions from the boys. We learned about alligators, saw an ostrich pee (had nothing to do with zookeepers), and learned about flamingos. I don't know that we've ever had that happen before. Guess we should go on Monday's more often.

One of my favorite parts of the day was when we visited the bird enclosure, where the penguins are housed. I've seen penguins. The boys like the penguins. We've seen Happy Feet, and Happy Feet Too. But nothing prepared me for sitting down next to my 13-month-old and watching him watch penguins for the first time. Oh. My. God. He was thoroughly delighted by the birds as they swam past him over and over. You'd think that God had made the penguins just for him! He giggled, he laughed out loud, he banged on the glass with his little baby hands. It was sweet and adorable. And I sat next to him and enjoyed it.

Life with a baby. It is truly wonderous.

Tuesday we chilled at home, but Wednesday I was up for another adventure. It was an indoor kind of day (read: f*ing hot!), so we went to EdVenture Children's Museum.

We also have a family pass to EdVenture, and we go about every 3 or 4 months. I am continuously fascinated by this place. Every time we go, there is some new exhibit. It is perfect for kids!

This time, they had giant, kid-sized games: chess, checkers, tic-tac-toe, floor hockey, Jenga, cornhole, and Battleship!!! Giant, freakin Battleship. Sadly, my boys do not know how to play Battleship, so we had to forgo that one. For now. It was too much for me to explain the rules, and keep track of the baby. They played chess (Cheese won) and Jenga (B-rex won). And D-man just played on the cornhole thingys. Yes, again, there are pictures. On my phone. I'm working on it!

There is also an exhibit called Moneyville, which has an educational slant to it. It's supposed to show kids about budgeting, figuring out what change to give, even a stock market game. (Cheese wanted to play that, but I couldn't help him figure it out. I don't understand the stock market.) There was also a station where you could make your own "bucks." I made Dino Dollars, with my picture on them!! The boys got to make their own too. You could even print them out, which of course we did. Now the boys want me to make copies of their "bucks" so they can "have 12 million dollars!" It's cute. Delusional, but cute.

One of the neat things about EdVenture is the baby areas. They understand that little guys (and gals) need their own place, since most of the exhibits are for bigger kids. So D-man hung out in the newly revamped toddler room, for 3 and unders only. There's a giant tree with a slide, a boat, and a baby area. There is also a new section in the construction area that is just for little ones. He got to play with toddler sized cars on a toddler sized table. It was fantastic!

The last stop in EdVenture was the outdoor water area. It's not a water park, just an area that shows how currents work and some other environmental stuff. The boys got soaked. Like, got cold in the air conditioning of the car, soaked. Even the baby! They all had to change clothes when we got home.

Once home, we left again after D-man decided that a nap was not for him. We went swimming with some friends from church. Yay! Swimming! We were there for two hours. And the boys went back again today. Oh my.

And did I mention that we've also had vacation Bible school all week, in the evenings? And I'm volunteering in the nursery. There are only 3 little dudes in there (Thanks, God!), so Miss Dawn and I get to chat. But it still means eating early (and therefore cooking early) so we can get there by 6:00. And it also means that the boys aren't getting to bed before 9:00. Thank God for summer, so they can sleep a little later!

Tomorrow is Friday. The plan is to chill with church friends in the morning, then get ready for the family night VBS picnic. And at some point I need to finish doing laundry, since we're going to the in-laws lake house for the weekend. Then the boys and I are going to Greenville for a few days, since I have a work conference. Hmmm... so much to do! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thoughts on Reading

As I sit here on my bed, next to my oldest son who is reading Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix, I am reminded again of how important reading is. I love books. Really. A lot. I am happiest when there is a book in my hands, and I am curled up in a chair (on a couch), perhaps with a blanket over my legs for comfort. I have always loved to read. My parents said that they started reading with me when I was a baby, and I was "reading" along with them before I'd started kindergarten. I remember walking up to the Square in Oxford, MS, when I was in elementary school, so I could go to Square Books and look. I'd beg/borrow money from my parents to buy new Babysitters Club or Sweet Valley High books.

I read for pleasure, to get out of my regular life. To be transported to other places where everything worked out in 150 pages or less. I knew it wasn't real, but it was still nice. It's not that home life was bad, except for my bratty little sister who followed me everywhere. My parents split up when I was 11, but Mom was still at our house every day getting us ready for school and meeting us when the bus dropped us off. But I still loved that escape.

In high school and college, I don't think I read as much. Who does? Who has time to read books just for fun? There is so much required reading. Those books that are assigned just didn't have the same pull for me as the ones I could CHOOSE to read. But I didn't do a lot of reading. Just the bare minimum to get by and get decent grades.

Now, I am back where I was when I was in elementary and middle school. Especially now, in the summer. On vacation. I go to the library at least once a week. I would just as soon sit all day and read. This wouldn't be a problem, except for the three little people who also live at my house. Those darn kids!

Hubs and I read to our oldest all the time when he was a baby. The large, 5-shelved bookshelf in the boys' room is testament to that. It's full of books, from first chapter books to Harry Potter. When boy #2 came along, we didn't have as much time to read. It was a lot different chasing after 2 boys. A lot of the time, I feel like I shortchanged #2 (B-rex) in the book department. I know all kids are supposed to be different. They are people, you know. But Cheese (the oldest) loves books like I do. He reads incessantly, working his way through any series he is interested in. (That he can get his hands on, he says.) But B-rex doesn't like to read. Is this my fault? Should I have taken more time to read to him, with him, when he was a baby? He's almost 8 now, is it too late?

With the youngest, D-man, I am making more of an effort. To read. One of his first words (sounds) was "boooo", meaning book. I know this, because he is usually holding a book out toward me when he makes the sound. I love that he loves books. He doesn't always sit still for a whole one, but he brings me one a lot. The same ones. Over and over. That's okay though, because it's just the beginning.

I'm passing on my love of books to my sons. I'm teaching them that it's possible to travel in your mind, if not with your body. I'm hoping they learn to look outside of themselves, to see the world in a slightly different way. That's the joy of books. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lucky or Blessed?

So, you go on vacation for a week, and life goes on without you.

I entered a contest over on The Dose of Reality to win a copy of one of three books. The one I was really looking to win was Jen Lancaster's newest, but I would have been happy to win any of them. I LOVE books!

Turns out that my lucky streak isn't over yet. I won a copy of YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG by Michael Ian Black, the comedian. I'm sure this is going to be a hilarious read. So thanks to Ashley! And everybody go check her out. It's a great blog!

And about vacations, if you have not made time to vacation in Atlanta, GA, please do so. We were there for four days, and did not get a chance to do everything. Granted, that was probably because we slept in until 10:00 one day after staying up for a Braves game. The only drawback was that the hotel pool was too cool to swim in.

The city has so much to offer. We visited the World of Coke, which I thought was going to send my oldest over the edge. We spent an afternoon at Olympic Centennial Park. It is a beautiful, open area. It has two playgrounds, one specially designed to accommodate all kinds of children. It was perfect for our littlest guy. As stated above, we went to a Braves game. Which they lost to the Yankees. Blech. But we did go on Craig Kimbrel bobble-head night. Rockin! And we had to stop in at LegoLand - because our middle son would have mutinied for sure.

One day, the whole day, we spent at Stone Mountain Park. I had never been there before. Honestly, we could have spent two or three days there easily. We did not have time to do any hiking, or to visit the farmyard. We did not get to watch the video on Sherman's March, which my kids were actually interested in. I'm hoping we'll get back there again, maybe to stay on the property for a longer time. Seriously, it's great.

So, what's next on our summer agenda? Vacation Bible School. Every evening this week. Then I'm off again, to Greenville for a conference. No moss is growing under me this summer!

And I may go out and buy a lottery ticket. Can't hurt, right?

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Best and Worst of Times

I recently read the book THE FIRST HUSBAND by Laura Dave. It was enjoyable. One of my favorite parts of the book was when the main character, Annie, met Griffin. He also ends up being a main character, but not exactly in the same way. You kind of feel like he's going to be important, as Annie's just had this life-changing experience. And there's this handsome stranger. You know how it is. They get to talking about who they are. And Annie starts to ask Griffin about his ex.

But Griffin doesn't want to rehash the past. He thinks that it's better to live in the present. Which is true. But he has this policy of telling one best thing and one worst thing about the relationship. Which strikes me as very smart. Instead of bringing all this emotional baggage to someone who may or may not stick around, just condense it. And why would a stranger want to hear all your hang ups anyway? Right?

 So, Hubby and I recently celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary. That may not seem like a lot to everybody. But it's a huge milestone to me, since my own parents didn't even make it twelve years. This has seemed like a good goal to me. And we made it! Hubby didn't see that it was a huge deal, as his parents have been married almost 39 years. Wow! You can see how twelve might be small potatoes to him.

 We went out to dinner to celebrate. While at dinner, I decided to spring this best and worst idea on him. After all, it's just too much to rehash all twelve years. It would've taken all day! But we were each able to come up with something. And they were different for both of us. It was a nice conversation starter.

 So, what would you say. What has been the best moment of your current relationship? What has been the worst moment? Think about it.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


"I do not think that word means what you think it means." ~ The Princess Bride

Yeah, I went there. I love that movie. But that particular scene reminds me of this past month. Just when I thought some event couldn't possibly happen, it did. Or when I thought things couldn't get any better, they did. It was a serious HIGH!

First, Cheese's soccer team won the State Cup. Now, I know it's a U9 soccer league, and his team was not in the highest bracket. But the fact remains that the team won FOUR games that weekend. They got a trophy. They got medals. And capped off a season that went from cold and miserable in Atlanta, to warm and ecstatic in Sumter. It was magical. Inconceivable.

Next, "my girls" beat a very tough BMS team to win the District Championship. Yes, it's middle school soccer. But we beat them 2-0, after going into OT the first time we played them. And we went UNDEFEATED on the season, 12-0.  My first season as a coach. It was completely unbelievable. Inconceivable.

And I got an email that would change the end of my school year. No, I didn't quit, or change jobs, or get fired. I won a contest.

To meet the author, Claire Cook.

In Austin, TX.

At Lake Austin SPA & Resort.

All. Expenses. Paid.

This kind of stuff doesn't happen to people like me. Sure, someone has to win those contests. You see pictures and posts of stuff like this all the time. But not to people I know. And NEVER to me. (Guess I can't say that now.) Inconceivable!

Like I said, it was a crazy month. There was a lot of winning involved. I hope I didn't use up all  of my good karma.

Maybe I should let more cars pull out in front of me when I'm driving. Or go volunteer at a soup kitchen. Something to balance the good with the bad - which is not totally my fault. I mean, I have three kids!

Anyway, go do something nice for somebody. Maybe you can have something good happen to you too!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Beginning Another Summer

It is officially the second day of summer vacation 2012. What have we done at my house? Nothing. Well, we've made a mess of Calvin and Hobbs books and cleaned up. We've spilled a glass of orange juice and one of apple juice. We've looked at picture books. And we've watched the Wonderful Wizard of Ha's about 20 times. We went out to dinner, we ate Pop Tarts, we are finishing some Twizzlers. But nothing of note has occurred.

It has rained. For pretty much two straight days. Yuck! If it were just me and the two older boys, I wouldn't even notice. They are big and resilient. They don't mind running through the rain. They enjoy jumping in puddles of water, especially in their brand new shoes. They like the adventure of dodging raindrops.

However, now I have a 13-month-old. He does not enjoy the rain, or the cool temps that come with it. I do not want to take him out in rain, for fear that the constant drip from his nose will not take a break. I don't want my sweet baby boy to get wet. He doesn't get to walk through rain puddles or dodge raindrops. He gets to watch the rain through the window in the comfort of our living room.

Am I wrong for this? Should I let him experience the falling rain? The joys of spinning in circles while rain falls? The fun of splashing your mom (ME!!) when you jump into a particularly good puddle? I don't know.

I am not a helicopter.

I am not a bad mommy.

I have to keep telling myself that, while I watch him wander from room to room, picking up the same toys over and over. Yet, he's only a baby. He doesn't even remember what toys he has, so I don't think he's suffering much. It's just me, being overly concerned, wanting to do everything right this third time around. Wanting to be perfect for him, so he can grow up to be perfect.

I must be delusional.