Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kabalarian Report- Pretty accurate actually.

The name Meghyn gives you a very inquisitive, restless, seeking nature. You feel impelled by intense desires that you cannot comprehend or satisfy. You have had the desire to accomplish something outstanding and to do something very worthwhile for humanity, especially early in your life. This name gives you a versatile, clever, analytical mind, but unfortunately you cannot direct your interest toward an undertaking for long, as you do not have the patience and practicality for systematic hard work and attention to detail. You resent obstacles, delays, and restrictions. This name gives you ambition, high ideals, and much creative ability, but the intense dynamic nature is too often spent in feelings and in moods, rather than in constructive action. You desire to be your own boss, yet you find it difficult to stabilize your life and to settle down and be accumulative. Your feelings swing from optimism to pessimism. When conditions are favourable and you are in a good mood, you are very generous, courteous, considerate, and thoughtful toward others. On the other hand, you can be very cynical and caustic, and you subject those around you to outbursts of temper and moods of self-pity. Your home-life particularly would suffer. This name has given you an appreciation for refinement, and the better things in life such as art, music, and literature. You can express a very friendly, debonair personality to strangers which invariably makes a very favourable impression. This name creates a high-strung, temperamental nature. You find you must wage a continual fight with yourself to control your lower nature. It has been your experience that once you lose control to indulgent habits, for example smoking or drinking, or to emotional outbursts, it is very difficult to regain control. You would be affected in the health through a sensitive solar plexus and nervous system. When in an overwrought state, you are subject to premonitions and uncontrolled thoughts which may lead to impulsive acts that you may later regret. Nervous disorders, nervous indigestion, and stomach ulcers are likely to appear.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Milo

Sometimes it makes me feel sick that I cannot do the things that people need to do for themselves. I cannot transfer any of my energy, my faith, or my drive to them when theirs is gone. Worse that there are things that I did that cannot be undone that may have made things worse.
Laziness, boredom, apathy. These things (amongst others) were sewn in the garden of Eden that fateful day. That cursed day.

"This time of year is the hardest for me."

Loving people is so much work. It requires so much. All day long, all night long. I fail at it daily, nightly. I get too lazy, too bored, too apathetic. Too busy.
No appropriate words for the melancholy right now.

I praise God for the joy I have. That this is not it; I'm not home yet.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Literature

This is my literature paper comparing two children's books. The information for the first book is all accurate. I changed or omitted the names of the book I didn't like to protect feelings in case anyone takes to googling themselves.

Two to Three Books

Two to three books. That is our average bedtime routine. Not for myself unfortunately, but for my kids. I use to have exclusive rights to the choosing of titles but recently I have let them choose for themselves as well. Sometimes my two year old picks out a book about the geographical features of Japan and sometimes (and this is much, much worse) my four year old picks out Dora the Explorer books. As a parent I want to forcibly instill values into my unwilling children by sneaking them in through literature. To do this the books need to do three basic things. Agree with my personal philosophies, be age appropriate, and entertain my children so they will listen and not race around the room making jokes that all have “underwear” as the punchline. It is easy to find an age-appropriate book with a message that encourages children to act in a responsible and pro-social manner.  Less handy is the book that does those things and holds their attention long enough to jam the message into their cartoon-damaged psyches.

So when my daughter Marley picked out Mo Willem’s “Can I Play Too?” I thought “this must be by that pigeon guy”. My assumption based on illustrations was correct. Pigeon guy it was but this book turned out to be a much finer thing than the slightly neurotic accounts of the pigeon who wants to drive a bus. We read it that night. It stood out amongst the other selections (not all that difficult as my son Solomon continues to choose only Lego City books or books featuring a ball of any type on the cover).

It met all three of my criteria for a winning book. My kids could follow along, they knew what was happening and they laughed at all the right places and better yet, they demonstrated the sympathy they felt for the characters. The book is about an elephant and a pig that are playing catch; a snake comes along and wants to play. The two do not agree at first to let him join then hesitantly explain to the snake it is because he has no arms and therefore cannot play catch. The snake pretends to be shocked but this turns out to be a joke and he expresses a willingness to try and play anyway. What follows is preschooler slapstick gold. The snake’s attempts result in many bonks to the head and ultimately to a feeling of failure. The snake begins to slink away but then pig buckles down and sets determinedly out to resolve this unfair predicament of nature. The issue is resolved when Elephant and Pig include their friend in the game of catch by using the snake as the ball, throwing him back and forth. Everyone is happy. Pig, Elephant, Snake, Marley, Solomon, and myself.

What does such a silly book show us? It clearly isn’t a page from Aesop’s Fables because it ends happily for everyone and the audience is still awake at the end (although this may not be a point in its favor considering its being read at bedtime). There is a message hidden comfortably within the light hearted play of the talking animals. Elephant and Pig are able to play catch because they have arms and Snake is physically unlike them, unable to partake in the game as they do. This is not unlike the child who may have a disability; be it poor vision or being confined to a wheel chair. No matter the degree of the difference between a child and what is considered by culture to be normal there will be an effect on that child’s development and how they interact with world around them.

When the Snake became discouraged in the book my daughter clucked disapprovingly at the situation. It offended her understanding of fairness that the Snake should be unable to do something the other friends were doing. When Pig decided that s/he would not accept the situation for what it was and set out to make it so that Snake would be included, Marley cheered. She was recognizing the behavior as being kind and correct. Exactly what I would want from her if she was faced with a situation where a disabled child wanted to join in on her play. I would want her to not accept defeat or the exclusion of the child but to seek out whatever change was necessary to include everyone. This sounds a bit idyllic I know. But teaching ideals is what I do and when the lesson is wrapped up in an adorable tale of talking animals, all the better.

Unfortunately, it is not all idylls and acceptance on talking animal island. You know when your relatives buy your kid a book and you peruse the thing making sure there isn’t a cusswords or misplaced syringes in the pages? Last September after checking a book given as a birthday gift to my son I had to pull a slip-it-under-the-couch maneuver. The thing was awful. By the third page I was ready to pull out my soap box (luckily the box is banned at birthday parties and other noncompetitive family-functions).

I can see why my sister-in-law purchased it. It is an appealingly sized hardback book with adorable illustrations and the dog in the book has the same name as our family dog. Obviously this book was meant for us, right? Well, it would have been if they had forgone all the words… or at least about three quarters of them.

“OHNOTWINKIEZ” begins with a picture of a yellow dog spending time with his owner BELINDA. Harmless except he is on a treadmill trying to lose weight because he is fat. Now I would have said overweight but the book actually uses the word fat. It also implied that ESCABAR became handsome only after becoming fit and losing twelve pounds. All of this happens on the first two pages. After ESCABAR becomes a more beautiful version of himself and loses the weight BELINDA gets him into agility training. Each task is timed or if failed met with a pronouncement of “fault!” Occasionally some disconnected information about what ESCABAR and BELINDA do besides train is interjected. It does nothing to make me like either of them more, only confuses the storyline. BELINDA hears about a dog show and ESCABAR agrees (via tail wagging) to compete. BELINDA grooms him and brushes his teeth because “…nobody likes a dog with bad breath.” I personally disagree with this statement. If my dog didn’t have bad breath (aka dog breath) I would suspect he was an alien imposter sent to overtake our planet and not my dog at all.  And if I did agree with it, I would certainly be more polite in saying it to my poor dog.

So they go to the competition, BELINDA scopes out the obstacles, six other dogs are competing, ESCABAR goes third, they walk to the starting line… (wondering why waste time giving such detailed nonessential information? I was wondering that too). ESCABAR completes the course perfectly but not fast enough. ESCABAR is unhappy to receive the third place ribbon, BELINDA is happy. They end with BELINDA suggesting they increase the treadmill time from 20 minutes to 25 minutes. See? Awful.

Besides the fact there is serious writing and storyline flaws there are other more insidious things at work here. Teaching children to refer to sensitive topics such as weight indelicately and worse, to associate weight loss with attractiveness. Let children be taught that beauty is achieved through health and the pursuits of the heart and mind and not a 20 minute run on the treadmill. I flipped through the book ignoring the words and looked only at the pictures. The story is much improved except the one image of a portly disgruntled and unhappy looking dog staring down at the dial on a scale.

Two to three books. A small window of opportunity to fit sneaky ideals and values into my children during their formative years. How long before they choose their own books and read them without my supervision? What books will they be inspired to read after reading “Can I Play Too?”? Atwood, Lee, Salinger? And what literature follows stories like “OHNOTWINKIEZ?”? Elle, YM, Cosmo, Stephenie Meyer? Thankfully some 22,000 children’s books are published each year and I have the luxury of being  hyper-vigilant and selective and I can still come out with maybe 5000 books to safely read and enjoy with my children. So even if we do manage to read two to three new books every night (instead of the same books over and over and over… and over) I would still have some 4000 to spare.

My point in this report is that a message need not be overt (like a fat dog needing to lose weight) to affect children. The more subtle message leaves room for introspection and personal interpretation, making the experience more relatable for the child, easier to apply to their own lives. Children often flourish with structure and parameters for behaviors but they don’t long to be preached to.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I survived Gator camp 2012

Marley: What do you call a clock?
Solomon: Ummm... Daddy!
They both laugh.
...

So on Saturday morning I take the kids and we head to Dunkin Donuts. I decide to drive past Dater to see if the line for first-come first-serve registration has begun. I wasn't 100% sure but I had a feeling that someone had started the line. I had driven by at 2am and there had been no one there. Well apparently they set up their tent at 3am.

There were 7 people in line by the time I got there at 8:30am. By noon all 7 of the preschool spots were gone. Which later it turned out there was only 6. I had the 3rd spot (for Solomon). I had the 5th spot for kindergarten (for Marley).

One by one the line just kept growing. There was a lot of speculation about how many spots there were for kindergarten, how many for preschool, what the process was when we finally got in the doors, what the rules about everything were, whether there would be line jumping drama... or a knife fight. People talked about their kids and their ages, where they went to school now, why they like Dater. They talked about their jobs, their spouses, all that stuff.

Each night we sat around fire pits. Every time we needed to use the bathroom we walked to Mercy Hospital's ER or UDF. Either our individual posses delivered us food or the collective arranged for communal food. A lot of  very kind people paid it forward and delivered us bagels, soup, sandwiches, tacos, cookies, brownies. Amazing kindness. It would have been easy street if it were not for the night and day of rain and the night when it was 28 degrees.

Now the 4th day- that is when it got interesting. That was registration day. The Dater principal had mercy and decided to open the doors at midnight rather than waiting till the next morning. We had to strike our tents and get rid of the camping stuff because kids were back in class (they had no school on Monday because Veteran's day). So we all got in our official order on the sidewalk in our chairs. Pretty dull until 4pm when the principal led us all up to wait by the doors instead of on the sidewalk. The reason it was exciting was because we were bodily moving towards our goal. Other than that nothing really changed. People were getting really anxious. Worrying more about line jumping drama (and potential knife fights). Sticking to their assigned spot in line.

Some of us didn't handle the change with rigid amounts of stress. I made a friend Jenny and she had a nervous energy to match my own. The fact that it was freezing helped because only moving helped to keep us warm. Jenny and I ran a foot race from the building to her car. She won because she ran through the extremely treacherous wet sand of the baseball diamond. Some people reportedly said that if we both got hurt or died that we forfeited our spots in line.

We decided to continue the epic battle for awesome supremacy. We engaged in slide-racing (three times, three ties; judged by a onlooking 6 year old). Speed peeing contest. Competitive art-critiquing. Thumb wars. 20 questions (no one won, that is an awful game). Dance off.

Then we played this really awesome game called Werewolf. There was about 13 of us playing. If you have never played Werewolf, I suggest you look into it and get a game going in your life. I was lynched multiple times and ravaged by werewolves. Probably owing to the fact that I have a loud annoying voice. We DID NOT play Red Rover. People were concerned that they would get hurt and have to go ER and that it would cost their spot in line.

At around 9:30 the principal let us into the building and we went to the auditorium to wait. Until Jenny discovered the gym was open and that the gym had a huge closet full of awesome stuff to play with. So after a race on little wheeled square things, a game of dodgeball was organized. 6 vs. 6 with a referee and many onlookers. My team was the losingest team but I blame my turtleneck, snow boots, double socks and pants.

After everyone was exhausted we decided to be a bit more tame. We played kickball. I was on the winnigest team that time. Much better game in my opinion.

Then it was time to sit quietly and try to stay awake until the magical midnight hour when we all got called in groups of ten to fill out our applications. I secured Marley's position as a 2013 Dater Gator and discovered that my preschool position for Solomon was lost because I was applying for free tuition. So he got waitlisted.
Can't win them all.

I met a lot of awesome people and loving parents.

I wonder how the rest of the campers are transitioning back to normal life in society. Not easy to go back after being the Mayor of Dater or the secretaries of fire stoking, grocery, defense, kickball, etc.

 
#occupydater

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Future and Fear

Blogger and IE both suck.
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I am not thrilled to be taking science courses (two of them). But this semester I discovered that I can accomplish math courses, with the help of God and no one else. Next semester I hope to discover that some sciences do not have to be a mind-numbing bore. Maybe.
I was SHOCKED to discover I needed additional Arts and Humanities courses. It feels as though I have only taken arts and psychology courses ever. So I enrolled in the Music of the Middle Ages class. I am pretty excited about it because the only music I listen to with any regularity is classical (although sometimes Pandora tricks me into straying). My favorite composers to date: Debussy, Hayden, Borodin. Borodin is especially interesting to me because he was a weekend warrior composer; he was a chemist to pay the bills. It makes brings some realism to the otherwise fantastic. If that makes sense to anyone but me, I don’t kno
So to finish the Associate of Arts I need the two science courses and one arts credit. In addition to those courses Cincinnati State requires a Co-op or internship. The plan is that I do the internship (read: unpaid) because it can be finished in one semester instead of two. This is desirable because it will be in a school and if I don’t finish in spring I will have to wait all summer to finish in fall. With the internship I can finish in spring and graduate in summer.
I am looking forward to the internship. It well help me to make sure this is what I want to do. Hopefully push away any lingering doubts about going into administration or business. Also the networking will be nice, since I don’t know many people in the CPS district and that is where I want to work. I am going for a seminar in literacy training in December with Cincinnati Reads. I am pretty excited about that as well as it will be my first concrete training in teaching.
Today during meditation at yoga I had some very powerful insights. It came to me that many of my problems (both internal and external) are caused by fear. Ex: I nag Bob to find a higher paying job because I worry about bills and food and expenses. I yell at my kids because I am afraid that if I don’t they will grow up to be gang members/inmates/prostitutes/politicians. I turn off the downstairs lights and then sprint up the stairs so nothing gets me.
It is all fear and it is all detrimental to the quality of my life.
Why would I push Bob to return to IT? He HATES IT. I hate when he is miserable. So how could that possibly improve our lives? By paying the bills? That sounds like a secular game of fending off misery with misery. Jesus told me I do not need to worry. If my faith is great why do I doubt that he will provide for me in His way, His time? He has provided for us for years during dire financial hardships. Through the generosity of family, through miraculous timing and other ways could be just called luck. He didn’t have to but He has earned my trust. So I am casting out fear. It may sneak back in. I will cast it out again.
In yoga my mind kept replaying the words “No more fear.” While it may sound like a bad motivational slogan, it really felt freeing. I don’t need fear, I have faith.
Speaking to that point… Bob and a coworker have been in deep discussions about going into a business venture together. A restaurant. Not much new there. Bob is always discussing entrepreneurship with someone. The difference is that they are developing a concrete action plan, writing an actual business plan. On Sunday they are going to view a location downtown. I am not convinced of the location but it has a good history of thriving restaurants. The previous occupants expanded and bought their own space in OTR. We will see. I shall not fear.
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”… If God is for us, who can be against us? From Romans 8
 
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
(last line omitted)
Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I am just going to eat brownie mix and have done with it.

There are inherent risks of being involved with a foodie. The obvious one of course is getting fat.

But some of the problems are not as obvious. My darling husband is a foodie. Some of you think of him as being a guy who enjoys the finer things, others of you happen to know my husband will eat just about anything if you give him a dollar.
Something you might not know is that my husband willingly harbors paranoia towards all things food-related (and politically-related, and woman-related, and Hulk Hogan-related).

He is never happier than when he is sitting in front of a screen playing the latest food conspiracy theory movie. Some movies you know, like Supersize Me and Food Inc. Others are incredibly obscure and low budget (I think he prefers these because the crazier people make them). I take no issue at all with him watching these movies. Do I poke fun at him when he eats the occasional Big Mac? You bet I do! He does not have any apparent qualms with engaging in gastronomical hypocrisy.

Him watching the movies is not the problem. No the problem is he watches them at our house... Where I live. I walk through the living room and suddenly I feel like maybe I might be the worst mother in the world because I gave my kids something truly sinister like... corn.

I can't eat foods with GMOs because I will be eating synthetic poison, I cannot eat organic foods because I will be ingesting organic poison, I can't eat meat because I will then be subscribing to fat-sucking chest-pounding animal murder. I can't eat corn. At all. Ever. Ditto, Wheat.
Chicken will kill you. Potatoes (strawberries, grapes, tomatoes) may or may not be a tool of oppression, Cows should be given the vote. Spinach is good for you.

Wait. What! A food I can eat? Well I CAN eat it but it has to be raw because cooking it just sucks all the good nutritional qualities right out of it rendering it useless intestinal fodder. Well I can just have it in a salad. Of course, a salad.

BUT NO DRESSING AND DON'T YOU DARE PUT EGGS, NUTS, OR CROUTONS ON IT.

EGGS!? Are they good or bad for me this week?
What if they are raised locally? Grain fed? Free range?
What the heck are those eggs doing ranging around anyway?

 So as far as I can tell, the only thing I can eat that will sustain my spiritual, physical and cognitive being is (organic, locally and sustainably harvested)  blueberries. And I think they are gross.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thankfulness every day and Life updates

Day 1. Thankful for being able to go to school in the same building as my kids.
Day 2. For my desk.
Day 3. I am thankful to Crayola, RoseArt, etc. for making art affordable.
Day 4. Day 4...? I am thankful for my husband who tells me what day it is (but he is downstairs and cannot confirm the date and I really can't be bothered to mouse-over the clock right now.)
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So we did not win a spot at Dater Montessori via the "Your-area-school-is-not-so-good lottery" but we are on watch to see if/when the camping begins for the first-come first-serve registration. Doors open at midnight on the 13th of this month. I heard there were 25 spots, 20 spots and most lately 22 spots. I have no doubt we will be able to get to the camping line in time to be in the first 20.

Bob: I want to camp but I'm not looking forward to it with a bunch of crazy moms.
Me: I am!
Bob: Uh huh.
...
Solomon takes longer than Marley to fall asleep and tonight he was working on falling asleep and singing Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes and the Birthday Song. He can say a lot of words but he is in the stage where I am the only person who can understand most of them.
"I want orange juice."
"Mommy I'm tired."
"Marley hit me." (Their favorite game is kung-fu these days) (also known as the game where they take turns saying "S/he hit me!")
"Water in cup."
"Baby powder."

Mommy I'm tired is by far my favorite phrase. Not just because it gives me hope that he may slow down long enough for me to grab him and stick him in his bed but it is adorable. It smacks of that quickly fading baby-vulnerability. It makes me sad knowing that this is likely my last 2 year old.
...
My book is going swimmingly, except when the plot confuses me. That is bad. The plot should not confuse the author, in my opinion.