Saturday, February 23, 2013

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be A.....

One of the things I enjoy about the link-within feature that I use on my blog, is every once in a while I get to go back and read something from my archives that makes me laugh right out loud. Today's 'You Might Also Like' brought me to this gem from almost 5 years ago that I cleverly titled, 10 Things I Rock At In No Particular Order. I particularly enjoyed number 4.

4. Nagging. My kids will tell you that I'm a world class nagger. I like to tell them it's because they are world class avoiders, and it's their fault I have to nag over and over and over about the same dumb crap. You'd think they'd like to only hear shit once, and get it over with. But alas, this isn't the case. I think they like my voice so much, they need to hear it on a constant basis.

Nothing has changed on this front in the five years since I wrote it, except that I probably would've left out the cuss words. My kids still avoid the things that they don't want to do, and I still have to nag them until I feel like blood will come out of their ears. In honor of this treasure I thought I'd write a new meemee, so today I give to you:

10 Things I Would Be If Money Were No Issue (In No Particular Order)

1. Sheep Farmer. Not only would I have sheep, I would have a few Alpaca, because Alpaca are sheep protectors. I love the idea that I could take the wool from my own sheep, have it shorn, cleaned, carded, and then spin it and knit it into whatever my heart desires. How cool would that be? (I'd also have chickens and a few goats, because fresh eggs are the bomb and goats milk makes the best soap for my cranky skin).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Your Servant is Ready and Willing

The roaring of the wind jerked me awake out of a heavy sleep yesterday morning. A blinding migraine had sent me back to bed after silencing my alarm and when I awoke again to the angry howl of the wind it was almost 9am. I lay there, cozy in my bed for a few minutes while I took an assessment of the situation at hand. I determined that my both my head and my stomach still felt out of sorts, a carryover from the previous day and a result of hormonal fluctuations of which I have no control over. I basked in the warmth of the sun which was shining through the two windows that flank both sides of the headboard of our bed. Getting up at 5am rarely presents me with that opportunity and I considered, briefly, spending the day there.

Being home again today, with a slightly duller headache, and feeling much better now that the day has gone on, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of thinking. I've been reflecting on my job, and where it's going and how things are changing and how I feel about it all. I've been thinking about my life and what I want from it and where I would like to see it go. The only thing I know for sure, is that I don't like where my job is going.

I always knew I wanted to grow up and be a teacher. I went from wanting to be a Kindergarten teacher, to an Art teacher to just teaching kids whatever it was that they needed to know. I have spent a lot of years working at my job and I love working with the kids, I just hate all the changes the administration is making and the direction they are taking us in. They are sucking all the joy out of learning, and all the love out of teaching. I haven't ever considered what I would do if I wasn't working at my school, working with those kids.

I read something today that has stuck with me, because I keep seeing the same quote over and over again lately. 'Paul assures us, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion”  (Philippians 1:6).' I feel in my heart, that I'm being called to something else. That a transition time is coming, and I'm completely open to the idea of it, even if it scares me. I just wish I knew where I was headed, what His plans are for me, what that 'good work' is. Here I am Lord, your servant is ready and willing.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Who Doesn't Love a Good Book?

Every year, the people who are in charge of such things (because I've forgotten who it is exactly) put together a list of the most controversial books that should be banned from being read in public learning institutions. Back when it was just "the banned book list", I had a goal of reading all of the books on the list. I believe at the time there were 100 of them. Now that the list changes every year, and I can't be bothered to keep up with it, I have abandoned that goal and I'm just happy when I can fit in reading of any kind.

This morning, while puttering around on the internet in an attempt to procrastinate doing some other things, I found this gem. It's a list of books  the BBC put together a bunch of years ago. They asked, "What is your favorite novel?" and in doing so, compiled a list of the top 200 most favorite books in the UK. I scrolled down that list, recognized a lot of my own well loved favorites, and decided to take it on as a challenge. I'm going to read all 200 of them, even if I've read them before and loved them or hated them (including Flowers in the Attic which squeaks me out). I'm not giving myself a deadline, but I'm going to post that list here, so that I can come back to it, and cross them off as I'm done. I think based on the titles, I'm going to have to dedicate a blog post here and there to book reviews as well. Anyone care to join in?

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien  
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen  
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman  
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams  
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling  
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee  
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne 
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell  
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis 
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë  
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller  
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë  
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks  
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier  
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger 
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame 
 17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens 
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott  
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres  
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy  
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie 

101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Misérables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz

151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence Life of Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews

Monday, February 11, 2013


It was a rotten day at school. One of those days that leaves me staring out the window as I silently count how many hours until I can leave to go home. Today had the added benefit of snow falling which was nice, until it turned to freezing rain and sleet which just darkened my already ugly mood. Someone announced that there were only 9 more days until winter break, and I wasn't sure if I should be happy about that or not, which didn't help matters either. On top of that the kids were behaving awful, and due to the weather they were stuck inside all day long. By the time I walked out the door and started down the sidewalk for home I felt as miserable as the day had been.

I got home to discover that the road crews had been by and widened the roads today by pushing more snow off to the side of the road. This resulted in huge snowbanks piled up in the spaces at the end of both my driveway and the walk that we had shoveled out on Saturday. On Saturday after it had snowed we were dealing with several feet of fluffy, light snow. Today, after a day of freezing rain and warmer temperatures, it was a wet and heavy mess. I looked at it, determined that there was no way the van was going to be able to make it into the driveway and walked into the house.

I put my school things away, had a snack, and that ugly voice in my head, the one that can't seem to shut up these past few days, told me I should just leave it there. Why should I do anything nice for him, when he can't even ask what's bothering me? Why should I care if he is going to get home and it's going to be almost dark and then he's going to have to spend several hours out shoveling? Then that other voice, the one that is much nicer, reminded me that he would do it for me. That if our roles were reversed, and I was out with the car and he had gotten home first, he wouldn't even consider NOT shoveling out the snow.

So I finished my snack and headed out and spent an hour and a half shoveling the nastiest, heaviest snow out of the the end of the driveway and walk. Whoever said that exercise created endorphins that make you feel better is a dirty rotten liar. I did not feel any better when I was done. I was still in a rotten mood and now my shoulder, which has hurt since school started was killing me and my elbow, which hasn't hurt since school started was hurting again. This all just made me feel more crabby and I was standing in the kitchen blowing my nose after just finishing when The Boy™ walked in the door. He was all chipper and made some announcement about how I was a super star for having shoveled, which just pissed me off more, because I hadn't wanted to do it in the first place.Here we are, 3 hours later, and he still hasn't said much more than that, other than to tell me about some stuff from work. I can't get that voice in my head to stop yelling out: you should've just left the snow there!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Being a Mess is Exhausting

The words come out snappier than I intended them to and the look on his face flashed a glimmer of hurt. After several days of poor communication and crying in the shower, or in the quiet corners of the school house, I didn't care. That ugly voice inside yelled out, "Good! I've been over here hurting all week and what have you cared?" I didn't say that out loud, because I've been trying to get better about voicing those ugly thoughts that come when I'm feeling so broken and defeated, but that doesn't mean they have quieted down any.

I went to bed, and lay there alone with my thoughts. He had promised earlier in the week to take care of some things before it was time for bed, so that we could go to bed together, and hadn't followed through on that. I wasn't really surprised. He hasn't followed through on anything he's promised me this past year of struggle that we've been caught up in. He might make a small effort for a little while, but then he stops and things go right back to how they have been. It's been the same story for our entire relationship.

The next day the school district gave us the day off in preparation for the biggest blizzard of the century. I got up, the same as every other day, and went about my morning. After I was done all the usual morning things, and had wasted some time on the internet waiting for him to get up, I painted the second coat on the trim in the radio room. Disgusted at how late it was, I picked up my crochet project, and put a Netflix movie on my laptop. Behind my movie, I started a list of reasons why I should leave. A list of things that he can't seem to care enough to do anything about. He came down 5 hours after I got up and asked me how I slept. When you've been up for 5 hours, it's kind of a moot point how you slept, and I've explained that before. It was the start of an ugly morning, and a big tear involved conversation. Except, like most conversations, I seem to do all the talking and he just sits there and says nothing. I'm pretty sure that was on the list.

Ann Voskamp wrote that  "Poor communication doesn’t disconnect souls — it’s the disconnected souls who poorly communicate. When we’re well attached, we communicate well and when we aren’t fully communicating it’s because we don’t feel connected.
No matter our age, it never stops, this need to feel securely attached, and messy marriages can be because of attachment disorders. That’s what good relationships are: safe havens in the world, this base that makes us brave to venture out into the world — and safe to come home."  I couldn't agree with her more.

We had one good day yesterday, and today we are right back to where we seem to stay. That list? The one that I deleted after our long conversation was over? It had one reason why I should stay on it. Because I love him. In my heart, I have to believe that it's enough. That it's enough to deal with all the rest of this, and that someday, in the end, it will all be worth it. Or this was all for nothing.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Go Red For Me

A heart can go along beating like everything is just fine, until one day, it's not. Something goes awry and a signal gets crossed and all at once things start going haywire and a once strong and functioning muscle is silenced. Broken.

Years ago, in a too bright room, on a hard, cold table, a very unperson-able cardiologist explained to me how my own heart wasn't quite working correctly. They had monitored it for 24 hours and out of 116,000 beats, 13,000 had originated in the atrium and were premature. I also had an EKG done, and they showed me on the screen how the different bumps show where the beats originate from, what happens when the early beat is going on, and what my heart is doing after the long pause while it resets itself. They call it a slam, and sometimes, when my heart is racing because of stress, or exercise, I can feel it, and I know why it's called that.

On top of that, and having low blood pressure, I have postural hypotension, which is a radical drop in your blood pressure upon standing (or in my case: standing, bending over and straightening, going from squatting to standing, getting up from a lying down position, spinning around too quick.. etc, etc). Normally, when you stand up, the blood vessels constrict to maintain your normal BP in the new position. In people with postural hypotention, that mechanism doesn't work correctly and when you change position, the sudden reduction in blood flow to your brain causes you to get extremely dizzy or faint. Add low blood pressure to the mix, and it's all kind of  magnified.

None of the previously mentioned things are dangerous on their own, or even all together. I do have to be careful when I move from one position to another, especially if it's quickly, and I try to stay hydrated because dehydration makes it so much worse. My heart has what they consider "benign" beats. I suffer from reduced oxygen flow, which on top of the low bp makes my body temperature lower than most peoples and contributes to the fact that I am always cold. It also causes swelling issues with my hands and feet and occasional nausea (which I didn't understand then, nor do I now). They concluded that I was likely born with this condition and a chat with my father confirmed that when I was a little girl they mentioned an irregular heartbeat and told him it was common and not to worry about it. I was 33 when I found out, and he hadn't thought about it in all those years.

February, on top of being the month of love and sappy romance commercials that make me want to gag, is the month that National Heart Association promotes it's "Go Red for Women" campaign. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death among women. Did you know that in a woman, the signs of a heart attack mimic indigestion and are vastly different than those of a man? Inform yourselves. Learn CPR. Wear red at least one day this month, if not for yourself, do it for me.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

If It Makes You Happy

I have a love/hate relationship with facebook. I think that it's fantastic for keeping in touch with people who live far away and sharing photos and such, but I can't stand all the "click like if.." and drama that comes along with it. One of the things I do like however, is that my son shares fascinating articles that he reads on the internet through his page. He has a job doing some sort of web thing that involves him sitting at his computer for hours on end, and while he is there, he uses his second monitor for other non-job related things like chatting with his friends and keeping up with his news feeds.

Last week he shared an article from about the happiest sounding words in the English language. It was an interesting article, based of a study that the University of Vermont did last year, which had at least a half dozen variants of the world laugh in the top 20. Mental_floss went through the list and picked out their top 25 favorites and shared the list and I found the whole thing a great read. Of course, I shared it on my facebook page along with the quip, "I'm not sure I can stand behind a list that doesn't include the word 'snow-day', but this is a great article!".

Then I got to thinking about it, and I haven't stopped since. What you think are the 25 happiest sounding words in the English language are surely going to differ from what I think are the 25 happiest sounding words. There are a lot of variables here to consider. How old a person is, their life experiences, gender, current mental state, if they have children or even like children and if they are employed. I'm sure there are a lot more variables I could come up with if I thought longer about it, but those are the most obvious ones I could think of.

In any case, I give to you 25 words in the English language that I think are happy sounding, in no particular order:

gentle, cozy, beautiful, snuggle, bountiful, sunlight, radiate, whistle, giggle, balmy, restful, forgiveness, stillness, gratitude, manifesto(because isn't that such a fun word?), warmth, vacation, cupcake, hope, glimpse, kisses, rolling (thunder, down a hill, in the hay), nestle, flourish, and praise.