Thursday, May 29, 2008

If I Only Had a Brain...

Despite the times that it really seems doubtful, I now have conclusive evidence that I really do have a brain. I got a copy of my MRI to take to an ENT, and of course, it's a CD. So of course, we had to take a look.
Is this not the coolest thing?
The top-down image showing my eyeballs is really kind of gross. Maybe I'll post that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Edit - this is actually William at the graduation party. The hotel had a room with lots of mirrors next to the party room. If you give a kid a camera, he's going to take a picture of himself, right? John let each of the kids take the camera for a while, and it is interesting to see each different perspective.
I'm not sure who is in the background.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

William's Book

William's class has been writing books for the past month. Today was their "Author's Tea," and parents were invited to listen to the kids read their books. William did a great job, and even demonstrated his dance after he finished reading.

Monday, May 19, 2008

On To The Next Thing

Confirmation was on Sunday. Church was packed (wish that was true every week!). Almost anti-climatic after the Faith Statement dinner, but it was a nice service, and we actually went to a friend's graduation party that afternoon. One of John's sisters was also invited, and his other sister in the area couldn't come up for the service, so rather than try to have a party for JC, we went to someone else's. Dancing, food, and three desserts. It was a fun time!

After we got home from the party in the afternoon, we pulled the trailer out from beside the house to prep for camping next weekend. Now, realize, the trailer hasn't moved for 6 months. And it rained on Friday. And on Sunday - yes, while we were at the party, it was pouring rain. But it stopped by the time we came home. So, since John is traveling this week, and we're leaving for camping on Friday, we really needed to get it out. Despite the fact that there was MUD. Lots of mud.

It's a tight spot next to the house, and the mud didn't help. Nor did the tire that went completely flat during the process. Somehow, the valve stem broke. I don't know how far we dragged it on the flat tire until I noticed it - I was actually watching the top of the trailer scrape the corner of the house. Fortunately by then it was far enough forward to tape the stem and get air into the tire at least temporarily. We squished a downspout a little bit, then realized that the trailer was sinking in the mud and leaning toward the house. Ok, boards under the wheels, and just keep going. The whole rig was kind of sliding down the hill towards the house, and every time John tried to back up and get farther from the house, the opposite happened.

But we got it out. I should have taken a picture of the ruts, but the kids already raked the dirt back before it dried out. John got the bad tire off and the spare on, and today got new tires. He took one off, took it down to the tire place, went back and picked it up, brought that home, changed tires, and took another old one down. We didn't want to pull it too far with bad tires, and he decide it wasn't so hard to change them himself.

So on top of our other summer projects (deck! deck!), we need to clean up and add more gravel to the trailer parking space. And dig out the hill a little more to have more room to maneuver. I think we might rent a space to put the trailer for a couple of months, just to make it all easier. There's always something.

And now comes the annual rehab of the trailer. The kids and I pulled everything out of the storage compartment, which was pretty musty. But we opened everything up and aired out for a while, so it's smelling better. I think we'll be ready by Friday.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Faith Statement

As you know, I have been asked to write a faith statement. I have decided to write mine on how my faith differs from other religions. Unless you have been hiding in a hole for the last eight years, you know about the war in Iraq. It is a regular thing for bombs to explode there in the streets and cause casualties. If you look at these people you realize they give themselves up for what they believe is a right and holy cause as part of their faith. They think they should commit suicide and kill others. The bombers, who are usually Muslim, believe if they give up their life for a holy cause they get a free ticket to go to heaven. What makes this so sad is that these men and women have been exploited since their youth. They are taught that America and other religions are evil and should be exterminated. It makes no sense to kill others in order to get to heaven. In Christianity we are taught the opposite. We believe in Jesus and are told to love one another and then we go to heaven. It doesn't matter what we did in our lives, we only have to accept Christ and believe that God is in our hearts and minds. If we believe in him then our sins are forgiven and we go to Heaven. If you look at other religions, such as Hinduism, it is really hard to go to heaven. In Hinduism you have to die and be reborn many times before you even get close to going to heaven. Christianity is different because you have only one life and if you believe you get eternal life. Even other branches of Christianity make it hard to go to heaven. In some groups, like Jehovah's Witnesses, you have to follow a long set of rules and even if you do, you might not get in. I am very happy that United Methodists recognize that Jesus paved the way for everyone, not just a minority. I am also glad that as a United Methodist I believe in free will. For these reasons, and many more that I cannot list now, I am grateful that I am a Christian and a United Methodist.

by J.C.


JC is being confirmed on Sunday. Confirmation really refers to confirming the vows that were made on your behalf at baptism. In the Methodist Church, it is a program of classes that teach the kids about Christianity in general and the history and beliefs of the Methodist Church in particular. As part of the class, the kids were asked to write a faith statement, which they shared with their parents (and a few others) at a dinner a couple of weeks ago.

The faith statements were all different, and really all over the place in terms of what the kids said about faith, confirmation, and the whole process they've gone through. I thought JC's was great, and he agreed that I could share it here. John and I did not have any input, in fact, the dinner was the first time we had heard any of it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Band Concert

It's that time of year again! You know, that month before school ends that every child has an event - a concert, a show, a presentation. Something that requires parental presence, and often is in the evening.

Tonight was the band concert at the Middle School. We have, from what I can tell, a very good music program in this district. They start the kids in 5th grade, and I've been very impressed with the quality of the product. The band actually sounds good. Even in 5th grade (mostly). So tonight we had the 7th grade band (4 pieces), the 8th grade band (4 pieces), the Wind Ensemble (4 pieces) and the Jazz Band (5 pieces and an encore).

Notice the number of songs each group played. And these were not 5th grade pieces that are barely two minutes. While they were quite good, it was a LOOOOONG concert. Almost 2 full hours - with siblings in tow. But I have to give credit to Rachel and William. While there was wiggling and groaning and "is it done yet?", they behaved themselves pretty well. And then we scooted home and sent everyone right to bed.

All I did was sit in the audience, and I'm exhausted!

Last week was Rachel's 4th grade chorus concert. I think it was less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spring Is Sprung

I think it's finally spring in New Jersey. Our weather has been a little schizophrenic, we've gone from 50's to 80's and back d0wn. More than once. But I think it might finally be time to actually put away the long sleeves.

As you may have gathered, I did not grow up in New Jersey. As a consequence, I appreciate the glory and beauty of the season that natives may overlook.

[What, New Jersey is beautiful? The armpit of America? THAT New Jersey? Oh yes.]

While there are areas of New Jersey that are...aesthetically little corner of suburbia is really quite gorgeous. We have trees. And more trees. And even more trees. And bushes and wildlife (no, really!) and rolling hills and lovely lakes...

But the thing that pushes me over the edge is the spring flowers. To see a forest of green and then a cloud of white dogwood lightly floating in it is really not something words can convey. And there is rhododendron, azalea, and the early harbinger, forsythia, among others I don't know the names of. And of course cherry trees and apple trees and REDBUD (wow! It's SO pink!).

I grew up with sweeping vistas, real mountains, and trees only where people planted them. Sure, there were flowering bushes, but really only where they were carefully nurtured. Here, there are volunteer dogwoods sprinkled through the woods. Somehow, you don't get that "It's Spring!" feeling in the same way when you're not surrounded by trees. First, there's the faintest flush of green, then you realize the woods have a green haze that's spreading, and then one day you notice actual leaves, and suddenly everything has leafed out and you can't see through the trees anymore.

I don't know that I had ever seen so much green, until I moved here. Wow!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I'm a BAD blogger

Oh yeah, I have a blog I should post to!

I use the phrase, "I'm a BAD mom" with my kids all the time. It comes from a book I read many years ago. Unfortunately, I loaned it to a friend and it has disappeared, and of course I can't remember the name. It was about a study that was done in the 1960's and then again in the 1980's about women and their attitudes towards work, housework, motherhood, etc. I found it fascinating, especially the chapter titled, "The Myth of the Good Mother." Essentially, it explored American attitudes towards motherhood, in particular, what we consider a "good" mother and how our society supports women so they can achieve this ideal.

Basically, we can't.

There's a huge gap between what we say we expect a mother to do as a "good" mother, and the support that society gives women to acheive this goal.

So I have adopted this phrase. I use it when I'm going to allow the kids to do something they "shouldn't," like eat ice cream. I use it as a reason they can't do something they want to, like stay up really late (because then I'd be a BAD mom). I use it when I want to get out of something, like playing tedious games, or doing laundry. And it has given me a lot of freedom.

You see, when you realize there is no way on God's green earth to be the perfect "good" mom, you are free to do the best you can and chuck the rest. If the goal is unattainable, why even try to do the parts that you really hate? Accept that you are a BAD mom, and relax with the kids. Somehow, I think it makes me a better mom, after all.