My life is easy

Today I learned that a girl who has babysat for us in the recent past is losing her mother, any day now, from brain cancer metastasized. Her father is in a home because he has Alzheimer's. She is 18.

A friend of mine, a new friend, lost her father last night. He was 80+ and it was expected, but it is never easy. If her oldest misses one more day of school she will have to repeat 10th grade. She has been absent for school chorus trips, but apparently those are not excused.


I'm proctoring for standardized tests this week. It is not that much work, but neither is it fairly interesting.

My son wants to know why the proctors (I am not his) must read the directions. “You have to be able to read to take the test.” I explain it is the rules. He thinks they are stupid rules. I may agree, but that is the way it goes.

Who was Murphy?

Someone asked “Who was Murphy of Murphy's law?” The answer is available at a Murphy's law site. Though it says Murphy didn't originally say it. (Maybe he wrote it?)

Interesting stuff.

If you don't want to leave the blog, here's what the site says.

Born in 1917, Edward A. Murphy, Jr. was one of? the engineers on the rocket-sled experiments that were done by the United States?Air Force in 1949 to test human acceleration tolerances (USAF project MX981).

One experiment involved a set of 16 accelerometers mounted to different parts? of the subject's body. There were two ways each sensor could be glued to its? mount. Of course, somebody managed to install all 16 the wrong way around.

Murphy then made the original form of his pronouncement, which the test?subject (Major John Paul Stapp) quoted at a news conference a few days later.

Within months, “Murphy's Law” had spread to various technical cultures connected to aerospace engineering, and finally reached the Webster's dictionary? in 1958.

Tragically (and perhaps typically), the popular cliche we call “Murphy's Law”? was never uttered by Edward Murphy.

Murphy's Law applies to Murphy's Law, too

The traditional version of? Murphy's Law (“anything that can go wrong, will”) is actually “Finagle's? Law of Dynamic Negatives.” Finagle's Law was popularized by science? fiction author Larry Niven in several stories depicting a frontier culture of? asteroid miners; this “Belter” culture professed a religion and/or running joke? involving the worship of the dread god Finagl and his mad prophet Murphy.

Since then, the relentless truth inherent in Murphy's Law has become a persistent thorn in the side of humanity.

Battle of the Sexes: the game

Played a game Friday night with two other couples. Called the Battle of the Sexes. Guys have to answer girl questions such as Who makes Barbie? Who makes the perfume Vanilla Fields? What kind of store carries notions? Girls have to answer guy questions such as What heavy weight champion did Buster Douglas beat? How does Bond take his martinis? What is a flat, curved metal something something called? (It has to do with fishing and is a something spoon.)

Last time I played the game the girls lost badly. This time, we pulled it out. We had someone who knew sports and we didn't get very many fishing questions.

It was fun.

We need an Operation American Freedom?

This sucks. (Well, that's a pun.) A couple were arrested, and their children taken away from them, for taking pictures of the babies taking a bath, lying in bed with their mother, and breast feeding. (Think I'll burn those baby albums at my house.)

The parents were eventually released, but are having to undergo mandatory counseling because they presented themselves in “too positive a manner.” So said the psychologist. Doesn't anyone remember that psychs only deal with sick people? Not everyone is sick. Some of us are quite wonderful, actually.

The children, however, are still in the care of Child Protective Services. Where is LaLeche in this? Where is the ACLU? Where is anyone? Parents took pictures of their babies and now they've lost them.

I think we have reached a sick level of “big brother” in our society.

What's worse is this is my home state.

I (Don't) drive safely

I got a ticket. I have to take defensive driving. So I am taking it at It is incredibly annoying because I cannot move onto the next page when I have finished reading, but must wait the prescribed time. Since I read fast, this is a pain.

Also, if I get out of it and go somewhere else, I have to be careful. If too much time elapses, it closes the window down and I have to re-enter. That has only happened once so far, but I have written about 2000 words on my novel while working through the first two of twelve chapters.

Houston has been giving out a lot more tickets recently. I guess the city is short on money again.

You know, I find it annoying that they give information on stuff that isn't useful. Let's talk about the 2 second rule. When I am doing highway driving, outside of town, I can do this. I can even do the 4 second version, which is what I should be doing for 70 mph. But if you have a two second rule in the city, you are going to be constantly dropping back and going slower. It just doesn't work.

Then they talk about tailgaters. If you are being tailgated, you are supposed to slow down. WHAT! If you are being tailgated, you are supposed to get out of the way. (That's step 3 in their list.) But slowing down because someone is close behind you makes them irritated. Especially when you are in the fast lane, going less than the speed limit, and there is no one ahead of you. (That was the situation last time I saw a tailgating.)

Music industry and musicians going overboard-getting drowned

The music industry is screaming because they aren't making as much money as they used to. Guess what? No one is. We're in a recession.

The music industry, however, says it is because people are stealing songs off the net. You know, we do get songs off the net. But both my husband's most recent CD buys were because he got songs and liked them and went and bought the CD.

So, according to this story, Madonna posted fake tracks from her newest album, because she was mad about the internet posting of music. And someone hacked her site and put up the real ones, even before it was released. Here's a better discussion of what happened.

You gotta admit, sometimes there's a reason for stupid things.

What have I done? Looking better.

I watched Extreme Makeover last night. Then I was thinking today what have I done to make myself look better? So I made a list:

13 months of eating well

upped my protein till I am well

vitamins daily

47 pounds of fat lost

12 pounds of muscle gained

over 25 inches lost

I've gone from a size 18 to a size 10.

acne medicine

sleep apnea machine, now I am sleeping better

weight lifting at least 2x a week for all but 2 weeks in the last 13 months- for good muscles, good bones

cardio- for heart, fat burning

I've done a lot. And I am proud of myself.

My hubbie says women are neurotic about their looks. (Well, duh!) But we have reason. It's not just the TV, the anorexic models and movie stars, the “let's have bulimia together” groups.

My dad told me when I was 16 (5'6″, 135 pounds, size 8, size D bra) that I would have to rely on my brains and not my looks because while I was very smart, I was not pretty. (Sometimes we all say stupid things. Too bad some of them stick with us so well.)

My husband often compliments me. He knows I need to hear it. I can still hear him saying that I look gorgeous last Sunday, that I'm bootalicious two weeks ago in the kitchen, and (unfortunately) that I'd be a 7 on Hot or Not, which he said 2 months ago. Guess which one of those is loudest?

Extreme Makeover

ABC has a new show called Extreme Makeover. They do plastic surgery, caps for your teeth, gourmet organic meals in your hotel room, etc. Last night's show had two women. One woman is my age and, while she didn't look wonderful, with a hair cut and some decent makeup she could have looked a lot better.

That particular woman, when she was finished with her eye lift, cheek change, porcelains for her teeth, nose job, laser scar removal, chin tuck, face lift, hair cut and make up looked probably better than she has in her whole life. Made me think, okay maybe it would be worth the surgery, the pain, the nausea, etc.

If I were getting an extreme makeover, I would want the eye lift, the chin tuck, a nose job, and probably a breast lift. I wear a D, so I don't need added anything there. But I am 40+ and the forces of gravity on large breasts can be pretty hefty.

But would I want all that when it would mean six weeks away from my family and long complicated surgery? Maybe. I'd like to finish my personal transformation first, though.

Red hair

My husband found a blog where the author was trying to decide whether or not to dye her hair. She was considering red. He told her to go for it.

Before we married, he was a blonde fan. But we've been married 14 years and most of that time my hair has been red. He has a definite bias towards red heads now.

Today I talked to my baby sister, who is a natural blonde. She said she dyed her hair red. She says it really makes her eyes pop but neither she nor her husband are sure about it. I want to see it, but she lives an hour away, so it won't be today.

I should have asked her what her son thinks about it. When I dyed my hair blonde, my son wouldn't look at me directly for about two days. He didn't like it at all. He didn't mind when I dyed it dark and looked a bit like Snow White, but he did not like the blonde. I don't know if that's because he didn't like blonde or was it the fact that it was a bit pink? (Awful disaster that I didn't pay to fix for months.)

Anyway, red hair is a family trait, but apparently not on our gene lines. Neither my mom, nor my three siblings nor I, nor any of our children have red hair. My great-grandmother did and my uncle. But my cousin doesn't either.

I think red hair is the most beautiful color in the world. Always have.

Pissy emails

Got a short, lambasting email from someone on a group I am in. Well, she used to be on the group. She said we didn't forgive her, couldn't forget her mistakes, and didn't critique her writing. The group was for critiquing writing.

I didn't know she'd done anything to be forgiven for. I didn't know she'd made any mistakes on the list. I didn't see any writing that she sent the group. Although someone said she sent a story idea through. But I don't critique those unless there is a major hole in it.

I sent a polite note back and it bounced, saying she wasn't accepting email from me. So I sent it again, with a different email address. I also said that I thought it was interesting that she would send us a note denouncing us and not let us even reply.

She answered back saying that she was glad I found it interesting. Lots of things in life were interesting. Why didn't I go think about them?

Apparently God isn't interested in me talking about it or reading her stuff now because though I have stuff going back two years in my mail trash, there is nothing from her that resembles a story. But then I can't find the note I sent her or the one that she sent me back.

I think, though I hate it, that if you are going to send pissy emails, you should let the people reply. I hate signing my name to pissy emails, even when the people deserve it. But I do. I also read their answers, even if it drags me down a bit for a while.

Let me say this, unless I tell you I don't forgive you or say you are an idiot, the chances are good that I didn't even know there was something to forgive you for. I am not rude or anything, but if I'm that upset with you, you will know.

It is obvious the woman has some other issues. I'm sorry her life is hard, because it is. But I didn't make it that way and I didn't do anything to deserve that letter. Not even not critiquing writing she never sent me.–But it is bugging the crap out of me anyway. I wanted to enjoy my life and this group and she just stung me and a whole bunch of people who have never done anything rude to her that I could see… I guess maybe there was some private emailing. But then she should have jumped their case and not “ours,” which includes me.

That was a rant.

Logging me out

To be polite, to be fair, I didn't freak out on my blog about the first two times I was logged out of my blog and blog-city, apparently randomly, while working and reading. I was enjoying the blogs I was getting to. However, I have now been logged out three times in less than an hour, even when I was only doing blogging stuff. What's up with that? I did write and ask blog-city's managment.

My family says I have Jurassic Park disease. I can get computers to produce unreproducible bugs. So stuff like this annoys me, because I can do goofy stuff like this to myself on accident.

I hope I'm not logged out again.


I have found some great quotes on books and reading. This one “Never let a fool kiss you or a kiss fool you” came from a great site Chiasmus in which they discuss the quotes which are those which with a reversal of word order become a parallel. The maker says it is a website for “word, language, and quotation lovers.” That's definitely me.

Go take a look. It's fun.

Personality types

I've done Myers-Briggs, which says I am ENFP. (I want to talk. I go with my gut feelings. And I'm not a detail person.) I've done Gary Smalley's which says I am a golden retriever. (I live to make your life easier.) And I've now done Florence Littauer's, which says I am a melancholy/choleric.

But I think that by nature I am a melancholy/phlegmatic. A melancholy wants to do it right. A choleric wants to do it their way. A phlegmatic wants to do it the easy way. I think that as a mom and a teacher I have come to see the necessity of being a choleric. I'm not doing a good job with my kids if they don't have to do what I say or if I don't do what I say. Since I used to give in (golden retriever or phlegmatic) whenever they whined about anything, I was teaching them to whine. Didn't want to do that. Changed the rules. Changed my response. They don't whine now.

I had goals all my life. The longest term ones were to have a PhD from Purdue, to be a teacher, to own a house. I've done all of those.

I think my husband, who is also phlegmatic (conflict avoider and I want to do it the easy way), sees us as being lazy because we have the brains to be so much more than we are being. But I think we've also made choices. I could have gone on having nationally accepted papers and teaching at the university full-time, but we'd have had to decide where I wanted to teach and he'd have had to get a job there, and I wouldn't be homeschooling. I don't think we're lazy, exactly. Maybe we just like to do things the easy way.

My sons are choleric/phlegmatic and sanguine/phlegmatic. That means one wants his way and he wants it to be easy and the other wants to have fun and he wants it to be easy. I can see where having to do things in life, like school and daily chores, are going to go against those tempraments. But you know, we all have to do some stuff we don't like. Even if most of the time our lives are perfect.

Teaching isn't what you expect

I had it all lined up in my head what I was going to do for class. Then it turns out that there are a lot more parameters than they told me. Eighth and ninth has to be American Literature. So half the books on my list won't work. My 12th grade class is going to have some 16 year olds in it. It's British Lit. I'm going to end up using an anthology and extra books to supplement.

So, 8th and 9th grade is going to read:

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Red Badge of Courage

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Ethan Frome

The Call of the Wild

The Story of My Life: Helen Keller

The Great Gatsby

The Old Man and the Sea

Short stories by most of the “famous” classic authors: Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, etc.

Poems by American Poets.

There weren't any black poets in the book, so I am also ordering an anthology of African-American poets. Wish they could be all in the same book, but I guess not.

12th grade is going to work through the anthology of British Lit up to 1700.

We are also going to read a prose version of Beowulf, Pilgrim's Progress, Everyman, four morality plays, Samson Agonistes, Much Ado About Nothing, Dr. Faustus, Romeo and Juliet, and some poems which are fun and not in our lit book.

“The only real use of books is to make a person think for himself. If a book will not set one to thinking, it is not worth shelf space.” Aleph Bey

Who eats better? You or your kids?

My husband was interested in getting responses to this question.

He and I are both on BFL, so we are keeping careful records of what we eat. And we have to eat a reasonable amount of “not junk” food.

Our boys are vegetarian. As he says, that means they ought to be eating well. But their preference would be “wheat and cheese”-atarians. I make them eat 7 veggies and fruits a day and get in 30 grams of protein. Which should really go up as they grow taller. Veggies and fruits include peanut butter, juice. Each thing you eat can only count 2x in one day. So if they have four peanut butter sandwiches, that's still only 2 fruits and veggies. Same with their juice. Or grapes and strawberries.

I think that we all eat about equally well. When we take our free day off to eat poorly, the boys eat poorly too. But when we go out to eat, they ALWAYS eat poorly unless we go to Souper Salad, which is hard on BFL because there is no protein there. I miss Souper Salad. Maybe next free day we can go there.

20 questions; new/last

Twenty Questions -?Old/New/First/Last

1.? Who is your oldest friend? Larea, known her 24 years

2.? Who is your newest acquaintance? Sheila W

3.? What is your oldest memory? falling down at Jeanette's house, I was about 2

4.? What is your newest gadget? husband's IPod. I don't do gadgets.

5.? What is your oldest item of clothing? a doll dress my mom had made for me for school in 7th grade

6.? What is the newest thing you've bought? books: on Alice in Wonderland, Red Badge of Courage

7.? How old is your oldest relative? living- 90

8.??How old?is the youngest member of your family? 1

9.? What is the first tv programme you can remember? romper room, I was five

10.? What is your first school memory? drawing a picture of my boyfriend in 1st grade kissing me on a stage

11.? Where is the first place you visited out of state/country? Arizona, Mexico

12.? Who was the last person you spoke to? my husband

13.? What is the newest website you've visited? this guy's blog

14.? What is your newest skill? dissembling

15.? Do you have any hobbies you've had all your life? reading, writing poetry

16.? What did you do to celebrate your last birthday? not much, although on Tuesday I am going antique shopping and to lunch with my friends to celebrate– but a month late

18.? Who was your first school teacher? a single lady who got married over Christmas break and didn't like my gift I gave her in the new year because it had her maiden name on it. She taught me to sing 10 Little Indians.

19.? What is the first thing you do every morning? cuddle with my husband

20.? What is the last thing you do at night? cuddle with my husband

Inexpensive editions of books

If you are wanting to read some classics and just don't have a bunch of money to put out for the books, go to Dover Pub. If you hit their Literature and then you go for their Thrift Editions, you can get classics like Gulliver's Travels and Huckleberry Finn for $3 or less. Beowulf is one dollar. They have to be pre-copyright, though, to be in that section.

I ordered a whole set of them, including books I'd never heard of before (The Mabinogion) and books I love, but need a cheap copy for the boys to read (Father Brown Mystery Stories by GKChesterton).

I also got a book of fun quotes about books and reading.

“If you believe everything you read, you better not read.” Japanese proverb

Curriculum thoughts: Your input wanted

In an earlier blog I wrote down the list of books I thought I would be using for eighth and ninth grade lit. I got a response from a fellow blogger who said to PLEASE not read Of Mice and Men. The book seriously creeped them out. Me, too. So I decided I won't read that one. I'll have to find a replacement though.

I would love to hear what yalls thoughts are. I am looking for books, preferably in the 100-120 page length so that I can have students read one each month, from the 19th and 20th centuries. Anyone out there have any favorites? Or any books that don't fit that limit that they think are such classics/so important they should be read? I'd like to know.

Palm Sunday

Not being of a background to have an ecclesiastical high church calendar handy and having missed Sunday service for the last two weeks, we were a bit surprised to find the parking lot of our church full this morning. It was, of course, Palm Sunday. And for service, to celebrate, they had a play covering the whole of passion week. (Palm Sunday through the resurrection.) It was an excellent play, with different songs- some of which I knew and some which I didn't.

There is actually a series of plays from the 11th and 12th centuries for this week, but they didn't do those.

The boys enjoyed the whole presentation. My husband said he had been a bit discouraged about the lily white skin of the actors from our church. But then he actually looked at them and many were black, Hispanic, and Asian. He just hadn't noticed. (Does that mean he is becoming color blind?)

The hardest thing was I had hurt my knee and we went up two flights of stairs and down another to get to our seats, since we were on time and this was the morning for coming early, apparently.

After church, my husband went into the adjacent building for the blood drive and the boys and I went into the gym for an Easter Egg hunt. I think they did not do as well as they would have liked, since their bags weren't full. But they had fun and got junk to eat. They said I could have their eggs to do a hunt with my little ones (age 3) on Thursday.

I do know what day Thursday is, Maundy Thursday, though I don't know what the word means. However, a few years ago I was invited, with some friends, to stay up all night and pray. We did. We prayed for the nation, for our church, for our friends and family. Mostly we prayed aloud. Sometimes we prayed silently. We also sang some praise songs. Then everyone else went to work and I went home to take care of my boys. Thursday is the night that Jesus was betrayed after being in the garden praying all night.

Good Friday is Friday of course. I don't have class that day.

I also don't have class on Saturday. That's not good, since I had scheduled class and we are supposed to start poetry that week. My students asked if we could have class, but I don't know where we would. Perhaps the library? Everyone keeps telling me to let it go, but I really wanted to go over this stuff with them first. They are all a bit nervous about the poetry section and that is the topic for the final.

Sunday is Easter. My husband wonders where we'll sit at church, if Palm Sunday was so full. The boys wondered why they did the Easter Eggs on Palm Sunday rather than Easter. I don't know.

Blessings on your holy week.