Friday, March 30, 2007

Life's Too Short

I am the moderator of a couple of Yahoo E-Groups, and today I had the fun job of telling one of the members in one of the groups that his posts are coming across a little hostile, and I encouraged him to try and read over what he types and perhaps work to sound a bit more friendly.

He did not agree.

A couple of months ago I had to remove someone's post because it was truly not appropriate for the group - there was nothing offensive about the post at all, it was just totally off-topic and the e-group was not the right forum for the post.

That writer didn't agree with me either.

They both let me know in no uncertain terms what they thought of me and my moderating.

You all know me, I am nothing if not tactful. Yet somehow when it's a web posting these people get so indignant and self-righteous and accuse me of overreacting and ... I don't know what all they are thinking! But it ain't pleasant!

I just shake my head and want to say in a nice motherly tone, 'Honey, life's just too short to use up all this negative energy about something so insignificant!!!' (and can you imagine their reactions to that?!)

Instead I shake my head and try to move on ... but I do hope karma is for real :-)

For Calandria: Fun with Google Maps

This morning I was listening to my favorite morning radio show (Ian & Margery, FM 107) and they were talking about Google Maps - and how you can get directions to anywhere, similar to Mapquest but better.

So this afternoon the boys and I were playing with it, and in honor of you, Calandria, we got directions from Eden Prairie to Barcelona, Spain. It starts out quite innocently. You leave Eden Prairie on 494 heading east .... make your way through Wisconsin, over to Ohio, eventually to New Jersey .... then, in step 21:

Swim across the Atlantic Ocean ..... 3,462 miles

Step 22, you get onto E05 for half a mile, and take the second exit. And continue on until you are in Barcelona.

Total trip time: about 30 days, 10 hours. So if you move there, Calandria, now we all know how to come visit.

Rain, Rain, Go Away






That's how I feel today with the rain and gray gloom.

I want spring. I want green leaf buds. I want pale blue skies. I want the first tips of crocus showing through the earth. I want sunshine so bright my eyes hurt.

And I want it NOW.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


There has been a big discussion on one of my e-groups about standardized testing recently, as it is that time of year for kids in public schools to have their learning assessed and compared to the "norm." It was started by a dad whose daughter did not like the test, and he feels it is wrong to force her to take it as it doesn't teach her anything.

He quickly received many responses pointing out that the test in and of itself is not designed to teach anything, although then other parents jumped in with learning how to take a test is a valuable lesson. Others talked of how their children have learning disorders so the tests are unfair, still others shared how they received exemptions because of their children's special circumstances.

A lot of people talked of how their kids hate the tests, a lot of people complained that they don't see the point.

I just wrote in my two-cents' worth, asking those who are anti-test what their preferred alternative is.

Here's what I wrote:
I don't think "no testing" is reasonable; we have had scandals for years where it is discovered students are graduating without being able to read, for example. And if you allow different students to take different tests, how can you be sure every test is testing thesame things (and is it important that they do?) If we don't test at younger ages but do at older, what happens when we discover a 15 year old who missed out on a lot of things covered in early years? How do we catch that student up at that point when there are only a couple of years until graduation?

If we do away with testing then would it follow that we do away with public funding of education? I don't like the idea of having my tax dollars used in schools where no one checks in. How about having individuals visit and assess classrooms and students through observation and interviews? Maybe ideal, but unless it's done by volunteers it's too expensive for the way our funding is curretly set up. (and who would train those volunteers and make sure they are being impartial and accurate?)

More money for this type of assessments? Well, if there is more money to be spent on education I personally would rather it go to actual education than the checking up on the education in place already.

Does it all come down to money? Perhaps; many (most?) things do,which is a shame. But there is also the piece about we all live together and have to have ways of doing things that sometimes are not ideal for some individuals, but overall work for the good ofsociety. Testing may not be the best way to ensure schools are doing their jobs, but what is a better alternative?

It'll be interesting to see if I get any real replies ...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

All the way from Croatia

I just got this email from my AFS sister in Croatia ...

An English professor wrote these words on the board, and asked the students in the class to copy the sentence and add the correct punctuation. A woman without her man is nothing.

All the males in the class wrote this:
A woman, without her man, is nothing.

All the females in the class wrote this:
A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Behold the power of punctuation!

Friday, March 23, 2007

All in All, One Great Day!

Well, today was pretty darn good as Fridays go.

We got a lot of school done and the boys were wonderfully cooperative.

The dog made me laugh with his tattling on Ty.

The sun was out and it got really warm.

We went to a fun movie.

And, drum roll please,

I passed my orange belt test at Tae Kwon Do! I had to do 7 different "one step" sparring actions, 5 different combination kicks, a variety of self-defense moves, a pattern of blocking and punching known as ki boin yung (I have no idea if that is spelled even remotely close to accurately!) AND I had to break a board with a turning side kick! WOO-HOO!!!

There were three of us women who tested today, and we all passed. Barb & Carrie have become very good friends of mine as we have punched, kicked, and knocked one another down over the past three months.

Yup, all in all, one great day!

The Last Mimzy

This afternoon we went to see The Last Mimzy as a reward for the boys working so well in school lately. It opened today - we have been watching the trailers for it and eagerly awaiting its opening.

It was delightful! The child actors playing the brother and sister, Noah and Emma, were wonderful. There was a good balance of adults being ignorant and therefore somewhat threatening to the whole plot, and being understanding and helping the kids along. Unlike ET, the state police and FBI were forboding but not short-sightedly and overbearingly intrusive.

It references Through the Looking Glass, which I have been meaning to re-read, and perhaps this is the impetus to get me to actually do it that I needed. In theory, the white rabbit in that book is based on Mimzy in a former life -- one and the same Mimzy, the "stuffed" rabbit and title character in this movie.

We gave it two and a half thumbs-up -- Ty said it wasn't as good as he expected it to be, and both Ben & I were a titch disappointed at the ending, but overall we all really enjoyed it and do recommend it! And we will be sending it to Africa as soon as it's available on DVD (unless Hillmans see it in Nairobi first!)

Colby: A Tattle-TAIL and in the DOGHOUSE

Yesterday I was such a nice mom I made chocolate chip cookies. Homemade. You know, the kind you take out of the refrigerator and separate and bake. Mmm, mmm, good! Anyway, I made 3 for each of us. Put Ben's and Ty's on the table on napkins, then went to call them. They came in to the kitchen a minute later and said "which one of us only gets 2 cookies?" as the big black monster sat nearby, licking his whiskers. I opened his mouth and caught the unmistakeable whiff of fresh cookie. BUSTED!!!

I was afraid this would happen once we started eating off a table he can reach so easily. He has never done this before and I had hoped he wouldn't start ... but now we have to be more careful about what we leave sitting around.

Then, today, I asked Ty to take Colby for a walk. I went downstairs to work, and after a couple of minutes Colby came down with a very clear message on his face. "MOM! He didn't do what he was supposed to do!!!"

I followed him upstairs, to his delight, and sure enough, Ty had not followed through on the task.

Colby pranced around as if saying "na-na-na-na-NA-na! You're in trouble!" just like a kid would say to his brother. It was too funny! And Ty did take him out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Got Milk?

This is silly but I was rejoicing this morning that I once again love milk. I have been a milk drinker (SKIM only!) for all my life but about 6 years ago I did the lo-carb thing for about a year. Lost a lot of weight (eventually put it back on) but also got used to not drinking milk. Then, about a year ago when I wanted to add it back in to my diet, I found I didn't care for the taste.

Well, lately I've been loving it again and I just feel so healthy!

Simple pleasures that make me happy with daily life. Sharp pencils do this, too, and watching Colby seek out the perfect stick to carry around on a walk, and hitting every green light on my way somewhere (that's truly miraculous and doesn't happen very often!)

What makes your day?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Reasons I took this picture.

Carla said she wasn't sure this was my blog any more.

Calandria has gotten me hooked on taking photos of myself.

I got a new haircut this morning.

Someday soon I plan to be published and I will need a photo for the book jacket.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Schwarzenator Inspires Me

Well, who'd've thunk it?

I was watching The Apprentice tonight (one of my guilty TV pleasures that Miss Carla got me hooked on) and the reward for the winning team was meeting Governor Schwarzenegger. They asked him to talk about how he got to where he is today, and he shared stories of never giving up. And first off, you need to know that I don't particularly care for the man - as an actor, a politician, or, from what has been said about him, as a husband.


He shared stories of his determination to not listen to the people who told him it was impossible, with his name and his accent, to make it in Hollywood, he talked about the temporary essence of pain but the lasting essence of succeeding, he reminded the group that every time there is an attack, there is a defense, and that if you can think fast enough you can beat anything that is thrown at you.

Probably all cliches and probably on another day I might have laughed, but tonight I sat there listening and thinking "he's right!" and imagining myself thinking really fast, and succeeding.

New Look!

Well, I decided it was time for a change. I never was totally satisified with the way the blog has looked recently, so took a little time today to re-do it.

I was seeking a new title when I found the quote I use above. I have, since I was a little girl, believed I would have been one terrific frontier pioneer woman. The life described in the Little House books, in My Antonia, in the Giants in the Earth series - all call to my soul and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would have thrived in that time.

So now, I find myself embarking on a new professional life, self-employed and solely in charge of where I go and what I do, and finding this quote which compares my new life with early American pioneering -- well, is it any wonder I had to select it here?

Finally, I am a pioneer.

Feels darn good!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Book Review

I finished reading Sue Miller's latest, The World Below, last night. I have read other Miller books and enjoyed them - they typically are "just" about normal people leading normal lives, and she has a way of making the decisions they face interesting, so that she draws the reader in to feeling the emotions, and pondering the options, right along with the characters.

In this book, Miller tells two stories -- the primary story is about Cath who is a 52 year old woman trying to decide what to do with her life, and, as she comtemplates, she discovers the diaries of her grandmother, Georgia. We learn about the life Georgia led, two generations earlier, which was shaped by her choices and choices made by others in her life.

The interesting question for me as I read, though, was raised by a secondary character, a man in Cath's life, who (upon hearing that Cath has found Georgia's diaries) asks if diaries are written to be read.

Cath says no, diaries are private and intimate and are never written for anyone other than the author. The man counters by stating he believes all diarists write knowing that someday, someone (perhaps a child or grandchild) will read the diary - or else why would diarists not destroy their diaries before death? Personally, I used to keep very private and very intimate diaries, and I have, in fact, destroyed them. It was difficult to do, as I did enjoy going back and re-reading them, re-aquainting myself with the person I had been when I wrote them, but the thought of someone else reading them was sufficiently undesireable to make me decide to keep it from ever happening. There are times I regret it, but it's done.

Cath muses that today few people keep diaries but that if you collected e-mail (and, I thought, blogs) you would, in fact, have diaries of our lives.

When I write here, I am always very aware of my audience. Perhaps too aware, as I know it makes me edit my words carefully. I would say that this is not a diary for me, but I know others whose blogs are more diary-like. I admire that and aspire to it but right now it's just something I cannot do.

The book wasn't great, but it was enjoyable and thought-provoking. I recommend it, just not highly.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Encouraging or Pushing?

Every parent out there will relate to this one, I hope ... how do you know when you are being supportive and encouraging your kids to do something because you know it's good for them even if they are not enjoying it all the time, versus when you are pushing because you want something that perhaps they don't really need quite as much as you would like to think?

The boys are pretty noncommital about their band participation. Noncommital is really a nice way of saying it, they complain constantly about practicing and going to rehearsals, and they don't even enjoy the concerts. They have been in band for 2 years, and really are doing quite well with their instruments (Ben plays trombone and Ty percussion) but they just don't enjoy it.

I want them to enjoy it.

I enjoyed band immensely when I was a kid.

I believe that learning a musical instrument is a gift you give for a lifetime. I believe that they will be happy as adults that they stuck with it and became proficient.

But maybe I'm believing what I want to be true as opposed to what is true for them.

How do you know? How do you decide? When is it OK for them to make their own decisions, even if it goes against the status quo? How do you deal with the "what ifs"? Help?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Thought you might enjoy seeing two of the areas of our new house we spend the most time in, so far (other than the kitchen!)

First is the TV / GameCube area. We have comfortable seating, a new TV stand from IKEA (where else?) and all the electronics hooked up and ready to go!

And here is my office area - still a work in progress, but coming along nicely with a desk, lots of shelving, and all the machines I need to work and play!

Monday, March 05, 2007

On the radio this morning I heard about an artist somewhere in the US (why do I assume it's Texas?) who produces art on his dirty car windows .... I had to go check it out, and while I have to admit to wondering

A. How in the world did he start doing this
B. Why in the world did he start doing this
C. Why doesn't he have anything better to do with his time?

I still found myself thinking it was really cool!!!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Family Portrait, ca 1962

Here is the earliest found family portrait from my childhood ... My Mom (age 22) is holding my brother Mike, age 3, and my Dad (the elderly age of 23) is holding me - a little less than a year. We are at my grandparents' house in south Minneapolis, sitting on the coffee table - I remember that table oh-so-well, as it became my favorite place to lie (lay? I always stress over using those words correctly!) when we visited over there - I fit so cozily, and the grown-ups would forget I was there and I would be lulled into a wonderfully secure, trance-like state by their constant grown-up chatter.

My mom is the oldest of 6, and her youngest sisters were only about 8-10 years older than my brother and I, so visiting there was always really fun. There were usually a lot of kids around, the house was small so it always felt comfortably crowded, my grandma loved to cook plus she worked at a bakery so there were always treats in the breadbox, and I really, really loved it there.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Tons ' o' FUN in the snow today after two blizzards in one week!

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