Friday, August 31, 2007

It kinda begs for some perspective.

I have been pissing and moaning here about my stupid arm for over a month.

Truth be told, recovery is slower than I'd like, but steady and the prognosis is good. And, it is truly time that I shut up about it.

I was already thinking along those lines. But, some news this week really crystallized how lucky I am. I am middle-aged and had both of my parents most of my life (lost mom 2.5 years ago). I had a fabulous relationship with my mom and continue to with my dad and family. I have a super husband and three great boys.

And, unlike several other people that I know - I don't have any form of cancer.

I have a student that they think may have lymphoma. She is terribly sick, and is still waiting (after weeks, biopsies, drugs, and all kinds of issues). They just aren't sure.

So, last week, I let her know that I hoped she could go home for the weekend. Get some R&R, I said, and let them pamper you a little.

Turns out, at home she is the healthy one. Her mom has a progressive neurological disease (along the lines of Parkinson's) and is struggling to care for her mother that has some advanced form of dementia. This sick young woman was heading home for the weekend to take care of two other people. She has some pluck.

The other diagnosis is even more difficult. A lovely little girl (A) is about two and a half, and has kidney cancer. This is not usually the worst of the worst, but she has some genetic analyses that do not provide a good prognosis. And, folks, we are talking about five year survivorship data, like, the chance she will make it to eight years old. Her baby brother idolizes her, and, doesn't know why she is too tired to play with him.

A has been poked and prodded more than any child should have to be. When she sees a nurse coming now, she pulls on her mommy's sleeve and says "I fine, mommy, go home?" She looks at the syringe and tells the nurse "no thank you, I leave".

This beautiful little girl has lost her hair, her teeth are changing color (the chemo), and falls asleep instead of plays at the playground.

So, hug your loved ones tonight, and appreciate that you can go to sleep in relative comfort and with no major diagnoses hanging over you (I hope).

If you (or someone you love) is in this sort of situation as well - I send my love your way.

There's nothing to see here, folks, other people need a chance to be heard (and thought about, and cared for, and worried over, and loved).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Soccer mom.

This is my first season as a soccer mom. Two of the wrecking crew are trying out the world's most boring fastest growing sport.

Z, the six year old, is in the U8 league (for you soccer virgins - bless you, this means under eight ). Here is his team at work, all relentlessly chasing the ball with no goal (literally or figuratively) in sight.

Two of his team-mates are in their fifth season, and they can do the bicycle kick (a la Pele). I understand that LA is scouting them to replace Beckham due to his recent injury. Besides, then Becks can spend more quality time at home with the missus - I understand that Posh is quite the homebody. They run around the field like maniacs, stealing the ball and scoring and running past everyone with impunity. Their steals are not restricted to the other team, but they are still superstars.

My child picks flowers, visit with his friends, and (once in a while) kicks the ball. In his defense, he was blessed with my athletic prowess, so we are hoping for an academic scholarship in his future.

B, at four, plays in the U6 league (under six, of course). They call this "beehive" soccer. All of the bees run around after the ball, in a little swarm. There are two "ringers" on the team, the little guy in the pink shirt and the one with the orange shirt - fast and focused five-year-olds. On the other hand - that adorable little four-year-old standing next to his mommy fires up the waterworks after about every ten seconds of play. His dad is frustrated, and the little guy really loves to play (for about five seconds at a time). But, the tears on the field are so sweet; you can't help but pull for the little guy. My son stopped play yesterday to tell the little guy's dad that the the little guy had told my son he is nice (and, said son, your little guy is really nice too). There is my little fella in the blue shirt and red socks, taller than most of the five-year-olds, several of whom are in their third season. He makes up for his lack of understanding with unbridled enthusiasm.

I am not a huge soccer fan, but honestly watching these kids play is an absolute hoot.

Of course, this is nothing like soccer either.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Everyone deserves a second chance.

In light of our being a gentle nation, and one that wishes to support the growth and development of our young people; we tend to believe that everyone deserves a second chance.

If we make a mistake, shouldn't we be offered an opportunity to use this to grow as a better person? Certainly, I would like for my children to have an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from the experience.

How can we learn from our mistakes? By having natural consequences stem from them.

-My son temporarily loses a toy that he fights over.

-My students lose points on an assignment if they are late handing it in. If they are too late, they get no credit on that assignment (one week is too late).

Punishment (to be effective) has to be swift, important to the recipient, and should be related to the offense.

Is there some point, however, that we need to hold someone fully accountable for their actions? Don't we just need to be able to count on purported adults to demonstrate adult behavior?

Michael Vick knowingly tortured puppies in the spirit of fun and profit. There are political action groups (and his mother) that plead with us for him to learn from this experience and give him a second chance. Is there not some line that we have to make in the sand - beyond this, your behavior is not a childlike transgression - this is real grown up crime, and your punishment will be grown up too?

Michael Vick is in his late-20s. Should we not expect adult behavior from this man?

While I agree that some transgressions should warrant second chances (and, I am certain that we would disagree on some of these); killing puppies in an organized dog-fighting ring is not a momentary lack of judgement. Michael Vick has accepted responsibility for these actions, it is time for us to hold him accountable and punish him in a means consistent with similar offenders.

The new crop.

A bunch of fresh faces. They seemed friendly and bright. There are fewer of them than I am accustomed to, but a higher percentage of majors.

Only two of them asked questions that suggested a less than serious approach. One asked "since we already discussed this out loud, we don't need to type the answers up for homework, do we?" (uh, yes, that's why I assigned it). The other asked if they really needed to read the assigned reading. (nah. blow it off).

The rest seemed earnest.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fresh faces.

It seems unreal, but tomorrow morning, I will face about 30 freshmen undergraduates in their first (gasp) college science class.

They will giggle a little. They will be a little bit frightened. At least one young man will call me Mrs. instead of Dr. about two dozen times (which, interestingly, only seems to happen to female professors - even if you substitute Mr. for Dr.). This would be ok, but I kept my name when I married, so Mrs. doesn't even make sense here (and, I personally hate Ms.). I'd rather they use my first name than Ms.

It sounds mean to say... "some of you will fail this course". But, it has always happened. I mean, you have to basically try to fail to do so - a cockroach could earn a D. People that fail my course give up showing up and skip tests, they don't ever read, they forget to hand the one major paper in, and they fail other courses too.

People will earn A's too, but not many of them.

I am looking forward to meeting this year's new crop.

If you read my last post, though, you realize that even though I will try very hard - it may take weeks until I get their names all worked out. My perfect hubbie used to know every one of his 48 students' names by the end of the first day - oh, we should all aspire to be so perfect!

I'll check back in soon and tell you about the new crop.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I learn dog names more easily than people names.

I always felt comfortable when I was active in the dog club, training, doing agility, dog parties even. It is really a sign of social maladjustment that I felt more comfortable there than I do as a soccer mom.

Here is the problem. I cannot remember people's names and faces. The second night, I introduced myself to another mom and got the raised eyebrow. Ummm, yeah, I guess we've met before, huh? She didn't have to say it, but - yeah, like a dozen times.

Here is the other problem, I failed Small Talk 101. So, which one's your girl? Oh, the one in the blue? Yup.... (long silence, mind scrambling...say something idiot).

Like this shit wasn't hard enough before, but with two kids to chase and one to cheer for - I absolutely cannot keep the thread on any adult conversation.

Pretty soon the other moms are going to suggest I start taking ritalin.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Four things...

I found these questions at the Life and Times of NotSoccer Mom.

Four jobs I've had or currently have in my life (btw, these are all past jobs):
  1. College Professor
  2. SCUBA diver
  3. Fork Lift Driver
  4. Cleaning Lady
Four countries I have been to:
  1. USA
  2. Jamaica
  3. Mexico
  4. Bahamas

(pretty provincial list, I know)

Four places I'd rather be right now:

I am pretty keen actually on my comfy chair in my own living room, kids and dh playing downstairs, potatoes in the oven. Besides, my stupid arm is still on the mend. But, if I were to go somewhere...

  1. Great Britain
  2. Sweden
  3. New England
  4. Australia
Four foods I like to eat:
  1. Fresh tomatoes, corn, fresh veggies in general.
  2. Bread out of the oven.
  3. Cheese
  4. Nuts of all sorts, salted and roasted, please. Oh, and can I have a beer with that?
Four personal heroes, past or present:
  1. My dh.
  2. Charles Darwin
  3. Sir Isaac Newton
  4. Thomas Jefferson
Four books you've just read or are currently reading:
  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (to my son)
  3. The Vile Village (to my son)
  4. What really effective college professors do. (The title is something along those lines. Getting ready for the new year.)
Play if you want to.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Still struggling.

I can type now... a little. So, I'll have a go at what started this recent wrinkle. The big wrinkle, the really lastest small wrinkle is that I seem to have injured my shoulder picking up the baby with only my good arm - doh!

I took the big boys (Z at six and a half, and B at four) to visit my brother's place at the coast for a few days. We had one fabulous day of fishing, beaching, playing and generally playing around. We visited Cape Lookout one last time to play in the waves and horse around. The National Park Service guy came out and let us know that there was a severe weather front on the way. So, we hightailed it to about five minutes away.

It looked like we might beat the storm... then, Z let us know that he left his shoes on the beach (his ONLY shoes). So, we turned around to get them (happy thoughts all around here). We grab the shoes from the beach and head for home. On a power boat is not a good place to get caught in an electrical storm - 'nuff said. After not a little anxiety.

Back at my big brother's place, we crack some beers and I clean up the kids. Once the storm passes, I run to the boat to get the cooler, clothes, etc. and get myself organized. I was wearing my crocs (say what you will, they are PERFECT boat shoes). I got the cooler unpacked, brought in and rinsed the gear that required it, and was ready to think about showering. I had to make one last run to my car, barefoot this time.

I knew the carport was slick, but without shoes - my feet flew out from under me. My right arm was full. "Mom"-mode kicked in high gear and I held my precious package high in my arm and sacrificed my left hand in the fall. I came down like a ton of bricks and instantly knew it really fucking hurt was not good. I dropped the F-bomb at full volume quietly thought myself foolish for not just landing on my well-padded ass sitting down. Fortunately, the boys were distracted.

I ran in and iced it down, hoping fully that it would be just fine after a little rest and ice. In that it looked deformed, I realized that hope was a pipe dream probably optimistic. So, I left my boys with my brother (whose youngest child is a college senior) and hoped for the best. They ran roughshod over him while I took off for the ER.

I had the most surprising ER visit ever. Every staff member was polite and pleasant and I was in and out of there in 90 minutes. The ER doctor was younger than I am and quite nice incompetent. He diagnosed a hairline fracture and suggested I see an orthopedist in a few days just to make sure we didn't miss a bone chip. I figured it would get more comfortable after a day or so, so I tucked in and spent a few more days at the beach, re-splinting it as necessary. Basically, I was putting off the long drive home with one hand and two children. Gosh, this sure did hurt a lot for a hairline fracture (duh).

Five days after the injury, I saw the orthopedist. "Well, dear, it isn't a hairline fracture". Oh. "I usually go in surgically, add a few pins and a plate and fix it up". Hmmmm.

I asked "can we do something else?" "How are you with pain?" he asked.

I am so tough and rugged afraid of hospitals that I decided to go for it. So he did the old snaparoo. I howled - not so tough after all, eh?

I wear this stinky cast for another two weeks. Just a few thoughts keep resurfacing.

  • I would have been ok with a longer ER wait in exchange properly setting the bone without having to break the damn thing a second time.

  • My precious four year old son is an absolute prince for helping me get dressed for three days after the fracture.

  • Next time, it would be better (mom or not) to drop the dirty laundry than fracture a bone.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Dinner last night:

grilled shrimp and scallop kabobs - with garlic lemon butter (no vampires here last night)
yellow squash sauteed with onion, garlic, and parm. cheese
parmesan cous cous

cookies and ice cream for dessert.

My dad was over and we always have dessert when he is around.

The boys promised they hated it all, but they ate it all - only Z made scary faces about anything, didn't like the squash.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

I've been accused...

by my six-year old of being as lovely and caring as Petunia Dursley today.

My arm hurts, my kids (god love'm) are being hopelessly destructive and out-of-control. I think that the impending end of summer is doing us all in. And, the hunk of plaster on my forearm is exacerbating my crankiness.

I can bitch in more detail when it doesn't hurt so blooming much.