Friday, April 30, 2010

So here's something you might not know. . .

Unless you've visited Facebook in the past, oh, two hours or so:

Tim and I are expecting again. This is our fourth pregnancy in 15 months, so we're hopeful this one will be the charm. It's taken EVERYTHING I HAVE to not tell the universe, but I managed, poorly, but still managed, to keep it under wraps.

We discovered we were expecting the morning after St. Patty's Day, in the brief moments between my wakeup and Tim's decision to go to the ER for an emergency appendectomy, so this child had strange beginnings. Still, all seems well, so far. We had an ultrasound at 6w1d where the doctor expected to see a sac and fetal pole, but was actually able to detect a heartbeat of about 100bpm. Just over a week later, we had another ultrasound and the baby showed growth and still had a heartbeat. This is the farthest we had gotten in all of the 2009-2010 pregnancies.

Today I am 9w5d. Our baby measured on-target at 9w3d, with a heartbeat, and movement, and it even looks (though not in this picture) like a REAL BABY with wiggly legs and arms and everything. While I am not yet confident this is our take-home baby, I am much more hopeful than I have been in a long time.

And here it is, Baby Grrr, as we like to call him or her:
Nice shot, huh? ;)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hrrrm. This could be dangerous.

I told my students I wrote about them in my blog.

Then I gave them a clue to find me.

I figured what the heck, we're only about 10 days from the end of the semester. Plus I figured these guys are cool. Not like normal students. And in the end, I'm sure I'll admire their detective skills.

But in the meantime, I might have to hide some posts.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"I disapprove of what you say,

but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Wikiquote tells me that Voltaire said this. Honestly, I don't much care who said it (and don't take much stock in Wikis).

What I care about is that it's true.

So last week, in my *favoritest ever* English class (sorry former students who are reading this blog and might be Facebook friends. It's as if the coolest among you got together and formed a class and became my Tuesday Afternoon Club. These guys are the bee's knees.), we were discussing my least favorite activist ever, Fred Phelps and his gang of evil signholders. The discussion centered on the military father's lawsuit against Phelps, a compliment and shout-out I had to give to Bill O'Reilly (because he was helping to pay this father's legal bills), and the complex issues surrounding a public protest of what I think we can agree is a most private affair: a burial.

While my students seem to be privy to a wide-range of well-thought political beliefs, from very conservative to very liberal (and never afraid to share them, something that makes me beam with pride), there was an anti-Phelpsian consensus in the room. And a consensus that it's wrong to protest a funeral. And yet, when met with the Voltaire quote and my own voice of concern about censoring what we consider ugly, an interesting conversation ensued -- we discussed the difficulty in accepting free speech that we disagree with and the necessity for defending even the worst free speech around. Of course our anti-Phelps alignment broke into pieces and we once again scattered between very conservative and very liberal.

The best part of it? This was critical thinking at its finest. It was deep reasoning, level-headed constructing and deconstructing of arguments. It was everything an English instructor wants from her classroom.

And in the end, the very best part? They thought we were wasting time with daily banter. Oh, the most fabulous things come from our daily banter.

I think of all of this now, because I'm struggling with the Facebook group "Dear Lord, this year you took my favorite. . . my favorite President is Barack Obama." The group founder calls it a joke. Opposition groups have started asking that the group be banned from Facebook. CNN has even covered the story. Personally, I dislike the sentiment of the group, as I'm deeply offended by the idea of praying for someone's death in that manner, even if it is a joke. And yet, as displeased as I am, I cannot call for it to be pulled down and dismantled, because I defend its right to say whatever tactless, horrible things it wishes. It's a strange position to be in, defending Fred Phelps and the Obama-death-prayer groups. In the end, I consider it an exercise in my own critical thinking and deep reasoning.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

And now for a subject very near and dear to my heart:

If you've read my blog, you know: I lost my stepfather to cancer and it affected me deeply.

You should also know this: Four months before his death, David walked his first Survivor lap in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. We missed it that year, saying we'd be there for the next Relay. We were. David wasn't.

But other people were. Thanks to the work of the American Cancer Society - the research, scholarships, family counseling, and other projects funded by grants made possible through Relay for Life donations, other people were there to walk the Survivor lap for a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time.

This year's theme is "A Year with More Birthdays." As I wrote just a few months ago, I remember David singing "When I'm 64" when I was a child - and thinking how impossibly far away those days were. Sadly, those days would never be for him. I would like, however, to see those days come for those I love - and millions of others who will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

If you can, in any way, please consider supporting me in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Douglas County this year. _US&et=Ra92rqb3O_EOaKVep1RPIA..&s_tafId=451134

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I know it's not healthy, but

homemade Wendy's dinner is better than purchased Wendy's dinner, right?

This afternoon, I had the overwhelming craving for a chocolate milk shake. I suggested we go to dinner at Wendy's, though as soon as the thought crossed my lips, I had visions of super processed gunk and goo being extruded into small nugget-like forms, and triple fried french fries covered in salt. Ok, I realize it still sounds a little good.

But WE decided to be good, so I sent Mr. off to the store for ice cream, malt powder (because what's better than a Frosty? A malt), and pulled out some chicken breasts and potatoes. I used my *squeaky shiny new mandoline* to make instant french fry cut potatoes, tossed them in olive oil, Pikes Peak seasoning from Savory, some extra salt and pepper, a smidge of garlic, and tossed them in a pan to make baked fries. Then I cut the chicken into strips and dredged with flour, Hickory (from Savory), garlic, salt, and pepper.

All are in the oven now. It's taking everything I have to delay the milkshakes until after dinner. After all, if we were at Wendy's, we'd be eating our Frosty's now, right?


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hello, my name is Monica, and I'm a Sharpie addict.

I've long known that my addiction to office supplies knows no bounds. After all, what mother sweats and twitches for a few weeks before FINALLY exploding into the school supply shopping scene at Target saying Just one more. . . just one more pack of pens. . . and this notebook. . . that's all I need. Then goes back the next day. Just to see what else might be on sale.

I know several and we are a hodge podge bunch of addicts. We each have our specialty. Mine, for quite a few years, has been 10 packs of college-ruled spiral notebooks. I believe those were my gateway to my true addiction.

Sharpies. I love them. At any given time, I must have several at hand. I love the way they smell. I love the way they feel in the hand. I love their bold strokes and their permanence. I love how, when writing lists in said spiral notebooks, even when you write quickly, the sharpie leaks through and marks the next page in a series of dots and specs so random and faint they look like they must be braille -- they have to carry some meaning.

I am aware that it is a sickness. I am also aware that if this is sick, I do not want to be cured.

Let me take you through a brief description of our available Sharpies:
  • Extra Broad, multicolor: We have six extra-broad multicolor Sharpies in purple, green, blue, red, black, and orange. Somehow we lost two: yellow and brown. This causes me a deep and abiding sadness. One day I might even consider Sharpie therapy.
  • Normal, average, run of the mill broad point, in black. I believe at this point there are at least four of these running around our household somewhere. Of course they are useful for such things as mailing labels, marking basement boxes (though I tend to use the broad multicolor for that, because oooooooh pretty!), and writing on CDs/DVDs, etc.
  • My favorites: Extra Fine Point in blue, black, red, and green. My students will soon grow to hate me because what's better than a red correcting pen? A red correcting Sharpie. Nothing says "Don't splice!" like deep, permanent scarring from a Sharpie. EVEN when that Sharpie's in an upbeat blue or grassy green. And what better way to remind a student not to plagiarize than thirteen red "CITE"s in the margins? These are my new fallbacks for class prep and grading, though I've learned that the Sharpie is a bit too powerful up against a textbook. Sorry Composition of Everyday Life. You never stood a chance.
  • Extra Fine Point markers have another purpose, I have discovered. Tattooing the children. There's nothing more fun in this world than stamping my kids with Melissa and Doug wooden stamps, then tracing in black and filling in with the remaining colors. One day, when Lilly, age 19, comes home to visit (hell YES she'll be out of the house by then!) and shows us the permanent tattoo she's had put on her foot or back or shoulder or any wide variety of places teenagers like to modify their bodies, Tim will blame it on me. And he'll probably be right. Meanwhile, after a lifetime or organic foods and a close to plastic-free household, I try not to think about what poisons are leaching into my children's skin from their sweet butterfly tattoos.
I know. I know. But people are always saying that a simple life is a good one, right? Focus on the simple things? What could be more simple than sweet, sweet permanent markers?

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