Friday, April 30, 2010

FF: School Tales

This week's progress report is brought to you by:

Mommy's Idea  and Friday Follow and The Girl Creative

Language Arts:

My students did a mostly admirable job on their visual arguments proving something about the economy and Detroit. I did hear the song, "They're Shutting Detroit Down," 12 too many times, but otherwise things were fine. That is if we forget that this is a second semester college-level English course and the following words were used in some presentations: holded, reception (instead of perception), and even gived. Seriously.


My son, the advanced math student knows better than to ask me for help. That may change now since he read a story problem to his strong math dad and they both puzzled over it while I, the math-impaired mother yelled out the correct answer. I have no idea where the answer came from, but I looked very, very impressive.

Before class, my students were discussing how annoying their friends are.  They asked me if I ever got annoyed with friends, so I shared a recent story with them. They commiserated and then got very serious when one girl said, "Dr. Caution, I wouldn't let her sit at my lunch table anymore if I were you."  As soon as I get a lunch table, I'll give it serious consideration.

Social Studies:
In my second grader's class last week, the teacher held up a map as she discussed map directions.  One of the girls, who wasn't paying one bit of attention, asked, "The Yukon!  What's that?"  Before the teacher could answer, a boy yelled out, "A vehicle, of course!"  He wasn't trying to be humorous.

An acquaintance whom I hope will someday be a friend said she would like to start walking with me.  The problem?  She goes to the gym every day before work, so she is in fantabulous shape.  Walking with her might very well kill me. Besides that, I would miss walking with Checkered who buys me something at Starbucks while we walk (think dark cherry mocha!!) and I would miss walking with my friend Jill of the quilted pictures who says one word for every 25 I say, thus allowing me to monopolize the conversation.

My phone has a wonderful feature which allows me to speak a Google search topic or speak a text message.  Then the phone transcribes it into a written format.  Unfortunately, it's not very accurate.  Yesterday I tried to tell my son that he is a man of few words, but the message was transcribed, "You love you a lot."

Driver's/Drivers' Ed:
Do you pull into your driveway or back into your driveway?  I try to avoid the reverse gear whenever possible, and that is making it a real challenge to get out of my driveway each morning. I wonder if I could put it in neutral and just roll out?

Show and Tell:
When did your blog friends cross over from living in your computer to living in your daily life and hearts? I realized that had happened to me when I saw this last week and thought of you-know-who.  Sorry, you-know-who. That it was a dumpster had nothing whatsoever to do with you being in my heart and mind.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ABC Wednesday: O is for Open

I made her acquaintance through mutual friends.  They had little use for her, so that's the approach I took, also.  For years she would attempt conversations with me, and I would remain very reserved and polite, but never warm.  After all, those mutual friends had good reason not to like her.

Then circumstances changed and my path began to cross regularly with her path.  She spoke to me every time.  Not just, "Hi," but genuine, gracious conversation.  Somewhere in there I began to pray and ask the Lord to allow me to see others through His eyes - not her - just others in general.  That was a sizable prayer with its own obligations, but what I began to see bothered me.

I saw her faithfulness to others.  I saw her always willing to listen.  To help.  To support. And instead of being drawn to her, I supposed that she was working very hard to be someone special.  And for that, I chose to remain aloof from her.

But how can one pray but be unwilling to accept the answer? So I continued to pray.

And  then, amazingly, my ears, my eyes, and my heart were Opened.

I heard her tell me that she shuddered at past decisions and mistakes.  I heard her say she was tempted to withdraw from life and hide, but that God's grace had found her.  I saw her gently cradle the devastated widow.  I saw her hold the hand of the mother whose child is breaking her heart.  I watched as she helped a fractured family find their way to healing.

And when she sat down for a visit with me the other day, my heart smiled at her, my friend.

For other less preachy and more interesting O's, go here!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Happiness Project: In the Eye of the Beholder

It doesn't matter how much we donate or sell.  It doesn't matter how strategically Checkered finds new ways to store things.  It doesn't matter that periodically we all get frustrated because we can't get to the things we need.  It used to confirm my fears that housekeeping isn't my greatest strength.  It used to have me apologizing to anyone who saw our garage.

But then a neighborhood family lost their child in an accident.

Now I look at this collection of stuff and I see a family of living, active people.  I see a dad and mom and four kids juggling a gazillion things.  I see time for board games and badminton tournaments, camping, bike riding and fishing. I see hugs and togetherness.  And that never-changing, impossibly crowded garage?  It's just not such a big deal anymore.

For more happiness, go here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Some Days There's Just Nothing Else ...

 This list is all over the blogosphere, but I saw it most recently at JanMary's. The bolded ones are  already accomplished.  I wonder what's next on the list?

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

 (Junior high - alto sax)

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to DisneyWorld

8. Climbed a mountain (a mild one)

9. Held a praying mantis 

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm

 (not willingly)

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

(thank-you Pizza Hut in Kansas)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables
(we had a major crop of about six ears of corn and 5 tomatoes!!)

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

 (sitting up)

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice 

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

 ( I was in Morocco for a day. Does that count?)

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theatre 

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a cheque  NO COMMENT

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Got a tattoo

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

Friday, April 23, 2010

FF: Nonsense !!

Surprise parties hold no appeal for me, but I will admit that my time in the coveted number 4 spot at Friday Follow was happy, happy for me. I loved finding so many new blogs, (although I really don't understand the "I'll follow you if you follow me first," thought. Follow if you want to; don't if you don't.) Nevertheless, thank-you for that wonderful experience :)

Friday Follow

Life has interfered greatly with my blogging time the last few weeks, and I do resent that. Please forgive me for being a bad reciprocal blogger. Reading blogs on my phone is just a bit more effort than I initially thought.

For a decade plus I've lived in this house and never fallen off the step from the kitchen to the family room. Yesterday I fell off it twice. Today I am sore -- but I am going to pretend that it was caused by exercise. Whatever it takes, you know?

My students are creating visual arguments around the theme, "the economy and Detroit." I love how insightful some students are: "The economy is bad, but it has made me a more compassionate person." "The economy stinks, but my family has learned how to live more sensibly." "We are no less resilient now than we were the last time, and the time before that, and the time before that..." Presentations begin on Tuesday and I can't wait :)

My son's 100% cotton shirt needed to be ironed for a school concert, and it took me 15 minutes just to find an iron. Interpret that however you will.

If one inadvertently drops a Certs breath mint into a bottle of Diet Pepsi while drinking, the Pepsi WILL explode -- even if one sticks her tongue into the bottle in a pathetic attempt to contain the eruption.

If you have nothing to do this week-end, head to Boston where you can be part of the new world record attempt for most people throwing rubber chickens at the same time. I know. I know.

Did you hear about that 37 foot whale that just beached itself and died in Washington? It had a great deal of trash in its stomach: sweatpants, surgical gloves, several towels and bags, and a golf ball. I wonder what scientists would find in my stomach? One thousand calories worth of 100 calorie snacks and that's just the beginning. What's in your stomach??

Now, head over to Friday Fragments where Mrs. 4444 patiently awaits other ADHD-laden posts just like this one.
Mommy's Idea

When you're done there, go to New Friend Friday. It will be worth the journey - I promise.

The Girl Creative

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ABC Wednesday: N is for Nice

When did the word, Nice, become such a wimp? When did it become synonymous with boring, uninspired, blah?

"I had a Nice time." Translation? "I was counting the minutes until it was over."

"She's a Nice girl." Translation? "She doesn't have a living cell in her brain."

"Thanks for the Nice gift." Translation? "Maybe there's a gift receipt in here somewhere???"

There seems to be universal acceptance of the idea that our society is evolving from a polite society into a society of drive and determination. The Golden Rule is out. Me, ME, ME!!! is in. We've become louder, less forgiving, determined to prove that we are alive, desirable, and in charge of our own destinies. We're active; not passive. We've embraced exclamation marks and icons to show our emotions. It's all about what I can get of out life right.this.minute!!!!

So what happened to Nice? It got stepped on, kicked to the side, and reworked into something weak.
Don't you know that "Nice guys finish last" ??

But you know what? I still love nice. I still want to be thought of as a nice neighbor and friend who has time to listen. I hope I am the Nice teacher who cares beyond the boundaries of the textbook. Nice means smiling at store clerks and telling new moms that their babies are beautiful. It means choosing happiness. It means thinking before I speak and taking responsibility if I hurt someone. It means that I won't always get the best seat or the last word, but it doesn't have to mean that I am boring, insipid, or without direction.

I want Nice to live here. And if some people interpret that to mean that I want to be a flat liner and perpetually beige, they are welcome to take the gift receipt and exchange me for someone a little less Nice.

Have a Nice day!!!
For more ABC Wednesdays, go here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Happiness Project: More Than a Net

I thought my 15 year old was kidding when she asked for a bad mitten (badminton?) set for her birthday. Fortunately, her father was listening more intuitively that time, so we were prepared on the big day.
The rackets and birdies will probably eventually go the way of our tetherball pole, bocce ball stuff, and maybe even the croquet stuff. But right now, we are a badminton-crazy family, and that is something that makes us smile.

For more happiness, go here.


Monday, April 19, 2010

You Know It's a Slow News Day When ...

... the leading story in the paper is about a crime that was committed on the campus of the school where I work. However, they didn't know:
  • what happened
  • who was involved
  • or any other detail.

BUT they did promise to tell us something if they ever found out!

Friday, April 16, 2010

IT"S FF, FF, and NFF!! Clear???

It's been a sad week in our neighborhood as a young boy was in a tragic accident. I've been sickened by the finger-pointing and second-guessing some in our community have done. Why do some people need to rationalize a death by trying to place blame on innocent parties? Along with prayers for the family, my prayers now include Hallie and her family in their inconceivable loss.

So is there anything good to report this week that won't trivialize the pain others are faced with this week?

We have flowers in Michigan!! Not in my yard, but that's where living next door to a gardener is an advantage.

The copy cat recipe I followed for Olive Garden's Minestrone soup did not produce anything resembling in taste, texture, or appearance the soup served at the restaurant.

Have you ever used Vicks on your feet at night to relieve congestion? My son's snoring was loud enough to awaken half the household the other night and I wonder if the Vicks would help.

Thanks to the work of Facebook I feel quite caught up with many high school friends and now am debating if I really should even go to my reunion this summer. It's as though I've learned just about everything I might have wanted to know about my former classmates.

A few days ago I received a most unexpected compliment from a most unexpected source. It felt great. It still feels great - so much so that I am going to make a true effort to do that for other people more often.

Our favorite local ice cream place is open and we're headed there this week-end. I very maturely suggested to Mr. Weight Watchers that we share some ice cream since he is ever so fanatical about maintaining his weight loss. "Heck, no!" he said. "I'm getting my own!" That's a grand decision.

I don't care what they say about Prell shampoo stripping hair of color/nutrients/moisture/its emotions/it bank account/and credit history. I still love it. (Do you remember that little squeeze bottle? I do!)

There is a small oven burn on my arm. It is healing now but has an interesting and exceptionally pink color to it. There is a student in my class who has two phobias: blood and public speaking. This week she had to give a presentation during class, and don't you know it? She looked at my healing burn while she was talking. Yup. You're right. She got sick to her stomach and had to leave class.

This post has been brought to you by my number one confessor: Friday Fragments Mommy's Idea

and my number one ego booster: Friday Follow.

Friday Follow

and my number one extracurricular interest: New Friend Friday.
The Girl Creative

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ABC Wednesday: M is for the Michigan Map

What does M stand for?

Could there possibly be anything more fascinating than a state where each resident holds up his or her hands to show where on the "map" his or her home is?

It completely confused me when I first moved to Michigan and wanted to know where a city was and everyone in the room would hold up a hand. But how great is a state which is shaped just like a couple of hands!

Want to know where I live in Michigan?

Go here to find out what else M stands for.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Happiness Project: Brisket


My sister will soon stop being a Texan and will become a Tennessean - if that's a word. I am very happy because she will be just a 10 hour drive away. And that means that I can go to her house for every holiday we can get together and visit more often. Let's just hope that the Fort Campbell community makes something as wonderful as El Paso's Claude's Barbeque Brisket Marinade Sauce.
I'm going to miss Claude's.
For more happiness, go here.

P.S. Thank-you for the birthday gift, Red. The chocolate bar has already beendonated to those less fortunate eaten.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Someday this

lilac root

will become this:


Someday this

hibiscus root

will become this:


We just wish we knew what this will become someday:

Lisa at Music Man Feb 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

15 Today

Old enough to be in driver's training.

Old enough to be a fantabulous baby sitter.

Old enough to have her parents panicking at the thought of college tuition.

Old enough to be in AP/honors classes.
Old enough to have the boys looking twice.
But never old enough to stop being her parents' sweet baby girl.

Happy birthday, pretty girl.

Friday, April 9, 2010

FF: Nothing but the truth

Mommy's Idea

Friday!! The last day of my kids' spring break. There is good news though. It's Friday Fragment day
Friday Follow
The Girl Creative
Besides that, it's pizza night. Can life get any better?

In disturbing news, my young son saw "whiskers" in a woman's armpit, and it really upset him. I bet it upset her, too.
Disturbing news continues: When I picked our dog up from the kennel after a long week-end apart, she pretty much ignored me. She did, however, kiss the receptionist and knock her on her bottom. Since I was the one paying the bill, I was not delighted.

Unsettling news takes over: While I was in the hardware store, I bought some suet cakes for the birds and found one claiming to attract teen-agers. I wondered what kind of bird would attract teens and I actually bought it. After I got home, I realized it said Tanagers - which is apparently not a human, but a bird.

I might have missed Facebook afterall.

Unbelievably, I have grown 1.25 inches since I got married, and I most assuredly did not marry as a young woman.

And now a little love: When some of you got Blackberries, I didn't get the love you felt. Then some of you got IPhones, and the affection was still lost on me. My wonderful Checkered bought me an Android for my birthday, and now I get it. I am so in love!!

Have you seen the removable lettering scripture verses at Hobby Lobby? They are wonderful! Here are some from my parents' church. p>
I have two to put up in my house. Now the question is where???

And the final love: My sweet youngest child carefully planned and carried out an April Fool's Day joke. He removed the batteries from the t.v. remote control and hid them. He couldn't wait for everyone (especially Daddy) to get frustrated and start hitting the remote trying to get it to work. Unfortunately, he took the batteries out of the wrong remote and no one even noticed. After a frustrating day of no one noticing his trick, I caught on and beat the daylights out of the empty remote. He was thrilled at his grand success and is already planning next year's joke. I love being a mom!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

ABC Wednesday: L

The letter L has diverse connotations for me.

One of my earliest memories is going to the Library with my mom.We went all the time and always checked out a stack of books. As soon as my own kids were walking, we went to the library. They didn't love it :(

Maybe I'm just different because I'm Left-handed. That makes me part of the 10% of the general population who are southpaws. Unfortunately, it also gives me an increased risk of breast cancer. (Left-handed women have double the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.)

In an attempt to improve the tenor of this post after the breast cancer mention, I'll think about the day I got my driver's License. It was thrilling, but now that my daughter is old enough to begin driver's training, I don't feel the same excitement.

My children recently asked me for confirmation that mothers can't remember their Labor pains. I thought about my labor pains times four, and said, "Sorry to disappoint you."
When I lived in Massachusetts as a child, Lady Slippers grew behind our house. I can't say that I've seen once since then.

One time Checkered and I were boating on Lake St. Clair, and when I pulled my feet out of the water, they had small leeches on them. No, I am NOT going to show you a picture.

Oh, that's gross!! So one more positive L word. Let's see. I was going to say my name, but Caution starts with C!

For more ABC Wednesdays, go here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Leigh's Happiness Project: A Week-End Visit


Easter Sunday.

78 degrees.

Attending church where my dad is the pastor.

Dinner with my parents and sister and her family.

A day so perfect it will live in my heart forever.


Friday, April 2, 2010

FF: me, Me, ME !!

Today is my birthday,
and I think it's great.
To be half of 96
is my current fate.

Mommy's Idea
What I most love about Friday Fragments is the reassurance that other people
are less organized than I might have feared.

I never heard of bumpy cake until I moved to Michigan. Since that wondrous discovery of chocolate cake covered with lines of buttercream and topped with chocolate, it has been a birthday tradition for me. This year my friend told me where to find the best bumpy cake - this one covered in Sander's hot fudge. I guess that's another Michigan tradition. Just so you know, the cake has a Caution shelf-life of 24 hours.

Why didn't you all ever tell me about Friday Follow before? What fun!
Friday Follow
After last week's Friday Follow, I was happy to see that this blog had 80 followers, but then I realized I was following myself.

I've always loved Mary Chapin Carpenter's music but I'm a little disconcerted how she seems to have videotaped my life to get her lyrics.

I've been working my arms with 3 pound weights. At this rate, I should have toned arms for my 60th bday.

Would someone please explain to me how the new health care bill which requires people to have health insurance enables them to pay for that health insurance?

I've asked my family to recycle things they already own as birthday gifts for me. Now I ask you the same thing. What great advice did you once receive from someone that you would now be willing to pass onto me?

While you're typing up that advice, ponder this: With the heat generated by 48 candles, 5.49 ounces of water could be boiled.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Book Review: An Absence so Great

Have you ever arrived late to class and never been able to catch-up on what you missed?

Have you ever walked up to two friends engaged in conversation and felt incredibly awkward trying to join in?

Have you ever missed a day of work and returned only to find all new policies put in place?

Have you ever ... okay, I've made my point.

When An Absence so Great arrived for review, I was delighted. It's historical fiction. It's Christian lit. It has a great cover. But it is also a sequel. Now sequels aren't always difficult to read, and sometimes they're just fine as stand-alone books. Like the late arrival to class or the in-progress conversation, I found Absence to be a challenge.

The characters are sympathetic and the themes are atypical for a lot of historical chick lit. In this novel we find divorce, May-December romance, and independent women struggling as business owners. I appreciate Jane Kirkpatrick's willingness to step away from predictable scenarios and conclusions.

My very smart friend, Jill of the quilted pictures, was more gracious about the slow rhythm of Absence. She enjoyed the author's artistic interpretions of real photos included in the book and the manner in which the author's grandmother's life was depicted. Alas, Jill said this isn't a book she would tell a friend they had to read and I find that this, like many other things, is something I'm inclined to agree with with her on.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, and I wonder if they'll ever send me another after this review!