Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First school: p & k

          When Jenna was three, we would walk hand in hand over to the public school twice a week for a preschool class that was offered.  At age four she went for four days.  At age five we enrolled her in kindergarten.  All day kindergarten to be exact. We were also in year round school.

          I would volunteer in the class room once a week. We were both happy. She loved learning.  I loved her teachers. I never had any reason to look into another school.

          Her preschool teacher was great.  She loved those she taught.  And Jenna was forever learning – and socializing.  Jenna was quite popular in her class. Holding hands with Paul the first day of school.  Soaking things in like a sponge.

          Her kindergarten teacher was amazing.  She could teach every child at his or her own level without taking away from another.  Jenna was assigned to a group with two other girls; they were the top three students in the class. 

          She would bring home a packet each day and we would work on the assignments and she would get credit each day for each assignment.  Jenna LOVED school.  To her, there wasn’t much that was more important than school. 
          Having Jenna love school was so awesome.  It was never a struggle having to get her up.  She was always up and ready and eager to go.  The few times I kept her home due to illness, she cried.  I would still continue to educate her and we would have a session at home.

I love that Jenna loves to learn.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The start of education

          I’m not saying that Jenna has it easier than I did.  But I certainly didn’t have the modern conveniences that she doesn’t yet appreciate.  After all most (if not all) of them are older than she is.  Take computers, for example.

          Back in the dark ages when I went to school, number 2 pencils were required for taking tests.  We were to pick a letter from A-E and fill in the circle COMPLETELY.  If any student was just one answer off (and had marked “C” for answer 4 instead of answer 3) every answer which followed was also marked incorrectly – and so even if I did know many of the answers – I didn’t get the credit for it.

          Today (at least in her current situation) questions are given one at a time.  I suppose there is room for error with hitting the wrong button – but I don’t think that would throw off all other questions which followed.  I think she has it easier in that aspect.

          We didn’t have I-pads and Smart boards.  The teachers had black boards and chalk.  The students did at least have paper and text books.  I’m not so old that I remember the slate.

          We didn’t have the option of dual immersion programs or charter schools like we have today.  There was no email to keep in touch with parents or to go online to view your child’s grades.  It was like a different world.

          I’m grateful for the opportunities that we have to educate ourselves and for the variety of learning methods that are offered.  I am grateful for this opportunity to Blog my thoughts.

A week of education

Often times I will come up with ideas for posts and write down words and toy around with sentences and structure until I am satisfied enough to post them to my Blog. 
          I had a thought about education – Jenna’s to be specific.  I suppose I had a complete short Blog post but thought I might add to it later on.  I did add to it.  I added a lot – making for a very long post.

          Posts don’t always need to be long.  Often short posts just seem more inviting.  And so I have decided to split up my post on education.  I will dedicate the entire week to educational themed posts.  Enjoy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

53, Ageless and Never Gains a Pound

I have saved many things over the years due to sentimental reasons: “my friend gave me this” or “my cousin gave me that” or “this was sent to me from Germany”  I apparently did not build up any sentimental attachment to the Barbie doll, any of her friends or the doll clothes that mom must have spent hours making.

          I was never into Barbie as much as my friend, Julie, for example.  She had the Barbie dream house and the lush convertible, and all the latest accessories.  Not all of my friends were into Barbie as much as Julie was, but a lot of girls were.  Barbie, Barbie, Barbie. 

          Even back then Barbie just seemed too high maintenance for me.  I had a Francie doll.  Francine fell somewhere between Barbie and Barbie’s little sister, Skipper.  Francie’s hair was shorter than I liked.  She wasn’t near as popular as Barbie – or even Skipper for that matter.  And that is why I had asked for her.  She wasn’t popular enough to be high maintenance.

          My aunt had collected Barbie dolls – hers were much older.  Back when she was a girl, Barbie had a sister named Pepper who appeared to be the same size as Barbie but undeveloped.  Short ‘froed hair.  I thought she was kind of homely looking. Kind of awkward looking next to Barbie. 

I hadn’t considered having Barbies just for collecting. They were something to be played with and enjoyed. Dolls got old for me.  I preferred playing with the boys and doing “boy things” which didn’t include playing with dolls.  And certainly not collecting them.

          My mom and the neighbor across the street had worked hard at making a huge wardrobe of clothing which included a wedding dress made from the same fabric as my neighbor’s wedding dress had been., an orange and pink plaid poncho that matched a poncho that mom had made for me, and a yellow quilted jacket – just to name a few.  When I outgrew Barbie I gave the clothes to my neighbor’s daughter.

          Mom was upset about it.  She thought that I should be saving them for my own daughter.  I didn’t appreciate the hard work that had gone into them.  When I look back on it now, I’m sure that mom spent more time making them than I did removing them and clothing my naked dolls.  But I did keep it in the family.  And the neighbor’s girl probably took care of them and passed them on to her daughter – or so I’d like to believe.

          Certainly it would have been nice to have those really special (not to mention modest) clothes the two weeks that Jenna had played with Barbies – but as I had had Jenna late in life I realistically wouldn’t have saved the clothes for all that time anyway.  Who would have thought I would give birth to my first (and only bioloical) child at the age of 41?

          I had tried crocheting some outfits for Jenna’s dolls.  I even had a model – one the dog had chewed and Jenna didn’t want to play with anymore.  I didn’t really care for the yarn clothes when I was younger – especially swim wear which would never be made out of yarn for human people.  But as an adult, I realized that yarn would stretch and would be easier to get on and take off.  My problem was in using the right sized crochet hook.  My eyes wouldn’t allow me to go any smaller than a G hook – I think most of the patterns I had called for a C.   Too small.

Barbie ended up with a purple cape, a pink pant outfit, and sad looking mint green swimwear.  And oh, yes, an oversized poncho. Jenna had three dolls all claiming to be Barbie – they were all different sizes though.  Jenna has never truly loved Barbies though.  She would rather play dress ups and have tea parties and play with her stuffed animals.

From 1970-1973 Topper (don’t even remember that name on a toy company) introduced a line of dolls maybe half the size of Barbies leg. I actually preferred them to the Barbie dolls as I could strap them (along with my feet) to the old time roller skates that I would often wear in our then unfinished basement and pretend that they were riding cars.

I had Dawn, Longett and Angie.  I kept their accessories in the kitchen carrousel that was designed for Barbie.  The top cabinets were actually too high for the dolls to reach.  But as I was just pretending anyway, it really didn’t matter. It’s not as though the dolls would have lifted the the doors and retrieved the items out themselves either way.

Earlier this month Jenna’s paternal grandmother and aunt sent her a Barbie for “the day of the three kings” which is something that Jenna’s class had just learned about in school.  It is the first Barbie doll I have truly seen her get excited about.  But not because it was a Barbie.  It is an awesome Mermaid doll.

Jenna had received Ariel for Christmas, but the Mermaid Barbie is so much better.  Her tail is bigger. Her hair’s not so heavy that it pulls her underwater.  And she comes with a bunch of accessories.  Mostly Jenna plays with her dolls in the water – and so Barbie clothes really don’t matter.  I don’t think it would excite me at all to watch the wedding dress end up in the bath water alongside the sponge and mop.

So there is a brief encounter into my world of dolls. 

I do have a doll collection – nothing like my aunts or cousins have.  My collection consists of 40 or so identical looking dolls in different (non removable) costumes. 

Western Airline had done a promotion over three decades ago.  My grandfather purchased them for me.  I don’t know if they are worth anything.  Right now they are in a box.  I suppose I ought to dig them out.  Give them to Jenna if/when we finally have the room for display.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What makes Dr. Laura so high and mighty anyway?

Many people see the world as black and white.  No shades of grey.  Definitely no color.  Everything is absolutely wrong or absolutely right – there is no room for individualism.  We all need to be these perfect cookie cutter molds that would never dare venture out of the box.

          Dr. Laura – to me- sounds like a very black and white person.  And of course her way is the correct way.  No ifs, ands or buts.  Why is it that folks even call into her program?  Is it their wish to be humiliated on the air and given a “duh” speech and still not understand that they’ve been slammed?

          I don’t actually listen to her program intentionally.  Roland always tunes the car radio onto talk radio, and sometimes I just happen to be in the car when Dr. Laura gives common sense advice to her mostly pathetic callers.

For the most part I do agree with the advice she gives – but not necessarily the way she gives it.  Her tone often matches what I am thinking in my head – though I doubt I’d ever talk to a total stranger that way:  “why in the world are you even in this position when you are obviously too stupid to figure out what it was that even brought you here?”

Her answers are short, direct – never sweet.  Seriously.  Why are there callers who only encourage her to stay on the air?  After only three calls (if that) we are done.  If Roland and I have not arrived to our destination by then, I will change the station.  Please.

I copied this from a blog quite recently.  Love the message.  I wonder how many people get it though.

“Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.
1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your adoring fan.
James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus Dept. of Curriculum,
Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia”

I did not get Mr. Kauffman’s permission to reprint.  Nor did I get Dr. Laura’s.  But I do think it is something that should be shared.  And has been (as it was not Dr. Kauffman’s blog where I first read it.) 

(Now at this point Dr. Laura would tell me that I shouldn’t even have a Blog – as I am too stupid to figure out the gadgets and insert here to refer to another post.  And I really shouldn’t just let my feet dangle in the water unless I can prove that I can swim)

Scriptures have been used to prove and disprove certain lifestyles.  Take slavery for example.  Both north and south used supposedly the same set of scripture to oppose or endorse slavery.  Why God was for it.  Why God was against it.  I don’t believe the Bible is black and white.  It’s not complete.  There are oodles of grey. 

Where are the actual writings of Moses or Joseph or Methuselah?  Do we really have all the epistles that were written by Paul?  And what about the Apocrypha?  I would gander a guess that it is not even included in most Bibles.  And the Songs of Solomon – really?  Grey. (Or is it in colour?)

Pharisees were so busy living to the letter of the law, they didn’t take time out to understand why the laws were even given.  A parent who has a variety of personalities among his/her children knows that one method of discipline that works on one child may not work on another.

For example grounding Patrick to his room was treacherous punishment. But Corey and I actually preferred our alone time.  Banishing us to our rooms was actually quite preferable.  Whereas forcing us to go outside was torture – or so we believed at the time.  Actually forcing me to go outdoors in reality contributed to my becoming a more well rounded person.

The point is that individualism isn’t black and white.  There are several shades of grey.  But more importantly there is color.  Lots of color.  And what a blessing it is for us to have those rainbows in our lives.  And for those who will accept the rainbows and appreciate that not everything is black and white.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sense of Smell: or lack of it

My mother was raised in an apartment.  Both of her parents smoked.  As a result, my mother lost her sense of smell.  So it can’t be genetic.  Not that I’ve ever had the most spectacular smelling senses.  But now I don’t seem to have any.  And I actually feel blessed that I don’t. At least at the moment.
          I love the smell of fresh baked bread.  Gingerbread.  My husband’s cooking.  I sneeze at the very sight of a candle – although I have enjoyed many fragrances – I do have allergies.  Perfumes, plants . . . don’t even get me started. I wonder if my allergies have dulled my sense of smell over the years and have finally killed it.

          But there’s a lot of smells I don’t miss:  I understand the dog stinks.  I’ll bathe him today.  But I can’t smell him.  I can’t smell the blanket that we’ve washed more often than the dog.  I can’t smell the gross odors when I am cleaning them – and don’t know if I’ve succeeded in making them better or not.  So that’s not good.  But not having to smell bad odors is actually quite wonderful.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unstaged Reality

I don’t much care for reality shows.  As a whole, I think so many started out as bogus – though there are some really good ones now.  I don’t watch the Biggest Loser, but that is at least believable as being real. So many of the first reality shows introduced were “staged”.

          Over five years ago TBS advertised one called “He’s a Lady”.  I would roll my eyes every time I saw the commercial.  And yet, I must have been intrigued.  Must have had some sense of morbid curiosity.  Why would a guy subject himself to follow in a woman’s footsteps for 6 weeks or two months or whatever it was.  How about a quarter of a million prize money?  Or the “false” advertisement which drew them to enter in the first place?

          There were at least eleven candidates who had applied for “The All American Man” contest – prove to the nation just who was the most macho.  Some had envisioned physical competition.  Some thought their knowledge of “man power” would win them over. Others may have had something else in mind.  No one expected the rules would have them dressing up, making themselves over, and doing their best to imitate woman such as their wives and girlfriends.

          Some might have bailed upon hearing the truth of what the contest entailed.  But there were eleven men picked to start off this new reality series.

          I was rooting for Rick.  I didn’t know him.  Perhaps it was his charisma or that he was a dad of five children or because he was the oldest of all the contestants.  I don’t know.  Something.
  But Rick was let go after the first round -  along with three others.  Some disappointed that they had been dismissed so soon but at the same time relieved not to have to endure more humiliation. 

          Mike and Albert (or Scarlet and Alberta) definitely made the prettiest females.  In fact Albert actually made for a more attractive woman than he did as a guy.  David (Wynona) was definitely NOT attractive – and actually quite awkward about trying to pass himself off as a woman.  

          At the end of each episode, the guys got to select one among them that might be voted off the show and the final decision was given to the judges.  Mike had been selected at least three times.  Mike (Scarlet) was beautiful.  He also had attitude.  If the show had been solely about beauty he might have won.  But there was a lot more to it – though I don’t know that the contestants really got it at first (if at all).

          David was never selected to leave the show.  He was gawky.  Not a potential threat to any of the other contestants.  Surely having David in the group would just increase the chances of any other to win the quarter of a million dollars. 

          It wasn’t just the contestants who found David’s behavior as a woman non-realistic.  He’d get stares from men and woman alike shaming him because he was homely, or clumsy, or obviously not a women or whatever.  David sensed it and it was uncomfortable just to have to present himself as a woman – but to have others treat him as though he didn’t matter made it even more difficult.

          I rooted for David.  I didn’t want to because I can never pick a winner.  Whether it’s a painting or photography or food selection or a person – whenever I show an interest, it (or he) is always eliminated. The judges never like what I like.  They often vote for what (or whom) I don’t.

          David showed great compassion and felt emotion both as David and as Wynonna.  He was getting it.  And each day he understood it more.  Women DON’T have it easy.  Sometimes men are pigs.

          David went on to be one of the three finalists.  He had a shot at the quarter of a million prize – and for the first time he realized he could actually win.  Before the final judgment, each of the contestants answered the question, “How has being a woman helped you become better at being a man?”  David gave the most awesome answer ever.

          “. . . men’s obsession with external beauty can be hurtful when the greater beauty inside is ignored . . .” he had learned greater respect.  He had established friendships and had learned lessons that were far greater than the prize money.

         I was crying.  David was crying.  His wife was crying. The audience was crying.  The former contestants who had returned for the finale were crying.  The judges were crying.  Even John Salley who seemed too macho to even want any kind of involvement in the silly exploitation was crying.  I still cry whenever I listen to it.

It was David’s speech that won him first prize.  And there were cheers and tears.  It was so awesome.  The judges had actually picked the same person that I had.  That has NEVER happened before.

          I have watched other reality shows since.  But the only ones I think are worth watching are the ones that make me cry.  Undercover Boss, the Locater and Secret Millionaire come to mind.  All great at building up and fulfillment.  I’m grateful to these positive reality shows.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jenna likes to Read

          I started reading to Jenna when she was still inside of my womb.  I would place earphones on my stomach and play Classical music for her.  I would hold a flashlight over my belly and turn it off and on and explain to her weather it was dark or light.

          Roland read to her and her brothers read to her from newborn to preschool.  Jenna grew up reading books and has loved books ever since.  She especially likes books that encourage imagination or anything non-fiction that helps her learn.  I think that is SO AWESOME!

          Of course I have to thank the library system for setting up the Beehive Nominee’s incentive program (or summer reading or whatever else is offered) as Jenna is always on a mission to complete the program and have her card filled ASAP. 

          She’s a human sponge and absorbs everything.  She often stops the reading to ask questions about what we’re reading or to make a comment about whatever subject. 
          For example this morning, while she was eating breakfast, I read to her. We read “Lizards” by Nic Bishop.  She would eyeball the pictures and widen her eyes at reading a certain lizard shown so many times larger or smaller than actual size.  Or she would tell me about when she had seen this lizard on TV or learned about that lizard in school or what have you. 

          We had to leave for school before the book was finished. Fiction doesn’t take near as long to read as non-fiction.

          I love that Jenna loves to read.  And I am so grateful for her mind and her assortment of knowledge and her memory and her imagination!  She has been a great blessing in our lives.  It’s been a pleasure watching her grow.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In God's Due Time

Roland and I had been married a couple of months before we met Bill Jolly – who totally lived up to his last name as he was always smiling and joking and overall really did appear to be happy.

          He’d come to choir practice and often joke with the chorister.  It was rare that he presented himself as a person who was ever serious.

          Overall he didn’t seem like my sister’s type, but I liked him and wondered if she would too.  Yet in the back of my mind it seemed like he had a wife.  I’m not sure why I thought that.  I never saw him with anyone. 

It wasn’t until much later on that I learned his wife was homebound for much of the time due to failing health.  When she did leave the house it was usually to go to the doctor or hospital.  I would visit her periodically. It was disheartening to see her in such poor health as she was younger than I and I had just turned 40.

          Bill loved Annaleigh.  He was committed to her.  A very devoted spouse.  And she loved him.  She struggled to meet his optimism.  She actually suffered from depression.  After our visits, I would often leave with stirred emotions.  Overall our visits were never the most uplifting and I did struggle with it.

          And then there was Bill who never showed his emotions about his home life.  Many knew they were there.  But he remained pleasant and in high spirits.

          Bill is a photographer.  He was working for a company which specialized in selling cameras.  On the side he tried his hand at starting his own business putting Annaleigh in charge of making the appointments.  I don’t know how well he did with the business part.  I know he was struggling financially.  And still he continued to smile.

          I had introduced him to my family the month before Jenna turned one.  My brother, Corey, would be leaving the state to return to school and I wanted to make a family picture before he went out of town.  Bill took the photos.  He did group shots of my sibs, my mom and me.  And my family with Roland and Patrick with his family.

          I remember my oldest niece was really annoyed with him although the boys and youngest niece found him to be strangely funny.  Bill doesn’t seem to have a talent for remembering names and often assigns bogus names to people – usually to make them laugh.  But my oldest niece was NOT amused.

          Three years later Annaleigh passed away.  It wasn’t really a big surprise to anybody.  It was the first time I had seen Bill cry – though he still continued to give the appearance of being happy.  Annaleigh had been unable to give Bill children – and he would have made such a great father.  Bill had accepted that maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

          Shortly after the funeral, Roland suggested that we set Bill up with my sister.  What?  When I first met him I thought he was maybe a few years older than my baby sister – but he was actually the same age as me.  Kayla didn’t want somebody that old.

          Roland persisted with setting them up together.  So I called Kayla and told her about Roland’s plans. 

          “Would you be interested in going out with him?” I asked.

          “No I wouldn’t” She had remembered Bill from the photo shoot and thought he was a nut.  Their personalities did clash, I thought.  But then so do mine and Roland’s.

          I told Roland that Kayla was not interested.  Of course that didn’t stop him.  He ended up giving Kayla’s number to Bill – who called her on the spot.  I was surprised to hear that she had gone out with him.  But she said he had to have guts to call a total stranger – it would, of course, just be a onetime thing.

          Without going into all the detail, Bill and Kayla ended up getting married.  For the second time (since they've been married)  Bill cried as he announced that Kayla was pregnant.  He had waited over twenty years to become a biological father!  Even longer than I had waited to become a bride and spouse. 

          Miracles do happen.  They take place every day.  Sometimes we fail to see the small miracles because we are so busy searching for the much larger ones.  I thank my brother-in-law, Bill for his awesome example of always being jolly.  Always accepting whatever life may slap him with - and accepting whatever good things may be handed to him – no matter how long it might take. 

          Things happen in God’s due time – not necessarily when we would like them to.  But through faith things will always work out – even if they are nowhere near what we desired or expected.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Seven year itch? Not quite

Jenna and I went downtown to meet our new in-laws at a Bridal display.  While we were waiting, Jenna stood over the air vent and let the air blow under her dress.  She held it down as the air blowing had revealed a little too much.  So her dress would puff up making her appear round in the middle - like a nesting doll sort of.  When she left the air vent, she was back to her normal skinny shape.  And I thought: "How cool would that be if we could just stand over something and when we walk away all of the rounded middle of ourselves could simply vanish away?"  How wonderful it would be to lose weight the instant we put it in.

Modern Technology


I am younger than the rotary phone though older than the cordless and definitely older than the cell phone. 

Roland often used to get unwanted possessions from his clients – one being an old rotary phone.  He brought it home one day and called the boys together.  There was an extra jack in Tony’s room and Roland hooked the phone up and brought it out into the hall and told the boys that they could leave it in the hall so that they would all have access to it and wouldn’t have to run into the kitchen every time.

I remember the three boys standing around the phone – first with their eyes on the phone and then exchanging puzzled looks with one another until finally one of them asked, “How does it work?” 

Until then it hadn’t even dawned on me that what had been very routine for me growing up really was a foreign object to these boys who were not much younger than the cell phone.  How would they know?

And I LOVE the GPS.  What a great invention!  Especially for those of us who are truly directional challenged. 

I am grateful for early inventions.  The camera.  I was raised on the kind that required film.  There are a few advantages that film have over digital.  But the thing I like most about digital is being able to view the picture before it is “developed” 

I am grateful to the light bulb – though not as modern of an invention.  It is truly wonderful to have. Plastic bottles are also nice.

I like being able to ask the computer a question and having a wide variety at my fingertips.  I am grateful to have a library where I can borrow the computer and check out books.  I am grateful for learning.

I often feel that we have come too dependent on these modern joys.  When the electric power supply (which I’m also grateful for) goes out, there is a major downfall in the system.  Can’t go shopping (at least not in the area where I live) you can’t check out books, even driving itself becomes a big hassle.

God bless the inventors who have given us such wonderful modern equipment!  I thank him for the inspiration and for those who acted upon that inspiration.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Late Bloomer

I was thirteen when I got my first period.  I was with my family – on vacation.  Ugh!  I told my mom that there was blood in my pants.  She explained what was taking place inside my body and how I could look forward to this special gift each month.  Yuck!  Seriously.  Wasn’t at all excited about having this piece of womanhood.

          I didn’t receive my second period until two and a half years later.  I was at school thinking, “Okay, this is not so bad.  Every two and a half years.  I can handle that”  But there was no two and a half year wait for my next one.  They started coming in perhaps every five or six weeks.  Soft.  If it weren’t for the disgusting smell, I could have probably gotten away with just a band-aid for my entire period.  I have never been a heavy bleeder.  I have never been regular.

          I didn’t get married until I was thirty-nine.  I had joined a ready-made family and was quite okay with it as I didn’t plan on bearing any children myself.  Roland wanted more children, but I told him I was too old.  Plus our financial situation was so unstable, I didn’t think it was a very good idea. 

          Now I know the only sure method of birth control is abstinence – which I knew would not be happening with Roland’s strong desires.  I did take birth control in the first year of our marriage – never knowing whether I really needed it or not. 

          I’d been instructed on how to take them and what was expected from the cycling process.  Instead of my usual four to five weeks, I would be ovulating just every four.  And although my period did come more regular than it ever had in my entire lifetime – it was every three.  And so I was still irregular.

          Before I got pregnant with Jenna, Roland and I were told that there would be a 25% chance of my getting pregnant IF I took frailty drugs.  This was due to my age and having only one tube. I had finally convinced Roland that I would not be able to bear him anymore children.  So that was that.  Or so we believed.

The boys were out of town the summer of 2003 and Roland and I had gone to a health fair to donate blood.  I don’t know whose bright idea it was to have the registration so far away from the blood bank – but it was.  We filled out the forms at the school and walked half a mile across the playground to the trailer where the blood was drawn.

Roland has excellent blood.  He has marvelous health and was hooked up right away.  Well, by the time I walked all the way from the school to the trailer in the unbearable beating sun, my blood pressure was too high.  My efforts were rejected  (though I did get a piece of red gauze to wear on my arm so that it would appear that I had donated)

We went to another exhibit.  I was tested for diabetes and told my sugar was high – but because of the heat it might not be accurate.  I was given a card that had the address and phone # of a medical research and was told I should make an appointment – which I did.  I was feeling sluggish. 

On the morning of my scheduled appointment I questioned some pain I had in my breasts – like rubber bands snapping.  That was a familiar pain I had had before the major pain that had taken me to the hospital the previous year.

“Could I seriously be pregnant?” I wondered.

When I arrived at the clinic I told the staff that it was possible that I might be pregnant.  So they did two tests on me.  I tested negative for diabetes and positive for pregnancy.  My obstetrician was in the same complex, and so I left the medical center and went right over to make an appointment.

The first thing my Dr. did was send me downstairs for an ultrasound.  He didn’t believe in the test results I had taken and wanted to see what was really going on.  And if I was pregnant that my baby was growing where she was supposed to be and not in the remaining tube. Sure enough I was pregnant.  Blew my doctor away!

Babies seem to arrive early in my family.  Like so many others, Jenna was born  before the intended due date - eight days.  My mom and sister and I were just about to leave the house to attend a birthday party for an eighty year old we had all worked with.  But then my water broke.  Surely I wouldn't be able to drive myself to the hospital.

I had just finished eating a tuna fish sandwich – which came out shortly after we had all checked me in.  My mom and sister stayed camped out with me in the birthing room.  And Roland joined us after a while.  I was starving, but they wouldn’t let me eat anything.  And Jenna had certainly taken her time. 

23 ½ hours!  23 ½!  I had to be induced (I never did contract on my own) and Jenna’s head was guided out as I was told to push or not push and I was so loaded up on epidural I didn’t know if I actually was pushing or not.

Short of seven weeks Jenna and I are nearly 42 years apart.  My first one.  My only one biologically.  I had had some weird symptoms with her.

I couldn’t drink water without getting sick (even that summer when Roland had donated blood and I had been rejected; before I even knew I was pregnant I would get sick just drinking water) I developed a really numb case of tendentious. 

Every time I mentioned an odd side effect, my mom would just look at me with a puzzled expression and state, “I don’t remember ever getting that when I was pregnant”  Nor did my sister-in-law.  But they were also 20 years younger when they had their first babies.

Jenna keeps me young at times.  But at the same time I feel so much older as I am theoretically old enough to be the mother of some of her friends' parents.  I will be sixty when Jenna graduates high school.  And at the rate I’m going I probably won’t experience menopause until I’m in my late 70”s.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thank you for the Crock Pot

         Aside from disposable dishes, I am really quite grateful to the inventor of the Crock Pot.  What an awesome invention!  To be able to throw in food and have it done by dinner time!  And the meat is always tender and juicy and oh, so good.  So much better than the oven.

          The first crock pot that I have recollection of was a red orange one my mom had purchased shortly after this wonderful item was introduced to the market.  We didn’t have the option of removing the incert as we have today.  There was no insert.  It was just one unit.  The cord went in the sink as we attempted to clean it without getting the cord wet.  (What a chore that was)

          Today crock pots come in assorted styles and gadgets.  Roland and I have one that is oblong shaped and with settings for low high or warm.  We can take the dish part out of the heating divise.  We can leave it on low all day. We can have dinner ready even before he comes home.

          Crock pots are SO COOL!  You don’t even need an entire kitchen for a crockpot.  I really like that!

Paper Dishes: making Life easier

I would like to thank the inventor (or inventors rather) who created disposable dishes.  Paper plates and cups, plastic flatware, aluminum pans – though not yet invented for the stove top – at least that I know of.

          I don’t mind doing dishes – but I don’t thrive on it.  It does irk me quite a bit when I know I’ve done the dishes – lots of them – and less than four hours later the sink gives one the appearance that I haven’t done dishes all week.  Where the heck do these extra dishes even come from?  Usually it’s just me and Jenna.  Or me.  In the morning and after work it is Roland, Jenna and me – well not every night. 
          Biff works graveyards – and although he does cook at odd times during the 24 hour day – he doesn’t use that many dishes.  Two – maybe three.  I think I have dish gremlins that break into my house.  I honestly can’t find any other explanation.
          I try to keep paper products on hand – for the few guests that we invite to our huge luxurious house (usually my sister and her husband) so I don’t get stuck with even more dishes than usual.  Not only are they convenient for after dinner, but paper products also take less space than normal dishes.  And they don’t break when they crash onto the ceramic tiled floor.

          Disposable containers are wonderful when sending home left overs or even packing a lunch for those who neglect bringing the containers into the house from the car (if they did indeed make it to the car) or taking treats to neighbors. The treats that my daughter made at the sitter’s house for instance – when they vanished (less than 24 hours later) I simply threw the pan away.  Disposables don’t have to be returned.  What an awesome invention!

          Some people may argue that there is more waste – waste of money and garbage waste with disposable dishes.  But look how much you are saving on dish soap and germs.  When examined by a doctor, everything is thrown into the waste – the tongue depressor, needles, cotton balls – they never sterilize or try to wash those products – it is for health and safety issues.  Well that is how I feel about paper products.  It is sanitary.  It is safe.  I can’t believe how many dishes have gone through the sink or dishwasher that really aren’t clean – and that’s just the stuck on stuff that one sees with the naked eye.  But what about the stuff we don’t see?  Really.  Think about it.
          Have you ever gone to a restaurant and picked up a dirty fork?  Or a buffet and picked up a plate that had food stuck on it?  So your home dishes may receive a little more care than the food industry – or does it?  All I’m saying is that I like the idea of disposable dishes.  I think they are awesome inventions!