{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 17

Welcome back to PPP after a bit of a hiatus!  Nothing major going on (as I mentioned last post), just the general business of life and constant other demands on my time.  Stuff has not calmed down in the least, but I realized that I need my writing time.  I function much better when I’m doing it regularly.  This blog is the closest thing I get to therapy, so I need to make an effort to keep it out of the backseat!

This is something of a Weekly mishmash “Catch-up”, plus with a few more recent goings-on.  So, what have we been up to over here?

1.  EASTER.  Here we are after mass.  We showed up 40 minutes early, got to sit in front, and the kids weren’t horrible.  It was an all-around win.

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2.  I took the kids on a day trip to The Museum of Clean.  They loved it!  There were toys and antique toilets!  Fun for all ages!

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3.  We got a new kitty in January.  We adopted her and did not change the name the rescue group had given her: Beatrice.  Once the kids got over the need to carry her around by the neck, it’s been good.  Beatrice keeps us young; she is really hyper.  Especially at 2am.

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4.  I stayed up late every night this week to declutter the basement.  In the ensuing time, I went through 6 Rubbermaid totes of “Keepsakes” that my mother had saved for me from childhood.  Here is what I learned:

First of all, I don’t advocate for throwing out all of your kid’s artwork, school projects, writing assignments, etc.  But you certainly don’t have to keep every. single. one.  I think my mom was sweet for doing so, most likely under the impression that someday…..someday….it may mean so so much to me that I have my junior high math tests and my preschool macaroni art, but I realized that I can really live without those things cluttering up my basement.  I filled an industrial-size garbage can.

However, I appreciate my mom keeping some of those things, because there were some gems.  Like all-caps handwritten notes from my grandmother for me when I was first learning to read.  And the cute little artwork from my younger brothers and sisters.  And the kitchen-table notes from my mom to my younger self that reveal, not only what kind of kid I was at a younger age, but what kind of mom she was (and looking at it with my mother-eyes now, I realize I totally get her in a way I didn’t at the time.)

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Well, thank you, Caity. I WILL have a hippy barsday!!

I also realized that as an adult, I am coming full-circle into what my likes and passions were at that young age.  Gretchen Rubin says in her books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home that we need to look back at what we enjoyed as children to figure out what we enjoy now.  Now, for some people this may be a “duh” moment – “I played matchbox cars as a child and now I love my job as a mechanic!” – but for others of us, myself included, our likes can sometimes be obscured by what we feel as adults we should do.  I graduated from high school thinking I should be a doctor.  Not necessarily because science was my strong point, or because I truly enjoyed all those labs in high school.  I just thought it was what I should do because my parents were in the medical profession and it was a good job.  I failed to consider that I was not really a people-person (not all doctors are, but doctors with the best bedside manner certainly are), nor was I ever good at handling stress (which can be a little bit of an occupational hazard in a stressful profession).  I also was never a science or math person and my grades reflected this.  So, when I finally conceded defeat as a pre-med student, I felt relief but also felt a great deal of self-hatred for “not being able to cut it”.  I wasn’t good enough.  I wasn’t smart enough.  I might still be able to graduate from college with some sort of degree, but I would always consider myself a failure because I couldn’t follow through with my initial goal of being a doctor.

So I majored in history.  Which I loved.  Which didn’t guarantee me a job (as my mother constantly reminded me).  But I figured that if I chased my love, and something I was good at, eventually I would figure something out.

And I had to laugh as I went through those keepsake boxes.

There was a running theme through all of those papers and assignments:  History and writing.  I found an assignment I had to write in 5th grade – a letter to my parents about why I was excited for the beginning of the school year.  I wrote, “I am so excited for 5th grade because we finally get to learn history this year!”  I discovered a nightshirt I had craft-painted that had a picture of a boy and girl in colonial dress, and emblazoned above them in bold letters was “HISTORY”.  I found dozens of stories and plays I had written.  I found a note from my sister telling me that she always thought I would be a great historian or writer.  I understood that all throughout my childhood, I always knew my likes and my strengths.  I just thought that they were stupid and I should try to do something more “realistic” (and probably more lucrative monetarily) than writing or something with history.  Ha.  It would have taken less time and heartache if I had figured that out earlier!

And this super-long take leads to the next take….

5.  I’ve decided to become a middle school/high school history teacher.  I graduated with a history degree but opted not to do the teacher certification at the time because I didn’t think I wanted to teach.  This may have been another fallacy of thought; growing up I heard disparaging things about teachers – despite the fact my grandmothers and aunt were teachers – hmmmm…I’ll have to maybe analyze that in a future blog post….  At any rate, I didn’t think I would be a good teacher, plus I figured I’d hate it.

What changed my mind?  Volunteering at my children’s school.  I have been participating voluntarily for several years doing this program called FAME.  It stands for “Fine Art Mini Experience” and every month volunteer teachers present lessons on one work of art/artist and one musical piece/composer.  I have had so much fun with this!  The kids are always really interested and ask the best questions.  I love doing the research and I learn so much.  It is right up my alley because both art and music are closely aligned with history and I love helping kids make those connections.  The best part is how energized I feel after spending all day at the school teaching these lessons.  As a SAHM, that doesn’t happen very often at home, and I got to the point where I realized I wanted to have that experience more often.

Hubby was very supportive of this.  I am doing an online, accredited program where I can take the teacher certification test in Idaho and can be in a classroom within a year if I so desire.

My youngest, Evvie, is only three, so I have been dealing with some anxiety/guilt about possibly going to work full-time before she is in school full-time.  I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but my main concern is to get my teacher’s certification by next spring and then decide at that point if I want to begin looking for a job or wait a bit until Evvie is in 1st grade.

Ultimately, though, I am confident this is what I should be doing at this point in time.  It took a lot of prayer and soul-searching but I feel excited for this next phase in my life!

6.  We had an awful day on Monday where we had 50 mph winds.  It was terrible!  Power poles got knocked over and trees fell into buildings.  I am so grateful we rarely get tornadoes here but I am beginning to wonder if these high winds we’ve been having lately are not nearly as bad!

7.  I’ve been rocking out to Ed Sheeran.  When I was in Europe this summer, Galway Girl was on the radio a lot when we were tooling around northern France and pulling in British radio stations.  My kids, though, love Shape of You.  For the beat I think.  The lyrics aren’t the most G-rated which makes me a little leery when I listen to it.  There’s that part that goes, “Last night you were in my room/ And now my bedsheets smell like you”

Spike was in the car and yelled up to me, “Why does it say ‘my veggies smell like you’?”

I replied, “Yes, yes, that is what he’s saying, isn’t it?  I guess sometimes that happens.”

And now, every time it comes on my kids crack up because it is SUCH a SILLY SONG!!

Veggies.

Heehee.

 

 

Have a lovely week!

 

 

 

 

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{7 Quick Takes} Thoughts on Hamilton, “pretend school” and memory

Hello, gentle readers…hope your week has been lovely.  Linking up again with Kelly to let you in on what’s been happening around here…

ONE

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I am sort-of behind the times, but just recently discovered and immediately jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon.  I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on Amazon nearly non-stop for a few weeks now, and I love it.

I was a history major in college and I always thought, reading about Alexander Hamilton, “what a stud!” first, but then, “this guy was the epitome of the American Dream”.  He rose from illegitimacy and poverty to become one of the most influential of the Founders.  He had such a fascinating, nuanced life and that’s why this musical really excites me.

Plus, the hip-hop?  That’s pretty darn revolutionary for a Broadway show about an 18th Century Federalist.  It could have been a tired, classical story about an interesting guy, but Lin-Manuel Miranda does such great things with his writing that it makes the early days of America fresh and exciting.  And relatable.  Which is a complaint I think a lot of young people have about the study of history.

(Why do I  have to learn about this?  What does it matter to me?  These people in the past are nothing like me, they have nothing in common with me.)

Miranda took it a step further and cast people of all ethnic backgrounds as the central (historically Anglo-Saxon/white) characters.  And it is brilliant.  The story transcends race and gender and solidifies the fact that no matter our backgrounds or ethnicity, ALL AMERICANS have a right to the heritage of our nation.  And that is just fabulous.

Plus, the music is super-catchy.  If you haven’t, I encourage you to check out the soundtrack (even if you’re not a musical fan…this one might change your mind!).  If you’re waiting to see it on Broadway, it is probably going to be a long wait – it’s basically sold out into 2018!

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Alexander Hamilton (left) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (right) as Alexander Hamilton

TWO

The older two started school Aug 28th.  I had to laugh at Bellie (1st grade) when she came home after that first day.  It was an excited, breathless, stream of consciousness about eating lunch at school and riding the bus with her brother and seeing her friends and she loves her teacher and she got to help in the library and she used her new pencils and she loves her teacher did she tell me she loves her teacher?  And Junior (4th grade) came home and grunted “fine” when I asked him how his first day was.  Haha, the difference between boys and girls.  (Or 1st and 4th grade?)

THREE

I attempted to begin homeschooling my preschooler on Tuesday.  I had tried to get him excited about the prospect (We did not enroll him in “away from home” preschool this fall because A) at almost 4 he is showing a stubborn lack of interest in being potty-trained and B) I really don’t want to have to shuttle anyone back and forth to a 2-hour preschool when it takes me 1 hour round-trip  to get there.  This is my one year to be free from that!).  Anyhow, I told Spike that I was going to teach him at home.  He responded, “I get to go to pretend school?  Yay!”  Initially, I thought, that’s cool he calls it “pretend”, I know it is real, and it will be awesome.  Well, it turns out he really thought we were only going to “pretend” we were at school.  I barely got through the morning prayer and the pledge before he got sidetracked and started throwing a fit about playing with his Lego car.  I tried to lovingly refocus him, I attempted to move onto something I thought he would enjoy (coloring), I finally resorted to giving him a time-out.  He sat on the steps screaming, “I hate pretend school!  I don’t want to do pretend school any more!”  So I decided we would probably just take a break for the day.  I don’t want him completely hating it if I push it on him.  I vow to try it again next week.  I will keep trying for a bit but if it appears he is just not ready, perhaps he might not be.  I will keep you updated.

FOUR

The baby has some weird skin thing going on.  It looks like a rash or maybe psoriasis, is mostly on her chin and around her eye.  It looks very dry and red and patchy.  The only thing I can think of is it appeared around the time the kids were doing swimming lessons last month.  So perhaps a reaction to the chlorine or something?  It has been a couple of weeks since we’ve been swimming, though, so I don’t know what is going on.  Junior had some weird eczema around that age that eventually subsided, but this appears different.  I hate skin conditions in kids…one thing can look very much like another thing.  Something serious that needs treatment can appear just like something else that only needs to be washed with a gentle soap and moisturized.  It could be a reaction to some kind of detergent or it could be an allergy to some kind of food.  In that case, it can take months to figure it out while removing and adding stimuli to the child’s life.  Gaaah.  At least it doesn’t seem itchy or bothersome to Evvie.  She just looks somewhat ghastly.

FIVE

Our garden is overflowing and I couldn’t be more irritated.  I know that sounds totally awful, but it is true.  I love the idea of gardening.  I like having fresh herbs and lettuce to pick when I am making a salad or cooking and need just a little bit of parsley instead of running to the store.  But…but…even when you plant just one, little, teeny zucchini plant you somehow wind up with 5,634,592 zucchinis that you need to figure out what the heck to do with!  I have at least 3 friends who begrudgingly took one or two to make zucchini bread.  Hubby’s been cubing it and sautee-ing it with butter and Parmesan cheese (yummy actually, but not when you have it served for every meal for every day for a month!)

We have tomatoes and plums and really hard, not delicious pears strewn all over my counter.  The fruit is not so bad: the kids eat it constantly.  Unfortunately, those children still in diapers (I’m looking at you, Mr. I Hate Pretend School) tend to bless me with delightful pants to change after consuming all of that fiber.  Hubby was raised with the Depression-Era mindset (I am pretty sure he is actually a vampire who grew up in the 30’s) that you use EVERY LAST available piece of food for SOMETHING, no matter how ugly it is, how full of worms it may happen to be (yeah, our apples didn’t do so well this year), or how bad it tastes.  If it is not rotting or full of mold, you better dang well figure out some way to cook it, freeze it, or preserve it.  Of course, since Hubby is at work all day, this generally gets “intended” my way….and I honestly have tons of things I would rather be doing.  Hence the resentment over my bounteous garden.  I am blessed.

SIX

I have to go to the library today.  My kids love the library.  I love the library.  But I hate going with my kids to the library.

SEVEN

I am reading this fascinating (although a little technical) book: Permanent Present Tense: The Incredible Life of the Amnesic Patient, H.M. by Suzanne Corkin (2013).

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I became interested in this subject because a new nonfiction book about the same thing was recently published:

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My library hasn’t acquired this new book yet (Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich, who is the grandson of the brain surgeon who operated on H.M.) but a search led me to the other one.

Permanent Present Tense tells the story of Henry Molaison, a 27-year-old epileptic who underwent an experimental surgery in 1953 to remove part of his brain in order to relieve his seizures.  It seemed to work somewhat, but tragically included the added side-effect of Henry never being able to create any long-term memories.  His life really was in “permanent present tense” as he forgot everything after about 30 seconds.

As a result, for the next half-century, Henry agreed to be studied by neurologists to discover the intricacies and nuances of the brain.

Fascinatingly, only Henry’s long-term memory of things after his surgery was affected.  He could remember things from before, and his intelligence and personality remained the same.

Henry passed away in 2008, before that, he was only referred to in scientific circles as “Patient H.M.”  He contributed greatly to our understanding of how the brain works, most importantly memory.

I have always been very fascinated with the brain and the history of how brain injuries and mental illness have been treated.  In the first part of the 20th Century, lobotomies were considered appropriate and acceptable treatment for a wide range of conditions, among them depression and schizophrenia.  They were used, with some success, on patients with epilepsy, but up until recently doctors were not sure precisely which areas of the brain were able to be removed or damaged to yield results without damaging other brain functions (such as memory).

I’m only about half-way through but am engrossed.  I feel devastated for Henry and his family to have to have enriched science and medicine through their loss, but it really did open up a whole knew era of understanding about the brain.  Alternately, the book calls into question the lengths we as a society are willing to experiment on human “guinea pigs”(drug trials, for example) to further our goals to find treatment for disease.

{7QuickTakes}Weekly Mishmash Vol.2

So excited to link up to Kelly’s 7 Quick Takes for the first time!

ONE

Blessed to have celebrated an awesome Easter with family and friends.

TWO

My favorite Easter brunch cocktail: Mimosas, need I say more?

THREE

We’ve been moving trees at The Ranch.  Hubby was lucky enough to find a retired gentleman with a tree mover machine (known alternately as a “tree spade”) who is charging us a very affordable rate for his services.  We own over 50 trees, which we discovered (after we bought our property last year) are not quite exactly on our property. More on this annoying situation later, but in the meantime, we are moving all 50 of them to bring them within our boundaries and also spread them out a little more across our whole yard.

FOUR

My life is constantly going at a crazy jet-speed pace and I can barely keep up with my kids, let alone my pets (elderly wiener dog Winston and mouser cat extraordinaire Orca), but when spring comes and those little baby animals are everywhere I really want to get some chickens.  And goats.  And possibly a milk cow.  Sigh.  I have completely unrealistic fantasies that I am a farmer.  Hubby reminds me that it is all well and fun when the weather is nice, but I need to remember that cows still need to be milked in the subzero temperatures of winter mornings.  Eh, not so romantic sounding now.

FIVE

I am starting to keep a Word document on my computer entitled, “Things as a Parent I Never Thought I would Say”.  The most recent contribution is courtesy of my 3-year-old son, “Spike”.  (Actually, most of the contributions there are courtesy of Spike).  He was running around the house the other day, refusing to get dressed.  He wanted to play with the dress-up clothes and wouldn’t listen to me.  “I just want to be a doctor!” says the 3-year-old.  “You want to be a doctor?  Well, you have to put your on pants first, “I replied.  This led me to wonder if my grandmother had ever said this to my dad (who was a doctor) when he was a lad.

SIX

Starting to tentatively plan EUROPE VACATION 2017…Fingers crossed that this actually happens!  It will have been 13 years since my last journey to that continent and I have been eagerly waiting for another opportunity to go.  So far, just trying to narrow down the locations.  Probably will only have about two weeks to travel, and there is so much to see.  I am also slightly nervous about the current political/social climate over there, terrorist and otherwise, so we shall have to watch that of course.

SEVEN

Completely loving Lauren Daigle’s new album How Can It Be.  I never used to listen to Christian music.  I irreverently always called it “Jesus music” and made fun of it, but in the last couple of years I started listening to SOS radio (mainly because…no commercials.  But then, I also appreciate that I can listen to it in the minivan with the kids and they are not asking me about questionable lyrics) and realized, Hey, Christian music is actually good.  But Lauren’s song “Trust in You” has kind-of become my anthem for 2016.