Saturday, April 28, 2007

Thirty down

Yup, finally got that 30 pound star at Weight Watchers today. I've been walking a lot and trying to watch what I eat, but I'm getting to the point that I'm tired of not having all my favorite sweets, so indulging in them has effected my weight loss. Of course too, the more weight I lose the less WW allows me to eat and I'm getting to the point that it takes all my point just about to take care of three meals. My current goal is to lose another 10 lbs by my birthday at the end of June. I'll still have a long way to go, but I find smaller goals help me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Joys of Warm Weather

Our weather has finally gotten warm enough for my three year old to enjoy one of her favorite toys--the hose.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Just Do It!

My daughter came home with a D in band on her last report card. That's a real problem because two nine weeks in a row with a grade below a C can get her kicked out of her wonderful school (it is a magnet school for high-performing students). I decided to supervise the next practice session to see if I could come up with any ideas on how to improve the grade. We went into her room. She got out the saxophone and assembled it. She got out her music. She arranged everything just so. She started to play a song and squawked the second note. She groaned. She looked at her saxophone. She adjusted this and that. Then she started over. Then she clunked another note. She groaned, she looked, she short, in a ten minute session she had played four notes, two of which this tone deaf mom could tell weren't right. I told her "just play the song, over and over and over again, no matter how bad it sounds. If it still sounds bad Monday, at least you'll have the fingering down, and you can ask Ms. G what you are doing wrong." By Monday the song sounded much better, and she has gotten Bs on her last two quizzes.

I say all that because there have been two parts of my life that I know need improving--my weight and my prayer life. This year I have been making a major effort on my weight, and it has paid off, but the last couple of weeks the weight loss has been minimal. I knew Easter week's weigh-in wouldn't be that great, after all, I ate lots of jelly beans and chocolate. This week I expected more, though when I think about it, I haven't been tracking closely, and my sweet tooth has been acting up. I was taking a walk this afternoon, and thinking and praying as I walked, and I kept thinking about my daughter and her sax. Just play the song--just do what you need to do, over and over, even if you don't do it well, and eventually that work will pay off.

As for my prayer life, well, I committed to adoration for an hour a week back in October, and so far I've managed to keep that commitment, and it has been good for me. But, like my weight, there is still a long way to go. I can look at websites, read books, and otherwise fiddle around with prayer, but the fact of the matter is, I need to just do it. Funny the things kids teach us.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Are Things Different Now?

I was talking to someone at the office today. He is a deputy Marshall in a parish (county) near here, which gives him a badge, flashing blue lights for his car, the right to carry a concealed weapon and a way to make business contacts. Immediately after Katrina, it gave him the ability to get into the city to help friends check on their property (if it wasn't under water). He was telling stories of those days and some how the discussion turned to the guy at VTU. My friend asked "What is it about today's world that makes people do stuff like this?" He wondered if the world was too crowded, if people were too stressed....

I asked if things were all that different than they once were, or if we just hear about it more, with 24/7 news, satellites, the internet etc. A guy about 40 miles from here went on a rampage the other night and killed his estranged wife and son. It was all over the TV. Forty years ago, would it have made the New Orleans papers? We see daily footage of the carnage in Bagdad. Fifty years ago, would we have cared? Genocide (or attempted genocide) is nothing new. Maybe what is new is everyone hearing about everthing.

On the other hand, maybe things are different. I wonder if part of what we have lost over the last fifty years is a sense of connection. When I started elementary school in a Catholic school in my mother's hometown in the late 1960's I was one of forty kids in my grade. I know I had a family connection to three of them. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more second or third cousins in that room whose last names weren't W... so I didn't know they were kin. My parents always told us if we got lost in that town, we should tell someone "My grandpa is T.W. Sr." My brother had to opportunity to put that into practice, and the high school girl he told was my aunt's (uncle's wife) sister, and she knew how to find TW Sr. In short, I was connected to people in that town. When we'd visit in the summer there were a long list of people my mom wanted to see, and who wanted to see her. I'm sure if someone in that town saw her acting "off" they'd tell her family, who would try to help her.

With my kids however, things are totally different. Family means those who live at this house, along with a few others we see a few (if that) times a year. As they grow older, they change schools, and groups of friends. Another house on the street is up for sale. We've been here eleven years and of the ten houses on this end of the block, only four have been here longer than us. I wonder if the reason we as a people feel so free to cause harm to others is because we don't feel any deep connection to them. The people who make headlines for harming others are so often weird loners, but how about the rest of us. Is our lack of connectedness contributing to increasing violence?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Like Books?

Most of us who like to read end up with shelves full of books that we really don't plan to read again. Eventually they get gathered up and sent to a charity book sale. Melanie mentioned getting books from Book Mooch so I checked it out. Basically you enter books you want to give away, and for doing so, you earn points, which can be used to purchase books from other people. Those who mail out get points, those who receive them give up points, and the whole system works without money changing hands.


As the mom of a teen and a tween, I found Dominco Bettinelli's post about adolescence interesting. Basically he was reviewing a book, the thesis of which is that today we infantilize teens, keeping them as children rather than making them young adults. One fun part of his post was a link to a quiz asking you how much of an adult you are. I scored 100% adult so I guess I've grown up (must be why the youngsters at the office call me Ms. Ruth). I'm sure this quiz has the validitity of most internet quizzes, but how adult are you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The W

Once upon a time, a lot longer ago than I care to admit, I was looking for a college. The only sticking point was that my dad said he would pay for two years at the neighborhood junior college and two years at a state-supported senior college, and that if we wanted something else, we had to get scholarships. My grades were medicore so huge scholarship offers weren't exactly filling my mailbox. However, I topped out on standardized tests so there were some offers, including one that was big enough--the only problem was that it was to an all-girls school, Mississippi University for Women, affectionately known as "The W". The funny thing was, it was also the first school from which I had gotten recruiting material. A student came to speak to my class in junior high and passed out response cards. I thought the material looked nice, but I didn't want to go to an all-girls school. Still, I remembered the place and when the scholarship offer came it, decided to take a look. Eventually I figured out that where there were that many girls, there would likely be guys, and I decided I wanted to get away from home (just the age, nothing really wrong with home) more than I wanted a co-ed school. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I found a school where you were a person, not a number. I found a school where leadership was expected and nutured. I found a school where a sense of community was fostered. I found the school where I grew from a shy bookwormish girl into a self-confident, competent woman. I have college friends with whom I am still in contact, though we live in different states (and it one case, different countries). I even have a relationship with quite a few fellow alumnae who I have never met in real life. We met through the alumni listserve, and I can't tell you how many times I have thought as I read those emails "there aren't many colleges where a list like this would work". Once we were telling stories about the long-time chief of campus security and I wondered how many students at other schools could name the chief of security, much less tell stories about him. There are a lot of ties that bind "W girls" and I'm proud to be a part of that Long Blue Line.

Unfortunately those ties are being threatend now by one who doesn't seem to understand them--the president of the university. For reasons that are too complex to explain here, and of little to no interest to outsiders, the president and the leaders of the Alumnae Association do not get along. I don't know the president's side of the story, except to say that I know some of those officers expressed a desire to have the president replaced, and that the president knows about those desires. About a year ago the board that governs universities in Mississippi decided that universities had to have affiliation agreements with their associated groups like Alumni Association, athletic foundations, foundations etc. The president used this ruling to try to force changes to the Alumnae Associations by-laws that would basically give her control of it. When the Alumnae Association balked, the president, following the terms of the affiliation agreement that was basically rammed down the throats of the Alumnae Association, disaffiliated it. A court battle has begun.

This weekend is homecoming, which at the W is a weekend of parties, meetings, performances, campus tours and the like. There is no football game to get in the way of alums greeting old friends and making new ones. However, the Alumnae Association situation has not been resolved either way at this time. Please pray that those attending this weekend (and unfortunately I won't be one of them) have a great time and that the president is able to show real leadership and find a face-saving way out of this for everyone.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kids at Mass

I'm one of those horrible moms. You've heard about us. We don't take our toddlers to mass. There is a lovely lady in our parish who keeps the nursery during the mass we attend, and my toddler loves her. Going to see Ms. G. and the other kids there is one of the highlights of her week. However, we took her to mass for Easter and to church on Good Friday. She enjoyed the other toddlers in the cry room, but I didn't.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

If Tulips are So Great....

...then YOU go to Holland. Anyone who has been online for any length of time, especially anyone who has a special needs child, has probably been sent this sappy email about how the writer bought a ticket to Rome and ended up in Holland, wasn't happy, but then realized all the wonderful things about Holland. The point of the email is that parenting a special needs child isn't better or worse than parenting a normal child; only different, with a different set of joys--and troubles.

To stay with the Rome/Holland analogy, our plane landed in Rome and we did some sight-seeing. After a couple of years, we realized that we weren't seeing what the guidebook said was in Rome, but rather, we thought we were in a suburb, or maybe in Milan or Venice. We worked to get the tour back on track and at times we could even see the Coliseum in the distance--and we had run into plenty of people who were trying to get back to Rome who were set firmly on the road for Holland, so we considered ourselves pretty lucky. However, that Coliseum seems to be getting further and further away, and I don't want to go to Holland.

It seems that the older my son gets, the more his differences stand out. He made it through elementary and middle school with average to slightly above average grades, but he (and I) worked hard for them. Now he is in high school, on a track that is considered average and he is not only working harder than he ever has, he is also making the worst grades ever. He brought home his first F on the last report card--and it was in Algebra, which last semester was his strength. It has become obvious that college is not in his future, and frankly we don't know what is. We've always known he wouldn't make it in this world due to his great personality, but figured his brains would get him through.

We were with some friends the other night. They have a daughter three months older than my son. We've shared potty training stories, gone to each other's birthday parties, talked about choosing schools, and otherwise been a support system to each other over the last fifteen years. This time they were talking about their daughter's first boyfriend. They mentioned that she is rarely home, is busy with dance team, friends etc. She is taking driver's ed this summer. She is looking for a job. She text-messages them when she wants something. She lives on her cell phone. In short, she is a normal teenager (and a cute one too). My son doesn't have a cell phone--and wouldn't have anyone to call beside me and his dad if he did. He has no friends, he has no extra-curricular activities (he dropped chess when they started meeting on Saturday mornings and interfering with his cartoon watching). His grades stink, but he spends at least two hours on homework on school nights. The divide between him and normal kids seems to be widening, not narrowing. I had a kid a couple of years older than him here tutoring him on Sunday. I told them to go ahead in the book if they had time, and my son had a crying screaming slam the door temper tantrum of the type I'd expect from the three year old.

I'm looking forward to high school being over, yet, I don't know how he is going to make it as an adult. No matter what job he gets, he is going to be expected to come in, get to work without further prompting,and work until it is time to leave. No one wants to have to keep telling him to get busy. He is undergoing his three-year re-eval at school and the psychologist asked me what his strengths were, and I couldn't tell her any.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another Weight Watcher

I found a website today called Aimee's Adventures. It is by someone who has taken this WW stuff seriously. She has tons of recipies, all with points listed, links to restaurant nutritional information websites and more. I was just looking at some of her dessert recipies and they looked good. Sometimes I think "diet" desserts that go beyond fruit are simply a testament to the idea that anything is low-calorie if you eat little enough of it. Some of these recipies have an 8x8 pan making 8 servings, which sounds reasonable--I've seen some that suggest a pan that size can make 16 servings (but everyone is going to want at least two servings if the stuff is any good).

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