I just want to say…

That the date and time on these posts are wrong, and as soon as I figure out how to change it, I will. I am not up at 3:30 a.m. blogging when I’m supposed to be working. It is still Tuesday. Thank you and goodnight.

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The paper.

I have a 10 page paper due on Friday. I’m supposed to present my paper topic tomorrow at 6 p.m. (though the paper doesn’t have to be completed). So far, I have zero pages written, and am still trying to narrow down from three possible topics:

1. The rhetoric of Barak Obama and the sibaltan (as referenced by Gramsci). What groups are being overlooked in this election? Is Obama speaking for anyone to a damaging effect? Does his rhetoric prevent others from learning the language of power? The current rhetorical tug-of-war between the Clinton and Obama campaigns (and even more so those who are outside the campaigns) is precedent setting because for the first time we have a black politician who could represent people who have otherwise been the sibaltan. But anyone (historian, investigator, politician) must avoid speaking for the sibaltan. The sibaltan must learn the language of power for him/herself, and in doing so, will no longer be a sibaltan.

2. Michael Ignatieff’s theory of “historical needs” and how changes in language effect our human emotional needs. Ignatieff writes that if we lose the linguistic ability to articulate a need, we will cease to feel that need. My source (Kenneth A. Brufree. “Social Construction, Language, and the Authority of Knowledge: A Bibliographical Essay” College English December 1986.) tells me that Ignatieff explored this idea through words like fraternity, belonging and community. I would explore our current concepts of contentment, satisfaction or even intimacy. How have our ways of conceptualizing these things, indeed the very way we feel these things, changed as their meanings have been modified over time?

3. The pedagogical concept of in loco parentis (in the place of a parent) and how it jives with ancient  teacher/philosophers like Quintilian but conflicts with efforts to eliminate the heirarchical structure of education. Paulo Freire advocates the concept of teacher-student and student-teachers; Quintilian encourages teachers to adopt the role of a parent towards students.

Anybody have any preferences? Not that it really matters because hopefully I’ll have settled on one and made some good progress by the time anyone responds to this. The truth is that no matter what I choose, this paper will be a “gloss over” of the issue. These topics are much too large to deal with at an in-depth level in 10 pages. But, they’re a good start.

The only reason I’m boring you with all of this is that it helps me to clarify what my options are when I write about them. And knowing that I told *everyone* about this paper makes me feel a bit more accountable to actually getting it done… er, started. My old roommate Jaime will be proud that I even got this far with more than a day left before it is due. She remembers me pounding out 8-pagers the night before they were due and, in the process, driving everyone around me crazy. I was not an easy roommate to live with, I am sure.

On a happier note, this is the last paper for the last “class-class” for my degree. This summer I’m doing an independent study that should produce one large paper and loads of research that I’ll be able to use for my exit papers. Then in the fall, I’ll write 2-3 exit papers, and then I’ll be FINISHED!! So essentially, this is my fourth-to-last paper to write for my Master’s Degree.

And on that note, I have to send out a *huge* CONGRATULATIONS to my friend “J” who successfully defended her thesis this morning. What a huge accomplishment. She has every reason to be proud of herself, as she has worked very, very hard this past year. Way to go, J! That will be me in about 8 months!

Today I will…

stay home from work because Super L’s babysitter needed the day off. This was a planned day, so I took a personal day. It’s nice to be home from work for a reason other an illness.

begin work on a 10 page research paper that is due on Friday. Yes, that’s right, I said begin. I could have started it this weekend but the weather was too gorgeous on Saturday and I needed some time with my family. Sunday was supposed to be a serious work day, but then we found out that one of John’s brothers was driving up to take John’s mom out for her birthday. He was bringing two of his grandkids. They invited us to join them on this birthday outing and wanted to know if we wanted to get all the girls together to play. We couldn’t say no, because Little Miss G loves loves loves her cousin. The trade-off was less time hitting the books. So now it’s down to today. I’ve done similar papers in less time before, but I don’t want to rush this one.

Letter to my adult daughter

Little Miss G,

Tonight I’ll try to write to you as the woman you will be when you read this, not the little girl you are as I write this. Tonight as I sit here, I wonder where you will be when  your eyes pass over it for the first time. Right now you are asleep on the couch with your daddy. I hope that wherever you are that you are as close to your daddy as you are now–or, hopefully, even more so. One thing I pray for is that you will fall in love with and marry a man who is as good to you as your father is to me. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary, and I have never been more secure and sure of his love for me than I am right now.

Relationships don’t always work that way. They will go through ups and downs. Periods in which one person takes more than they give and then gives more than they take. Times when it has been days, weeks–maybe longer since a romantic look, or touch, or word has been exchanged between you. It’s ok. It does not mean that love is not there.

When you have someone who will smile at you when one of your favorite songs comes on, someone who will do something to make himself look silly to others because he knows it will make you laugh, someone who will make sacrifices to help you accomplish what you want to accomplish for yourself, someone who respects and values your opinions, who wants to know what you think, a man who cherishes you the way your father cherishes you now–then you have something special. Your father has given those things to me for the past 13 years. And he is more than I deserve.

Someday I will be able to tell you why I owe so much to your dad. I thank God that he came along when he did. There were others before him who I thought I’d be with forever, or who I thought was perfect for me. I’m not sure that I believe that there is a single person who is “meant” for us… I think to an extent we choose, and we live out our choice everyday thereafter. We honor the fact that someone chose us. I am thankful that your dad chose me. I am so grateful that the Lord has blessed my daughters with a father who will show them the kind of love they should hope for and wait for before choosing a spouse. And I am so humbled that God has blessed us with you — the precious, beautiful daughter that you are.

With much love tonight for the woman you are years from now,

Mom

Summer doth approach

Every year when the winter begins to wane and the ground begins to thaw and soften with cold, miserable rain showers, there inevitably follows the alluring smell of earth. It wafts upwards, subtly asserting its true nature, not dirt. Dirt is the stepchild of earth, stripped of nutrients, useful, but utilitarian–sterile. Earth is a veritable repository of goodness. A place for green things to live and prosper. Green things that God has given to nourish our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. Nothing makes me feel more solid, more safe, than a majestic, magnificent tree. Arms outstretched to the world, offering shelter, shade, respite. When I think of my childhood home, I think more often of the trees in my yard than spaces I actually inhabited. I love the smell of earth because it holds the promise of our Father whose grace and mercy are renewed again and again with every spring and every morning.

Then, before long… the intoxicating smell of cut grass. This has a more immediate association, one that leaves me lost in a whirl and wealth of memories that I could spend days–days–reliving them. Everywhere I looked this week, people were out mowing their lawns, and I’ve been breathing deeply. The first smell of cut grass gives me an irresistible urge to put on some cleats, grab my glove, and play some softball in the dirt. Just one whiff of cut grass intermingled with the earth and I am transported.

Softball has been a near constant in my life. A huge part of my way of relating to my mother was derived from my understanding of her as an extremely well-known, hard ass, weekend warrior of the softball field. I missed many a weekend and evening with my mom because she played ball. But it was a part of who she was. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that softball was ever part of my identity, I should not overlook what softball and summer have given me. In the dozens of teams that I’ve played on, coaches I’ve played for, teammates I’ve played with, and situations I’ve played through, I learned quite a bit about the kind of person I did or did not want to be. I would never want to be the kind of person for whom winning was everything. I would never want to be the kind of person who did something to embarrass my teammates. But I would never want to be the person who cost my team the game. I would want to be the person they could trust to make the play, make the right decision. I would want to be the person they could trust when things (anything) came down to the wire. I do want to be the person who cheers loudest from the bench even if I’m not in the game. I do want to be the kind of person who walks away satisfied with what I put forth, regardless of the outcome. Softball has taught me a great deal.

Softball has also given me a great deal. My best friend of 25 years and I forged our friendship on the softball diamond. How many 32 year olds do you know can say they’ve had the same best friend for 25 years? My husband and I met and fell in love on the softball diamond. It was the first thing we had in common and everything just took off from there. Three of my most significant relationships–my mom, my husband, and my best friend–have softball as the backdrop. Summer even brought me my first daughter–Little Miss G was born in August–the same weekend as the Men’s State Softball Tournament. John had his priorities straight and missed the entire tournament that year. And every year since then he has missed all the Saturday afternoon games, whether his team was playing or not, for her birthday parties.

I’m reflecting on all of this because tonight I feel as though I passed on a little bit of a legacy. Little Miss G had her first ever t-ball practice tonight. It was hysterical to watch. Let’s just say she played every position because she chased the ball down regardless of where it was hit. She is noticeably the smallest girl on the team (which is no surprise), but she’s also clearly the fastest, so even when she was standing near third and the ball was hit between second and first, she was the second girl to arrive at the ball, and she would throw herself on top of it or smother it with her glove so none of the other girls could get it. That’s my little go-getter. We’ll explain the concept of playing your own position once the coach gives them positions to play. Tonight it was just a batting practice defensive free-for-all. Whether or not she actually ends up liking softball really doesn’t matter to me at all. My only hope and prayer is that whatever her niche is, I hope she finds it. I hope she gets a great deal of self-confidence and self-satisfaction from it. And I hope it brings her the kinds of blessings summer and softball has brought me.

Batter up! PLAY BALL!!!

Toddler Speak: Vol. 1

We’ve been working with Super L on potty training. Some days she does pretty well, but we’re nowhere near mastery yet. Monday I asked her if she had to potty, and she said yes. So I sat her on the potty. She sat there for a moment and looked up at me with her sweet face, put her hands in the air, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Mommy, poo-poo not working. Pee-Pee is broken.” It’s not nearly as funny seeing it in print as it was at the time. I guess you had to be there. She seemed genuinely perplexed.

In other news, Little Miss G started martial arts class today. She said she liked it, but I didn’t get to talk to her about it for long because I had to get to class tonight. She showed me a couple of quick arm movements they practiced. I hope she likes it. I would so love it if my daughters grew up to be bad-asses who knew how to carry themselves confidently. I don’t want them to be bullies, but I definitely want them to know how to stand up for themselves… especially Little Miss G, who is very small for her age. I hope that she’ll like it and that it will help with her confidence. She also starts swim lessons tomorrow. So, we’ll see how that goes.

It’s almost 2 a.m., and I have to get up at 5:30 for work tomorrow. The decision is, do I go to bed and take a nap, or do I make a pot of coffee and get some much-needed grading done. Why do I do this to myself?

Playing catch up–Vol. 2: At home.

So, typical to St. Louis, we’ve had some crazy weather this spring already. Middle march had some days that were downright balmy, and now in the second week in April we are back in our winter coats.

On the first day of spring we did a little backyard exploring, and we found this unwelcome guest.

“Dat a snakie,” Super L helpfully explained to the rest of us. She was happy to reach out and grab it, but I was having none of that. What perplexed John and I about this little critter is that he doesn’t look like any garter snake we’ve ever seen. And more importantly, he didn’t act like any garter snake we’ve ever encountered. While I wouldn’t describe him as aggressive, he didn’t exactly back down either. If it were up to me, I would have killed it, but John decided to get a stick and chase him back down into the woods so that he could come back and visit us later this summer 4X the size he is in this picture. Nice, eh? If any of you find folks can tell exactly what kind of snake this is, I’d be most appreciative.

After a bit more backyard exploring, Super L discovered a cool wind effect in the space between/behind our house and our neigbor’s. We could see this wind effect because it made Super L’s hair do this:

Yes, I realize this picture is very reminiscent of Drew Barrymore in Firestarter, but I still crack up every time I look at it. I could have said this is what her hair did when she saw the snake, but she was actually not afraid of it at all, and as I said before, would have picked the thing up if we had let her. Ladybugs, however, are a different story. They scare the crud out of her.

Then of course, there is Little Miss G. She never stays in one place for very long, and this was her favorite toy that day:

I adore this picture of her, but it creeps me out a little bit. It looks like it could be on one of those political commercials scrolling across the screen as some fear-mongering rhetoric insists that we must protect our families from _________ (fill in the blank with what you consider to be the most annoying political message here). And no, I’m not going to get all political here. At least not yet. That’s why I left the equal opportunity fill-in-the-blank. I have my own idea about what would go in that blank, but I’m not sure I want to open up that can of worms here and now.

Here is a pic of me doing one of my favorite things… sitting on the front porch with my goofball baby:

And so, that concludes the catch-up portion of this blog. I will try not to have such a long stretch again.

Playing catch up — Vol. 1: Out on the town(s).

Okay, okay. I know it has been a long time, but I don’t think I need to reintroduce myself. March was a very busy, very fun month, and I’ve been paying the price for the past two weeks. This last week at school was not pleasant. But, I don’t want to dwell on the bad stuff.

Fun catch up item #1: A coworker and I (Ms. Fabulous Art Teacher and Fellow Millikin Alum) chaperoned a trip to Chicago with students who are members of the National Art Honor Society. This group of students are very special to her and we had a wonderful time. I’d love to post pics of them, but as most of them are not 18 and I don’t have permission, and I’m not interested in getting fired over something like a blogging technicality, I’ll just post a picture of the scenery. I love Chicago. I love the streets, I love the spaces, I love the museums, I love the shopping, I love the pulse and the walking pace. I love the way the light filters between the tall buildings creating this very awesome ambient light that is coupled with a breeze. Even though there is concrete everywhere, the light and the air always give me a floating kind of feeling. And the people there are actually nice. Before we had kids, John and I seriously considered relocating there, and sometimes I wish we had. But when a young couple planning to have children have the blessing of having both families within a 15 minute drive, relocating 4 hours north is just craziness. But, I do love Chi-town.

Fun catch up item #2: The following weekend was eventful because it was our 10 year wedding anniversary and John’s birthday. We celebrated our 3,653 day of marriage (there have been 3 leap years since our wedding day) by going out to a nice dinner at Andrea’s. What was different is we took the girls with us. All three of us ladies got dressed up in nice clothes, put on some special make-up (lipgloss for them, I required a bit more) and carried purses. Little Miss G and Super L looked so cute, and I explained to them that this was a special night for mommy and daddy and that they were going to go on a date with us. Now, my girls are not particularly known for bad behavior, but they’re not known for excellent behavior either. I think they realized that this restaurant was fancy because they were super good. But the food came slowly, and I could sense that Little Miss G was getting restless. She between the soup and entree course she asked, “Are we done dating yet?” I wish I could post a pic of them on our date, but alas, I think i forgot to take pics. Oh well. We’ll always have the memories.

Fun catch up item #3: John’s birthday was fun. We met up with friends at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Final Four semi-finals. It’s always good to be around friends. John and I do get to go out together fairly often, but we don’t see our friends nearly enough.

These three fellows have been best friends since high school. And that was a looooong time ago.

More fun stuff to follow. Stay tuned.