Friday, January 29, 2010

Lady Macbeth Speaks

We have spoken many times about Colin and autism and how reading comprehension is his most difficult task. I've also written how difficult this is for me, a born reader. Go back and read this if you need a refresher.

We've been scrapping along getting those reading points. He's been keeping up, but I will be glad for a summer break and so will Colin.

So, to be honest, I gave a long suffering sigh when he pulled an elementary version of Macbeth out of his backpack the other day. Great. Shakespeare. College students spend entire semesters studying Macbeth and Colin and I are to tackle it in a couple of days. Sigh. I just really wondered how we were going to get through it, but I opened it up and we started.

We got about halfway through the book the first day and a little bit farther the next. I stopped every page and gave a dramatic interpretation of what we had just read. Colin asked, "Is this a play, Mom?" Why, yes, son, it is. According to Wikipedia:

At least since the days of Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson, analysis of the play has centred on the question of Macbeth's ambition, commonly seen as so dominant a trait that it defines the character. Johnson asserted that Macbeth, though esteemed for his military bravery, is wholly reviled. This opinion recurs in critical literature. Like Richard III, but without that character's perversely appealing exuberance, Macbeth wades through blood until his inevitable fall. As Kenneth Muir writes, "Macbeth has not a predisposition to murder; he has merely an inordinate ambition that makes murder itself seem to be a lesser evil than failure to achieve the crown." Some critics, such as E. E. Stoll, explain this characterisation as a holdover from Senecan or medieval tradition. Shakespeare's audience, in this view, expected villains to be wholly bad, and Senecan style, far from prohibiting a villainous protagonist, all but demanded it.

Got that?

I reviewed, reviewed, reviewed and seeing an opportunity for yet more review, asked Colin at dinner last night if he would like to tell the story to his dad. I sort of steeled myself wondering if any of the intricate plot and myriad of characters had sunk in.

"Sure," Colin said. "Macbeth sees three witches who say he's going to be king, so he kills King Duncan and Lady Macbeth smears blood on the guards to make it look like they did it. Then he becomes king. They have a party and Macbeth sees a ghost."

My chin hit the floor. My eyes pricked with tears.

Then he said, "It's sort of a good story."

I sat frozen to my chair and watched him turn on his heel to go in to the TV room to watch a game show. Colin loves game shows. They are so orderly and predictable. Whether the contestant wins or loses you know what to expect. Now it's time to guess. Now it's time to spin the wheel. Now it's time for the big finale.

Every time I think Colin is orderly and predictable, he surprises me. An ancient story of greed and betrayal with lots of stabbing and blood is a good story to an 11 year old, no matter how hard the struggle to read it.

I hope we have time to finish it tonight.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Great Lenten Experiment 2010

Do you remember last year when I tried to limit my computer time to 30 minutes per day during Lent? I had some good moments and some bad but -- all in all -- it was interesting. So, I have been thinking about what I might do to honor Lent this season and I am thinking of (drum roll) . . .

Getting up in the morning.

Now, if you have ever had to deal with me before 10 a.m., or seen my face when you suggested we leave for somewhere at 8 a.m., or tried to schedule me for an appointment "first thing in the morning," you will know I'm not really a rise and shine kind of gal. I know that several of you are up and at 'em, exercised, breakfasted, dressed and email answered before I even stumble into the kitchen feeling for the coffee pot. Grabbing the day by it's pre-dawn horns has not been my mode of operation.

BUT, if you are a regular reader, you may also know I am a student of the Bible and there is one verse that torments me every time I read it.

Turn with me to Proverbs 31. (Set your Bible on its spine and find the middle. Now go a little bit right. There you are. Chapter 31 is at the end.)

Here in Proverbs 31 King Solomon is handing out advice about finding the right kind of woman to marry. And let me tell you she is Super Woman. Honestly, I don't know when she has time to go to the bathroom and/or read a magazine, but there she is nevertheless, and I think we have to take her seriously.

So there we are reading along about how she cooks and sews and plants her own garden and sells her cloth through her etsy account, when we come upon the verse that hangs over my head.

:15 She gets up while it is still dark;

That's right. She gets up while it is still dark. Even here in Central Minnesota where the days are short and the summer even shorter, I do not get up while it is still dark. I amembarrassed to tell you that many days I am the last one up.

I have a couple of weeks to think about this, to think about the challenge and the reward, to mull over those five little words: while it is still dark. This one's not going to be easy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

I'm in a Beatles mood today. Aren't you?

The Long and Winding Road

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door.

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day.
Why leave me standing here?
Let me know the way.

Many times I've been alone
And many times I've cried,
Anyway you'll never know
The many ways I've tried.

And still they lead me back
To the long, winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago
Don't leave me standing here
Lead me to your door.

But still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago (ohhh)
Don't keep me waiting here (don't keep me waiting)
Lead me to your door. (yeah yeah yeah yeah)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Game Trauma/Drama

Yes, of course I watched the Vikings game last night. Just because we are not huge football addicts in this house, does not mean we don't know how to watch football. Here's the thing I decided though . . .

Football has too much drama for me.

Sure. I'll say it again. There is too much emotional turmoil in a football game to make it enjoyable for me to watch.

They're winning. They're losing.
They've made the most brilliant play in the history of football.
They dropped the ball. On the ground. Now the other team has it.
They've got plenty of time. They've got too much time. They are out of time.
Someone's injured. Someone's limping. Someone needs a clean shirt. (No, really. Brett Farve's shirt got ripped and they gave him a new one.)
It's too loud. It's too quiet.
Good call. Bad call. Reviewed call.

I couldn't take it. I had to leave the room -- well, you know in the horror movie sort of way. I lingered nearby, so whenever Brent made a loud noise, I would come running back.

To tell the truth, I am a little relieved they lost. I don't think I could have made it through the Super Bowl.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Job Openings

I love going with the family to Orlando and paying homage to the Great Mouse. Yes, he bleeds you dry (why should you have to pay $14 for parking when it's out in the middle of nowhere and there's no other place to park), but it's sort of worth it.

Maybe we should just chuck it all and move down there. I thought I'd check out the job listings. Let's see if I am qualified for anything . . .

Okay, a quick look at the salaried positions tells me, no -- not qualified for a thing. Tragically, I have a little education and experience in a lot of areas. A transition from Rural Mommy Life to Major Corporate Life would require more advance planning and purpose than I have at the moment.

Well, that's okay. Let's take a look at the hourly positions. There must be something there. How about:

Airport Representative:
"Based at the Orlando International Airport, Airport Representatives operate the Welcome Center and oversee the Guest arrival process including monitoring arriving flight times, communicating delays and flight changes to Base Operations, checking Guests in for their Disney's Magical Express experience and loading the motor coaches for departure to the Walt Disney World Resort hotels."

Okay, so basically I would be standing around at the airport all day. Doesn't sound that magical to me. Try again. Yeah, here's one:

Vacation Planner: I'm an excellent vacation planner. I plan them all the time -- whether I'm actually going on one or not.
The responsibilities of a Vacation Planner include operating a computerized ticketing system, offering Guests information about multiple ticket variations, cash handling, balancing a personal fund and handling Guest situations.

Wait a minute. "Handling Guest situations?" What does that mean? Sounds like cranky hot moms and dads with cranky hot kids unhappy that they had to pay $14 for parking. I'll pass.

Reservation Center:
Individuals must possess strong communication and listening skills, a strong computer proficiency and a strong ability to work together and build relationships.

Wow. You need to be really strong for that one.

Laundry Services Cast Members work in a team environment in a factory setting. Responsibilities within Laundry Services require standing for long periods of time, lifting, pushing, working near harsh chemicals and performing repetitive tasks.

How does that differ from what I am doing right now?

Character Attendant
Character Attendant responsibilities include accompanying Character Performers during meet and greets, ensuring safety and show quality of performers, assisting Guests with requests, answering Guest questions and providing information.

Basically Pooh's bodyguard, huh? Yeah, I could probably do that one. Although "ensuring safety" does give me pause (HA! paws). I am seeing the cranky hot moms and dads and the cranky hot kids who don't really want to greet Pooh, but Dad paid $14 for parking, $79 per kid to get in, and $9 per kid for a hot dog. Dad REALLY wants the kids to greet Pooh.


I need to think about this more.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mommy vs. The Potty: Take 2

Colin was over four years old when he decided he would be potty trained. I tried every method in the book -- popular and unpopular at the time. I made a sticker chart for the potty. I bought books about going potty. I sang songs about the potty. I threw cheerios into the potty. I dropped food coloring into the potty (so that it would change color if a guy used the potty). I made bribes about the potty. I made threats about the potty. I said prayers about the potty. I shed tears about the potty.

And finally I came to this conclusion: I could not make him go in the potty until he decided he was ready, and he wasn't ready until he was over four years old.

Well, now as we know, Preschooler D has turned three and is the only one at ECFE not wearing underwear or a pull-up, but the other thing I learned during Colin's preschool years was that mommies sometimes exaggerate about their children being potty trained. "Oh, yeah, she's potty trained . . . during the day . . . at home . . . every other Tuesday . . . if she's wearing her Dora underwear . . . and I put the potty in front of the TV."

Every morning I have been asking D, "Are you going to use the potty today?" And every day so far he has answered, "no." So, I'm not going to push it, and I am not going to talk about it (except between you and me) until he's mastered it.

Mommy wins.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

How about a little Walt Whitman? Nope, it's not very cheerful, but it's a good one. Read it with the dramatic emphasis it deserves.

Walt Whitman

Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up -- for you the flag is flung -- for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths -- for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Sashes

I had the most wonderful lunch with my former girl group "The Sashes" today. Okay, we weren't really a girl group, but we had BIG (imaginary) plans to be. I think we had a title for our first record album back in the day, but I don't remember what it was now. We got our name because for a while -- follow me on the one -- we were into wearing sashes. I don't know what to tell you. It was the 80s and we liked to dress creatively. Roberta, on the left, had this really great scarf with bangles that I liked to wear over my head. It was really a look out here in central Minnesota.

Roberta and Alison lived in St Paul and I lived out here. We met at church camp and did a lot of things together. My parents had an amazing tolerance for this relationship now that I think about it. Their long distance bill was high and their car disappeared every other weekend once I learned to drive.

We never got into any real trouble, but we always came up with interesting things to do. One time -- back in the day when you could wander around -- we went to the airport and waved enthusiastically at people getting off the plane. We also pretended we'd lost grandma and some other equally sill but harmless things. We often laughed until our cheeks hurt and we were crying.

Each one of us has been through some pretty dramatic life seasons that changed our perspective, but as we sat around my kitchen table today, we remarked that at the core we are the same three girls we were 25 years ago. And we can still make each other laugh -- even if age and medication prevents us from getting to that cheek hurting/crying part. We came close, though, I tell you. Very close.

It is a beautiful and precious thing to laugh that hard. Life can get so serious.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cookie crumbs

It's time to throw out the candy cane bits and the stale cookies, I know. But because we were gone for two weeks, I'm not quite as sick of them as I would be if I'd been eating them straight since Christmas, so I am having a hard time.

What is it, my little friend Amber and I wondered yesterday at coffee, that makes us hold on to things so tightly even when it's clear it's time to let go.

Preschooler D was holding on to my purse, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" There was honestly nothing interesting in my purse. No gum, no camera, no PDA, no pacifier (not, ahem, that my three year old still uses a pacifier . . . much) -- and I didn't want him dumping the whole thing onto the Caribou floor.

Amber started to laugh. "Isn't that just like us? Determined to cling to what doesn't really belong to us!"

Right next to D was his backpack full of books and puzzles and toys and snacks, but he didn't want that. He wanted my boring old purse. And, though I'll grant you it's a mysterious thing I don't even understand, it had nothing for him.


So, I guess it's time to throw out the old candy and cookies . . . and finish unpacking because, gosh darn it, vacation is over . . . and say good-bye to Shelby tomorrow without screaming and crying . . . and the list could probably go on and on.

Maybe the first thing I need to do is make another coffee date with Amber.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Beyond my need for toilet paper

And as fun as free toilet paper is . . . let me remember that most people in Haiti tonight don't have a roof over their heads much less a toilet and toilet paper.

I love the work of Samaritan's Purse and will be making my donation there.

Also, over on Pioneer Woman, blogger Ree is doing a super cool giveaway of a donation to the charity of your choice.

Toilet Paper

You know I'm not really one to use my blog as a way of advertising things, but you know how I am and the prospect of winning free toilet paper cracks me up. (Um . . . ha, ha . . . no pun intended.) There are some guidelines for me to follow. Let's see how I do.

1. I need to tell you we are a over the roll family, so I am a member of Team Over. I don't know why we're an over the roll family. Maybe it's genetic.

2. If you leave a comment on my post you will be entered to win 1 of 10 Cottonelle gift baskets randomly chosen on January 29, 2010 from all entries. (Hey! Free toilet paper for you, too!) Check out more at

3. I must disclose to you that I am entering a contest for a month's worth of Cottonelle toilet paper as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club.

There! Whew! Very exciting!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Path

There's a path through the unpacking chaos. I think it's going pretty well. Preschooler D and I have been to ECFE and on a coffee date. Brent has stopped moaning when he comes from his office. Colin rode the bus this morning without having to be dragged kicking and screaming. We are adjusting back to our regular routine.

I've been thinking about the quote, "No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just returned from one." Isn't this true? I made myself take down all the Christmas decorations before we left because I knew I would not want to come home from vacation and have that to do too. It was sort of a pain at the time, but I am certainly glad I did it now.

This weekend s'daughter Shelby will be leaving us to spend some time with her mom before she heads to her semester in Norway. I am so excited for her, but I imagine -- after all the excitement of the past month -- it's going to be really quiet here next week.

I am sad, and I am glad.

Maybe I'll use the extra quiet time to start planning our next big vacation. HA!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

While I continue to try to put things back in some sort of order, here's a poem about laundry.

Sock Eater
by Betsy Rosenthal

On laundry days
my mother says
the dryer is a crook.

It’s all because
a sock is gone—
the one the dryer took.

I tell my mom she shouldn’t
let the dryer
see us eat.

It’s sure to munch a sock or two
because it craves a treat.

From: Rosenthal, Betsy R. 2004. My House is Singing. Illus. by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. San Diego: Harcourt.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Report from under the pile of suitcases

Hello, dear friends and loved ones! We are home! I don't really have time or energy to visit today I am . . . (ouch, oh! Stubbed my toe on that suitcase) . . . overwhelmed by trying to get my house in order. I don't really think it's all going to happen today

So anyway while I . . . could you just hand me baggie of smooshed granola bars and fish crackers? Thank you! . . . try to organize things up, enjoy a couple of photos from the trip.

Here I am with some friends.

Big Daddy and Shelby, the Middle Child.

Preschooler D and cupcake.
(Huh. You can read his shirt. Well, let's just pretend I have protected his name.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wherever we go, that's where the party's at.

So tonight the washing machine died with the clothes unrinsed, a toilet needed plunging and it's record-breaking-orange-juice-price-raising cold. Remember last week when I had to chose my attitude? Well, we're at that point again.

The first night when we stayed in La Crosse our poolside hotel room was actually, literally pool side. Maybe five feet. It was chlorine and moldy smelling. It only had double beds, so Shelby and Colin were in one, Preschooler D and Brent and I were in the other. It was a little too cozy. I said to Brent the next day, "A perfect night in the perfect hotel room? That's not a funny story. A poolside room actually pool side? That's a funny story."

So we press on with these quirky little vacation stories and counting the really fun times we are having together.

Preschooler D (PD) turned three yesterday at the Magic Kingdom. We started out with a character breakfast which means Mickey Mouse and Friends came to our table, brought a cupcake and sang a song. He was a little overwhelmed at the time, but when asked this morning what the best part of his day was PD said, "My cupcake."

We swam at the little pool in our condo backyard this afternoon. It was very Nordic with steam rising off the top. Very mysterious. My 11-year-old who cringed when I put my arm around him at Sea World a couple of days ago, clapped when I came out and jumped in.

Brent and I have a king sized bed here. Probably all of his children could crawl in with us. .

The dishwasher seems to be working right now.

It's not snowing here.

I got sprinkled with "fairy dust" today while an excited Disney employee in a green fairy dress wished that all my "princess dreams would come true." As the only girl in a house full of boys (when Shelby's not here), I almost started to cry.

We're having a good time with good memories and some funny stories -- like how I stood in the bathtub in my swimsuit tonight and rinsed our clothes. That's a funny story.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy Noodle vs. Sad Noodle

If you're a mommy or daddy who listens to XM radio, you may know the song "Happy Noodle vs. Sad Noodle" which is just a silly song about two pieces of pasta having an argument. I love it because of its goofy refrain -- but I can see where some might find it really annoying.

Anyway . . . that was the first song that popped into my head this morning while I had a little argument with my optimistic and pessimistic selves. Pessimistic me is a little grumpy there is a big cold snap here in Florida. There was an item on the news last night instructing people how to cover their plants. That is a job given to every Minnesota junior higher. "Go out and cover the mums. We can get a couple of more days out of them." In Florida, you can run out and buy a special plant covering material in an emergency such as this. I just use an old curtain. Of course the only thing I can hope to save from the freezing cold is that one pot of mums, not an entire lawn of landscaping.

Pessimistic me is mad because I pride myself on proper travel planning and I packed completely and totally wrong for this kind of weather. All those shorts and cropped pants have stayed right in the suitcase and the two pair of jeans we all wore down here have all ready been washed once and will need to be again along with our two long sleeved shirts.

Optimistic me would very much like to remind pessimistic me that even at a high of 53 degrees in Central Florida, there is a good 60-70 degree difference from the cold snap they are having in Minnesota right now.

So, just put your stinkin' sweatshirt on, pessimistic me, and go watch a killer whale today.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Here we are all fresh and ready to go. It is four days later and we have arrived and no longer look like this. We look tired and in need of vacation. Thank goodness we are on one.