So as I mentioned yesterday, Tuesday morning was absolute chaos in my house. Well I am currently reading a book called Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon. Recently, there was section in there that really struck me as applicable to me and my current existence. The book was talking about youth and how they have basically been rash and callous since the days of Ancient Greece. As a matter of fact, Socrates has a quote about children that could have easily been written today, "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers" Although there is some doubt as to whether Socrates ever said this, it was attributed to him in a 1953 book by William L. Patty and Louise S. Johnson, Personality and Adjustment. But after the Mayor of Amsterdam used it in 1966 following a street demonstration, Malcom Forbes called the quotation spurious in an editorial in the New York Times (for more information about this, click here). Sorry, sorry bit of a tangent there. Anyway, back to the book, the author also went on to reference a quote from Rousseau in the 18th century when he observed that a person on the cusp of a adulthood (a teen perhaps) "becomes deaf to the voice he used to obey, he is a lion in a fever; he distrusts his keeper and refuses to be controlled." Apparently in my case, they also refuse to listen, put away their stuff, eat any vegetables, do anything without being asked, do anything after being asked, take any responsibility for their own actions, this list could probably go on for days. And of course, I am being a bit facetious and also generalizing, like any family, we have our good days and our bad ones. Let's just say that this week has not been among our best moments and leave it at that!
Sorry no post yesterday, it was absolute chaos in the Jolley house. In retrospect, I should have expected it because Monday was a much smoother reentry in to the day to day routine of going back to school after vacation than I expected. Not to worry, though, the vacation hangover hit us like a tornado yesterday. Everyone needed something printed but the printer wasn't working, a fact that we didn't discover until about 9:30 on Monday night. My oldest decided to email her paper to her friend to print out but the email wasn't working on her circa 2000 laptop (hm, I wonder why) and she couldn't find her flash drive to transfer it to the main computer. She also wasn't sure if she could get a ride to tumbling in the afternoon. So she was in absolute tizzy (as I have mentioned before she is a 15, soon to be 16, year-old girl so this is not an uncommon state of being). And of course, we had "no food!!" to make breakfasts or pack lunches or snacks (never mind the fact that they are the ones that ate it, it is always all my fault when we have nothing to eat). Add in the fact that on Monday, I got out of work at 3, had to pick up my daughter at 3:45, teach CCD at 4, go to a wake and then try not to miss my favorite fitness class at 6:15. I didn't end up getting home until close to 8 so the house was pretty messy yesterday morning as well. All of which unfortunately adds up to no blog post for me (and you all) yesterday.
So while reading Committed, I came to a part about the Marriage Benefit Imbalance. It is just what it sounds like, one spouse does fabulous being married and one spouse, not so much. Any guesses which way that it goes? If you guessed men do better married, you are right!! The author writes, "If you are a man, say the actuarial charts says, the smartest decision that you can possibly make for yourself -assuming that you would like to lead a long, happy, healthy prosperous existence- is to get married." She goes on to write that married men live longer, accumulate more wealth, excel at their careers, are less likely to die of a violent death and report themselves happier than single men. Then we get to the women. The author states, "Dishearteningly, the reverse is not true." She says that in America, married women so not live longer, do not accumulate as much wealth, do not excel in their careers, are less healthy, more likely to suffer from depression and more likely to suffer a violent death (often at the hands of their husband). The marriage benefit imbalance has gotten better in recent years now that women are treated more equally but it does still exist. In light of the stereotypes that exist with regards to marriage, I find this imbalance to be pretty ironic. Women are seen as the ones that are in more of a hurry to get married while men are portrayed as being dragged to the altar kicking and screaming (sometimes literally).
In honor of my renewed commitment to the gym and the fact that I am right now getting ready to go to a body pump class (lifting weights to music), I am going to show the strongest mouse around, Mighty Mouse. Hopefully by the time I am finished, my arms will look like his. Well, maybe that isn't really my goal because after all, he is a mouse. I have also been taking a weekly piloxing class (part boxing, part pilates) and the sequence in the opener when he goes around speed punching everything looks just like our class, well except for the fact that he actually gets to hit things and again, he's just a mouse!
Instead of a Friday night video, today I will be giving a much deserved shout out to the Stoughton High School cheerleaders for advancing to the regional finals. If I had been thinking, I would have videotaped their routine and shown that but I didn't of it until right now. I am always at least 1 step (or more) behind myself. By the way, I am just kidding, I wouldn't do that while they are still using that routine in competition. They really deserve a pat on the back because they have worked extremely hard for this (I'm exhausted from this season and all I did was drive around!). This week especially hasn't been much of a vacation for the squad with competitions on Monday, Wednesday and last night. The competitions were not originally supposed to be during this week, one was moved from Sunday of this week to Monday because we got some snow on Sunday and one was moved from the weekend of the blizzard a few weeks ago. Add that into a full week of practice to get ready for last night and you have a very busy vacation week. Not that any of the team was complaining, especially not after learning that they advanced. They were plenty of smiles to go around after that and a sense of pride in not only their accomplishment but in their hard work as well.
In the picture on the left below, you may recognize the 2 girls as seniors, Jordan and Nicole. True story, Jordan happened to be standing right next to us so I pointed her out to my mom and told her that I had taken her senior pictures. My mom took one look and said, "Well, I'm sure those pictures were gorgeous". The other picture is both the seniors on the squad with friends. How cute that the cheerleaders have cheerleaders!
Another great thing about last night was that one of the cheerleaders was sweet enough to offer to take a picture of me and my daughter. Since my new motto is to "hop in the picture" (my other motto is that you can always delete), I gladly took her up on it! Although I did tell my daughter to stand off the mat so I'd be taller but I was just teasing her (I did have my "tall " shoes on, thank goodness)! By the way, I think my daughter looks like a model with the stance, the makeup and the hair but me, not so much! My mom came with me and proudly wore her Stoughton colors. She always grabs the opportunity to hop into any picture with one of her 20 grandchildren, of whom she is extremely proud. Just an aside, my oldest nephew turned 20 last week (happy belated, Kev!), my mom certainly doesn't look like she has a 20 year-old grandchild, does she?
Happy Friday, everyone!!
Before I get to my post today, I need to correct an omission from yesterday's post. I left out one couple when I added the pictures. I thought of them while writing the post but forgot to add their picture. My only excuse (and it's a feeble one, I'll be the first to admit) is that it were only 5 couples when we started hanging out and for a few years after that but like I said, it is a feeble excuse, because this family has been an integral part of our group for the past couple of years. So there really in no excuse and if you go back and visit the post, you'll see that I have corrected the oversight. Mistakes like these make me think that maybe the title of that post should be taken another way when it comes to me!
Anyway on to today's post. The other day I happened to remember that our Religious Education director mentioned that because Lent was only 40 days, Sundays were not considered part of Lent. Since I gave up wine for Lent, this interested me greatly (if Sundays aren't a part of Lent, could I have a glass of wine on a Sunday?) So I decided to look it up. There is actually an eHow on the rules of Lent which I found to be kind of funny but since I was, in fact, looking up the rules of Lent, then I can't really mock it now, can I? The entry that piqued my interest was The History of Lent written by Fr. Wm. Saunders on the Catholic Education Resource Center website. He says "People are still encouraged 'to give up something' for Lent as a sacrifice. An interesting note is that technically on Sundays and solemnities like St. Joseph's Day (March 19) and the Annunciation (March 25), one is exempt and can partake of whatever has been offered up for Lent." (Of course this begs the question, what about St. Patrick's Day but since it is not only on a Sunday but I also did not give up green beer, I didn't research this one) Anyway, don't you just love the technically? You know that something else is coming and sure enough he added, "Nevertheless, I was always taught, 'If you gave something up for the Lord, tough it out. Don't act like a Pharisee looking for a loophole." Anyway when I read that, I felt like it had been written by my husband because it sounds just like something he would say. Although he may not call me a Pharisee, he would say, "Suck it up and stop being a wimp." Nonetheless call me a Pharisee because chances are I will be taking advantage of that loophole on a weekly basis or more (anyone want to meet me for a glass of wine on March 19th or 25th?).
I am currently reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, you probably know her better as the author of Eat, Pray, Love. Committed is actually the follow up to that book. And I have to say that I like it better. It is a combination memoir and socio-historical look at marriage as the author attempts to reconcile her distaste for the institution with her need to marry in order to allow her significant other to remain here in the United States (or even visit her here, for that matter). It's quite an interesting look at marriage, its different variations and histories. So I am enjoying it on that level but it also has me thinking. And we know that I love anything that gets me thinking.I have mentioned on occasion that I have a wonderful group of friends that my family relies on heavily for all manner of things. Well, one of the things that I love is what great marriages they (we) all have. All of our marriages are very different, of course, but as a group, our marriages have much in common. No one really bickers or bitches about each other, each couple enjoys each other's company, treats each other with respect and really listens to each other (most of the time). None of us plays out the stereotypes of the old married couple (we have all been married for at least 15 years and one couple will be celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and another. their 25th). Like so much with this group, I think that my kids will benefit greatly from being around it. When they grow up, they will have great, personal knowledge of what an enjoyable and respectful, in other words, successful, marriage is supposed to look like. And that is worth its weight in gold. I hope that they don't kill me for including pictures but posts are always better with pics.
So yesterday I said that I hadn't written in a bit because I had nothing good to say. Well that is not quite true. I have made a new commitment to getting in shape (hence the giving up wine for Lent). And last week, I made it to the gym everyday but Tuesday (and if you saw my schedule on Tuesday, you would know why). We joined the Y a couple of weeks ago and we've been trying to make going there as part of our weekly routine (it helps that a bunch of the kids' friends joined as well so they are always up for going). I've tried 3 classes, 2 of which I loved, 1 not so much. The main reason that I joined is not to get in great shape for our cruise in April, although that would be a bonus, but to lower my blood pressure (I can't imagine why it is high?? Maybe it is the 4 kids or all that driving I do around Stoughton?). My doctor wanted to put me on medicine the last appointment but I asked her if we could wait until my next appointment to see if I could get it down through good old fashioned work. It was consistently around 140/90 so that was her concern but I am happy to report that the last couple of times that I have taken it (there is a machine right by the door at the Y so another bonus, easy blood pressure readings), it has been in the 128/75 range. So I guess that is one good thing about the monotony of winter, there really is not a lot else to do so why not go get in a workout.
Sorry I didn't blog at all last week. I honestly don't know what happened but I couldn't find my words at all last week. Maybe it was the snow, covering my thoughts and my words much like it is blanketing my entire yard. Or maybe it is the fact that we are in the part of the year that I absolutely hate. I used to tell myself that I hated winter but that is not the case. I actually love parts of winter, I love a white Christmas, I love a good snowstorm (I loved the actual storm last weekend, the cleaning up and dealing with it all this week, not so much) and we have already addressed how much I love the free winter sports. But then there comes a time in the winter when I am flat out all done with it. I'm bored, I'm restless, I'm sick of bundling up and I'm really sick of wearing shoes and socks. I long for the days of flip flops and no coats. And consequently, these longings (combined with the fact that I gave up wine for Lent) made me a little bit grumpy last week (just ask my family). So I think that it was a classic case of if you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all. So I said nothing last week and I'm sorry.
Although it took more than the few minutes that Mark Twain once claimed "If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.", his quote certainly held true this weekend since we saw a variety of weather. Friday during the day was pretty calm, just your garden variety snow but once the afternoon turned to evening the storm really started ramping up. Our snow blower was in need of repair and the part wouldn't be in until the 11th (lot of good that did us) so we figured we better shovel it in shifts. My daughter used the opportunity to build a snowman and my husband was kind enough to help her out.
Overnight was when the brunt of it hit so even though we had shoveled twice on Friday night, we woke up to a good 15 inches back on the driveway and it was still snowing and really cold with a wind chill in the single digits. But it does get warm in a hurry when you are hard at work shoveling:) After they finished shoveling the kids took the opportunity to have some fun with the snow. They made some sugar snow, jumped off the deck into the backyard (I went out to take pictures and it was almost to my waist) and just generally had a blast. As I wrote on Facebook the other day, "Another snow day that we will have to make up in June :( Not being able to go anywhere for 2 days :( 2 1/2 hours + shoveling the driveway :( kids getting along and playing like little kids - absolutely priceless!!" And it was!
Sunday was a beautiful day out, just perfect for playing in the snow so my daughter invited a couple of friends over to do just that.
Then yesterday was rainy but warm (well mid-40s, warm considering the weekend we just had). So warm, in fact, that the fog in the afternoon was just crazy.
All in all, I consider us blessed. We were all together and safe, we never lost power and even though the snow blower wasn't working, we were able to work together to get the shoveling done.
Since we are currently in the middle of a blizzard with a wind chill in the low teens, at least 2 feet on the ground and the snow is still falling, I have decided to transport myself (and you all, if you want) to a better place: Hawaii. Although Florida also sounds pretty good since a friend of mine put this on her Facebook page yesterday, "As I am sitting here...outside at Jared's baseball game...in my shorts and flip flops...I am thinking of all of my family and friends up north! Be safe and keep warm! Thinking of u all!" Yeah, we're thinking of you too and what we're thinking isn't very nice. Just kidding, I would never begrudge one of my friends warmth and sun, especially not the friends that are smart enough to move away from this stuff!! As for me, I am going to sit here and watch this cartoon and pretend that I don't have a lot of digging out to do!!
Happy Saturday!! Anyone that lives around here, stay safe and warm!
How often does a book come along that not only changes your life perspective but also causes you to take a second look at a song? Wonder is such a book. This week's Friday night video song is quoted at the beginning of the book. I'm a big Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs fan and I have always loved this song but now I LOVE this song. Her explanation at the beginning of this clip is so eloquent. I love when she says a lot of people say this song is their song, it describes their strengths, in spite of what others would call their deficiencies.
Every couple of years it seems like I rediscover kids books. I did it with my own kids a couple of years ago when we decided to listen to a bunch of the Newberry Award winners. And I can honestly say a lot of them are my favorite books. Holes, Maniac Magee, The View from Saturday, Walk Two Moons. They're just so well written and engaging,. I don't think that it always works that way with adult books, that the most critically acclaimed are the most readable and entertaining. Sometimes it seems like they are critically acclaimed simply because they are so depressing. Like it has to be depressing to have value. Kid books aren't like that and I like that. I have been on a great streak of kid books right now too with The Lions of Little Rock, Out of my Mind and now, Wonder. Hopefully it will keep on going!
Happy Friday!! If you live around here, stay safe and warm!!
I really don't have much today, just a random collection of thoughts, hence the title.
We called early this week to make an appointment to finally file the kids' passports applications (we are going on a cruise in April), and guess when the appointment is for? Yup, Saturday morning, what are the odds that we'll be able to make that? Because in case you didn't know (and if you don't know, you either don't live in New England or under a rock), the storm of the century is headed our way.
Speaking of the storm of the century, the Blizzard of '78 was 35 years ago this week. I was 10 years old at the time and in 5th grade. My enduring memories of the storm are jumping off the roof of our house into a giant snowbank, walking to the grocery store pulling a sled because there were no cars allowed in Massachusetts for about a week and no school from February 7th until after February vacation (and we didn't have to make it up). It has made me feel old though thinking back on it as being 35 years ago!! What makes it worse is that as you know, I work in a school and a lot of the kids have been telling me that their parents were babies or not even born yet. Come to think of it, a lot of the teachers say the same thing:(
Another funny thing about this upcoming storm is that when I went into work Monday morning, I said to the heart and soul of our school, Cathy, that I decided that the Super Bowl marks the point in the winter when I am officially all done. I can deal until then but after that... Well she said that she would like to just get one big snow storm because she loves it. She also said that it wasn't even that she wanted a day off, it could be a nice Friday storm and she would be happy. After seeing the forecast for this storm, I sent her this link and asked her if she had an in or something. We were joking around about it and she said, "Of all the things that I have wished for, this is the one that comes true?"
I am reading another good book, 2 actually. I am on quite the roll. One was How Children Succeed and was about the tools that kids need to succeed in school and life. Very eye-opening and thought provoking. The other I am just starting but I can already tell that it is going to completely pull me in. It is the story of a 10 year old with a facial deformity going to school for the first time. It's called Wonder and so far, it is. I am not far enough in to it to offer any insights really but I will be sure to share some thoughts with you when I am.
How sad is it when you have to do your regular grocery shopping when there is a storm coming? I have to go this afternoon for just regular stuff and I know it is going to be crazy. It's like forgetting and doing your regular shopping the day before Thanksgiving. Not pretty, not pretty at all.
Have to run, wrote this quickly before work so I hope there aren't a million errors. Happy Thursday all!!
So yesterday because I had to drop my daughter off somewhere and pick up my other daughter up somewhere else, I dropped my son off at his orthodontist appt and told him to text me when he was done or if they needed to talk to me. As you can see by our text, at 5:22 he checked with them to make sure that we had the time of the appointment right. At 5:30 they finally got around to him but told him that they needed to see me, at which point I was driving my daughter to her game so I told him I'd be there in about 15 minutes. When I came in (already annoyed, I'll freely admit since I was hoping that I could pick him up around 5:15) and asked why it took over an hour for his appointment, I was told it was because they were waiting for me. Oh really, maybe for the last 15 minutes but what about the other 50 minutes?? They also tried to tell me that they had told me that they needed to speak to a parent when I made the appointment (they did not). When I told them this, they then tried to claim that they had mentioned it when they confirmed it with my husband (they did not). When I expressed my displeasure to the doctor about the wait and my not realizing that I had to be there, he had the nerve to say, "Well you had to pick him up, didn't you?" He did apologize after I told him that I was extremely unhappy but you know what? It was a little too little, a little too late. Plus I am a little sick of the apology society. I see it with kids all the time, they think that they can do or say whatever they want and all they have to do is apologize. Although a well thought apology is nice and usually appreciated, I feel that thinking before you speak or not treating your paying clients condescendingly would have been more appreciated. Oh and the kicker, it was basically an appointment that I had already done, so it was a total waste of time. Actually that is not the kicker, the kicker is when I left without making a new appointment (okay, okay stormed out), one of the receptionists said, "Bye" in a snarky, sarcastic tone as I was shutting the door. I'm considering making it a permanent bye, as in goodbye to my business.
No, the title of this blog post does not describe my general state of being these days (although it could, most people, especially my family, think that I quite out of my mind). No, I am referring to a wonderful book that I read over the weekend called, you guessed it, Out of My Mind. This book is told from the perspective of Melody, a 10 year old that was born with cerebral palsy and has never been able to walk, feed, clothe or bathe herself. But those aren't even her biggest sources of consternation. The fact that she's brilliant, but has no way to express it, is. Until she finds a way to express herself. The challenges and reactions that she gets once she finds a way are explored beautifully in the second half of the book. I also love the dual meaning of the title, Out of My Mind, as well. At times, not being able to express herself drives Melody "out of her mind" and she has fits of screeching. And once she finds a way to express herself, her thoughts and words are finally able to make their way out of Melody's mind and into the world. Even though it is technically a kids book, many adults will benefit from reading it as well.
Book reviews are really not my strong suit, I feel that I have a hard time articulating what exactly I loved about a book so I have also included a review below:
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 4–6—Born with cerebral palsy, Melody, 10, has never spoken a word. She is a brilliant fifth grader trapped in an uncontrollable body. Her world is enhanced by insight and intellect, but gypped by physical limitations and misunderstandings. She will never sing or dance, talk on the phone, or whisper secrets to her friends. She's not complaining, though; she's planning and fighting the odds. In her court are family, good neighbors, and an attentive student teacher. Pitted against her is the "normal" world: schools with limited resources, cliquish girls, superficial assumptions, and her own disability. Melody's life is tragically complicated. She is mainly placed in the special-ed classroom where education means being babysat in a room with replayed cartoons and nursery tunes. Her supportive family sets her up with a computer. She learns the strength of thumbs as she taps on a special keyboard that finally lets her "talk." When she is transitioned into the regular classroom, Melody's undeniable contribution enables her class to make it to the national quiz team finals. Then something happens that causes her to miss the finals, and she is devastated by her classmates' actions. Kids will benefit from being introduced to Melody and her gutsy, candid, and compelling story. It speaks volumes and reveals the quiet strength and fortitude it takes to overcome disabilities and the misconceptions that go with them.--Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY