Friday, October 26, 2007

Parent-teacher conference

At 3:05. Where will I put my kids? I asked. Oh, I'll just give them some toys to play with in the hallway while we talk.

See there? They have it all worked out.

The PTA has sent home their third last-chance-to-purchase-a-pie reminder and like the others I've thrown them away. I like pie as much as the next woman stretching her seams, but I'm not risking my pie calories on an unknown. Plus, the pie sale conflicts with the get-kids-eating-healthy spiel and gives me a headache thinking about it.

The first five minutes of a parent-teacher conference is like a boot camp. The system is gamed to break you down before they build you back up. The teacher showed me a list of words she asked my six-year-old to read, all but one of which, she was unable to decipher.

This is alarming news! My daughter has always been quite verbal and very interested in books. "These are not first-grade words," said her teacher, but that did not quite soak in until we got through the rest of the standardized test.

Back to the hard words like 'become' and 'early' and I think even 'aisle.' If they're not first-grade words, I asked, why are they on the test? Here, the teacher spread her hands open and gave me an exacting look of exasperation aimed not at me but at the invisible gag that keeps her from exclaiming, "I WISH I KNEW!"

Then we went through all the things she did well, including recognizing all the sounds for the alphabet and reading above her level perfectly, though not being able to talk about what she's read.

That's just like me in the reading comprehension part of the SAT and GRE! I offered excitedly. She smiles. Like mother, like daughter. Well, long passages are boring and the mind starts to wander...I said long passages are boring and the mind starts to wander.

We also discussed the wisdom of number grades at such a tender age. First graders understand they are to try for 100 percent, but they don't understand that 98 percent is really, really good and makes parents just as proud. No, if they're like mine, it takes them a while to get passed that emotional hurdle.

An emotional hurdle I'm trying to get passed is resentment for my yoga instructor. I've been squatting and lunging with weights for a few years now and my legs are pretty strong, so when she holds a pose for longer than I can comfortably handle, I start thinking bad, angry thoughts about her. I shared this with my husband who said he didn't think yoga is supposed to trigger the fight-or-flight reflex, and that maybe I should re-think which exercise classes to take.

I'll have to mull that one over. If only I had a piece of pie to munch on while thinking it over...too bad.

Update: Edited for OCD's sake.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Will SoCal go up in flames?

My SoCal correspondent is snapping away:


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain...

We are windswept and sun burnt, but more relaxed than when we left Friday.

Like last year, when he was two, my son protested in tears that he couldn't ride alone, but at least he got it out of him before we got to the stables:

There are real cowboys in Oklahoma and at least one of them wears boots like these.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Crazy week

Busiest woman in Flow Mo. Also, am trying to learn "More Guitar Songs in the Key of G." So, you know I don't have time for the blog. I hate to neglect Bystander, but alas, it's at the bottom of the list right now.

My freelance life is cluttering my thoughts and sucking the creative juices from these very fingertips. I'm off to seek some truth in a glass of red. I'll raise a toast to you, dear reader. And, oh yeah--I'm in a cabin by the lake this weekend, thinking of you and getting fat on s'mores.

Good night.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

His name is Sujo John

I talked to Sujo John. He told me his story and I told it through his home town paper. Here it is:

Every person of faith struggles at one time in his life to find deeper meaning and a young Christian immigrant from India was no exception. New to the United States, Sujo John and his wife Mary were an American success story, with well-paying jobs in New York City and a new home just across the river from Manhattan.

In February of 2001, he and his wife both had secured good positions and good salaries in neighboring buildings in downtown Manhattan. But the success left John feeling empty. Six months after his arrival, early one morning at his office, John said he sent an email to a friend from church asking his friend to pray for him because while he was enjoying financial and material success, he said, spiritually, there was a “deep vacuum.”

The email was sent at 8:05a.m.— the date, Sept. 11, 2001.

God, it is said, works in mysterious ways, but for Sujo John and his wife Mary, the mystery of what God wanted for them vanished in the smoke and debris of that terrible day.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

The House of Strep

We are a house of strep here in North Texas. When I was a kid, mother kept me and my siblings home for three days with a fever before taking us to the doctor to find out if we had strep (or any other horrendous childhood malady), but here in 2007, in childhood's incubation chamber, I got a call from the school nurse Wednesday at 2:15 reporting a fever and sore throat in my oldest; she warned of the streptococcal bacteria currently infecting the school. So, I called the doctor (or her receptionist, really) who had no open appointments, but took a message for a nurse to call me back.

The nurse called back in an hour, asked questions about my daughter's symptoms and squeezed us in for 4:30 appointment. A swab of the back of her throat produced positive results for strep six minutes later.

Little brother, who was in the examining room, was examined and discharged without a swabbing of the throat. Sister was given a ten-day prescription for amoxycillin but released for school or any other socialization after being on the medication for 24 hours. It works that quickly.

Friday evening, little brother made weepy noises about his mouth and refused to eat his dinner. A call was made to the doctor's answering service and returned by a nurse who asked pertinent questions, and then called the doctor who had her schedule a Saturday morning appointment at her office. (Of course, I'll be charged an after-hours visit price, she didn't tell me at the time, but they'll bill it to my insurance company.)

A swab of the back of his throat produced the same results as his sister's, and we have another prescription of the magic elixir.

Meanwhile, a cool front pushed in this evening but the drop in temperature was unnoticeable because of the high humidity that persisted. The clouds drifted westward, indifferent to my cares and worries. Today, my husband--not indifferent to my cares and worries--inserted a glass pane into our door to replace one that had been broken in February by my oldest who in typical childhood play, ran into it, leaving a pattern of cracks. When the cracks in the stained glass finally started falling out, we removed the entire piece and have been living since then with nothing but a thin piece of plexi-glass between us and the world.

If my family were a dog, we'd be on our back showing our belly. It's not untypical that we leave the garage door open all night long. The first time we did that, a neighbor called to alert us the next day. She's quite used to our absent-mindedness by now.

So, the clouds and the air and the earth and the world are indifferent to us, but we are not indifferent to each other and that in the end is what makes a family. As my brother once told me, family is a big, warm embrace ... with the occasional knee to the groin. Learning to dodge the knees, I am finding, makes all the difference.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Big Mother

From Instapundit comes now the story of the pediatric check-up! At my kids' check-ups the nurse goes through a list of questions so far directed at me because the kids are young. Among them are how much milk do the kids drink a day, are the children properly restrained in car seats and boosters when I drive and do I have a gun in the house.
But when a friend in law enforcement let Debbie know that her doctor had filed a report with the police about her family’s (entirely legal) gun ownership, she got mad.
This Massachussets kid also got asked about mommy's and daddy's drinking habits, whether they did illegal drugs, and has daddy ever done anything inappropriate.

Yeeeikes! There after us!

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Just what the jalapeño is wrong with wearing a cowboy hat?
Nassau County officials asserted that scores of federal immigration agents from around the country, some wearing cowboy hats and brandishing shotguns and automatic weapons, endangered residents and local police officers last week as they raided homes in a poorly planned antigang operation that resulted in 168 arrests.
I first heard this story on Special Report last night, but couldn't find it on Fox's website. The guy from Nassau cited cowboy hats as a complaint against the immigration agents.


For the military illiterate... me, Fox News has a report on just how many combat brigades the U.S. Army has in its 1.1 million soldiers. Answer: 38, with 21 currently serving worldwide (or about 150,000 soldiers). I don't know that I can permalink the video, but you can find it on this page for now under the headline, "Broken Army?" The report said that the army is working on adding 10 more brigades in the next five years. The Army surpassed their recruiting goal in August.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007


President Bush's fourth veto in seven years! It's easier saying no to Congress with the Democrats as the majority party, isn't it? I'm glad he did it, but I'm still irritable, and I hope he doesn't get all sanctimonious about spending too much money in the wrong places. That rings hollow after all those rubber stamps.

I'm all for funding health care for children of poor people or working poor people, but if we expand that entitlement up to middle-class people (is $82,000/year upper middle-class?) we'll never get that horse back in the barn. I know very little of the health care crisis beyond that there is one, but I know a runaway entitlement when I see one.

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Keeping Tabs

I'm starting to compulsively leave tabs open, as though I will get back to that read sometime soon. Yes--that's an important article, I need to get back to that. Current open tabs: World News--WSJ, Kausfiles--Hollywood's antiwar fizzle?, Froggie Went A-courtin Chords by Bruce Springsteen, Opinion Journal Best of the Web, Yahoo News: Driven people may avoid Alzheimer's, NYT's--Girls Are Often Neglected Victims on Concussions, and of course, my little blogger page posting this now.

I skim the WSJ headlines for something interesting, I check in on Mickey. I'm picking up the guitar after 20 years, hence Froggie Went A-Courtin'. I don't read BOTW everyday anymore; I'm not sure why. I'm skeptical of the meme in the Alzheimer's article because my mom who suffers from it was very intellectually active. And the girls with concussions article spoke to me because I had a concussion as a little girl, but other than that there's not much interest in it.

I see the open tabs as a non-committal personality feature of mine--yes, that's interesting. I should look into that subject matter. Eh, better get the laundry started. Make the bed, I guess. Well, well, Andrew Breitbart is a co-creator of the Huffington Post? Interesting. Oh, I should make my grocery list. But wait--I wanted to touch up the paint this morning. I'll do that first. Hey--there's my guitar. Maybe I should practice!

Yes, I should definitely do that. It sets a good example for the children, and maybe it'll stave off Alzheimer's!