Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Last night, Mark and I were talking, and I realize that my children are probably some of the few (if not the only) children who are woken up by their mother on Christmas morning. I can't sleep on Christmas eve (it was 3 am before I finally fell asleep last night). And I wake up ready and excited for Christmas morning at 5:30... I make myself stay in bed until at least 6-- and have since I was a child (lol). So every year, my boys have been woken up by me-- until this year. Mark said to me last night, "Wasn't part of the fun of Christmas morning waking up your parents? It's supposed to be your boys who wake you up."

So this morning, when I woke up at 5:30, I rolled back over. And when I woke up at 6, I thought, "The kids aren't up yet." And rolled back over. At 7, I couldn't believe neither of my kids were awake-- as they're normally up at that time on a -regular- day! And my oldest woke me up at 8:45, wanting to know if he could go watch his shows (lol) (; I asked him to go get dressed, while I got up, woke Mark up, got dressed-- and then woke up his little brother.

Turns out, after always being woken up by Momma on Christmas morning-- my boys -expect- to be woken up (lol) (;

Santa brought my oldest the video game he asked for, and for my youngest, the transformer. And both of them had legos on their wish list, so they got more to share.

Last year, I'd come across a poem that I really liked, that I've since tried to incorporate into our Christmas. It goes like this: Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. It keeps the total number of presents to a small number, and in this economy, that's definitely a good thing!

So for my oldest, he got a bakugan and the presents from Santa, his own room (the boys have had to share a room for the last 3 1/2 years), new pajama pants, and several books that he's been asking about for the last couple of months. He also got three special presents. From his Daddy, his first swiss army knife-- that he's only allowed to use with supervision. And from me-- his own drawing pad and first set of artist pencils and charcoal (as he's shown talent and interest in art (Woo-hoo!!)), and a nice leather bound journal.

For my youngest, he got playdough and the presents from Santa, his own room; he asked, very specifically for footy pajamas, that I was fortunate enough to find at Sears in his size, thanks to my Facebook friends, and several books of his own that I'll be reading at least one of tonight before he goes to sleep ((: His special presents were from his Grandma Judy-- his own toy guns (as all the guns he'd previously gotten to play with belong to his brother, and therefore went to his brother's room when they separated)-- both a cap gun and a nerf gun.

For Mark, I gave him a new computer chair-- that we've ALL decided is comfortable enough to go to sleep in (lol), a couple of books I think he'll enjoy, and come New Year's we're signing him up for a gym membership at the local gym (This is something he actually -wants-). We're considering whether or not we're going to get him a Play Station. And his mom got him new clothes (:

For the critters, Peeve (the cat) got a new brush-- he doesn't play with toys, doesn't use a scratching post, can't have catnip, and doesn't like wet cat food. (lol) He's the hardest member of our family to shop for, but the cat LOVES to be brushed (: For the puppy dogs-- All three got new beds and dog chewies/ treats. Maggie got soft dog toys (which is what she prefers). Isabeau got 1 soft dog toy, and 4 tennis balls. Ruby got the same as Isabeau-- with the addition of a name/ address tag (: I call it their 'jewelry' (:

And I'm greatly enjoying the gifts my guys gave me: A new CD player-- with plenty of new CDs to play in it! And my very own 6 qt. crock pot!! Woo-hoo!!! I've wanted a crock pot since I was 18! I also got a couple of books on slow cooking (:

While listening to some of my new Christmas music, on my new music player, I perused my new books, learned a lot about slow cookers, and realized I could make my first meal TODAY!

So for dinner, we had Mediterranean pork loin with milk sauce, with side dishes made seperately, including rice, corn, and broccoli with cheese. The meat was so tender, it practically fell apart. And it tasted good! (: My crock pot passed on it's maiden voyage!

And in an hour, I'm going to use it again.

One of the first things I came across in my new cookbook was an entire section on Porridge and cereals!

So tonight, breakfast is going to cook--for 9 hours. As long as it goes as it should, we'll be having Apple Barley Molasses Porridge in the morning!

I'm excited (: And should probably mention that, in both instances, I'm not actually following recipes (lol) Just using them as guidelines (; I think, if it works, breakfast is going to be delicious!

And tomorrow morning, bright and early, we're headed out for the day after Christmas shopping specials. Hoping to get LED Christmas lights at half price (:

Outside of the food and the presents, we've had a wonderful time-- dancing to the music, sitting together to watch shows, all sitting on the floor playing with legos, and visiting with my in-laws for the holidays, and two of my sister-in-law's children.

All in all, this has been a relaxed, wonderful Christmas. And I wish the same for you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


This morning, my friend Melissa shared a link on Facebook to a CNN article that discussed whether or not 2009 was really as fatal to the famous people as it seemed.

Though I know that over time that the link is likely to go dead, so here's the general gist: Britney Murphy died this year, among, what seems like, a slew of stars. But there are a lot of people who don't even know who she is. The general conclusion of the article is that no more famous people died this year than any other year-- but thanks to social networking sites, everyone talks about them and the news media follows the public's trend so it ends up seeming bigger than it is.

This evening, my friend Mike updated his status to read: Quote of the week "Wow, you proliferate through the web like a fast acting Fungal ointment."

Between the two of them, I got the crazy idea to Google myself.

Before I go further, I will say it certainly helps to have an unusual name.

Having said that, I learned that every friend I have on Facebook and MySpace is a link to me. Every comment I have left on any public domain-- be it emails, social networks, book reviews, online purchases-- a variety from all of them pulled up with this simple search.

I learned that I can be google image searched... and -found-.

Pretty much anything I've done online in the last 10 years can be traced with a few key clicks.

You can find me on e-Bay. Amazon. Classmates. MySpace. Facebook. The SCA. And at the colleges and schools I have attended. The honors I've received. The events and shows I've attended or participated in.

To be honest, it's a little frightening how much can be pulled up about me in the public domain. Even -with- privacy settings.

Knowing my address, via Google 'street view'-- you can even see my house, my car-- my CHRISTMAS LIGHTS from 2 year ago!

Four years ago, when I joined MySpace, I searched my first name, just because I was curious if there were other people who had the same-- and I -might- have pulled up a single page worth of information. NONE of it was actually me. A quick search for me pulled up no results at all.

But tonight, I pulled up over 26 pages that were all, very specifically, related to me.

And I'm no star by any stretch of the imagination.

So I'm left wondering, with the amazing advances in technology and social networking-- are we, perhaps, becoming over connected?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Artistic Fingerprint

This fall I returned to school, after a 7 year break, to finish my Bachelor's degree. When I started college back in 1995, I was double majoring in Art and History. After my first semester at school, I switched to double majoring in Art and Theatre, with a minor in Dance.

Not only had it been 7 years since I'd done college classes-- it had been 7 years since I'd really done any art as well.

I have to admit, I started both with a little bit of fear-- I didn't know if art was going to be more like riding a bike or more like playing a piano. The former, you can pretty much just pick back up any time, the latter...not so much. This time, I knew that I wanted to teach art, so I thought it best to add Education to my double majors.

So I'm extremely thankful to Mr. Percy for insisting that I take his Integrating Art into Education class-- even though it's a course usually reserved for people further along in the Teacher Education Program. His reasoning is that it is better to take this class NOW, then discover three years down the road that you don't really want to be a teacher.

I appreciate that I was allowed into this class for a completely different reason though: There was only one other art student in my class. The remainder of the class is composed of Education majors-- who, for the most part, don't believe they have any artistic ability at all. Mr. Percy knows this, and sets this class up specifically with that mind set in mind.

So our very first project was creating name plaques for ourselves, with large markers.

When he saw mine, he got a slight frown on his face, then smiled quizzically and said, "Usually, it's my general education students that make stick people..." It wasn't until we got further into the class that I learned that the use of stick figures is representative of being stuck in a middle school level of artistic ability. But for me, at the time, there were three things going through my mind: 1) I hate using markers. 2) We had 15 minutes to create these name plaques. And 3) The only instructions given were that we could write our name however we wanted to-- but it had to tell the class something about ourselves.

I like stick people. I don't like markers. I like colors, and am a pretty happy person. And subconsciously, I was worried that I had lost my artistic abilities.

Through the next couple of weeks, the assignments became increasingly more advanced. And as they did so, I became increasingly more comfortable in my abilities.

At the same time that I was taking this class that allowed me to become more comfortable with myself, I was also signed up for Time & Space with Mr. Skaggs. I have to admit that if you had asked me before this semester if I was a 2 or 3 dimensional artist, I would have told you, hands down, that I didn't know -anything- about making things in 3-D.

Mr. Skaggs and our final in Time & Space have been on my mind today. As we were getting ready for our final, he posted 27 images from a variety of artists-- and we needed to know the artists, the images and how the elements of art and principles of design would apply to them. Now, I have to admit that I was a little worried--because this wasn't an art history class, and we hadn't spent any time going over these artists.

So when we were discussing the final and what we needed to know, he told us that it wasn't about memorizing the artist and art work-- it was about being able to identify the artist's fingerprint. What he explained to us is that every artist, except perhaps graphic artists (who have to adhere to what their clients want) has a particular way of doing their art. If you look at a single piece by an artist, you should be able to see another piece, without further information, and be able to tell that it was created by the same person.

Today, my friend Teresa posted a link to a facebook application called, "My year in Photos-2009". Now, I don't actually have it loaded on my page-- because I've got over 1000 images uploaded to FB, so it's actually kind of frustrating to get the pictures I want. I've tried twice. But in the process, I've seen several of my art pieces side by side.

And I began to think about something else that Mr. Skaggs said, throughout the course of this semester. Whenever he assigned us a piece, he told us that he wanted us to interpret it through our personal lens. To put our thumbprint on the assignment.

And I realized today, that he was asking us to develop as artists; not just as art students doing assignments.

And because of the FB image application, for the first time ever, I truly looked at my art work.

This is a piece I created back in 1995.

And this is a piece I created this semester.

This is a doodle I worked on every day in math class when I was 15.

And this is a piece I made my senior year in High School.

As is this.

While this is one of the first assigments for Mr. Percy this semester.

As was this.

Here is a drawing of a friend of mine's earrings that I did my freshman year in college.

And this is another view of the sculpture used in my Wise Ramblings image up top. The next couple are all from my senior year in high school or my freshman year in college.

The next is one of the last pieces I made before I stopped making art 7 years ago.

And the last images are things I made this semester.

(The above two are to show the 6 sides of the box that the image of above created when it was put together.)

And as I looked through the variety of media and pieces I've created in the last 17 years...

I began to see my own artistic thumbprint.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Love is Life and Life is Love"

My friend Kayla LeMaire shared a poem today that she wrote back when she was 9 or 10 years old. My absolute favorite lines title today's blog.

Last night, as I checked on my boys before heading to bed, my husband looked in at my oldest and noticed he'd -insisted- on sleeping on top of the covers, with just a thin blanket over himself. As he closed the door, he looked at me and said, "He gets it from YOU, you know." To which I replied, "He gets WHAT from me?" And Mark looked at me with mock accusation in his eyes as he responded, "Stubbornness!" As I've told my husband before, our boys have a double dose of that-- from each of us. And he told me, "Well, he's got more of YOUR brand of stubbornness!"

I thought about it as I fell asleep. And I realized that that right there might be the reason my oldest and I so frequently feel like we're locking horns. He is -definitely- MY child-- and very much like me. So we're both very sure we know the answers, want to be helpful, think we know what needs to be done-- and are more inclined to do things OUR way, than how we're told. The difference is, (I hope anyway!) that I have a bit more tact and social decorum. I've had 30+ years to try to cultivate it. But at 7-- 7, it makes you bossy and pushy-- and gets you in a LOT of trouble for 1) not listening, and 2) arguing.

So this morning, as he was getting up for the day, I came in and we had a talk about how we're going to try to get along a bit better. I love my boy. I -like- my boy... But I'm pretty sure there are days he doesn't believe either to be true. And that's just wrong.

It doesn't help that one of the biggest differences between us is that I'm an optimist, and he's a pessimist. I tell him frequently that I love him, and I hope I show him-- but he sure does get hollered at a lot. (Did I mention the inclination to argue and disobey?-- Yeah, direct result of raising free thinking children!) Now, don't get me wrong-- he's a good boy. Both of my children are. And I KNOW that I've been blessed with good children. But there are days when my oldest comes home, I'm smiling and happy to greet him-- and he squashes those good feelings with an icky attitude of his own...

And I've learned over the last 3 years that icky attitudes are contagious. You can only be cheerful against a pessimistic onslaught for so long before it gets you. Well, we talked about it, and decided between us that we're going to try to work on that. And today was the first day.

The first thing we did was continue working on their rooms. They've had their own rooms for almost a week now-- and two days ago, my boys started their morning by telling me, "Momma! We've gotten SO much for Christmas already this year! We even got our own -ROOMS-!" (I did mention I have wonderful little boys, right?)

Well, today, we removed my youngest's old bed from his room, and divied up the books and bookshelves. Unless a book was specifically given to one or the other, I divided them based on reading level and age appropriateness. I also took out my oldest's decorations and set them up in his room. Now, he has books he can read whenever he wants to, and not only helped me do all this, but thanked me for it when we were done. I love to read. And I have to admit, I love that my children love to read!

Well, after we did that, my boys headed out for the backyard and played in the lovely sunny weather for about 2 hours before it was time to come in and have lunch. After that, we hopped in the car and were going to go rent movies. As we pulled into the movie rental parking lot, my boys asked me if we could go to the playground to play. I hadn't even turned the car off, so I asked them, "Would you rather go to the park or rent movies?" And both of them said, "Go to the park!!" So I turned the vehicle around and headed for the local playground.

We played at the playground for almost an hour before I got too cold to remain. I stayed with my youngest and kept an eye out on my oldest-- and even ended up playing myself when my youngest invited me to follow the leader (lol). I brought our festivities to a close as the sun was starting to set, because I hadn't brought a jacket for myself, not expecting to be out very long when we left the house... though I made sure both boys were properly dressed before they were allowed to leave the house (:

As we slid down the 'dragon slide' as our last activity, and climbed into the car, I asked the boys if they had any particular movies in mind to rent. To which both of them responded, "But Mom... we chose the playground. We can't rent any movies..." And I said, "No honeys. I merely asked if you'd be -willing- to give up the movies for the playground. Not that you actually had to." (:

So after my boys cheered, we headed back to the movie rental, and I let them each choose 2 movies. The selection that came home with us?: G Force, the latest Tinkerbell Adventure, Santa Buddies, and Terminator Salvation.

I served up popcorn as we watched G Force. My oldest and I opting for the cheese popcorn, while my youngest went for the traditional buttered. None of us are real fans of the caramel. Then I made dinner: alphabet vegetable soup, with grilled cheese and bologna sandwiches, and they helped me make chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

While we ate, we watched the Tinkerbell movie. And finished up our evening with Santa Buddies. It was nice having a movie marathon with my boys.

There's a large recliner in our living room that I usually sit in. For a good portion of our viewing, my oldest was sharing the seat with me to my left, while my youngest laid on me. (: It's crowded, but I love getting to snuggle with my boys.

Then it was time for bed. While I read my youngest "The Fox and the Hound" (His current favorite book), my oldest read himself a story. Then, I sang, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" to each of them. My youngest getting the traditional version, my oldest getting the version with all the kid add-ins (; Then it was time for hugs and kisses.

My oldest was needing a little extra attention tonight, so I laid down beside him and asked him about his day. He told me that he loved getting the books, and getting to play outside with his brother and the dogs, and getting to play at the play ground, and watching the movies, and getting to play video games (which is what the boys did for the first hour while I was still trying to wake up completely). He hugged me and told me that he'd had a wonderful day. And I thanked him for helping to make it happen.

And I have to agree with him. Today was a wonderful day with my family.

I love my guys. And they love me.

And that love is what -this- life is all about.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


There are a lot of things I didn't care for about President Bush, but one he was frequently riled for, that I actually appreciated, was making up words.

I'm a great fan of making up words. Two of my mother's favorites from when I was a child are 'earballs' and "being haved."

The first came about because I had some pretty nasty allergies as a child, so my eyes were frequently itchy. One day, I said that I hated it that my eye balls were running (they were so itchy, I'd been tearing up). It also happened that my ears were draining, so in frustration, I said, "It's bad enough that my eyeballs are running, but now my earballs are running too!"

And whenever we were out in public, my mother frequently told us to, "Behave!"... One day, when I was about 5, after a long day of following her around, in frustration, I responded, "I'm BEING haved!" To which my mother laughed, and the term stuck. My kids use it (lol).

Words have frequently been a source of blogs for me. Here's one of my old ones:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Or "I have an addiction".

I've always loved words and word games. Scrabble is one of my all time favorite board games. I love putting words right next to other words so it makes a series of two letter words as well. Even better if I can do it while pluralizing another word (;

But in the last couple of months, after I found Facebook, I quickly came across Facebook's game applications....

Now, let me say I've been patiently waiting for my boys to get older, learn how to read and learn how to spell, so we can play Scrabble. (lol)

But in the meantime-- I can now play with my friends on-line, and even complete strangers! Or play solo games if I just want to practice.

...and I do. Daily. Seriously. Pathwords. Scramble. Twirl. Love, love, LOVE them!
And I was on fire with words last night!!!

But I was quickly reminded, as I headed to bed, of one of the problems I have with really getting into the words games... My mind doesn't stop when I step away from the game. I start picking up random words in my mind and rearranging them, playing with them, thinking.... I even dreamed about words last night. As I drifted off to sleep, the word crossing my mind was Relay...which led to the title of this blog...

I wonder if there's a 12 step program for verbomania? Did you even know there's a word for an obsession with words? (lol) It probably goes hand in hand with being a bibliophile, after all, books are absolutely filled with words. (;

I've even come across other verbomanics confessions! I like this one best:

"It's true: I am a full-blown Verbomaniac. Unfortunately, there is no medication for this addiction. The only thing that satisfies the mania is full on submersion: diving into a pool full of four and five syllable words, splashing nouns and verbs against me, as I blow bubbles of alliteration and palindromes."

...Works for me Doctor Angry Office Manager!

Pathwords!, Twirl!, Scramble! Here I come baby!!! (;
Here's another one from my youngest son, a year ago, shortly after he turned three:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So what do these two have in common, other than being creations of books put to screen?
And starting with the letter "M". And being three syllables long. (lol)
They're two words my youngest son has started saying! I'm not even sure where he picked them up and we pretty much spend our time together. But we've neither watched Spiderwick Chronicles nor Dune lately. To be honest, we've only watched Spiderwick once, and that was over a month ago. And, as far as I know, he's NEVER seen Dune!

Muadib is something he says when he's imagining to himself. I can't tell if it's the name of someone he's imagining, the name of some-thing- he's imagining, or an act that someone or something he's imagining is doing. And Mulgarath is what he calls sneezes. (lol)

One that my oldest created when he was 5 is "misunderstaken"-- meaning, not only did he misunderstand, but he was also wrong.

I think my love for creating words was obvious, as far back as 10, when I had a nightmare about it.

I dreamed that I had used up all of my words, and could no longer communicate. No, I don't mean that I'd lost my voice and had gone mute-- though I couldn't speak. I mean that I dreamed that I had used my lifetime allotment of words, and had no more. I couldn't speak. I couldn't write. I couldn't read. I had no more words left to use.

I woke up screaming, and when my mother dashed in to check on me, I was crying, "I've used up all my words! I've used up all my words!" I was so relieved when she pointed out to me that I was speaking and it had just been a dream.

So what brought on this flood of word related memories? This morning, Mississippi and Tennessee Williams were on my mind.

I absolutely loved it the day I learned Mississippi could be spelled, "M-I-double S-I-double S-I- double P-I".

But I realized that similar could be done with Tennessee Williams: "T-E-double N-E-double S-double E, Double you (okay, 'W')-I-double L-I-A-M-S".

It made me smile and I felt the need to share it. (: