Monthly Archives: September 2008

The IDEA of working in a cubicle

I’ve done it in the past. Worked in a little cubicle with all my office supplies neatly placed in a drawer and all my papers spread across the surface. A few times I’ve been lucky enough to have one of those overhead luggage compartments where I could keep additional Important Items like extra Rolodex™ cards and While You Were Out™ message pads. Usually, those jobs were paper-pushing, which I am QUITE good at, I might add.

So, this week I motored myself and Eli over to the newspaper office (he’s a junior carrier) to cash in his Bonus Points for a $15 Best Buy gift card. We were led back into the warren of cubicles by BPL (Bonus Points Lady) to her desk where we completed the transaction.

My sweet Eli said, Wow, Mom, I think it would be cool to work in one of these cubicles.

I have no doubt in my mind that there are people out there who LOVE working in their cubicles. May I just say though that I am NOT one of the people who would like to do that.

I love being a stay-at-home mom, or SAHM for you savvy internetters. I love seeing my kids’ smiles. I love having daily challenges that are clearly making me a better mom, better wife, better person, and better friend. I can’t think of any job in the world that would suit me better. I love the freedom that comes with my schedule — even though it is busy, I can pretty much be my own boss when it comes to today’s schedule, jobs, errands, and activities.

At Kepler’s play group this morning, I had Eli and Anna-Jessie along and one of the other moms said, “No school today?” Of course, I told her I homeschool and she about fell over, especially when she found out we have five kids. She said she would like to homeschool her 15-year-old for one year but her ex-husband is not in favor of it. I hear things like that so often. But the one I hear more than any is “I could never do that.”

Well, after having access to fresh air, windows, comfortable chairs and lighting, lots and lots of fun times with the kids (none of which I experienced in any of my cubicles) — while I COULD work in a cubicle again, I would not WANT to.

And I hope my dear boy expands his horizons enough to decide he doesn’t want to either.

The Magic Food

As though part of some Jungian collective memory, I imagine all the people who used to go to Pizza Inn together after Sunday night church. What did they experience? My sisters and I, grade school students all, would stand mesmerized in front of the jukebox while Sugarloaf growled out Green-eyed-lady, Ocean lad-eh, our young faces glowing red and green in the light of the songboard. As much as I loved hymns, they had NOTHING on Sugarloaf, or Three Dog Night “Onnnnne is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as sad as one, it’s the loneliest number since the number wunh-unnnnnne.”

Pizza Magic.

Memorized deep in my muscles is the feeling I had when we left Pizza Inn one Sunday evening only to find our car wouldn’t start. Never mind that we were only 9 miles from home and less than 2 to my grandma’s house. This tragic event had at least two of us girls scared enough to throw up all our pizza against the side of the building, as the starter clicked uselessly. Even after a jump a short while later (from the uncle who lived 2 minutes away), my little digestive system was terribly upset, so we had to stop in front of Kenwood Mall where I “fertilized” the bushes in front. Why we didn’t just drive the 400 feet back to the Pizza Inn so I could use an actual bathroom?

Pizza Magic.

My heart pitty-patted the evening I stood inside Pizza Inn waiting to pick up our “to-go” order and there was Larry Nelson, the one person in the universe who had had compassion on this awkward 12-year-old who had joined the diving team late one summer. The kindness he showed me was like breath after being submerged for far too long. And here he was, in Pizza Inn, and he talked to me. He was 16. I was 14. He was simply a boy who had a heart.

Pizza Magic.

We moved on from Pizza Inn when Dad remodeled a little restaurant into a pizza parlor called Everything But Anchovies. That was our favorite for quite awhile. Alas, the chef Mario was a wonderful cook, but not quite as good a businessman, and couldn’t make a go of it. He took his expertise and recipe to another local establishment, which we then began to frequent.

Pizza Magic.

Dad used to create a beautiful booth for the Home and Garden Show to show his wares. He allowed me, a fresh-faced fifth grader to help him work the crowd. Like lifeguards swinging their whistles in smaller and smaller concentric circles, he and I would flick our pieces of pleater back and forth, catching the eye of the unsuspecting crowd. Once we had their attention, I would flick the switch to open the draperies — one panel with the beautiful spring crest draperies, one panel with crummy old pinch pleats — out with the old, in with the new and they would be hooked. In our spare time, I would walk over to the LaRosa’s booth to get a free medium cheese pizza, which LaRosa’s was only too pleased to provide for booth owners.

Pizza Magic.

Once we had moved on from the church that had Sunday night church, we still got pizza, but we brought it home, along with various boyfriends and friends. Sunday nights were filled with pizza, pop, chips, and lots of stories about our family, with one sister acting out the hilarious pantomime of me trying to put my contacts in, which had never been easy for me. Into college, when I would get ready to go back to school after spending the weekend at home, Mom and Dad would often invite my ride to stop for pizza at our house before we left. 30 years later, I ran into a fellow at church who thought he recognized me and reminded me of the pizza he and his friend had had with my family before they drove me back to college.

Pizza Magic.

Going to school in Chicago gave me the opportunity to learn about Giordano’s which immediately became my favorite pizza ever. One of my first dates with Greg was to Giordano’s, and I noted that even the frost on the windows knew we were meant to be, as I could see the shape of two hearts in the frost.

Pizza MAGIC.

It’s no wonder Pizza is my favorite food in all the world. Every bite is filled with memories of wonder, tragedy, adventure, humor, and love.

And don’t even get me started on Tiramisu.

Don’t You Just Love it When That Happens!

So I was just minding my own business today when I get a call from my sister who is on vacation. She is one busy little bee so any calls I get from her are noteworthy. She was calling today to get directions from Gatlinburg to a movie theater about an hour away. They wanted to go see the new movie, Fireproof. She had heard that it might only be in the theaters this weekend (just opened last night), so wanted to make sure to see it. I had heard of the movie but had completely forgotten about it opening this weekend. After I got the directions for her, I quick hopped on the internet to see where it was playing locally.

Found it. Invited my hunny to go see it with me. He was busy playing Battlefield 1942, but decided he would rather spend time with me, especially since I asked him on a date. So, off we went . . .

Just returned home a few minutes ago. I want everyone to see this movie that deeply honors marriage and what love involves. The movie was made by the same church that made Facing the Giants, which I saw at a time when I deeply needed the message that with God, all things are possible.

Greg wasn’t sure that Kirk Cameron would be up to the task of believably portraying a fire chief. I didn’t really know what to expect. However, the movie was excellent. This movie honors family, marriage, love, Jesus, and forgiveness. There were a few plot points which I could see in advance but so what? As with the first movie, it was inspiring to see all the people who helped with the making of this movie.

Most importantly, Fireproof portrayed what I believe to be true. No matter how difficult a relationship is, when at least one of the people truly repent and begin to live a life which honors and loves their spouse, miracles can happen. Go see this movie!

I thought the accident, fire scenes, and fire station scenes probably captured pretty accurately what those experiences are like, but I’m not a firefighter, nor do I play one on TV. I KNOW the relationship scenes captured pretty accurately what kinds of things happen when love is dying or under significant strain.

Great movie. Great movie. Make sure you leave a comment when/if you see it!

The Bagger Who Panicked

When I grocery shop, you can imagine I buy a lot at once. Either that or the three items I need to get through the next 45 minutes. Today was a big shop. I went to Costco and then to Kroger. At Kroger, I was buying to restock some very empty shelves at home, plus picking up stuff for the church’s food pantry.

So, the bagger was busily bagging the groceries and it occurred to him that they might not all fit in one cart. Drat, he said, that means I will have to go outside again. Well, my helper and I are strong women so I said, no prob, we’ll handle the carts. I can’t imagine what he thought I said, because he suddenly decided every. single. thing. was going to go into ONE cart. He bagged wildly and kept stacking things higher and higher and higher. I eyeballed the cart wondering how many hands it would take me to keep everything on for the ride.

I think he decided that the MORE items he put IN a bag, the BETTER they would FIT in the cart. This was evidenced by his choice to put FOUR jars of applesauce in one bag. Really big jars.

Actually, I guess I have to hand it to him. He must know his stuff. Nothing fell off. I only needed one hand to keep something on and the applesauce didn’t break through the bag(s).

Now, the checker on the other hand — our store has the “if it rings up wrong price, you get it free.” Some checkers just automatically ring it up as free when it rings wrong. There are a few checkers though who still try to charge me the lower price. Today’s item rang up at $4.49 but should have been $2.49 as it was on the markdown shelf. I wouldn’t even have bought it for $4.49! So it rings up wrong, and I say, no that’s not the right price. Oh, she says, sometimes those tags don’t ring up right. Here, I’ll just put it in as $2.49. Actually, I said, that should be free. She rolled her eyes and entered the scan right code.

You know what? I didn’t make up the policy. But I’m ok with asking for it to be enforced. So, my helper, my giant cart, and my free box of organic chocolate coins rolled on home and wow do we have a yummy looking bunch of food here.

Five Down, Thirty-One to Go

This is my camera? And you can see that I left it sitting on the table? Instead of taking meaningful and memorable photos of my students this week? Maybe I’ll do more actual photographing next week? Let’s hope so?

Ooo, good week this week. I came within an hour of my goal of 25 hours of actual teaching time. This is the first week I have come that close. So, I feel quite encouraged.

Highlights of the week: playing theater games with all my children on Tuesday morning. Kepler even wanted to get involved and he joined our circle. Since he is so short, we all knelt down to be closer to his level. The little mimic that he is, HE then knelt down. So we all lay on our stomachs, which of course he did too. He might not have understood everything we were doing, but he sure did have fun. I got the games from Lisa Bany-Winters’ book “On Stage.” Improv games, warm-ups, theater-in-the-round, and several other categories. I think my favorite moment was at the end of a circle game which involved clapping with the person next to you, when we all spontaneously broke into some very rhythmic, syncopated clapping, which went on for a couple of minutes. Everyone wanted to do more games but we just couldn’t find any more time this week. I still have the book — I think these would be fun games with adults too!

Keys to my year so far: having a curriculum I continue to love, five weeks into the year; taking time twice a week to see a personal trainer and really work hard physically; eating pretty well most days which means I avoid most of the foods that mess with my blood sugar and/or moods; realizing that I CAN do this; and it probably helps that Kepler is now TWO instead of ONE. Surely my strength must come from the Holy Spirit and how glad I am to have it!

Another highlight: beginning to read “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” and deciding to throw a bit of fine arts in after the first chapter. All of us drew an illustration from the first chapter. One of my students felt very unsure about being able to create a good picture, but ended up with such a creative piece with many fun little details in the drawing.

There’s so much to learn and experience and do. And I’m really enjoying this school year.

On My Bookshelf This Week

I’m always jotting down titles of books I would like to read. Periodically, I gather up all the little notes and go crazy reserving books at my public library. This week, on my shelf, you would find the following:

Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World – sounds like a noble idea; may be one of those books whose title catches my eye, but the book sits unread. better not skip this one — i want to end up with unselfish children!

Flip – subtitle: How to Turn Everything You Know on its Head — and Succeed Beyond Your Wildest Imaginings. Sounded interesting.

Sunstroke – The first novel by a brilliant writer named Jesse Kellerman. I am amazed at his writing and would love to sit and ask him HOW he comes up with the stories.

The Writing Diet – one of the many Julia Cameron books on creativity — Writing myself Thin sure sounds easier than jogging.

On Stage – a super-fun book of theater plays — you’ll hear more about this on tomorrow’s weekly homeschool post.

The Rhythm of Life – Matthew Kelly.

I Don’t Want to Talk About it – another book by Terrence Real, a guy who knows his stuff

Resolution – Robert Parker’s latest — easy to read — fairly mindless

The New Rules of Marriage — Terrence Real has written an excellent book. I have read it once and love the concepts — I’m going to reread this with an eye toward sharing it with some engaged couples I know.

Ritalin-Free Kids — Like everyone else in the USA, we have a little ADD going on here, so I thought I might check into some “Safe and Effective Homeopathic Medicine for ADHD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems

What are you reading that you can’t put down? I’m always on the lookout for more books to read!

Today’s Excitement – My Annual Eye Exam

No offense to Joann, the helpful lady at the eye doctor’s office, but she sure had trouble with just about everything she did. First, she put my last name first and first name last, which was going to make it hard to find me next time. So, I asked her before she pressed enter if she wanted to change it. She did, but she got distracted so my last name ended up looking like a combo of first and last, which would also make it hard to find me next time. While she was distracted I reached over and pressed backspace until the field was clear. She finally got it. Just seemed like she was in a giant hurry. Sometimes that doesn’t work so well with computers. And ironically, my appointment ended up taking longer than expected, so I had to surreptitiously text my sister to see if she could hoover Eli over to the orthodontist appt I wasn’t going to be able to make.

Even less exciting was the fact that I think I decided to wait until the first of the year to get my sexy new glasses because we have a vision benefit that will be available then. Oh, but wait! What if The Big Company Greg Works For CHANGES the vision benefit? That would be a drag. OK. Glasses will be ordered really soon. Can’t wait until the new year. You’ll love ’em.

And least exciting of all, I am the proud new owner of a prescription for eye drops for dry eyes.

Aren’t you glad you know?

Four Down, Thirty-Two to Go

Started out this eventful week with no electricity thanks to Hurricane Ike losing his way and ending up in Ohio. Public schools were off as well, so I gave in to my stressed-out feelings and let the kids have a day off. Power came back on at our house Monday evening, so I was all set to go Tuesday morning. Got a call late morning from my parents who were still in the dark asking if they could borrow the generator we had borrowed the day before from a friend. OF COURSE! So, instead of teaching Tuesday morning I spent time getting the generator moved, gas bought, etc., so another slow day.

Wednesday I got on the stick though and did some homeschooling in the few minutes I was home. Also, took the kids along on Thursday to Kepler’s play group and used all that time including the travel time to teach the little sponges. Friday we did a nice long day of work, although we stopped a little early. Overall, it was a productive week, even though the schedule got all thrown off.

Highlights. Let’s see. I truly wish I had had the presence of mind to find the digital camera and video Eli and friend Nathan sailing down the street on their skateboards, holding a big tarp between them which was completely filled with air from the hurricane force winds we were having.

Finished one of our Sonlight readers, and we are coming close to finishing another. We are learning very interesting stuff about the human body. I am STILL happy with the curriculum I have chosen. I STILL like my students. A lot.

I love homeschooling. I learn so much. Probably some of this stuff I heard in grade school myself, but it’s cool to be learning it again. Ferdinand Magellan, Balboa, Ponce de Leon — gotta love those guys — so brave and willing to figure things out by putting their whole selves into the activity.

So far, so good. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment next weekend.

where in the WORLD has siouxsie been?

So much to tell. So little time right now. We were without electricity from Sunday at 3 pm to Monday at 6 pm. My parents and sisters were without electricity for an additional 24 hours beyond that, so there was some time spent on Tuesday helping with a generator, ice, dinner, etc. Even after our electricity was restored, our internet was not working until I finally called the provider tonight and found out that a relatively simple remedy was available, of which I availed myself, and fixed the problem.

I’ve missed you all (yes, ALL of you) and will be updating you in the next several days about the many adventures of the past several days.


Three Weeks Down — 33 to Go

Or, Sleep-Teaching — I Recommend It.

So, we’ve completed another week of homeschooling here at Siouxsie’s house. Things were not QUITE as smooth this week. People had questions about why they have to learn grammar if they are going to be professional skateboarders. “To raise the perception of the intellectual level of the sport” growled Daddy in response. People cried when they had to figure out how many pounds and ounces the zucchini in the picture weighed. They cried even harder when I suggested they figure out the difference in their birth weight (11 lb 7 oz) and their little brother’s birth weight (8 lb 12 oz), even when I made a mistake and said “their” birth weight was 11 lb 12 oz). We had people telling me they can’t do the program I selected for their language class this year. We had people making humorous videos of homeschooling with lots of photos of their own face making bored looks and emitting huge sighs. And we had small people unloading every shelf/box/container they could get their little two-year-old hands on. And then there were the people who felt very poorly treated for having a long day of school in spite of the fact that there are days when we do almost no school — they just didn’t see that it isn’t possible to have an exact 5-hour day every day. And they didn’t like that.

Ah, but we read some great stuff and really did make some progress. And my students made some awesome connections — one of them listened to me read about being optimistic and later commented during a read-aloud that a particular character was very optimistic. I love stuff like that. I’m reminded of how much I like the curriculum I am using this week. I’m reminded of how much I love teaching my own children and what a privilege it is to do this. And how great are kids who will continue on with their work when their tired mother just HAS to have a nap right now? Pretty great, I’d say.

Ever onward, always improving. Looking forward to next week.