Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Ten--2011

Top Ten Awesome Things about 2011:
  1. The Crisis has made some progress in the right direction. And it's not nearly as bad as it could be.
  2. Huge strides in my quest to get more publications under my belt.
  3. My job is going really well, mostly, and I have opportunities that would probably not otherwise be available to me.
  4. The Hubby and I have figured out a date-nigh/babysitting exchange with another family that has been really valuable.
  5. The Babydoll and The Baby Boy are doing quite well in school and in extra-curricular activities.
  6. Friends who had been wanting a baby for nearly five years, and who had a stillborn in the process, welcomed their beautiful, healthy son. A number of other friends also welcomed healthy babies into their families.
  7. Finally had my bridal portrait framed, three years after I actually posed for it, and 10 years after I actually got married. (Of course, The Hubby cracked the glass in the process of giving it to me for Christmas, but, oh well.)
  8. My hair is doing great. I'm learning to handle it in its unrelaxed state and I've had a very useful shift in my definitions of beauty. I feel sassy and I learned to swim (kind of)!
  9. Regarding another crisis with family friends, one unrelated to the major crisis in my life, another year has passed that moves them closer to a resolution of a very bad thing.
  10. The little world in my house is pretty good; my children are mostly unaffected by the horrible things that I know are going on and they are, I think, really and truly happy children who express their love for us and each other; my husband still loves me and I still love him. And I like him a lot of the time, too.
*And here's a bonus: I finished the awesome list much more quickly than the suck list.

Top Ten Sucktastic Things about 2011:
  1. The Crisis will not freaking go away. It gets better, then randomly and unpredictably gets worse. And there's so little I can do about it.
  2. The Crisis insists on sprouting branches, most of which I can barely do anything about.
  3. We lost an elder in our family.
  4. Still have friends who haven't yet been able to realize their dream of becoming parents.
  5. Still not on anybody's tenure track.
  6. Still having migraines, despite efforts to change my diet (although that's helped some) and I might need to switch medications again.
  7. Something that I wanted to happen for a long time fell into my lap and then was snatched away. It still has not materialized in a successful way.
  8. My faith is . . . challenged. And confused. But that might just be this week.
  9. I missed a perfectly free Stevie Wonder appearance because I was at a conference.
  10. Failed goals.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

This Christmas (Donny Hathaway style)

Merry Christmas to all!

"Hang all the mistletoe. I'm gonna get to know you better. This Christmas.

Fireside is blazing bright . . . ."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

To the Victor

So, our shelf is filling up with trophies. The Babydoll and The Baby Boy have a year or two of sports and activities under their belts, and they've been rewarded with trinkets at the end of each season. At this point, we've already been involved in dance, gymnastics, karate, baseball, softball, and basketball. I see the line of demarcation, when the activity starts to be recognizable as an actual sport; there are scores, winners, losers, rules, referee calls. I appreciate the entry level when they were around three years old and simply trying to figure what they were supposed to be doing. I also see that most activities have a separate realm for those who are "special" or "gifted" in an area. But now, I kind of wish there was a little more merit involved in general.

My children are likely not on their way to compete in anybody's Olympic games (for many reasons, including my belief in normalcy and refusal to spend all of my money or turn my life upside down) so leaning towards merit might also mean they would be left trophy-less. What I'm really thinking is that I want them to know when are really good at something and when they are just doing it for fun. When they need to work harder to master a skill. When they can look to their peers as an aspirational example. I'm sure that's coming, and I'm not so much looking forward to the pain of losing or failing--their pain or my pain because I am a horrible loser. But The Babydoll asked when she was playing softball, "What will happen if we don't win?" I didn't know how to answer that. The coaches explained that if they worked hard in practice, they would win more games than they lost, and they did. And when they did lose, they told the girls that they could learn from those games. But my answer to the question was basically, "Nothing." I meant that nothing bad would happen if they lost a game, like being poked with a red hot poker or forced to hit balls until they hands bled or banished from the game forever; but The Babydoll is also very Type A, so I wanted her to know that I would also not be angry with her if they lost. It made me a little uncomfortable, though, because nothing really did happen when they lost. They got the same trophies at the end of the season no matter how they played. That's true even for my son, who decided in the middle of the short season that he was waaayyy over the pushing and tackling for the balls that were pushed two feet and rolled off the tee. He thought it better to stand perfectly still the entire game and fake a tummy ache. Gymnastics seemed to sort of split the difference by giving scores during the meets (it's recreational, not elite) and ranking them, but they were ranked all the way to eighth or ninth place so that every girl in every category had a place on the podium. They still all received the exact same trophy, though. The Babydoll had a relatively high number, but I couldn't help but think that if I were number one in my category, I'd want my trophy to actually read #1. Then, there's that whole Tiger Mom thing, that suggests that there's great reward in pushing yourself to the limits and accomplishing something through sacrifice and extremely hard work. Then again, I value normalcy, and playing piano 80 hours a day just ain't normal . . . .

I'm sure this will take care of itself soon enough, as my children as still very young. The agony of defeat will show itself readily whether we want it to or not. And when I think of it again, this "trophy just for showing up" method serves my purpose quite well, as my thought was to allow them to try lots of activities while they are young so that they can see what they like and what they are good at for when they are older. (I think that teenagers need something to take up their time and something valuable to keep them on the straight and narrow--I have a lot of theories, huh?). So maybe it doesn't matter that they get a trophy for doing the minimum. Of course, I know that I'm paying for those trophies as much as if I just went to the store and bought them. In the end, our shelf is filling up with rewards, not awards. But maybe that's okay. For now.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Other people who like "Reed Between the Lines"

I knew there was something very right going on with "Reed Between the Lines." Here's another comment on what this show is getting right, despite the weaknesses and writing and comedy, which they seem to be working on. Again, I'll give it an A for effort.

Friday, December 2, 2011

More harried linking (sorry)

Since it's the end of the semester and I'm way behind on grading, preparing for an exam, and blah, blah, blah, I wanted to share this clip. I wanted to write an actual post, but I have nothing to say that doesn't have to do with running to programs, baking, and--of course--reading essays of various and questionable quality. And that's boring, so enjoy a different bloggy mom. She's as harried as me, probably more so, and yet she can still blog. Hmmm. Oh well, I'm not that sorry since it's a good read. Enjoy: