Monday, December 30, 2013

Advice on Maintaining Copyright over Blog Content

Though I am not one of the first to embrace the loads of overwhelming unsolicited advice that gets thrown my way, such as: if the twins are waking up at 4 am, try making their bedtime later; or, if you're having trouble getting a job in what you were trained to do, think outside the box. It isn't that I am too proud for advice or that I already know everything. I will be one of the first to admit that I know very little; I am a little like Socrates in that way - I know that I do not know and I will not make many more knowledge claims than that. Let me attempt to offer just a few explanations, since this is not the focus of my post.

Regarding the attempt or the desire for the twins to wake up later than somewhere between 4 and 4:30 am, let me start by saying that the twins are not my first children; neither is either twin my second child. The twins are my third and fourth children. I take my job as a mother pretty seriously, and I attempt to be as observant of them, as they change and grow, as the diligence and dedication that is needed for a person to complete her or his Doctoral studies.

Of course, I have tried making the twins' bedtime later and made this effort more than once  or one time (for several days in a row, up to close to a week). Instead of getting the desired result of the twins waking up later, they still woke up at the same early time, got less sleep as a result, and remained cranky and irritable for the better portion of that day. Not so fun for me.

What about the unsolicited advice of thinking outside the box in looking for a job? Let me preface my comments by saying that I am not offended by the kind intent and concern behind such a statement. Such a statement was offered by many close to me. With a PhD in my respective discipline, the only realistic line of work that fully utilizes my education, is in academia: teaching college students. However, the job market is extremely tight with a super high supply (not to mention people who have insanely long C.V.'s, detailing numerous publications and including many more years of teaching than I have) and a depressingly low demand for jobs. Add to that the fact that I was a stay-at-home mom for half a decade and that I am a mother of young children, and we might as well bludgeon a nail in the coffin of my career in academia. So, yes,  I had better think of a plan B and a plan C. But, as a single mom of four young children, there are some career limitations. I sole financial provider for my children; the father of the children has shown himself to be unreliable and quite possible incapable of helping with the children's basic necessities (but it baffles my mind that he'll dish out the money - credit card debt? - to buy the older two children's affection, whether by buying a live rabbit or purchasing a Wii or taking them to the movie theater). Anyways, I cannot work jobs, like retail; because that money would barely cover childcare but most certainly would not cover a roof over our heads, put food on the table, or clothe our backs.

This post is turning out to be a bit long-winded. My apologies. Let me now get to my point.


I am working on writing a book, a book that will be of interest to the general public.

Here is where you come in, if you can offer any assistance. I would love to include my writing in my blogs, but is there anyway to copyright my writing or protect my writing from getting stolen? Though I have spent years blogging, I have seen more plagiarism than I would like, whilst teaching; and I am very fearful of intellectual property being stolen. Cyberspace or the internet is a particularly difficult place to protect intellectual property, such as photographs or writing. What think ye?

Gluten-Free Caramel Pretzels, Chex, and Popcorn Mixture

Caramel Pretzels, Popcorn, and Chex Holiday Mixture

I am calling this a holiday mixture, because if I eat this all the time, well, I might be in trouble. It's very addictive and it is GLUTEN-FREE! I am sorry I don't have exact measurements on the amount of pretzels, rice Chex, popcorn, and raw peanuts I used. I will say that the first batch I made was too sweet for me; so, I added more stuff (Chex and pretzels, mainly) to temper and thin out the sweetness, and I really like the second batch.

Ingredients:                                             (again, I used only gluten-free ingredients)
  • 1 c of butter (1 stick of butter)
  • 2 c of brown sugar (I will probably use a bit less in the future)
  • 1 tsp + a few more pinches of sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c corn syrup (Not sure there's a 'healthy' version of corn syrup, but I got a light, organic version at Sprout's)
  • rice Chex (I used nearly 1 box)
  • butter popcorn (I used 1 single serving - 42.5 g - bag of Orville Redenbacher's jbutter microwave popcorn)
  • gluten-free pretzels (our family likes the Glutino brand)
  • gluten-free pretzel sticks (again, I used the Glutino brand)
  • raw peanuts (I purchased my bulk at Sprout's)

  • Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
  • Place the dry stuff (pretzels, rice Chex, popcorn, peanuts) on to baking pans and mix the contents up. I placed the dry stuff into two pans to make a larger batch and to keep the mixture from being too sweet).

  • Place all the stuff that comprises the caramel glaze (butter, salt, brown sugar, baking soda, vanilla extract, corn syrup) into a pan and place on lower medium heat. Once the caramel glaze has melted and blended together, it is ready to pour over the dry goods.
  •  Bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Here is the finished product.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Having no business entertaining the mere possibility of becoming pregnant

This afternoon, I found out from my best friend that she and her husband are expecting. It was an unplanned surprise. Their youngest child is 5 years old. They tried on multiple occasions, unsuccessfully, to have more. But, towards the end of next year, they will, Lord willing, add a third child to the family.

I do not know if it is that news or an inner itch, but (can I be candid, since I am posting under a pseudonym), there is a part of me that desires to be pregnant again. My youngest are 2 years old. My then-husband and I were not trying for more children. And yes, thank you very much, I do have some idea how children are made; and they were not accidents, in the strict sense of the term. An agreed upon, acceptable form of birth control was the issue. He was against using condoms, and I was not about to go back on the pill or to use some other form of birth control. Save the well-intended lectures for some other time, some other place, some other person, alright? I am not here to debate birth control choices/possibilities. Back to my story, we weren't trying for any more children. We had two children, and things were not peachy between us. Some consequences of his serious binge-drinking I-don't-have-a-problem alcoholism were drowning us, ranging from: him losing a very secure job, even after being given a second chance; him getting 2 DUI's; numerous ambulance rides to the ER for acute alcohol poisoning, just to state a few of the problems. The twin pregnancy was 'spontaneous'; we did not use any artificial means to assist me in getting pregnant and thereby having multiples. We were not trying (to have more children).

I know my current situation, of being a single mom of four pretty young children and other considerations, is not a good one for having more children. Furthermore, I don't think I will be getting pregnant by immaculate conception. Whoops, that was too much information.

However, I can dream a little dream, right? A dream that will not come into fruition. Please indulge me (I am a very responsible person, who has weathered more trying times recently and who just wants to dream at the moment). Each subsequent pregnancy (I have had three) became easier. With the first pregnancy, my body, comparatively speaking, felt like it took awhile to figure out how to grow a baby and how to adjust accordingly. With my (second) pregnancy with my second child, my body seemed to require fewer adjustments and appeared more accustomed to the baby-making business. My third pregnancy, with the twins, seemed, in some respects, to be the easiest of the three pregnancies, with the exception of the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy (I carried the twins to 38 1/2 weeks). Even when I felt like my bottom was about to fall out (Hey! I delivered two full-size, weight-of-singleton babies - 7 lbs, 9 oz and 6 lbs, 14 oz), I would still count that pregnancy as the easiest of the three. Today, I just want to dream a little dream about babies.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pain, should we really be avoiding it at all cost?!

Here in America, the trend seems to be avoiding pain at all costs. I have seen mothers make the decision not to immunize their children for various vaccines, in part, because they do not want to see their children in pain and do not wish their children to experience pain. Only in first world countries do people have the luxury to decide not to vaccinate their children, not because of the cost or availability, but because of some other nebulous 'reason.' Though I am not a medical doctor, I am friends with several who have served in third world countries where vaccinations are scarce and too expensive (for the people who live there); and people frequently die from diseases that can be prevented with vaccinations. We have a comparatively abundant supply of these vaccinations, at a minimal cost, easily and readily available for everyone. These mothers I have known to purposely skip a vaccine here and there, have other reasons, in addition to the avoidance of inflicting pain, such as not appreciating certain ingredients (part of an egg or something else) in the vaccination. But, whatever the aversion, the pain from getting the diseases the vaccinations are designed to prevent would be so much worse and would last much longer. Not sold on pain being beneficial in this sort of circumstance?

How about the fact that placing a hand on a hot stove causing enough pain to quickly motivate a person to remove that person's hand from the hot stove? Pain can be an excellent warning to avoid imminent danger. A person without such (pain) warnings could quickly put one's own well being and life in danger.

How about emotional or psychological pain? Should we avoid that at all cost? I have known people to drink until they are no longer aware of their feelings or they feel numb. A person who will continue to be a part of my life, not by any choice on my part, continues to be a raging and turbulent storm (perhaps tsunami is a more accurate description) in my life. And yesterday was a particularly rough day. At first, I wanted this piercing, raw pain, which has been further magnified by past, multiple instances of trauma caused by him, to go away. The pain and agony seemed almost unbearable. My wounds had not healed, and yet he was throwing salt in the tender, still painful wounds.

After much shedding of tears and desiring to hide (but not being able to, since I needed to be there for my children and provide for them), Soon I recalled that times of pain, at least in my life, have been opportunities for greater insight, growth, reaching out to others in pain or need, and better writing. Though I haven't actually put pen to paper for a few weeks or more, the wheels in my head are turning, I am figuring out how to put my thoughts into words, and soon, I shall be ready to put a voice to those feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Lost in Loneliness and Betrayal

Should be the season for joy, love, and celebration. I have my four children with me to celebrate, and we have been blessed manifold, by friends and others surrounding us. However, on the eve of Christmas, I have pools of tears to share, feeling alone and feeling betrayed. It certainly doesn't help that the children spoke with their father on Skype, and he has been up to the usual antics of purchasing their love: buying a rabbit (and telling them they can only spend time with the beloved new pet if they go to his place), laying out a bunch of wrapped presents (that did not come from him but his mom; never mind the fact that I was kind enough to pass along some ideas for gifts) and telling them they needed to go to his place to open and enjoy the presents. . . The icing on the cake for a punch in the gut was him telling the children that come January they will be spending plenty more time with him and that I have had my time.

So, let me see, all the ugliness (wonderful sophist lies) that he dished out in the divorce process was quite convincing to the untrained, naive ear. But then, as his records started surfacing and the truth started coming out, then people started shifting their views. How does he intend on moving beyond supervised visitations? Does he intend on spreading more lies about me and doing more crap?! My attorney and I have filed contempt, on NINE counts, because he refuses to cooperate; we go to court next month. What kind of tricks does he plan to pull out of his pocket?

I am not preventing him from seeing the children (well, he has only really ever recognized the older two; he doesn't buy presents for the younger two - not for their birthdays and not for Christmas), even when he hasn't kept up with agreement in Permanent Orders, not bothering to dot every 'i' and cross every 't.'

What bothers me most is that he is doing this, not to spend more 'quality time' with the children (which involves sitting them in front of a television and feeding them junk food), but rather, out of spite against me. I would lay down my life for my children. I cried as I took the eldest into surgery, and held her against her will, twice (for two surgeries), as the anesthesiologist put her under; this was necessary to save her vision. Not once has he ever inquired how her vision is doing. From what I can gather, his verbal interactions are meaningless, not ever inquiring out more about their well being. His one and only interest is: how to bribe them.

I work hard every single day, as a single mom of four. My day starts at 4 or 4:30, the time when the twins think the world should be conquered. And my day doesn't end until the fat lady sings. I have so much to get done in any given day, that productive, successful friends are tired just hearing about what I get done during part of any given day. Yet, he has the audacity to take me to the cleaners. And for what? Lies and deceit? and vengeance!

But, I should not be surprised, I suppose. This world is in no short supply of lies and deceit. But, the stab really is the fact that this belligerence is coming from someone who, at one time, promised to love me for better and for worse and from someone with whom I had shared things I had shared with no one else.

I know that Jesus is well acquainted with betrayal, even from his own inner circle - amongst his disciples. On the eve of the anniversary celebration of his birth, I need to remember that I am not really alone. He knows suffering, despair, and betrayal, all while choking back tears.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Let It Go

The character, Elsa, in Disney's "Frozen," sings this piece - "Let It Go" more than once. She admits to bottling up the storm inside, out of the fear of hurting others and the desire to protect others. And at some point (I don't want to give away all the wonderful surprises), Elsa lets it go; she lets those feelings that she has been hiding out into the open. She says, "let it go" and freedom comes with letting it go.

The desire to protect others and not to hurt others, yes, that is ever important.

But, regarding the feelings, what if they cannot be identified and labeled? How are the feelings to be released or let go, whatever they are?! What if the stuff inside is a jumbled up mess?!

The father of the children is a loose cannon, who plagues and blackens my life. He pulls pranks, acts immature, is an unruly example to the children, does not take responsibility. He continues to be full of unpredictable, unpleasant activity. Any word from him or communication from him puts a dark cloud over my day. Many anniversaries have been celebrated recently. I had been married nearly 11 years. How is hearing about anniversaries like painful stabs? I can be glad for those who have survived and flourished in healthy relationships and marriages. What is my problem? When acquaintances ask about my 'husband', why do I feel a need to explain why I am no longer married? Why should i care what others think? Why is it that important to me for others to know that none of these children were out of wedlock and that I didn't simply get a divorce when the sparkles disappeared or when life got tough? Why do tears come so easily when I am struggling to find a job that pays for more than merely childcare (but a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothing on our backs)? How helpful my PhD has been in providing for us. I want to see the glass as half full and be thankful for all the blessings in my life, yet why is the pain so fresh and so deep?

Yes, let us let it go. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The excitement of Christmas approaching

The girls will be out of school for a couple of weeks after this week. Am thinking about what activities we can do together as a family: doing crafts, drawing, going on outings, etc. I haven't finished Christmas shopping, yet!! But, I am not going to let that stress me out or dampen Christmas spirits. Just received our (photo) Christmas cards today; so, I am getting them ready to send out. Will be baking my annual cinnamon & sugar almonds shortly, which I give as Christmas gifts and end up making multiple batches, since they are in high and popular demand. I plan on making homemade caramel popcorn. Have purchased the needed groceries to make it and will do so by the weekend. Am pretty excited about Christmas!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Glaucoma, cure, what?! A glimmer of hope

My eldest daughter, who is currently 7 years old, was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma in February of last year. It was devastating and utterly shocking news, on the back of merely four months after starting to file for divorce (after a long and difficult road of attempting to stay in a marriage that was attached to an inevitable, sinking ship) and just four months after delivering twins into the world, to be told not only that my daughter had congenital glaucoma but that the pressure level in each eye was dangerously high. The pressure was so high, the pediatric ophthalmologist was recommending surgery three to four days after diagnosis, after a consultation and second opinion from another surgeon. He said that my daughter needed surgery ASAP.


The father of the four children is still trying to cause mischief and wreak havoc in my life and to my life, nearly five months after our divorce has been finalized and over two years after I started filing for divorce. That he is still actively causing trouble (when I would have rather gone our separate ways peaceably) has caused me no small amount of distress and pain.


This morning, the visit to the pediatric ophthalmologist offered a glimmer of bright hope. I have been taking my daughter to see him every three months since the diagnosis and surgeries to check her vision and to check the pressure in her eyes.

This morning was the first time EVER, I heard the doctor mention glaucoma and cure in the same sentence, albeit, a very cautious, hesitant utterance.

Only congenital glaucoma, in contrast to the kind that develops over time (and gets diagnosed in older people), has a hope in having a cure through one surgery. What does that mean for my precious daughter? For now, it means we can put off seeing the doctor until June, which is five months from now. Though to the ordinary person, that seems to be only two months difference, that is nearly double the time of waiting between visits for us. And, the possibility that she might be cured?! Wow! The damage that glaucoma has done is permanent, but the surgeries have prevented further damage and glasses can help correct some of that severe nearsightedness.

I probably would not have gotten my daughter in to see this pediatric ophthalmologist had my ex-husband not lost his job and we were still on private insurance. I was angry and frustrated that he did not try harder to keep his job, especially after he was given a second chance to clean up his act. And, after he lost his job, he did not own up to the consequences of his actions. The children and I suffered the consequences of his actions, including but not limited to turning to government assistance for various things. It was through government insurance that I found the pediatric ophthalmologist. I was determined to get help for my daughter, who was really struggling to see. I found someone who could help her, someone who prevented her from losing her sight permanently. She probably wasn't that far away from losing her eyesight, given just how high the pressure was in each eye.

Remembering that separation (and ultimately divorce) from the nightmare in my life was not a complete loss, but that good came from it - such as saving my daughter's vision or benefiting from surgeries that would have otherwise cost some $25,000 per surgery out of pocket - is something I need to take to heart. There is light, there is hope, in my life. For that, I am truly thankful.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Arapahoe High School Shooting this afternoon

My heart is heavy. As I was picking up my older two children from school early this afternoon, I had heard that there was a shooting at Arapahoe High School, which is really close to a good friend's home and which is where people I know attend. When I had heard the news, the school and the area had not been secured yet and the whereabouts of the suspect had not been located.

Since then, I have heard that the gunman is dead; he shot himself with a shotgun. He critically injured a female student and injured another. He had gone in to the school, with shotgun in hand, looking for a particular teacher. Once the teacher heard that the suspect was looking for him, the teacher moved away from the school, hoping to get the shooter to follow him.

Today's shooting at Arapahoe High School, on the back of a movie theater shooting in Aurora last year (July 2012), where 12 were killed and around 70 were injured; and the Columbine High School shooting back in April 1999, killing 12 students and 1 teacher - is really discouraging and disheartening. Colorado is not feeling like the safest place to live, and my heart is heavy.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I don't know, I DON'T KNOW. Tell me the answer!

How is it that a kindergartner, who could do 24-40 piece jigsaw puzzles at the tender age of 2 1/2, without the assistance of a person or a photograph (of the puzzle), struggle, at the age of 5 1/2, to remember what sounds various letters of the alphabet make or what words start with those letter(s)?! She seems to have a short-term memory the size of a pea, when it comes to letters and sounds.


One example to the point. She was writing some word with a 'v' in it. Trying to teach her to sound out the word and figure out the letters of the word, I asked her, "What letter makes the 'v' sound?"

"I don't know."

[Making the 'v' sound again. And again.]

(exasperated) "I DON'T KNOW."

Take some time to think about it. We've been working on each letter of the alphabet, what sound it makes, and what words start with that letter. (How could she NOT remember this letter?! Her name begins with this letter!!) What letter makes the 'vvvv' sound?

"I DON'T KNOW!!! Tell me some words that start with that letter."

Victory. Vase. Violet.

"I don't know. 'Q'?"

(Insert feelings of defeat and frustration here.)

Think about it, please!

(after considerable pause) "Oh, 'v'?"

Yes, Victoria. That is right.



I think I'm done.

Send help.


This 5 1/2 year old can already do simple addition and subtraction. She has memorized parts of a multiplication table. She can dream up elaborate plots. But, she cannot remember letters of the alphabet and what sounds they make?!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I have experience of 6-7 year old children asking series of "why" questions and perhaps some as young as 5 years old asking such questions, but my 2 year old girl twin has been asking loads of why questions lately.

Stop picking your nose.


Because it's gross.


Because it is gross.


"Mommy, why are you helping auntie buy groceries?"

Because we can help.


We have the ability to help her, and we should.


We should help people when we can. It is what good people do.


We want to be good (people).


She is so curious and interested in how things work at such a young age, I don't want to shut down the inquisitive inquiries with merely a "just because" or "because I said so."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Where are you really from?!

Perhaps because I am feeling a bit feisty today. Or, maybe because I got woken up at 3:30 in the morning by the twins. Or maybe, just maybe, I read something on facebook that got me thinking. . .

I have been asked countless times, as a child and as an adult the following question:

"Where are you from?"


"Where are you really from?"

(Thinking to myself: I was born in Tennessee and spent all my growing up years there. What answer seems more appropriate?)


"Where are you really from?"

(Are we getting personal or what?)

(Through personal experiences, I surmise people are wondering about my cultural or, more precisely,  ethnic background, but they lack the ability to clearly articulate just that. Whilst I am tempted to clarify that I have had more lessons in the classroom and more practice at writing than the 'average' American - heck, I have only had 20+ years of formal education - I hold back. Anyone with any experience with 'foreigners' or first-generation immigrants will be able to tell a difference between those who are brand new to living in the US and those who are not. But I do not want to sound defensive. More importantly, I would rather be cordial about the matter.)

(Maybe due to some of the more comedic relief or comical influences in my life, I imagine responding more in the following fashion, from time to time:)

Do you really want to know where I am really from? Do you really want to have a discussion about the birds and the bees, right here, right now?!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

This little light

I must confess, I have been a bit discouraged by the more difficult matters in my life. Trying to find a full-time job for the 2014-2015 academic year, so that I can provide for the children and me. Being out of full-time teaching in academia and not publishing haven't helped my search. Not one bit. None of my traits seem marketable and appealing to these people. The father of these children is not supporting the children whatsoever, except in attempt to buy their affection when he does see them. But, I didn't have the expectation that he would be able to provide for them or me. I have earmarked many job openings that are potentials for me, but I haven't actually sent any out. I am in need of one more letter of recommendation. My C.V. looks so unimpressive compared with my colleagues'. The job descriptions in themselves look bleak and unattainably high. Plus, I spend much of my so-called free time driving (the girls to and from school), cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, buying groceries, wiping dirty bottoms, feeding mouths, doing laundry, working for the online class(es) I am teaching. Where, oh where, do I find the energy and time to apply for jobs?

I sense that I should be writing a book, but the topic is seemingly impossible and I am uncertain of the exact road map. I already tried and failed a 50,000 words in the month of November challenge to get that writing incentive going. And, I haven't done any real writing on the book since the beginning of the last full week of November.

I don't know how others feel about this, but mothering - molding and shaping the characters of children, hoping they will turn out to be good people - is hard work. I spend much time feeling guilty for not being loving enough, being too strict, doubting whether I am doing all I can do. My children are more important than much in my life, and I really want to get my obligation as a mother straight.

I need a little encouragement to keep from crying and crying and crying at the moment. So, I shall stop and give thanks. I am thankful the arms that have surrounded the children and me. They have been little lights in our lives. One instance of these outstretched arms is that a good friend, as an early Christmas present, took the girls and me to the ballet (while another friend watched the twins at home). Though my ballet is pretty rusty and nothing to write home about, I did take seven years of ballet and have a fond appreciation of the art. The girls have been interested in ballet for some time, and this was the first ever performance they attended.

Though I might have moments of intense despair and sadness, I know I am loved.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A different and most welcomed portrayal of true love

A friend of mine and I took my older two to see "Frozen" this afternoon. How refreshing, exciting, adventurous, exquisite the movie is! The animation was superb (on a side note, I absolutely loved the Mickey Mouse/Minnie Mouse short film that previewed right beforehand, with Mickey and Minnie popping on and off the movie screen) and amazing. Seeing two princesses who were strong, not merely waiting for someone to rescue them, was refreshing. The music was delightful. Loved the adventure. The girls (7 years old and 5 years old) and I were a bit scared at times, especially towards the end of the movie. I was super excited to see that the "true love" portrayed in this wasn't the typical romantic love - between prince charming and a princess - as oftentimes seen in Disney or Hollywood movies . . . I will try not to ruin the surprise for those who have yet to see the movie or have not heard about the ending.

The sisters are so different, and yet there are plenty of redeeming qualities for each:

Elsa - (the older sister)
  • understands that tremendous power comes with huge responsibility and always is mindful about not hurting others with that power.
  • wants to protect her sister, even when the sacrifice (of protecting her sister) comes at a huge price.
  • does not stop wanting to find out answers.
  • loves others tremendously.
  • finds the strength to live well, even though she has to be isolated for quite some time.
  • does not become cold and hard through her difficult life circumstances and challenges.
Anna - (the younger sister)
  • loves her sister loyally, continuously, and deeply, despite not being aware and not being informed about the forced (albeit protective) distance between them.
  • does not stop believing in her sister and having a sustaining faith (in her sister and family).
  • has not given up on love, real love.
  • has the strength, courage, resolve to venture and battle the dangerous and the unknown for her sister.
  • loves so genuinely, so deeply, without reservation, that she is willing to sacrifice her life.
  • emanates a sort of innocence and naivety, yet is strong, bold, and loving in her own right.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I don't get out much - sticker shock of movie theater tickets

A good friend of mine got my children Disney shirts from Children's Place for Christmas. The store was running a promotion for a $5.00 voucher for the movie, "Frozen," for each Disney shirt purchased. She asked if taking the older two to see "Frozen" would be okay. She wanted me to come along, too. With four vouchers in hand, we went online to redeem those vouchers and print out certificates. Whilst online, I checked the price of tickets. Tickets are $8.50 for children and $9.50 for adults, for matinee. What?! Since when?! How come new releases in the theater are so expensive?! I had told the girls I would try to get some popcorn, too. But, that was before I knew just how much tickets were going to be. Even with the $5.00 vouchers, that's still $16.00. Add on the popcorn, and around $20-something will have been spent. For someone who is trying to live on a tight budget, that puts a huge hole in my pocket!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This are my glasses, this is my book...

3:45 am. . . Really? My daughter, the girl twin, started proclaiming that she had already done her business in her diaper and, in the process or insisting that her diaper got changed, woke up her brother. And so began my morning.

With a high in the lower teens, a snow storm in the forecast, and not so friendly road conditions, I had been hoping for just a tad bit more sleep. Was hoping to wake up some time AFTER 4 or 4:30 am, not before. Too bad.

The drive to the girls' school took nearly double the time this morning. The twins were super tired on the drive. No doubt. They woke up so early. I was asked, no, told, to sing a number of songs, including: "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," a tiger song, the ABC song, "These are my glasses," and a host of other songs, which is oftentimes the case when my daughter is tired and on the verge of falling asleep. But, I was so tired, too. I love to sing and music plays an important role in my life, but singing while trying to avoid possible collisions in tumultuous driving conditions can be challenging.

Anyways, mid-afternoon, I was exchanging some of the children's clothes at a store, with all the children and a friend waiting in the car. Since the weather was bitter cold, I left the engine partially on. What I hadn't realized was that I didn't turn my headlights off. When I returned to the car and attempted to start the engine, the battery was dead. I didn't have time for this, I had all the children in the car, and temperatures were dropping outside! What happened next was such a huge blessing. The lady parked in front of me was just getting into her car with her daughter and was preparing to leave, when I found out my car would not start. I quickly asked her if she'd mind offering me a jump. I told her I had jumper cables in my car. A worker at the shopping center asked if we needed assistance. When helping, the guy told us to always connect the positive (red) to the dead battery first. Good to know. I have used jumper cables in the past, but I didn't recall that the red was supposed to be connected to the dead battery first, before the good battery. While we were hooking up the cars' batteries, the gal whose car we were using to jump my car battery said she used to own a car much like mine and she had battery trouble all the time. Wow, that wasn't news I was expecting.

That I was able to get assistance with starting my car was such a blessing amidst such bitter cold weather today. I don't believe in random coincidences where fortune just happens to befall me; I seem to be bent towards disaster, if anything. That the person parked in front of me, happened to be at the right place at the right time and was willing to help, brought warmth to my heart on a very cold day. For that, I am truly thankful.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

4 am

That 4 am, that 4 am, I do not like that 4 am. I do not like it in a house, I do not like it with a mouse. I do not like it here or there. I do not like it anywhere. I do not like 4 am. I do not, do not like 4 am.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Learning to be still

One of my talents is not being still. Not by voluntary choice or by any sort of sadistic desire, my day begins at 4 or 4:30 am daily, and I have to hit the ground running. My younger two children nurse, sit on the potty and have their first table-food meal first thing in the morning. While I am tending those two, I also have to get the older two children up. Why can't they be quick to rise like the younger two?! I have to make sure they get up (and stay up) and start getting ready for school - go to the bathroom, change into their uniforms, place their water bottle and snacks in their school bags, place their school bags next to the door to the garage, and sit at the table for breakfast. There isn't much time for lollygagging, because there is a long drive ahead to get the girls to their language-immersion school that is 35-40 minutes away from doorstep to doorstep. Meanwhile, I have to do something with all the dirty dishes, bibs, and stuff accrued from the first breakfast; diaper the twins, and wash out their potties; and try to hurry everyone along to get situated in the car. The girls, besides being easily distracted and wanting to play constantly, for the most part, are reliable to get themselves into the car and buckled in. But, the twins are old enough to want to exercise autonomy but young enough to not be big enough, strong enough, or coordinated enough to do what the girls can do (put on their own shoes, get into the car, buckle their own seat belt without assistance). All along the process of getting ready, I am constantly reminding the children to hurry. Hurry! Hurry. HURRY!

After hustling the older two to school and coming back, the twins go back on their own potty, have a second breakfast, while I am working, cooking, washing dishes, and doing a bunch of other things. Because I am jamming so much within a small amount of time, I am already exhausted by the time it is time to pick up the girls from school mid-afternoon. But, tired or not, the work for the day isn't even half done. There is food that needs to be cooked, homework that needs to be done, violin practice that needs to be guided, babies that need to be supervised on the potty, mouths to be fed, reading that needs to done, and little persons to ready for bed. When all four are in bed, there is work (as well as housework) that hasn't been done, that needs to be done.

Be still? I seemingly cannot afford to be still. Yet, I am recognizing the need to be still, for my sake as well as for the sake of those around me. If I cannot afford half a day of being still, I can try for less. Even an hour seems much more than I can accommodate with such young children's constant needs. Perhaps I can start with ten minutes. Daily, initially, would be unrealistic. Perhaps I can aim for 10 minutes of being still once a week at the onset and gradually increase the frequency and duration from there.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Being thankful

This season, next year, and the time looking forward, I desire to spend more time being thankful. Thankful for everyone in my life and thankful for everything I have. I am not one of those persons who are sugary sweet and happy-go-lucky, all the time. Awhile ago, a process that would change my life as I knew it - sometimes making me seriously doubt the trustworthiness of men, my ability to get along with others on a more intimate level, question the safety of the world - at times distracted me from thinking more on the the blessings I have in my life. I do not want to mark my life as one that has blackened and darkened my view of things or life in general. Rather, I want to think of what has happened to me as an opportunity for me to grow, be more flexible, define what I prioritize as truly important (and worth defending), dismiss as unimportant or not worth fretting about, identify with others in pain. And, I want to spend more effort and energy being thankful for people who have a positive influence in my life and things that positively impact me.

Tonight, I want to mention two for whom I am thankful.

First, I am thankful for my brood. I shall tell a bit about each one of them. My first born, who is only seven years old, is easily distracted and loves to joke, yet she is a natural leader. When I am not home, which is very infrequent, she inquires after me, shows concern on my behalf, and attempts to maintain order amongst her siblings. She finished learning Book 1 of Suzuki, on the violin, in about a year and is continuing on with Book 2. She's great in music, mathematics, and composition. My second born is a bit of a fire-cracker. Some would use the term 'spirited' or 'strong-willed' in reference to her. She's a bundle of energy who desires things a certain way (her way), in her own time (not sooner and not later). She would like to think she is the rule of the roost. She has a rather sharp mind that gave her the ability to figure out how to do simple puzzles at the age of 2 1/2, without any assistance from a person or from a picture of the puzzle. The third born is 11 minutes older than the youngest one in the family, and she takes charge as well as fends for her twin brother. Though she just turned 26 months old, she not only speaks in complete sentences, but she is able to articulate her emotions with words and describe others' feelings as well. With practice and repetition, she has learned to put 24 piece puzzles together on her own. The only boy in the family is the youngest in the brood. Of the four, he is the one who continually seeks my proximity, closeness with me, and my affection. He likes to nuzzle, hug, nudge, and run into me. For the most part, he seems to be especially interested in whatever his (twin) sister is doing, whether books, toys, or the like. In his own right, he loves to listen to music, look at books, run to and fro. I am thankful for each child in my brood and what makes that person, that person.

Second, I am thankful for my friends. Just this afternoon and evening, I had three friends drop by for a visit. My friends span all different walks of life, and I have known them for varying amounts of time. Yet, I feel quite close to a number of them. They speak to me with ease, and they, in turn, are interested in my life and well-being. Love, concern, and warmth are definitely present.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I realize holidays are tough for some, and I want to be sensitive to that. I really do. Holidays are not the easiest for me either. What was supposed to be a family was torn apart. Some of the hurt is healing and some of the pain is still very raw. Navigating holidays will be not be the same every time nor will the feelings that surround them.

That being said, without sounding too sugary sweet - picture-perfect sweet, I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have two wonderful parents that spent arduous years; invaluable effort, dedication, and money; raising us. And I got to celebrate Thanksgiving with them this year. I have four very unique, bursts of energy for children. I love each and every one of them. Precious gifts to me, temper tantrums, constant attention and needs, craziness and all. I was blessed with spending Thanksgiving with them. I was also blessed with spending time with some wonderful friends. I am thankful I have a roof over my head and warm shelter from the bitter cold. I am thankful I have cupboards full of food and a refrigerator full of food, even though my wallet's empty and I am still unsure how we're going to make it from month to month. The point is that we have so far. I am thankful that music, writing, and various parts of the arts have been very integral parts of my life for quite some time now. I am so thankful for my sister and the many friends from different parts of my life, some who have known me for most of my life, some for brief periods of time, and some in between.

And, I am thankful I was able to make a knock-out stuffing, even though I didn't taste it ahead of time, because of the ingredients.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Time Out for Adults

Why should 'time-outs' only be for children? Couldn't time-outs be for anyone? How about adults who might need some time to reflect or some time to calm oneself or time to oneself? Do time-outs necessarily have to be something negative?

My humble position is that time-outs do not have to be negative. And they do not need to be just for children.

The call a time-out upon oneself take a certain level of maturity to one calling a time-out upon oneself, recognizing particular needs, and attempting to meet those needs, for the benefit of everyone. Realizing and doing are two different things, however. When I am hungry, I need to eat without delay. But, I oftentimes wait too long to eat, because I am caring for others or I keep too busy. I need to work on eating regularly but especially make sure I stop to eat when hungry.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Not just Black Friday, Anymore?! Post Thanksgiving Shopping on Steroids

No one appreciates a fantastic bargain like me, especially since I am on an extremely tight budget. Christmas will be coming around soon enough, and I have my children and a some others I must, I want to give a little something. Does that make me a consumerist? I don't know. I don't necessarily have to purchase more expensive, prepackaged goods, but I like to look. Part of what has become tradition for me is to make cinnamon sugar almonds, which invariable flies out of my kitchen like hotcakes and has people salivating for more. But, I still like to shop.

When human welfare or consideration of workers are compromised, however, I rethink and reevaluate whether a bargain is really a bargain. I don't shop at certain stores because the employees or the companies from which they purchase products are paid really low wages or are treated poorly. That I am getting a huge cut in cost at someone or some other people's expenses is not alright in my book. And, I have some idea what it is like to struggle from month to month, wondering how I am going to make ends meet, okay? I want to be smart with money, just not at the sacrifice of others' well-being.

This is the first year the United States has put changed post-Thanksgiving shopping from Black Friday shopping to Post-Thanksgiving Shopping on STEROIDS. Why, oh why, are so many shops opening at 8 pm on Thanksgiving? Some people might be willing to work then, because they need the money so desperately. But, can't we offer workers a holiday on Thanksgiving, where everyone should be resting and giving thanks?! Working with irate, impatient, entitled shoppers is no way to spend Thanksgiving! And what about the shoppers? How about if we spend the rest of that day relaxing with friends or family, sleeping, or just kicking back on one's own?! Waiting until Black Friday never killed anyone.

That Thanksgiving Day shopping, that Thanksgiving Day shopping, I do not like that Thanksgiving Day shopping. I do not like it here or there. I do not like Thanksgiving Day shopping, I am.

Monday, November 25, 2013

From Missus Cellophane

I am feeling much like Missus Cellophane, with people looking right through me, walking right by me, and never knowing I'm there. But, Missus Cellophane has feelings and is feeling rather vulnerable with a rush of intense, overwhelming feelings. I feel an absolutely huge sense of responsibility to provide for my four children and me. At the same time, these children also need a sort-of stay-at-home-mom - a mom who can constantly be a shoulder for them to lean on, especially through this particularly tough, cumbersome, lengthy season in our lives. How am I supposed to work a full-time job (preferably in what I am trained to do - teaching at the university level - because that might have a chance at paying the bills and covering for some child care for the youngest two, who are too young for school) and be a fully-available mommy for my children, while I sometimes still feel intense raw feelings of betrayal and cannot come to terms with how someone who was supposed to be by my side (on my side) could not only get into bed with addiction but also turn vehemently against me? I am not marketable in academia, because I haven't been doing anything 'useful,' like publishing, attending conferences, presenting papers. In fact, them finding out any woman has young children is a nail in the coffin of any woman wanting to work/teach in academia. I am royally screwed. I might as well be Misses Cellophane. Though no one really knows I am here, this not what I want. I work my tail end off for my children, from the time the twins wake me up at 4:30 am to after the older two go to bed. I've made grown, responsible, very busy adults exhausted and utterly zapped of energy sharing with them about just part of my daily routine. Yet what I do is still not enough; I need to do more. Send help. Love, Misses Cellophane.

Challenges in Being a Mom

The only real anxiety (or anxiety attacks) I have ever experienced has been worrying about my children and whether I am doing all I should for them and whether I am being patient enough. I watched this video just a few moments ago, and hearing that other dedicated moms have felt the same way made me feel a tad less, well, I am not sure what. I would say 'better,' but the burden of being a good enough mom is always on my mind.

I love them so much, so very much, and I really hope they sense and know this. How each child is different or unique matters to me; I plan on continually investing in this process of learning about my children and spending time with them. I want my children to learn to be responsible, caring people, who will be gradually become more equipped to take care of themselves and others. I want my children to be multilingual, appreciate and become better acquainted with their cultural background. I want my children to work hard as well as enjoy life. I want my children to study hard in school so that they can be financially independent someday. I hope my children will love music (and learn a musical instrument) and the arts. My hope is that they believe in God and love the Lord, always. The children ought to respect their elders, whether parents, teachers, or whomever we encounter on our outings. I am here to be their mom, not their friend or buddy. I am not here to make them into pleasure-seekers. My job is to help mold and shape their character, to love them and to help them become good people.

I am thankful for each of my darling, beloved children. They are wonderful treasures bestowed upon me, and I shall snuggle them closely.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Becoming a handy person? Maybe not, but I'll take the pat on the back

The other day, anxiety caught me by surprise. I had put off putting out applications for jobs for the 2014-2015 year to focus on my NaNoWriMo writing, and a couple of days ago, at just over 20,000 words, I realized I wasn't going to be able to cross the finish line, no matter how hard I try. I don't think the realization itself, that I wouldn't finish created the anxiety, but the sheer weight of responsibility I feel in trying to provide for my four children, no matter what, brought on the panic. I took a huge risk in focusing on writing exclusively, and perhaps I feel like I failed. The heart of the contents I poured into writing was supposed to be part of a monogram, a book, some day. So, I thought I would benefit from this writing challenge, even if I couldn't complete NaNoWriMo this year. I do not know how the book is going to happen or when, but I have to continue working hard on it and have a little faith. Until then, I need to start putting out applications for teaching positions in philosophy in an abysmally bleak job market, where my situation (I had been a stay-at-home-mom until a year or so ago) does not make me look any more marketable. My stomach is turning and restless just typing these words.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and not feeling so crappy about myself, I am going to hold my head up high and proclaim that within the last 72 hours, I accomplished one of those things I did not ever imagine learning to do: plumbing work. The other day, I repaired a leaking toilet upstairs, and tonight I repaired a leaky faucet downstairs. I am thankful for having a dad that taught me and teaches me things. I now feel more officially like a home-owner. And I am sort of, kind of, becoming a handy person, one task at a time. I may not be hired anywhere to be a plumber or a handy person, but I'm learning the ropes of taking care of my own house!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Daddy Dearest

Many are posting about gratitude daily this month.

Today, I want to share how grateful I am for my daddy. He is no perfect dad, but then again, I am no perfect daughter and I am certainly no Mary Poppins.

As far back as I can remember, in early childhood, my dad took his life responsibilities as a man, a father, and a husband seriously. Both my parents worked full time. My mom worked longer hours in the office and got home later than my dad. My dad took home life just as seriously, if not more so, as work life. He cooked dinner the nights my mom worked late and taught my sister and me how to cook. Starting at an early age, he taught us various subjects, including but not limited to: math and English.

At the very tender age of 4 and 1/2, I asked my dad permission to take piano lessons. I remember that day I asked my dad for permission clearly. We were standing next to my dad's car in the garage, when my sister was having her piano lesson in the family room, pleading with my dad to let me take lessons, too. He admonished me that lessons were expensive and I had to be willing to practice daily. I gave him my assurance I would, and, he conceded. How would he know if someone so young was capable of being that serious about learning a musical instrument? He took a risk on me, and to this day, I am so thankful he let me take lessons. A year later, I had learned all the scales and a new teacher, who was hesitant about taking on a child so young, took me because I had already learned so much. Though very busy, my dad would often sit down and listen to me practice. From that time, I had numerous years of formal training - private lessons - in piano, and I have benefited so much from those lessons.

Besides all that, my dad had a diligent life work ethic, and he passed that on to my sister and me. Though playing and relaxing were and are important, both of my parents ingrained in us that working hard in life is non-negotiable. My dad did most of the grocery shopping, did all the lawn care, grew a garden, did the family's bookkeeping, figured out how to fix the house when needed, took care of maintaining both cars, cooked, did laundry when needed, helped with dishes, took us to lessons, all while working full-time.

I guess perhaps I was naive. I did not know men were different from this until after I got married. Then a whole different world of how men react differently in married life and how they assume (or do not assume) responsibilities opened up. I will say that opening up was more of a rude awakening. There are plenty of men who feel that working full-time is plenty of work and that working full-time gives them a free ticket to do little to nothing else in the home or for the family. I am acquainted with many men of different ages that do not do half what my dad did and does.

Today, I am truly grateful for my dad and the wonderful example he set. I love and respect my daddy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Eating Well. Does that Make Me a Health Food Nazi?!

For a year to a year and a half now, I have been avoiding, as best as I can, canned foods, processed foods, and the like, not keeping it in my house and not cooking with it. Around last January, two of my (nursing) children and I went completely gluten-free, as I had good reason to believe one was gluten-sensitive. Add to that our dairy sensitivities, and we have loads of fun. Not so much. But, I will not complain, because there are people with much more comprehensive and serious dietary restrictions, and I still have access to a variety of foods.

I have to confess that I am a meat eater. Not a die hard eat-large-quantities-every-meal sort, but I do eat meat, fish, and other seafood. Eating meat from animals or sea creatures that were treated decently, humanely, was already on my radar. But, after I commented on a paper at a professional ethics conference this summer, on ethical vegetarianism, my views on the issue became firmer. Though not a convert to vegetarianism, I am not willing to trade the welfare and decent treatment of animals and sea creatures for (saving or cutting down on the) expenses.

I still enjoy food - the presentation, the taste, all of it! - very much.

Here is merely a small sample of what I have made. And some of the recipes might have been before I went with only or exclusively organic, pasture-raised, (grass-fed in the case of cows) animals.

A nice treat in the summer. Or any time. That garnish on top is fresh mango.

This is my gluten-free version. A good friend of mine, who is Celiac, fell in love with this dish at a restaurant, before she found out she's Celiac; and she asked me whether I could figure out how to make it. And so I did.

For a Masquerade Tea

And yes, we do have junk food in our home from time to time. Those are chips see at the far end of the photograph and cupcakes in the middle. Those are gluten-free chocolate cupcakes. Also on the table: blocks of cheese, miniature (sweet) peppers, watermelon, strawberries, grapes, blueberries. We were getting ready for a masquerade tea birthday party, celebrating my birthday as well as my firstborn's birthday.

I haven't updated my fried rice recipe in awhile, but the above link will do. The version I make now is gluten-free (the soy sauce/tamari sauce is the biggest change in making it gluten-free). And, sometimes the vegetables vary. I might not have been using pasture-raised eggs in the recipe linked above.


This was another request made. Could I make a Japanese Rice Omelet? Sure, why not. This recipe is gluten-free.

Healthy good can be good and not boring, mmm-kay? And? It can be cheaper than the processed, put-together food or junk food. Fresh fruit and vegetables, especially if purchased in-season, is cheaper than buying junk food or processed food. Here's a helpful article on how to eat healthy for less: How to Eat Healthy for Under $6 a Day. I will add one caveat to that article. Eating humanely treated animals or sea life is more expensive. Personally, if I cannot afford that more expensive meat, then I will not buy it. Since I have been gluten-free, I have craved meat more than previously, perhaps for some of the nutrients in those. So, I will purchase it in smaller amounts, as I can afford it.

Does the desire to eat well, take care of my body, look out for how we treat animals and sea creatures make me a food Nazi?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Still a long way to go

I haven't totally given up hope on NaNoWriMo, but I have a long uphill battle to fight to finish. I am just over 17,000 words, which gives me over 3,000 words to write a day to finish on time.

I am not sure how that is going to happen, short of some sort of miracle.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

For the love of ever changing weather

This morning, my dad and I spent some time finishing a job I started a couple of days ago, raking leaves. Part of the urgency in finishing the job is the anticipation of the snow forecast for tomorrow and Friday. That's right, I was out raking leaves in a T-shirt and jeans, with temperature in the 50's; and tomorrow's high is 37 with snow falling.

After had been raking for about an hour, my daughter said she wanted "to see what Mommy was doing." And, of course, where ever his twin sister goes, brother must go, too. Outside they came.


This was my daughter's first time sliding down the slide. She loved it so much she wanted to slide over and over again. But, she was too scared about falling or sliding too fast to go on her own.

Her brother wasn't interested in trying the slide. But, he was very interested in walking and checking out the great outdoors.

I love how the weather here is constantly changing. In the winter, one day, there's a snow blizzard; the next day, the weather's in the 50's. Even in some of the hotter summer days, where temperatures reach over 100 every day for a week or more, the weather still cools down at night, down to the 60's. Love the weather here!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

7 random things about me

#7 (7 random things about me): 1. I love to eat. Presentation, contents, and food origin matter. 2. Studying philosophy has changed my life for the better. 3. I have been blessed with relationships - friends or family - through the years, some for various seasons of life and some that have lasted through the years, moves, and life changes. 4. I have delivered 3 children into this world naturally, without any pain medication, two of whom were born 11 minutes apart. 5. I think I am the only one in my family (of origin) that has long, wavy eyelashes. 6. I have spent 6 yrs + (and counting) of my life nursing. 7. One of my secret dreams is to make it big acting and singing in musical theater.

A friend's birthday and thankful for friends

Late morning and this afternoon, I spent time celebrating a friend's birthday. She wanted to do something in addition to having lunch together. Due to an appointment that ran late in the morning, we weren't able to do much, in addition to lunch. I am glad I got to spend time with my good friend on her birthday.

Today, I am super thankful for the relationships I have had, through friends and family, throughout the years. I have had friendships that have lasted certain seasons of life and I have had friendships that have stood the test of time, moves, and life changes. In either case, I have enjoyed building and deepening relationships and walking through life with these wonderful people.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reading Bambi made the older two children cry

For tonight's bedtime reading, the girls (7 years old and 5 years old) asked me to read them Bambi, the Golden Book version. And so I did. All was well, until Bambi's mother was never to return to Bambi's side. I had read this story to the girls previously, but it has been awhile. I don't remember what their reaction was before, but this time it was very obvious. The 5 yr old's eyes were red and wet; she was trying to hide just how sad she was. The 7 yr old was also getting teary eyed.

Both asked me what had happened to Bambi's mother.

I informed them that she got shot. My 5 yr old asked, "why?" My eldest elaborated: shot by hunters. Some people like to hunt. And my 7 yr old announced that she is not interested in hunting.


I wonder what my 7 year old, who loves to eat meat, would think if she really understood where the meat she loves so much comes from. Just food for thought.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Pain of the Divorce Catches Me Off Guard

Though I started filing late October 2011, due to the slowness in the system here and other unpleasant hiccups, my divorce was not final until July of this year, nearly two years later. Not a day goes by where I waiver in whether this was the best decision for the children and me. However, the process of the divorce and the divorce itself have not left me unscathed. Through it, I have lost much innocence and naivete, giving me a taste of how cruel and bitter the world can be. At times, I have been left wondering whether there was ever any genuine love present in that relationship.

I gave that relationship, that marriage, everything I had. Everything. For nearly 11 years, we were married. Not getting out of the marriage was futile for the children and me. We were on a sinking ship that was going to sink, no matter what we tried to do to prevent the ship from sinking. It was a matter of whether we wanted to save ourselves or drown with the ship.

So, each day, whenever people see me with two children (the two younger ones who are twins) or all four of my children (under the age of 7) and make the following comments - "you've got your hands full" or "you're busy" - my response is usually brief and perhaps a bit lighthearted: "well, they keep me out of trouble." But, the truth of the matter is that I am more at peace and am, in some sense, less busy with him not around. Though all four of my children have very different personalities and there is an element of unpredictableness with children, there are no unpleasant surprises and life is predictable in the absence of his living with us.

Through many trusting relationships and through some experience from my own relationship, I know any relationship or marriage takes plenty of work and negotiation. Even the ones that appear picture-perfect on the outside are not without their struggles and difficulties on the inside. Challenges always comes from bringing two very different people, with varying ideas, commitments, and preferences together. Everything, from whether two people should go to bed together at the same time to how meals should be consumed (together, over designated meal times, in or out, who's cooking) or when sex is happening, takes negotiation and compromises. So, in some ways, my life is easier and much less complicated than those who have a partner. I do not have to answer to someone else. I can make decisions without conflict and various complications; I can move on with conquering the tasks for the day.

I will confess that anniversaries are hard for me. When others are celebrating wedding anniversaries, it isn't that I do not want others to be joyous or that I do not celebrate with them (after all, they have survived yet another year together!), but oftentimes something hurts. Sometimes that pain is a bit more of a stab than a jab. Sometimes it feels like punch to the gut, when I wasn't expecting any hits.

Or, when acquaintances or people I do not know ask me where my husband is, what he does for a living, or why I moved here, those are tough questions to answer. Are they really interested in my story? Or, do they just want to know the quick and dirty answer?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

And the day flew by

I wish I had something profound or interesting to share, but I have nothing. Graded some papers, tended my four children, oh, and, my 7 year old performed her first solo violin recital! So exciting. Alright, I know it is not even eight o'clock in the evening, but I am cashing in the chips for the night. That 4:00/4:30 am wake up call (from the twins) comes early. Good night!

Friday, November 15, 2013

I can barely keep my eyes open

Will toothpicks help keep my eyes open? Because caffeine isn't working.

4:30 (this morning) was awhile ago. Not that that was my wake-up time of choice. That was certainly not my preference. However, two little alarm clocks wake me up routinely between 4 and 4:30 am, at least since the Daylight Savings time change. A few things here and there have kept me busy. I have four children between the ages of 2 and 7; use your wildest imagination to figure out how I might keep busy.

I have grading to do.

I am so stinking behind in writing for NaNoWriMo. At the moment, my Word document says I have written 11,800 words, and the time for NaNoWriMo is officially half over. I do not have half of the required word minimum. And, I am not ready to throw in the towel, yet.

A 7 year old's (solo) violin recital tomorrow!!

My eldest, who turned 7 years old not quite 2 months ago, is holding her first solo violin recital wherein she will be performing 17 pieces. I am so very proud of my daughter. Spent an hour or two working on her program earlier today, instead of grading papers or working on my novel. The program for tomorrow's recital is done!

Below is the Bio I wrote for her.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Catty Women: Why Can't We Just Get Along?

I don't mind a healthy dose of competition, but that is not what I am seeing amongst women these days. We're not in it to work hard and do our best, without clawing and scratching each other. I have seen it in the academic environment, where women purposefully are difficult, cold, and mean to each other. But, they seem to act different around men. What about this working mom versus stay-at-home mom banter? Working moms have two full-time jobs, one at home and one at work. Stay-at-home moms do not get paid for the multiple hats and responsibilities they attempt to juggle and do not get recognized in the working world for what they do. I've written some about it here. I have seen working moms attack stay-at-home moms for what they do (or don't do) and vice versa. I have seen moms who choose to feed their baby or babies formula attack breastfeeding moms for various reasons, and I have seen breastfeeding moms not so supportive of moms who fed their babies formula. Must we attack other people of the same gender to make ourselves feel better? Is it possible for us to encourage each other in an otherwise cut-throat competitive world? Being a mom, breastfeeding or formula-feeding, is rough and comes with loads of responsibilities and challenges. A working woman or a woman who has chosen to stay at home each faces different challenges that are difficult in varying ways. Heck, being a woman in America still isn't all that easy - women still make less than men for the same job and same qualifications (is it $.80 to every $1.00 a man makes) and women are not as easily respected as men. Can we support each other as women, in whatever we do?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

50,000 words by Nov 25th, when I didn't join until Nov 5th? Send help!

Five days into November, I decided I would try the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), wherein 50,000 words (roughly 200 pages) would be written between November 1st and the end of November. That is roughly over 2,000 words per day.

I have been writing ideas down for a book for awhile, now. So, I tried to convince myself that I wasn't coming up with all new stuff and that somehow this would be doable. Truth be told, I am pretty nervous and STRESSED.

How in the world am I going to get this writing done? I am a single parent of four small children, ranging from 2 years of age to seven years old. Two of them are potty training, so they are on potties every 3-4 hours. The same children also eat 4-6 table food meals a day. I spend 4-5 hours on the road per weekday, getting the older two children to and from school. There's the usual responsibilities: cooking, dish washing, book keeping, washing clothes, buying groceries and other necessities. Oh yes, I probably should eat somewhere in there. I won't belabor you with details of the hectic schedule we keep once the older two are home from school: getting the twins ready for bed (getting them on their potties, giving them table food, putting pajamas on them, nursing them), whilst getting the girls to work on homework, helping with violin practice, and making dinner. Oh, and did I mention that I work? Right now, I am teaching two (college) online classes.

By the time the last two children (the oldest two) go to bed, I oftentimes pass out (and fall asleep), too. Oh wait! I am not supposed to fall asleep when all the children are in bed; I should be writing. Can I write when I have fallen asleep, by process of osmosis?!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Extinct" to a 7 yr old and a 5 yr old

This morning, on the typically 35-45 minute drive to the girls' school, my 5 yr old said that she learned in preschool (in previous years) that "extinct" means to go away and never come back. I confirmed to my 5 year old and my 7 year old that for something to be 'extinct' is for all of its kind to go out of existence and to not come back. And that seemed to satisfy them as well as their curiosity.

Would be rather inconvenient and dangerous for us if certain creatures, say dinosaurs, were able to come back out of extinction.

The questions and comments my four children come up with bring smiles to me and make my day!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Making Amends, My 7 yr old's responses, and A Glimpse of Heaven

Like many recent mornings, the twins woke me up between 4 and 4:30 am, much too early for me to be giddy or well-tempered. Since I can remember, I had a reputation for being super cranky when sleep-deprived, tired, or hungry. There is a distinction between sleep-deprivation and being tired, however small the gap might be. With taking care of four small children, ranging between the ages of 2 and 7, teaching some online classes, writing, and fulfilling other responsibilities – not sleeping enough is a perpetual part of my routine and my life. Being tired can be more the result of something short-term, like not sleeping enough the night before or doing too much during a day. Back to my story, I have been grievously sleep-deprived and tired. I heard cries for going to the potties. Yes, when one twin has to go to the potty, so does the other; so, we have two potties. There were cries to nurse. The girl twin wanted her blanket and could not find it in the dark. Then her twin brother wanted his blanket. The twins wanted me to turn the lights on. I told them the sun was sleeping, their sisters were sleeping, I wanted to sleep, and the twins still needed to sleep; it was too early in the morning to get up. Then, my 7 year old started chattering, ensuring no one went back to sleep. I wanted to lie in bed; I desperately wanted to go back to sleep. Last night’s debilitating headache was still quite fresh on my mind.

Unfortunately, instead of calmly explaining to my eldest that the sun had not yet risen and that we all need to quietly go back to sleep, I reinforced my reputation for being Ms. Cranky-Pants. I offered several short-tempered responses to my 7 year old, reminding her that she herself admitted to being cranky on little sleep and chattering was keeping herself from going back to sleep as well as preventing her brother and sister from sleeping. I told my eldest that since she was not eager to go back to sleep, she could keep her twin sister and brother  company while I crawled back into my bed under the warm blankets, hoping to fall back into deep slumber, whilst the twins sat on their potties. Despite and through my impatience, my 7 year old calmly and patiently obliged.

I was not in bed for more than a few minutes when thoughts of gratitude flooded my mind and my heart. Soon, rather than slowly sinking into a dreaming state, I found myself popping out of bed to apologize to my firstborn for being short with her. I put my hand on her shoulder and then rubbed her upper back, since she responds well to touch, lovingly made eye contact with her, and offered her amends. I explicitly said I was sorry and explained why I was apologizing, not assigning blame to her in any way but taking full responsibility for what I had done. I was sorry for impatiently speaking to her, in my tiredness. I also thanked her for responding calmly and nicely. Kindness and gentleness looked back at me; my heart filled with joy and gratitude.

Not even a couple of hours later, still early, around 7:30 am, as we were getting ready for a breakfast outing, my 7 year old thanked me for apologizing to her earlier. That seemingly insignificant comment brought tears to my eyes. Right then (as well as earlier, after I apologized to her and she responded with kindness and gentleness), I caught a glimpse of the heaven, of the Lord Jesus, full of beauty, kindness, love, and forgiveness. 


When I told the children that I felt like I got a glimpse of heaven from this morning's exchanges, my eldest wanted to draw heaven. Here it is.