". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Last Lasts

Yesterday on Facebook I saw this.

It reminded me of a blog post I wrote a few years ago along the same lines. As parents we experience countless "lasts" with our children. Sometimes we know going in that it's the last time; sometimes we don't. Sometimes the "last" is a momentous event (graduation, confirmation); other times it's trivial (tying shoes or applying a bandage). Sometimes, while it's the last time for one child, we know there are others waiting in the wings to do the same thing. But if we're on our last child, there are all sorts of lasts that are specific not only to him but that are the last time we'll do that thing with any of our children, ever.

Yesterday something that came up in a conversation with Evan, my 10-year-old, prompted me to start reciting from the book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss. How many times I have read that book over the years, starting with Trevor (now 22), then with Caitlin (now 19), and finally with Evan. It has to have been hundreds! No wonder I can still recite large portions of it from memory. Sometimes when I do I can hear in my head the exact way it sounded on my children's lips. So it was a sweet and serendipitous surprise last night when Evan asked not only if we could read the book at bedtime, but if he could read it to me. (I am really glad my 10-year-old still likes Dr. Seuss.) We sat together, and he read, and we laughed, and I remembered. . . . and wondered whether this was another last last.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Since I Last Stopped By

Oh, my poor, neglected blog. I bet you thought that I had left you for someone else. But I would never do that. I have just been busy.

These days in addition to all the usual mom/daughter/wife stuff, I am tutoring at Sylvan Learning Center about three half days per week, accompanying two church choirs, and spending one day per week accompanying for a local middle school. My insomnia, which seemed to have gone into remission for a while, is back. Why is it that rest is hardest to come by when you most need it? I am reminded of this cartoon I have seen a few times on Facebook (please note that "laying" in the last frame should be "lying." But I digress.):

Um, yeah. The other day Evan (my ten-year-old) told me, "Don't worry about school today, Mom. You need your rest." Since I do need my rest, I almost took him up on it, but my Responsible Self won out. Nice try, honey.

Our homeschooling year is progressing pretty well so far. We are loving the handwriting curriculum. We have not worked in a swimming class yet. I need to get that done.

My big kids are thriving and blossoming and doing amazing things away at college, and I am thrilled for and proud of them beyond words. This is what parenting is all about--seeing them soar. If anyone ever asks me what good I ever contributed to the world I need only point at my children. They are, all three of them, better people than I, and that makes me happier than I can say.

My mom has been diagnosed with a squamous-cell carcinoma on her foot, also known as Bowen's Disease. A new journey begins.

It was a beautiful summer in Oklahoma, and is shaping up to be a beautiful fall. We are thankful.

I started reading The Hammer of God.

Peri-menopause is rough.

Forgiveness is hard.

Life is good.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Delicious Irony

It just dawned on me that the piece I wrote for The Federalist has a rather wonderful ironic twist to it. In my article I took issue with the position held by Ezekiel Emanuel  that it is best for a person to die before he starts to experience a steep decline in health, mental acuity, and usefulness. As part of his argument, Emanuel cites research suggesting that most people peak in their forties:

. . . by 75, creativity, originality, and productivity are pretty much gone for the vast, vast majority of us. . . . Dean Keith Simonton, at the University of California at Davis, a luminary among researchers on age and creativity, synthesized numerous studies to demonstrate a typical age-creativity curve: creativity rises rapidly as a career commences, peaks about 20 years into the career, at about age 40 or 45, and then enters a slow, age-related decline. There are some, but not huge, variations among disciplines. Currently, the average age at which Nobel Prize–winning physicists make their discovery—not get the prize—is 48. . . . Simonton’s own study of classical composers shows that the typical composer writes his first major work at age 26, peaks at about age 40 with both his best work and maximum output, and then declines, writing his last significant musical composition at 52. 

For the record, the year your humble blogger turned 50 is the same year she sold her first article to a national magazine. Take that, Emanuel.

De quoi écrire
Hermann Fenner-Behmer (1866-1913)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Can Anything Good Come of Insomnia?

Apparently so. Two nights ago I was having one of those nights when my brain just refuses to turn off. I have learned that if I can't get to sleep in half an hour it's not going to happen for a while and I might as well get up. This time instead of turning on Nick at Nite and watching Friends (my go-to non-medicinal remedy)  I decided to write. The next morning I sent what I had written to one of my favorite online magazines. Imagine my surprise when several hours later I got an acceptance letter. Woot. My article went up on the site today (talk about fast turnaround!), so here it is in case you missed it and would like to read it.

Why I Want to Live Long and Burden My Children

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Teaching History to the HSC

When you're rearing an HSC (highly sensitive child), it can sometimes be hard to judge the extent to which you should shield him from things you know will upset him. On the one hand, you want to protect him from undue stress. If he doesn't like Halloween decorations, what is there to be gained by making him go places where he's going to encounter them? At the same time, you don't want to coddle him. The older he gets, the more he's going to find himself in situations where he has to handle things on his own, without Mom or Dad going ahead to make sure it's safe. So as a parent, you look for opportunities to "gently" toughen him up (assuming that's not a total oxymoron).

Yesterday in Evan's history book* we read about the Lewis and Clark expedition. The author recounted how, when the explorers ran out of food, they were forced to kill one of the horses for meat. As I heard the words coming out of my mouth, I looked at Evan. So far, so good. He was frowning, but handling it. But then we read the next paragraph:

"The horsemeat kept them from starving. But if they killed too many horses, they wouldn't be able to move fast enough to survive. So they ate some of the hunting dogs as well. . . . "

Uh-oh. There was more about how Clark disliked the dog meat while Lewis liked it, but we didn't get that far. Instead we stopped reading and I explained to my crying son that as terrible as it sounds to us as dog lovers, the humans had to come first. Not only is a human's life more valuable than an animal's, but if the humans had died of starvation, the rest of the animals would have perished as well because there would have been no one to take care of them. Evan absorbed all of this while lying on the floor trying to comfort our own dog, who he was certain was traumatized by the history lesson.

Eventually, with the passage in question behind us and the tears stemmed, we read on. But moments later, I saw this one coming: "In all that time, only one of the party had died--from appendicitis."

Sigh. Evan has long had a fear of getting appendicitis. Did his mom do an on-the-fly edit? What do you think?

*The Story of the World, Vol. 3, Susan Wise Bauer

Monday, September 15, 2014

You're invited . . .

. . . to read the first chapter of my daughter's novel. It is linked here. I know I'm her mom, but I am beyond impressed and totally sucked in to this story. I don't know when she will make more of it available, but if you are so inclined, please go on over and read and encourage her to see this tale through. She welcomes your comments and constructive criticism.