Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pondering Freud

My id has been popping up more, lately.

When I was an undergraduate at Radford University, I took Psych 101. Fascinating class. One of the things I really obtained from it was Freud's identification of the parts of the human psyche - the id, the superego, and the ego. The id is the impulse center for instant-gratification. The superego is your Mother/Jiminy Cricket sitting on your shoulder shaming you for anything you do wrong. The ego tries to make peace between the two and present a well-adjusted human being to society.

I wanted a slight refresher on the roles each play in our psyche, so I checked out the Wikipedia page that discusses each. Later yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from a previous student/friend who wanted feedback on an idea for a novel. Odd thing is, his main characters are anti-heroes who live in the id. I pointed out that the anti-hero sympathy may be achieved simply by making his characters live out what everyone wishes they could do, but are refrained from doing so by the superego...

Last night, I was working on a project for my 12 AP students (shh! They'll find out soon enough what it is!) while the tv was on. It was showing Queen Latifah's Last Holiday. Cute movie. Wouldn't have paid to see it in a theater, but I enjoyed it in a 'brain candy' sort of way. The key, though is that the main character here thought she was dying and decided to blow every last cent she had and do whatever she pleased. Another instance of living in the id. Wiki research; former student; movie on tv. Funny how things work in threes...

Why can't I allow myself to do that more often? Why is my superego so developed that only a tiny window of 'wishes' exists in my personality? At times I feel torn between what I feel I need to do and must do, and with what I want to do. But what repercussions exist for those who 'live in the id?' What would society be if we all let loose and 'lived in the id?' Anarchy? Or would those members who still retained their superego and ego simply shake their heads at us 'ids' and mumble about the fall of society? When is it allowable to let the id sneak through the door? If any of you have stories from the id, let me know when you've let loose, and how it felt. I'd love to hear more.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stories from the Finish Line

So, the finish line is in more week of classes, a week of exams, and graduation! Yippee!! In the meantime, I've got another good one for you...

My freshmen usually read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in class. Due to the vast number of school days cancelled by snow this year, we got so far behind that there simply wasn't enough time. My freshmen are assigned Outside Reading projects due at the end of each semester, and I highly recommended TKAM since I knew we wouldn't have time to read it in class. Approximately 95% of my students took me up on that suggestion.

One student confessed to me yesterday that when I first said the title of the book out loud in class, she thought it was about something completely different (goes to show how well she paid attention, since I gave a synopsis of the novel when I recommended it...). She thought the title was Tequila Mockingbird... Classic!

This year has been rather difficult for many, many reasons. Attempting to be ready for the new year and a new baby all at the same time; 4 classrooms; handing over my classes to a substitute for 3 months and then attempting to come back and figure out where everything was (only because I wasn't the one who put it wherever it was!); my husband's struggles with his current career; my father's illness and death; construction; SOLs with no air conditioning; no idea how things are going to be next year...

Frankly, I'm ready for a break. I usually teach night classes during the summer terms at National College. I haven't gotten in touch with my contact there in a while, and I believe the next term starts next week. I don't think I want to teach this summer. I want to try to enjoy my son's unbelievable growth and energy and recapture the essence of "Dionne" so I will be ready for next year.

So here's to closing the year. Here's to all the teachers out there. We all deserve a break, especially with the limitations budgeting has put on us. Here's to getting a breather so we can all be at our best in the Fall. It's all about the kids, and anyone worth anything in this occupation will recognize that and push through any concerns. In the meantime, I can't wait for June 12th...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Take a Deep Breath

SOLs are over. Big sigh. The year is quickly reaching the finish line and now all minds turn to either cramming in the last of the year's plans, trying desperately to make plans stretch til the end, or reviewing for exams. Teachers, meanwhile, are trying to tie up loose ends with parents, coerce the students to hand in the last, or many, missing assignments, and close up for the summer. We're in a different situation this year, though. Because of the construction at school, I have a feeling more people will be moving things out this summer than in the past. I've been warned that my trailer may no longer be there in August. However, there is only so much that I can bring home...either because I don't have room, cannot possibly move it on my own, or because it is considered school property.

And yet, life outside of school goes on. Sydney is quickly meeting the next expected milestones. Separation anxiety is developing, though stranger anxiety has tapered off. He has two teeth, though I expect his third any day now. He's bouncing more and more on all 4 and has even attempted a few feeble movements (steps?) forward on his knees. He is very proficient at trying to go forward, and instead, pushing himself backwards, which frustrates the living-daylights out of him. It is an awesome sight to see the cogs turning in his head as he discovers more about his world.

That being said, here's updated photos. He woke up 3 times the night before last fussing (which is why I expect his 3rd tooth soon). I let him fuss and he went back to sleep, but when I went to check on him before I went to bed, I found this; Someone tell on earth is this comfortable???

Here's the best shot I could get of his two teeth. He's starting to look like a little boy instead of so baby-ish!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Just a head's up to everyone - I've found that 2005 grapes, ergo, 2005 wines, are excellent. El nino is kind to us. Even the cheaper wines I've tasted that are 2005 are ripe for enjoyment. That being said, since 2009 was an el nino year, I recommend everyone stock up on 2009 wines as they become available.

Now, granted, that may not be in every location, but in the United States, the shift in weather patterns bodes well for wine...

Yet Another Growth Spurt; New Schedules

Sydney has his second tooth. I didn't even realize it had come in until yesterday because I was expecting him to chew on me like he did with the first. We knew he wasn't acting like himself, though, and Friday night he woke up screaming, so I should have checked. I had to rock him back to sleep; I am not complaining in the least, though, because I so seldom get to cuddle him on my shoulder these days. He knows I'm the cow, so most of my cuddling is with him at my breast.

He was quiet yesterday. Didn't smile much, though not too upset, so I didn't really worry. But my mom checked his mouth last night and we found the second tooth, so I'm going to presume it cut Friday night or sometime during the day yesterday. Thank goodness for Tylenol (or rather, the Kroger/Target/CVS brand of acetometaphin [sic] -Have to say, though, that even though they should have done the testing before releasing the product, I respect the company for recalling everything BEFORE there are health issues reported).

Sydney has his mommy's smile, though, which means that I won't really be able to get a picture of his teeth until his top ones come in. I'm just glad he learned so quickly not to bite down on me...

Steve's swing-shift schedule changed over last night. He had to stay up until 3 to attempt to adjust for the next month. It's going to be a long month. I won't be getting much sleep as we're entering panic/crunch time in the high schools (SOLs are this week. Ugh.), and he won't be able to help me much in the mornings since he'll need to sleep at least until mid-morning. Weekends will be the hardest, though, b/c I need to keep Sydney downstairs until Daddy gets up. I thought it was hard enough when he worked 12 hour night shift and it was just me. I have a whole new respect for people out there who've worked 2nd or 3rd shift with kids. It's a completely different horse with a completely different shading.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Best Gift

Mommy gets a cuddle and a kiss.

Sydney plays in the laundry basket while Mommy folds clothes.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mom's the Word

My mom rocks.

She is always willing to do anything to help, and reminds me frequently that I don't have to do it all myself though I take a sadistic pleasure trying to, time and again.

She is such a good listener and is always slow to judge - allowing me to think through each situation and come to a conclusion on my own.

She's been through so much in her life and keeps on smiling.

And she took Sydney all morning and most of the afternoon so I could become a recluse - shutting myself up in my trailer, listening to the wind ripple across the metallic tin roof, grading as though my life depended on it.

By the time I left my trailer this afternoon, 6 solid hours of grading later, I had 4 stacks of notebooks from 4 different classes on desks to be handed back Monday. I also have 2 separate online assignments downloaded and graded. The only things left for me are my freshmen formal essays from The Count of Monte Cristo, my freshmen's TCOMC unit tests, and my juniors' research papers. And when we got back from me treating her to lunner (the restaurant we wanted to patronize closed at 2:30 to set up for dinner, and didn't open again until 5, so we split the difference and went somewhere else having missed lunch...) she promptly sat down to grade the multiple-choice and matching part of the unit tests.

This means that I have the freshmen formal essays, the unit test essays, and research papers to grade, and I am all caught up! Hip Hip Hooray for Mom!

Now, the kicker is that as a teacher, by the time I get that finished, even if it were Monday, I'd have more to grade since my freshmen are already nearly done with the first two acts of Romeo and Juliet and they have assignments due as well as a quiz. But, that's why we get paid the big bucks. Come work week in August, I have a list of friends I say goodbye to for the next 9 months.

But this isn't about me, even if I am a new mother. And hey, this is my first official Mother's Day! My mom gave me the best gift ever - the chance to spend my first Mother's Day with Sydney without 5 stacks of guilt waiting my return to attention.

I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dreams Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore - -
and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over - -
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
-Langston Hughes

Poignant poem, this is. What happens to a dream deferred - a dream withheld until "later"? What dreams do you have? Please, share them with me.

When I was a child and imagining what I would do when I grew up, I had a list of 4 choices for an occupation. I wanted to be a model. Yeah - that's going to happen...all 5 foot 4 of my previously-but-still-retaining-a-touch-of tomboy personage. I'd rather be wearing jeans and going barefoot.

I thought about being an oceanographer (I think I actually meant a marine biologist, but I was too young to know the difference...). But I am by no means the best swimmer, and my inability to move well under water leaves me in a slight panic at times. Besides, my childhood brush with suffocation and my teenage sinus surgery that rendered me incapable of holding my breath under water without having it go up my nose ended that idea.

I considered being a caterer. there's an idea...I love to cook. Made snickerdoodle cookies this week for my juniors who ALL passed the writing SOL!! Yum. I still wonder if, after I retire from teaching, opening a cafe would be a fun way to live out my life. But I know nothing about the restaurant business, so we'll just see where that goes in 30 years...

Last, I thought I'd be a teacher. Yep. Even as a child I knew I had a passion for teaching. I think I am a good teacher. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I would like to think I have a positive impact on my students and that they do, in spite of themselves, or me, actually learn something from me.

But my priorities are shifting. I am curious and envious of my friends who choose and are able to be stay-at-home parents. Curious as to how they make it work financially, and envious of the time they get to spend at home with their child/ren. My newest dream is that one of us (preferably me) become a stay-at-home parent. That is simply not something feasible for us in the near future. Perhaps down the road some...

But in the meantime, I must come as close to my new dreams as possible. In the meantime, with the next set of SOLs looming, the absolute need to catch up on grading from when I was in Kentucky, and the basic end-of-the-school-year rush, my thoughts, instead, are turned to what activities Sydney and I will enjoy this summer, when I am a temporary stay-at-home.

I purchased a kiddie pool that has a shade to protect young skin. I have baby floatees, too. I plan to visit the library to find out their schedule for summer reading events. I am trying to determine my schedule so we can plan out play dates and take trips to an ever increasing list of places: the zoo, the parks in the area, festivals that will be taking place, etc. I sort of have a garden, though it needs a lot of work and young fingers to play in the dirt. I can't wait to spend more time with him so I can encourage his development, revel in his discoveries, and obtain as many baby kisses as is possible. I have a feeling I'm going to need to stock up...create a mental savings account...before next year.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stories from Kentucky and Snickerdoodle Updates

First, let me begin by saying that as we have entered the month of May, with pending SOLs, cleaning up and closing up classrooms, taking in textbooks, etc., plus the rush to get assignments in, get them graded, etc., my blogging will be hit or miss.

Now, for the fun parts...

While I was in Kentucky, my mom, Sydney, and I all stayed with my uncle. He has a 200 year old house that he has remodeled and refurbished. It is a beautiful house, but as with all older houses, there are stories that go along with this one...

Previous owners (I'm not sure how long ago) were unhappy. The male committed suicide by hanging himself from the top of the banister, which broke away from the wall in the process. Uncle Jim has tried, numerous times and various ways, to reattach the banister to the wall at the top of the stairs, all to no avail.

According to my uncle, and to my aunt (his sister), who visits regularly, the man who hanged himself (yes, it is correct - pictures are hung, people are hanged) walks the halls still. Aunt Beth was in Lancaster visiting when my father first went in to the hospital, and she says the man actually sat on her legs one night while she slept. She bolted upright, turned on the light, and told the man to leave her alone.

A woman has also been spotted, but I don't know if she is related to the same ghost as the man who hanged himself...but that's not the interesting part.

My sister and her family were also staying with Uncle Jim while I was there. She has 3 children, the oldest of which has autism. I was downstairs in the kitchen with my sister and her husband when I asked if they knew the story of the banister. My mom, Sydney, and I were in the bedroom at the top of the stairs, and Dawn and her family were in the adjoining bedroom, where the ghost sat on Aunt Beth's legs. She had not heard the story before and was fascinated by it.

That night, Sydney didn't sleep very soundly, and I was up a lot. The next day, Dawn and I were talking and I asked if Sydney kept her up at all. She told me that they didn't sleep well, either, but it wasn't because of Sydney. They were awakened in the middle of the night by their autistic son who was scared. They were able to learn that he was frightened of the man at the top of the stairs.

No children were around when I told them this story. They were all soundly sleeping in their beds. How could Nate have known about this man??

While we were in Kentucky, there was one day of horrendous storms. A cold front and a warm front meeting up with each other is always fun when the landscape is flat enough to allow the air to engage in a tango. We were all sitting around after dinner - I had finally gotten Sydney down to sleep, alone, at the top of the stairs and was enjoying the remnants of dinner. Everyone else had pretty much dispersed - errands to stores, different rooms for tv, reading, emailing, etc. Uncle Jim came in and sat down across from me.

Both of us were wiped out and kind of staring listlessly into space when I heard a siren. Now, for those of you who are unaware, many communities use a tremendously loud siren to warn the townspeople that a tornado has been spotted. When I lived in Wisconsin, we used to have tornado drills that utilized the siren, which was located on the school grounds. I know that some communities use the siren, but it is to make others know of a major fire and to ask for assistance from neighboring communities. Regardless, it has been years since I've heard a siren like this.

Sitting across from Uncle Jim, I looked straight at him and thought to myself, "They don't have a train nearby, do they??" He looked me in the eye and said, "That's a tornado siren." Suddenly, as though someone hit fast forward, all the adults were rushing around, grabbing kids, blankets, laptops (to view the weather forecast), flashlights...all I could think of was the fact that my son was alone at the top of the house. I raced up the stairs, grabbed him and a blanket to put over his head (he was fast asleep - I didn't want the lights to awaken him) and rushed back down the stairs to the hallway with no windows. Uncle Jim doesn't have a basement.

I was so scared at that moment, and it wasn't because I had never done this before. It was because now I was responsible for getting through anything safely with my infant son. Poor Snickerdoodle.

We had to retreat one more time that night - just as we were coming out of the hallway, the siren sounded again and we hid for another 30 minutes. Sydney slept through it all until we were done, then woke. And then, it was a bear to get him back down! But I can't blame him at all - he had a new tooth, was still teething, had come in to contact with numerous people he didn't know and he smiled for every one of them. He was off schedule in new surroundings, and he was still behaving angelically. My baby boy did so well while we were gone.
So, he has his first tooth. Holy cow did that hurt at first. But after two days of reacting in pain when he decided to bite down, he started to temper his biting. He now only does it when he's feeling mischievous - and gives me a sly smile before he does it. Boy are we going to have our hands full as he grows.

He's also "bouncing." You know...on all fours and wanting to crawl, but now quite sure what to do next. I can't believe how quickly the leaps in development take place - once you reach a certain point, the stages come right after the other. Then, you plateau for a while before jumping past another 2-3 milestones.

Last, Steve, Sydney and I all went to the Chili Festival this past weekend. It was a lot of fun - we really enjoyed ourselves and got to try a plethora of various chilies. Hands down, though, we feel that the Kazim Shrine White Chili was the best, with chicken and monterey jack cheese. YUMMERS!! Wouldn't mind having a bowl of that right now...