Taking a stinking hike.

After I had # 2 I had notorious migraines. The blinding ones that  when someone would speak I would vomit on contact. I have ran through the whole list of drugs to take for migraines. Some of them could easily be sold on the street for a large profit. I spent more times than I care to count in the emergency room thinking for sure the nurses thought I was a junkie because I was there again with another gosh darn migraine.

My attitude changes, my face changes, my body language changes and I am not sure I get the aura that every one discusses when talking migraines. However, I do get a cloud like feeling hanging over my eyes. Almost as if I had a hat on my head that was pulled down close to cover my eyes.

Finally, we found an awesome med and cause for my migraines. They hormonally induced migraines meaning as my body fluctuates in hormones my body reacts by triggering a migraine. The way to avoid the migraine was to strike as soon as I could even remotely tell that I may be getting one. The med I take, AXERT, is not one that causes crazy side effects if you don’t have a migraine. So it was perfect. However, you have to catch it in time because once you are on that train you cannot stop it.

So fast forward, they were so well managed I stopped getting them and then I got pregnant with # 3. Amazingly, my migraines were minimal and could be considered standard bad headache.

And as a side track if you have ever had a bad headache it does not even come close to comparing to a migraine. If you have had a migraine you freaking know it because you want to drill a hole in your head and fix whatever is broke. If you haven’t had a migraine you just don’t know.

Anyway…now that my hormones are all proven to be out of whack and I started taking some meds to counteract those things guess what has returned? In the last week I have had two horrible puke inducing migraines. And right now as I type I am working on my 3rd. So what is the dealio? I so am not ready to have this be going on again and while I am so incredibly busy.

Okay I realize there are bigger issues in life but until you have had a migraine let’s not throw stones. But I guess it is funny I have managed to squeak out a post out about a pain in the ass migraine attack that won’t leave me the hell alone.

And the memories…they come fading back

I have been doing background research to decide what I really want to research for my class project. It has been super fun and fun to make some connections that I never knew existed and some that I did. I always knew part of my family hailed from Appalachian but I found it so interesting to learn that another part of it was as well. One I didn’t know existed. They are the Mealers. The name isn’t supposed to mean much to the public but to me it was a secret part of my family I never really knew. I use the word secret purposefully.

I remember bits and pieces of long summer days spent on my Great Grandma Mealer’s porch. I remember her as a large and burly woman. Her voice was husky with age and she always wore an apron. I remember the apron doused with flour and her house often smelled of biscuits and gravy. I know she scared me because of her husky voice and how my grandma acted around her. You never went in her kitchen because she let it be known you were in her way. No matter who you were. My grandma and her had an awkward relationship. There was an indescribable tension even after she died when my great grandmother’s name was even mentioned. Those two reasons usually sent me on my way.

So much of my time was spent out on her front porch. I remember the humidity was sweltering and the grass was mowed all around her house. If you stepped out of that freshly mowed area you were immediately in the forbidden area. It was forbidden because all any adult ever said when some one stepped close was, “Don’t go near dere (meant to be there), you get them chigger bites”.

The porch was the idyllic porch of an Appalachian family where there was a porch swing and the porch wrapped around most of the brown with white worn paint house. There were rugs that my great grandma was after my grandma to beat every day. She would say, “Betty, dem rugs gettin dirty.”  My sister and I would chase the butterflies into where the chiggers were and would hope no one would catch us.

We were young enough to find her home an adventure land but old enough to have vague memories of it. For some reason I cannot recollect my great Grandpa Mealer and maybe that is because he was wheelchair bound (according to my ancestory.com records). I know that he was still alive at least some portion of my life I just don’t remember much interaction with him. What I remember of him more is my grandma and grandpa discussing his “end of life” care.

I never realized at the time was that I spent those few summers before they both got sick and passed on that I was in Linden, TN.  Which was only 2 and 1/2 hours from the Appalachian heritage I already knew existed in Rockcastle, KY. What I find interesting is how one side of my family embraced this heritage and was proud of the “pulling up by the bootstrap” mentality and the other kind of hid it as if it was something to be ashamed of.

Most of my memories of my Mealer grandparents are ones I used with my senses such as smell, touch and taste. The taste of food, the smell of the countryside they lived in, the smell of the food she would cook. I think because I cannot visibly remember them as well it has heightened the other senses and made them feel so much more strong and overwhelming.

The last time I saw my great grandmother is probably my most vivid memory. She was very ill and close to death. I know this because when people talked about her around me they hushed their tones and treated me as if I would not understand. If that wasn’t clue enough to the fact that she was ill she at in my grandparents living room in a wheel chair and her oxygen tank buzzing as another clue. She sat for hours lifeless in that chair. I remember the conversations swirling around letting her die there or taking her home. I guess home being Linden,  TN?  I was too young to probe more and probably too young to elicit a meaningful answer from the adults around me.

Her hair was box colored a chestnut brown and she wore a solid blue dress. She couldn’t even acknowledge those that sat there in front of her. My grandma encouraged me to hold her hand but I couldn’t do it. This is a woman that scared me the few times I saw her. She had such a strong almost masculine presence and seemed more irritated by me being around that she most definitely was not this woman before me. I looked down and shook my head and took off to go play outside. I don’t even remember telling her good bye.

I know she died a week or so later and I remember my grandma seeming relieved when she talked about it. Sadly, my own grandma has since passed. I would love to learn why there always seemed to be such a weight on my grandma’s shoulders when dealing with her own mother. It was obvious to my own little and young brain it was much more than her being dependent at the end of her life. There was a hurt there that I could feel and carried on in my own interactions with her.

I am amazed at how much my own viewpoint has changed just since finding this. I remembered things I had long since forgotten. I only hope my own grandmother who I adored didn’t die carrying that hurt she had at the hands of my great grandmother. Maybe my research will lead me to the answers and maybe not.

Saturday Sharing on Monday?

Dang peeps, here it is Monday and this is literally the first time I have sat down on a computer for leisure. There was once on Saturday to answer student emails and then this morning early in a student lab on campus to read student emails. I think I may have even forgot how to blog. Okay not really.

Here are the things that held my attention last week on the net.

More Shopping Linkage

All the rage on campus and with my students were Tom’s Shoes which are actually a part of an extremely noble cause. I guess if I understand correctly you buy one pair of shoes and the company sends a pair to children in need. What I find funny and most certainly something that shows my age is my students raving that they are so hip. Honestly, they look like a little fancier version of keds. Keds, you know the white plain shoe that most of us that survived the late 80’s and early 90’s surely had.

Heritage Linkage

As I have posted I am in a class that requires genealogy as a part of research and honestly where would we be without ancestry.com? What an awesome site that does most of the work. I have made it back 1700’s in three of my four branches and 1 in two of my husbands that I have started. As a bonus, it is “Free Access Week“. Ain’t go the dough? Head on over to…familysearch.org.

Tweendom Linkage

If you have a teen or pre-teen….JUSTICE is where it is at. Even better they give 40% off for your whole birthday month of your kiddo. And if you have seen their prices then 40% off is a necessity. Or at least it is in my house. Time to once again this month squeeze in some last minute shopping for #1 and #2.

Food Linkage

Who could not be excited about the Sandwich King Jeff Mauro or Ree Drummond The Pioneer Woman (long time reader here). When it comes to Ree I can finally have a I knew her when she was just a blogger.  And here is the time for a little fun fact about my life. Food Network TV is probably the one thing I waste more time on than anything else in my life. It was playing in the background when each of my children were born and I know every single food network personality. Favs: Paula Deen & Robert Irvine. Least Favs: The Neeley’s & Rachael Ray.

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This weeks linkage is short because honestly I have been busy with the start of my teaching, my classes and we had family in from out of town!

 

How do we fix it, if we cannot even admit it’s broke?

I have made no secret about all I believe to be wrong with education. I also make no excuses for sometimes perpetuating that that is broke with education by being an educator, a wife to an educator and a parent of children in school. I am sure there is some blame there that should be tossed my way.  However, there is an anomaly here that I wonder if it exists everywhere or if it is just a local thing.

That is the shuffling or irritation at active and involved parents. What I consider active and involved parenting to mean is taking a vested interest in your children’s education by fostering and maintaining a parent/teacher relationship, being a part of the school community through PTO, PTA or volunteering however you possibly can. Does that mean I think everything gets set aside so you can be that pushover pain in the ass that every teacher/principal/education administrator hates because you really do make their jobs harder.

I also am not clueless to the fact that I am an educator and that my presence in another teacher’s domain brings about an awkward sometimes intrusive feeling. I always try and keep the teacher side of myself out my kiddos classrooms. My purpose is to be a parent in that moment. Once last year I stuck my head out because huge, and in my opinion, damaging decisions were being made about my daughters reading/writing that I could just not accept without my opinion being heard. I voiced it as respectfully as I could and made it known it was merely my own opinion as a mother backed by my own experience as an educator, but that I would respect the school/teacher’s decision regardless.

The few times though that I have reached my hand out in hopes of open communication and not even necessarily about overly important educational issues I feel like my hand gets smacked. It is met with defensiveness, cockiness and irritation. It is aggravating and disheartening to feel like you cannot work with the very people you admire and respect because of what they are going through in the world of money and politics and the sheer fact that they spend their lives with the “littles” of the world. A job I know I could not do for sure.

My question is this though? Why? Remember the days when Little Johnnie screwed up at school and made a poor decision and he knew when he got home the crap was going to hit the fan. It was going to because Mrs. Smith, Johnnie’s teacher, already called Mom and Dad and they will be holding him accountable. Those days don’t exist anymore do they? Mrs. Smith and Mom and Dad had an unspoken deal. We are going to “together” push little Johnnie to be the best little Johnnie he can be. That means we have to have open lines of communication and hold him accountable always.

Nowadays I guess most parents don’t care enough to even learn their kid’s teachers name. I can say that with some merit. I am an active parent. I hand out paperwork, fund raisers and the first question always is…”Who is your child’s teacher?” Which more times than I care to admit is met with a head scratch. I sit at that PTO meeting every month and again am a witness to the lack of parental caring.

Now I worry teachers and administrators are so jaded by the lack of caring that when a parent does speak up and does care that parents are then met with reservations on  how to deal with it. Maybe even thinking, “We have managed this long to operate without a parent’s input, why start now.” Now I want to preface this by saying all my daughters teachers have been so open to me and my willingness to help. So I am not calling anyone out. I am just shocked at how often when you travel outside that teacher/parent circle that it is met with friction. At times, it feels like the educational process in k-12 public would run smoother without parental involvement. Do I believe that? Heck no. Do I think others do? Maybe.

The educational system did not fall apart in one day and it won’t be rebuilt in one day. In the meantime, parents that are trying to care are being shoved out in fear of “something”. That something I am not sure it has a name. Parents that do care are leery of caring too much and being one of “those” parents. Those parents being ones that care about the education of their children and their community. Administrators are trying to keep politicians happy so they have their needs met. Often drawing in the biggest salaries and least effected by the money cutting decisions.

And worst of all being hurt….teachers and students. Teachers are losing hope in the middle of this all. They are losing jobs, livelihoods, home, spirits, morale and classrooms. Those students… they are losing all of the above because the rest of us adults in the real world cannot seem to get our shit together and work with one another to protect the education of our children.

If we won’t look seriously at what is wrong with education from administrators, to teachers, to parents and maybe even to students then how can we even begin to fix it. We all need to come to the party with our prides and ideologies checked at the door and let go of all our egos that we know what is best and figure out what is best for all of us collectively.

John Lennon certainly had a few things right? “Imagine”

No! No! No! No!


You must admit you have self-control before you can use it.  ~Carrie Latet

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My life is busier than it has ever been and I am more determined than ever to get the very most from my graduate education and being the best god damn instructor I can be. Last year, I let myself be overwhelmed by it all and I think sometimes I forgot to sit back and just enjoy the way my brain and my life was changing. I functioned out of survival and the need to get things done instead of realizing and living what it was I was actually going through. It worked. I survived and I think I did a decent job. I just want it different. I want to remain in control of it and not feel so survivalist.

While I was trying to get through school and teaching I was dropping the ball in other spots. Maybe my marriage some and maybe a few too many, “Not now…” to my girls. My goal this year is to truly juggle it all. When I am not in my student or teaching mode I hope to try and put it down. I hope to walk away and be the wife and mother that I want to and can be. I don’t fault myself for the mistakes I made. It is easy to do when life is nuts. I am not naive enough to think I won’t have those moments again.

The real reason why I am here though and the purpose of this post is I want to ask out-loud…why can I not be more selfish? I am getting better at saying no when I realize I cannot dedicate myself fully to a project. However, when I say no the way I feel is shitty. I over think and over analyze it to death. I probably drive those around me crazy obsessing about it. And one thing I am pretty sure of is I worry about the effects of my no on others than the others I am actually saying no to do. I am a yes girl and saying no just does not fit me and I hate to let people down. But saying no when I have to recognize I cannot give my 100% is becoming so important. I would rather do a few things really well then a whole bunch of stuff half-assed.

I hope the more I say no the better I get at dealing with the aftermath because honestly isn’t part of my saying no because I cannot fully give to “whatever” 100 percent? Instead, now I say no but I don’t absolve myself of the feelings that come with that no and they freaking eat me up. I lay in bed and imagine the people I say no to hating me or frustrated or disappointed in my decisions. When honestly I know those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter.  Always easier said than done, right?

I know this post is kind of all over the place. The truth is I turned my back on something that meant a lot to me. If I had a list of my top 5 favorite things this would rank at number 5. But I know I cannot do # 1-4 to the best of my ability if I don’t turn my back at #5. I am now in that shitty over thinking spot, but I know I made the right decision. That doesn’t make it any easier. However, I must admit I agree with this poster that saying no should mean something. I take my power back if I say no. So no!

How did I get here?

This semester one of my graduate courses is on family literacy. As most of my readers know I have some unique things about my family. Add in there that I plan to/have been studying literacy and put the two together and you have the makings for just about one of the most perfect courses for me.

When I signed up I signed up with the expectation of literally determining my own family’s literacy practices. Which this course can can contain but it is much more than that. It is looking at where you came from and how you got there. Whether by boat, train, manifest or simple clicks on Ancestry.com that produces results. My job as a student and researcher is to determine the best means of getting there and hashing through the process as it goes. A task I thoroughly enjoy!

The tough decision I have is how do I go about this and what exactly do I research. As I have stated before I have a very diverse background with much of my family being what one might dub “hicks”. My fear here is that digging might uncover parts and aspects of my family that could hurt or cause embarrassment. I find myself very comfortable in my “hickish” up bringing and actually pride myself at overcoming the statistics placed upon my family by our background. Another fear is how well are these records kept? Tracing back too far will likely uncover that my family may not have had the education to keep such records. I am not ashamed of that but it could be a reality. -Side note: whenever I talk about this I wanna break into a chorus of “I got friends in low places….Even though I adore my family and think of them as anything but low.

Then there is my other side which is a rich Czechoslovakian heritage (I believe) with what I am sure are many war hero and heroine stories because I have heard them all.  I am guessing it is the type of family history that makes doing this sort of project fun. However, I lack quite a bit of information and I wonder if what info I have could get me very far. Maybe it could? Maybe not. As well, this side of the family is quiet. And really doesn’t share a lot. I think a phone call or two could open some doors but will it be enough?

Then there is my husband’s married surname. Which is another that I am sure is packed with a history and heritage and carries with it some prestige. Maybe I am wrong. I don’t know. I would love to be able to do that kind of research for my in laws because it is just a neat thing to have access too. I have tons of information here too. My husband’s baby book has an amazing family tree in it that spans several generations and what his baby book does not cover his grandmother wrote in a book. When she died copies of this book were given to us and within it, it contains letters, pictures and actual documents. So the information is a gold mine for a project of this sort.

I am not sure what avenue I will pursue yet. I need to scratch the surface of all three to see what produces the best information and will be accessible for the purposes of this course I am taking. The goal is not to do a family heritage but to instead focus on the process of such a task and how one goes about it. This is an interesting take because it forces me to think about how I research and what motivates that research.

For this class we are required to keep a journal of sorts. I hope that it is okay if I do that here. This is my blog and where I work it out in the rhetorical sense so it is only natural for me to want to do that here. Now while I realize this might not be the most exciting read maybe you can come along for the occasional ride of figuring out where I came from and how I got there.

Hey, haven’t I seen you before?

Sometimes I think all I need to straighten out my horrible sad mood is getting too busy I cannot even think. I started back to teaching today. I got in a whole new group of students. 44 to be exact. Amazingly my black cloud (oh and this one) feels like for now it flew the nest. Hopefully for longer than a week. There certainly is some sense of renewal when a new semester starts. However, what is that saying? The more things change the more they stay the same.

It is funny the roles the students sometimes play in my head. Maybe those of you that teach have the same. The first semester they all felt so unique and each subsequent semester I notice they just fill that slot of whatever label I slap on them in my head. That is not to say they aren’t that unique and their are not some that are entirely their own person. It is just funny to me how the personalities are often the same, they even sit in the same desks. They just look different.

Cute Trendy Girls-They dress to the nines in make up and clothes that just stepped off an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog. They usually sit second row back and follow directions as if their life depended on it. They can be counted on to carry conversation through in “dry” times. Overall, a good student and really just want to please the instructor and get out with an A.

The Adults-They are usually in the front row or by the door. They are super attentive and really worried about making sure that you know  that you have 100% of their complete attention. They worry more about tiny mistakes than you ever come close to worrying about their tiny mistakes. They sometimes can be more time consuming  because they need more reassurance. However, they can be counted on to work in the group that lacks drive to keep things moving. They always show up too. Usually puking beside them.

The Jocks-They kind of remind me of Al Bundy. On the first day they always manage to share all their prowess on the field, court or etc. They love to tell you what an athletic super star they are. They are usually business majors just until they hit the big time. Business is always the fall back. Their performance in the classroom is luke warm usually.

The cute guy-In every class I always have that one cute guy with dark hair and blue or green eyes and a smile.

The funny guy otherwise known as the class clown-This one cracks me up because it is so predictable. They always sit in the exact same seat every semester. As far away from me as possible but they manage to steal the whole room’s attention in a fit of giggles every single time. They usually aren’t as stellar of a student but have no problem trying to laugh you up a grade or two. It never usually works.

The rest are fillers. Not fillers in a negative way, fillers as in unique personalities that I get to know. They are usually my more quiet students that I watch grow and blossom into college students right before my very eyes. Sometimes I worry they are slipping away or will become a statistic so I try and pull a little harder. The bad part about these students is allowing them to fail. Best advice I ever got was sometimes I just have to let them and recognize it as their choice. It still is hard. But the few who do overcome their own obstacles are a powerful thing to be witness to.

The reason I know I love to teach though is every semester I fall in love with each and every one of them. Maybe falling in love is not the right word but I enjoy watching them grow and change as writers and how they grow and change me as an instructor. The hardest part is always the end when they have come to mean so much to me and they leave.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss

The Girl in Pink Converse

The whole summer my # 2 has been obsessed with getting a pink pair of Chuck Taylor’s. She has begged, plead and asked a gazillion times for them. My mind kept flashing back to when she was 2 and I thought buying a pair of white Chuck Taylor’s for all the family would be a great idea. My guy and #1 refused to wear them and only donned them once to appease my flabbing mouth. I wore mine and tossed them out with the garage sale pile. Only to find myself wishing I had kept them. But # 2 she adored them. However, every time she wore them she ended up with skinned knees and hurt elbows. I am not sure if it was the rubbery bottom or what but she always managed to snag her feet and land face first. I went out of my way to hide them. For the next few years she eyeballed #1’s in hopes she could squeeze her feet in them once she grew up enough. I chucked them in the garage sale pile to her disappointment.

Now make that fast forward sound to the end of her 1st grade year and she started going on and on about having a pair. She would see some in the store and just go nuts. I shushed her away and told her she needed something more practical. You won’t wear them. She is so funny about the way shoes feel that I was convinced it would never work. Well folks, she wore me down! Yesterday I finally bought her second pair of Chuck Taylor’s in pink.

We get home from shoe store and she goes running back to her room and picks out the most hideous (to me) socks. They are knee high black background with peace, hearts and squiggly’s all over them and neither sock matches the other and add this to her mismatched clothes and two different earrings and she was ahh…looking unique. She is all proud that she finally has these long sought after shoes and has created the perfect outfit to go with it. She says, “Mom, this is just the look I wanted to make.” I was in a hurry because we were headed to hospital and before I thought about what I said I blurted out, “Honey, now is not the time for that kind of style.” That is the funny thing about # 2. The more mismatched and hideous the better for her. She likes it that way. She actually remembers most of life by her clothes. She has an uncanny sense categorizing her life by what she wears. She ran back and threw on some plain white socks and a regular ol’ outfit and said nothing.

Once we were driving I realized I just crushed a tiny bit of her individuality. We didn’t hear loud sirens going off telling me what a pushover I was being and she didn’t throw some big tantrum to remind me. Instead, I taught her how to fit into society’s norms and not be who she is as if it were something to be corrected. And frankly, I hate that. I am always so envious of those people that can branch out and wear those crazy socks like no one cares. What I like most about those people is that they don’t care. They could care less what others think. So shame on me for telling her there was something wrong with the way she looked. Especially for something as silly as a visit to the hospital that would have surely made her grandma smile if she saw those crazy socks.

Sometimes it is hard with # 2. I am pretty laid back, demure, quiet and plain jane kind of gal. You know the khaki, sage green sandal kind of person. #2 is the furthest thing from that, so I gotta try and let her be. She doesn’t have to be that image of who I think she should be because really I just want her to be who she is. The crazy sock, mismatched clothes  and two different earring wearing girl in pink converse. I want her to be what I often do not have the courage to be. I hope by allowing her to be that person I somehow manage to find a little bit of my own girl in the mismatched clothes, crazy socks and two different different earring wearing girl in pink converse.

Saturday Sharing.

Time for me to share where I have been hanging out this week…

Again….

Twitter Shares

Twitter is where all the cool kids hang out. I am loving it more and more every day. I am following friends, my favorite snack companies (Hello Popchips!) and all things Big Brother.

Celebrity Shares

I am an admitted gossip hound. I love all things Perez Hilton and TMZ and it is just a bonus when there is a Casey Anthony sighting. Word on the street today is Nelly from “It’s getting hot in here!” fame was cruising my hood. More than one sighting took place. Great claim to fame for northeastern Indiana is Nelly seen at local gas station and Walmart and Charlie Sheen’s porn hooker girlfriend. We make em’ good here!

Cheap Shares

I found a freaking awesome browser add-on, Drop Down Deals, that when you go online shopping displays current deals for that particular store. For instance, this week the NFL Shop has an  Snicker’s deal going where you got money off with a purchase. It shares those. It also tells you a site you might certain stuff cheaper. Awesome add-on that saves you money and it not horribly annoying.

An oldie but goodie is Retail Me Not. Which saved me 15% today @ Kohls.

Vintage T-shirts & Clothes Shares

I am loving this new but old style but hate how the look seems to be popping up everywhere. I found a great site that I am worried about sharing cause afraid the more the look gets out there the more it will go nuts but the merchandise at Junk Food Clothing is too nice not to share.  Another awesome one is American Apparel. They have clothes that remind me of my childhood but some how manage to look cute. Watch out there are some boobies on this site!

Amazon Shares

Since it is textbook time that means it is time to go on the search for the cheapest texts. Amazingly my kindle is ending up winning the game. I love my kindle!

Music Shares

I will just say thank you to Writing on the Margins for sharing this group with me on facebook. But currently this is my favorite song and now they have done a cover. Admittedly they are no Eminem (my bad boy dream date) but they are still so freaking good.

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*Saturday Sharing brought to you by my typing and surfing hands