Sunday, February 28, 2010

Behind the Blog

I really enjoy blogging. I like to write, and it's sort of a sounding board for ideas going through my head--a way to organize my thoughts and get them out. But, as any other author will probably attest, it's much more satisfactory to know that your words are being read.

I manage four blogs. One of them is a book club that I started online because I have so much family and many friends that live far away. I admit, I haven't done much with that one lately, but maybe we should get back to it. Another of them is my family blog, and the reason I keep that separate from this blog is for this exact reason that I'm writing about right now--I like to have a place where I can write whatever I think and feel and see. My family blog is our family history and I print that blog up into a book every year. It's more of a journal of what our family is doing. Then I have one where I keep track of all the preschool activities and lessons I do with my children. I doubt anybody reads that one, but if someone happened across it, they might get some ideas of their own and realize that they don't have to pay for their preschool age children to learn. Then I have this one, where I write my thoughts and opinions and basically just whatever I want.

But when it seems like nobody is reading your work, it just seems like pointless effort to come up with ideas to write about or even blog at all for that matter. It would just be nice to have some feedback so I know I'm not the only one reading my blog!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Higher Education--Is it worth it?

I have been in several social circles of late who have presented the attitude that getting a higher education isn't worth it if you don't use it for a career. When people say such a thing in my hearing range, it's like fingernails on a blackboard to me. I know that sometimes there are circumstances that prevent one from furthering their education and it can be quite difficult. But, I also firmly believe that higher education is for everyone, whether you "use it" or not. Just because it doesn't lead you to a lucrative career in your field of study doesn't mean that it doesn't have value.

A college education does more than land you a job. It broadens your mind and teaches you to think in the way that almost nothing else can. Sure, you can broaden your mind through travel and reading, but when you are challenged to look at something, anything, from another person's point of view and then discuss that topic and defend your own, it makes you think harder and in more complex ways than you would have to otherwise. It broadens your perspective on life and on people. You are taught to think in more complex ways and organize your thinking into tangible, readable, shareable ways. You become more well-rounded and perhaps even more focused.

My husband works at a job that requires no degree. The company he works for promotes from within, so all upper management started at the bottom and worked their way up. It was years of work experience and training within the company that brought them to the level they are at. Many of these people have told me they don't see the value of getting a college degree because they don't need one to get to the top within this company. They are right, but they are missing out on so much learning and so many great experiences by skipping college altogether. And I have noticed, when socializing with them, the only topic they to discuss is this company. They haven't broadened their minds to be interested in anything else--art, literature, politics, science, etc. It's no wonder that most of their friends are also only within the company because they have no other outside interests. And then I hear them say they think that college would be a waste of time--how wrong they are!

My husband worked full time at this job while supporting four children and a wife AND going to school full time to get his degree. Will he use his degree in his career? No. Did his classes help him in his career? Maybe. Is he a more well-rounded individual with a little bit of a broader perspective on life and people now? Yes. Was the sacrifice worth it? Definitely. It was so worth it in my opinion that I would encourage him to seek a graduate degree, even if it doesn't benefit his career.

I worked my way through college and earned a degree. I even used it the first few years after graduation. But then, after getting married and having my first child, I quit my job to be at home with my children. To some, that is wasting my college education. However, many of the ideas and subjects I studied in college are useful to parenting AND have helped me instill a love for learning in my children because I'm knowledgeable about a broad range of subjects. I hope to someday earn a master's degree in that field, and I may never use it for a career, but learning more about that subject interests me greatly and, if nothing else, may make me a better advocate on behalf of my children pertaining to their educations.

Intelligence is the only thing we take with us when we die. It can't hurt to obtain all that we can while we can. Even if all we do is the same job we've had since high school.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tasty Treat

After dinner tonight, it was time for medicine. Last week we were all sick with strep, and two of us are allergic to penicillin. Our medications ended days ago, but the others, who are on amoxicillin, still have the rest of their 10-day regimen to complete. The one who was done with his medicine threw a fit that he didn't get any and then he came to me a few minutes later crying that his throat hurt and his tongue was coated in white.

"Your tongue?"

"Yes, I have strep again, so I need some more medicine."

"You can't have anybody else's medicine because you're allergic and it's not for you. Let me see your throat." I look in with a flashlight. All is fine. He was willing to fake sick just to get some medicine. I realize drug companies flavor the medicine so kids will take it, but my kids love it so much that they don't want to stop taking it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Lord Knows Our Needs

One night a few years ago, not too long after I had my third child, I made a huge spaghetti dinner for my family. My oldest child was only 3 and my husband wasn't even going to be home that night. For some reason, I had just made way too much, about twice the normal amount. At that time, we weren't big leftover-eaters, so I knew that all that food would go to waste. Then the idea came into my head that maybe someone else could use it. I thought of the sisters I visit taught and it didn't seem quite right. I thought of my companion and even a few friends nearby, but it just didn't feel right. So I got down on my knees and prayed to Heavenly Father to please let me know who needed this meal. Then I pulled my ward list down from the tack board in our kitchen and started flipping through it. A name caught my eye and I remembered that the particular sister had just had her third baby and her husband had also just changed jobs and was gone several days a week for work. Since it was already after 6 pm, I thought I'd better call ahead to make sure that I could bring the dinner. I called and asked if she had dinner already ready, and she didn't, so I offered to bring the remains of ours.

A few days later was fast and testimony meeting. That sister stood up and bore her testimony of the Lord knowing her needs in that she was feeling ill, having some postpartum issues, her husband was gone and she looked at the clock, thinking she still had to make dinner and had nothing to make. A few minutes later the phone rang with me on the other end offering to bring some food.

I just wanted to post this as a reminder to me that the Lord knows our needs and will let us know if we only ask. I meant to write it in my journal, and today was thinking back on journal-writing and realized that I never had written this incident down. So now it is written somewhere to always remember it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Memoir

Valentine's Day 1990. I was 12. I had just turned 12 less than two months before. 12 was a big age because that's when a girl in our church advances to Young Women's. In my family, 12 was when I got to start wearing heels and nylons instead of flats and tights. I also got my ears pierced. I was growing up.

Our ward had a Valentine's Dance for a mutual activity. In the church, youth don't attend dances until the age of 14, but in this case, the leaders made an exception and invited the Deacons and Beehives (12- and 13-year-old boys and girls). I was so excited. Let me backtrack.

At about the age of 10 is when I became boy-crazy. I used to write a "boy list" in my journals at the end of each entry, which then, was every day. I listed the boys I liked from my #1 to #5, sometimes as many as 10. So going to a real dance was an exciting thing for me. Among the deacons, there was a boy I liked. I was so hoping to dance with him. Of course, my 12-year-old girl's mind had no idea that 12-year-old boys aren't interested in girls.

I didn't get to dance with him. Yes, he was there, but he didn't dance with anyone. He just stood on the side with all the other 12-year-old boys who were also there. I danced with two people that night. The first was my dad. He was one of the young men's leaders, so was there as a chaperone. I'm glad I got to dance with him. I don't think I danced with him again like that until my wedding.

But it's the other guy that really stands out in my memory. Rusty. No last names here. He was 17, going on 18, a senior in high school. He baby-sat me and my brothers many years before when I was in about the first grade and he was in the 7th grade. He was always a nice guy and would say hi to me whenever he saw me. But here's the catch.

Rusty was about 6 foot 2. I was about 4 foot 10. It was a slow song, and he danced on his knees and we were about the same height. I remember thinking two things--I thought it was so nice of him to ask me to dance, but I about died of embarrassment with him dancing there on his knees.

That is one Valentine's Day memory that really sticks out.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

What I Learned This Week

This week has been a little bit trying, so here's what I learned from it all:

1. Burned broccoli smells really terrible and stays in the house a LONG time, especially when it's too cold out to keep the windows open all night long. Don't burn the broccoli.

2. When confronted by rude DMV people, it's probably best to just walk away instead of scream in their face and get kicked out of that particular branch of the DMV.

3. Dogs don't get strep throat, but when everyone has it, the dog gets ignored and then he acts out. Don't ignore your dog when you have strep throat or there may be consequences.

4. Don't tell your school-age child that he should come home as soon as he feels sick, just in case he might have strep throat. Now when he shows up for school this morning, the teacher will be wary of his presence because he told her that everyone here had strep throat and that he should come home right away if he felt sick at all. He didn't feel sick. He just wanted to come home.

5. Whenever your husband has 5 days off work consecutively, if you can afford it, get out of town. Then you may not end up with strep throat at all and can enjoy a full 5 days of being together as a family instead of 3 of those days out of commission due to strep throat.

And that is what I learned this week!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Author Laments

I am lamenting the take-over of such things as cell phone books. Whatever happened to writing a book, having it edited, submitting it for publication, being rejected, trying again and again, and then publishing a real book with a cover and pages in between? I realize that many people, particularly young people, are so addicted to their cell phones that using any other type of media is foreign to them, but does anybody else find it sad that publishing is going the way of the world wide web and cell phones instead of hardcover copies that you actually have to hold and turn pages in order to read?

There's just something about holding an actual book in your hands, feeling the pages between your fingers, studying the cover and the title pages, dog-earing favorite parts, and smelling those pages. Learning to read from left to right, at least in America, begins when little children hold an actual published book in their hands and look at pictures, turning the pages from left to right and being read to by an adult. That is pre-reading, and without books, as many articles I've seen online are telling is a new trend--online media instead of the actual thing, I foresee a loss of literacy. Yes, we have huge amounts of information at our fingertips via the Internet, but literacy skills have really gone down in recent years.

I hope this isn't really the trend and that sometime in the future there won't be actual books. Because that will be a very sad day indeed.

P.S. How can you stand reading a book in a virtual format anyway? I like to hold it in my hands and be able to mark that page and memorize where certain passages are based on where they are on the page. I can't do that with virtual media.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bad Behavior

Have you ever behaved badly? I mean, embarrassingly badly? So badly that after you finally cool off and calm down, you realize how ridiculous your behavior was, how obscene it was, that you spend the rest of the day or even week feeling so full of shame and self-loathing that you can hardly stand it?

I did that today. I behaved badly. I really ripped into two DMV employees. I let them have it. I let them have it so bad that I was kicked out of that particular branch of the DMV and told that I was not allowed to return, I would have to go elsewhere for my DMV needs. Because that made me so angry, I got home and laid into my husband, and then in turn, my children.

And now I regret it.

Is it fixable? I feel so stupid, so shameful, so humiliated that I can't believe I acted that way. Maybe I need some anger management classes. Do they really help?

Yes, I have a temper. I think I was really supposed to be a redhead. Sometimes my temper takes over and I can't seem to control it. I shake, knowing deep down that I need to get it under control, but I'm just so angry that I can't seem to stop myself. So my whole body shakes and I cry. I feel like a little child who just threw a temper tantrum. I guess that's what it was.

I've written a letter of apology, but that just seems to be stupid. I'm not about to go back there and stand in line for two hours hoping the same two employees will be at the desk that I can give the paper to. And I wouldn't try to march up to the front and hand it to them. Plus, I never did turn in any paperwork, so I'm still an anonymous person there. I'd rather it not be known who I am. I will definitely go to the other DMV to resolve my issues, but I just feel like I should apologize. I was really out of line.

Then I need to apologize to my husband and my kids. Man, I really blew it today. Wish there was a hole I could go hide in, because that's how I feel. Absolutely shameful.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Can I just say "duh?"

"Researchers are finding that academic success is particularly difficult for a student who is struggling socially, who may feel ostracized and uncomfortable at school. The correlation between social competence and academic success is high." This is a statement from an article that found its way into my inbox today.

Does anyone else see the "duh" factor here? When I read that line, I laughed out loud. Of course, there's a correlation between social success and academic success! Despite the inaccurate media portrayal of the "nerd", who is so behind socially but so supersmart that everyone makes fun of him, it is true that confidence in social skills contributes to success academically.

In fact, I went to three elementary schools, one junior high and two high schools and in all those hundreds of people, I never knew one "nerd" who actually fit the media stereotype. Most of the academically successful people I knew were very well-rounded individuals. They often played sports or participated in dance and even cheerleading. They often played instruments in the school band or orchestra or sang in the choir. Many of them were involved in lots of clubs, spoke more than one language, and kept their social calendars quite full. Even the ones who seemed to be less socially accepted were still confident in themselves and had at least a few good friends with whom to socialize.

I was a school nerd. I guess I still kind of am one. That's how I know this--I'm speaking of my peers. Yes, even cheerleaders and football players too. The way the media portrays them is not the way they really are. Perhaps there are a few who fit those stereotypes. But for the most part, I think that most people need to be well-rounded in this way to achieve academic success.

I also think that American schools should focus on keeping extra-curriculars and the arts because those things help motivate students to do better academically. I also believe that learning in a more well-rounded way as to include these subjects helps the brain function on a higher level than just focusing on only reading and math and nothing else.

So there's my soapbox for the day.


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