Monday, January 30, 2012

Writing = Therapy

The New York Times published this article recently about a study that confirms that writing can be therapeutic - specifically, blogging.

The study was conducted with teenagers who, of course, were in a better state of mind if they blogged about their lives and insecurities and received positive comments on those blog posts than those who simply kept a diary or those who wrote nothing.

Our family lore includes me writing and  burying nasty notes about my siblings and parents in the brick sidewalk outside our farmhouse.  I was young.  Like first and second grade young.  My older sister once spied on me and witnessed me burying one of these notes, dug it up, and brought it to our mother - sure that I'd receive a proper punishment for the angry and condemning words I'd written about my family.  Instead, my older sister was admonished and told to return the note beneath its spot in the brick sidewalk.  My mom thought it was a good outlet for me and she wasn't going to discourage it.  Or let my sister.

So I guess my mom supported my writing from the beginning.

I do remember writing hateful notes about what I saw as my horrible family.  I once left a note on my bed saying something to the effect of, "I hate you all.  Goodbye."  and went to live in our tree house.  My dad came for me by sunset and promised me that no matter how bad things seemed, home was better than the alternative.  I remember thinking that I had nothing for supper up in that tree house, so I might as well go back home.

But what the writing did for me - in these bursts of fury - was make me feel better.  Exactly what this study found.  I like it when that happens.      

And that is why I love blogging today - although I try not to be a hater like my 6-year-old self clearly was.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sore throats and headaches

One boy down today.  I picked him up yesterday from school after lunch.  "I knew I was sick when I didn't want to eat my lunch," he told me in the car.  His temperature was 99.4 - hovering too near the 100 degrees where the school is required to send 'em home.

I had given him and one of the twins a little pain reliever in the morning -- they both woke, at different times, complaining of a sore throat.  It was about four hours into the day, right when the pain killer wore off, that Hawkins called to be picked up.  His temperature climbed through the afternoon, reaching 101.8. Must be fever free, without meds, for 24 hours before he can return to school.

So we're camping out on my bed today.  His sore throat is worse, but fever and headache are gone.  He's getting a stuffy nose now.  But I'm making him complete THREE English assignments that he just didn't do -- journal writing.  This term is used loosely, in my opinion.  They are essentially essays that students must write in response to various articles like "Is Cursive Archaic?" and "Is Lying Ever Okay?"  This is normally an assignment I'd love, but the assignment rules take all the joy out of writing.  I sympathize with the boy, but am making him complete them all the same.

Bailey offers encouragement from her bed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

This is what winning looks like

Reid and Hayden after their 16-14 win in overtime with their Yellowjackets Basketball Team.

Reid made the shot that tied up the game 13-13 and put them in overtime.  Two minutes to play:  both teams foul each other and each make 1 point, bringing it up to 14-14.  Last THREE seconds of the game, Reid gets the ball, dribbles and shoots -- he SCORES!  BUZZER SHOT TO WIN THE GAME!

Couldn't be a prouder Momma.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Check out our adventures living in and restoring a Texas Bungalow on my new blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I actually finished it Friday -- a few minutes before the twins got off the bus.  I was rushing to devour all words before hope of any silence vanished for the three day weekend.

It was amazing.  Well worth the 800+pages.  Well worth the time investment last week.
Well done, Mr. King.

I find myself thinking about the characters -- Jake and Sadie especially -- and the concept of "strings" of alternate futures/pasts colliding if we attempt to mess with the past.  And it makes me feel better somehow.  No regrets.  No mistakes.  Everything happens for a reason.  Or, as King put it, "Life turns on a dime."

And I learned a new word in this book:  obdurate.  As in, "The past is obdurate."  As in "unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding."

The past harmonizes.  I like that.  Now I notice these things - like the similarity between our very loved house in Alaska where we began our married life and our home now in Texas - where we begin again.

I like this poem by Philip Larkin.  The Trees.  I heard it mentioned on NPR in an interview with a classical pianist, Simone Dinerstein (link to the interview here).  She named her most recent album, "Something Almost Being Said", after this poem.

The Trees by Philip Larkin 

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain. 

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012's cold!

I'm not leaving the house today.  Uh uh.  No way.  It is too cold out there.  

I am hunkering down in my flannel PJs and continuing to plow through Stephen King's 11/22/63.  Page 342.

As I put lotion on my dry and cracked hands and return the bottle to my bedside table, I realize that my bedside table now looks like every memory I have of my mother's bedside table.  

Kleenex.  Absolutely essential.  
Lotion.  This is new for me.  My skin is feeling its age this winter.  
My current book.  That one's on top.  On top of a pile of other books and magazines.    
Alarm.  To get the kids up and out the door on time for school.  
Cell phone.  
Coffee.  Absolutely.  In my "Writer's Almanac" mug.  If you don't know about "The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor", you should check it out.  
Remote control.  My new favorite morning show?  CBS This Morning.  I have defected from the fluff of the TODAY show because of Charlie Rose.  I.  Love.  Charlie.  Rose.  
Lamp to read by.  
The rest is just clutter that needs to be cleared off.  I might tackle that today, now that I've pointed it out.  

Bailey is on board with the whole stay home today thing, I think.  


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Here comes the sun...

Good day for hanging outside and reading.  Bailey agrees.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Time to read

I am so excited to have this ginormous book in my hands.  I've been on the waiting list at the library since it came out in November.  They emailed me yesterday and told me it was ready.  I couldn't get there fast enough to pick it up.  

I'm not a fanatic about Stephen King, but I do love him.  The Stand is his best, but he's got so many good ones.  His memoir, On Writing, is my favorite.  I just re-read it recently, now that I'm trying this writing thing full time.

So...instead of writing, I'm READING.  (Which Stephen King encourages lots of in his aforementioned book.)

It is so heavy that I kind of have to prop it up on the covers in between turning pages.  849 pages.  I read the first 30 or so last night.  It's good.

And as I took this picture at the kitchen table this morning, look what I saw:

Those are drilled HOLES in my table.  Good thing I'm not a freak out mom.  I knew exactly who had committed this crime:  Hawkins.  He was busy modifying his Nerf gun all afternoon yesterday and this had involved pulling out Husband's tools.  I was aware that he had stripped a screw and eventually broken off a part of his gun, but all in all he seemed happy with his work.

So, as he ate his Froot Loops this morning I pointed out the holes.  "Uh.  Yeah.  That was an accident."

And you know what?  That was enough for me.

On to reading.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Soup weather

Yesterday, I cooked a pot of soup.  This is mostly what I did - all day.  I didn't get out of my pajamas until an hour or so before the bus would be dropping off the twins from school.  Mostly because I'd be ashamed.

Must have been one helluva pot of soup, right?

It started with a leftover ham bone from our Christmas ham, from our local shop Hamm's on the square in McKinney.  Here's how it began:

I used a recipe from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 10th Edition paperback, given to me by my mother before I made my graduate student trek to Venezuela in 1994.  Yes, I still have it.
It split in two somewhere along the way.  
But I wouldn't dare throw it away.  It's got recipes in there that aren't in later editions.  A dear friend gave me a new Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, ring bound, that I also love - that is also falling apart.  

So I let this pot of soup simmer on the stove all day, while our new pup Bailey supervised.  

 After many hours, it looked like this:
and tasted delicious with a bit of cornbread, courtesy of this recipe from The New York Times.  Only our oldest son knew how delicious it was, however.  One twin refused to even try it, opting for Froot Loops for dinner instead.  The other twin delicately dipped his cornbread in his bowl, careful to hardly touch the soup and declared, "It's really good this way, Mom."  Thanks, son.

Pearls before swine, I tell you.  Pearls before swine.