Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wizard of Oz--Girls' Night Out

July 28, 2010

Our local community theater group put on a production of Wizard of Oz, and Bree thought it would be fun to have a girls' night out with just her sister and her cousin. They got all dressed up and had a fantastic time!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Come On In...the Water's Fine

July 26, 2010

Summertime in July can be unbearably hot, unless you're surrounded by good company and a body of water. On one recent 100+ degree day, Jerilynn and I packed up the kids and we headed over to Aunt Julie's house. Her community has an amazing clubhouse with a big, beautiful pool, as well as a man-made lake where we could take the kids out on the paddle boats. Simple pleasures sometimes make the best memories.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don't Talk To Strangers (Unless It's Rick Springfield!)

July 25, 2010
About a week and a half ago, I got a text from my good friend Francine. Fran and I met several years ago when we worked together at the high school. Although our love of high school English brought us together, it was our mutual love of 80s teen pop icon Rick Springfield that helped seal the deal. I can still remember when I offered her a ride somewhere after school one day. She jumped in and I started up the car. The stereo started blasting my Rick Springfield CD, much to my chagrin. It was one thing to rock out to Rick in my car by myself on the way to work, but it was a clandestine love affair, meant to be hidden from my friends with more sophisticated and worldly musical inclinations. And yet, Francine immediately brightened and screamed, "You like Rick, too!?" A true moment of bonding.
So, when Francine texted me and said her friend had a couple of free tickets to the Rick Springfield concert in Sacramento and wanted to know if I could join them, I was ecstatic. It's summer, I've got free time on my hands, and Fran was even willing to be our driver. The kids were staying with their dad since their aunt cousin were visiting, so the road trip was on!
We drove three hours chatting up a storm and listening to Rick in the background. I got to know a little bit about Kelly (Fran's friend and my new friend), and I realized what an amateur fan I am in comparison to those two, who have each seen him several times in concert and who have each met him in person. They were both pros at rushing the stage and getting up close and personal with him and had great stories to share.
At the concert, we had fantastic seats about eleven rows back, dead center. Although the security guards were quite serious about keeping the crowd of 40-something women away from the stage, Rick had other ideas. He must have been a nightmare for the security team when he came out into the audience not once but three different times, walking through the crowd, reaching out, shaking hands, talking to people here and there, and generally being a very engaging and interactive showman. Kelly, Francine, and I all got personal contact with him twice. It was very cool! We even followed the VIP ticket buyers to see the Meet and Greet that was taking place after the concert. We didn't have VIP passes, but that didn't stop us from getting to see him mingling with the VIPs and seeing him emerge from the dressing room trailer. I have never felt so much like a paparazzi-stalker, but it was really a lot of fun. I am already looking forward to the next concert I get to see with these girls!

Hey--The Band Is Back Together!

July 25, 2010

After a months-long hiatus, the band Doug plays in reunited to play at the Wiffledome--Dennis Krepp's pretty spectacular mancave. The occasion was Paulie the Drummer's 40th birthday, and the RGB--The Royals Garage Band--was ready to rock out to celebrate. Wives and groupies like myself got to come along for the ride.

My hubby, sexy guitarist.

Paulie, the birthday boy/drummer.



Royals Garage Band

Here's a link to one of their songs-Royals Garage Band. Dave has uploaded several if you want to check out more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gotta Love This Girl

July 21, 2010
I just love it when this little girl comes to visit us! My niece Delaney lives in Oklahoma, so we don't get to see her nearly often enough. But when she does come for a visit, she's a little ray of sunshine and a firecracker all wrapped into one. Plus, I get to spend time with her mama as well, who I just love. Bonus! I so wish they lived closer....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Brian Piercy, Gone Too Soon

July 20, 2010
The high school where I teach, Buchanan High, has the sad distinction of being disproportionately affected by loss to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today I learned that Brian Piercy lost his life serving our country, just a month shy of returning home to his wife. He was the 7th of our young men, former students, who have fallen.

While I did not know Brian personally, I do know his brother Kevin and his mother, Carol. I can't fathom the depth of their grief in the loss of a loved and respected older brother, in the loss of a cherished and adored son. I wish them, and their whole family, love and strength and faith as they endure the most difficult task of saying goodbye.

The Memorial Garden at our school is already too big. I pray there will be no more need to add another name.

Popular Science, by Captain Obvious

July 20, 2010
Are you thrown off by the title of this post? You know--knowing as you do (if you know anything at all about me) that I'm what you'd call an English and Humanities sort of gal. Science and math, not so much. And popular? Not even close.

And yet, I found myself perusing the latest issue of Popular Science. It's a little bit like being lost in a strange city: fascinating and a little frightening at the same time. I bought a subscription to the magazine for the boy, who is definitely an inhabitant of the science and technology world. I just like to check in every now and again to try to keep up with him.

This month's issue, however, featured an article that seems a little outside the realm of their usual fodder of the latest-and-the-greatest-technological-advances-that-you-will-never-be-able-to-afford. I might even suspect it to be a tongue-in-cheek offering, were it not in keeping with the customary tone of the magazine. But no, this informational piece takes itself seriously, despite the title "Science Confirms the Obvious."

It gives us a list of some real-life research studies either recently completed or undertaken by prestigious institutions and companies:

The Study: "Mountaintop Mining Consequences"
The Findings: Blowing Up Mountains is Bad for the Environment

Keeping mountains, good. Blowing 'em up, bad. Got it.

The Study: "There Are Age-Related Changes in Neural Connectivity During the Encoding of Positive, but Not Negative, Information"
The Findings: Old People Prefer Happy Memories

Shocking. Ground-breaking! Wouldn't it make sense that most people, old or otherwise, would prefer happy memories?

The Study: "Extreme College Drinking and Alcohol-Related Injury Risk"
The Findings: Hard-Drinking Adrenaline Freaks Are Prone to Injury

A drunk doofus with a death-wish raises his potential to get hurt. What did they do to research this one, hang out a frat house for a weekend?

The Study: "Do Green Products Make Us Better People?"
The Findings: Environmentalists Can Be Smug

Huh. I hadn't noticed....

The Study: "Intervention to Strengthen Emotional Self-Regulation in Children with Emerging Mental Heath Problems: Proximal Impact on School Behavior"
The Findings: Self-Control Makes Students More Manageable

Seriously? If my students only exercised self-control, my job would be easier? Why didn't I think of that? Of course, they didn't exactly come up with the little 'how' piece of the puzzle before the patted themselves on the back for this one. THAT would be useful information.

The Study: "Remembering Instructors: Play, Pain, and Pedagogy"
The Findings: A Mean Gym Teacher Can Turn You Off Sports

In other words, mean people suck. I wish someone had paid me to come up with that one.

The Study: "Weekends, Work, and Well-Being: Psychological Need Satisfactions and Day of the Week Effects on Mood, Vitality, and Physical Symptoms"
The Findings: People Are Happier on the Weekend

Or, when you're doing what you want to do instead of doing what someone else tells you you have to do, you tend to be more content. Brilliant.

The Study: "Supertaskers: Profiles in Extraordinary Multi-tasking Ability"
The Findings: Most People Drive Poorly While Talking on the Phone

This is especially true for me. I'm a hand-talker--you know, the kind who gets asked all the time if I'm Italian. So driving kind of gets in the way of my communication style.

The Study: "Who Said You Could Wear My Sweater? Adolescent Siblings' Conflicts and Associations with Relationship Quality"
The Findings: Siblings Who Fight Don't Get Along

Siblings who fight don't get along. People who argue disagree with each other. Girls who say 'fine' to end an argument aren't really 'fine' at all. The sun shines. Birds sing. These are legitimate scientific issues to study?

The Study: "Generational Differences in Work Values: Leisure and Extrinsic Values Increasing, Social and Intrinsic Values Decreasing"
The Findings: Young People Want Big Money, Big Vacations

Who says when they're growing up that they want to be poor and never go anywhere? They'd probably be turned in to a school psychologist if they did, to figure out why their self-esteem was so damaged that they didn't think they deserved more out of life.

What I'd like to know is who decided these issues needed further research in order to be verified, and more importantly, who decided to fund these projects. If you find out, let me know, because I've got a few ideas for new projects, like:

Are Big Bird's Feathers Actually Yellow?

Do the Wheels on the Bus, in fact, Go Round and Round?

Is One the Loneliest Number? If So, Can Two Be As Sad As One?

Does Gender Influence Who Holds the Remote Control?

And the biggie: Did the Article Offer Us Any New Insights Into Our World? If Not, Why Did It Get Published?

from Popular Science, August 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's Always Different When It Happens to You

July 19, 2010

**If you read this in the southern accent that's in my head as I'm writin' this, it'll sound better. We're Oklahoma folk, originally. Although Grandma's been a transplanted Californian for several years, the accent is still unmistakable--unless you're Grandma, who doesn't think she has an accent.
I've been spending a lot of time with my grandma lately, and I've learned a thing or two about my mom that would have been useful information several years ago.

Grandma and I, in the course of our recent conversation, got to talking about when my young parents decided to pack up their three kids (in the days before numbers fours and five) and move from the mid-West out to California. "Do you know how I found out your mama was moving out to California?" I did not.

"Well, your mama had missed my graduation from nursing school, and I was wondering why." Honestly, I was surprised to hear that. My mom was very big on celebrating accomplishments. "Well, after we got home, a man from the fillin' station across the street came over and told us we had a phone call." (For those of you not of a certain era, gas stations used to be called 'filling stations'.) "We didn't have a phone at the time, but your mama somehow found out the number of the fillin' station to get ahold of us."

'Where are you?' she said, when she got to the phone.

'We're in California!'

'California? Why?'

'Well, we moved here.'

'You moved? Why didn't you let any of us know?'

'We just didn't want anybody fussin' at us about it, so we thought it'd be easier to tell you after we were already here.'

Seriously? My mom moved halfway across the country and didn't even give my grandparents advanced notice to get used to the idea? Or even to say goodbye to the grandkids? I would have been livid if that was me. (Bree, are you reading this? Whenever you plan to move away, have a chat with your mama first, huh?)

After she'd delivered the news, my mom started to complain to Grandma about how rough their trip had been. They even lost a mattress that had been tied to the top of their car and had run over it. It had apparently been quite a journey, especially with three kids under six.

Grandma told her she didn't care. "That's just good enough for ya--somebody that'll up and move without tellin' her mama!" She didn't have a bit of sympathy for her. She just didn't think my mom had done her right--and I can't say I blame her. She found out that my parents hadn't let dad's parents in on the secret, either. Grandma Mayes' response? "Why would you want to move out to California? All they do out there is lay on the beach and smoke marijuana." (By the way, that would be exactly the kind of reason lots of people might actually want to move out to California, if, in fact, it were true.) I imagine there were hard feelings on my grandparents' part for sometime after they got those phone calls.

So now, flash-forward several years, to the day I moved out of my mother's house. I was a college kid, in my second year. Mom's house was well-known among all of our friends as an open house kind of a place--Mom welcomed anybody, anytime. It was great, except that as a college student, I needed quiet and privacy to study, and there was so much distraction and temptation to be social at home, ironically. There was no fight, no falling out--we had a great relationship and were very close. I just wanted to be responsible so that I could focus on school. Mom was devastated.

I remember distinctly the day I pulled out of Mom's drive way toward my new home. She'd had weeks to get used to the idea, and had even helped me find my new apartment and pack for the move. The apartment was literally on the same street, just a mile up the road. And yet, as I pulled out of the driveway, she was sobbing, huge tears rolling down her face, saying over and over, "I'll never see you again! I 'll never see you again!" She had always been very good at the whole Mom Guilt Trip, with heaping side of the Over Dramatic. It almost made me want to stay, just because I felt like such a bad daughter, abandoning my mom.

And yet....when she moved? All the way to California?? Oh, man, if I had only known! Maybe I'd have taken off and let her know after the fact. You, know--so I didn't have to have anyone fussin' at me. I can just hear my grandma saying, "Well that's just good enough for ya!" I guess when it happened to her, it was a whole new ballgame.

Swimming and Me 'n Ed's Night, Otherwise Known as Recovering From Softball in 100 Degree Heat

July 19, 2010