Friday, June 27, 2008

flexibility within structure

You've heard my two primary maureenisms by now:

Go Slow to Go Fast
Progress not Perfection

But there's a third (actually, there are probably fourths and fifths and sixths)--and it's one of the originals

Flexibility within Structure

I was student teaching when I came up with it. After my second lesson plan for teaching Julius Caesar to tenth graders, I decided my approach wasn't working for every kid. And it needed to. I liked the structure: 10-minute warm-up, reactivating what we knew so far; 5-minute preparation for the scene (or two) of the day; 20-minute scene interpretation; 10 minute reflection, what we now know or are still confused about.

So I kept the structure.

Then added some flexibility. For example, instead of using a written prompt for the warm-up, we used a verbal one. After we discussed what we already knew about the play (e.g. what already happened) then the kids synthesized what we discussed in a list to be used for an outline at the end of the unit. Instead of reenacting the entire scene, I'd isolate its crux and together, we'd modernize it. You get the idea.

I use this approach with my running and especially with my mothering and especially in my role as teacher to the little love I mother.

The structure remains the same every day: wake, eat, activity, lunch, nap, activity, dinner, quiet activity, bed (with a whole lot of "read" interspersed)

I've employed it with her as soon as my feet landed back on the ground after having her and I had a minute to sort out what just happened (the most wonderful thing in life happened: life) which was about when she was four weeks old.

The structure remains in fixed, but the activities, the menu's, the stories do not.

It's not rocket science, that's for sure. We all operate on our own flexibility within structures each day, but I think that sometimes the awareness of what "it" is helps the mind to relax a little bit.
What are your structures? What are your flexibilities? How do you operate?


I was reminded of this maureenism this week, as I was feeling a little scattered about this blog. Check back soon to hear more about it.


Going Slow to Go Fast

I'm up early early early every morning, either to work or to run or both. I love getting up early--I get a lot done. But it is very easy for "getting a lot done" to become a fixation. So much so that if I'm not getting something done, I feel unproductive and anxious. And that, I know, is ridiculous. So, I'm working on it.

Usually, I eat breakfast while I write email or think about the work-related tasks I need to get done that day. It's a total no-no, I know. Again, sometimes I feel like every minute needs to be productive and my sense of productivity becomes skewed. (Eating breakfast mindfully and having a minute to let the brain waves settle is, afterall, productive). So this morning, I didn't turn anything on. It was just me, my oatmeal, and some quiet, quiet air.


Splurge of the month

Husband paid the bills last night and whenever he pays the bills, there is a cloak of silence that falls heavy throughout the house. Don't get me wrong, it's totally self-imposed. I pretend I'm working on something when really, I'm zeroed in on his body language and his silence like it's keeping me alive.

I think about all the things I've bought this month that I probably could have done without and all the things that I could still return. Where does this guilt come from?

I must say, it's gotten way better since we've put the brakes on superfluous spending (which was never all that bad) and we've agreed to make the time to sit down together to pay those darn things. We both decided that my anxiety stems from my uninvolvement in the process.

So we're going to start making a date of it. A bottle of $10 wine and the bills. Could be a disaster, but I think it will be fun :) I'm counting on it.

In the meantime, no splurge for me!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Randomness Continues

Bare with me for one more post of scattered-ness.


Turns out my haircut was Wednesday. I had just sat in the chair for my trim when the stylist asked me, "So, what're we doing today?"

Without thinking, I replied, "Just a trim."

She starts snipping before settling into her line of little love questioning. (Honestly, what did we talk about before her?)

She barely got a word out when I said, "What do you think about that cut" as I pointed to another stylist down the line. She thought it would be "adorable."

Hmm...not exactly what I was looking for, but okay.

For those of you who haven't seen me in a while, I've been letting my hair grow long (for me). I've never let it get past that critical point (past the shoulders, almost down to the back) and I was determined I'd get there this time.

Because in my head, my hair looks like this.

But on my head, it looks like this.

So we cut it. And I LOVE it. No pictures yet, but it looks something like this, only way less colorful and way more streamlined.


This morning I saw a poll that said 60 percent of American's think the country is heading in the wrong direction, evidenced by rising gas prices, mortgage crises, and grocery bills.


I think it is heading in the wrong direction, evidenced by bigger cars, even bigger houses, and more more more mentality.

The abundance movement abounds. But I'm not sure what kind of abundance we're aiming for all the time. We're more grateful than we've ever been. Being grateful will get us more! I look around at fancy cars and big cars and even bigger houses and think, "Well yeah, duh! We ought to be grateful!"

I realize I sound cynical, and really, I'm all for the grateful movement--I'm not perfect at it, but I'm making progress at it. So today, I'm grateful that our great country has given my family choices and that we've been smart enough to make good ones. I'm grateful that our great country has given my family freedom that we've known when to exercise and when to resist.

Maybe it's headed in the wrong direction, I'm not astute enough on a worldly level to know these days. What I know on my small level is that I try to model manners for my daughter and say hello to strangers; water my plants during non-peak hours and cut my time in the shower; walk where I can and be efficient with driving when I can't; ask God for strength and courage each day He gives me; make my husband's lunch because I know how much he hates doing it. It all feels like the right direction to me.

I pray for people who do genuinely struggle in these times. People who can't pay the bills and who struggle to feed their family regardless of how hard they work. Those are the people who point me in the right direction--and I hope they're the ones who are getting polled.


There are some days when I get blindsided by motherhood. Like this morning. An early, chirpy, day-away-from-summer morning. Little love is still sleeping, husband is getting ready for work, and here I come bounding down the stairs to start some oatmeal. I round the corner and staring me square in the face are a toy baby, a stuffed tiger, and a big fluffy duck, sitting in a perfect row.

I took a look around at every drop of love she's left for me to see. Because sometimes, if I'm not looking for it, I look right over it. And me? I don't want to miss one thing.


Go Slow (formerly one small step) to Go Fast:

I watched the golf tournament last weekend. I don't golf, but I jumped on the band wagon and enjoyed every minute of it. At one point, Tiger was in a tough spot. The announcer said, "I want all the young people watching this to pay attention. Watch how he slows everything down, every move, and concentrates."

And he did. He slowed his breath, his walk, his movements, everything. He slowed everything down. It was something to see and it was one of the few times I was really glad a commentator commented. But I'm still wondering why he left old people out.

Go slow to go fast.


Today we're going to the pool and then we'll probably have a Popsicle.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reminder Days

I think it's time for a good old-fashioned brain-drain (though I think I'd prefer a brain-freeze because that would mean lots of mint chocolate chip ice cream, whose call from the freezer I am trying really hard to ignore at the moment).

I have a lot swirling around up there right now; while it might have something to do with the two cups of coffee, extra strong, I drank this afternoon, I think it also has to do with the fact that I am without my monthly planner. I didn't lose it, didn't burn it, didn't throw it away in a fit of revolt. It ran out and I have not replaced it.

I have become, in the last month, the person I vowed I would never become: the one who never writes down appointments and deadlines in one place, but rather writes them on the back of napkins and receipts or on chintzy little day minders I got for free with the purchase of five hallmark cards (which doesn't exactly make them free, I guess) and even on calendars I printed out myself.

So, that's the long winded explanation as to why I feel a little scattered these days (or at least the reason I'm telling myself). Among my scattered-ness:

1. Is it just me, or do Tiger Woods and his Caddy have EXACTLY the same set of teeth? (See quiz on side bar.)
2. Should I or should I not buy this smart spin. I've been agonizing for years.
3. When am I going to bite the bullet and learn to iron. Properly.
4. We must stain our deck. Enough is enough.
5. Do friends and family know how much I love them?
6. What am I going to fix for dinners this week?
7. Need to mail dad's father's day card before next year's father's day. (That's right, still not in the mail)
8. Schedule annual doc appointment
9. Find out when my hair appointment is, exactly


That's better.


Whenever Father's Day comes around, I can tell you exactly what my dad's response is to my on-cue, "Happy Father's Day, Dad"

Everyday is Father's Day.

And he means it.

But it's one of those inked-in reminder days. A reminder day to tell the men who are fathers to us, like fathers to us, fathers to our children, or like fathers to our children how much we appreciate who they are and the little and big things they do. Because no one can do "it" quite like they can: say nothing when nothing is all you need, say something when saying something is exactly what you need, take it in stride, take it on the chin, take in everything we mothers, wives, daughters, sisters have to give, good and bad, which can add up to quite a lot. And at times, might even contradict.

So thank you to all the men I love...the father to me, the father to my little love, the father to my big love.


One Small Step

Prayers in the morning, prayers in the night. Help me to live well and live with delight.

Splurge ahead

We're going on a date, we're going on a date, we're going on a date.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Inside the Lines

enerally, I'm a "color inside the lines" (or run inside the lines) kind of gal. I wait patiently in church parking lots; I don't cut lines at the deli; I don't attempt to return impulse kitchen gadgets without the receipt; I wear matching socks unless I unknowingly mismatched.

But on occasion, I'm known to break a rule or two. Like eating breakfast for dinner and dessert before dinner. (Pretty wild, I know).

And I'm about to break another one. Like believing that summer doesn't start until June 21, which happens to be summer solstice and which also happens to be my husband's birthday.

Friends, solstice or not, summer is here (or maybe it's hell, but we'll pray it's just summer-come-early) and there is no denying it.

And in honor of its early arrival, please enjoy the tastiest cheat sheet I have yet to find. No more arguments with the big guy about which meat gets grilled on low, which on high, which for a long time, which for a short time. It's all right there.



Ava told me today that she didn't want to "go for a nap." Instead, she told me, "I just want to play. With my toys. Downstairs. Wanna come too, mommy?"

You bet I do darlin'. But you can also bet that if someone wanted to come over right now and shut the blinds, turn on the fan, read me stories about Sheep Out to Eat and sing me songs, I'd wanna do that, too.


Ran a great race on Saturday. It was H.O.T. (in case you can't tell by the duh look on my face) but I survived, inspired by all those survivors. And so didn't my dear dad.


One Small Step

Today I'm going to read my book for 15 minutes and not think once (okay, maybe just once) about the housework that needs to be done, the work that is on deadline, the stories that need to be written. Instead, I'm just going to go and read my book because we agree (don't we?) that it's summertime and reading is what you're supposed to do when it's summertime.


It's time again for my favorite tasty treat. You can get the recipe in my splurge section here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Zoo Time

On Saturday, we made our first trip to the zoo. As one father put it to his crying daughter, "You're at the zoo, watching elephants, a baby elephant, what more could you want?"

Our little one mostly loved it.

Except when it started thundering. Then she said, "That scares me."

Her daddy told her it was just baby elephant Sampson playing and falling down, or the monkeys swinging on the branches.

So when it thundered last night getting ready for bed, she said, "Uh oh, baby Sampson fell down"

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some perspective

If I were the weather, and you punched in my zip code to see what I was going to be like today, this is what you'd see:

Partly cloudy with a few showers sprinkled in. Almost like those days when you think it could rain, but you can't tell for sure if it's going to rain, but if it is going to rain you wish it just would and get on with it already.

That is kind of how I feel today.

Someone just tell me what to do so I can get on with it already.


And feeling that way doesn't feel good because I can't think of one thing (that really matters, anyway) that is unsettled in my life. But I am thinking of the woman whom I have never met but whose story I read regularly on; a woman who my friend Melissa does know; a woman who today is making funeral arrangements for her twelve-year-old son who just lost his life to a brain tumor.

It makes your heart break to think of it. But when you read about the strength she describes her son as having at the end, his faith and courage to let go of life on earth, his only concern being for those on earth left to live without him, you feel like you have no business letting your heart break. Instead, you feel like your only business is to make your heart as whole and as large and as spread out as you can--for all to see and have and know.


So I am sitting quiet today and paying close attention to every face my little one makes. I am playing extra hard with that little love who says, "Mama, come play with me?", and I am not thinking one bad thought about our broken air conditioning and the 90+ degree weather that is on its way.

I will let myself feel a little unsure today; but tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll feel sure.


One Small Step (but hopefully they're fast ones)

I love to run, as most of you know by now. Here's what I'm gearing up for this spring/summer:

Survivor Harbor 7

Baltimore 10-miler
Utica Boilermaker (my first and favorite race)


Splurge Spring

I've been hoarding all the watermelon at the grocery stores. I just can't get enough of this "it's definitely summertime" treat.