Monday, January 16, 2012

Turning Bloody 30

Tomorrow I turn 30. Let the "Old Lady" comments commence. Yes, it is true I am older. Maybe even old. My body certainly tells me the truth of that statement. I just don't recuperate from bumps and bruises as easily as I did when I was a kid. Colds seem to last longer, aches are more painful and lingering, muscles seems to jiggle when they were once firm.

But, you know, for all the ways that my body confirms I am getting older, there are other milestones too. In these 30 years I have finished high school, a Bachelor's Degree, a Master's Degree, I have worked my way up through a variety of jobs including stocking grocery shelves, acting in commercials, being the secretary to a vice president of the bank, substitute teacher, and finally teacher. But I think the career that I have had the longest, and one which looks like it will be a permanent part of my life, is that of a student. I have been a student for the majority of my life. Even now, after completing my Master's degree, I know in a year's time I will have to do it all again as I clear my credential, and then go on to get an Assistive Technology Certificate, and then ... well, you get the picture.

And I love it! I love learning and growing. I am challenging myself to change, to try to be better, to love more, love myself, to love the earth, to love people, and creatures. If you would have told me when I was in high school that I would one day be a teacher with granola tendencies I would have laughed in your face. And yet, here I am, and here is what I bought myself for my birthday:

and this

and this

Have you figured out what these are yet? When you do, your reaction might be something like "Why on earth would you buy this???" or "Susanne, seriously?!?! We need to have an intervention". But I was giddy every time a box was delivered and I opened them up to find these pretties. I think I was more excited about the cute packaging. Each company had a personalized-HAND WRITTEN-note. I love those kinds of details! New Moon Pads sent me a peppermint tea bag to help sooth my pain during that time. And Party In My Pants sent me a tiny dark chocolate because we all crave chocolate during that time too. It's the little things that bring a smile to my face.

So I bought cloth pads for my birthday from 3 different companies: Party In My Pants (or P.I.M.P.- so cute!), New Moon Pads, and Lotus Pads. I have been wanting to get some cloth pads for a while now, but things kept coming up and it just never happened. But I finally did it! Yippee!!! I decided to buy a few pads from three different companies to compare them before I take the plunge and buy a complete set. This is going to be a tough choice. I love them all. For different reasons. But more on that in a later post. For now, Happy Bloody Birthday to me!!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I Can Read in 2011

If you recall, at the end of 2010 I challenged myself to read 12 in 12 in 2011. The entire year I felt pressure to "perform" if you will. My name is Susanne and I am a goal-setter. There, I've said it. Setting goals is like a compulsion for me. I live, no,thrive because of them. This is something my husband does not understand and something that I can't explain. So it remains a mystery. My goals range from, "I will finish my homework, then I will go to Disneyland" (sensible) to "I must complete this blog entry before I can eat breakfast" (????). The first one makes sense and makes me look responsible. The second one makes me seem like I have a problem. But anyway, I better hurry up because I am hungry and would like to have some breakfast!

So here they are in the order I read them:

Sh*t MyDad Says by Justin Halpern- This is a book I bought for my husband last Christmas. He heard about it on a podcast and really wanted to read it. And now, a year later, he still hasn't read it. But I have. This is a very funny book about the relationship between a father a son. But it is the father in this true account that makes you audibly laugh and at the same time well-up with a so much love that you wish you were a father yourself. This book started as a series of Tweets Halpern began when, as a grown man, he had to move back in with his parents. His father is a genius, both professionally and in the way he weaves words. The man says what he is thinking, leaving no room for you to misinterpret his meaning, while at the same time making you appreciate social civility which demands false politeness. Halpern would daily Tweet some of the ridiculous comments his father said. This quickly garnered him a huge following, a book deal, and a TV show. While the things that Halpern's father says do not fail to shock, it is the passion and love he has for his son that truly touches and surprises.

Lift by Kelly Corrigan- I saw this book while at work one day. I was taking a group of clients out to Walmart and I saw this book on clearance. I was drawn to the cover. Yes, I am one of those people. I am weak-minded enough to actually judge books by their cover. I don't do it all the time, but when I see a compelling cover I will pick up the book 9 times out of 10. I can't help it! It's so pretty! So it was with Lift. I saw the cover. Liked it. Saw the price. Loved it. Sold! This a short book that was written as a letter by Kelly Corrigan to her daughters. In it she tells three stories about what adults go through when they choose to be parents. She gives it straight, saying that it is tough and scary and grueling, but it is worth it. While written from the perspective of a parent (something I am not), I found that I was able to relate to the call to live life more fully, to embrace the pains and the trials as part of the journey which is also filled with wonders and beauties.

How to Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris- If you are a frequent listener of "This American Life" then you have likely heard David Sedaris reading one of his essays on that program. That is how I met him. Sedaris is a master storyteller. This book is a compilation of his essays/stories. In it he tells autobiographical accounts of seemingly normal things, like a family summer vacation, or staying in a hotel, and is able to draw out the less obvious humor of the events through his observations of the ridiculous. His stories are funny, interesting, and oddly relate-able, especially as my own upbringing and life couldn't be more different from his. But that is the magic of his writing. He is able to take his own severely unique experiences and help us see ourselves in those places through his witty observations. This was a fun read, and I plan on reading more of his other books.

Listening Is an Act of Love edited by Dave Isay- This was another find I got when I found Lift by Kelly Corrigan. Do things ever happen in multiples in your life? You know that saying, "When it rains it pours"? Things seem to come into my life like this. I was listening to NPR and they had clips of regular people (not anchors or reporters) sharing their stories with loved ones. A few days later I was listening to NPR again and Dave Isay was on talking about the National Day of Listening (a day that encourages people to interview a loved one and listen to their story). Then a few days later I was in Walmart for work and I saw this book on clearance. When things happen like this I take as a gentle prompt or suggestion. So I bought the book. It has to be one my favorite books of the year. It is filled with interviews between all sorts of people- friends, lovers, parents and children, strangers, etc. The stories are as diverse as the people themselves. The stories are organized in the following general themes: Home and Family, Work and Dedication, Journeys, History and Struggle, and Fire and Water. It is a wonderful attempt to tell the American story.

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris- This is book 10 in the series. This series is my guilty pleasure. You know, I have tried to read a few other series and they just didn't have the combination of intrigue and pacing that I like in order to keep me hooked. Yes, I did read the Twilight series, but let me tell you, if that series was any longer that 4 books I would have been out. I also tried to get into the House of Night series, but it felt too much like a high school soap opera, and I hated high school when I was in it. This series is just right for me. This book was a little slower than the others, but, you know, even Sookie needs a break once and a while. Poor thing.

Tell Me Your Name by Arthur Zannoni- My spiritual director let me borrow this book. It was after a discussion about how difficult it was for me to separate myself from the thinking of God as male. I really want to understand God as completely and fully as possible and to do that I need to embrace all images of God, not simply God as male. Specifically I have been trying to understand God in female images. My spiritual director wisely pointed me to this book. This book explores all the metaphors and images used to explain God in the Bible. God is a rock, an eagle, a mother hen, a storm, a father, a mother, a priest, a prophet, etc. This was the gentle introduction I needed to release myself from the masculine culture that dictates our current religious practices. This book helped me maintain my faith in my God when the temptation of throwing the baby out with the bath water was so strong. A small book filled with substantial wisdom and truth!

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf- I read this story for an assignment in my Masters program. The assignment was to design a lesson around a children storybook that address multicultural and diversity issues. Now you may be wondering how this book meets that criteria when stories about ethnic minorities would obviously be a shoo-in. Well, let me illuminate. Stories about ethnic minorities are important, but I was thinking about my students specifically. They don't quite grasp the concept of racism, or prejudice. That is not to say that they don't participate in these social barriers. However, they are not able to explore these concepts in great depth. But they do understand what it is to feel different, to be punished or treated badly for being different. And that is where I saw the connection to Ferdinand. This a classic book about a peace-loving bull who sees the world in his own special way. The world tries to make him be something he is not, only to realize that he is happiest when he is just himself. I want my students to know that it is okay to be who they are. The world may not understand you, but that is okay too. You are not alone, and you are just wonderful! Such a simple book with so much depth. Loved it and I can't wait to share it with my kids.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket- I read the first three books (Bad Beginnings, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window) to my students this year so that we could watch the movies based on those books and compare and contrast them. I thought that the books would be a little difficult for my students to follow along with. It seems more appropriate for a 5th grader, and my students usually comprehend at a lower level. However, I decided to give it a go. I read with character voices and frequently paused to clarify confusion, resorting often to acting out or drawing out some of the scenes. It took quite a long time to finish these three books, but you know, my students surprised me with how well they were listening to them. I think this is a testament to how entertaining the stories are. Some warned me that they were very dark. And they are indeed dark stories compared to Charlotte's Web (which we are reading next) but they are no darker than some of the other things my students are exposed to on the weekends at home (so sad). I think many of them found the eerie atmosphere of the story refreshing, and the perseverance of the Baudelaire children inspiring. And so do I.

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris- This is book 11 in the series. In this book we, the readers, are definitely being prepared for a conclusion. And while I have enjoyed my adventures with Sookie, the poor girl needs a break. She has had a rough life ever since being made aware of the world of magical creatures. What we are all dying to know is whether Sookie will ever find a life partner, and if so, who will it be? Will she remain human forever, or will she make the permanent leap into the world of magic herself. A friend told me that there are only a few more books left in the series, according to the contract Harris signed, so the answers to these questions will be revealed soon.

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan- When I finished reading Lift I let my friend Emilee borrow it. She then let me borrow this book by the same author. This is the book that launched Corrigan's career as a writer. In this true story, Corrigan explores the place between feeling truly grown up and still feeling like a child. It is her struggles with breast cancer that bring her to this middle place where she needs to be strong for her young children and yet yearns to be comforted by her own parents. This is an honest depiction of the forward and backward ebb and flow of life. I think Corrigan is a skillful writer who is able to capture the humor and holiness of life's little moments in a way that only someone with her experiences could.

So, there it is 12 in 12 (if you don't forget to count the 3 books of the Lemony Snicket series). In case any of you are questioning the validity of the 12 because, well, The Story of Ferdinand is a children's book, and A Series of Unfortunate Events was read for work, I would like to show you this:

I read more than half of these books from cover to cover and the other books I read the majority of, not to mention the pages and pages of articles I read that, when compiled together, would have resulted in a thick text itself. So yes, I went easy on my 12 in 12 goal this year, but that doesn't mean I wasn't reading, because I was! In fact, I think reading is the activity I did the most this last year. So...

Huzzah!!! Huzzah!!! I did it! I read 12 in 12, and I think I am up for the challenge again. I mean I have to since it is 2012, right? So who's with me? 12 in 12 in 2012 anyone?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'd Rather Be...

Ever play that game "I'd rather be"... you know, the one where you state things you'd rather be doing instead of the thing you are actually doing? Example: You are washing the dishes, you think "I'd rather be weeding than doing the dishes" (note: I HATE washing the dishes!).

Okay, now your turn. You are stuck in traffic on the 5 freeway at rush hour, you think to yourself "I'd rather be..." Now fill in the ... (go ahead, it's fun, you can even write your responses down in the comments below so we can all laugh at them). I'll go first. I am stuck in rush hour traffic and I think to myself, "I'd rather be... washing dishes!" Ha!

Okay here's the next prompt: You just got home from 8 hours at work, and you find yourself sitting in front of at least 2 hours worth of tedious homework. You think to yourself, "I'd rather be..." Again, let me go first. I think to myself, "I'd rather be... baking cookies." And guess what? I did!!!

Up until about three weeks ago, I thought about all the things I could be doing when I was free from that blasted homework, and now I am free!!! And I can bake cookies, and watch TV (and I watch ALLOT of it), clean (which I do more than I thought I'd be doing), and read (for pleasure, this time). It is so nice. Take tonight for example. I am feeling a bit under the weather, so I made a light dinner, and thought to myself, "I really want chocolate chip cookies......well why not?" so I did :)

I'm glad I went back to school. I'm glad I chose the program I did (though it was expensive- Yeesh!). And I am sooooo glad to be done, done, done, so I can make cookies!!! Want one? Help yourself, because "I'd rather be sharing a cookie with you than doing my homework!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My How Quickly It Flies...

So four years ago today I married my best friend. And we are even better friends now than we were then, which I didn't think was possible. And, yes, I know how sappy that sounds, but there it is, the truth. What can I say, sometimes the truth is sappy.

So here is the not so sappy part. Up until three days ago I had hoped to give my best friend the best anniversary present EVER! (at least for us at this time in our lives). But then I got my period, and well there went my present. Not pregnant. Again. I knew this was coming, I mean I took a test on Saturday and failed. But, if you've ever spoken honestly with a woman trying to make a mini-you-me combo, you know how completely irrational, and crazy we are. So of course the negative test meant absolutely nothing, because there was a slim chance it could be a false negative, right? I told you, we are irrational. And though I desperately cling to this crazy hope, that Saturday I was sad.

Will this ever happen for us? What is wrong with my body? How the hell do high school girls make this seem so easy and accidental?!?! And as I was about to be consumed by the dark thought that we may never get our dream, my best friend made me laugh. He, of course, had no idea what crazy thoughts I was having in my mind. He was just being himself. And himself makes me laugh, and wonder at humanity, and ponder at how wonderfully and beautifully made we truly are.

That is when I realized that if our future holds only the two us alone, that that is enough, more than enough. I love love love my husband. These last four years have been better than all the 25 I spent not married to him. I am truly happy with our life, our home, our dogs, our life style. And he is wrapped up in every single element. I am blessed, because I met someone who intrigues me and who for some odd reason finds me interesting too. From each other we learn and grow. With each other we overcome struggles and trials. He makes me a better person (again with the sappy) and I truly wish everyone could spend time with him because he has a way of rubbing off on folks. This world would be a way better place if people were a little more like him.

So what did I end up giving him as a gift anyway? Nothing. Not a thing. We're broke. Broke and happy. And blessed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Before I Leave

Of course everything is beginning to bear fruit, just as I am preparing to leave the country. My good friend Megan is going to take care of them for me while I am gone.

Look at how big these beauties are!

I hope there is something for me to enjoy when we get back. But if not, I am thrilled that we made it this far! So so so happy!

A Song From My Husband

My husband is a wonderful musician. Sometimes I take for granted how lucky I am to have such a gift living with me. I admit I have closed the door to drown out the music coming from his cave. I think in order to really relish those magical moments I need to slow down and just sit, being surrounded by melodic sounds. And I just don’t have time for that now. I never just sit still. It is the greatest tragedy of my life right now.

My husband has written many songs about many things, but I have never been the subject of them. At least not directly. I understand why, and I don’t mind at all.

Recently he surprised me with the most beautiful song. Ever since before we got married I have been eyeing wind chimes. I can never bring myself to buy them because they are so expensive. But there is something so soothing, so calming about them. My soul delights in them and takes flight on the wind with them.

One day I came home to this.

He made it for me. He bought the material from the hardware store, he looked up the best way to hang them to make them the most resonant. And they are lovely. I love love love my wind chime.

I couldn’t have asked for a better song. Thank you my love.

First Harvest

Here it is! There is one beefsteak tomato, and rest are Amish paste tomatoes. That is yellow squash. I probably should have harvested it earlier, but I didn’t even notice it until today.

And in the pots we have a banana pepper that I got a few weeks ago for a dollar at Lowes,

and eggplant from the Fullerton Arboretum.

I need to keep a close eye on my fruit or someone else will. Isn’t she so cute! She just loves fresh fruit from the garden. Can’t say that I blame her.