Monday, December 14, 2009

Tired of being tired


I am pretty sure I have a problem with always thinking that whatever is "next" is going to be better. Unfortunately, I get myself through tough situations by tricking myself into believing the next step is going to be so much easier. That is not so much the case with life, though.

I was SO happy to finish my semester papers. I knew all along that I would still have work to do over the break, but I conned my tired brain into thinking it would be so much better once the last semester paper was done. Wrong! I am attempting to enjoy "freedom" from school--but it's not really freedom. I am still on campus at least once a week and I still have tons of papers and research to work on. (By tons, I mean about 5 papers right now, but that's A LOT in my world.) I enjoy what I am doing and I do have a little bit more free time without the burden of class, but I am EXHAUSTED!

Why on earth am I so tired now that the load has been lightened? I don't get it. When I was an undergraduate, I remember I always got sick at the end of every semester--it never failed. I really, REALLY hope sickness does not set up shop anywhere in my body; being tired is still better than being sick. But I am tired of being tired. I always assumed the sickness in my undergrad days came from working so hard for an extended period of time and then, once I slowed down just enough, my body took over and made me sick so I had no other choice than to rest for a while.

Now, I don't have the rest option--even if I didn't still have schoolwork/research/papers of my own, I still have a family and all the responsibilities that come along with that, not to mention I am still teaching. So what is my body doing to me? Is it just sooooooooo tired that it is reminding me to slow it down? I hope that's all it is. And I hope it passes--soon! I am ready to have energy again. I will admit, I have been enjoying more sound sleep--I hope that it is because I don't have as much pressing on my mind to distract me from sleep, but my worrying self is scared something is wrong with me. Ahh the way my mind works...

On a positive note (other than the excessive monetary cost, but we're not going to go there to give me an additional worry) I have started working with a personal trainer. I have come to realize that, even though I have gained some of my old self back by returning to school, I have still lost everything that I do totally for me--so that's it! I miss my running days--and the days where I could camp out at the gym for as long as I wanted. So I am hoping that this step toward some healthy me-time pays off...I hope I don't feel as tired all the time. A little mental break with physical activity can't hurt, right?

But for now, I'm cranky and tired. I'm still searching for that relief I have been hoping for over the past semester. If anyone finds it, could you send it my way!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Just a day in the life...


Excitement is a constant in our home. A 3 year old with more energy than I knew possible and two crazy dogs assure there is never a boring moment. This morning, we sort-of slept in, but we were up late so I was still exhausted. The dogs were doing their morning "thing" outside. Sampson usually sits on the "porch" of Kaitlyn's playhouse for a while to sun himself. I always let him and usually make Daisy stay inside so the old man can get some relaxing peace and quiet. So that's what I THOUGHT was happening when he didn't come in right away. But Daisy was totally freaking out, even more than usual. It didn't take long before I realized that the gate was open and Sam-the-Man was on the loose. I grabbed a sweatshirt and flops and started frantically yelling "SAMPSON" in the middle of my street. (In hindsight, I probably looked ridiculous but at the moment, it was what needed to be done.)

Our neighbor came out and asked if I wanted him to drive me around a little bit and said he thought he saw a big dog behind his house. I jumped in his truck and all I could imagine was the worst of Sampson making it a couple of blocks to the 4-lane road. We saw some neighbors on the street behind us outside...and then Sampson! I was SO relieved. They had called the numbers on his collar--my cell phone was still off and my parents weren't home. They called the number of the vet on his rabies tag, which was the vet that got us through so much near Lejeune. (I later found out that the lady on the other end was flipping out because she remembered us. She said "is he a boxer?" and when our neighbor said yes she said she would call all the numbers to get a hold of us. Our neighbors called back and said they had found us.)

Anyway, so we pulled up and as I am running to get my 4-legged BFF, the man holding Sampson (on a hill) lost his balance. Sampson was running free and the man was rolling down the hill in his front yard--his father in law was trying to stop him and my neighbor got out of the car to see if he was okay. I was trying to grab Sampson and run to the man to make sure he was okay. He was. (Whew!) But his head was bleeding as he rolled through his rose bushes. I felt terrible and kept apologizing. He insisted that he was fine--that he might be sore tomorrow but it wasn't a big deal. I told him I would send Sampson to help take care of him. :) (They have a chihuahua so I doubt that would actually work out.)

Anyway, my neighbor took his truck home and got the keys from Buzz and brought the Xterra so we could get Sampson in there--then he had to leave because the reason he was in his truck in the first place was that he was on his way to the hospital to see his grandma. (Then I felt even worse because I held him up looking for my dog. He said it was fine, though--he has dogs so he understands). We talked for a while and I found out that the man's wife is the HOA president--I had not paid my dues yet. They were all very nice. It wasn't long before Buzz and K walked around the corner. I said thank you and I am sorry more times than I can count. I carried K home and Buzz drove Sampson back.

This afternoon, I took my good Samaritan neighbors a fruit basket, a thank you card, and a check with my HOA dues. The wife answered the door and we talked for a while. She seemed appreciative of my appreciation and she said her husband was fine. She said it was no big deal, but it was...not everyone would take in a big dog like that. But they did and I have my Sam-man home with me now. He has been SO proud of himself, wagging his tail and looking longingly out the window. I picture him reliving his big adventure this morning in his mind.

Why was this adventure so great? He got a treat. Yes, the people that saved my dog gave him something that can aggravate his IBD. I didn't want to make a big deal about it because I was so thankful for their kindness, so I didn't ask what kind of treat or how many he got. They just told me they gave him one so he knew they were friendly. (After telling my parents this story, they said I should get a medic-alert tag for him that says something like "do not feed--severe food allergies.") :) Anyway, I called the vet and I had to take the old man in for a steroid shot. (for the record--he weighs 82 pounds now. He's gained 10 pounds since we've been here. They say it's the steroids. I guess it's just more to love.) But he was happy to be there at the vet, too. It's been an all around good day for Sampson, I suppose. And for us, too...other than the loss of money, but we all know money is no big deal when we are talking about my Sam Dog. Kaitlyn got to talk to the big parrot at the vets office. He has only been there a few weeks. His name is Bubbles and he loves kids, and especially Kaitlyn according to the staff. (This is the second time they have hung out together.) They have great conversations. K tells him that she likes his new black cage, asks why birds eat worms, and tells him that she used to be in my belly, among other things. :) It's great. One of Sampson's doctors says she's going to grow up to be a vet. It wouldn't surprise me; she's my little animal whisperer.

So that's it--that's my day so far. And it's not even 2:30 pm yet. I think I am going to pile us all in my bed and take a nap. I would say we all could use one!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful

This time last year, I was about 2 months into a 7 month deployment. Thanksgiving day without Buzz was when the reality of that deployment really hit me--I cried all day. In both of the deployments that I have experienced since our marriage, the long drive home after saying goodbye was excruciatingly painful. Each time, K fell asleep on the ride home and I sat outside of our house crying my eyes out--the reality of going into that house without Buzz and knowing it would be over 1/2 a year before he set foot in it again was more than I thought I could handle. But, somehow, each time I did. Once I got myself together and walked through the door, I worked (not always successfully) to keep in mind that every minute that passed was another minute closer to having him home without the constant worry about his safety (and my sanity).

But Thanksgiving last year was rough--very rough. But I had an amazing support system, comprised mostly of other military wives, who got me through. I made it. Looking back, I am still not sure how. The thought of even one more deployment still haunts me. I try to enjoy this time we have without that huge threat (though the possibility is still there even at this duty station). But I always know in the back of my head that someone else is living that reality right now--people I love. I am pretty sure not much in life is fair, but we still have to move on.
So, this year, I am really working on being thankful. I am thankful for my family and that our core is together for the holidays--happy and healthy. I am thankful for my friends who got me through all of the ups and downs--no matter how much distance is between us. I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life.

I can't say enough how happy I am that Buzz is here with us again for the holidays. I have never been a big fan of the holiday season. Ever since I can remember, it depressed me. I don't know why--maybe the stress, the cold? But I am working on turning that attitude around. I hope I can make K a big fan of the holidays and teach her to be thankful for all the blessings in her life. I hope the three of us have 100 more happy, healthy Thanksgivings together (which would make me 129 years old, so if someone in the biological sciences could please help me out with that, that would be amazing). :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dance like nobody's watching

This weekend was the Marine Corps Ball (happy 234th). It was tons of fun. But something was missing--dancing...MY dancing. Lots of people were dancing, drunk dancing. That means that even if I would have found the guts to really get out there, people probably would not have remembered--and it's not like any of them would be a finalist in the next season of So You Think You Can Dance. (Is that show still on?)



I used to dance. When we went out and there was music, I was dancing. I was never "good" but I had fun and was uninhibited (probably by alcohol) and had a great time. Those days seem to be over. I still hear songs on the radio that I used to dance to back in the day and it makes me want to get out and dance--just let loose and have fun and not care about anything except the pursuit of having fun. But on those few occasions where I DO get the chance, I chicken out. BOO!



So I have been thinking about this the past few days. Why does it matter? What has happened in my life to turn from someone who would just get out there and "cut the rug" to standing on the sidelines remembering the good ol' days? I don't know--I still haven't figured it out.



But then, today, something clicked. K was dancing and singing to a variety of music (from DMB to Miley Cyrus)--I mean she was SINGING at the top of her lungs (getting most of the words right) and DANCING her little heart out. It was beautiful. I watched her and smiled. Then, I joined her. We have dance parties on a regular basis, but we do it in the comfort of our own home away from windows or with the blinds closed. It is SO much fun. (THESE are the moments I cherish...living life with my daughter and getting caught up in the moment. It is amazing.)



But watching her dance in the context of my weekend got me to thinking... She was dancing like no one was watching. But, the thing is, someone was watching and she didn't care. For a few minutes, I just sat there in awe wondering how we get from that place in our lives to the place where I am. How do we get from truly being able to just enjoy the moment in the moment with pure joy to being scared to do the Electric Slide in front of a bunch of drunk Marines? I don't know and I still haven't found an answer for that, either.



But here's what I do know... I want to bottle up whatever is inside of my daughter right now and keep it. I want to take some for myself, but mostly I want to have a reserve to make sure that she keeps that spirit--that uninhibited love of life in the moment. I hope that she never cares who is watching (or listening) as long as she is doing what she believes in her heart is the right thing. I hope I have the knowledge, strength, and health to raise her to believe in herself first and foremost, so she knows it doesn't matter who is watching. We can learn a lot from a child and I think it may be the adults who screw up this sense of spirit with our own insecurities. But I know she has it now and I am going to take her cue. Watch out for the next Marine Corps Ball, there's going to be a 30 year old Captain's wife on the dance floor and it may not be artistically amazing, but it doesn't matter if I feel it in my heart. :) Here's to dancing like nobody's watching in all spheres of life--even when they are!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Everything I need to know...

I learned from my dog? Maybe not, but here are a couple of articles I ran by today that are more proof to me that dogs are at the very least awesome, amazing, and smart and on the farther end of that spectrum, superior to humans. :)

As an update/side note, Sampson had another IBD flare-up this weekend. (On a Sunday, of course, and his oral steroids weren't kicking in very quickly so we ended up at the vet ER...always on a Sunday.) He seems to be feeling better. I think he has learned to play pitiful for walks. He acts like he's in a deep, dark depression and I feel sorry for him--he gets walks. I have noticed this behavior even more after a flare-up (i.e. me babying him). I mean, Pavlov's dog probably could have learned how to tug at your heart strings, too...right? Anyway, here are the articles.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/weekinreview/01kershaw.html?_r=1&em

http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/11/02/animals.rita.brown/index.html
(the only thing I disagree with in this one is about if your dog can't eat it, you probably shouldn't...that would put me on a strict diet of costly hypoallergenic dog food)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If I didn't have a dog...




This morning after Buzz left, the dogs and I did our morning routine...we piled into bed together and I had to fight for enough space to lay in my king size bed. As I often do, I wondered, what would happen right now if I didn't have a dog.




If I didn't have a dog:


I would get the whole bed to myself after Buzz leaves in the morning.


I would never clean poop off of paws.


I would not often step in dog poop.


I would not pooper-scoop my yard.


I would not talk about poop as much.


I would not know much about pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease or know words like lipase, Tylan, or Azathioprine.


I would not have to deal with the embarassment of jumping, humping, or worry about loud or SBD dog gas when there are guests in my home.


I would have a lot more money.


I could travel without worrying about things such as IBD flare-ups.


I would not have experienced the spraying by a skunk to my Sam-dog at 6 am on a cold RI morning...thus, I would not know about the process of "de-skunking."


I would have never paid nearly a thousand dollars to have a 99 cent ball removed from a canine stomach by a GI vet.


I would have never driven from NC to FL to have a tumor removed from a Boxer.


I would not still get teary thinking about my Angel-girl. (I miss her so much...still.)


I would know much less about myself.


I would have never met some great friends (of the human persuasion).


I would not truly have a concept of "man's (WOMAN'S) best friend."


I would not have a daughter who can handle herself as well around animals.


I would not have a man of the house in Buzz's absences.


I would not have best friends that move with me and see me through life's ups and downs.


I would not have such great fans.


I may not have survived pregnancy.


I may not have survived 2 deployments.


I would not have anyone THAT excited to see me.


I would not know what it means to kidney bean dance.


I could not get boxer hugs and kisses on command.


I would get less exercise


I would not have a shoulder to cry on any time I needed it.


I would not laugh as often.


I would not have 4-legged, furry, stinky cuddle partners in the mornings when Buzz leaves for work...and I would miss it.




Thank goodness for dogs!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The THIRD Shift



There is a great book called The Second Shift (by Arlie Hochschild) whose main point (now anyway) is common sense, at least to me on a personal level. In a nutshell, it says that when women entered the workforce, thus contributing economically to the family outside the home, they didn't really get a break with the housework--so they really had TWO shifts to work.


Well, I now contend that women sociologists work the THIRD shift--we also have our motherly instincts that make us worry about, well, pretty much the entire world of humanity. It takes a lot of energy to think on these levels! We learn some pretty depressing stuff that is highly unlikely to get "fixed" because of the force field of society and its structures that we have created. I spend lots of time worrying about lots of things. I mean, worrying IS my specialty, but now I worry on a larger level. For example, what are we going to do when we have literally used up the resources of the earth? How are those not born into advantaged lives really going to get ahead for themselves and their future generations? How do I live in such prosperity while so much of the world struggles just to eat or have clean water? Then my worries start turning to anger. Why are things so unfair? Why can't we change anything if we don't have power--economic power? Why in the hell do people vote against their own best interests as well as the betterment of others? I shouldn't even get started on these types of issues because I won't be able to stop--or sleep since it will get my mind running and it's getting late.


WHY am I doing this to myself?????


And then I remember...(Also quoted in a previous blog)

“…the evident genius of the human spirit lies in the hard fact of life that we, like our dogs... [are] limited in all the important ways… We cannot do all that our powerful minds trick us into thinking we can. In a word, this is the mystery of being human. Our finest nature is not our ability to think and do. It is that we do and think as we do in spite of the obstacles…On average, the better ones among us continue to think and do what they can with no assurance that solutions will be found.” --Charles Lemert, from preface of Thinking the Unthinkable


And, might I add from the same preface of Lemert's book, "To think about social things is to think through the shell of resistance that cuts of off from the hard truths of life."


So what does this have to do with anything? I want to be one of the better ones among us. I want to cut to the hard truths of life, so that maybe, just maybe, I can make things better for me and for my family--for my daughter and her generation, and generations to come. We are all human, but this is something I CAN do.


In a moment of frustration in class a few weeks ago, I asked my professor how he keeps from going crazy. He had a few thoughts...One was about an old saying he had heard that dated back centuries--I think it was a Jewish saying or something like that. Anyway, it said that as long as there were 35 (or maybe it was 36) truly good men, the world would keep going (or not self-destruct or something along those lines). Anyway, he said that he calculated for population growth and figures there needs to be a lot more than 30-something now and he has decided that he was going to be one of them. He also said he hopes that there may be a time when politicians and public officials will realize that they need to look deeper into social forces--a window in history that will allow for the knowledge thay sociology has gained to become mainstream. And he said that, if and when this time comes, he wants to be part of the contribution of the discipline that can help develop a language to convey some of our important findings to a larger group--and maybe make some qualitative improvement.

What great perspectives! I am stealing them for myself. (I hope he won't mind.) Maybe, right now, it seems like I am reading and writing about things that only others in academia (who clearly have no push or pull in "the system") will share. Maybe I am frustrated when I find something important--like how necessary certain things are for military families that the military ignores or how there are huge groups of children whose needs are ignored because of their parents' low socioeconomic status--and no one knows except others who are as helpless as I am in "the system." But, if there isn't someone doing this work, what will happen if and when that window opens? And, isn't it better to search for knowledge than to ignore it's out there?


So I am working on turning my worry into something more productive. It's a lot of work, but I am going to run with the assumption that it's worth it. I will use my energy in the third shift--and hope the overtime will in some way, some day reach far beyond this computer in a positive manner.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lessons learned...the decade is not over yet...

...But something has changed. I made an attempt at reliving those early twenties I last blogged about. This past weekend, we were in our hometown so we had free, reliable childcare for a few days in order to work on some school work. I worked really hard Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning and decided to "reward" myself Saturday night.

Armed with our DD, Buzz and I and 2 other couples hit up downtown. That used to be THE place to be on the weekend and we could always have fun. Times have changed, I guess--or maybe it's just us--or maybe just ME. We were out and about early--which gave us some quiet bar time to watch some college football. After that, we attempted to barhop, but our DD was under 21 so we had to be selective. We finally got her in at the place that used to be my favorite bar/dance club . (It's since changed its name...and everything else except the location.) We got her in by allowing them to put huge Xs on her hand and let them know that there were 5 drinkers whose business that they were going to lose if she couldn't get in.

We were a little out of place, or at least that's the way it felt. We drank and talked and watched the people on the dance floor--we didn't dance. We drank too much and I didn't sleep because I felt so guilty for staying out so late--I felt like a bad mom.

Other than the slight hangover that came the next day and my guilt complex kicking into over drive, it was fun. In my attempt to show the world that "I still got it" I realized, I don't even know what "it" is anymore. And I don't care. It doesn't really matter. Sure, I can drink--I COULD have danced but spared myself the humiliation. Like I said, something has changed--I think it is me. My priorities have changed, along with my alcohol tolerance. Maybe I have lived my "glory days" of barhopping and put them behind me. But what's ahead is much more exciting now, in my opinion.

Maybe the "glory" of your early 20s is that you don't really know where you are headed, but you can fill the time with fun excursions--that include drinking too much and dancing with strangers--because you have nothing with deep meaning in your life to screw up with your insane weekends. In many ways, it's sort of like the innocence of childhood, only you have a driver's license, a job, and you can legally drink. But, for me at least, once you find what it is you are looking for, you don't have to fill your weekends with the craziness anymore. A crazy night now for me is a game of Wii Bowling with the family--a cocktail or two might be included (though Buzz and I have vowed never to drink again...again after our weekend of reliving our younger days). But the night isn't complete without a bedtime story and tucking in the light of my life in her pink room.

So call me old, or boring, or whatever. I have found what I am looking for and it's all here in my very own house. Those "glory" days are still glorious but only in hindsight, I don't want to live them again. The real glory is what Buzz and I have created--especially our daughter. For now, my focus is on my family and getting my PhD. My age is showing (in more ways than one--I notice a new grey hair just about every day. But I worked for those things in one way or another! But I digress...) The decade's not over yet, but I have nothing more to prove to my twenties, or to anyone for that matter--I only need to prove to myself that I can be the person I want to be. Cheers!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Age Stratification--Highlights of a mildly wild almost-decade

I really feel old. Well, I don't FEEL old, but I feel like people look at me as ancient relative to them. Maybe it's being in the college atmosphere again at age 29; maybe it's the gray that has popped up in my hair since deployments became a part of my life; maybe it's that my friends and husband are all hitting the big 3-0 and it's around the corner for me.



Last night I saw a tv show and then today a professor was talking about living wild and crazy in your 20s. Does all the fun stop when you hit 30? I mean, if age IS just a number, then what's the deal with this? My definition of fun (as well as the practice of fun for me) has changed throughout the years. But I think maturity is GOOD thing, not a bad one. You can still grow on many levels and keep a sense of excitement, right? At first, after hearing all of these references to having fun in your 20s, I thought that maybe I had missed out on something. And then I started freaking out because I have less than a year to get the fun in. Then reality (or whatever my social construction of reality is) hit me in the face. I HAVE had a great time in my 20s--just like I did in my teens--and just like I hope I will in my 30s, 40s, 50s...and hopefully into really old age!



So I decided to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights of MY 20s...starting at age 21 (21 and 5/6 to be more precise) because that is when Buzz reentered my life...and THAT is when I allowed myself the opportunity to redefine my life and take it in a positive direction. And that direction included LOTS of fun (with quite a bit of craziness--I did enter the USMC family at age 22).



Just to (probably over) qualify the list below, this by no means discounts the fun I had before my 20s--like the infamous "ice cream summer" I spent with my cousins, aunt, and grandma where we got ice cream every day as a kid, Sarah and my summers in high school with Shoney's weekends, beach week with my best friends... Nor is it to in any way discount or minimize that my 20s held absolutely the best, most important, magical time in my life that has made me who I am, was the best decision I have ever made, and filled my heart with a love that words cannot even begin to explain--becoming a mom. AND I want to reiterate that great moments didn't all have to include alcohol--like the "Cheers night" when Buzz and I went Walmarting and raced to put fans together for his mom, watched Cheers, and I realized he was the one in the simplicity of the moment; or the many Sonic, Exchange, Walmart, Food Lion, Commissary, Target, Coldstone, Old Navy trips I have taken with my girls; or the homecomings from deployment when, for a minute, time stood still in the arms of my husband and my daughter.



Qualifying over--here's the list:



Walking to the liquor store in multiple feet of snow with some friends AND Sampson because we drank all of the alcohol in our houses and needed more. (Best line of the night--our neighbor backed his car down our street where he had just passed us and said "I thought you were high schoolers!")



Screaming the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song at the top of our lungs in an old-ass car full of Marines and wives while bar-hopping.



The E-club in RI (too many random stories to recall here)



Buzz getting his microphone taken away during a botched attempt he and other Marines were making at a John Denver song on karaoke at a redneck bar in RI (yes, there are redneck bars in RI) by a butch lady.



At that same bar, having an older woman (lacking in some teeth, but I'm not judging) sexually assault one of our friends while telling him that she reminded her of her son.



Playing life-size chess (drunk) on a ship somewhere between FL and the Bahamas.



Drinking in the front yard with Brad and Erin (you would have to live in base housing at NAS Jax to fully appreciate the gravity of this one).



Doing the wave at the Deli to my dad's friends' band and spilling drinks--so many memories from that night.



Lots of commissioning parties.



Breaking bowling lanes in Jax (AKA the REAL Jacksonville).



Dressing up at the Mario Brothers for Halloween.



Gangsta New Years 09!



So they're not THAT exciting...no one got arrested or streaked or did anything TOO regretful (which is all what people apparently consider to make it a "good" story). And this is by no means an exhaustive list. But it was all SO much fun!!! And I have lots of good memories from my 20s and hope to make some more this last year of the awesome decade. But I hope that there is even more fun to be had as time goes on...I mean, it seems that with time, you can have all of that fun and even more with the knowledge from all of your previous successes and mistakes. The possibilities for what's to come seem amazing! Plus, isn't 30 the new 20?!? I'm just getting started!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Social Disorganization...and allergies? (a work in conspiracy theory)

I am working on a paper with a theoretical framework of social disorganization theory. This theory revolves around your social world (i.e. your neighborhood) influencing behavior. In my studies, I often reflect on how these theories are relevant in my own life--sometimes in an academic, sociological sort of way and sometimes in a ridiculous dorky type of way...which is where this blog comes in. :)

While working on this paper recently, I have thought about the idea that my neighbors might intervene on my behalf should some crime start to take place in my quiet, suburban neighborhood. I think they would--I KNOW some would. But then my mind wanders...are my neighbors really out to get me?!?

I have terrible allergies and the beginning of the fall season here has reminded me just how miserable they can make me. There are lots of trees in my yard, sometimes I forget my allergy medicine, and blah blah blah that I have blamed it on. Today I actually woke up without much reminder of my insane hay fever, allergic rhinitis, alleged eustachian tube dysfunction, officially diagnosed enlarged turbinates, and post-nasal drip. It was a good morning.

K and I went outside to play with some sidewalk chalk. It is the first day in I don't know how long that the sun was shining and it was not raining. Our outside adventure was relatively pleasant and allergy symptom-free. Then, my neighbor started mowing his yard. I could literally see the allergens coming my way--but at that point, I made no connection, just thought it was a bit dusty.

I was talking to another neighbor when I nearly passed out from my violent dry hacking cough. My eyes filled with water yet felt painful and dry all at the same time. My nose felt like it swelled shut almost in a second. As I attempted to explain my allergies to my neighbor, she made me feel more comfortable and less like the nerd with the nose spray at summer camp by telling me she had the same problem. I quickly tried to clean up and politely explain to K that we had to go in because mommy couldn't breathe.

I made it. But my day has taken a downward turn. My intentions were to work out after we came in and then get a project for class tomorrow completed. But now I can't shake the cough and I can't breathe...No good workout and who knows if I will find the motivation to work ahead. Is this some sort of conspiracy? Probably not. I have the greatest neighbors. But it could be possible that these people are trying to squelch my academic career and fitness goals with pollen, mold spores, and grass. Again, probably not but I do love conspiracy theories (hello, Kennedys!) and I have talked to people about how there should be a book series comprised of exaggerated characters that live in my neighborhood. Maybe it's just that this is the first time I have been away from a military town in so long that "normalcy" of social life seems freakish to me. Whatever it is, I think this conspiracy theory would play well into a plot twist in the series...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Looking Glass Self


The looking glass self (a term coined by Charles Horton Cooley) describes how we develop our identity--that our sense of self comes from social interactions and how we THINK others perceive us. Basically, your identity (in your mind) is a reflection of how you think others see you. Okay, I am being redundant and this isn't the point...

The point is (here's my point, Dude--for The Big Lebowski fans out there) I am not exactly sure what my looking glass self is reflecting these days. I had always told my self I would never be "one of those" military wives whose life is so totally wrapped up in their husband's identity that they lose some of what makes them an individual--that I would never totally conform to military life in order to keep that sense of my former self. Since the completion of Buzz's latest deployment, I have had lots of time to reflect on the independence and strength I have gained. I have been so proud of myself, my marriage, the strength of my little family and amazing friends. Sometimes, I want to yell all of this to the world--especially here.

I have always kept in mind that there is a world out there separate from the military and I was still connected to that. But now I am out in that world--and I'm not nearly as connected as I thought! I guess I could blame it on J-Vegas--I mean that place is so isolated from "the real world" I can't even put it into words. (I have always wondered why a place that housed so many Marines--some of the finest men (and women) and their families from across the globe--could be so crappy. But I digress again...) I suppose I could blame this lack of connection on the fact that the past few years, I have been essentially locked into that little military town where pop culture is covered by the dark curtains of military life--especially deployments. I mean, when you are keeping your family together on your own through deployments and struggles, who has time to learn the latest phrases or styles. I guess I am coming to realize the biggest "connection" (if you can call it that) with what is going on outside of my little world has been with tv shows. :) (And we all know how well the media--especially dramas--portray reality!)

So now I am here--losing the excitement of being away from the military town and trying to regain the connections I THOUGHT I had with the outside world. I am SO the person I never thought I would be. I am "that girl" who tells people all the time about her husband in the Marine Corps. I connect about every concept in my classes to something military-related. I have no idea what people wear or talk about or do for fun. I don't know fads. I don't know what a hipster is--well, I didn't--my classmates are teaching me. :)

Wow--what a loser people must think I am. This crazy girl with the southern accent (but at least that's way more common here--and mine isn't bad compared to some locals) who talks about her husband and daughter like they are the only people who exist in the world. Maybe she doesn't even realize that we don't know OR care about what military life is like. Has she been lost in a bubble somewhere? She knows nothing of what goes on in life.

I guess my looking glass self is feeling a little shattered and uncertain. I am trying to keep that confidence I have gained at the forefront of my mind and hope some of that starts reflecting and overshadowing all of these insecurities. Although I am not sure they are really insecurities and I am really not sure why I care at all. I have my family together and I am pursuing THE career path that I want. But now I am mixed in with all of these "regular" people and I am just not sure where I fit in (as I have mentioned before) and I am not sure how they see me.

Moving forward (and trying to stop this rambling rant) I am going to work on embracing who I am--ALL parts of that person. I AM a military wife and a mom...I am also a PhD student in sociology. I may not know all of the current fads, trends, etc. but that's not really important to who I am--never has been. I have always had pride in the fact that I am pretty much an open book and I don't try to change myself, my image, my life to fit in or please people. (Yet on the other hand, I have a need for approval from others.) That was pretty much my attitude when I entered this military life...and, in hindsight, that is how I ended up fitting in. Maybe I am "one of them" but I am proud of that. Maybe I talk a lot about my amazing husband and daughter--but I am proud of that, too. Yeah, the military is still a big part of my life even when I am not in a military town--so what? Semper fi!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Primary Groups

In sociology, we talk about primary social groups as small groups where you are regularly with the other members and have to cooperate with them. In the "regular world," these are people like your closest friends and family--it can also be people that you work with/go to school with/whatever you are doing that requires face-to-face association and cooperation. In Buzz's line of work, I guess you could say my primary groups change on a fairly regular basis. It's not easy and it's something that I am still not totally used to--but it's just reality (well, a construction of reality, I suppose--too much theory is going through my head).

Luckily, I have a few "real" friends popping up here--my primary groups are changing yet again but at least I HAVE some primary groups now (other than my family--best primary group ever). I have my neighbors, a close friend and her family, and now my department at school. I am so lucky to have chosen such a great neighborhood with some really great neighbors and to have found my friend--who happens to have a daughter near K's age and a husband that has quite a bit in common with Buzz. But I am still not so sure of how I will fit into my department. In the past, like when I was working on my master's, I had some GREAT friends from school. We went to class together, worked together, and hung out together. It was amazing. We were all about the same age and at similar points in our lives. Not so much with the group here--but they are still a good group of people (mostly guys). :)

I am LOVING school. I really like what I am doing, but am experiencing some inner turmoil. In one way, I really feel like this is the place I should be and what I should be doing when I am physically IN school. But, on the other hand, I don't fit in...and on another hand (assuming we have 3) I feel like I am neglecting some of my motherly duties. Don't get me wrong, K is doing really well adjusting to new people and routines--but this is the first time in her life that I am not with her all day every day. It tugs at my heart-strings quite a bit. I don't know how to neutralize this inner struggle. I keep trying to tell myself that I am doing this for me but ALSO for HER. I can be a better mom if I am doing what I like...and eventually I really will make some substantial monetary contribution to this family and, with this degree, I will be able to do it in a way that still allows me the flexibility to be around a lot and be the mom I want to be. I guess, right now, I sort of feel like two different people and I am trying to figure out how to fit those people together and not be at odds with each other. I'm working on it; I'll get there. (I hope.)

Anyway, back to the other primary groups in my life. I MISS MY FRIENDS! Again, I am very thankful for who I have here, but I miss my girls--my "fellow" USMC wives and friends from years past. In military life, it seems that you build amazingly strong friendships in a very short amount of time--it's the nature of the beast and those friendships are one of the best things that come out of military life. For example, surviving deployments together bonds you with others in a way no civilian can imagine. Words can't describe it, but I know my girls know what I am talking about. :) I miss the Marines themselves (who always provided entertainment at the very least...but I also always knew there were men to count on, even in Buzz's absence, if I needed someone.) I miss those non-military people who I was lucky enough to bump into and become friends with--who accepted me and befriended me even when they knew I was just a temporary occupant of their town. In the past, we have only lived in military towns, so those amazing friends were used to the military lifestyle even if they weren't technically living it themselves (not that it makes it any easier on them). Not so here. Here, we are anomalies. I am not really sure that people "get" us at all here. I've said it before and I'll probably say it again--some people seem more interested in asking questions about our weird lifestyle than actually being our friends. (If anyone is wondering, military families are just like you. It's just a different job. We don't need anyone to feel sorry for us, either--we are strong and we can handle it.)

In many ways, though, I am seeing that academics have a lot more in common with military peeps than most. Even though they are under very different circumstances, each have moved, left friends, had to depend only on themselves, and have had at least a few struggles to get to where they are and are stronger from the journey. Even though I am older than most of my "peers" and have a kid and a husband, we have more in common than just sociology. I am trying to stay positive and hoping this journey might not be SO tough after all. I can handle the reading and writing and exams (and I am sure the few--at least--nervous breakdowns that are to come from trying to get it all done at home and at school) but I am not so sure I can handle being so isolated. I still miss my friends more than words can say. Thank goodness for Facebook! But I really wish I could walk or drive across or down the street or a few minutes away and find those who can brighten any day. The good news is, maybe I'm not as isolated as I thought. Time will tell...

Off to more reading--more theory. More good news, that will cloud my brain so much I won't have the energy to ponder how much I miss my friends for a while. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Help Wanted:


Upper Management Level Position...in theory--to help manage my time and jump into my mind to help me understand the way theory and practice work together, sociologically speaking. Candidate should be well-versed in classical and contemporary sociological theory; a vast and complex knowledge of the world of philosophy is a plus. Ideal candidate will be able to take very abstract concepts that have nothing to do with reality and put them into understandable, concrete terms that make sense in my world. The ability to completely dehumanize yourself to see how society impacts the individual so much that, in theory, the individual has internalized society to the point that one may not be separated from the other is a necessary trait for this position. Compensation will be the non-monetary payment of being my hero.

Equal Opportunity Employer
P.S. Yes...that's Karl Marx throwin' the peace sign :) (Oh I am contemplating all of the ironies and theoretical discussions that could be had on this post......)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Assimilation

Week 2 down...week 3 starting...mind is mush. I know I had some things I wanted to blog about these past couple of weeks, but those thoughts must have escaped my mind somewhere between Marx, theoretical explanations of social justice, and racial disparities in crime. Oh well, I'm still going to take a few minutes to do something that doesn't involve any of those things.

It has to be completely impossible to READ this much. My eyes always feel like they need to close for a long nap, but they can't because that would take away from the infinite and impossible amount of reading that is before them. While I am soaking up this knowledge--sociological knowledge--the normal stuff in my mind must be seeping out of my ears. I feel dumber. Such is the life of a PhD student, so I've heard...

So, bear with me, I am sure I will ramble and jump from subject to subject without warning and with typos (even more than normal). I hope that I can pull my thoughts together for all of the papers that are coming my way. Oh my!

As I mentioned, I am not quite sure that I totally fit in here. I have a family--the excludes me from, oh, pretty much the entire group of graduate students. Add on to that that I am female and I am just about done having anything in common with my cohort. I am still not sure at all where I am going to fit in--in Knoxville, in the program, in life... Hopefully that will come in time. I'm working on successfully assimilating. Luckily, I don't have time to worry about that (or have a social life) right now so I guess those are minor details, right?

Classes are good--I like the students and professors. It is interesting to be back in a group of people who are more like me in my "former" life (i.e. younger and not a mother). They (the students) discuss the ins and outs of hot dogs, beer, bars, the swine flu, and how to get cheap/free food. The professors are great but seem way too smart for me--I really don't feel like I will ever reach their level. It's a little discouraging but I try to tell myself I am just getting started.

I have also started teaching again for the semester. I love teaching but online teaching is not really my "thing." I am a little hesitant to write what I really think about that experience just in case (by some insanely unlikely coincidence) someone at my place of employment might come across this. Let's just say reading emails is becoming an increasingly painful experience...

Hmmm...what else can I remember about what is going on in my life right now? K is adjusting well to her babysitter and will be starting preschool one day a week soon. My neurotic self is really excited about the socialization experience but terrified of the germs that are going to be all around her and, thus, in our home. Eeewwww!!! Buzz is also doing well in the beginning of his graduate school journey. He says it makes his head hurt, too--we might be a sad bunch by the end of this semester!

I should go walk my dogs...I need some air and so do they. I really will try to remember some of the funny things that happen on a daily basis (now that I am out in the sort-of "real" world more often) to share. I laugh A LOT. Until next time...stay social! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Role Conflict


Week 1 down, 4 years to go...

My first week as a PhD student was good, I think. I am busy, busy, busy! K seems to be doing a good job adjusting to our new schedule (she's so awesome) and Buzz is really stepping up to help me out SO much around the house. But I am having some trouble letting go of some of those things. I have always been THE ONE who takes care of K, the dogs, and the house--and all that goes with those responsibilities. I have done this partially because Buzz has been gone so much and partially because I didn't work as much as he did when he was here and partially because it was just something I wanted to do. The hardest part is seeing others do for K what I have always done on my own (or seeing her be so independent that she just does it herself). Don't get me wrong, I am SO proud of her and I know this is part of growing up. She's just turning into such a big girl and, for the first time in her life, I am not the one who is with her 24/7. I'm also worried that Buzz is going to get burnt out quickly--I hope not. (He's pretty amazing, too.)

But back to my week at school...I am the only girl and the only criminology student in my cohort. Of course, I don't fit in AGAIN...story of my life. :) It's not so bad, though. Everyone seems nice and I really think I am going to like the department. I have a ton of reading and am feeling slightly overwhelmed about reading, writing, and living the rest of my life. I am really feeling some role conflict right now. (Role conflict is difficulties that occur when incompatible expectations arise from two or more social positions held by the same person--http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072435569/student_view0/glossary.html.) I feel like I am pulled in about a million different directions--well, maybe not a million, but at least a few. I'm a student, teacher, mom, and wife among other things. Luckily, I have a supportive "core" around me.

In all honesty, I am not totally sure what to expect through this journey. I hope I make it! I hope I can do this as gracefully as possible without losing my sanity and while still being good to my family members who are OH so good to me! Until next time...

What's in a name?

As sociologists, we know that there are some things that influence us even if they are not clear to the "naked eye" (so to speak). Names are often one of the first things others known about you--and a name can really shape people's perspectives even if that is all they know about someone.

On the suggestion of a friend (who has completed her PhD) I have decided to journal my journey though PhD school. I am not so ambitious to think I will actually write anything handwritten other than notes for class or that I will do this as much as I would like, but I am using my blog as a medium to chronicle this journey. So I have changed the title of the blog (for now--still subject to change in the future) to "Verstehen."

Verstehen--The German word for "understanding" or "insight"; used by Max Weber to stress the need for sociologists to take into account people's emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes (http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072435569/student_view0/glossary.html). (Max Weber is one of the "big 3" classical sociologists, by the way.)

Here's to hoping I can find verstehen into/of myself, others, and my discipline while keeping my sanity along this journey. Let's enjoy the ride...

Monday, August 10, 2009

The view from the other side of the desk

Holy crap--in 9 days I will be a full time student again! I am excited, nervous, anxious, you name it right now. I have no idea how I am going to pull this off, but I hope I can do it! All I can think about right now is what it's going to be like to be on the other side of the desk. When I first started teaching after getting my Master's I remember how insanely strange it was to be on the other side of that big desk/table at the front of the room. In many ways, it was the same feeling that I got when I quit being a teller and had to go into the bank as a customer--I mean, you never get that view! But the difference in the teller and teacher situations is that the view I am speaking of is literal for teller and more figurative for teacher.

For, wow, like 18 years of my life (I was 25 when I finished my master's and I had a couple years away from school after college) I was always the student, sitting in the small seats on the other side of the desk--I was the one taking the notes, doing the reading/homework, writing the papers, and taking advice from those "know-alls" behind that big desk. Then, all of the sudden, I was the one that those students looked to for all the answers--I gave the assignments and the grades. I really surprised myself at how much I had retained through all of those years of school and have been proud of myself so far for how far I have come as an instructor--but now those tables are turning yet again...

I remember the feeling of relief when my master's thesis was approved and I was done--I was a Master of Science in Applied Sociology! Those 2 years seemed like a lot of work--and now I am starting at the beginning of a 4-year (at a minimum) journey. I have been out of the student desk in the classroom for nearly 4 years. I hope I surprise myself with knowledge retention on a much larger scale this time. I am already stressing over comp. exams (the first of which I will take in a little less than a year) and the whole dissertation process. I guess I just need to take it one step at a time. This time, too, I am going to try to remember that I DO know a little something and those "know-alls" on the other side of the desk don't actually know EVERYTHING...and they learn from me, too. (My students have taught me lots--not all positive, but that's another blog for another day...probably when I am banging my head against the wall grading papers and answering emails of why you have to actually do work to get a passing grade.)

Anyway, I hope this journey is as amazing (or even more so) as those I have traveled so far. I hope that this time, thanks to a few more years (decades) of life experience I can also enjoy the journey itself. Of course, I am working toward that "Dr. Beth" goal, but I also have an amazing family, friends, and the pursuit of knowledge itself to enjoy and appreciate along the way. (And for those friends and family--get ready for a few breakdowns and "I don't think I can do it"s along the way.) :) I hope I'm not the oldest in my classes and I hope that I comprehend my professors' lectures...either way, I am not giving up. So I'm dusting off the old backpack (well, actually I had to buy a new one--first since college--since Daisy destroyed my old one) and have completed my back to school shopping (Wal-mart still has 15 cent 1-subject notebooks). I am heading to campus to take a seat in the student chair. PhD school, here I come!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lucky and Lazy

I'm back to my computer addiction after a week-long vacation. That "vacation" was in Jacksonville, NC sandwiched between two weekend trips to Roanoke, VA--two places I never thought could be vacation spots. For the record, this was the first vacation (other than trips to Roanoke) that we have taken since K was born--and it was a great vacation! I am always saying I am in need of friends. This week showed me that I still have them out there--just dispersed places other than Knoxville!

Anyway, part of my agreement with myself was that I wouldn't do anything too productive this past week. I had to grade, but I even slacked on that a little, thanks to Blackboard flaking out some of the time. Now I am back to my power reading before school (for me) starts, I need to finish a paper to submit for publication, and I need to figure out a budget--which is difficult to do with the financial burden of school and trying to find good (no, great) childcare--which I will NOT skimp on!

In my "off" time, I have been doing a lot of thinking about why I want to do this--I mean, seriously, why would anyone (who has already been in school for 2 years PAST college) want to go back to school for an additional 4 years (at least) filled with stress and an insane amount of reading, writing, etc. on top of it? (And I am the person who finished my BA early because I wanted to get out of school so bad.) All of this on top of having to spend time away from the one person who means more to you than anything you could ever imagine? I think I have come up with an answer--I'm lazy. I know, not the conventional answer you would expect to those questions, right? I don't mean lazy in the I really never do ANYTHING sense, I mean lazy in the paid work sense.

I am lazy--and I am going to work my ass off for the next 4 years while incurring an insane amount of student loans so I can eventually make some money being lazy. Few things in this world bring me pure joy--my daughter, my husband, my dogs (my family in general). But also, I love sociology. I love learning. I enjoy teaching (most of the time). Although it can get stressful, "doing sociology" has never felt like "real" work to me. I like it. Among many other benefits, it gives me an outlet for my to use my overthinking brain for something other than self destruction. :) And I like teaching because it gives me a chance to bring some of this positive learning into other people's lives...and it gives me lots of autonomy. I don't like being told what to do--teaching gives me flexibility in my "work" activities. Again, teaching doesn't really feel like work to me.

So I am going back to school in order to be an authority in my field, which will allow me to teach at higher levels. Assuming I make it to my goal of becoming a PhD, teaching will allow me a lot of things that will help in my pursuit of laziness. I can have summers off and winter breaks will be here to stay--which will allow me more mommy time. Don't get me wrong, I know there is a lot of "work" to be done during semesters and there will be researching to do even during my "breaks." But, again, it doesn't feel like work to me--and it's done on MY time. I will be a happier person which will help me be a better mom and wife--and individual.

I am truly a lucky, LUCKY lady to have this opportunity to pursue my dreams of laziness. I am so fortunate to have an amazing daughter who adapts relatively easily to new people and situations. I am so thankful for a husband whose career (paycheck) allows me the opportunity to do this without the necessity of getting over my head in paid work responsibilities. (Don't get me wrong, the budget issue is still an issue, but we have food on the table, a roof over our heads, cars to drive, and lots of extras in our lives. And, also don't get me wrong, I often think his work SUCKS and I hate that it takes him away from our family for extended periods of time--but it's what he wants to do and it makes him happy--not to mention he makes me proud.) And I am so blessed to have that husband who is supportive of me and my goals. He does tell me that he is doing this for selfish reasons--that I will one day be his "sugar momma" and he can play golf and drink beer all day. (I guess laziness goals run in our household.) I am fine with that. :)

So these next couple of weeks, I am going to enjoy my opportunity to truly be lazy. Then, I am going to work as hard as I can in all areas of my life (and probably hate that life and question my decision to go back to school on a regular basis) so that I can be "Dr. Beth" one day--which will allow me to open the world of education and sociology to others while keeping up my lazy habits. I am such a lucky girl! :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In need of a yoga vitamin

Holy crap! I was just watching a yoga video and a "yoga expert" was talking about how comparing and analyzing are the basis of worry. AGHHHH!!! My life is about comparing and analyzing--and I am the self-proclaimed (though others agree) queen of worry. I guess I need to focus more on comparing and analyzing DATA instead of myself to other random things.

I found this bit of information during my yoga time today--it's my new goal to do at least some "quiet time" yoga every day. So here's my positive yoga vitamin for the day--I am moving forward in achieving at least one goal. Now to continue that path and work toward keeping my analysis where it belongs. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Watch out, Blogging...there's a new stress reliever in town!

I was in yoga the other day. I was in full lotus position. My chakras were all aligned. My mind is cleared of all clatter and I'm looking out of my third eye and everything that I'm supposed to be doing. It's amazing what comes up, when you sit in that silence. "Mama keeps whites bright like the sunlight, Mama's got the magic of Clorox 2." ~Ellen DeGeneres
My mind wanders and worries all the time--especially when I am trying to sleep! So I am trying yoga. Other than Wii Fit and a YMCA class, I am pretty much yoga illiterate. Thanks to a friend from my master's program who happens to be a yoga instructor (to whom I am very thankful), I have found this great site where you can "take" classes online (as well as some other yoga info both from my friend and the site). (The site is http://www.lulubandhas.com/portal/luluvu/democlass .) Anyway, I am learning A LOT about myself--I think that's part of the purpose of yoga. I am learning I am not flexible anymore, there is never more than a few minutes of quiet in my house, my mind has a hard time shutting off and I am pretty sure that my mind and my body are at war with each other. (And I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing.) :) I have also found out that I feel a lot better about most things (physically and mentally) on the days I have time to practice--even if it's just for a few minutes at the very least the tension in my upper body hides out for a while and I can breathe better. That tells me this is one of the very few things that I do for MYself and is a huge benefit for me (and probably the others around me.)
But I am left with lots of questions. If this is so good for me, then why can't I find time (or make time) to do this every day? Why am I so tense? How do people with kids and dogs fit this (or any other type of relaxation) in to their schedules...especially if they work and/or go to school? How do you stay relaxed and keep a positive attitude when the ones around you are mad, sad, or have bad attitudes? Sometimes, I am not sure where all of my uneasiness comes from--I have everything that I could ever need or want yet my bad attitude shines on. I am happy on every level, but I often don't think I am happy enough--especially when those around me aren't sunshiny people (for lack of a better term). I understand that part of yoga is about believing that things are okay the way they are. Uh, that's not going to happen for me. I mean, the queen of worry would just be setting herself up for failure and anger toward yoga if I put that on my list of things I want to accomplish with yoga! I'll stick to yoga goals like physical fitness, relaxation, and a better attitude. But I would like to be a little more independent with my emotions, per se (like not letting others rain on MY sunshiny days).
I do hope I can work on getting to know myself better--and when I say myself I mean as a PERSON and not all the labels that are attached to me (by myself or others). Especially as I start to take on more responsibilities with the beginning of school, I need to remember to take a little bit of time for myself--FIND and MAKE that time--so that I can perform better for myself and others. I am working on adopting the attitude that I don't always have to be running around DOing something...sometimes it's best to just hang out and take a break (even if that break is a type work--like yoga). I am not sure if I will ever take that attitude as my own--there's always something to clean, someone to take care of, a paper to write, a book to read, etc. But, hopefully, with practice the effort it takes for me to relax will become less and less and just sitting there can be much more peaceful! Right now, yoga is a lot of work for me but I think it's worth it.
"You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state." ~Sharon Gannon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

If you're only as old as you feel...

I'm doomed! I am feeling ancient these days--lack of sleep I assume from all of the craziness of and recent changes in my life--including the anxiety of what is to come. (Though I am SUPER-excited about starting my PhD program. Nerd alert!) Thank goodness I have my daughter and my pups to help keep me young. I don't have the choice to just shut down--though my thyroid likes to try to get me to do otherwise.

Anyway, on the topic of age, what I really wanted to do was tell another K story. She says the funniest things and I never remember to write them all down. Although for a while I was writing them down on a pad of paper and that's one of the things I have not recovered from our latest move. Lesson learned--I should have written that stuff in her baby (or not so baby now) book at the time and now I am trying to write them down here while I still remember them...but I really hope I find those notes.

I digress (as usual). Anyway, Buzz and I went out to lunch at one of the few places we agree on in terms of food this afternoon. K wanted a hot dog from Sonic, so we gave in on our way. When she thanked us for stopping and getting what she asked for, Buzz responded "We'd do anything for our Princess." K responded "I'd do anything for my old people."

So now we are officially old people, I guess. When I got pregnant I told Buzz that we would never again be cool. (This was assuming we had some amount of coolness pre-pregnancy.) He argued that we would still be very cool--cool parents. Yeah right! As we have gone through a few childhood stages together, I see just how my coolness level is going down. As an infant, we are absolutely the coolest things in our babies lives--mainly because they don't know what it means to be cool yet and we do everything they need. Then they start developing independence but they still need and WANT you there so much. We are now entering a phase of serious independence. K often asks me if I can go somewhere--meaning that she wants to hang out with someone else without me there. (And she hates it when I see her dance and gymnastics shows. She tells me it's no fun when I'm there and she wants me on the outside of the glass wall.) And now, I'm old. :) But I cherish this time--she still wants me around sometimes and I don't think she has yet fully realized my deficiencies in the cool department (though I think we are on our way to that epiphany.) I already miss rocking her to sleep in my arms. I remember thinking back then how exhausted I was to still be up and how tired my arms might get from holding her but knowing that one day that would all just be a memory. And even now, in my old-person state of exhaustion, I am thankful for every second she wants to play and spend time with me...and that she still says she'd do anything for this old person. My little drama queen is growing up and we are enjoying the ride while taking time to cherish these little moments before I am not yet TOO old and still cool enough to hang out with my little lady. (Is cool even still a term I can use, or am I showing my age?)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bathrooms can be dangerous!


"When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he's doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911." --Erma Bombeck



So with a youngster, bathrooms are always a topic of discussion and a source of intrigue--in one way or another. Well, today they have been a humorous yet dangerous spot on our radar--well, partial danger, partial perceived danger and all humorous. This morning, I was getting ready to take a quick shower. I told K I was going "to jump in the shower." Very seriously and sternly she told me "No, Mommy--Don't jump in the shower. You might get hurt!" Hysterically laughing and not knowing how to respond, I decided this was not the time to explain such phrases and double meanings so I thanked her for reminding me that wasn't a good idea and I promised not to jump but I was going to take a quick shower.


Later this afternoon, we were at a friend's house. K was upstairs playing with her friend who came down the stairs and asked her mom if K could use her little sister's toothbrush. Her mom replied that her baby sister did not have a toothbrush yet. Confused, about this time I hear water running upstairs--I run up the stairs to find K brushing her teeth with a baby toothbrush and toothpaste. GROSS!!!!! I grabbed it away from her and told her no--not knowing whether to laugh, be mad, or just gag. Turns out, it was K's friend's baby toothbrush from a few years ago that they had just stuck in a drawer. When I asked her why she did it, she told me she just wanted to brush her teeth and her friend was sharing. I had to explain that toothbrushes are something that we don't ever share with our friends--or anyone. (This is not the first time we have had this conversation. A year or more ago, I found K brushing her teeth, then brushing Sampson's teeth a little bit, then back to hers again...she told me she was sharing then, too.) I am still grossed out quite a bit. We all had a few good laughs today though. I hope K thinks these stories are as funny as I do when she gets older and doesn't get upset at my sharing them. :)


So, basically, with the bathroom as the topic on my mind, I am just reminded how fun and exciting it is to be a mom...NEVER a dull moment. I wouldn't change it for anything--though I hope there will be no more sharing of toothbrushes in the future.


Monday, July 13, 2009

My daughter eats ice cream for breakfast...

Well, it's actually fro-yo so at least it has cultures. :) I used to feel bad about this but I've just accepted this fact of life now. She's not a big eater so I have resolved myself to the fact that eating something (it has cultures, calcium, and calories) is better than eating nothing--which is what she used to eat for breakfast. She eats healthy stuff in small spurts throughout the days. Oh, and she takes a multivitamin, so that's good, too, right?

Living with a 3-year-old (and all the stages before this and I am sure many more to come) has made me eat my words on SO many things. I suppose, just like everything else, you don't know what it's like until you are in the situation. Things aren't as structured or as clean in my house as I would like, but I wouldn't trade the chaos for anything in the world. (Seriously, add dogs in this mix and someone should follow me around with a camera for a bloopers show.) K is a laugh a minute and her personality shines more every day. She is polite and sensitive. She listens (most of the time) and she shows compassion for others (generally...she IS 3). She is very active which, to me, means healthy so I am not complaining (though sometimes others do--but that's their problem, not mine).

In the past, I have felt almost ashamed of my somewhat lax parenting style--but as time has gone by, I realize that no one can raise MY child better than ME--and nobody knows her better than I do. It doesn't matter what other people think. My skin is growing thicker to all of the unsolicited advice and comments--which don't seem to slow down. Instead of questioning myself when people start their judgments of my parenting abilities, I sort-of tune them out and start wondering what happened in their past that makes them think what they are doing is socially acceptable behavior. Sometimes, I just want to yell at them "HEY! I've done this mostly on my own for a long, long time. She could be a lot, LOT worse." But I figure that's not truly necessary and I probably shouldn't stoop to lower levels--plus, I have nothing to apologize for or explain to them. And then, I just decide that they are adults so it is their problem. I smile and nod--rarely do I even argue any more--and then K and I just go about our business. What does still tick me off is when people make comments to HER--she is still too young to care but when she gets old enough, I guess I will just be challenged as a parent to teach her the lesson that I have learned. And I suppose somehow I will have to find the balance of teaching her to respect adults yet realize that some adults haven't learned that age-old rule "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Yes, I am sure there are many unique challenges for us down the road. I hope that I am able to pick out the good advice from the advice that was best left as a thought in someone else's mind and not in my ear. In the meantime, I will be left wondering why people even care. Maybe they're just trying to help--I'll try to keep that perspective so that I can remain positive and less bitter about what I hear. Oh, and also in the meantime, she will continue to have her ice cream for breakfast--with sprinkles (we could all use a little more color in our mornings).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Salt and Brindle

I was just hanging out with Sampson and realized he is having one of his "old-looking" days. Sometimes I look at him and it is amazing to see how he has aged while other days he still looks young and spry. Today, I noticed that the dark hair on his mask has some white sprinkled through it--he's becoming salt and brindled. Additionally, his white belly is getting lots of black spots--like age spots. His age is showing on the outside and his inside has been struggling since the beginning.

Recently, we have added another serious health concern to our list of health issues for the Sam-dog. He has a substantial heart murmur. The doctor told us that since he is still active and his lungs sounded clear, maybe it is not THAT serious...yet. Basically, if he survives all of his other struggles, it is very likely that one day, without warning, his heart will just stop. I discussed his exercise routine (because I am working to keep my end of our deal going) and she said to always remember that he is still a dog. It's not beneficial for us to limit his activity--he's happy moving when he wants to move and sleeping when he wants to sleep. (And he has become the master relaxer!) We need to let him do what he wants to do, even if it may shorten his life by a run or two (or more). I am trying to tell myself if he falls over on a run, at least he went out strong doing what he wanted to do--and I think that would be better than the suffering that we saw with Angel at the end.

But thinking like this is hard--he's still my puppy (my first-born) and I love him. :) Though it may seem silly, I have even compared Sampson to some elderly loved-ones by saying I want them all to go strong until the end. (Again, I do not necessarily hold my pets in the same category as my human loved-ones, but I often see similarities...clearly humans come first, but I digress...) Independence, self-esteem, and strength are what give us all quality of life. Of course, I want many decades ahead for all of my loved ones (even I know that is not possible for some for natural reasons), but I hope those years are filled with health and happiness, not suffering or pain. This is yet another time I reflect on how similar humans and our pets really are, at least to those of us who are pet-lovers. And, again, this is another time that I wish I could take on some of my dogs traits--like their lack of fear or vanity issues. Sampson doesn't sit around noticing his hair or skin changing colors--he doesn't pluck the white hair and put makeup on to cover his age spots or wrinkles--he doesn't know he's old (or sick, I don't think). He gets up and starts his days the same way--he may be a little slower, a little plumper, and look a little more aged, but his goals are the same. Some food, a walk, and some love is all he needs. He takes it all in stride. He has earned those white hairs and spots and, to me, it makes him all the more handsome.

All of this makes me wonder exactly why the anti-aging business thrives the way it does. Why can't we be proud of moving forward with our lives? I hope as I grow in years and wisdom, I can take all things in stride as Sampson does...and as Angel did. I hope that I can remember that age (even the physical parts that change our outward appearances) is something that is, in many ways, earned. Those lines, white hairs, and extra pounds are nothing more than signs on the road map of all we accomplish through our lives--including the extra stress that us humans impose on ourselves--and we should be proud of that. I hope that Sampson has at least a few years left with us--healthy and happy years--and that his heart can hold on for lots more runs, walks, play times, meals and naps! I will try not to dwell on all of his illnesses (which is easier to do when we are not paying insane vet bills) and work on enjoying all of life's blessings...I'm earning my salt and brindle every step along the way. :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Better Ones Among Us

I found an answer to all of those "Why do you want to go back to school? Why do you study those things? Why do you want to learn that much anyway?" questions and a response to those (myself included) who say/know one person can't save the world or solve all of its problems. I found it in a social theory book (go figure) and it even references dogs! :)

“…the evident genius of the human spirit lies in the hard fact of life that we, like our dogs... [are] limited in all the important ways… We cannot do all that our powerful minds trick us into thinking we can. In a word, this is the mystery of being human. Our finest nature is not our ability to think and do. It is that we do and think as we do in spite of the obstacles…On average, the better ones among us continue to think and do what they can with no assurance that solutions will be found.” --Charles Lemert, from preface of Thinking the Unthinkable

Dr. Lemert goes on to say how dogs go about their daily business but it's not necessarily a calculated process. He also discusses how sometimes things just happen--like natural disasters, for example. But dogs just sort of go with the flow; they take things in stride. They don't sit around and wonder all the whys that humans do. This, I suppose, is one of those fundamental differences between my 4-legged best friends and my 2-legged ones. :) But this, too, is one of those traits I wish I could sometimes borrow from my dogs, instead of losing sleep and stirring about the world's problems (in addition to my own).

As I embark on this new journey to "PhD School" I hope this quote and these concepts are some things I can keep in mind. I am limited (because I am human) but that doesn't mean that I can't move forward and do what I can to work toward the betterment of myself and others even if there is not assurance that any type of solution will come out of my labors. I know that my other academic peers have these same struggles. I try to remember to "think globally, act locally" and all of those other cliches we use to give us some peace of mind that all of our efforts are worth it when, on the inside, we fear/know that any differences we are lucky enough to make will be on a much smaller level than we wish. Hopefully, I will reach my goal of becoming a PhD...though that is a long way from now. In the meantime, I will think and do what I can and hopefully become one of "the better ones among us" in my pursuit and even help others along the way.

WOman's best friend


So we have moved to a new place--new house, new state, new duty station. I was SOOOOO excited about this new duty station because it is a remote location--away from a military town. I was so excited to get away from the oohrah of Camp Lejeune/Jackson-Vegas, NC. I do love my house, neighborhood, and the new city--and we have great neighbors, but oh how I miss that oohrah now. Making friends as a military wife in a non-military town is not exactly what one would call easy. Now, instead of the dreaded "you're a military wife" attitude, I am like a freak of nature. No one gets it...except my dogs.

The dogs are in love with their new (large) fenced-in back yard--complete with neighbor-dogs on each side with whom they regularly "communicate" (if you can call running, barking, and smelling communicating--I guess you can if you are a dog, but I digress). And I am doing my best to keep up my end of the deal I made with Sampson--the one about how he gets a walk ALMOST every day (especially when Buzz is home as long as it's not raining, etc) as long as he keeps fighting. He's kept up his end of the deal, so I must do the same. (He is also on a new med--an immunosupressive drug, but I digress again.)

But somehow in all of their happiness and craziness, they have come through for me again. Daisy is showing signs of becoming a good dog--with at least a few manners. And Sampson is still my best friend. He makes me laugh and gives me good company even when I feel otherwise friendless. And I am seeing more of the old Sam-dog come back out--I love it when he is the one going crazy and "beating up" (in a playful way) Daisy. The old man still shows us he's the best friend AND the boss! :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sampson!


Today is Sam-the-Man's 7th birthday. Like I have said many times before, he has been with me through SO many changes and ups and downs in my life. Over this past year, I have really been concerned as to whether or not he would make it to this day. I am so thankful he did. People who don't have pets still continue to think I am crazy and ask me why or how I do it. I don't have an answer I can put into words...all I can say is that is long as we are able and he is still fighting, I don't think I have another choice. It's been a long, expensive journey but I am glad we have pulled through. I have no doubt that the journey ahead of us will hold many new challenges (I am speaking about him AND me) but I hope HE will be there to help pull ME through life's ups and downs for many more years to come. I am thankful for every happy, healthy day he gives us. I know today is a milestone we are celebrating. I hope the road ahead IS long, though I do hope it is at least relatively less expensive! Nothing makes me smile quite like the Sampson kidney bean dance. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The story of Daisy Duke


Oh, Daisy...where do I start? I love her--I really do, though sometimes people don't believe me. We got Daisy in June 2008 from the rescue organization where we got Angel. After we lost Angel, Sampson was devistated. (I never believed that an animal could get depressed until I saw what happened to him after she left us.) We decided to get another dog, wanted a puppy for our daughter to grow up with, and decided that the best way to honor Angel was to rescue another dog who needed love and a good home. We got our Daisy Duke! Daisy, who just turned 1, still has way more energy than any of us here...even the toddler! She is a beautiful boxer-mix and a wonderful addition to our family. Here is a little bit of her story from older blogs...


Rescuing Another Boxer with a Tail

June 11, 2009


Well, I am trying to turn the page after the loss of our Angel-girl. It is a much tougher road than I had even imagined! We have decided to adopt a puppy from the Boxer Rescue organization in Florida where we got Angel. (I volunteered there and they are working with us even over the miles.) We think the best way to honor her is to do it all over again. This time, we are helping a puppy! She is only half-boxer...but she does have a tail. Angel showed us just what Boxer-tails can do...and we like it. :o) This puppy was born in rescue--she is currently named Target, but we are going to name her Daisy. Her mother has a very sad story and I am thankful for BARC for saving her (as much as they could) and her pups. (Too see a picture of Target/Daisy and read about her mommy, check out http://www.msplinks.com/MDFodHRwOi8vd3d3LmJveGVyYXJjLm9yZy9wZW5kaW5nLnBocA== . Her mommy was Miley.)

People still give me grief over my animals, but my skin is getting thicker to it. If you haven't read "Just a Dog" on my page, check it out! I am a better person for my love of animals...and am a stronger person because of my history (and future!) with Boxers. It must be in my blood--I have grandparents and great-grandparents that I have seen and heard stories about who where "those" people who just had a "way" with animals. Supposedly, one of my grandfathers could tame and ride a wild horse. My other grandfather was like Steve Carrell in Evan Almighty with animals--they flocked to him! (Seriously, when I was a little girl , my cat snuck to his house and jumped in his car when he was traveling out-of-town. She was so quiet for the ride, he didn't know until they were there.) But I digress...maybe I don't have that "way" with animals (I can't even tame a Boxer--which, in my defense is quite difficult) but I do have a love for them and they bring so much into my life.

In all of my sadness, there is an overwhelming feeling of happiness about what we did for Angel. So many people (including veterinarians) have been touched in one way or another by her gentle nature, her strength and her courage. Without us, she would not have had those opportunities. How does a dog who LITERALLY came from a crack house do that? Even after she entered rescue, people didn't want her. A family adopted her before we did and gave her back...yes, they gave that sweet dog back. But I am glad they did--she was meant to be OURS. One of Angel's doctors told us that she showed a strength even in the face of horrifying pain that many humans can not claim. One of the vet assistants that took care of her told us that she will never forget her smile. Yes, Angel had a smile. She was a great dog...she was a great being...and we are better people for having been close to her. She was amazing--and her spirit is still amazing.
Some kind words from her doctor, seeing Sampson light up around puppies, and knowing that we saved Angel's life and let her do what she needed to do here on earth are helping me to move on. I still have a long way to go, but I hope that time will help me through. In a couple of weeks, we will have another rescue dog in our midst. I am looking foward to it. She will not replace Angel. But I think rescuing another dog with no home to call her own will help us keep Angel's legacy alive. She taught us the joys and rewards that come from opening our hearts, homes, and minds to something a little different and challenging. She also taught us the joys of the Boxer tail!

Hopefully in the future, my blog (which, yes, is dedicated to our four-legged family members who make our lives whole) will be full of puppy funnies. I can't wait for Sampson to be a big brother--he has never really grown up himself. He has had a tough time without Angel. He lost his best friend, his sister, and his pack leader. But I think he, too, is ready to move on. He is gentle yet full of energy...I think a puppy is just what he needs. And HE is a better dog because of Angel. He used to be very selfish (if dogs can be selfish) but he LOVED to play with other dogs. We got Angel for him. (Little did we know how much she would do for us.) He used to sleep on an old couch in our bedroom. He was pretty territorial over his stuff. So, when we got Angel, we made a bed for her on the floor in our room because we did not want him to feel as if she was taking over his space. (Which she eventually did--and he happily let her do it.) The first night she was with us, he stayed on the couch. The second night, after the lights were out, we heard some noise...we turned the light on to see that he had gotten down on the floor and snuggled up with her. This is the dog who will not even sit on hard floors and taking a nap on the floor is out of the question...but he was going to do it for Angel. When we left them in boarding one week for a cruise, Sampson's face was raw--they said each night, he took the blankets in their kennel and made pillows for both him and Angel. He loved is alpha-dog and treated her like a queen. Though I know he misses her (he has showed his grief), he has a lot of love to give. Daisy is one lucky dog!


BARC out loud!

March 1, 2009



This is the YouTube channel for BARC...the organization where we got Daisy (and Angel, but it was known as something different then). Our little family is in the video "From the 'children' of BARC." :) The video "Boxer Aid and Rescue Coalition" is dedicated to Miley and others who did not make it--Miley was Daisy's mom. But if anyone questions WHY us animal lovers do what we do, it's because of how bad things can be if we don't--and the volunteers for BARC know this as well as anyone else. Bless all of the people who open their hearts and homes to those four-legged babies who need us!


The Toy Nazi, Jr.

April 7, 2009


When Sampson was a puppy, he LOVED his toys. He played with them, slept with them, traveled with them, etc. But when we got Angel, his love affair with toys came to an end not out of his own wishes, but because he had to. Angel was the original Toy Nazi. She was obsessed with toys--anyone who knew Angel knew she had a slight case of OCD. (And anyone who knows me very well knows I have a tendency to relate things in my life to Seinfeld episodes--and anyone who knows much about Seinfeld knows about The Soup Nazi...which is where this title has come from.) Anyway, Sampson had to give up toys pretty much all together because if he so much as looked at a toy, Angel took it from him. He would just sit there with his "duh face" and watch his sister run away with his old (and new) toys. The only time while Angel was in our lives that he got a toy to himself, it was a 99cent green ball from Petsmart that he ended up eating and it cost us about $1000 to have it surgically removed, but I digress.


Daisy is a very different dog than Angel--she has never been abused and she is not scared of storms. Yet, she has some similarities with Angel that are a bit erie. She came from BARC and she LOVES her toys. We didn't think a dog on earth existed that could tear toys apart quicker and more violently than Angel--but then we found Daisy. It only takes her a little bit of time to chew a black (supposedly indestructible) Kong into pieces and a matter of minutes to devour a rope. But most importantly, Sampson can have NO toys...none...period.


I love when Sampson has his good days where he wants to play--LOVE it! It reminds me of my puppy Sam-dog and even my adult Sam the Man without all of his pain and sufferring. This morning was one of those times; he wanted to play with a toy SO bad. He kept trying and trying to sneak one past Daisy and I swear he was trying to get my help. We tried and tried. I attempted to distract her with another toy or give Sampson a toy out of her sight, but Daisy came out ahead every time. I couldn't hold her back and we couldn't sneak anything by her. And in Soup Nazi/Toy Nazi form, I imagine Daisy saying to Sampson "No toys for you!" every time he even tries and no matter how great his efforts. So my old man has given up on trying for a toy for the moment. He's in his chair staring out the window looking depressed. Maybe I will throw Daisy outside for a little bit and play a little fetch with the Sam-Dog...he'll tire out soon, I'm sure, and we can bring Daisy back in before she knows what's going on. Sometimes, I think he likes the interventions so I am not sure if he would even try to play without her presence. So for now, I will sit here and be entertained by my four-legged children. :) Sorry, Sam, NO TOYS FOR YOU! :)


Rescued

January 22, 2009


I found this in something I picked up at the vet's office and wanted to share...


Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe.I would promise to always be by her side.I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.


I rescued a human today.