8/26/08

To My Daughter

I wrote this on Monday morning after I took my children to school. This is my oldest daughter's last year in school before she will head to college.....ever aware of her fear of the future, I did my best to not reveal how I felt inside over her last year of high school.....but after being inspired by this from my friend T, I thought maybe, well....that I would go ahead and publish it.

Baby,

I did not know what I was having when I was pregnant with you....I didn't want to know. The miracle that you were was enough for me, I found comfort in knowing that you were just there, often when I was all alone.......I was overwhelmed when the doctor said "it's a girl." I cried......I still do when I think about it.

I am not sure when you got to be so beautiful....was it when you first cried, back when it was just you and me kid? Were you always so inquisitive? So full of questions? You walked early, talked early, got teeth early....so ready to just get on with it, you began growing up before I realized it was possible. Do you remember when I knew you could read? What the first word you read aloud to me was? It was Donut, we were driving....and you told me you wanted one....I laughed out loud and turned around and got it for you....you were five.
Do you remember how you used to repeat everything I would say....often using the same colorful adjectives......I was apalled, but everyone else thought you were so cute.....

Your eyes always took in so much and were always the first thing anyone ever noticed about you.....so blue, so big......so beautiful, they still are, followed by your beautiful smile. You were the wind beneath my wings when I was just discovering how to be an adult.....the one thing that brought me out of the dark days of a war....did I ever tell you that?


How did you get to be almost 18 years old and graduating this year? I look back at photos and videos of you growing up. How proud I have always been of how you gracefully eased through all that life through at you.....the loss you experienced, the pain you went through and even coming close to losing one of your closest family members, not once did you fall......but then I have always been there in case you did.


As I looked at you this morning, my heart filled with so much, I hardly knew where to begin and so I was pretty quiet......you twirled around like you used to when you were little, looked over your shoulder at me and said, "Hey Mom, it's my last first day." It was all I could do to not let you see the tears as they welled up in my eyes.....when did you get to be so grown up, where is my little girl....with the bright inquisitive blue eyes and giggles when I held her....she has been replaced with this stunning creature I sometimes hardly recognize.....did I miss your life? I know I was there.....but being your mother has never once been hard, so maybe that is why you seem to have grown up in the blink of an eye.

Those hard days, the ones that stand out in my mind, the ones you rose above and showed what kind of resolve you had in you......the day I took you and your sister's cell phones away to make sure I was the one to tell you about your friend dying and then you held your little sister, the day the war came home to us, the day your friend at school didn't wake up.....through glasses and braces and disappointments you took life in stride, never once turning away from me. You knew I was there for you and you always sought the solace and safety of my arms, knowing that I'd make everything alright.


But now, I think you know that it's time to spread your wings, to find where your place in the world is, to discover where this last year of high school will find you.....ever knowing that I am always going to be Mommy, even on the day you become a mother yourself. I love you with all my heart, my love, my firstborn, my beautiful grown up daughter. I will always be proud to be you mom, privileged to have you in my life, thanked God every day for you, even before you were officially you, but as you grow up, I am excited about being your friend....


8/20/08

What a smile!

Shawn you rock!

BEIJING - AUGUST 19: Gold medalist Shawn Johnson of the USA smiles as she stands on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's Beam Final at the National Indoor Stadium on Day 11 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 19, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) courtesy of yahoo sports

8/18/08

Is Spell Check dumbing out our children?

My oldest daughter sat in my room last night filling out a couple applications for interviews today....and I gotta tell you....it was a brutal eye opener for her mother.....

See, this is my honors child...the one who, since kindergarten has been the child each of her teachers stated would do great things....12 years later she is an English major....taking AP this year in English, Government and Economics, on the Newspaper and Yearbook......she will graduate with distinguished honors....even her new teachers are excited about her being in their classes, so much so the counselor called her to tell her.......

AND while we are very proud of her and her siblings, I was dumbfounded when she asked me how to spell IMMEDIATELY and then asked me if she had spelled AVID right.....I guess after thinking about it, I was just a little perplexed. Of course I too spell things wrong and have to admit that I have become reliant on my browser's ability to underline in red what it does not recognize as being spelled right, especially on my blog......but all and all I am a very good speller....

Such a small thing, but such a big impact.....to me, being a good speller comes with being a good reader....which my daughter is, in fact all of them are........so why the issue? As a comparison I asked my middle daughter to spell IMMEDIATELY to which she did without issue, and while she is a strong English student, her areas in honors lie in math and science.....and come to think of it, she has not had a computer for as long as her older sister either.

Even though I know what classes my children take, and I have guided each of them so that they will be prepared for college, I guess I get to own up to being a bad mother now for not knowing exactly what is in the syllabus. But since they are such great students, I guess I just assumed they each had vocabulary, never really asked them about it. Anyway, I spoke to the girls about their English classes and they both stated that they did indeed have vocabulary, but my older daughter said that in her course, it is such a small part of the class, that her lowest grades were in that area, usually in the low 80's. She said that she did not study as hard for her vocabulary as she did the Lit part ....considering the course often had her reading European Poetry as well as Literature of up to 800 pages, but even with her explanation, she got a dirty look from mom it. She did get a 94% in the class, but imagine what she would have gotten had she not blown off her vocab, not to mention the fact that it is far easier for her to ask me how to spell something then to be confident in her own knowledge of it.....

This will be my daughter's third high school in four years and for the last two years she attended a high school that had block scheduling. For those out there that do not know what this is, it is where you complete a course in a semester instead of a year (much like college, same amount of information put out over a shorter period of time, but for a longer class time). The classes are 90 minutes long instead of the 40 or 45, and you have 4 a semester for a total of 7 or 8 credits per year......instead of having the standard year with 4 quarters, you only have two, when progress reports are sent home they are pretty much looked at like a quarter grade that does not count.

So I'm curious......

Is it the computer age? Did her attendance at one high school that had normal scheduling and then 2 years at one with block scheduling affect her and the way she had to study in order to pass classes that were shorter with just as much information....or was it something else? Many experts say that our adolescents are more prone to low attention spans due to over exposure to television and gaming, but what does it say about computers?

The following is taken from an April, 2008 Article in the NY Times:
James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, drew laughs when he expressed concern about what he called “the slow destruction of the basic unit of human thought, the sentence,” because young Americans are doing most of their writing in disjointed prose composed in Internet chat rooms or in cellphone text messages.

“Overall, American students’ writing skills are deteriorating,” said Will Fitzhugh, the founder of Concord Review, a journal published in Massachusetts that features history research papers written by high school students. He expressed skepticism that the national assessment accurately measured students’ overall writing skills because, he said, it only tests their ability to write very brief essays jotted out in half an hour.

“The only way to assess the kind of writing that students will have to do in college is to have them write a term paper, and then have somebody sit down and grade it — and nobody wants to do that, because it’s too costly,” he said.

Mr. Fitzhugh cited findings of a 2006 survey of college professors, in which a large majority said they thought most high school graduates came to college with limited writing skills.

In an age when we use computers as if they were always part of our lives.....when most of our children think they always have been, are we losing certain aspects of old-school learning while we focus learning how to use our computer programs? We now rely on the computer for everything from writing mail to writing books and blogs... as digital photo albums and for online support and friendships.... We communicate with our friends and share information via Myspace, Facebook and other like websites. We use programs to balance our checkbooks, watch movies and listen to music, use web-cams and talk on the phone to our loved ones thousands of miles away, use spreadsheets and charts to explain everything from household chores to major proposals by large corporations.... and so much more. All things we used to have to do by hand or without the aid of our expanding technology. How often do you hear someone state that their laptop contains "everything" on it or when it crashes they are determined to save the data?

With so much being accomplished with the aid of computers, is one small program that we all use at one time or another .....called SPELLCHECK, making our children less smart? Or is it just a compounding problem of many media applications? I don't know the exact answer to it, but what I do know is that the idea has opened my eyes up a little bit more AND that I will be checking to ensure my Senior will be studying her vocabulary a little harder this year......

By the way, the word spellcheck, was not recognized as a word by my computer.....funny.

8/8/08

Oh to have been there....











From 776 BC to Present, a history of Unity

"And we compel men to exercise their bodies not only for the games, so that they can win the prizes-for very few of them go to them-but to gain a greater good from it for the whole city, and for the men themselves" Lucian, Anacharsis, ca. AD 170

Summer Olympic Photo Gallery courtesy of Yahoo Sports








8/6/08

Ironic....

I woke up this morning at 5am to the sounds of my husband dressing for PT. I vaguely remember him kissing me goodbye......then my next recollection was him kissing me hello after PT a few hours later. But before, I finally fell asleep at 3am.......and in between I drempt of my father, who died 14 years ago and of course upon awakening, I now just miss him terribly.

I logged into my blog and checked out my daily reads and Spousebuzz's Gbear had this post up this morning....and here is the irony.....it is also what I am writing about today.....

The dreaded insomnia that we all endure. She referred to it as TDY Insomnia....and while for the most part I would say that it is a fitting title for what we go though as military spouses. But we also endure it during different parts of our lives. As I grew up the problem began in my teens and has only been compounded with more complex issues......the day's events for example, how often do you lie awake and worry about something that happened that is out of your control, it doesn't matter that you can't do anything about it, you still lose sleep. There are the times during extreme stress, hectic schedules, sorrow and worrying that cause us to lose sleep. As adults, as parents, our children keep us up at night worrying over sickness when they are young and dates when they are teens....and all the things in between that cause the Sandman to evade us....

But me, I'm a career insomniac. What do you have to have in order to qualify for such a title, well you simply don't sleep. Sometimes for days, weeks and unfortunately one time, for almost 3 months straight (by the way, you get really really super sick from this). And so I read, I read everything...... during the deployments you could find me cleaning, doing laundry, etc....all the things I did not do during the day because I was so busy with other commitments.......I used to also surf the web but then I was just reading online.........still amazed at the bizarre stuff I would come across....but now, I have given most of that up and gone back to my old habit of reading late (or early into the am). At present reading Les Miserables with my oldest daughter who has to finish it for her senior AP English class.......although, I have been known to be up at 3am sanding walls (that damn foyer).

This habit has increasingly gotten worse every time my husband has had to go away (the dreaded TDY Insomnia Gbear speaks of). When he was with Group, it was bad....and then when he was home I would seem to creep back into some assemblance of sleeping, if it only being 4-5 hours. There have been times in my life where I have slept normally, (whatever that is) but it has been so long, I don't recall exactly when that was....... I do not have a television in my room because it promotes insomnia, even reading in bed does as well, but that I simply do anyway......but there are nights where I refuse to give into it, even if it means laying in bed for hours praying......most nights I eventually fall asleep, but it seems to be 30 minutes before my alarm goes off.

Last night my husband, who in all the time he has been home has never had issue with my late night habit of reading, woke up and rolled over to me at 12:30am and said, "Babe, you gotta get back to a normal sleep schedule." Hm.....and here is where this becomes an issue......I don't have one anymore. This is who I am........I have lost so much sleep in my life, I surely have aged well past my 40 years. Experts say that inconsistent sleep can be a factor in having a shorter life.
A 2007 British study found that people who slept the same amount of time (seven hours) each night lived longer, on average, than people who adjusted their schedules to either add or subtract hours from their nightly slumber. Finding your own ideal sleep/wake cycle—and staying consistent—is key to healthy sleep, agrees Carol Ash, DO, medical director of the Sleep for Life center in Hillsborough, N.J.
I remember a time when we were told that you couldn't make up for lost sleep.....that it was just lost and you had to move past it.......whether that is true or not, I guess is up for discussion....but the following is a good example.
Q: Is it possible to make up for sleep hours lost during the week by sleeping in on the weekends?

A: Sleep can’t be fully made up until you get back into a regular pattern. One of the problems with trying to catch up on lost sleep hours is that it disrupts your natural sleep clock, which requires roughly 16 hours of wakefulness before you’re ready to fall asleep again.

After a night of getting only six hours of sleep, many people try to catch up by sleeping until 9 or 10 a.m. the next day. But when they try to fall asleep the next night at 10 p.m., their sleep clock won’t let them, because they haven’t yet been awake for 16 yours. They may not be able to fall asleep that night until 1 a.m., and if they have to get up early the next day, the whole pattern starts again.

It’s best to try to establish some regularity in your sleep schedule, so that every night you go to bed at a reasonable time, get a good amount of sleep and wake up at roughly the same time each morning. Varying that schedule by an hour or an hour and half isn’t a big deal for people who aren’t having sleep problems. But trying to make up three lost hours of sleep on a Saturday morning is going to be tough on anyone’s sleep clock.

Studies show that people who chronically lose sleep, find a way to adjust themselves to the problem......but they are deficient in their daily tasks, memory becomes a problem as well.......so how do you win with this..... For me, I have come to the conclusion that it is just something I have to live with.....best I can. But I hate that when it's late and I'm up, I feel like I am the only person, it seems in the world, awake........... The issue of the deployment/moving cycle from hell which we have been on has only made matters worse and it's no grand surprise that I don't sleep anymore.

My husband, he can sleep anywhere......he is a sleep magnet. But he also has vivid dreams when he sleeps.....when I told him of my dream of my father, he hugged me and kissed away the tears, but he also told me he had dreamed that he was back in Iraq......life was normal in his dream....but in real life.....it's not. How can it be for him when he has spent more time there then here......more time with soldiers then family......more time fighting and less time living? I mean, come on.....when you go away for years at a time.....why would home feel normal? And then there is my issue....... we have been separated for so long, we often wonder if we really know one another anymore..... Over time I worried about whether I would have a husband who would make it home alive and if so, would he be the same man? Let's face facts, I am far from the same woman.......

And so that just gives me pause to be concerned.....if we are the product of our experiences...... and what I have written is our life......is there a time when we will once again find a harmony in which to live, where his being here is normal for him and my having a husband home is for me? One where I can finally sleep along side of my husband all night long and he no longer dreams of war?