Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Prayer Request

A long post ahead - So I have a real, official prayer request. Not for me. It's for a friend. Well, a friend of mine from high school and college. We haven't actually talked in almost 8 years, but I found out yesterday that she was just arrested and is entering drug rehab. She and her husband are separated. Since hearing about her story, I can't get her out of my head. I dreamed about her last night. I cried for her and her children this morning. I put in a call to her mother to find out if she'll be allowed to receive contact from "the outside" while she's in rehab, because I'd like to write her a letter. If you pray, please think of her. If you don't pray, just send some special thoughts her way. I promise that she deserves them.

Her situation got me thinking about how connected our decision-making is throughout our lifetime. She and I didn't always make good decisions in high school, but she was liked by everyone. She was the funny, chubby girl, with a pretty face. She had a beautiful voice and went to college on a full music scholarship. Despite having a great group of clean, smart, friends in high school and college, who liked her for who she was.

But this has me thinking about the kind of mother I am and the kind of mother I want to be (and not be). It has me thinking about my daughters and their future. It has me thinking of this girl, who likely has no clean friends or sources of support, nobody to remind her of the person she used to be. Even though her mother loves her, what must this friend feel like to have nobody saying "I love you" that doesn't sort of have to (like a mother)? I can't imagine what being addicted to drugs feels like. I can't imagine what not thinking clearly, not having the confidence, strength, or ability to change your life feels like. All I can imagine is this person I used to know and love stuck in a vacuum, alone, feeling like she's nothing, ashamed and desperate.

I want her to know that I still love her. That God loves her. That her children love her and need her to be healthy. That she is a beautiful person. I want to send her all the strength I have to get better. I want to send her faith and hope and courage and the desire to build herself from the inside out with self-worth a sense of competence.

I don't know anything about dealing with people with addictions, so I don't really know what to do. But I have to believe that thinking about her, praying for her, and writing to her will mean something.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's No Wonder

It's really no wonder that the state of Texas has one of the nation's highest drop-out rates for highschoolers. With a former Governor, and now President, who has oil rather than education at the top of his priority list, we're lucky schools are even open. In order to appear to be doing something to balance his budget - yeah, the one that nobody holds him accountable for - Cowboy George has proposed to completely eliminate the Even Start Family Literacy Program. Keep in mind, this program costs only a fraction of 1% of his overall budget!! I don't know about you, but my math tells me this kind of budget-pinching really doesn't do sh*# in the long run except hurt low-income families who have made learning, literacy, and family education a priority. Gee, and I thought these were some of those good ole' American values we keep hearing about??

This (along with Mommy,PhD's video post) has gotten me thinking about activism, and the kind of example I want to set for my two daughters. So, I'll be doing some research to find out what kind of opportunities there are for tutoring low-income families who are trying to learn English and participate in their children's education.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tell Me if I'm Wrong Here...

I'm hoping that posting about this will help to take away some of the anger I have before I sit down to talk to my husband about it. As I've mentioned in the past couple of posts, yesterday was my oldest daughter's birthday. I may not have mentioned, however, that she's my child from my first marriage. So, technically, she's my husband's stepdaughter, but she calls him Dad (of her own volition) and has done so since we got married. They have a fantastic relationship and have several activities they participate in as father & daughter that I have relatively little to do with. My husband is from Philly, and all of his family still lives in that area, so our immediate little family (me, hubby, H, and baby) don't see them often, usually only once a year. His father is great; you really couldn't know a more laid back guy, and he's super kid-friendly. His brother, sister, aunts, and cousins are generally nice, I get along with them all just fine. His mother, however, is now officially on my shit list! (Note: she's been there before, but I keep forgiving and giving her the benefit of the doubt.)

She didn't even call to wish my daughter a happy birthday yesterday. No card. No nothing! And this is after my husband talked to her over the weekend and most likely mentioned something about the birthday weekend, the slumber party, something. She did the same thing last year, but my husband assured me that it was just because she was still adjusting to him being married to a woman with a child, someone who hadn't already been her granddaughter for 7 years. Okay... benefit of the doubt. He had a talk with her, reminded her of when H's birthday is, and let her know that we would definitely be expecting equal treatment - not step-grandchild treatment - for H in the future.

Luckily, H hasn't even realized her complete lack of thoughtfulness, sensitivity, or general concern. But, she will eventually, and when she does, her feelings will be very hurt. How do I explain this behavior to her? How do I get my husband to understand how I'm feeling without it seeming like I'm attacking his mother? What do I do when it's the baby's birthday and she treats that occasion differently? I don't think I'm being unfair to expect fairness, and I don't think I can be expected to continue to brush this aside and pretend like she doesn't continue to be hurtful and thoughtless to my daughter and I.

Monday, February 12, 2007

One Success (maybe two)!

The birthday weekend was a success! H had 3 of her friends over for a slumber party on Friday night, and they didn't kill each other, and I didn't kill any of them, thus it was a success! The girls were pretty well-behaved (albeit loud!!), and their play didn't seem to bother the baby or her schedule. We had problems with one girl, however, who seems to bring out the worst in H (and in whom H seems to bring out the worst). This girl just seemed to constantly complain, tattle, and monitor what every other girl had or ate or did. For example, when she saw one of the girls eating grapes at the table, she screamed, "I want grapes! I get grapes too!" Never mind the fact that she wasn't hungry, she simply demanded that she get exactly the same thing---argghhh. Then, she got caught trying to manipulate the other girls (and me) by trying to get them to want to go outside and play. Nobody wanted to, as it was too cold outside. Thinking she'd get her way regardless, she came into the living room and said, "Everyone wants to go outside." Though I hadn't been privy to her attempts to persuade the other girls, I knew it was cold and simply explained that nobody was going outside to play. After she left the room, my husband told me what she'd been up to, and I was definitely irritated! She won't be coming back for a sleepover.

The trip to the Big Mall for a Libby Lu makeover went fabulously!! I had so much fun watching H get her hair done like a pop star, and she got to dress up and dance to the Cha-Cha Slide!! And her first trip to the Build-a-Bear Workshop was great too! She built a pink and purple bear, naming her Ashley, and bought several outfits for her new buddy. In all, it was simply a fantastic day with my daughter, and she was a pleasure to be with all day!! As I woke her up this morning (today's her actual b-day), I told her happy birthday and asked her if she felt any different now that she's 8. She said, "Yes. I feel like I can do more things now."---I wonder what she has in mind??? Dishes? Laundry?

Just as good (almost), I got 2 responses to a CFP I sent out a few weeks ago...The CFP was designed from my own dissertation research interests, and it's for a major national conference in my area of specialization. I was pleasantly surprised when the abstracts I received today weren't just good - they are brilliant and spot on to the kinds of ideas I was hoping to pursue in the panel. Even better, they're from faculty (rather than other graduate students)! And not just small-school faculty, but one is from an old & prestigious school across the pond, and the other is a distinguished faculty member from an esteemed private school here in the States! Now I'm faced with making sure that I don't look like a total idiot when I'm presenting alongside these people..That is, IF the panel gets accepted! Oh please, please let it get accepted!!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Raising Daughters

This post is in celebration of the "little thing" that happened this morning with my oldest daughter, who'll be 8 on Monday.

For the past year or so, my daughter H has been fixing her own hair. The few times I've offered to do it, she's been disappointed with the results. Not because I'm horrible at fixing her hair, but because it's never the way she'd do it, or the results aren't what she'd wanted. 99% of the time, the child simply wakes up, throws her hair in a ponytail and heads off to school--pretty simple. I'm enjoying this time because I know there may come a day when she's much more concerned about her appearances overall, and this getting ready process won't be so simple.

But - to get to the thing that happened this morning - she was all ready for school, and I was dressed and putting the finishing touches on my own hair when she came into my bathroom. To my surprise, she did not have a ponytail. Her thick, shiny blonde hair was down, with an off-center part, and she'd pulled back a bit of hair on each side with a barrette. Just a few little baby-hair bangs fell across her right eye. She looked so beautiful! She is blessed/doomed (depending on how you look at it) with straight, thick hair...I mean super more hair than some adults, so she's always wanted curly hair (or at least wavy, like mine). So, knowing the curling iron was still piping hot, I offered to add a finishing touch. She agreed!! I made a few simple ringlets on the sides framing her round face, and curled her little whispy bang into a loose tendril. To my surprise, she looked in the mirror with awe and pleasure! She said, "Oh Mama, I look so pretty! I look so different!"

It only took 3 minutes to make such a positive difference in my daughter's day. I was so happy to see her happy looking at herself in the mirror, and it helped knowing that she was finally pleased with something I'd done for her! This "little thing" was special to me, and so is my daughter, so I thought I'd share it. I'm hoping for more moments like this over the weekend, as it's an all-out birthday weekend extravaganza!! A slumber party with 3 of her friends tonight, and a Mommy & H trip to a nearby large-town's Galleria Mall for a Libby Lu makeover and her first ever trip to the Build-a-Bear Workshop!! I'm so blessed to have this child in my life!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Nail Salons

For any of you - male or female - who gets your nails done, you've gotta check out this video clip from Anjelah Johnson. It's hilarious! I had a very similar experience in a nail salon after the girl working on my toenails accidently broke the skin on my heel while using the pumice stone. When it started bleeding and burning, I pointed it out to her, and she asked (in her heavy Chinese accent): "Your foot like that before?" I assured her it was not!