The Learning Curve in Bedtime Stories


All parents have suffered through a bedtime story that one side of the story party was not enjoying. My daughter always asks for a play book for bedtime which leads to an argument, which leads to her staying up later because of the tears and attempts to bargain for the book on her part. I try to read her off-beat books by some of my favorite authors and she’s bored or doesn’t get the humor or point of the story. That leaves me picking up books that only occasionally interest me, but hold her attention. Just plow through the story. Focus on the goal: kiddo’s bedtime!

This morning I read Drew Magary’s article “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, You’re Fucked: Tips For Avoiding Terrible Children’s Books” and I laughed hard at his comments because I’ve felt them all too. He does uses some colorful metaphors, as Spock would say, but I swear if you’ve ever been stuck reading a bedtime book you couldn’t stand, you’ll understand his vehemence. I don’t agree with his opinions on all the books; I happen to love the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” books. But I have strong feelings against Dora and Diego though. Those two need to stay the hell home one afternoon and stop running around unsupervised. You can check out the article for yourself here


I agree with Mr. Magary books recommendation of the Olivia books, anything by Mo Wilems, and The Gruffalo.  My own recommendations would be:

Blueberry Girl and Wolves In the Walls by Neil Gaiman

Farmer Cap by Jill Kalz

The Skippyjon Jones books by Judi Schachner

The Ladybug Girl series by David Soman & Jacky Davis

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book?, Beware of Storybook Wolves, and the Charlie & Lola books by Lauren Child


Passive ignorance


I long for the day my husband learns to clean of the stove top and kitchen counters after cooking probably as much as he longs for the day that I remember how to fold laundry.

Crickets Sing For Anamaria


Fall is coming.  Can you tell?  My reckoning is based on the emergence of the crickets.  They are everywhere right now.  But it’s always just outside the door or window of the room your in.  This is especially true when you’re true when trying to sleep or study.  Luckily I haven’t found as many of them in my house this year.  They always manage to startle me and creep me out.  And there’s no catching them to put them back outside.

Today I watched a gentleman at my school tiptoe around the baseboards of a hallway trying to catch a cricket.  He had he ear cocked out listening for the cricket’s chirps.  Every time the cricket would stop, the man would peer around assuming that his approach and nearness was the reason.  Very amusing.

At my house, there’s been a pet cricket right outside my bedroom window for about a week.  My husband is convinced that it’s actually behind my dresser.  I don’t agree, but who knows.  As with the hall dwelling cricket at school, this one goes silent when you approach the dresser.  So long as he doesn’t crawl out and startle me one morning I’m willing to leave him be.

Thank You For Being There


One of the ways I try to include my daughter in my days at school.

About a month ago I participated in a filmed interview for the Distance Learning program for my school Old Dominion University.  It was a series of 20 questions that I was asked to respond to using complete sentences so that the question could be inferred from my answer.  The plan was to take filmed responses from many students at many ODU Distance Learning locations and create a video collage about how or why the program works for different students.  READ: I’m going to be in a commercial, folks!  This is all part of a tie-in to the program’s slogan, “Right Where You Are.”

During the interview one of the questions was about how much support was needed from and/or given by family and friends.  It was worded more eloquently than I just put it, but that was the gist.  I said that I couldn’t imagine doing this without my friends and families’ support.  It is a pat response, but it is true.  All the way back to the applications phase people have been helping in big and small ways to do this.

Some of it is simple as folks telling me “good job!” for going back to school and getting my bachelor’s.  Some of it is the support of listening to me vet an idea for an assignment.  There have been helpful reminders from folks to get back on task when I’ve been playing on the Internet instead of conducting research.  My closest girlfriend, let’s me copy her.  I somehow seem to be right behind her in every step of this process.  I started school a year behind her. I seem to take a lot of the same classes as her as well.  No, we’re not at the same school.  No, we’re not the same major.

From my family I’ve received even more important support.  My parents have offered many suggestions of what to do with my degree when I do graduate.  I will never forget my mother excitedly telling me about meeting people who had kids in the same degree program.  She was thrilled to say she knew what technical writing was to strangers.

My mother-in-law is a teacher herself.  We discuss course descriptions at the beginning of every term and she offers her opinions on my choices.  She does not like grammar or linguistics, but prefers the literature side of English, unlike me.

My sister lets me compare levels of craziness with her as we both try to balance family with education.  I think she wins because she has a full-time job, two boys, and is now pregnant with a third.

My husband and daughter, of course, will get medals for going through this with me.  My husband has given up hours of sleep to take care of our daughter when I need to be in class.  He steadfastly refuses to review any of my papers because he doesn’t want to start an argument over our different styles of writing.  My daughter has given up time with me of weekends and nights so I could attend class or finish homework.  She is four and doesn’t understand the overall concept of school taking this much time.  She goes to preschool five days a week and never has homework.

My daughter was crushed when I quit working.  Full on crying and asking me to go back to work instead of school.  I’ve never been able to quite figure out why.  My husband says he thinks it’s because we won’t buy her as many toys now that we’re on a tighter budget.  I’ve worked hard to include her in the little parts of my day for school like packing my lunch and helping me choose clothes in the morning.  What finally helped was getting a volunteer job at a local non-profit.  Now that I go to school and work she’s happier.

So thank you to all of you that support me in my endeavors.  And thank you to all of you out there who support others and they work on their education.  It is not easy, but your encouragement helps.

Wait For It…


An earthquake and a hurricane go into a bar… Or at least they hit the East Coast in the same week.
Yes, that’s right an earthquake on the East Coast. I missed it by virtue of being in my car driving. I didn’t even know you could “miss” an earthquake in a car. I’ve slept through them before, but I don’t see how with this one. It woke up my husband sleeping at home 40 miles away.
There was a 5.8 quake centered in Mineral, VA, which is just about eight miles, as the crow flies, from my sister’s house. Did I mention I missed it? I missed it because I was driving to her house. Luckily there was no major damage at her place; some downed fancy bottles, CDs and books strewn in the floors, a picture comically askew. But it was definitely disconcerting that it happened so close to her home. Then there were aftershocks. There were two in the first 24 hours, that I felt there have been several since.
Damages. There is much damage in Louisa County where it was centered. There are homes and buildings that were destroyed. My oldest nephew’s school system is shut down for the remainder of the week so assessments can be made. People from everywhere seem to be laughing as if the reaction in this area is overreaction, but I promise you, it is not.

What helped is that this earthquake, though relatively violent and widely felt, is that the epicenter is a rural area. People lost homes. Schools were majorly damaged. Louisa County lost one elementary school and it will take a few years to repair the high school’s damage. But Louisa County and its neighboring counties are not Los Angeles or Orange County, CA. You can throw a stone in Mineral, VA and not hit your neighbor’s house sometimes. These are people that, generally, do not have earthquake insurance.

But I said an earthquake and a hurricane go into a bar, so where’s the hurricane, right? Hurricane Irene is meandering it’s way towards the East Coast with land fall being anywhere along the Carolinas, Virginia, or Maryland. Because of that everyone’s really worried about New York and New Jersey. Yeah.
My start of school has been delayed for a few days as a precaution. The start of the semester was supposed to be Saturday, but now Saturday and Monday are off. That means my first day of school is now Tuesday morning at 8 am. What shall I do?

Back To School! Back To School!


It’s time to go back to school.  Hurray.  That means the start of the craziness of balancing classes with family and house chores.  This semester I’m taking 15 credit hours.  I’m taking classes that really matter to me for my actual major.  And on a completely survival note, I’ll be receiving my VA benefits again.  Oh, yes, let’s celebrate the start of receiving our mortgage payment in full again.

Coming from Virginia Beach it seems weird that the local K-12 students have been in classes for a week already.  My poor kiddo is disappointed that so many of her friends have left to start kindergarten and public preschool.  We don’t qualify for public preschool, so it’s another year at the YMCA for us.

All that remains to get ready for this is printing out syllabi, putting together notebooks, and getting the first day readings done.  First class is Monday afternoon.  First class nightmare is Tuesday morning at 8 am.  Ouch.