Sunday, September 26, 2010

Big Mouth

I have a big mouth. And lots of opinions. I often express them. Loudly. When I am with a group of close friends or with my hubby, I can gossip with the best of them and rarely hesitate to give my opinion (solicited or not) on any given subject. I don't have a bad temper, but I am easily riled up. I stick my foot in my mouth, I talk without thinking and I never hesitate to share my thoughts on how or why someone or something acted or turned out a certain way. I often pray for the good sense to keep my mouth shut, but I must be too busy talking to hear that instruction when it comes. I think duct tape might be the only true solution.

This character trait of mine has some real downsides. I have spent many hours agonizing over the idea or knowledge that I did or could have hurt someone's feelings or, even worse, been wrong about something I said (I HATE being wrong). I have alienated people. I have said some down right stupid things.

That being said, there are a few advantages to being a big mouth. I loudly defend my friends and family, I advocate for my kids and I save people the time of trying to figure out whether they want to get to know me because I rarely stand on the fence about much of anything (although I can usually see both sides of the argument, I generally jump down one way or the other).

There are a couple of things I try to be careful of. I do not talk about things that people I respect (and most of the time even those I don't respect) have asked me not to repeat. And I DO NOT flat out make up false information about people.

So now that I have disclaimed, I plan to call the kettle black.

This little town that I live and love has quite the grapevine of information. I have heard through this grapevine that I should think about getting a breast reduction, that I am a crazy atheist and my latest and most favorite - how much my pool cost (despite the fact that I think only my husband, the pool guy and an other nameless source and I know for sure). Evidently we got a real bargain on the pool, people can see inside my head to flesh out my feelings about God and religion and my cup size is important to more females than I ever imagined even thought about it. Who knew?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that information (true and false) moves at lightning speed through this little Midwest town. I know that these things are never the result of one single person saying something - they are convoluted tales that grow over time. I guess if I am going to dish it out, I have to take it, too. I guess it is unlikely that I (or the rest of the vine is going to shut down any time soon). I guess keeping my mouth shut is always something I will struggle with and probably not something I will ever completely master. I will likely continue to say some things I shouldn't say in the heat of the moment. But I will also continue to say some really nice things, spread some really happy and useful information and try to prop up the people I know and love with words that they want or need to hear. So it's not all bad.

In the meantime, I guess I will wait for the name of the plastic surgeon I will be using to be made public. I would love to know who I plan to have do my body work.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I am trying to stay positive

I have been told by many people that I am a pessimist. I tend to think of myself as more of a cynic and a realist with a bent toward angry and ranting than a pessimist. I usually try to stop and think of a way out of or of "the bright side" rather than to wallow in misery or stay in a state of "doom and gloom". But why split hairs - call me whatever you want because today I am having to work really hard at not drowning myself in drink or screaming at the top of my lungs.

The pool and patio project began in June as just a little, innocent idea. I thought it would be kind of cool to have a pool and suggested maybe we try out an above ground one for a couple of years to see if we would use it, like it, etc. Aaron was not terribly gung ho on that as it would kill a big patch of yard and they are ugly besides. True statements, and after further consideration and a list of pros (I wouldn't have to go to the pee filled public pool with 87 million of my closest friends, the kids would love it, we could have nice family fun in our own backyard, it will be easy to locate our teenage children in they are hanging out in our pool) and cons (maintenance, MONEY, safety), we decided to go for it. Let the trouble begin.

Who knew it is so difficult to find a decent pool company? Being in a small-ish town without too many people to give us the name of a reputable company made it a little more difficult. But being the obsessive individual I am, I researched and called and interviewed somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen pool and landscape companies. I probably complicated matters by trying to find someone who could do the pool and the patio (with firepit and outdoor kitchen), but I figured that someone out there was capable. And with the economy supposedly being so bad, I figured they would be eager to work for us and do a good job. Hahahahahaha - what am idiot I am.

Between people not bothering to call back or show up to appointments or treat me like a complete moron because I am female and ask a lot of questions and the fact that this little project was turning into a large project with a gargantuan price tag, we just about threw in the towel a month and a half after the birth of the idea. Enter last ditch effort - call a guy who had lots of experience in pool building but a brand new company. He not only builds pools, but specializes in outdoor living spaces including patios and kitchens.

Woo hoo! The bid was reasonable, the guy was nice, the pictures looked good, I talked to 2 satisfied customers. We decided to take the plunge and hire him.

Six weeks, numerous rain delays and many checks later, I sit typing while looking out over a backyard that has about 10 square feet of grass left to go with a patio that is poured way too high (actually over the siding), has water pooling all over it (against the house despite two "fixes") and feels and looks like popcorn ceiling (I guess my idea of knockdown texture and his are two different things despite the fact that the sample looked like my version of knockdown). The fire pit is full of about 6 inches of water, the bricks are covered with patio knockdown coating. The fence is down, the yard is a huge mud pit and we have to take the dog out for walks (not fun considering he thinks he needs to go out every 10 minutes since he is used to just being able to go out back). The pool looks fine, the patio is a debacle (and probably wouldn't pass a building inspection) and my nerves are beyond frayed.

All I wanted was someone who was dependable and would do a good job. I am here every day if you need to ask questions or run something by me. I was very up front about the fact that I expect people I hire to show up when they say they will, do the job I hire them to do and communicate with me about it. It doesn't have to be perfect, but I expect it to be better than Grant and I could do during commercial breaks from the Young and the Restless.

After two botched jobs (don't even ask about our hardwood floor debacle), I am beginning to wonder if anyone out there takes pride in their work and does a good job anymore. I am beginning to think that the entitled and lazy are going to take over the world. I am beginning to think that I am not going to be able to look at the patio without spiking my blood pressure and becoming homicidal. Maybe I am a pessimist after all.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


School. It plays a big part in the life of the Reeds. Between Aaron teaching full time, me teaching part-time and Bryn in school, I spend a lot of time working schedules around or thinking about things related to school. And anyone who knows me knows that I am more than a little obsessed with my kids' education. I probably spend far too much time fretting about/planning/overseeing things related to Bryn's schooling. Many days I worry that I am too involved. And then I worry that I am not involved enough. But most of all, I worry that I and/or the educational system is going to fail to provide what my daughter needs to live up to her full potential.

I am not sure exactly when I lost faith in the ability of anyone (including myself as I have not chosen to homeschool) to properly educate my child. It could have started when quite a few people I knew in college who couldn't make the grades in their chosen major or who couldn't decide on a major at all settled on Elementary Ed. (Disclaimer: I realize there are many wonderful, intelligent people who major in Education and who are teachers. I know many of them. But I also know some people who majored in Education who are downright scary and I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy's kid for an entire school year). It hasn't helped that Aaron and I have run into many completely incompetent college students who couldn't write a complete sentence, much less a thoughtful essay if their life depended on it. It really hasn't helped that we have run into even more students who don't give a rat's ass about learning anything in college and expect to earn A's and B's just because they bother to show up to class. Never mind actually doing well on those pesky tests or on actual classwork - they think they deserve a grade just because they tried and did their best (and believe me when I say that their definition of "tried hard" is far different than the one your grandparents would have given you). It does not inspire confidence in the educational system that many of these kids passed 8th grade, much less earned a high school diploma.

I know there are a million and one reasons why kids don't do well in school and not all of them can be blamed on the school or the teachers or the textbooks. I also don't think it can all be blamed on parents or lack of money or No Child Left Behind either. Frankly, I don't really care who or what is to blame - I just need to figure out how to get my child(ren) through it, around it, under it, over it - whatever!

No matter how hard I ponder and how much info I collect, I just can't seem to find the right solution for Bryn and our family. I don't think my kid is a genius, but the work they are doing in her class is not keeping her challenged. I don't even think it has so much to do with the fact that she already knows most of the things they are doing, it is just that she doesn't need 2 weeks to grasp a new concept. I realize that one teacher can't individualize a lesson plan for each student, but I do know it doesn't seem to be working for my kid. And I doubt she is the only one. I don't know how to fix it, but teaching to the middle leaves kids out on both ends of the spectrum. And throwing her in a "gifted" program for less than 2 hours a week as the solution to the problem is almost insulting.

Moving Bryn to the public school does not seem to be a good solution at this point. Their curriculum is even farther behind - not by a lot, but for us, it would just be going in the wrong direction.

Which leaves homeschooling. This would be a bad idea for us on so many levels. It would not be easy for me to do with a 2 year old at home. Bryn and I don't work terribly well together as she is argumentative and I am overly critical. She would REALLY miss her friends and the social side of school. I know she would have plenty of activities and social outlets, but being home with me all day is not he same as being at recess with 10 other little girlfriends.

Sigh. I have to figure it out. I (and Aaron, of course, but he is less obsessive than I am) have to be Bryn's advocate because no one cares about her education as much as I do. If I don't look out for her and make sure she gets the best that can be provided, no one else will. It is up to me, and I cannot fail.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Amazing news

Not for me, but for my cousin, Julie. She has been working on becoming a foster parent for a while now and after getting some things in order and spending the summer traveling, she made the call to the county on Monday to say she was ready. She will pick up a 3 day old little boy TODAY! She knew that because she is in Alameda county in California that it was likely that she would get a black, drug addicted, baby boy and it seems that is what God had planned for her. Whether it is for a day or forever, I know that little boy is one of the luckiest people on the planet - there is no one I can think of who will be a better mother or a better example Than Julie. I am beyond excited to see where this journey takes her!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A little hope...or not

Just wanted to share a response to one of the posts in my course to prove that there may be hope, after all:

This sort of approach to the issue was a viable one a century ago when human populations were not the size they are now, but in a modern setting, I cannot see how a lack of concern over these issues is a defensible position.

Here is an example of how deforestation could possibly affect you: a forest is cut down in Nigeria and desertification begins. Food and water become scarce in the region, and the populace eventually falls under the control of regional petty dictators who can easily impose their will on the starving people. This might not seem a pressing issue until you consider that this region also produces a sizable quantity of oil for the global market. Now we see a situation where American corporate interests are imperiled by regional instability brought on (at its core) by desertification caused by cutting down of forests. With the oil supplies jeopardized, the US is forced to take military action, sending troops and equipment to yet another far-flung corner of the globe and further escalating the runaway military spending which is proving so damaging to our nation's economy. Government services become less available due to the diversion of resources, causing cutbacks in highway maintenance. A snowstorm causes buckling in part of the interstate and a pothole forms along a route you typically travel. One day, you're traveling that stretch of road and hit the pothole rather than change lanes and crash into the car beside you, thus causing you to blow out a tire. You find yourself stranded on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck, needing a tire, and unavoidably delayed in whatever plans you'd had for that day.

Yes, this is taken to ridiculous personal extremes for the sake of illustration, but the point is that deforestation has broader and more far-reaching effects than the immediate local concerns. And, more to the point, those effects extend far into the future. Our great-great-great-grandparents thought their actions could never affect whole populations of animals or the climate of an entire planet. Now, long after the industrial boom of the late nineteenth century, we see that they were wrong. Do you want your descendants of a hundred and fifty years from now (if there are any) to view our actions in the same light?

And then the response:

I think you have a good point. But now that I read the article I realize how bad it has become. Despite this, it doesn't have a direct affect on me so I can't really find a way to care.

Sigh. There is a lot of work to be done here. On the bright side, only two out of about 14 were this flippant about deforestation and the environment. I guess we just need to hope that those that care or at least bother to think continue to outnumber those that don't.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Things that make you go...

are you freakin' serious?!?!

So on the heels of a massive Facebook firestorm regarding my last blog post, I find this in one of my Gen Bio class discussion forums. The students are asked to read a posted article about deforestation and then respond with whether or not they are concerned about it. And the answer is:

No, I am not personally concerned about deforestation because I do not worry about global warming, animal extinction, cutting down trees, etc. If it's going to happen then I accept it. I'm not an animal rights activist, I don't shop with recyclable bags, and I could care less if trees are cut down. I think raising cattle for food is more important than a pretty forest that might be fun to look at but what other benefit is there besides helping generate rainfall and consuming carbon dioxide? Personally I'd rather see them cut down and made into a farm, a corn field, or anything that will help generate money or food for people.

I had to shake my head and laugh - I am definitely not a tree hugger, but I generally do believe that there is a link between humans and nature and that our very survival will eventually be determined by how we conserve our resources. Anyone heard of carry capacity? Anyone? I suppose that at least the response was honest. Aaron (who has become quite frustrated with "intelligent" life lately) has decided that he, like the Professor Hubert Farnsworth on Futurama, doesn't want to live on this planet anymore.

So as I am about to be able to laugh it off as an anomaly, I read this response:

I suppose it may make me a bad person in some respect, but honestly, I just don't care about deforestation. It really doesn't effect me. I don't live in a drought-prone country, I don't especially care about animals, and I don't really mind that they're destroying plants for no reason. I know I may sound ignorant and arrogant, but the fact that there aren't rainforests in the United States and that deforestation in the United States is done to expand, I really don't mind. With the increasing world population, I think it's much more important to expand into areas that used to have trees in them than to try to cram everyone into the places we have set out for living.

OH.MY.GOD. We are doomed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I just don't get it, or, who knew evolution could cause you to be a drug using child abuser?

I love a good debate. I enjoy hearing the "other side" and the reasons why people believe the things they do. I admire people who can debate intelligently and almost convince me (and once in a blue moon actually convince me!) to change my mind because they have valid and well-constructed arguments to present. But I have a visceral and unpleasant reaction to arguments based on fear or manipulation. Or a complete distortion of the facts. So when I received a Creation Science newsletter with the following statement in it, I just wanted to scream.

Evolution "education" is poisoning our society, beginning with our youth. Believe it: There is research that verifies this statement. Charts illustrating data collected by Educational Research Analysts show a rise in child abuse, divorce rates, illegal drug use by youth, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unmarried couples, unwed birth rates, and violent crimes. Declines in scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs) are also charted. All have happened since government began funding the teaching of evolution through textbooks in the late 1950s.

Wow! Who knew that ALL of the evils in our society are all because evolution is taught in schools. I guess I should be glad and thankful that this person was smart enough to figure that out.

Seriously? Just so you know, I am not going to be converted to your way of thinking if this is the best you can do. I am taking my computer and going to play with the people over there. You know the ones - the ones who think that maybe there is a step or two between a textbook and a life as a high school drop-out, drug using, child abusing, single mom, prostitute with 10 kids who is robbing a drug dealer at gunpoint. I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What the Reeds do for fun...

We have been busy with lots of fun stuff and I need to post all about it, but here are a few of the more everyday moments...

Grant playing with bagworms that we picked off of the bushes. They were kind of fascinating.