Wednesday, December 13, 2006

FINAL

Children are like little vacuum cleaners that suck up all of your money, time and patience. I have three children now and coincidentally I have had three vacuum cleaners in my adult life. I started out in my first little apartment with a dust buster. As I progressed into a larger apartment with my boyfriend we bought a bigger, more powerful Hoover. Now that I have my own home with much less time to clean I have a king-daddy, suck-everything-up (including a bowling ball, if I wanted to) Oreck. It has taken years of experience to figure out which vacuuming tool was the best. Similarly, it has taken me years to figure out what tools are needed for parenting in order to maintain some level of sanity. As we have had friends and relatives join us in the parenting world I have carefully thought of the tools I have used and the advice I would give. Here are a few things I couldn't do without. *********************************** There are many, many physical tools and gadgets that are out there in the market but there are only a few that are needed. First of all, a bouncy seat is essential. I learned this after many nights of being up for the 2:00 a.m. feeding, having to go to the bathroom and having nowhere to put the baby. Not to mention, when you have an infant, there are few places to put her unless you want to carry her around all day. An infant is too small for a highchair and only has patience for a few waking minutes in the crib. The bouncy seat became another "station" I would move the baby to throughout the day. We would use up crib time, then move to the floor to "play", then sit on the couch together and when I needed to use my hands I would plop the baby into an upright bouncy seat. It was my savior. Everyone may not agree, but this is a tool I could not do without. *********************************************************** Secondly, getting down to basics, the most obvious tools needed for babies would be diapers and wipes. These are things you will be using for at least three years so you better figure out what you like. Now, you could be a good environmentalist and go the cloth diaper route but I, guiltily, have contributed lots to the landfill. You do not need the super expensive do-everything-except-wipe-the-baby's-ass diaper but I would not recommend the cheapo's unless you want to do lots of laundry. You also don't need the extra soft, expensive wipes either. If you really think about what you are using them for, a store brand works just as well. ****************************************************************** Lastly, are the mental tools. I cannot say enough about patience, patience, patience!!! I can't count how many times I have gone into a dark room, shut the door, sat on the floor, covered my ears and counted. There is no magic number to count to. Sometimes I count until the pounding on the door stops, or until the shaking stops or until the tears stop (usually mine). Maybe this trick should be taught to the assholes who beat their kids. It is o.k. to lose your patience every once in a while but what you do when you lose it makes all the difference in the world. ***************************************************************** There are many more tools needed for being a parent than just having a bouncy seat, good diapers and patience. Love, family support and a pacifier are great to have, as well. Being a parent means you have to be flexible and adapt to your children's needs in addition to carrying on your life. In fact, as I wrote this essay, I have dealt with a puking child, cleaned hardened playdough out of a playdough toy and spent a few minutes in the closet with my hands over my ears. Now that's a true parent!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

PRACTICE FINAL

There is nothing better than plopping down on the couch at the end of the day. The kids are all in bed. The dog is in front of the woodstove dreaming of something exciting that makes him yip every once in a while and the two cats lounge peacefully nearby. As I look around and observe each of our pets I realize that it has been a long process to obtain a homeostatic balance with our animals (kids excluded). **************************************************************** Our journey to family/pet happiness begins when I first moved in with my husband. We were a much smaller version of the Brady Bunch. He with his male cat, Henry, and me with my princess fluffball, Tilly. Henry was also known as "smelly cat". He was a very friendly cat but, boy did he stink. He stunk so bad we had to designate a closed-off room for his litter box which we had to change every day (it didn't help). Tilly was rather stuck-up and preferred to keep to herself. They were not meant to live together. This became apparent when I came home from work one day and I thought someone had broken into our apartment, ransacked the place and stole the cats. There were lamps and plants tipped over and the cats were missing. They were later found hiding in separate areas of the apartment. The last straw was when my cat, the princess, had jumped from a second story window on Main Street in Camden to escape a smug looking Henry who was bullying her. Henry made a trip to New Hampshire the next morning to live with his new family, my brother and his wife. ********************************************** The next pet addition was a few years later. We had moved into a new house. We then had two children and we felt that Tilly needed a friend. I, personally, wanted to get a kitten for the kids, of course, but my husband had other ideas. After a bit of a battle we went to the animal shelter and my husband found a sleek, short-haired white cat that reminded him of a cat he had as a child. He argued that we needed a male cat because male cats are friendlier. They are easy going cats who sit with you and keep your lap warm. I still felt bad about sending Henry (smelly cat) away so I let this decision be his. Brett became our new family addition. He has proved to be everything my husband predicted. He is friendly and he gets along with everyone, including Tilly. His only downfall is that he has made shreds of the arms of our new furniture. ****************************************************************** Well, you would have thought we would have stopped there. Everyone was happy and getting along until less than a year later when my husband said "no child should grow up without a dog". Apparently his experience with dogs growing up was much different than mine. We had dogs and it seemed as though my dad was always yelling at them because they were always in the way or making a mess. Dog's stressed me out for this reason. I was not anxious to get a dog. I was happy with two cats and two kids. Next thing I knew we were looking at adorable six week old black lab puppies. I was hooked. Who couldn't love a puppy. Sign me up to be a dog owner, how hard could it be? All I can say is "holy crap, what were we thinking". Mo came in to our house in October of 2001 like a puppy hurricane. We lived in a house that had old, wide wooden floor boards with cracks in between. There were many puppy accidents that leeched down in to those cracks that were impossible to clean. There were many chewed up shoes. He even ate the arm off the couch because he was mad we left him alone for a few hours. My husband wanted a hunting dog but didn't have the time to train him so I agreed to take on the challenge. Mo and I spent hours in the back yard learning commands using hands, words and whistles. He was growing and learning and we were doing pretty well until along came baby number three. Mo took a backseat for a while. He was a bit resentful. He chewed up a few things to let us know his displeasure but he eventually grew out of it. ******************************************* Mo is now five years old, is 120 pounds and is a fantastic addition to our family. He is great with the kids. He cleans up my messes on the floor and is a good protector of the household. Brett is about seven years old and Tilly is ten. Except for an occassional throw-up present left in the hallway they are great cats who keep each other company as well as being good lap warmers. We have finally achieved a homeostatic pet balance. It has taken many years to get to this point and I am happy just as things are. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter is asking Santa, the third year in a row, for a hamster. My husband is constantly saying we should have a few chickens and my other daughter cannot wait to do the pig scramble at the fair next year where, if you catch a pig, you get to keep it. I don't know how much longer I can hold them all off. Ugh!!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

ESSAY #6 - COMPARISON ESSAY

Since beginning school in September my husband and I have had the fortune of watching a dozen or so wild turkeys flock to our back yard each day. Sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast one morning I watched these turkeys walk in single file from the woods where they all gathered together under the bird feeder. I couldn't help but think that these turkeys are much like a flock of college students, myself included. ******************************************************************** First of all, as I arrive at school each morning I notice students drudging to school coming from all different directions. Some come from their dorms. Some come from home close by or far away. Nevertheless we all come singley and group together at a predestined location where we spend the day together. We do what we have to do and at the end of the day then depart and go back to our homes. Turkeys do the same. They come from different directions in the morning and all meet together for the day. They often travel to different locations looking for food but they do it together. At the end of the day they split up and go to their own roosts. ******************************************************************* I further noticed, watching my turkeys, that there is usually a dominant one. One who is in charge of the flock. I often see challenges from the other turkeys testing this pecking order. One day another group of turkeys appeared in our yard and the two flocks had a sort of rumble until one was driven away. Just like these turkeys, students go through a period of time where they try to figure out their place in the pecking order. Some try hard to get ahead and others are content to just plug along behind the big bird. As for me, I feel like the mother hen who neither leads nor follows just watches out for everyone. ********************************************************* Lastly, there are inevitable victims in both groups. There is a survival of the fittest battle going on both in the wild and on campus. The weak and unmotivated are weeded out. Initially young turkeys are weeded out quickly for the simple reason that they get sick easier and are more inexperienced in survival skills. This is where I have a leg up. My survival skills are well honed however, I am always on alert. Comparitavely, many students are weeded out quickly, often within the first few weeks of school. Then they are picked off slowly due to bad grades, family problems, financial problems and so on. *********************************************** As this semester ends I think of myself as a lucky turkey. I fly down from my roost in Belmont every morning and take my place in line at the birdfeeder called EMCC. I don't think of myself as the dominent hen but I have not been beaten up by the other turkeys, as well. I haven't been shot by a hunter. I haven't been eaten by a predator. I haven't been hit by a truck (although I feel like it some days). I have survived and thrived my first season but the next season looms with all new threats.

PROMPT REACTION - Week 15

I'm game for writing about hunting (stupid pun, sorry!). *********************** My husband is an avid fisherman and hunter. I have thought for the longest time that he spends time hunting and fishing to get away from me. I enjoy fishing but I have a hard time understanding the concept of hunting in particular. What is so fun about getting up at the crack of stupid when it is freezing cold day after day and not get or even see a deer? Not to mention the amount of money spent on all of the gear needed and the time spent reading hunting magazines and watching hunting shows. I don't get it. My husband has put a lot of effort into teaching our children about hunting and even brought them with him on occasion. They love it! Thinking I was the only one who didn't understand the thrill I asked my husband if there was a secret that I wasn't in on. Did all hunters really just get up and go to dunkin donuts to drink coffee and bitch about their wives for a few hours only to come home saying they went hunting but didn't see anything? My husband explained that, for him, it is not about the thrill of the kill. The times that he goes out and doesn't see a deer are not wasted time. There is a lot of quiet time and thinking that go on and there is so much going on in the woods to hear and see. So many other animals to watch. I think the killing of an animal, for him, is simply a primal feeling of providing food for his family. He never wastes and never kills anything he doesn't intend to eat. He also talked to me about the importance of population control and what would happen if there was no hunting. He has very deep and important memories of hunting with his father when he was a boy. There was a bond created just between the two of them that is hard to explain. I don't question his desire to go hunting anymore or his desire to teach his children. Who knows, maybe I will go along sometime.

PROMPT REACTION - Week 14

"The whirlpool swirled around me, sucking me in deeper and deeper".... A whirlpool bath, that is. Up until recently I never understood the desire of taking a bath as an adult. I am a fairly small person (5'5", 125 pounds) and I can't fit into a tub comfortably. There is never enough water to cover my body completely and something is always exposed and cold. My head never rests comfortably against the end of the tub and once I get in there I wash quickly and submerge myself to cover as much as I can so I don't freeze to death. This was all very undersireable until I had children. Now, I could go to the Antarctica naked for a week and be happy just because I was doing it all by myself with noone tagging along needing something. A bath now sounds like heaven. When I can, (which isn't often) I retreat to my bathroom with a bunch of candles (because they make me look better when the lights are out) and my daughter's pink, barbie cd player. After giving instructions to everyone that I am not to be bothered for at least half an hour I fill up the tub with hot water, almost to unbearable temperature, and plug in my Norah Jones cd. Before I get in I lock the door. The hot water and the cool air are refreshing. I close my eyes and go anywhere that is peaceful and calm. The feel of the water and the sound of Norah Jones quietly singing coupled with the occassional sound of a drip from the faucet suck me in deeper and deeper to a state of complete serenity. Then, BANG, BANG, BANG on the door. Time's up!

FREESTYLE - Week 15

I have to say that there is nothing better than being a parent of young children at Christmas time. Every bit of it excites them. It makes me feel good that my children are not only excited at the prospect of getting lots of gifts from Santa but they are equally excited about preparing for the holiday. Starting December 1st they have their advent calendar to open each day. They are thrilled by being able to eat a small chocolate before breakfast each morning. We also work on a lot of family craft projects and decorating throughout the month. This morning I brought up the many boxes of decorations from the basement and you would have thought we had just arrived at Disney World. They were running around the house yelling and hopping up and down and putting decorations on all of the lamps and door handles (I wait until after they go to sleep before I rearrange everything). For me, it goes way beyond the gift givng and receiving and I try to pass that feeling on to my children. Christmas day is just the climax of a wonderful, magical month of making projects and cookies and sharing stories with my children.

FREESTYLE - Week 14

As I often do, I will take the opportunity of this freestyle segment to complain. It often makes me feel much better. My complaint isn't an exciting one but one which I am sure a lot of people have. It is about the English language and who better to complain to than an English professor. ********** I recently had a parent/teacher conference with my daughter's first grade teacher. As I expected, I heard that she is a polite, well behaved student. I also heard about what an amazing reader she is. I knew that she was reading above her first grade level but I was surprised to hear that her teacher was giving her third grade reading materials to keep her challenged. I was extremely proud! Her teacher pointed out to me that, although her reading was advanced, her writing was right on target with first grade level but maybe we could work on her spelling and writing skills a bit more. Where is the complaint you say? Well, here it comes.... We (my daughter and I) started working on spelling rhyming words (hat, mat, cat, fat...). We then worked on more difficult words such as light, fight, night.. She was clever enough to point out that there are two kinds of "nights" (night and knight). Then came the question "why does knight have a 'k'" if you can't hear it? It was then followed with a slew of questions such as "why does Christmas have a "t" if the t is silent?" , Why isn't it pronounced ChrisTmas?". I know this is just the beginning of the questions that I do not have an easy answer for but why does the English language have to be so difficult? It is easier to help a first grader with these questions than an adult, though. I was once a literacy volunteer and had a twenty-five year old student who couldn't read or write. It was extremely challenging to teach someone who truly had tried and had struggled for so many years to understand the rules of our language. There we go, complaint over. It was fairly painless and I do feel a bit better.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

FREESTYLE - Week 13

It seems as though our family is stuck in a holiday ritual I don't necessary like anymore. For as long as I have lived away from home and been with a boyfriend or my spouse (not at the same time, of course) I have had two Thanksgivings on the same day. For the longest time I tried to do the two dinner thing and both families would accomodate us by staggering their schedules. Since we now have children we just have dinner at one family's house and dessert at the other. The perks of this arrangement have been that I never have to cook Thanksgiving dinner and we get to see both families. The negatives to this arrangement are that I never get to cook Thanksgiving dinner (which I would like to try at least once) and we only get to see each family for a short amount of time. I truly am thankful for the fact that our families live within an hour of each other and we have families to be with but I look forward to the day that I do not have to go out of my house on Thanksgiving or Christmas days. I look forward to having people come to my house for a change.

PROMPT REACTION - WEEK 13

"We are gathered here today to remember..." ******************************************************************* Two years ago my children, then ages 6, 4 and 1, gave me a Christmas present they were very excited about. They were just busting to release this secret that they had kept from me. I closed my eyes and they led me to the kitchen counter. When I opened my eyes there was a small fishbowl with a couple of goldfish in it. They were jumping up and down and shouting out the names they had chosen for our new pets. Getting caught up in their enthusiasm I suggested that we find a bigger fishbowl to give them some room to swim around. Later that night we transferred my fish into their new home and we went to bed feeling good that we had given them more space to swim only to wake the next morning and find them dead. I was upset at the fact that I couldn't even keep simple goldfish alive for 24 hours but also that my children would be devastated when they found out. I instantly made the decision that, after a proper burial (flushing), I would bring my kids to the pet store and we could pick out three more fish together. They quickly got over the passing of the goldfish and hopped into the car talking about the new names they would choose. Vowing to "do it right" this time I borrowed a large fish tank with a filter, a light and all of the accessories. We carefully picked out our new fish, named them and brought them home to their clean, filtered, temperature controlled tank. They survived that night and many more. I wish that my original present had come with a gift coupon for a years worth of tank cleaning because that became my job which was a pain in the ass. It was a weekly ritual of putting the fish in another bowl, emptying all of the water out of the tank, cleaning the tank, cleaning all of the rocks and plants, changing the charcoal filter and filling it up again to just the right temperature. I managed to keep these fish alive for almost a year until they got some sort of disease and their fins began to rot. It was disgusting! Within a weeks time all three fish had died. With each death we all gathered around the porcelain burial hole and said our goodbyes and the kids reminicised about what they loved about each of the fish. I have to admit that I was secretly happy to be relieved of my tank cleaning duties and suggested that we wait a while before we get any more new pets. Let's hope this Christmas I get the watch I have been wanting.

PROMPT REACTION - WEEK 12

Toys scattered all over the landscape like...well, not railroad cars... ************************************************************** When my husband and I first had children and moved into our very first house we made several promises to ourselves. We vowed that we would always keep our lawn mowed and neat; that our bedroom would be our bedroom and not a place for children; that we would try to keep our home from being a cluttered mess and that the kid's toys would stay in their bedroom and playroom. I look back on that mental list and laugh with the weariness and wisdom of a seasoned homeowner and parent. How silly and unrealistic we were. Because of this assignment I payed close attention to the invasion of toys and kid related items in our house. No room is untouched. Walking through the house I made a list of a few of the things I found in some of the areas: Downstairs bathroom - school backpack, plastic spider ring and a lawn stake for a slip and slide; Kitchen counter - squirt gun, doll and oodles of kid artwork; Diningroom - kite, laundry basket of stuffed animals and a large ball; Livingroom - coffee table with eight drawers filled with cards, markers, magnetic dolls and hair accessories; Hallway/sitting area - lite brite, legos, puzzles, plastic food and kid's table filled with coloring books; Master bathroom - bucket of tub toys, rubber light-up bug and a beaded bracelet; Master bedroom - dollhouse, bucket of dollhouse toys, more legos and a light-up ball. ************************************************************ As for the master bedroom, it is not the sacred getaway place I hoped it would be. The lawn is not mowed as much as it should be. Clutter is now my middle name and toys are scattered all over our "landscape" both inside and outside. I have come to realize and embrace the fact that my children will only be little once and, for a while, I can deal with a little clutter and a few stubbed toes on a tonka truck, legos or barbies left in the middle of the floor.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

ESSAY #5 - EXAMPLE ESSAY

I looked up the definition of the word indecisive and half-expected to see my name there but this is what I found: "marked by or prone to indecision". The definition for indecision is "a wavering between two or more possible courses of action". This is me. This is the problem I often have, whether it is choosing to buy a new article of clothing, choosing a career path or choosing a mate. I agree, some decisions should be weighed a bit more than others but I take indecision to an almost painful level. ******************************************************************* For example, this year I decided I needed a new winter jacket. I further decided that I was going to bypass Goodwill and spend a little extra money on a jacket I really liked. I looked through magazines. I went to the mall. I looked in LL Bean and Lands End catalogues. I went to several retail stores. I researched to find the most comfortable and temperature appropriate jacket for my needs. There were lots of decisions to make. I like the down-filled jackets but were they too puffy? Would they make me look fat? I like the winter vests but would they keep me warm enough? I like the warmth of a wool jacket but would the collar be too itchy and would it really be practical to go sledding in? During all of this time it took to "research" there were unexpected car expenses, my daughter needed new boots and winter jacket, real estate taxes were due, and so on... I started out knowing I needed a jacket. I knew about how much I wanted to spend and here I am with below freezing temperatures quickly approaching with no winter jacket because I have every other excuse in the world why I shouldn't buy one now. ******************************************************************* On a slightly more important level I had a difficult time choosing a career path. Coming out of high school I had no idea what I wanted to do, just like most recent high school graduates. I couldn't decide on a college and, quite frankly, I couldn't see the point in spending money for further education when I didn't know what I wanted to do. I applied to colleges and I was accepted but I hemmed and hawed about where I should go, what I wanted to do and should I leave my boyfriend behind. I took so long to try and make a decision I missed deadlines and wound up going nowhere. I quickly settled into a job at a local bank then a year later got a job at a law office as a legal secretary. I loved the work I did but always felt that I had missed out on the college experience and did a lot of wondering "what if..". I wondered where I would be if I had gone to college and I was jealous of my friends who had done so and had great jobs. There was no doubt in my mind I would eventually further my education but when? Where would I go? What would I do? The older I got the more limited my options became. I married and had kids. I kept saying to myself "if I were younger I would love to go to law school" but that option was not within my reach. Was I too old to pursue a worthwhile career? How could I go back to school, financially? How would I juggle school, work and family? This decision making process took not months, but years and lots of encouragement from my husband. Now here I am, writing an essay for the first English class I have attended in over 20 years and pursing a career I am very excited about. ************************************************************ I think the most important decision you can make as an adult is who your mate will be (if you even want one). Whether we know it or not we all are searching for that perfect mate. A soul mate. Women take this decision very seriously, just as I did. When I met my current husband I was living alone having just recently moved out from my boyfriend's house. Although my boyfriend and I were still dating I was beginning to detach myself from him. Then in walks Eric. He was smart and funny and we got along amazingly. Any smart, level headed person would have said goodbye to old boyfriend and hello to the new but not me. I questioned whether Eric was too good to be true. What if I completely left old boyfriend and my relationship with Eric didn't work out? Hence, I stupidly strung them both along. I would go out with one on Friday and the other on Saturday. I was so afraid of making the wrong decision I made no decision at all until Eric said "Enough is enough. Don't call me, write me or visit me". I was devastated but couldn't repair the damage. I then stuck it out with old boyfriend until a very close friend of mine died. I was so upset by the news that the only person I thought of calling for comfort was Eric. With his big heart and strong arms he helped me through it. My decision was made. Unfortunately it took a lot of mistakes and the death of a close friend to make my decision for me. ******************************************************************* As I see it, decision making is not a form of procrastination. It is a head spinning, headache inducing, gut wrenching painful experience. Obviously the side effects are more severe with a harder, more "at-stake" kind of decision. Nonetheless, I suck at it. I often go so long trying to make up my mind it is made up for me. Keep an eye out for me on campus, I will be the one with a winter jacket dating back to 1985.

FREESTYLE WEEK #12

Am I the only one who thinks it is odd that we are still seeing mosquitos in November? Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the warm weather. In fact, I am catching up on the yard work I should have done a month ago. However, I am finally ready for snow and some nice cozy days by the woodstove with a steaming cup of java but all I see is when I look out my window is a soppy, wet ground and loads of flys and mosquitos. This morning I saw some robins still bobbing around the yard and I even have some daffodils starting to sprout!! What is going on??

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

PROMPT - WEEK 11

DOESN'T MATTER WHERE YOU BEGIN, YOU'LL END UP BACK HERE. ******************************************************************* This phrase reminds me of a children's book that my kids have entitled Love you, Forever. It begins with a mother reading a book to her child and then tucking him into bed. The child grows up and the mother continues her ritual of tucking him in every night and watching him sleep. Even as her boy grows into a man and moves out on his own she sneaks into his house each night to watch him sleep (I know this sounds creepy but the kids don't pick up on that yet). The book progresses to a point where the mother is elderly and all alone and needs someone to help care for her. Her son, who has children of his own, is now taking care of his mother and tucking her into bed just as she did for him when he was young. It makes me think of the progression of life and how some things turn full circle on you. Each and every one of us began our lives being dependent on someone to care for us. We develop into independent individuals and carry on with our lives. The sad truth of the matter is that many of us will end up back at the beginning, needing someone to care for us. My husband and I joke that we had children so that they could take care of us when we are old. For the time being, I will continue to tuck my kids into bed each night and watch them peacefully sleep.

FREESTYLE - Week 11

I had an interesting night last night. It started out as a simple visit to my parent's house in Belfast with my kids. We went there with the main purpose of wishing my sister happy birthday and dropping off a gift. Little did I know that I would be leaving them with a gift they didn't want. When we arrived and were walking into the house I heard a distant, distressed meowing but thought nothing more of it. I later went back outside to retrieve something from the car and heard the cries even louder. I beckoned my sister to come outside with a flashlight to investigate. My parent's live on a back road with no neighbors for about a quarter of a mile so I knew it wasn't coming from a neighbor's house. We didn't have to walk far up the dark road until we saw a mangy little kitten come out of the ditch. We led the kitten back to my parent's house but didn't let it in. Against my father's wishes, we gave the kitten some food and water and sadly watched it jump at the door and beg to come in. It was time for us to go so I left them with the mangy, meowing kitten at their door. I felt terrible! After checking up on the kitten today I found out that the animal control officer came to retrieve the cat and bring in to the shelter. The kicker of the story is that a box was found in the ditch where the kitten was. The box had duct tape all over it and looked like it had been thrown from a car with the kitten in it. Who would do such a thing? Even if someone found they couldn't care for the cat why wouldn't they bring it to the shelter themselves? What a cruel, ignorant person.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

PROMPT REACTION - WEEK #10

"No matter how many times I've been told and no matter how many times I tell myself, I just don't change." ************************************************************************************* It is interesting that this prompt appeared at this time because my husband and I had a very related discussion the other night. Somehow we got on the topic of what drives us crazy about each other. My husband asked me "what are some things that you wish were different about me?". My first response was "do you want to fight tonight?" After his assurance that this was a serious question I said "I wish you didn't drink so much coke". He took this to mean that he was too fat. I had to explain that I was seriously concerned about his health and I hoped he would be around for a long time but unhealthy decisions at his age were more critical than they were at age 20. He promised he would try and drink less Coke. My second issue was that he watches too much t.v. and that he has no problem watching t.v. and relaxing while I run around the house like an idiot cleaning and taking care of the kids. He said he understood my complaint and said he would try to be better. Then we moved on to my faults. Before he had a chance to speak I said "I know, I need to work on my stress control". He agreed and quickly added that my insecurity issues were a problem. I argued that I have gotten much better than I used to be. I also agreed that he was right on both points and that I would try to change. The bottom line is that we both acknowledged our faults and needs for change. We had been over these issues before and I don't think this is the last time these issues will be discussed. For the time being, however, we were both satisfied acknowledging and talking about the need for changes both promising the other we would try and change our annoying ways. The irony is that we both fully know the other will never change and, in fact, these are the "issues" that make us who we are and what we love about each other.

ESSAY #4 - Process essay

I don't know about you men but women have a preconceived idea what their wedding will be like. We start planning our weddings when we are about 10 years old. The first thing we determine is the dress. A beautiful cinderella-like dress. We plan music and guests and act it out many times over in our heads. What happens when the plan doesn't go as we imagined? This is what happened to me. My wedding was quite the opposite of what I thought it would be. It consisted of an outfit I purchased on sale at J.C. Penney the night before and my husband-to-be in khakis and an oxford. My attendees were Elvis, a justice of the peace with "love" and "hate" tattooed on his knuckles and a cute little hispanic girl who video taped the entire blessed event. Although this wasn't the way I planned it, the process to the end result was just as complicated and eventful as the fairtale wedding. ************************************************************************************** The first step, obviously, was deciding to get married. We had agreed to get married after the birth of our daughter. We had joked about the idea of eloping never fully expecting it to come to fruition. We are both fun, spontaneous people so we further decided that if we were going to elope it would have to be funny and tacky so that we would have a good story to tell. A trip from Maine to Phoenix, Arizona to show off our new daughter to my parents was the perfect opportunity for our crazy idea to become a reality. We were only about six hours away from Las Vegas so we discussed with my parents the idea of my boyfriend, our daughter and I heading to Vegas for a few days. Before we knew it we were packing up the family stationwagon and heading out across the desert for our three day trip. ************************************************************************************* Our plan was in second gear. As we drove, we realized that neither of us knew what to expect or how we would go about getting married. We drove along making small talk about the Joshua trees, cacti, roadkill, silly road signs, our stuffy-nosed child in the back seat, anything but our eloping plans. Not long after a quick stop at the Hoover Dam we arrived in the "city of sin". Our daughter's cries determined that we would stay at Circus Circus as we quickly pulled into the closest parking lot to quiet her down. I felt like a small town hick as we walked through the strategically placed casino to get to our room. We laid low for the night having had a traditional Vegas buffet meal and settling into our room for the night while we watched our 8 week old child get increasingly more sick with her first cold. We talked about what a long day it had been and enthusiatically flipped through the phone book and the literature in our room and noted several choices for our wedding destination that we would check out the next day. ************************************************************************************* The next morning we phoned my parents to let them know all was well. We reviewed the list of places to check out, had breakfast and headed on our way for what proved to be an interesting day. We quickly eliminated the hotel chapel and the drive-through chapel and decided on Graceland Wedding Chapel. After booking our 10:00 slot for the next day and confirming that we did, in fact, want to pay extra for Elvis to be there, we went to pick up our marriage license. I don't know what I expected but this was not it. At the city hall, there were couples decked out in their wedding gowns and tuxes; there were tattooed bikers; there were quiet, meek little couples who dared not look anyone in the eye; and, there was us swinging our little infant seat trying to look natural. The last part of our plan was coming together. It was almost unreal that we were there and this was going to happen. The only glitch in the plan was that our daughter became very sick that night and we ended up in the emergency room at 12:00 that night. After four hours at the hospital we dragged our tired, grumpy asses back to the hotel and fitfully slept for the next few hours. Getting ready the next morning, neither of us cared what we looked like we just wanted to get it over with and head back to Phoenix. ************************************************************************************ We promptly arrived at the Graceland Wedding Chapel at 9:45 a.m. We paid our fee at the front desk, looked through their tackle box of wedding bands (which we opted not to get) and met our Elvis who was about 6'2" and 300 pounds of flesh poured into a black sequined jumpsuit. We stood in the lobby looking at a picture of Jon Bon Jovi among other pictures of previously married couples there and wondered what the hell we were doing. We were ushered into the chapel and placed into our positions like pawns. Elvis joined me at the back of the chapel and we slowly walked down the aisle together while he sang Love Me Tender. The justice of the peace had such a thick spanish accent we hardly understood a word he said. We just waited for our cues. The ceremony was finally over. We were married! My new husband, daughter and I sat snuggled in the first pew of the now empty little chapel. It was an awkward, anticlimactic moment where we were both wondering if we should get up and leave or if we had to wait for something else. We were anxious to get on the road for our six hour drive back to Phoenix. Suddenly there was a startling blast of synthesized music as Elvis came out from a door at the back of the chapel singing Viva Las Vegas on his Mr. Microphone. It was hard not to burst into hysterical laughter. Elvis's long performance of many popular songs was interrupted by the hungry cries of my daughter. Elvis, later introduced to us as "Norm", scooped up my daughter who instantly stopped crying. He explained to us that he was an experienced grandfather of six. He was a great guy and we promised to send pictures. After saying our goodbyes and thank yous we hopped back into my parent's ford escort stationwagon and headed across the desert laughing at the memory we just created and hoping that our families would accept what we had just done.

Cause Essay #2

Sometimes picking out just the right name for a newborn can be a lengthy and complex process. Othertimes people and events in your life come together and make this decision unbelievably simple. When my third and last child was born in 2003 there was never any doubt what its name would be if it were a boy. ************************************************************************************* My husband, Eric, is currently just shy of his 40th birthday. This was the same age his brother, Tom, was when he passed away from a brain tumor in March of 1993. Tom's full name was Charles Thomas Walker III and he was the oldest of the five Walker children. Tom was the "hero" of the family with a full Air Force Scholarship. He received a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree from the University of Virginia. He went on to become a C-130 pilot and retired as a Major. Tom, like his father and his grandfather before him, was a passionate duck hunter and fisherman. On many occassions Tom would take Eric and their father hunting and fishing creating a special bond between the three of them. When Tom died so young he left a huge hole in the family and left my husband wanting to someday name a boy after his brother. ************************************************************************************ My husband and I met in 1997 and after a whirlwind romance we were married and had our first child, Alison, in 1998. Not long after Alison was born we found out that my father-in-law, Charlie, had lung cancer. Charlie's full name was Charles Thomas Walker Jr.. Charlie had smoked for all of his adult life so this diagnosis at age 73 was not much of a surprise. At first, affects of this horrible disease were not noticed. Charlie, now retired, continued his life as normal. He went to his favorite restaurant every day for lunch. He continued to show interests in hunting and fishing, which were his passions. During this time we found out that we were going to have another child. We decided that this child would be named Thomas if it were a boy. Kristina was born on July 4, 2000. ************************************************************************************* It was clear that Charlie thoroughly enjoyed his grandchildren. When we came to visit his eyes would light up. Eventually, the affects of chemotherapy wore him down physically although his sense of humor did not wane. Although there was always a large, loud oxygen unit next to his spot on the couch and he had a trail of oxygen tubing following him wherever he went in the house, the children were never afraid of him and he always made them feel comfortable. Charlie celebrated his 76th birthday on March 2, 2002. For his birthday my mother-in-law did a fantastic job putting together a slide show of his life from the time he was a young boy, to becoming a vibrant young man in the military, to becoming a father and husband. Charlie died ten days later on March 12, 2002. ************************************************************************************ There was no doubt in our minds that we wanted to have a third child and "try for the boy". It was even more important now to my husband that he have a son and name it after his father and brother. I found out I was pregnant in June 2002 with a due date of February 26, 2003. We did not want to find out the sex of this child and opted for a surprise at birth, all the while crossing our fingers that this would be the boy we hoped for. To my dismay my due date of February 26th came and went. The month of February came and went. Finally, Thomas Charles Walker was born on March 6, 2003. It was a completely emotional day for many people on many levels. ************************************************************************************ Thomas was born almost on his grandfather's birthdate and almost a year to the day of his grandfather's death. A grandfather he would never know. A grandfather who was immensely proud of his "hero" son Tom and of the name he passed on. March is often viewed as the beginning of spring and the end of winter. It is also viewed as a time of renewal and rebirth after the cold harshness of a long winter. For the many factors explained surrounding the month of March and the family bond my son's name was predestined to be Thomas.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

FREESTYLE - Week #10

I will apologize in advance for the ranting that is about to follow. I have some pent up emotion that I have no where to release so I will do it here and hope that I feel better. I have never been much of a political person. I don't usually follow politics unless there is an important election coming up. The District Attorney race (in Waldo, Knox, Sagadahoc and Lincoln County) in this upcoming election, however, is one that I am paying particular attention to because it's outcome greatly affects me personally. Joe Baiungo who is running for District Attorney against Geoff Rushlau (the current District Attorney) is a former boss of mine. He is also my best friend's ex-husband and my husband's friend (maybe former friend?) I have to say that I am thoroughly disappointed in him. Up to date all of the above mentioned people have maintained an amicable, friendly relationship. Joe has compromised all of those relationships for his own political gain. He has lied, played dirty and made some negative, nasty comments. His latest stunt really apalled me and I am just fuming. He has never shown an interest in taking his child out for Halloween but this year he used it to his advantage. He used trick or treating, a night for children to have fun, as his campaign stage. He had Joe Baiungo stickers, he was shaking hands, etc.. but not paying any attention to his daughter. Besides his negative campaign tactics he truly is not the right person for that job. Most importantly, he is not experienced in criminal law. He has never prosecuted a case and has only tried 3 criminal trials in his 12 plus years of experience! I have followed the ongoing community comments on Village Soup and would love nothing more than to put in my two cents but for bigger reasons I can't so hear I am. Thanks for listening.

Monday, October 30, 2006

FREESTYLE - Week 9

Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul (or is it robbing Paul to pay Peter?). In any event, I have robbed my English homework time to work and to study and prepare for midterms and here I am way behind. I have never been much of a procrastinator for this very reason. Too stressful!! I think that I am back on track so no worries Professor Goldfine. Although, what about the school board committee meeting and taking the kids trick or treating and doing loads of laundry after being out of power for two days.........?

Essay #3 - contrast Essay

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child it was a complete shock. It was totally unexpected and took quite a while to get used to the idea of being a parent. My boyfriend and I decided we didn't want to find out the sex of our child and opted for the "delivery surprise". It was a beautiful fall day when Alison was born. Our second child, on the other hand, was planned. We wanted our children to be fairly close in age. Unlike the first pregnancy we didn't want the surprise element and found out, before birth, that Alison would have a sister. Kristina was born on a sweltering hot July 4th. My two girls are now ages 8 and 6 and I am continually amazed that, from the time they were in utero to present day, these girls have, and continue to be, very different from each other. ******************************************************************* Take their appearance, for example. Alison was born with a full head of dark hair: Kristina was born bald and remained bald until she was about a year old then she grew blonde hair. Alison has hazel colored eyes: Kristina has brilliant blue eyes. Alison has long, lanky legs: Kristina's legs are more short and squat. Alison's teeth have always been very healthy: Kristina has had nothing but problems with her teeth stemming from lack of sufficient enamel. Alison has freckles and Kristina has none.************************************************************* These girl's differences go beyond the obvious physical ones. Their personalities are also quite the opposite. Alison has always been a very easy going social kid. She never has any fears about talking with someone new or introducing herself to other kids. Teachers have told us that Alison is the "social director" of the class because she likes to make sure that everyone is happy and that they get along with each other. She is also very sensitive. She is the crier if she is sad or mad. She would rather do what her friends want to do just to make them happy. She is a follower. She has a big heart, tries hard and gets along with everyone. That is not to say that Kristina doesn't have a big heart but she could care less if everyone around her is unhappy. She doesn't see it as her problem to take care of. She has a bit of a hard time communicating with other kids although she isn't rude to them. She wants to play what she wants to play and if her friends don't like it then they can play by themselves. I knew when she was very young that she would be the hardheaded spitfire and she hasn't disappointed me yet. She will take a punishment with her lips tightly clenched and a glare in her eye. I am dreading the teenaged years with her. ******************************************************************* The girls' last greatest difference is their appetite. Kristina is our finicky eater which took us by complete surprise after having Alison who would eat anything ravenously. Alison does not know how to eat slowly. Her favorite meal is a cheesburger (or two) which she can eat in 3.5 seconds flat. We have discussed many times, to no avail, that not only is it unladylike to scarf down a burger so quickly, but it is also unhealthy and dangerous to do so. She will also try anything put in front of her at least once and, because of that, has a wide variety of tastes. She is not much of a snacker or fan of sweets she just saves her appetite for three good meals a day. Kristina is the classic child who stalls eating things she is not fond of and tries to hide them or shift them around her plate. She cannot sit still in her chair for dinner but has to lay down, spin around, balance on the edge or leave the table many times to use the bathroom. Kristina would rather sit at the table until bedtime than try a bite of something she thinks she doesn't like. It is a constant battle of the wills. She definetely is a grazer who gets most of her caloric intake before noon. ****************************************************************
This morning is a perfect example of how each of their differing personalities are shown concerning the same issue. We had exactly 50 minutes for everyone to get dressed, hair combed, eat breakfast, bags packed and get out to catch the schoolbus. Both girls wanted to have one of their friends come over after school on the bus. I said "no way, we don't have time to deal with this right now". Alison batted her eyelashes, begged, pleaded, offered to pay me or clean the catbox in order to pursuade me. Kristina, on the other hand, stomped, flung things across the counter, refused to talk to me, refused to eat her breakfast and proceeded to stare me down in order to pursuade me. It is amazing to me that our children, who have the same genes and have been raised the same way with the same routines, can be so different. I guess life would be dull otherwise.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

PROMPT REACTION - WEEK 9

Uncle Henry's ad: "Engagement ring and wedding band 14K W. valued at $1010 will sell for $500.00. Have current appraisal." ********************************************************************* Could also go in the Miscellaneous section saying "love, hopes and dreams for sale. Used only a short time. Don't need anymore. Cheap." ********************************************************************* How about the Wanted section? "Wanted: The right path to go down. I've lost mine. Will pay fair price." ********************************************************************* Free for the taking: "Broken heart. Still has some life left in it. Could be useful with a little tinkering. Must go to the right home."

Monday, October 23, 2006

I-SEARCH RESEARCH NOTATIONS

Here are my research notations:
***********************************************************************************
Gregorio, Paul. The Parents' Solution Book/Family Rules/No-fault Parenting (Book). Library Journal: 11/01/84, Vol. 109 Issue 18, p2069, 2p

This is a book specifically dedicated to raising children ages 5 to 12. It is targeted for parents who are interested in "raising happy, responsible children - without spanking, yelling or nagging"
************************************************************************************
Newcombe, Nora S. et al. Remembering Early Childhood: How much, How, and Why (or why not). Current Directions in Psychological Science; Apr2000, Vol 9, Issue 2, P55-58, 4p

This article is about a phenomenon called "childhood amnesia". Specifically, that people are able to recall parts of their lives from the period between ages 2-5. There is further information that lack of early childhood memories maybe linked to maturation of the prefrontal cortex.

************************************************************************************

Winerman, Lea. On the other hand, maybe I do remember... Monitor on Psychology, Volume 37, No. 6 June 2006

This is an article about an interesting research project done by Psychologist Stephen Christman evolving from his theory that mixed-handed people are able to remember more childhood memories due to a larger corpus callosum (the bundle of nerves that connects the two hemispheres of the brain) and more interaction between their brain hemispheres.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I-SEARCH - WHAT

1) At what age do children begin a "memory" bank that they can look back on and remember? I know from personal experience that I can clearly remember things as far back as age 5. This topic has come up in various other conversations with friends and colleagues and it seems to be the general consensus that around age 5 is the earliest most people can remember. There are some who claim they can remember being back in their crib but I have a hard time believing that. I generally remember the fun stuff. I remember playing in the snow with my sister. I remember sitting on my dad's lap and tasting his drink. I remember the parrot we bird sat for when I was 6. I remember my first pair of ice skates that Santa brought for me. I don't remember much about the bad stuff. I don't remember being spanked or yelled at altough I am sure that both of those happened. I guess a subquestion to my original question might be: Do children have selective memories? 2) What can I do or provide as a parent, in a two parent home, to raise my children to be a happy, productive, independent citizens? I know that it is important to be a loving, supportive, level headed parent. I can surmise just from my previous statement that material things provided to my children are not nearly as important. I know that sometimes material things do bring some level of confidence but that it is my job as a parent to teach my children they are not of utmost importance. I know a parent's time and attention are important as well but is it really detrimental if I make my child get hot lunch every day because I don't have time to make their lunch in the morning? Will they be forever scarred by the weekly "Thursday surprise" for hot lunch? Unless you are an android it is not possible to be loving, supportive and level headed ALL the time. In a perfect world, yes. In the real world, no. Every parent gets tired and frustrated and just wants a break from being "mommy" or "daddy" all the time. I, obviously, know that physical discipline is not the answer, however, how harmful is yelling? What are the emotional effects on yelling or spanking? Everyone knows a story about a child raised in an abusive or non-supportive home and that child became a good, caring, successful adult. How does that happen? Was there a teacher or friend who was that child's support? Do some children just have an ability they were born with to succeed. On the flip side, why do some children grow up to be felons? Does it "just happen" or what circumstances led them in that direction? There are so many factors to raising children and my hope is to, not necessarily skip over the less important ones, but to emphasize on the most important ones whatever they may be.

GRAF 14 - Contrast essay reaction

I Think this looks like an assignment that could be a lot of fun. It appears that the easiest source of comparison is two people so I was happy to see the contrast essay someone did about their home town and how it differed from long ago to present day. I have to say I will probably go the "easy" route and compare my children, as suggested.

GRAF 13 - Personal reasearch history

When I showed my husband this assignment and asked him, what does this mean? What have I researched? He didn't even hesitate before he said "people, you research people". The more I thought about what he said I realized how true it is. I come from a large family, close and distant. I have always picked jobs where I have a lot of contact with different people. Being around lots of people makes me feel good, however, I am a bit shy socially. I prefer to sit back and analyze. I like to read people. I think at a very young age children read their parents and learn when to catch them in just the right mood to ask for something. I also learned which parent to ask for certain things. When I was little I always asked my Dad to make me popcorn however, when I was older I never asked my Dad to borrow the car. In high school I despised the ultra popular groupies who never acted like themselves. Their personalities were stored in my little memory bank of people I never wanted to be like. Not too long out of high school I started working in a law office. I worked for a very difficult man and I was also the first person people saw when they entered the office. I quickly learned to read people well. I knew if my boss came into the office and shut his door I left him alone. He was so much like my Dad that I pulled from the files stored in my head the manual on "how to handle an emotionally difficult grown man." I think that is why my boss and I got along so well when noone else could get along with him. It only took a little hands on reasearch to learn how to deal with an accused criminal, someone going through a difficult divorce, someone who was a victim of a crime, someone who believed they had been wronged, and so on... In addition, my experience as a waitperson has introduced me to a whole other group of individuals. I know how to deal with an irate customer, a lonely diner who just wants someone to talk to, a lonely diner who wants to be lonely, a harried mother who needs a little help, the socially elite, the people who think they are the socially elite and so on... I think that everyone is a "people researcher"to some extent but I enjoy building my personality research bank and being able to pull it out when I need it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

CLASSIFICATION ESSAY

AT YOUR SERVICE There isn't an experienced waitperson out there who doesn't judge their customers the first second they meet them. I work in a fairly reputable oceanside restaurant that serves only lunch and dinner and I have to admit I do the same going so far as to calculate the tip upon my greeting just based on their age and how they order their drinks. It has become sort of a game. You win some, you lose some. For example, I know that if every one of the six elderly ladies orders a cup of coffee the tip will be no more than 10 percent after they nitpick the bill to the penney. Likewise, if the group of laidback, boisterous 20-somethings instantly order a round of hard-core cocktails and an appetizer it will be worth the wear on my danskos. The hardest to judge are the middle aged. They could be penny pinching for retirement or truly appreciative and understanding at what hard work waitpeople do. ********************* It is inevitible that the first party of the night will be elderly. I have heard time and again that they want to "beat the crowd" and that they don't want to get to bed too late, like, past 8:00. I approach the table and quickly estimate the combined age of the four people there to be about 300. They instantly complain that the lighting is too dark and ask me to turn up the lights. They indicate that water is just fine for them to drink at that moment but they will probably have coffee with dinner. After about five minutes I return to the table to see if they are ready to order. I overhear Thelma telling Walter that he really shouldn't have the garlic mashed potatoes because "you know what that will do to you". I take their order and get a wink from Walter as he orders the garlic mashed potatoes. I leave the table with a smile and wonder if my husband and I will be like that in 30 years. They really are sweet and I enjoy waiting on them but I can't help but think that their tip will be no more than 10 percent. My thoughts are confirmed when their $60.00 check yields a generous $7.00. ************************************************* The next to arrive are people more like myself. Either refreshed looking couples out for a blissful dinner without their kids or young parents with kids in tow. I can relate to both and I feel most at ease with these people. They are, by far the hardest to judge as far as a tip is concerned, though. Kids or no kids they almost always eagerly look over the wine list and quickly order a drink. That, too, I can relate to. The couples without kids order appetizers and decent meals while the couples with kids are more concerned whether Jimmy and Molly want chicken fingers or pasta. Nevertheless, I talk the most with these people and almost feel like friends before they leave. I take their tip the most personally, almost as a personal criticism or victory. ************************************* The latest to arrive are the 20 somethings. They come out at 8:00-9:00 because "the night has just begun". On one hand I groan as they order a round of drinks and indicate that they are in no rush because I know it will be a late night for me but, on the other hand, I know it will be worth my while. I recognize a few of the people at the table and know that they have waited tables. On top of being great tippers they are extremely conscious of my work. They actually help me pass plates down the crowded table instead of making me balance on my tip toes and do some sort of contorted body movement to properly place their plate. For as poorly as my night began it ends on a good note when they leave me $50.00 on their $200.00 tab.*************************************** I wouldn't feel right if I didn't wrap this up before saying that my service is the same for everyone. Good tipper or not. I think waiting tables is an attraction for me because not only is it a great profitable second job and that I get instant cash but I also meet a lot of interesting people.

PROMPT REACTION - Week 8

"The things I see as I walk along the street, that's heaven to me..." In my case it isn't a busy city street I walk down, it is an old woods path. We are fortunate enough to own 50 acres of land surrounding our house so nature is all around us. As I walk down this path on a beautiful fall day with my husband, three children and dog I am at peace. I drink in the air which is clean and sweet and listen to nothing. We pass by an old rock wall and I can't help but think of how it got there. Who was it that worked so hard to carefully place thousands of rocks which have withheld the test of weather and time? We sit down for a while and quietly watch the squirrels and chipmunks scurrying around preparing for winter. I use this opportunity to talk with my children about being safe in the woods and what to do if they ever got lost. We talked about what to use from nature to keep warm which led to a discussion about how people live off the land. Although we were less than half a mile from our house it seemed like we were a million miles away. It is a rare opportunity when I can escape civilization and walk my stresses and worries away and enjoy something so simple. That's heaven to me.

FREESTYLE - Week #8

At the risk of being flunked by my dog loving professor I have to say that I have never been a dog person. That being said I have grown to love our 120 pound black lab, Mo, despite the black hair he carelessly deposits all over the house and his incessent need to eat whatever he can find. He even provides a daily source of free entertainment for me. We have the same ritual every night. Mo's domain is the ground level in our house where he has a nice cozy bed by the woodstove and a direct eye view of the main entrance door. Mo, however, sleeps at night in our walk-in closet on the second level which happens to be the domain of our fluff-ball himalayan cat, Tilly. Each night we have to escort Mo upstairs and into the closet because he is terrified of the fluff-ball cat. Tilly loves this game! She hides under our bed which Mo needs to pass by to get to the closet. Without a fail, she jumps out and hisses as he passes by and he scoots into the closet with his tail between his legs. This ritual has been a daily occurrence for two years and it never gets old. It is hysterical! Is it wrong that I find humor in my pet's fears?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

PROMPT REACTION - Week 7

Dump the trash bin on the floor, pull on your rubber gloves, and start hunting for the truth that only your throwaways know. My trashbin would be labeled "Old Boyfriends" and the rubber gloves are needed for the toxic waste they produced. There are only two ex-boyfriends to be exact and, like all things thrown away, they were loved and useful at one time. My first boyfriend, David, was my highschool sweetheart. We started dating in 11th grade and were together for 8 years. It was a first relationship for both of us and I don't know if we stayed together for so long for the simple reason that neither of us knew how to break up. I think we truly did love each other but I could only take his pot smoking, irresponsible, schizophrenic behavior for so many years. I was an outgoing person who liked to get together with friends. He didn't. I was close with my family. He wasn't. I was spontaneous. He wasn't. Although David was a hard worker he was a sporadic worker. His future plans were to spend winters sailing to Florida and summers in a little cabin he had built with no electricity. I started to realize in my early 20's that this wasn't going the way I wanted it to. Then along came Lenny. We were together for 4 years. He was everything David wasn't. He had a good job (he was a teacher). He was outgoing and fun and spontaneous. I was in love. That is, until the annoying habits surfaced. He used to flick his earlobe until it made a snapping sound. If that wasn't bad enough, he used to do it to me. I cringe just thinking about it now. He was ambitous until it came to finishing a project and he was careless. Despite their negative qualities my ex's weren't bad people, just not the right ones for me.

INTRO to Classification Essay

AT YOUR SERVICE There isn't an experienced waitperson out there who doesn't judge their customers the first second they meet them. I work in a fairly reputable oceanside restaurant that serves only lunch and dinner and I have to admit I do the same going so far as to calculate the tip upon my greeting just based on their age and how they order their drinks. It has become sort of a game. You win some, you lose some. For example, I know that if every one of the six elderly ladies orders a cup of coffee the tip will be no more than 10 percent after they nitpick the bill to the penney. Likewise, if the group of laidback, boisterous 20-somethings instantly order a round of hard-core cocktails and an appetizer it will be worth the wear on my danskos. The hardest to judge are the middle aged. They could be penny pinching for retirement or truly appreciative and understanding at what hard work waitpeople do.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

GRAF #12 - reaction to classification essay

I started reading the first two classification essays and thought "wow, this is a man bashing assignment. I can do this." My excited, racing mind halted when I started to get a sense of what it was I needed to do although I am not totally clear on what a classification essay is. It is my simplistic understanding that I should take a statement and build a story on it. Isn't this like our prompt reaction assignments? What I don't understand is if I need to put a clever twist on an otherwise simple statement.

I-Search Why

GUILT. I don't know if it is the distant catholic background in me or my need to have everything perfect but I constantly feel a sense of guilt when I can't give my children what they want and need. I guess it isn't all guilt but also a constant feeling of wanting the best for my children. I have come to a realization that it is not remotely possible to give them everything so I am in search of, basically, a guideline of what the most important things should be. I often look at my own three children, ages 8, 6 and 3 and wonder how I can provide a childhood they will look back on and be thankful for. I further wonder what tools I can provide them with to be successful adults. My questions are: 1) What is a successful adult? Is it someone who has a high paying job? Is it someone who is happy? Is it someone who is especially talented? 2) Does it matter whether a successful adult is raised by one parent, two parents, grandparents...? If so, why. If not, why? 3) At what age do children begin a "memory" bank that they can look back on and remember? 4) What can I do or provide as a parent, in a two parent home, to raise my children to be a happy, productive, independent citizens?

I-Search Background

I am one of eight children. I have five older brothers, one older sister and one younger sister. For the longest time I was the "baby" of the family until my younger sister came along when I was 15. When I was young we lived modestly. My five brothers shared a room, my older sister and I shared a bed, my dad worked hard and my mom went to nursing school. We went to church on Sundays and often all sat down together for Sunday dinner and to watch any of the 3 channels we got on T.V. We did not have video games or electronic toys. We played in the yard a lot and went on adventures in the woods. I distinctly remember my brothers showing me frog eggs develop into polywogs then into frogs. They also showed me how to shoot a handgun (I still don't think my parents know about that) and how to ride a snowmobile. My sister taught me how to ride a two wheeler bike and how to do cartwheels. I look back on my childhood with a smile on my face. I had a home and a family that made me feel warm, secure and loved. My siblings and I are all grown now with families of our own. Despite the physical distance between some of us we try to keep in touch with each other whether it is lending an ear or helping with a construction project. None of us has a high paying, corporate job but we are all good, caring adults. Now that I have three young children of my own I look back and wonder what "magic" my parents used to help us all turn out to be normal, productive citizens. My parents certainly didn't have the time to spend any significant amount of "quality" time with each of us individually and we didn't have a lot of money for a large house, expensive car or the newest, latest toys so what is it that puts a smile on my face when I look back? Although I didn't know it at the time, the concept of this paper came upon me when my second child was about a year old. I now had two girls who, very obviously, had completely different personalities. I wondered how two children who were being raised the same way in the same house could be so different. It further made me wonder whether there were certain things I could do as a parent to help my children develop in a certain direction or whether they would develop how they were "programmed" to.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

GRAF #11 - Metagraf

This essay on my Vegas wedding didn't just flow out of me like a story that has been waiting to be told. It took many days of thinking and rearranging, trying to include the most pertinent details. There were many details I didn't include such as having to stop the wedding ceremony because my daughter was choking in her carseat and that we had to continue the ceremony with me bouncing her up and down while holding onto my husband's hand. I didn't include that we weren't able to bring our infant into the casino so we took turns spending some alone time with a roll of quarters and a one armed bandit. My husband remembered silly details about our drive across the desert that I didn't. He remembered being amazed at a roadrunner we saw and at the mountain goats we saw just west of the Hoover Dam and how beautiful the sunset was our first night. Reading back through my essay it doesn't give the impression of having a very good time but we verbally relive those three days every anniversary and we laugh about it. I have to confess that we did have a vow renewal ceremony a year later with alot of guests in a real church. It truly was used as a family excuse to get us all together and have a big party. I still wore a very modest (less than $100.00) knee length dress and we used the help of many friends for food, music and flowers. We had the best of both worlds. The cheezy, memorable Vegas wedding and the big family party.

ESSAY #1

Wedding is defined as an act, process, or instance of joining in close association. Nowhere does it say that a wedding should consist of many gift bearing guests, a black tuxedo, a white gown, flowers, cute little cherubs dressed in uncomfortable clothing, wedding music that noone has heard since the early 1980's, an expensive meal, lots to drink and many fake smiles. My wedding was quite the opposite. It consisted of an outfit I purchased on sale at J.C Penney the night before and my husband-to-be in khakis and an oxford. My attendees were Elvis, a justice of the peace with "love" and "hate" tattooed on his knuckles and a cute little hispanic girl who video taped the entire blessed event. It may sound crazy but it was fun and impulsive and we wouldn't have done it any other way.
We had agreed to get married after the birth of our daughter but had no definite plans. We had joked about the idea of eloping never fully expecting it to come to fruition. A trip from Maine to Phoenix, Arizona to show off our new daughter (and for my boyfriend to meet my father, that's another story) was the perfect opportunity for our crazy idea of eloping to become a reality. We discussed with my parents the idea of us heading to Vegas for a few days and before we knew it we were packing up the family stationwagon and heading out across the desert for our three day trip. I don't think either of us really knew what to expect when we got there. We drove along making small talk about the joshua trees, cacti, roadkill, silly road signs, our stuffy nosed child in the back seat, anything but our eloping plans. Not long after a quick stop at the Hoover Dam we arrived in the city of sin. Our daughter's cries determined that we would stay at Circus Circus as we quickly pulled into the closest parking lot to quiet her down. I felt like a small town hick as we walked through the strategically placed casino to get to our room. We laid low the first night having had a traditional Vegas buffet meal and settling into our room for the night while we watched our 8 week old child get increasingly more sick with her first cold. The next day was spent choosing a chapel, buying an outfit and standing in line waiting to get our marriage license. Standing in line waiting for our license was an experience in itself. There were couples decked out in their wedding gowns and tuxes, there were tattooed bikers, there were meek quiet little couples who dared not look anyone in the eye and there was us swinging our little infant seat trying to look natural. That night proved to be a disaster. Our daughter was very sick and we were very nervous being new parents with a sick child especially in a city we didn't know far away from family. We decided to bring her to the nearest emergency room at 12:00 p.m. and discussed calling off the wedding scheduled for 10:00 a.m. the next morning. After four hours at the hospital we dragged our tired, grumpy asses back to the hotel and fitfully slept for the next few hours. I think we both got ready the next morning not caring what we looked like, we just wanted to get it over with and head back to Phoenix. We promptly arrived at the Graceland Wedding Chapel at 9:45. We paid our fee at the front desk, looked through their tackle box of wedding bands (which we opted not to get) and met our Elvis who was about 6'2" and 300 pounds of flesh poured into a white sequined jumpsuit. We then stood in the lobby looking at a picture of Bon Jovi among other pictures of previously married couples there and wondering what the hell we were doing. We were ushered into the tiny chapel and placed in our positions like little pawns. Elvis joined me at the back of the chapel and we slowly walked down the aisle together while he sang Love Me Tender. The justice of the peace went on and on in his heavy spanish accent, something about true love, blah, blah; committment, blah, blah; this glorious blessed union, blah, blah. We just waited for our cues because we couldn't understand a word he was saying. The ceremony was finally over. My new husband, daughter and I sat snuggled in the first pew of the now empty little chapel. It was an awkward, anticlimactic moment where we were both wondering what we should do next. We were anxious to get on the road for our six hour drive back to Phoenix. Suddenly there was a startling, blast of synthesized music as Elvis came out from a door at the back of the chapel singing Viva Las Vegas on his Mr. Microphone. It was hard not to bust into hysterical laughter. Elvis's long performance of many popular songs was interrupted by the hungry cries of my daughter. Elvis, later introduced to us as "Norm", scooped up my daughter who instantly stopped crying. He explained to us that he was an experienced grandfather of six and that he makes a generous living from being an Elvis impersonator. He was a great guy and we promised to send pictures, which we still haven't done. After saying our goodbyes and thank yous we hopped back into my parent's ford escort stationwagon and headed across the desert laughing at the memory we just created and hoping that our families would accept what we had just done.

Monday, October 09, 2006

FREESTYLE - Week # 7

Could this past Columbus Day Weekend have been any more perfect? It was perfect family time, apple picking, cleaning up the yard kind of weather. Did I do any of those things? No! Unfortunately, I spent most of my weekend working or doing homework. Something is wrong with this picture. I know, boo-hoo, poor me. Right now (Monday afternoon on Columbus Day) my husband and kids are playing at the park and I am playing catch up on homework. I think it is time for a break before I get really bitter.

REACTION to Sample I-Searches

I love how they are so personal, hence I-Search. I, obviously, didn't read them all but I did skim through the topics and intros of most. Of particular interest to me was the grandmother who wrote about Biliary Atresia. It was a heartfelt, very personal, story about her granddaughter, Jordan. Although she did not find concrete answers to her questions she chaneled her anxieties about this issue into her I-Search paper. She raised my awareness and curiosity, as well. I understand better the format needed and the importance of putting an interesting, personal touch into my work.

OUTRO for cause essay

The ceremony was over. My new husband, daughter and I sat snuggled in the first pew of the now empty little chapel. It was an awkward, anticlimactic moment where we were both wondering what we should do next. We were anxious to get on the road for our six hour drive back to Phoenix. Suddenly there was a startling, blast of synthesized music as Elvis came out from a door at the back of the chapel singing Viva Las Vegas on his Mr. Microphone. It was hard not to bust into hysterical laughter. Elvis's long performance of many popular songs was interrupted by the hungry cries of my daughter. Elvis, later introduced to us as "Norm", scooped up my daughter who instantly stopped crying. He explained to us that he was an experienced grandfather of six and that he makes a generous living from being an Elvis impersonator. He was a great guy and we promised to send pictures, which we still haven't done. After saying our goodbyes and thank yous we hopped back into my parent's ford escort stationwagon and headed across the desert laughing at the memory we just created and hoping that our families would accept what we had just done.

PROMPT REACTION - WEEK #6

When I was little my favorite place to be was sitting next to my mother on the couch when she had her fuzzy, soft bathrobe on. It seemed to be the safest place in the world. It was a "feel good" kind of place where any skinned knee, thunderstorm, or scary movie didn't seem so bad. I never realized what a great impression that simple place on the couch made on me until recently when I saw my own child climb up on the couch next to Nana who was in her soft, fuzzy bathrobe just like I used to. It brought back a flood of memories of watching Hee-Haw or Happy Days or lost in thought wondering who I was going to play with at recees the next day. Is it the comfort of a loving parent or the fuzzy bathrobe? Perhaps a little of both, however, I suspect a loving parent's arms and protection are what really matters. I wonder if my mother knows what an important place that was for me and I wonder if I have created a "safe, feel good" place like that for my children.

INTRO #2 to cause essay

Wedding is defined as an act, process, or instance of joining in close association. Nowhere does it say that a wedding should consist of many gift bearing guests, a black tuxedo, a white gown, flowers, cute little cherubs dressed in uncomfortable clothing, wedding music that noone has heard since the early 1980's, an expensive meal, lots to drink and many fake smiles. My wedding was quite the opposite. It consisted of an outfit I purchased on sale at J.C Penney the night before and my husband-to-be in khakis and an oxford. My attendees were Elvis, a justice of the peace with "love" and "hate" tattooed on his knuckles and a cute little hispanic girl who video taped the entire blessed event. It may sound crazy but it was fun and impulsive and we wouldn't have done it any other way.

Monday, October 02, 2006

FREESTYLE - WEEk #6

Why does our indoor cat, Brett, think that he should be an outdoor cat? Our family has one dog, Mo, a black lab who is 120 pounds of big baby. He hates the rain, didn't like to swim until he was over a year old and is terrified of our 5 pound himalayan fluffball, Tilly. Tilly has been with us the longest. She is a snobby, white, himalayan indoor cat who loves to be by herself, except at one o'clock in the morning. Then there is Brett. We picked up Brett at the animal shelter about 7 years ago with the idea of bringing home a cat to keep Tilly company. When we picked up our cat at the shelter they made us sign an agreement saying that we would not let our new cat be an outdoor cat for at least one year. Having lost too many pets to cars and wild animals we had no intention of letting our new pet go outdoors anyway. Until recently Brett has been perfectly content having full run of our three story colonial home. Suddenly he thinks that he should go outside. He is very clever. Obviously, we let the dog in and out and Brett has tried many times to sneak alongside the dog to make his escape. He is relentless. He stands at the door for hours meowing or he gets up and runs to the door when we walk by it. I almost feel guilty not giving in to him. He has been successful a few times and is completely proud of himself for making it to the other side, however, we love him too much to send him out into the big bad world.

PROMPT REACTION - WEEK #5

You've lost it. Where is it? What have I lost? I have lost the ability to carry on a normal life and to think rationally. Where is it? I don't know but I wish it would come back soon. I can say with great authority that a person's patience and mental stability are not truly tested until you have had a colicky child. My third child, Tommy, was, without a doubt, colicky. I'm not talking about a little wah, wah crying when he was wet, hungry or tired. I am talking about full blown, inconsolable crying from morning until night. When he wasn't crying he was eating or sleeping. When he did sleep it was for no more than two hours at a time. I felt like a prisoner of war holed up in my little house in Lincolnville being mentally beaten down. It was a feeling of complete and utter helplessness. I distinctly remember one evening when my husband and I decided to order out for pizza. After being gone at work all day and coming home to a chaotic nuthouse my husband quickly volunteered to go pick up the pizza. Before he could finish his sentence I had grabbed my purse and was out the door wishing him luck. I put the truck in reverse, then first and quickly second and third gears. It was a ten minute ride to the store and in that ten minutes I was giddy with freedom and tearful at what my life had become. I seriously considered picking up that pizza with a bottle of wine and continuing on down the road all by myself and not coming back. My conscience and level head took over and I slowly headed back home. In that short blip of time in my life I truly felt that I had lost my mind and all sense of rational thinking and that it would never return.

INTRO #1 to cause essay

It was a beautiful day in November, 1998 as my boyfriend, our 7 week old daughter and I travelled across the desert in my parents green ford escort wagon. We were exhausted from being new parents but excited at the thought of going to Las Vegas. We had come from Maine to visit my parents in Phoenix and had decided to travel the 6 hours across the desert to Vegas with the crazy notion of getting married there. We were too close to let the opportunity pass us by.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

GRAF #9 - Reaction to sample essays

Aside from the "meat" of the essays I have to comment on the grammar and spelling problems. To me, there is nothing that turns me off more than reading a piece with spelling and grammatical errors. My mind is fixing those problems rather than concentrating on the content of the stories. Of course, everyone makes mistakes but proofreading is key!! I am not sure if we are supposed to comment on specific essays. I certainly had my favorites such as the one about the writer's mother and her mother's bad decision. It didn't fall into the standard "form" but it was written very well and kept me wanting to read more. I understand the idea of "hooking" the reader but I further understand that it does not have to be dramatic. A simple background, some juicy details and a conclusion. It all sounds to easy until I have to put my own ideas on paper.

FREESTYLE - Week #5

This past week my oldest daughter celebrated her 8th birthday (I've been calling her 8 for the past month, which she has loved, because it is easier than saying she is almost 8). As I do every year, with each child, I use their birthdays as a reflection day. I reflect back to my own childhood at that particular age and I reflect on what has happened in my life since they were born. I lay out my memories and inventory them like a scrapbook on the table. I love those reflection days. There are, obviously, poor memories that go along with the good but there is nothing like the boost you get from seeing all that has been experienced in a time table you can see. I remember the green, banana seat bike I got on my 8th birthday and the subsequent bruises that went with it. I remember when and where we announced each of our pregnancies. I remember the first time I held my firstborn. I remember each child's birthday party leading up to this one, and I remember all of the details in between.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Prompt Reaction - Week #4

Take a look at a photo of a person - what do you see? I am looking at a picture of Brooke, my cousin-in-law. Brooke is about 30 years old. She is tall and thin with straight, mousy brown hair. She chooses not to wear make-up but she doesn't need it. This particular photo was taken at a child's birthday party which was being held at a relative's house on Damariscotta Lake on the Fourth of July. It is an annual event our family always looks forward to because it is when we see family members only that one time during the year. With that background being given, Brooke is sitting in a white adirondak chair with her head back and the sunshine beaming down on her face. Her eyes are closed and her lips are together forming a peaceful smile. The picture shows no evidence of the party going on around her, just the lush, green grass behind her. She looks like she is a million miles away. She is content and happy. Some say the eyes are windows to your soul, however it is easy to tell how she is feeling without even seeing her eyes.

GRAF #8 - Person

Have you ever met a person you "connect" with, get along with and understand but whom not many people like? I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard "I don't know how you can work for him". He was a "bear". He was rude. He was loud and brusque but he was also the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back. Stanley was my first "office boss" but he turned out to be more than just a boss. He was a friend and like a second dad to me. He was very smart and was just bursting with knowledge to share with everyone. I think I was one of the few people to see this. There were several times when the entire office would go out to lunch together. I always dreaded these luncheons. Stanley would, predictably, send something back to the kitchen or make a snide comment to the waitress about there being too much or too little dressing on his salad. He knew what he wanted and expected everyone else to know too. This was a law office I worked in and mistakes were not allowed. I can vividly remember his booming voice saying "Susan, come in here". I knew by the tone of his voice this wasn't going to be a "pat on the back" kind-of-meeting. I remember the squeak of his oversized office chair as he pushed back away from his desk followed by a deep, disappointing sigh. The lecture didn't last long, he got right to the point, but I always viewed it as a lesson rather than a "reaming out". I think this is what he intended and he respected that I didn't break down crying or become defensive. I learned a lot from his "lessons". He taught me more than being a tough nut when being yelled at but he taught me respect, self-confidence and even out of the office things like the sport of curling and how to pick a good wine. He viewed me as the child he never had. After a debilitating car accident he was more dependent on people than he wished. He had pride, which he had to push aside to ask for help. He was still brusque and sometimes rude but a bit more humble than before. When he died unexpectedly, I was overcome with grief at losing a good friend and mentor. I was also saddened by the fact that he had so much more to teach me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

FREESTYLE - Week #4

I am using this page as a bragging opportunity. I am so proud of my family. My husband, on top of working a high stress job, has been using his spare time to work on building our garage. The pressure is on to close it in before winter and he has done an amazing job. This is aside from trying to get wood stacked, get his deer stand ready, helping with Lions events and being on the school board. My girls, in third and first grade, are doing great in school. They seem excited and focused in their studies. The third grader, now has "real" homework and, with a little prompting, gets the task done. My first grader, the shy one, is reading at almost a third grade level and seems to be having less anxiety about school this year - she has come a long way. Finally, my boy, my baby (if you count 3 1/2 as being a baby) is starting preschool next week. He has also just started daycare. It is the first time he has been away from me (except with family). He is trying hard to be brave, although it doesn't always work. My schedule has become much crazier in the past few weeks and everyone has been extremely understanding and helpful. It hasn't been entirely fuzzy warm and blissful. We have had our share of squabbles, tears and miscommunications but I couldn't ask for a better family.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Prompt Reaction - Week #3

Holding that little thing in my arms for the first time... I Can't let this prompt go by without writing about holding my children for the first time. I will spare you the details of pregnancy and childbirth because when you finally reach that moment of meeting your child for the first time all events leading up to that moment seem so foggy and distant. The lights are bright, the room is sterile and there are at least three unfamiliar people in the room with you but none of that seems to matter. Exhaustion is the last thing from your mind as you feel a rush of nervousness and anticipation when your bundled newborn is placed in your arms for the first time. It is a feeling of true contentment and accomplishment. At that moment you bond. It only takes a minute when your eyes meet and you understand that this is an unconditional love. The blur of activity subsides and you are finally left alone with this new family you have created and you think "holy shit - this is real. What if I don't know what to do?" After the initial smack of reality, you calm down and settle into a routine until the nurse brings you to the door on discharge day and sends you on your merry way. That is when you really panic and are thinking "you are really sending me home with this thing, aren't there any instructions?". Of course, you figure it out or it figures you out and you understand and marvel in what a miracle it is. It truly is a memory that is frozen in time and one upon which you look back on often.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

GRAF #6 - my uniqueness

I am a slightly obsessive compulsive, semi-organized, hardworking woman. I like my house and my children to be clean (not that they always are). I would like for my car to be neat and clean as well but that will never happen. I spend a lot of time driving in my minivan which, by the way, I vowed I would never own and drive. I have come a long way in admitting that I drive and even like to drive my minivan. I cannot start the day without a cup of coffee. I hit the floor running in the morning and I don't stop until my head hits the pillow which is not usually until 11:00 p.m. I rarely can sit down and appreciate my surroundings without feeling that I should be doing something constructive. With that said, I love to knit, sew and do anything "crafty". I guess that would be considered constructive. My most favorite outdoor activity is snowmobiling. I had my own snowmobile at one time but sold it in order to help with a down payment for our first house. I also love to garden but get frustrated because I am still learning and my plants keep dying or just don't come up at all. There are times when I hate being called "mommy" all day, every day but I love my kids more than anything. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful house that we have worked very hard for. I like to consider myself as a "stick with it" kind of person. I don't give up easily and sometimes am a sore loser. I am ethical and honest and would give anyone the shirt off my back. (why is this sounding like a job interview?) My favorite foods would include anything with seafood and/or cheese. I enjoy a good glass of wine with or without food and with or without company. A nice glass of wine at the end of a hard day is my secret recipe for being a better parent. Notice I said "A" glass of wine. Any more than two would make me bitchy, grumpy mom the next day. Yes, I am a lightweight. I asked my kids to think of a word to desribe me and the best they could come up with in their 30 second attention span was "mouse hater". That I am. I don't like rodents or bugs. I could do without pets although I have two white cats and one very large (120 lb.) black lab. I could go on and on with my little quirks but I think I have painted a fairly decent picture of myself.

GRAF #7 - Things

If I close my eyes I can almost smell the salty air mixed with the sweet, warm smell of sawdust. I can also feel the warmth of the sun on me as I sit in the grass looking for four-leafed clovers outside of my grandfather's workshop. I listen to the whine of his drill and wait for it to stop so he can come out and talk with me. How I loved listening to him talk. I loved his thick, scottish accent. When I was about 6 or 7 years old I would come from New Hampshire to Tenants Harbor, Maine every summer to visit with my grandparents for about a week. My grandfather, who moved from Scotland to the United States in his early 20's, loved working in his shop. His "shop" was actually a small 8 x 10 room at the back of his garage. He had every tool imaginable. He was not only creative with design but he was an incredibly detailed finish carpenter. He made shelves, bureaus, jewelry boxes and tables. I think his favorite things to make were the coffee tables which were an oblong octagon about 3 feet long and 1 1/2 feet wide. He would carefully cut hundreds of small, different colored, diamond shaped pieces of exotic woods and inlay them in a design in the tabletop. He mostly made an outline around the tabletop's perimeter and then a geometric design in the center. I don't know how many of these tables he made in his lifetime. I do know that at least four of my seven brothers and sisters has one, each one unique. My table is used as my bedside stand where I see it and use it every day. I often run my hand over the tabletop's incredible detail and think of my grandfather's hard work and think back to those simple Maine summers.