paralegal

Study Till You Drop

Ugh.

My brain is t…t…tired.

I ended up studying ALL DAY today.

No really. I took a shower, read. Ate lunch, read. Dodged Direct TV technicians (they had to come back – some sort of sound issue on TV #2), studied. Picked up boys, studied. Fixed dinner (I boiled ravioli, heated up some spaghetti sauce *BOOM* dinner), finished lesson two and got my answers into the forum before it expired. (The teacher gives us two weeks to complete an assignment before the forum closes).

And yes, you read that correctly, I finished lesson TWO.

I’m about four lessons behind now.

*SIGH*

You know, it never fails. I purposefully scheduled this class to start in the middle of September because I thought my regular work would slow down and I’d have the time.

Well, my work slowed down (sort of, one high school emailed their syllabi to me which was no less than 40 emails with about ten attachments a piece, and I so wish I were kidding), but we got a wild hair up our butts and decided to rip the carpets out of our living/dining room and put in hardwood floors. Kevin also decided that it was time we simplified our lives RIGHT NOW, so we spent a good two weeks going through junk and having a garage sale that I think was successful, overall. (We did put out a bunch of junk today for the Disabled Veteran’s of America to pick up, which really helped clean out our garage – Kevin can finally park his truck in the garage again.)

Not to mention, the excitement of running ALL over town to try and find cool pieces to decorate our new rooms with.

(I know, WAH. In fact, I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond today to buy a pumpkin-scented Yankee candle and while there, saw some pillows that would be perfect for our sofas – also? A shower curtain, which distracted me enough that now I think I want to redo our bathroom, too. Just a new paint job and artwork, nothing major).

I’m not complaining though, it’s been fun (actually, purging our junk, including our camper, was sort of therapeutic), I just wish it wasn’t happening right now.

October won’t be much better. Jazz has a competition scheduled every weekend this month (except for the very last weekend) and we are planning on driving to Tulsa next weekend to watch one of them, and there’s an overnight trip to St. Louis the weekend after that. In addition, I have another site to design, a NaNoWriMo project to outline, and the Fall library book sale is in a few weeks (which I absolutely want to go to so I can add some more books to my Amazon book store).

And let’s not forget this paralegal class. Which doesn’t sound like it? But really IS at the top of my priority list.

November will be even worse. Not only will the first class of this course be over (which means a final exam and there are five more courses to take before I complete it) and I’ll be starting the second course, I’ll also be busy writing my NaNoWriMo book (because there is no way I’m NOT doing NaNo this year), and it’s our turn to host Thanksgiving dinner for Kevin’s family this year, which means a thorough house cleaning and of course, baking.

And then December – CHRISTMAS and all that that entails. 😀

But you know? I’m okay with being this busy – it keeps me out of trouble. Truly. It’s when I get bored that I get myself into trouble.

But anyway, back to the paralegal course …

I was reading “Paralegal Career for Dummies” tonight, and was glad to read the following:

Ways to Train:

Certificate Program – If you’re interested in a paralegal career and have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in any field … a certificate program is perfect for you.

The paralegal personality:

You need the ability to reason. (Are you getting me? I over analyze how much toilet paper to use – sorry, too much information?)

You need to be reliable. I’m like a bug on poo – once I clamp onto something, it takes the jaws of life to pry it from my death grip.

Your work should be thorough. If anything, I’ll OVER research just so I don’t get myself, or the attorney I’m working for, into trouble.

You must be trustworthy and discrete. It’s hard to convey just HOW trustworthy I am, but the discrete part? Uh oh, no blogging about the work stuff, I’m afraid. Sorry Charlie.

Paralegal know how:

Writing Skills – one of the most important skills for a paralegal is good writing ability, including a strong command of grammar and sentence structure.

Hello writing degree?!?

Research Skills – basic research skills are essential to a successful paralegal career. Just point me in the right direction, load me up on coffee and I’ll take up residence.

Communication Skills – paralegal positions require lots of contact with other people. Uh oh. Though that’s not an aspect I’m particularly excited about, trust me when I say, I’m like a chameleon, when I set my mind to it? I can get along with everybody – just don’t read my thoughts, mmkay?

So after reading all of this? I’m encouraged. And I feel good about this career challenge. I think I can do this. I KNOW I can do this.

I just hope I’m not too old to START it, you know?

P.S. I just went back and re-read this post and honestly? I don’t even remember writing it, like five minutes ago. I have a feeling there are going to be quite a few incoherent posts published in the next two months – please bear with me.

And send coffee. I’ll put in a good word for you if I ever see you in court.

*giggle*

Do paralegals giggle? I must research that.

(Hey man, I’m playing peek-a-boo with my blog. Follow me on Twitter, or keep track of my posts via RSS or email. Thanks for humoring me, dude).

Life

Limping Around, Remodeling, Competition Starts

My back is out.

For those of you fortunate enough never to have experienced someone impaling your body with a thousand knives while you attempt to stand in an upright position, or have ten small people jump your back at the same time so that it is physically impossible to straighten entirely until you have the strength to shake them off and then take a few shaky steps, let me just tell ya …

It AIN’T fun.

It’s weird, really. My back hasn’t conked out on me in quite some time, so I sort of forgot what a complete NUISANCE it is. I mean, life can not, and will not, stop simply because I’m having trouble getting from point A to point B. So, I have to continue living my life while I grind my teeth and bite my lip all in the name of being a big girl and dealing with it.

I never really know what triggers these “attacks.” Though I have deduced that there is some correlation between not walking on a regular basis (which is certainly true lately, I can’t even tell you the last time I was on the treadmill), lifting something that is either too heavy for me to handle and I’m too stubborn to accept that, or I’m lifting with my back instead of my legs, or more likely a combination of the two, and … stress.

Stress people. Who the hell DOESN’T have stress in their life on a regular basis??

Apparently? I’m a pansy ass and whenever I’m under any sort of stress, my back screams like a little girl and goes into hiding taking my spine, strength and dignity with it.

I am mobile because I force myself to be mobile. I am way too stubborn to simply lie around and wait for the damn thing to heal – that takes days – who has days to lie around?

I certainly don’t.

So, I grit my teeth and I get through it. Because really, what choice do I have?

*****

Yesterday was fun. Our new 52″ TV came. Fifty-two inches! That’s almost obscene, really. Kevin has been wanting a big-screen TV ever since the suckers came out five years ago and when the price tag was enough to make a normally sane person pull his/her hair out.

I vetoed the idea. Are you kidding me?? I wasn’t about to spend that much money on a TV and besides, where in the world would we put it?

But when we got rid of our old entertainment center (actually, we still have it. Kevin’s dad built it and he’s having a hard time parting with it, though he’s getting to the point where he’s sick of looking at it and we might end up taking an ax to it and burning it this winter – I kid, sort of) and we went shopping for a new one, and most of the new ones accommodate these monster TV’s, well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, I guess.

Kev found a really good deal through Sam’s Club. It was an LED/LCD with high resolution and the dimensions were just right to fit in this entertainment center space. The snafu came when we realized, we’re not members of Sam’s Club. Mainly because I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to PAY a company so I can shop with them. Seriously. No offense to the Sam’s Club members out there, but that’s just asinine to me.

And yet, here we are, $40 later, now full-fledged members of Sam’s Club all so we could buy this monster TV.

*Side Note: Kevin and I went to Sam’s Club the other day, just to walk around and see what they had. And ten years later (because that’s about the length of time it’s been since I was even in a Sam’s Club), I’m STILL NOT IMPRESSED. I truly don’t get the attraction people. Can you explain it to me? I’m paying to shop. It’s all so lame!!)

Anyhoo … the TV finally arrived yesterday and this thing really is a monster. It’s huge. I could use it as a life raft, if the thing were water proof, floated, and you know, didn’t electrocute me, but you know what I mean.

A few hours later, our entertainment center arrived. We’ve been waiting on this thing for a week now and wouldn’t you know our luck? Both items arrived on the same day.

The delivery guys unloaded it and then set it up for us. I must say, it’s growing on me.

Okay fine, it’s not growing on me, it’s grown on me – I love it. This is by far the fanciest piece of furniture we have ever owned.

In addition, we bought two matching tables, we put one here and bought this pretty/funky lamp to put on it …

… and this little table where we put our tiny dragonfly Tiffany lamp.

Kevin contacted Direct TV and they came out this morning to hook the HDTV cable up.

Kevin then attached our subwoofer so now our neighbors can hear the ‘splosions whenever we watch TV.

*Side note: ‘Splosions is how Dude said explosions. When we asked him what he liked the most about video games, he said in a sweet, little boy voice, “‘splosions.” We’ve said it like that ever since. Mainly just to embarrass the kid. hehe

Our living room is nearly finished. Now I just need to figure out what to put on the walls and what sort of drapes to hang.

Piece of cake.

(Help!)

*****

Jazz’s first marching band competition is this Saturday in Oklahoma. We wanted to drive down there and watch, but we didn’t want to have to drive back home at two o’clock in the morning. I’ll just have to wait to hear from Jazz how it goes.

The band has another competition in Oklahoma next weekend and the finals start a little earlier on that one, so we plan on driving down and watching. I hope the weather is nice because a marching competition in the rain? Would totally suck. (Do they even still have the competition if it rains?)

The weekend after that, we’re all driving up to St. Louis to watch the Band Over America competition. I can’t wait for that one – it’s huge and it’s so fun to see all of the creative bands. We’ll spend the night and watch the second round of competition the next day before learning if Jazz’s band made the finals or not.

*****

Jazz gets his school picture taken tomorrow. I had to pick out his shirt so I could pick out the background color so I could complete his picture form. I tried to give the kid a chance to pick something out, but he didn’t care and allowed me to do the honors.

I guess Dude is not going to have his school picture taken. I’m really bummed about that. We went and had his senior picture made, which is what he’s using for the yearbook, but I still would have liked to have his picture made.

However, Kevin and I will take him down by the lake or someplace and take some pictures of him with our Canon. I have to have some pictures of the boy – he’s a senior! He won’t be a senior ever again! (I hope. Well, there’s a senior in college and he’ll be considered a senior when he’s an old man, but let’s not split hairs).

Sometimes I look at these boys and wonder where in the world they came from. It’s hard to believe Kevin and I cooked them up out of nowhere.

It’s funny how we “evolved” like that, isn’t it. *wink*

Can We Talk?

Please Stand By

So I feel like I have some explaining to do.

This whole “now you see my blog, now you don’t thing” is new. Actually, it’s an experiment.

Actually, it’s annoying.

Be honest. I can take it.

But I like it. And I dare say, I will continue the peek-a-boo blog show for a while longer, if you will indulge me.

Here’s why I like it: because it perfectly sums up my personality. I’m one of those people who sort of fades into the background at parties, only to resurface and offer a soft, genuine smile of acknowledgment or to inject a funny sentence or thought into a random conversation. I think my personality might be a bit too much, full strength. It might be better, for all parties concerned, if I dilute my thoughts, rants and daily mutterings and sort of space them out over a week’s time, instead of subjecting you poor people to daily doses.

And I like it because I don’t feel like I’m constantly on display. I can be me. I can write when I feel like it and not stress if I haven’t written something before midnight. I don’t have to worry about whether Google is cataloging me, or if I’m losing readers. When I have something to say, I can say it and not have to count the number of times I’ve hit the publish button in a 24-hour period.

Some days, like today, I can post three times and not feel guilty that I’m overwhelming someone’s RSS feed. Or, I can go days without publishing anything simply because I have nothing to say and am feeling introspective and quiet.

I know it’s hard to believe, but there are days I feel quiet. There are days I can hardly stand being in the same room as my family. I want nothing to do with them. I would much prefer to get lost in a book, or to find a quiet corner and write nonsense, or to pop a DVD in and watch several episodes from my favorite TV shows.

That’s how I feel about blogging my thoughts. Sometimes, I simply have nothing to say. Those are the days I post nonsense, videos, jokes … stupid things.

And I always feel guilty after doing that. This is my journal, my life. It’s personal. I don’t want to leave silly, inconsequential things behind for my family to read (and chances are, those videos, links, jokes will no longer exist at that time period, anyway).

I’ve turned comments off. Not because I’m not interested in what you have to say, but because I feel like I can be me, uncensored. I have no intention of offending anyone, it’s better for me, as a person if I’m forced to weigh my opinions with fairness, but I’m tired of walking on eggshells. My husband frowns whenever I imply anything remotely bad about him. My mother gets annoyed with me whenever I talk about my childhood and inevitably get it wrong.

I have very loud thoughts and sharp opinions – I can’t help that. And I resent it whenever I can’t say what I want to say, on my own journal.

I’ve thought about keeping this journal completely private, and I reserve the right to make it private at some future point, but for now, I enjoy putting my words out there, but only on my terms. It’s hard to explain, perhaps I’m a bit narcissistic in one respect, having the urge to have other people read my thoughts, but I don’t want to disappear from the blog-o-sphere entirely, just partially.

I know none of this makes sense to you, or perhaps, it does on some weird level. All I know is, I am feeling more relaxed about this journal in a long time and it is once again, fun for me.

I hope it’s fun for you.

If you don’t feel like clicking over every day to see if I’ve stepped back into the light, or want to keep track of my Twitter stream, 24/7, you could always subscribe to my RSS feed, or, if email is more your thing, subscribe by email. I always allow my blog to stay live long enough for the search engines to find me before going dark again.

I apologize for my crazy antics, but well, this is me.

Life

Is College a Rip Off?

This issue weighs heavily on my mind right now. Why? Because Dude graduates from high school this year and our natural inclination is to send him off to college.

But should he go? Is it really a good idea?

Let’s back up a bit …

We started digesting this whole college, to go or not to go, issue about five years ago when one of our nephews decided to skip college and go right into the work force. He had the motivation and discipline to teach himself everything there is to know about Flash while in high school. He made entire websites in Flash just to practice his knowledge and he wowed the right people. His work was recognized, and appreciated, and an up-and-coming computer agency offered him a job, which he wisely took, shortly after he graduated. (This up-and-coming agency has since been recognized by Apple and is currently bringing in high-dollar clients. I’d say the kid did pretty well for himself).

Though the situation was pretty unusual and there was really no other option than to take the job, we wondered if skipping college was really the way to go. I mean, work experience is pretty important, I won’t dispute that, in fact, I think too many people nowadays don’t put enough emphasis on work experience, but let’s say, at some point down the road, our nephew is ready to move up, to be promoted and it’s between him and another dude, equally talented, equally hard working, but who has a college degree.

I think the dude with the college degree may win out. Would it be fair? No. But it would be realistic.

I don’t know what it is about that hard-earned piece of paper, but sometimes just having it can open doors, or offer more opportunities, for an individual. Speaking as someone who used to hire people, I looked at work experience, but I looked more closely at those individuals with both work experience AND a college degree. Because even though it’s important for people to have work experience, to know what it takes to work in, and around, the public, I also think it’s important to have the college experience.

And not just for the education aspect, but for the thinking aspect. Though I learned a lot from my own college experience, I think one of the biggest lessons I took away from college was how to relate to people. College taught me so much about the world in general. It taught me to think outside the box, to appreciate, and respond, to opposing views as well as how to persuade (or manipulate, if you want to be honest) people.

To me, those are valuable, invaluable really, tools when dealing with people, especially people in the working world.

Going to college also helps mold and shape your expectations, ideals and maturity level. You’d be hard pressed to find a college graduate not admit he/she is a different person than when he/she began the college experience.

So we wondered, and we still wonder, if not going to college will affect our nephew long term. Only time will tell, I suppose.

The next big thing that got me thinking about college pros and cons, was a report by John Stossel on 20/20. I found the video on YouTube, take a gander:

Did you catch what Suzie Orman says about college?

“I have to tell ya, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Orman says, college is a good idea, if you have the grades (i.e. smarts) to back it up to become a doctor, or a lawyer, but others should reassess the value of a generic bachelor’s degree.

So what’s the alternative for the “average” kid?

A vocational school?

“More people need to realize that you don’t need a four-year degree to be successful.”

I absolutely agree.

And this knowledge is something we plan on sharing with Dude. The “what to do with your life” talk is coming up – fast. And when Kevin and I sit down with Dude, we want to give him all the facts, the pros and cons of going to college or not, and try and steer him in the direction he wants to go. The problem is, he probably won’t know.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life at 18, did you? In fact, going to college was the LAST thing on my mind when I was 18. Heck, I was thrilled that I even graduated from high school, the LAST thing I wanted to do was go back and do more schooling.

And though as Dude’s parent, I would like to see him go on to college, either a university or a trade school, is he emotionally ready to take it seriously?

How many parents push their kids off to college, wipe their hands and think their job is over? How many kids do you think are mature enough to handle college? To take it seriously? The LAST thing I want for Dude is to send him off to college and he just blows it off, thereby wasting all the money he paid for his classes.

And if we send Dude to school, are we paying for it?

Kevin and I have had loooooong conversations about this very topic, and quite frankly, nothing has really been decided on that yet, though we’re leaning toward possibly paying for his first year (to whatever school he decides to attend) and then making him pay for the rest. And we plan on helping him budget and figure out a way he can do that WITHOUT taking out student loans.

Student loans will eventually strangle you, if you’re not careful. We plan on suggesting that Dude work AND go to school at the same time, perhaps paying for his classes as he goes along. Yes, it will take him longer to get through school, but he’ll appreciate his education more if he pays for his own schooling AND he won’t graduate with a ton of debt starting out. If that means he needs to live with us to save himself on rent, utilities and food (though we fully expect him to contribute some money toward living expenses), then so be it. We would love to have him around, and it would help the kid manage his finances in a smart and economical way.

That’s our current plan, at any rate. But it could all fall apart, or change, if he happens to land a job with a promising career with a good company. Who knows.

This whole go to a university, go to a trade school, or don’t go to school at all is weighing heavily on my mind. We don’t want to give the kid bad advice, but on the other hand, we hope he’ll have the presence of mind to weigh what he would LIKE to do against can he make any money DOING it. Going to school to say, major in writing, SOUNDS good (*ahem*), but exactly what type of job can you land DOING it?

*Side Note: I never really had any expectations of landing a job actually using the degree I graduated with [technical writing] because Springfield simply doesn’t cater to that industry – I’d have had to move to either coast to get a job in that field. However, having that writing degree will serve as a springboard to something that requires good writing skills, like this paralegal path I’m pursuing, and give me an edge against my competitors. Which is another pro for going to college, an edge.

I think the most important lessons we can teach Dude as far as his future is:

1. Keep your options open. Be willing to change your plans if something more lucrative comes along.

But with that said …

2. Set goals. Though we want to teach him to keep his options open, he’ll need to eventually (and that’s sooner rather than later), decide on a path. If he drags his feet and doesn’t decide on anything, years will go by and nothing will be accomplished. He’ll be at a stand still and possibly living with us when he’s 30.

Um, no.

3. Be willing to work as an intern, an assistant or even do some volunteer work in the field he’s interested in. Most times, just getting a foot in the door is all it takes to be accepted and offered a paying job.

Volunteering to re-design and maintain our sons’ school websites is what led to my current (paying) position as webmaster for ten local schools. This NEVER would have happened if I hadn’t volunteered for the job to begin with.

4. Be flexible. Just because your degree has a “title” doesn’t mean you have to get a job with that title. Look for ways you can use that knowledge in different fields. (Like me planing on using my writing degree as an added bonus to landing a paralegal job – paralegals are required to be pretty good writers as well as proficient in research and analytical skills).

The bottom line? College is not necessarily the answer to a successful life. Sure. It can be a starting point, and it might prove useful down the road (like if you’re competing for a promotion against someone who doesn’t have a degree, or a springboard to a field that’s related to your degree), but it’s not necessarily the ONLY option.

Michelle, over at Scribbit, has written an interesting, and informative, series on Preparing Our Kids for Life. I recommend giving it a read, she makes some excellent points.

I know Dude is both excited and scared about starting a new life after high school, we’re just as scared and excited for him, but the kid is smart, and he has options – that’s a strong start.

Our job is to help guide him on whatever path he decides to pursue.

Parenting

Football is Hard on the Brain

I read an article in the New York Times today (which is a shocker in itself because I pretty much loathe the New York times) about the possible correlation between football and brain damage.

The article cites a young college man who committed suicide and when the parents gave permission for examiners to autopsy his brain, they “discovered early stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease linked to depression and impulse control primarily among N.F.L. players, two of whom also committed suicide in the last 10 years.”

Even though the doctors are being careful to say that though the young man had this brain disease and played football, it’s not necessarily the reason he hung himself.

BUT, they are noticing this same disorder in other football players that have committed suicide over the years.

Thomas never had a diagnosis of a concussion on or off the football field or even complained of a headache, his parents said, although they acknowledged he was the kind of player who might have ignored the symptoms to stay on the field. Because of this, several doctors said, his C.T.E. — whose only known cause is repetitive brain trauma — must have developed from concussions he dismissed or from the thousands of subconcussive collisions he withstood in his dozen years of football, most of them while his brain was developing.

The idea that C.T.E. can stem from hits below the level of concussion — which are endemic to football and all but impossible for doctors to see or manage — is relatively new.

They now wonder if years of being pummeled to death all in the name of playing a good game might have something to do with this CTE.

And at the risk of sounding insensitive – duh.

I have never understood the appeal. I can’t imagine why anyone would knowingly put themselves in a situation where they will routinely be beat up – sometimes severely and often times to the point where they are actually injured. I don’t see how butting heads, quite literally, play after play, game after game, and year after year, (starting as early as Mighty Mites) could possibly do anything BUT injure someone’s brain.

It all seems like pointless torture, in my opinion. And for what, exactly, a game?!?

Now granted, our boys are anything BUT athletic. In fact, they will be the first to tell you that they hate sports. All sports, all the time. They just aren’t interested. So, I’ve never had to worry about them getting hurt in that arena. (So to speak). But even if they HAD expressed an interest in sports, football specifically (because even though an individual can get hurt in any sport, hell, one can get injured just crossing the street sometimes, that person is less likely to get hurt than willingly participating in a contact sport like football where the whole objective is to tackle, and knock each other down as fast and as hard as one can possibly achieve), I am pretty sure we would have vetoed that idea.

Actually, there’s not pretty sure, we would have said, “no way in hell.”

I was directed to this article in the New York Times through a blog. This woman was talking about how she’s nervous for her son, who eats, sleeps and lives for football and how even though she’s scared something like this might happen to her son, she can’t live her life in fear of it happening.

And I agree with her – you can’t live your life in fear and that should never stop you from living your life in a responsible and safe way. But I have to disagree with her willingness to sacrifice her son to repeated abuse on the football field. Even though her son will likely not develop CTE, or mess his brain up to the point where he takes his own life (God forbid), how does she know that his repeated abuse on the field isn’t taking SOME sort of toll on his brain and possibly causing long-term issues?

Accidents happen, of course. But this goes beyond accidents – this is willingly, and knowingly, placing a child in a dangerous situation, not once, but every day, week, year of his young life.

Again, I ask … why? All for the sake of a game? I just don’t understand why anyone would risk a life-altering illness, or injury all for the sake of those few minutes in the end zone?

Please understand, I’m not criticizing this woman’s decision, or any parents’ decision to allow their sons to play football, not at all, they have the freedom to make those choices, and if the kids are willing and love it, then by all means, go for it.

I just wonder how many parents truly think about the possible repercussions – to me, the odds of my sons permanently damaging themselves are just too high for me, I’m not willing to play that particular game of Russian Roulette.

We all went to a football game this past Friday night at my sons’ high school – Jazz was playing in the band at half time, which is the only reason we were there to begin with. I like to watch football, and I like the sport, overall, though I’m now seriously reconsidering my opinions on the sport after reading this article and thinking how the sport impacts these young men as individuals, and two of our players got injured. The crowd got deathly quiet as we awaited word on the boys’ conditions.

The first time it happened, I watched one of the coaches talk to the mother, explaining the situation to her. From what I can gather, he broke his arm. He was taken off the field in the golf cart.

The second time, the boy was able to get up on his own, but walked with a noticeable limp. I believe he sat out for a few plays, but ended up back in the game. His father was sitting right in front of me and he didn’t move a muscle when his son was lying on the field. He didn’t move when he was escorted off the field, and still didn’t move to find out what was happening when they were looking at him on the side lines.

I simply don’t understand how any parent could simply sit there and not at least go down to see how his child was doing. I mean, I get the whole, “we’re in high school and OMG, parents are so dumb and uncool and don’t talk to me,” stigma – I have two teenage boys myself, remember? But when the child has been injured, all bets are off.

Even though the boys were physically injured, after reading this article, I wonder how many boys went home after that game with a headache, or feeling woozy, or just not feeling “right” overall. I’ve seen several kids weave off the field and act disoriented and again I have to ask, how could they NOT be disoriented after being treated like a punching bag for an hour?

I guess the point of this post is to raise awareness of the dangers of participating in football. I mean, it seems the “cool” thing to brag about, “my kid is in such-and-such sport” but at what cost? Both short term and long term?

I can’t tell you the number of weird looks I’ve received over the years whenever I’ve talked to parents and they ask, “what sport does your son play” and my answer has been, “none. He’s a geek and we’re cool with that.” It annoys me that they assume that our sons are in something because it seems the “norm” for them to play something.

Though I wish they had gotten involved in some team … activity, these things really are a great tool to teach our children the importance of working together as a team and sportsmanship, I have to be honest, I’m really glad they never got involved in anything that could potentially rattle their brains.

The Thomas case will almost certainly prove more arresting to those assessing the long-term risks of football at all levels, as he had developed the disease before leaving college and, for reasons that remain unknown, developed severe depression and killed himself.

“It’s pretty hard to make a jump with one case,” said Dr. James Moriarity, the University of Notre Dame’s head physician, who oversees the athletic department’s medical care. “But if it’s true that that happened, it would kill the sport,” he said, referring to an amateur player getting C.T.E. “As a parent, it’s going to be hard to justify kids going out and doing that.”

Maybe we need to seriously reassess this sport for what it is – downright dangerous.

Life

Simplifying

If you were following my tweets, then you know that we had a garage sale this past weekend. We remodeled our living room and our dining room (we’re not done, obviously), and we had a lot of furniture we wanted to get rid of. In addition, Kevin has been bugging me for quite some time to have a sale so we could get rid of some junk up in the attic … so, having no choice (because really, our junk was starting to own us, not the other way around), I caved and we had our garage sale.

Once I gave the green light, Kevin went berserk – he wanted to sell everything. He was on a mission to simplify our lives. Which I don’t have a problem with, per se, but … but nothing, I guess. I’m not exactly the kind of person who has a problem with getting rid of things and I’m not exactly the sentimental type, but still … it feels weird to have your stuff on display, stuff that you’ve had for years, that have memories attached to them, and have someone examine that stuff with disdain before deciding they want to buy it or not.

I made a list. And it was quite an impressive list, if you want the truth. And the items that topped that list? Our camper Cub and our canoe.

I listed our garage sale on Craigslist Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, I had two emails waiting on me – one wanted to know how much we wanted for the camper, the other one was interested in the four mountain bikes I had listed. (Yep. We got rid of our bikes. We never rode them – though we have had some great times taking them on the trails, but we hadn’t used them in years and they were just taking up space).

The guy interested in our camper wanted to come over right away and take a look at it. We told him to come over and I immediately went out to the camper and started clearing it out. We hadn’t opened the thing in two years and I wanted to clean it up and sweep it out before the guy arrived.

And the guy arrived, right in the middle of me carrying out a laundry basket full of crap.

To top it off, it was terribly hot Thursday, so I looked pretty rough (though had had the foresight to at least take a shower and put on my face, thank goodness).

The guy looked it over pretty thoroughly. Kevin and I made sure to tell him all about the tiny flaws with the camper. (The canvas leaks if it rains really hard – be sure to keep it saturated with waterproof repellent. It needs to be covered, or water will pool on the canvas and be a mess when it’s opened again, the shower had a crack and we never used it, though the toilet seemed to work just fine …etc).

Though the guy listened to us, he acted a bit annoyed that we were telling him all of this stuff. I think he loved it right off the bat and didn’t want to hear the bad stuff. But we didn’t want to get a phone call weeks down the road from the guy complaining about something that went wrong – we loved our camper, but it had problems. He needed to know what those warts were.

We tagged behind him as he checked it out (he even got on his knees to look underneath it – the guy had on dress slacks and a tie, I hope he didn’t get too dirty), and after about fifteen minutes listening to us spout off the pros and cons, he said, “I’ll take it.”

He didn’t even try to negotiate the price. He said he needed to go to the bank to get a small loan and would be back later in the day to seal the deal.

We were ecstatic, and just a little shell shocked, to be honest. We hadn’t been prepared to really show the camper until the next day (hence the reason it hadn’t been cleaned out yet), and we hadn’t been ENTIRELY sure we wanted to get rid of it, but it was a done deal and there was no turning back.

We had sold our Cub. *sniff*

The guy came back, as promised, with the cash and wanted to check out the water system.

*Side Note – we also had hooked up the electricity so he could check to make sure the lights came on and the fridge worked – which it did, beautifully, by the way. We were rather impressed that everything worked so good considering it had been sitting idle for two years in our backyard.

Fine. We hooked the water hose up and I turned on the water. The cold water came out fine, but the hot water … nothing. The guy said fine and Kevin suggested he check out the pipes under the sink.

So, I opened up the doors and was HORRIFIED to see there was about two inches of water under the sink!!! Kevin turned off the water and I got on my hands and knees and started mopping up the water using a roll of paper towels while the guys started investigating the cause of the leak.

The verdict? The hot water tank had burst because someone had forgotten to winterize it this past winter.

OOPS.

My heart sank. I was afraid the guy would call off the deal, but Kevin offered to knock a few hundred off the price so he could buy a new tank and the guy accepted. So even though we didn’t get as much as we wanted out of the deal, we still got more than we expected. I’m just SO GLAD that Kevin had the foresight to have us look under the sink because we would much rather have that happen in front of all of us than for the guy to get it out in the boonies somewhere and discover it then.

Again, we wanted all of the flaws well known to all parties.

He brought his wife and two small girls (who were SO CUTE) back with him to haul it away. He had his father-in-law’s Suburban because he wasn’t sure his blazer would be able to pull it. We cautioned him that it would probably pull it, but it would put terrible strain on his transmission and he might end up having to replace the transmission at some point (that had happened to us).

His wife and two girls were so excited!! The oldest little girl asked, “Can I play in it, daddy?” She was so sweet.

We had left some goodies for them in the camper. We had bought some globe lights to string on the awning, but had never used them, so we let them have it. We also had a small propane BBQ grill that we let them have, too. Oh, and we had bought a cover for it (the last one disintegrated) and we had thrown that in with the price, too. In addition, we gave them the toaster, a picnic table table cloth, and other small odds and ends that would make camping a little easier.

It really warmed our hearts to help this young family out and though we were sad to see our camper go, it was nice to see it would be enjoyed by others.

(However, our camping days are not likely over. Kevin and were talking today about possibly doing a cross-country trek after the kids got off on their own. We’d buy a small, compact camper [NO FOLD OUT BEDS] and would store it at a facility so we didn’t have to worry about protecting it from the elements. Oh yes, we have this all figured out. Well, I do. I still have to convince Kevin that it’s a good idea. *grin*)

After the guy and his family left, Kevin and I worked on organizing the rest of the stuff we wanted to sell. His mom, dad and uncle came by and Kevin and his uncle got the canoe down (Kevin had stored it on some joists) and moved it outside. Not thirty minutes later, I received an email from a neighbor who had seen the canoe and wanted to buy it.

Yay! We got rid of our canoe!

*Side Note: That canoe was a total surprise to me. I came home from work one night and came upon it in the garage. We had been looking at them, but we hadn’t been serious about buying. So, when I was gone, Kevin went and bought the sucker without me. I was quite annoyed with him and it’s been the subject of jokes between us ever since. The stinker.

At 9:00 Friday morning, we opened up shop. Nearly all of our “good” and “big” items sold within the hour. We were flabbergasted and thrilled to get rid of so much stuff. We sold quite a few things on Friday and though we opened up Saturday, we didn’t sell nearly as much as we had. Granted, everything that was left was rather junky, but still, we were a bit disappointed.

Kevin had had a bunch of left over wood from various projects in the shed and he put the wood out by the side of the house with a giant FREE sign next to it. We went out to buy dinner Friday night and when we came back it was all gone!

He hurriedly took the FREE signs down saying he didn’t want someone to try and take our house! ha!

All in all, we got rid of a ton of things, but we still have quite a stash to discard. We’re thinking we’re going to take the reusable, “good” stuff up to Goodwill, take the TV’s to a recycle center and call 1-800-GOT-JUNK to take the rest off our hands.

I have to say, I loathe garage sales, but I’m really happy we went through with this one. We made some money and got rid of a lot of stuff.

Now we have room for more stuff.

Did I mention that our new entertainment center and TV are due to arrive on Tuesday?

😀

Life

His Senior Picture

Dude’s senior pictures finally came back …

I’m pleased with them, but I wish he hadn’t been sick when we had them made.

Dude suffers from allergies at this time of year: ragweed just kills him. He had the sniffles and his eyes were itching the week leading up to this picture, hence the redness around his eyes. He looks like this the entire month of September. I could have had them touch it up a bit, but I opted out of that. You can’t tell in the black and whites and that’s what will be published in the yearbook, so we’re good.

Dude was a reluctant participate in this picture. He didn’t want his picture taken at all, let alone take part in one of those fancy-smancy senior portrait packages (you know, where you change clothes and do several poses). I was lucky to get this out of the boy, quite frankly.

I went out and bought this black shirt for him. I even took it to the dry cleaners so they could launder it and spray it with light starch. The tie is Kevin’s. I think it looks quite dashing with the black shirt.

*Side note: I went through last year’s yearbook to see how the other guys dressed and to my surprise, most of them wore a dress shirt and tie. In fact, an impressive number of guys even wore a suit, though I didn’t think Dude would want to wear a suit, not to mention, we didn’t have a suit jacket that he could wear – Kevin’s would have been too big.

I can’t believe how grown up he looks. He looks … like a man, like an individual, like his own person … definitely not the boy I raised. I can’t believe our oldest son is now a man.

*****

I’m nervous about his future. But at the same time, I’m looking forward to watching him pick his destiny. For example, I asked him today how he did on his Business Law test …

“I got a “B”.”

I was surprised. And yet, I wasn’t. This kid is smart. He has the potential, he just lacks the motivation.

I can’t imagine where he gets that trait from.

“So, answer me honestly,” I said. “Is there anything about this Business Law course that interests you? Do you think you might like to pursue it as a career?”

“I don’t know,” he said. I was surprised that he actually considered the question before answering. “It’s pretty boring.”

“I want to be a Band Director,” Jazz piped up. (We were having this conversation while eating lunch together).

“That sounds like fun,” I said, “but you might not make much money doing that.”

I’ve been trying to gently (or not so gently, you decide), dropping hints about the future to the boys. They need to start thinking (especially Dude since he graduates this year) about their futures. What do they want to do?

I don’t expect them to make a concrete decision now, but it would be nice if they at least knew if they wanted to go to college, work, or maybe both.

Kevin and I plan on sitting Dude down in the next month or so and have a serious talk with him about what he wants to do after graduation. Dude brought some papers home the other day from a senior meeting he had at school and it recommends that if the kids are planning on going to college next fall, NOW is the time to start applying.

I’m not exactly panicked by this, but it’s definitely something to think about. I think we’re going to take Dude on a tour of MSU (Missouri State University – that’s where Kevin and I graduated), and OTC (Ozarks Technical College – a great place to go to get the required courses out of the way for MUCH cheaper) just to get him used to the idea of going to college somewhere. We’ll also pick up some catalogs and talk about various fields he might like to pursue.

We will also have a heart-to-heart talk about our expectations for him if he wants to continue living with us after graduation. We would love to have him around, but there will be rules he will be expected to live by. What those rules are are still being discussed, but the bottom line? The boy will DO something with himself. Whether that’s get a job, go to school, or more preferably, work AND go to school (either full or part time, whatever he feels like he can handle).

*****

The photography session didn’t last that long. We only purchased the senior picture package because it was the cheapest. We really just wanted one really good picture of him to put in the year book. We’ll likely take him out for more pictures later – like in this next month when the leaves are turning. We can easily take some really great pictures of him with our Canon Rebel and save ourselves the hundreds of dollars we’d spend having it professionally done.

He’d likely be more relaxed anyhow.

While we were waiting for him to be called back, we sat down. Dude sat in a chair, and I sat on the sofa, right next to a curled up black cat. I ignored it. I don’t dislike animals, I can just take them or leave them.

But, as usually happens whenever I’m around animals, the cat took an interest in me. (Probably because I ignored it. Do cats have the alpha-male thing like dogs do?) He climbed onto my lap, and I petted it, but wasn’t really into it. I was trying to look at samples the studio had laid out. So, the cat walked across my lap and into Dude’s lap.

Dude loved it. He loves animals. In fact, I’ve suggested to him in the past that he might look at going to veterinary school. I think he’d be so good at that job. He’s such a gentle soul and animals really respond to him.

The people at the studio were shocked that the cat was sitting on his lap. They said that he didn’t usually behave that way and was, in fact, sometimes aggressive with people. (Which begs the question, WHY allow the cat around customers in the first place??)

The cat served to calm Dude down. I don’t think he was terribly nervous about having his picture made, but he wasn’t exactly happy about it, either. I suppose I should thank the cat for that relaxed smile you see up there.

While Dude was having his picture taken, the cat climbed back onto my lap and instead of curling up on my lap, stretched out on my chest. I think it was a test of wills from that point on. Again, whatever. I don’t dislike animals – I’m more indifferent to them. I petted him, and softly talked to him, but he didn’t bother me overly much.

The studio people were a bit horrified by the cat’s behavior, actually. They asked me if they wanted them to remove him from my person (and honestly, if I worked there, I wouldn’t have asked because if the cat was aggressive and could potentially scratch/bite a customer, I wouldn’t take the chance to begin with), but I said he was fine and there we both sat until Dude came back out.

Dude was QUITE amused that the cat was using me as his sofa.

And that was it. The session was over. We got to look through several pictures, which were all good, quite frankly, and Dude picked out the pose he liked the best. We ordered our prints and we left.

The whole thing didn’t even last twenty minutes, tops.

I went back a week later and picked up the prints. They gave us two black-and-whites for the yearbook and Dude turned them into the journalism department.

And that’s it. This part of the senior experience is over for Dude. Like I said, Kevin and I will take him somewhere pretty and take some more pictures of him (whether he likes it or not – heh) because this is such an important time for Dude. It’s his last year of high school …

It’s his last year of high school.

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen – I Love Cupcakes (Part Two)

Anyone else watch Cupcake Wars? I really dig watching the Food Networks’ food challenges and the cupcake wars are just … well, they’re cute.

Anyhoo … I thought it would be fun to highlight the Cupcakes from the Family Fun site in case anyone out there is hankering to decorate any cupcakes any time soon.

And if you need anyone to test those cupcakes for you, just let me know. 😀

(There are more cute cupcakes over here).

1. N is For Nest Cupcake

2. O is For Octopus Cupcake

3. P is For Pig Cupcake

4. Q is For Queen Cupcake

5. R is For Rose Basket Cupcake

6. S is For Shark Cupcake

7. T is For Tepee Cupcake

8. U Is for Unicorn Cupcake

9. V Is For Vampire Cupcake

10. W Is For Worms Cupcake

11. X Is For Xylophone Cupcake

12. “Y” Is for Yellow Jacket Cupcake

13. Z Is For Zoo Cupcake

Which cupcake is your favorite?

Band

Let the Games Begin

Marching season is upon us!!!

I know I get insanely excited about marching season, but I can’t help it. I see how much Jazz loves it and it just warms my heart that he is in an extracurricular activity.

The program is ten times better than last year, in my opinion. We only get to see bits at a time – we saw the first two sets marched at the August parent preview and they added another set when they marched at half-time at the last football game – it’s good, it’s really good.

The name of the show is “No Strings Attached” and it’s about dancing marionettes. The kids start out the show on the ground, in various discarded doll poses and then begin their program. There is one section where they all come together and march really fast, narrowly by-passing each other in formation. It’s quite impressive.

They haven’t blocked the fourth, and final, set yet, so we’re not sure how it ends, but we’re loving what we see so far. Unfortunately, I haven’t really heard the music. It’s so noisy at the football games that I can’t hear it, but I’m sure it’ll be beautiful and challenging – the band director is sort of known for picking that sort of music.

I think our kids have a real shot at winning this year. It would be so great if they actually made the finals at Band Over America this year. (They didn’t make finals last year. And I can see why. Their show, though beautiful, just wasn’t flashy enough to compete).

Jazz has the same uniform as last year. I am pretty sure this will be the last time he’ll be able to wear it, it’s pretty tight. In fact, I can’t believe he’s able to breathe in that jacket. He’ll definitely have to get a bigger size next year.

His first competition is next week in Tulsa Oklahoma. The week after that, he has another one in Oklahoma, but in Broken Arrow. We plan on driving down there and watching. It’s only about two hours away – I can handle being on the road for four hours in one day.

I’m excited. I love these competitions. It’s so fun to watch the formations, to marvel at the costumes and listen to the music. It’s an uplifting experience.

Here’s to a successful 2010 marching season!