30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 24 Sunset

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This is a panoramic picture of the sunset I took with my iPhone. Texas has the most beautiful sunsets, and I am frequently snapping pictures and exclaiming, “look how pretty the sky is!” to my friends and family. They kind of roll their eyes and try to have patience for me to snap my pictures with enthusiasm. I don’t really care. I love sunsets, and I love natural beauty. In fact, the sunsets are one of my favorite things about living in Texas. The land is pretty flat where I live, so the sky is big! Every night, the sky is alive with color and form. This one isn’t the most colorful or the picture with the most shapes, but in general the overall impression of the sky was breathtaking. It makes me feel small in this universe.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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31 Day Music Challenge: A Song You Used to Love but Now You Hate

English: Image of English singer Ed Sheeran

English: Image of English singer Ed Sheeran (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAWcs5H-qgQ

The A Team” by Ed Sheeran is a song I used to love but now I hate.  Hate is a strong word, so I had some trouble finding a song to fit this description, but I picked it because at first I really liked it and now I am really tired of it.  It’s the first song on my iPhone songs list, so every time I get in my car and plug in my phone, it’s the song that plays by default.   In order for that not to happen, I have to have something else playing first before I plug it into my car. Otherwise I hear this song all the time, and honestly I’m just getting tired of it. I love the solo and want to learn to play it, but it’s wearing on my nerves.

I’ll never forget the Grammy’s this year when Ed Sheeran performed this song with Elton John. My thirteen year old said, “Who is that old guy taking over Ed Sheeran’s song?”  Talk about an LOL moment.  of course Sir Elton John is a musical legend, and the real question is who is this young guy taking the stage with Elton John!

31 Day Music Challenge: Day 11 A Song From Your Favorite Band

English: Michael Stipes of REM performing at L...

English: Michael Stipes of REM performing at Langerado 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

R.E.M. is (was) my favorite band. How to pick one song of theirs? That’s hard. I’ve been a fan since day one and have every album and know all the songs. I’m going to pick a rather new one because it is the last R.E.M. song that came up on my iPhone shuffle:  “Uberlin.”  Here is a link to the official video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZITh-XIikgI

See the shirt that guy is wearing? I used to have the same exact one! It was one of the tour T-shirts from a long time ago. I want to say it was from the Fables of the Reconstruction tour.  Speaking of the that guy in the video, oh my god did you see that guy in the video? Total eye candy.  Love him. Love his moves.  Love that the entire video is him dance-walking through the city.  Here is a link to a second video for this song sans the hot dancing guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN1YpMtPIpE

Read the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Fiction Friday #17: Mothers

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My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week, Kelly DeBie provided the prompt. This is episode seventeen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first sixteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love
__________

Your mother checked herself in last night after an attempted suicide. She is stable physically so far today, but she may need ongoing treatment at a behavioral health facility if she doesn’t show improvement.  She is clearly a threat to herself, so hospitalization is indicated.  And as you know, this isn’t her first hospitalization.  We are lucky she called for help.” Dr. Goldstein explained. “Her suicide note mentioned you by name so I wanted to inform you and see if we might be able to set up another therapy session online.  I know you are far away and can’t drop everything to come into town, although a personal visit is exactly what your mother probably wants.”

“Are you kidding me? What did it say? Why is this my fault? What did she do?” Amanda asked incredulously.  Her heart was beating fast imagining her mom lying in the hospital room alone.

“Amanda, she cut her wrists and then called 911 on herself before it was too late. She talked about the last time she saw you two years ago when she changed her flight and left early because she was so uncontrollably upset. That was  a few years ago as you remember.  She said you haven’t been calling her enough since then. How you don’t even care if she is alive and how she feels ignored and unloved. Your mom is hurting a great deal Amanda. I’ve tried over the years to help you two repair your relationship, since you were a child in fact.  It’s hard for you to understand her multiple conditions, but she feels very isolated and alone. She places an overwhelming amount of pressure on you to take care of her when really she is the mother and you are the child. It’s a classic behavior pattern for parents with Borderline Personality Disorder.  Add depression and anxiety to the mix and she needs a lot of help navigating through her life.  Although as you know she doesn’t like to have a label or a diagnosis or disorder.   I know this is hard for you. So please let’s sit down and talk about this.”

“Hard for me? Trust me I am dealing with a lot. The last thing I need right is for her to blame me for her problems. I don’t have much energy left to give. She is like a sinkhole of emotional energy. This is why I can’t stand to talk to her. Instead of being there for me when my life turns upside down, she makes everything about her….and even worse she blames her misery on me. I don’t know. I need to think about it.  She can’t manipulate me like that.  We haven’t patched things up since she left my house early during that one Christmas vacation years ago!  We’ve barely talked and have only had email communication for the most part.  Communicating with her is stressful for me and toxic to my life.  I’m a mother.  My kids need me healthy and happy.”

“This is a cry for help. She needs you.  She needs help, and I am working with her.  Think about it and let me know if you can make time.  Just call my office, and they will schedule a Skype conference.”

Amanda thanked her mom’s psychiatrist and hung up the phone. They knew each other for years, and she admired his calm demeanor, but knew inside she didn’t have the energy for a face to face meeting with them. Her mom was so frustrating because she was in denial about her mental conditions. She refused to take medication or accept diagnoses, but she claimed that she was overly sensitive and held on to baggage from her past as a defense strategy. On one hand she would say she lived a rough life,  and on the other hand she would say there was nothing wrong with her. She wanted people to feel sorry for her and to treat her differently because she was overly emotional and sensitive. Yet she refused to do anything about her problems herself. She blamed others for her unhappiness and raised Amanda with the constant threat that she might kill herself when they got in fights. Amanda grew up with the uncertainty of not knowing whether she would find her mom dead one day, and that it would be her fault because of something she did wrong. It was a cruel and unfair burden to place on a child.

     Now after all these years, she actually tried it. Unbelievable. I can’t believe this is happening. I need her to be there for me. I’ve lost so much. I’m hurting now. Other people can call their moms when they need support. Other people spend time with their moms, have fun and feel support.

She remembered that Christmas vacation that changed history with her mom.  It was the last time Amanda invited her.  She changed her flight to leave early on the day after Christmas because she was so upset she decided to take herself out of the equation.  She couldn’t control her emotions and felt agitated and upset, living in her own dramatic world.  Impulsively, she came downstairs that morning saying she was leaving a full week ahead of schedule.  Like she was doing us a favor because she caused such a scene in our family’s house the day before.  She unloaded emotional baggage to Richard explaining how her own parents never loved her on the main stairway in the house while the kids retreated to their bedrooms with doors shut to avoid their grandmother’s outburst.  At the time, Amanda did what she knew best.  She let her go.  Richard drove her mom to the airport.  A door inside Amanda’s heart closed when the front door closed behind them.  It was a final physical declaration of what Amanda grew up knowing all along, that her mom was unavailable to her.  Even if they both wanted a good relationship, it just wasn’t going to happen in this lifetime.

Her phone started ringing again.  The ringtone interrupted her train of thought with Jewel’s angelic voice saying “Follow your heart, your intuition. It will lead you in the right direction.”   It was Robert‘s school calling.

“Hello?”

“Mrs. Keilsth?”

“Yes?”

“Hi it’s Cindy in the nurse’s office at Canyon Creek East.  I’ve got Robert here with me. He is sick and needs you to pick him up.  He’s got a fever of 103 degrees.”

“Oh hi, sure, thank you so much for calling. Be there in a few minutes.”  Amanda pressed ‘end’ on her iPhone and shifted gears.

     I’m going to have to deal with my mom later.  Right now Robert needs his mom.

Mothers Love

Mothers Love (Photo credit: krandolph)

__________

Here is the prompt:

May is the month to celebrating motherhood. Start this week’s post with the following:

“Your mother….”:

Please visit my other Friday Fiction Friends to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

http://www.clearlykristal.com/
http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/
http://www.bulamamani.com/
http://www.debiehive.blogspot.com/
http://www.mollyfield.com/
http://neargenius1.blogspot.com/

Follow us on Twitter:

@clearlykristal
@worldsworstmoms
@BuLaMamaNi
@SusanneNelson1
@DeBieHive
@MollyFieldTweet
@Near_Genius

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Self Care Sunday: Being Selfless, Baths, Stretching, Music, and Being Late

It’s Monday, but I missed Self-Care Sunday yesterday. Sorry. That’s the being late part of today’s post. My Sunday was over-filled, and I didn’t get a post written before midnight. I needed sleep. Sleep is an excellent self-care strategy. Being late isn’t always an ideal option, but in this case I needed sleep more than my readers needed to hear from me. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Did anyone notice that I didn’t post yesterday? I didn’t post on Saturday either, and although ideally I would like to post daily, it doesn’t work out that way with everything else I have going on, mainly family time on the weekends. But the time with my family goes is so rare, precious, and fleeting. I know since my oldest daughter is already in college and not living at home anymore. My middle daughter who is turning thirteen in a few weeks will be following in her footsteps before I know it, and my eight year old son not long after that. Being present when they are home is important, so being late is ok sometimes.I was busy all day because, well first of all I slept late. Then I forgot I told my daughter I’d take her to Ft. Worth to see a dance competition. She wasn’t competing, but her studio was, so we went to support all her dance friends. I’d already made plans to meet my husband and son at the gym to try to swim laps in the pool since we weren’t able to on Saturday due to lightning. I hurt my knee last week and haven’t been able to get much exercise this week, and I hate that! So anyway, I was planning on doing my self-care thing at the pool, hot tub, sauna, and steam room but instead I spent the rest of the day and evening in Ft. Worth with my daughter. I felt like I gave up what I wanted to do for what she wanted to do, but I decided to put her first. Sometimes being selfless is healthy because it helps to humble ourselves and do things to meet other people’s needs. I absolutely loved watching all the talented dancers on stage, and it was fun for Zoe to see her friends and for me to see their moms. We went to Pei Wei to eat together. Girl time is always fun, and doing mother-daughter activities is healthy for our relationship.

When I got home, I took a long, relaxing bath. It helps my muscles relax, and it helps decrease eczema.  Especially during these colder months, my skin gets so dry and rashy, and my allergist recommended frequent baths and moisturizer.  I also stretched for a while after I got out of the bath to work out some of the kinks in my muscles and joints.  Nothing crazy, just some forward bends, slight back bends, and side to side stretches after some seated leg stretches alternating bending my left and right leg to open up the lower back and hips.  I have to stretch at least a little every day or else I get super stiff!

Music is also good for the soul.  I listen to music all the time. Especially after a long day, I love to soak in the bath tub and push shuffle on my iPhone and listen to whatever songs come up.   I’m in love with Justin Timberlake’s new songs, Suit and Tie, and Mirrors.  Here is a link to the video for Mirrors and an article describing the song:

http://www.policymic.com/articles/30896/justin-timberlake-mirrors-music-video-worth-the-8-minute-length

He recently performed both songs on Saturday Night Live.  It’s his first album in seven years. I’ve been a fan of his since the beginning when he was the lead singer of the boy band, N *Sync.  Over the years, it’s been fun to watch him grow up into an adult as he embarked on both an acting career and a solo singing artist.  My husband and I also love going to see live concerts.  We got to see Justin Timberlake last time he was here in Dallas (touring with Timbaland).

Justin timberlake wiki

Justin timberlake wiki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And last week, we got to see Maroon 5 for the first time. It was an excellent concert.  While they clearly feature Adam Levine, the lead singer, the rest of the band is also quite talented.  My husband said after the show they should have called it the Adam Levine Band because clearly he is the face of the band and most of the performance was focused on him.  I’ve only seen him on television before, from the waist up. I love the shirtless pictures of him and all his tatoos. And although I could tell from his upper body pictures that he is a thin guy, I never noticed before how skinny his legs are (he is also a little bow-legged).  I was also really surprised he kept his shirt on the entire concert because he took off his shirt during the monologue of SNL, and he is quite popular for how he looks sans shirt.  But his voice was amazing, his effort was over 100%, and he along with the rest of the band entertained the crowd for hours with their popular songs.  I was also inspired by his guitar solos.  I think music is a really positive way to improve how you feel any day, especially when there is the opportunity to see it performed live.

maroon5 maroon52adamlevineadamlevine2adamlevine3

Look at those skinny legs!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Friday Fiction #10: A Stronger Woman

It’s Fiction Friday, and the theme for March is renewal and luck. The Friday Fiction Femmes Fatales all write different fictional stories based on the same prompt. This is episode ten in my series. If you missed the first nine episodes, the links are below. And please visit the other blogs to see what they wrote (links below).

created by Kelly DeBie

created by Kelly DeBie

________________________________

“Have you ever done anything like this before?” The photographer asked Amanda.

“No, never. I can’t even believe I’m here.” She replied hesitantly.

“Why not?”

“Because…it’s so not like me…here I am in my bra and panties talking to you, a total stranger.” She laughed and tried not to seem as nervous as she really was. “But a friend did this and told me about it. When I saw the Groupon, I couldn’t resist.”

“Just relax. I will help you through it.” He reassured her, sizing her up looking for her best assets and thinking creatively how to show them off.

She started to sweat nervously. Almost naked in front of this total stranger, Amanda felt exposed literally and figuratively. She thought she must look bad and felt embarrassed being in a studio taking bedroom pictures for her husband Richard. But after everything they had been through, she was trying to do something special for him and to reignite the spark of their love life. She missed the days when their relationship was full of passion. She felt that he was distant and maybe even thinking about someone else. She wanted him to look at her like she was sexy like he used to. She hadn’t worn lingerie in a long time. Richard bought her many pretty sets, and she used to wear them on special nights, but they didn’t stay on very long. The years passed by, and her body and soul had gone through many changes, but there she was with her hair done, makeup on, and dressed in sexy outfits. It had been so long since she’d gotten all dolled up like that.

“Ok, sit on the bed and cross your legs. Put your right arm on the bed and look at me. Lower your chin.” He instructed. “Imagine your man is standing over there. Or better yet, who is your favorite male celebrity?” He asked.

She giggled and answered, “Brad Pitt.”

“Imagine Brad Pitt is standing at the end of the bed. Turn your head towards him and give him a ‘come and get me’ look.”

She looked at the empty space at the end of the bed, trying to pretend it was Brad Pitt. She imagined his long, flowing blonde hair and strong lean muscles in the movie Troy. Making an awkward smile, she tried to look sexy but burst out in laughter. “I can’t do this. Do you make porn in here on the weekend?” she implored.

That made the photographer laugh. “Porn? Why would you say that?” he said like he had never heard a question like that before.

“Well, because you know, the bed, lights, a camera, it seems like a good set for a porn movie. Not like I would know or anything,” she followed up.

“No, we don’t do porn in here on the weekend,” he answered. And then he snapped some candid pictures capturing her genuine smiles and laughter. “Let’s try this again. This time lie down. Put your legs up and point your toes. Bend your elbows and pull your hair up and then look at me.”

She obliged, rolling on her back and pointing her toes. She pulled up her hair and looked into the camera.

“Arch your back a little,” he continued. “Very nice,” he said as he took a few more pictures. “So how many kids do you have?” he asked her innocently.

“Uh, five. I mean three. Well, I had five, but…now I have three.” The mood got serious all of a sudden. “I don’t really want to talk about it ok?” She knew if she went into detail she would get really upset, and she didn’t want that to set the tone of the photo shoot. She was trying to accept the past and move on.

“Wow, five kids. Ok sure, no problem. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“It’s ok. It’s a long story. But yes, I had five kids, and I also have a granddaughter. My oldest son and his girlfriend…it’s another long story.”

“Wow, a grandchild. That’s wonderful, and you look amazing. Now turn over on your stomach and lose the bra top. Lean on your elbows and look at me.”

She couldn’t help but think of her babies. All five of them. All five beautiful creatures her body produced. She had stretch marks on her breasts and belly from her pregnancies. A bit uncomfortable, she made sure to cross her arms as she propped herself up, crossed her ankles and looked up at the camera with a serious face this time. Her crossed arms accentuated her cleavage. This time she didn’t smile. If he only knew the whole story. God, I miss Anderson and Ella.

She continued changing poses and outfits. As the hour went by, Amanda felt a little more comfortable. With each question from the photographer, she sank a little deeper into her personal world. He asked where she was from and what she did for a living. As she answered, he snapped pictures. She didn’t really want to talk about any of it because it made her upset and she was trying to turn over a new leaf. The raw emotions came through in her pictures.

Boudoir #1

Boudoir #1 (Photo credit: thomyboecker)

When she sat down to look at the proofs and pick the ones she wanted, it was like a whole new beginning. She didn’t like seeing her stretch marks and the cellulite on her belly and thighs. She wished her face wasn’t so bumpy, and she wished her hair looked better. “Look at me. Yuck. I hate how fat I am,” she complained about the first couple of proofs they viewed, “my stretch marks look awful.”

He encouraged her to look for the positive in her pictures, and it started working. “Amanda, why don’t you feel beautiful? Look at you, a grandmother who had five kids of her own. That’s something to take pride in. I’m sure your husband thinks you are beautiful. Look at this picture, it’s like fine art,” He maximized one of the pictures and put a soft filter on it, “now what is wrong with this one?”

“Well, I don’t know…” she looked for something negative to say, but this time he was right. The angles were just right to accent her best features. And she had a soft expression on her face. It was very candid, not forced.

“It’s all in your attitude. You can choose your attitude every day. You can choose positivity or negativity; it’s up to you. That’s what this business is about – helping women like you feel good about themselves and to do something nice for themselves. Most women are so busy taking care of families and households that they stop taking care of themselves. I meet so many women who come here for a boost because they are aging and feel they have let themselves go. These pictures are not only for your husband; they are for you. When you feel bad about yourself, you can go through them and remember that you are perfect just the way you are. Be kind to yourself. Love your body and yourself, wrinkles, stretch marks and all. Wear them like a badge of honor and be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid of aging because it’s a privilege many people never get to experience.”

“Wow, I came here for pictures, but I didn’t think of it like that.” This is a photo shoot, but it’s also like therapy. My counselor tells me the same thing-to choose my attitude and to choose how I react to the terrible things that have happened in the past. I don’t have to be a victim of all the sadness and loss that I’ve experienced. I actually do have the power to choose my mindset, and every day is a new day, a chance to start again. “Thank you for that reminder. You are right.”

She selected her favorites and felt proud as she left the studio that day. She couldn’t wait to give them to Richard. Her experience reminded her of a couple of songs by her favorite singer, Jewel, so she put her iPhone playlist on repeat and sang along as she drove home. “It’s going to be a good day. Just wait and see. From now on, I’m going to be the kind of woman I’d want my daughter to be. I’m going to love myself more than anyone else, believe in me even if someone can’t see the stronger woman in me.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaXr2vGDQwk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiH5FZBGo1U

________________________________

Here is the prompt: Our metaphorical spring is coming ever closer although things / conditions are still mostly dormant. The theme this week is: Recovery. The “ice” has thawed a bit, revealing your character’s recovery of a memory; or s/he has recovered (this is not sought, it just appears, like a plant poking through the hard, cold earth) something that was once lost; or experiences an old habit in a new way? Better? Good? You decide. Oh: mostly dialogue. In honor of International Women’s Day, it’s optional to make it about recovery of femininity.

Visit the other blogs to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

http://www.clearlykristal.com/
http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/
http://www.bulamamani.com/
http://www.itsadomelife.com/
http://www.debiehive.blogspot.com/
http://www.mollyfield.com/
http://neargenius1.blogspot.com/
http://the-suds-box.blogspot.ca/
http://www.quirkychrissy.com/
http://www.noholdingback1212.com/

Follow us on Twitter:

@clearlykristal
@worldsworstmoms
@BuLaMamaNi
@SusanneNelson1
@ItsADomeLife
@DeBieHive
@MollyFieldTweet
@monsterNbox
@chrissawoj
@Near_Genius
@katbiggie

Thank you for reading this entry. Peace out!

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https://susannenelson.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/january-fiction-challenge-1413-lesson-learned/

January Fiction Challenge #2: Althea (susannenelson.wordpress.com)

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Daily Prompt: Musical – What role does music play in your life?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's compositions charact...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s compositions characterized music of the classical era. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music plays a huge role in my liferuns started playing violin when I was three years old and Also played a little guitar, piano, and clarinet when I was growing up. My mom got her master’s degree in piano and organ, anthese frequently played classical music at home. I am very familiar with many of the classical composers and downloaded some of my favorites like Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi on my iPhone.

I grew up in a DC suburb and started going to live shows at a young age (with a fake ID). I was into all kinds of music in the new-wave, post-punk era. When I was around nineteen years old, I saw the Grateful Dead for the first time. I was never a true “deadhead” who travelled the band around on tour, but I did see many of their shows as well as Jerry Garcia Band shows. I was a REM head from the beginning. Saw them many times. Followed the Meat Puppets on tour from Virginia to Colorado one summer.

Taken in New Haven, CT. Jerry Garcia WPLR Show

Taken in New Haven, CT. Jerry Garcia WPLR Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wrote a separate post listing all the shows I’ve seen, and that list grows all the time. Lots of awesome bands and solo artists come through Dallas, so we get out to concerts quite often. One of my favorite artists to see live is Jewel. Her talent amazes me. She is one of those rare artists who can entertain you with just their voices and a guitar.

English: Jewel 2008-06-05

I typically listen to music every single day. I hit shuffle on my iPhone and see what songs come up. It’s always interesting whenthe mix of songs matches something that’s on my mind or that’s going on in my life. Music makes me feel emotional and reflective. It can also bring out high energy and help to release anger. I like to make playlists for different purposes, and before digital music, I loved making mixed tapes and CDs as a cathartic experience when going through certain changes. I also sing all the time, either with or without music. Even though I irritate people, it’s my way of being joyful. And that is my right, damn it!

One of my dreams is to write a song one day. I still take guitar lessons and love to play all kinds of music, from rock to reggae, from folk to pop, from rap to bluegrass. Music is my life. When words fail, music speaks. It’s poetry put to rhythm and melody. It’s a sublime way of communicating. It’s math and science.

Thanks for reading this entry! Peace out.

My Love Affair with Math

I started preschool when I was two years old then skipped kindergarten starting first grade at five years old. I don’t remember much of that early learning, but I do remember puzzles and playing music. My mom is a musician, and she started me on violin (Suzuki method) at the age of three. I grew up knowing how to read music on the violin, and I think that might have been an important step in my brain’s development that led to my understanding of math and science (thanks mom). Music is all math and science.

ImageImage

I do remember doing math in the early elementary years, and it was always easy. I had good number sense. The first few years of elementary school were a breeze, and the only thing I got in trouble for was singing or humming in class. I understood place value and basic computation. I learned multiplication and division with no problem. After third grade, my mom decided I should repeat third grade so I could be with my age group, and I did fourth grade work. I scored in the genius category on IQ tests and took GT classes through elementary and middle school. Again, I don’t remember much about those years, or particularly liking math at that time, but I do remember it being easy. My mom called me a walking telephone book because I could always remember phone numbers with ease (the same is true for today except that with iPhones I do admit I don’t know everyone’s phone numbers like the old days in the 1970s-80s). But I’ve always had a good memory for numbers and patterns.

Looking back at my high school transcript (Class of 1986 Go Lancers!) I can see why my guidance counselor advised me to pursue a major in French and then return to the Washington, DC area to work at the state department as a translator. I took four years of French and got two B+s and two As. Only three years of math were required back then, so I only did the bare minimum. I got a B in Algebra 1 (ninth grade), a B in Geometry (tenth grade), and a C in Algebra 2/Trigonometry (eleventh grade). Everything got confusing once we got to logarithms. I don’t remember having hatred or dislike toward math, but I don’t remember particularly liking it either. My m.o. back then was to do ok academically and still have a social life and a love life. I did gymnastics and cheerleading and played soccer. I talked a lot in class and was a social butterfly even back then. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I took my counselor’s advice and started my freshman year at Hollins College as a French major. Nobody made me take a math class that year. I did take computer science and programming, which is mathematical, but there was no other math requirement that year. My sophomore year, I did an exchange program at Washington & Lee University. There, I switched my major to Philosophy & Religion. I took a music appreciation class, but again, no math class. I took my junior year off and worked for Greenpeace USA in DC then completed a Spring Semester in the Rockies with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). After that, I transferred to Prescott College and changed my major again to Environmental Studies. I minored in Outdoor Education and Liberal Arts. I passed the math proficiency test there and didn’t have to take any math classes (the proficiency test is equivalent to college algebra).

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I graduated from Marymount University with my master’s degree in education (M.Ed. PreK-8) and became a teacher. My first position was sixth grade, all subjects in Reno, Nevada. Sixth grade deals with a lot of fractions and decimals, yet many of the students were below grade level and still working on memorizing multiplication and division tables. That is when I first started to take an interest in math education. It was a challenge to teach sixth grade skills when kids lacked knowledge they should know from previous years.  I moved to Virginia and worked as a sixth grade teacher in Fairfax County teaching math, science, and health in a Gifted/Talented Center. G/T Centers are 24/7 G/T all subjects grades 3-6. Highly gifted kids learn third and fourth grade math in third grade, fifth grade math in fourth grade, sixth grade math in fifth grade, and seventh and eighth grade math in sixth grade. That’s when I found my niche. I taught seventh and eighth grade math compacted into one year to highly gifted sixth graders, preparing some of them for Algebra 1 in seventh grade. Most of the kids progressed to Honors Math 7 and then to Algebra 1 in eighth grade. FCPS has several different math tracks, and they do a great job of offering enrichment and advancement in mathematics to those are are able. While that is a small percentage of the general population, it is an excellent way to let those students who excel in math to move ahead and take college math in high school. It was fast paced and challenging. I received professional development to prepare me and assist me, and I fell in love with math! Being an adult in a math classroom was a completely different experience than being a child in a math classroom. With my background in science, it all made sense and I was able to make more connections to the real world. Because of my background as a gifted learner, I was a good combination with the gifted kids. In addition to the fast paced curriculum, the kids did enrichment projects like City of Lights (scale models of DC buildings wired to light with bulbs and batteries) and Mathematician Expedition (a research paper on a mathematician of choice). We developed an understanding of the essentials in math, but we also discovered deeper conceptual understanding of mathematics in general.

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My third position was in a middle school in Texas. I taught seventh grade, sixth grade Pre-AP, and sixth grade math. It was my first position at a middle school teaching only math. It was an excellent opportunity to focus solely on math education and to use new technology in math instruction. I co-sponsored the Math & Chess Club and worked with kids at a wide spectrum of skill levels. It helped me sharpen my focus on the middle school math years. The middle school years are an essential link in preparing students for high school math. The concepts go from concrete to abstract as students explore the use of variables and use multistep complex problem solving. Kids become fluent in fractions, decimals, percents, and integers. They explore proportionality and use formulas to solve geometric problems. They use basic number sense and calculation skills to solve more abstract problems.

I started tutoring math privately in 2001 and am focusing solely on tutoring now, both in person and via skype. I see math everywhere now. One-on-one tutoring allows me to individualize to meet each student’s needs. We start where the student is and we take it one step at a time from Pre Algebra through Algebra 2. Since I discovered as a teacher that I like math and understand math, my goal in life is to help others learn and like math, especially girls. It’s a heavily male dominated workforce, and girls are typically stereotyped not to like math. I am confident and enthusiastic and hope to share my love of math with my students. I hope to inspire them to feel confident in their skills and to pursue a college education, in whatever field they choose. They will need strong foundation in math no matter what job they do as adults.

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My undergraduate degree was in science, and now I have specialized in math. I play chess and guitar. I do puzzles and listen to classical music. I expose my kids to math on a regular basis and point out everywhere I see math. They get tired of hearing me say ‘math is everywhere’, or ‘that’s math’, or ‘that’s science’, but it really is true. Math is everywhere and it’s involved in every job that every kid will do when they grow up. As an adult looking back on my own education, I wish the math requirements were then what they are today. I wish I or someone else noticed that I liked math and was good at it and that I had taken math classes in college. Now I love algebra and geometry. I picked up where I left off with logarithms. In 2007, I went back to school and took College Algebra at a local community college in Texas. I’m currently taking Trigonometry on www.khanacademy.org and want to take PreCalculus and Calculus when I am ready. With a husband and kids and a house to run, it’s not as easy now as it would have been to take those classes in college. But, it’s never to late to learn. I read somewhere to be happy, do what you love. I love math. So, I’m going to keep doing it!

30 Days of Truth: Day 12-Something You Never Get Compliments On

I never get compliments on my singing. And I sing every day! Sometimes I’m sing along with songs in the car. Sometimes I sing along with songs on my iPhone or computer, while I’m working, cleaning, etc.

If I’m driving or riding in a car, I’m pretty much always singing. I put my iPod on shuffle and see what happens. The girls like to sing too, and I allow it, but when Joe is driving, he tells them to stop. He doesn’t tell me to stop just because I’m an adult, but he finds singing in the car irritating.

Sometimes I make up my own songs. I invent silly songs that are, well, they are what all songs are..various sentences put to a tune. For example, I might sing about how much I love my kids and my husband. I might sing about feeling tired, lazy, happy, sad, or mad. It just depends on the circumstances.

I love music, always have and always will. People have told me to stop singing (I won’t name names), and it’s definitely something I don’t get compliments on. I don’t really care. I’m not trying to be a famous singer. I’m just going to keep being me and making joyful noise!

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FOR TODAY: July 25, 2012

Outside my window… Powder blue sky, a few lonely clouds, green grass, oak trees, manicured lawns and big brick houses.  It’s still hot although it’s 7pm.  I’m nestled in my comfy neighborhood back in Texas after a week in Florida. 

I am thinking…about so many things…the kids..the bills…my schedule…  I’m thinking about Brent at boot camp and wondering how he is handling all the challenges in his training.  We heard from him about a week ago, and he sounded good. He said he is learning a ton.  The Colorado theater shooting happened while we were on vacation, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot too.  The shooter…the victims…guns…going out in public etc..

I am thankful…Sierra made it safely on her first solo drive to Lubbock.  She and I are so different with highway driving.  I learned how to drive in Washington DC and have always been a confident driver.  She is scared of driving on the highways and has never made the trip by herself.  She looked up an alternate route that kept her on major highways without a lot of interchanges.  She went back to school early to get a job before rush starts and found a job waiting table right away! 
     I’m thankful Zoe and Sierra are getting along better now and have come a long way in developing their sisterly relationship.  I’ve always wanted to have a sister.  They are lucky to have each other.  They are seven years apart, so it’s been kind of rough sometimes with both of them in different stages most of the time.  I think this summer they both realized what it’s like to be in the other one’s shoes and are starting to understand how lucky they are to have sisters even though there is a big age gap.
     I’m thankful for getting to spend today with Thomas (since Sierra left for college and Zoe is sleeping over at Joe’s mom’s).  He is such a good sport when I want to drag him around for girl stuff like getting my nails done today and registering Zoe for dance classes.  We had some lunch and went to the pool.  He said, “hey mommy – win/win – you can swim laps and I can go down the waterslides!”  He joined me in the lap lane for a while and then we played in the family swim area too.  He is working on going all the way across the pool and today asked if I thought he might be able to become an Olympic swimmer one day.  I told him he can be anything he wants. It just takes work and practice.  He seems turned onto the idea of exercising today.  That’s awesome. 
     I’m thankful for Joe.  He is my rock, my soft place to land, and my person.  He is the strong husband and father in the family.  He takes care of all of us. He works really hard to support us and the lifestyle we have.  He loves me just they way I am and supports me in whatever I want to do.

I am learning… to develop my blogging habit.  I’ve been working on it off and on over the years and now that I’m home full time again, it’s fun to get back to writing down some of the many thoughts that run through my complicated mind.  It gives me a way to structure my thinking and to share my thoughts with my friends. 
     I’m still learning guitar.  I downloaded the Ultimate Guitar app on my iPhone and I love looking up songs that I hear to play.  I’m getting better, but I still have a long way to go.  I would still love to get better on my electric guitar, just need to carve out more time to practice.
     I’m also learning Trigonometry.  I need to write a blog about my love affair with math to explain my history, but suffice it to say I didn’t know I liked math or was good at it until I became a teacher.  I want to go back and keep taking classes as time allows.  I’ve downloaded the Trignometry class from Khan Academy on my iPhone too, and I watch the online lessons and do the practice problems.

In the kitchen…grass fed beef is thawing.  Thomas wants Hamburger Helper Stroganoff tonight (yuck!), so I will probably stir fry some veggies with the meat separately and then make the stroganoff with the rest of it. 

I am wearing… my bikini (we just got home from the pool), black nike shorts, and a lime green tank top that says LIVE LOVE SURF Pensacola ❤

I am creating… this blog!  Working on writing about my life and my thoughts without fear of who reads it. 

I am going… to PT tomorrow.  Still having lots of back pain, working on core stabilization and spinal strengthening. 

I am reading…can you believe I’m still on Hunger Games? I think I started it months ago. I’m almost at the end, but I hate reading fiction!  HAHA.  I like to read, but I gravitate to non-fiction.  I have to work on my fictional reading habit just like I have to work on my writing habit.  I’m so much more of a math and science person.  I read a ton of news articles and non-fictional stuff every day, but I admit reading fiction is like pulling teeth.  I saw Hunger Games, and I liked it and heard the books are better, so I’m trying.  I’m toward the end where Katniss and Peeta are still in the cave. She has the extra supplies and his leg is healing, but they are still there.  I’ve seen the movie, so I don’t really care to finish the book, but I heard the book is different, so I do still want to finish it sometime.

I am wondering… how to handle a situation with my mom.  We’ve had a long history together, and although I know she loves me, I am not able to have a relationship with her.  We haven’t spoken since Thanksgiving. She came here and got really upset and changed her ticket and left early then blamed everything on me.  It’s very complicated. I hate that we don’t have a relationship but I don’t know how to fix it.

I am hoping… to lose about ten pounds.  I will write a separate post about diet and my allergies.

I am pondering… what makes some people so into facebook and others not.  The other day, Joe and I were talking about facebook like we often do.  I’m a big fan and am an active user.  I have lived in many places and experienced many things, and I know people all over the world whom I communicate with via facebook.  I’ve always been an extrovert, so it makes sense that I love social media.  I connect with people in real life too, but seriously I have many friends who live in facebook land, and without facebook I wouldn’t be able to keep in touch, see pictures of their kids, or hear about their lives.  I frequently tell Joe about things I post and ask him if he has seen them.  His usual answer is no.  If something’s important, I’ll ask him to go and look at it and tell me what he thinks about it.  Since I’ve been blogging again recently, I decided to also create a facebook ‘fan’ page for my blog…not so much to amass fans (although that would be great) but to have one place for all my blog posts instead of having them mixed throughout my timeline obscured by other posts about what I’m doing or what I’m listening to or links to other interesting sites or pictures I’ve posted.  When you create a page, you invite people to ‘like’ it so they will get your posts in their news feeds.  I invited all my facebook friends to like my page, and I noticed my husband, my most important person in the world didn’t like it yet, so I asked him if he got the invitation or if he had read any of my recent posts.  His response was, “I never think to check facebook.”  I was speechless.  The words echoed in my head again as I struggled to understand them.  We don’t live on the same planet.  I have to try NOT to check facebook too much.  How can people never think to check facebook?  My first impulse is to explain it by saying he has both his parents and had his needs met as a child, so that must be why he doesn’t reach out to others as much as I do.  (I didn’t have both parents, I didn’t have my needs met as a child, and I’ve always reached out to friends for connection and validation to compensate).  I’ve always been a “friends” person.  These days many of my friends live in the computer, so I’m always thinking about connecting and learning things and sharing ideas and expressing myself.  If you’re reading this, you are probably like me. You’re online on facebook or have arrived at my blog through twitter or the daybook or what have you.  I truly ponder what makes people so different on a basic level like that.  Why is it so easy for Joe to never think of facebook?  His answer is that he is too busy in the real world to care about the virtual world.  He reached over, poked my leg, and said, “I like you Susanne and I like Susanne’s World.  I just like Susanne’s real world.”  That meant a lot.  It’s real, and it counted way more than getting 100 likes on facebook.  I’m sure there is a happy medium between never checking facebook and checking it all the time.

I am hearing… Alaine, “Sacrifice”  I still remember the first time I heard this song, on the way down the mountain on our last day in St. John, USVI in 2007.  I thought it was Madonna!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ll1VxrFARU

A favorite quote for today…”Be yourself. The world worships the original.”  Ingrid Bergman

One of my favorite things… got a mani/pedi today!  Thomas was happy to come along with me because the ladies let him sit in a massage chair. He loved it!

A few plans for the rest of the week: PT and allergy shots tomorrow, allergy shots for Thomas on Friday, a little shopping to get the kids ready for soccer camp next week. Grocery shopping at Sprouts!

A peek into my day