Leavin' on a Jet Plane

I fly out tomorrow morning (7:50 a.m.) for San Diego. I'll be spending the week out there representing Cumberland County at the national Representative Assembly of the National Education Association. It's a lot of work, and way cool, and I get to visit San Diego, which I've only just barely done for one day before.

So, traveling prayers and so forth for me. I'll be flying back on the 7th. I'm hoping to have daily Nets access while I'm out there, but in the meantime, just in case ... Happy 4th of July and catch ya on the flip side!



Change in Plans

Well, we won't be going on our canoeing trip in August after all. Instead, Joe and I will probably be taking a vacation on our own somewhere, while the kids spend another week with my folks, maybe on a trip with them.

Any ideas where we should go?




I posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook from the production of Moon Over Buffalo ....

and from our recent trip to New York City. Enjoy!



Day 180

Today is the students' 180th day of school. The bell just rang to end the last official student day of school for the 2008-09 school year. And it couldn't have come soon enough. It's been a long time coming.

The stress has been accumulating steadily. Hence the dreams I had on Tuesday night and last night.


My parents had just bought a flock of chickens. They pointed them out to my brother, Chris, and myself from atop a high hillside. We were looking down at the chickens in the yard, below (please note that my parents' property does not contain nor is bordered by such a steep and high hillside). Chris and I gasped as the flock wandered out into the road, oblivious to the oncoming pickup truck. Which hit several of them. This happened again and again with a few more cars. Finally, Chris and I realized we'd have to herd the flock to safety, so we started making our way along the crest of the ridge, to come up from behind them and shoo them back the safety of the yard. And we knew we weren't going to move fast enough, they just kept getting hit by cars and trucks. And then I woke up.

I was in my house with my kids one night watching TV or something when strange men dressed like movers or construction workers or somesuch burst into the house. They were here to take the children. The kids seemed bewildered but not overly frightened or concerned about staying with me. I was terrified and trying to fight off these men. They didn't fight me back, per se, but remained set on their goal of removing my kids from their home. And then I woke up.

Last night:

Joe and I had stopped for a break one night on a long road-trip at my Grandma Schierer's house (it should be duly noted here that my Grandma's house is not convenient to any major thoroughfares and is therefore completely inappropriate for a stop-by or drop-in situation). No one was home, but we wanted to go to the bathroom, rest a bit and then continue our trip. I was sitting on the floor in my Grandma's room in the dark, retying my shoes when someone came into the room. I couldn't tell who it was, only that it was a man and tall. "Joe, is that you?" I called out. No reply. "Joe?" No reply. The man came closer. "Joe?! Quit fooling around!" The man came closer. I could tell that it was not Joe. And then I woke up.

There was one other nightmare on Tuesday night and an additional one last night that I no longer recall. These were all of the panting for breath, cold sweat, abject terror upon waking variety.

I'm exhausted. Vacation and respite cannot come soon enough.



Chaos Kills Me

I can't handle chaos, limbo, uncertainty. They're my kryptonite. (well, so are Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk and Adelphia's tiramisu, but in an entirely different way)

When there's uncertainty and chaos and upheaval it impacts every part of my life. I don't sleep well. I have bizarre dreams. I eat too many carbs. I sleep all the time. It makes the "11" shaped wrinkles between my eyebrows more prominent and cavernous.

I yearn for solace and tranquility and resolution. Sometimes to my own detriment. I just want things to be settled and I don't care how or when or what ... I just want it over and done and then work out the aftermath. Cut to the chase. Cheat, if necessary.

But sometimes chaos is out of my control. There's not a real way to get through it to the other side. Sometimes we have to live in chaos and uncertainty for awhile.

I need some coping strategies and patience. Not my strong suits. I need some answers and some stability.

Or maybe just another pint of Ben & Jerry's.




Thanks to my friend, Adrienne, I know about this Chess In Concert broadcast. I'm a huge fan. Saw the American version on some Broadway-type tour and loathed big sections of it, while still drooling and carrying on about how it was ... yippee! ... Chess! Hopefully this will be the European version. Even if it's not, I'm still recording it and planning to sing along every minute.

Also, have you ever really stopped to take stock of just how much Stuff we have? It's everywhere. Books, magazines, fabrics remnants, clothes, tchotckes, photos, albums, holiday decorations for all seasons, boxes in case one ever has to move again, dishes, glasses, cutlery, kitchenware, piano music, office supplies, knick-knacks, food, cleaning supplies, appliances, memorabilia, electronics, electronics accessories, furniture, blankets and other linens, toys, toys, toys, stuffed animals, toys, DVDs, CDs, miniDV tapes. It's a lot of stuff. Occasionally I go through one of those purge-it-all-and-live-on-a-mountainside moods. More occasionally than you'd think, considering what a packrat and keeper I tend to be. I'm afraid to purge anything for fear that the very next week or month will be just the moment I realize how completely valuable and important said items were.

Finally, did our parents or their parents spend us much time as we do wondering about parenting? About screwing up? About the years of therapy the kids may someday require? About nature v. nurture, breast v. bottle, work-outside-the-home v. stay-at-home, public v. private v. home schooling, helicopter parenting v. laissez faire, football v. soccer v. tap and jazz, Disney World v. the vacation less traveled? Or did they just do it? Did they just not think so much and just go for it? I think we, my generation, think about it a lot. We think about a lot of things a lot. At least the folks I know and converse with and read. We want so badly not to screw up our kids ... and does that become one of those things like how the simple act of observing something affects it (Heisenberg? Schroedinger?) ... are we so worried about experts and blogs and thinking this whole thing to death that our kids are missing out on us just being us and parenting naturally and just instinctively?

Solitude and simplicity on a mountainside look better and better every day. If only there weren't any such thing as guilt and responsibility. Ay, there's the rub!



Consumer Reports

My folks got Consumer Reports magazine when I was a kid. For some geek-dork reason, I used to read it every month. It didn't matter if they were rating orange juice, blenders or credit card deals ... I read the whole thing.

I'm still a firm believer in checking with CR before making any real purchase of any of the sorts of things they rate ... cars, cameras, appliances, weedwhackers ... anything. I don't get the magazine, but their online subscription is a pretty good deal.

If you're reading this, and you're not in the CR family, consider checking it out. They have lost of services and articles available to non-subscribers .. buying guides, how to choose a good microwave, that sort of thing. Their actual ratings are only available once you pay, though.


Wrapping Up

Well, things are winding down for the year at Casa del Dugan.

Summer II starts at Cumberland this Monday. So Joe will be teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays again through the day.

The kids' last day of school is Tuesday, the 16th. On Wednesday they have their final piano recital/party of the year. Afterward, I drive them up to Mom Dugan's house for the rest of the week. My last day of school is the 19th. Woo!

The 19th is a bigger day for Joe, though. He has his Qualifying Exam at Drexel. He's been studying for months and this is the big day. His brother John is going to take him out afterwards to celebrate and help him forget and unwind. Joe's staying over up there in PA that night. But, I won't be bored. Off Broad Street Players is singing in Millville that night, and I'm going to be part of the ensemble. Any opportunity to perform is OK by me!

Saturday morning, I'll drive up, collect Joe and the kids. Then we drive up to central PA to hand the kiddos off to my Mom and Dad for the whole next week. Joe and I are taking a weekend trip to NYC to see Avenue Q and will be home on Monday evening.

Sometime that week I'll be off to Lowe's or Home Depot to buy paint for my summer project -- painting nearly the entire interior of the house. I think the upstairs bathroom and the kids' rooms and our red wall downstairs are the only parts of the house remaining as they are. Fun!

On the 25th, I'll be in DC all day lobbying in support of health care reform (but against taxing employer-provided health care benefits) with the NJEA. Joe may or may not be coming with me. But it will surely be an exciting political day. Power to the people!

That takes us to the 27th, we'll meet up to get the kids home. *whew!*



Best Places

I always find lists like these utterly fascinating.



Hymn for a Tuesday

Blest be the Tie That Binds
by Dr. John Fawcett

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.



Happy Birthday, Matthew!

To my big little boy ... I'll love you forever. Happy 8th birthday!



Summer Plans

Been thinking about our upcoming summer. I'm kind of excited about the great stuff we have planned.

June 15 is the kids' last day of school. On the 16th they have a piano recital. Afterward, we drive them up to Joe's mom's for a few days. My last day of school is the 19th. That morning, the 19th, Joe has his qualifiers ... a big, life-altering exam that determines whether or not he gets to continue at Drexel for his Ph.D. After the exam, We're joining the kids at Mom Dugan's. Then we'll be heading up on the 20th to hand the kids off to my folks for a week of Gramma Camp. Joe and I are supposed to have some sort of plans that weekend, but nothing's really firm, yet. Whitewater rafting in the Poconos? A Broadway show? I'm not sure.

The kids will be away about a week. When they get back, they'll both go right into theatre camp. It's a four day a week day camp involving singing, dancing, stagecraft ... all sorts of performing. That lasts the whole month of July and culminates in a big performance. Joe will be teaching at Cumberland three or four days a week for the whole month, too. As for me? I'll be away June 30-July 7 in San Diego (which I've never really visited ... very excited) at the NEA-RA. The national representative body of the teacher's union I belong to. It's a very exciting, "be a part of something bigger than you are" sort of deal.

Once I return, I'm planning to paint the entire interior of the house. That's my project while the kids are at camp. It really needs it, and I'm looking forward to it a lot. That, and a lot of walking, and hopefully some writing. I want to do something with my writing/journalism/good-with-the-words part of my brain. I'm going to be revamping and reworking my technology curriculum for school, as well.

The beginning of August is wide open (though my high school reunion is the last weekend of July into the start of august ... I don't know if I'm attending it, yet, or not). I may help out with the summer production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, but I haven't decided yet. A break from theatre may be a good thing for a variety of reasons.

Then, our big trip. We're going canoeing/backpacking in the backwoods of Algonquin Provincial Park. We'll be gone ten days with my mom and dad. I'm really looking forward to the trip and making memories with the family. Spending some time away from technology and life here at home and stuff. (how will I survive? hee-hee)

After that, we'll whoosh right back into school and all that involves. I think Joe is planning to keep going to Drexel a few days a week while returning full-time to Cumberland. His sabbatical will be over, but he'll still need a good solid year at Drexel working with his advisor before starting to write his dissertation.

We'll surely also have visits to the Cape May Zoo, the Ocean City Boardwalk, picnics, hanging out at the beach and with family and friends.

Anyway ... that's the plan for now. We'll see ...


Kids Evacuated, All's Well

The kids' school was evacuated yesterday. Everything's fine. In fact Matthew said it was the "best day ever!" Here are the details.



And the Beat Goes On

School's almost done, we have a family wedding this weekend, my play has ended, but I still have a garage full of props and nonsense. Summer plans are coming together and I'm very tired.

Matthew turns eight next week, and I realized it yesterday. I'm a terrible mother. *sigh*