My Mother-in-Law is My Favorite Valentine This Year!!

I have blogged before about the delicious brown sugar glazed almonds I was introduced to at my MILs house during the holidays.  They were hard to find here, and I even contacted the company about obtaining samples for my bariatric surgery support group, and have yet to receive the promised samples.  My husband is not good with Valentine’s day.  I don’t know if he just forgets it or he isn’t romantic enough to celebrate it or what the deal is, but this year, he’ll be away at a convention on Valentine’s day, and most of the weekend before and after, so I have no hope that I’ll receive as much as a phone call from him to celebrate the occasion.  But we received a package today from my in-laws.  Inside were Valentine cards for the kids, a birthday card for Eilis, some cute Christmas trays, a few other things, and several jars of OVEN ROASTED ALMONDS in the Cinnamon Brown Sugar flavor!!!  Oh my gosh, I so LOVE these nuts!  They’re a good source of protein, and low enough in sugars that I can enjoy a nice sized handful of them without dumping.  And popped in the microwave for just a couple of seconds, they really remind me of the roasted nuts you get at Disney World or a fair.  SO good.

It was so nice of her to think of me and send them.  And they arrived at a time when I truly needed a pick me up.  With all the kids sick, Jim spending only about 5 and a half total days home in the month of February, a list of writing assignments I have to complete, and Eilis’ birthday to plan, it was so nice to have someone think of me.

Thanks, Mom and Russ.  And Happy Valentine’s Day 🙂

And So It Begins…Prom Season

In April of this year, my daughter’s school will have a ring dance.  This is their equivalent to the junior prom.  This dance is more than 2 months away, and my daughter is home sick with a bad sinus infection.  What is on her mind this evening?  Why she doesn’t have a date for the dance.

We went through this last year.  She ended up having to turn a couple of boys down, because she had more than enough dates.  But this year, she is convinced she will not have a date.  One boy has already asked her.  She turned him down by acting as if she didn’t know he was asking her.  He has not worked up the courage to ask again.  The guy she would have gone with last year if he had asked her before the guy she went to the dance with is afraid Brighid will have to turn him down again this year, so he is asking someone else.  The guy she went with last year has a girlfriend this year that will go with him to the dance.  She has had a couple of boys earlier this year express great interest in dating her, only to get side tracked with school and sports and not be able to date anyone.  Such is life at a challenging school.

But I anticipate tears, fears, and headache after headache (mine) as she wrestles with whether or not she’ll be asked. 

So much to be said for arranged marriages.  I wonder if you could do arranged prom dates?

The Cure for the Common Cold…

Benadryl, so you can’t hear yourself cough.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen.  My pediatrician recommended to me today that I drug my youngest child with Benadryl so she could sleep tonight.

Granuaile has a terrible cough.  It got so bad today at school that while I was on my way home from the doctor’s with Brighid (bad sinus infection), Granuaile’s school called for me to pick her up, as she had puked down herself with all the phlegm she was coughing up.  As I drove over to the school, I called the pediatrician’s office.  I told them I had given her Triaminic strips and Robitussin overnight cough and cold, and I was told that with the new FDA warnings on cold meds for kids, I shouldn’t be giving her those meds.  The cough has to work itself out of her system, and if she’s spitting out phlegm, that was a good sign that the virus was breaking up.  I asked what I could do for her, since she was coughing so bad overnight, it was waking her up.  And yes, they told me Benadryl.  I asked what Benadryl did for a cold, and was told it does nothing for a cold, but it will put her to sleep so she won’t be kept up by the cold.

 If I am posting here 15 or 16 years from now about my daughter Granuaile’s drug addictions, remind me it started here. 

Now, I have heard of using Benadryl if you’re taking kids on an airplane.  It does cause them to get drowsy, and it keeps them from getting nervous about flying, prevents them from being bothered by the pressure in their ears during take off, and makes them much more pleasant to sit near.  But it just seemed odd to me to switch one OTC drug to another.  Where are the FDA tests on the Benadryl’s safety?

Having said that, Grace’s cough kept me up last night until nearly 4 AM.  I’m heading to bed now while the Benadryl has kicked in and maybe I can catch a little sleep too 🙂

The Dash

There’s a poem that has circulated for a long time on the internet, and you’ve probably seen it in written form or in the form of a slide show with beautiful pictures from all aspects of nature.  The poem refers to the dash on a tombstone – the one that goes between the year you were born and the year you died.  It talks about how it doesn’t really matter about the dates themselves, but what really matters is what you’ve done with all the time in the middle of those years – or, the dash. 

In the past week, I’ve learned that a brand new baby died just days after her birth.  I’ve learned that a little boy who just underwent a last resort treatment for cancer found that the treatment has been unsuccessful.  And I’ve learned that the brother-in-law of a friend has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor that will likely rob him of his life.  Every where I turned this week, the dash seemed more important. 

We don’t know how long we have when we arrive here on this earth.  We don’t know how much time our dash will be.  We certainly hope that when our time comes, someone is talking about how long, happy, and fulfilling our dash has been.  But that’s not the case for everyone. 

When I wrote the eulogy for my dad that appeared in the memorial booklet we printed for his funeral, I put the message in there that one thing I hoped to learn from him and the way he led his life was that you want to impact people here so that there is no one glad for your passing in the end.  You want people to cry, be mournful, and vow to miss you when you’re gone.  You want people to recall the great things you did, the kindness you showed, the generosity of your heart.  You want to make sure your dash, no matter how long or short, is the time when you loved and were loved.

As a child, I expected to grow up and be “something”.  I thought I might be a doctor, a nurse, a teacher.  I wanted to be “something”, and then be a mom.  It seemed at the time that being a mom was an accessory to adulthood.  You became “something”, then you had children that you could dress up, take out, and show off when you weren’t busy with what you became.  And while I will be the first person to admit that I do have times of regret that I didn’t end up as one of the “somethings” I dreamed about, what I did become is so much more important.  It’s the hardest thing I ever could have done in life.  I have three beautiful daughters, and it is my job to make sure they grow up knowing they are loved, that someone will always be available for them, and that they are not the accessories in my life, but they ARE my life.  It is my job to make the decisions that say Jim and I may be living frugally in our golden years, but we gave our kids every advantage, every benefit we could afford, every wonder life could offer to them.  It is my job to weigh the good and the bad of things, let them make mistakes where they will learn and help them avoid mistakes that will just be painful.  I won’t know for many years to come if I’ve done my job well.  There is no bonus pool each year, no evaluation every three months, no instant reward in the form of a paycheck each week.  Some days, the job seems impossible, and I think it would have been much easier to be a brain surgeon or nuclear physicist.  But I hope, at the end of my days, when someone is looking at my dash, they can turn towards my children and know that I did something with that space between the two dates.  I may not have my name in a by-line somewhere or in the medical journals or even noted as teacher of the year somewhere.  But I hope my children are great women.  That will be the achievement I most want to be remembered for.  These girls are my dash. 

Report writing 101 – Quantitative research

When doing any writing, for a report, presentation, research paper or post, we have different ways to analyze our subject. We can use qualitative analysis, the how and why of the subject. And we can also use quantitative analysis, the use of measurements.

So to continue on my example of wedding days, lets do some quantitative research.

  • What number of people get married in 2007?
  • What number of people get married on Saturday as opposed to any other day of the week?
  • What are the percentages of people getting married each day of the week
  • How many people attend the average wedding?
  • What is the largest wedding every held?
  • What is the largest number of people ever married at one time?
  • Which month of the year has the most weddings?
  • Has the price for weddings kept steady when adjusted for inflation?
  • Has the price of wedding dresses remained stable for the past 10 years?
  • Do people spend the same or more for engagement rings and wedding rings then they did 10 years ago?

All of this questions can be answered with a measure. A number, a percentage, a chart, a graph or some other form of data. Feelings and emotions drive why those numbers are what they are, and we research that with qualitative research and qualitative analysis. But the numbers and facts and figures we measure and analyze with quantitative analysis and quantitative reporting.

So whip out that ruler and start measuring for that wedding day.

Report writing 101 – Qualitative research

When you are doing research for a paper, project or post on a particular subject, you have to decide how you will look at them subject and the information you gather and from there the conclusions you draw. What you draw in your mind compared to what your reader interprets in a matter of your writing style and their comprehension of the subject matter. Explain a complex theory in simple terms and anyone can understand it. Will an expert on the material gain any benefit or insight? No, and that is why you also need to keep your target reader, your audience, in mind.

When we look at a subject, for example – wedding day parties – and we want to do qualitative research, we would focus on the how and why of wedding days.

Why do people have a wedding day? Do they do it for moral, religious, spiritual or family reasons? Is their wedding day one of obligation, service or duty, or something they want to do to carry on traditions, share the moment with friends and family?

Is it a custom to have the brides family for breakfast and then more for lunch and a larger party for dinner? The custom is the why and the actual activities are the how, the second part of our qualitative analysis.

How do people have a wedding day? Do they spend it at home with family and friends, go to a church and then a small cake and punch at the church reception room? A church, then limo to the 1st National Bank for awesome portrait pictures they will cherish the rest of their lives, then take the limo to a hall where they have a wine and cheese hour followed by a wonderful reception with music and a string band, that their friends and family will remember for years? Do they get on an airplane and go to Las Vegas and get married at the Little White Wedding Chapel? How to they make their wedding day?