Posts Tagged ‘Misc’

I never ate in a cafeteria until college. Malls and hospitals might have been the closest I ever came to seeing what most children saw in school everyday growing up.

I was homeschooled. My experience, or lack of experience, with cafeterias is just one example of the many things that make me just a little bit different from the traditional school population. I found that most of these things are like cafeterias, most people would say that I didn’t miss much.

I didn’t see friends in class everyday. But if I finished my school work as efficiently as possible and I could spend most of the day playing with friends.

I never did a group project. But I learned to do everything on my own.

I never had specialized teachers with knowledge about specific topics. But I learned how to find a book on anything I wanted to know about.

I never had competition with other students. But I learned to challenge myself and compete with my own abilities to get better.

I couldn’t be in an honors program, no matter how well I did. But I learned to excel for its own sake without the need for recognition.

I never had any sort of dress code. But I learned that you probably won’t get anything done while you are still wearing pajamas.

I never got to stay home sick. But I learned to get work done even if I did it in bed.

I could never leave school. But I learned that even when you can physically leave school at the end of the day, you never stop learning.

I never had a list of extra-curricular activities offered to me. But I learned how to find any activity I wanted and get involved.

I never rode a school bus. But I never had to wait outside for the bus or missed it.

I didn’t have a class of people who became my automatic friends. But I learned I could make friends anywhere.

I never had a class of people exclusively my age. But I learned to be friends with people of any age.

I never fought with kids at school. But I learned that I had to resolve every fight with my three siblings because we couldn’t escape each other.

I never had a schedule made for me. But I learned to make my own schedule and get things done.

I never got sent to the principals office or a detention. But if I did anything wrong, my parents knew exactly what it was.

I never had a summer reading list. But I always made my own list that was impossibly long.\

I never had people tell me what was cool. But I got to decide for myself.

I never had a crush on a cute boy in my class. But I was never rejected or hurt.

I was never one of the popular kids. But I never learned to care about popularity or what other people thought of me.

I never had P.E. But I learned to like exercising.

I never got bullied. But I knew what it was like to be alone.

I never felt peer pressured. But I felt enough pressure from my parents and myself to make up for that.

I never ate with friends in the lunch room. But I never felt segregation, stereotyped, or excluded.

I never ate cafeteria food. But I learned how to make good choices about the food I ate.


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LycanthropyNancy Drew taught me about werewolves.

A while back, my roommate,  who aspires to be a doctor, had been telling me she was trying to get an internship in lichenology.

Being the brilliant individual that I am and only half paying attention, I was suddenly intrigued and confused.

“You’re going to study werewolves?” I asked, as I wondered what on earth she was talking about.

Now she was confused. “Werewolves? No, it’s tree fungus.”

LichensIt dawned on me that we were not talking about the same thing. I had to explain to her that I had gotten the words confused for a second, and my mind had thought “lycanthropy,” when she said “lichenology.” Which made much more sense, because she would be excited about lichens.

And I would know what lycanthropy means. It was in a Nancy Drew computer game I played as a kid. This woman thought she was turning into a werewolf and you had to solve the mystery. Naturally.

I saw this word on my calendar and just laughed. Oh, I knew the answer was A. And I was almost surprised that lichenology was not one of the options to try to trick me.

Rotary Club    Members only    Frances Brady    5/17/2009
Joyce Foundation    Policy, not practice    Frances Brady    6/3/2009
Allstate Foundation    Exclusively existing partners, teen driving and domestic violence     Shannon McFarland    6/1/2009
Grainger Foundation    Exclusively disaster relief and technical education    Shannon McFarland    6/1/2009
Motorola Fountation    Exclusively math/science education, disaster relief and technology in developing countries    Shannon McFarland    6/1/2009
Irving Harris Foundation    Exclusively children    Shannon McFarland    6/1/2009
John Deere Foundation    Prefers direct benefit for employees and neighboring communities    Shannon McFarland    6/1/2009
Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation    Exclusively conservation and artistic expression    Shannon McFarland    6/1/2009

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harborI haven’t spoken a word all day.

Some people are physically mute. Some people take a voluntary vow of silence. For me, it’s a necessity. If I continue speaking, I may not be able to speak at all later.

A few times every year, I have to go on vocal rest. I retreat into myself, and don’t speak for hours or a day at a time.

Whenever this happens, it makes me think even more. It makes me wonder. It makes me write.

I’ve been like this since I was thirteen. I used to panic, my worst fear being that one day I would wake up and never be able to speak again.

Essentially, I have “delicate” vocal chords. What might make most people hoarse for a day, will make me hoarse for a month or longer. Talking, singing, medications, illness, asthma, acid reflux, environmental influences, and other things strain my voice to the point that it becomes difficult or painful to speak.

You might know a similar feeling if you’ve ever had laryngitis.

I can’t change it, and it will never really go away. I’ve accepted it, and learned that it is a burden I can manage. It takes a great deal of discipline, control, and caution to prevent strain or heal my vocal chords. When I’m not extremely careful, it gets worse.

I’m not speaking today because my voice became hoarse after I sang in a choir a month ago, and has been slowly getting worse again.

I’m at my family’s house now. It’s much easier, because my quirky family is accustomed to the peculiar situation and supportive. My parents put up with it, and my two brothers laugh at my expressions and silent jokes. My sister and most of my good friends have learned how to interpret and understand my gestures, and make the best of an interesting situation.

It is not always fun. You feel alone. Unable communicate with everyone as normal, it can quickly make you feel isolated and desperate. But it will make you stronger in the end.

You’d be amazed at the things you learn by keeping your mouth shut. You should try it. You become a better observer, listener, and non-verbal communicator. It can bring a sense of inner peace, allowing you to hear your own inner voice and even God better. It teaches you what needs to be said, what doesn’t, and how to pick your battles. It makes you value every word from your mouth, and from others. You learn to appreciate sound, and enjoy the silence.

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I used to love cats. My family had a lot of cats when I was a kid. I think at one point we had fourteen.  cats

We had two mommy cats who would have a litter every summer. As the weather warmed up, the cats’s bellies swelled up. By the time sweat was popping out of our glands, kittens were popping out of the cats.

There were so many kittens, that when my cat Snickers’ had her first litter we named them after candy bars: Almond Joy, Butterfinger, Milk Way, and Kit Kat.

It seemed like a good idea, since the kittens our other cat Sadie, Snickers’ mother, had earlier that summer got some very mismatched names.

We told my dad he should name one, and he promptly dubbed the poor kitten Bark-mulch (we didn’t let him name any after that). I named my cat Eugene, for reasons that escape my memory today. My sister named her cat Bonnie.

After that we stuck to group names. One litter was shoes: Nike, Reebok, Aididas, and Nonbrand. Another was named after cars; my favorites were Ferrari and Porsche. One summer we had Eeny, Meeny, Miny, and Moe. Then we had the spices: Nutmeg, Ginger, Cinnamon, and Paprika. There were so many kittens that the other themes and names are lost to my memory.

They were like barn cats, and lived in the storage room under our deck where the firewood  was kept. There was a little hole my dad cut in the door so they could come and go as they pleased.

But having so many kittens presented a problem. As the poet Ogden Nash wrote:

The trouble with a kitten is that

When it grows up it’s always a cat.

So when the kittens started to become cats, we would give them to friends and neighbors. When they started to accumulate, we would get desperate and give them away to almost any stranger who wanted them.

cal-001I started thinking about all the cats we’d had years ago, because of my calender. Its word for me was ailurophile. Simple and practical: one who loves cats.

I loved cats. After having cats for six years of my childhood, my asthma became worse.

And then I became allergic.

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Don’t you hate getting into an elevator sometimes? People can make elevators can be one of the most frightening places. I don’t mean that I’m terrified it’s going to break and plummet to the ground; I trust the engineering behind it. I’m talking about the CRAZY people who inadvertently make sharing a small space for less than a minute incredibly unbearable. But the times you get out breathing a sign of relief are contrasted by the times you get out with a smile on your face. Now if everyone had a little manners in the elevator, we’d all be happier.park-047

  1. Don’t make out with anyone in the elevator. Really. You can save it for later. I don’t think there is a faster way to make everyone in the elevator thoroughly uncomfortable.
  2. Leave the loud music at home. If my eardrums hurt when you enter the elevator, I’m guessing you probably have ear damage already and will be deaf by 30. It’s for your own good.
  3. Try not to overcrowd. If the elevator is full, have the courtesy to wait for the next one. Especially if you are with a group of people, don’t try to fit in with everyone else. Worst case scenario and you are trapped in an elevator with barely enough space to stand.
  4. Have a little humor. If you hit the wrong button or step on a toe, crack a joke. Everyone appreciates being able to laugh a little at the situation.
  5. Unless your leg is broken or something, use the stairs if you are going up/down only one floor. Don’t be that lazy.
  6. Try to avoid strong scents: carrying something odorous, strong cologne or perfume. Even when you are not in an elevator if you are emitting an overpowering a scent. That’s bad under normal circumstances. Not in a small space.
  7. Uh, don’t block the door. Be courteous to the people behind you who need to get out.
  8. Wait until people exit before you rush into the elevator. Nobody wants to get run over.
  9. Make sure the people behind you have space, especially if you have a large backpack, you can unwittingly squeeze someone into the wall. I hate it when people seriously invade my personal space or block me into a corner. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
  10. Smile and say something. It’s the perfect time to give a complement or ask a question about whatever thing someone’s carrying. You’ll spend less than a minute with these people in your life, make it worth something. Everyone wins.
How to not make enemies in an elevator

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cal-005You have to be thinking one of three things when you see the word my calendar had for me today: “I know what that is,” “Gee, I never knew that thing had a name,” or “What the HECK does that mean?” I was thinking that last thought when I saw the word “cardioid.” I didn’t know this thing existed, let alone had a name. Spell-check doesn’t even believe me!

When it requires a picture to explain the definition, I immediately get a little scared. It is either something I recognize, finally know what it is called, or I just have NO IDEA what it means even with the picture to “clarify.” When I’m looking for new words to enhance my conversations or writing, I look for something that, at the least, I can understand. Really. What good is it to know a word if it just doesn’t make any sense to you?

Being more confused than enlightened by this definition, I continue on a search for truth and understanding. Somehow, this sort of truth-quest always seems to lead me straight to Wikipedia. Faithful Wikipedia provides me with a much more understandable definition and an ANIMATED graph that shows exactly what the American Heritage Dictionary eloquently failed at explaining. Yes, animated! This cardioid thing makes much more sense to me now, even if I never have a use for it. When a picture isn’t enough, sometimes you just need a more animated approach apparently.

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This is my pretty little butterfly kite.

Everyone has a few things that always make them feel like a kid, that you never grow out of. And even if you might not enjoy it for yourself anymore, you always enjoy seeing someone else who gets excited about the things you used to love. This list is just some of my favorites. Let’s keep it going, leave a comment: what makes you feel like a little kid?

  1. Tickling. I’m sorry for you if you aren’t ticklish, although not too sorry because you can always tickle someone else.
  2. Eating popsicles on a hot summer day.
  3. Flying kites on a day with blue skies.
  4. Making paper snowflakes in the winter.
  5. Jumping in leaf piles in autumn.
  6. Rolling up your pants and wading in a lake.
  7. Blowing bubbles.
  8. Getting something that you’ve wanted for a long time.
  9. Christmas.
  10. Drinking hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows.
  11. Just being in a toy store.
  12. Watching favorite old cartoons. (I will always love Tom and Jerry)
  13. Counting down the days until a holiday or big event.
  14. Sitting on the swings in the park or your backyard.
  15. Running barefoot in the grass.
  16. Dressing up in a silly costume.
  17. Finger painting.
  18. Spinning around in circles until you are too dizzy to walk in a straight line.
  19. Lying on the ground and trying to find shapes in fluffy clouds (after you spin around of course).
  20. Bedtime stories.
  21. Going to the zoo.
  22. Wishing on a shooting star.
  23. Making flower crowns.
  24. Running through sprinklers.
  25. Blowing out candles on your birthday.
  26. Playing with play dough.
  27. Jumping in puddles on a rainy day.
  28. Pressing flowers in between the pages of a book.
  29. Tag.
  30. Reading Dr. Seuss books.
  31. Old lullabies.
  32. Wearing pigtails.
  33. Riding on a carousel.
  34. Easter egg hunts.
  35. Hide-and-seek.
  36. Drawing on the sidewalk with chalk.
  37. Licking the spoon after mixing brownies.
  38. Making snowmen.
  39. Throwing snowballs at people.
  40. Sandcastles on the beach.
  41. Petting a dog.
  42. Squirt guns and water balloons.
  43. Singing just because.
  44. Catching toads and then letting them go.
  45. Climbing trees.
  46. Talking to inanimate objects.
  47. Naming inanimate objects.
  48. Yo-yos.
  49. Cotton candy.
  50. Coloring with crayons.
  51. Doing something embarrassingly clumsy.
  52. Old Disney movies.
  53. Giving someone you love a present.
  54. Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
  55. Hugs.

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