“Morning Joe”, acrylic on scrap wood,

“Morning Joe”, acrylic on scrap wood, painted some time in the late 1990s. http://ow.ly/i/nRAxR

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The Sakker 21 Day Challenge

I wonder how well I’d do at this challenge. I wonder if I could get my family to go along with it. What about you?

Sakker Family

Hello everyone (Roy typing here),

Our family (Roy 47 yrs.; Ashley 38 yrs.; Sophia 6 yrs.; Caleb 4 yrs.) has decided to create a 21 day challenge. The challenge, which we started on April 20th, is to refrain from saying anything negative about a person, place or thing. We have individual mason jars and a big bag of marbles to track our transgressions. Ashley and I are using the honor system when off on our own.

Day one brought marbles and insight. We all had multiple marbles in our jars, except for Sophia, who only had one. Sophia, widely considered the most genuinely sweet person in this family, is a consensus favorite to earn the least marbles over the course of this challenge.

Day one insight began before the first marble landed in my mason jar. From the very start of the day, I was conscious of my thoughts and processing these thoughts before…

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Ode to an Ark

This one is still a little rough….

Ode to an Ark



My son walks a path both familiar and foreign.

I lay out the golden stones then watch him vanish.

Gone in a yawning, swampy place, dark with peril.

And then

Noah builds an ark.

And two by two by four by four by five by five by OCD by Asperger’s by ADHD by GHD by genius IQ,

it lifts my son with love.

That love that is a balm for the loneliness of oddness, the pain of childhood’s shifting loyalties, that tidal swell that lifts me too.

And no one needs a mushroom boat to reach this island where

teen love says

you’re like normal people when they’re on drugs

and typico neuro

mushroom boats alight to sit on hotel floors watching Pee Wee Herman, asking Are you seeing what I’m seeing?

No.

It’s where we live.

With talking trees and brownies no one else can see.

And I can spy a child from where I stand,

more sensible than most.

She is not alone, and

also built this ark.

This ark of families, of Pauls, of summer’s riding a swelling

wave of love that lifts us from the swamp,

that steadies my son’s journey,

that steers us to the Vast Blue Ocean –

It’s big enough a place for

all of us to

live.

First Gen Students and Assumptions of Classlessness.

“There’s no mention here of real institutional barriers like rising tuition and decimated financial aid (it’s mentioned only in passing that one student is working three jobs).”

Education and Class


creative commons licensed ( BY )flickr photo shared by kevin dooley

My campus has a new Equity and Inclusion Facebook group. This morning, I noticed that a colleague who has an excellent reputation for work in education and social justice had posted a link (without comment) to an article from the Cal Berkeley’s Alum publication: The Struggle to Be First: First-Gen Students May Be Torn Between College and Home.

It’s a relatively long piece for an alum publication, and author Alina Tugend has talked to authors who have done research about First Generation students and contacted programs in other places.  I believe that she set out to write a comprehensive and empathetic piece.

And still, I’ve read and reread the article multiple times and cannot find a single reference to any strengths that First Generation  — or their families — bring to the college experience beyond mention that one young woman…

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My Lucky Year

I was physically ill for too much of 2014.  I developed and continued dealing with some serious health issues. And we lost my Step Dad in January.  These things were hard.  The last two are still hard.  But I also enjoyed what, to me, seemed like a long string of good fortune.

Here are some lucky things that happened to me in the past year:

1) The company I work for is in a tough spot, so we did not have a holiday party this year. We did have a nice catered lunch during the work-week with a drawing for Amex gift cards, and  I won a $50 card!  I promptly gave it to Darth, who promptly took it to Target, where he promptly spent it on pants for Son 1 and Son 2.  To me, this was an all-around win.  Except maybe for Son 3, but I bought him pants a few weeks earlier.

2) I attended MALCon with my sister in 2014. At first glance, it seemed like a convention for gamers only – but with nice folks checking us in, pretty T-Shirts with Chaz Kemp art on them, and a really, really nice vending room (truly incredible vendors!). But my sister would not let me shop, sigh, and leave.  She started dragging me into various panel rooms and I ended up sitting in on a writer’s panel that really needed a woman on it. And I got to be that woman. It was great fun and I met some lovely folks, among them the incredibly talented and truly nice Lou Berger.  If you like science fiction at all, you should go buy something with one of his stories in it NOW!  Seriously, do it now…I’ll wait. 🙂

3) At MALCon (yes, I just linked that again), I signed up to win some earrings from Purple Poodle Designs – one of the aforementioned high quality vendors. And I won them!  But…the notification went to my “other” box on Facebook. When I finally saw it, I sent a note to the artisan, and though it was too late for me to get the earrings, she sent me an awesome pterodactyl necklace that I like better than the earrings. Is that doubly lucky, or what?

4) I won a free download of an album by The Breaking Winds!  I listen to it at the start of almost every work day and it both calms and amuses me. If you are a fan of bassoons, a fan of classical music, and a fan of classical music jokesters, check them out.

5) And most recently, I won a small drawing of a triceratops from Tara Gildow. It came a few days ago and is already up on the wall.  It’s orange and I love it! The link on the artist’s name is to her website.  Here is a link to her etsy site: Rocket Penguins Works.

Historically, I would not have classified myself as “lucky”.  Not at all.  So I am blown away by this amazing good fortune!

 

And, of course, good things that were not about luck also happened:

1) Son 1 also made the most amazing best friend in 2014 – the kid is a gift from God.  His whole family is.

2) Son 2 started Kindergarten, and though we had a brief adoptee-anxiety issue about a month in, he is doing incredibly well. He’s well suited for school. It’s nice.

3) We all started learning Korean and Son 3 is learning Hangul and English equally, which is awesome, though I had to explain to his pre-school teacher that he’s not wrong when he thinks the symbol “E” is pronounced “t”, he’s just getting the alphabets mixed up. Hangul is an incredibly easy alphabet to learn and Korean is an elegant language. Though I am finding pronunciation and vocabulary challenging, I have high hopes for my sons, especially Son 3 (who is not the Korean son, btw).

4) Darth started working more…which I hope will lead to me working less in 2015. A lot less.

5) And last but far from least – I finished the 3rd draft of my early reader book!  I started off 2015 by submitting that book to a literary agency.  That was terrifying, though I can’t explain why.  It’s a good book, and either they want it or they don’t (and I’m not the sort of person who gives up on the first try either).  Still, I am keeping my fingers (and toes…and eyes) crossed in hope that my streak of luck holds out.

Who knows – maybe I’ll have good fortune for the duration.  My grandfather was the kind of man who often won things seemingly because he willed it so.  Maybe it’s my turn?  Happy Year of the Sheep (or Ram or Goat, if you prefer)!

How did your 2014 wrap up?  What do you think lies ahead?

 

 

Thursday

Lazily re-blogging my own poetry on this snowy, snowy day.

db mcneill - Momsomniac

Another old one…circa 1992.  All of this is actually happened…

 

Thursday

a poem by d.b. mcneill

 

I am on your doorstep

in my dream

wondering

if you can

disappoint me in the right direction

 

Under here

     

There is still more

but wordless

  

The magician spins

diamonds from her eyes

It’s only rain

 

Thunder breaks

I awake

 

Outside

there is a man

shouting shut up

at the sky

 

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Ode to a Bean

Very worn out post-holiday, so I am sharing this again as a little pick-me-up. How are you doing?

db mcneill - Momsomniac

Ode to a Bean

for Dan and Dan of Fojo Beans

I found a poem in a cup.

It was hot, I drank it up.

When the poem was smooth and brown,

it was good.

I drank it down.

When the poem was hot and black,

it called to me.

I threw it back.

When the poem was sweet and mild,

I held it gently, like a child.

The poem flowed – gentle, quiet –

moving moments, day from night.

It warmed me and it woke me up.

I found a poem in a cup.

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Korean Family and Kinship Terms

We are trying to learn Korean now as a family. I need to keep this handy!

the talking cupboard

I’m sure some of you who watch kdramas are already familiar with the titles used in the family, as in how a  person address his or her family members. I got used to hear a servant or maid calling the young master and miss as doryeonnim (도련님) and agasshi (아가씨) in dramas but when I watched another dramas, I was surprised to hear a woman addressing her younger brother and sister-in-law as doryeonnim and agasshi. I then realized that there are various ways of calling your relatives in Korean culture. It’s not as simple as uncles and aunts!

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