Friday, October 30, 2009

Scary Time of Year


I love this time of year...crisp autumn air, the changing leaves falling, and even the frost on the trees and cars. The houses in around my area are all dressed up for halloween just around the corner. Soon, small groups of kiddos will been invading in their costumes for treats. I love doing my homework upstairs so I can watch them skipping, running, and pulling their parents along from house to house.

I also love the scary movies and shows during this time of the year. The 'movie' channel here has been playing old Vincient Price~Edgar Allen Poe shows at night. Unfortunately, I missed The Great Pumpkin since I was at class that night. I do have a copy of J.Depp in Sweeney Todd...that will work great for scary movie viewing on halloween for a study break.

Homework itself is scary enough during this time of the year. Between my three classes, I've the beginnings of one research study, one case study, two learning analyses, one policy analysis, and one group presentation. I'm doing okay and I'm trying to keep working ahead of myself. The scary part is that only doing parts or pieces or drafts at a time leaves alot of 'undone' material floating into my dreams at night and around my workspace during the day. It makes me feel quite insecure and a bit anxious at times. However, things have been going well in the exceptionality course, and I just discovered I did quite well on the history of edu bluebook! Now, if I can get all my research participants to return the survey for my study, I can get all those ducks in a row to evaluate my data I will rate things as smooth...but not quite yet.


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Family Monster Mash


I remember halloween being a great time growing up in small town South Dakota. Older kids dressed up in costume or if it was cold painted up faces and met friends to start walking through town in search of treats. Little ones dressed up too and walked with parents around a few blocks. If you were lucky, you caught a ride with a friend who lived out of town and rode around in the back of a pickup to stop in at a few farmhouses...they gave regular size candybars not just those 'fun' size things or wonderful homemade popcorn balls.

In high school toilet papering was the sport of the night. Even geeks like me joined in occassionaly, but it was an interactive sport and you needed to see well in the dark and move fast if the teacher or principal came out their door. However, I always found the pumpkin smashing that accompanied the toilet papering very sad. Not only do I love the color and festiveness of the pumpkins and the designs the kiddos would carve into their faces, but there is also a horrible mess when you smash them.

Still, I loved halloween as a kiddo. My family still celebrates halloween as a night to dress up and have some fun. Both my sisters help their kids either make or find costumes, go trick-or-treating, and maybe even to a school or town halloween party or two. Me? I have kept a few items that are not technically 'costumes' to wear to school on my favorite secular holiday :) tiara, star trek communicator pin, headband with cat ears, and a few clothing items such as orange/black stripped tights and an orange scarf...I loved to play dress up as a kid and I always will.

I've also embedded a Halloween video from my sister Joy and her family to all her family and friends. It was just too good to not share with my sisters, family, and friends too!

Mad Scientist=Shyla
Frankenstien Monster=Dad
Wife of Frankenstien=Mom
Wolfman=Cade (Twin 2)
Vampire=Tate (Twin 1)


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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Approaches!


As halloween approaches, my reading and viewing seeks out vampires, werewolves, and other monsters of the night. I do agree with this Foxtrot comic...I prefer my vampires scary and dangerous; not dark, brooding, and wickedly handsome but heartbroken (psst...they don't have hearts).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Joys of an Empty Campus


Ah...the beauty of an empty library. I know as a teacher I should find great joy in seeing the students flock to the library just before and during midterms. They cover all the computer and desk areas in the 'new' library and even filter throughout the 'old' library. But the young folk are noisy...yes, I know I sound old...they are constantly listening to their I-Pods so loud you can hear their music at the next study table, texting or reading texts after their phone 'sings'. So, to be quite honest, I was very glad to have the library to myself today.

After Mass at Gesu (Joan of Arc had no Mass due to break), I was able to stretch out at the Brew coffee house on campus to enjoy my lunch and sip a mocha coffee. It was nice not to worry about hurring along to allow space for the next student. Then at the library, I had my choice of computers and enjoyed spreading my papers out all around me! There were only a few other folk in the library and they were all grad was so quiet...ah.

The calm of my library experience was in great contrast to my morning. It has been raining for the last couple of days out here in the East and that plus the fog created some poor driving conditions. A semi truck ended up on its side blocking all three lanes of traffic on I-43! No one was hurt that I heard of but the truck wasn't moved for almost 2 considering it fell just around 6:30 AM you can imagine the back up on this main expressway. I didn't have to be to my observation until 9 AM, but the traffic was still backed up when I hit the rainy roads and I had to criss-cross my way across town the long way. I was a few streets off at first, but I did get to school on time and found my own way there! Mind you, I do think I gave a few people something to chuckle at when they saw me checking my city map at stop lights : )


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Midterm Mindsets


I am taking a break from my notes and books and outlines to write a note home. I have discovered the best way for me to maintain my sanity during busy times at university is to not read or think for awhile. It gives my mind time to clear from the fuzziness of too much information and not enough oxygen. It gives my imagination time to enjoy the cool air and interesting folk walking by. And most importantly, my attitude in general has time to return to a good-natured humor after academic distraction.

This importance was lost on me until I noticed the folk around me. Not just the stressed out undergrads, but some returning learners as well. Ladies and Gents trudging across campus (or library) with their hair awry or pulled up in a questionable knot, coffee cup in hand, and eyes bleary from late nights, small print, and computer screens. Hmmm...I took a second look at my own practices and decided to promise myself regular breaks even if I was 'busy'.

Fun time has included: listening to bits of books on CD, reading chunks of P & P or Holmes, or watching a funny program online (Castle & Psych are my top two). I've also strolled about campus to enjoy the crisp air. To relax before particularly stressful class meetings, I might stop off at Joan of Arc Chapel or one of a few other quiet places I've found on campus to reflect a bit and sit in some silence. For those health buffs...I've also cut coffee & tea out after 3 o'clock. Instead I take hot water and add a bit of honey & cinnamon. I really don't want my eyes to glaze over with a caffeine haze during an interesting discussion in class.

Well, I should go. I actually have a midterm test at 4:30 tonight and I think some quite prayer might be called for before I tackle writing an essay encompassing the history of education in less than two hours.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Just a Quick Note


Just a quick note to all. Things are well here. I had two visitors from South Dakota in two days! Nick (former student & debater) was at Marquette for a Peace Conference. We met and I treated him to Alterra's coffee and the best darn grilled cheese I've ever had. This was a good thing since the kiddo is now a vegetarian. He is doing well at St. Thomas; currently, he trying to decide between a double or triple major...pray for his parents. The next day I met Jen and her beloved for supper down in Cudahy (other side of town). It was good to hear about the wedding plans, events going on in Sioux Falls, and Al's new teaching job in the city.

I'm doing well in my preparations for Dr. Lowe's midterm. I know I seem to be fretting over this, but the guy is sort of intimidating in the educational sense. Yes, we're learning alot, but its been quite circular and now Erica, Jennifer and I are trying to make it linear for easier essay writing on Wednesday night.

The world is awash in autumn colors here in Milwaukee. The trees are all starting to turn and the days are a lovely 40ish with cool breezes off the lake. I love autumn! The weather is perfect for walking (no bugs)! The only downer is the number of spiders now infiltrating my office space in the house basement.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Autumn Rain


Well, it is another gray, dreary day here in Milwaukee
. It has been overcast and drizzling since last night. Yes, we need the rain, and if truth be told I really enjoy the rain, but it does make morning expressway traffic a bit more interesting.

The 'observation' time at school this morning was very focused. I worked with one sophomore boy on what they call an MLA paper, but I actually had to ask him to go to the teacher to specify what exactly made it MLA. I didn't want to push to far into the MLA guidelines unless the teacher really wanted it. Turns out that MLA simply means a two resource paper...and no citation/bibliography guidelines were given, so I introduced the kiddo to the wonders of OWL by Purdue! Next, I sat with a sophomore girl as she thought through theology essay questions about human dignity. I didn't worry about the English aspect of it at all, but found that keeping her on the one train of thought was work enough.

The university blessed a new shrine and statue to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta today. As Fr. Jesuit prayed a blessing over the shrine he laughed, he thought God had quite taken care of the sprinkling of 'holy' water and that his few drops wouldn't do much better. The statue is very nice. It is the older Mother Teresa holding a small child in her arms. It was dug into a low hill and surrounded by a half-wall that will be perfect for students to sit on in the springtime. They also planted some ground cover type flowers that will come back every year and a few trees ... a very nice spot to be indeed.

Now, I must go. I have to evict an undergrad from my study space. Midterms are next week and you wouldn't believe all the students in the library! Even my little book corner in the back of the library has been invaded!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Not Just Another Good Car Song


Matthew West's song "The Motions" always has me singing along in the car on the way to or home from class. Even in the house, I hum along when it is played on the radio. Other than it being quite a catchy tune, the song reminds me of how to live our life no matter where I am.

There was such an gracefilled passion for Christ and Monastic life when I promised perpetual profession. This wanes and waxes as a part of life. Still, West's song has been a great reminder of the how the promise to live for Community, Christ and the Church should continue to change how I live and connect with our profession of Converstatio, Stability, and Obedience.

What started this whole reflection? Not just the good music; I attended a final vows celebration at the Franciscan motherhouse yesterday. Commitment ceremonies always make me a bit more reflective.

"The Motions" by Matthew West
This might hurt, it's not safe

But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions

I don't wanna go one more day without
Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day without
Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Few Hours in the Dark


Well, we had a bit of excitement here last night! I had been raining for just over an hour when the lights blinked for a moment. Hmmm...sisters Linda and Jane were in the kitchen preparing egg rolls for Linda to take to work tomorrow, they called out to see if I had seen anything in the living room. Nope, the lights were only out for a moment, so I turned the TV back on to catch up with the Sherlock Holmes mystery on PBS.

A few minutes later the lights blinked again. This time there was a loud crackling and buzzing outside as the lights went out. The sisters kept making egg rolls in the kitchen, and I went to the window feeling a bit puzzled. I was raining pretty hard, but there was no wind, no lightning, or anything that would account for the lights going off.

The third time was the charm. The buzzing and crackling started again, and I looked out the window just in time to see a transformer (about a half-block away) burst into sparks like a roman candle or groundflower. Then our side of the block went dark...sigh...the wrong side of the tracks.

Luckily, I have been keeping my flashlight (Christmas gift from my Dad) in the same place since one of those tornado/emergancy drill lectures at the monastery. I joined Linda and Jane in a hunt for the candles and other flashlights on the main floor. Soon we had enough candles so they could see to finish up the egg rolls. I held a flashlight in each hand to shoot some helpful light in their directions. We also called the electric company to report the blowout. The automatic voice told Linda that the company already knew about the 'problem'. We did have the choice of receiving a call either to give us an estimate of when the lights might come back on or when the lights came back on (why get a call to tell you the power is on, wouldn't you notice?).

So, we visited for a while, considered playing cards (but not everybody could see well enough in the candlelight), and eventually Jane headed off to her bedroom. Linda decided to wait for another sister who was out last night and snoozed off and on in the easy chair. I wrote a letter telling the story for the sisters at should give a chuckle or two for the mailroom readers. My only problem is the Sherlock Holmes story. "The Tale of the Three Gables" isn't one of the shows based on a story from the books but written for the show itself, and I may never who done it in the end.


Thursday, October 1, 2009


Happy Feast of St. Theresa the Little Flower. This morning was a good day to reflect on how to serve in little ways with great love. Nothing 'big' was going on and no where to go in a great hurry, just time to sit and wonder how love can change simplest act into gift.

"I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. I understood that Love comprised all vocations, that Love was everything, that it embraced all times and a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my vocation, at last I have found it...My vocation is Love!" ~ St. Theresa of Lisieux