Recently I have been reading the book Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I by Peter Ackroyd. It is all about one of my favorite time periods in history and full of gory details about how people of the “wrong” religious faith at this time in England were tortured and put to death. It goes into great detail about the cantankerous Henry VIII and his whims. It details how his daughter, Elizabeth I, could not let down her guard lest she lose her power and her crown. For my Candy Heart Writing 2017 post, I’m going to connect two hearts I pulled out of the bag — NOT NOW and TRUE LOVE — with some of what I am reading about, especially as it pertains to Elizabeth. First, there were two great dilemmas that Elizabeth faced as queen: (1) whom should she marry? and (2) what should she do with her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots? When she first became queen, Elizabeth’s courtiers urged her to marry, promoting a match with the king of Spain and also with a duke of France. She would frequently put off discussions of the topic of her marriage by essentially saying to her council and Parliaments, “Not now!” (As in, “I don’t want to discuss it!”) Additionally, she would instead say something to the effect that the country of England was her “true love,” and that she was wedded to the country and its people. Marrying another, she argued, would distract her from her true purpose, which was to live long to serve and guide her people. As mentioned, Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, was caught numerous times conspiring against Elizabeth to seize the crown of England, to unite the crowns of Scotland and England. Elizabeth’s cabinet approached her, asking what to do with Mary? Should they execute her? Elizabeth answered again, “Not now,” until she could put off the decision no longer. Finally, after eighteen years, Elizabeth had Mary executed. If you enjoy learning about the exploits of Henry VIII or reading about strong women in history, this is the book for you.
I thought about this question as I was driving home today. It is an interesting question to ask someone if you are trying to get to know them a bit. Lead guitarists are up front in center, and they get all the attention. They like it, too. Bass guitarists are important, though; music wouldn’t sound the same without them. They are a little more behind-the-scenes, however. They don’t get as much attention as the lead does, but they’re still cool. Which would you be, the bass guitarist or the lead?
Myself? I think I would be the bass guitarist. I like to be important, but I like to stay low key. I don’t like to draw a lot of attention to myself. I also love the sound of the bass guitar. There’s a bass riff that plays over and over in one of my favorite movies; I was watching it today as I was grading papers in first period. It has stuck with me all day. Unfortunately, it isn’t on the soundtrack for that movie, and believe me, I’ve looked. I am a firm believer that if something is on the Internet, I’ll be able to find it. And I have not been able to find it in all the years I’ve been searching. There’s a few other bass lines that I love:
- the bass background melody in “White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash
- the opening bass riff in “Our House” by Madness
- “The Guns of Brixton” by The Clash
- the opening bars of “Mountain Song” by Janes Addiction
- “Wonderful” by Adam Ant
All of this leads me to my next question: What is on your playlist of late?
I’ve been really stressed out, so I’ve been gravitating to songs that I can play loudly and ones that I can scream along to as I drive. Yes, scream along to, not sing. One of the only times I am truly by myself is when I am in the car driving home; I don’t have my kids with me because they come home with Mr. Rovira. So I can play my music as loud as I want, or “so loud that my ears pop” as Riton says. Especially with the songs that have awesome bass lines, it makes my bones vibrate. Nice! I made a new Spotify playlist for my screaming songs. It contains:
- Smashing Pumpkins
- Rage Against the Machine
- System of a Down
- Marilyn Manson
What are you listening to? What should I add to my playlist?
Today is the commemoration of Random Acts of Poetry Day. To celebrate this day, people are encouraged to
engage in moments of guerilla poetry. Take your chalk in hand and scrawl the words of your heart across sidewalks and alley walls, ramble madly, like a sweaty toothed madman, or wax lyrical about the most important love of your heart. Better with word than pen? Then stand on a street corner shouting poetry to the wind, imparting onto all the joy and pain, sorrow and exultation of your soul, heart, and mind. To be a poet is to walk the wild lands of impossibility and imagination, and Random Acts of Poetry Day is your opportunity to, for just a moment, bring others into the world in which you live (Days of the Year).
So, to that end, I am posting an “I AM” poem. I frequently assign students to do this at the beginning of each academic year, but we did something a little different this year to change things up. So, I’ll post it here now for your perusal and enjoyment. Even though I wrote this years ago, it still holds true for me today.
I AM intense and driven.
I WONDER about a lot of things . . . that’s why I read part of the encyclopedia every night.
I HEAR a comic “duh duh duh” when my mom says, “We need to talk.”
I SEE myself as a grown-up Lucy van Pelt from Peanuts.
I WANT just a little more time to myself.
I AM intense and driven.
I PRETEND that I’m having conversations with people while I’m driving so that when we really do talk, I say what I want to say correctly.
I FEEL challenged when I have five things to do at once and I don’t know which one to tackle first at the expense of the others.
I TOUCH heaven just a little bit whenever I hear one of my children say, “I love you, Mommy.”
I WORRY about failing or not “measuring up.”
I CRY when I think about children who are seriously ill, malnourished, or unloved.
I AM intense and driven.
I UNDERSTAND, as Nietzsche wrote, “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”
I SAY drunk drivers should receive drastically stiffer penalties for their crime.
I DREAM about nightmarishly bizarre scenarios, usually.
I TRY to teach things differently and more effectively with each passing year.
I HOPE that I inspire someone this year.
I AM intense and driven.
— Jenny Rovira
Getting quality sleep on this trip has been an issue. It is always nice to come home, because you get to come home to YOUR bed, which is an awesome feeling. No hotel bed is going to be as good as mine. On top of that, there are five of us squished into a hotel room, so our normal sleep patterns are disrupted. The first night, Mr. T wanted to sleep with me because he was crabby and tired from our traveling. We had a king sized bed to share. About half-way through the night, I woke up to find him laying perpendicular to me. He also talks and whimpers in his sleep. This, of course, prevents me from sleeping well. I also didn’t have any access to wifi in our first hotel, and I normally listen to late-night talk shows on the TuneIn Radio app, so I was really having a hard time falling to sleep to begin with. And, when I woke up in the middle of the night (as I did a lot), I had nothing to help me drift off back to sleep.
The next night Mr. Rovira slept on the floor because sleeping with the two boys in one bed was just too crunched. Plus, he drank a Mountain Dew too late in the day, so he could not sleep and didn’t want to disturb us.
The next night, I slept with the boys, and it was squished, but I toughed it out on approximately eight inches of mattress. I had wifi that night, to listen to my shows to help me get to sleep, but with Mr. T attempting to move perpendicular again, I was woken up A LOT.
The next night, we put all the kids together in one bed. We could see quickly that wasn’t going to work: “Mr. T! Stop moving!” and “Thing 1, stop stealing the covers and burrowing!” and “No, I want to be in the middle!” plus some intentional farting made us decide to make Thing 1 and Thing 2 sleep in one bed while Mr. T had to sleep with Mr. Rovira and I. Again, not a lot of sleep, but this time it was because Mr. T woke up about five times claiming to have had a nightmare. Oh, and did I mention that I normally sleep on a king-sized bed? Yep, these hotel room beds were queen-sized. To spare ourselves all of the conflict the next night, Thing 1 graciously volunteered to sleep on the floor. I slept with Thing 2, and Mr. T and Mr. Rovira slept in the other bed. That was a pretty decent night’s sleep. But then we had to drive, like, 500 miles the next day. It gets tiring.
The NEXT night we lucked out! At this point, we had made it to Wichita. Apparently, when I made our reservations, I booked us a “two queen bed suite” so not only did we have the usual two queen-sized beds that we were trying to get used to, but also we had a COUCH! The kids took dibs to see who got to sleep on the couch; Mr. T won.
We all got a pretty decent night’s sleep that night.
In Dallas, our beds were too hard. Mr. T volunteered to sleep on the floor that time. He serenaded us to sleep by singing “God Bless America” six times. It was awesome. I slept with Thing 1 that night. I should know this from our visit to London last summer, but he totally steals covers. I woke up cold at one point in the night and had to steal them back.
Now, at Uncle Marcus and Aunt Clare’s house, we have more comfortable digs (for free!) but it still isn’t home. I love everything we’re doing here, but it will be so satisfying to peel back the covers of my own bed and drift off to a peaceful slumber at home.
So were on the fourth day of our road trip. We spent the weekend in Las Vegas, and then yesterday we drove to Moab. This morning, we got up WAY early (for vacation!) and hiked out to the “Delicate Arch” at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Below is a little wrap up our our experiences so far:
Vegas — It started off AWESOMELY at the House of Blues Foundation Room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. We dropped off the kiddos at Uncle Walt’s house for some cousin fun while the adults had a chance to hang out at the balcony of the Foundation Room at, like, the 72nd floor (or something) of the Mandalay Bay hotel. (I never usually get to go to things like this; thanks, Uncle Larry!)
From there, some of the adults (including Mr. Rovira) went to go see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. (Not me, because I’m not that old, and I have no idea who that band is or what songs they sing.) Others of us went down into the casino. My niece, Ms. A, had never been gambling before, so Fairy Godmother Aunt Jennifer (not me, I’m Aunt Jenny) and Uncle Steve showed her how it was done as my other niece, Ms. M, and I watched. Then Mr. Rovira came back to pick me up to go back to Uncle Walt’s and pick up our kids, after which we checked into our hotel room.
The next day, Mr. Rovira and I took the kids to the Paris Hotel and Casino for a real Vegas buffet breakfast. We wanted to go to that hotel because that’s the hotel at which we got married. On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at the iconic Las Vegas sign for a touristy pic, before hopping into our bathing suits to spend a couple of hours at our hotel’s lazy river pool.
That was awesomely relaxing, until some rude Australian boys showed up. 🙁 We went back to the hotel room for naps before we had to get ready for Uncle Walt and Aunt Joy’s big party.
Mr. T was the HIT of the party. It was a combination wedding vow renewal and retirement party. He danced the night away and had lots of fun with his cousins in the photo booth.
Waking up the next morning, we packed up and went to have some breakfast with Uncle Walt and Aunt Joy before hitting the road to Moab. The trip to Moab was about a six and a half hour trip, and we made stops along the way in St. George (for In-N-Out lunch!) and Richfield for gas. We got rained on outside of St. George, which was awesome, as it cleaned off our car of bugs!
Moab — We woke the kids up EARLY to go to Arches National Park. We wanted to see the “Delicate Arch” relatively tourist-free, and especially when it was a cool part of the day. When we set out, it was 55˚F — perfect! We got to the park so early, in fact, there was no one manning the ticket booth, so we got to enter the park without paying the $10 auto fee. There were only a few families at the arch when we got there, so Mr. T, Mr. Rovira, and Thing 1 were able to go stand under the arch and take a picture all by themselves. Mr. T was a trooper getting all the way to the top.
Now we’re back in the hotel room, chilling out a bit and planning the rest of our day. The kids are chomping at the bit to go to the pool. We’re researching options for how to spend the rest of the day. Unfortunately, Moab seems to be a pretty expensive place! A one-hour trip on the jet boat on the Colorado River is $55 per person — kinda steep for us. Plus, Mr. T doesn’t weigh enough to go on the boat, nor is he old enough to go on the boat to begin with . . . or zip lining . . . etc. So, we’ll walk the main drag, get some frozen yogurt, go to the pool, not necessarily in that order. 🙂
I’ll check in soon!
But you would barely know it by the looks of the weather.
Summer vacation officially started at 11:44 on Thursday last week (May 28), but the mornings have been so socked in with overcast and gloom that it is hard to get motivated to do anything. Instead, I want to snuggle up in my bed and keep reading the news and browse Facebook.
It didn’t help that I started off summer vacation with a cold. I was cleaning out my classroom on Wednesday. I was sneezing a lot, and my eyes were watering, but I thought it was just because the classroom was dusty. However, then my throat started to hurt, which doesn’t normally happen with allergies. I went home and slept as best as I could, and I showed up for the last day of school (Thursday) feeling miserable. I went to the pharmacy to get some better over-the-counter cold medicine, took that, stayed in bed on Friday and most of Saturday, and I feel better. But I still just want to stay in bed. I should go running.
Yesterday, Mr. T and I did go for a walk. I wanted to try out my new GPS heart rate monitor running watch. We certainly weren’t running, but I was keen to see how the GPS worked. We walked from our house to the Sunny Hills Post Office to mail two thank-you cards, a 3.26 mile round trip. The watch worked great, and I’m going to take it with us on our road trip. That was one thing that I did do while I was relaxing in bed — plan our summer road trip to seven different states.
Yep, you read correctly . . . we’re going to visit seven different states in the next three weeks. We starting off by heading to Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Rovira’s oldest brother lives outside of Las Vegas, he and his wife recently retired, and they are celebrating, too, their tenth wedding anniversary. So, they’re throwing a party for the whole family. Mr. Rovira’s family is HUGE (he is one of eight children, who all have children), and though not all siblings and cousins will be there, it will still be quite a fiesta. We’re starting off in the House of Blues Foundation Room on Friday (tonight) evening, and having a big shindig on Saturday. On Sunday, the Fullerton Roviras (us) will pull out from Vegas and head northeast toward Moab, Utah. Arches National Park is in Moab, Utah, home of the “Delicate Arch” which is featured prominently in vacation videos promoting Utah.
I hiked to it with my dad a couple of years ago when we took a road trip to Denver to deliver my brother some furniture shortly after he moved. It is only about a three-mile walk . . . but the first half of it is uphill.
And this is why I am excited to take my GPS watch. I want to see the net elevation gain total, see my heart rate as I ascended, track our speed. (With Mr. T, I can assure you we won’t be traveling quickly.) When I get done with a run, or walk (as the case may be), I just hook up my watch to my computer and the stats all download for me to examine and study.
We’re going to spend about a day and a half in Moab, long enough to do our hike and rest afterwards. Then we’re going to get on the road again to travel to Denver, Colorado. It is about a five to six hour drive from Moab to Denver. We’re going to be staying in Denver for two full days visiting with my brother before we move on again, this time toward the southeast. Our ultimate destination is New Orleans, Louisiana, where Mr. Rovira’s other brothers and cousins live. We’re going to travel east out of Denver and into Kansas. We’re going to stay the night in Wichita, Kansas, drive south through Oklahoma into Dallas, Texas, and drive from Dallas to Louisiana. I am looking forward to some barbecue in Texas. It is the best.
We’re spending a week in Louisiana. While there, Thing 1 and Mr. Rovira (and maybe Mr. T) will go fishing (or shrimping). One of the best things to do in Louisiana is have a shrimp and crab boil. It is hard to describe but totally delicious. It requires fresh shrimp and crab, ears of corn, potatoes, celery chunks, seasonings, and a big outdoor stockpot to cook it in. Then, to serve, you set out a bunch of newspaper on a table in the backyard, all sit down, drain the shrimp and fixings, and dump it all out on the table. It is THE BEST.
More later . . . I have to pack now.
Right before Winter Break started, we got a new puppy in our family. His name is Black Jack. What is the significance behind the name? Well, it goes like this: In my family we have a tradition of naming our dogs after people. This started in the family I grew up in, when we named one of our cats Elvis. As a kitten, before he had his name, Elvis was sitting as regally as a little kitten could. My dad said, “Look at him! He looks like he thinks he’s the king!” The real Elvis’s moniker was the King of Rock and Roll. So we combined the two and decided that the name for our new kitten would be Elvis.
Flash forward in time to 2001. After 9/11 happened, my husband, who was an officer in the Army National Guard, was deployed for Homeland Defense. To keep me company while I was gone, he got me a chocolate lab puppy. My brother-in-law helped me decide on the name Patton for the dog. George S. Patton was a World War II general — controversial in his time, but a general none the less. Our dog, Patton, died, and we decided we were finally ready for a new one. We were going to surprise the kids and give him to them as part of their Christmas presents. This time, we named him after a very famous World War I general, John J. “Black Jack” Pershing. Gen. Pershing helped defeat the Germans during World War I, was promoted to General of the Armies, which is the highest rank available, and was even given the French Légion d’honneur, which is the highest decoration awarded in France.
Shortly before vacation started, we picked up our dog. He was just over three months old and very cute! He weighed 12 pounds and, after a day or two of nervousness, began to get acquainted with his new home. He did try, on occasion, to steal Mr. T’s shoes. We had to keep the kids’ doors closed because he loved to find Legos and try to eat them. I did get him a few things from the pet store that he can gnaw on, so he is quickly learning what is okay to chew on and what is still off-limits. He is definitely smart. He learned quickly, for example, how to ring a bell I put on the door handle to let us know he needed to go outside. He loves to curl up on a lap. He also snores!
Here are a few pics of our new dog:
Look for more cute “aww!” Black Jack posts in the future!
Why? Why is today going to be so awesome? And, you might be asking yourself, how can you know this when it is not even nine o’clock in the morning? Here’s why:
(Some backstory . . . ) I have been trying to get healthier since June 9 of this year. Over the summer I gave up Diet Coke (and all the caffeine that comes with it!), and I started jogging. I wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning and I go out with Mrs. Olivolo about three days a week. After a bout of shin splints earlier this year that left me stationary for three weeks (see this blog post and scroll down to Random Thought #5 where I complained), I haven’t quite been able to get back to the level I was at before my injury. But today I had a breakthrough!
Mrs. Olivolo and I run a 1.25 mile loop through my neighborhood twice, so we run a total of about 2.5 miles when we go out. For the last ¼ mile, we are running on an incline. Additionally, for the last ¼ of that, we run up a very steep hill. At no time have I ever been able to jog up this hill without having to stop and walk. Never ever. Even walking up the hill makes my heart rate speed up and my breathing to get heavier. Today was different, though. I was feeling good all throughout our run, and when we got to the steepest part of our run, well, I just kept going! My leg muscles began to burn, and my breathing became labored, but I. Just. Kept. Going. Even when my brain was thinking to itself, “You can’t do this,” I ignored it and kept moving my feet. Making it up the hill was an awesome achievement that I unlocked, but it get’s better . . . because I DID IT AGAIN! When we made it to the peak, we stopped to walk and to catch our breaths, and then we began the second circuit of our loop. Still feeling good, I decided to make a go of it a second time . . . so, yep, two times today I made it up that steep hill without stopping to walk.
I can’t tell you how awesome I feel! It makes me feel better, too, because Mrs. Olivolo, a few other teachers here at school, and I are going to run in a Ragnar relay race later on this school year (in the spring). I feel like I am the weakest link in our relay, but maybe not? If I keep pushing on, I’ll be a worthy team member, for sure.
(I also feel great because I managed to stop at Sprouts yesterday to get fresh turkey and ham for a nice sandwich today at lunch. I also bought a garden salad to eat as a side. It is always awesome when I have a lunch I can look forward to while I am at work.)
Why is today going to be a good day for you? OR, how was this a good day (if you are reading this at the end of your day)?
This happens to me all the time: I need two or three things (say, hair conditioner and paper plates) from Target. So, I pop on over and enter the store WITH EVERY INTENTION OF GETTING JUST THOSE TWO THINGS. But that Target bullseye logo is hypnotic, and I ending up putting things in my cart that I did not necessarily need right at that moment. This cartoon sums it up perfectly:
This afternoon was another such time when I walked out of the store with WAY more than I originally had planned to buy. What I needed to buy was some Play-Doh and Ziploc bags for tutorials at school tomorrow. That’s it! We’re doing claymation / stop motion movies / Lego movies in my room, and I wanted to get some Play-Doh to add to the supply that is there already. The Ziploc bags were for students to put their Claymation figure in at the end of tutorials for the day to keep them nice and moist for next time. But then I remembered I need to purchase the aforementioned hair conditioner, so I put that in the cart. And then I remembered I was out of Crystal Light, so I put that in the cart. Mr. Rovira texted me and told me we needed foil, so I headed over to that aisle. I was sure we needed to stock up on the Smucker’s seedless strawberry jelly, so I put two of those in the cart.
I was heading deeper and deeper into the store. I was coming closer to all of the Halloween stuff that is out on display. That reminded me that I hadn’t yet bought any candy for the trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood yet, so I plowed down the aisle to pick out candy I liked. I bought six or seven bags: one was an assortment, a few were m&ms, and I bought at least two or three of 3 Muskateers, which is my favorite.
Then, it happened! Out of the corner of my eye, I spied . . . Christmas lights. Seriously, Halloween is still two days away, and the back of the store is FILLED with all varieties of Christmas lights. I know I mentioned earlier this school year that I am not a fan of Christmas (see here). But I do love the lights, and these were calling me! The type that I was looking for are LED lights, with a traditional C9 shaped bulb. These are awesome, though, because they are color changing lights, and there’s sixteen different strobing patterns that you can set the string to flash at when they are on display. They can be, for example, “steady on white” or “steady on multiple” . . . and there are seven different colors! The colors can “chase” each other, or twinkle, or fade in and out. Very, very cool. I first saw these about two years ago at Home Depot on the Black Friday sales day. Even on sale, they were close to $80, so there was NO WAY I was buying them. Even last year, they were too expensive. But this year, they came down in price enough, that I decided to splurge and add them to my cart. After I get paid, I’ll go back and get one more strand. Then I’ll get maybe two more at the Black Friday sales this year, and that should be enough for the front of our house.
So this is what my cart ended up looking like, even though I only wanted TWO things.
I headed for the check out before I could do more damage. My pocket book is safe . . . until I need to go back to Target.
So there’s a little over seven hours of flight time left on this flight. We are currently over Greenland as I write this. Thing 1 is watching an in-flight cartoons (“Regular Show”) at his seat, having already watched a movie we loaded up onto his iPad. We’ve already been served our meal. Shades are down as people try to sleep, watch something on their seatback, or are playing with their own personal devices. It is 8 p.m. London time, and by rights I should be tired or sleepy. I didn’t sleep especially well last night, in anticipation of traveling today but also because Thing 1 kept stealing covers and hitting me in his sleep. But I am excited to return home, to see my family, and to hand out some of the gifts I picked up for them on our travels. I also prefer to think that I am not tired because I’ve already reverted back to Los Angeles time, where it is currently noon. The only thing that is really aggravating is that there is a trio of French twenty year olds behind me who are, understandably, excited for their first trip to Los Angeles. But the one sitting directly behind me keeps kicking or hitting my seat. To say it is a pain in the captain’s quarters is an understatement.
Thing 1 and I got up today, got ready, did our final packing, and went out for one last errand. We wanted to visit the London Museum of Transport gift shop and pick up a few more cool London Underground items. We still had to get a gift for Ms. Estela and my brother, who was in visiting from Denver. (He is Thing 1’s favorite uncle out of the six he has, and would be picking us up at the airport along with Mr. Rovira and Mr. T. Thing 2 is away at Girl Scout camp, so she will not be welcoming us home.) The Museum wasn’t open yesterday, otherwise we would have gone yesterday. We had just enough time to make it over there when they opened today, look around, make some purchases, have a bite to eat, and then head back to our hotel. Once there, it was cab (as I planned), train, airport … and here I am now.
But the next time that annoying passenger behind me kicks my seat (which should be in about a minute or two), I’m reclining my seat!