spectating participant

December 31, 2005

the kitchen is too full

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:41 pm

… full of people trying to maneuver around everyone else to get at the melted chocolate, melted cheese, and other assorted goodies. Really, the food needs to be balanced between the dining room and the kitchen, there are too many souls trying to squeeze into a too small space (well, the kitchen it too small when there are 12+ people moving around). Chris seems to think that I have to stay up there even when there is no one to talk to and it is incredibly awkward just sitting about waiting for the masses to escape the kitchen. Perhaps I didn’t get enough real food for dinner, perhaps it is just that stress of being around people that I don’t really know nor do I want to know. Chris tries to tell me that some of them are his friends to, but that isn’t cutting it. I guess the mix of people that are not is too high to balance that out. But, I keep pretending that things will settle out in a little while, that there will come a time where it is okay to be upstairs, but right now is not it. And, I sit and wonder how long it will be till Chris comes to drag me away again. Or, perhaps, he’ll just give up and realize that it is a very negative thing to be upstairs and not so bad for me to be downstairs, here, waiting for a better time to head up. Plus, if I am up there now, I’d have to be solving a way un-corral the masses in the kitchen and do a better job of dispersing the grazing. did i mention that M&M also use this time to exchange gifts with their friends. I’m amazed at the concept of buying gifts for so many people, a nice luxury to have, but I don’t like being in audience to such an exchange. I was disappointed that our gift exchange was done on this night since I figured that living together would afford us other more appropriate, in my opinion, moments for such an event. wow, I think I’m being a bit whiney, guess I’ll just give up and head upstairs.

December 29, 2005

I -heart- my control journal

Filed under: flylady, family, life — suzanne henderson @ 3:50 pm

I’ve mentioned [flylady] in the past in this post. I’ve also talked about it a bit with friends, but not in too much detail. So, if you’re familiar with it, this post will make sense; if not, then probably not. If you need help keeping your life more organized and house clean, then I really suggest you look into the book [Sink Reflections] and the flylady website and email lists. If you’re also behind on household things, there is a chance that homecooked meals are also lacking in your life and for that I’d also suggest [Saving Dinner] the book, the website, and their menu mailers.


Due to being a fulltime student, I have to rearrange my schedule every semester. The days that I run errands or the days I need a crockpot meal must be shifted to another day when my class hours change. This means that I have to make changes to my control journal. When I first started doing flylady, I remember hearing about how we were not supposed to become perfectionists with our control journals, but I couldn’t help it. I love making documents and lists and it is really something I take joy in doing. This change of semester is also a good time for me to look at my zone and house blessing schedules and see where I could improve things.

Yesterday, I took apart my weekly house blessing list (it includes 15 rooms) and broke the tasks down. Before, I had “Bathrooms (all three): sweep, polish mirrors, empty trash, …” but I noticed that I couldn’t mark it off unless I’d done all three bathrooms; sometimes I’d only get 2 done. So now, I have a separate list for each bathroom and also separated all other combined tasks. For some, this may be overwhelming because the page that was once just one column is now two full columns, but it means that I’m able to mark more things off the list when I do them. For example, emptying all the trash cans was just one task before but now I get to mark it off for 12 of the rooms. The additional lines that get crossed off are a better representation of the work done than just one little line and it feels good to see the checkmarks.

Also, I think this also helps my daughter (age 10). She has chores every day and is free to chose her chores and can have as much or as little variety as she wants. The only requirement is to pick from the list of weekly house blessing or something from the current zone. I ask that she does 15 minutes worth of work, wether that is one task or three. She used to complain about the chores she was required to do because she didn’t like having to do the same thing every week or being told what she had to do. Now, she gets a lot of options — sometimes too many at the beginning of the week and too few at the end — and things are moving much more smoothly.

December 27, 2005

holidays survived

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 12:06 pm

This was a good year on the Christmas front. Alex got “everything [she] ever wanted” and that wasn’t much of an exaggeration. There have been so many years of sparse christmas giving that it was a bit surprising to see just how well she did this year. I was happy to see her smiling and happy and excited about everything. She got chemistry sets, a mini-planetarium, books, wolf items (she loves wolves), and crafting items galore (new knitting needles, yarn, fabric, felt, thread, sewing kit, wood, wood working tools, knitting books … galore). It was a really great time. Chris gave me a glass bead making kit, I can’t wait to fire it up and see what it can do. Playing with glass sounds like so much fun. My mom got me yoga supplies and a private session with my current instructor, something that will come in very handy since my school classes will interfere with yoga next semester.

My mom flew home on Christmas and it was very nice having her in town for a few days. After dropping her off at the airport we headed over to Bowie and had dinner with Chris’s mom. I was tired most of the time thanks to the adventure the night before.

For several years, Chris has been wanting to go to York, PA to hear a steam whistle at midnight Christmas Eve. So, weary from a week of adventures with my mom, I still headed up there about 10pm on Christmas Eve. We found the place and the lot of people also waiting around to hear the whistle. And, as we waited, we heard that there would be no whistle blowing, it was canceled. Bummer. We sat a bit in the car, I think hoping that the news wasn’t true. Chris eventually hopped out to talk with some other people waiting around and found out that their boiler broke down but they were offering tours of the whistle. While we missed out on the actual blowing of the whistle, we were able to see the broiler that is maintained solely for the purpose of this once a year event and meet with the man who has been doing it for the past 35 years or so… maybe longer than that, I can’t recall.

Also, I got another gift that wasn’t exactly Christmas related, though timing wise it works so. On Friday, I was working on my first costume of the year — and I can now say that I’ve made something for myself this year — and realized that the machine I’ve been using just wouldn’t do the job. I’ve been wanting a serger for years and when Chris got home on Friday, I asked ever so sweetly if we could go get one, one I’d just found on sale for a $100 off at Sears, and he actually said yes. It has been wonderful!!! Oh so wonderful, I’ve been able to whip things right together and able to protect the seams of the material that, while very beautiful, keeps fraying apart. I’m actually off to the fabric store again to get the material for the skirt and top that will go under it. I’m wishing for somewhere splendid to go on NYE so that I have an excuse to wear it. Perhaps something will come up!

December 12, 2005

sweet, so, sweet

Filed under: dining, cooking, family, life — suzanne henderson @ 4:01 pm

The island in the kitchen was buried under ingredients, utensils, and rows and rows of cookies on Sunday. Iwas time for some holiday baking and it was a lot of fun and very productive. Collectively we made 3 batches of spice nuts, two batches of no bake cookie (chris’ recipe calls them raggedy robins.. odd), 8 dozen peanut butter blossom, 1 batch of sugar cookie dough, 1 batch of gingerbread dough, and 8 dozen chocolate truffle cookies. It was quite an adventure.

Chris spent most the tie working on the sugar cookie dough which was being far more stubborn than I would have tolerated. We did get a few cookies cut out, but I think we’ll have to give it another try later. We bought a million cookie cutters and I want to get some use out of them; but honestly, I just want to decorate the cookies–I don’t even like eating sugar cookies. The peanut butter blossoms are my favorite, but bagged up over 2/3 of them to help fill stockings for the staff members at Alex’s school. The spice nuts were very easy and so I just made two more batches to have a simple thing to bag up for the stockings. Kay, a new balt-wash member, came over and made her chocolate truffle cookies which were quite chocolatey.

By the end of the day, after a few too many tastes of everything, I was dying for something real for dinner. Megan and Chris were suggesting pizza but that sounded far too sweet to me. We ended up getting steaks at a local place that just opened last month. I felt bad about heading out to eat, but Chris pointed out that we’d both been slaving away in the kitchen all day and it was perfectly reasonable. The food was great, as always, but the atmosphere made it to where I’ll never go back again.

I’ve been spoiled with Montgomery County not allowing smoking in restaurants. When we arrived, we requested a seat as far away from smoking as possible and didn’t get one. Then before the appetizer showed up, my lungs were starting to hurt from the drifting smoke. We asked the waiter if we could move (luckily it wasn’t busy) and got a little further away. In fact, we got through the majority of the meal before the smoke managed to creep over to the new location. I like the food and alex loves the place, but I am not going to eat somewhere that allows smoking, especially not a place that doesn’t even divide the two areas, sigh. It was still nice to be eating something that wasn’t sweet and that I didn’t have to clean up after.

December 4, 2005

posting shortage

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 3:36 pm

I’ve only posted 105 messages this year. That it quite shocking. About 67% of them were during school-less months; no real surprise there. But it has been a rather slim year in terms of communication and barely recordable presence of what I would consider to be real writing. Writing that I put a bit of myself into, breaking off a bit of the light around me and infusing it into everything I say. However, while I have not been posting here, I have been writing. I had a class this semester where all of the assignments allowed me to shine quite brightly and really demonstrate what a “master wordsmith” I can be at time. And, it was all created for non-fiction writing, putting spins and twirls on things that brought out laughter and smiles for my professor and gave her a break from the monotony of generic college essays from students just trying to make the grade. IN fact, I even took whole new spins on the assignments, taking some liberties with the guidelines and what not to showcase what I could do and how I could tie the overall concepts together and make it come together as a true piece of writing. I did worry that I would lose points for crossing those predetermined boundaries and pushing the limits of expectations and creative license, but it worked out beautifully. I have gotten full points on each assignment that I turned in and lots of positive feedback about my work as well.

And I have been focusing my attention on my course work first and foremost and my family as well. The house is fairly clean most of the time, far cleaner than I imaged it would ever be for any length of time, and I feel more comfortable being in it. However, I seemed to’ve cleaned the house at the cost of maintaining my room and now I hate to be in there. Sigh. But it is all paying off. Alex is doing pretty good. I have an A in every class and have completed one midterm with a perfect score and another by only missing one point. My assignments are all completed (except for one EDMS one that hasn’t been handed out yet) and am well on my way to a 4.0 semester GPA which should bring my cumulative GPA to a 3.5 or higher.

So, with all of this happening, I doubt my posting will increase in the following months. I’m taking a winter class that begins Jan 3., meets 5 days a week for 3 hours a day, and ends Jan. 23. I will be quite busy during that time. I did get the internship that I wanted, so I’ll be spending a little less than 20 hours a week at Alex’s school the end of January through May and completing whatever additional assignments my faculty advisors deems appropriate. And those changes on the horizon I’ve eluded to, mixed in graduating and finding a job, will take on more time as summer approaches. And yes, it looks as though my longing for Wisconsin will just have to take a backseat for many more years.

anthropological highlights

Filed under: school, life — suzanne henderson @ 2:50 pm

I’ve made many comments about my pursuit of a degree in Anthropology while I have almost no interest in the field of anthropology. This tends to get quizzical looks because it doesn’t make sense. Why spend time and money pursuing a degree in a field that I don’t want to be a part of? I then attempt to explain the basic core of anthropology which is research, field work, and experiments and how I plan to make that work to my benefit in the professional world. Of course, it still lingers, that pondering look at my declared distaste in anthropology.

There has been a slight adjustment in this contempt I have. First, I’m taking Introduction to Biological Anthropology, a course I took before when the world was falling apart around me and didn’t score very high. Despite the D I earned last year, it was the most fascinating anthropological information I heard in all my departmental course requirements. Evolution is a fascinating thing, from looking at the biology of living organisms to the cultural behaviors of primates and ancient hominids. I must admit that I still don’t care much for the examination of skulls of various hominids, analyzing their hundreds of thousands years old characteristics for species classification. But I do find the overall science of it all rather exciting. So fascinating that I will be a TA (teacher’s assistant) next semester for this same course, helping a graduate TA teach the lab sections where students get to do the hands learning.

By the end of next semester, I should have a very firm understanding of the overall evolution of hominoids and hominids and be able to explore my interest further if I want. And, perhaps I will engage people in the incredibly fascinating topic (to me at this point) of how and why human evolution followed a specific course. In fact, I’ll be armed with a very well done website, Becoming Human, to send people to for an interactive and visually engaging presentation of evolutionary information in simple terms with deeper, more technical information available with just a mouse click. This website is great for students from elementary school through college. I wish that I had found it at the beginning of this course because it ties all the information we’ve learned together in a interesting package that makes anthropology seem a little less stuffy and dull.

There is another website that I recently came across that also offers a wealth of information: Human Origins project. This project is part of the Smithsonian Institute and is very informative. However, they seem to have continued the dry tradition of anthropology and just poured out endless links of information without trying to make it engaging. For someone who is really into this stuff, this website may be more accessible in terms of research than Becoming Human, however I want to refer people to something that sparks excitement and intrigue, not headaches from never-ending rows of small white type on a dark background.

Now, this increased interest in anthropology got another boost on Friday. At the Smithsonian’ Museum of Natural History, I went to a flint knapping demonstration organized by my professor. The idea of making stone tools does somewhat interest me from the crafting side of my life. I’ve taken a greater interest on manipulating various materials, be it metal, wire, wood, or plant, and felt that making stone tools would be able to keep my interest for the hour long presentation it was touted to be. The demonstration went on for more than an hour and I left around the second hour mark because I needed to get home to alex, however that time flew by in minutes.

The presenters, whose names I need to get from my professor, were fabulous. They did not get in front of us with a dry presentation drawn up, droning on about the historical context of stone tool use or anything like that (as I expected them to do thanks to the dull lip-service given to stone tools by my archaeology professor last year). No, they were excited about their work, eager to answer questions, and made a conversational flow the basis of their presentation. I learned so many things in that short period of time that really excited me and made me see the broader implication of anthropological research and why people spend their lives getting dirty to learn about people who are dead and gone (plus some). I found out thing about tool use that I didn’t imagine I’d ever be interested in and I eagerly asked questions to find out even more. I was amazed by the experimental integrity needed to draw certain conclusions about stone tool construction and the wealth of data such a minor modification to a stone can provide to researchers. Hands on and practical, this information boosted the respect I have for anthropologists and has made me glad that I will have a degree with anthropology written on it.

When I first entered college, I took an anthropology course in my freshman or sophomore year. I remember the excitement I felt after the course, wishing that I could ignore the practicality of needing a degree that would get me a job making money and pursue it academically. It is funny how I switched into anthropology when I transferred to Maryland and then discounted the importance and significance of the field. Perhaps it was just that loss of the spark I first felt when the information brought the subject to life and highlighted the intersection of biology, evolution, history, and culture. And now, as I’m on may way out the campus door in one more semester, it is exciting knowing that I’ll have the skills I need to pursue my professional interests in education and that I could also meddle around in the traditional anthropology field as well.