Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing in a New Year with a House Full of Middle School Girls

Al's birthday is nine days before Christmas, which her dad and I have always celebrated seperately from Christmas, so I don't think she's ever felt "shorted" in the gift department. However, parties were long a challenge, because, let's face it, the week before Christmas is often filled with enough holiday festivities that a little girls birthday party is an easy one to skip. I believe it was four years ago that we came up with a brilliant idea - Al (with some help from her momma) hosts a New Year's Eve sleepover. It's perfect - the girls have a great chance to ring in the new year together, the parents don't have to look for a babysitter (or leave their MS girls home alone), and Al actually has people show to her birthday party. The only drawback? I have a house full of middle school girls. I believe I'm some sort of masochist.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Snow Shovels = Good Karma

This is the beginning of my second winter here on Whitney Street, and I have been continuing my habit of digging out not only my driveway, but that of my elderly neighbor, plus helping other neighbors who might be shoveling while I'm out. Just the neighborly thing to do.

Well, today I got home from work, and I was deciding whether I should park in the street rather than further mash down the boogers that the snow-plow leaves at the botom of the driveway when - dun-duh-duh - someone had already moved all that chunky, heavy snow for me!!!

Don't know for sure who it was, so this is be best I can do for a THANK YOU!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vampires and Werewolves

Well, I should be:
1) Working on my culminating project for my MSU class
2) Grading papers
3) Planning for next week

but all this has taken a backseat to Bella, Edward, and Jacob. If you don't know who these beautiful people are, then you clearly don't have many teenagers in you life.

Twilight is all the rage among the adolescent set. I read the first book several years ago, and though I couldn't put it down, I thought it was a bit lame. Fast forward a few years - ALL the 13 year-olds in my life (which are many) think these are the greatest books written and can't wait to see the movie. I took Al on opening day, and she then convinced me to read the rest of the books.

So, one week later they have consumed my free time. I have read more in the last week than I probably have the rest of the school year (no small feat). But I hate it. The books aren't well written, they're predictable, Bella infuriates me with her devotion to her "Man", there is a total fairy-tale love-at-first-sight thing that is disturbing, and the characters are not super-bright - lots of plot "twists" that surprise them were so predictable that I didn't even know I figured them out - I just though they were obvious to everyone. Kind of like if tomorrow's headline was Scientists Discover - the Sky is Blue!

So what is so compelling about these books? Pure escapism? Avoidance (I do have a ton I'm avoiding - see list at the top)? I can't figure it out.

Let me know if you do.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's a Scary World Out There

Yesterday, I learned that one of our student's here in dinky little FMS was abducted from her bedroom, at knife-point, and sexually assaulted. 6th grader. I don't have her in any of my classes, don't have any older brothers or sisters, don't even know her, but still. This is the type of thing that happens somewhere else. Somewhere that doesn't really touch me or people I know and care about.

Actually, this isn't supposed to happen at all. Despite what popular media may have you believe, people don't just break into your house and steal your baby. They don't.

Except they did.

Until yesterday, I lived in a world where I mostly slept with the doors unlocked. I knew I was safe. I knew my kids were safe.

Now I wonder. This was pretty close to home. All the details aren't out yet, so I can still cling to the belief that the guy somehow knew her and her family - was maybe even a family friend - someone who had some sort of sanctioned access to the home, some sort of connection. Not just a guy who randomly broke into this house and randomly chose this girl, because that still doesn't happen, right?


Monday, October 20, 2008

All May Be Well

Janet Swenson, I do so love you!! Thanks for believing in me. I think I can do this now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I am amazed by people and their talents.

I like to believe that I am a fairly intelligent woman. I'm well educated, well read, and successful, so that seems to support my thinking. But sometimes I simply get blocked.

I have previously spoken of the Red Cedar Writing Project, the phenomenal, life-changing writing community I had the privilege of being a part of this summer. Well, one of the many fab things about this experience was that I earned 3 graduate-credits for the work that I did this summer - that translates to more that $1000, and gets me three credits closer to a raise. No small deal.

We also had the option of either receiving some technology (digital camera and voice recorder) or taking another 3-credit hour class for free this fall. In June this was a no-brainer - I learned so much this summer, that of course I would take the class (not to mention the financial benefits).

Now I'm absolutely sure this was the wrong choice. I feel way over my head, though a certain amount of that feeling is simply that I want instead to focus on different things. It's not that this class is a waste of time, because it's not. I have already learned a ton about writing, but the point of this class is to develop Professional Development in regards to Writing Across the Curriculum - and I, at least at this point in my life, have no intention of facilitating PD. In fact, as you may remember, in October really my future is full of work as a massage therapist.

So this is where my amazement comes in. I am in awe of people who get this kind of stuff. Who can organize something like this. Who have the confidence to do something like this.


November - hurry up.

Monday, October 13, 2008

October Blues

Oh Sweet blog - how I miss thee!

Before I begin this entry, please let me assure you all that I LOVE my job. I mean, sure, I'd dig being independently wealthy and spending my days sipping margaritas pool-side while some ripped pool boy fans me, but, if I have to work, this is the greatest job around.

Except during October.

So much about it is so wonderful. An ever-so-slight crispness to the air that allows me to dig out my favorite jeans and tye-dyed hoodie. The astounding colors filling the branches (and my mulching mower that keeps me from having to rake them up). Fresh apple cider. Fresh apples. The greatest holiday - Halloween. The vibrant orange pumpkins everywhere I look. What's not to love?


Inevitably, I get off to a great school-year start with all my new ideas collecting their flavor, with the kids excited and loving being in my new and different classroom, knowing exactly what I want to do and when, and just savoring the joy that is teaching 8th grade ELA.

Then October sneaks in.

And suddenly my ideas fall flat, the kids are used to being in my now boring room and have decided to test me, I feel disorganized, and I start to plot how I could change to a different, easier profession.

I know it's October.

I know it will pass.

But sometimes, 31 days seems like too many flavors.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Free time is over

Yowza - now for the time crunch - hopefully by next week I will be able to figure out a better writing schedule - until then.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not a day without a line

Here's my line:

Friends worry when you're late

Monday, August 25, 2008

I will survive

Well, I made it through class #1 - only three more to go. Yowza - I'm feeling like this was not my best decision, but I am sure all will be well in the end. It was lovely to see many of my RCWP friends, and I wished more of us were there. All for now - school (sans kids) in the morning!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Still don't really have enough time to be on here, but I think this writing bug has set in pretty well.

Thursday Legs and I were SICK - poor Carlos was not, so I called Jeff to see if he could take him for a bit, but it appears he caught the same thing - not a pretty day.

Friday we were well recovered and treated ourselves to Bob Evans for breakfast (first restaurant meal since my birthday - yay me!). Boo, on the other hand treated herself to a bird. Carlos was very excited about this and LET HER INSIDE where she proceeded to drop it in front of Ally - she must like her best. Thankfully it was no longer a flying bird, or I would have had to given it the house.

Saturday Al and I got our hair cut at a new place. Muy expensive and Al's "trim" took off several inches. She was in tears; I was out $65; we're heading back to Michelle for our next cut. After, Frank and I went to a party/meeting for our volunteer stint at Wheatland. Had to drive 2 hours across the state both ways (who knew there was even such a place as Bitely?), got lost three times, and didn't really know anyone there, but it was still nice to go and we got our tickets and schedules. Can't wait for that! When I got back to Mt. Pleasant, I ran to Old Navy for some $7 jeans for the kids. What a bargain!

Today, I'm stressing about my class tomorrow that I am not prepared for and don't really want to get prepared for but will be somewhat prepared for by the time I get there. I'm thinking this blog today may have some avoidance issues surrounding it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Feeling the crunch

So much to write - so little time. My fingers are itching, but my eyes are becoming pillow magnets. Will proceed soon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Up in the tree top

A few weeks after I moved out of Jeff's house, the kids and I were taking a bike ride around our new neighborhood, sort of checking it out. We were not that far from the old neighborhood - west side now instead of down-town - but we weren't super familiar with where we were now residing, so we wanted to see what was around. at some point we turned the corner onto Henry and saw a huge painted sign: FREE KITTENS. What can I say? We came home with our tiny little kitty, Boo.

She was probably too young when we got her, but she turned out wonderfully, and has a weird little quirk where she sucks her tail. The intention was for her to be an inside-only cat, but between her sad crying if we left her in while we were out, Carlos' just letting her out, and her self made "cat door" in our slider screen, she became a cat that often ventures into the outside.

The duplex where we were living when Boo moved in with us was full of cats, but when we bought our house a few blocks away, Boo was one of few. This is no big deal, except that here, outside of cat central, there are tons of birds. This concern is not about my bird phobia (though I know those little buggers are just waiting to pounce and peck out my eyes), but about Boo's adoration of birds - as her lunch. After the first "present" she left, I went out and got her a pretty collar with a huge bell. Her determination to play with the birdies has not slowed down, but fortunately her success has.

Yesterday, Carlos and I were playing soccer in the street - Jeff doesn't like this, I think it's one of those city kid vs. country kid things; I've played in the street my whole life. It's just where you do certain things - and I heard a rustling in the highest branches of the apple tree. I thought it was an enormous squirrel, but instead it was our enormous cat (she is no longer a teeny-tiny kitty - I had to buy her a new jumbo-sized litter box - she's HUGE). I ran in to get my camera and get a shot of our girl way up there, but by the time I got back out, she was down.

Instead I shot this one of Carlos using his camera.

Man - aren't they cute:)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Winning the lottery

Last week I struck gold. I am a card carrying member of an elite circle - a Most Valuable Customer at Kohl's (yes that would mean credit card carrying - it's my only one). Basically, what this means is that I already spend too much money at the store, and in order to entice me into spending even more, Kohl's sends me regular percentage-off discount coupons. Typically these are for 15% - not a bad deal.

Last week, however, when I peeled back the protective covering I revealed a whopping 30%. THIRTY PERCENT!!!! And just before school! And it got better. Instead of the typical "one day personal sale" I could use it all week! This meant multiple trips and for all my friends armed with their own Kohl's cards (yeah, okay - that really means for me and for Susan). My karma wasn't so messed up by the deer/apple thing after all.

Day one - before I knew I could return - Al and I went school shopping. She desperately needed jeans; it seems this crazy thing called puberty has snuck in and given her some hips - she couldn't get her butt into her jeans of last spring. The catch was, we only had about 45 Carlos-free minutes. I was worried; my girl is a lot of amazing things - smart, artistic, beautiful, prolific, funny - but speedy is typically not one of them. This girl makes me look like Jackie Joyner Kersee, and those of you who know me well, know I ain't the quickest.

Something crazy was going on that day though - Legs picked out, tried on, and purchased four bras, three pair of jeans, and three t-shirts with time to spare. *sniffle-sniffle* my baby's growing up.

Day two - I went back for stuff for me for school (only two short weeks left of summer). While there, I found a rug I thought I'd like for my living room, now I'm not so sure. I think I was kind of attached to my excellent garage sale find already covering the "hard woods" (I'm not sure exactly how much wood is in my floor, so this is a bit of a misnomer). Anyway - I've added a before and after picture - let me know what you think. I leaning toward the before.

All in all I "saved" about $130! Hmmmm - no wonder they love me there.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Don't sit under the apple tree

I bought my house a little over a year ago now, and still love it. I knew the first time I saw it that it was the house for me - a cozy 850 square feet that holds three bedrooms, an attached garage, a fenced-in back yard, and, best of all, a beautiful apple tree in the front.

At least I believed it was beautiful until about mid-way through last summer - that's when the fruit started falling.

Everyday from mid-July through snow I need to pick up at least two bucket-fulls of apples just to keep up. It's crazy.

Last year, around hunting time, some guy stopped and asked if he could pick-up my apples for deer bait - I think I slipped him some tongue I was so happy. I wouldn't have to worry about crawling around on my front lawn with hands full of half rotten apples!

Ah, but now I would have to worry about my karma - providing enticement to lead poor Bambi and his comrades to their violent deaths doesn't seem like what might get me the best brownie points huh? Well, I decided to risk it - I'm otherwise in pretty good balance.

Flash-forward to another year, another summer of apple delight, and things were about the same. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, Carlos' friend Sam and his family came to visit, and while the boys were running amuck, Theresa, Ali (or Ollie, or Ally - I'm not really sure how to say it let alone spell it), Sis and I sat in the yard
under the apple tree chatting it up. Ali started eating the apples - something that never occurred to me - so we all tried one and they're delicious! Who knew!

So, know I'm still not thrilled about the carpet of apples I find on my front lawn every morning, but at least when I'm done creeping around gathering them up for compost, I can pluck a juicy reward from the branches.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chain chain chain

As you may remember, my birthday was earlier this week, and since then Carlos has been talking nearly non-stop about his up-coming 7th birthday. It's right around the corner only 2 1/2 short months away, but not soon enough for my little guy. He wants to get a cake to bring to school TODAY, never mind that school won't even begin for another 2+ weeks.

I sat down with him and the calendar and showed him when today is and when his birthday is. He seemed to get it, but then just permanently turned the month to October and again insisted on cake.

Please understand, Carlos doesn't particularly like sweets; he'd much rather eat popcorn, pretzels, or his favorite, Tomatoes, then cake and ice cream. He also isn't concerned with presents. I mean, he likes gifts, but never asks for anything. Actually, I think he likes opening gifts - doesn't much care about what's inside. I think, like his Momma, he's a birthday lover and really just wants to be the center of attention.

Again, Legs came up with the answer. She figured out how many days between today and the highly anticipated turning of 7, cut out a bunch of strips of construction paper - red and blue of course, Carlos' favorite - and made an enormous chain to hang around his room, the idea being that they remove one link each night before bed until the big day. A sort of advent calendar.

Carlos was thrilled. He loved it.

That night, Sis went in to help with the first link, Carlos would have none of that - this glorious chain would not be destroyed no matter it's original purpose. So, it seems he got his first early birthday present.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Brush your face and wash your teeth

After supper most nights, I give Al (Sissy) a choice. She can either clean up the kitchen, or clean up Carlos. It's pretty much a non-choice; she hates doing dishes and loves her little bro.

Sis is typically great at giving Carlos a bath. She gets him in there, gets him bubbled up, gets him laughing. Often the floor is also pretty clean by the end of the experience as well - it gets mopped, by necessity, after each of Carlos' bath experiences.

Sometimes, though, Sis isn't go great at this, and just gets the water going and then kind of leaves him to fend for himself with an occasional check-in. This is OK - I mean he is approaching seven, but he's not as good at getting all the grime off, plus sometimes he makes interesting choices in the few unsupervised minutes between her popping in.

Last night was one of those interesting choices. On one of her look-sees, Sis yells for me to come quick. She's laughing, so I'm not too worried, but I arrive in our bathroom to see Carlos armed with all of our tooth brushes, scrubbing to mildew off the tub. It was funny, but slightly disturbing - how many other times has he done this? I think I'd prefer not to know.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I did it!

So, I have now been 40 for three days, and believe it or not, all is well. My party was lovely, and those most important to me were there to help the celebration. All Carlos can talk about now is having a cake with his name on it at school for his 7th birthday (this isn't till October 30, so I'm thinking a long 11 weeks). I had a "pre-party" on Saturday that wasn't quite lovely, but was a lot of drunken fun!

thanks to all the well-wishers!

Monday, August 4, 2008


It is always amazing to me how short the summer is, but especially how short August is. What is today, like August 4th, and already I'm panicking about not having enough time to get everything ready for school. I spent the entire day today just organizing my classroom library. And I still have 3 or 4 boxes of books that need labeling and sorting. I wasn't going to go back tomorrow, but I'm afraid of a panic attack if I don't. August ought to have 45 days - then maybe I'd feel like I could get ready.

7 days left of my 30's!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Microwaves and exterior doors

Being a homeowner is fab with a hint of annoying. While renting, if something isn't quite right, you either don't worry about it, or call the landlord and it becomes his or her problem. I no longer have this luxury.

At Christmas time my brother, Andy, gave me a brand-new, white, Whirlpool built-in microwave that coincidentally matched the rest of my appliances. Yay, and thanks Andy. Now, though comes the fun part - installation.

Frank (former boy-friend, current good friend) came to help - and really I exaggerate, so let's try again.

Frank (former boy-friend, current good friend) came to do it for me, as long as I helped. Thanks Frank.

The installation itself was fairly easy, but of course, I didn't make it that simple for him. I didn't like how low the old microwave sat above the stove, so I asked him to raise the cupboard it was nestled under. This by itself would have only added a bit of work, but of course once I wanted to raise the cupboard, the electrical needed to be altered. After he did that and installed the fab new microwave, I asked him replace not one, but two exterior doors. Two days later, everything is in and looks great, but now I can see how badly I really need to paint. Does this sound a bit like a story about a mouse and a cookie?

See ya!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thinking about my roots

Dear Mom, Birthmom, Woman who bore me, Ma’am,

I imagine you don’t know me any more.
After all, you did only briefly; though at 15 it must have seemed like an eternity.

These are the things I know about you –
You are beautiful - not in a traditional way. Really in more of a crazy, spirited way.
You have abundant energy - people love to be around you. You make them feel better about
themselves than anyone else ever has.
You’re happy – really – you know that though you’ve made some tough choices in your life,
they’ve been the right choices.
Your partner and children know about me and are ready for my possible resurfacing.
You smell like the earth – rich and inviting and warm and sunny.
You stand-up for all the right causes - and work
hard to show people a caring way.
You’re a vegetarian - but not a vegan – something about eliminating honey just doesn’t work
for you.
You look young for your age – people can’t believe you’re pushing senior citizenship.
Your job involves reaching people – you might be a therapist, a yoga instructor, a teacher
Your house is small and full but not cluttered.
You read – a lot – and aren’t afraid to loan your books out to anyone – even the hardbacks.
You keep in touch with people - not many are lost from your life.
You do cartwheels in the hallways at work when no one is around.

Giving me up was the hardest thing you've ever done.

These are the things I don’t know –
If any of this is true.
If I can bear it if any of it is not.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Role Models

I just saw Hancock - Neat movie, and it got me thinking, If you could be a superhero - would you? That's not really a question is it? I mean, I don't think a super-hero has that choice. He or She just is. Except for Batman; Batman chose - no super powers for him, just super gadgets. But the others, Superman, Wonder Woman, they had no choice, they just were. Though that's not right either. Couldn't choose the super, but did choose the hero. Hmm.

I was reading a "10 Questions" in Time with John Madden. Mostly football stuff that I care not much about, but someone asked if football players should be considered role models and he very enthusiastically said, YES. Even proposed that some type of clause should be written into contracts stating as much. I instantly fell in love. Professional athletes are certainly role models, but we shouldn't stop there. We are all role models. Live your life remembering that - avoid doing things that you wouldn't want a kid to grow up and do.

If only that were easy right?

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Is it possible to not know what to say when you're fairly sure no one is listening anyway?

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Writer in Me

I have been inspired by the outstanding job my writer friends Christina and Denise have done with their blogs, and have decided to begin my own. I am very new to thinking that I may be a writer, but figure I can't be a writer if I don't indeed write. So here I am writing.

I am determined to have an entire week's "vacation" this summer, so I am NOT working on anything for school until Monday. Seriously. I mean it. But, I did just finish watching Dead Poet's Society, and am now full of even more great ideas for my classroom this fall. I will do all I can to remember them on Monday when I allow my holiday to come to a close. And I won't remember them by obsessing on them between now and then. I promise. Really.

So, about my week off. It's been fabulous. I've played with the kids. Legs and I had a riot today in Staples. Yes, the home of the easy button. We dropped Carlos off at school and ran up there for the 5-cent sale (Why is there not a cent symbol on keyboards anymore? Where did it used to be? I understand, much to my dismay, that pennies are fast becoming obsolete, but cents in general? I don't think so) which unfortunately ended Wednesday. We had time to kill, and Staples is air conditioned, so we wandered a bit. Ally happened upon a computer with a camera and touch screen - I think it was this one - and so we played. The options on the camera allowed us to do many funky, and some rather unpleasant, things to our images. We were giggling like Middle Schoolers, which only one of us happens to be (and no, this doesn't count as talking about school).

The rest of my leisure week included laundry, scrubbing floors and toilets, and actually completing a novel. All in all a good week.