Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cats and Dogs

Remember when I told you about my "special" cat, Rocky, and how she won't stay in her pen? Well, she still won't. But it's gotten worse because now she doesn't even bother to run away from the dog and go hide under the workshop. Dan and I are worried that she's not long for this world. She just sits there and hisses at the dog who stupidly jukes left and fakes right and crouches down whining and trying to entice the ancient cat to play. Rocky just gives her a "talk to the paw," and alternates between hissing and swatting. Of course, this swatting tactic is largely ineffective since she's front-paw declawed.

And before you go all animal rights on me, that was not my choice. At the time Coda adopted us Dan and I still lived in an apartment. That's how OLD the cat is. When the man
agement caught us with our cat they told us we had to have her declawed or move out. Then when Rocky adopted us we thought it wouldn't be fair to have one cat with claws and one cat without because that would give the new young interloper a definite territorial advantage. So, not our choice.

Anyway, the cat has come up with a new solution to the whole sharing the back yard with a dog thing: the picnic table. Which the dog can SO jump up on too, but let's not tell Rocky. She thinks she's safe.
Lily: Hey look, it's a cat.
Rocky: Oh no, it's that stupid dog again.
(Notice all the digging under the table, where Lily's been trying to find a cool spot to sleep?)

Lily: Duuuuuh. Let's see...how can I get up there?
Rocky: I don't recommend it, Alpo breath.
Lily: Look, Mommy, there it is! There's that cat! Maybe she'll finally play with me!
Rocky: I'm warning you dog...come any closer and I'll swat you with my totally clawless paw.

Rocky: See? Now you made me go all Devil Cat on you. Stupid dog.
Lily: What fun! I made the cat do that funny sound that I like so much.

Hey Jody, what do you think? Is Rocky in the same league as MeanKitty? I mean, sure, she was totally provoked, but look at the intensity in that hiss. She's all business. Even if she doesn't bother to lift her head while hissing.

Poor cat.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fun with Chuck

Shelly gave me permission to show you guys the pictures she took at the sleepover Friday night. Seven and his buddies, E and J, had such a great time at Chuck E. Cheese's...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Peace Talks

Conversation overheard recently:

The boys were in the bathroom at the same time. Ten was in the shower; Seven had just finished his shower and was getting dressed.

Ten: Great. You just stepped on my clean clothes and got them all wet. Thanks a lot. (How he knew this when he was In the Shower is a mystery.)
Seven: Don't freak out. It's only water. It will evaporate. Eventually.
Ten: (pause) Wow. I didn't even know that was in your vocabulary.
Seven: So, what? Do you think I'm stupid? Is that it?
Ten: No! I just didn't know that you knew that word.
Seven: Right, so you think I'm dumb. Do you think I'm dumb?
Ten: (exasperated) No! I was impressed that you knew a big word. Sheesh. Forget I said anything.

I explained to Seven that his brother was NOT making fun of him--he was genuinely impressed that his brother knew the words evaporate and eventually. Seven grumbled under his breath, "Well, duh. I'm not stupid. I'm going into second grade, after all." I had to calm Ten down and reassure him that he hadn't done anything wrong, that his brother was just being extra cranky and overly sensitive. Then Seven got mad all over again because I called him cranky. Ugh.

Another conversation I overheard:

Seven: What would happen if a satellite exploded?
Ten: Well, the pieces that didn't burn up in the atmosphere would fall to Earth.
Seven: Answer my question!
Ten: I did!
Seven: No you didn't! Answer me!
Ten: I did answer you! The pieces of the satellite would fall to Earth. Sheesh!
Seven: Why won't you answer me?!

At this point I intervened because Seven's voice had that "I'm about to cry" quiver in it and he was seriously yelling at his brother and Ten was getting mad right back. I explained to Seven that Ten did answer his question. Then Seven said, "but he didn't give me the answer I wanted."

After talking about it a bit longer we realized that what Seven really wanted to know was what would happen to the TV and computer if the Direct TV satellite exploded. I explained that Ten answered the question Seven asked and it wasn't Ten's fault if Seven didn't ask the question clearly enough. We talked about anger management and unrealistic expectations and the importance of saying exactly what he means. I told him he needed to apologize to his brother.

He did. Then Ten said, "That's okay. I understand it must've been very frustrating to you. But next time, will you please not yell at me?"

Next week I'll be appearing in the Middle East to help out with negotiations there. I think I've had all the training ops I need at my house this week.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Date with Ten

While Seven was spending the night at his buddy's house, Ten and I went on a date. Except I can't call it a date because, as Ten said, " I can't date you. You're my mother. That's just wrong on so many levels." Yep, I'm definitely his mother.

We went to JCPenney because Dan heard that they had summer clothes on clearance for $1.97. We didn't find much but that's okay because we didn't need much. Ten picked out a t-shirt with skulls and guitars and cobras and all manner of macho, cool, manly stuff on it. Oh, and a video-game-playing monkey shirt which he informed me is not as cool as skulls but it's funny so that falls into a different category of coolness.

Then we went to Chili's where the child managed to amaze me yet again. While we were waiting for our food we played Tic Tac Toe and every single game ended in a draw. I could not beat that little punk. When I saw the waitress coming with our food I deliberately threw the game just so we'd finally have a winner and Ten totally busted me. He grinned and said, "I know you did that on purpose, Mom. But thanks for letting me win."

All through our meal he talked incessantly--when he wasn't raptly studying the fly buzzing around the light fixture. I started to fuss at him and tell him to eat but somehow, through kid-level osmosis or something, he managed to inhale his entire bowl of macaroni and cheese and half my french fries when I wasn't looking. Oh, and all you Mother of the Year judges? My kid ordered broccoli and ate every bit of it. Yeah, that's right, I rock. Then he remined me that last night he challenged me to spell broccoli and, I'm ashamed to admit, I couldn't remember if it had two Cs or two Ls. He got it right. I'll be reminded of this every single time the kid eats broccoli from now until he's twenty. Almost makes me want to ban vegetables.

Then we went to see Wall-E even though I think Ten would've preferred Space Chimps.
As we were driving home and discussing the movie he asked what my favorite part was and I told him it was when Wall-E held the umbrella over Eve when it was raining. He said, "You know, Mom, I chose Wall-E for you since it's a love story and you love love and stuff. " I said, "Well, that's sweet but if I'd had my choice we would have seen Mama Mia. Wall-E was a kid's movie with a love theme but it was not a Love Story. " We talked about how a lot of kid's movies have a love theme and all the different types of love: Toy Story (friendly love between Buzz and Woody, a child's love for his toys, and Ten pointed out that Little Bo Peep loved Woody), The Incredibles (family love), Finding Nemo (paternal love), Brother Bear (fraternal love), Wall-E (romantic love between Wall-E and Eve, love of our planet) etc.

Naturally I started daydreaming about love (in general) and a story I'm writing (in specific) and working out plot points in my head and all of a sudden Ten said, "Uh Mom? Where are we going?" And I said, "Duh. Home." Ten said, "Then why are we going this way?" I looked up and realized I'd passed our exit. Sheepishly I told him I'd been daydreaming and he said, "Yep. You were thinking about mushy love stories again, weren't you?"

Guilty. I do so love a good love story. Even if it's a robot love-themed kid's movie on a non-date with the most handsome ten-year-old ever.


My youngest child, my baby, the little blond-haired, blue-eyed, brown-nosed darling that came out of my real-live, actual body ten minutes ago (read: seven years and eight months ago) is going to his first sleep-over tonight.

My uterus hurts.

What's weird is that it didn't hit me until today that this is his first sleep-over. Yep, that's me. Mother of the Year. Ten has been to several slumber parties. Both boys have spent the night at Camp Fabulous (AKA Grama's house) many times. They've even gone away for six days and nights with their daddy to their other grandmother's house while I stayed home alone. (I told you my husband was awesome!!)

But this? Tonight? This is his first night ever to sleep in a house in which not one single person is a blood relative of his. You'd think I'd be nervous, right? What with him being my youngest and so tender-hearted and clingy and stuff? But I'm not and here's why.

The kids he's going to be with are two of my very favorite boys in the whole, wide world. They are sweet, sweet little boys (like Seven) who have moms that I really like. The mom of the birthday boy is just the coolest mommy ever and if she didn't have a private blog I'd send you there to prove it. She and her husband can flat out DANCE. :-) Not only is she a great friend, but she was Seven's teacher back when he was still called Two. I love her and I know that she'll take great care of my baby.

But my uterus? Still hurts a little.

Maybe it would help if Ten and I went for ice cream tonight.

The Rainmaker

The entire town of Smyrna owes me a great big, scented thank you note on creamy white stationery today because I'm entirely responsible for the rain and the cooler temperatures which you're enjoying today.

You're welcome.

See, I went to WalMart and bought a couple of soaker hoses yesterday. I carefully unrolled them and wove them gently through the shrubs in front of my house. Remember the Otto Luyken Laurel bushes? The ones Dan and I had to plant this spring because I let them die last year because I never watered them? The ones that cost me a hundred dollars? Yep, those bushes.

So, naturally, after doing the right thing this year and steadfastly refusing to wait around for rain, it rained the very day after I took care of everything.

Just call me The Rainmaker.

You're welcome, Smyrna.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

HMOs, PPOs, POSs, oh my!

Last night Dan and I put a movie on for the kids so that we could go downstairs and review all of our medical insurance options.

Oh how I wish that were a euphemism for something more fun.

We looked at all the different coverage options for the medical and dental plans that are offered with my new job. We compared them to Dan's current benefits and tried to decide how to alter his plan. His open enrollment period ends this Friday but my coverage doesn't start until September 1st. Because my birthday falls first in the year, the kids will be covered under my plan. That meant we had to find pediatric dentists, orthodontists, family practice doctors, and make sure my OB/GYN was on whichever plan we chose.

I'm pretty sure at one point there was smoke coming out of my ears when I put my head down on the kitchen table and said, "I changed my mind. I don't want to be a grown-up. You decide. " Then I ate ice cream.

We checked the lists of all the plans to make sure that both our doctors here and the ones we might want to see up in Hendersonville are on the plans. Because, the good Lord only knows where we'll be living the next time one of the offspring gets sick. We might be here, we might be at Mom's, so we need to have options in either place. We looked at all the approved pharmacies. I filled out the paperwork for both insurance plans and direct deposit for my paychecks. I kept putting it off because I'd hoped that I would get to write down my NEW address on the forms. Alas. Not so lucky.

After reviewing all the medical coverage plans we've decided that no one in our family is allowed to be ill ever again. The next kid to get sick is so getting grounded.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cat Bath

I started the day by giving my antique cat a bath. Yes, it was as much fun as you'd think it would be.

We've had Rocky since she was a kitten who adopted us at the softball field in 1992. Yep, you did the math correctly. She's sixteen years old but she still won't go on to that great litter box in the sky.

I'm allergic to cats so Rocky has to live outside.
But don't feel sorry for her because she has a really posh kitty cat crib in the form of a fenced enclosure under our deck. It's dry under there because we lined the underside of the deck with corrugated plastic sheets at an angle to drain all the water away. There are cedar shavings everywhere. She has a bed, food, water, and a litter box which she declines to use, choosing instead to pollute the cedar shavings. But, most importantly, she's safe from the dog in her little kitty pen. So you'd think she'd want to stay in there, right?


You see Rocky is our "special needs" cat. She developed a really high fever as a kitten and nearly died. She stayed at the vet's office for three days before they declared her healthy enough to come home. Well, physically healthy, anyway. Mentally? Not so much. She was never the same after that fever. She's afraid of everything. She refuses to use the litter box. She puts her head in the food bowl when I try to pour food in there so it ends up getting dumped on her head. She passes gas and takes off running because she thinks there's something behind her. Given all this, I shouldn't be surprised that the stupid feline would rather lie out in the sun smack in the middle of the yard where the eighty pound dog can attack her every time we let the beast outside.

Today she got out about seven times before we gave up trying to keep her in there. We're not sure how she's getting out or whether or not she can get back in on her own, so we've been opening the gate and putting her back inside, only to find her wandering around the back yard a few minutes later. The last time I tried to lock her in I noticed that the poor cat had fleas all over her. It was really disgusting. I found a big plastic storage crate to bathe her in, got a few towels and the flea shampoo, and I was all set to toss her in but Dan stopped me.

Do you want to know how sweet my husband is? He filled a huge stock pot with hot water from the sink so that the kitty wouldn't have to bathe in cold water.

How stinkin' precious is that? I was all set to dump the cat in the frigid water from the hose, but he warmed up the water for her like he was the lady's maid of some Regency heiress. I love that man.

So, anyway, he came out and helped me give the poor cat a bath and we both laughed at the sounds she made. You've never heard such squawls before. Well, unless you've ever tried to give a cat a bath. Afterward I swaddled her up in two big towels and rocked her like a baby while she headbutted my chin and purred like a freight train.

I think she forgave me.

Then I took allergy medicine. It was worth it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Meme Time

Since I didn't have anything to write about today and since I'm boycotting cleaning my house because, I'm told, that's a surefire way to bring in people who want to see the house (It's called "tempting fate" not "extreme laziness and procrastination") I totally copied this meme from BooMama.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Living in our old house in Nashville, near Harding Place. Ten was only ten months old and had just learned to walk at Vacation Bible School. He still cried every time I tried to leave him in the nursery so I'd have to drag him around with me and some very nice teenagers who helped me with him. Singing in the choir. Listening to our neighbor's loud rap music every night. Hoping Dan would get the job at Linens N Things. (Obviously that worked out.)

Favorite Snacks

restaurant salsa and chips (and queso blanco)

Sonic diet cherry vanilla Coke

Sun chips

non-fat vanilla yogurt with Bear Naked granola, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries

To Do List

I am a firm believer in the To Do list. I think it's important at the end of the day to look back with a sense of impending doom at all the stuff I was supposed to accomplish but didn't because I was playing around reading other people's blogs.


On today's list:
1) Find out how to get "Highly Qualified" status changed.
Done. This has been the only easy part of renewing my license. I called the HR department and the nice lady there already has my paperwork printed. All I have to do is find her at the county-wide in-service for new teachers on August 4th and sign it. There will probably only be about five hundred people there so, no problem.
2) Call about getting the riding mower fixed.
3) Brush the dog.
4) Call AT&T to find out why they overcharged me last month.
5) Continue checking the real estate websites every couple hours or so to make sure the house(s) I want haven't sold yet, thus driving myself to fret over things which are very much out of my control until my house sells.

Jobs I Have Had

Babysitter; Lifeguard; cashier/sales clerk at Lowe's, Baskin Robbins, Camelot Music, Lerner, and SteinMart; various communications jobs in college: camera operator, audio engineer, floor director, deejay, TV news reporter, radio news reporter, weather girl (official title "Wanda the Wonderful Weather Babe"--thank God it was radio); copier sales specialist; teacher (4th-6th grades); data entry operator; preschool pastor; preschool teacher; and, finally, fourth grade teacher again. And writing, of course, for which I don't get paid. Yet.

Places I Have Lived

Tennessee (Hendersonville, Martin, Gallatin, Nashville, Goodlettsville, Smyrna)

Bad Habits

procrastination, worry, caffeine, eating too much, exercising too little, impatience

(These are the exact answers that BooMama put, but they apply so well to me that I didn't change a thing.)

5 Random Things People May Not Know About Me

1) I was on ESPN once. My high school dance team (read: pom pon squad, The Golden Girls) placed fifth in the country during my junior year. The top five teams were featured on ESPN duing a segment which was taped in ***Corpus Christi. The next year we placed seventh so we didn't get to be on TV.

2) My first concert was Rick Springfield when I was about fourteen. I went with my mom, who still perpetuates the rumor that I stood up and screamed "I LOVE YOU, RICK!" at the top of my teenaged lungs. I will neither confirm nor deny the veracity of her statement.

3) I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with office supplies. And storage/organization supplies. I love the Back to School sales events going on right now. Mmmm...Sharpies.

4) I was a vegetarian for three years until I got pregnant with Ten and started craving Happy Meals. I knew I was preggers with Seven when I bought summer sausage and smoked cheddar cheese at Kroger and ate it standing up at the kitchen counter before I even unloaded the rest of the groceries. Dan took one look at me scarfing down these foods (which I'd NEVER bought before--or since) and said, "Dude, you are
so knocked up."

5) I break out into random show tunes at the drop of a hat. I love musicals. I wanted to marry Danny Zuko from Grease when I grew up. (And I did snag a
Dan, didn't I?)

CDs I would want if stranded on an island

(See #5 above): Chess, My Fair Lady, Phantom of the Opera, Mama Mia, Oklahoma, The Boyfriend, Guys and Dolls, Grease, The Sound of Music, Me and My Girl, Les Miserables, even High School Musical. And, of course, my husband's CDs.

What I’d Do if I Were a Billionaire



Pay people to do all the things I hate doing so I'd have more time to do the things I enjoy. Take Dan to a tropical island getaway. Take my Mom to England. Get my kids their own computer so they'd stop asking me if I'm done with this one yet. Build Grace a new house with a pool and horses for her girls. Buy Dan a Fender Telecaster.

So, play along if you want to. Meanwhile, I'm going to let my kids get on the computer now.

***Well, duh. This is why I shouldn't listen to the news while posting. I just reread this post and realized I'd accidentally said Corpus Christi because I was thinking about the hurricane. I meant to say Cypress Gardens. Oops.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Hate Opry Mills

First of all, they closed Opryland to put in yet another mall. OPRYLAND! All through my childhood I'd spend every summer hanging out there. Watching "I Hear America Singing" until I had it memorized. Getting soaked on the Flume Zoom and the Grizzly River Rampage (where I learned, as a teenager, to never wear a white shirt). Riding the Skyride and waving to cute boys to meet us at the other side, telling them we'd wait for them. Then, giggling, we'd get back on going the other way and pass them again, waving like lunatics and repeating the entire routine again and again. Sheesh! Boys!

Riding the Wabash Cannonball fifteen times in a row. Ditto the Rock n' Roller Coaster in the Doo Wah Diddy area (a really cool fifties-themed area) with the most delicious chocolate malts EVER. And the Little Deuce Coupe. Riding the Tennessee Waltz and playing games in the State Fair area. Racing Tin Lizzies with my brother. Oh how I miss Opryland. A month after giving birth to my first child and looking forward to all the fun I'd have taking him to Opryland when he got older, they closed it. By the time my second child was born the new mall was open. And all that fun, gone, for another mall.

But we had to go there because we had a mall gift card that we needed to spend. Dan needed new shoes, so he decided to buy them there and use his certificate. I should've sent Dan by himself, since he passes Opry Mills twice a day on his way to his own mall. Actually, I think Dan passes three malls on his way to the one where he works.

Like this city needed another mall. When it first opened I said I was going to boycott the place altogether, but being a parent has forced me to go there a few times in the last ten years--mostly because of Rainforest Cafe and The Aquarium, which are places where you can see pretty aquatic life but should never, ever, eat. And here's what I truly don't get: that darn mall is full all the time! I've never been there when it wasn't completely packed out with the dregs of humanity.

Yes, it's quite an interesting slice of life you see at Opry Mills. It must be the mall of choice for all the toothless Bubbas in the mid-state area. Yesterday was no exception. I think they must've been running a 20% off special for all residents of single-wides with tattoos. Double discount if you're wearing a cleavage-baring tank top (Eagle tattoo on at least one breast is a given) with a hem high enough to show off your tramp stamp of the Rebel flag resting delicately adjacent to the muffin top, which sits just above the Grand Canyon showing out the top of your Daisy Duke denim cut-shorts with the frayed hem.

And don't get me started on the walking patterns of fellow shoppers. Too late. I'm started. First off there's the four-hundred pound Bubba crawl. This is the guy who walks at a pace that most snails would view as too speedy for safety. Why does he walk so slowly? Because his designer jeans are hanging below the southern-most end of his butt and his giant sh*t-kicker workboots are uncomfortable because they're still brand new because he doesn't actually wear them to work (his NOT having a job and all) and he just bought them because they look cool. And because he's so large there's no way to pass him so you're forced to crawl along behind him, wondering how much longer those jeans can defy gravity and praying that they continue to do so as long as you're trapped behind him so you won't have to view a sight that should never be witnessed when that denim finally falls.

When he finally gets distracted by something and veers to the left just enough to squeak by him on the right, you encounter another mall walking phenomenon. Next there's the women who are walking along at a somewhat normal pace who suddenly, inexplicably feel the need to slam on their proverbial brakes and have an inpromptu conversation in the middle of the aisle. Right in front of me. So that I can't get around them. Making me want to shout, "Excuse me! I'm walking here! Take your red-tipped, four-inch acrylic nails and your over-processed hair and move aside, honey!"

You might not have noticed, but I'm feeling a wee bit cranky today. Nothing a good funnel cake and a ride on the Screamin' Delta Demon wouldn't cure.

If only....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bowling with Kids

Tonight we went to one of my favorite places. You probably thought I was going to say the mall or a bookstore, didn't you? Yeah, those are also two of my favorite places, but tonight we went bowling. And now I have this song from the great cinema classic, Grease 2, running through my head. I love going bowling any time of year, but especially in the summer because they keep the thermostat in the bowling alley set on 20 degrees below freezing. It feels great when you first walk in from the 90 degree heat, but after about five minutes you start to develop frostbite. But the food....mmmm. There's no better place to go for fried chicken tenders, crispy french fries, and a giant diet Coke (or an Icee if you're one of the kids). I think we all OD'd on deep fried fat.

In our previous life, before we had kids, Dan and I used to meet a group of our favorite people at Melrose Lanes every Friday night. There were four couples who'd be there every week--Dan and me, Lee Ann and Andy,
Todd and Deirdre, Brad and Leigh--and a few other people who came unattached--Trish (because at that point Todd wasn't convinced that Jr. really existed), Linda, Jim--and other couples who floated in and out when they could. We'd meet at about 9:00 and bowl until they closed at two in the morning, then we'd go across the street and eat at Krystal's. Most of the group would drink pitchers of beer (except Dan and me because we don't like beer) served by Eddie, the octagenarian female bartender downstairs. I have such fond memories of that time and miss getting together with my buddies. We were never champions, but we were pretty good.

Here's a little-known fact about me: I took a bowling class in college. I had to take a certain number of P.E. classes to keep my cheerleading scholarship, so in addition to water aerobics I took bowling. I even have my own ball (purple) and shoes (white with purple trim). I may not be a very good bowler, but I can accessorize!

Now it's a little different going bowling with kids. In some ways the kids are more mature than we used to be. I won't list any specifics (to protect the guilty) but if you're one of the above-named members of the bowling crew, you know what I'm talking about! Man, we had fun!

I should say that Dan bowled a 176 tonight, ending the game with a turkey (three strikes in a row). We won't mention my score. Or Ten's score. He was mad because he's too old to use the bumpers to keep the ball out of the gutters, so his brother beat him. Soundly.

Here are some pictures of my family taking a break from the heat...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New crown for the Princess

Check out the new header that my beautiful, generous, and amazingly talented friend Sanna made for my blog. How cool is she? I love the tiara--isn't it so ME?

You should check out Sanna's store too. See the link over there on the right? Lots of good stuff there. I love the new rose purse.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Puppy Love

I love my big, dumb dog. Even though she stinks like stale Fritos and sheds all over my kitchen floor, she's still my dependable, furry little walking buddy.

This Lily cuddle photograph was captured by Ten.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random Tuesday Thoughts

I'm zipping online for just a minute while peace reigns in my household. I realize that it's temporary so I'm taking advantage while I can. I put the boys in separate rooms with a book each and told them not to come out until they finished the book or I came to retrieve them--whichever comes first. Note: I will NOT be going in there to retrieve them any time soon.

Here's a few random thoughts:

Another reason I'm excited about moving to Hendersonville...Maggie Moo's and Marble Slab Creamery are within a mile of each other. On the way to Mom's Sunday after our realtor failed to show up for the Open House I stopped at Maggie Moo's to drown my sorrows in dairy goodness. Oh. My. Heavens. You MUST try the peanut butter ice cream with Reese's cups mixed in and served in a waffle bowl dipped in dark chocolate. Sa-wooooon! I took it outside to the marble fountain on the patio, propped my feet up, and dove in. But I couldn't finish it. I
ordered the smallest size they sell but it was still too much to eat all at one time. I put my leftovers in Mom's freezer and ate the rest of it for dinner. Next time I'll order the child's portion.

So here's something funny I heard this week...

From my BFF's four-year-old when we were at the water park when we were sitting on a blanket talking, minding our own business, and she was inside the fence, choosing to pay attention to us instead of play in the water:

B: Could you guys please zip your lips?
Grace: No ma'am, we will not zip our lips. We're having a conversation and you're being rude.
B: Oh. Well, when you're finished talking to Miss Teble, then could you please zip your lips?

Ten acted like a very mature person this morning, giving me visions of the great man he's going to be someday. Ten and I (and Grace's oldest daughter) went to the funeral home to show support for his Girl Friend
whose grandmother died unexpectedly on vacation last week. (Notice the space between the two words. He made a big deal of telling me that she's a girl who is his friend, but she's not his girlfriend.) Even though it was uncomfortable for him and he's not used to being in a situation like that, he comported himself with great poise and maturity. He even went with me to the open casket to pray for the grandmother. He hugged his Girl Friend without acting like a goofy boy and told her that he was sorry for her loss. I was proud of him.

Of course, the minute we got home he started arguing with his little brother and generally making a pest of himself because he is, after all, a ten-year-old boy. With a pesky seven-year-old brother.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How bad was it?

It was so bad that even the realtor stayed away. **Updated**

Yep, it's a pretty good bet that your Open House is going to suck when your own realtor doesn't even show up.

No, unfortunately, I'm not even joking. We spent two and a half days washing windows and cleaning the house and our realtor didn't even bother to show up. Even worse, I couldn't track him down on his cell or at home or at the office. If WE can't get in touch with him, how are potential buyers supposed to reach him? I'm so mad right now I can't even stand it.

Luckily my husband is a great salesman. He stayed home to greet any "guests" we might have and I drove up to Mom's to pick up the kids. (See, we'd even made babysitting arrangements so we could get the house ready! Grrr!) One family and one lady came by and Dan played host, answered questions and did all the things that we're supposed to be paying our realtor to do. I swear, if we get an offer from one of these two groups I think Dan is going to earn the 6% commission!

**Updated at 9:36 pm: Dan talked to the realtor, finally, and found out that he had a "family emergency" today. Dan has all the details and I won't share them here. We're going to have another Open House next weekend, a "realtor's only" Open House some time this week, and an ad in the local paper (Hello? Why weren't they already putting ads in the local paper?) too. I'm trying to think very Christian, forgiving thoughts right now because I do like our realtor. He's a really nice guy and I want to have faith in his ability to sell my house.

Plus I don't want to resort to lap dances and car washes yet.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Olympic event: Weedeater toss

I have a love/hate relationship with my string trimmer. Okay, I was trying to be positive but really it's more of a hate/hate relationship. I hate the thing enough when it's actually working but I hate it even more when it's not.

Yesterday I tried to start the stupid thing so that I could do all the weed trimming and save Dan the trouble so that he'd have more time to pay attention to me. Priorities, right? So I re-read the directions, as I do every time I try to use the thing, and slid the silver thingy to the choke position and tried to start it. No dice. Fine, no problem. I moved it to the B position and tried again. Nuh uh. Not happening.

I wiggled and jiggled every piece of the trimmer, pressed the bulb that makes more gas go into it about a dozen times, and pulled the starter dooey so many times that I gave myself a giant blood blister at the base of my second finger. You know, the "birdy" finger. Which I used repeatedly while cussing at the trimmer under my breath. It was unfazed, being used to such insults.

I got out the owner's manual and tried to identify the problem. I took the thing apart (as I've done before) and cleaned the air filter. I cleaned the muffler housing thingamajig (that's the technical term for it). I pulled off the cover over the spark plug and would've removed it but I was too tired to walk to the garage and find a 5/8" socket/wrench/tool doohickey. By then I was more than ready to admit defeat. I didn't want to weedeat in 97 degree heat anyway. And I felt a little better when Dan couldn't get it to start either after changing the spark plug and adding some oil/gas stabilizer stuff. So it wasn't just me being a girly girl--the trimmer is possessed!

If I'd any strength whatsoever left in my arms, I would have thrown it across the yard. Instead, I went to Wal-Mart and bought some Roundup weed killing spray. One way or another, those weeds are going to die because we have another Open House on Sunday.

PLEASE pray that someone will come see this place and fall in love with it. I'll even throw in a slightly dented Ryobi string trimmer for free.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bankruptcy Worries

I forgot to tell you yesterday...

Dan's company is closing 87 more stores. This is in addition to the 120 stores they decided to close in May when they filed chapter 11. Luckily Dan's store is NOT one of them so we're safe. Please pray for all the folks who are affected by this bankruptcy mess. Corporate is saying that this is the last of the closings they're going to do. I hope that's true.

Just didn't want you to worry.

"Poop Fairy" just doesn't have the same ring

Last night the boys were sitting at the kitchen table eating chocolate ice cream and discussing Ten's recent lost tooth--a molar.

Ten: Here's something I don't get about the Tooth Fairy. Why teeth? I mean, who would want to run around collecting teeth? That's pretty weird.

Dan: Well, the Poop Fairy would be even weirder.

Ten and Seven, laughing: Euw! That's nasty.

Dan: And besides, you wouldn't want to go to sleep at night with poop under your pillow.

Ten and Seven: Oh gross! Dad, we're trying to eat here!

Dan: Hey, that's free advice right there. You can use that.

Yep. That's the man I chose to raise children with, folks. Because he's four years older than me and oh so mature and stuff.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Vanguard Memories

I just got an email from a teacher, Doug Cook, at my alma mater, UT Martin, regarding the theatre department. They're trying to locate all alums to let them know about a theatre reunion and final blowout because they're closing the old Vanguard Theatre on campus and building a new one.

I went through an old photo album of theatre pictures and ran across these. The quality is not great--my scanner is broken so I had to take digital photos of the old pictures--but they're still funny.

In this one with Doug I'm demonstrating the incredible maturity I possessed all through college. Remember, this was one of my t
eachers at the time...

I was dressed as "Mariane," the daughter of the **title character in Moliere's Tartuffe. I always played the daughters or little sisters or sassy sidekicks or sympathetic best friends. Or, once, a penguin.

Here's my favorite picture from that play when Dorine, the maid, was trying to talk me into reconciling with my lover, Valere. It was so hard to keep a straight face in that scene.

Doug was the guy who designed all the sets, costumes, everything--you name it. He was so talented! But it used to drive me crazy when he'd draw the costume sketches for the characters because he wouldn't give them a face. I kept bugging him and bugging him about Mariane and how she looked weird and I wished he'd draw her a face. So after a while he got tired of me nagging him about it and he gave in and drew her a face. Did I mention that Doug was a major smart alec?

I wish I could show you all the pictures in the photo album because some of them are priceless. I played a desperate housewife (before ABC made it popular), a cheeky schoolgirl, a pregnant homeless girl, a bored socialite, a penguin (as mentioned before), and many others.

s was my first play at Vanguard when I played "Biddy" in Dickens' Great Expectations early in my freshman year. That was the start of a long and unbelievably fun college acting career.

I can't wait f
or the reunion!

**Update to add: After I posted this earlier I remembered that Mariane was NOT Tartuffe's daughter, but Orgon's daughter. Tartuffe is the swindler who tricks Orgon.

Then, when I tried to get online to fix this post, I couldn't get online. When I turned the computer off during a thunderstorm it automatically updated Windows. The new update was a security thing and it thought Zone Alarm was a security risk so it wouldn't let me on. Dan, my hero, called the help desk and fixed everything for me so that I could edit this post.

God forbid any experts on 15th century French plays read this blog and think I'm a moron. Wow, really dodged a bullet there, huh?

Take Just One Minute

Mom just sent this to me. Wow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Quarter for Your Thoughts

At one of the professional development workshops I attended recently the instructor said there are two kinds of people in the world: the Hurry Up and Waits and the Wait and then Hurry Ups. The first group describes people who get ready early and then have to wait around to leave. They are the first people who show up at restaurants and have to wait around for the rest of their party, arrive in time to see the previews at the movie theater, get to an event early to get good seats. Those of you who know me know that I almost always fall into this group. Even when I try to be late, I'm usually the first one to show up. (Unless I'm right in the middle of a good book--then all bets are off.)

The second group describes the people who stall or wait 'til the last minute to get ready and then scramble around trying to finish or show up at the last possible minute (or even late). When they do show up, it's usually a "fashionably late" or otherwise dramatic entrance and people are always delighted to see them. They're greeted with, "Oh, we're so glad you made it! We didn't think you were coming."

Unfortunately this summer I'm being forced into the second category. I have the entire month of July free to do things but I can't do any of them yet. I can't start packing and move into a new house because our old/current one hasn't sold yet. I can't set up my new classroom because work crews are painting the walls this week and for the next two weeks they'll be working on the floors of the lower level (replacing tiles, stripping, waxing, polishing, etc.) I can't get into my classroom until the last week of July (at the earliest). I can't shop for my class yet because everything has to be done with a purchase order--unless I want to spend my own money, which I DO NOT since I won't get my first paycheck until the middle of September. I can't get trained on the website program until after August 1st. So, basically, I'm in a holding pattern. Then, when August starts, I'll be scrambling to get everything done all at once.

So, while I have time to spare this month (and to keep myself busy so I won't go insane--the Crazy Count is on yellow alert today) I'm completing little tasks that I've been putting off. Today I took out all the shelves in my refrigerator and cleaned them. This required finding the right size screwdriver, which is why I've been putting it off.

Tomorrow I'll weed-eat all around the curb of my property. Because, what better way to spend the day in 97 degree weather?

Tonight I sorted through my kids' state quarters collections, putting the quarters into their little assigned slots. Then I realized I need some help. I have four state quarter
collections (two different types, one of each per child). Clearly the Crazy Count was on red alert when I started this project back in 1999. On one set you just collect one quarter per state. Easy cheesy.

In the other set you collect two per state--one from the Philadelphia mint and one from the Denver mint, as indicated by a little P or D on the "heads" side of the coin (to the right of the head, just under the words In God We Trust). I have mostly P coins, since I live closer to the East Coast mint, except in rare cases like Iowa and Colorado. There's a coin shop in my little town and they have some of the ones I'm missing, but they charge $.65 for a quarter. Now, I'm not the greatest math student, but does this seem fair to you? So, here's what I propose: I have a big, honking list of coins that I'm missing and I have a baggie of extras that I'm willing to trade. Anyone wanna play?

I'll list the ones I need and you check to see if you have them. List the ones you need in the comments and I'll see if I have them. Then we can swap. Sound good?

Otherwise I'm going to be sitting here with a very high Crazy Count and nothing else to do but clean my already clean house and listen to my children argue.

So here's the list, in order of release dates:

Michigan--D only (2)
D only (2)
D only (2)
D only (2)
D only (2)
D only (2)
Iowa--P only (2)
D only (2)
D only (2)
West Virginia--P (2), D (2), and 2 of either one
P (2), D (2), and 2 of either one
P (2), D (2), and 2 of either one
P (2), D (2), and 2 of either one
P (2), D (2), and 2 of either one
Colorado--P (2) and one of either
P (2), D (2), and 2 of either one
North Dakota--
P (2), D (2), and 2 of either one
Wyoming--D only (2)
South Dakota--
P (2), D (2), and 2 of either one
Utah--D only (2)
Oklahoma--D only (2)
New Mexico--D only (2)
Arizona--D only (2)
Alaska and Hawaii--I don't have any yet but I think they're in circulation now.

So if you're as big a nerd as I am (and don't pretend you aren't!) then check your quarters. If you're way too cool for this stuff, check them anyway. I'm walking a fine line here, people.

Danger! Read at your own risk.

It's 3:58 am and I've been awake since 2:30 when Dan came to bed. Why am I awake? Because if I could get paid for worrying, you'd be calling me Trump.

You know how they give the pollen count on the news each day and if the count is very high the oh so helpful newscasters advise staying home, or at the very least, staying indoors if at all possible? Well, I need to post a Crazy Count at the beginning of each blog so you know whether it's safe to read or if you should just stay inside because this entry will drive you to drinking in bars with guys named Paulo and letting him paint your toenails metallic green.

Today's count? Off the charts. Infiniti point 5. Flashing warning lights and sirens and caution tape everywhere.

So what am I worrying about? Everything from the great big stuff (the economy, the election, the gas crisis) to the little stuff (buying one set of groceries to use at Mom's house during the week and another set to keep here at my house for the weekend, whether I'll do laundry at Mom's or bring it home to wash, how to transport my dog back and forth without getting dog hair all over my car each week, what I'll do at Mom's house on nights like this when I can't sleep).

I've been tossing and turning, mentally arranging and decorating my new classroom, hanging bulletin boards, setting up stations, planning lessons, and designing my class website. My brain hurts from thinking so hard.

I fell asleep on the couch at 9:45 tonight (last night?) but I couldn't stay asleep once I went to bed because Dan was still up. Then, when he finally came to bed at 2:30 (musicians are such night owls, ugh) I was wide awake. For a solid hour I tried to go back to sleep but my mind was racing and I was afraid I'd set my pillow on fire with all the smoke coming out of my ears.

So. I'm up. I'm going to find something to read and try to relax. I'm sure I'll fall asleep again just about the time the kids are waking up.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Random Sunday Rant

Things I Hate:

1) People who don't turn right on red when nothing is coming for miles away. Hello? It's legal in Tennessee so just GO already. Especially if I'm behind you!

2) People who hold on to books they've checked out from the library even though they've finished the book but they're just too lazy to return it on time. Even though certain people are waiting for the book. Ahem.

3) Thick and Chunky salsa. See #1 below.

4) People who let their dogs poop in my yard and don't clean it up. Did you notice the For Sale sign, you horrendous cow? If we ever get anyone to come look at our stupid house, I'd prefer they NOT step in your dog's crap. Got it? Clean up after your dog. I do. Every time. I have the little doggie poo bags that attach to my leash. Because I am a responsible dog owner. And you are a horrendous cow, as I've already stated.

5) People who stop at the little street which leads to the Cracker Barrel entrance which also leads to my neighborhood. Where there's NO stop sign. None. Coming from the other direction there's even a sign which says, Oncoming traffic does not stop. Yeah, tell that to the morons in front of me who stop every time. Every single freakin' time.

And now, because I'm working up a good case of road rage and I'm not even driving, here's a list of things I love today:

1) My quest for perfect restaurant salsa at home has finally come to an end. I HATE thick and chunky salsa. I want salsa like the kind I get at my favorite Mexican restaurants. Where you can dip your chip and it comes out coated with spicy, tomato-y goodness but without chunks of onions and peppers that you have to chew. Because, quite frankly, I'm too exhausted to be bothered with the chewing. Today at Target I found Santa Fe restaurant style salsa (Medium, of course because Hot is too hot and Mild is for wusses) and my dream of eating perfect salsa at home in my pajamas was finally realized. I had chips and salsa for dinner. Because I'm the mom and I can if I want to.

2) Havarti cheese. My brother-in-law Ted got me hooked on the stuff on our family reunion last month and I can't get enough of that creamy, cheesy goodness. It's great with salsa and chips, too. I'm just sayin'.

3) Cinnamon bun coffee creamer. It's like a little slice of heaven for breakfast. (If you click the link, scroll down and click cinnamon bun on the left.)

4) Julia Spencer-Fleming's books. They're just incredible--all of them. And because I had to pick a non-food item for the list because now I'm getting hungry.

5) My new E.L.F. one dollar eyeshadow, eye liner, and lip gloss. I want to order some powder soon because I'm running out of my Bare Minerals and I'm too cheap to pay their prices when I can get E.L.F. so cheap.

Okay, now I feel better. I needed to end with happy thoughts.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

More Mohican pictures

My sister-in-law Cathy's friend, Jean, just sent me some pictures that she took on our trip to Ohio last month. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm ACTIVE again

I guess I just needed to have a really good freak-out yesterday to get some results. I just logged on to the Tennessee teacher license search again and I'm listed as active now! YAAAAAY!!!! My new license doesn't expire until August 2013. Rock on!

Of course, I won't completely relax until I have the paper copy in my hand and the superintendent's copy on file in the county office, but I feel MUCH better now. At least one thing in my crazy summer is working itself out.

Now maybe if I have another hissy fit today I can get a buyer for my house.

Poor, poor Dan.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wishin' and a-Hopin'

I was up all night singing that old Dusty Springfield song "Wishin' and Hopin'" in my head. For those of you who are too young to know Dusty, it was also featured at the beginning of My Best Friend's Wedding. Only I've changed the lyrics a bit. Here's how it goes when I sing it:

Stressin' and frettin' and thinkin' and prayin'
Plannin' and schemin' each night in my bed
That I won't end up dead.

So if you're lookin' to find a house you can buy
All you gotta do is
Call me and come on and see it
And make me an offer.

I'm thinking about the house
I want to buy
Pray it won't sell
Before mine
Stressin' and a-frettin'
Wishin' and a-hopin'

'Cause wishin' and hopin' and stressin' and frettin'
Plannin' and schemin' that my house will sell
Before the one I want sells

So if you're thinkin' how great
My house is
All you gotta do is
Call me and see it and make me an offer
Yeah, just do it and after you do, I'll move away

(You gotta)
Come see my house
Intending to buy
Send your friends with their checkbooks, 'cause
I won't sell it
stresin' and a-frettin'
Wishin' and a-hopin'

Just wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'
Plannin' and schemin' that my house will sell
And I won't be in mortgage hell

So if you're thinkin' how great
My house is
All you gotta do is
Call me and see it and make me an offer
Yeah, just do it and after you do, I'll move away

Okay, so my husband is the song writer in the family. But this song is playing on my never-ending internal MUSAK and I'm losing my mind. I really want to get this house sold and move into a new one before school starts in ONE MONTH, but I know that's not going to happen. I'm dreading commuting an hour each way every day with my kids. Mom offered to let us live with her during the week and come back here on the weekends, but I just don't see how that will work out.

I love my mom, don't get me wrong, but I don't want to live with her. If it were just Mom and me, fine. But not with my dad, my husband, my two kids, my cat, my 80 pound dog and her ten pound dog. Nope. It's not just having a place to sleep, it's the daily routines: homework, baths and showers, grading papers, fixing dinners, breakfast time, packing lunches, sharing the TV, finding "quiet time" with Dan (yes, that is a euphemism--read into it what you will), and adapting to not only a new school but having Mommy go back to work full time. I need the stability of my own house for that transition.

And it's not just the house I'm fretting about. My license is STILL not renewed even though they received my renewal application in MARCH! I called the state licensing office today, even though the website hasn't been updated, but the lady said they're working on March and just to be patient.
Hello? Be patient? School starts in ONE MONTH and I'm about to uproot my kids from the only school they've ever known to bring them with me. It would be nice to know that I'm going to be able to teach when the school year starts.

Speaking of teaching, I just printed off the state standards for fourth grade. Holy cow. There are twenty pages of skills that my students will have to master. Twenty pages (in a tiny little font) of things I have to teach them. Frickety frick frick frick, what have I gotten myself into?

Don't even get me started about packing, finding new doctors, my worries about my kids adjusting to their new school, Ten needing to learn cursive really
quick-like, choosing which medical insurance package we want, scheduling dentist appointments, the issues I'm having with the stupid bank I'm trying to switch my account to, the $100 I spent on my dog yesterday because she's scratching herself raw due to allergies (can just ONE member of my family NOT have allergies? Apparently not.), setting up my new class and meeting my new co-workers, and... well, the list is as long as my kids' ability to argue with one another. Which, may I saw, is quite lengthy.

So, all that to say, I'm a big bundle of stressed-out, frettin', nervy crazy girl right now. Pray for me.

More importantly, pray for Dan.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

At the Zoo

Yesterday Mom and I met at the zoo, dragging seven kids and several coolers along with us. We walked all over the place and had a nice picnic lunch. The weather was perfect--sunny, not too hot, not too cold, but just right. It was a blast watching the animals with teenagers because everything was funny to them. Especially the Schmidt's Guenon. There was a trio of monkeys grooming each other and eating fleas right off the other ones' backs. We cracked up when they were picking at each other in the hind end region. I kept expecting one of them to say, "Of course we're going to throw poo at them."

I got a sad glimpse into Ten's dating future. Here he was with two teenage hotties and all he could do was correct their false knowledge about reptiles. Conversation overheard in the "Unseen World" exhibit...

Hot Teen Girl #1: Wow, look at that turtle! It's huge!

HTG#2: OMG. That's the biggest turtle I've ever seen!

Ten: (completely oblivious to their hotness) Well, actually, that's a tortoise.

HTG #1 and #2 (rolling eyes) Same difference.

Ten: Actually, they're very different. Turtles live in wet climates. Tortoises live in dry climates. Since this is clearly a desert biome, that's obviously a tortoise.

HTG #1 and #2 (giggling and rolling
eyes again) Whatever!

Ten: They're totally different animals but, yeah, whatever.
(eye roll of his own)

Then he looked to me as if to say, Geez, these girls are such airheads.
I might as well stock up on pocket protectors for the poor kid right now.

Enjoy this slide show of pictures from the zoo. I took about a zillion more pictures because Ten wanted at least one picture of every single animal, but I won't bore you with all of them.