Monday, October 27, 2008

Doggie Heaven

My dog is thrilled that the weather turned cold tonight. Not because she enjoys the cold, but because she has become the most spoiled rotten dog on the planet. Well, next to Izzy. Mom let Lily come in the house where the people are and she is loving it. Lily, that is, not Mom.

Lily is sprawled out, full-length, on Mom's love seat, snoring for all she's worth, taking up every inch of the couch. It's doggie heaven.

I was grading papers and she actually stretched out and put her giant head right in my lap. On top of the papers and everything.

We may never get her to go back outside again.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion

I wasn't going to do this, but I needed a little extra props.

If you can't handle shameless self-promotion, you might want to skip the rest of the blog and go make yourself a snack. Grace, Mom, and Dan, this means you. You've already been exposed to this shameless brag and shouldn't have to suffer through it again.

If you love that kind of thing (shameless bragging, that is), then brace yourself. I had my post-observation reflection Friday. This is when my boss sits down with me to discuss the lesson she watched me teach the week before and tell me how she thinks it went. Then I have a chance to agree with her or defend my choices or weep copiously or whatever.

I don't want to brag or anything (sure I do) but I will say that the words, "awesome job" were used. And not by me. I didn't sit there and say, "Wow, you did an awesome job observing me teach that day," just so I could come on here and say that the words "awesome job" were used and make you think she said them to me. Because, she really did, honest.

SWEETT! Yay, me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Get Out the Vote

I exercised my right to vote this morning, much to the chagrin of my youngest child.

Dan told Seven that we were going to vote today and Seven immediately started whining that he didn't want to go vote. We were shocked, since their grandmother has been brainwashing both children about this election since about August (when we moved in with her). We thought Seven would be delighted about casting our ballot for us, so we asked him why he didn't want to vote with us.

He said, "Well, I think that it will take a really long time to vote." Dan explained that, yes, we might have to stand in line for a while, but it was worth it to chose our leader because in some countries the people can't pick who their leader is.

Then Seven said, "But I think it will take a really long time to get to Washington where we have to go to vote."

Being the sensitive mommy that I am, I cracked up laughing at him. Dan politely explained that we don't have to go all the way to Washington D.C. to cast our ballots, but could vote right here in our own town. (While I continued laughing and saying, "That's going in the blog.")

I waited in line for an hour in front of a woman who had no concept of personal space. Or using her indoor voice. Or keeping her political views to herself. She loudly extolled the virtues of her candidate (while bad-mouthing his opponent) to the poor people trapped back there with her. Thank God I'd brought a book so I could ignore her in peace. Well, relative peace. She kept poking me in the back with her purse.
And she was that loud. I was voting for the same candidate she was, but I was so sick of her whiny-butt voice that, by the time I got up to the big red button, I was tempted to vote for the other guy just to spite her.

But I didn't. :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Kid the Waif

Seven's teacher approached me today and asked, "What's this I hear about Dan losing his job?" I hadn't told her yet, so I assumed Seven said something. His teacher said, "Yeah, I handed out the Scholastic book order catalogs and explained to the kids that the class benefits from their orders because we can get free books for our class library."

A little while later Seven went up to her and said, "I'd really like to help my class get free books, but I don't think I'll get to order anything this time because my daddy is about to lose his job and mommy says we don't have any extra money because we have to save our money to buy food. "

So maybe my speech at Michael's last weekend actually sank in after all!

Oh and apparently he was asking for extra hugs last week at school because his daddy was out of town and he needed some "teacher hugs" to replace the "daddy hugs" that he was missing out on.

Does that kid know how to go for the sympathy factor or what? I can just picture him as one of those doe-eyed, waif-like children in paintings with puppies, kittens, and wittle bunny wabbits.

Can't you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Celebrity Scooper

If this whole Dan being out of a job thing lasts for a while, I may have a second career lined up for myself.

Tonight I got to revisit my high school working days. Our school had spirit night at Maggie Moo's as a fundraiser and I was a "Celebrity Scooper" for an hour.

I called upon my experience as a Baskin Robbins babe during my senior year of high school. Unfortunately those muscles haven't been used in twenty-one years and I will be so freakin' sore in the morning.

The place was totally packed with kids, parents, and a disgruntled bovine (an employee who clearly drew the short straw and had to come out in the Miss Maggie Moo costume). I had a great time and was genuinely surprised when my hour was up. The time had flown by!

And to top it all off (Get it? Toppings? Ice cream? I crack myself up!) I got to prepare my own free ice cream after my shift. Can you say espresso bean with Heath bar and caramel? I sure as heck can! YUM!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

She's Got the Whole World In Her Hands

Actually, the whole universe.

Today I'm choosing to do a school project with my kid, stick my head in the sand, and PRETEND that LNT is not liquidating. What? Going out of business sale? La, la, la (fingers in ears)...I can't hear you! I can't hear you!

So today Eleven and I worked on his latest science project for school--a to scale model of the solar system. Because I am just that good at math that I can figure out the distance between planets and convert it to half inches. Oh yes. I am.

We took a little road trip down to Michael's craft store to buy a solar system kit. I managed to corral my children into the kids' crafts section and left with ONLY the kit I went to get--a minor miracle in itself. Seven, my crafty little fellow, wanted every craft item known to, well, the universe we were about to create. I threatened them with starvation if they asked me for one more thing because Daddy's about to lose his job and I won't be able to keep feeding you if I spend $3.99 for a plastic squid and I don't care if you want to show your teacher how smart you are by building a saltwater ecosystem!!!

Ahem. Inserting head firmly back in sand now.

Ah, that's better.

We ran into Marian and her family at the store and she gave me a great, big, sympathetic hug. I can't imagine why. No bad news here, right? Right?

Anyway, we spent the afternoon painting planets because, naturally, we couldn't buy the already painted planet kit. That wouldn't be any fun at all. Besides, Pluto was pink, which Eleven declared "just wrong on so many levels." Is he my kid or what? He also said that it's not an actual planet, but a dwarf planet, which made me feel really old. Do you guys remember when we were in school and there were nine planets, no dwarf planets, and nobody had ever heard of Ceres and Eris? Which are, by the way, NOT included in the kit. Just so you know.

Eleven had verrry specific ideas about the stripes, swirls, and splotches he wanted to paint on his planets. Thank goodness we have the workshop so I can spread them out to dry without the dog eating them.

I drove my children crazy by singing the above song every single time I picked up a Styrofoam ball to poke it through a toothpick to dry. Hey, I've gotta take my fun where I can find it. It's my prerogative as a mother to make every attempt to annoy them a fraction of the amount that they annoy me.

Now I'm going to annoy them by cooking vegetables for their dinner. Heh, heh, heh. I'm pure evil. Maybe I'll sing that song again...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LNT goes bye bye

Well, it's official so I can announce it now...

Linens N Things is liquidating.

Yep, this sucks. Looks like my sweet, darling husband will be looking for a new job after Christmas. After ten years with the company, he's going to be out of work.

Anybody else wanna gripe about the economy? Leave me a comment. I'll be crawling under the covers, curling into the fetal position and sucking my thumb, so it may be a while before I get back to you.

Monday, October 13, 2008

House Viewing, finally

I never thought it would happen, but someone actually made an appointment to come see our house. I know, right?

Of course, since we'd all but given up hope after four and a half months on the market, the house was not at all clean. Our realtor called and said, "There's an agent in your neighborhood who has a client who wants to see your house." I said, "In our neighborhood? How much time do we have?" and he replied, "Well, they should be pulling in your driveway any minute." So I said, "Well, crap! Thanks for the advance notice," and hung up. Dainty, aren't I?

Then I yelled upstairs to the boys, "Code red! Code red! Someone's coming to see the house. Let's move, move move, people." They were involved in some kind of elaborate action figure game, so they were deeply reluctant to break it down and put their toys away. When I threatened instant and painful death, they complied. I scrambled around shoving things into cabinets and making beds (hey--it was Saturday!) and praying that the lovely realtor ran into some unforseen traffic in our little suburban enclave.

No such luck. They pulled into the driveway about two minutes after I hung up the phone. I strapped the dog's leash on her, shoved the kids out the back door, and walked over to Grace's house, where we stood in their driveway watching people go through our house. They were from out of town and were on a house-hunting blitz, trying to see as many properties as they could in one weekend. Maybe that was the reason they only stayed at our house for five minutes. Yeah, right. I'm sure they loved the place but they were just in a big hurry. Right.

At this point I don't really care if it sells or not. Dan even said we should just take it off the market with the economy being what it is. Our future is uncertain for reasons I will wait until after Tuesday to divulge. I'm just glad that we finally had someone come through the stupid house. I'd rather they had come through during the summer when I actually cleaned it every stinking day, but whatever.

Hakuna matata. No worries.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tender Moment

My youngest child is almost eight years old, which just defies the laws of nature. He's my BABY! A couple of days ago I tried to lift him up for a hug and found that I couldn't...unless he jumped first.

I scooped him up to sit on the kitchen counter for a hug because he's too heavy to hold for a long time. I wrapped both arms around him and tucked his head under my chin, where it still fits perfectly. I rubbed and patted his back as I told him how I used to hold him just like that when he was a baby. I said, "I used to pat your little baby back after you finished eating so I could burp you."

And then the little darling let out a belch to rival any redneck in a biker bar after about six beers and dissolved into hysterical giggles.

I said, while trying not to laugh, "Well, at least it didn't come out the other way."

When I felt his stomach muscles clenching and unclenching against mine I pushed him away and told him lovingly, "If you toot on me, you're dead meat, mister."

More hysterical giggles followed.

I'm so glad we had that tender moment together.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Science of Eating Jellybeans

I'm not much of a candy eater unless it's chocolate. Fruit-flavored candy? Eh, no thanks. Maybe an occasional sour apple Jolly Rancher, but only if there are no candy bars available.

But Friday I was at K-Mart with the kiddos (on a desperate search for the Sith Legacy collection) and I saw two things that I suddenly wanted with a desperation almost equal to Eleven's longing for plastic villians:

1) gourmet jelly beans

2) chocolate Skittles (which seemed like a really bad idea, but were actually not bad--especially since I usually avoid all things Skittle-related).

Now I don't eat jelly beans very often, but when I do I tend to select the fruit-flavored Jelly Belly brand beans. Yes, I am a candy snob, thanks for asking,but not as bad as my college roommate. We used to drive an hour to the mall in Jackson, TN so that Susan could buy two pounds of chocolate pudding Jelly Belly beans. I never got that crazy about it, but I do enjoy a bag every once in a while. This was a mixed bag of jelly beans and it was not Jelly Belly brand, so it already had two strikes against it going in.

But here's the thing with me and jelly beans--I have to be able to devote some time to the snacking. I have to pour out the bag and separate the colors. I can't stand to mix the flavors because there are some jelly beans which are just plain wrong and, quite frankly, should never have been created in the first place.

Case in point: popcorn jelly beans. WTF? That's just nasty and wrong. Black licorice? Euw! Jalapeno? Cantaloupe? Tutti Frutti? Wrong, wrong, and wrong. The coffee jelly beans are great, but should never, under any circumstances, be allowed to mix with the peach or kiwi jelly beans. Ditto caramel with tangerine.

Some flavors are fine to be mixed together and, in fact, mixing might even enhance the jelly bean experience by mixing. For instance, coconut plus pineapple equals pina colada. A candy that tastes like a drink with an umbrella? Sign me up. In fact, on some bags of Jelly Belly beans there are cute little recipes like:

2 very cherry + 1 chocolate pudding= chocolate covered cherry.

The problem is, that's a little too close to math for my taste. I mean, if I'm going to that much trouble I might as well cook.

So, I have to be able to spread the beans out and sort them by color. Because one bean is just not big enough to fully appreciate the taste. And, anyway, who has the time or patience to eat One Bean At a Time? But if you scoop up a handful of beans randomly from the bag and pop them in your mouth, you're mixing flavors and could end up with some ghastly combingations, like grape with vanilla--both of which are wonderful alone but should not be allowed to occupy space on my tongue at the same time. So, I completely sort the colors and then scarf back three or four of the same color at a time to fully appreciate the flavor experience.

Yes, I realize this means I'm nuts. Yes, it's perfectly fine to call me anal-retentive, as long as you remember to hyphenate it.

And then pass the Jelly Bellies. As long as you sort them first. I should be a rock star so that some loser would get paid to sort my beans for me backstage. :-)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Report Card brag

The kids got their report cards on Monday and I totally forgot to blog about them. That's me--Mother of the Year for the eleventh consecutive year. They're thinking of retiring my crown.

Anyway, Eleven made straight As with no marks for conduct. He's a super-awesome brainiac AND a well-behaved role model for his classmates. Yes, we're talking about MY child. My oldest child, believe it or not. He earned the top honor in his class for behavior last week--the Golden Key--so he had his picture taken for the bulletin board at the school's entrance. Oh, and he was selected to be in the choir. Seven really wants to be in choir too but, unlike their old school, choir is only available for fifth grade and a few select fourth graders.

Seven made all As and Ss. This county doesn't do A, B, C grades for Reading, which is different than what we're used to. They just do an S for Satisfactory. He also had no marks for conduct. In fact, his teacher asked me, "Have you EVER had to discipline this child?"

They're both doing great in their new school. We're so proud of both of them.

***Updated 10-6-08 to add that Seven won the Golden Key for this class for this week. Please note that this is the first time in recorded history that the older brother won a conduct award BEFORE the little brother. Oh, and Eleven has not pulled a clip or moved a card or whatever the heck it is that they do ALL YEAR so far. YAY! Seven had one day when he wasn't "on blue," but that's because his group was being loud (but he insists he was NOT talking).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Liquid Dinner

Tonight my friend Christy and I had our dinners through a straw. Sort of.

We dined at Macaroni Grill tonight, where Christy chose a lovely green gruel. I actually took a picture of the soup, but I don't know how to get it from my phone to Mom's computer. Maybe this weekend. Mine was a margarita that cost more than my meal. Both were worth it.

I love my friends--Christy, Shelly, and Marian--who drove halfway across town to meet me for dinner because I miss them so much. I have the best friends in the world.

Due to a "temporary medical condition," Christy needed her soup to be pureed. I suggested the server just pop open a jar of Gerber's for her, but he declined. Although he did say, "Enjoy your porridge," when he put her bowl on the table. I love a waiter who can serve your meal with a side of snark.

The best reaction was from the little boy at the booth next to ours. On his way back from a visit to the restroom, he hung around our table to examine our dining selections. He stopped dead in his tracks and did a double-take when he saw Christy's bowl. He looked at the soup, looked at her face, then looked back at the soup and went, "EEEUUWW!" before returning to his own table. Best laugh I've had in a while!

Thanks for driving over to cheer me up, girls. I love you and miss you all so much. Marian, I had fun coloring on the table with you and showing off our writing upside down skills. Shelly (aka Marathon Mama) you look awesome. Christy, hope you feel better soon. Have fun on fall break next week. Oh and when you get back to school, be careful not to park in anyone's "special" parking space.

Hee hee.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Prayers for Teachers

Do you have a child?

Does that child go to school?

If yes, that child has at least one teacher.

Pray for her (or him). Right now. Go ahead. We'll wait for you.

Now go do it again. They need it.

This is the hardest job I've ever had. It's 11:18 and I've been working non-stop since dinner. I only spent about three hours today NOT working on stuff for school. During those three hours I showered, got ready (it was picture day today so I took an extra five minutes), ate, drove, took care of my kids and dog, and folded laundry. That's it. The entire rest of the day was WORK.

Pray for teachers. Please. Especially if they teach fourth grade.