Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Buckeye Bound

Yesterday's MRI went fine--no problems at all. In fact, despite the sounds not unlike a construction zone going on all around me, I shoved my ear plugs in a little deeper, tuned everything out, and enjoyed a little nap. For my friends who emailed me about it, it was just a follow-up MRI so they'd have post-surgical images of breast tissue to compare with the mammograms.

The family dinner was fine too. I was the very soul of patience, sweetness, and light. Mom made mango margaritas and I consumed several. Of course, I had to tilt my head to the side to do so to keep the cold off my sore tooth, but it was worth it. Eventually I'll get used to chewing on only one side of my mouth.

I got Mom the first season of Castle on DVD, so we'll have a viewing party when I get back--complete with more mango margaritas. I also got her the Castle book, Heat Wave, which I unwrapped and read first before I gave it to her. Because I'm classy like that. I also dropped off four frogs and a fish for her to babysit. It's a good thing she likes critters.

Last night was fun.
Mom made me a gorgeous scarf with different shades of pink funky yarny stuff and bought matching pink gloves. I was showered with all sorts of other goodies and delicious pasta. Mmmm. My only regret is that we're leaving this morning, heading for the Buckeye State, so I don't have leftovers.

Speaking of leaving...attention all would-be burglars: 75% of my neighbors are nosy retired people who stay home and notice everything that goes on in the neighborhood. They all have family coming into town for Christmas, so there will be extra people around. Don't even think about robbing our place. My neighbor right across the street is a cop. All the senior citizens are NRA-card-carrying, rifle toting, Conservatives who will shoot first and ask questions later. The one tree-hugging Liberal in the area is a single woman who lives alone, so she's packing heat too. She might pray for your rehabilitation while doing it, but she won't hesitate to put a cap in your butt either. Go ahead. Make her day.

So, all threats of violence aside, I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. Now I have an eighty pound dog to deliver to her grandmother. Peace out, peeps.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In Which I Redefine Sucktacular

If only I could get a pimple or a raging case of scabies, that would make this day a perfect storm of suckitude.

I started the morning with dental work, which is never a good thing. I love my dentist--I've been seeing him since I was about five years old--but I've reached the age where more than just a filling is required and I'm not so good with the forced stillness while a team of very-large-handed people invade my mouth with vile-tasting instruments of torture. I've never had a crown or anything (not even braces) until today. Now I can add the experience to the top of the list of Things I Never Want to Repeat--right up there with egg nog, the movie Cars, and Statistical Analysis 201. Except, lucky me, I get to go back in January to replace this temporary crown with a porcelain onlay.

Now this afternoon I get to experience another first that I probably won't want to repeat--an MRI. I've been putting this off since October, so I guess it's obvious that I'm not looking forward to it. Again with the forced stillness and feeling of suffocation. Kind of like sitting through a faculty meeting, except I can't even draw obscene pictures on a legal pad and slide them across the table to my coworkers. Not that I'd ever do that, of course, because I am a mature professional.

Then tonight I get to attend a family dinner. I'm looking forward to seeing my parents and grandparents, and eating my mom's cooking. Unfortunately, we don't get to pick all of our relatives. I will behave, but it will be difficult. Normally I just grit my teeth and get through it, but tonight I have to be careful not to grit my teeth so I don't break my temporary crown. I just hope the numbness wears off by then because otherwise I'll be drooling wine on my mom's nice tablecloth. Because, yes Virginia, there will be wine consumption. Lots of it.

And to continue the craptasticism for another day, tomorrow I get to spend nine hours in a crowded car to travel to the frozen tundra (read: Canton, Ohio) to visit my in-laws. I love my in-laws, but I'm not a big fan of long car rides with loud, giant man cubs or the winter climate of northeast Ohio. Couldn't I have married someone from, say, Maui? No, I'll keep him, even though I need an electric parka to visit his family in December.

At least I'll have books and a new Nano. Dan and Mom plotted together to get me an iPod Nano to replace the iPod that went missing last year (read: stolen by a student). I have about thirty gazillian audio books to listen to, along with 60 megamillion songs. Two students bought me gift cards to Barnes & Noble, so I went crazy and bought six new books last night.

So I'm going to focus on the books and the happy togetherness of tonight and tomorrow, rather than the sore jaw and claustrophobia that is today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Isn't This Al Gore's Home State?

Why is it so freakin' hard to find a place to recycle household waste in this state? I feel like Kermit the Frog because it's sure not easy being green.

Yesterday we cleaned out one of the garages to make room to store Dad's vintage boat over the winter. The recyclables were starting to form their own independent nation in the attached garage, so I loaded them up in my car to make the long trek to the recycle center in Madison. (I've been saving them up for a time when I need to go to Smyrna, but I couldn't wait another day.) About halfway there I realized that I was directly in the path of all those crazy Saturday Christmas shoppers on their way to Rivergate Mall. Oh well, how bad could it be? I foolishly thought.

It was that bad.

It became even worse when I finally made it to the recycling center, only to find out that it's closed on the weekend. Are you freakin' kidding me?? Who are these people who manage to find time to recycle during the work week? They must be some kind of super green freaks. Sadly, I turned my car back toward my new/old hometown and fought the mall traffic going that way too. There's an hour of my life I'll never get back. Meanwhile, I still had a car full of plastic bottles and steel cans. My school recycles newspaper and the humane shelter takes aluminum cans, but no one takes the rest of my crap.

Oh, and the used plastic grocery bags were still all wadded up in the passenger floorboard. Yes, I realize if I were TRULY being green I'd have those reusable bags. But you know what? I'm not only environmentally challenged, I'm also poor, frugal, and cheap. Those suckers cost a buck apiece, and I NEVER remember to take the few I do own to the store with me. So, baby steps, okay?

Anyway, today I set out to find the recycle center I've heard about in Gallatin. The one that is a twenty minute drive from my house, one way. ARGH! Another hour of my life, gone! Why oh why can't my beloved old/new hometown get a recycle center of its own? I realize they aren't pretty, but isn't there a building somewhere in this town with a parking lot in back where the city could prop a couple of big blue (or green!) dumpsters for plastic, glass, and steel cans? Wouldn't the city make enough in selling the materials to pay for the dumpster space?

Here's the deal--there is a company that offers curbside recycling pick-up but they charge twenty bucks a month for the service. And, as I mentioned above, I'm way too poor/frugal/cheap to pay for it. Plus, as long as I'm willing and able to take these things to a center myself, shouldn't I have that opportunity? Maybe more people in this town would recycle if it were slightly less impossible to do.

That's my mission for 2010--bring a recycle center to Hendersonville. I'm not sure how to go about it, but I'm going to make it happen. If for no other reason than to keep me from driving to BFE Gallatin once a month.

Maybe I'll start by borrowing a karaoke machine and singing "It's Not Easy Being Green" as loud as possible outside City Hall while dumping my recyclables in their parking lot. What do you think?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Conversations

...overheard in my family yesterday.

On the way to breakfast with another teacher and her daughter, we passed several runners all bundled up for the cold weather, running down the sidewalk. So I asked, "Is there some kind of marathon today that I didn't hear about?"

Ryan: "Ugh. I hate marathons. They're just so...long.

Me: "Well, that's kind of the point."

Both kids in stereo: "Unless it's a marathon of...

Ryan: cartoons."

Aaron: Captain Planet."




On the way to school each day, we pass a yard with one of those Grinch inflatables. Only, he's DEflated because it's so early in the morning. We started singing this song as we pass that house (to the tune of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"):

You're a flat one, Mr. Grinch.
You're lying on the lawn.
You are deader than a doornail,
you're flat as a flapjack, Mr. Gri-iiiiinch.
I wouldn't plug you in and blow air back up your butt--even if you were Santa Claus!
And the second verse goes downhill from there--full of potty humor and spiders and other boy-inspired lyrics. Yeah, we're classy like that.


Last night at about quarter 'til ten I told the kids that it was late and they needed to go to bed.

Ryan: Oh, thank goodness you're finally telling us to go to bed. I've been so tired.

Me: You know, if you're tired you can just go on to bed. You don't have to wait for me to tell you to go.

Ryan: (feigning shock) I would never do something without first getting your permission, dear mother.

Then they went upstairs and got ready for bed. Aaron was sleeping in Ryan's room because they like to have "sleepovers" on the weekend. Dan said he was watching football while they got settled. Then Ryan called out, "Oh, if only we had a father who loves us who could come tuck us in and make sure we're warm while we sleep. Oh, if only he cared enough to do that. "


Yep, it's a regular comedy festival here at the castle.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In Which I Confess to Enjoying Christmas Music

For those of you who have been hanging around the Princess's castle for a while, you know that there are quite a few Christmas songs that I can't stand. Now, to be fair, there are many that I really, really love. I was in choir all through school and at church, so trust me I've sung them all.

Tonight I had the great pleasure of attending my middle school son's Christmas chorus concert. I have to admit that I actually gasp enjoyed that stupid Chipmunk song. It's amazing what a difference it makes when it's sung by someone you adore and cherish, rather than a group of vile, high-pitched, animated rodents. Ryan did a great job, as did the rest of the chorus. It's fun to sit in the audience on the other side hearing the same songs which I used to perform. It was really fun to count the number of eye rolls I witnessed as my son sang such lines as, "when we finally kiss goodnight," and "with holiday greetings and gay happy meetings when friends come to call." Hee hee. He's So Very Twelve.

We listened to Christmas music while putting up the Christmas tree last week. You read that correctly--last week. On FRIDAY, no less. The day after Thanksgiving. Also known as The Earliest Day on Which It's Acceptable to Put Up the Tree. I know, right? Me! With the happy holiday spirit and whatnot! I even sang along with Karen Merry Christmas Darling Carpenter! Of course, it helps that my husband isn't working retail during the holiday season for the first time in the twenty-plus years that I've known him. It makes a huge difference in my attitude to not have to do the single parent thing during the holidays.

My favorite part of the concert tonight was hearing the choir sing Carol of the Bells four-part harmon, a Capella. Oh so pretty. The even cooler part is that my kids also love that song and they want to make sure we have the lyrics so that the whole family can sing along when we visit the Ohio Brewers for Christmas.

It kinda makes me feel like my heart grew three sizes that day.

But nothing and nobody could ever, ever make me like Christmas Shoes. Blech. I kinda threw up in my mouth a little bit, just from typing the name of that horrible, awful, schmaltzy, sappy, crappy, hideous, no good, very bad song. Bah.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nerd or Not Nerd?

Conversation overheard in my living room while putting up the Christmas tree:

Ryan: (checking out all the ornaments) What's a nerd?

Me: (while unwrapping the ornaments) Well, it's someone who is a little bit of a misfit. You know, like the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys in Rudolph? Someone who is kinda bookish and smart, but not socially adept.

Ryan: Like, you mean somebody who doesn't really fit in?

Me: Yes, but the word "nerd" also implies that the person is smart, too. Mommy's a nerd, for example.

Ryan: But you don't wear glasses with tape holding them together.

Me: Or a pocket protector.

Ryan: Yeah, that's how I always picture a nerd looking. You know, with taped-up glasses and maybe suspenders or something.

Me: And a Spock haircut.

Ryan: Wait. What? But Spock's not a nerd.

Me: Sure he is--super intelligent, socially awkward? He's definitely
a nerd.

Ryan: No, that's just because he's a Vulcan.

Me: Yes, but he's half-human. His human half is definitely a nerd.

Dan: (chiming in from his post straightening the branches) The fact that you two are even having this conversation puts you both firmly in the nerd category.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Which I Remind People to Lighten the Frick Up

I made a joke on Facebook about being tired of my friends' sappy "thankful" status updates leading up to Thanksgiving and got my sh*t jumped about it. Oh for frick's sake--get over yourselves. I mean, have you met me? I make snarky comments and jokes, people. It's kind of my thing.

Just to show that I was kidding (Hello? I lead a pretty charmed life here, folks. Much to be thankful for!) I've made my own grateful list. Feel free to ignore it if the sappiness is too much for you. There'll be plenty more snark tomorrow. Ya'll c'mon back now, y'hear?

1) I'm grateful for books. Lots of them. Especially those written by great authors. Especially when they're free at the library. I came home from the library tonight with three books--one brand new, and two that I've read before (but only once and I don't own them). Hello five day weekend!

2) I'm thankful to be married to my extremely hot and very talented best friend, who just happens to be the father of my really wonderful kids.

3) I'm grateful to work with some really awesome people who make my job fun. Especially since one of them has a sister who cut my hair and waxed my eyebrows tonight.

4) I'm thankful for Shoe Carnival's buy one, get one half price sale. I'm also grateful that they had wide and half sizes in the boots I wanted/needed. I'm even more grateful that the cashier gave me an extra $4 off coupon out of the blue.

5) I'm grateful and beyond relieved that I had a most excellent observation/reflection with my boss today. I have completed ALL of my observations for this school year and all three of them went unbelievably well.

6) I'm grateful that my middle school kid is still allowed to sing Christmas songs in the "Winter Holiday" concert, even if one of them is the ridiculously annoying Chipmunk song. My kids hate it too, so don't jump me for being a Scrooge.

7) I'm thankful for the PTO moms at my school who fed us a wonderful soup and salad luncheon today. Mmmm. Love soup.

8) I'm grateful for my giant laundry room, which Dan will not be taking away to create the bathroom of his dreams. Sorry, dear. Mama needs to hang up clothes.

9) I'm thankful for the Read-a-Thon today, which enabled me to grade every single last paper at school before I left today so that I could ENJOY my time off without work hanging over my head the whole weekend.

10) I'm grateful that I HAVE A JOB to escape from for a few days. And I'm grateful that my little man comes to work with me every morning to hang out in my room before school starts. He's a great companion any time, but he's about the only person on Earth I can tolerate first thing in the morning before I've had my coffee.

So, okay. Are you happy now? Can I go back to my usual snark and biting cynicism now? All this cheerfulness is giving me hives.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Can I Get an Extra Saturday? Please?

What a week. After a busy week like this, I should be able to cash in some chips for an extra day on the weekend.

Dan played out two nights last week, so I was home alone with the boys Monday and Tuesday. It's funny how quickly I've gotten used to having him home in the evenings, after his working in retail for the first twenty years I've known him. He used to close the store down at least two nights a week. Now I feel lost without him if he's gone two nights.

He also rehearsed with the third graders during the school day twice. He accompanied them on his guitar in two performances this week (Wednesday morning; Thursday night). Aaron was great as an announcer for the program. Everyone said he was "so professional" and wanted to know where he got such a deep voice. He was all, "Hi, I'm Aaron, and I'm going to speak in my big man voice now." Very cute! After the book fair, PTO meeting, rehearsals, performances, and helping Aaron get his big Thomas Jefferson citizenship project ready, I was exhausted.

But I wasn't finished. In fact, I was just getting started. I had my third (and final, for this school year) observation with my principal on Friday. Yes, genius that I am, I scheduled an observation for the last hour of the day on the last day of the week before a short holiday week. What was I thinking? Luckily I'd stayed really late Wednesday night analyzing data and writing plans, so I was totally prepared. The observation went really well and my kids were great. At the end my boss smiled at me and said, "You've come a long way, baby."

I nearly peed my pants.

There were lots of other nice words too, but I don't want to boast. Well, okay I do, but that would be bad form. I'll sit down to "reflect" with her about the lesson on Monday or Tuesday and get my formal "strengths and areas to strengthen" paperwork. Until then, I'm just basking in the relief of having finished my three observations for this year. Whew.

Today we finally had Aaron's birthday party, since his birthday was two weeks ago. Mother of the Year, that's me. The boys played Wii games, Star Wars, air hockey, Legos, and chased each other around the house yelling, screaming, and tormenting the dog. You know, SOP for boys.

After they left, I stretched out on the couch with an audio book and napped. I'd earned it.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tunica

...is the Indian word for "Place Where White People Lose Money."

Dan and I spent the weekend in Tunica for an AFLAC Awards Banquet. I've never been to Tunica before and I doubt I'll ever go again unless the company is paying for it. Not that we had a bad time. On the contrary. I graded papers for the entire car ride so that I wouldn't have to worry about anything once we arrived so we could just relax and unwind. It was wonderful to get away and just spend time together without two little kids talking our ears off and hearing video game sound effects in the back ground constantly.

Except, wait. We DID have video game sound effects in the background--at the casino. The lights, sounds, and smoke just about drove me crazy. I'm just not a casino kind of girl. Luckily we didn't gamble any more than the casino bucks they gave us because, quite frankly, I suck at gambling. No, really. I couldn't even figure out the quarter slots. I would've done better just to flush my ten dollar coupon directly down the toilet and avoided the smoky, desperation-scented air in the casino. All that fake glamor and glitz is just not for me.

The free food, however, was very much my speed. Holy cow, did I ever ruin my diet this weekend. I could've spent five hours at the dessert table alone. We ate like kings. Well, kings with high cholesterol and hypertension, but still. Dan won $60 at the AFLAC Luck of the Draw game, and then another $11 at the slot machines. I enjoyed my free glass of wine and promptly lost my $10 free card in the stupid slots, prompting me to enjoy a second free glass of wine.

On the way back to Tennessee, we stopped at Outback for a (nearly) free lunch because we had a gift card. All in all we had a great (mostly) free weekend, didn't lose any of our own money, and are desperately UNready to go back to work tomorrow.

Thanks, mom, for watching the boys and the dog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Little Celebrities

Our little super star got his picture in the paper yesterday. People at school were asking for his autograph. :-) He was pretty excited to see himself in the paper, but he was a little embarrassed by all the attention.


Not to be outdone by his little brother, Twelve got his picture in the paper this week too--online, not print. So here's a picture of Twelve at his middle school chorus Veteran's Day concert. He's the one on the front row directly between the two microphones. In this one he's the third kid from the right. Doesn't he look delighted to be there??

He's...So Very Twelve.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pleurisy? Seriously?

Okay, so I figured out why I've been having trouble running. My legs didn't hurt at all, but I kept feeling like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. Well, as it turns out, there was. And his name is pleurisy.

I've been having sharp, shooting pains in my right side for about a week now--ever since I started trying to be a runner. See, I TOLD YOU running would be the death of me!

Last night the pain radiated to my shoulder blades and hurt every time I took a breath. As you can imagine, it was pretty hard to sing while unable to breathe last night. Late last night my left, lower back started to hurt too. I couldn't find a comfortable position, no matter how I moved. It felt like a fish hook was pulling my chest every time I breathed. I took two Aleve and didn't get any relief at all. My sister in law is in town and she's a nurse at the Cleveland Clinic. She said my symptoms sounded like pleurisy and encouraged (read: forced) me to go to the ER today. Good thing I had the sense enough to marry a man with a genius for a sister. I haven't had any other respiratory symptoms, so I thought she was crazy. I thought it sounded like a gallbladder attack. Boy, was I wrong.

After an ultrasound, an EKG, chest X-rays, an IV, blood tests, urine tests, and a thorough exam, the ER doctor said I have pleurisy. "Really?" I said. "Isn't that something old people get?"

He just looked at me. Pointedly.

I said, "Right. I'm 40. Got it."

They gave me an anti-inflammatory in my IV and a prescription for steroids and sent me home with instructions not to run for a few days.

Well, gee. That'll be a hardship, but I'll try my best to follow doctor's orders.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Super Star

Nine years ago on this date the world became a better place because Aaron Brewer was introduced into it. This child is one of the most amazing people I've ever met, of any age, and I'm supremely honored that God allows us to be his parents every day.

Tonight, rather than have a birthday party, Aaron volunteered to sing at a Sumner County Humane Society fundraiser called Puttin' on the Dog. Dan and I sang too, but Aaron was the true super star of the even
ing. I sang Etta James's "At Last" and Patsy Cline's "Crazy," then I joined Dan to harmonize on a few Beatles' songs. Dan sang one original song, "Until the Evening Rolls Around," several Beatles' songs, and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here."

Super Star Aaron sang Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" and Paul McCartney's "Calico Skies." He was absolutely amazing. Not only did he sing with absolute confidence--not a nervous bone in his body--he actually talked and introduced each song. What a showman! You'd think his last name was Osmond or Jackson. I'd show you a video my mom took, but there was a Red Hat lady right in front of her who kept moving her feathers into the picture. After the show, everyone came up to tell him what a great job he did. A lady from the local newspaper took his picture and got his information, so maybe it'll be in the paper this week.

Mom's friend's husband gave Aaron a ten dollar "tip," making this his first paying gig. As we walked around looking at all the silent auction stuff, another lady came up, gushing, to tell Aaron what a good job he did. She said something like, "I sure would like to hear you sing again sometime." In classic Aaron form, he responded with, "Well, I'll be singing in the Nannie Berry talent show this spring. Maybe you could come see me then." Love. That. Kid. I felt like telling her to check his website for his tour dates. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.

Not to be outdone in the great kid department, Ryan opted to stay home because, even though he also has a great voice too, he is very TWELVE and does not want to sing in front of a bunch of strangers. He stayed home with Dan's sister, Cathy, who is in town for the weekend. Together they decorated the house with signs and stuffed animals (Ryan said they were party animals), and threw him a surprise party when we got home. He included a secret code with instructions directing Aaron to come upstairs to the party.

They baked him a cake and decorated it with his name and some psychedelic, tie-dye-looking sugar crystals. Yes, I caved and had some cake. Hey, it's not every day my boy turns nine!

I have the two best boys in the whole world. This will be my last year to have a single-digit-aged child. Gosh, I wish I could freeze time and keep them this age forever, but then I wouldn't get to see the fantastic teens and men they're going to be.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In Case You Were Wondering...

I still hate running. Just thought you should know that hasn't changed. I went out with the pretty young things again on Monday after school and gave up after one short lap. I've come to the realization that I'm old. Plus, I felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest this week, which certainly curtails any running that I might've struggled with even with healthy lungs.

I ran about half a mile with the dog once I got home Monday night, but I was breathing so hard that I was worried one of my elderly neighbors would hear me and come racing out with her oxygen and her walker to help me get back home. I ran again Tuesday morning, just under half a mile, but I did not enjoy it. Not even a little bit.

Another PYT at school who kinda sorta wants to exercise but doesn't want to run or break a sweat or have to work very hard is going to be my "running buddy." I put it in quotes because that's what we're calling each other even though we're both pretty certain that there will be no actual running taking place.

I might have found my perfect "running buddy" after all.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

End of an Era

This was a bittersweet Halloween for the Brewer Boys and their mom. For the first time in about seven or eight years, we didn't have ready-made plans for Halloween. This was the first time we looked at each other and said, "What do we want to do for Halloween?"

Because, see, up to this point we've always gone trick-or-treating with the Gafford Girls across the street. The moms are BFFs, so the kids are destined to play together. Luckily, the five kids all like each other, so it works for us. In previous years, we always waited until it got dark, walked across t
he street, and started out together stocking up on enough sugar to keep a dentist in business for life. There was no discussion, no "are we on for 10/31?," no question. It was a given that we'd go door-to-door with them.

Last year, since Halloween was on Friday, we drove from H'ville back down to Smyrna (where we still owned a house) and continued the tradition. This year we sold our hou
se in May, so we knew things would be different. Sure, we could've driven back to Smyrna and continued the tradition, but Dan and I decided the kids needed to do something with their friends up here. We just didn't know what.

Ryan decided that he's too old for trick-or-treating, so he didn't even buy a costume this year. He wore an old alien mask with black sweats just long enough for his free kids' meal. We went to Zaxby's for free kids' meals, even though Ryan is technically two years too old for their kids' meals. But since the child doesn't eat and I'm on a diet, we managed to split his kids' meal with a couple of fries left over.



Lily dressed up as Pocahontas--for about five minutes, until she started chewing the costume off and looking up at me with a completely humiliated expression on her face, and periodically glancing at the window as if to say, "I sincerely hope the cat can't see me in this, because if she can, I've completely lost all street cred as a big dog." Aaron declared his costume "the best one ever" and enjoyed wearing it at every possible opportunity all week long. He was Optimus Prime.











Then we went t
o the Brassell's house because, as a paranormal investigator, this is Denise's penultimate national holiday. Their front yard is the coolest Halloween celebration I've ever seen. Plus, they were celebrating their grandbaby's first birthday (naturally it's on Halloween), so they had even more decorations up than normal.

Then, because he's too old for this business now, Ryan stayed home with his dad to hand out candy. Problem is, there are NO trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. None. A few houses sat there with their lights on, looking all bright and hopeful, but there were no little goblins running around. Despite the fact that Dan bought four bags of candy, we didn't even bother turning our porch lights on. It was just too sad to hope that someone would show up. The big boys stayed in the man cave and played Wii games while Aaron and I set out on our journey.

We drove over to t
he neighborhood across the street from our school. It's like our old neighborhood: self-contained, lots of kids, houses close together for maximum candy collecting. The biggest difference between this one and our old neighborhood? These houses are built around a pond with a fountain in the middle, have sidewalks everywhere, and start at about half a million dollars. Minor difference, really.

So Aaron and I walked from house to house, alone, just the two of us saying "trick-or-treat" in a very lukewarm voice. We ran i
nto a few kids that I know from school, but Aaron didn't see anybody he knows. He enjoyed himself, but I was very lonely. No Grace to talk to, no girls chattering, no Ryan to fuss at to get out of the middle of the road. Sigh. After a couple of streets, Aaron decided that he was cold and ready to go home. I couldn't help but think, "I missed going to a grown-up party and bonfire for this?"

Next year I'll have to plan ahead of time to have Aaron meet up with some of his friends. Ryan will probably be at some kind of middle school party. Or maybe he'll still be sitting in the basement playing video games--his default position, no matter what the occasion.

No matter what we do from here on out, I'll always remember this Halloween as the end of an era.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Running...

...and other medieval forms of torture.

I ran Friday.

For my friends in Smyrna who know me best, I'm giving you a minute to pick yourselves up off the floor, get a tissue to dry the laughing tears from your eyes, and let your breathing return to normal before you start reading again. Better? Okay. Let's continue.

I ran Friday.

Okay, Smyrna girls. That's enough laughing. Pull yourselves together now. There are other people trying to read this.

So I ran. I know I've always said that there's no way I'd run unless there was a big dog chasing me. Well, this big dog is named Kathleen and I was chasing her, trying to keep up. See, I was foolish enough to mention that I'd reached a plateau in the Biggest Loser contest at work. For the past four weeks, I've only lost half a pound a week. I've only been dieting and not exercising because I've been so busy. Kathleen was trying to organize a group of teachers to participate in a "Fun Run" after school several days a week. I commented that there was nothing at all "fun" about running. She encouraged me to give it a try before I passed judgment. I called her a crazy fool, and it went downhill from there.

Long story short, she said that the more people we got to participate, the more likely each of us would be to find a running partner on her own level--someone to match pace with us and keep us company while the others sped off toward the Boston marathon. Since I'm one of the oldest teachers on our faculty, I knew this would not be the case for me. The assisted living facility is a little further down the street--that's the only place I'd find a running buddy. But, I brought some workout clothes to school on Friday and prayed for rain all day. Naturally, the rain didn't come until later, ruining my kids' Trunk or Treat, but not early enough to ruin my run.

I bravely set out with the skinny, 20-something teachers and immediately realized my mistake: I'd forgotten a sports bra. The main reason I hate to run is because of the bouncing. Not that I have much to bounce, but it's damned uncomfortable anyway. I hung back and tried to set a comfortable pace. I realized at once that I'd found my running budding: my teaching partner's nine-year-old daughter who was panting, whining, and asking if we could stop now. I fit right in with my gasping, moaning, and begging. We were soul mates.

At least until we completed the first loop around the neighborhood and the girl's mom took pity on her and allowed her to stop there. Not so with me. Those young, thin beeyotches made me keep going, although they did slow down when I reminded them that we'd had a class party about an hour before and, unless they wanted to see some of the "Swamp Water" punch I'd drunk making a return trip, they'd better slow the frick down. They walked a little while to let the punch settle in my stomach, then took off running again. I politely told them all to F-off while dragging behind them, trying not to hurl in the neighbor's yards. I have students who live on those streets, so I didn't want it to get back to school on Monday that Mrs. Brewer blew Halloween Party chunks in their front yard.

Cut to the chase (which is what I did--chase the other teachers) all the way back to the school. I mapped the distance we ran on mapmyrun.com: 2.87 miles. I survived, but just barely. The other teachers all congratulated me on not fainting, stroking out, or barfing in the bushes, and I sweetly told them all to F-off again. No really, they told me I did a great job of keeping up with them, especially considering that I have no running experience whatsoever, other than being old enough to have powered my first car with my feet, Flintstone-style. They all told me not to give up, that it'll get easier each time I run, especially if I don't drink a gallon of Swamp Juice and eat a plate of M&Ms and Pigs in a Blanket right beforehand.

Oh, did I fail to mention the candy and Blanketed Piggies? Yeah, that's the real reason I ran. So I could eat a little junk food at the Fall Party. I tell you, the sacrifices I make for nitrates and sugar.

I might try running again--when those yummy piggies fly.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seriously?

Did you ever see something that made you say out loud to yourself...seriously? Did you really just do that in front of me? Did that really just happen? I seem to be a non compos mentis magnet this week...or maybe I'm just noticing the crazy more than usual.

Take, for example, the other day at Lowe's. I was coming out of the store and headed toward my car when I saw a woman walking in the opposite direction toward the store. She was flossing her teeth as she walked. Really. Not picking at a stray food particle with her fingernail. Not employing a toothpick that she'd just picked up at the cash register of her local eatery after a fine dining experience. Oh no. We're talking Full-On Flossing, like with for real dental floss. She had the sawing motion going
and everything.

Curious, and slightly disturbed, I sat in my car and continued to watch as she approached the entrance. Step. Saw. Step. Saw. She was flossing in rhythm with her steps--an admirable accomplishment, but still. I was horrified, but I couldn't tear my eyes away. It was like a train wreck. I wondered what she would do with the floss, knowing all the while that this could not end well. I knew from the very depths of my soul that the floss would never make it to the trash can at the front of the store. Sure enough, she tucked the offending piece of string back into her purse! Euw! What? Is she saving it to use again later? People are just nasty.

Then, on the drive home, I pulled up to a traffic light behind a Bubba. Now, I live in Tennessee, so there are quite a few Bubbas of my acquaintance. Some of them are actually named Bubba; for others it's more of a lifestyle choice. This guy was more like a Bubba Jr. Wannabe. He was driving a reddish-orange tricked out pickup truck with low-riding wheels on the back. The truck was so shiny that you could just tell that he'd never used the vehicle to do any actual real macho work. In fact, it looked like the kind of truck that would be afraid it would break a nail if it tried to haul anything.

The clincher though was the sticker in the back window, which read, "No fat chicks. Back end will scrape." I wanted to pull up beside the obviously struggling with his masculinity driver and say, "Excuse me? You should be grateful to ANY chick who would be seen in this limp-wristed, sorry excuse for a truck with you. Here in the South, "chicks" generally prefer guys who have a little something more going on under the hood, if you know what I mean."

Then tonight I saw yet another vehicle whose driver was clearly hoping to date a real, live woman at some point in his life, but would probably be living with his mama into his late forties and saying, "Do you want fries with that?" at work every day. I'm sure you've seen these trucks with the fake testicles hanging from the trailer hitch. Really? Really? You need to justify your lack of cajones by giving some to your truck? Seriously? That's too pathetic to even be sad.

Citizens of Tennessee: please try very hard to keep your crazy to yourself. I teach public school, so I'm all stocked up. I don't need your 27 varieties of mental illness in my day. Thanks.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rainbows, Fluffy Bunnies, and Bubble Letters

...are things you won't find here.

Okay, since apparently my last two blog entries were filled with enough vitriol that I actually had people ask me if I was okay and if there was anything they could do for me, I guess I need to back off the bitter a wee little bit. This blog will be a kinder, gentler, warm fuzzy kind of blog.

Who am I kidding? I'm not a fluffy bunny kind of girl. It'll be the same old snarky blog as ever, but with a tad less sarcasm and spite. But only a tad. Because then I'd get even more emails asking, "What's really going on? You're being too sweet. What are you not telling us?" You know me so well.

So, yes, it was a busy week. I had my mom's pooch all week because she was in Las Vegas taking care of my Grama who had knee surgery. Izzy was a good little doggie until the very last night, when she decided to attempt to scratch her way through the door at the top of the steps. She was squirrelly all day Friday because she must've read the calendar and realized that her mommy was coming home.

I had my second observation on Wednesday and it went really well. The lady who observed me is from the central office. She does one of the observations and my principal does the other two. (Two down, one to go.) She said many nice things: lots of growth and improvement since last year, she could see me taking on leadership roles in my school or teaching professional development classes for the county, very organized classroom, great centers (thanks, McCartney!), etc. What was really funny was the area she identified as one that I could stand to strengthen (she went out of her way to emphasize that it was not a weakness or an area where I was deficient in any way, but just an area to strengthen to become an even better teacher) was the exact domain and indicator (letter, number, the whole shebang) that my principal identified as a strength in my evaluation two weeks ago. :-)

Then we had a field trip on Friday to the Bicentennial Mall in Nashville for the Tennessee History Festival. I didn't sleep at all Thursday night. Izzy contributed to my lack of sleep, but I was also stressed about the trip. The weather forecasters were predicting a 100% chance of rain on Friday, but the big question mark was how early the system would be moving out of the middle TN area. We even emailed the meteorologists at channels four and five to ask them about it. At six Friday morning we had a monsoon pass through, but by the time we left at 9:30 it was not raining. We had a good time learning about the events that shaped our state's history from prehistoric times to the present. Other than the anonymous comment on Friday (HA!! Too funny!), the trip went really well. I was exhausted and fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 Friday night. Field trips wear me out. I think I'm glad we only get two of them.

This weekend I've been cleaning, organizing, and taking Eight to a birthday party. Today I hope to tackle the garage(s) and try to make room to store Dad's boat for the winter. Problem is, the stuff taking up the room where the boat will go belongs to Mom and Dad. Hopefully they will be able to come get it this week so we can clear out that space. Oh, and I have to list some things on Craigslist to get rid of. I've never done that before, so wish me luck.

See, no rainbows or bubble letters, but it wasn't too bitter. I can be sweet and soft when I need to be. For a limited time. Tomorrow I'll probably be back to my normal, caustic self again. You've been warned.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sarcastic Thanks

Since sarcasm is my native language, I have a few thank yous to share with the blogverse.

I'd like to start off by thanking mom's dog for dragging her butt all across my carpet this week. Thanks, Izzy. Because, really, keeping the carpet clean with two boys and a Labrador in the house wasn't quite enough of a challenge for me. I needed to add "Poop Scootching Skid Marks" to the list of unidentified stains. Seriously. Thanks for that.

And to Wal-Mart. Yeah--my favorite place on Earth. Hey, thanks for carrying only ONE size of the hot pink shiny snow boots--a size ten. Really. Because, it was very helpful to me tonight when I desperately searched for pink rain boots all over town for the field trip tomorrow to know that my favorite color was available, somewhere out there in the Walliverse, just not in the actual place and time and SIZE 8 where and when I needed it. It was so thoughtful of you to let me know what I was missing. I probably couldn't have slept tonight if I had thought you only carried green and orange boots. Thanks for dangling that pink booted carrot in my face and then jerking it away when I saw the size tag. Sure. Thanks for that too.

Oh, and thanks to all the parents who fully believe that I have the power to manipulate the weather and can redirect rainfall. I appreciate, also, that you have faith in my ability to predict what tomorrow's weather will be too. It's so supportive how half of you hate me because I didn't cancel the field trip and the other half of you would've hated me if I had canceled it. It feels so good knowing that, whatever decision I make, at least 50% of you will be lined up to tell me why it was the wrong one. That just warms my heart.

I also need to thank all the liars in the world who are so skilled in your trade that you actually start to believe your own lies until you're certain they're true. I admire your ability to continue to prevaricate, even when faced with undeniable proof of your untruthfulness. Wow. That takes moxie. I'd say my hat's off to you, but you'd just tell me that I wasn't wearing a hat to begin with.

Whew. I feel better. It's always uplifting to give thanks where thanks are due.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Open Letter

to the jayhole who sat behind us at Chili's tonight:

Dear Jayhole,

We, the patrons of Chili's, would like to cordially invite you to achieve an anatomically impossible event after enjoying the presence of your children tonight as we dined. We'd blame your Satan's spawn, A and E, but, as children, they are not entirely responsible for their actions. You are. We blame you for raising them to be the incorrigible, horrendous buttheads that you've allowed them to become.

And how do we know their names, you ask yourself? Well, because we heard you repeatedly shouting the little darlings' names as you issued one empty threat after another. How did I know they were empty threats after only twenty minutes in your unpleasant company? Well sir, even your very young children realized that you were not going to follow through on your warnings because you obviously never do. Instead we, the other paying customers, were subjected to repeated shouts of:
A, get down!
E, sit up!
A, stop knocking on the glass!
E, don't choke your brother!
A, get out from under the table!
E, I told you to stop that!
A, get off your brother or you're going to have to sit over here with me!

And on and on, ad infinitum, world without end, amen, amen. And then you'd get on the phone again and continue to ignore your offspring while they terrorized the other diners.

I used the children's initials instead of their names because they are innocent bystanders in the atrocity that is your parenting technique. I realize that your wife is out of town and you're not used to being the parent on duty. But here's some friendly advice, from one parent of boys to another: Man the frick up and raise your kids right before they get to school and their teachers hate you as much as everyone in the restaurant did tonight.

Thank you.

P.S. I might be feeling just a tiny bit smug because both of MY boys made straight As on their report cards today. :-)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Last Day of Fall Break

...in which I shall bore you with more doctor's updates from fall break and whine about how I don't want to go back to work tomorrow.

I will say one thing about my new family practitioner: she gets labs back FAST! It used to take my doc in Smyrna at least a week to give me the results of my blood work. Not this office! I had blood drawn on Thursday. You know, the usual: checked my cholesterol, red blood cells (for anemia), electrolytes, thyroid function, etc.

Friday morning I went garage sale-ing with mom and her next-door-neighbor. I made the mistake of saying that this would be the only day all week when I didn't have to see a doctor and didn't have to get a needle stuck in my arm. Naturally I spoke too soon, because then my phone rang.

Nurse: There's an abnormality with your labs and we're going to need you to come back in so we can send another sample to the lab, STAT.
Me: Um, now?
Nurse: Yes, honey. We need to get this over to the lab as soon as possible so we can get results back today.
Me: Oooookay. What kind of abnormality?
Nurse: Your potassium is too high.
Me: Is that a problem?
Nurse: Well, maybe not, but it could be. Are you experiencing any symptoms?
Me: Huh? What kind of symptoms?
Nurse: Well, if your potassium is high and your electrolytes are off it COULD indicate a problem with your heart. Are you having flutters or an abnormal heart rate?
Me: Wait. What? My heart? No, I'm not having symptoms. (long thinking pause) Hold on...you said my potassium is too high? (laughing) I can explain that. I've been putting bananas in my fresh fruit and yogurt smoothies this week because the bananas were about to go bad and I wanted to use them up.
Nurse: Well, we still need you to come in as soon as you can.

Long story short, I had to get another stick to prove what I'd suspected: Banana OD. Darn healthy diet.

Oh, and for those of you who were feeling sorry for me because I didn't get any shoes the other day...score! I bagged three pairs of designer shoes at Goodwill for less than twenty bucks, which is still less than what I would've paid for one pair (half price) at Shoe Carnival. I also got a brand new black leather Jones New York jacket-y blazer thing which is way cool. I love being cheap.

This week we're puppy sitting mom's dog, Izzy, whom I affectionately refer to as Wolverine. She's got sharp teeth and an attitude like a wolverine, but she's pretty cute when she's not biting my fingers off. Lily loves having her here and the cat...well, the cat is adjusting. She'd just gotten used to having Lily sniffing her business, and now she's got this barking little, panda-looking Wolverine to contend with. Poor Snowball.

I really don't want to go back to work. WAAAAHHH! I loved having time off, but it makes it that much harder to go back on Monday after seven school days without students. I'm being evaluated by someone from central office on Tuesday, so naturally the state website that I need to access to write my planning information record is down. Grrr. I'm going to be really mad if I have to work on it tomorrow night during DWTS or Castle.

Okay, I think that's enough boring random facts for now. Look for more of the mediocrity that you've come to expect here at Casa de Princess next weekend. Until then, kick back and enjoy some Grand Hoochie Skank Rosè. (SNL reference from last night that still has me giggling tonight.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Princess in the Royal Family

My baby cousin Stephanie had a baby of her own today. Before you start thinking this is a Springer episode, my cousin is not really a baby. She's 28. I just can't help thinking of her as a baby because I held her when she was born. I thought I was so important because, at that time, you had to be at least twelve years old to visit new mothers and babies in the hospital. I had just turned twelve the month before, so I got to go with the adults to visit Aunt Sue and hold the new baby.

For those of you spraining your brains trying to do mental math...that makes me 40 now. Shut up.

Anyway, Stephanie and her big brother were acolytes at my wedding in 1991. Now she's got her own little girl. I would like to personally thank Mackenzie Hope for managing to get herself born during fall break so I could go visit her at the hospital and hold her just like I held her mama 28 years ago.

Welcome, Mackenzie. I hope you g
row up to be as beautiful and smart as your mom.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Frenzy

I had my doctor's appointment yesterday with the breast surgeon and everything is looking good. Healing up nicely. I still have to schedule the MRI, but I'm not in any rush to be trapped in a metal tube.

I took the boys with me to my appointment yesterday because we had errands to run afterward. Twelve was his usual self: fidgeting, tapping, talking a mile a minute, and being his typical flurry of busy movements. I realize that he can't help it, but it just drives me up the wall sometimes. At one point, he leaped up out of his seat and dashed all the way across the waiting room for no apparent reason. Well, no reason that was apparent to me, anyway. I was just about to fuss at him, when I realized what had caught his attention. Sometimes being the kid who can't help but notice every little thing going on around him is a good thing. He'd jumped up to open the door for a little old lady in a walker who'd just come out from the exam room area. She thanked him and praised him for being such a helpful young man. Suddenly his fidgeting and frenetic movement didn't bother me so much anymore.

We went to a few stores on a mission: Twelve needed long-sleeve T-shirts and new shoes. We struck out on the T-shirts (none he liked at a price I was willing to pay) but hit pay dirt at Shoe Carnival. He'd been wearing a size six in boys, but I figured he'd need a larger size--possibly transitioning to men's sizes. Imagine my surprise when the shoe salesgirl said that he'd need an 8 1/2 or a 9! That's bigger than his daddy's shoes! Holy cow, my kid is getting big! Since the shoes were "Buy one, get one half off," we got brother and daddy some new shoes too. Who didn't get new shoes, you ask? Me. The person who also has the smallest closet in the family. I couldn't find a single pair of shoes in the whole store that I liked. Which really stinks because they would've been half price. Ugh.

Then I took Eight to the doctor. His right ear has been bothering him since the summer. No fever, no pain, but just an itchy, full feeling that ear drops and allergy meds weren't helping. Since we're on fall break, I decided we should finally have someone take a look in his little ear. We had to find a new doc in Hendersonville because, even though I wanted to keep going to our doctor in Smyrna, it was just too far to drive when my school doesn't even dismiss until 4:00 in the afternoon. So I found this doc on our list and made an appointment. The doctor took a look in both ears and smugly said, "Well there's your problem. His ears are full of wax."

Me: But just the right ear, right?
Doc: Um, no. The left one is just as bad. We'll get the lavage kit and take care of this. (starts walking out the door)
Me: (shouting to his retreating form) I promise I'm a good mother.

Way to make a first impression, right?

So, the doc, the nurse, and I cleaned out about seven years worth of wax from Eight's ears. At least, that's what it looked like as it came out. Eight, continuing the whole impress the new doctor theme, said, "Mom, you never told me I was supposed to clean my ears. I thought only dogs did that." I looked at the doctor and said, "Just for record, I did SO tell him to clean out his ears." He nodded and grinned smugly as if to say, "Yeah right, Slacker Mom."

I'm not sure if we're going to keep seeing Dr. Smug.

Today I have a nurse coming to the house to draw blood for the new life insurance policy Dan bought for me. Well, for him, since he's the one who will benefit if I croak. The day he sold me the policy, I was on my way out the door to play Bunco. He stopped me and made me sign the policy before I left the house. Nice. "Hey honey, sign this before you go--just in case you don't come back." He didn't mention there would be fasting and needles and standing on a scale for a stranger involved here. I'm hungry.

Then tomorrow I get to go back to Dr. Smug's office (but I'll be seeing his female partner) for another blood draw for my twice yearly thyroid check. At least I'll have matching bruises on each arm. Then I think we'll round out the week with eye doctor and dentist visits.

Yeehaw. Do I know how to party over fall break or what?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Another lame update post

I just realized that I haven't updated the blog since September 26 because, well, I suck at life in general. So sue me. I decided it was time to update the blog when my friend told me she was reading it to check on "my girls." Nice to know that even Canadians are concerned about the status of my ta-tas. Mary Ellen, I'll update you on my "girls" tomorrow after my follow-up visit with my surgeon. I'm supposed to have an MRI soon, but it's not scheduled yet.

And speaking of ta-tas, Dan was at the Race for the Cure event in Nashville yesterday to represent AFLAC. They were invited there by the Komen Foundation to offer their cancer insurance (among other policies) to participants. Hopefully he'll be able to get some sales out of that and help people who might find themselves needing that protection, God forbid.

I did have a ginormous lump develop behind my right ear, which popped up after a three-day headache. My co-workers told me it was probably a blood clot and I was "fixin' to stroke out." Nice, huh? The doctor at the walk-in clinic was all set to send me off for a CT-scan, X-ray, MRI, and all sorts of other tests, but her supervisor said it was probably just an infected gland. $4 for antibiotics VS. massive tests is definitely better. The lump starting shrinking after two days, so all is good.

I finally finished cleaning out the fall/winter clothes from storage and put everything away in my tiny closet. Did I mention that I have the smallest closet in the family? Just checking. Anyway, I took my friend Nancy's advice and stored all my summer/spring clothes in Space Bags so they won't smell like gasoline like my fall/winter clothes did. I got my new Miche closet organizer with my eight shells in it. I like to just sit and look at them in all their loveliness. My newest favorite is Black Stacey. She's so pretty. So is her sister, Brown Stacey.

(Yes, I call all my shells by their product names and talk about them as if they're friends. Because they are my friends. My dear, darling little friends: Jayma, Priscilla, Pink Zoe, the Staceys, and Baileigh. Dan is seeking purse therapy for me.)

We finally broke down and bought a Wii for the boys' birthday. The whole family is now hooked. The boys are mad because, so far, I can beat them in every single game except boxing. I HATE boxing. I hold the family record for Wii golf, with two over par on nine holes. That's verrrry different from real-life golf. In real life, Dan was asked by the driving range owner to never bring me there again. Something about the other golfers fearing for their lives. Sheesh! Men. You forget to yell "fore" a time or six (when you hit it backwards toward the crowd) and the menfolk get so touchy.

I had a great observation with my principal last week. In fact, I'll give you one quote from many positive comments. She said, "I think that's the best way I've ever seen that concept taught." I know, right? I was grinning from ear to ear when I floated out of her office. "Atta girls" feel great. I'll have another observation from the central office evaluator when I get back from fall break, and then another one with my principal in November. Hopefully I'll remain employed again next year.

I was tied for first in the Biggest Loser contest at work two weeks ago, but I don't have the results from last week because our school nurse was out. I think I've lost about seven pounds, but the scale at school is the true indicator. Dan and I bought Wii Fit, but we haven't been able to kick the kids off the thing long enough to play our game. The kids are addicted to Super Smash Brothers Brawl. They just borrowed Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga from Blockbuster and they're in love with it too. At least we'll know what to get them for Christmas--all Wii, all the time.

This week of fall break is going to be full of housework, yard work, lesson planning, doctor's appointments, and Wii play. It's so nice to have a fall break again, after being without it last year. I needed a break after the first nine weeks and parent conferences. Now we're one quarter finished with the school year!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekly Brewer Update

Quick update so my friends from "away" won't think that I'm ignoring them:

1) I lost 5.4 pounds last week which put me in second place in the Biggest Loser contest at work for that week. The first place winner, a dear friend of mine, is a skinny little witch who shouldn't even be allowed to play, what with her resemblance to a toothpick and all. Since I love her dearly, I'll allow it, but I really want to force-feed her a milkshake. And a side of curly fries.

2) I probably won't place in the top 3 this week because we had Spirit Night at Zaxby's Thursday for school and everything on their menu has, like, a thousand and one calories in it. Yum. I had a grilled Zensation Zalad which was yummy. Unfortunately their website only had the nutritional information posted for the fried chicken salad, so I counted it instead of the grilled chicken. Even with the overinflated calorie count, I still finished within my limit for the day, so maybe I didn't do too much damage Thursday night. I can't say the same for Friday because...

3) I had a Miche purse party Friday night, which was an absolute blast. I LOVED having people over to my new house. I bought/cooked mostly healthy stuff for us to eat since three of us are playing Loser: corn, black bean, and spicy Ro-tel (no cheese, just the ingredients listed) with Baked Tostitos Scoops tortilla chips, Fritos scoops for the non-Losers, chicken taquitos with light sour cream, veggie tray, watermelon, pineapple, Tahini hummus with All Bran crackers, reduced fat Triscuits, and pita chips. Mmm. Now I'm hungry again. It was healthy stuff, but I ate a ton of it.

Oh, and for the first time since we moved into the house on June 12th, there was alcohol here--two kinds of wine and "Phantom Parrots" (a drink my friend Kat invented that consists of Parrot Bay Coconut Rum and orange soda--she used Fanta which is where the name came from). Of course, I used diet orange soda, but that coconut rum has lots of calories. Yum. It tastes like you're drinking summer. I can't wait to get my new purses--as soon as I figure out which ones I want to order. I know I'm getting the closet organizer because...

4) I spent the day cleaning out my closet. It was already clean, but I was trying to box up all my summer stuff to make room to bring in my fall/winter stuff from storage. Did I mention that I am the only girl in the family and I have the smallest closet in the house? Not sure if I've mentioned that before. Anyway, I pulled in some of the Sterilite storage boxes (pink, naturally) from the garage, sorted all the clothes, and started the many, many loads of laundry it would require to insure that my clothes were free of spiders and the smell of gasoline from the mowers. I've come to the conclusion that I either need fewer clothes (not gonna happen) or a bigger closet (not possible). Since neither of those are options, I'm trying to streamline my organization system--thus the Miche closet organizer. I still haven't unpacked the sweaters, sweatshirts, blazers, jackets, and coats. Ugh. I think I may end up claiming part of the boys' closets by the time winter is here. Can you believe it's almost the end of September...?

5) Dan had a great September with AFLAC, and it's not even over yet. I'm so very, very proud of him. If he keeps that up, we'll be able to afford those granite countertops sooner than I thought! And maybe more purses! If you need supplemental insurance, Dan can hook you up because Mama needs some new counters. And a fence. And a downstairs bathroom. And a vacation because...

6) This week will end the first nine-week grading period and I've survived it so far. Actually, I have a really great class this year, but nine weeks is a long time. We'll have three days of school next week, then parent-teacher conferences, then I'll be off work for TEN DAYS!! Maybe I'll finally have time to take my dog to the vet because...

7) Lily is still allergic to something and we can't figure out what. She scratches all the time, chews on the base of her tail giving herself "hot spots," occasionally breaks out in hives, and rubs her face on the carpet. The mother of a student in my class who volunteers in my room said that her brother's dog's vet said that labs are notoriously allergic to goldenrod. (Did you follow that six degrees of separation, or do you need a minute to reread that sentence?) Or maybe she's allergic to cats, like the one who is now living on our patio...

8) Snowball is still here. Sometime soon Dan's going to have to take her to get her shots and have her spayed so she doesn't show up pregnant or rabid (or both) one day. But now I'm worried that Lily is allergic to Snowball and that this allergy thing won't go away. Lily and Snowball have become great friends. Well, for a few minutes, until Snowball gets tired of being sniffed and head-butted, and then she goes under my car where the dog won't fit. When she feels like slumming and allowing the dog to pay attention to her, she rubs her face up against Lily and curls herself around the dog's legs, rubbing up against her over and over again. It's so cute, but I really don't want to get attached to this cat if Lily is allergic to her. The boys are in love with her, so she's probably going to stay. And speaking of the boys...

9) Ryan had his first middle school chorus concert Monday night and he was great. We could pick his voice out of the crowd, mostly because there wasn't much of a crowd in the tenor and bass sections. There are a bazillion girls, but there aren't as many boys in the chorus here as there were in the magnet school. Still, he stood out because he's really, really talented, if I do say so myself. He was happy that they don't have to dress up for concerts at this school. The eighth-grade choir members designed a T-shirt for the group to wear. It's blue camouflage and says "Cougar Chorus," the colors and mascot of the school. It's so cute to hear the boys at this age because their voices are too low to sing with the girls, but not low enough to sing the "man notes." It won't be long, though. He's growing up so fast. And so is his brother...

10) Aaron continues to win the hearts of his teachers at school. He and I have quite a lot of time alone before school each morning after we drop Ryan off, and he's a pretty cool person to be around. He was helping me with some tasks the other day and it occured to me that after this year, I'll only have him there with me in elementary school for two more years. And at that time Ryan will be in high school. Then my brain imploded and I had to lie down.

So that's our week in review. Join us back here again next weekend at the castle when I finally have time to blog again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Twelve is Way too Close to Thirteen

Today my oldest son turned twelve. Twelve. As in, yikes he's way too close to being a teenager.

In fact, this is the last year that we will be without a teenager in the house for the next ten years. Ugh. Maybe I should just stock up on the two V's now: Valium and Vodka.

We had a fun family night with the boys. Twelve got a free video at Hollywood Video in honor of his special day. Then he got to pick the restaurant: Fazoli's. We used to go there in Smyrna every Tuesday night for Kid's Night because they have 99 cent kids' meals. Of course, I have to buy TWO of them for Ryan because he loves him some fettucini Alfredo.

(I skipped the cheesy, creamy pasta that I wanted and got a cranberry walnut grilled chicken salad with red wine vinaigrette because I'm doing the Biggest Loser game at work.)

Aaron was in heaven because they have an employee do crafts with the kids and he got to make a scarecrow. That is the craftiest kid I ever met. He scarfed down his cheese pizza slice to get to the scarecrow-making table sooner. Of course, he had to make a ZOMBIE scarecrow, because...well, because he's Aaron.

Then we went to Baskin Robbins because Ryan had a free birthday scoop, Dan had a $2 off gift certificate, and it was $1 scoop night for Aaron. (I got nothing because I ate two garlic breadsticks at Fazoli's. See: Biggest Loser.)

So, to sum up: really cheap family night, Mommy's craving ice cream now, my boy is almost a man, and this is our last teenager-free year. We fully intend to enjoy every minute of it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sleepy = Random

These are some random thoughts that I'll type as I think of them because I'm too tired to do more than free-form thinking right now.

1) Want to know what's wrong with healthcare in this country? I'll tell you. My husband got an ear plug stuck in his ear a while back (don't ask) and couldn't get it out on his own. I was at work and therefore couldn't help him, so he went to some kind of clinic. I just got the bill for this "surgery" and almost had to have reconstructive surgery on my jaw after it hit the floor. $185 to yank a broken piece of plastic out of his ear?!? Are you freakin' kidding me? If he'd come to my school with a pair of pliers , I could've performed that "surgical service" for a whole lot less. Sheesh. "Surgery services" my hind quarters. That, folks, is what's wrong with healthcare.

2) My kitchen is still a blizzard of drywall dust, so we were forced (forced, I tell you) to go out to dinner tonight. I know, right? The sacrifices I make for my family. I'm really hoping that I can get this kitchen finished (the part of it that we can do on our own, not the granite counter tops) this weekend because I would really hate to have to keep going out to eat. Yeah, right.

3) When we got to the restaurant tonight and the hostess asked for our name, I told her "Starving," just so I could hear her call on the intercom, "Starving, party of four, your table is now available. Starving, party of four." Yes, I AM that mature. Well, we weren't the only ones laughing. We just laughed louder than the others, because we're nerds.

4) I'm having my favorite food for lunch tomorrow: Leftovers That I Didn't Have to Cook. The beauty of LTIDHtC, as I like to call it (although it is hard to pronounce) is that I get out of cooking not once, but twice. I am a culinary genius.

5) I spent WAY too long today posting pictures on my website of my class dissecting owl pellets, just so that I wouldn't have to grade papers. The joke was on me, of course, because the papers did not spontaneously disappear as I'd hoped they would. I JUST finished grading them. I have to wake up in five hours, and I'm not even ready for bed yet.

6) I also still have to tag a box full of clothes for a consignment sale before Friday. If you live in the middle TN area, you should check out The Sprout House Exchange. My friends Gina and Jessica are running it, so I'm certain it will be great. I haven't done a consignment sale in years, since my boys tend to be pretty rough on their clothes, but I'm looking forward to getting rid of some stuff and hopefully making a little money too.

7) I am way overdue for a haircut and a brow waxing. I'm thinking of legally changing my name to Sasquatch. But, on the other hand, (or foot, in this case) I'm sporting some way cute chrome-colored toenails with little hot pink flowers on them. What can I say, I got bored Friday night while waiting for the multiple applications of wood filler to dry? I was tired of doing he-man home repairs and needed to feel girly for a little while. Besides, home pedicures are the only kind I can afford.

8) My dog is very angry with me right now because she just knows that all the other dogs in the neighborhood are laughing at her when we go for a walk. See, I had to shave the area around the base of her tail because she has a "hot spot." She's been biting and scratching there a lot in the last week and it's really red and irritated. I had to shave it to put medicine on her skin. I swear, I think I heard a neighbor dog bark, "Bald Butt" at her as we walked by. Poor Lily.

9) To add insult to injury, our family has been adopted by a cat, which my boys have unfortunately started feeding, so it will probably never go away. They even gave her a really trite name for a white cat, Snowball. She's all white except for her little gray eyebrows and she's actually very cute and sweet, but we can't afford another critter. Plus, there's the not terribly insignificant matter of my raging out of control cat allergies. Lily desperately wants to play with the cat (or eat it, I'm not sure which) but the cat just sticks its tail up in the air and walks away, teasing Lily with its intact butt hair. Poor, poor Lily.

10) I'm supposed to meet some of my Smyrna peeps for dinner Friday night. This gives me a reason to get through the next two school days, even though I'll be working on very little sleep.

Monday, September 7, 2009

LABOR DAY should be Labor Week

Labor Day weekend has been a big labor of love on the new castle:

I no longer have a big, gaping hole in the ceiling and wall of my kitchen where we removed a row of cabinets. No, now I have a big, gaping pile of wood filler and drywall joint compound that is waiting for me to sand, recoat, sand again, prime, and paint. Dan made beautiful cuts on the scraps of paneling and drywall, just like putting together pieces of a puzzle. A very messy, dusty, I want my kitchen back puzzle. When we finish all the sanding and painting, Dan has some really cool amber pendant track lights to install (bought on sale at Lowe's for about $12 for the whole track system).

We have curtains in the master bedroom now. YAY! I bought some Ikea chocolate brown drapes at a yard sale (NEW) for $5. Then I bought a sheer sky blue panel at Goodwill for 99 cents, cut it in half, and used it as a tie-back for the drapes. I found drapery rods on sale at Lowe's for $11.00 and, voila, we have two window treatments for less than $30.

Oh, I also bought some bar stools for the kitchen (we're going to expand the counters to make a breakfast bar) at a yard sale (three for $40). They're kind of an orangey-brown which will look great with those amber lights. All the money I've saved being extremely cheap, ahem frugal, will allow us to hopefully get granite countertops in the kitchen in a few months. I LOVE getting a good deal!

I got some ledge shelves for the bedroom (two for $1.00). Now I just have to figure out where to put them. Last week I bought some brown and blue pottery (Goodwill--99 cents each) for the bedroom, so I might display them on those shelves.

I still have to paint the mailbox, a curtain rod for the kitchen (on which I will hang my 50 cent curtain from the Lowe's sidewalk sale), and all of my patio furniture. I have a coffee table that my PawPaw made and my Mom and Dad's old kitchen table and four chairs that I need to get from my Dad. Then we need to reorganize the Man Cave and Dan's work shelves. Then clean everything in the whole house from top to bottom.

This weekend was NOT long enough!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

If Dogs Could Blog...


If Lily could type, she'd send the following message to her Grama:

Dear Grama,

Thanks so much for the medicated shampoo. Mommy gave me a shower tonight and I'm feeling much better. It was really fun too, because Mommy had to come in the shower with me and I waited until I was soaking wet, and then I shook really hard and drenched her too. What a riot!

Then I ran all through the house, doing what Mommy calls my "Crazy Puppy Post-Bath Freak-out."I jumped on the couch and rolled around on it, too. Totally worth the spanking, by the way. Mom says the basement smells like Eau de La Wet Dog, but I don't know what she means by that because I don't speak French. She said a couple of other words I don't know, but I don't think I'm allowed to repeat them.

I can't wait until you come over again so I can jump on you and sniff your crotch. I had so much fun leaping into your car today. It was hilarious when Mommy opened the passenger side door to get me and I jumped away from her into the driver's seat. Then, remember how she walked around to the driver's side and I jumped back to the passenger's seat? LOL! That Mommy is just so funny.

Okay well, time to take Mom out for her nightly drag. I'll come see you and Izzy again soon.

Your grand-dog,
Lily




Friday, August 28, 2009

Random Updates

So it's been a while since I updated the blog. Here are some random happenings from the castle...

1) Dan's new job is going really well. He's already closed four accounts in the last week and will be scheduling enrollments soon. His boss is very impressed with him and I'm so proud I could cry. This week he also fixed my bathroom sink, replaced the faucet, got my new car tags, and found the elusive coconut M&Ms that I've scoured the city trying to locate. In summary...He's the bomb-diggity.

2) My recovery is going well too. I totally blew off the oncology appointment because they wouldn't work around my school schedule and I didn't want to miss any more school for my NON-cancer.

3) I've been corresponding with Toni McGee Causey, the author of the Bobbie Faye books that I complained about because of the title changes on the re-release. She is such a warm, kind, funny person. She sent me an autographed copy of the third book in the series, When a Man Loves a Weapon. It was even better than the first two (and not just because it was signed and FREE) and I highly recommend it. I stayed up WAY too late finishing it last weekend, but it was worth losing a few hours of sleep.

4) Dan got his ginormous, 50 inch, twenty-five dollar garage sale TV working, so he is in Dude Heaven down here in the Man Cave. He took it apart completely, ordered some kind of microchip thingies (the technical term) online, and installed them using a soldering gun and a DEsoldering gun and all manner of manly man techie stuff. (Insert a Tim Taylor Tool Time grunt here.) The screen is so big I have to wear my glasses to see the picture.

I'm just grateful I'm still allowed down here since I don't pee standing up and this is really the ultimate Man Cave now. I think the only reason the menfolk still allow the Princess to enter the male-dominated basement area is because that's where the washer and dryer are located and they don't want to wash their own clothes.

5) I won't breach any confidentiality issues here by talking about my class, but let me just say that my job this year is completely different than it was at this time last year. I'm caught up, I'm organized, I'm happy. I smile every day--even before I get coffee.

Life is good.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Classic Eleven Argument

To call my oldest child a picky eater is an insult to picky eaters everywhere. Even foods that he actually likes are not immune to his scrutiny. Take, for example, this conversation at dinner tonight:

Me: Eat your cucumber slices.
11: I don't want them.
Me: This is one of the few remaining vegetables on the list of Things You Will Eat. So eat them.
11: But...
Me: But what? What's wrong?
11: Well, I don't like the slices from the top.
(Dan and I just looked at each other with blank expressions.)
Me: The top?
11: Right. I don't like the tops.
Me: (thinking) Well, those aren't slices from the top; they're from the bottom.
11: Hmm. Really? (pause) Well, I meant I don't like the bottom parts.
Me: !! Are you kidding me? It's the same thing!
11: No, it's not. I only like the slices from the middle.
Me: How can you tell the difference?
11: The ones in the middle are bigger and they have more seeds.
Me: Well I see lots of seeds in there. Just eat them.
11: (Whining) No. They're just too...round.
Me: Are you freakin' kidding me?! Too round?
Dan: Honey, could you please try to get the rectangular cucumbers next time?

I give up.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Negative is actually a positive word

I do NOT have breast cancer. Yay. I'm still considered high risk for it, so I have to see my doctor again in two months. I also have to see an oncologist and get an MRI.

My doctor today still suggested that I at least consider a mastectomy and/or taking Tamoxifen. Um, hell to the no. I have no family history of cancer, not even PRE-cancerous cells, WHY would I hack off both my boobs?! And taking a drug which will induce menopause at 40 years old? No thanks. Grrr...

Anyway, I'm glad the tests were negative for cancer but I already knew they would be. I honestly wasn't worried about it one little bit. The thing I was most concerned about today was getting a half-day substitute for my class--not my test results.

My surgeon said that she was a little worried because my mammograms looked so bad. The radiologist called them the strangest films he'd ever seen. The pathologist had two colleagues double-check his report because apparently my microcalcifications look like none they've ever seen. Instead of little pockets of them, I had a diffuse area of them. Right. Hello? My name is T-E-B-L-E. Unusual is my middle name. I've always been one of a kind, right down to my breast tissue.

The surgeon said it looked really bad on the inside too because of all the bruising and scar tissue from the previous procedure. I told her it didn't look like much from the outside either. She said that she removed a significant amount of tissue, so the results are conclusive. She also said that when the swelling goes down I might want to consider reconstructive surgery. Yeah, uh, NO. I've been cut on enough, thank you very much. If I'm lopsided I'll stuff my bra.

THAT is Victoria's true secret.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Young Man

My almost twelve year old son is trying his best to turn into a man right before my very eyes, no matter how hard I fight it. Case in point, he's merged right into the whole middle school thing without blinking his eyes. He has all his materials organized, completes his assignments without my nagging him to do so, remembers to bring me all the things that have to be signed, and generally carries on the work of being a big kid without any input from me whatsoever. Yes, I'm blessed. And still, it annoys me.

See, I can remember when this kid was a bratty little three year old who refused to be potty-trained. I have very vivid memories of sitting on the stall floor of Chuck E. Cheese's on his third birthday (8 months pregnant with his brother, I might add) begging him to pee in the potty because we were down to the last pull-up in the diaper bag. Both of us were crying. Both of us were hard-headed, strong-willed, and determined to get our way. He finally peed and then refused to leave the bathroom in underwear because he wanted a pull-up. I caved. Life with this child has always been about compromise.

But now, he's showing me glimpses of the man he's going to be and I love it. Today after school, for example, he "graded" his brother's math homework for me because I was busy cleaning out the class pets' tanks.

(Yes, that was "pets," plural. Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment. This should not surprise you about me.)

Anyway, he was kind, helpful, and encouraging because he knows that math is his greatest academic skill but not necessarily his brother's strength. (Did I mention that this child got a 100 percent in five of the seven Math sections on the TCAP test in 5th grade? Yeah, it freaks me out.) When we got home he offered to play Eight's favorite video game (one that Eleven does not really enjoy) if Eight would practice his "addition with regrouping" skills for a few minutes. See, Eleven and I had a talk last night and I asked him to help me by helping his little brother with homework if I'm busy. He jumped right on that request and became a team player.

But despite all this maturity, he hasn't lost his dry sense of humor because, like his mother, sarcasm is his native language. Tonight it was past his bedtime and I was fussing at him, saying, "I know I'm not the only member of this family who can tell time." He argued that all the clocks were blinking because we'd had a power surge earlier and he didn't know what time it really was. I reminded him that he could consult my iHome clock in our bedroom because it has a battery back-up. Senor Sarcasm responded, "Your bedroom? You mean the Restricted Area? Isn't that like Area 51 for us kids?"

Then, when he finally got in bed, I went in to kiss him goodnight. (Hey, no matter how mature he acts, he's still my baby boy.) I said, "Good night, honey. You're my sweet boy." He responded with, "Yeah. Good night. You're my...uh...Mom." (Insert heavy sarcasm, if you didn't catch that on the initial read-through.)

I love that little goofball. I can't wait to see the man he'll be.