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 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.