Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Break Madness

What better way to celebrate eight weeks of teaching and eight hours of parent conferences than an MRI at seven o'clock in the morning? Because that's how I roll.

After the joyous experience that is an MRI, I'm going to get my hair did because I'm not enough of a glutton for punishment to schedule dental work on the same day as an MRI. Well, not again, anyway. My hair is almost long enough to reach my shoulders again. Even though I swore the last time I got it cut short that I would keep it short forever, I'm starting to crave ponytail simplicity again. I think I'll grow it out a little, but not halfway-down-my-back, donating-to-Locks-of-Love long. Again. That was madness.

Then I think we'll spend Saturday painting the teenager's room. I hate painting almost as much as I hate dental work, but it's time. We've lived here a year and nearly four months and I've wanted to paint that room since we first looked at the house. I'm thinking that the walls will be the lighter blue of the Titans logo. Then I'm going to borrow a projector from school and paint the logo in the center of the wall above his bed. It would be so much easier to buy those life-sized cut-outs of the players but, with my luck, I'd put Chris Johnson on my kid's wall and then he'd get traded to another city. (C.J., not my kid. Trust me, if that were an option, he'd be in Detroit already.) Plus those things are like $85 and paint is cheap. Well, cheapER, anyway. Who knows what it will cost me in time-on-task.

After that, I have to unpack all the fall/winter clothes and pack up the spring/summer clothes. Then grade a metric butt load of papers, upload the grades to the online gradebook, plan lessons, create tests and quizzes and study guides, and reorganize my reading and math stations.

Because, you know, I'm OFF WORK this week.

Ahhh, I love fall break.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I am now the parent of a teenager. For the next ten years and six weeks we will have at least one teenage boy living in our house. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Friday night the teens and tweens descended on our domicile in all their pimply, squeaky-voiced, nearly man-sized glory and ate everything they found in our kitchen. The six boys managed to eat two pizzas, several bags of chips, about a dozen popsicles, a box of cinnamon sticks, and two batches of homemade (by Dan, of course) pancakes. It was kind of like a car wreck--horrifying to watch, but I couldn't look away.

They built a Lego battle ship, played several games of Guitar Hero, had an air hockey competition, a darts tournament, and chased each other through the house for hours in some big, complicated Nerf gun battle, which resulted in a broken door. I don't want to know how. After Dan got home from his gig at 12th & Porter last night, I tagged him as the P.O.D. (Parent on Duty) and fell asleep. I'm pretty sure the kids went to sleep at some point, but I can't prove it.

There were a few real conversational gems last night:

1) Thirteen said, "I hate when you drink Sprite and then burp. I feel like I just tasered my nose."

2) [While building a Lego Star Wars Turbo Tank in his bedroom]
13: No fighting or farting in my room.
Boy 1: Too late.
13: Okay, no MORE farting in my room.
Boy 2: [toot sound, followed by giggling] Too late again.
13: What? Were you people raised by wolves?
Boys: [more giggling, more toot sounds]
13: Remind me why I invited you guys over again.

3) [the next morning]
Me: Boys, your moms are going to be picking you up at 10:00.
Boy 1: When's 10?
Dan and I, in unison: Um, after 9.
Me: You guys all met in Search class, right?

As uncertain as I am about what the teen years will bring, I am confident that Ryan will continue to be the great, wonderful, annoying, smart, and sensitive kid he's always been.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Can't Feel My Fingers

Friday night we parked the kids at Grama's and went on a double date with some of our favorite people from our "new" church. One of these days I'll have to stop calling it our "new" church because we're pretty much a fixture there now every time the doors are open and we don't feel like newcomers any more.

Anyway, we had a great evening full of Japanese food, friendship, and Rock Band. Dan and I were Rock Band virgins, so we relied on the Echols to school us because they are wise in the ways of Rock Band. They are seriously good. At first I refused to play any instrument (other than my voice) because I didn't want to be responsible for making the band get booed off the stage. I tried drums and, while I showed a little improvement after a few songs, I still pretty much sucked at it. Then I tried guitar and made it through a few songs on the easy level without making the entire band fail. Then I tried bass guitar and something kind of shifted inside me. It was fun. Really fun.

Granted, I still sucked at it, but it I sucked slightly less at bass guitar than I did at the other instruments. At one point, I was playing along with our foursome while belting out Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" and I looked over at Dan. He was grinning at me with a look that I've grown to recognize over the years--a look that means trouble. He was digging watching me play the bass. I could tell. I casually, jokingly mentioned that I might want a bass guitar. And Loren and Aaron were witnesses so I couldn't take it back.

The very next day Dan went down to Sam Ash and bought me my very own bass. He was getting some other stuff for himself too, but he brought that guitar home just for me. He's been wanting me to learn to play bass for years. Apparently all it took was just a tiny glimmer of an interest on my part to justify the expense.

Last night I sat down with my shiny new bass while Dan was practicing his electric guitar for the praise band in today's service. He showed me how to play a few notes and I was off. I managed to play along with every song he played. I didn't play well or with any great style, but I managed to find all the notes reasonably close to the right tempo. And it. was. fun.

Of course, today I'm struggling to type this because I can't feel the fingers on my left hand, but it was worth it.

New bass guitar...$80
Impressing my husband with my mad bass-playin' skeelz...priceless.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Which I Develop Arachnophobia

Let me begin by saying that I've never been afraid of spiders. I don't particularly care for inadvertently walking through a web, but the spiders themselves are not a major problem for me. If I see a spider in the house, I just take care of it myself. I do not stand on chairs, squeal like a girl, or beg my husband to kill it for me.

Some of you might be thinking, "What about cave crickets? Aren't you afraid of them?" Well see, that's another story. Cave crickets are not technically insects or arachnids. They are the devil with an exoskeleton.

So anyway...spiders. After tonight I will probably develop a healthy fear and respect of them and steer clear when I see one. Because tonight we had a scene in the basement that would've been right at home in a Ridley Scott movie.

There was a spider crawling along the baseboard behind the keyboard. Nine was trying to practice his piece for piano lessons, but he was worried about that spider. Dan waited for it to move away from the wall enough so he could squish it. Nine and I were busy looking at his homework Dan waited to flush out the critter.

All of a sudden, we heard a surprised yell erupt from the other side of the room. Dan had tried to kill the spider by stepping on it, but when he smooshed it, several baby spiders came bursting out and started crawling in every direction away from their dead parent.

Full. Body. Shudder.

This memory, plus the dark chocolate-covered espresso beans I scarfed earlier with a diet Coke chaser, will keep me up all night.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Releasing the Kraken

Remember a couple of days ago when I admitted that I often include potty humor in the blog because I live with three dudes? Well, this is one of those times. If you're easily offended by poop jokes, this would be a really good time for you to log off the computer and go have a snack.

Okay, so if you've followed my blog for long, you know about the "cloud of despair" and the "one giant sniff for mankind." And if you don't, feel free to make clicky and go find out what I mean. Go ahead. We'll wait for you.

Oh, good you're back. We were getting worried. So anyway, since I'm so well-read, I have it on good literary authority that everyone poops. My man cubs just have very vivid descriptions of the whole "getting rid of waste" thing that everybody does. They came up with a new line (with their daddy's help) after watching Clash of the Titans recently. This will be a lot funnier if you've seen it too. If not, well, you could always join the others for that snack.

Nine had just fouled up the atmosphere in their shared bathroom and Twelve was not pleased about it. He whined to his dad about the stink cloud, so Dan told Nine that from now on, he needed to remember to use the air freshener spray whenever he "released the Kraken" in their shared bathroom. And just like that, a new potty phrase had been coined.

Fast forward a couple of days later. This time Twelve was the one who had "released the Kraken" in the bathroom. He came out, trailing a stench cloud behind him and said, "Let them know a man did this."

It was a very proud moment for their father, who I'm fairly certain sprained something laughing at his son. I was just grateful that the princess has her own bathroom.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Aliens Got My Baby

My good friend Tina Foster warned me it would happen. She is wise in the ways of parenting boys, since she has two boys of her own. The difference is that her youngest is about seven years older than my oldest, so she's been where I now stand: on the precipice of the rocky abyss that is otherwise known as parenting a teenage boy. She told me that lo about the time that my cub turned 13, aliens would take him and replace him with a surly, snarling, eye-rolling facsimile of the sweet boy I'd once rocked to sleep. Boy, was she right. He'll turn 13 in eleven days, if I decide to let him live that long.

Twice this week I've tried to reason with an unruly, unreasonable, unrelenting, fit-throwing toddler trapped in a pimply, nearly man-sized body. I blame the aliens. Within twenty-four hours after the fit, he was back to his "normal" self: offering to do chores without being told and speaking in a calm, non-shrieking voice.

Today we were talking about the other night when he was in the middle of an all out tantrum. I told him that next time (because I'm NOT naive enough to think that this won't happen again) I'm not going to try to reason, argue, explain, or even placate him. I'll just say, "Son, you're clearly not yourself. I will deal with you tomorrow when the aliens return with the real you. Until then, go to your room and avoid all human contact." He agreed that might be the best plan.

I hope the aliens leave him alone for the next couple of weeks so that he'll actually get a chance to turn 13. It's really hard to plan a party and buy presents for someone whose face you want to rip off.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Ministry? Gulp!

Here's another reason I haven't written much here lately.

A very nice lady at church killed my blog. No, really.

See, she came up to me at church one Sunday morning this summer and said something along the lines of, "I read your blog. It is such a ministry."

A ministry? Eh?

You mean I'm supposed to be writing inspiring, uplifting blog entries for fellow goody-two-shoes Christian women to read? What? I thought this was just a place for me to whine and moan about things that bother me because it's the only place I can do that without annoying the people I live with. I thought it was a way to keep in touch with my out-of-town friends. Now I'm supposed to write good stuff? Um....I got nothing.

One innocent, well-meaning comment in Sunday School and BAM! my creative juices immediately dried up faster than a Hollywood starlet about to lose a big movie contract. Really. I couldn't write a word because I kept thinking to myself, "I can't say that. People will read it and be disappointed. Because this is a ministry."

Here's the real deal, folks. This blog is NOT a ministry. I am not a role model.

Wow, that was weird. I'm pretty sure I've never quoted Charles Barkley before. Huh. "I'm not a role model... Just because I dunk a basketball write a blog doesn't mean I should raise your kids."

Anyway, of course I'm a role model for the kids in my class. I model appropriate behavior, problem-solving skills, and study habits all day long for nine- and ten-year-olds. But serving as a role model of Christian behavior for other adults? Um, gee, no thanks.

Just in case you haven't already figured this out, I'm kind of irreverent. I can be really cranky, snarky, and bitchy, sometimes all in the same blog entry. I occasionally use bad language. I tell fart jokes and all manner of potty humor because I live with all men. I've been known to give in to the urge to gossip. I sometimes consume "non-Baptist" beverages because, much like Gladys Hardy, that old lady on the Ellen show, "I love Jesus but I drink a little." I don't remember to do my daily devotional or keep up with my Bible study like I should. I yell at my kids, my husband, and my dog. I make fun of rednecks at Wal-Mart. I use derogatory terms like "redneck."

See what I mean? NOT a role model.

But now that we've got that out in the open where it belongs, I'm going to continue writing what I write because that's who I am and how I roll. Take me or leave me, peeps. I just wanted you to know that if you're offended, I'm going to be okay with that. Because I warned you. And I'll pray for you, if I don't fall asleep in the middle of my nightly prayers, like I sometimes do. There, I said it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Praise and a Warning

It was an eventful Labor Day weekend for the Brewers.

Friday night was the home run derby at BBC. I wasn't planning to enter the contest, so I showed up after work in a skirt and heels. Well, after a little encouragement from our pastor, I kicked off my shoes and grabbed a bat. No one was as surprised as I was when I hit three home runs and won the women's division of the competition. Twelve won the kid's division, so the Brewers had all kinds of bragging rights going into the tournament. Unfortunately, the bragging stopped there.

Saturday we played in the BBC Wiffleball tournament, teaming up once again with the Echols crew. This time we were The Supers. That was our team name, not a description of our playing skeelz. What? We're supposed to look fabulous AND play a good game? Too much pressure. We just focused on having fun.
As you can see, we all wore superhero costumes: Batman, Spiderman, Superman, The Incredibles, the whole Marvel lineup, the Incredible Hulk, the Punisher, and Ryan who was wearing a "God is my Hero" shirt. You can't see me, the midget, back there in the back row, but I was wearing my Super Grover "Superfly" T-shirt. Because I'm cool like that. Like how I was so cool when I fell rounding second base (trying to be greedy and take more bases than I should rightfully take) and commando crawled back to the base to avoid getting tagged out. I was safe, but it wasn't pretty.

Then on Sunday, we were the victims of a hit-and-run driver. Dan and I had been at praise team practice really early in the morning, and then we came home to pick up the kids before church started. On the way through our neighborhood, a blonde on a cell phone plowed through a stop sign without even braking and slammed into the back of our car. Luckily, Dan has Jedi-like reflexes and saw her coming in his peripheral vision. He sped up just enough so that she hit the back quarter panel instead of the back passenger side door where my oldest child was sitting. For a split second, I saw Twelve's life flash before my eyes and thanked God that he wasn't hurt.

We pulled over to assess the damage, but the other driver took off. Long story (and a case of mistaken identity) short, the police didn't find her but they're still looking. Right. You know what that means. I won't be counting on her paying to fix my car any time soon. But the important thing is that no one was hurt and my car is still driveble. Ugly, but drivable. Hey, it's a 1999 Camry that only gets washed about once a year, so it wasn't much to look at even before the wreck. AND we made it back to church on time to sing/play guitar in the praise band, so it all worked out.

Monday I was attacked by cave crickets, my arch nemesis, while cleaning out the garage. The final score was Cave Crickets: 0, Teble: 16. It may have actually been higher than 16, but I lost count when several of them jumped on my legs at once and I went ballistic batting at them with a broom. I'm pretty sure I saw my life flash before my eyes right before I snuffed out the lives of those vile insects.

Monday night we went to our Sunday School teacher's house for a cookout and swimming party. At one point Nine fell off the raft he was floating on and panicked when he couldn't touch the bottom. He started flailing around and crying for help. I kicked off my shoes for the second time that weekend and was ready to dive in to save him, when his older brother (who also can't swim, but was tall enough to touch the bottom) jumped in and saved his brother's life. At that point I saw Nine's life flash before my eyes and realized that if this weekend didn't end soon, our good luck might just run out.

So, God has kept us under a circle of protection for the last few days. But, you might not want to stand too close to any of us, just in case our weird voodoo hex is contagious and our circle of protection doesn't expand to outsiders.

Consider yourself warned.

Monday, September 6, 2010

August Flew By

It has been brought to my attention (by my blog-stalker: Hi Loren) that I haven't updated my blog recently. Yeah, I know. School started and my life has been all about lesson-planning and paper-grading. But I've left out some pretty important events that I need to share.

The most important is that our whole family was baptized on August 15th (Dan's birthday). Dan was baptized when he was eight-years-old and I was sprinkled in the Methodist church when I was a kid, but we both wanted to recommit as a family. Pastor Matt dunked Dan and me, then Dan baptized both of the kids. What was really cool was that 14 people were baptized at my church that morning. What's even cooler is that it's not an enormous church, so 14 was a really, really big number. I was so thrilled to be a part of it. Dan turned 45 that day, so now I am officially married to an old man.

I mentioned before that Dan was playing guitar with the praise band, but I don't think I mentioned that I started singing with the praise team this summer. It's been so much fun! Ron Foster, the worship leader, has me singing alto, which is out of my comfort zone since I've always sung soprano, but I'm learning. It's fun to learn new things in our old age, right? Keeps the brain fresh. We're also rehearsing music for the Christmas program. I haven't done one of those in a few years, so I'm looking forward to that too.

My class this year is, ahem, challenging but going well so far. I have 20 kids in my class. I already knew most of them before they walked in my door because they're Nine's friends. It's weird having Nine in the same grade level that I teach, but it's nice too.

I'll try to update more frequently, if for no other reason than to give my "fans" (cough, cough) something to do to keep them off the streets.