Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tea for two

Folks, I love me nothing more than complete disruption in our living space in order to repaint the same walls that we painted two months ago.  There's nothing that gives me giddy shivers more than this upheaval and chaos.

Well.  I got that sarcastically minded lie out of my system.     

Positive - It turned into the perfect time to tear down the Christmas fol-de-rol.  That stuff was up for less than 2 weeks - my new record for how short I could get the rest of the gang hoodwinked into forgoing all of that.

Negative - Mess.  Mayhem.  Madness.

Positive - It's done. 

The Younger also decided that today would be a grand time for several vomiting sessions.  The Elder decided that was gross and hid.  This unfortunate turn of events brought up the jolly recollection of our first foray into a child's puking session, five years almost to the day ago.  Our kids have some sort of visceral response to "the most wonderful time of the year."  Or else someone keeps slipping my kids some Christmas cookies laced with e. coli

And speaking of slipping "someone" something...

Here's where things get possibly more interesting.  [Naturally, one would assume that my enormous negligible reader base is bored to tears about my rambling on painting and puking.]

Our vet has "prescribed" (in the ever-so-loosest sense of the word) a spot-o-tea [obviously, said in a British-y voice) for our cat to "soothe" her nervous stressing, which is causing her to over groom.  In other words, she looks kinda mangy for no good reason.  So, we're switching her water supply to some weak chamomile, which will not affect our other needy special snuggle bum's diabetic diet.  And, when contemplating my choices, you can bet your sweet cheeks that I chose the "naturally decaffeinated" box.  'Cause who needs a furry 6-lb. dynamo hyped up until 2 AM? 

While in the tea aisle...

I also weighed my options for some good-old, plain-old green tea.  Because this, believe it or no, is going to be my intent for the new year.  I will start my days with a cup of green tea.  For the antioxidants.  For the delicate earthiness.  For all of the reasons that websites upon magazines upon word-of-mouths tell me that I should.

I'm still a little on the outs with coffee, and tea seems like a logical alternative because I do like a warm cup of something in the morning.  I like the steam in the face and two hands holding onto something with some warmth to ease my way into conversation and livability. 

And so, if you have any tips on how best to enjoy my green tea experience, please share!  I enjoy flavors of lemon and ginger but not so much berry or sugar/honey-sweet. 

So it seems that 2017 is going starting off with a cuppa or two.  Pass the cream.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

10 bits of not much

Welp, folks, it's that biennial time of the year when I've posted grades and now can't focus on anything.  Like the veritable chicken, I feel a good bit discombobulated.  With that in mind, here's some thoughts that will explain what I mean.

1.  My old iPad, which we technically didn't purchase and is somewhere around 6 or 7 years old, is acting downright twerpish.  So, we've full-on upgraded (paid for it this time) and bought a new one.  It's one of those where we weighed the decision for about 3 months 'cause on the one hand, I use it all day long for emails and such, but on the other hand, it's still a splurge.  Kudos to you, Apple, for making all of your products seemingly necessities when they're not. Because of this new purchase, I don't have a case for it.  So to the rescue (cue the trumpets) comes my Sur La Table holiday catalog.  I have been using this as my travel case for one month now as a means of offering at least some protection from stuff.  It works well enough and I get to continue thinking about Le Creuset dutch ovens and Japanese-crafted knives. 
2.  I have a firm and fast rule in my house that we change out of pajamas every day in this house, even if we're not going anywhere because once you give an inch to my daughter(s), you're not wearing jeans ever again.  Yesterday, the girls stayed in PJs all day long (Polar Express day), only changing from the day-old pair to a fresh set at night because I draw the invisible line there.  There were some delightful moments embedded in the day.
3.  My daughters have been carefully tending their Christmas lists for about 3 months now (though I haven't seen an updated draft for a few weeks now...perhaps they've settled on a final copy?).  I'm OK with this, actually.  The whole thing stemmed from a conversation that included some variation of "I want to go to Chuck-E-Cheese!" and some answer sounding like "Put it on your Christmas list."  That idea was immediately embraced, and the lists began.  So we're learning that it's OK to plan ahead for things that we want but don't really need right now.  And I appreciate having a $20 idea in mind for when someone texts me with the whole "What do the girls want...?" question.  The lists expanded, of course, but bless their foodie hearts, the majority of the lists include such items as "bottle of honey" and "blueberry jam."  That is my idea of the perfect Christmas list.
4.  The boy showed me a site posting global teaching jobs last night with the words "I'll follow you..." hanging in the balance. 
5.  A set of foster parents that I've been working with gave me a bracelet with the message "Create a ripple" on it.  I love it.  So much.
6.  I'm a BIG advocate of taking the time to remember any teachers associated with your children at the end of each semester, especially as they progress through school.  Remember the high school biology teacher even though your kid struggled in her class.  Remember the choir director that forced your kid to come in after school three times a week to practice for the Christmas program.  Remember the gym teacher that made your kid run laps because he wouldn't stop talking.  A simple note or (better yet) a few cookies is all that it takes and really does make an impression on that teacher, who is, coincidentally, a person giving your child time and attention throughout the day.  AND, I also firmly believe that the note needs to come from your kid.  Those are the best
7.  I have pulled out the flannel sheets and am relishing the ability to get into bed without writhing in agony of cold-sheet-syndrome. 
8.  I cannot keep my hands from drying out and cracking this winter.  HELP.
9.  We have made 4 batches of Christmas cookies so far and for no particular reason.  They taste extra delightful.  I can also still (somehow) fit in my clothes.  Win-win.
10.  All I want for Christmas is a pedicure.  In fact, I don't really want anything for Christmas.  And I'm going to get a pedicure soon anyway (desperately needed), so let's A + B to = Christmas. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sickness and disaster, oh my!

Hey there, 5:18 AM, haven't seen you for a couple of weeks, and I have loved ignoring you this last month.  I've actually been up since 4 AM 'cause sick, pitiful child after a mid-nighttime bathroom break and "Will you pleeassseee tuck me back in?" (insert pitiful voice, which doesn't coincidentally, have a particularly suited font style).  At what age will they stop requesting our assistance in pulling sheets back up over their tired bodies?  Of course, I do it because I love her and all, but there was that tiny niggling thought that, yet again, I'm just getting out of my extremely warm and fluffy cocoon in order to walk across the cold floor to your room so that I can pull the sheets up, which are  not even all twisted.  I believe at some point that my children will be able to perform this task on their own...maybe?  (Lest I sound like a callous fool, this happens any and all times that my children leave their bed in the middle of the night, certainly not just when they're feeling badly.  I certainly don't begrudge them the request when they're all pitiful.  But just because they woke up at 3 AM and felt like they needed to come see us to let us know that they're awake?  C'mon.  You have the sheet situation well in hand, my darlings.)  Blogging seemed like a good idea after doomsday visions of an ill child wouldn't stop cycling through my noggin. 

Nothing wakes me up for the day more than crouching in the super bright light (does the bathroom get brighter in the pre-dawn hours?) on the cold bathroom floor while tying my child's hair back.  If there's nothing else I learned when the Elder was a 2-year old and going through her first bout with a stomach bug (on Christmas Day, mind you), it was that vomit is decidedly difficult to get out of a little girl's long, thick hair in the middle of the night when the last thing your kid (or you) wants to do is go through a full-on, hair-washing bath.  Fortunately, this time around, it's only been phlemy coughing that just sounds awfully wretchy and makes the boy exclaim "Get off my bed!  Go to the bathroom!"  And even more fortunately, she's asleep again.

And so, I write.  Today's story is wildly different from the first 2 chunky paragraphs of woe.  Today's story is just wild, in fact.  It involves me, high heels, and my car-that-thinks-its-a-Tesla.  Here we go.

When I'm getting dressed on days that I teach, I essentially go through the same couple of options in my mind to decide what to wear. 

1.  Can I wear black, grey, or any combination thereof?  I will then happily proceed to my favorite clothing colors when/if I have not already worn them for the last two classes.  They are my happy colors.

2.  Is it a high heel kind of day?  I dig the occasional high heel, folks.  They make me feel confident and in charge.  You can't hide in them, especially when you're approaching the class and everyone hears your "ca-chunk, ca-chunk, ca-chunk" cadence in the frigid, tile hallways.  Some days, I dig that vibe.  Some days, I need that vibe.  And rarely do they make my feet hurt, so bring on the power trip, right? 

Well.  Yesterday was a high heel kind of day.  And, it turned out to be a highest-heel-I-have-in-my-closet kind of day.  They're not towering, or anything, but they decidedly high (for me).  This is significant as my story has a brief moment of running in it.  So just to complete the visual later, I'll point out that I feel as if my hands flap awkwardly at my side when I run in high heels.

On Tuesdays & Thursdays this semester, I have a pretty tight teaching schedule, and yesterday being Tuesday and all, I was in my normal find-some-food-quickly-and-head-back-out-the-door-to-your-next-class mode.  My babysitter was hanging out with the Younger, who was finishing up her lunch, and all was well.  As I backed out of the garage, I remembered that I wanted to grab my San Pellegrino (because much like I ask myself "Is it a high heel kind of day?" I often try to justify an "Is it a San Pellegrino kind of day?"), which we are now able to just store in the garage-turned-refrigerator.  I had just turned a new podcast on, and I remember a) being fully in my driveway (i.e. completely out of my garage), b) hitting pause on the podcast, and c) putting the car in park so I could walk back in the garage to grab my delightful beverage quickly.  Can you see where I'm going with this?  One of these things didn't happen.

C - I didn't put the car in park, apparently.  For as I turned around, San Pellegrino in hand, what to my alarmed eyes should appear but a rolling, driverless car, heading straight for my house.  Here's where my hand-flapping-high-heeled sprint happened.  Fortunately, I caught up to my car; unfortunately, I didn't catch it in time.  Fortunately, a shelving unit in the back of the garage prevented some seriously embarrassing wreckage of both my car and my house; unfortunately, the shelving unit is now a shattered mess.  Fortunately, my car sustained almost ZERO damage (a few scuffs and a tiny, half-inchish size scratch/ding after full on crashing into the shelving unit/house, which is (formerly) where we kept the boy's (HEAVY) toolbox (top shelf!), circular saw (top shelf!), tire/air pump (top shelf!), and other various metal/sharp-edged/heavy tool items; unfortunately, 1 piece of sidewalk chalk (alas, bottom shelf), bit the dust (Literally.  Have you ever stepped on or crashed into a piece of sidewalk chalk?  Dust.)  FOLKS.  I don't know how this happened because not only did I/my super sneaky silent automobile (well played, Prius, well played) crash into this whole thing, but the entire shelf and all it's gnarly, car-denting/scratching contents come down on my hood, but there was virtually no damage, even after I panicked, and immediately put the dumb thing in reverse and backed up, causing another din and more metal-scraping-metal clattering.

And like any rational person, I put the thing in PARK, ran inside the house and said "Don't worry!  That was just me hitting the house!" (to which my sitter looked at me and said "Yeah, we thought it was you."), and then backed out and shut the garage door on the whole mess before going to class.  Oh, nope, actually, I took a screwdriver out of my windshield wiper blades first.  Then, I went to class.  As one would. 

This resulted in a shaky-hands-from-the-adrenaline-rush situation, which led me to tell my class about my unfortunate situation, which then led them to fess up their worst driving moments: running into a stop sign, a hit & run without a license, and getting a car stuck in the woods, to name a few. 

In the past 6 months, we have spent $2,000 to get both of our cars repainted after a certain sick child rode her bike with metal handlebars through our cars, scratching down the lengths of both of them and $1,000 to fix a bumper situation after the boy was rear ended.  So this, of all things, is running through my mind in that hand-flapping, frantic dash to the brake: PLEASE, I can't afford to fix more scratches on the car!!!  And by the grace of some guardian angel with a sense of humor, we won't have to.  R.I.P. plastic shelving unit from college.  You were my pantry in my first apartment and our tool shelf.  You took one from the team and absorbed the force of the impact.  We can never repay you, but yet we will replace you.

Friday, December 2, 2016

I must tell you...

I must tell you that my $10 space heater that I bought in July is now delightfully serving its purpose.  It was indeed slightly embarrassing to march up to the cash register with a space heater in JULY, but color me polka dotted.  I'm pleased as punch right about now.

So I've been dealing with some happy-sappy technology stuff right now.  And I must tell you.  I had a delightfully, deliciously, enticingly, entoxicatingly smudge-free screen for approximately 28 hours.  And then I dropped a half-eaten banana slathered with peanut butter upside down on it.  After the "AHHHH!!!!" feeling quickly came the "Well, at least my screen is really clean, so this should be good to eat still" thought.  It's good to have a clean screen.  It's also delightful to have finger print identification and a Suri at my disposal and a device that doesn't put me in a frustrated frenzy. 

On this device, I must tell you that I've sidled onto the Gilmore Girls fan bus.  I'm full-blown GAAAHHH mode.  But, it does have the double advantage of new story lines and fast-talking characters.  And now, I must ask (because I'm not all that concerned about spoilers), does Dean ever go away?  I don't like him all that much.  Rory can do better.  Rory must do better.  Luke, however, he can stay. (and that's saying something since he speaks my literature-lovin'-language).  I'm still in season 1, so surely Dean is on the way out.  Probably not.  I'm not so lucky.

It turns out, it's hard to focus much on grading when characters working through new story lines are talking fast.  I'm taking a break now, o-b-v-i-o-u-s-l-y, because life is so dang hard.  And by that I mean that my name is in ye olde jury pool.  And I've now been summoned TWO times in less than a month.  I must tell you...this just stinks. 
And finally, that brings us to the most untechnologically technical piece of news that I have.  I must tell you that we successfully transported one recycle robot to school this very morning.  It was a 2nd effort and a better one at that as this time Oink-bot did not end up in 3 pieces at the end of the journey.  No fool that I am, we also came prepared with a roll of packing tape and scissors, both of which were unnecessary.  Learning from past mistakes, I also held this 2 1/2 foot tall robot off to the side with one hand while driving in order to absorb the natural bumps and jostles of the car.  One crampy-tired forearm later, Oink-bot made it into school and (the angels rejoiced).

I must tell's been quite the week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Abundant THANKS and happy sighs

Greetings and pre-Thanksgiving blessings to one and all!  I am in a good mood, folks.  Consider the following:  I am by myself (good mood).  I have about 1/3 of my dark roast coffee left (good mood, but need food…getting jittery).  The sun is shining (great mood).  I have a small amount of grading left (decent mood…manageable amounts make life grander).  And, what is probably my favorite holiday is coming up, which leaves me dwelling on all things f-o-o-d (happy mood).  

I’m sitting in my car typing away on my full-sized laptop, like anyone would, naturally because there’s some amount of warm fuzzies that wash over me when my car is sun-soaked in November.  I have warn my jacket for exactly HALF of ONE day this fall, oh reader.  It’s like Indiana is trying to seduce me back into its shockingly warm embrace.  As delighted as I am by all of the sunshiney attention this state is giving me of late, our relationship still needs to end.  But the sunshine on my shoulders makes it all the more difficult for me to say “It’s not me, it’s you.”  I’m sure once we fast-forward to the throes of ice and bitter cold that I’ll feel differently.  For now, I’ll consider this one last fling with the state that I need to leave.

But today is not about the state which I am done with.  Today is about the holiday that I am embracing.  For various reasons, we are staying home this year for Thanksgiving.  Staying home…ah, sweet words that soothe my soul.  It will be a day for PJs at 3 PM, cheese and crackers for all day long, long UNO tournaments, and whatever food we want for dinner.

(By the way…Thanksgiving dinner or Thanksgiving lunch?  Our families have always been Thanksgiving lunch kinds of people.  I’m debating since I get to control it this year.)

And the feast, that will happen…  I’m delightfully scouring the interwebs for anything delicious-y that I want to make.  And because I get to control every step-o-the process, I assure you that there will be turkey, no mashed potatoes, no green beans, and 100% NO pumpkin pie.  It’s been real, standard Thanksgiving meal of my last 32 years.  But we need a break. 

I’m dreaming of all things veggie, longing for some kind of wonderful bread, and drooling over dessert possibilities.  Granted, the kids still need to be on board beyond the apple tart and pumpkin cream cheese muffins that I’ve got in the works.  They’re good with their vegetables but not so much when things are (gasp) mixed together. 

(Soup, alas, does not generally speak to their tender palates that require complete and separate identification of all matter served to them.  However, I am utterly in love with the stuff, and so sometimes, when we feel feisty (i.e. willing to fight the battle), we force some soup upon them as wretched parents will sometimes do.  I don’t feel that Thanksgiving is quite the time for that, though.)

So when I’ve had a few minutes here and there, I’ve been grabbing a kid (whichever one will do), and we have been swiping our way through collections of all things Thanksgiving while giving the thumbs up/down as needed.  The list has been started and it looks to be delicious.  Thanks be for a relaxed feast day with my people.  I’m thoroughly excited about it (squeeeeee!!!!).

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Chicken Little

One day, an acorn fell on Chicken Little.  Not able to see behind her, Chicken Little began frantically running around.  "The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!"

I feel the sky falling today.  I cried in the shower.  I cried in the car on the way to pick up my child.  I feel completely and utterly frustrated by the local, state and national level.  All three.  (Plus, the Cubs won, and that hurt an extraordinary amount...ridiculously, I admit.) 

I want to curl up inside and avoid people.  I want to keep my children with me always and never take them anywhere.  I want to join in the masses that together overloaded Canada's immigration website. 

Shocked as I was by this visceral reaction, I also realized "Yes, this must be why Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Stein defected during the war."  I thought "Maybe this is what others feel when they don't feel able of speaking their mind fully and openly, when they don't have support, when they don't feel accepted."  I had the sentiment "I'm done with this state" looping through my mind all day.

There have been times when I'm absolutely turned to the boy and said "That's it.  I'm 100% done with this."  But it does always turn out to be just an acorn stuck in my tail feathers.  So, I get it out and continue on.  I try not to drag Henny Penny and Lucky Ducky into my hysteria. 

But the acorns, they keep on a'fallin'.  And it seems that no more do we recognize one for being what it is, then another one comes.  I feel the despair, the fear and the shock.  I think that there's another acorn lodged in my feathers right now; I hope that it is.  I need the sky to stay where it should be because I have kids who are asking questions, who notice things, too.  They can choose what they want, but this is and will always be my prayer for them: Please, Lord, guide them to choose humanity.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cache-ing in

We just finished up week 8, otherwise known as the half-way point and generally speaking FALL BREAK, though that means that I get 1 afternoon off next week.  When you teach at 3 different places, you are dependent on competing breaks, but tra la la because right now, I feel like spinning in circles in a field of sunflowers on a bright, late summer afternoon with arms outstretched singing "I'm DOOOOIIIINNNNG it - really doing ITTTTTTT!!!!" for all the world to hear.  The beginning of this semester had me scardier than I've ever been while juggling both primary care giving duties as well as a 1 1/2 full-time teaching load.  Good friends of the internets, I'm raising my mug of coffee to me this morning and heaving a lusty sigh.  Thanks be to sunshine, snacks and some good episodes of some favorite podcasts to power me through.  It takes a village to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Oh, and I came across this article this morning.  When we keep our noses to the grindstone, good things happen.  Change happens.  May it keep on a'keepin' on.

I was really getting on here to not only procrastinate on attending to some rough drafts (there's sunshine, and it's lovely to just sit here for a few moments) but also to talk about a new family activity that the boy and our girls in particular have gotten caught up in.  They spend a lot of time together without me on weeknights, and it turns out that when the weather is decent, it's the perfect time to do a wee bit o' geocaching.

Good people, I know that this isn't a new trend, but it's not like we're ever the trend setters here.  And it's still going on.  So bring on the GPS because my girls think this is fan-tiddly-astic.  I dig the widespread availability of it and how we can do this wherever we travel.  Day trips.  Vacations.  Visiting family.

This fam has only just stumbled into this, but it's going to be a keeper around her.  Unfortunately, there's only so many geocaching days ahead of us before the doom and gloom of winter descends (I've tried to think of it as the hearty people of the Denmark-Norway-Sweden people do as an optimistic opportunity to take part in delightful winter activites, but there are no delightful winter activities that I particularly enjoy...not-a-one.)  This next week looks ripe for some adventure and outside-ness.

It's going to be a jammy-packed week of new furnace/AC installation (OY VEY), car bumper fixation (OY VEY), living room paint-ation (OY VEY), and Children's Museum Haunted House scare-ation (OH YAY).  But I get an afternoon off, so cheers to that.

Let's ditch being adults and just go tromping through the woods, GPS style.  That sounds much funner.      

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A list of doodles

As does happen to me with some frequency, I had a purposeful, lighthearted, good natured, not so whiney post all put together in me noggin' when I went and forgot it in the 2 weeks since I've last posted.  So I put together a list of mental doodles that will perhaps touch on some of the whimsy and caprice that I (theoretically) had planned.

1.  The Younger has some hilarious 4-year old moments.  A week or so ago, we were in the car, just the twosies of us, and we were singing our conversation to each other as we sometimes do in lighthearted moments.  (It's also a surefire way to get my kids to listen to me when I need them to so long as I can keep my impatience in check.)  At one point, the Younger sang her response (about whatever) and then followed up with "This is how I sing Twinkle, Twinkle in Spanish...[gibberish]...this is how I sing it in cursive [more gibberish]."  She is a linguist and a scholar.
2.  I am, again, working my way through The Office again because sometimes you need inane humor to counterbalance the run-ons and the fragments in your life.
3.  I just finished a fantastically, purposefully, challenging book, Grit: The power of passion and perseverance by Angela Duckworth.  Do jump on my bandwagon.  I absolutely want to either a) figure out how to get the library to let me have it longer or b) buy it.  I love her point about having a house rule that everyone has to do something hard.  Sign me up.
4.  We're $60 into fresh apples, and it's phenomenal.  So many lovely apples.  Why can't apple season come around twice a year?
5.  I just now realized that I'm out of books to read.
6.  A friend said "Fall weather is my jam" today.  I agree.  Especially if fall weather is my winter weather.  Someone get me out of the tundra.
7.  We are a muffin family.  I made my usual double batch of pumpkin muffins with mini chocolate chips about a week ago, and I already had to make another batch yesterday.
8.  I often ask my kids to help me out (sometimes just to divert attention from an escalating situation) about what they want to eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner.  The Elder always (always, without fail, always) yells with stupendous enthusiasm "Macaroni and cheese!"  That kid is my jam.
9.  I love podcasts.  I can listen to about 1 1/2 on a good Tuesday/Thursday driving session.  (I also came up with a female-to-female cord jack line device - I'm told this is a thing...maybe not in so many words - from the boy's car, which enables me to put my podcast ears on.)
10.  I tried to make it to #10, but "The Cover-Up" is distracting me, and I'm about ready to peace-out-home-skillets 'cause it's late.

Word out. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Here's my day, and now I'm done.

The Elder enjoys some me time on my computer during those 3.75 minutes a day when I'm not otherwise using it.  She's taken to periodically writing letters to Daddy on those afternoons when she just can't wait until he gets home and I'm puttzing around the kitchen doing normal the daily diswasher-sink-stove-fridge dance.  I showed her where to find the "delete" and "enter" keys and let her have at it.  This week, she came up with this:

At schooh I went to Libery.
And I got two books and the books where wizards don’t need computers.
And gremlins don’t chew bubble gum. And I got a boxcar children book from Miss.gaier.
I brought whiskers to recess . And I chased Conner.
I sat by

Daddy obviously walked in the door because I'M ALL DONE NOW.  She's obviously like a chicken pecking at the keyboard, so it takes her a while and her spelling gets a bit funky, but she spelled her teacher's name right, which is something that I will struggle with on occasion.

It's delightful getting a glimpse of those important moments of her days, even though we are still in that honeymoon stage of our relationship whereupon her mouth does not stop talking when she is with us.  (Once in a while, a grandparent or a teacher will confide in me with that deer-in-a-headlights look that the Younger did not stop talking and I couldn't believe it and She's usually so quiet.  I feel compelled to pat them gently on the shoulder and say I KNOW.  You know that our children are comfortable with you when they talk with you; and once you're in with're in.) 

There's some amount of panache that a 7-year old has with her words.  It's not that what she says is all that special or unique, but I dig her moxy.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Call me later...I'm in jail

I'm not in jail.  But the boy thought that I was.

SO.  My spouse thought I was in jail.  At least kinda sorta thought I was.

We've been running through a string of crummy luck, not the crummiest ever or even the crummiest locally (It's been rough driving around town, and I think I was detoured 4 times yesterday various places and times.  Lot's of tough times for people here right now.)  Still, it's been kinda lousy timing, and the old pocketbook has had many a hit.

Like I whined about before, we just shelled out $2000 a few weeks ago to repaint various cars and panels on both of our cars.  Last week bit the big one, and I now I realized that I spoke too fast.  While I was driving in torrential, hydroplaning rain to pick up a whole bunch of cow (which is a whole bunch of money, and one that I chose to spend, but still a whole bunch of mooooo-la, if you will...which I don't particularly want to spend at the moment), I got a call from the boy which began "Everyone is alright, but I need you to call me back right now.  I got rear-ended."  Well, I'm glad that the car was nice and re-painted for this little adventure.  Ergo, another car issue.  More money gone, alas, gone. 

And then yesterday, I got boxed in while driving by the large parking lot where the city is collecting the mountains of trees that were blown down in the storms.  I got stuck driving over a small-ish, 1-inch-ish in diameter, 5 feet-ish long tree limb, which went all ka-chunky on me.  And that made this panel-thing on the underside of my car go all draggy-draggy on me.  Money fleeing from my very balled-up-fisty hands.

One more before this story gets better: my kid needs to start allergy shtuff, which requires having an epi-pen on hand.  Have you also been shaking your head at what you've been hearing about the cost of epi-pens?  Yep.  Can't wait to get my hands on one of those for hundreds of single dollars.  There's nothing I want to do more than run some cost analysis on these things with various local pharmacies. 

But here's where the birds started singing and the heavens rejoiced.  I feel that the tides, they are a'turnin'.  Epi-pen: FREE.  My car: fixed & FREE.  Combine this with g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s, temperate weather and no grading actively waiting on my attention and that's a recipe for a downright GOOD day.  There's a bounce in my step and spring in my toes.

Oh wait, there's still the part where the boy thought I was in jail.  He called to ask if I was the woman who was (supposedly) calling from the jail and who left a message on his phone presumably asking for some bail assistance.  So naturally, naturally, he thought that it was me.  And then called to confirm that it was not.  Bless his incredulous heart. 

The fates have not been particularly blessful lately, but they sent me a pleasant chuckle today.  Sunshine and flower petals for all.  I'm going to enjoy the day and not being in jail, at least for a few hours.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A week of weeks

Folks, it sure seems like this has been a week of weeks - long and gut wrenching, full of everything and a mental trudge.  For that matter, it's been a month to expedite the grey hair and wrinkles.  In a few decades, I'm very certain that I'll think back of my thirties as a time of heightened anxiety.  Weeks like this, they are why.

Easy enough tasks take a sweet forever.
Overlooked responsibilities have to be completed 30 minutes ago.
Momentum is elusive; distractions are rife.
What works for everyone else just doesn't work for me.
Unexpected situations have to be attended to.  Right now.  Fast.  Hurry.  Quick.
Repercussions are headaches...working ahead yields wasted time and effort.

For many colleges/universities in the state, this is the week when classes resume for the fall.  I've been working and working and planning and working on prepping for the adjusted schedule and new material for classes I've not taught before and dinners that I won't always have time to dither with.  I'm good at planning, a necessary type-A kind of talent.  And I've been listing and shopping and prepping and saving for 3 solid weeks now as I looked ahead to when I would take on 5 more classes.  So I'm up to 6 right now, and friends, that's a full teaching load for a full-time faculty member. 

And it's entirely feasible, but there are going to be moments when all of the stoplights need to be green, when I can't afford to waste time on peeling a carrot, and when I will be logging 2 hours in the car while staying entirely in town as I drop off-drop off-go to school-pick up-drop off-go to school-come home-pick up-drop off-go to school-come home.

A very definite part of me, the dominant driving influence, thrives on this - loves the busy, loves the planning, loves the shared effort.  However, a loudish, snarly part of me won't let go of the burdensome anxiety that this produces.  This week has been something of a perfect clash of forces, and it is wearisome.

I was supposed to have taught 8 classes this week - my normal load for right now.  I taught 3.

First, Tuesday fell apart.  Medication A has not been working for quite some time now.  After waiting to talk with my doctor, we agree to switch to medication B.  Both are fantastic, reliable, safe choices that work for "everyone."  But medication A ran its course and medication B left me lying prone on the sidewalk in front of the boy's school, unable to move my face and my hands for a few minutes (though it felt like an eerie forever).  Unable to move my face and my hands.  It's still the scariest, most bizarre situation that I can't wrap my mind around.  The subsequent vomiting was expected; the partial and temporary paralysis was not.  And my kids saw it all, and it was scary for them.  That whole episode went down as I was dropping them off with the boy.  Thanks be that he was there.  Thanks be that I drove safely enough.  This happened when I should have been walking into my 4th class of the week to meet a new batch of fresh-faced child-adults.

Then Wednesday happened.  Wednesday was a day of catching up and trying to get back to normal.  It was a day when the boy called during his lunch break because he was still shaken up from seeing me frozen the day before and day when I was trying to manipulate and maneuver through a new learning system while also trying to interact with students whom I don't know and who don't know me, making up for my absence and quelling their confusion.  But Wednesday spawned tornadoes, and I had exactly 2 minutes of notice that there was severe weather in the area before the day fell apart and we were clustered together trying to find service to exchange frantic texts.  The first tornado, the brutal one, came through right around 3 o'clock, right at school dismissal time.  I had a window of opportunity of a few minutes to seek shelter immediately or to try to get to the Elder.  I chose the latter, which was absolutely the better decision.  We drove through what would be the path of an EF-3 tornado.  We sheltered and held hands before driving home through an unfathomably different landscape.  But then another one came, and another, and...another.  I'm particularly aware of 4 significant tornadoes, 3 of which were within 3 miles of my house.  The weather people say 8-9 confirmed tornadoes in the county.  The first one, the dooziest of them, tore through the exact same path as a frighteningly bizarre and horrific tornado that touched down in November 2013.  The same neighborhoods and apartments were decimated again.  I can't fathom this.  I've lived in this area for 11 years now, and there have been a small handful of touchdowns in all that time.  The only two significant ones during that time took the exact same path through the city, about 1 mile north of my house.  No class Wednesday night.  No classes Thursday. 

At supper tonight, the boy remarked that "everyone looks tired."  True enough.  Give us a couple of days off, and then let's get at it, week #2.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Surprise, surprise, surprise

This seems like it might be a short post (which is not evidenced by this lengthy intro quote to say that it's going to be shorter) 'cause it's been another full-to-the-brim day and I have a night with no grading on the docket.  So why spend it on here when I have 2 magazines calling mi nombre?  But it's been a while, and I have a "this can only happen when you have a couple of young kids" kind of a story that I've been saving for just the right moment. 

But first, I had a quick check-in about a spot on my collarbone that magically appeared sometime during the last fall/winter.  And then a few months later when that spot was still there and I read a magazine story about a woman who found out she had cancer after getting a mystery spot checked out, I put "call the dermatologist" at the top of my list.  I'm always good for a solid bout of worrying-spurring-me-to-action.  When your office visit lasts a grand total of 2 minutes because the doctor walks in, calmly shakes your hand, says "Yep, that's a mole" shakes your hand again, and leaves, then it's a good day.  A mole, my people...a mole.  I just paid $30 to have a kind, motherly sort of doctor woman tell me that yes, moles can still magically materialize when you're in your 30s.  As I was walking out and noticed that HGTV was still on in the lobby and noted that I did not have my children with me, I thought "Hmm...this isn't such a bad deal.  Watch 15 minutes of TV, have a pleasant conversation, read a few pages of your magazine.  If I were smart enough, I might figure out how to make this happen more often."  It was a pleasant way to spend 30 minutes this afternoon (at about $1/minute, mind you).

That's not really my "Seriously...?!?" story, though.  (How's that for some terrible hype?)  A couple of weeks ago, I left the girls and boy for the day to go visit with a college friend at her new house.  It meant that the boy and daughters were out the door before I was because they had cross country camp to go be present at and I had about 15 minutes to start a load of laundry and grab a bottle of water and a snack.  I was digging around in the Younger's laundry basket, and there was something weird happening there.  At the bottom of it, completely buried by clothing (i.e. WHO KNOWS HOW LONG THIS HAS BEEN HERE???) was a small blue bag, tied at the top.  It had something in it.  But if you don't know anything else as a parent, you know that you should not just go willy-nilly opening up tied bags in your kid's clothes basket with a good reason to do so. 

So I called the boy.

Me:  "What's in this blue bag?"
Boy:  "I have no idea.  Girls...what's in this blue bag?"
Boy:  "They shrugged.  Oh, wait, [the Elder] says that they found something on the sidewalk in front of our house the other day."
Me:  "Oh, GROSS" (immediately recognizing it for what it is).

See, wise mother that I am, did not unwittingly open up a tied bag of dog poo that someone had (kindly) left for my children to find and graciously deposit as a gift to all in the bottom of the Younger's laundry basket.


Who would possibly think "Oh, hmm...tied up blue baggie with something in it.  I think that I'll take it inside about bury it where no one will find it underneath dirty clothes."

My kids are weird hoarders or something. 

(I think that this story will be one of those family stories that will be re-told for years to come.)

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Earlier this summer, we went camping with family over a 100-degree weather weekend.  Right now, we're spending time in the Ozarks with the same family and my car has registered 104, 107 and 109 degrees at various points when we have gotten in it to please find a bit of relief.  The air conditioner has been maxed out for a few days now, and my gas mileage has relatively plummeted between that and the up-and-down-and-up-and-down-ness.  We've got the timing for finding those 100-degree days down to an art, it seems. 

But the laughs have been abundant.  We're all scattering back to our various parts of the country in just a few hours, so there's something to look forward to: hours upon hours of Boxcar Children audiobooks, numerous stops, and the inevitable "I have to's an 'mergency."  I don't enjoy a road trip on a good day, and then when you throw in some traffic jams for no reason and 10 cops in a 7-mile stretch of road (curses, Illinois), it gets tiresome.  It seems like the rest of the family either loves a 14-hour car trip or else had a magical experience whereupon their children were quiet for 8 hours. 

Friends, that was not our experience.  We stopped 8 times, and our 8-hour trip took closer to 10 hours.  Interminable.  I quite literally forced myself to only check how many more miles were left on the GPS once we reached another exit rather than every 15 seconds. 

But for the return, we feel like we have some things on our side - namely knowing which rest stop is inexplicably closed and which one has a playset, where the coffee stops can be and where we'll probably switch drivers. 

I didn't grow up with a family that road tripped it regularly.  the 3 1/2-hour trip to my grandparents' house felt like A BIG DEAL the 3 times a year we headed that way.  I like the idea of a road trip, but I'm having a hard time buying in on the boy's sincere desire to just pack the kids up and take off for 2 weeks, wending our way across a handful of states while camping along the way.  I feel like the romance of that just won't take me very far, maybe past the state line. 

It's hard for me to suck it up to get past the never-endingness of the Midwest to get to the good stuff.  The girls don't know it, but this trip is something of a test to see if we can handle a longer (in terms of driving hours) trip together next year.  Perhaps it's just a way to ease me into the idea of getting over myself for the sake of adventuring with my family.

Then again, my daughter started moo-ing at me this afternoon when I was putting sunscreen on her in preparation of heading to the bathtub-warm pool.  I asked her why, and she told me that I looked like a cow because "You have spots" (moles).  There's nothing better than a kid to keep your vanity in check.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Just take me back

Good people of the interwebs.  I've been floundering all around here for no other reason than the following:
1.  I've been buying dozens upon dozens of eggs this past month because CLEARANCE and WE EAT THEM A LOT and CHEAP and BAKING.  Using dozens and dozens (and dozens) of eggs takes time.
2.  I'm teaching 3 classes right now, which one might think would keep one comfortably busy when one's spouse is able to take on a majority of one's child-rearing duties because summer.  One would be wrong.  One is sick and yea tired of grading.  One feels that one is always trying to get through her list of things to grade.  One is weary of life many an afternoon now. 
3. We took a few days off to schlep the girls to a beach, which was f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s but there was then a whole slew of that grading hanging around when we got back.  So life was pretty grand there for a stretch, and we've since been plotting on how to return and when and where.  I'm a fan of just buying a nice vacation place up there.  The boy does his best imitation of a sensible person and reminds me that we are not yet wealthy enough to just throw money around willy-nilly.  This is a topic that we will return to again, I've no doubt.  I'm now determined.

The girls, believe it or no, are just about the easiest part of this summer season.  The boy and I, however, have been scrapping and scraping all the live long days what with conferences, classes, appointments, meetings, and responsibilities.  The girls just have some swimming to do and maybe some reading every now and again.  Otherwise, we just throw a few snacks at them every now and again, and they shriek amongst themselves all day long.

Coming into the summer, we were just forced to replace our cruddy range, which was visually pleasing but monetarily less so.  But crunch time has come with the taste of that bitter pill still lingering.  Our child rode her hand-me-down bicycle between our cars, which were parked in our snug garage.  This bicycle doesn't have any rubber covering the ends of the handlebars anymore.  She scraaattttccchhhed her way down both of our cars.  I have never ever been so furious with life as when I discovered that boneheaded maneuver.  You expect your child to break an occasional table lamp (been there) or stain some carpet.  I never expected $2000+ in a new paint job on both of our cars because my kid was riding her bike.  It's going to be upwards of 2G and about 5 or 6 days of being a 1-car household when the boy and I often need to be in different places at the same time given our work commitments.  This one hurt, to say the least.

And the same day that the first estimate came in on these, I paid for new flooring to replace our beat up and well abused laminate flooring in our kitchen.  That was a weepy, woe-is-me kind of day.  But you know what would help make all of this feel better?  A vacation house on a huge lake with lots of beach access.  At least that's what I've been telling myself.  Here's to more of this someday.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Vanya...don't worry 'bout it

This is a post full of both the remarkable and the absurd.  Let's begin, though I'm very, very sure that my menial wording won't give the absurd part justice.

1.  I just got back from running (nearly all) the loop around my neighborhood.  I do believe that I could have even run more of it, but I wasn't wanting to push the possibility of my retching.  I'm sure this feat of nature was possible because I'm wearing a newish pair of bright blue yoga/running/exercise-ish pants.  And the weather is pretty perfect for just a few minutes here.  You know what they say when it's 90 and humid all day - let's wait until 9 p.m., and then we'll consider running for the first time in a couple of years.  Plus maybe people won't be watching by that point.

2.  I bought 5 dozen eggs two days ago because when they're marked down to $1 and have a week of life yet in 'em, I've learned to snatch and run.  I did remind the boy that the last time I bought such an obscene amount of eggs, our oven went kaput within days.

3.  Remember way back when I brought home 20 bags of chocolate chips because they were dirt cheap?  We have 2 1/2 bags of them left.  It's been about 5 months. 

4.  We camped all of the past weekend in what was just a tick under 100 degrees from start to finish.  I volunteered to take our newly minted 4-year old back to the tent for a nap (yep, she still naps fairly often, and this was one of those days), intending to use the box fan and relax with a book while she snoozed beside me.  First, we nearly got into a shouting match because my child kept insisting on being covered with a blanket in what was nothing short of a sweat house.  The child slept, and I grabbed a grubby t-shirt to wipe the sweat off of my entire head region every 2 minutes while I tried to read.  Thanks be, the joint cooled off significantly by nighttime, and all was well.  The box fan was a pointless waste of space; if it weren't so noisy, I wouldn't even have believed it was on.

5.  The second night of our camping adventure, I was dwelling and anxious while the group of 8 or so teenager-y/college-age-y young people beside us were happy and laughy until about 1 AM.  They weren't obnoxious, mind you, but they were obviously awake.  And all of that means I was pretty obviously awake, too.  But the boy was less obviously awake.  In fact, not too long after we turned our flashlights off, he raised his left arm in the air and said .

the boy:  Vanya! (then slowly lowered his arm)
me: What?
the boy:  mutter mutter mutter
me:  Are you awake?
the boy:  ------ [rolls over]
me:  What did you say?
the boy:  ...don't worry 'bout it.

He has no recollection of this.  There was that one time when he dreamed he was kicking a soccer ball and was instead kicking me, but he's never muttered at me in some Russian-y sounding way and then told me to get over myself all while asleep

The next morning, when I relayed to him that weird exchange, he very forthrightly said something to the effect of "Yeah, Vanya is a form of Ivan.  I read a lot of books with Russian characters." 


But I'll accept his explanation, which is better than my first thought, which was (I kid you not) who is this girl "Vanya" that you're dreaming about?  Because seriously, dream about her all you want, but let's not tell me to not worry about it.  That's just unnecessary.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


As always, first things first - the girls.  (I should just start every post with "FTF" since that's pretty much how I start.)  Actually, today's FTF is "the kids." 

1.  The Elder is a brand spankin' new 7-year old, and don't all gasp loudly now, but that doesn't make me one bit sad.  Nope.  I'm a big fan for being happy with whatever stage of life you're in, and that means that I've no trouble being thankful for our spunky little kid as she is right now rather than the squishy little squish'um that she was.  Plus, our siblings are still popping out their own babies off & on, which mean I love on 'em and hand 'em back with diapers fully loaded.  Case in point: This weekend...1 game of chase with toddler nephew and 1 cuddle to sleep time with baby nephew.  I lurve it being the aunt.
2.  The Younger did what 3-year olds do and tripped on her own puppy feet while walking from point A to point B on the sidewalk, which resulted in some well-and-good skinned knees.  After the first 5 minutes of the tears, I tried to pass her off to the boy so that I could continue doing what I needed to do, seeing as how she was going to live and all.  And with sobby gasps, she wailed "NOOO!  My legs will fall off!"  Props to the boy who had to keep a straight face since she was looking at him.
3.  While I'm sitting here, I'm watching a mama starling feed her two baby starlings some regurgitated what-have-you's.  Those babies look happy, and I don't care how brown a bird you are, when you're all cuddling up with your mommy bird to slurp up some sludgy worminess, it's a pretty sweet moment to spy on.

***Wrap-up and transition to my main point today (I have nothing clever to take us there, so this'll do).***

I love memoirs.  I love them.  I have a couple of degrees in literature, and frankly, I don't really get into reading the never ending drivel and bad writing that gets published today.  Snobbery, perhaps.  But I'll stay within the parameters of the classical literature canon any day.  Many a time, I have started [insert name of best seller book] only to slog through 20 pages and groan when I see there are 382 left.  What the what, modern day authors?  Do we no longer have any grace or art?  Must we resort to never ending spare allusions?  To saccharine and cloying description that is less clever than horrid in its attempt to be different?  [Irony here?  Should I take a closer look at my own writings here?  Nah.  I'm not trying to get you buy in on my rambling.  And, no one's clambering to publish it.  I shall carry on.]

I'm just not a fan of modern writing.  Occasionally, I'll find a nugget that I happily mined out, and those I'm quite happy to pass along to anyone who wants to know what I've been enjoying lately.  But it's been so long since that's happened that a few months ago, while scanning the stacks at ye olde library, I realized I had no desire to read any of it.  But a good memoir sounded just right, and it has been a mainstay on my nightstand ever since.

Looking back, I see how I have leaned toward memoir-fiction writing through classes and papers and final thesis writing.  And since I've started reading memoir exclusively, I have
1.  read several memoirs about topics of which I have no knowledge (dogs, a botanist, and living in Tuscany/Italy/Provence).
2.  not been unsatisfied even once.
3.  re-visited ideas that began when I was an undergraduate about the connection between memoir and healing.
4.  pondered writing an article for publication. 
5.  considered how it relates to educational theory as well as practical applications for the classroom.

In the meantime, I've jotted some notes down, started exploring some databases, and considered how I'm going to integrate more of this approach in my upcoming classes.  If you have any thoughts on memoir, please share!  That's why we memoir-ize seemingly everything.

But right now, I'm turning this off to attack a 550-piece puzzle because this may be the summer-of-the memoir for me, but I'm declaring this to be the summer-of-the-puzzle for all of us.  And it starts today.  First up - Lucky the cat canoodling with Coco the cockatoo.  It's a lovely way to spend some downtime with the girls, no sugar or devices involved.   

However, the light of reading still shines bright in my early inevitably, memoir has interest and (almost certainly) a lack of lame dialogue.