Saturday, January 30, 2016

The things they say

Student:  Global warming has been recognized by one of our more recent presidents, Al Gore.

Student:   The organization [a global initiative to bring awareness to global warming] is easy for us to remember because there are 350 days in a year.
Me:  <slaps forehead>

Student:  Which internet do I need to use for this course?

I mean...


There's been a bevy of words coming out of my students' mouths that are less than brilliant.

Meanwhile, I spent the day piddling around my grandmother's house, just her and me.  I drove down to spend the day with her last year, and that seemed to go well enough (what with braving the Saturday afternoon crowds at the local small city shopping places).  So I downloaded some audiobooks and CDs, hooked those up to my little buggy's speakers, and took off down the road before the sun showed its perky little face.  I found my way to my favorite little well-known breakfast spot, chose what has become my regular seat "for one!" and started in on cup numero uno of coffee before the waitress said "Do you need a few minutes?"  In other words, this is one of my favorite days of the year.

Omelet with avocado, organic spinach and gouda, crusty cinnamon sourdough toast, fresh fruit.  Irish cream.  Thanks for asking.

It's good to have a few dollars in my pocket and a kid-free morning.

So eventually, the sun and I raced to my grandma's house.  Ol' Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun won.  And then the weather talk began as my family get-togethers are wont to include.  Truthfully, all sorts of things came and went, and we had good chat times.

I also dropped a bag of goods on her counter.  Like contraband, the goods were secreted away faster than one would think that a nearly 90-year old woman could stash them in her freezer.  See, my grandmother has a sweet tooth the size of her farm, which I learned today is over 100 acres.  So I like to bring her some individually-wrapped treats that she can freeze and take out whenever the fancy strikes.  (I'm guessing this is fairly frequently.  I come by my predilection for sugar honestly, it seems.)

Folks.  I brought her some blondies, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and soup.  And no sooner had those items been hidden away, my grandma brought out four favorite cookie recipes and basically told me to pick two that I wanted to make for her.

This is why I was there today - to do whatever she wanted - so this wasn't unexpected.  However.  I brought her a literal bag full of treat-y things and then she was scheming how to get a few dozen more treat-y things.  And, whaddya know, that's exactly what happened.

Now, she had made two rhubarb pies this morning before I came because her church is having a potluck tomorrow.  ("Rhubarb isn't my favorite, but I tolerate it.  It's not apple!")  One was "for our lunch" and the other was to take to church.  I just couldn't do it.  I was still stuffed from breakfast and she was raring to eat before the small hand was pointing to the 11 on the clock face.  In other words, she ate a piece in the "smaller" (?) pie so has a whole bunch-o-pie also hanging out on her counter.  (She also whisked the opened bag of faux-chocolate chipsters off to the pantry before lunch.)

She has a BUNCH OF SUGAR in her kitchen.  I'm not sure what else she eats other than dessert and chili.  (She really likes chili.)

So with a couple of dozen warm oatmeal cookies spread out on the table and a baking pan full of chippy bars cooling on the stove, she offered me some rhubarb pie to take home and nothing that I had just baked.  (Why yes I did purloin 2 cookies when she wasn't looking.) 

Which obviously clears some space for the good stuff. 

The things they say.

Friday, January 29, 2016

This is where assuming gets us

A week or so ago, I came across this list of 10 or 11 tips to put on your radar to "make yourself happier this year."  Overall, it was a good list.  A fine list.  An eye-opening, why-didn't-I-think-of-that kind of list.  And numero uno on the list was DON'T THINK TOO MUCH INTO THINGS.  I'm paraphrasing, but that's what it was: DON'T THINK TOO MUCH INTO THINGS.  Maybe it was DON'T ASSUME. 

Wise words, no?

Why didn't I think of that?

Oh, I know why - 'cause that's what I do.  I mean, that's what I DO

It's my job, and it's my job to teach other people to do this. 

I mean, talk about having trouble leaving work at work.  This isn't one of those things where I can or can choose to not bring home a sheaf of paperwork to work on after the girls are in bed.  This is how I think all day long.

If there's one thing I'm good for around here, I can tell you definitively that I'm good for over-analyzing things. 

And I'd like to put that one the docket for "what to fix this year," but I don't really want to.  I don't really care about fixing it.  Instead, I'm realizing that rather than trying to fix myself, I'm every so much happier in just finding new coffee shops to try and doodling around on here.  So instead, I'll put that at the top of the list for the year.

I'd much rather appreciate a small bit like my kid can spell "buses," which frankly, is not one that I can spell consistently.  (It sure seems like it should be "busses," doesn't it?)  It's pretty great that the boy got home last night, and within 20 minutes, we had a babysitter and were heading out on an impromptu date night, which MAY or may not have involved a giant crab cake.  And the short stack of pancakes around here wanted pig tails today, which only makes her sweet cheeks all the more kissable.

I'm assuming that these are all good things.  I win that one. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I just don't know.

I don't know if...

*my couch is going to survive until my youngest child reaches junior high.  It's apparently a trampoline in disguise.
*I will stop reading to the girls.  I might be the only parent of high schoolers cuddling up on the couch and reading out loud.  Will it still be weird when they're in their 40s?
*my kids will ever figure out how much I sneak out of the pantry when they're not looking.
*my child will ever understand that "get an animal" is code for "get your tushy back in bed" when she says "I'm scared" in a very non-scared voice.  Every night.
*that red paint spot on the wall will ever get painted over.  I don't have high hopes for that.  It might be better just to sell the house.
*we will eliminate plastic, non-breakable silverware, plates, cups, and bowls from our house.  (Maybe when the boy grows up?)
*my oldest will ever wear jeans.  Ever.
*the youngest will care about what she wears.  Ever.
*the girls will ever be able to share a room whereupon the Younger doesn't keep the Elder awake with her annoying(ly hilarious) younger sister shenanigans. 
*we will get through a road trip of longer than 4 hours 'cause we don't do devices in cars and there's only so much "eye spy" and "twenty questions" that one can tolerate.  (In case you ever get caught up in a game of "twenty questions" with the Younger, the answer is nearly always "baby spiders," "branches," or "the winter solstice.")
*we will be able to go bowling without using the 6-lb. balls and the cheater ramp.  Granted, I very much wish that I had access to the cheater ramp the first time I went bowling when I was a kid and got a score of "1."  For the entire 10 frames.
*we will be able to leave a warm building that is full of bathrooms before loading into the car for the 10-15 minute drive home across town without someone saying "I have to go to the bathroom!" and then a mere 10 seconds later "It's a 'mergency!" after I turn out of the parking lot.

Some questions just pinch the brain muscle with not knowing the answer.  And then conversations like this happen, which are utterly incomprehensible, and the list of things I don't know just gets longer. 

Me (looking up at the Younger, who is curled up in the recliner across the room as she is sucking on her thumb and rubbing her belly while waiting on me to come read with her):  How's that belly button treating you?

the Younger:  GOOD.  And my thumb tastes like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.  And Mommy hair.  My thumb tastes like YOU.

I just don't know, friends. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Putting the "fortune" in "fortunate"

I just finished reading Annika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills with the Elder and read this passage: "Annika didn't bother to run after them.  She hadn't bothered to buy a raffle ticket, either.  No true math person would buy a raffle ticket when you had such a mathematically low chance of winning."  Friends, while this may be true, I still had this whole "This is what I would do if I was even one of the winners of the Powerball riches" post laid out in my head.  I thought long and hard about this in fact, an entire loop dropping the Elder off at school and back.  So I'm going to go with this, regardless of the scornful looks that young Annika Riz might throw my way.

If I had massive quantities of money riches suddenly fall in my figurative lap, I have a whole list of things that I would change about my current life.  To note:  I would buy very few actual things.  And that's why I'm going to share my list.  It surprised me a bit but not completely as I'm finally (?!?) understanding this - I don't need that much and I don't want that much.  Experience trumps possession. 

So let's take a look-see, eh?

1.  I would get a massage, manicure and pedicure.  Stat.  And often.  Consider this essential.
2.  I would find a bed and breakfast in some tree-hugging part of New England and burrow in there for a few days, minimum, as I giggled to myself and drank gallons of coffee / scarfed plates full of biscotti. 
3.  I'd visit the local flooring store, finally pull the trigger on that new flooring for the kitchen, get it installed ASAP, and get a for sale sign in the yard faster than Usain Bolt.  One lucky new homeowner would stumble upon this little bit of house and grass and find that it's actually 50% off!  I'll even throw in a new roof. 
4.  I'm not sure where we'd move to, but we could hunker down somewhere until we found some new digs.  But here's the thing.  It wouldn't be a Powerball mansion.  (And this is as possession-y as I get.)  2000-3000 sq. feet, tops.  Unimposing on the outside.  Craftsman or cottage style with mature trees, fenced in back yard, access to parks and good schools.  TEMPERATE CLIMATE.  A workable floor plan with the ability to fancy up the kitchen as needed because...
5.  I'm getting my own chef.  And (s)he will be well paid and only work 3-4 nights a week 'cause I don't want to turn my kitchen over completely.  Heavens, no.  But a little bit of help with the cheffing wizardry would be mighty appreciated.
6.  And with that shiny new chef comes everything organic, locally sourced (whenever possible) and all things HIPSTER and AWESOME about food.  YES, please.  (This sounds kind of possession-y.)
7.  Now, since we're talking about food, let's talk about trails.  Food trails in the form of chocolate, caffeine, doughnut, or jam.  I don't care.  I'll try them all.  'Cause it's FUN, that's why.  And to find those fun food trails all over this great nation, that will require some decent amount of...
8.  TRAVEL.  Copious amounts of travel.  Have passport, must use.
9.  But I pretty much only bring back food when I travel, so this isn't an excuse to get more possession-y. 
10.  I might be more willing to take my kids to Chucky Cheese, but only if I get my own tokens because skeetball.
11.  Our parents.  Love 'em all.  We'd need to have some heart-to-hearts about throwing a fat wad of dough at them.  I mean, the in-laws had to deal with the boy during his deviant years and my parents had to deal with my brothers in their never-ending deviant years, so they all deserve much to make their lives less anxious and more amazing.  I'm not paying them off for raising me.  I was and continue to be their favorite daughter ever.
12.  My grandmother.  Again, a surreptitious deposit or two in her bank account would be money well spent.  I'm actually not sure about the boy's grandparents; they have scads of kids/grandkids/great-grandkids and throw money around willy-nilly anyway.  They're a tougher pair of nuts to crack.
13.  Have money, will help others.  Just think of ALL of the ways that some well placed dollars with some meaningful organizations or used on behalf of individuals would benefit not only single persons but ripple out to affect others as well.  Education is the great equalizer for a reason.  This is really what I would ruminate the longest on while bunkered up in some B&B in Vermont.  A foundation would probably be birthed soon.  Scholarships would undoubtedly be given.  Anonymous donations would happen.  In fact, this would have to be one of my favorite things about having my mitts on any portion of the Powerball largesse: making well placed donations to people who don't ask for it, don't expect it, and can benefit immediately from it.  I'm talking about someone's medical bills unexpectedly being paid up for them, someone's mortgage disappearing, someone's application fees waived.  A struggling school having boxes of gym equipment show up on their doorstep.  A homeless high school student pulled out of third period Government so she could be given a key to a rent-paid apartment, fully furnished, waiting for her.  This would be absolutely amazing.
14.  I'd also tip extravagantly.

And that list right there, that's just about it.  It would be a good place to start for us.  In the meantime, I'll spend my $2 that I saved by not buying a ticket wisely.  Cups of ice or water out of a public drinking fountain for everyone! 

I was just about to post this, but from the other room, I see the boy dancing to Elvis with the girls.  There's something that not having the winning ticket won't affect in the least, which is truly fortune-ate.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

CHIP-ing in

After the last soggy saga, I'll just lead with this - the very antithesis of anything melancholy.  I bought TWENTY bags of Nestle chocolate chips last week for $.75 apiece.  Tha's right.  SEVENTY-FIVE CENTS APIECE.  Right there in ye olde clearance aisle at ye olde grocery store.  WHY were these marked down to pennies on the dollar?  I know not.  And they don't expire for at least four months, which is approximately the length of time that these will last given the rate of consumption of chocolate chips that happens in my house.

Actual, bona fide, real-life example:

Adult person staring into my pantry:  "I'm hungry.  I need a snack.  What do I feel like?  Well...I guess I don't have any options.  I'll just have to go with these." [grabs handfuls of chocolate chips]

The boy was actually the one who taught me the joy of eating chocolate chips straight out of hand.  I had already discovered the nirvana of sweetened coconut out of bag, so it seems likely that I would have latched on to this possibility at some point in time.  It probably would have been my gateway drug. 

But I'm the "fancy" one in the house.  So I'll usually take my chips with cashews, pecans or pretzels for an automatic chocolate dipped fillintheblank delight.  The boy eats his straight off of the kitchen table like heathen.  Mine masquerade quite respectably as trail mix.
I was sifting through my weekly grocery slog and came across a coupon for $.75/2 bags of Nestle chips.  I queried the boy to see if he wanted me to "stock up" to which he replied "You're so funny!  I'm glad that I married you because you're just too funny!!  Stop being so funny!!!"  Or something.  So I bypassed that whopper of a deal because TWENTY BAGS, friends.  
I also bough a half gallon of buttermilk for $1 that was also clearanced out but still had a few days of life in it yet.  It's a wee bit shocking how many bread products one can whip up given a half gallon of buttermilk.  Suffice it to say that the freezer is FULL of good, good things, namely chocolate and bread.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Just a bit itchy

Oy, but I've been wanting to put something together here for a few days.  And you know how that goes - now I have a few things bumping around together, and so the odds of this being either coherent or with any sort of purpose are not any that I would bet real cash on.  We're just gonna wing it, which is pretty much what I always "never" do.

I'm having a serious case of the "sentimental awwws" tonight.  It's a good night, so I am avoiding some mopey moments.  Yay.  Small victories.

I'm working through two crates full of everything undergrad/grad school related that I've had squirreled away.  But I've got to the point where I want to use that corner of the house, and while I don't really want to get rid of this wealth of all things gloriously rhetorical, analytical, and literature-ical, there's not much if anything that I'm banishing to the recycling bin that I can't find in a few moments with a quick trip to Google or JSTOR.  I don't need to keep every source for every essay.  I don't need to have my first day of class notes and syllabi.  And, I can recall defining information on the various literary "isms."  So, I'm basically set.  

But, oh...those were such good sources.  Such delicious syllabi full of possibility and potential.  Such purposeful notes.  And it feels like I'm purging one glorious stash of delicious, perfect chocolates out of the house, knowing that I'll never have those delicious, perfect chocolates again.

I think I'm devolving into a mopey moments.  So let's shift directions for a quick moment.

My nephew was born a couple of days ago.  Because of the ever present HOLIDAY SEASON, I was able to skip town (Me: "Our nephew was born this morning.  I'm going to drive up there and visit.  I'm going to leave after lunch.  Are you okay with that?"  the boy:  "Sure.") participate in the joy that is a cramped hospital room full of several family members and one little 7-lb. person, who somehow takes up all of the space.  And there WAS A MOMENT in those 10-minutes when I got to marvel at his ears, tickle his toes and giggle at his sleepy twitching when I had THAT THOUGHT.

Oh, friends.  I can't believe I was even close to having THAT THOUGHT.  But I did, just for the quickest of moments: We could have another one of these little persons, thisissomuchfun.

Like a devout Catholic might, I had to confess my moment of weakness to the boy as soon as I got home. 

Me:  "I was holding him, and I thought for just a second that it might be pretty great to have another one.  But then I drove home for 2 hours by myself and it took me about negative 30-seconds to remember why this wouldn't be great.  Forgive me; it won't happen again."

the boy:  "You're a nut job."

But hear me out.  I am going somewhere with this.  (A + B = I have a point)

Looking through all of my old school work gives me the same weepy sentimental gitchy-goos that I get when I get to celebrate a new life full of possibility and absolutely perfect ignorance.  And considering the similarities between these two things, it makes sense.

Grad school: managing your time is imperative, it doesn't allow for much of a social life, it drains your resources, and it's still the best thing ever.

A child:  managing your time is imperative, it doesn't allow for much of a social life, it drains your resources, and it's still the best thing ever.

Spooky.  They're virtually identical. 

So I can imagine the conversation that could happen if I don't mitigate the itch that is always tickling.

Me:  "I was reading through this college's website, and I thought just for a second that it might be pretty great to have another one."

the boy:  "Here we go're still a nut job."