Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Blessings to you and yours this Christmas and in the New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finals WEEK

Winter break is almost here! I NEED a break.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pass the turkey and slap the salami.

A random post calls for a random post title. (Can't wait to see what people will Google to find this post!)

I've been lovingly tagged by Peter to join in on the fun with the "seven random or weird book facts" meme. Frankly, I am glad to have a reason to ignore planning and grading for a few minutes (or at least "think" about planning and grading but not actually *follow* through with doing it).

1. Does a deck of cards count? What if these are cards that have writing on them rather than numbers? A few months ago, I confiscated a deck of "SEX!" cards from a sophomore boy in one of my classes. The cards (and I only know this by reading the outside cover of the cards) have tasks printed on each one - rub your partner's...(you fill in the blank), etc. The idea is to draw a card and complete the task with your lover. So I threw the cards into my file cabinet (right next to the "nude man" pen I confiscated the previous month) and forgot about them for awhile. Even though I asked the boy several times to please drop by after school and retrieve his "cards," the cards remained in my desk for a month or more. Eventually I threw them out. About a week ago, the boy finally dropped by and asked for the cards. He said, "My mom and dad are looking all over for them." I said, "Oh, so sorry, I threw those away! Well, you know what you have to do, right?" "Yeah," he replied, "I gotta go to that shop and buy them some new ones."

2.The first book I remember reading was a volume of Dick and Jane that was one of my older brother's textbooks. I was four. Even though Dick and Jane and Spot lived in a nice little neighborhood that was nothing like my neighborhood, I marveled at every word and picture. I wondered why the police never visited the house across their street. Seriously, though. Wait. I was being serious. Anyway, Dick and Jane offered the world a nice big slice of Americana like no other book from that time period could. Except for the "Little Black Sambo" series. And that's all I'm going to say about that because I just keep getting more and more sarcastic with every word I type. Am I really that jaded? (Don't answer that!!)

3. My brothers and I used to play "library." In the first grade, I organized all of our books alphabetically by the author's last name, and then I made individual "call" numbers that I taped on the spine of each book. I can't remember what my system was, but it made sense to me when I was in the first grade. Ironically, my daughters also like to play library whenever they visit grandma and grandpa's house. The old set of Funk and Wagnalls and 100+ Reader's Digest condensed books compilations are perfect for that game.

4. Dalene tagged me awhile back on Facebook to join in on her discussion regarding a list of "must read" books. I have to say that no author has moved me of late as much as Flannery O'Connor has. Last year I read the novel The Violent Bear it Away, and I was ruined. No matter what I have read after reading that novel, it just doesn't move me - disturb me - the way O'Connor's writing does. I used to think that Faulkner was the master American novelist. Compared to O'Connor, his writing is perfunctory.

5. Like Peter, I like to savor every word when I read. It might take me a month or two - or a year - to finish a book, especially if I am captivated with the story line or the characters or the topic. Then again, I plowed through Crime and Punishment in a manner of days.

6. There are a few books that make me cry or *move* me no matter how many times I read them. One of those books is S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders. Another is Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.

7. No one I know reads more books than my mother does. She loves to read mysteries. I think she has read every Agatha Cristie book that was ever written.

As for the tagging...I'll have to get back to you on that one. Lily - secret blog. Anthony - secret blog. Jess - up for posting on your public blog? For sure, Dalene, consider yourself tagged. Anyone else that bloggs and reads this, well, you are tagged too.

*TAGGING UPDATE: Aerin, you are definitely tagged. Lily played. Dalene, where are you. Who else has a writing blog that wants to come forth?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Crazy Train

Just to make my life more difficult, I decided to change the Honors curriculum mid-semester.

Gee. I'm having some fun now.

Please make this crazy train stop.

Monday, October 13, 2008

News Flash

Poetroad caught the mouse and released it back into the wild (aka "the field"). I wanted the mouse dead,but daughter number three cried hysterically at the mere mention of the word "dead" used in conjunction with the word "mouse."

"No! Noooooooooo, motherrrrrr! You know how mutch I looooove little creatuuuureth!" she sobbed. "I want to take care of iiiiiiit. Don't kiiiiiiill that cute little mooooousth!"

Sticky traps work well for such a predicament. Although the cute little mouse is missing quite a bit of fur now.

My dog...

is full-on grooming my cat right now. Weird.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Of course...

merely seconds after making that post, I saw the mouse again! He dashed out from the sink back up into his same little hiding place under the button panel that regulates the oven. The poor little guy must have been thirsty. And when I say "poor little guy," I mean "soon to be disposed of rodent."

Ironically, today there was a mouse cavorting around the bathroom that is directly next to my room at school. Both the girls and boys in the hallway were screaming and scattering as the brown fuzzy rodent exited the ladie's room.

I hope she washed her hands first.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

And one more thing...

I have great friends! Not only did Ch@ndy take a looooong train ride to Sacto so that she could be here for my first marathon, but Maria, Peter and family joined us for a pre-marathon barbecue on Saturday. AND Anthony spent all day Sunday here too with the crew.

Thank you, Ch@ndy, for helping me cook and clean. Thank you, Peter, for driving Maria here. Thank you Maria and Ch@ndy for making sure my kiddos got where they needed to be on Sunday morning. Thank you for meeting me on mile 19 - that was a terrific surprise! Thank you Anthony and Maria and Ch@ndy for being there at the beginning and the end of the race, for the cool signs, for taking photos, for the fries... You all are so thoughtful!

Thank you, friends, for acting as if it were a normal occurrence when flies buzzed all around and a MOUSE cavorted on the stove while we ate and chatted around the dinner table (btw, I haven't seen a fly or that pesky mouse since; very strange).

Thank you, most of all, Poetroad, for indulging my wild obsessive compulsive behavior that sometimes include a house full of people at a moments notice, my training sessions that sometimes last hours and hours, and these silly notions of running marathons.

I love you all!

Monday, October 06, 2008

First things first...

Way back in May, I made the original "pact" to train for a marathon with Dalene and Ch@ndy. When I moved to California, I knew immediately that if I wanted to stay motivated and train successfully, I would need to find a new running partner (although there was always a hope that Hannah would move here...there was only a hope; Hannah actually said she would only *visit* me here).

And then I met Telle. Not only did Telle introduce me to trail running, but she took me on runs that totally kicked my butt. Week after week, each run we tackled out on the American River Canyon trails was the most difficult and longest run that I ever ran. Before I met Telle, I never dreamed that I would actually run three miles up hill or for four hours non-stop. In 100 degree weather. Telle told me that it was good to train in extreme conditions. She is the experienced runner, after all, so I figured that's what all runners do to train for races. You know - kill themselves. The sweating, the bleeding, the blisters, the puking (okay - I never actually puked, but Telle did, and there were a few times when I came really close to puking).

So somewhere in the training process, Telle suggested that we run a trail race at the end of August: "Run on the Sly." Even though I had never run even a simple 5k before - heck, to be honest, the only race I had ever run was one leg of a 400 relay race when I was in elementary school - I thought, "Why not run a 20 mile race. I've got to start somewhere."

And that's what we did.



It was a chilly Sunday morning up in the Sierra foothills near Jenkinson Lake. Prior to the race, we planned every detail regarding what we would wear and eat for breakfast and eat on the trail and how much water we would pack in our hydration packs, etc., etc. Telle brought her cool watch that has some type of GPS system and rings a bell at each mile marker. I brought a blue bandanna that I used as a hat until my body warmed up in the sub 50 degree temp. Yeah - I am a wimp when it comes to "cold." (Next time I will bring gloves too.)

We had a plan to break up the run into thirds. The idea was to mentally run each section of the race as if we were starting from mile one all over again. After all, saying, "Wow, I only have 6 more miles to go," doesn't seem as daunting as, "Wow, I still have 14 miles to go!"

Also, under wise advise from our Sensei/mentor/coach/Telle's boss, "The Dentist", Dr. Misono, we knew to "walk up-hill and run fast down hill." Although a novice runner might be tempted to run continually because "it's a race," trail running is very different than a regular road race. All runners *walk* up the steep hills. We knew this because Dr. Misono graciously took us on several trail runs, and, quietly, yet encouragingly, while running behind us, Dr. Misono would know exactly the right thing to say at the right time to help us run on and on - or to not be afraid of walking - so that we could finish the run - which was always the goal.

Miles 1-14 came and went quickly in the race. Telle and I chatted as we ran for the first 10 miles or so. We stopped at the aid stations to down some electrolyte juice, take pictures and video of our progress, and then continued on our steady pace to finish in around four hours.

Around the 14 mile mark, I tripped and fell. I scraped my knee pretty badly, and dirt and rocks were now embedded in my hip and hand, but my injury didn't seem to bother me too much at that point. Luckily, adrenaline was on my side. Also lucky for me, Telle packed along some band aids. (Side note: Telle is notoriously bad luck for any running partner at a race. While the partner breaks a tooth, an arm, his glasses, and might even require a few stitches, Telle never even so much as breaks a fingernail. I'm lucky that I only scraped my knee on that run!)

Five of the last six miles generated difficult terrain to traverse. A few challenges were trying not to kill ourselves in the one mile descent through forest debris (in which, incidentally, another runner and I tailgated another gal until she pulled over to let us pass - we sprinted down that zig-zag path at top speed) or on the two mile ascent that seemed to never end.

Telle's legs cramped up somewhere around mile 17. I continued on to the finish line fairly easily. I even won a hat for my efforts (although I shouldn't have won a hat since I was fifth in my age group rather than one of the top three finishers. But I was too delirious to refuse the hat, plus, I didn't know for sure at that point where I had finished in my age group).

Anyway, I ended up running the race in 4 hours and 4 minutes. At the end of the race, I felt a slight twinge in my left hamstring. It was an injury that would keep me from training to my full potential in the coming weeks. Regardless of that slight setback, however, I knew that I would be ready to run the Cow Town Marathon in October.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Yes. And Yes.

I will see Ch@ndy soon.

I will see Anthony soon.

Rock Star Wing and company will crash at our house soon too (oh, if we could get Christy here too...hmmmmm).

I will run my first marathon this weekend.

I teach two sections of "honors" English.

Oh, yes. All good. Very good.

And on an even more positive note, I came home to a clean house today. This is not normal, and it is the kind of unexpected fantabulous "not-normal" surprise that I would like to walk - nay, run - into every day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Geeze...

...not doing so well in juggling the ol' blog, taking care of a family, and working full time. The blog has cob webs - again, the house is a mess (okay - so that isn't any different than usual) and the pile of papers that need grading keeps growing...

Boo!

On a positive note...

I'll get back to you on that.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Coincidence? Maybe...

We knew from the start that a move to California would mean that I would have to go back to work. Even with the local economy in the toilet, it is still incredibly expensive to live her. I hit the job listings hard from day one. Unfortunately, there were no jobs available at the school where I wanted to work. I know, I know. One should not be picky when one is desparate to find a job.

Over June and July, I began the process of securing a teaching certificate in California - which is no easy task. Even though there is supposed to be a shortage of teachers here, there are a number of convoluted hoops one must jump through in order to earn a certificate.

As August neared - with no prospects of a job yet - I was beginning to lose hope. What kind of job is a degree in education good for - actually, two degrees in education - other than a teaching job?

And then one day, the high school job I wanted magically appeared online. The next day, I chatted with a friend I knew who worked at the school. Within an hour, he arranged an informal interview with the Vice Principal.



The preliminary interview went well. I had a sense that they would have hired me on the spot if the district would allow it. But the job posting was still active for a few more days, and the powers that be wanted them to interview more than one applicant - which is reasonable.

The only problem was that I was about to drive to Oregon and visit my family for a few days. Lucky for me, I got a call while I was in Oregon that they wanted me to have a formal interview on Monday of that next week. School started only one week later.

So I went to the interview on Monday morning (after spending 11 hours on the road the day before; yes, it took us
that long to get home), and I arrived at 9:00 am. My interview was supposed to be at 9:00 am. I was almost late!

And there was a nicely dressed woman waiting in the office too.

So I found the closest secretary to tell her that I was there, and the nicely dressed lady - Miss America Barbie dressed in a navy blue business blazer and skirt and matching pumps - said, "Oh, I need to tell her that I am here for the interview too!" I thought, "Crap. This much younger and more professionally dressed model is my competition? I am toast!" Needless to say, the gal told me that she had an interview at 9:30 and that there were five interviewees for this job. I thought, "bummer."

The interview went okay, but I went away knowing that I didn't wow
anyone. In fact, some of my interview answers were kind of dumb. For one, when asked what they might observe in my classroom on any given day, I responded much too quickly with, "Organized chaos." Yeah. That's exactly what a principal wants to see in a high school English classroom. Not.

So they didn't call me on Monday, and when they didn't call me on
Tuesday, I knew that I blew it. As the day wore on - 1 pm, 2, 3... by
5 pm I knew I didn't get the job.

I tried to be strong and "accept" it, but I was really feeling like a
total loser. That job was mine, and I blew it!

By 7 pm, I was totally sobbing. And then I realized that there was
nothing I could do about it, so I was trying to accept the reality
that I would have to find another job. The girls were telling me,
"It's okay, Mom. You can be a waitress! You've done that before!"

Their assurances that I could get a job at McDonald's or Applebees
wasn't really consoling me.

Then at 8:30 pm, the principal called my house and offered me the job. I couldn't believe it! She said that it took a while to get hold of my references as everyone is on summer break.

So, yes, I did get the job! Aaaaah!

Later, I apologized to Poetroad for getting all weepy about the job. He said, "It's okay honey. For a whole day, you were a loser. It's good to walk in someone else's shoes once in a while."

Indeed it is. Especially if those shoes are navy blue pumps that exactly match the skirt and blazer worn for a job interview.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I survived...

week one. Now what will I do?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh my. Much ado about something...

My life is so topsy turvy right now that I'm not sure when I posted last! Great news: I got a job. Although I am really exhausted right now...and it's only day two. Yikes!

So I am teaching 10th graders at one of the local high schools. Wow. This is going to be lots of work. Thankfully, I found my lesson plans from the last time I taught this class a few years ago. Unfortunately, each year I try to constantly "improve" (at least I hope that is what I am doing) my teaching techniques/delivery. Boo!

Finally...and the winning story, coming in under 200 words (although I did like Mimi's twisted tale too), was authored by Jerolyn: "The Mystery." Enjoy!

It was a dark and stormy night. Buford sat quietly sipping his tea from the beautiful china cup his mother had given him before leaving London – a small token, but one that reminded him of home. But as he reviewed his day, his demeanor became darker and darker despite the soothing respite. That blasted child had ruined everything. Well, almost. Now she would never bother him again…or anyone else for that matter....

How had she found out his secret? He had taken such care to keep it hidden. He was sure his friends and colleagues never suspected. Possibly his neighbors had an inkling; but never any proof. Buford had been very careful except for one thing; he’d forgotten the spoons. Not even a game of find-the-dead-bat kept her distracted. (However, she did take some time searching for her sandal she’d lost in the process.) Still, she wasn’t deterred from her quest for the truth. But I had to keep my secret hidden. No respectable Englishman uses boiled dirt for his tea.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I am in Oregon...

...visiting my parents, and you know what that means. Dial up. Yes, the digital age has not made it's way to the far reaches of this little country town. These few posts I make from Oregon, then, will be slim.

So I made it here in 9.5 hours. Pretty good time for a person travelling 500 miles with four girls and a dog. Coordinating potty trips is an art - I am not sure I've mastered that art yet.

My dad, the girls, and I trekked over to Seal Rock yesterday and visited with my grandma. We spent most of the day on the beach. Gorgeous weather for the coast - 65 degrees and sunny. Today, of course, it is raining here. It rained the first day we arrived too, wouldn't you know it. I haven't seen rain in more than three months. But is this drizzly precipitation really considered "rain"? The drizzle is one part of Oregon that I do not miss.

Headed for home on Sunday. I have a job interview Monday morning; send your prayers and/or positive vibes my way.

Monday, July 28, 2008

It is disgusting...

...how easily I can allow myself to be so distracted by the daily grind that I neglect this little space. I definitely need to dust away the cobwebs here, and to do that I'll need a little help. :)

Below is a list of items I've discovered and the location where I found each over the past four weeks.

* One leopard print sandal, size 8.5: found hidden in the shrub by the front door
* One skeleton - not in tact, but I definitely found the hip bones and at least 6 inches of the vertebral column: found scattered all over the back yard
* One small bat - think "billy club" - covered in blood stains: found in the very back of the cupboard above the refrigerator
* One china cup - white with gold trim: also found in a cupboard.
* Four spoons: two found under a tree by the back fence, one found in the dirt in the back yard, one found under a shrub in the front yard.

Based on that information, what do you think went on here with the previous tenants? Your job is to write a story (200 words max.) to unravel the mystery for me.

Post your story on your blog, and then leave the link in the comments section for this post. The scenario I like the best will be featured here on Monday, August 3rd.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I am here!

Oh my. I don't even think you want to know the details, but I'm sure the story will unravel over the coming weeks.

The short story is that we left Austin on June 5 rather than June 4 (it took a little longer for us to pack and get rid of stuff than we had hoped), and that gave us roughly 2.75 days to drive to Sacramento. That's right: 12 hour driving days in a moving truck and van stuffed with stuff, children, a dog, and a cat.

The best part of the move was that 15-20 people from our church were here waiting to unload and unpack our stuff upon arrival. Too bad Bob the property manager had his ring tone on "low" - but we only had to wait around an hour and a half for him to finally check the 20 voice messages and texts that Poetroad had been frantically sending him.

And we only had one incident of "poopee" [the three year old's description of diarrhea; she had no idea that her body could do such a thing]. Fortunately, we were only 15 minutes from the hotel.

I do love the location of the house we are renting. Cute exterior too. Great floor plan. The older two each finally get to have her own space.

There was only one teeny problem with the house. Okay...there are a few problems with the house. Let me put it to you this way: last night, I sanitized the closet in the Master Bedroom, and I scrubbed no less than three body fluids off the walls. Not to mention that the previous family dog used this closet - and all of the carpeted floors - as its personal bathroom.

Thankfully, I've convinced the landlord that he needed to replace the carpets. The upstairs will finally be fully re-carpeted today! In another week, the most offensive downstairs carpeting will be gone too.

There is more - but I will save that for another day...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm still here!

Don't go away, dear readers! There is much blogging to be done for sure, but between the packing and the packing - well, you understand.

When did I acquire all of this junk, by the way? If someone were to use a little accelerant and strike a match to it all, well, I wouldn't be sad.

Good news - the washer is fixed. It turns out that when a scarf, loose change, and sticks work their way into the motor, the motor for some reason stops working. Lucky for us, we bought the extended warranty. I'll have to be more diligent in checking pockets.

Speaking of laundry, before the washer could be fixed, I had the pleasure visiting the "Laundry Mat" east of where I live. It's the closest coin operated laundry in the vicinity, and I had to drive 25 minutes to get there. Crazy. Anyway, my two eldest accompanied me, and I hadn't realized how sheltered they were until that little adventure. This was a clean place too (well, not counting the inch layer of dust on the CEILING). So they gawked a bit. I don't know why. There were only two shirtless homeless guys hanging out on the bench out front, and two guys giving each other back rubs inside the place. They had their shirts on.

Anyway, more stories to tell when I get a chance - oh, and the inquisition. Thanks, Peter. :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Week So Far...

Two projects and reports due for daughters one and two;
Me up half the night Tuesday going poo;
Can not find a rental in Cali to move into;
Washer broke since Monday - too much laundry to do;
Cross your fingers that repair man will follow through.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Oh. Yes. I did.

Ok, ok. I haven't always been fashion savvy. I admit that. I don't know what happened in the 90s. Really. There was that grunge phase. Then there were the oversize vests. And jeans that were baggy and belted at the chest. Stirrup pants. Yeah. I wore it all.

But something happened at the turn of the century. I got rid of the frumpy wardrobe and opted to wear the hip and cool fashions. Well, hip and cool for a woman in her thirties.

This week, however, I think I bobbled the ball. Fumbled even. I bought these shorts:



To my defense, these are ultra low rise shorts, and I bought them from Old Gravy. I mean Navy.

Nevertheless, they are jean shorts. Jean shorts. Might as well slap an elastic waist band in there and call me "Ma."

And look at the pockets. Look how they cut across the front of the shorts. Those have got to be the most unflattering type of pockets available for a woman shaped like me - a pear.

You know what the worse part of this whole sit-chi-a-shun is? I put on the jean shorts, and they were comfortable. Darn it! And, AND, AND...even though I purchased the shorts in the size I normally wear, the shorts were very loose fitting. Which, of course, made me think, "Hey, I'm getting skinny again."

Double darn!

So I guess I'm keeping the shorts. Oh, I tell myself that I'll dress them up by wearing a hip Abercrombie or Hollister top, or, better yet, I'll pair them with some of my nouveau Punk wear. My fear is, though, that there will be a day that I'm feeling kind of tired or won't be thinking straight, and I'll throw on a baggy t-shirt and the jean shorts.

It's a slippery slope friends. Please, God, no. Tell me I'm not going down.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Brains or brawn?

If you were caught in a dark alley, who would you choose to come to your rescue: Chuck Norris or Stephen Seagal?

Sure,Seagal might look all muscley under that dark suit, but - let's be honest - he couldn't act his way out of an invisible box. I always joke with Poetroad that "Executive Decision" is his best movie...because his character dies in the first twenty minutes of the film. I know that Seagal acts (*cough*, *cough*)[delivering the lines "Check out these moves" and then slapping a sloppy kiss on his co-star is hardly acting]. I was sent this visual the other day as a testimony to his versatility as an actor:


Also, Seagal produces, writes, and, supposedly, is a musician too. Plus he has some serious karate skills.

Chuck Norris, on the other hand, acts, produces, writes, AND sings the lyrics to the "Walker Texas Ranger" theme song. He was a fighter AND a has a Martial Arts career. Plus he is the poster boy for "The Total Gym."

What say you? Who is the best - Norris or Seagal?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kiddie Rhymes

These are the rhymes from your childhood used to help you choose a flavor of lollipop or a teammate for kickball. You know how they go:

"Eenie meenie minie mo, catch a tiger by his toe..."

"Ink a bink a bottle of ink, the cork fell out and you stink..."

Well, my six year old brought home this one the other day:

"Micky Mouse peed in the house. What color was it?"

Priceless.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Marathon Girlz

Ch@ndy is in, Dalene is in, I am in, and possible one or two others are in. Why not consider joining us?

Here is the plan so far: Ch@ndy and I (and others) will attempt a practice marathon this fall - possibly this marathon in Sacramento. Dalene will be attempting to redeem the Chicago marathon experience that was utterly disasterous last year (if you remember, high temperatures caused officials to shut down the marathon early. Dalene was on mile 20 when that happened. Can you believe it?!!! All of that hard work down the toilet!!). And then all of us girlz will converge in 2009 to tackle a marathon together. Yay!!!

Speaking of toilets, Dalene (the expert racer here) has been generous enough to share her "marathons for novices" linky links, and - by far - I've found this article to be most useful:
Runner's diarrhea: How can I prevent it?


Sweet! Perhaps I won't have to invest in those thong running diapers Ch@ndy and I have been meaning to invent.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Moms (and Dads who are both mom and dad)



And now for your reading pleasure, a Mother's Day poem penned by my 10 year old daughter, Kylie:

"If My Mom Were in Charge of the World"
(adapted by Kylie so that it talks about her mom)


If my Mom were in charge of the world
She'd cancel messy houses,
High taxes,
High gas prices
And also arguing.

If my Mom were in charge of the world
Soccer would be more popular,
Everything in the store would be on sale,
Everyone would get out of the house and exercise more.

If my Mom were in charge of the world
She wouldn't have too many toys in the house.
She wouldn't have the TV on for more than two hours.
Or "Be nice to your sister!"
You wouldn't even have any yelling.

If my Mom were in charge of the world
Curling up with a good book all day would be OK.
And everyone would be quiet while she read.
And a person who sometimes forgot to empty the dishwasher,
And sometimes didn't like to fold clothes,
Would still be allowed to be
In charge of the world.


That's my Kylie; she has a knack for telling it like it really is.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Speaking of hotness...

Yesterday it got up to 95 degrees here. My middle schooler had to run several races for the "mini-Greek Olympics" at school. The kids were outside all day in the hotness, and there wasn't a lick of shade at the track.

Don't worry, though. My daughter said that only three kids fainted.

Oh, and she won second in the 100, third in the 200, and her team was first in the 50 yard relay (I know! They hardly had a chance to pass the baton to the next teammate let alone run a few steps!).

In other news, I won "hottie" of the year and "Mother of the Century" from daughter number two. I'm a winner! Wait until you read the poem she wrote me...

Fisherstine laid down the proposition...

and I said "yes". My buddy from college, Dalene, is a driven woman. She doesn't do anything half-way. In fact, Fisherstine (a nickname that combines her married and maiden names) amazes me at all she has accomplished in her life. I couldn't even list everything as it would take too long, but she is the mom of four, she once owned a coffee shop, she teaches literature, and, more recently, has decided that she would like to run marathons. Last year, she ran her first (is that right, Dalene?). Currently, she is training for the Chicago marathon.

I've never ran a marathon. Heck, I've never ran more than 10 miles. But I need a running goal, so why not make it a marathon? Fisherstine suggested "Big Sur, 2009." While it looks to be a brutal course, why not start there? I gotta start somewhere!

Today, I ran my long run. It kicked my butt. Only 5.5 miles, but a mile of that is up hill. Which I walked. It took me 53 minutes to complete my run. Terrible time, I know. But I've got a whole year to train. And think how much faster my time will be when I can complete this little course without walking!

Big Sur, 2009 - here I come!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Because I could not stop for death, I sent my toothbrush

I heard a fly buzz
then it died on my toothbrush.
I didn't kill it.

It just landed there
and died. Now I have one more
reason to hate flies.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Speaking of poo...

What can I say? I have a three year old that has not mastered the art of pooping in the toilet yet. Or pooping at all. When asked if she needs to go, she replies, "Not now. I poop on Saturday." Well, okay then.

Consequently, much of my day is spent designing fiber-full meals and snacks. And here is one more detail that you didn't want to know: at night, sometimes I have poop dreams. Such as last night...

I had a dream that I was being held captive in an old building with fifty or more other people. I don't know why I was being held captive, but these guys were dressed in black and had guns. The building reminded me of the Reed Opera House in Salem, only there were more rooms on the main floor. Also, one of the bathrooms had only one toilet, and the other down side was that there were three entrances to the bathroom - all glass doors that could not be locked from the inside.


In this dream, I needed to go, well, poo, of course. The problem was that the only unoccupied toilet was this toilet described above. The guard insisted in being in there with me, which I didn't like at all. Not one little bit. But I couldn't wait any longer, so I agreed to allow him to be my chaperon.

Just as I was getting ready to...go...a whole lotta commotion was going on outside the door. One of my old high school friends burst in from the hallway. "Can't a girl get any privacy!" I screamed, and then I burst out the door on the other side of the room with chaperon in tow.

There must be another bathroom here that is more private, I said to myself. And then I remembered that there was a little unfinished bathroom on the top floor of the building. On the way, I convinced the chaperon that privacy was necessary because I would never be able to...go...with him in the room.

When I got in the room, I notice that there was a sky light above the scaffolding that would have been obscured by a drop ceiling had the bathroom been finished. I began scheming how I might be able to climb up there and open the sky light...

And then I woke up.

Now I'm not really a believer in dream interpretation, but I like to look at what this site has to say about dream meanings. Here is their take on several key elements in my dream:

Bathroom
To dream that you are in the bathroom, relates to your instinctual urges. You may be experiencing some burdens/feelings and need to "relieve yourself". Alternatively, it may symbolize purification and self-renewal. You need to cleanse yourself, both emotionally and psychologically.

To dream that you are in a public restroom with no stalls, signifies your frustrations about getting enough privacy. It may also indicate that you are having difficulties letting go of old emotions. If you reveal these feelings, you are afraid that others around you will judge and criticize you.


Toilet
To see a toilet in your dream, symbolizes a release of emotions or getting rid of something in your life that is useless.


Hostage
To dream that you are a hostage, indicates that you are feeling victimized and powerlessness. You may also be feeling limited in your choices or physically immobilized. Perhaps this dream is paralleling some situation/difficulties in your daily life or relationship. Alternatively, it suggests that a part of yourself is not be fully expressed.


Escape
To dream that you escape from jail or some place of confinement, signifies your need to escape from a restrictive situation or attitude. On the other hand, it may mean that you are taking an escapist attitude and are refusing to face up to problems that are not going away.

To dream that you escape from injury, from an animal, or from any situation, signifies your good health and prosperity. You will experience a favorable turn of events.


If you've read this far, you are either really bored or really bored.

Anyway, some or all of the above could be true. Or, more likely, I am frustrated that I cannot successfully potty train child number 4. I have learned in this process, however, that to make this potty training thing a control issue is NOT a good idea. Punishment only causes the child to retain the poop more. We don't want that! We want the poop to come out. We don't really care where it comes out at this point - as long as it comes out more frequently than just on Saturdays.

Okay, I'm making this situation sound worse than it is. It isn't all that bad, really. Slowly we are making progress. She isn't afraid to poop, and that's a relief.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A sale that keeps on giving

A few months ago, we received - and had to wear - t-shirts from Poetroad's job here that read (something to the effect) "Together as One" in bold blue letters across the front of the shirt. The design slightly resembled one of those popular 80s tees that said "FRANKIE SAYS RELAX." Those were cool shirts in the 80s.

I sold our shirts at the garage sale for a dollar each to a nice fellow that looked like he was a hard worker - possibly he works in construction or for a lawn care service. Great price for t-shirts that were only worn once.

One day, he will, perhaps, be mowing a lawn or doing some other odd job for a member of our former congregation. Maybe he will be cleaning out a garage (did you know you can hire someone to do that for 50 dollars an hour around here? I tried to get Poetroad to mention that I could clean garages, but he didn't want me cleaning out a garage for someone that went to our church...). Or maybe he will be one of the guys hired to drive the church shuttle on Sunday morning. Shuttle driving is not volunteer work here. They pay guys to do that.

I hope he will be wearing his "Together as One" t-shirt on that day. Oh, what I would give to see that.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Remind me never to do that again.

Friends don't let friends have garage sales.

I am completely exhausted because I had a garage sale on Saturday from 8-2. It took me all week to get ready for said sale, and by getting ready I mean to say I sorted through my junk. That was the most exhausting part of the process! And embarrassing - mostly because my older, wiser friend and neighbor Liz came over on Friday to help me sort through the junk in my garage.

Yikes. No one needed full disclosure of what kind of nonsense I neglect to throw away, but here is a partial disclosure: old magazines, junk mail, broken stuff, boxes full of stuff that I never unpacked from the last move.

Regardless of the humiliation, I must say that it was much easier to purge the garage with a friend. When Liz came across something that needed to be tossed, she didn't even need to say anything. She only needed to give me the *what in the heck are you keeping this for???* look.

I'll miss Liz!

Let me also mention that if you plan to have a garage sale, just use Cr@ig's List. By advertising on that site alone, I had more attendees than I have ever had at a garage sale before - and I know many of these people had to drive 30 or more minutes to get here.

So I'll spare you the dirty - but amusing - details. Know that I only slept four hours the night before, and know that if you mix an Armenian woman that bargains aggressively with a bargaining savvy Hispanic crowd, fun stuff happens. I bow in honor of their cultural intuitive abilities to wager a deal.

The best part of all of this is that I got rid of much stuff. And I've lost my ability to attach sentimental value to things. Almost.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Waiting

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to get a flat tire. In the parking lot at my daughter's school. The middle school. I never liked going to middle school the first time around 25 years ago. I like it even less when I have to sit in a parking lot for an hour with my three year old waiting for a guy to come and help me change the flat tire. Actually, there wasn't any helping involved. He changed the tire all by himself. And, I was parked next to one of the few shade trees in the lot. That was nice.

In theory, I could have changed that tire all by myself, but towing around a three year old complicates things a bit. Those three year olds know little to nothing about personal space, and the tire changing scenario is no place to teach that lesson. Plus, we have a Triple A membership. Thought I should cash in on that.

So after I rearranged the original dental appointments, the 3 year old and I waited at the tire place for the unfixable tire to be replaced (my decision, not theirs). The tread was really worn, and we are planning to drive to California in a few weeks. I thought I might as well take care of that and get the necessary alignment so that the right front tire doesn't wear down to the nubbins again. For an hour and a half, we kept the other "waiters" and the tire guys pleasantly amused by performing a improvisational dance routine choreographed by the three year old.

Those tires were slapped on just in time for me to dash over to the middle school one more time (carefully avoiding the parking place where we picked up two nails in the tire the first time around), retrieve the 12 year old, and dash over to the dental office. Only to wait again. This time, we waited 30 minutes. And then the three year old and I waited another hour on top of that. Luckily, we sneaked over to Wendy's for part of that time as I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, and her daily food intake since breakfast consisted of 3 lollipops.

Today, the 10 year old had her turn at the dentist's office. More waiting. This time we were in that office 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. Don't ask. It's too complicated and boring to tell the story behind that one.

The amazing part of all of this waiting is that the three year old didn't melt down once. Not once. Even though she was tired and hungry and thirsty the whole time. We spent over six hours sitting around waiting for stuff to happen over the last two days. I am lucky if I get six hours of sleep a night.

And now we are patiently waiting for the end of May to come so that we can be reunited with Poetroad. I hope I don't throw a tantrum between now and then. Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Silver Lining

To be fair, the last few weeks were not a total bust. Two weekends ago, we drove to Houston to visit CJ. We spent one day at the NASA Space Center. Poetroad was in heaven. Here he is posing with the astronauts:



Here is the actual control room used for all of the earliest launches - including the infamous Apollo 13:



And, Hannah and I went for another mountain biking adventure. This time we traversed the trail at Muleshoe Bend Park. Let me tell you, this ride was definitely more enjoyable than our trek at Reimer's Ranch. We still had to navigate some steep inclines and rocky terrain, but neither of us were near the "puking tired" exhaustion that we were on our last little biking adventure. Here we are biking. We took a short rest next to Lake Travis. Notice the trees growing out of the water in the final picture.





Poetroad also got to visit the Mecca of left-handed guitar players while in Houston: Southpaw Guitars. It was a surreal day for him to say the least. Good times!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Another Meme - consider yourself tagged

Besides spending my day trying to rid the house of burnt potato smell (darn microwave never worked right in this house!), cleaning house, taking kids to this that and the other place, fetching forgotten projects and taking those to school too, calling and receiving calls from the dentist and the coach and the school, and sorting through and packing crap so that I can move in a month...there isn't really much to do around here. lol

Anyhow, it's much more fun to blog and ignore my duties for a few more minutes at least.

Sooooo, with that in mind...if *I* can take a second to play, you can too. Here is a meme from Aerin's blog In Search of Giants. Play along if you want.

Side note: some of y'all, friends, really need to create a public blog so you can play along too!

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences, uhm, sentences six, seven and eight.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the blogger who tagged you.

My nearest book is totally boring. It is Write Source 2000 - not even the latest version, I am sure!

Here is the text:

Also, try writing about your work to sort out your thoughts and feelings about it. See what your classmates and teacher think of your writing. And make sure to consult your handbook for advice and writing models.


There you have it. Now it is your turn.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm officially old: The Hollister Experience

Being the sensitive mother I am to the plight of her tween, I finally succumbed to her incessant begging and ventured into Hollister to see if there might be something I could nab off of the clearance shelf. I remember what it was like in the sixth grade to be one of the only girls in school who did not own a pair of the coveted Sticky Fingers or San Fransisco jeans.

For all of you oldies (specifically, anyone who is over thirty or acts over thirty) - and for those who do not have a teen or tween in the house, Hollister is a brand of clothing. While Hollister caters to the preppies ("Dudes" and "Bettys"), it's the rich surfer look that defines the Hollister style. But instead of branding their products with a cute little alligator, a majestic eagle, or a pony riding polo player, their clothing is emblazoned with a seagull. I hate seagulls - more like sea rats. As any land lubber knows, seagulls - beyond being annoying - are also the poster animal of the garbage dump.

I digress...

As you've probably guessed, I'm not all that "into" branding or brand names, although I do appreciate that some brands signify "quality" and "attention to detail" over other brands. Still, is it necessary to charge $39.00 for a skimpy thin cotton tee that probably cost $1.95 to make? Not to mention the fact that somewhere in Peru or Vietnam is a sweatshop where the calloused yet nimble fingers of eight year olds work tirelessly to create said product?

I digress again...

Still, to know Hollister is to visit the store, which an oldie like you or me might have trouble finding at first considering that the store entrance is made to look like an old surf shack, and the store name is hidden somewhere beneath the fake palm branch jutting out of the fake weathered pier stump.

Once you enter the store, you'll notice that the music is really loud. No. REALLY loud. REALLY, REALLY loud. "I can't hear my own thoughts" loud. And this is coming from someone who is a rocker at heart and likes to listen to loud music...

Next you'll notice that the store is really smelly. Overpoweringly smelly. The kind of smell you would expect to be overwhelmed with at a martini bar frequented by single 40 something men drenched in Polo cologne. In fact, if you have chemical sensitivity, then stay away from this store (and the martini bar at happy hour on Thursday nights).

And, you'll notice that it is very dark in there. Only a few display tables and shelves are lucky enough to be illuminated by the canned lighting.

My Hollister visit was nothing less than memorable. I found the store, covered my ears, ignored the smell, and was able to feel my way to the back room where clearance items always are in any store. Quickly, I grabbed two shirts, pushed past the dense fake palm branches, and made my way to the checkout counter. At the counter, the sales boy mumbled something - well, his lips were moving, and I keenly deduced that he was actually speaking. Nevertheless, I could not hear over the din, so I smiled and nodded. He said something else (at least I think he did as his lips were again moving), left for a few seconds, and returned with another shirt just like the one I chose. I guessed that there was some problem with the tag of shirt number one, and nodded as I thought I heard him say "same size."

After I made my purchase, I returned home only to discover that he gave me the same size in the WRONG shirt. Both were yellow tank tops, but the patterns and styles were totally different. Which meant I would have to return to the store AGAIN. Mistake or marketing ploy? Hmmmm...

My second visit to Hollister was pretty much identical to the first, but this time I brought three of the four daughters. I let the two younger kids run amok. The sales girls seemed unaffected by our disruptive presence as they were too busy spraying the shirts with cologne.

To be fair, the sales girls and boys were very sweet. Mostly, they tried to hide their surprise at our aberration from normal shopping trends. Not one shouted,"Go back to Old Navy where you belong!" I made my exchange, we felt our way to the exit, and smiled and nodded at the sales girls at the entrance/exit as their silent moving lips indicated a "good-bye, shop here again" farewell.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Beginning of The End



It's really happening. We are moving to California. Today, Poetroad began the journey to Sacramento. His new job begins next Monday.

I have to be honest. Leaving Austin is like breaking up with a lover who is no good for you. You know you *have* to leave, but every fiber in your being wants to stay. Poetroad and I have never been so attached to a place. It's a very strange feeling. I know Poetroad's heart aches. There are a lot of people here who are artists like us. You know - weirdos. We fit in here well.

That being said, Austin is just a city. Life will go on. Sacramento awaits, and there are memories to be made there.

So on our last night here, we went out to eat at a place that could be called "Austin Authentic" - The County Line: Home of the Big Rib. Notice the statue of the two headed calf on top of the building.



Here is Poetroad eating a big rib. Mmmmm! Tasty!



Definitely eat at The County Line if you are ever in Austin. Beware of one tiny detail, though: if you are looking for healthy options on the menu, this is not the restaurant for you. Vegetable dishes include potatoes (mashed or fried), baked beans, coleslaw or salad. They do not serve fruit. Make sure you order a plate of homemade bread for your appetizer - it's delicious. For the main course, I recommend the brisket or the ribs.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On Time

Being "on time" is overrated. Most of us got the finger-wagging-stern-reprimand as children to be "on time" *or else*. Or else you won't ever be hired...you won't keep a job...you won't have any friends...you won't succeed in life...yadda, yadda, yadda.

I've been to the dentist more times this past month than I have in five years. Not once has my dentist been "on time" to my appointment. Once she called and said, "We are running behind, so don't come in for another half hour." When I got there, I still had to wait in the waiting room another half hour. But this isn't new to any of you. How many hours, do you suppose, you've wasted in the waiting room at the doctor's or dentist's office? Are they all a bunch of losers because they are constantly late? If so, I want to be a loser like that.

JG was only late once this week, by the way. So as long as she wants to be a doctor or a dentist, she will do just fine in life. Or she could be an artist. Everyone expects artists to be in their own little world anyway.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Six random things about me

I was tagged yesterday by Poet Peter . Now the fact that I am joining in on this meme is fairly significant. Mostly because I am a lurker. There. I said it. And agreeing to play will force me to "out" myself. Ah, well. It's about time, I suppose. Anyway...

The rules:
a. Link to the person who tagged you.
b. Post the rules on your blog.
c. Write six random things about yourself.
d. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
e. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blog.
f. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.


Wow. At first I endeavored to share information that would be new to my readers. And then I realized that there really isn’t much that I don’t talk about here. Have I no standards?! Some of this will be old news. Really old news. Quite possibly, there won’t be anything new to read about me. Anyway, here are six facts the interest *me* about myself.

1. I like to eat peas.

2. I am a recovering emetophobe.

3. We found a gecko in a Barbie car in our house the other day. It was trying to make a quick getaway, I suppose. The cat likes to bring geckos in and “play” with them. I’m going to miss living in Austin!

4. Soccer is my favorite sport. Also, I like to run even though I can’t break an 8 minute 30 second mile. When I whine about that fact, Poetroad says, “Honey, I love you, but you aren’t built to be a distance runner.” Nevertheless, I still like to run long distances in this 5’3” 135lb frame.

5. I never learned to diagram a sentence. I prefer descriptive grammar over prescriptive grammar anyway! (I know - what a cop-out).

6. This week, I quit what I lovingly call my “un-job.” I was hired at a competitive rate to do some contract editing work for a company where their engineers survey properties, pieces of land, and such, assess the environmental impact certain activities have on the surrounding community, and then write reports about their findings. I’ve worked for them since November 2007, and to date, I haven’t edited even the tiniest e-mail or report.

Now, the people I'll be tagging...

Collette
Maully
Todd
Maren's Daddy

Monday, April 21, 2008

Score...scores...rose

Core...

About a week ago - the day I stayed (sty...dye...aye...sad...tad...date...dates...) up until three A.M. to edit Poetroad's paper - Drason challenged me to play a little game against him on Facebook. It's a word game akin to "Boggle." Needless to say, I lost that little game. I was trounced. Spanked (pane...panes...dank...span...pan...pans...end...). And being the competitive person that I am...and not wanting to be a total loser (lose...rose...role...roles...sore...lore...), I thought of a way to beef up my boggle-and-the-like-word-game skills (kill...sill...skill...). Over the past week, I've been playing these silly word games every chance I get. But after a week of doing this, something has happened to my brain (ban...rain...ran...bran). Now I am constantly thinking of words that can be made from other words. And making rhymes. Times. Mites. Site. This bites.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Always behind the 8 ball

It is April 15, and normally I would be frantically picking up tax docs from the tax prep people and then rushing over to the post office to stand (and stand) in line in order to ensure that my taxes were in fact delivered on time. This year, I filed my taxes online. And, in case you didn't notice, I said "I." Yes, people. Watch out for flash floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and the like today. Hell must have frozen over. Mrs. "numerically challenged" did the family taxes this year. And she did them by herself. And she did them a week early.

Of course this day (and the intervening week) couldn't be filled with peace. No time to revel in my euphoria. Poetroad has a 20 page paper due today. You remember what happened when his last paper was due in March, don't you? We didn't sleep the preceding week, and we worked on that paper up until the very last second before the stroke of midnight - right before he had to click "send" to ensure the the paper would be submitted on time. Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit, but mostly I'm accurately describing the scene. And when I say "we," I mean to say that I edited the paper (You know how harsh I can be in my editing, right friends? Sometimes it sucks to be married to or friends with an English teacher.) and formatted the bibliography page. Which would be easy if Poetroad would stick to the minimum number of resources required for this research paper (six). But of course he used no less than four times that. I'm not kidding. You thought I was the only obsessive compulsive person in this family?

Anywho... back to work for me...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Absolutely not!"

was my reply when the 12 year asked me if I could help her cook up some food for her history class the next day. It was 5:00. I was tired. The "I could hardly keep my eyes open" kind of tired. Also, I was on my way out the door to take the 10 year old to dance class. I still needed to make dinner for my own family that evening. When would I have a chance to rush over to the grocery store in order to buy the necessary supplies for this little "dish" for history class?!!! I needed to get more information.

"What exactly did your teacher say? When did he ask you to do this?"

"Well, when I was on my way out to the bus, he saw me and said, "Hey, you know how we were talking about bringing a dish to class? Why don't you do that for tomorrow?""

"Oh, so is this for a grade?"

"No."

"Well, he can't do that. He can't say, "Bring this dish" and then expect me to drop everything so that I can help you get it done."

"I know. No one likes him."

"Well, you can just tell him at school tomorrow that it is rediculous of him to make that kind of request."

"Ma, you won't have to do a thing. I promise."

"Right. I've heard that before. What were you thinking that you wanted to make?"

"My group was studying China, so I was thinking I could make stir fry."

"Stir fry for 25 people? Are you kidding me? No way. How exactly were you going to keep that from spoiling? Your history class is at the end of the day. When have you made stir fry before?"

"Stir fry is easy to make."

"Honey, I have to get going. I'm sorry, but I need to have more notice than this. You'll just have to tell your teacher that we couldn't make it happen. I have to put my foot down on this one. My answer is definitely NO."

Um....so it only took us a few hours to make pot stickers that night. One for every kid. The 12 year old now knows how to blanch cabbage and make dough. We packed the pot stickers (and dipping sauce) into a little cooler so that the "dish" would still be edible at the end of the day.

Everyone loved them.

Shut up.

The rest of the girls got in on the cooking action the next day. We had to do something with the leftover filling, didn't we?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Speaking of shortness

"you look much taller in your photo"

Anthony - you are hilarious! Your comment reminds me of a little inside joke Poetroad and I have.

Neither of us are particularly tall (I am 5'3" and Poetroad is 5'7"). More than a few times, when Poetroad and I have watched a movie or TV show with my dad, my dad has said something such as, "You know that John Wayne is kind of short in real life? He's only like 6'1"." Or "Tom Cruise is tiny. He's only 5'7"."

Of course we've taken that to a whole new level. "You know that John Wayne is tiny in real life? He's only like 4'11". Yeah, it was hard work surrounding him with all of those short actors. Did you know that Robert Duvall is really a dwarf?"

To be fair...

Tall vs Short

Some of my best friends are tall people...

[Ouch. When she starts out with a line like that, you know it's going to be a scathing diatribe railing against the "tall."]


For the record, I measure up to a mere 5 feet 3 inches tall. That's right - I've gained an entire inch since the eighth grade. Surprisingly enough, I was born to a family of unusually tall people; for example, I have an uncle that is 6'8", a brother that is 6'5"+, another brother that is 6'3" (AND a nephew that is that tall - he is only in the eighth grade), a father that is 6'1" and a mom that is 5'7". She is the shortest of the lot - until I was born, that is. Whatever. I'm not bitter about it or anything...

Anyway, since I'm practically dwarf-hight, it wouldn't surprise you if I observed that America caters to the "tall." At the grocery store in order to get the deli guy's attention, sometimes I have to make a scene because I can only see over the deli counter if I am on my tip toes. In addition, potentially, if I am in an automobile accident, I am in more danger of being injured; heck - a tall person could walk away from a minor accident, and my neck could be broken as a result of the deployed air bag. Also, I have to climb onto and stand on the counter in order to reach the top shelf in my kitchen cabinets. These are typical obstacles I face on a daily basis.

Don't even venture to say that you tall people have tried to accommodate us. Sure, we have our own clothing line fashionably referred to as "petite." The tall have "big and tall" wear too.

But what really chaps my hide is how the tall seem to think that they are "entitled" to certain liberties. Such as standing in the front row at her child's choir concert at the "standing room only" performance. At least be considerate and duck down so that we shorties can also see.

Funny thing about that - even if I arrive early, those tallies always seem to be there fifteen minutes before me. Always standing, too. Geeze - even when I am standing in the front row, I have the decency to scrunch down so that the shorter ones - such as the random 4th or 5th grader - can see. In any event, at every choir or band or dance recital there is a random head or shoulder in the foreground of the picture. Oh, I hold that camera as high as I can - I don't even look in the viewfinder anymore, but the camera lens still won't reach over the shoulder of the guy standing in front of me.

Whatever. My daughter was busy picking her nose at this morning's performance anyway.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I should say something.

I know I should. Really, I want to say something. Worth reading. So when I am not so darn tired, I will write about...something. Such as the exploits in coaching soccer for my oldest daughter's team. Or the fact that I just found out that one of her teammates is the daughter of this guy (I should have had a clue when we practiced soccer one afternoon at their house...on their baseball field - the baseball field they made on one of the lots they own adjacent to their house).

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I ate leftover spicy crab rolls for lunch,

and decided to garnish each with a generous squirt of wasabi. I didn't realize, however, (until much later) that the entire packet of wasabi was meant to be doled out sparingly over all of the rolls in the tray and not slathered on just the two rolls I ate.

In other news, my sinuses are well drained right now.

When it rains here, it pours.

On the heels of a not so fun infection I am battling (can I just say that I was completely out of sorts yesterday - spelling my name wrong, taking two naps, and acting completely cranky), I went to the dentist today for "Root Canal Part Dux."

Going to the dentist wasn't a party, but it wasn't painful either. Mostly, being there was annoying only because it takes so much TIME to do these root canal things. Time that I'd rather be spending doing fun stuff like reading or writing or cleaning up dog poo.

Anyhow, the deed is done. Hopefully my tooth will behave and stop hurting. Soon enough, I'll get the crown put on and be done with the dentist for awhile. At least my dentist is cute and entertaining (and we are about the same age, which equals "shared experiences"). While she was working on my tooth this time, she talked about cleaning the clutter from her mother's house. (Anyone remember the seven can openers I cleaned out of my mom's kitchen last summer?) In particular, she got rid of her mom's kitchen "rainbow" collection. My dentist said, "I asked my mom if she was trying to make some kind of gay statement with all of these rainbows - not that there is anything wrong with being a lesbian or anything - or if she just liked to decorate with "ugly.""

Of course I laughed hard at that.

I think I'll take a nap now.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Birthday Hangover?

No, I wasn't out drinking all weekend. Poetroad did take me to U2 3D at the local IMAX on Friday night. Phenomenal! Really - I felt like I could reach out and touch Bono (And Larry Mullen Jr. - oh you know how I feel about him; do you realize that I've had a crush on him for almost 25 years now?!).

OK, I'm back. Had to take a few minutes to stare at Larry pictures.

Anyway, we know a guy who saw U2 3D twice, and he really isn't a U2 fan. Crazy, eh? The concert experience is just that cool!

On Saturday (the actual birthday), the kiddos made and served me breakfast in bed. They made my favorite: strawberry waffles. That evening, Stef and Katherine took me out to dinner and a movie (I finally saw 27 Dresses. I think the character in the movie owned the dress that I made my poor bridesmaids wear at my wedding...only I knew they would never wear it again, and that is why I didn't make them pay for it...and the irony is that Ch@ndy let a gal choose one of her dresses so that this girl could be finely dressed for the prom...and the girl chose to wear the bridesmaid dress from my wedding, lol).

On Sunday, the kiddos and Poetroad made a fine feast for dinner, and then we glutted ourselves on lemon bars and brownie bites for dessert.

And the frivolity just kept going and going and going, I tell you! So much so that I ended up needing antibiotics today (no joke). But I'm feeling much better now.

All I have left to say is, "Hello, 38. I didn't want to be you, but you dragged me there feet-first-kicking-and-screaming nevertheless."

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go slather some lard on my neck wrinkles.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

You know what I ate for lunch just now

They are round and green and rhyme with "bees."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dreams

A week ago to the day, I read an article in my local newspaper about a visit to the local university by "distinguished" speaker, Richard Dawkins, a scientist and author. Dawkins, an atheist, wrote the book The God Delusion in which he "asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society."

Honestly, I am not threatened by atheism or Dawkins's suggestion that belief in God is irrational. The truth of the matter is, in part, that belief in something intangible requires faith, and faith is, essentially, belief not based on factual proof. Although many can make - and have made - sound arguments for logical proof that God does exist, the fact of the matter is that even at the core of scientific theory itself there is a faith element. A theory, after all, is a person's best "speculation" of what is factual.

What disturbs me about Dawkins's assertion is the implications his thought process has on art and literature. I applaud science and all that has been done in the field, including biology, to expand the collective intelligence of the people. However, science is not the end all be all authority on judging the worth or value of all that exists - tangible and intangible. Neither does science have the final word on all that exists.

Take love, for example. I suppose one could scientifically explain the chemical reaction in a human body - or in any animal - regarding the phenomenon of physical attraction. But science cannot successfully predict physical attraction. If that were the case, then matchmaking web programs such as e-harmony and the like would work for everyone. Most likely, we all know people for which a scientifically made match has not worked. On the other end of the spectrum, there are probably cousins in Kentucky who are at this very moment consummating their love. "Cousin love" seems to go against "nature" and works against natural selection (although one could easily argue the converse - cousin love is natural selection in its finest moment).

My point is this: although I applaud the scientific movement, there is danger in attempting to reduce all phenomena into tiny pieces for scientific examination. The scientific method works to explain the tangible, but it is not the best method to explain what is intangible. And plenty of intangible is out there that I, for one, don't want subjected to the scientific method. A poem can be dissected into stanzas, lines, rhymes, rhythm, feet, syllables, morphemes, phonemes - but all of those elements must come together to construct meaning - meaning that says something about a time, a place, a society and can simultaneously speak to an individual in various ways to various degrees. Or meaning might be elusive and inaccessible to the everyone but the creator. Nevertheless, that doesn't make the creation less valid or worthy of being created. I find intense meaning in a poem written by e.e. cummings while others might only see nonsense when they read one of his poems. The scientific method fails to construct meaning in this respect, and neither do I crave the dissection of love, beauty, or art in order to find meaning. But this argument isn't new. It's simply Pater vs. Arnold revisited.

Nevertheless, the implications of such a movement, to scientize all that is seen and unseen (or to eliminate all that cannot be scientifically deduced), didn't work at the turn of the 20th century, and there is nothing new in the movement that suggests extreme scientization will work now. What kind of art - or happiness - was birthed out of Communism, a society that successfully eradicated God and all meaning that was not connected with purpose for the betterment of the people? I would argue that art created under the thumb of Communism was a reaction to being "under the thumb" rather than in celebration of the philosophy.

Do not throw out the scientific method and logic; do not throw out the possibility of God or create a formula for "good art" either.

These are my ruminations cultivated by Dawkins's dogma. I thought about all that I've poorly articulated here as I fell asleep that night. Then I had a dream.

In my dream, I was a little fish that befriended a big shark. We were standing on a beach discussing my friend's dilemma: the shark was on some type of quest - a life or death quest - and there were other sharks that wanted to destroy him. It was decided that we needed to swim somewhere regardless of the inherent danger. Together, we dove into a protected cove and made our way to the ocean. As we swam through the water, I was on the lookout for sharks that might want to attack my noticeably frightened friend.

What do you think that means?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Birthday Month Update

Birthday month is really exceeding my expectations.

I spent 10 days in Oregon. (Thank you Ch@ndy for being such a lovely hostess for the few days I was able to visit with you. The "birthday" homemade Mexican feast was delicious!) The flight to and from Oregon was practically uneventful (my favorite kind of travel = uneventful). Although there was that one flight where Poetroad inadvertently had to entertain/watch over someone else's 8 year old boy...that would not stop talking...the entire 3 hour flight...and who almost barfed but ended up hyper-ventilating into the barf bag instead... And we did have the unexpected pleasure of changing planes - and concourses - in San Jose. If you've flown through San Jose, you know what I'm talking about here. Deplane, run 1/2 mile or so to the bus, travel to the next concourse, go through security again with your four children in tow all the while - do that in a little less than an hour. The excitement never ends with this family!



Then, last weekend, CJ and family drove over from Houston and stayed the night with us. The next morning, we took a hike through the nature preserve that is about a block from our house. I tainted her oldest child by allowing my children to go wading in the creek with their shoes and clothes on. All of our children jumped off of rocks, fell into the water, played in a little waterfall, and got muddy. I thought my friend and her husband would die from anxiety. It was good for them. Every kid needs to play with abandon every once in a while. Can you believe I am saying this? Thankfully, I have friends who have already taught me that precious life lesson.

Also, I got the final official report this week: I passed both tests that I took for Texas Teacher Certification. Just in time for me to move to California! Not bad considering that I only studied for the tests during the two days preceding the test date. To be fair, the tests covered situations and knowledge with which any seasoned teacher would be familiar.

[Side note: I realize that I never told you all about that whole experience. It is worth mentioning that test takers had five hours to finish each test. The multiple choice section of the test took me approximately 90 minutes to answer all 90 questions - this was true for both tests. That's right - I zipped through the tests because I kept thinking, "Hey, I'm moving to another state anyway," coupled with the assurance, "I can miss at least up to 20 questions and still pass the test!" So if I happened upon a test question that I didn't know the answer to, I guessed the answer and tried to keep track of how many questions fell under the "I can miss up to 20 questions" clause. What killed me - time wise - was the essay portion for the English test. Writing the essay was not difficult, but it was definitely time consuming. It took me 3 1/2 hours to write one essay, and not because what they asked us to do was difficult but because I am anal about writing. Basically, given two passages from two different novels - one written at the beginning of the 20th century and one written around 1960 - the test taker was expected to identify, compare, and contrast, and note how literary devices were used in each passage to develop the theme of the work. Of course I couldn't do just that. You know I couldn't! After brainstorming and outlining for an hour, I proceeded to write a 6 page feminist critique(a complete essay with a fully developed introduction, body, and conclusion) of the two passages. My thesis went something like this: "Both the passage from "X novel" and "Y novel" explore perception versus reality in an effort to speak to the disillusionment with expected social-norms for women in a given society." Or something such as that... Anyway, I noted that other people only wrote about a page and a half - and spent about an hour writing that darned essay. But not me. Overkill - my fatal flaw. I sincerely thought it would be my undoing, too. People have to read these stupid essays. And grade them. Who wants to waste 10 minutes of their life reading a stupid feminist critique when all I needed to do was note how literary devices were used to develop the theme of each passage? There was a strong possibility that I could have received a "no grade" and "off topic" note in the comment box, I thought. Mercy me, I earned a "4" out of "4" on that essay. The guy who took an hour to write a page and a half probably did too. Ah well, I passed! I passed!]

Speaking of tests, I took a class and aced another test this month. Okay, it wasn't actually a class to earn credits as much as it was a way to save 200 dollars. Remember that speeding ticket I got last fall? Last Friday, I successfully completed 6 hours of defensive driving training. Today, I'll drive around town gathering and turning in the necessary documents so that I can get that ticket expunged from my record. Yay!

Finally, I got a call yesterday from a friend I haven't talked with for more than a decade. This friend lives across town. Now that I'm leaving, she found a reason to call. Actually, she was calling to get Ch@ndy's phone number. Hey, at least she called! Life is funny that way.

Today is Tuesday, and birthday month is quickly coming to an end. This month has already been so full! I wonder what the rest of the month has in store?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Where did that week go?

Well, here is the dish - bullet points for efficiency as I am working on dial-up here in Oregon:

*Last weekend, Poetroad and I were in Sacramento checking out a job offer.

*Returned on Monday.

*Took my mom to the airport on Tuesday.

*Did things and stuff from Tuesday through Saturday.

*Poetroad, family, and I decided that it would be best for us to move to Sacramento. Poetroad accepted the job on Saturday night. (Yay, pjd and Maria! We will be there in June.)

*Spent all of Monday flying to Oregon. Visiting friends and family here, and so far it has been a fairly relaxing visit.

*P.S. I haven't heard anything from FLVS, but perhaps that is best. It should not be too difficult to find some type of teaching job in California.

*P.P.S. March is officially "Birthday Month" - hence the profile pic of me on birthday number 6. I figure that I should get to celebrate as many days of the month as I am old; I took over the entire month long ago. Soon enough, I'll suggest that I'll need to commandeer part of February and April to accommodate my age.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I am out of town...

but I'll chat with you all on Tuesday! :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Her name...

...by the way - and I'm not making this up - is J.C. It didn't occur to me the irony of the moniker until late last night.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Coincidence?

I didn't plan to take my three year old out to lunch today. I didn't plan to go out today at all. Had my 12 year old not forgot her library books at home, I would have stayed home. And being out and about gave me a chance to take our old car battery to the car parts store. Had I not done that, I wouldn't have had 12 dollars in cash so that I could say "yes" when my three year old asked if we could go get something to eat.

Because of this series of coincidental events, I was one table away when she dropped her full cup of ice tea she was trying to balance on her tray as she placed her three year old son into the chair beside her. Unlike a paper cup would under such circumstances, the styrofoam cup split from top to bottom. I could see her wither inside when it happened. I hopped out of my seat picked up the cup and what ice I could, and then walked over to grab a pile of napkins so that I could help mop up the mess.

When I came back, I saw that she had thrown her single napkin on the tea. It was swimming in the puddle. I threw my pile of napkins on the puddle too, and she said, "Oh you don't have to do this, but thank you."

"Don't worry - it's not a problem at all. I've spilled lots of stuff in my time."

"Really?" she said in a tone pregnant with relief. "I knew it was going to happen. It's been one of those days."

"Yeah, I know how that is."

We mopped up the puddle together. "Why don't you ask for another drink? This kind of thing probably happens all the time. I've done as much before. Most places are happy to comply. It's just a drink, after all," I suggested.

"Oh, I would even pay for it again if I had to. Do you think I should tell someone so they could mop this up?"

"That would probably be a good idea."

I stood with her son and helped him unwrap his straw and put it in his drink.

When she returned, I went back to my table and finished eating lunch with my daughter. She and her son only spent minutes at her table; most of that time she spent receiving cell phone calls from various people. She and her son went into the play area, and she paced back and forth as she continued a serious phone conversation.

Eventually, my daughter and I gathered our things and went into the play area too. I stood off to the side and played with my daughter in order to give the woman privacy. We entertained her son too. I tried not to eavesdrop, but I couldn't help overhear bits and pieces of her conversation with school officials regarding her children and the soon to be ex-husband.

After she wrapped up her conversation, she came over to where we were playing - her son, my daughter, and I - and said, "You must think I'm a crazy person. I'm sorry you had to hear all of that."

"Don't worry about it. Somtimes life is rough."

"Well life has been pretty rough for me lately."

"I've learned not to judge. We've all been there."

"Me too. Unfortunately, I had to learn that the hard way."

We chit-chatted a little more. I introduced myself. We talked about her three boys and my four girls, their ages, etc.

When she left, she looked into my eyes and said, "Thank you for helping me today. I really appreciated that."

"It was really nice meeting you. I'll be praying for you."

"Oh, thank you. I really need that right now. I really need that. Blessings to you!"

And then she left.

Lately I've been thinking about change. Not about changing myself or my circumstances in particular, but changing my world and the world around me. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with the task. I think, "What can I do about poverty and sickness and pain? I have a hard enough time just making it through the day some days. I am only one person." When I ventured to articulate my frustration to an older, wiser friend recently, he responded with this: "You change the world one person at a time."

One person at a time.

You need to know I don't count myself as a saint - I'm far from that. More and more, however, I'm convinced that we are put into situations where we can offer hope or grace (and one not need aspire to any particular faith or believe in God to do that). But if I believe that God is in the business of transforming his kingdom in the here and now, then it's my job to open my eyes and make the most of opportunity when opportunities arise. My main obstacle in carrying out this quest is me - I'm afraid. Sometimes I'm apathetic. Sometimes I'm pathetic.

How will change happen if it doesn't start with me? I think I'm finally beginning to understand this truth. You just never know how much a person might have needed to see a smile or have someone listen sympathetically. Even if it is only a split cup of tea that needs to be cleaned up in a restaurant, I can take a moment to extend grace to that one person in that one moment. You can too.

Responding. This is living out the gospel.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Speaking of Poop...

My three-and-a-half year old is not on *my* potty training time line. That frustrated me at first, but I know that to shame her or make her feel bad about her decision *not* to poop in the toilet will only cause more problems. I know it's a contol issue with her. I understand control issues. So I've backed off a bit.

Still, we seem to have this ongoing conversation about poop.

This morning, when I noticed that familiar look of surprise on her face, I encouraged her to finish on the toilet. And once she sat down on the toilet, she did nothing...

...except say, "Mom, I already did a big one last night."

"I know. I had to clean it up."

"It was gorgeous ."

"Gorgeous?"

"Yes. Big and gooooooorgeous ."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday

"All my troubles seemed so far away..."

Actually, on Saturday I spent most of the day testing (7 hours? - it could have been more). As in "fill in the bubble and write this essay" type of testing. Look out, Texas. They just might license me to teach here too.

It could have been worse...I could have been getting a root canal.

Wait a minute...

In hindsight, last week wasn't a very good week for me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Preoccupied

I'm supposed to be studying for a test (so that I can be certified to teach in Texas), but instead I was preoccupied with writing this piece of prose for a writing contest at Jason Evan's blog "The Clarity of Night" . Thanks, PJD for getting me hooked. Enjoy your Friday!

"Metamorphosis"

In obscurity, Aveline peered out her bedroom window. One quarter of an inch she raised the slat on the blind. That was enough. At first, only the paint chipped away from the slat. Now, a half-moon shaped itself on the spot where her thumb and forefinger rested nearly a thousand times a day. On that spot, the worn wood felt like the smoothness of stones that tumbled for a hundred miles or more from the mountains all the way to the creek out back.


When was the last time she gathered stones from that creek? Fifteen years ago?

On stifling August days when her hair and shirt melted into her skin, they used to roll up their trousers and wade in the creek hand-in-hand, all the while collecting flat, smooth stones until their pocket seams threatened to unravel. He wanted to let go and skip stones even though the current greedily tugged at his little legs. “Hold onto my hand, honey, or you’ll be swept away,” she would caution. Undeterred he would squeal, "Didja see that, Mommy!" as another stone skated across the water until it trickled into nothingness.

The solitary tree – a requiem for her son - stood up on the hill. Encircled by the heavens, the tree waited as Aveline outlined it again by sight, tracing every branch, every twig, every bud. Soon the grass beneath the tree would be green again, and pregnant buds would give way to leaf. She knew it, and she felt it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bad poetry pickled in pain

From the start - what a day - completely unfunny.
A fog infused morn took away what was sunny.
Off to the dentist for appointment at ten
To fix my poor tooth that was rotten from within
The crown. Then my dentist, to work, she was late
As her dog retrieved cat doo; that little ingrate!
Full grasped was her hand around the small turd,
When epiphany struck: not a leaf! So absurd!
Full showered again - full scrubbed north to south;
Sanitized completely 'fore she reached in my mouth!
Painlessly I weathered two shots in the jaw
And soon became numb; I felt nothing at all
As she cut, pried and pulled that porcelain away
And uncovered a tooth stump ravished by decay.
"It's down to the nerve," was her serious tone;
Continued, did she, and the drill bit did drone
On and on 'til well passed hour one. This is not good
I thought to myself. Root canal. Ah! I understood.
Half done with uprooting when she finally said,
"There was no other choice as the tooth was half dead."
TV I watched whilst nodding at her commentary
Of entire root removal; it was quite bloody,
I heard, way into hour two. Thank God for the fare
Of cable show wonder, TLC's "What Not To Wear."
Finally, three hours from the start to completion.
Off went I to Target to fill my prescriptions.
Penicillin, Ibuprofen - four times the pow'r,
Off-brand painkiller, too - the pill of the hour.
Then to home I drove fast so my husband could leave
To attend "because you work here" weekend retreat.
Now I'm left with bad rhymes and my jaw it doth hurt.
Does a root canal mean I may eat more dessert?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

By Request

You have to read this account of yet another APP. I assure you, the story is all true. Though it's difficult to choose, I think my favorite line is, “Get up! Do jumping jack. So you stop crying. I can’t work like this.”

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Anti-dentite

I'm not really an "Anti-dentite." Actually, I'm an anti-pain person(APP)- particularly of the kind that involves shots in the mouth and exposed tooth nerves. Because of that, I'm practically obsessive about my teeth. In fact, I'm probably one of the few people in America that flosses nightly not only her own teeth but also her children's teeth. And let me tell you, that is no small task being that I have four little munchkins to supervise during said nightly teeth-brushing-and-flossing ritual.

So it was no surprise to me that I didn't have any tartar build up when I went in for my annual teeth cleaning (even though I haven't been able to get in an annual teeth cleaning for two years). Clean teeth - check. No gum disease - check. "Bizarrely straight teeth for someone who hasn't had braces" - check. No surprise there. What was a surprise is that I have a cavity - through no fault of my own - or so I'd like to think...

Let me take a moment, first off, to blame my parents for not instituting better teeth cleaning habits, for letting me eat candy, and for...whatever else they did that made me cavity prone. Of course neither of my brothers ever had a cavity when we were kids. Perhaps I am a genetic anomaly? Nevertheless, I was their child. Whether it be via nature or nurture, somehow, my parents are to blame, right?

Anyway, one of my molars had work done on it 30 years ago, and eventually that tooth cracked two years ago. Which meant I had to get that tooth capped. To get the tooth fixed, I went to the same dentist I've had since I was eight years old (he probably fixed that darn tooth in the first place). He used to be a young and competent dentist. Of late, his eyeglasses were getting thicker and thicker. So much so that I couldn't bare to look at him directly in the eyes any more...without laughing. And after the usual minimal pain dulling, he capped the tooth (thank God that Lamaze breathing finally came in handy for something).

But the capped tooth looked kind of strange from the start. For one, there was clear tooth cement hanging over my gum, as if he over-estimated the amount of cement needed (or glue...or whatever they use these days) to adhere the fake tooth to the exposed nervy stump of the existing tooth (did I mention he didn't numb me up for that part of the procedure...that he said it would only "hurt a little bit"...didn't I blog about that before?). And two, the gum never came up snuggly around the tooth as it should have. I went in for a check up a few months later and explained my concern. My elderly dentist explained that he couldn't "see" anything wrong with my new cap.

Fast forward two years, a change of dental insurance, and a visit to the new, young, technologically equipped dentist. Although it didn't take all of the fancy x-ray machines to clue her into the fact that there was a problem with this tooth. She could "see" that there was a problem with this tooth. Because of the geriatric dentist's failure to properly seal off the cap, bacteria got under the cap. Now I have a cavity under the cap. That's right. A cavity.

To make a long and boring story shorter, I have to get this tooth fixed (aka re-capped) on Thursday. Oddly enough, the dentist office called to confirm that appointment while I am writing this post.

I'd really like to deck the geriatric dentist, but he retired last month - lucky for him. Hopefully, this new dentist considers the value of pain killers. Lots and lots of pain killers. And, hopefully, she won't be anything like the Russian mobster dentist of Ch@ndy's past. Power to the APP!