Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blood Letting

So. A new year.

I won’t bore you with all my ‘Gonna Be A Better Amy’ New Year’s Resolutions that are the same as everyone else’s. (Weight loss? Check. More patience with the kids? Check. Spend less blah blah blah whatever. Check.)

I am going to mention that I intend to give blood as much as they will let me this year, not because I want you to think I’m really cool but because it’s something that needs to be done and I hope that if someone else sees that I’m giving blood, they’ll give blood too. I’ll spare you the statistics of how many lives are saved by blood donation every year because they’re boring, but rest assured that it’s a ton. Most importantly, many areas of the country are dropping dangerously low in their donated blood and should an emergency occur, things could get hairy and people could die.

So, tomorrow (or likely Saturday, since everyone is going to be closed tomorrow), I intend to go to a blood bank and give ‘em my arm. Years ago, in college, I donated blood every eight weeks and so I expect this to be a walk in the park. It doesn’t hurt—the needle prick they do to test your blood type hurts more than the arm needle—and it’s over relatively quickly. You get juice and cookies and a nifty t-shirt, although I’m not really worried about the shirts—my goal is the coffee mug because, really, if you’re going to tempt me, tempt me with my caffeine addiction.

Good luck to all in their new years and may you all be as happy and healthy as possible.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is Laura Hobbes?

As promised, I found the Calvin photos that made me realize that Bill Watterson is a genius. I freely admit these are not my images—they are scanned from my copy of The Indispensible Calvin and Hobbes, included here in a spirit of hero worship.

How could he have known 17 years ago that I would be giving birth to his creation?






Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Get Outta The House!

Thinking of doing another scavenger hunt with the boy. We’ve been cooped up in the house for days now, only going out a little bit here and there to get some fresh air and sunshine when it was possible.

I did a little yard work Sunday—hauled the nine bags of leaves the yard guys have left at the house around to the back corner where my lasagna garden will be next spring—and then Harrison and I played outside for a bit. We kicked the soccer ball around for a while and then I showed him how to play H-O-R-S-E, the last vestigial trace of any knowledge I got from PE in high school. Harrison’s got a mini-basketball goal and we used the soccer ball as our basketball. He didn’t care—he was excited to be outside, doing something and playing a game. He wasn’t excited about losing any of the rounds—he won two and I won two—but he’s never really excited about losing, so that’s no surprise.

I’m such an inside girl, it never occurs to me that he would want to go outside. When I do think about it, it seems obvious—how stupid that I could overlook such a thing. How could a five-year-old not want to go outside and play?

The only time I’m interested in being outside is in Spring when I’m putting my garden beds together or in fall when the air is crispy. Summer is such agony for me with the heat and the, well, heat. Winter cold doesn’t bother me, but the wet that usually accompanies it—not snow, but just East Texas rain—is miserable. It’s the kind of weather that is best experienced on the couch with a cup of cocoa and a book or perhaps while falling asleep in a warm bed.

So if the weather cooperates tomorrow, I think we’re definitely going to go outside and get some air. It will give him something to do besides pester me to read the latest Magic Tree House book (yeah, I love the books, yeah, I’m excited about reading them with him but good golly! I’m sick of that being all I read!). He might even like it as much as when I let him play on the internet ( is awesome, y’all!).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Amy’s Fun-Time Laundry Game*

I have this race with my clothes dryer every time I pull clean laundry out of it.

We have this bar hanging over the washer and dryer and I’ve gotten in the habit of hanging clothes directly onto it instead of pulling everything into a basket, hauling said basket back to the bedroom and then forgetting it’s there while I find something I would rather be doing than hanging laundry. (Scrubbing tile grout? Changing poopy diapers? Grading papers?)

While I’m hanging clothes, there’s a light on in the dryer. Kind of a courtesy light, I suppose. It helps you see into the depths of the cavernous space that is my dryer. I suppose the Whirlpool people figured that seeing a foot and a half back from the open door without  the assistance of Edison Magic is akin to sticking your hand into a muddy pool of crocodiles. I mean, they might not bite you, but either way, you’ll never see them coming.

The light shines for some amount of time before it clicks off, very unceremoniously. I’m not sure how long before it clicks off. I know there’s enough time for me to walk back to my bedroom and get more hangers, but there’s no way that I will finish hanging the load before it shuts off if I do that. Half of the load, maybe, if I don’t piddle around. I suppose I could set a timer and then open the door, fold and hang some laundry and actually see, but I prefer to keep specific times out of my head. For one thing, my math-tardation pretty much means that I’ll forget the numbers by the time they’re not directly in front of me anymore. Besides, it would mean that I’d have to actually do a load of laundry, dry it and get it hung up. I’m too lazy for that.

Thing is, I don’t want the pressure of actually knowing. If I knew it was exactly seven minutes, then I’d become obsessed, desperately keeping pretend time in my head and dreading the moment that it would click off. If I were to finish early, I’d worry about the slipshod job I had done in trying to get finished so quickly.

So my game is this—I desperately try to hang an entire load of laundry before the light goes off. I long ago eschewed folding underwear and sock as an “after hanging” activity. These articles of clothing go into the basket at the foot of the door. Everything else is hung as quickly as possible, all while trying to keep it separated into household-member-specific bunches. If it’s a big load, I might even forego that nicety and just hang-hang-hang-hang-hang until it’s all up. The one rule is that everything must be out of the dryer before the light turns off.

Sad thing is, I usually don’t win. The dryer will be sitting there, doing nothing and I’ll think I’ve got at least two or three more minutes left and danged if it doesn’t click off.

The sane person—the normal person—would just take this as the way it goes and continue on as if nothing happened. This hypothetical person might not even notice that something had happened. If they did notice it turned off (and they’re worried about the dryer crocs), they’d probably just reach over, tap the button that turns the light back on and continue their business.

I, on the other hand, spend the entire (seven minutes?) time trash talking the machine, telling it that there’s no way it’s going to win this time and basically promising that it is [this] close to being my bee-yotch. When the light goes off, depending on my company, I will either cuss the dastardly thing or just send it a dirty look. (I don’t mind teaching my kids how to be crazy, apparently, as long as they don’t cuss while they’re doing it…)

I have pretty simple forms of entertainment. I don’t get to watch TV or movies very much and when I do, there are either furry characters with hands up their backsides or men in tights and capes. Sometimes robots. Sometimes a combination of the three. I don’t get to read very much, outside of bathroom reading. I just finished Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and was more excited about the fact that I was reading for pleasure!! (and not just on the john!!!) than I was about the book itself. This is not to denigrate the book—I really liked it! But still, the only books I’ve been reading lately have been of the kid lit variety, so it was an accomplishment.

So cussing out the machinery while I try to outwit it is pretty much it for me. In some ways, I’m a little girl again, being defeated by that little clucking twerp in I Took A Lickin’ From A Chicken. I eventually got pretty good at tic-tac-toe, but there was a lot of grumbling at the machine before I did. I suppose if the curve stays true, I’ll eventually beat the dryer at this game.

That’s going to take a lot of laundry washing/drying/hanging, though. Maybe I don’t mind so much that it wins as much as it does…

* Or, It Might Be Time To Up Amy’s Medications.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gonna See Mickey!

We’re going to Disney!

In a year.

We’ve been making plans with my parents to take the kids to Disney World next year and we’re having a heck of a time deciding when to go. Mom wants to see all the Christmas stuff, so  December it is, but because of my work schedule, it will have to be the week of Christmas or the week after Christmas. Price-wise, they’re pretty much the same, so that’s not really an issue. It pretty much boils down to whether we want to be driving to Disney on Christmas or from Disney. I’m still not decided. I wish we could wait a few weeks and go in early January, but with my work schedule, that’s not going to happen.

On the plus side, the weather will definitely be better than our last trip—we were there in late June/early July and good God Almighty, it was hot! I mean, summer in Florida shouldn’t be that big a surprise, but wow!

We watched the promo DVD that we got for our trip two years ago tonight and Harrison is in his bed, dreaming of being a pirate. I can’t wait for him to be there again. He had a blast last time, but this time he’ll be six years old and capable of so much more. I worried about taking Laura so early—she’ll be almost two—but the neighbors across the street took their kids when their son was about that age and they said he had a blast, so I suppose it will be OK. At the very least, she will be virtually free. Kids stay free and get into the parks free under the age of three, so that’s cool. That’s how we did the last trip—Harrison was a few weeks shy of three so it was probably the cheapest Disney vacation we could have taken with him.

In all, I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure I’ll obsess over it for the next year, second guessing every decision, but whatever happens, I’m sure it will be awesome.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reading Time

With a mere twenty pages left of the newest Dan Brown to go, I have left my Snuggie (thanks honey—awesome Christmas gift!!!) and my couch to come post. Quickly.

I don’t pretend that Dan Brown is a perfect writer. His characters sometimes get a little blustery and obnoxious for my tastes, but the stories are always captivating. True or not, they are always interesting and I can never seem to put them down.

Case in point: on Wednesday, I picked up The Lost Symbol from my bookshelf where it’s been sitting for at least a month. Having neither time nor energy to read, I had almost forgotten it was there. But I needed something to fill a void of time in which I probably should have been working, but chose rather to spend in relative idleness.

Now, Saturday night, I’m almost done with it. Had I not had to take care of kids, deal with Christmas or talk to my husband, I could have finished it much sooner.

Brown keeps the pace clipping along very rapidly, using short chapters and an economy of description. Much like Michael Crichton, his books are quick reads that are almost always hard for me to put down.

Of course, I’m drawn to a character who is an art historian, being an art teacher and all myself. It’s much easier to sympathize with Brown’s Langdon than any of Tom Clancy’s beefy military guys.

So, back to my Snuggie and the last twenty pages. Night all!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Presents, Presents Everywhere…

My toes are extra toasty, thanks to the super comfy soft socks that hubby got me. :)

Christmas was wonderful this year. Harrison is really at the perfect age to enjoy the whole Santa experience in all it’s pain and glory, so we had lots of fun with it. He really sweated telling Santa about how good he’s been lately (I’ve never seen such an honest five-year-old—“I was really good in the morning but kind of bad in the afternoon…”). Once he had that hurdle passed (Santa admonishing him that while he had been pretty good, he needed to keep his standards up and not start slacking), he moved on to getting the house ready for the Big Guy. The cookies were set up just so, the reindeer had some oats set out to snack on while waiting, and the NORAD satellites were checked religiously to see how much longer until the anticipated arrival.

Any deviation from accepted behavior resulted in me or Robert pulling out a cell phone and getting ready to dial. “But I don’t want to be on the Naughty List!”

The look on his face this morning while he was surveying the presents was priceless. He didn’t even notice the Batcave at first, he was so agog with glee a the presents under the tree. But turning slightly to the side, he saw that not only had Santa left the awesome Batcave (with Batman, Robin and three villains—thank you Target, poo on you Toys’R’Us for not having it!), but his best stuffed friend Brown Bear was wearing a gi and a yellow belt and was guarding a pair of nun chucks. Oh, but Santa was kind.

His favorite non-Santa gift was definitely the complete run of the Magic Tree House books. We didn’t delve into the Merlin Missions, which pick up where the MTH books leave off, but I figure that twenty-eight books is more than enough to keep a five-year-old happy for some time. We’ll get to those books in due time, I figure.

Laura enjoyed the din of Christmas morning, as well. She is, of course, too young to know or care about Santa, so we didn’t bother getting her up when Harrison got up. She slept in until 9 AM and then kind of sipped at a bottle of milk while playing with toys. She loved ripping the paper and crinkling it around. She really loved the purple and pink dress that Harrison had picked out to give her and the bristle blocks I got her. She’s still up in the air about the Hasbro Playskool Busy Ball Popper (no pun intended…). I bought it based on the review I read at, which made me cry I laughed so hard. So far, she’s been pretty receptive to it, but seems to enjoy pulling it over more than anything else. For Harrison, on the other hand, this thing is catnip. (Kidnip?) He can’t keep his stinkin’ hands off the thing if he’s in the room and he’s not playing with his Batcave or reading his MTH books.

So at least someone’s entertained by it.

Hope everyone else had a great holiday. Merry Christmas to all. Back to, well, the rest of my holiday tomorrow. So more lounging. Man, it’s hard, this teachin’. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009


The boy is driving me nuts.

I mean, it’s the happiest time of the year, right? Christmas is literally right around the corner, so you know his enthusiasm is through the roof. Alas, as it’s been crap weather a good chunk of the week—not really bad, really, but bad enough that I don’t want to go out in it and certainly not good enough that I’m going to let my five-year-old go out and play in it without supervision. Wet, cold, that kind of thing.

So he’s been in the house for days now.


Oh, and since he has the same holiday schedule as me, he’s been my shadow. I started to write “virtually my shadow,” but really, he has been my shadow. I’m there, he’s there.

It got bad enough that I was willing to go to Toys’R’Us to return a toy Tuesday night. Alone. And I’m agoraphobic.

So he’s got energy out the wazoo and nowhere to spend it and I’ve got cabin fever. What to do?

Scavenger hunt! I got the idea from Weelife, but changed it up some. She had these beautiful photos of things her children were to look for, all nicely dolled up in (I suspect) a Microsoft Publisher document and printed in color. As I had neither photos ready to insert into a document nor a color printer with which to print it, I decided to adapt. I instead made a list of things I knew were in our neighborhood—a red vehicle, a pet, a neighbor, our street name, Christmas decorations, a mailbox with flowers around it and a traffic sign. His job was to read the list, find those things while we walked around the block and take pictures of them with his camera.

He. Went. Bananas.

Loved it. He had a blast finding examples of the things. I had fun watching him interpret the items. As an added bonus, we got to talk to some of our neighbors who were out in the (freaking cold!!!) weather as we tromped around and so he got pictures of them.

I’m planning on doing more of these. I can see coming up with plenty of lists—an alphabet list, perhaps, or different kinds of plants or animals or colors, textures, whatever. I love that it gets him noticing things that surround him, gets us out of the house and gets us interacting with our neighborhood.


On a totally unrelated note, I realized tonight that I gave birth to Calvin (a la, Calvin and Hobbes). Trying to take pictures of the kids tonight, we implored the boy to give us a nice face. A sweet face. Not a freaking goofy face!!

And time after time, this is what we got.


All I could think of was Calvin’s parents trying desperately to get a nice family photo and the exasperated father grousing about how it took, like, 47 shots and the one they settled on was still goofy. I so relate. If I can find the comic, I’ll post it here for comparison. :)

Merry Christmas, to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sore Loser

While doing our Gratitude Stones at supper tonight, Harrison said after some hemming and hawing that he was glad that Mommy and Daddy and he had gotten to play UNO at lunch that day. He’s becoming quite the card shark with that game and seems to really enjoy it. He doesn’t enjoy losing to anyone, but he’s working on that.

To that end, Robert asked what he should say to someone he has just played and beaten. In his happiest, most upbeat voice, Harrison said, “Good game!” and smiled a big grin.

“What about if you played someone and they won?”

Looking down at the table, shoulders slumped in defeat, Harrison said in his most pitiful monotone, “Good game.”

At least he has part of it right.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

School Holiday Rocks

Got the parents to watch the kids so hubby and I could have a bit of a date night. Saw Avatar. Man, James Cameron likes taking big things that should be indestructible and destroying them. :D Really good movie, though.

Had a pretty good day with Harrison. The neighbors across the street came over to play, which was pretty cool since we haven’t seem them very much since school started. With Christmas ramping up as it is, we probably won’t see them anymore this week, but hopefully they’ll get to come over next week while Harrison and I are still out.

Got the presents wrapped. I love giving gifts, but I hate buying them and I hate wrapping them. So the fact that I’m done is a huge deal—I don’t have to worry about it again until birthdays start rolling up on us by which time I’ll have forgotten how much I dislike wrapping gifts. Or, more likely, I’ll just have a gift bag to pop presents in to. :)

Played some UNO with Harrison, as well. He’s been out of Karate too long—he was not happy about losing a game (the second round—he kicked my rear in the first round) and acted very ugly about it. I’m ready for him to have the class to look forward to again and the discipline backup that it affords. Mostly, though, I’m ready for him to have the camaraderie and the energy vent that comes with it.

Eyes killing me—almost new contact day. Watching a movie in 3-D is not good for my eye moisture, as well, I’m sure. Off to bed soon to gear up for another day with the boy. Enjoying the extra snuggles and reading and just hanging out that we get to do. Want to make sure I’m at my best for it all tomorrow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice!

I haven’t really thought about a Solstice since college, but I used to put lots of thought and energy into recognizing them, along with the cross-points of the Equinoxes. Alas, life and family take my mental energy these days and so I just don’t seem to have time to think about them anymore. Ironically, Robert has started watching the skies and so is more connected to what’s happening in the Universe than I am.

Funny how life works out like that.

Days will start getting longer now, which is always nice. The tug of Winter and Summer is always a bittersweet one for me. When it’s the middle of Summer here in East Texas, it’s hard not to wish it were cold and icy. Now in the middle of Winter, although we don’t have snow and really haven’t had any ice either, the biting chill we have from time to time always makes me wish for sunny skies. All in all, though, I try to enjoy whatever season I’m in. I try to embrace  the weather and all that it encompasses.

Off to bed now to rest up for a long day with Harrison tomorrow. He’s home with me this week and next and so far he’s been pretty good. I have to remind him occasionally that Santa is still in town at the mall and will be here probably through Wednesday at which time I will start texting him. He saw me pick up my phone tonight after he had not done what he was supposed to do and he freaked out. I feel kind of disingenuous using Santa to make him behave like this, but it seems to be working for the most part, so I guess we’ll call it somewhat-good and let it rest. Surely I’m not the first parent who has gotten through the end of the year this way?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tales From the Shopping Mall

Closing in on Christmas.

Couldn’t resist trading a few presents with hubby yesterday. Considering the fact that we’ve celebrated the publication of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as an excuse to open all the presents early (yeah, we opened everything on December 19that that year…), I think trading one small bit of gift this early is pretty prudent of us. Robert got me a Van Gogh action figure (with interchangeable heads—‘Sane Vincent’ and ‘Crazy-Cut-Off-My-Ear-For-A-Prostitute Vincent’) and some cool jelly bracelets from Man, if I could, I’d get one of everything from that place—I’m already making my list for the next gift giving extravaganza.

For my part, I got him Creative Cursing: A Mix 'n' Match Profanity Generator. I saw this book back in November when I was at my teacher conference and embarrassed myself by laughing loudly in the store. Had I money then, I would have gotten it there, but as it was, I was broke and could only dream of getting it. I Snapfished it, though, and when I was ready to start buying Christmas gifts I looked at my list and went looking for it. The two big chain bookstores here in town didn’t have it, nor did the smaller family-run Christian-esque bookstore (big surprise, I know…).


I packed up my purse, pulled on my big girl britches and drove to Tyler. On the Friday before Christmas. In Tyler. At the mall. In Tyler.

Did I mention I hate Tyler?

Did I mention I hate the mall?

Mom, Harrison and I went shopping, first at the bookstore and then at the mall (she had some Old Navy to buy, I had a Build-A-Bear outfit to get). I pissed off more than a few salespeople because I just don’t have patience for their BS sales pitches in general, much less when I’m being jostled around and people are breathing my air in a stuffy, overcrowded, noisy mall. I blew a sale for one such lady when she had almost convinced my mom—who is the least frou-frou-lotiony-girly-girl type person on the planet—to buy $40 worth of hand creams and exfoliators. The lady didn’t like it when mom asked if I had smelled the samples when I was walking by them in the corridor and I replied that no, I didn’t because I don’t make eye contact on purpose. When the woman continued the sales pitch to mom, I really annoyed her by telling mom, “You know you’re allowed to tell these folks ‘No,’ don’t you?” The final hard sell attempt she threw at us (“But look at her hands and how soft they are!” “Well, yeah, you just rubbed lotion on them—they’re going to be soft no matter what you’re selling!”) was the breaking point and I really think I saw smoke coming out of her ears. We beat a hasty retreat while I told mom how she could make her own exfoliators on the cheap (a spoonful of sugar or salt—really, any dissolving crystallized substance—with a dollop of any hand lotion that strikes your fancy, rubbing for a minute or two and then giving them a very brief rinse to get the grainy bits off).

The topper was trying to get out of the mall, which was my fault, really. I was trying to turn left onto a street that had lights at both ends but not at the exit from which I was currently trying to leave and lots of traffic coming from both directions. Oh, and we were locked into our lane with an island/curb thingy to our left and a lane of people who were smarter than I was since they were turning to the right at the street. We waited a full 10 minutes for three cars to pull out of our way before we could even get up and try our turn. When we finally did get to the street, we almost wrecked because someone was coming when I was trying to pull out and I had to slam my brakes on to avoid a collision. This, of course, left the front end of my van out in traffic (that was not in any way slowing down, even though I was half out in the street) and the car behind me was so far up my butt I couldn’t have reversed if I wanted to.

By the time we finally got out, I was sputtering about how much I hate the mall and I hate Tyler and how sorry I was to be saying that in front of Harrison because ‘hate’ is a forbidden word in our house but I just couldn’t see any way around it because I hated it all so much. My son, in a full show of solidarity replied (with quite a bit of gusto, I might add), “I HATE the mall, too, Mommy! And I HATE Tyler! And I HATE everything here…except for Chick-fil-A. Because they have good food.”

Hearing my five year old say that he hated something kind of brought me out of my tailspin—he really doesn’t say that word and to hear it come out of his mouth was akin to hearing him drop some F-bombs, so I was pretty quickly snapped back into focus. I replied to his exclamation of solidarity that I appreciated the support from him and that we were done with hating things and he agreed that that was a good idea. A few deep breaths and some Burger King for the drive home and we were all better.

But really, man, I HATE Tyler.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Finally finished with my Christmas shopping. Sooooo tired. Had to drive all the way to Tyler to get a gift for Robert that was absolutely not available in Longview. This holiday and its accompanying glut of stores, crowds and obnoxious sales people really does feed my agoraphobia, I think.
School's out for two weeks, so that's a good thing. Now I just need a good night or two of sleep to recharge and I'll be good to go.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Catching up

Just spent the past two hours getting almost caught up on the last month of Heroes. Robert gave up on it at the beginning of the season, so I’ve been watching it as I could find time. Let me tell you—finding an hour or two of time to watch a TV show my son can’t be in the room for is pretty darned hard. I’ve got two more hours to watch, so maybe I can get them watched over the holiday.

On to bed now so I can make it through one more day of semester exams.

Sanity, ho!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Had some fun making elf videos tonight. Can’t wait for Harrison to see them. Won’t bother republishing all the connecting info—just go to the two entries before this one. They look the same, but they are two different videos. They had two other ones, but I didn’t much care for them. It’s amazing how well my kids ‘elf up.’ :)

Two more days of school and I’ve got a real holiday. I cannot express how much I need this break—I’m exhausted beyond all reason and need a chance to kick back and not worry about teenagers for a small amount of time.

On that note (the really freakin’ tired one), I’m heading to bed.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Holy moly, I was busy tonight!

Had planned to go out to my folks house, toting their new TV for them in my incredi-van, but Dad called around 5:30 and said that he was running really late and hey, would I mind if we postponed for another day? I agreed, glad because Harrison and I had been shopping for Christmas presents and we were really kind of shot, energy-wise. Once we got home, though, I realized that I had a big, horking bowl of green tomatoes from my super-awesome garden that (holy crap!) is still producing. (Actually, I think that last cold snap we had finally killed everything off, but the bowl of tomatoes seriously came out of it, like, a week or two ago.)

So, I’ve got all this now-free-time on my hands; what’s a girl to do? Make Green Tomato Relish, of course! I set out to chopping and slicing and dicing and about halfway through the veggie prep, I realized that, holy crap! I forgot to return Harrison’s movie to the library! Oy!

So I get supercharged, getting the salsa cut, mixed and cooking. I realized, as well, that 1) I hadn’t watered the tree in several days (holy crap!), 2) the glass jars I was going to can into needed to be sterilized so the dishwasher needed to be emptied and refilled with them, and 3) I had laundry that needed to be changed to the dryer. Oh, and some really stank stuff that needed to go to the compost pile. Oh, yeah, and two kids who needed supper and some entertainment.

After foisting the kids on the hubby, I rushed about watering the tree, dumping the compost and then left out to return the movie while the tomatoes and friends simmered. Lemme tell ya, walking back into a room in which onions and apple cider vinegar have been hanging out will make you cry. :)

So, long story short, the relish is finished, canned and so pretty!


This is the first time since my Grandparents died that I have tried canning—my Grandpa taught me to make plum jelly from plums in my front yard and he showed me how to preserve them. I’ve been scared to try it all these years, but tonight while cooking and ladling and boiling and listening to that distinctive ‘pop!’ of the cans sealing, I thought about him a lot and felt closer to him than I have in a long time. I felt really proud that I was able to produce something like this, start to finish, all by myself and I’m excited to see what I’m going to grow and preserve next year.

Thanks, Grandpa!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Battery Running Low

Working on the boy’s jacket. Got the bodies constructed, the hoods pinned and ready to stitch together. Thinking, though, that I might put some buttonholes near the bottom of the hoods and sew a casing for threading to go through. I’m pretty sure that, at five years old, the boy knows not to choke himself. Dunno. Might put in elastic. We’ll see tomorrow when I’ve got more energy to devote to the project.

End of the semester is upon us, which amazes me. I feel like I just blinked and the first half of my son’s first year in school is already over. Totally weirds me out, so I try not to think about it too much.

Still no teeth on the girl front. She’s got bumps, though, so I fully expect to see some chompers pretty soon. We’re going to see Santa this week, so I hope she won’t get it in her head to bite him—I’d hate to see what kinds of toys Santa brings to biters! :)

On that note, I’m heading to bed. Got to have my game face on for the next few days and then I can slack back off to regular level of existence. :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Ninja Turtle

Long day.

Good day, but loooooong day.

We went to Tyler today for Ninja camp which is, I think, one of the coolest things I think I’ve ever witnessed. Harrison, fresh in his yellow belt, was very excited about getting to go. Quite frankly, I had my doubts as to whether he was going to be able to make it or not—he had gotten into quite a bit of trouble the week before and I told him that if he got into any trouble this week at all he wasn’t going. As soon as I said it, I kind of wished I hadn’t, because I figured there was no way he was going to make it a whole week without getting into trouble. Using this very same discipline ‘trick’ was what made him miss seeing the monster trucks back in October.

I guess this time he realized we meant business, though. He had a tiny wobble on Monday—he got on yellow that morning, but had a sticker by the end of the day, showing that he had been extra good in the afternoon. The rest of the week, as he would come into my room in the afternoons, he would be triumphant in his good behavior. Friday rolled around and before he had a chance to do too much in class, he went to PE where he had a collision with another kid and knocked his head pretty hard on the floor.

When Robert went to pick him up in the nurse’s office, his first words were, “Daddy, I was on green all day today!”

After watching him for signs of concussion Friday night and most of yesterday (he was playing on his computer Friday when I called home—I don’t think there was any danger of him having any major injuries), we decided that he was in good health and packed him up for class today.

And boy, was that the best thing we could have done.

The teachers had told us about Ninja Camp, but when they talked about it they insinuated that Yellow Belts, as novices, would only get to work on nun chucks while older, more experienced fighters would get to try out the other toys weapons. Instead, my five-year-old boy got to start his day off with a katana (foam covered, of course), whacking the other Yellow Belts in the head and chest. Nun chucks were next, and you could see the boy quivering in excitement—one of his current heroes is Bruce Lee. (In preparation of his going to camp—and in an attempt to make him behave so he’d get to go to camp—we showed him some video clips from Bruce Lee movies on YouTube.) Actually getting to fight with them was the realization of every dream he’s had in the past month.

Robert, Laura and I left at that point to go do some Christmas shopping and visit some friends who live in town (it was four hours of karate class, y’all—I’m dedicated, but c’mon!). By the time we got back, the kids were playing tug-o-war with the instructors. When the instructors ‘lost’ to the kids, they did pushups. I later asked Harrison if he thought it was funny that they had had to do the pushups; he replied, “No, it was awesome!”

Apparently while we were gone, all the belt levels rotated through all the different activities. This means that not only did my son get to work with the nun chucks, he also fought with a bo staff, sai and throwing stars! You cannot imagine the exhausted excitement he was in tonight.

Every time we do something with this karate group, I am more and more grateful that we got involved with them. Harrison has missed his Thursday night classes and I think he’s looking forward to them starting back up in January.

I’m looking forward to it, too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bob and Larry Go Blue

Ok, this thing has been covered more extensively (and probably more humorously) than I’m capable of doing here, but I just had to share this fun little story.

My parents came to watch the kids last night while Robert and I went out to a function for one of his customers. They brought with them, as they often do, goodies for the kids because what else is a grandparent for if not to buy lots of crap the kids don’t need? I start pulling stuff out of the bag and ‘Oooohing’ and ‘Aaaaahing’ over them, as a properly brought up, gracious Southern girl is taught to do.

And then I got to this.

I giggled a little because, I mean, come on. Look at it!

My dad, clueless, loveable guy that he is, says, “What, do you already have one?”

Um, well, I guess you could say that. ;)

I turned the package to the side, alternating the angle of the, um, member.

Dad turned red and started stammering about how you’re supposed to frost them to look like vegetables and that it’s all in how you present them and, good grief, what a dirty mind I have!

Mom laughed so hard that she literally fell down on the floor.

My only regret is that Cody and Amy got married a month ago. How much fun would this have been at Amy’s bachelorette party?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Late and Tired

So this is short (is that my theme, lately?) tonight. I’m tired, as per usual. The kids are conked, having played with the grandparents while the husband and I went to an event for one of his customers. The wine was good (on an empty stomach not so good an idea, but whatever…), the food was good (off diet, but whatever…) and I enjoyed spending time with my man. We also got to spend time with Cody and Amy and that’s always good fun, although Cody’s forever showing me new apps I need to get for my phone.

One more day of work (sick of grading!!!!!!), a weekend and a week of semester exams and then I finally get a full blown holiday. Thanksgiving was nice, but I’m ready for the Full Meal Deal.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Will Those Darned Teeth Never Come Through?!?

In light of the four or so hours of sleep I got last night and the ten or so cups of coffee I’ve had to consume to make up for the missing sleep, I’m going to keep this brief. Went to bed late (dummy), girl got up at 4 AM with crummy teeth and bum (diarrhea from teething leading to diaper rash sux), woke up 40 minutes late for work. Had a long day. Amy came over and I reamed her pretty hard in Scrabble, for which I felt pretty guilty but was glad to have something bright in my day.

Now, in anticipation of another night of ‘My teeth hurt, my ass hurts, owwww, owww, owwwwwwwwwwwww!’ I’m heading to bed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Got the tree finished tonight, after two nights of it being belighted but not bedecked with ornaments. (Be-ornamented?) It looks good, if I do say so. Harrison helped…some…and we hung almost every ornament we had on it, which we don’t normally do, so it’s really full. I like that.

We’ve not had a real tree in a long, long time. I think the last time we had one, in fact, was around ‘94 or ‘95—one of our first Christmases together. We bought an artificial tree pretty early in and have used it without fail every year. Each year, we’d talk about how crappy it was starting to look with its needles falling out and just how fake it looked. We always stuck with it, though, I guess because it was just easier and cheaper. Besides, you can leave a fake tree up for much longer than you can a real one. Much longer. We once had an Easter Tree because of our inaction.

But this year, Harrison asked if we could get a real tree and who am I to tell the boy ‘no’ about that? I was not prepared for how much it smells—I’m really liking that aspect of it!

It is spiny as all get-out, which I found out tonight as I was hanging ornaments. When I was washing my hands later, I felt these little pinpricks of fire on the fronts of my fingers. My first thought was that I had a rash on my hands and to wonder how in the blue blazes I had gotten that. I quickly realized, though, that I simply have a million tiny cuts on the fronts of my hands. Nice.

I was also unprepared for how flimsy some of the branches are. After years of using a fake tree, I was used to being able to place the ornament on the limb and kind of bend it upwards to hold it in place. Oddly, our real tree doesn’t do that so well. :) As we have lots of heavy resin cast ornaments—we were in the Disney Ornament of the Month club for several years and amassed quite a few of them—I had to begin to think more strategically. Heavy ornaments went towards the top, as the shorter branches could hold them without bowing down under the weight. Smaller ornaments and the paper and salt dough things the boy has made in school over the years went lower.

Overall, though, I’m really enjoying the real tree experience. Watering it everyday is kind of a hassle, but it’s only for a few weeks so I guess there’s worse that I could have to do. The kids love it, so in the end all the inconveniences are worth it.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Just can’t seem to get my give-a-damn up and running. Don’t know if the girl’s teething is starting to wear me down—constant runny diapers, fits of rage that spring from seemingly nowhere when her teeth start bothering her all of a sudden, or perhaps just when she decides she can’t take it anymore. Could be that I’m tired of constantly feeling like a failure of  a parent since my son can’t go a freaking week at school without getting on yellow, much less red. It’s gotten such that now, instead of asking if, tomorrow when he behaves can he [insert reward here—play video games, watch a movie, whatever], he asks  if tomorrow when he gets in trouble, will he get a spanking or will he write sentences.

I’m bone weary and I know I have no right to complain since I just had an entire week off. I know that I’m very lucky to have the job I have and I’m even more lucky to have the children and husband I have.

I just don’t know why I’m so funky lately, and not in the funky-chicken kind of way.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m one of those folks who has S.A.D. I’ve always kind of blew that off as bullshit, but this year I’m really thinking that maybe it’s the real deal. Either that, or genetic code is finally kicking in and I’m coming into my family’s store of crazy bi-polar/manic-depressive/whatever. Either way, it sucks.

Wish I had time to exercise so I’d be able to get some endorphins, which might make things a little better. Wish I ever had more than an hour or two at most when I wasn’t inside during the little bit of sunlight we have this time of year.

Wish I just cared a little more.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Working Blue

Some nights, I just don’t know what to write about. I have thoughts rolling around in my head all day like rocks, getting smoother and smoother with each lap they make. By the time I sit down to work it all out on paper, as it were, they’ve been ground so much that there’s not really anything to grasp and make stick. (How’s that for mixed metaphors?) Basically, I’ll have spent all day phrasing sentences in my head, thinking of ways to improve the thought, and by the time I’m ready to write, they’re so “improved” that I can’t even remember what they were in the first place and how they got into my head.

So that doesn’t work well.

Other nights, I figure I’ll just do some cute anecdotal thing the kids said or did. Like how, while driving to school the other day, Harrison saw one of those inflatable Santas in a yard, but it was daylight so it was deflated. He looked at it and said, “Look Mommy! There’s Santa!” And then, almost as an afterthought, “He’s dead.” But then I think, ‘Good grief, how much of this I Have the Cutest Kids crap can people take?’ And then I think to myself, ‘Well, I’ve only got, like, three or four regular readers. Who cares if I offend them with my kids’ winning ways?’

And so then on some nights, I think, ‘Hey, I’ve only got three or four readers, none of whom are even my parents, so why am I being so [expletive] pristine all the time?’ And then I start thinking of the most vulgar things I could say. All the cuss words I don’t ever say when the kids are around because I want them to be better than I am, but that as soon as they go to visit my parents I spend the entire time saying. Insulting things. That sort of stuff. And I almost go down that path.

But I stop, because, well, I don’t know why I stop. I’m not sure if I’m afraid of offending someone and having awkwardness because of it (it’s happened…), or if I’m afraid of the Thought Police coming into my home and taking me away because I’m not doing my part to keep the airwaves (ether?) clean for our children. Maybe I have delusions of grandeur that I’m just “above all that mess.”

Maybe I’m worried that someone at work will read this and it will come back to haunt me? Maybe I’m worried that my kids will read this some day and that they will think less of me?

I don’t know.

I know that I recognize private voice and public voice. As a teacher, I’m often restrained from saying things that I really want to say, that really need to be said, because I could get fired for doing so. Cussing, that sort of thing. I understand that, as the adult in my room, I should be the one who is more mature, who should be able to control myself so that the kids have a good example. I know that the way I talk with my husband and my closest friends when in confined quarters is entirely different from the way I talk to these same people in public. That’s certainly a lesson I’m trying to instill in my students and, to a much greater effect, my children.

But sometimes, it gets tiring being the adult. It gets exhausting not ever saying the things that rattle around in my head, banging against each other, wearing away edges until it is as smooth as my baby daughter’s bum. Sometimes, I want to say things that I want to say and screw the rest of the world.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Curiosity Got the Cat(herine)

Ok, I’m curious.

I’ve been writing on this blog for over five months now, day in and day out. I see the numbers on my counter go up every day, but I’m kind of ignorant regarding their true meaning. Do they mean that I’ve had that many visits, total, or do they count unique visits? Either way, I’m pretty astounded that almost 800 people have read my stuff. (Or that it’s been read almost 800 times. Whatever.)

Astounded and a little humbled.

Astounded, a little humbled, and just a tiny bit freaked out.

But that’s life in this digital landscape, isn’t it? Everything is out there for you to see. Anyone can know anything about you. All they have to do is push a few buttons.

I try not to freak out over this idea. I publish my kids’ names, my husband’s name, etc. I don’t put our bank account numbers out there, nor do I include Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, etc. If you look hard enough and deduce enough, I’m sure you can get the birthdates of most of the people in the house, but I’m pretty sure without any other corresponding numbers that’s pretty useless. Besides, most people put that information right on Facebook, so how would it be different to have it on my blog?

Anyhoo, I’m just curious because I have these numbers—this almost 800 visits—and I’m wondering who these people are. Where are they from? I can look at some of the data provided by my blog counter, but honestly I’m not always sure what I’m looking at. The graphic overview is nice because I can see that most of my visits occur late at night (I post late a night, usually—coincidence?). I can see that my average number of visits is growing most months.

I guess I just feel weird not knowing who’s coming into my virtual “home.”

To that end, I’ve added a Live Traffic Feed that I can watch obsessively (yeah, I need to get a life) and a Followers widget so that people can let me know they’re, you know, following. Because I’m curious.

I made some kind of statement way back in, like, June or July about how glad I was that people weren’t talking to me about the fact that I’m posting on my blog. The roar of crickets, comments-wise, has been deafening. I’m not sure if people saw that and thought, ‘Hey, she doesn’t want to hear what I’ve got to say.’ Maybe people think I don’t like comments? Maybe people just don’t care? (Self absorbed much? Me?)

I know that when Robert and I got married, we decided that we wanted to wait to have kids until I was out of school and working steadily. This took almost ten years. Since we didn’t share our plan—it was our plan, after all, not everyone else’s—many of them thought that we didn’t want kids. My grandparents actually thought that Robert was keeping me from having the kids that I wanted—when I told them I was pregnant, they said, “I’m so glad that Robert finally let you have a baby!”

I think what I meant to say was, “Man, I’m really glad that people in my “real” life don’t bring up the fact that I write on my blog every day and make some kind of bone-headed comment to me because that’s all they can think to say to me. But virtual friends—man, I’d like to hear from them!” Because that kind of real world vs. virtual life paradigm is kind of weird. If someone IRL says that they saw that I was writing again, I would expect it to be followed by, “Hey, that’s interesting that you think this about [topic x], but did you ever consider [idea y]? Unfortunately, the only thing I ever hear (aside from my sweet, sweet husband) is “So yeah, I saw you’re writing again.” Crickets.

Maybe I’m just too self important for my own good and there’s not really that many people visiting.

I dunno.

I’m curious.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bearly Done

Done! (With Laura’s jacket.)

Well, almost. Got the body of it finished. Need to hand stitch the six inch opening through which I turned it. Need to add snaps. Need to add a squirmy nine month with blue eyes and pink cheeks.

Then I’m done.

In retrospect, the only thing I wish I would have done differently was add some ears to the hood. Failing that, I’m thinking of tacking a bow or something on the hood, or at least on one of the bear pockets.

I’ll post pictures probably tomorrow, hopefully of the girl wearing it. At the very least, I’ll get photos of the bear pockets because they’re so danged cute. The pattern calls for button eyes and some other stuff, but I went fairly simple and just embroidered circles for the eyes and nose. Blanket stitched the pink inside the ears. Called it good. In fact, called it pretty danged cute (like I already said…).

Now need to get the boy’s hoodie done. His will be much quicker, I think. Hers didn’t take that much actual time—it’s just that finding big chunks of time to sew is pretty hard with two rug rats in the house. So in lieu of sitting down for two days straight (which is what I estimate is the actual time spent at the machine—this, of course, doesn’t include tracing the pattern and cutting the fabric out, so throw another day in for that), I have been hacking away at it for about a week and a half, I think. Seems like I got started on it in earnest a few days before Thanksgiving, so go from there.

I originally planned this jacket, as well as Harrison’s jacket, for a trip we had thought to take to Ohio to visit some family. I figured (rightly, I might add) that the kids would need something warm. However, we changed our plans and stayed home instead (which, in retrospect, is probably the best thing—long road trip into snowy, icy place with two kids? crazy!).

We had snow today. It was nowhere near the stuff they get up north—the flurries started when my 4th period class was about half finished (so about 45 minutes in), we ran outside for about 10 minutes and by the time we were trekking back upstairs to my classroom the snow had all but stopped. It was cold though, so I’m glad that now my little girl has something warm and cuddly to snuggle up in if we go outside for any length of time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tired and Frustrated

Stopping work now only to post and meet my self-inflicted midnight deadline and to then head on to bed. I’ve been sewing for most of the evening and am almost entirely done with Laura’s bear jacket. It is really too cute and I can’t wait to see her in it. I’ve got the outer shell and the inner shell sewn together along the front and the top with the hood intact; now I need to get the bottom hemmed, insert the elastic into the sleeves and hem them and then flip the whole thing outside in, sealing up the turning hole in the side seam. Get all that done and install the snaps (I don’t want to attempt button holes on fabric layers this thick and hairy—and snaps are easier!) and I’m done. Tossing around the idea of putting ribbons on the bear pockets, but that’s not a requirement and will probably not happen.

Ready to throttle the boy. Three days running now that he’s gotten in trouble with school, always for the same thing—playing in line. I’m worn out trying to make him do right. He’s written lines (lots and lots of lines), he’s had all his toys taken away, he’s come near getting a spanking over it because it’s now the third day of misbehavior. He knows how to stand in line properly—I had him show me the right way to do it and he proudly stood up with his duck tail and bubble and walked perfectly without a glimmer of trouble.

The problem is that he is apparently standing next to his friends in line and they egg each other on. I’m not saying the other kids instigate the misbehavior—my boy is quite capable of that. I just think that he and they encourage each other to bigger and goofier mischief until one, two or more of them get moved to red.

We’ve threatened spankings and revocation of Ninja Camp privileges, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. He seems to understand the consequences—he knows that at Ninja Camp he will get to work with nun chucks and he’s very excited about that. He’s in his room right now, dreaming of Ninja Turtles and Bruce Lee.

I just don’t know that it’s going to do any good.

I wonder what Santa has to say about all this?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

He’s Watching You, Man!

So we’re trying to convince the boy to behave this holiday season. I mean, grand scheme of things, he’s a pretty good kid. He gets moved to ‘yellow’ at school once or twice a week and probably every other week or so we get notice of getting moved to ‘red,’ so I guess we could have it much worse. We’ve exhausted our brains trying to come up with ways to make him behave, from writing sentences to removing privileges to outright spanking for major infractions.

Tonight, though, I think (hope, hope, hope!) that we might have stumbled on something that will work, at least in the short run.

His favorite topic of conversation these days, much like every other little kid I know, is Santa Claus. What’s he eat? Where’s he live? Can we call him? Will he call us? Can I go for a ride in space with him? (For this last one, I had to tell him that space is NASA’s jurisdiction and that Santa’s not really allowed to travel so far up.)

“When I see Santa, I’m going to tell him that I’ve been sweet.” This, tonight after he had been moved to ‘yellow’ for line misconduct at school.

“But what about getting in trouble at school today?”

“I just want to tell him that I have been sweet.”

“Well, son, you realize that that’s lying to Santa, don’t you? You can tell him you’ve been trying to be sweet, but to outright say that you have been sweet all the time is a lie.”

He didn’t quite know what to say to this.

“You know, son, that Santa will be calling us to find out how you’ve been behaving and we have to tell him the truth. And if there are too many ‘yellow’ days or, God forbid, any ‘red’ days, I just don’t see any way that Santa is going to be able to bring you that Batcave you’ve been wanting.”

[ed.The kid wrote his letter to Santa more than a month ago. A month. He started by circling all the things he wanted in the toy catalogue and then, when I told him that Santa only brought a few toys to boys and girls, he edited through all the choices to come up with the one thing he wanted more than anything else. Then he sat down and painstakingly wrote out a letter, asserting his attempts to be good, asking the health of Mrs. Claus and then telling what he wants. He wants covets will go insane if he doesn’t get a Fisher Price Batcave toy this year.


Robert pipes up. “You know that Mrs. Davis [his kindergarten teacher] talks to Santa, too, don’t you? She keeps lists of who is on yellow and who is on red and she sends those lists to Santa. When she tells us about you getting in trouble at school, she also tells Santa that you’ve gotten in trouble.”

Throughout all this, Harrison’s eyes are getting bigger. He’s getting quieter and paler and about the time Robert mentions the Santa-Mrs. Davis connection he just about stops breathing. A single sigh escapes his lips, with which he utters a low, desperate, “Whoa.”

The crazy thing is, in a sense, everything Robert said is true. Mrs. Davis is telling Santa about Harrison’s behavior when she tells us what he’s been doing. She does keep lists of kids who get moved to ‘yellow’ or ‘red,’ at least in a way. (She sends calendars home with this information.}

I’m curious to see how this is going to affect the boy. I know this is probably the last good year of Santa we have with him. I guess next year we’re going to have to do some real parenting and learn to really discipline.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Book is Done!

Got my New York trip book done. Would have it uploaded and ordered, but the Picaboo folks don’t seem to have their computer-operating-end of their business working right now. I’ve used them several times now—this is my second picture book with them and I also did Laura’s birth announcements through them—and, while working on the item is usually not a problem (and in fact is pretty fun and easy, usually), the ordering end is always fraught with trouble and frustration.

I guess because I’m married to a computer guy who takes care of business when servers are down and such, I just assume that other computer-based businesses do the same. Maybe they just don’t know how. I don’t know. I do know that it’s very frustrating.

The problem (this time) is that they are running a big sale—buy one, get one free—and so lots of people are taking advantage of it. I mean, I am. Why wouldn’t everyone else? Today was the last day of the sale and so they have had people pounding their servers, uploading books and cards for purchase.

It just seems to me that they would take into account that this kind of thing happens. You have a sale, you have the end of it and people are going to rush in to it. You’d think that they would make sure that, technologically, they were ready for what they had to know was going to be a major influx of purchases.

On the plus side, the did extend the sale price to me through tomorrow, so I’ll be trying it again after the cyber-dust settles a bit.

I really do like their product. The books are beautiful, the cards were probably the best I’ve ever seen, birth-announcement-wise, and they have more layout choices for their products than anyone else on the market. Semi-buggy software and unprepared servers are a small price to pay for something as nice as what they offer.

But if they’re looking, I know an awesome internet company that could get them up and running in ways that they never would have imagined. ;)

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I’m working against a different deadline tonight, so it will be short here. I’m trying desperately to get the final draft of our scrapbook finished and posted at so that I can cash in on their buy-one-get-one-free sale that is running through midnight tomorrow. I’ve had about a month to get this done, but with school and kids, I’ve only had time to sit down to it in earnest in the past week. It’s coming together really nicely and when it gets done I think it’s going to be something about which I can be really proud.

On that note, I’m heading back to copy writing. Will tell more about the kids tomorrow—Laura is teething and Harrison’s got a loose tooth, so the cycle is always going—but for now I’m out.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

With Teeth (Almost)

Oh, but teething sucks.

I remember this stage with Harrison. He would be so sad and miserable and there was nothing I could do for him except hold him and love him. I half jokingly said at the time that I was going to get out an X-Acto knife and cut the skin open so the teeth could go ahead and come through. I never actually did it, but I was sorely tempted.

And so now we’re back in the same place with Laura. She’s fine about half the time, but once the pain starts spiking up in her little gums, she gets fussy, miserable and downright unpleasant. She doesn’t want food, she doesn’t want milk and she darn well doesn’t want you to put that nasty Orajel crap in her mouth. Of course, as soon as you do and it takes effect, she calms down and the world goes back to near-normal.

I’m clinging to the remembrance that once Harrison had about four or five teeth actually in, he stopped fussing so much. I don’t know if at that point it just started to not hurt anymore, or if he was just used to the pain and didn’t notice it anymore. Either way, I’m just ready for my little girl to not be in so much pain all the time. I want her happy smile to return because, really and truly, she is such a joyful baby to be around when her gums aren’t being pierced.

This, too, shall pass.

Some day, it will be that the braces are hurting her gums. But I’d rather not think of that, just yet.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Land With No Internet

My son and I were talking tonight about when I was a kid. He asked me about video games when I was a kid and so I told him about the Commodore Vic-20 that I had. Everyone else I knew had a Sega or an Atari, but my dad, a budding computer enthusiast, bought into William Shatner’s line of reasoning: “Why just buy a video game?” In retrospect, I’m pretty happy about what we had, but at the time I would have given anything to be able to play PacMan or Donkey Kong or even Burger Time. As it was, I had games like Raid on Fort Knox, Radar Rat Race and Dig Dug.

Harrison asked how many games I had and, while I couldn’t remember an exact number, I estimated that my brother Mike and I had probably had, at any given time, probably ten games. Harrison countered this by saying, “I have four video games. I have, I have, I have The Magic Tree House [ed. the website for the books], and I have Kido’z.” We had to explain to him that at this time, there really was no internet (at least, not that was available to John Q. Public, but why confuse the kid?), and that you had to load the games with a cartridge.

He tried to wrap his mind around this concept—a world without the internet. I could seem him trying, but I don’t think he really grasped it. I moved on, though, with my personal history lesson and next told him about my Commodore 64, a veritable beast of computing power. It, like the Vic-20, took cartridges, but we also had a tape deck for programs that were on cassette tapes (!!!), as well as a very early floppy disk drive (5-1/4 inch, y’all!).

When asked about my favorite games on this system, I told him about Space Taxi, a game I spent so much time on that I can, to this day, still hear the little guy screaming across the screen, “Hey! Taxi!”

I told him about how, in the game, your objective was to take customers from one little island to another, trying very hard not to crash into anything. You could accidentally crash by not having your landing gear out when you were approaching the pad, or you could just be going too fast. One of the things that I used to do, just because it made me laugh so hard, was to run over the little block customer. Fortunately, I’ve outgrown such sadism, but I see it in my son when he pushes the Lego R2-D2 off a cliff in Lego Star Wars, just to hear him scream. I assume he’ll outgrow it someday, too, but for now, I’m not terribly worried about it.

For me, the best part was that after hearing me describe how much fun it was to play the game, my son wanted to act out the picking up and dropping off of taxi customers from one of my hands to another. The kid had never seen it, had only seen me gesture with my hands in a general ‘You do this and then that’ kind of way, but he wanted to ‘play’ it with me.

He’s a good boy. Whatever else happens with him, behavior-wise—green light, yellow light, or even, God forbid, red light in the kindergarten room—the boy wanted to help me recreate my favorite video game.

I couldn’t be prouder of him.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Belly full, much like most everyone else I know right now. Thanksgiving is always such a mixed bag for me, holiday-wise. I enjoy the food, I enjoy the visiting, but really, about an hour in, I’m ready for people to leave and for my quite cocoon to come back. It seems that no one on either side of our families has any volume control and the only way to make yourself heard is to scream above all the din and, really, by the time folks leave, that’s pretty much what I’m grateful for.

But I really did enjoy everything tonight. The food, as always, was spectacular. I decided to forego the roasted turkey in favor of deep fried turkey, which was pretty awesome. We went to Sister Mary G’s for a deep frying party last night and so that was taken care of. All that remained (for which I was responsible) was to cook the ham, two pies, a pumpkin pie cake (mmmmmmmm), and deviled eggs. Between rolling, and filling and mushing and what-all else, we straightened the living room (I swear that debris breeds on my side tables!), cleaned the floors (best hubby ever who vacuums and mops!), cleaned the boy’s room (ish), and cleaned the guest bathroom (ish). In between all that, we got to watch the Macy’s parade (why do they even show that other one?) and, well, not much else. But the house is more or less clean now, excepting the dishes and some minor pickup business that will be taken care of in the morning. Harrison went to spend the night with my parents and they are going out to my grandmother’s house tomorrow to visit. After Robert gets off work, I think I’m going to see if he wants to drive out to Crazy Town (they do live in Rusk…fittingly…) and visit.

So now, the house is quiet. The husband is crashed in bed in a fit of tryptophans and beer. The girl is crashed in her crib, exhausted from cute overload for the family. I am working on a scrapbook of sorts from a trip we took last summer in the hopes of getting it done before the 30th of the month. With quiet like this, it just might happen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Day Is Upon Us

Got the turkey done (thanks, Bob!). Near done getting the office cleaned and organized. Have pretty much neglected the rest of the house, but I figure I’ll hit it in the morning and it will be fine by the time folks get here for late lunch. (Lupper? Sunch?) We’ve been having Thanksgiving at our house for so many years, I just don’t bother worrying about it anymore.

Now to head to bed, get some rest and get charged up for the day-long marathon that is our holiday. Counting my blessings, including my wonderful husband who I love more each day, my beautiful children without whom I cannot imagine existence, and the health and wellbeing of my family, both immediate and extended. Wishing those further away could be with us, but glad that they are making their lives where and how they are. So grateful that we have enough to eat, a roof over our heads and jobs that keep us busy (and solvent!).

Wishing the happiest of Thanksgiving Days to everyone out there!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I’ve enjoyed spending the last two days with Harrison at home. He and I have hung out, watched a little TV, read and just lazed around the house. We finished the fourth Magic Tree House today (Pirates Before Noon, I think), and he got the stamp for his MTH Passport. Incidentally, if you don’t know about the MTH, do go check it out. I guess because I worked at bookstores for so many years, I just knew that they existed, but many of my friends with kids and grandkids don’t seem to know about them, so here’s your heads-up! Basically, it’s a series of stories in which a brother and sister go to this magical tree house in their local woods and transport themselves to different times and places to see things throughout history. So far, we’ve ‘traveled’ to the Pleistocene era to see dinosaurs, to the middle ages to see an English castle, to ancient Egypt to see a mummy and to the Caribbean to see pirates. Tomorrow, we’ll be visiting ancient Japan and some Ninjas, so that should be cool. At an average of 60-70 pages, they’re chapter books, but they’re quick reads so you don’t get so bogged down in story. The writing’s a little fragmented, but I overuse hyphens and parenthesis, so who am I to complain?

In other news, Harrison also got to read a few emails—and send a few!—with his new Kido'z browser. There are five or six queued up right now, waiting for him, so I know that will excite him in the morning. His only problem with the emailing (which I figured would happen, but hope we’ll find a way to circumnavigate) is that he is constantly trying to run and check his inbox. He only gets a limited amount of time each day, but if he sees me checking my mail and approving something from someone, he then wants to go, boot up and look at it. Definitely going to have to instill the ‘once a day’ rule with him, I think. Or maybe I should just check my email less throughout the day and set a better example….

Monday, November 23, 2009


I can’t thank Momma Snail over at The Snail’s Trail enough. She’s not aware that she has changed my life, but so she has.

She posted a few days ago about a web browser for kids. At the time, I glanced at it, thought, ‘Hmmm, cool.’ And that was pretty much it.

But I was home from school today with the boy and, after getting done entering my students’ grades, I decided to give it a whirl. Man, this thing is cool. After getting it installed on Harrison’s computer*, I looked through it to see what all it had going for it. Y’all, there is any and every sort of kid-friendly internet based thing automagically installed on this thing. Dozens of websites aimed at kids, and not toy websites, but stuff like! YouTube videos that have been vetted and found to be kid-friendly. Better yet, the videos come up in a format that the kids can’t get into, so they can’t go from, say, a School House Rocks video to someone farting ‘I’m Just a Bill.’ And the channels of videos—science, how-to, funny stuff, animals—are just really cool.

Best of all, as a parent, you can moderate what your child sees. If you decided that the vetted videos or websites or games or whatever are not appropriate for your child, you can easily block them through the parent portal. You can also add your own sites—I added and Harrison’s teacher’s class website, as well as our family’s photo site.

I’ve been avoiding the email thing with Harrison for a long time, too, because I just didn’t want the burden of all the crap that goes along with it. Through this browser, though, I was able to set up an account for him, tell from whom he may receive and to whom he may send email and I can actually read the emails he sends and receives. There will come a day when that’s a trust issue and I’m going to have to back up and give him room, but for right now, I think it’s just about perfect. The email itself can be actual text or a picture—it’s kind of like a Paint program.

The basic package is free, but I’m seriously considering the upgrade. It’s $50 a year, but for that, you get some avatar stuff (meh—who cares?), some more email options (more drawing tools, that sort of thing—whatever), but most importantly, you get a timer built in that tells your kid when your predetermined time limit is up as well as statistics you can parse to see if your little angel is spending too much time on the interweb.


*Yes, the boy has his own computer now. It’s kind of a Franken-computer, with parts accumulated from several different sources, but it’s got a newer version of Windows and runs at least as fast as my laptop. He’s allotted 30 minutes to an hour each day, depending on behavior and day of the week (weekend days get longer times than school days, ‘natch).

It’s 2009—what else were we going to do?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Watching The Patriot. I was just thinking to myself recently--mere days ago, maybe even yesterday--that I wanted to see it again. Powers of attraction at work. :)
At church this morning, we were having a Flower Communion in which we were all given some flowers that we would put into a communal vase and tell what we were thankful for. My son, while waiting for our turn, turned his flower stems on their sides and brandished them as a gun.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Tangled Web

So obsessed.

I’m fixated on this new thing I’ve found. I say ‘new,’ but it’s something I've been doing for years with no official name. They call it ‘Zentangling.’ I call it ‘Glorified Doodling.’

Which sounds like I don’t have any respect for it. I do, however, have great respect for it. It is simple, yet looks super complicated. It is amazing in its ability to relax your brain and allow you to ‘Zen out.’ It’s as portable as you want it to be—I’m working on a 12 x 15 inch piece of mat board, but the ZT folks sell 4 x 4 inch tiles. They also have examples of people doing it on all manner of things—shoes, walls, floors, whatever.

I’m so in love with this.

Harrison is digging it, too. He helped me on a few spots on my current piece and I can see setting him up with a piece of mat board and a marker and letting him go crazy pretty soon.

Yay for pattern! Yay for texture! Yay for doodling!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Feeling Lazy Tonight*

*Or, I already thought a lot and typed some stuff, so I’m just going to repost it here.

So my friend Sundie from junior high posted this list on Facebook today that made me kind of sit up and say, ‘Hey, that’s my list!’ (Yeah, I know I was boycotting Facebook, like, a week ago. Shut up.) In lieu of the awkward paraphrase, I’ll just post the actual comments.

Sundie: is wondering... What was your favorite song when you were 5, 10, 15, 20, 25? It's interesting to think about how my music tastes have changed over the years (or have they?) and how the music has changed, or come back around.

Sundie: Here are my answers:
5 (1981) I Love Rock & Roll , Joan Jett
10 (1986) Kiss, Prince
15 (1991) Groove Is in the Heart, Deee-Lite
20 (1996) Who Will Save Your Soul, Jewel
25 (2001) I Try, Macy Gray

[Ed. note: These songs rocked my world! However, in the interest of showing the diversity of those years (or near to those years), I purposely looked for other songs.]

Amy: Man, your list is remarkably close to what I would put. I'm going to have to think and see if I can come up with anything else, but that's dangerously close. :)

Sundie: I had the hardest time with 1986 and 1996. There were so many good artists and good songs those years, but the key for me was to go back in time and remember what I sang along with on the radio the most back then. You and I were always so much alike though. I'm anxious to see what you come up with.

Amy: Ok, here we go.

5 (1980) We Will Rock You (Queen) - we had the 45 record with this and We Are the Champions and because of this, I always still feel funny when I hear the two songs melded into one. In my mind, they're two separate songs that are rarely played together unless you take the time to flip the record. Also listened to a lot of Motown, via my mom.

10 (1985) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper) and Jump (Van Halen) - tough choice on this one. I remember dancing to both of them tons and tons.

15 (1990) Ice Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice)/Girl You Know (Milli Vanilli) and pretty much anything by New Kids on the Block
1990 was kind of an embarrassing year. Sigh.

20 (1995) Anything by Alanis Morissette or Natalie Merchant - this was early in my angry young female singer phase - good stuff, but in retrospect, a lot of it's pretty whiny. Sigh.

25 (2000) Little Earthquakes (Tori Amos) - this was way past the time this album came out, but I was really obsessed with her for quite a few years there and this was my favorite for a long, long time. Also liked Bjork quite a bit.

30 (2005) Radiohead, Muse, Nine Inch Nails, etc.

Man, that's exhausting. Kind of weird, too, seeing my musical tastes move around so much. A lot of what I listened to over the years was influenced by who I was hanging out with. Now I'm around teenagers, but I refuse to listen to their music. Meh. :)

It’s funny looking at this list. A lot of this music really defined who I was and what was going on in my life at the time. I obviously don’t have everything in there. There was a U2 phase in high school between the 1990 Bad White Guy Rapping obsession and the 1995 Angry White Girl Screaming phase. There’s the very brief country phase I went through when I was very briefly dating a redneck in high school. There’s the Christian Heavy Metal phase I went through (Stryper, anyone?) when I thought I really was holier than, well, everyone else. But it’s interesting to see the strata that are exposed when I do a core test of the bedrock of my musical history.

As a fun side note, it’s always fun to make Robert cringe when I tell him I listened to heavy metal like he did when he was a kid. He’ll be rocking out to some Iron Maiden or something and I’ll say, “Hmm, that sounds kind of like Stryper does.” It’s fun to make his eye twitch. ;p

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yellow Fever!

Yeah, yeah, we all know I’m tired. What else is new? I’m seriously beginning to wonder if I don’t have some sort of chemical imbalance. Might explain my mood swings, too. I think I’ve got a girl doctor visit coming up—I’m going to ask if it’s normal to always be this tired or if she thinks there’s something up with me. She’ll probably just say something like, “Well, duh, Amy—you’ve got two kids, one of whom is a baby. Suck it up!” But we don’t know until we try, do we?

On a more positive note, Harrison took his first belt test tonight and has advanced to yellow belt! I know it’s kind of a gimme—we pay them the $25 for the belt test, they advance him if he half does it right since it’s the very first test. Nonetheless, I’m very proud of him and very proud for him. He was very excited about it and whooped and hollered pretty much the rest of the night. At supper, he told me that his new favorite color is yellow, which is a pretty big change of heart for a little boy who has favored red the bulk of his very short life.

He’s in his bed now, dreaming of Ninja Camp (a real thing!) and fighting with nunchucks.

Harrison gets his yellow belt!

Ah, to be a kid again and be so excited about something.

Speaking of which, school’s out next week! Talk about getting me excited!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bunco Babe and the Feasty Boy

So the boy got to eat at his Thanksgiving Feast at school today. I totally worried that he wouldn’t get to since I didn’t send the money required for it until the day of the feast, regardless of the dozen or so flyers sent home during the weeks leading up to today. SuperMom—that’s me!

Went to BUNCO tonight at Mechael’s house. Didn’t win squat, but had a good time visiting with the girls. I don’t often get to see the Dub-Town folks anymore since I’m in Longview now, so I usually really look forward to my monthly gathering.

Heading to bed now since my contacts are so foggy I can’t see through them anymore. That’s usually my clue that I’m too danged tired to do much else for the night.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Most nights when I post from my phone I'm just too tired to do elsewise. Tonight, I just don't care. Im tired, yes, but mostly I'm cranky and apathetic and feel like a terrible parent. I've been on edge fir mosf of the night and were it not for this fool goal I've set for mysel I'd be asleep right now. Done now. Heading to bed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yes, ‘Poo!

I found one of the boundaries of my crunchiness.

I’ve been trying the “No ‘Poo” hair cleaning regimen lately. Basically, instead of washing your hair with shampoo and following with conditioner, you use a baking soda and water mixture to wash your scalp and hair and an apple cider vinegar and water mix to condition. It seemed like it was perfect—the chemistry was sound, the price was right (the whole set up cost me less than $3) and it appealed to the side of me that always wants to try the Nouveau Hippy experiments.


I just never got to the point where I felt really comfortable with the results. The first wash and condition was not bad, but every wash thereafter felt like I was this sopping sponge of grease and oil and that I was never getting it quite clean enough. Add to that that I would feel alternately really dry and powdery from the baking soda in some areas and you can imagine the fun I was having.

I finally got fed up with it during conference when I was washing my hair one morning before heading out to a class. When I got done and out of the shower, I couldn’t comb through my hair, so back into the water my head went. Rinse, rinse, rinse. Sprinkle the cider, let it sit for a few seconds and rinse again. Feel for smoothness. None to be found. Rinse again. Cider again. Rinse yet again.

I finally got the comb through my hair, but by that time I was running late and didn’t have time to dry my hair (another big no-no, but whatever—I’m a busy lady and don’t have time to air dry my hair in the morning; so sue me). I instead pulled it all up in a bun and ran out the door, all the while swearing that this crap was OVER WITH.

And so it was. I washed my hair with the hotel shampoo and conditioner the next day and my hair was soft and smooth and CLEAN. I gave the experiment almost three weeks. I’m sure it was probably part of the ‘getting adjusted’ period that all the blogs talk about. I’m sure if I had stuck it out, it would all be perfect by now and I’d be part of the Super Crunchy Hippy Dippy Society.

Or it would feel even worse and I’d be depressed because I thought my hair looked bad and smelled worse.

Thing is, this kind of thing is always sold on the premise that ‘our ancestors didn’t use these new fangled [thing they’re railing against]. They would never dream of washing their hair with shampoo and finishing it off with conditioner! They did it the old fashioned way, the God-planned way, and they liked it!

Our ancestors also put lead in their face makeup, belladonna drops in their eyes and died of typhoid and botulism.

Maybe modern conveniences aren’t so bad.

[Incidentally, for those of you with the patience and ability to make this thing work, all the best to you—I’m not saying it can’t work. I’m saying that I gave it the honest effort that I intended and it didn’t  work for me. If your Twinkie is creamed with this stuff, by all means, don’t let me stop you. I’ve got a Head and Shoulders bottle calling my name, though.]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What Happens at TAEA Convention…

Oh, so in need of a break from my break from work. :)

I went to Dallas for my annual TAEA conference this past weekend, wherein art teachers from across the state of Texas descended on the city like a plague of locusts. (Harsh? Maybe. I’ve seen these folks in the vendors’ hall, though. Harsh, but pretty accurate.)

I’ve already griped about how small the classes were (and thusly, how difficult it was to get into and how you had to be kind of rude and elbow your way into them), so I won’t flog that dead horse. Nor will I flog the one about how we got sidetracked (read: we missed our exit and the people following us went an exit too early) on our original arrival to the hotel and the ensuing hurt feelings and cattiness that evolved. Suffice it to say that the first night was kind of rough. The first morning was kind of rough. Somehow, though, by lunch time on the first day, it all evened out for better or worse and the rest of the weekend was marvelous.

I really love Dallas. Robert and I went there for our honeymoon many moons ago and so it’s always been kind of special to me. As it turns out, the same bar we went to on our honeymoon is still there, albeit now serving as a sports bar. The girls and I camped out on the patio for a good portion of the night and had a few rounds of some local brews (Landshark!), enjoying the company and revelry.

The next few days are a blur of awesome workshops, killer sushi (Sushi World is worth the drive, in and of itself!) and more beer. We saw the Dallas Museum of Art (free—thanks TAEA!), went up in Reunion Tower (where I had to get territorial over a seat at the bar) and rode the DART back and forth more times than I care to count.

All told, it was a great weekend. I missed my family, but it was nice to connect with my “art family” and remember that I am other than “Mom” and “Wife,” even if only for a few days.

Best of all, upon returning home, everyone seemed genuinely glad to see me. It’s nice to feel appreciated, even if it’s just for something as simple as walking through the door.