Monday, August 31, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Can’t think straight, my brain is so foggy. I know that’s all I whine about these days, but it’s seriously wearing on me. I got a few good days of downtime this past weekend, but I think it’s going to take a little more to get me cleared up and back on track. Maybe with this three-day weekend coming up, I can get it together.

Harrison made it to my room this afternoon just fine. One of the Special Ed. aides brought him to me and as soon as he walked in with the boy, he looked at me and said, “Man, he likes to talk!” I hope my chirpy boy isn’t going to be too much for him. I mean, he’s got a boy in Kindergarten, too, so I imagine that he gets a lot of the chatter from home as well. Maybe all Kindergarteners aren’t like this? I don’t know—I’ve not spent a whole lot of time around Kinders who weren’t mine. Harrison did well with the sitting and coloring while I wrapped things up in my classroom business. I think it’s going to work out fine. I introduced him to Mary and Jessica across the hall and they have said that he is welcome to come into their room any time that he wants, so he’ll probably end up spending the final minutes of the school day with them while I’m working.

One day down, four more to the big weekend. Hope my kids remember their shoes this tomorrow. We’ve been brainstorming our Glue A Shoe visual puns, and they’ve got some good ideas, but if they don’t have their shoes, they can’t get started. Guess we’ll see how many kids end up with zeroes tomorrow.

I feel like I should be trying harder to come up with something profound to say. Maybe there’s not always something profound. Maybe life is just made up of bits and pieces and when I look back at all this in a year, it will just be cool to see what I was thinking at this moment in time, rather than that I’ve always got something pithy to say.

Maybe I just got profound with that idea. Gah. Can’t escape it!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bring on Week 2

Mom and dad watched the kids tonight while we went grocery shopping. It’s funny to think that going grocery shopping is fun—Robert hates it—but I usually stay home with the kids, so it’s always new and exciting when I get to go. I’m also a bit more free spending at the stores than Robert, so that keeps me from going, too. It’s nice, though, to be able to actively participate in choosing what we eat as a family. If we started making out a menu and setting up a shopping list from that so I have a specific set of foods I’m out to buy instead of whatever looks good, I wonder if that would help curb my splurging? Something to think about…

Church was pretty interesting this morning. The leader read a passage out of Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches From America’s Class War. This book has been on my to-read list for about a year, but I’m waiting to see if I can get it from PaperBackSwap (I’m number one out of 32 people who have it wish listed—finally!). I love reading books from the library, but as slowly as I have to read these days between interruptions from boy and girl and man and work, I’d have to re-check it several times and I always feel like an idiot when I have to do that. But maybe it will be in soon…

Work starts back up in the morning. I guess I’m ready. I’ve got four student aides and they are kicking the grunt work I have had lined up for them in the butt, so that’s going nicely. Now if I could just get my closet organized back into shape. Maybe this week. Harrison is going to start riding the bus to the high school in the afternoons and spending the last bit of the day with me. I’m kind of excited about that. I hope it goes well.

Off to watch a zombie movie with Robert and cuddle with the girl in her fuzzy jammies. (She’s finally in some of the bigger clothes we inherited from Baby Margaret—thanks, Liz and Will!).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Home Bound and Happy

Nice Saturday today. No real pressure to get anything done. I washed a few loads of laundry, kind of picked up a little, but otherwise just hung out with the fam. Finished reading Anne of the Island. Every few years I re-read the Anne books and this seems to be the year for it.

I think Harrison enjoyed just hanging out today. By the end of summer, especially after he had been home for more than a week with little to no contact with other kids, he was stir crazy and was begging for someone to play with. Today, he just hung out, played video games, watched some TV, and we read books and played. He spent a good bit of time entertaining himself while Robert and I worked on our choice projects for the day or while we just lazed about. I think that seeing kids all week long is going to make it easier for him to not need constant companionship on the weekends. Besides, when we go to church on Sundays, he’ll get to see his friends there so really it’s only one day of no other kids.

I hope to have some videos posted pretty soon. Harrison has learned a song about pirates at school that he goes around chanting so I want to get it up. I’ve also got some audio files on my phone that I need to figure out how to post as they are painfully funny. Hopefully soon…

This is all scattered thinking, but that’s pretty much the way my brain is working these days. Can’t wait for work brain to settle in and get rid of flaky brain!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Saddest Little Pirate

Do I go to Hell if I laughed at my son crying on the school bus this morning?

Really, I wasn’t laughing at him—he was very earnest in his tears—but I was laughing at the situation. We got to school this morning and sat around, waiting for the bus that carries him to the Primary campus, just like we’ve done all week. He waited as patiently as he could for his friend, Lance, who rides over with him. When Lance and his mom got there, the boys talked and Harrison showed his Show-And-Tell item (his Mickey Mouse ears—he had to bring something that starts with the same letter as his name, so he brought a hat). Then, my friend Mary, whom Harrison adores, arrived on the scene so he went over to talk to her for a minute. Shortly thereafter, the bus pulled up and all the high school kids lumbered off.

All this went without a hitch. No problems in sight.


The five or six little kids started to climb onto the now cleared bus. When I bent to kiss Harrison and tell him to have a good day, he started crying. He climbed up on the steps of the bus, but he wouldn’t sit down so I had him give me one last hug before leaving, all the while crying and snotting and telling me he didn’t want to go.

Through all this drama, Lance was watching Harrison with huge eyes. He looked at his mom for confirmation that everything was all right, but her reassurance was not as convincing as my son’s blubbering, so he started crying. I didn’t notice whether the other kids were crying at this point—I was too busy snickering into my coffee cup and trying not to make eye contact with the other moms or we would have all had a full on belly laugh.

I don’t think he really didn’t want to go—I think he was just tired from going to school all week and it just kind of hit him all at once. Since I didn’t get any notes saying otherwise, I assume he cleared up pretty quickly and had a good day at school. He didn’t get any notes and his calendar (where the teacher makes little one sentence proclamations regarding his behavior on each day) was bare for today, save for a smiley sticker. When I picked him up at daycare after school, he rushed up to me and told me that he had missed me and so he had sat down to sing the Sad Song (not sure what that is, but it sounds pretty devastating). I think he’s just tired, like the rest of us. I’m sure that when his body gets used to the rhythm of the school week, he’ll be fine and dandy. Starting next week, he’s going to ride the bus to my campus in the afternoons instead of going to daycare (saving $200 a month!) and sit in my room the last 10 minutes of the day, so I think that will be fun.

All told, he had a pretty good week. We had a bit of a wobble there in the middle, but he evened out and did fine the rest of the week. My baby is growing up and becoming a full fledged Kindergartener. I’m of mixed emotions about that, but right now the balance is leaning more towards pride than sadness.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Week Almost Over

Oooooh, sooooo tiiiiiirrrrreeeddddd.

I am not going anywhere this weekend.

I love going places and visiting people, but I’m so drained from running for the past few weeks that I don’t know how I’m still functioning. (Hint: I think it has to do with lots and lots of coffee…) I want to stay home this weekend, clean up the house a little bit—the floors have been neglected for a while—and I want to sleep. Maybe hit church on Sunday, but only if I’m rested up enough for it.

Harrison did much better today at school. He got a positive note, so that’s cool. I’m hoping that he won’t have to go through the full blown boundary exploration this time and can just do the Cliff’s Notes version. Surely a kid as smart as he is can figure out that the rules don’t really change that much from classroom to classroom, teacher to teacher and school to school. He said to me yesterday after he got done with his litany of transgressions for the day, “Mommy, I’m just going to have to stop being so curious.” I replied that I didn’t want him to stop being curious, as that’s what makes life interesting and that’s how he’s going to learn about things, but, for goodness sake, couldn’t he please learn which behaviors were considered misbehavior?

School continues to be sailing fairly smoothly. The kids are pretty cool this year and I don’t have anyone yet who seems to be a total turd. Usually by this time, I can tell who my ‘You can’t tell me anything, I’m just here for the credit and I don’t care” kids are, but I don’t seem to have any of them. Or at the very least, the ones who are just there for the credit seem to at least have a personality that wasn’t borrowed from a sociopath.

So yeah, good classes, good kid, happy husband (we got the yard work done—now Robert doesn’t have to do it!), sweet baby. My bases are covered. If I can just get some sleep, I’ll be golden.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pushing Boundaries

Well, like I figured he would, Harrison got in a little bit of trouble today. I don’t like to be negative and I don’t like to feel like I’m always downing the boy, but I do know the patterns. In virtually every classroom he’s ever gone into since he was two years old, he has spent the first few weeks exploring his boundaries. In laymen’s terms, that pretty much means he makes the teacher ask him multiple times to do something, oftentimes acting like he doesn’t hear them until he gets into trouble. When he eventually gets sent to the green carpet or the “chair'” or whatever disciplinary time out device the teacher uses, he is awfully contrite and claims that “it was an accident!”

I can’t count the times he has told me that something wasn’t his fault. I’ve replied to that statement hundreds of times that he needs to understand that when he’s misbehaving and he knows it (which is about 98% of the time—there are a few instances where he isn’t aware of a rule that he’s breaking, but the vast majority of the time, he knows), he is making a choice. When you make a choice, it may be good, it may be bad, but it is very rarely an “accident.”

I’m so tired of  explaining that concept to him, but I know that good parenting doesn’t happen over night; it often comes down to who is more persistent. I like to think I’m more stubborn persistent in explaining and disciplining than my five year old is in misbehaving. Maybe I’m delusional. I don’t know.

I know I’m tired and it’s only been three days of school. I hope with all my heart that he is going to be able to behave for his teacher. I know that eventually he will. I’m just ready for the exploring song and dance to be done so that he can move on. Seeing this exact same scenario play out time after time gets old.

On a positive note, my classes seem to be going pretty well. They’re not perfect by any means, but they seem to be pretty good so that’s kind of cool. Again, I know it’s only been three days and there’s no way to judge kids’ behaviors that early, but I have a good feeling about this year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day Two

Today was, in many ways, better. I didn’t cry when I let my little man out of the van this time. In fact, I was actually kind of peeved that it took all the people so long to get their kids out of the cars so I could head on. We showed up at 7:20, got a place in the drop off lane, the school started taking kids at 7:30 and I was finally able to leave around 7:40. Fortunately, it turns out there are several of us teachers at the high school with Kindergarteners and none of us want to put our kids on a bus at 6:30 in the morning. The school is going to let us bring them to the HS campus where a bus will pick them up at 7:30 and cart them over. It’s nice being catered to. :)

From the gist of what he was saying , I think Harrison had to sit in The Chair again today. But when I asked if anyone else had to sit in it, he said they all did. So maybe mine’s not the only one not behaving. His friend from Oak Forest apparently hit him today, and so he retaliated and had to sit out for 10 minutes. This, of course, is all hearsay from a five year old, so, just like the Internet, you know it must all be true.

My eyes feel like they’re going to fall out, I’m so tired. The first week or so wears me out, but at least this year I’m not doing it pregnant. I know I’ll eventually snap back into place and figure it all out.

Off to sleep. Two days down, a whole butt pile more to go.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day is Done

I assume it gets easier to drop my baby off at the Big Kid School eventually. Hopefully, if nothing else, the physical act of dropping him off will get easier—it took me 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot this morning! Some stupid-klutzoid-dumbhead-nognog decided that the week before school started up was the best time to do blacktop repairs to the road right in front of the freaking school. As if dropping your kid off in the morning wasn’t nightmare enough, now it’s a one-lane, one way nightmare. Gah.

But the boy is now Kindergartened. As he told me about his day, I kind of pieced together all the things they did—exploring the room and all its centers, eating in the cafeteria, visiting the gym for PE—and I was truly excited for him. He did mention having to sit “in the chair,” a euphemism that I can only assume is equivalent to Oak Forest’s “green carpet” and the rest of the world’s “time out.” Honestly, I’m disappointed that he had to sit “in the chair,” but I’m not really surprised. He usually pushes his boundaries pretty early on in a new situation and, after a few nights of no TV or video games followed by a night or two of spankings, he settles down and flies straight. I don’t expect this to be any different. He has to know where the outer limits are before he can feel truly comfortable.

He’s really excited about getting to wear whatever he wants. After years of the polo shirts that were the uniform at Oak Forest, he was giddy about getting to wear his Optimus Prime shirt this morning. Add to that his Optimus backpack and brand-new-never-been-worn Optimus shoes, and he was practically dancing out the door. Tonight, while Harrison was supposed to be getting undressed and ready for his bath, Robert and I were talking about how cool it was that Harrison could wear whatever shirt he wanted. Joking around, Robert said, “Heck, he could probably even wear the polo shirts from Oak Forest if he wanted!”

Harrison came running into the room, butt nekkid, and with a look of alarm on his face said, “No collar shirts!”

Guess it’s going to be a while before he wants to wear something like that again. :)

Little Man

Outside the classroom

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

I spent the better part of the weekend celebrating the end of my educational career. Well, not the end. I did go to college. But it was the ceremonial, ‘Aren’t we a fine bunch of adults?’ end that comes with the conclusion of high school.

We drove to Houston, got to Lisa and Billy’s, talked them into joining us at the party that night (thanks for going, BTW, guys—we had a blast with you!!!), got ready speedily, and then rushed over to the restaurant for the reunion. The getting-to-re-know-you chit-chat was pretty standard. Like all good social situations, it began with the weather.  When you take almost 80 people and cram them into a room that is about 60’ x 30’, it’s bound to be a bit warm. When the air conditioning at the aforesaid room, a Thai restaurant in a newly developed and pretty swank area of Humble, is quirky at best and belligerent at worst, you get the same “Well, they’re just making the room’s atmosphere match the food.” joke over and over (and over and over).

When the weather got boring—and it’s amazing how many times we kicked it around, never fully giving up on it throughout the night but coming back to visit it every time there was a lull in the conversation—we began dissecting our lives.  “What do you do these days?” “Do you have any kids?” “This is my wife. We’ve got a new baby and each of us has a kid from a previous marriage.”

I have to say, in some ways, it was like high school all over again. Everyone found their clique (nerds in back, near the air conditioned bathroom, party animals out front, smoking and bragging about how each one could drink the other ones under the table) and kind of stayed there all night. We would occasionally see someone who needed to be visited and we would go visit them, but we always came back to our groups.

I don’t want this to sound negative in any way, but in re-reading it, it kind of does. The point I’m trying to make is that we found those with whom we found comfort in the old days and I guess we provided the same comforts we did back then. And there’s nothing bad about being able to relax and enjoy yourself. You shouldn’t have to be on your guard all the time, and friends—good friends—provide that shelter, either in your formative years, while you’re trying to figure who you are in this world, or later when you’re meeting back up in your peer group and you’re trying to figure out who you became in this world and how you measure up to who everyone else became.

On the flip side of all of this, Harrison starts Kindergarten tomorrow. Like, in eight hours. I kind of just threw up in my mouth a little bit, thinking about it. I know this is an artificial rite of passage, since he’s been in Montessori school since he was 18 months old, but this is the real deal. This is the point at which he starts being guided and groomed to become whoever he’s going to become in this world. This is where his peer group is going to begin formulating and where he’ll find out which party line he’s going to end up falling behind.

We’ve joked that we’re trying to ‘nerd him up’ by getting him interested in Star Wars, Star Trek and video games so that he won’t be popular and thus won’t get into the trouble that the popular kids always seemed to get into at mine and Robert’s schools. While I don’t want my son to be a friendless freak who everyone hates and picks on, I really do kind of want him to not be in the top social circles of the school. I don’t want him to feel like he’s got to jump through hoops to keep up with the popular kids, always performing and always doing what the crowd wants to do. I want him to think for himself and be an individual who can come to conclusions on his own.

This, of course, severely maligns the popular kids as being mindless drones who can’t make a decision without a consensus poll, but the fact is, that’s the behavior I saw as a kid. As an adult, I understand what I’m seeing a little bit better, but it’s still what I see far too often.(I should probably say that the popular kids were by no means the only ones who got in trouble, much as they’re not the only ones in trouble these days.)

I guess what I want more than for him to not be in the top social tier is for him to look at any peer group and, firstly, see the individuals in it for who they are instead of as some larger part of a machine. Secondly, I want him to understand that when you choose to be friends with someone, you choose to have their problems become your problems. Similarly, their successes become your successes. Your peer group can be a blessing or a burden and only you can choose how it will affect you.

Which is all to say that 15 years after Harrison (and later Laura) has walked the stage and thrown his cap into the air, I really hope he is in the group by the air conditioned bathroom. They’re good people. They’ve got your back. They’re not party animals but they most likely won’t vomit all over your couch.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fifteen Years

Well, the reunion is over and it was pretty darned fun. I worried about seeing all these folks after all these years, and honestly, I do remember kind of not liking some folks 19 years ago. But it's funny how after all this time, it just doesn't matter. Even though we might have had issues in the 8th grade (and who didn't have personality conflicts in the 8th grade?), tonight they didn't matter. I got to reconnect with some of my oldest, bestest friends and it was awesome the way we just picked up where we left off.
Now we're off to the movies with Lisa and Billy. We're going to go see District 9 which everyone says is really good.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Final Friday

And so it goes.

My summer is, much to my chagrin, all but gone. I spent the day working in my classroom and with the other teachers in my department, getting our game plans ready for when the kids get here next week. Cosmetically, my room is ready although I have quite a bit of stuff hidden behind closed doors in my closets. I’ve got four student aides, though, so I’ll be putting them through their paces next week, testing their filing skills, as well as their ability to hang stuff up without it looking like crap. Several of them are quite tall, so they should be very helpful in this endeavor.

My classroom machinations, though, are nothing to Harrison’s teacher’s. We went yesterday to Meet the Teacher and, well, met the teacher. She’s really nice and Harrison seems like he’s going to like her. He is very glad that his friend, Johnathan is in there with him, as am I. I had hoped he’d have at least one friend he already knew when he started here since it’s a totally new school. His teacher has done all kinds of prep work already, from bulletin boards (very big with the elementary set) to folders for the kids and ‘coping’ packs for the moms with a note that is intended to ease the pain of transition.

Mrs. D. also knows where her kids live, which blows my mind—I don’t even know how many kids I have, much less that level of minutia detail. But her house is a block away from us; it struck me as funny because she mentioned it during our visit with her. I told Robert that that’s how you tell the elementary teacher from the secondary teacher—I would never dream of telling a teenager where I live. :)

Speaking of where we live, because the driver starts her route a few blocks away from us, Harrison will be out on the curb catching the bus at 6:30. AM. Yes, the 6:30 that is still kind of dark a good chunk of the year. My five year old son is going to be getting ready to board his morning transportation before I’ve finished my cup of coffee. For that matter, the coffee might still be brewing at that point. I really want to be optimistic about this because he really, really wants to ride the yellow school bus, but I just don’t know how this is going to work out. I have the distinct feeling that I will end up taking him to school. I don’t know. We’ll see.

Robert and I are off tomorrow morning to go to my high school reunion and we’ll be driving back on Sunday to have a last, golden day with Harrison before he starts down his road to graduation.

Oh, and yesterday was two months of writing—one sixth of the year down! Woot!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Too Tired To Finish Harrison's Storybook

This going back to work thing is wearing me out. I get to the end of the day and I'm so tied I want to vomit. I'm enjoying the process of getting ready and am actually looking forward to the kids coming back. I even enjoyed meeting Harrison's teacher today, even though it means I'm that much closer to him starting kindergarten.
I just need to figure this sleep/no sleep thing out again. I do this every year, although this year I have the added benefit of having two kids to work around.
Dang, I gotta get some sleep.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gettin’ Ready

We’ve been wrestling with the idea of death at our house, lately.

It all started when Harrison asked why his friends all called him Harrison. The simple answer would have been, “Well, that’s your name, Goober Head. What else would you have them call you?”

I wanted him to be aware, however, of how special his name is. Harrison was named for my paternal Grandfather, a man who was very special in my life. He was what kids hope for in a grandparent—fun loving, full of interesting stories and knowledgeable tidbits and he had a huge capacity for love. He loved to sing and play his guitar and nothing tickled him as much as a good tall tale. He was human, which means that he wasn’t perfect, but from an adoring Granddaughter’s perspective, he couldn’t have been better. When I became pregnant with my first child, it was a no brainer that we would honor my Grandpa by naming my son after him.

This of course, tickled Grandpa to no end. He had several Josephs and Joes in the family, but no one had named their kid Harrison. When the baby arrived, he was as proud as a rooster of that tiny, blond boy. We got to visit Arkansas several times with Harrison before Grandpa died. On one of the most poignant visits, Harrison was just shy of a year old and had never had his hair cut. I decided to ask Grandpa if his barber might be interested in giving the baby his first hair cut so that he could say he had cut both Harrisons’ hair. Moving faster that I had seen him move in months—probably years—Grandpa jumped up, grabbed his cane and said, “Let’s drive into town!” An hour later, a very handsome little man-baby emerged and, tears staunched (he had gotten fed up with all the fussing about—I would have too!), smiled for the camera with his adoring Great-Grandpa.

So anyway, a few nights ago I wanted to make sure Harrison knew how important his name was and why his friends called him that. To all my explanations about name genesis, he asked, “Did he dead?”

“Yes, son, Great-Grandpa died when you were a little more than a year old.”

“Why did he dead—died?”

“Well, son, he had lived a long hand productive life and he was very, very old and it was just his time to go.”

“Am I going to died, Mommy?” He seemed particularly concerned about this one.

“Yes, baby, some day you will die too.”

“But I don’t want to died, Mommy!”

“I know, honey, but everyone has to die at some point. It’s the natural order of things—we all are born and we all have to die.”

“Are Nanny and Papa going to die?”

“Hopefully not for a very long time, son.”

By now, he was crying and I didn’t know how to dig us out of this hole we had dug. Robert called Harrison into the living room to talk to him. He explained that most people live a very long time and that there was nothing to be afraid of and tried to make Harrison as comfortable with the idea as he could. Harrison, by this time, had stumbled upon the idea that Mommy and Daddy were going to die some day, too. To put it lightly, it was a very emotional evening, but he was eventually calmed down and was made to understand that death happens to us all. He’s not happy about it, but I guess he more or less accepted it.

But now, out of the blue, he’ll ask again, “Mom, are Nanny and Papa going to die?” or “Mom, is that guy over there going to die?” We’ve gotten to the point that we tell him, “Yes, honey, but you don’t need to worry yourself over that now.” It all more or less blows over and he continues with whatever he was doing.

So today, we were leaving a friend’s house where we had gone to visit a new puppy. When we got back into the van, Harrison asked out of the blue, “Mom, are Nanny and Papa going to die?” so I gave him the ‘Yes, but don’t worry about it’ response and he was quiet for a few minutes. We saw one of our neighbors walking outside, and Harrison said, “He’s awfully old, isn’t he? His hair’s really gray!” I murmured my agreement and kept driving.

When we passed another neighbor, though, Harrison was much more definite about things. “Mom, he’s really old! He’s getting ready to die!”

There was a stop sign shortly thereafter so I  could collect my wits and do a few deep breaths before continuing on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Time Ticking Away

As overly melodramatic as it sounds, the last few grains of sand in my summer vacation clock are all but gone. I’ve got inservice all this week, which usually means two days of sitting through assemblies and motivational talks and another two days in my room, finishing up with the cleaning and greeting parents on Meet the Teacher day. I’ve got one day of assemblies done (we got clown noses—to remind us to keep our sense of humor) and have another day tomorrow. I think the biggest benefit to having this week of preparation before school starts back up is that it allows all us teacher-folk to realign our internal clocks so we can once again wake up before 8 AM.

Speaking of clocks, the alarm and I were not good friends this morning, especially after Laura decided to get up at 4:15 AM for an early morning meal. Back in bed by 5 AM, the 6:15 AM alarm came and went. Maybe tomorrow morning will be better. I know this much for sure—I have absolutely no desire to stay up until midnight or 1 AM, as I have been doing the past week (as well as most of the rest of the summer, if we’re being honest here…).

Off to bed, off to soul bleeding sleep, off to a better morning tomorrow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nothing Gold Can Stay…

I wish I could say we did something spectacular today since it’s my last day before I have to go back to work and also my last day to spend with Harrison before he starts school. I mean, yeah, I’ll see him this weekend, but Robert and I are heading to Houston Saturday morning for my 15 year class reunion and will be coming back Sunday, probably arriving in the early afternoon. But as for all-day-long-just-me-and-the-boy days, this was it.

We just hung around the house, playing, reading and watching movies. Harrison’s started playing Restaurant lately. He’s got a “cash register” set up in his room, as well as his kitchen, stocked with a pretty decent variety of play food and dishes. He offers me the menu (that he drew) so I can select a cheeseburger and diet coke (the kid knows me!), keys in my order on his register (actually, an old Fisher Price toy that has slides and buttons that squeak when you push them—close enough!), and shows me the key pad where I am to scan my credit card. He then ‘cooks’ my order in the kitchen after washing his hands (money is filthy!) and brings it to me to eat. Good fun! :)

We’ve been reading a lot lately, too. He loved Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and now wants giant pancakes to fall from the sky. We’re looking forward to the movie that opens in theaters next month—I think he’ll really enjoy going to see it. He also read me The Berenstain Bears Play T-Ball today, almost entirely by himself. Out of 20-some-odd pages, I probably told him 10-12 words, and he had the rest of the book covered. His favorite, though, is Rhyming Dust Bunnies. He reads this one (all by himself!!!) over and over and over, laughing uproariously each time. I’ve got video of him reading it and will post it soon—just haven’t gotten around to extracting and internetifying it yet.

While he watched a little TV today, I was able to work on organizing my bookshelves, a job that I have been putting off for the entire summer. Some time last year, I got the paid membership at LibraryThing, which allows you to list as many books as you like on your ‘bookshelf.’ I had to get the paid membership because I have far too many books for the free membership (which only allows up to 200). I’ve got 744 books up there, y’all! It’s crazy, but as I’m going through these books, the vast majority of them I’m thinking, “Man, this was a good book!” or “Man, I wish I had time to read this one because it looks really good!” The few that I looked at and thought, “Why?” have been moved to my recycle pile to be listed on PaperBackSwap. I got through almost all of the non-fiction books today and plan to hit the fiction/drama/poetry ASAP.

(Yeah, I’m sorting my books via the Dewey Decimal System, because that’s the kind of dork I am. Incidentally, I learned a fun fact:  fiction and literature are actually located through out the DDS, but most libraries pull them out and set them up in their own section. Not one to buck the system, I have done the same thing. At least I own my Dorkdom.)

So tomorrow it’s back to the grind. Back to lesson plans (which I should have been typing today, but I played restaurant and read instead—sue me). Back to teenagers who don’t have the sense God gave a goat (not all of them, thankfully, but there are always a few who make me wonder just how many fries they are short of the proverbial Happy Meal). Back to getting up at 6 AM (yay coffee!!!!).

Good bye, Summer—you were much too short and you will be missed!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The beginning of addiction

I am a certified crack-addict level coffee drinker. If I don’t drink it in the mornings, woe be the poor souls who cross my path. I get the taste for it from my Dad, who has been a coffee drinker since I can remember. I didn’t drink it for a long time, but some time around college, I tried it out and found the mix that works for me (I’m a creamer girl—a little Splenda and a whole bucket load of creamer) and have been happily addicted ever since.

As such, I’ve never really offered Harrison any coffee because, well, it’s coffee. The last thing I want is a wired up five-year-old, bouncing off the walls and experiencing the shakes. My Dad, on the other hand, has no such compunctions. He has offered it to Harrison a few times, always with the promise that it would “put hair on his chest.” This is the same thing he told me as a kid, so that’s pretty standard. He also makes that claim regarding hot sauce, jalapenos and beer. (Mind you, he doesn’t offer my kid jalapenos or beer—it’s just part of his repertoire.)

Anyhoo, I’m talking to Harrison a few weeks ago and he mentions that when he was at Papa and Nana’s house last time, Papa offered him some coffee.

“He said it would put hairs on my belly, but I dranked it and there’s no hairs.”

Fortunately, I was next to the sink, so I could spew my coffee into it as I laughed.

I offered him a few sips of coffee this morning, and after a very cautious tasting from the spoon, he decided it was up to his standards. He told me, though, that he was very disappointed that no hairs sprang up—he is now down three belly hairs.

I figure, genetics-wise, he’s not got a lot to worry about if that’s what he’s hoping for. ;)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Planning for the Future


“Hmm?” I’m driving the van back from Tyler where we went to the Brookshire’s World of Wildlife Museum and Country Store. Everyone in the van is either asleep or pretty darned near after the big afternoon we had of picnicking, playing on the vintage fire engine, and looking at the more than 400 stuffed (i.e., dead, not a toy) animals.

“When I grow up to be a Daddy…?” This is how Harrison phrases being an adult—being a Daddy.


“And Rosie grows up to be a Mommy…?” Yep. He’s still planning on getting married to Rosie. (As a side note, he’s decreed that it’s ok for Laura to marry his penpal John or maybe his friend Jonathan from school, but definitely not his on-again-off-again-friend from school, Ben when she gets older. She does not get to pick.)


“Will she have a baby in her tummy?”

Oh God. We’re going to have that talk right now.

With trepidation: “Maybe…..”

“When Rosie gets her baby out, I’m going to name her Shafofo.”

Not sure if I should try to make him understand how Rosie’s baby got in there in the first place or why I refuse to have a grandchild named Shafofo. Decide to play it safe.

“Is Shafofo her first name or her middle name?”

“That’s her middle name. Her first name is going to be Fofo.”

Fofo Shafofo.

I once wanted to name my first born son Xerxes. I guess I have no room to talk.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Preschooler No More

Today was Harrison’s last day at his preschool. He’s been there since he was 18 months old and doesn’t remember any other form of school (or non-school, for that matter). I was very sad to see this day come, as it means my baby is growing older, but he still climbed into my lap with his grasshopper legs this morning, all hugs and snuggles, so I guess I don’t have to worry too much just yet. I’m planning on taking him to his ‘Meet the Teacher’ visit next week and finally to his first day of Kindergarten the Monday after. I’m already a nervous wreck and I’m sure I’ll cry like a big gussy moose. I guess Kindergarten teachers see that all the time, though.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Anti-Guys’ Night

The boys got together tonight, much as they do every month, to fake-kill each other through means both electronic and card based. I usually hang out with the kids by myself on Guys’ Night, eating whatever and doing a lot of nothing. I had thought at times that the girls in these relationships—the Guys’ Night Widows, as it were—could get together and do some kind of girly thing, but had never done so.

Tonight, Liz brought Margaret and Amy brought cheesecake (!) and we decided to have an Anti-Guys’ Night. We didn’t do anything fancy—just hung out, ate food and watched the kids play—but it was nice. I’m kind of misanthropic by nature, but I really enjoyed myself. Maybe I enjoy other peoples’ company more than I think? It was nice to have someone other than a five year old and a five month old to talk with and definitely cool that these older playmates wanted to do something other than play Lego Star Wars.

The kids got on well, as well. Harrison is always happy to have someone to play with, even if that someone is only one and isn’t fully capable of all the things he likes to do. Besides which, Margaret is an explorer who likes to test out her new environment and my son is a tattletale, so they were perfectly matched. :)

I’m looking forward to next month!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Crazy rantings from the midst of PMS Land

Had a crummy day. It’s my own fault, really, since the bulk of my problems revolved around the fact that I got to sleep waaaaaaay too late last night and thusly only had a few hours of sleep. I’ve been sewing this shirt for the last couple of nights, and I could probably have been done by now except that when I take shortcuts, the results look like the work of someone who takes shortcuts. I was raised with the belief that it’s better to do the job right the first time so you don’t have to come back and do it again—kind of a ‘If you’ve got time to do it twice, you’ve got time to do it right the first time.’ kind of attitude. And I’m all for that.

Except that it tends to bring out the perfectionist tendencies in me. I worry about things that someone would have to open my shirt up to see. It’s as if I’m in the mode to be judged at the county fair every time I sit down. It doesn’t help that every sewing website and/or magazine that I look at (and I look at an embarrassing number of them) always spotlights someone whose ‘inner garment construction is as perfect as its outer construction.’ How am I ever going to think it’s ok to sew less than perfectly if I don’t ever see anyone else doing it?

Which is all a long way to go around to say that I stayed up too late sewing and so I snapped at my kid all day because of his natural exuberance. He got a full night’s sleep.

I feel really badly about being short with him, too. I mean, first of all, it’s my own fault. I can’t blame someone else for the choices I make. I try to instill in Harrison (and will when Laura gets old enough) a sense of responsibility for one’s actions. Nothing bugs me so much as to have my son say or do something deliberately and then when I call him on it, to have him say, “But it was an accident, Mom!” We have a lot of Bull Calls in the house.

I also feel badly that I wasted one of my last days with Harrison before school starts up and he enters Kindergarten. I know I’m giving this a lot more artificial importance than it probably deserves, but I can’t help feeling that this is the end of a chapter in his life. From now on, he’s going to be a kid in the public school system, for better or worse.

Robert thinks I’m crazy, but I always feel such sorrow when I think too much on how the kids are growing and developing. I know that Laura is much more fun now that she’s old enough to do stuff besides just sit in the swing or on the floor. She laughs, scoots and is starting to hold her own bottle a little bit. But deep down, I wish I could keep her a month old forever, always cuddly, always dependent on me, always young. I delight in seeing her smiles—she is the happiest baby I have ever seen and her smile lights up the room every morning when I go to get her from the crib. But I can’t help wanting to keep her tiny, even as I get tired of all the diaper duty, the feedings and the crying that replaces any real conversation.

And so it is with Harrison. I know he’s growing into this really awesome person. Heck, he’s already so much cooler a kid than I’ve ever seen. I just can’t control this impulse to want him to always be my baby.

I guess his teenage years will cure me of that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cap’n Jedi Pirate Harrison

Just a quick update on pirate treasure playing. Actually, looking at the pictures, it appears more Jedi playing. :)

Cap'n Jedi Pirate Harrison

Thanks again John! Harrison loves his treasure! :)

Makin’ Time For Momma

Posted on Wanna Share A Needle?

People I Want To Groin Punch

I’m not really a violent person, but I think this list really needs to be made.

  1. Hanna-Barbera – these are the guys who are responsible for Scooby Doo and all the bad (and by bad, I mean ‘I want to stick something blunt through my ear drums so I don’t have to listen to the terrible dialogue anymore’ bad) character acting. Now, grand scheme of things, I appreciate the original premise of the cartoon: they wanted to create a cartoon that wasn’t as violent as the super hero shows that were all the rage in the 1960s. But really, does the dialogue have to be so terrible? Do they have to make bad puns with every single character exchange? (I like a bad pun more than lots of things—e.g., What’s the loneliest bayou in the world? Bayou Self! But come on! Every other line a bad pun?!?) And do they have to use the most obnoxious phrasing? Like, hey! It’s, like, a bad guy! [Insert bad pun—I’m too exhausted to make one up right now…]
  2. Casey Kasem – speaking of bad character acting… This guy has been in more crappy kid cartoons than anyone else on the planet. Voltron? Check. Josie and the Pussycats? Check. Super Friends? Check. Transformers? Check. Scooby-freakin’-Doo? I blame him for perpetuating the craptastic character of Shaggy all these years. I mean, yeah, guy’s just trying to earn a paycheck, but good glory! I can’t take it anymore! Did the writers actually put the word ‘Like’ at the beginning of every one of his lines in the script or was that his own personal addition to the character?
  3. Whoever runs the evil conglomerate known as Wal-Mart. I can’t stand going in the place—haven’t been in since Thanksgiving of last year, which I brandish as a point of pride. We decided around that time that we weren’t going in there any more because of the crowds of people (don’t get me started on my agoraphobia…), the ridiculous wait to get your groceries checked out (they have, what? thirty or forty checkout lanes but only operate five or six of them at the busiest time of the year—the rest of the year, you’re lucky if there are two lanes open at each end of the store) and the general cheapness of the whole place (how much crap have I had to take back over the years because they bought the crappiest crap that they could find?). My parents, on the other hand, don’t have any other options in their hometown, so they still go in. With my son. And buy him movies there. Like Scooby Doo and the Stupid, Idiotic, Really Bad Piece of Crap DVD that’s playing in the living room right now. I feel my brain cells leaking out of my ears right now. Harrison, on the other hand, is riveted.
  4. All the people who are reliving their childhoods by watching any new offering of the “classic” shows they watched as kids – if it weren’t for the people who buy crap like this as a knee-jerk reaction to ‘Oh, man, I used to love this show when I was a kid,’ crap like this wouldn’t exist. (Circular logic, I know…) The thing is, kids love crap TV. Heck, kids love any TV. So the fact that you loved something as a kid doesn’t mean it was good—it just means that your parents plunked you down in front of the TV to get some Mommy or Daddy Time. What do you think I’m doing right now? (Actually, I’m letting the boy watch the DVD so that I can tell them in all honesty that yes, I let him watch the movie they bought him. Once.  I hate wasted money almost as much as I hate bad TV.)

I only hope that when Harrison is older, he will resist the knee-jerk reaction that everyone else has and refuse to buy the drivel that they are making at that time. If it was bad back in the ‘70s, and it’s baaaaaad now, I can only imagine the awful-osity it will be then.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cap’n Harrison

All right, so Harrison spent the weekend with my folks, which was actually a Godsend since I was sick all weekend. Me sick is a pretty bad thing in any case, but add in a hyperactive pre-kindergartener (for two more weeks, y’all!) and it would have been uglier than I like to imagine. So that was good.

Except that not thirty minutes after he left on Friday afternoon the UPS guy rings the bell and we get this ginormous package from Harrison’s pen pal John from North Carolina. We had mailed our package out earlier this week and Harrison had bugged me just about every day asking when he was going to get a letter from John to the point that I was considering telling him that John saw how much he was pestering me and decided to not send anything. Because I’m mean that way. ;)

But I didn’t.

So the UPS guy gives us the package, I unpack it (because John’s mom Kelly had told me ahead of time there was stuff that would need to be pre-unpacked), and I had to just sit down. Holy moly. I sent a crayon roll and some drawings that Harrison had done, a few crafty things—that kind of stuff. Art teacher kind of stuff.

These guys sent a freakin’ pirate’s chest. With a treasure hunt included. And cool stuff about their state. (How did I forget to do that? I included a map of our favorite places, but no real literature!)

Man, I feel like the cheapskate of the planet.

Man, I want Kelly to be my mom.* :)

Harrison got back today and I had the treasure chest hidden with all the clues placed where they should be. I repacked the folder with the cool state facts, put it in an Amazon box from earlier this summer, wrote the boys’ names and addresses on it and drew a stamp (he’s five—he didn’t even notice!) and put the package out where he could find it when he got home.

The Package

We sat down to open it immediately. Once open, Harrison gave the letter from John a cursory glance, looked at the picture (“Look Mom! He rides a bike like me!”) and then got down to the business of opening the scroll. “What’s this?”

“I don’t know. Open it up!”


“A pirate ship!”

At this point, I had to make a quick stop to get his pirate hat as it was obvious we were going to need it. Thank God for Long John Silver!


“What’s this?

“Oooh, it’s talking about treasure! And I think this is a clue. Read it and let’s see what it says!”

He read darned near the whole thing all by himself! (Thank you, Mrs. B!!!) We talked about the clue and figured it meant we should go look in his bed room. So I ‘rowed’ us to his bedroom.


Once there, we had to look at the clue again and kind of regroup. He’s never done a treasure hunt before so he didn’t know what, exactly, he was looking for. But he eventually found it, much to his surprise.



We sat down to read this clue and see what it meant. Rub a dub dub… Had to be in the bathroom! On our way! Along the way, Harrison picked up his football that Pete the Pirate (our school mascot) gave him at a football game last year. To be fair, it could be considered pirate booty by some… :)



Once in the bathroom, he started looking for treasure again. The letter “O”? Sure, I’m sure some people treasure that letter, but not what we’re looking for.


Found it! Reading the clue…hanging up clothes…must mean the closet!



He’s getting the idea by now—really getting into it! Goes into the closet. Nope, it’s not hanging up. I have to send him back in twice to find it. I ask if it’s in his blankets. “Nope.” He didn’t even look. Too excited. Treasure…in the house…vibrating with excitement…

“That’s ok. You just don’t want the treasure. I understand. I’ll follow the clues myself and keep it for me!”

“Nooooooooooooo!” A wail like a banshee. “I’ll look again!!!!!” He looks again, harder this time.


Found it!


Now what? Milk…cold…is it the refrigerator? Let’s go look!


“Nope, it’s not in here Mom!” In his defense, he did look in every drawer and behind just about every container. Pulled out both milk jugs.

“That’s ok. Let’s just have some Jell-O instead.”


“Ah-HA! Found it!”


“Sister sleeping, dreams of mermaids? It’s in her swing!”

Laura, of course, is sleeping through most of this in her swing. Harrison scours the area around the swing, searching desperately for the next clue or, better yet, treasure!!!


When he sees that there is no treasure under her swing (aside from the big, horking pile of toys he’s got in that corner of the room, but those are old toys—they don’t count!) we talk about where else Laura sleeps. In her room! In his excitement, he ran past her room towards his own room.


Finally in her room, we sit down to consult the clue one last time. “Beneath the place she dreams of mermaids…”


“Mom! There’s a treasure chest under here!”


The rest, as you can imagine, is an orgy of pirate goodness, playing with the toys that came in it, looking at the dinosaur cards and stickers and begging to eat the candy immediately, right now, please, please, please!!!!





This is the least goofy face I could get him to make while posing with all his stuff. He’s a bit twitterpated, but he looks semi-normal.


This is how he really feels.


John and Kelly, thank you so much for everything—we had such a wonderful time playing the treasure hunt and Harrison has already started playing with the toys. He asked if we could come to see you guys tomorrow, so we had yet another discussion about how far it is to North Carolina. Maybe some day we’ll make it out there. In the mean time, Harrison has asked if he can keep writing to John, so I expect you guys will be getting some more letters pretty soon. With kindergarten starting up in two weeks, I’m sure he’s going to have lots to tell his new friend.

To the wonderful moms at Life of a Dairy Queen and Superheroes and Princesses, thank you so much for hosting this swap! We had such a fun time planning our end of it and (as evidenced above) getting our package!

*And if my own mom has read this, I don’t really want another mom! But really, you need to see this treasure chest! :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sick Again (This is Getting Old...)

So, still sick. Robert let me sleep in until almost noon, the blessed angel. I've taken to sleeping in the recliner because no amount of NyQuil cal make me breath when I'm not in an inclined position. Man, I hope this crud gets over with soon.
Fortunately, Harrison spent the weekend with my parents so only Laura needed tending. Again, Robert picked up my slack admirably so I could concentrate on getting better.
Cody and Amy are over watching movies. We watched the director's cut of The Watchmen; now we're going to follow it up with Tropic Thunder. Seemed like time for a mood change... ;)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Time Management Skills Lacking…

Had one of those ‘Oh man, am I really losing my marbles—I can’t believe how stupid I was!’ moments today. I’d like to blame the cold medicine, but really, it’s just that I wasn’t thinking straight. Dummy.

I went to meet one of my coworkers today to get our curriculum mapped out for the next year. I have known about this meeting since before school let out. Have I given two thoughts about what I want to teach next year? Well, maybe two thoughts, but have I actually done anything about it? Made PowerPoints? Formatted handouts in Word and/or Excel? Made demo pieces of artworks I’m going to want the kids to make this year?

Not of one of them.

Worse, I have next week, minus Friday when I will be in a workshop, minus Thursday when I’m getting my hair cut (yeah, I know—it’s not the whole day but really? Am I going to work on that day? Really?), minus Wednesday when I’m meeting with the art department as a whole, minus both Monday and Tuesday since Harrison will be home and you know there’s no working with a five year old around.  So pretty much, this weekend.

The following week, I’ve got inservice in Tuesday through Friday, so I’ll be in my room working some (when I’m not at inane ‘Here We Go With Another Great School Year’ pep talks).

Oy. I want my summer back.

Kind of makes the sewing I had been planning on doing this next week look like it’s not going to happen. Sigh.

On the plus side, we got our year mapped out and I’m pretty excited about what the kids are going to be doing this year. So at least there’s that. :)

Yay. Back to school. Yay.

As a funny side story, I was talking to Harrison the other day about school. I have literally spent my life in one classroom or another, from my own days in kindergarten through college and now teaching. I have told Robert that when I die, I want to be scattered where there are no bells. Anyhoo, Harrison and I are talking about the demise of our vacation time and my voice naturally (to me) tends to go into a more somber, sorrowful tone.

Me sounding depressed beyond repair: “Summer’s almost over, Pal, and school’s about to start.”

Harrison, sounding like I just told him Christmas is tomorrow: “Yay!!!!”

I immediately adjusted my tone because I hadn’t realized how sad-sack it had sounded until I compared it to his youthful exuberance. I wish I still felt the way he does about going to school.

I hope he feels the way he feels now about going to school in a month.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Gah, being sick sucks. The bad part is that I’m not vomiting/fever/dying type sick where I feel justified laying around, sleeping all day, but am instead the cruddy/snotty/miserable kind of sick. I’ve been nauseous this week, I’ve been dizzy and I’ve sneezed so many times I felt like my head was going to fall off. I’ve had a migraine that lasted two days (thanks be, that finally left!).

Both kids and I are sneezing with this crap right now. Robert isn’t. Jerk face. Not that I wish him sick—I just don’t want to be sick myself. On the plus side, although both kids are of the snotty sort right now, they’re not running fevers so they’re in school all day while I sit around and sleep and then feel guilty for sitting around and sleeping.

As I type this, Robert has started sneezing. Sorry honey.

And just because I love him and he makes me laugh:

You got time to lean, you got time to clean

Kid’s going to be running something someday. He’s already got the ‘Shouldn’t you be doing something? look down, pat.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I spent the better part of my afternoon working on the blog today. Or blogs, I should say. I started up a wing in my blog house several years ago that I had intended on devoting to my sewing obsession. Seemed logical. Fun, even.

Except that life happens.

At the time, Harrison was three and Laura wasn’t even the proverbial gleam in my eye. I was teaching, momming, and wife-ing. Still am, two years later, and then some. I decided, though, that I wanted to go ahead and get this stuff segregated. When I post sewing stuff, I’m never sure if my sewing peeps give a crap about what else is going in my life. Alternatively, I’m sure people who follow my ‘life’ blog (hello? do you exist, outside of my husband?) don’t give a crap about my sewing obsession.

My solution, then, is to post sewing stuff here and non-sewing stuff here.  Things that have relevance to both will be posted on both. I’ve taken the already-posted sewing stuff and posted at Wanna Share A Needle?, with the life stuff clipped out.

(Why do I feel like I’m going through a divorce, all of a sudden? You get the sewing posts every other weekend and I’ll get them for all major holidays…)

I also intend to go back and do pattern reviews at (duh, right?) for all the clothes I’ve sewn in the past two years but never got around to reviewing. In my spare time. (Ha.) The pictures and links to those reviews should eventually show up in the sidebar of Wanna… eventually.

I have a tendency to over-complicate things sometimes, but I really think this is going to work better for me. At least in my head, it will. If you follow me (hello? do you exist?), feel free to follow either or both postings. :)

(Anyone else ever worry about sounding self important…?)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Where the Weird Things Are?

Ok, so I’m loving these Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVDs that my library has started stocking. More importantly, Harrison is loving them. We have recently checked out the one with Strega Nona and Stone Soup, as well as the one with Goodnight Gorilla and other bedtime-type stories. My favorite, I thought, would be the one we checked out today, though: Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

Now, I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but 1) this is probably my favorite children’s book ever, and 2) I feel like I give a pretty darned good oral reading of it. I growl when the Wild Things growl, I brandish my claws when they brandish their claws and I do a pretty mean eye roll when the Wild Things’ eyes are rolling. This is definitely one of the stories that Harrison likes me to read over and over, as opposed to a quick dip through Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

I enjoy watching these videos, but often time I feel like the voice actor (who is paid, by the way, as is the director of the whole danged thing, unlike me, the Mom Reader who just does it to get her kid to stop bugging her for that particular story) makes an intonation choice that is inferior to my own for a particular story. Or maybe I just don’t like their reading cadence. Whatever. I’m uppity about how I read it versus how the paid professional reads it.

Which brings me to the point. (Finally—I know, right?) Watching Where the Wild Things Are was spooky for me because the voice actor read it exactly the way I do. I felt vindicated. And only the tiniest bit pretentious. (Ok, a lot pretentious. Whatever.)

But then we watched the rest of the video.

Man, Maurice Sendak is a weirdo.

I admit it—I’m only familiar with the award-winning, world famous book. I have no excuse, except that…well, I just don’t have one. I didn’t read them. Now I’m a little frightened to.

Sendak claims In the Night Kitchen is his favorite story that he’s written (kind of like Radiohead doesn’t like “Creep” so much, I guess). Maybe so. All I know is it was really freakin’ weird. I’m an art teacher who really loves the works of Picasso and Dali (but don’t show me any Dada—I’m just not down with that). I love weird.

Maybe I just wasn’t expecting it.

The story, such as it is, centers around a little boy who is presumably dreaming of what happens in the night kitchen several floors below him. He ends up nude, baked in a pie by these Oliver Hardy-looking cooks. When he comes out of the oven covered in dough, the cooks say they need milk so he flies through the air into a giant bottle of milk and pours some out for them. He fashions a plane out of dough with which he flies home and lands back in bed. I was agog. I’m not a prude, really I’m not, but a naked, uncircumcised kid (yeah, you could tell in a cartoon!!) just creeps me out.

The other stories were just as out there. Pierre is the ubiquitous story about a boy who doesn’t care about anything until a lion eats him. (Yes. A Lion Eats Him.) His parents, who should have had some sort of discipline plan in action long before they just decided to go wherever it was they were going, leaving him at home with a hungry lion, take said lion to the vet who turns the poor animal upside down, causing the boy to fall out. Suddenly, he cares. Crazy, man.

Honestly, I don’t mind being a pod person/plebe/mass by just reading the ‘popular’ book and overlooking the others. I don’t know if it was just the era—late ‘60s, early ‘70s—or what, but the stories were just too much for me.

Oh well, at least the one I cared about was cool.

In other news, we also went to the art museum today. It’s a totally free activity that I always forget about because I’m just never on that side of town. Harrison really seemed to like it. He’s definitely got a preference for sculpture over paintings and other 2D works. He liked it all so much we walked the (admittedly somewhat small, but very impressive) collection twice. I think he’s going to take some classes there next summer.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Seeing Myself

I always wonder if the things I make for myself are really as flattering on me as I think hope they are. I have such a distorted view of myself—as I’m sure lots of people have of themselves—and  so it’s hard to know what really looks good. Even in photography, I’m always wary because, well, I don’t know. It just seems that I will like something, it will seem perfect and then I’ll see a picture of it and be embarrassed that I ever thought to put that particular outfit together, much less on myself. Or, conversely (and much less often), I’ll wear something that I’m not thrilled about but that’s clean and/or available and seeing it in pictures, I’ll realize it actually looks pretty good.

I read an article some time ago in Threads magazine about creating your own croquis, or design template. I had sat it aside, thinking I’d get around to it one day, but never really having the time to and finally just forgetting it existed. Recently, I went through a bunch of my old Threads, looking for a different article that I had read and wanted to look at again when I came across this one. (It’s in the June/July 2006 issue, if you’re interested, pp. 51-55.)

In the mean time (meaning sometime in the past three years), I read Donald H. McCunn’s fabulous book How to Make Sewing Patterns, which had lots of great design options peppered throughout. I also, of course, have been subscribing to Ottobre for several years now, as well. So the time seemed ripe for pulling the info from all of these sources, tying it all together with my passably decent proficiency in Photoshop (which I first learned in college, but have tinkered with in the past 10 years or so with the help of my computer genius husband).

I took a digital photo of myself (actually, hubby did that part...) in exercise clothes with tape at bust point, hips and knees and string tied around my waist. I then used Photoshop to draw on an upper layer, giving myself a line drawing from which to work for later use. Using the Singer Sewing Reference Library's The Perfect Fit, I looked at my proportions and made note of what pattern adjustments and styles I should be using and which ones I should avoid.

croquis - with proportions

Colored lines mean the following:
red = body divided into quarters--where the average figure usually fits
black = where my stuff actually fits
blue = midpoint between underarms and hips--where the waist should lie
green = torso shape


I started playing with hemlines and styles to see what works for me. For reference on the styles, I used McCunn's How To Make Sewing Patterns. Once I had played with that, I went to my Ottobre line drawings and started sketching in their styles. 




Incidentally, you are looking at the backside of the pages. As per Nancy Shriber's suggestion, after sketching in the details in pencil, I went over the lines again with a fine tipped marker and then flipped the page over to see it. This way, I wasn't looking at the body lines along with the clothes--much less confusing. Several of the drawings—bottom right hand corner of the second page and the bottom two in the left hand corner of the third page—are Harrison’s offerings. The first one is a “Marrying Dress,” which he seems to think I need despite the fact that Robert and I just had our 15 year anniversary and we have no intentions of needing “marrying clothes'” ever again. The bottom two were Ottobre designs that Harrison decided to pair. He drew all three outfits in pencil and I went over them in marker. I had to fudge the lines a little when I did my part to make the design more legible. :)

I learned several things about myself through this exercise. First, it’s time to get off my bum and get going losing the baby weight! But until that happens, I know that lower hemlines on shirts work for me (I always suspected I was long waisted—my shirts always ride up in the back!), knee level is good for skirts, but in the grand scheme of things, I think I’m more a pants kind of girl. And, much as I always suspected but never really tried (pregnancy aside), empire waists are not a flattering style on me. Period. Surprisingly, the princess seamed thing I tried looked like poo on a stick. I had always been told that princess seams were good for the busty gal, but seeing it in black and white like this, I’m going to have to pass on those patterns from now on. Sigh.

Of course, when he saw the fun I was having with my drawings, he had to have some of his own. I took a picture of him (in shorts!) and used Photoshop to make his line drawing. I didn't bother with the proportions as I did for myself, obviously--he's a kid!--but I did leave the body pretty bare. I knew he'd be drawing pants and I didn't want him to have to worry about seeing his underwear through the pants.
These are his Ben 10 characters. I know next to nothing about the show and, honestly, he doesn't really know much either, but he got a Ben 10 watch the other day and so now he's obsessed with as much about it as he knows and/or understands. :)


The blue one is my favorite—I think his name is Spider Monkey and Harrison says he has four arms. I also like the green guy with the red/orange hair—apparently, he’s some kind of fire sprite? I don’t know—I just thought it was kind of cool. :)

Oh, P.S. The Sleeping Experiment last night? She had one crying fit around 10:45ish (right as I was about to publish my post for the night). I went in to check on her and realized the room was pitch black. There was no light since we usually get her to sleep before laying her down; she’s usually not laying in a cave of a room, looking around at nothing. So anyway, I went in, turned the little lamp on, went to the crib to comfort her, rubbed her a little, did not pick her up, kissed her head, adjusted her blanket and left the room. I heard her whimper a few minutes and then nothing. In the meantime, I set the timer on my computer and got busy distracting myself from what I was sure was going to be Armageddon. When the timer went off, I realized that she wasn’t making a noise. I crept to her room, peeked in, saw that she was wiggling around a bit but wasn’t crying or freaking out at all, pet her a bit and walked out of the room. Timer set, five minutes later I peeked in the door again. Little wiggle, no fuss. I didn’t go in that time. Five minutes after that, I got up, went in, and she was asleep. Snoring. Slept until about 7:45 or so this morning.

I’m sure she’ll be making lots of difficulties over the next few months when teething begins (and especially because the Karma Fairies love to mess with me), but last night, at least, she was scarily perfect.

Honestly, I’m a little frightened…

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!!!

We begin sleep training Laura tonight. She is five months old today and sleeps really well through the night—most of the time—but has she has a devil of a time falling asleep most nights. Harrison, on the other hand, falls asleep most night before his head fully settles on his pillow.

The reason he sleeps so well is that when he was Laura’s age, we started letting him ‘cry it out’ at bed time. We would, of course, take care of any pressing needs he had—diaper change if dirty or wet, feeding if hungry, etc.—but if he just wanted to be held, it was back into the crib with him.

I’ll be honest: this hurt my heart a little bit when we first began it. When your baby is crying, all you want to do is hold him and make him feel better. But the thing is, after a few nights, he barely cried at all when we laid him down and then he slept like the proverbial baby. The ‘cry it out’ thing only lasted four or five days, each day having a shorter interval. By the end of the week, he knew what bed time meant and he seemed to look forward to it with nary a tear to be shed. And like I say, he’s such a good sleeper now that that one week five years ago is all but forgotten. In fact, if I weren’t starting the same thing up with Laura, I wouldn’t even be thinking about Harrison’s sleep at all. I’d just be appreciating the fact that when we tell him it’s bed time, he goes to bed without a fight.

So we begin with Laura. She’s fed, pajamaed, and freshly diapered. Robert laid her down in the crib a few minutes ago, but she’s not made any fuss—yet. I expect she’ll jar awake pretty soon and the process will begin. I’m not looking forward to the tears, but I’m definitely looking forward to the sleep.

In other ‘Gosh, my kids are growing up so quickly and it makes me feel so bittersweet’ news, Harrison got his own juice today. By ‘got his own juice,’ I mean, he got his sippy cup (that I still make him use if he’s drinking in the living room—I’m just not interested in cleaning milk out of the couch) and the ladder, rinsed the cup out (he had had milk for breakfast) in the sink, got the juice from the refrigerator, pulled the ladder over to the counter, climbed up, poured the juice (without spilling it), recapped the juice, put it back in the fridge, put the lid on  his cup and drank his juice. I sat in my desk chair and watched the whole thing. My little bird is spreading his wings.

Big boy getting juice all by himself

That juice you get for yourself is sweeter than all others

And on that note, I hear my daughter crying. Time to go rub her back, croon softly to her, and let her cry.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Easy Like Saturday Morning…

Had a rare easy Saturday today. No birthday parties. No big To Do list. Robert mowed the lawn while I sat with the kids (using that term loosely—Laura slept in the swing while Harrison watched Transformers, so I napped on the couch—you know, “watching” the kids). Aside from that, we just sat around, listening to the rain. Part of me feels like we wasted a perfectly good, albeit very wet Saturday on which we could have done a whole list of things. But the other part of me—the sane part of me—says this was exactly what our overloaded, overworked family needed. Harrison was bored out of his skull, but we worked on some finishing things for his Summer Swap and that took care of that. Laura, as always, chilled.

Debating church attendance tomorrow. The girl who normally watches Harrison is out on vacation and her cohort is out with a sick grandfather, so both kids would have to sit with us. Laura, of course, usually stays with us, but Harrison’s attention span is exactly as long as you would expect from a five year old boy. I’ve got a few new games for him on my iPhone, but I hate the idea of him playing games the entire time we’re supposed to be getting spiritual enlightenment. Besides, we’re all kind of beat from the rat race we’ve been calling our lives lately, so it might be nice to not have to rush out of the house in the morning.

I think we’re just going to kick it here at the house with coffee and molaches (kolaches, in Harrison-spoke-cute-once-upon-a-time-speak).