Saturday, October 31, 2009

Boo!

Just posting pictures of costumey goodness tonight. Although we bought Harrison’s Spiderman costume and Laura’s Wonder Woman onesie, I made her wig/tiara and boots/tights. I’ll be posting info on how I did that tomorrow—right now, I’m just pooped and wanted to share the ridiculous cuteness of my super hero kids.

Trying out their respective head gear before candy time:

Spidey Senses Trying out the head gearHey, who's that in there? Goofy Wonder Woman

Hamming it up for the camera while Brother and Daddy trick-r-treated one end of the street.

Happy Wonder Woman Contemplative Wonder Woman 

It's me! Laura! (You thought I was Wonder Woman, didn't you?) Free from the wig!

A convergence of the Marvel and DC Universe. I’m probably more protected now than at any other point in my life. :)

Bi-Comic Universe Gathering

“You want a piece of me, Wolverine? Don’t make me use my webs!”

You want a piece of me, Wolverine?

 

Hope everyone had a good Halloween! We sure did!

Friday, October 30, 2009

I’m just a girl who cain’t say ‘no’

We’ve got a lot planned this weekend. Well, had. Still have a good bit, but we skipped the Halloween party we were supposed to be going to because of a bad report from school. As much as I missed seeing our friends and letting the kids play and have fun, and as loath as I am to get word that the boy has misbehaved again, I’m kind of glad that we got to rest and relax a little bit because, quite frankly, I was dreading this weekend. Between the aforementioned party, trick-or-treating tomorrow night (still have to get Laura’s costume finished, but I don’t think it will take too long…) and the karate tournament on Sunday, I was figuring we’d be run ragged. Never mind that every night this week, we’ve had something to do, from a jewelry party at a friend’s house (got some really cute earrings!) to two nights of karate class to meetings. Suffice it to say, I’m tired. Going to hit publish here in just a second, go to the bedroom, put on jammies and fall into bed.

Hopefully, the boy will be well behaved tomorrow so that he gets to go beg for candy. If not, I guess the girl will be on her own.

Got to hit the fabric store first thin in the morning…

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sick Sucks

Terrible migraine and sore spot in my back. God, I feel like poo on a stick. Going to bed so I can sleep this off and hopefully feel better in the morning.

Bleh.

Oh, yeah—bright spot: the gratitude stones? Yeah, my kid rocks. (No pun intended…) When asked what he was grateful for tonight, instead of mentioning the kick-booty karate practice he had tonight where he won all of his matches, he said he was glad that Mommy had cooked such a delicious meal for dinner.

Totally the best kid. Ever. :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grateful, Part 2

“Ok, Mommy, it’s your turn.”

We’re telling our stones at the dinner table. Robert has already added his two to the pile—his desk if finally on its way here after being in Delivery Purgatory for about a month and we got our super-cheap copy of Dan Brown’s newest book in the mail today (thank you, half.com!).

“Um, ok. I’m grateful for…I’m grateful that my kids are finally done painting their color wheels. As much as I love the project and as happy and cheery as the colors make me, I’m tired of cleaning paint off the tables and out of the sinks and I’m ready for that particular mess to be done with.”

I drop my stone in the bowl.

Harrison looks at me and holds his stones up. He has two happy thoughts tonight. “I’m glad that you’re my friend, Mommy.” Stone drops in the bowl.

“And daddy’s your friend, too, huh?”

“Yep, you and daddy are my friends.” Big grin.

“And Laura, too?”

A little exasperated, but still happy. “Uh huh, you and daddy and Laura are all my best friends.”

He holds up his second stone.

“And I’m glad I hit Grayson hard tonight and knocked him down and got the point.”

Karate tourney coming up, yo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Making a Future

Meeting for LongviewWOW was productive tonight. Looks like we’re going to be in the Christmas parade this year—that should be fun! Also looks like we’ll be doing some pretty neat stuff in the upcoming future. I’m hoping to help organize a science day for kids (totally stealing the idea from Katy Did, a blog I ran across over the summer). Other things for consideration are planning out some GeoCaches for kids, perhaps with a St. Patrick’s Day theme, and some sort of historical reenactment. Not that I didn’t enjoy helping work on the Lego robotics stuff, but I’m kind of glad to see that we’re going to be doing some other stuff that branches out into different areas of interest. I think that they kids of Longview are really going to enjoy the stuff we’ve got planned for them. I know that when we first started working with this group and told Harrison what our plans were, he was super excited about it all. His first question about it was, “Will I be able to touch the stuff, Mommy?” How can I not make that happen for him?

Off, now, to bed and rest before more activity for tomorrow. Thursday night is the only night I don’t have something planned, so I’m kind of running out of energy.

Sigh.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Grateful

So we’ve started a new thing at mealtime now.

One of my favorite things at church is the candle lighting and/or stone placing. Everyone is given the chance to come up to the front and light a candle or place a stone that represents something he might want to celebrate, commemorate or just make note of. It can be positive or negative—it’s mostly just a chance for the congregation to know what’s going on in your life. Kind of a prayer request, I suppose.

I’ve wanted to introduce the concept to Harrison for some time now for a multitude of reasons. The most obvious, of course, is that I want to cultivate a sense of gratitude for the things in our lives that make us happy. I want him to learn to stop and reflect on what makes him happy and why.

I also want him to know that Robert and I are happy. I think sometimes that he gets kind of a raw deal because he only sees us at the end of the day when we’re tired and worn out and don’t seem as happy as we could be. I feel like this can help to show him that even though we’re tired, we still have things that made us happy at some point during the day .

Finally, I like the idea of our sharing these things because it gives us a point of conversation and allows us to be happy for each other’s joys throughout the day. I know that I like hearing about the good things the boys do during the day and I can only hope they find my little shard of sunshine appealing as well.

So the ritual is simply this: I have a big bowl I made in ceramics in college that is our collection point. Any vessel could be used—this is just what I had on hand. I bought a bag of stones at Michael’s the other day, but I think down the road I’m going to want to incorporate (and later replace with) stones I find out and about in my day to day living. The stones are in a cup on the counter and each person gets at least one stone at mealtime. We then take turns telling about the bright spots during our day. It might be something we are looking forward to (tonight, Harrison was grateful that Halloween is in five more days, for example) or it might be something that happened during the day (I was glad last night that Harrison and I had finally gotten around to sorting his toys) or it could just be a happy thought in general (Robert was glad one night that none of the kid were sick).

Whatever the appreciated thing is, the stone goes into the big bowl and each day more are added. I think it’s pretty cool to look in and see all that our family is happy about. Some nights, one or more of us might have more than one stone—those are my favorites because it tells me that the day was especially good.

I suppose at some point the bowl will be full and I’ll have to empty it out and start over. I think I’m just going to watch and wait for that, though, and see what happens. I bet whatever does happen, it’s going to feel pretty good.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Regarding the Upcoming Nuptials of Friends

“Uh, Mommy?” Everything begins with ‘Uh, Mommy?’ these days. Definitely need to work on his pause breaks.

“Hmmm?” We’re at the mall, shopping for a suit for him and some pants for me. We’ve just selected his outfit—how unfair is it that a five-year-old can pick something off the rack and it looks awesome with nary a problem? I hate shopping.

“Uh, Mommy? Me ‘n’ Daddy have special jobs.”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah, we’re in Mr. Cody’s wedding.”

I just helped select his suit for this wedding, so I’m privy to the fact, but I feign surprise.

“You have jobs, huh?”

“Uh huh. My job is to walk up the aisle and hold the ring for Mr. Cody to give to Miss Amy.” He beams with pride.

I haven’t told him that the ring he carries will likely be fake since no one in their right mind would entrust an integral piece of the wedding ceremony to a flaky five-year-old who is just as more likely to strike a metal rocker pose during the proceedings as stand still.

“Well, that sounds like a very important job. What’s daddy going to do?”

“Daddy’s job is to walk with Mr. Cody and stand with him and make sure he doesn’t get lost or run away.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Give Up

I don’t, really, but I’m just about ready to.

Every now and then I will try something that I have tried and failed completing before, thinking that maybe I was just too immature to be able to handle it in the past. Often, this is the case. I have gone back and re-read much of the literature that was required in high school and found that, amazingly, those were interesting stories! Hester the Horrible Whore was actually just a woman in a loveless marriage who thought she had found an out and then, miraculously, thought she had found love. Sydney Carton the Big Fat Idiot was really just a guy who was so in love with a girl that he was willing to die for her. I still haven’t found much use for the Bronte Brats or Heart of Darkness, but I figure their time will probably come too, if history has anything to teach me.

The problem with these stories (as an aside from my original point, which I shall return to in a few minutes) is that they contain stuff that high school kids know nothing about. Being willing to die for someone? Really? Loveless marriages? Maybe their parents’, but (hopefully) they have no real personal insight into it. I didn’t get the deeper meanings of many of the books we read because I just couldn’t empathize with the characters. I mean, I was smart enough to understand what was going on and perhaps imagine I was somewhere in the story, but as for really connecting with the characters and making their troubles mine, I just didn’t see it. It was only after I was married to my own true love that the light bulb went on (and even then, it was after several years of being married). I now count some of those books as favorites, but it was kind of a long journey getting here from there.

So anyway, back to my point. Sometimes I try things I’ve tried before that I had been unsuccessful with. Usually it works out fine, if not great.

Crocheting and I, however, I do not ever think will be BFF.

My mom tried showing me how to crochet when I was in high school. Unfortunately, neither of us had the patience to stick out the lessons, so I never learned anything beyond a simple chain stitch. Over the years, I’ve thought about trying to pick it up again, but have not done so until today. I saw a video the other day showing how to create these super-cute little crochet flowers that would look totally awesome on some outfits for Laura. All you had to be able to do was chain (yay! I can do that!), slip stitch (that doesn’t look too hard!) and double crochet (ok, it’s looking harder, but I’m smart—I can figure it out!).

So I watched the video several times, which only served to whet my appetite. Totally easy. A monkey could do it. I went today to Michael’s to get a needle (I didn’t want to ask mom for one of hers and set off a frenzy of “I can teach you how to do it!”—I’m just not ready for that). I had the yarn laying around from previous knitting projects (don’t get me started…). I watched the video a few more times. I started stitching and got confused. I started the video again, pausing it every time the lady finishes a series of stitches. I got the chain done (yay!), started with the slip stitch and couldn’t get the darned thing right. I went back to the video. Crocheted right along with the lady. Pause, crochet, watch, pause, crochet, watch. Got something off kilter, so ripped out all the stitches. Started over. Started to notice the yarn was fraying a little bit. Moved a little further down the line. Rinse, lather, repeat. Decided the yarn was too small so moved to some wool blend stuff I had left over that was chunky. Realize that 1) it’s too thick for my size G needle and 2) it’s a dark color and my living room is not terribly bright. Not happening.

At this point, I’m pretty fed up with the whole process. I think I’m going to sleep off my frustration and try it again later in the week. If it works, great, but if it doesn’t, I’m not going to sweat it.

I suppose I could always give the (very simple) pattern to mom and ask her to make it for me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

City Boy

Just got in from roughly seven hours, give or take, of driving to and from Dallas. I had to go get my students’ shoes from the State Fair folks, so I loaded up Harrison, Sister Mary S. and Sister Mary G. and we hauled butt up the road to the big city. The drive was pretty uneventful both directions—a little bit of road construction on the way up, but otherwise unremarkable.

We had a really nice time talking and laughing about the foibles of teenagers and the education thereof. Harrison enjoyed having his two favorite adults (Mommy and Daddy, aside) competing for his attention. For his part, he was really well behaved, holding my hand while walking along the streets and not getting too wound up and hyper.

At supper, we ate Mexican food (I had an awesome salad with avocado and crab!), and Harrison ate his cheese enchilada and his side of avocado (definitely my kid!) very politely. His only distraction was the TV within eyesight of his seat, but even with that, he finished his food and was calm and polite the entire time. The Marys commented on how well behaved he was being and I informed them that he knew that if he misbehaved, he’d get in a pile of trouble.

After supper, we walked around the West End area a little and then walked over to the fountain plaza that had been designed by I.M. Pei, which was really cool. Harrison loved seeing the sights (“Mommy, we’re in New York Dallas!”) and delighted in seeing all the funny shapes of buildings. I had to laugh when he saw the winged horse on the Mobile Oil Company’s building and he said, “Look, Mommy! There’s an angel horse!” You know? That’s his frame of reference—it makes as much sense as a horse that was given to a hero by a Greek goddess.

Anyhoo, it’s late and I’m tired. We have to get up and go to a birthday party in the morning. No rest for the weary!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Low Carb is Good

Been trying new recipes lately. The low carb thing is going OK, but I’m getting tired of eating the same boiled eggs and hunks of meat all the time. I feel better than ever—energy is up, mood (for the most part, recent PMS aside) is pretty chipper most of the time—but I’m not losing just buckets full of weight.

I attribute part of that to the fact that I’m older, my metabolism is just different than it was seven years ago and my hormones are still kind of screwey from having Laura just the other day. I think the other part of it, though, is that I’ve been eating much the same stuff every day, rotating between three or four different things but still settling on the same foods.

I think my body had decided that this was the new norm and so it just hunkered down and refused to give up any land.

I, on the other hand, am the Alamo, refusing to give up the fight, even though it seems hopeless. The little William Travises and Davey Crocketts running around in my cells are fighting it out to the end.

I still haven’t gone totally off plan. I did have a few crackers at the block party last week but I only ate them in an attempt to jump start my weight loss. I had been at the same weight for over a week despite the fact that my ketone strips were the darkest purple they could be. Not only had the scale not budged, but my pants were not fitting any better.

Since the cracker incident, I’ve had a little bit of trouble getting my ketones to go so dark again, but I have noticed that the scales have started moving downward, inching ever so slowly.

So we’ve started using new recipes. I cooked a crustless broccoli quiche a few nights ago that was pretty freaking awesome and last night I made a shrimp and feta stew that made me want to slap someone it was so good. Tonight I made a ham fritatta that made my head spin it was so good. My only gripe about these recipes is that they’re kind of small. The serving size is fine, but there are only a few servings in them so the leftovers don’t last very long. That, however, is easily fixable—I’m going to start doubling the food I cook.

So, low carb—still good. I’m driving to Dallas tomorrow and I’m not worried in the least about cheating on my diet. As I’ve said before, I went to the stinkin’ State Fair and didn’t eat anything untoward. I think I can handle a simple drive three hours away and back without blowing my entire regimen.

Onward and inward!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Funny Man

I introduced the boy to knock-knock jokes the other day. Man, does he enjoy a good knock-knock joke.

Actually, he enjoys bad knock-knock jokes just as much.

There’s really no accounting for taste.

I’m sitting with him, just hanging out and for whatever reason, a knock-knock pop-pops into my head. (Sorry, got carried away…) So I say to him, “Harrison, knock knock.”

He just looks at me.

“Knock knock.” I repeat.

Confusion shines out from beneath the near non-interest he’s exuding.

“You’re supposed to say, ‘Who’s there?’” I tell him.

“Who’s there?” he asks with not much more certainty.

“Orange.”

Stare.

Said in a stage whisper: “Orange, who?”

Still skeptical: “Orange, who?”

“Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”

He thinks on it for a few seconds and decides it’s worthy of his laughter. By worthy of his laughter, I mean, he nearly falls off the couch laughing.

Snicker snicker. Laugh laugh. “Knock knock, mommy!”

Really? When did you learn a knock-knock joke? You just acted like I had sprouted a second head when I tried telling you one a few minutes ago. Ok, though—I’ll bite.

“Who’s there?”

“Banana!”

Ooooh, a Harrison crafted joke. This oughta be good.

“Banana, who?”

“Banana danna ranna manna!” Dissolves into a fit of giggles. Funniest thing ever. Through the madness, he gasps, “Your turn, mommy!”

“Ok, knock-knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Duane.”

“Duane, who?” By this point, he has stopped his hyena braying but he is poised, ready for his laugh cue.

“Duane the tub—I’m dwowning!”

I’m fairly sure he had no idea what that meant, but to hear him laughing at it, you’d think I had just uttered the funniest joke on the planet. Gales of laughter. Buckets of laughter. Dare I say, silly amounts of laughter.

He tells me another Harrison-knock-knock, something where everything rhymes and is more mirthful than a barrel of monkeys, and I realize I’ve pretty much blown through my entire repertoire of visitor jokes.

Dang. I’m going to have to study, now. There’s no way that he’ll find Duane and his oranges funny again!

[As a side note, I ran these jokes by him again at the supper table tonight and, indeed, he did find them just as droll and amusing as he had the first time around. I guess I’m off the hook for the immediate time being, but I had best be looking toward the future!]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Color Me Happy

Really enjoying work these days. I always enjoy teaching the color unit—it’s so cheerful and happy, it’s hard to be in a bad mood while doing it, regardless of the smears of paint all over the cabinets and the constant frenzy of “getready-getready-getready-paint-paint-paint-cleanup-cleanup-cleanup-collapse!!!!!” that my days fall to. We are currently working on color wheel mandalas in Art 1 and pantyhose sculptures in Art 2. Both involve the use of paints and color theory, and both are looking awesome right now. I walk around my classroom, awestruck at some of the things my kids—often kids with little or no previous art training—are doing.

I’ve got on display about 15 or 20 of the color wheel mandalas from last year, most hanging on the board like a color wheel quilt, but some resting on the chalk rail like little lean-to shelters, all awash in bright hues, tints and shades. It’s easy to get distracted looking at them, seeing how they seem to flow with their darks and lights, their brights and dulls.

We discussed at the beginning of the unit the use of the mandala—the prayer circle—the medicine wheel—the meditative labyrinth. How different cultures used them differently in practice, but for much the same purposes—to elevate your thinking to a different plane so that you could concentrate and focus your thoughts more precisely. We look at lots of different examples, from Tibet’s sand creations to early Christianity’s rose windows and labyrinths, through the Native American use of Medicine Wheels, to the fact that perfectly symmetrical, radially balanced objects exist throughout nature.

That being the case, I always find it interesting when the kids start painting the wheels to see how quiet the room becomes and how deeply the kids get engrossed in the project. They might talk quietly amongst themselves, but overall the room has a very quiet buzz that tends to rise above the petty gossip of most days’ workings. I hear the kids repeating to each other, “No, you start with the primary colors!” or “Wait, if you’re creating a tint, you’ve got to start with the lightest color—that’s white!” They get it. By the end, most kids can mix paints pretty successfully, and most have a working knowledge of what happens to colors when you mix them with black and white. It’s hands on, and it’s phenomenal.
It’s units like this that remind me why I teach. This makes up for the crappy texture unit I always put off teaching because I haven’t found a way to make it as magical for the kids—and for me—as color is.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Readin’

My boy can read.

I mean, I hate to be that Momma that brags on her kids all the time, but dang, my boy can read!

This morning, as we were reading a “Franklin” book, there were probably only ten words he flat-out didn’t know. The rest, he read with confidence and vigor. Not only that, but he reads with inflection. When he would be reading dialogue, his voice would rise and lower in register and pitch, showing that an adult or another kid was talking. It was truly amazing to watch—I cannot thank Mrs. B. from his former school and Mrs. Davis, whose class is is in now, enough for their work with him. It’s very exciting to see his talent and interest budding.

I will admit, though, that it is kind of frustrating, sometimes. I was writing an email to my boss the other day, letting her know that I would be out the next day. Harrison was reading the email over my shoulder, quietly sounding out the words.

“Hey Mom, what does ‘I will not be in the classroom tomorrow’ mean?”

“Well, it means, that I’m going to be staying home from work tomorrow.”

“Awesome! What are we going to do?”

“Well, son, you’re going to school to continue working on your reading and I’m going to stay home with Laura [who was sick at the time].”

“Awwwwwwwww. I never get to stay home!”

I guess I’m going to have to get rid of my Napoleon Dynamite pants, too, since they’ve got “You’re an Idiot!” written all over them. Sigh. They were my favorite pair, too.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Staggering Work of Genius

We met the neighbors last night at our neighborhood block party. Turns out, there’s a little boy, seven years old, living right across the street. I’ve seen him waiting for the bus in the mornings sometimes, but we’ve not ever spent any time with him or his family. (As it turns out, in a funny coincidence, I taught his oldest sister four years ago, but that’s another story for another day.)

Harrison spent plenty of time running and playing with his new friend last night and when he got up this morning at 7 am, the first thing he asked to do was go over and play with Josh. I told him it was too early, but what I would do instead was email Josh’s parents and set up a playdate for later in the day, which I did. (The playdate didn’t happen today, but that, again, is another story…)

While waiting for it to be not so early in the morning, Harrison asked if he could play on my computer. (Yet another aside: I love that my kid would rather play on Starfall or PBSKids than on the Wii these days.) He played on the SuperWhy website for a while, spelling words, reading and printing coloring sheets. When he accidentally printed two copies of one of the sheets, he said to me, “Mommy, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to take this paper, walk out in the street, go over to Josh’s house and give this to him.”

“I am, huh? Why don’t you wait until you guys have your playdate and then give it to him yourself?”

“Mommy,” he said in amazement and unabashed admiration for my superior intellect, “that is an amazing idea.”

Well, obviously.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Par-tay!

Had our block party tonight. I was really impressed with the turnout—I wasn’t sure people were going to come out of their holes on a Friday night to get to know their neighbors. As it happens, there were quite a few people there. It was really cool getting to meet and visit with our neighbors. We met people we’ve never even seen before, and got to actually have conversations with people we had only ever waved to in the past. I hope we have more of these block parties—maybe make it a three-or-four-times-a-year thing. At the very least, I’m thinking that when Halloween rolls around in a few weeks (and weather permitting—we’ve been having some squirrely East Texas weather this October!), I’m going to sit outside with the other folks who just set up a table down by the road. That way, I’ll have some company for the giving of the candy and I’ll get to see all the kids who are walking by.

Off now to bed and rest. I’m once again worn down to a nub at the end of the week. Shouldn’t I be getting used to the work grind by now?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sparring as Discipline Tool

After a week of trying to get the boy to be good at school, he finally built up enough days of not getting into trouble (or just getting into a small bit of trouble at the very end of the day) that he got to go to an extra night of karate for sparring tonight.

You talk about a happy kid.

Our class meets five nights a week at five different venues. Most parents go to one venue once a week, but the instructor said that once they started sparring that the kids usually wanted to go more. Harrison started sparring last week and really seemed to enjoy it, so I thought I’d try using that as a bargaining chip.

We’ve been having a lot of trouble getting him to behave in class lately. He’s not been doing really bad things, but just bad enough to get his name moved from green to yellow most of the time. (You folks who have kids in elementary school know what I’m talking about…) Occasionally, he gets way out of line and gets moved to red and gets a more stern note sent home.

We’ve tried everything we could think of to help him remember to behave. We’ve had many discussions about what is and is not proper behavior. We’ve tried spanking, with some small degree of success but nothing really lasting. We’ve tried taking away all of his toys and making him stay in his room with nothing to do. We’ve tried having him write sentences. He really hates that, so it’s seemed pretty effective, but it’s not curtailed the misbehavior completely. We have even tried bribing him into good behavior with fun activities. We promised him last week that if he behaved, we’d take him to see the monster trucks that were coming to town. I think it goes without saying that he didn’t get to see the trucks. Oh, the tears cried over that one!

But the sparring is something that he definitely wants to do. So this week, he got moved to yellow a few times but overall his behavior hasn’t been terrible. On top of that, I am trying to remember that he’s a five year old boy. They’re pretty much made out of pure energy.

So I took him to extra sparring tonight. And he loved it. He ended up going through three different bouts. He got beat on his first and second matchups, but he triumphed on the third one. More important than him winning (which I was very glad he won at least one match—I didn’t want to spend the rest of the evening with a mopey kid who got beat all the time!) was that he kept his cool about the first two matches. I know he wasn’t happy about losing, but he at least didn’t throw a crying hissy fit like the kid he beat in the third round did at the end of practice.

So I hope that this turns out to be something that will compel him to behave. The teacher has already said that if he doesn’t behave (and this applies to the whole class—she’s not just singling out my brat kid!), then he wouldn’t get to spar at all—he’d just have to sit on the sidelines and watch. I’m totally for that if push comes to shove.

We shall see.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

With or Without Them

Ok, so the concert was a mixed bag.

The stadium? Hugevania. Seriously. I don’t even really have words to describe how big the place was. Anything I say is going to sound like gross exaggeration, but I cannot stress how big this place was. The screen hanging from the ceiling, supported by a series of pulleys each taller than I am, is bigger than my house. Yeah. Big.

With a big stadium comes seats that are really far off the floor. How far off the floor were we? Well, it’s easier to just say we were six rows from the top. Of the really big stadium. The angle of our seats was pretty vertigo-inspiring. Climbing up the steps to our row—just the stairs on the last leg, not the ones that led up to that last flight—I counted 46 steps. At an impossibly steep angle. When we got to the stadium and were still on the floor level, our phones only picked up on the Edge network. (In honor of the band?) By the time we made it to our seats, we were back in 3G territory.

Let’s just say that when I had to make a dash to the bathroom during one of the songs I didn’t know or care about, I was pretty scared I was going to fall down to my demise.

And let’s talk about the music. With that much space, there’s bound to be some reverb. Our seats were directly in the middle of it.  During the first band, Muse, it seemed that there was a lag between the members of the band and the song. Not a ‘lip synching, we’re cheating’ kind of lag, but a ‘this guitar is playing at a different speed than the drummer who is playing at a different speed than the singer’ kind of lag. I asked Robert if we were experiencing some kind of Doppler effect. They eventually got their timing right, but with the reverb it was still hard to tell. By the time U2 came out, the timing had pretty much been worked out via the ‘turn it up as loud as it will go and no one will be the wiser’ approach. Unless you had our tickets, of course.

All that said, I really did enjoy the show. I really like Muse and was excited to be able to see them live. U2 was such an iconic thing for me—they were truly the soundtrack to my life in high school. Largely because I had Joshua Tree stuck in my car’s tape deck for the better part of my senior year and so it was listen to that or nothing—I opted for them and think I’m a better person because of it. Even had I not had the tape stuck in my deck (how old school is that?!?), I still would have listened to them—they were one of the first “cool” musical preferences I ever had that didn’t involve Robert introducing their sound to me. (Crappy 80s pop boy bands that I listened to in junior high don’t really count in this category. Yeah, he had no influence on me listening to them, but they weren’t “cool.” So, no.)

So game plan next time is to get seats not quite so near to God. Somewhere in the ‘second mortgage on the house’ range—not the ‘selling off the kids’ range or anything stupid like that, but definitely not in the ‘plebian sobriety test’ we bought this time.

Incidentally, speaking of sobriety tests, one woman we saw leaving failed the test. All over the sidewalk. How she climbed down the stairs instead of just rolling is beyond me. I was afraid to drink any more that the one $8 sissy girl beer that Robert brought to me—I figured I’d plunge to my death.

Lots of coffee on the ride home, a seriously low-carb breakfast from Denny’s and sleeping until 11 today (thanks for taking the kids to school, honey!) have all contributed to, well, a mixed bag of results. In ways, I’m kind of disappointed, but in the grand scheme of things, I got to experience some awesome music with my favorite person and I didn’t have to deal with teenagers today because I took the day off at work.

It could have been a lot worse.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Posting From The Road. About to leave the Muse/U2 concert in Dallas. Show was really good, considering the acoustics at the top of the planet. Will post pictures and feelings about it all tomorrow. Right now, we're off to the Waffle House for our traditional post-show coffee, eggs and bacon. No hash browns this time, per low carb rules, but the coffee will more than make up for it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Strange and Foolish Walls

“The years of all of us are short, our lives precarious. Our days and nights go hurrying on and there is scarcely time to do the little that we might. Yet we find time for bitterness, for petty treason and evasion. What can we do to stretch our hearts enough to lose their littleness! Here we all are—all of us—all upon this planet, bound together in a common destiny, living our lives between the briefness of the daylight and the dark. Kindred in this, each lighted by the same precarious, flickering flame of life, how does it happen that we are not kindred in all things else? How strange and foolish are these walls of separation that divide us!”

--A. Powell Davies

This was the unison reading text today in church. I was really touched by it, mostly because it is one of the things I struggle with from time to time.

I like to think that, overall, I’m a pretty easy going person. Considering that I spend the bulk of my time in a classroom with teenagers who have varying levels of “I don’t wanna be here” stamped on their faces, I think I’m pretty positive. I try not to be too negative, either with students or coworkers. I am an ardent believer in the idea that you choose your mood. Yes, crappy stuff can and does happen to you, but how you react to it is your choice. I would much rather spend my time solving whatever problem is dogging me than sitting around whining about it and being mad at the world for my plight.

Every now and then, though, I’m just not able to let it go. I’m not sure why. I don’t know if it’s anger I’m steeping in or just a general disgust in particular specimens of humanity. I just know that there are a few people I just can’t be in the same room with. The mere mention of these people’s names raises the hackles on my back and causes my pupils to dilate in disdain.

Of course, my other standing philosophy is that I do not want to say anything that cannot be unsaid. You can forgive someone for being ugly to you, but you never quite forget what that person’s uncontrolled behavior looks—and feels—like. For this reason, I am often silent when I would rather be telling someone how I feel about them. This leads me to repeat entire conversations in my head, trying out different insulting combinations until I get it ‘just right.’

(As it happens, this part—the ‘conversation’—usually happens when I’m in the car driving. Alone. So basically I’m in my car, looking really angry, hitting my steering wheel, saying really mature things like, “Oh yeah? Well you’re just a big fat fatty-fat that no one likes because you’re so fat!” Oh, the zingers I throw! Oh, the concerned glances from the other drivers on the road! Oh, the wide berth they afford me while I’m driving!)

So.

So far I’ve avoided the confrontational aspect of this whole dilemma by just avoiding the people. They’re people I see rarely enough—once every few years, if I’m lucky—that I don’t know if it would be any better for me to go stirring up this hornet’s nest. At worst, I think of them with disdain and disgust, wishing discomfort towards them but not really wishing them dead. At best, I just don’t think about them at all.

I’m really not sure how to approach this. I really want to remove the ‘walls of separation that divide us.’ I don’t know if it’s as easy as ‘I forgive you.’ I don’t know that there is any single transgression that could be absolved in my mind. I really feel with these people that it is more a repeated pattern of behavior that repels me. More to the point, I feel like going down the path of forgiveness with these people will cause me to have to spend more time with them. More time seeing the behavior that drives me bonkers in the first place. More time listening to them say things that just make me angry. More time spent in my car, having imaginary conversations, telling them exactly what they think.

I’d have to ask them to forgive me, as well, probably.

It seems silly that I’m wasting energy and thought on this. It seems that A. Powell Davies was a better person than I.

I wonder with whom he built strange and foolish walls of separation?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mummy Dearest

So Harrison and I are driving along the other day and he’s chattering a mile a minute. Most of the time when he’s doing that, I talk with him, answer his questions and basically try to keep the conversational ball rolling.

Sometimes, though, I am in a complex traffic situation and so my responses fall between the “Um hmmm.” and the “Oh, really?” types. I figure that in the grand scheme of things, he’s going to be happier long term that I didn’t get us killed while driving than he will be if I hear and respond to every single thing he has said.

So anyway, we’re driving along and I’m giving a lot of “Huh.” responses. It was something about how Halloween was coming up and what kind of costume he thought I should wear. He changes his mind on this point almost daily—the latest iteration is that I should be a gorilla.

I then hear him listing off various monsters. “…and vampires and ghosteses and what’s that monster with the things on his neck, Mommy?”

“Hmmm? What, you mean Frankenstein’s monster?”

“Yeah, Frankenstein’s monster. I’m scared of him and vampires and ghosteses and warehouses and mommies and…”

“Wait a minute—what?”

“Huh?”

“What’s this? What are you listing?”

“The monsters I’m scared of. I’m scared of Halloween monsters like Frankenstein’s monster and vampires and ghosteses and warehouses and mommies and…”

“Wait, you’re scared of mommies?” I mean, I’ve known some pretty scary moms, but Harrison has always seemed to be able to charm most of them. I can’t, for the life of me, imagine why he would be scared of moms.

“You know—mommies! Wif the toilet paper around their arms.” I can see him in the rearview mirror pantomiming wrapping toilet paper around his arms.

“Ooooooooh! You meant mummies!”

I can’t see his face at this point, but I’m pretty sure it has the ‘How stupid is this woman?!?’ look on it that I’ve become pretty familiar with.

“Yeah, that’s what I said! I’m afraid of mommies and Frankenstein’s monsters and vampires and warehouses and…”

He continued his list of scary Halloween monsters and I didn’t have the heart to correct his warehouse fear.

Besides, I can kind of see it. I mean, they’re dark places out of which anything could pop at any time. For all I know, that could be his actual fear. Maybe he thinks that that’s where the Frankenstein’s monsters and mommies are all hiding. :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sleeping…

Too tired to write. Will post tomorrow with follow up details about the week and why I’m so darned worn out.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Karate Kid

Had a nice, low-key birthday today. My folks are planning on taking me out for dinner tomorrow night and Robert and I did the horse thing Tuesday, so we had just a calm night at home.

Got to watch the boy spar in karate, which was pretty cool. He really seemed to enjoy getting to actually hit someone after all the practice he’s put in on his kicks and punches. He was very disappointed that the ‘red head guy’ (kid wearing a red helmet) beat him when he was a ‘black head guy’ (he, of course, wearing the black helmet). He got in a good smack or two, but the other kid beat him to three points.

I think, though, that we might be able to use this sparring business as behavior leverage. The folks who teach the class have a different location each night during the week and paid students may participate in as many classes as they are willing to drive to. I think if he can keep his crap together for the bulk of the week, I might be willing to drive him to another night’s practice so he can get some more sparring under his belt.

That’s my plan, anyway. I’m hoping it will work. I’m tired of offering incentives to him and having him misbehave at school anyway. Maybe this will be the magic bullet.

Hope, hope, hope. (Fingers crossed!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You Can’t Pick Your Crazy…

Getting ready for a bridal shower this weekend. Need to go shopping. I hate shopping more than anything in the world. I hate the crowds of people. I don’t so much mind spending money—I’ve never had a problem with that—but I just hate having to be in places where people are crowding around, breathing my air and making me crazy. I avoid Christmas shopping as long as I can, staying out of the mall until the weekend (or often, mere days) before the big day and then making a mad sprint through as few stores a possible to get as many things as I can find that make sense before my brain explodes.

Honestly, when all is said and done, people usually don’t bother me when I’m actually at the store. Perhaps my “Approach me and I’ll cut your tongue out.” demeanor repels most people? I think I just dread it so much, working myself up over the very idea of going shopping, that I blow it out of proportion. I don’t know, really, if it could be as bad as I imagine it. I think that would have to involve students I dislike and family members I avoid coming up and licking me on the face while I’m trying to pick between twelve things that have nothing to do with any of the people I’m shopping for to be that bad. That sort of thing. I just don’t want to take the chance that that could ever happen.

Which leaves me with online shopping. Except that I really like holding something in my hand before I spend money on it. I want to check the heft of an item (could this be hurled at someone’s head in a fit of rage, if needed?) the feel of the fabric (would this make me want to sandpaper my skin off after feeling it?) and the actual color vs. the printed color of catalogs or the digital color of computer monitors (where is that knitting needle? I need to gouge my eyes out—that green is so awful!). Add to the top of that my inherent cheapness—I don’t want to pay shipping on something I could get down at the local mall if only I could work my various psychosis into cooperating long enough to walk in, make my purchase and leave.  The cherry on top is my desperate need for instant gratification. Once I’ve decided I want to have something, I’m just not interested in five to seven business days of waiting.

I read once that the best way to shop was to go into the store, see the merchandise in person, try it on if needed and then go find the best deal online and buy it there. This seems so ridiculous to me because it’s all the things I hate most about all brands of shopping. Go to a crowded store and try to avoid eye contact with all people there? Check. Finally have to get help finding what you need from the almost non-existent employees, thereby rendering nil your attempt to avoid people? Check. (Bonus points if the employee recognizes you—or is just particularly chatty—and strikes up a conversation, making you stand there, nodding, grunting affirmation to whatever they are saying and looking furtively away while you shift uncomfortably from left to right and back to left.) Go home with nothing to show for the self-sacrifice of leaving your cocoon? Check. Having to put your trust in the interweb skillz—not getting your credit card number stolen, making sure they send the right items, that sort of thing—of the company shilling your item for the cheapest rate? Check. Having to wait a freaking week and a half for the danged stuff to finally show up? Yup, check that one too.

Yeah, I don’t so much like shopping that way.

So, bridal shower. Guess we’re going to be studying the Target registry list and making a mad dash in and out of the store this week.

Those guys had better appreciate the sacrifice I’m making here.

:)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ride ‘Em Cowgirl!

My birthday is coming up on Thursday. As far as Harrison is concerned, I’m 29 and will remain 29 with the new birthday. I’m sure that confuses him, but he’ll figure it out soon enough—he’s a pretty smart cookie—so I’m enjoying the illusion while I can. (Incidentally, it’s the illusion for me, that I enjoy. I feel 29. Don’t really care if anyone else agrees with that age. :) )

So for my birthday, Super Hubby completely shocked and amazed me tonight. The man has never been able to keep a secret to save his life. I don’t think it’s malicious on his part—he is just so excited about what he knows and he wants to share it with you. Many Christmases occurred, present-wise, a week or more early because he’d ask if I wanted to know what he got me and, well, I wanted presents. I think of it as win-win.

Anyhoo, he’s been mysteriously dropping hints that I need to be home by a certain time, dressed in jeans and comfy shoes and maybe bring a hat and snacks and water and good God, where are we going on this trip? It only got worse when he started driving us to our destination tonight—out in the woods, pretty much away from everything and everyone except for fields of horses.

Dummy me, I didn’t even notice all the horses. I was just looking out the window, enjoying the receipt of total surprise. But a horse stable we did visit. We got there, and I started looking around getting excited, but not really sure what to expect. I mean, this is the guy who said he’d never ever get on one of those animals because, good God, they’re huge!

But get on one, he did. For my birthday, he bought us a lesson in horsemanship, from simply walking our steeds around the track (mine was named Peanut, his was Lester) to currying and brushing to saddling to riding to holy-crap-jogging! (harder than it looks!) to currying and brushing again. All told, we spent almost two hours out there, getting stinky with horse and I loved every second of it! I’m sore and achy now, but I think I can honestly say that this has been one of the best birthday presents of my life. I don’t need any more stuff hanging around the house, collecting dust and making me feel guilty for not looking at it/playing with it/etc., a la Lisa Simpson and her Earth Day Tree. Instead, I got some awesome memories (and photos!) and got to spend time with some animals I’ve always wanted to play with. Best of all, I got to spend time with hubby, away from the grind of work and home and just have fun again.

I’m looking into dude ranch vacations now. :)

 

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Slumpy

Not feeling like writing much lately. I don’t know if it’s the fact that during the week I run my butt off and when the weekend rolls around I’m so drained that I can’t think straight, or if I’m just running out of creative juice. Much as it wears me out to say, I hope it’s the former and not the latter. I’m not sure what, exactly, I expect to accomplish with this blogging every day thing, but I have faith that it’s leading me somewhere  that I need to be. I’m kind of down the rabbit hole with it, chasing after some ideal or dream or…something. I don’t know what. Whatever I’m chasing, I hope I can get past this slump pretty soon so I can get back on track.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Happy Day

We’ve had such a relaxing weekend, it’s hard to believe. Considering how worn out we’ve all been lately, it was a little unnerving having much of nothing to do today. When the rain became a deluge this morning, we decided to skip church. I burned the bacon a little bit while cooking breakfast, so we took advantage of the nice (read: cool but not cold—this has nothing to do with rain!) fall weather and just open the doors. We turned off all the air and let the breeze do its thing. After a while, the air going from the front of the house, through to the back door, got a little cool so we closed one door but kept the other one open.

Harrison, of course, had never seen anything like this—we’re very much a hermetically sealed family who venture outside a few times a year and recede back inside in a fit of allergies and mosquito bites. The concept of opening the door—and leaving it open—was completely foreign to him. He first wanted to go out and play in it. After putting on his rubber gardening shoes and raincoat and grabbing his brand new Speed Racer umbrella, he went out to pretend he was Gene Kelley for a while. The rain fell for hours and after he dried off and warmed up, he set up station right inside the front door, camping out with pillow and snuggly blanket to watch the downpour.

All the while, we hung out in the office, Laura playing on the carpet with some toys and occasionally eating (she’s holding her own bottle now—just started in earnest yesterday!) while Robert and I played on our respective computers and did small chores around the house.

Now the kids are both asleep, Robert is playing his new video game and I am watching Titanic on TV in HD.

I could not have asked for a more relaxing, enjoyable day. I feel refreshed and ready to attack the new week.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Finally getting caught up on a little bit of rest. Still tired but might make it through. :)
Got the kids' toys straightenedish tonight, at least in the living room. Now just have to tackle the boy's room and it will be more or less done, at least until Christmas.
Still doing good on low carb, but am going to need some suggestions for recipes soon. I can only eat so many boiled eggs before I go nuts. Ideas, anyone?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Endings

End of the month. End of the semester. End of the week.

So tired. Too much end of stuff.

Went to Sister Mary S.’s for Sister Mary G.’s birthday tonight. Had a really good time and, most importantly, I didn’t eat any of the carby stuff—I ate cheese and meat chunks dipped in a hot spicy mustard. I didn’t even mind when they brought out the cheesecake. I mean, yeah, I would have loved to have tasted some, but I figured that since I passed on Fair Food last week, this wouldn’t be that big a deal. And it wasn’t.

So now, heading to bed and resting.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Update from the Couch

Watching Robert try to find the last episode of last season's Big Bang Theory. We've enjoyed watching all the rest of them, but can't find the full episode of it online anywhere even in this day and age of digital, straight-to-you television. Perhaps when we're not both tired and cranky it might work.
Day was good for the boy. He had to do pushups in karate (aside from the regularly mandated ones) but was otherwise pretty well behaved today.
Ready for the weekend but ready for sleep more than that. Off to bed.