Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blood Letting

So. A new year.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is Laura Hobbes?

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

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






Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Get Outta The House!

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 28, 2009

Amy’s Fun-Time Laundry Game*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gonna See Mickey!

We’re going to Disney!

In a year.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reading Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Presents, Presents Everywhere…

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

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

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

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

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

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

So at least someone’s entertained by it.

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009


The boy is driving me nuts.

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

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


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

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

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

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

He. Went. Bananas.

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

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


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

And time after time, this is what we got.


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

Merry Christmas, to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sore Loser

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

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

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

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

At least he has part of it right.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

School Holiday Rocks

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice!

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

Funny how life works out like that.

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

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

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tales From the Shopping Mall

Closing in on Christmas.

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

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


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

Did I mention I hate Tyler?

Did I mention I hate the mall?

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

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

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

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

But really, man, I HATE Tyler.

Friday, December 18, 2009

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Catching up

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

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

Sanity, ho!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


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

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

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

Send your own ElfYourself eCards
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Holy moly, I was busy tonight!

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thanks, Grandpa!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Battery Running Low

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Ninja Turtle

Long day.

Good day, but loooooong day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m looking forward to it, too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bob and Larry Go Blue

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

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

And then I got to this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Late and Tired

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

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Will Those Darned Teeth Never Come Through?!?

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

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 7, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

Wish I just cared a little more.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Working Blue

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

So that doesn’t work well.

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

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

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

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

I don’t know.

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

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


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Curiosity Got the Cat(herine)

Ok, I’m curious.

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

Astounded and a little humbled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I dunno.

I’m curious.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bearly Done

Done! (With Laura’s jacket.)

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

Then I’m done.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tired and Frustrated

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder what Santa has to say about all this?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

He’s Watching You, Man!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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