Sunday, February 28, 2010

Easy (Like a Sunday Morning)

At the risk of sounding whiny (yet again…), I’m so glad this month is over!

Finally got to work out in the flowerbeds today. The neighbors think I’m nuts. I don’t care. I got the second layer of concrete bags in place and started layering up my ‘lasagna’ bed. I’ve got four layers down now—newspaper, compost, leaves and potting soil. I’m planning on getting some manure and adding that in somewhere in my layering. I’ll also be adding some more compost—my pile is beyond phenomenal this year!

In other news, the last of the ‘Crap With Which I’ve Overloaded Myself’ chores was done today. Harrison competed in his second tournament, this time as an orange belt and he won his match! I totally expected him to lose it because he’s not practiced nearly as much this semester as he did last semester, but he pulled it out and smacked the other kid around pretty well. In all, the total match was 30 seconds and the other kid only got in one point.

High points of the day—playing with the girl, hearing her laugh and sitting outside with the boy, having a picnic after we got to a stopping point in the flower bed.

Now going to have a high point with the husband by watching some recorded Big Bang Theory that we have not had a chance to see.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Baby No More

Had the girl’s birthday party today. She’s not officially a year old yet—not until Tuesday—so I’m not dry heaving and freaking out…yet.

I’m not sure if it’s because I know that Laura is our final child, but it seems that everything is moving so, so quickly this time around. Maybe it’s because with Harrison we only had him to focus on so we didn’t notice anything else. I don’t know, but I have looked up several times this year and been shocked at how much she had grown and how quickly.

I did get rid of some baby stuff today. There is a newish consignment shop in the same shopping center as my hairdresser and I went in yesterday while I was waiting for my appointment. I talked to the owner and she said I could bring some of the outgrown baby stuff that has been clogging up my foyer for much too long and she’d sell it for me. I dropped off the swing and walker we have had since Harrison was a baby, as well as a bathtub and food grinder we got with Laura. I’m already planning on taking boxes of clothes up there—I can see that this is going to be a beautiful business relationship!

So, tomorrow is the boy’s karate tournament and I’m planning some working in the garden time. The fellas at Lowe’s laughed a little when I asked them to move twenty-eight bags of concrete out to my van. I’ve got it in the garage right now, ready to head out first thing in the morning and build up my flowerbed wall another layer. If I play my cards right, I might even be able to get the blueberries in the ground tomorrow. If not then, I’ll definitely get them in next weekend.

All told, I think this is shaping up to be a good weekend.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Anyone want to guess how sore one would be after lifting and moving twenty-eight 40-lb bags of concrete by herself? Especially if that person were phenomenally out of shape?

I’ve got to get back to the gym. I’m out of shape in ways I didn’t even know I could be out of shape. My muscles get sore a the least little exertion, and I’m not just counting the concrete—plain old general physical labor hurts the next day, too. I lose my breath almost immediately and have to stop to rest. Don’t even talk to me about flexibility. If I can bend down to tie my shoes, it’s a good day (which explains the plethora of non-tying shoes I regularly wear).

Got to get back into shape. Now that the baby is a little bigger, now that spring is here, now that excuse, excuse, excuse, I’ve got to get back into shape.

Anyone want to watch the kids while I go run?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Finally got the first layer of concrete bags laid down for my front flower bed. I’ve had twenty-eight bags of concrete sitting in my garage for weeks now, waiting for 1) me to have time to get out in the yard and work, 2) me to have energy to get out in the yard and work and 3) the weather to cooperate long enough for me to get out in the yard and work.

Once I saw that it was going to be passably warm(ish) this afternoon, Harrison and I hotfooted it out of school and headed home. After he played with the hoe a little bit—I was leveling the big, ugly holes that were left from the removal of the boxwoods back in December and the buried bricks last week—he headed across the street to play with his friend.

Hunkering down for a good digging and toting session, I looked up from my work to see one of our neighbors pulling up along-side my yard to talk to me for a few minutes. She had made a bow for Laura’s birthday outfit and wanted to chat for a minute. Cool. I love to chat. Got the bow. She left for her daughter’s clogging lessons.

Got ready to work again when Robert called to talk. Finally got off the phone—do you know how hard it is to try to hoe while holding a cell phone to your ear? Couldn’t find my hands free earplug thingy. Sigh. I’ve got five minutes at this point before Harrison is supposed to be home from across the street.

Started working again. Another neighbor from down the street stopped to chat and give us a toy for Laura that her daughter had outgrown. Awesome! I love new toys for the baby! Her son’s the one who pulled out the bricks last week. Good folks.

Losing daylight, though.

By this time, Harrison has returned. Wants to show his computer to the son.

I finally get back to work and Robert and the baby drive up. He offers to watch the baby so Harrison and I can keep laying concrete bags. Cool.

I’m spreading newspaper under where the bags are going to be to kill the weeds. I hear a crash and Harrison screaming. He’s dumped the wheelbarrow with 120 pounds of concrete bags in it over, busting  his top lip in the process.


Calm the kid down. Husband calms me down. I’m not so much freaked out about the lip—he’s had worse cuts—but more that I can’t get these damned concrete bags laid. I’m not digging into the soil here, people—the hoeing was merely for evening out areas. Pretty much all I’m doing is laying bags of concrete in a perimeter around the space I want my flower bed to be. I was putting newspaper under them, which is what was taking the most time until Robert reminded me I have an end roll from the local paper that would be perfect for putting under the bags. Der. When it rains, the concrete will harden and I will eventually remove the bag part and, ta-da!, I’ll have an awesome raised flower bed. Yay!

Robert offers to watch both kids so I can get this thing finished. It’s now dark, but I’m determined.

I get to spreading the roll and laying bags.

Dad from across the street brings Harrison’s jacket that was forgotten over there. And talks.


I finally got all twenty-eight bags laid in exactly the configuration I had planned. Looking at it, I’m thinking I’m going to want to add at least one more layer of bags, off-setting them, much like bricks. Down the road, I might even want to put a third layer—it depends on how tall the two layers are.

I like this wall for several reasons. First of all, I’m pretty much doing it all myself, which is pretty empowering. I’m the one offloading the 40-lb bags of concrete from the van to the garage. (I’ll be honest, though—I had the Lowe’s guys load it into the van. I’m not going to not use available labor if it’s handy. :) ) I figured the math on it. I’m building it. Harrison helped by holding the newspaper in place a bit, but he wasn’t happy about it, so I consider that a win. I also like that it’s going to be sturdy. I think that once it hardens up, it’s going to be pretty danged strong, compared to wooden sided raised beds that have to be rebuilt every few years because of warpage and rot. Finally, I like that I’m not using the same blocks that everyone else on the planet is using for their flower beds. They’re nice, but it’s boring seeing yard after yard after yard of them. After the paper comes off, these will look like regular blocks, so that’s going to be cool.

So I’m tired, I’m sore and achy, but I’m happy in the grand scheme of things. My bed is finally started. My plants are doing well in the garage and I’m looking forward to getting them planted when it finally warms up.

I do understand, though, why I’m such an inside girl. For someone who shies away from human contact—I am as misanthropic a gal as I know—getting out in the front yard and doing work seems to make everyone and their dog stop for a chat.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Aren’t We Through With February Yet?

Meeting after school. Birthday party at 5:30 pm. (It was fun—PumpItUp is always fun—but who has a birthday party in the middle of the week?) Karate at 7 pm.

Isn’t this janky month over yet? I’m so ready to not have stuff planned for every second of my life!

On the plus side, the snow is gone. It was nowhere near as bad as last time. Were it not for the goomer who rear-ended my van, I probably wouldn’t remember it at all, especially since today was such a pretty day. I feel some flower bed workin’ days coming on!

Off to a well deserved rest before getting up and doing it all again tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow and I are NOT BFFs Anymore

Ok, it’s not bad enough that I can’t get out and work in my flower beds right now because the ungodly weather won’t cooperate. I can still grow my seedlings in the garage under a heat lamp, so I’ve at least got that.

But this weather business has officially pissed me off. While driving to Target to get some snacks for Harrison’s class for tomorrow and a birthday present for one of his friends (we have a party tomorrow night), a kid rear ended my minivan. I mean, yeah, the roads are all wet and slippery, but c’mon!

Those are officially the most expensive Teddy Grahams, ever.


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Monday, February 22, 2010

24 Body Count

Episode 9: 12 am to 1 am

So I’m not having as much trouble reconciling the idea of Jack the Grandpa with my own sweet, sweet Grandpa anymore. Jack’s too much of a badass for that to be a problem. He’s more Gran Torino Grandpa than ‘Here’s a quarter, sweetheart’ Grandpa.

And I’m cool with that.

So. The numbers for the night.

  • Immortal Hero/Russian Mobster Son got whacked by Middle Eastern President’s Evil Brother’s goons just as he was about to switch sides and get immunity with Dad. Guess he’s not that immortal anymore. Seriously, though, why are the bad guys always surprised when the person they’re working with turns on them? I mean, really—they’re bad guys. They’re not Boy Scouts. Just once, I’d love to see a bad guy working with another bad guy and not be surprised that the other guy turned. “Oh, really? You turned? I saw that coming a mile away.”
  • Like our friend Hair Over Her Shoulder (who has progressed from, well, hair over her shoulder to hair mostly behind her to, praise be!, hair up in a knot in back—once again, you’re welcome, America!). Seriously? She was surprised that Ex-Boyfriend and his Greasy Friend were going to keep her on the hook, blackmailing her for more money? Has she never watched a single episode of, well, anything? Read a book? Does she not know that that’s Basic Bad Guy Blackmailing 101? Good grief. But I digress. After H.O.H.S. (I’m tired of typing it, guys…) tells Scooby Doo why she’s staking out Ex-Boyfriend and Greasy Friend (They were in a van! Down by the river!), the Scoobster goes over and threatens the two miscreants, telling them to never come back to NYC. (Incidentally, is New Yawk Freddy Prinze, Jr.’s original hometown? His accent is thick and hubby and I are up in the air about [and too lazy to go look up] whether that’s his real vocal stylings. Just curious…) Ex-Boyfriend is OK with not going back to jail. Greasy Friend has other ideas, specifically keeping his golden goose dropping her $200,000 eggs. When Ex-Boyfriend tries to stop him, Greasy Friend stabs him and hops out of the van.
  • We then see Greasy Friend striding confidently towards H.O.H.S. and Scooby Doo, ready to drop the trained CTU agent and abduct the gal. (Seriously? Guy’s stoned out of his gourd and he thinks he’s going to make the drop on a CTU agent? He’s never watched 24, I take it…) We hear a loud, screeching “Jen-nay!!!” and Forest Gump jumps out of the woods. Oh, wait, no, that was Ex-Boyfriend, warning his former girl in his last braying swan song. In my defense, with Bubba Gump back at CTU, it’s hard not to think Forest is far behind. Anyhoo, Scooby makes short shrift of Greasy Friend while Jen-nay (I’ve decided I like typing that better than H.O.H.S.) runs over to watch her former boyfriend, former blackmailer, current life-saver (I mean, in addition to Scooby Doo, of course) die. In a van. Down by the river.

Totals: Three tonight, bringing us up to thirty-one confirmed and that one pesky unconfirmed.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

Bubba is conflicted. He wants Renee to be rewarded for the hard, scary service she has just rendered. I mean, yeah, she stabbed the Russian guy. A lot. In the eye. And the gut. She was angry, ok? Yeah, she lost the lead that CTU was supposed to be getting. But he was clearly asking for it.

The President’s guy, though, thinks differently. He wants Bubba to come out of all this mess clean because he’s the one who gave Bubba the hookup in the first place. He thinks that Renee is the perfect foil for this plot—let her take the fall and all will be o-tay.

Except that Jack thinks that’s a bunch of hooey. He tells the federal prosecutor that, as he’s choking her. He tells Bubba that, up in Bubba’s office as they’re ‘discussing' Jack’s behavior and immediate dismissal from the CTU headquarters. He tells Bubba again as he is leaving the premises, as per request. This time, though, he’s also telling Bubba that the half-cocked plan of Red Shirt Scooby Doo’s stand in as lead in the attempt at recovery of the Middle-Eastern-President’s-Evil-Brother (what? he changed sides. again.) and the nuclear rods (what? Scooby was back killing folks. In a van! Down by the river!) is stoopid. He offers to lead the expedition in exchange for immunity, reminding Bubba that he, Jack, was once in his shoes and knows exactly how hard it is to do your job with Washington breathing down your neck.(How many of you remember Jack was the head of CTU for a while?)

Bubba counters that Jack’s going to have to be all in if he wants immunity. None of this ‘here for a few hours and gone when I get my bidness done’ business.

Who does Bubba think pays his salary? Kiefer Sutherland picked out the shirt he’s wearing. Jack ain’t going anywhere.

So, in a final bit of prediction, I’m figuring that Renee has to die before the season’s out. And I don’t mean die like Tony where she’s resurrected off-screen to make a dramatic entrance in the next season. I mean, die like Michelle. Die like Nina. Die like Teri, Jack’s wife. (Remember her?)

I figured she’d make it until she asked what the status of their relationship was. The small smile she allowed herself pretty much doomed her and here’s why: Jack has never been able to be happy. His wife was killed. His friends have all been killed (except Chloe, and if they ever kill her, I’m done watching). His daughter has been pretty much alienated from him from the first season. Lord knows she’s tried to have a relationship with him, but when you’ve killed as many bad guys as he’s had to kill, you tend to get distant with folks.

Renee’s one little bit of happiness has doomed her to die because that is the way it goes. Unless they decide that this is the very last season of 24, in which Jack can ride off into the sunset with his Lady, I don’t see any other way to go.

So, enjoy your time, Renee. We’ll miss you next season.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Holy wow, I’ve been whiny lately!

Looking back over the past week or so, I realized that I’ve pretty much been detailing how much stuff I have going on (poor me!) or whining about how tired I’ve been. In all fairness, it has been a busy month (yeah, I know, I’ve already said…). It’s coming to a close, though, so I’m feeling much better.

I spent all day—and I do mean all day—at the competition yesterday. I only took five of my students, but Sister Mary G. took (I think) 49. We had a full crew in attendance. It was super crazy. Fortunately, my kids didn’t go in until the last hour of judging, so they were able to talk to the other kids who had already been in to their judges and could have kind of an idea of what to expect. Of my five kids and the eight pieces they brought between them, four students (and five artworks) advanced from the Regional judging to the Area judging. Of those five artworks, one is now going to the State competition held in Houston in April!

This is the second time I’ve had a student go to the State VASE contest. The first time, the student was pretty self motivated and didn’t really ask for (or need, really) any help with the piece. The biggest difference between her and the other kids I took that year (and most years, honestly) is that she wasn’t happy with the first thing she put on the paper and so she did it over. And then she did it over again. She ended up redoing the piece three or four times and you could tell that it had lots of thought and effort built into it. Comparatively, most of my students do something pretty cool but, frankly, not very well thought out. They have a lot of ‘happy accidents’ and tend to just ‘go with it.’ Alas, the judges in this contest are not impressed with the Dada train of thinking and want to see more planning and intentional marks.

Anyhoo, with this first girl, she was incredibly directed. She had a plan and she made it work. With this crew of kids that I took this year, I pushed them harder in their works than I have ever done. I made them have a plan. Every time they came to me to say that they were done, I told them to go back and look at it again. And again. And again. Right up to the wire, I told them to think about it again.

I know it’s silly and stupid, but I feel like I actually earned the right to say that I ‘coached’ this girl to the State level as opposed to the girl I took before who I merely ‘sponsored.’ I always felt that, with Girl #1, I had to tack on a disclaimer when telling people that I had had a student go to the State contest.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. I know that I’m not actually directly involved at all—the student made all the critical decisions, painted all the brush strokes, drew all the lines, etc. that got the piece chosen. It doesn’t matter if I gave my opinion and suggestions along the way.

But deep down, it feels really good to have had a few good ideas to suggest to her.

I’m really proud of her.

I’m really proud of myself.

So, whining. Month is almost over. Was so tired and sick last night (think the debauchery of a Mexican food lunch was too much for me), that I threw up. Could have been the excitement. Not sure. Either way, was kind of a crappy way to end the day. But had lots of rest and am feeling about 80% today. I’ve got Laura’s birthday party next Saturday (holy crap! She’s ONE?!? WTF?!?), Harrison’s karate tournament next Sunday and then I’m done with running. I’m taking Laura’s birthday off to chill and play with her, which I think will be pretty cool. I plan on puttering around in the garden for the next few weeks, sewing in my spare time and just enjoying the kids. My month of stress is all but done and I’m keeping it that way.

So, now off to rest before another week. Good stuff coming up—two-point perspective in class, t-shirt sewing for Harrison, maybe some down time with hubby.

Maybe some sleep?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Threw up.
And one of my students is going to the Stste VASE competion.
Rough day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ragged Run


Tough week.

Seems that all I’ve done all week is run my arse off. Monday night I had a sewing class at the shop from which I got my machines. Should have had these classes last year, but they didn’t tell me about them. When they asked me about my lapsed membership back in December, I said I didn’t know what the devil they were talkin’ about and they gave me a complimentary membership for this year. So that’s cool. It eats up one Monday night a month, so that’s normally not too bad a thing. In a week like this, though, it was kind of tough.

Tuesday I fell asleep at 8 pm. Ran myself ragged at work trying to get the last of the (very late!!!) grades in before report cards and was just exhausted. Couldn’t even finish a cartoon with the family. Sigh.

Wednesday, more getting of the grades in. Karate class—took both kids as it was patch day at the office for Robert. Lugging that stupid infant car seat around is getting old. She’s getting a forward facing car seat ASAP. Which, in the grand scheme of things, I think she’ll like. She’ll get a new view of the world and, frankly, she’s been too tall for the other seat for some time now.

Thursday, spent hours matting artworks, getting ready for contest. Longview WOW meeting. Wind is your Friend! Foisted the kids off on Robert (who took them to another night of karate—there’s a tournament coming up, yo, and my boy has to get his practice in so he’ll be ready to kick some bootay!). Made supper when I got home. Crashed in bed after midnight.

Friday, school function. High school kids dancing to 1940s music. Cute. Probably too exhausted to enjoy it because I spent the better part of the day with more art competition preparations. Finally got it all wrapped up around 5:30. I’m now sitting around, thinking I should be in bed since Sister Mary S is going to be picking me up at the butt crack of dawn to go get a van to drive to the contest. Where I’ll be for hours.

I love this contest, but I’m preparing myself to be exhausted tomorrow night. Physically, emotionally, you name it. It’s the one big contest I participate in each year. I support the other art teachers in a few other things they have their kids enter, but this is my big enchilada. I’m taking some really good pieces that I think will do really well. My biggest worry is for the kids and how they will do in their interviews with the judges. I think, though, that it’s going to be fine. It always is.

I just need to get some sleep.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beyond Tired

Fell asleep watching the Olympics. Too tired to post. Will have to detail it all tomorrow.

So ready for this month to be over…

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


So I’m pretty much to the point that February sucks.

I mean, yeah, there’s love and birthdays and all that good junk. But the thing is, for such a short month, I can’t seem to find a minute to breathe because there’s just so much crammed into it.

Two art competitions, one of which my own students are involved in while for the other I act more as a cheerleader for my former students and my coworkers.

Two birthdays, counting Robert and dad. Three if you count the party for Laura, although she was born in March. (And just when, exactly, did she get to be almost a year old?!? What the crap?!?)

School stuff—a dance show that I like to go to because it’s so darned impressive. Grades—let’s not forget grades! (The tension kinks in my neck and back aren’t forgetting grades. They’re definitely not forgetting students who can’t be bothered to turn in their work on time and who come and drop their drawings on my desk the day I’m entering grades into the computer. Really? Are you kidding? When did turning in work on time to the teacher become optional? When did the teachers chasing down kids and practically begging them to turn in their [already very late!!!] work become the norm?!?)

And because I don’t want my kid to become a TV drone, I haul him around town to Lowes for the free build-it workshops on alternating Saturdays to get a little Bob the Builder in him (but not in the creepy way that that sounds…). I take him to karate at least one night a week, more if he can keep his crap together at school and quit getting in trouble.

It’s no wonder that I went to bed at 8 pm last night.

I’m exhausted.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sick, sick, sickety-sick. Feeling like poo on a stick. Don't have time this week for colds or, god forbid, the flu. Hoping this is a one day bug. Going to bed at 8 pm in hopes that rest will make it better. Best Husband In The World is feeding, bathing and putting the kids to bed. I'm a lucky woman, sickness aside.

Monday, February 15, 2010

24 Body Count

Ok, so Robert knows that when Jack Bauer shows up on the door step, I have no choice but to go with him. He understands. I’ve accepted the same premise for him and Jennifer Aniston.

I have to run away with Jack because he’s just a bad mo-fo. To wit:

Episode 8: 11 pm to 12 am

  • Jack strangles a Russian goon with his thighs, finally putting him out of his misery by breaking his neck. This, after the goon was torturing Jack, trying to get him to admit he was working with the police. (C’mon, goon! Jack is the police!) The goon had Jack suspended, hands over head, from a pipe in the basement and was electrocuting him with a car battery and jumper cables. Multiple times. Once in Jack’s knife wound. (Remember that? When Renee stabbed him because she was going ape crap bananas? Just a flesh wound, apparently.) Jack also took a charge to the nads. And then killed the guy. I won’t bore you with the details of how he got off the pipe—just accept that he’s a barefoot badass.
  • Jack shoots two more Russian goons who are stupid enough to get in his way while he’s taking control of the situation with the head Russian mobster. Stupid goons.

Jack’s not the only one who got in a few kills tonight.

  • Russian Mobster’s son (who was previously the guy on Heroes who was immortal—Hiro buried him, he escaped, etc.—I forget because Heroes has kind of sucked for a while) has a bone to pick with his dad. Dad, after all, killed his other son, somewhat in payment for Immortal Hero’s disobediance. To pay Russian Mobster Dad back, Immortal Hero snuck into the truck carrying the nuclear materials and shot the two goons who were guarding it so he could cut Dad out of the deal with Middle Eastern President’s slimy brother.

Totals, thus far: Jack, seven.  Season as a whole, twenty-eight confirmed, one unconfirmed.

In other news, it appears the cop from last week survived—he’s in the hospital.

I fear sleazy ex-boyfriend of Blond-Hair-Over-Her-Shoulder and his friend are about to bite the dust—she seemed pretty pissed at the end of the hour when Anger Management Boy (the friend, not the ex) said she’d have to keep working for them. Really? She was surprised? Wow. As a side note, I think (and maybe I’m imagining this?) that her hair wasn’t firmly placed over her shoulder tonight. I’d like to take credit for that. You’re welcome, America.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day

Just got done watching Angels and Demons. Was pretty good, but kind of distracting how many changes they made from the book. I know only a geek really gives a crap whether they followed one protocol or another, but I guess I’m that geek. :)

Valentines was good. Spent the day with hubby and the kids. We went to church and listened to Celeste speak about her missionary experiences from when she was a young woman and then came home and napped. The rest of the evening was spent playing with the kids and being goofy.

I’m all tapped out from splitting a bottle of wine (Ruffino Chianti is the bomb!), so I’m keeping it short. Hope everyone else had a good Heart Day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Danged Groundhog

I hate the winter.

I mean, not really, really hate, but it’s definitely not my favorite season. Aside from the snowy fun goodness that we’ve been having for the past few days (all the snow is melted from the trees, the houses and all but the shadiest of yards, but my snowmen still linger on, falling apart like some kind of weird science project gone awry), winter pretty much sucks. My skin gets beyond dry—I itch like you wouldn’t believe. My lips get so chapped that they bleed. My hair gets oily and gross. I eat way more in winter, thus I’m plumped up in my heavy, uncomfortable winter clothes.

I hate winter.

Now spring, on the other hand, is magical for me. I always thought I liked fall the best, what with it’s crackly leaves and crisp air, but I think that spring has overtaken it now that I am actively gardening. While both seasons have the crispiness that I crave, the tang of something special in the air, fall only leads to dead looking trees while spring brings flowers aplenty, birds by the scores and , if you will excuse the moment of glurgy, maudlen sentimentality, a sense of rebirth and new beginnings everywhere you look.

Spring makes my heart beat faster. It makes my skin glow.

Spring makes me happy.

I have begun gardening in earnest the past few years. I’ve always kind of fancied myself a putterer, but I’ve never really done anything much that was impressive. Most of the time, when I would plant things I would get bored with them pretty quickly and they would die a sad, horrible, dry, unloved death.

Last year, though, I stumbled on the concept of lasagna gardening and it has changed my gardening life. I built up a small bed in the back yard over a few days; the necessary work could have easily been done in a weekend, but I was about a month post-partum and, well, I got tired. Anyhoo, I got the bed built up, got some plants in it and then kind of forgot about it. Watered it a few times when the thought occurred to me (usually when it was a really pretty day and I was heading home from work and thought that I would like to go in the backyard and experience my garden).

And the plants grew. And grew. And grew.

Some of them had not so successful fates—my melons pretty much bit the dust, but considering that they have to be watered religiously, I knew they were an exercise in futility for me anyway. My tomatoes, though, went crazy. I had tomatoes on the vine through the first big cold snap of the year, back in November. My squash and zucchini were impressive (some might say intimidating >:) ) and made many a wonderful meal.

This year, I’m going bigger. I’m planting the entire side of the fence that my tiny garden was on last year. Essentially, it will be about three times larger. I also intend to build a small raised bed in the front yard where the butt-ugly boxwoods resided until right before the holidays (Merry Christmas to me!). I’m thinking blueberries, gardenias and any flowers that wink at me when I’m at the gardening center.

In a more immediate sense, I’m trying seed starting this year. I’ve kind of half-arsed tried it before, but it never worked as well as I would have liked. It seems that plants don’t much care for being moved from one container to the ground. Sensitive little brats.

This year, though, I decided to try something to avoid the shock of transplanting. I recycled some newspaper and some water bottles to make easy, biodegradable planters. I first cut off the tops of the bottles, sticking them in the recycling bin (although a few got used as funnels somewhere along the way). I then cut little slashes around the top of the bottle bottoms, about one inch in. (I did this so that when I go to remove the inner pots later, they will expand easily—it will make sense, I promise!) At this point, you want to poke a few holes in the bottoms of the bottles. I waited until I had the newspaper and soil in, but it would have been much easier to do at this phase. Use anything pokey you’ve got—an ice pick, your husband’s awl from his Swiss Army Knife (my tool of choice this time!), whatever—and poke a few holes. The larger the container, the more holes you want, but don’t put so many that you end up letting all your water drain out. But make sure you get a few holes in there—soggy roots are a bad thing.

I took one quarter of a sheet from the newspaper (or one half of one of the single pages) and folded the corners in towards the center, creating a smaller square. I smooshed this square, folded side down, into the bottles and kind of mushed it around to fit the inner space, creating a small paper cup shape inside the bottle. (I know there are tutorials out there for making a newspaper planter, origami style, but I didn’t find them until I had decided to do this technique. Live and learn. :) )


I then filled up the pots with potting soil and placed them in containers lined with plastic. One batch went into a lettuce container from the grocery store while the other one went to a box that I lined with a bread bag I had opened along one long side seam and the end. (Yeah, I know there’s no lining bag in the second photo—I hadn’t put it in at that point and was too lazy to go back and shoot it again. Use your imagination.)



That’s pretty much it. They have seeds in them now and are under a heating lamp for 12 hours a day in my garage. I’m going to put a squirt bottle next to them and hit them with a few squirts every day. I also intend to cover them with a thin layer of plastic—saran wrap, whatever—to keep the heat and moisture in, until they start budding up a bit. When the cold has passed completely, I’ll be pulling the newspaper part out and burying it directly in the soil, thus negating the need to touch the roots at all. The cuts I made in the plastic bottles should make the pulling out bit much easier.

So, what is everyone else doing, garden-wise? Is anyone else chomping at the bit to be out planting? Am I the only one dreaming of seed catalogues and their myriad selections of plants?

Friday, February 12, 2010


After driving past countless snow-dusted houses this morning and seeing happy parents and children outside playing, building snowmen and throwing snowballs, I was a little bit bitter that I still had to go in to work today. I mean, yeah, I got to go in two hours later and, really, I ended up going in even later than that since I went with Harrison to his school to be at his Valentine’s Day party. But still, all I could think was how much it sucked that all these other parents got to stay home with their kids and enjoy the only real snow we’ve had in East Texas in years while I had to go educate.

So I’m happy to say that when the 3:30 bell rang to let the 40% of the student body who actually showed up today out, I was not far behind them. Even better, since Robert had gotten any snow-related kinks worked out at the office, he was able to come home and play, too.

We went out in the yard and learned how to roll the snow around to make forms. Man, that snow was pretty sticky on itself—for a life-long Southern girl who has never really seen much winter weather besides slush, it’s really impressive! We now have two pretty good sized snow-folk out in our yard. I originally intended to make two big ones and two small ones for a family portrait of sorts, but after the second one, I was so tired and Harrison was so wet that we decided to give it up for the day. We went across the street and he played with his neighbor friend for a few minutes, but we quickly hoofed it back into the warmth of the house (thank you SWEPCO for getting our electricity back on so quickly—I know there are lots of families out there, both locally and nationwide, who are still relying on backup generators and the like). We got a fire going in the fireplace, warmed our toes and spent the rest of the evening hanging out and just enjoying each other.

The rest of the house is sleeping now while I’m watching some crap TV and enjoying the quiet.

For all the gripes I have about winter—the cold, the chapped lips, the dry, scaly skin, the staticy hair, the cold—I really have to say that I don’t mind snow—real snow—that much. I don’t think I’d want to have it for the entire year or even continuously for the entire season, but a good couple of sprinkles each winter wouldn’t hurt my feelings.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Falling on Pine Trees

I’m drained. I spent the better part of an hour or more making sandwiches for Harrison’s Valentine’s Day party at school tomorrow. I don’t mind having done it—I feel badly that I don’t get to do more than I do—but I’m afraid that the whole school day is going to get cancelled and I’ll be stuck with a platter of three loaves worth of sandwiches. It has snowed all day long—literally—and while the rest of the world wouldn’t have trouble with that, in East Texas that means that people can’t be trusted outside of their home boundaries.

To be fair, they’re really cute—I took heart shaped cookie cutters and cut out the bread, meat and cheese and then stacked them together for eating. I’m going to take a small bottle of mayo and mustard with me, I think, for the actual eating of them at the party. I also made some pink cream cheese (dyed with food coloring) and strawberry jam sammiches with half the bread. I was worried about how they’d taste since I had never tried the recipe out before. I mean, were is socially acceptable, I’d eat cream cheese straight from the package, but I’m not sure what everyone else things about that. With the addition of the jam, though, they were just about perfect—the sweetness took the edge off the cream cheese’s tartness. I wanted to sprinkle some powdered sugar on the tops of them but didn’t have any in the pantry. I’m pretty sure they’ll be fine as is, though.

All said, the snow was really pretty today. Harrison and I, like everyone else in East TX today, built a small snowman in the back yard. Robert said you could tell the snowman was an East TX one because of all the straw hanging out of him. :) Harrison was not happy about having snowballs thrown at him, but he was happy to throw them at me. My silly rangy-tang. :)

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nothing in Particular

For the first time in ages, I can’t think of anything to talk about tonight. There are things going on, of course—there always are—but I get tired of griping about the boy getting in trouble or going on about how excited I am for some aspect of work stuff. I don’t particularly feel like talking about any of it right now. I wonder if this is what it feels like to have been in therapy for a long time and to be, well, bored of talking about yourself?

Guess I could mention that I pulled a muscle in my chest. Not quite a boob muscle—more northerly than that, but definitely chestular in location. Picking up the danged car seat with my horking-huge-almost-one-year-old-not-quite-a-baby-anymore-baby in it. It hurts so much that when I went to pull a soda can out of the drink holder of her stroller, which has a tiny amount of friction with which to hold cans in place, I had a shot of pain and lost my breath for a moment.

An empty soda can, y’all.

I suppose I could mention that, yes, indeed, we are going to Disney this year. I figure I’ll be bragging all over that eventually, though, so I’m not too inclined to blather on about it right now. Suffice it to say that we’re scheduled to stay in the Toy Story building again this time, which I think is going to be pretty awesome. Mmmmm, Disneylicious…..

I could…..

Yeah, I’m pretty much grabbing at straws right now. I’m tired, I feel like poo and I’m going to bed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Ok, so if you live in the East TX area, I totally encourage you to get involved with Longview World Of Wonders, the children’s museum that a group of parents, teachers and concerned citizens is working to get built in Longview. We did some pretty cool stuff last year—a Lego Robotics workshop, a clowning workshop, a gingerbread contest at Christmas, etc. Next month, we are planning on doing a Wind Workshop (Kites! Pinwheels! Music by wind instruments! A weather discussion, hopefully by a meteorologist from one of the local news stations! Windmills with turbines! Who knew there was so much to get excited about with WIND?!?) We are also looking at doing a dress-up, living history-type thing to coincide with the Dalton Days here in Longview. Sometime this year, we want to do some geocaching, maybe some star gazing and I’m personally hoping for an interactive science day in which we get to make gak and giant bubbles (among other things).

We had our programs committee meeting tonight, and if you can’t tell, I’m super excited about it. I’ll be honest—it was the best meeting we’ve had in a while. I’m so thrilled to be involved with this endeavor because my kids will be able to participate in it and learn and have fun. I’m excited also because, if we do our job right, my kids’ kids will be able to make use of it, too.

I sometimes think that I want to go back and get my MFA and teach at college or some other such lofty thing, but really, when it comes down to it, I don’t care if I never get any higher degree than my already-attained BFA if it means I have time to do cool stuff like this for my family and my community.

Monday, February 8, 2010

24 Body Count, et al

Episode 7: 10 pm to 11 pm

Well, things are starting to get interesting.

  • Renee finally went ape crap bananas on the Russian mobster who raped her six years ago, to the tune of a knife to the eye and then multiple stab wounds to the chest. When Jack tried to get her to chill the eff out, she turned around and stabbed him in the gut, but apparently not enough to slow him down too much because…
  • When one of the Russian goons came into the room and was getting all prepped to shoot Renee, Jack popped up from behind the couch and threw the knife that Renee stabbed into his gut and  landed it in the guy’s throat. Goon down.
  • Then, when another goon was running towards the room, Jack shot through the wall, killing that fella.
  • Potential: The jerk ex-boyfriend of Hair-Over-The-Shoulder girl and his friend robbed the police impound. When a cop was about to call in the mess they made in the evidence cage, Jerk’s Friend took a baseball bat to the cop and beat the crap out of him. We don’t know he’s dead, but it’s possible.

So, final score for the night: Jack is up to four total, two of whom bought it tonight as part of the three total for the night. (Clear as mud?) Season total, thus far: twenty-three confirmed, two unconfirmed.

Other areas of synaptic flash for me tonight: I’ve got five episodes of Heroes to watch. Five hours of mediocre TV. Meanwhile, I’m unable to record The Big Bang Theory on Monday nights because we only have a two channel receiver and one channel is engaged with 24 while the other is saving (you guessed it!) Heroes. I don’t know why I’m unable to just let this show go. I guess because I have so much buy-in at this point that I just can’t let myself not watch the full run, no matter how silly it gets.  I think it’s the same thing that forced me to plug through Spanish 2 in high school although I was failing miserably at the end (not skipping school probably could have helped with that…) just so I could get the “Honors” seal on my diploma. Robert, on the other hand, quit Spanish 2 his Senior year because he saw that it was not going to be of any use to him (as he interpreted it [ha! interpreted! I slay myself!]). He decided a label on his diploma didn’t mean crap, cut the strings and went on to other things that he was more interested in. Interestingly, he’s not been watching Heroes at all this season. Which, come to think about it, is probably why I’m not watching it each week, but rather, two or three (or more) episodes at a time, as I find the time and energy. When I watch TV with Robert, I actually make the time to do it. When it’s something for myself, I usually put it off because my free time is so limited I just can’t see spending that time watching something subpar.


In other news, I introduced my intentions to share The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens in Advisory today. They acted like they were not interested in it at all at first, but once I clarified that I wasn’t going to be giving them homework or tests over it, they warmed up to the idea. I know that, as teenagers, their gut reactions to anything have to be that it’s stupid, but I assured them that once they got past that, that they could really get something out of it. I’m looking forward to seeing what they learn and how they are going to be able to grow with it. I noticed that, although they talked big game about how dumb it all was, they all took the packets and got to setting up their folders pretty quickly. I think that bodes well.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Public Behavior

I think it’s funny that, when out in public without our kids, if I see another kid doing something that I would wring my own boy’s neck for, I just smile.

We were at Wendy’s getting burgers and ice cream cake for Hubby’s birthday tonight (Happy Birthday, Honey!!!) while mom and dad watched the kids back at the house. We had gone to see Sherlock Holmes (which Robert says has gay overtones to which I say he’s full o’ crap) and to the book store and were finishing up with some food before going back to the din of the kids.

In line behind us was a couple with two kids, maybe three and four years old (or maybe twins, aged three or four?).  The boy went straight to the Happy Meal display case to look at the toys, with the girl following closely behind. (And yes, I know that Happy Meal is a McDonald’s trademarked term, but I don’t know what they call it at Wendy’s and I’m too lazy to look it up because I don’t care what it’s called—if I say Happy Meal, EVERYONE knows what I’m talking about!)After tapping on the glass case and saying “I want that one!” over and over and over (and over and…), the little boy decided to it was time to climb on the railings. A lot.

Now, were this my child in line, I would have been threatening him with all kinds of punishments—no toy in his happy meal, no happy meal, no tomatoes on his sandwich. But in someone else’s kid, I just smiled and thought about how cute the kids were. And how I was glad it wasn’t my kid doing all that.

I wonder if other parents do that when I’m out with my kids? I wonder if other parents smile indulgently and secretly gloat that someone else’s kid is acting up for a change?

In the interest of full disclosure, while this family was waiting for their food order to be finished, the kids sat down at a table near the cash registers and waited very quietly and patiently for their parents to finish gathering condiments and napkins. I was impressed. And jealous.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Winnahs!

I am so beyond elated with our student’s showing at the Kilgore College Art Symposium today!

Of the fifteen winners—five honorable mentions and ten scholarship winners—five came from our school. We got one HM and then all but swept the top five places, only missing second place. I’m no math person, but dang! that’s 1/3 of the awards! I’m pretty proud to say that, of those five, three came through my Art 1 class before moving on to the upper level classes.

I know that I’m a cog in the machine and that I am not directly responsible for these kids winning and getting scholarships, but it’s nice to think that I’ve got a residual affect on them. It’s days like this that reaffirm that, yeah, Art 1 classes are challenging—kids telling you on an almost daily basis that they’re just there because they have to be, not because they want to be can get kind of exhausting—but sometimes someone comes through and absorbs something and decides to take it to the next level.

Yay for art!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Walk This Way

The girl is taking steps now. Away from people or things.

Holy Jeeze!

So far, it’s only been one or two, but they’re definitely independent steps. The ladies at her daycare said she had taken a few steps today, which kind of bothered me—I wanted us to be the first to see her walk!—but I guess this is the tradeoff we have to make when we work outside the house.

While I was getting ready to head out the door tonight to run to the library and the grocery store, Robert pulled her up to standing and, after letting her get her balance, let go her hands. She looked at him, took two steps and popped back down on the ground, squealing in delight. She’s been doing the ‘walk with her hands in mommy or daddy’s hands’ thing for a few weeks now, so she definitely knows how the feet mechanism works. She’s just putting balance into the equation and, man, she’s excited!

I can absolutely see that she will be walking by her birthday (in less than a month!!!).

I can also see that I’m going to have to start being extra vigilant now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


“We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

I forget how much I like some movies until I’m flipping through the channels, looking for some brain drain and run across something I haven’t seen in a while.

Tonight, my viewing while Robert spent all his time playing his new birthday video game (thanks, Cody—now I’ll never get to watch any of that TV I’ve got DVRed) ranged from Kevin Bacon in Footloose to Brad Pitt and Ed Norton in Fight Club. Both rank up high as favorites for me, but for very different reasons.

I watched Footloose countless times as a kid. In our house, we had a habit of watching the same movies over and over and over and over and over and over and over and…. They were usually more obscure movies—Hollywood Knights, Mischief, The Man in the Moon, etc. Stuff that you won’t find at a bricks-and-mortar movie place today. Blockbuster probably doesn’t even have those movies in their database. Honestly, though, I’ve seen them so many times that I don’t even have to have the movie in front of me because I could quote them all verbatim.

Footloose was one that we watched when my aunt and her family had moved in with us. I remember, during the dance scene at the end, my mom and aunt would get up and dance along with Bacon and Co., whooping and hollering and having a good ol’ time. At the time, this embarrassed me, especially if one of my friends was over to visit. It seemed the epitome of dorky to dance along to a movie. It was the epitome of dorky. But the thing is, they were having fun. They weren’t worried about what anyone thought—they were just enjoying themselves to the best of their abilities. I still cringe a little thinking about it, but I’m equally nostalgic for it. I don’t focus so much on how much they are embarrassing me—dang it! couldn’t they see I had a friend over?!?—but more on how good a time they were having. These are laugh filled memories and I think that’s pretty significant.

My memories of Fight Club are much more recent and much more related to who I am as a person today. While I never bought into the idea that you have to beat the crap out of each other to find yourselves—guys are so weird sometimes!—I do recognize that finding yourself out of whatever box society says you should be in is pretty important. I always liked the dark humor of the movie and appreciated the delivery from Brad Pitt who at this point had only played Pretty Boy (pretty much his entire oeuvre) and Crazy Bugger (12 Monkeys—the only non-Pretty Boy roll I remember him ever taking). It was nice to see him—the most specialist, prettiest person—telling us all that no one is a special snowflake. It was nice to see more-average-looking Ed Norton show Pretty Boy in the end that, why yes, you can be a little special. You don’t have to go all they way to the other extreme, but you can find a balance.

I will say that I always feel a little like I’m failing Tyler Durden any time that we go to Ikea. I mean, I don’t stop shopping there—that’s crazy talk!—but I do feel like, somewhere, Tyler is laughing. Or crying. Or whatever.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

24 Body Count

Episode 6: 9 pm to 10 pm

  • Three Russian mobsters who were getting ready to shoot Jack as he finished up wiring the $5 million to their boss’ account. Silly mobsters. Don’t they know Jack cuts people’s heads off when they don’t cooperate?
  • Other Russian mob boss’ kid who had been poisoned with radiation. Dad didn’t like big brother taking the kid to the doctor to get fixed—“Waaaah, they know about the nuclear rods. They’ll go to the police!”—so he offed little brother. Yeah. I know. Harsh.
  • Oh. Yeah. The doctor and nurse at the clinic? Dead. Dad’s goons tracked down the brothers and shot their way through the medical facility to bring the boys back home. I always find it ironic when people die in hospitals. I mean, c’mon—it’s a hospital. They’re supposed to fix  you there.  So yeah, one doctor, one nurse.

Grand total for this episode, six. Grand total for the season, twenty confirmed, one unconfirmed. Oh, and let’s not forget that there is civil unrest in the Middle Eastern President’s country, so you know there’s some killin’ and maimin’ going on.

All this brings to mind the books that I’m reading right now. Yeah, I said books. I’m still reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but I decided that I wanted to look at The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens for use in my classroom. I am really impressed with this whole line of thinking and wanted to see about sharing it with my Advisory class. They come to see me every day, not for Art but for “relationship building.” I am supposed to mentor them, be their ear/shoulder/whatever and, for the most part, I’ve more or less enjoyed them. They’re freshmen so they are a bunch of squirrels, but they’re not bad. The problem is that they have very little moral direction—they don’t see a problem with cheating on a test, stealing what they want, lying for their gain. I’m hoping that by introducing them to the 7 Habits, they might get some of the things that they have missed somewhere along the way. The books are completely devoid of religion—they don’t say you should behave because God says you should, but rather that you should make good choices because it’s the right thing to do. They can be applied to a child who falls into any religion—I can’t imagine anyone saying that teaching a person to tell the truth and make good choices is against doctrine or dogma of any type. Also, I don’t have to worry about parents saying I’m trying to teach their child religion. I’m just trying to help make them better people.

Anyway, watching 24 tonight brought these books up in my mind. One of the things that the Coveys encourage is looking at your influences. Sean, the author of the teen book, suggests looking at the lyrics of songs you listen to and seeing if they reflect the values that you are trying to live by. My first thought when reading that was that, no, I know for a fact that most music the kids listen to today does not reflect an ethical, respectable attitude. I felt very holier-than-them until I finished up watching 24 tonight and realized that the idea of killing/torturing/etc. is completely abhorrent to me. It seems odd that this show I’ve watched obsessively since the second season is such a carnival of violence.

I don’t know how this figures in to my trying to have good influences thing.

I don’t want to stop watching it.

I’m going to have to think about this.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Little Girl

As of tomorrow morning, Laura will be eleven months old.

Holy Crap. When did that happen?

She is getting so big, I just don’t even have the words. She has gone from barely army crawling across the floor to moving around on all fours—quickly! she’s fast!!—to pulling up on furniture and scooting along the edges. I have every belief that she will be taking steps in weeks and walking by her birthday. She laughs maniacally at anything that catches her fancy—Big Brother (Bub Bub), music, silly faces made while changing her diaper. She can stand up at Harrison’s toy grid in the living room and reach the toys on the top shelf. I’ve seen her pulling the drawers out of the middle row and, when I stopped her and told her she was not to be digging around in there, she threw the most dramatic, most operatic hissy fit I had ever seen.

Oh my, but she’s a Drama Queen.

Oy, her birthday is right around the corner. She’s going to be one. Oy.

It’s so weird. With Harrison, whose birthday is in the summer, I never really think about when the day falls. It doesn’t matter if it’s a week day or a weekend because we’re off at that time and he and I can spend the day together without a problem. His party is always held on the weekend nearest his actual birthday in deference to the friends and family members who will be coming, but the actual day itself could be any time.

Laura was born during the school year and so I’ve been merrily floating along, keeping busy with grading, teaching, students, Harrison and his myriad of discipline problems when WHAM!!!, here’s her birthday to think about.

I hope I’m not blindsided like this every year. I mean, I’ve got her birthday dress finished, but it’s safely tucked away in her closet and I’ve not really thought about it since I finished it and got photos taken of her in it. While I was sewing it, I knew that it was meant for her birthday party, but that was such a symbolic thing in my mind that I didn’t really go beyond the title of it—The Birthday Dress—to think about what it meant.

God, where did this year go?