Monday, October 26, 2009

First Day Conquered

My girls and I have completed our first day at our new schools. The kids are in bed, though not asleep, now at 6:30pm. They were up at 5:30, I was up at 5am. We drove to school in the dark. I'm looking forward to the time change so it's light out when we're leaving at 6. I was just so stressed and tired this morning. Even with all the prep that was done the night before I couldn't have gotten us out the door in time without Will's help. G started crying right off the bat having been woken up so early.

Right now my brain feels fried. It's not really a headache, but a brainache. Mostly the front part of my brain feels overworked, like it's still trying to sort and store all the info I took in today: names, faces, classes, schedules, materials, lessons, projects, school layout, policies, procedures....

I'm still not done. Now I get to look over my plans. I need to put together a quiz probably.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finally

I've been hired. Somebody actually wants me. Now I have to prove myself, to myself and my employer, that I CAN DO THIS! I am freaking out quietly inside much of the time because I start on Monday (it's Thursday!). The semester is just about half way through. The previous beloved teacher died of stomach cancer, so it's a sad, delicate situation. I don't know what the students have done. I have to put together a darkroom from a jumble of equipment (YIKES! HELP!) The rest should be okay, except that there are not texts. No text for art appreciation! Thank heavens for the internet.

The awesome part is the children will attend the school. It's a Catholic school. I'll be teaching high school. S will go to first grade at the K-8 school across the parking lot from my school. G will be about 10 minutes away at another Catholic Church where there's a preschool/day care center that is run by the K-8 school. We ALL start Monday. Needless to say, everyone is a bit stressed. I've been very busy this week filling out paper work, dropping off health forms, getting a flu shot, getting fingerprinted. Tomorrow I'm taking in all the paperwork so it will be finalized. Then I'm taking S to the mall to get the last items for her uniform. Fortunately, we got a few used uniform pieces so she's good to start this week. We'll have to get some more jumpers once I get some $$$, cuz that stuff is expensive. I love that it'll all be able to be passed down to G.

Not looking forward to the commute. It'll be about 45 minutes. Just like camp was all summer. We'll have to leave every morning no later than 6:15. I haven't gotten up before 6am for YEARS! Not since I had to get the bus at 7:10 in middle school when I got up at 5:45 some mornings. But with having to take G to her day care center at 7, then drive back to my campus and get S to before school care, I'll get only a few minutes before the 7:45 warning bell.

I'm excited to finally be teaching, but I'm very aware that the first year is a very difficult one and THIS semester will be more like I'm a long term sub than anything. The previous teacher's belongings still have not been cleared out. I hope they will be before Monday.

The benefit of the kids going to Catholic school, going to school WHERE I WORK, having free before and after school care if needed... it's the most wonderful situation and more than I imagined would work out for us.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Two Thoughts that are not related but may be

I am on pins and needles.

I have also reached a point with this blog where I feel like going and deleting posts. Is that normal?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Conundrum

There is abundant discussion about a teacher's role online. Many teachers have blogs. Some blog incognito about their school and students, others do it openly for the benefit of parents and students. There is the issue of Facebook and whether to friend a student, or maybe do it after the student graduates or maybe never. Some teachers say it's their duty to be visible in the online community to monitor and protect the teenagers who may put out warning signs of trouble and need a responsible person to recognize them. My first instinct is to not friend students, but one teacher on a message board reasoned that she could add her students in a group on facebook that was not allowed to see her entire profile. Okay, so limited access is a good way to handle it and the teacher would still have access to what the students were putting online. That is where teachers (can I say older teachers without being ageist?) are afraid they could get into trouble having access to pictures and information the students may be participating in that is illegal. Like, Hey is anyone getting a keg for Bonehead's party this weekend while his parents are out of town? A teacher might think it's a joke or might LIKE to think it's a joke. Probably it isn't though and the teacher should check in with Bonehead to let him know he'd be a bonehead to have a party while his parents are out of town this weekend and maybe she should email his parents. People who grow/grew up in small towns can tell about so and so telling their parents about what they saw them doing. The whole village theory. It's an online village--ivillage, remember? I used to do the message boards there before blog and facebook.

Anyway, while pondering this whole facebook thing, I suddenly thought about my blog. I don't say anything on my blog that I wouldn't say to my family. They know how I stand on politics, kids, food, religion... sorta they know about religion. I don't even quite know where I stand on religion... it's a moving target. Anyway, I think I'm a pretty respectful person on here and am mostly anonymous. I'm tempted to delete all photos, but then I scan through the multitude of blogs about families and children. My blog covers it all though.

But would I really want students reading it?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

WTF Moment

I read this blog recently and relate to a few things in it, like having an infant who is not interested in a lot of the food offered and doesn't want solids until seven months (G--premie thing) and also I relate to DREADING dinner. It's gotten completely out of hand. I'm sorry about all the times I felt I had this feeding thing under control. I'm sorry about all the times I gloated in my head about how my kids eat salad and like a variety of foods. I wish I were working so I could blame this absurdity on that. I don't know why, but S (my six year old) has decided that she will make each and every dinner a power struggle. She has been the best eater since that first bite of rice cereal she was incredibly eager to consume. Her tastes have varied through the years, but she usually liked most of what was put in front of her and was always will to "just try a bite." Now there's no rhyme or reason to her MADNESS. She sits down and starts grimacing. Then she chooses some minute aspect of her meal (I don't like mustard, Yes you do you told me you liked when Daddy put it on your turkey sandwich the other day, Well, I don't like it). Then she starts looking all around her plate and becomes exasperated by everything she sees and slams back in her chair pouting. That's when I give her the 5 count down to get rid of the negative attitude and start eating or leave the table. She's had to leave the table numerous times, says she has calmed down and comes back to eat. Then she eats a couple bites and is all "Oh I do like this." WTF!?

Tonight was it, though. It's been at least a week of this behavior. Starting tomorrow, I told her, she'll get ready for bed (shower, pjs) after she's done homework and then she'll spend the evening in her room while the rest of the family has dinner. When we're through she can come down and have dinner--what has been made for everyone's dinner (with the exception of beef/pork)--and then go to bed. Her negative attitude makes me sick. It stresses my parents, too. No amount of their pleading and reasoning changes her attitude.

The problem is she often has a negative attitude, even about things she has told me she likes, such as school and Sunday school and camp this past summer, which she said she never wanted to go back to but now wants to go again next summer--WTF?!

One night months ago, before we moved, maybe even last year, we were leaving the Y after my weekly kickboxing class and she started in with her complaining and negativity and I told her I hear that she is not happy, but I just had a great work out and am full of positive energy and her negative energy will push out all my positive energy and then I will be very angry and not a happy mommy and she needed to either blow out her negative energy, throw it away or keep it to herself. Her response? I DON'T BELIEVE IN THAT. WTF?! I said, That's fine, people didn't believe the Earth is round, though it is. One day you'll realize energy is real and it can be positive or negative. All she heard was blah, blah, blah.

Many things are power struggles with S. I know it's a normal kid thing and kids like boundaries and restrictions and they push to see what they can get away with. But food? Dinner? I really don't want food to be an issue with her. She already self-mutilates, bites her arm when frustrated, which is also a fairly common thing. I don't even want to imagine her teen years with food issues and self-mutilation involved. If that happens it's not WTF, we're just F-ed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Impression

I'm mostly a reserved person. I learned when I was young that if I was more quiet than talkative and more reserved than outgoing there was less chance for me to embarrass myself. I hate doing or saying things I regret, more than I hate not saying things or doing things I wish I had. So, I've developed this sweet, quiet, reserved personality. Those who know me, know I'm a goof ball a lot of the time.

It's getting annoying though, when people are surprised by my saying something or revealing something. For instance, at camp this past summer I was working with my director on the back drop for the campers' performance. He had been working before I got there and had the radio on a hip hop/R&B station. After a little while he said he was leaving to get some lunch and switched the radio to some pop station then asked me what station I wanted the radio on. I told him to put it back on the hip hop station. You like hip hop? I may not know all the artists on that station, but, yes, I do like hip hop music. His response? Chuckling. That's funny, Lauren. I could have said, What, because I'm a white girl and I wear glasses to correct my vision I can't listen to a variety of music? I didn't. He just left. Whatever. Then I laughed about it to myself.

I'm pretty good at sexual innuendo. Yeah, I'm not always funny or witty, sometimes I'm more goofy than anything. But sometimes the wit just flows. In HS Shakespeare class I did a paper on Shakespeare's puns. That guy was dirty minded. I liked it. As a teenager I often found myself saying seemingly harmless things that peers could turn dirty. Sometimes we made a game of it. I developed my style. I've used it to make people blush as used to happen to me. My future brother-in-law has been made to turn red a few times by my jokes. He tried to set me up one time, but it really wasn't my style, not really dirty. Then within five minutes he innocently said something that could easily be construed as dirty and I pointed it out as something I could work with. He blushed. He's blond and blushes too easily, but so do I, so it's fair. Recently I was at my sister's house for a cook out. She had other friends over and we were talking about phones and iPhone applications (one guy works for a phone distributor). He, Will and future BIL were talking about a weight loss application where you strap your phone to your gut and it vibrates the fat off. Of course, I responded, I can think of a much better reason for the phone to vibrate. No one knew what to say. Will just gave me a look like, Can't you ever let it go? I think the phone guy was embarrassed, I can't be sure. Future BIL is half deaf and proceeded to make the same joke I had just said, but not so directly and was stumbling over his words trying to find the best way to phrase it, so I stopped him, let him know I already beat him to it. He nodded, already having blushed at trying to say the joke himself. Phone guy said he was surprised I said that.

Maybe I do like the contrast of my appearance and what I say. It is fun to surprise people like that. But, I still find it annoying a lot of the time.

I want to meet a bunch of strangers and then have them interviewed privately about their first impression of me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Backfire!

I'm brainwashing my kids. We all do it, only we call it raising them to share our ideals. I want them to understand, fully, what meat is. As a kid I found raw meat so disgusting I couldn't imagine ever preparing it, though I didn't have too much of a problem eating it once my mom cooked it. Well, I suppressed that revulsion and forced myself to make meatloaf a few times and fry pork and bake chicken. Now that I'm vegetarian the kids are asking why. I don't tell them meat is disgusting, they still are given chicken. I tell them they can choose to eat it sometimes, but mostly it's better for their health to not eat it or to eat very little of it. I tell them meat is animal muscle that has been cut off the dead animal. I say all information in an even tone as if I'm explaining how taxes work (yes, S asked about taxes, though she didn't know what it was called). Very straightforward, as I always am with them. But, telling them that meat is muscle, muscle like we have, may have backfired with S. Eating meat is so normalized for her. She's never visited a farm or county fair. She's seen cows from a distance and pigs at the zoo. It's difficult for her to equate the meat she eats with these animals. G is more impressionable at only 4 and says she wants to stop eating meat like mommy. She shows some understanding that we're eating pieces of dead animals and seems to not like that, but she's fine with continuing to eat chicken, since I said I'd keep giving it to her. But 6 year old S? Last night she was sucking a chicken bone dry!

What did I expect my children to think telling them meat is muscle? "Oh, people have muscle. I'd never eat a person's muscle, so why would I eat an animal's muscle?" Turns out, S thought about that much differently than I expected.

Today we were watching the end of Swiss Family Robinson and as the pirates were being killed off, S said "They should just eat the pirates. They have muscle just like us and muscle is meat, so they can eat them." I responded, "You want the family to eat other people?" Not skipping a beat S said, "The pirates are bad people, they deserve to be eaten." Looks like my daughter is pro-cannibalism as long as the people on the menu were bad.

The menu.

The could-be cannibals. And really, before S said what could be done with the pirates I was thinking, they're sure gonna have a lot of stinking, dead bodies to clean up!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Curly Myth

Apparently in hair stylist school stylists are taught that curly hair can only have long layers and never lots of short layers. I've heard this myth, I've READ this myth in a magazine, my sister has heard this. It's NOT TRUE. I went to Hair Cuttery today and told the stylist my hair had grown out a LOT and I needed 1.5 inches taken off. She said "It's all one length?" No, it's layered, especially more in the back. She said she couldn't tell, so I told her to put lots of layers in it all around. She picked up one side of my hair and said "If I put layers, it's going to puff out like a fro here." "Yes, that's fine," was my response. Why argue? I've done it before: No, it actually is less frizzy and less of a fro when I have lots of layers. It just curls, stays in place and doesn't grow any bigger. When it's closer to one length, like it was before I got it cut, it gets bigger and bigger throughout the day until I'm forced to pull it back because it's Dianna Ross style. And while big, curly hair may be glamorous when it's done up nicely:




Usually it just looks like you were out on a windy day:



So I got my hair cut to the top of my shoulders, but it curls up over an inch, and it has lots of layers. It's slightly shorter than in my profile pic. It's very curly, no longer poofy, puffy or anything like a fro. But really, why was fro used in such a negative way? Can't a fro look good? Let's see:


Nope.


I wouldn't say looks good, but it works.



Seth Rogen. I love his Jew fro!
Yes, it looks good on Lenny Kravitz. Can his be called a Jew fro, too?
On a more or less serious note, I'm interested in seeing Chris Rock's new documentary "Good Hair." I actually caught myself saying "You have good hair!" as I brushed out G's hair this morning. Woah. I never thought I'd said that phrase. But as the brush smoothly went through her hair making it more full and soft, that was my thought! Good hair! Geez. That reminds me, each time I see a new stylist they say I should get highlights, not blond, but light brown because I have such a nice natural color. If it's so nice, why would I change it in any way? I don't understand the blond thing. I love my brown hair and I love it curly. If it were straight, maybe I'd feel differently and want to change the color to be more unique, though if everyone is fake blond, how unique is that?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Significance

Ten year old self: I want to live near my sister so I can see her often and our kids can play together and know each other well.

Myself today: I've moved back to Maryland. I live near my sister (may even move into her neighborhood if I ever get a friggin job). I have kids and she knows them well. But she doesn't have kids, so one plan is foiled.

Nowhere in my, or my sister's, childhood dream of have a close-knit extended family was by brother much in focus. I guess he was always somewhere in the background of our imaginations. He'd be there at Christmas, of course. That uncle the kids know, but don't know. We certainly had that experience growing up.

And now, reality is quite different! Yesterday we all had dinner together: grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, kids, great-grandfather. My sister, brother and I all "home" with our significant others, all of us getting along, actually liking each other, knowing each other. We had a great dinner, laughing, telling stories of our first time drinking, what we used to drink and can't now, why mom doesn't drink beer (her theory is because she never tasted beer from her dad as a little girl and that's what it takes--which is a true circumstance for everyone else present last night), stories from before mom and dad had kids, when they were young like us, stories of how I caused both of my brother's facial scars from childhood (unintentionally, I swear), stories of how we fought, but didn't really fight (my brother never had it in him to beat us up, except one time he punched our sister and shit hit the fan), stories of camping, the positive memories like dancing to the 1965 mixed tape in the camper doing air guitar and lip syncing, stories.... everyone accepting each other (no political talk, obviously). So nice. Then we cleaned up, put the children to bed. We "kids" and our husband, fiance and girlfriend played The Settlers of Catan, which turned out to be a most awesome game. We were rowdy and stayed up too late, but it was so fun. Then everyone slept over for a big breakfast in the morning.

After breakfast, my sister, mom and I walked with the girls to the park where we talked about how nice it was to have each other together, to really like our brother's girlfriend, to like our brother! (Sorry, bud, always loved ya.) We recognize our blessing in having each other.

This is what it's all about.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Christians won't like this

While watching Laurie Berkner's new video on Noggin today (with my four year old, not by myself) I saw something that made me declare: "Christians are going to stop watching Noggin." See if you can find it. (And it's not because those puppets look like her breasts. Seriously, stand back and you'll see.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My hypocrisy

My name, Lauren, is typically pronounced one of two ways. Spelled phonetically:
1. Lore-en
2. Lar-en
In each the accent is on the first syllable. I prefer number 2. Sometimes Will says number 1, but he doesn't usually say my name unless he's yelling it for me to come see some travesty the kids have orchestrated, so in that circumstance I don't even pay attention to how he pronounces it.

Here is my hypocrisy. The name Maureen, which usually has the accent on the second syllable (and that may be why I like it this other way) can also be pronounced in two choices similar to my name.
1. More-een
2. Mar-een
Sometimes people even put the accent on the first syllable in option 2. THAT's weird. For Maureen, I like number 1 with the accent on the second syllable.

And that's that.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vegewhat?


Vegetarian

OR
The experts say, "Don't label yourself." Well, only one nutritionist I've read wrote that. It's a good idea, I think. But, when you're trying to explain to someone why you're not going to eat THAT, it helps to say something concise.
Yesterday we went to Will's grandparent's house. He had told them we'd bring lunch from Subway, but then Grandma called back and said not to bring anything because they had hot dogs. Hmm... we don't eat THAT. So, we just brought lunch anyway and had to tell them I'm a vegetarian and the girls are mostly vegetarian. My sister-in-law has been vegetarian for a while, so I figured they'd understand and Grandpa did. Grandma isn't as sharp as he is, so she still continued to offer me a hot dog and Grandpa got a little agitated and raised his voice slightly to stress that I'm vegetarian. Hm? was Grandma's response, so he had to just say SHE DOESN'T EAT HOT DOGS! Then the questions started, What do you eat, Do you deny the girls or do you let them have certain things when they go to a party, Does your doctor advise you, Why are you on this diet, blah blah. She's done the same to my sister-in-law, so I wasn't surprised.

Technically speaking, I'm vegequarian. I eat eggs, cheese and seafood. Last week I decided enough was enough with the poultry, but then two days later my mom served turkey meatballs with spaghetti, so I had them. Ooops. No worries, though. I had three beef (hamburgers) slip-ups during the year long transition process I gave myself toward cutting down to just poultry as a meat item. From my twenty-seventh birthday to my twenty-eighth I changed my diet for the better. Though this summer has been difficult with living in my parent's house. They eat nice dinners, plenty of salad (which I haven't been feeling like having at ALL) but there's just too much food and I'm home too much! So, I eat more than I want to and I have more junk food and sodas than before. I'm making a conscious effort to change that even with staying home. Today is the first day in that effort. I'm attempting to do all raw mornings (except for my coffee). This morning I had a fruit and spinach smoothie which I shared with my girls. Then I had my coffee. Then I had a banana. It's 10:25 and I'm getting a little hungry, but I don't want to eat lunch until 11:30, so I might have an orange. Fruit is through the stomach in about 30 minutes. It's a quick-exit food, unless it's paired with anything other than fruit. Then it's kept in the stomach longer and can ferment (according to the aforementioned nutritionist).

I know that I've not been digesting well and I'm getting bloated, so this change should make me feel much better. S had me read the Berenstein Bear's Too Much Junk Food recently and so I've pointed out that we've been doing the same and it's time for a change for all of us. She told me what fruit and veggies she'd like for lunch and snack and if she fusses, I'll remind her she picked out the food and it's going to make her body feel good. Both the girls know I'm health-conscious. I've never said I'm on a diet or complained about eating healthy food. Instead, I point out the positive attributes of the food we eat, what vitamins it has, how it helps our body, how tasty it is.
Saturdays my Dad makes link breakfast sausage. At first, I let the girls have it, but it's not something I want them to have, so I got some tofu sausage I can cut into patties. S wasn't so sure about it at first, but then she started saying that it was good. After she'd eaten most of it I told her I was really proud of her for eating such healthy food because it's not meat sausage, but it's made of vegetables. She interrupted me there and said "And that makes it healthier! And it tastes good." She's getting the idea that I don't want them eating meat. I'm not taking away poultry and there will probably be times when S will have a hamburger, but at home she won't. My parents grilled steak yesterday and the girls had chicken fillet sandwiches, which they loved, so they were happy. I had the BEST grilled portabella mushroom sandwich. I marinated the mushroom in Bragg's, ginger powder, onion powder, garlic powder, honey, sea salt, pepper and brushed with olive oil. So good! My Mom is so awesome for thinking about me and getting portabella mushrooms. Thanks, Mom! She's so supportive of my changing diet. She does a lot of vegetarian meals, too. My poor Dad is getting such stiffness and inflammation in his knees. I wish he'd stop eating cured meat and only have meat at dinner a few nights a week.
I'm going to make a white bean dip today. It'll have cannellini beans, rosemary, garlic, olive oil. I'm debating whether or not to cook the beans. Some recipes say to fry the beans up before blending them with the other ingredients, but I think a raw dip would be nice, too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Six Year Old Society

S has social skills. I'm not really surprised as she's always been a very friendly little kid, but I'm intrigued by her ability to interact so maturely. When I pick her up from school I observe her as she confidently strides by students. If she sees someone from her class she puts a sweet, subtle smile on her face and says "Hi, so and so" at exactly the right moment: as she's approaching about 2.5 feet from the student so he/she has time to say hi back just as she's passing him/her. One little boy walks the same way home as we do and every time S sees him she says hi, but he only smiles and runs away. Then he acts crazy jumping off of everything he can on the way home. S told him he's crazy. Guess he took that as a compliment cuz he kept being crazy.

As friendly and confident as S is in addressing her peers, she's just as gullible. A classmate has told her to expect an invite for her birthday where, among others, the Jonas Brothers and Zack and Cody will be attending as guests. Really. Her father is calling to personally invite them. I explained to S that celebrities do not attend parties unless someone was friends with the celebrity before that person became famous, or if that celebrity is paid for the appearance. I believe S brought this up with the little storyteller which is when she pulled out the excuse that her father has yet to call them, but WILL be doing so. This'll be one of those social interactions where S will just have to learn from experience. I know I did, because I was a pretty trusting kid; basically, because I knew I wasn't out to fool anyone. Of course I met my share of storytellers, too, and eventually I learned to tell what was probably not the truth. I still have some trouble with that, though, so I'm not going to fault S for wanting to believe the awesomeness that is the dream of meeting Zack and Cody.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Genius of the Trailer Park


Here's a column I found that I find quite amusing. I was looking up the asthma of the esophagus as that's a possibility for me. Read the last question about prostate cancer. The woman is a real thinker!
The photo is from here. She was my photography teacher at Shepherd U and that pink trailer (normally white or gray or something) was our classroom and her office, though the dark room was in the main building.

Not happy

I've been feeling trapped lately. I've felt trapped before, by my baby. Of course I wasn't trapped at home. I could go out, but I was tethered to G because I was her only source of sustenance. Finding a play group was the best thing for me at the time because then I didn't feel alone in that sentiment.

Now I'm trapped by something else. It has multiple factors, but mostly I am trapped by my health, or poor health. I'm not alone in this situation. I have to say I have it pretty good. I don't have a life threatening disease. I don't have cancer. I don't even feel bad most of the time. My asthma is so mild. My allergies are not flaring. My reflux is mostly controlled by medicine. And that's where the problem lies. If any of these three things flares, the medication is expensive. And I cannot STOP taking medicine for reflux and that shit is so expensive. I know I've recently explained this, but I'm just feeling more and more down about it.

The economy is out of my hands. The lack of employment opportunity in my chosen field is out of my hands. It's not my fault I don't have a job right now. The only option I have in my chosen career is to substitute and I've already explained how I'm forced to either not work and have my medicine and health care covered by medicaid or go on Will's insurance and have to sub just to make back the money we'd be spending on my health care. Either way, we're stuck here.

Here is my parents' house. It's fine, it's fine. BUT we want our own place. My children want our own house. If it feels like a long wait for me, I imagine it feels almost hopeless for them. S was telling me on the way to school she wants us to get our own house NOW. We could do it, really. We could find a low price rental (they're more available these days) and we could stay on medicaid and get food stamps, but that would just make it impossible to pay off the debt we're able to at this time, even without my having a job. So, we can't let our desire to move out overrule the common sense plan we've got going here, which is to pay off debt while we're here and then we'll be in an awesome position to buy a house (or rent still depending on what we can find) when I DO get a job. Because I will. It's so very frustrating right now, but I will get a job, eventually.

Imagine if I didn't have to be below a certain income to have health care. Imagine that I could just fill out a form and have health care coverage like I do now with Medicaid, but I could make money! I could substitute teach so I keep my foot in the door and get experience and get paid. I could take long term sub positions. That's just not an option right now and I really want it to be soon. Instead, I'm trapped in my parents' house because having my upper endoscopy covered is more important than making $75 a day subbing.

You know that argument about not wanting the public option becoming the only option? Well, that's BS. There will always be private companies. Even England has private companies for supplemental care. Look at Medicare and Medicaid. There are options for each. I had about 7 different companies to choose from when I signed up. There were options!

A public option would give us the option of moving out and being independent.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Holy Cowboy (and girl)

Two people running for governor of Texas want Texas to secede. Apparently they are ready for a "bloody war" because they "hate the US Flag [and] the United States Government."

Rachel Maddow is giving me the info. Go look it up. I've seen enough.

Let me explain

The world is not how I want it to be. Really, that's something I never expect. So, I'm fine with that. But my life, my life is not how I want it to be. I feel that I've been very, VERY good with going with the flow. I have what is most important to me and always have. Now, though, there's something else that is important to me and that is building my career. Maybe now is not the best time to do it. Maybe I'm not supposed to be doing it, yet. But maybe it's just a shitty situation right now with the economy and that has nothing to do with what I should or should not be doing, only with what I can and cannot do.

I cannot work a job that doesn't provide enough money to cover the exorbitant cost of benefits through Will's job (I should mention that Will pays nothing for HIS benefits, but the cost of adding me, in both premium and deductible, is not worth it at this time) and still gives us some additional income after child care costs. I have alerted social services of Will's income and we are waiting to receive a letter letting us know if we're still covered... if I'M still covered. If I am, we'll be just under the line and then I definitely cannot make any more money unless it is worth it, as mentioned. IF I am not covered, then I CAN work and I HAVE to work. In that case we will be forced to add me to Will's insurance and I will be able, will have, to substitute teach as much as possible. At this time, the scenario where I'm still covered by Medicaid is my favorite one. I am suffering from reflux and on medication and needing a scope and biopsy and all that out of pocket, medicine every month, doctor's appointments... makes my head spin. While I would love to substitute and "keep my foot in the door" as everyone says, I'd rather not start drowning in medical debt.

But I am still waiting.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friday Night Enlightenment


Friday night I was sitting at a most awesome, authentic Irish bar in the city listening to live Irish music and debating with Will whether or not we should go to a party with camp people. I was tempted to go because I liked the person hosting the party, a fellow teacher from camp, though I am aware that most counselors did not like me because I had the audacity to insist that they help in my classroom rather than sit down and do their own projects, which, I've come to the conclusion, is why I was not invited to the mid-camp party hosted by another fellow teacher. Will was not keen on going from the start because, well, the party-ers would be college co-eds and some underage at that and "it's not like we'd be making any lasting friendships there." I agreed to that, but there was one problem. There's something about bars and being away from home and my children that makes me slightly anxious and a little melancholy, even when I'm out with my husband. Maybe it's just a little separation anxiety. I was feeling it Friday night, so once we decided we'd stay put and enjoy the evening at the bar and then walk next door (yes, right next door to the awesome bar) to my sister's house and stay the night (she was away camping), I said, let's get a pitcher--I need to relax! No sooner had Will gotten back with the pitcher and poured our glasses was our true destiny revealed (I am NOT being over dramatic). We had a most enjoyable night with people like ourselves. Not that I don't embrace differences and different cultures and ... whatever, it's easier to make friends with people who have similar world views, right?

I was taking my first sip of beer, oh, yum, when Will called out "A!" Well, A isn't her name, but I'm going for mostly anonymity on this blog. Get the fuck out, was my response, because I knew he was referring to his former co-worker from his new nonprofit gig. He'd told me about her and I'd asked if she and her b/f were friend-potential (we neeeeeeed couple friends). She had just arrived with her b/f and then within the hour another friend of theirs showed and joined us and we had a night that will get us through the monotony of life until the next time we can have such a night. Not that the joys of parenting don't punctuate my existence, but as an individual, I need peer social events. The social development doesn't stop after high school, people.

How can I express the pure enjoyment of "clicking" with people. It's why I went to a Catholic college after going to Catholic high school. I knew there would be people with similar upbringings who would make compatible friends. Contrary to the conservative Catholic myth, there are liberal Catholics, or at least people who were raised Catholic, and I knew them in HS and college and A and her b/f, B, who considers himself a recovering Catholic, are of the liberal minded sect. There were differences and debating and contrary views, of course, which make interacting with people worthwhile, but agreeing with people is most encouraging to the human soul.

I feel so great meeting people who are working to spread humanity in the city, help the less-fortunate and abused (the friend of A and B's I mentioned, also works nonprofit), educate next generations and who genuinely think about morals and society and government and see there is a world beyond themselves. And most importantly, we all love NPR. Enough said.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What you don't know...


Can't hurt you? Yeah, right. I ate lunch with G at camp yesterday, as I've done on occasion. I looked around at the lunches the other four year olds ate and felt...discouraged, saddened. It was a depressing sight. The little boy next to me, W, was like many of the other boys (all boys in G's group except one other girl) and had nothing but packaged "snack food" for lunch. He wanted me to open a chocolate brownie with appealing colorful sprinkles on it. I looked through his lunch box for a healthier option to open first. There was none. He had a bag of Fritos, a baggie of Apple Jacks cereal, a Quaker Chocolate Chip Granola bar, a blue and pink colored yogurt cup, the brownie and a box of Organic milk. Most of the kids are THIRSTY when they sit down for lunch, so they stick their straws in and chug down whatever boxed or bagged drink is in their lunchbox. Then they are mostly full since their stomachs are the size of a small child's fist (fun fact: make a fist--that's how big your stomach is). Most have some sort of chocolaty dessert, so they open that next and eat about 4 bites and start feeling kind of yucky because of all the sugar from the juice and candy they've eaten and don't eat any more lunch. There are a few kids who start with a turkey or PB&J sandwich first, but only a few. Also, 2-3 of them get camp provided lunches which have fruit or veggies, very nice looking ones, so they eat a decent lunch.

Why do these affluent parents throw a handful of packaged snacks into their kids lunches? Popcorn and chips, artificially colored yogurt cups and Gogurts (gross!), Little Debbie snacks, etc. What are the parents eating? Do the stay-at-home (go play Tennis and have lunch at the club) Moms have a nice big salad with grilled chicken for lunch? Or are they just as ridiculous with their diets, gulping down Starbucks while on the run and picking up take-out for their husband's dinner? Can I be any more judgemental?

Yes, I can. Why would you buy a large car seat for your kid, the one that tethers in because the built-in safety belts in cars can malfunction in a crash, and has a five-point harness that holds a person up to 80 pounds (grandma, gotta new seat for you to get to the eye doctor) and NOT tighten the straps? I mean, just leave those straps so loose that even if the kid does not fly out in an accident because of the leg straps he/she will surely have brain injury because they will lean so far forward their foreheads will hit the seat in front of them and bounce back on the car seat and slosh their brains sideways! WTF! I get the kids in and out of cars each morning and afternoon and it's just ridiculous what I see with these car seats a few, yes only a few, I'll be honest, kids have. It's for the ease of the kid to be able to buckle themselves in the 5-point harness, so mom/dad doesn't have to since they are already 50 and can't turn their bodies around like that anymore. Yes, more judging.

Truthfully, most parents are in their 30s (and most who are older are not car seat offenders) and have great car seats and really make sure their kids are buckled nicely and I have seen really healthy lunches in S's group of 5-6 year olds, but the atrocities really stick out in my mind these days.

Last Week

This is our eighth and final week of summer camp. It's Tuesday and I'm home. G is sick. It started going around camp a little over a week ago. It starts with a headache and nausea, then a fever and some cold symptoms. S had it over the weekend, pretty much just Saturday, but needed Sunday to rest. Yesterday we went back to camp and she was fine. G woke up happy yesterday! She was actually excited to go to camp and had a great day. However, on the way home she said she need to "pook." She never did puke and she did eat a little dinner, but this morning she felt warm when I woke her. She got dressed, then came downstairs and curled up in a ball on the couch. As I was just finishing getting our things packed to leave, she ran to the bathroom saying she was going to pook. She gagged a little, but having an empty stomach couldn't heave. I walked her upstairs and changed her back into pjs and felt that she was more feverish. I tucked her in, woke Will and agreed that I'd stay home and he could take S to camp.

So, I'm in cut-off sweat pants and a comfy pink Hanes T-shirt. I started some laundry and scrubbed our bathroom, which was about 2 weeks overdue. G slept about an hour after I gave her Motrin and is now sitting in bed watching Kipper on instant view netflix on our laptop. I just got an image: Berenstain Bears, Brother is sick, Papa goes to the office and gets the laptop to setup in Brother's room, Brother picks something about dinosaurs to watch and never gets his homework done. You remember that book/TV episode, right? The instant watch was never offered to the kids until we moved here, though. Back "home" in NC we actually had a small TV with a built in VCR (from our early college days) and we'd play VHS tapes for the girls when they were sick.

I'm loving the instant watch, though. On Friday, the girls and I snuggled up in my bed and we watched Enchanted together. Even G sat through the whole movie and loved it. So fun. They don't even know what BlockBuster is. The last time we went to one, S was 2. We rented the Heffalump movie, then bought it because it is so darn cute. Then left it at someone's house we never saw again and bought it again. Oh, Kipper is over and G is demanding my presence. Motherhood calls!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eight at 28

Will and I celebrated eight years married on Tuesday. He's insane and actually bought me a gift, which he surprised me with on Monday! It was a box of Seacret body products, really nice stuff, really too expensive, but the guy works now, so I think he deserves to spend his money on me if he wants to. Then, Tuesday we did get to go out after the kids were asleep. He had dinner, I had dessert. Remember, he doesn't get home until 7:30. That was after a day of Tie-dying with the campers AND having an interview in the middle of the day, so I was so tired Wednesday that I went to bed at 7:30 and slept until 6:30 this morning. (Today is Thursday.) I'm so tired from camp that I've decided I will NOT be doing it again next summer. I want my summer back and so do the girls.

Will thinks camp is really good for the girls. I agree. But, not for eight weeks. I'd send them for four at the most. The swimming lessons are fabulous and they have fun, but it's exhausting. Also, they don't get that time that kids need to just live inside their own heads. After dinner tonight G put on some dress up clothes and started playing some make-believe game, talking out loud to someone only she could see. I had to give her a five minute warning to clean up about 3 times. If you have kids or work with little kids, you know it can be very difficult for them to switch gears or stop playing their imaginary games. They get so involved. In the end I had to put her in time out because she started screaming "No" at me and throwing a fit. Next summer, my goal/vision is to be living in a house in Baltimore (renting) and having worked a school year (something I perceive as exhausting, but hopefully not as much as camp because I won't have the long drive, at least only the first half of the year and not with the kids) so I will stay home with the girls and do fun things, like: join the Library Reading Club (and actually participate in the daytime activities/shows they have, which we couldn't do this summer, though we did do the Reading club), go to the pool, go to the park in the evening and not have to get to bed early, go camping, sign them up for short programs like art classes or a couple weeks of swimming lessons, maybe join the YMCA for the summer (or longer), go to art museums and national parks... lots of possibilities.

When I think of all the things they get to do at camp: art class, science, world tour, swimming, karate, sports, games, performances, archery (when they're older), I do think about doing it again for them. But, then I think about when I was a scheduled kid during the school year and longed to have time to "smell the roses," I remember writing that in my diary many times, I realize that summer was my break and I wouldn't EVER give back my summers at the pool and at home with my siblings and family and friends. I had fun. I had time. I was a kid. That's what I really want for my kids. I'd rather spend the money on one or two structured activities in the summer and do things on our own time the rest of the summer. Music lessons are high on my priority list, so that's a definite goal I have for next summer. I'll provide the paper and paint, books, music and dancing and I'll let them live in their own heads. TV will have to be banned, though, I already know that. Maybe only designated times for it, like an hour a day. I spent way to many hours in front of the TV growing up and S is very much like me, loves her TV time, has figured out how to use the remote, and thanks to being able to reading the guide on my parents digital TV, can pick what show she wants without having to stand at the box and channel surf like I did. Lucky ducky. This morning Will told the girls he wouldn't bring a TV to our new house if S was going to whine to watch TV when she had to get ready to leave. Oh they didn't like hearing that. But, really, one reason I SO want a finished basement is to put the TV down there and one in our room. We only had one TV when I was growing up and it was in the basement, so there was never any TV in the morning before school or during meals. I'm pulling a lot from my childhood here, but we learn from our past, so this is what I have to go on.

Eight years and two children and still we aren't on our own, yet. I'm not discouraged, though, and I certainly wouldn't change anything about my family, when it started or how it grew. I look forward to our future home and life, but the girls are growing so quickly I need to focus on them more. Hence, the ramblings of this post in thinking about how I want to be with them more and have them home with me more. Also, I'm REALLY missing Will. We've been so spoiled to be home together so much the last 3+ years in NC. We saw each other a TON. So much that sometimes I'd wish he had somewhere to be during the day more so I could just be home getting stuff done and anticipate seeing him later. I'm more productive when he's not around to distract me! Now that he's gone later working, I miss him lots.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In and Out of Love


I don't know too much about purses, but I do like them. I like shoes, too. Which is why I went to Marshall's with birthday money today and ended up coming home with one pair of sandals and one purse, ahem, I mean satchel. The shoes are not worth putting a picture. They are totally utilitarian, completely for comfort Dr. Scholl's, bought only because the clearance sticker read $10. Think Teva-like straps, but in blue leather. They fit perfectly and they will make my feet happy without having to be in sneakers on the weekends. I get tired of wearing sneakers all week at camp.


About the satchel. As I said, I don't know much about bags and bag designers and trends, but I wanted a bigger bag, one that could fit my notebook calendar because my life is pretty scheduled these days. I wanted a bag that did NOT have it's own belt. Why so many belts on bags? My previous brown purse, which has served me well and will probably still be used on occasion, has a belt buckle on the front that is completely for show. I can understand the more useful belted strap so the length can be changed, but I was still steering away from all buckles. I also wanted color and something that could transition into fall/winter. It came down to a purple bag and a teal bag. The purple bag was quite plain except for the exciting striped lining AND the most exciting feature: a key ring with a piece of leather that snapped onto the inside lining. I HATE searching for my keys inside my bag and used to have a clip that I used to hold my keys either to my belt loop (when I had a clicker for the car, but now I don't--switched cars with Will) or to the strap on my bag. I lost it and haven't replaced it yet. So that feature pulled me, but there wasn't much else I liked about the bag. Even the color was too muted. The teal bag was a hard sale for me. I was afraid it was too showy, too trendy maybe, too fringey (there were a lot of bags with fringe and G kept asking, "Is that for Indians" to which I replied, "You mean Native Americans and no, it's just leather fringe for decoration." I still struggle with making the switch, but come on next-generation, get with it!) The bag is so soft and the color is deep and it does have a great feature: Two pockets on the outside that can perfectly fit my sunglasses case and my cell phone, maybe even keys, too, until I get another clip. I brought it home thinking I can just return it. I get such buyers remorse before I even leave the store, jeez. But, as soon as I took the paper out and got a feel for how it moved with my actual stuff in it, I knew I had my bag. It's me. I even cut the fringe a little shorter. Shhh. Look on ebay and these bags are selling for $50 and up. I got it for $34, yes, I like to share my bargains, are you jealous? The price tag says $79 retail. The tag also says it's in the "red" line by marc ecko (it's all lower case, guess marc's cool like that) and it's in the Tucked Away group. The tag also says "In and Out of Love" and I see that being highlighted on eBay bags. So, maybe you know something about that. I think it's pretty and I am going to enjoy using it.


In other news, I'm 28. My baby is 4. We have the same birthday. At camp they sang happy birthday to us and what do you think some kids asked me? "Why aren't you the same age?" Yeah, I had to explain about years and months and stuff. It was pretty cool to have that with G. I love that she's 4, but my first born was a mischievous, destructive 4 year old. I wonder how this one will be.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gasp

S, having just finished kindergarten, is a new reader. A few months ago, while reading aloud, she came to the word "Oh." I'm looking at the page. I see "Oh." I hear S taking a big breath. I ask her what she's doing. She points at "Oh" and says she's reading.

Oh, Dear Y

I miss the Y. I miss my kickboxing class, my step class, the people I saw each week working their butts off (some, I literally saw their butts--and thighs and waists--getting smaller through the months!). Without the Y my workouts have become few to none. I knew this would happen. I didn't want it to happen, but it has. I've lost weight, too. And it's probaby MUSCLE weight. I look forward to the next gym membership we can get.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What I'm made of

Tomorrow I am starting week four of summer camp. I am psyching myself up for another busy, yet good week. I am less than thrilled about the curriculum scheduled this week, however, I'm adding my own spin. The students have been great. The kicker is the counselors who seem to WANT to get on my last nerve by taking paper and drawing when I've explicitly said I do not want adults to draw in my class. I even printed up a helpful Do/Don't informational sheet for the counselors at the beginning. Yeah, I got a couple, "what, we can't make anything?" but I explained it on the sheet. Still, there are the counselors who either forgot, are new, or are just bucking my system purposefully who start drawing before I even realize it. Of course the kids are just in awe of the counselor's abilities, even though the counselor says he/she's not a good drawer. Once the drawing has started, I don't say anything. What am I to do, snatch the paper out from under them?

I've come up with a good analogy. The camp doesn't allow counselors/teachers to "score" on a camper in any sports game or to pitch anything other than underhanded, gentle lobs. This is because adults are stronger and have better motor skills than the kids. It's the same thing in art. The kids can't compare to the adult's more developed motor skills and experience. Hence, adults should not draw for children.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm ready for this full-time work thing, if I'm up to it. The kids I teach right now are good kids, easy. Few discipline issues. What about when I have some really tough cookies? What about when I'm developing all the curriculum on my own? What about when I'm sick and tired and I just want a week off? I wonder if I even want to work with kids every day. It's exhausting. It ages you. Have you ever seen a retired teacher you knew as a working teacher? They are completely different! They suddenly have less wrinkles, better hair, brighter eyes, relaxed smiles. I ran into my fifth grade teacher a few years after she'd retired. She was volunteering at a local museum. She looked so much younger than I'd remembered. And I've gone back and looked at pictures to compare. She really did look older her final year teaching (after my brother's class, which is how I have the pictures) than she did 6 years later. Well, if I ever get a job we'll find out just what I'm made of.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Independence

S has it. She's taking a shower right now with minimal help from me. Soon I'll have to tell her it's been long enough, but she gets out and gets dressed independently. She's been awesome at camp. Always has a smile for me when she sees me.

G took advantage of an unknowing soul this first week of camp. I had told her counselors not to bring her to me except as a last resort, but a director felt pity and brought her to my class on the second day. She had been upset all morning because of a loud pep rally. I was teaching a lesson, so I just waved and went on. She left with the director willingly. When I met her later at lunch she cried as soon as she saw me. I know it's not for show, she was overwhelmed. She calmed down quickly and then her group came to my class after lunch. Wednesday she did better, but was still quiet and shy. Then in the car and at home that evening she was made noise and talked nonstop. Thursday (our last day) she didn't see me until the very end of the day and she had the best day, playing and talking and smiling.

The campers shows went well yesterday. My backdrop looked pretty cool and I was acknowledged at the end of each show, so that was nice. All the teachers worked on getting it done and it wouldn't have happened with just me doing it. S loved performing. G had a hilarious scowl on her face during both of her songs, but she did some of the hand movements.

Today both girls showed their independence. We spent the day at a beach on a river. G played in the sand and waded in the water, made friends with other little children. S swam out further and also made friends with other kids. They played together only at the end when Uncle M got in with them. I was able to sit in a chair on the beach under a mostly cloudy sky (great for my paleness) and talk with my sister and mom and breath in the lovely lighter fluid/charcoal scented air. Well, that part wasn't so lovely. Someone next to our picnic table (just up from the beach) grilled various meats all afternoon, five hours! Still, it was nice to sit outside all day. The water was pretty nasty, so I didn't swim and I couldn't wait to bathe the girls when we got home. Blech. But mostly today was beautiful.

Now, what's this about Palin I'm seeing on the news? Strange, crazy woman.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Exhaustion

I remember when I started student teaching I was very tired at the end of each day. It took at least three weeks for me to hit my stride and get back into exercising more regularly. I'm experiencing the working exhaustion all over again, only it's worse this time because I have a 45 minute drive to and from the day camp where I'm teaching art. The day camp is very well run. The kids are divided into groups according to age. Each group has three counselors who take the group to all the various activities. They have swim lessons every day, then they rotate to other classes. I'm teaching what's called Classic Art. Each week I tell the campers about an artist (or two) and they do a project based on the artist. With the addition of the drive, the days are long. This past Friday I laid down just to rest a bit about 7pm right after the girls were tucked in. I figured I'd fall asleep lightly and then get up. No. I was right out. Deep, deep sleep. Got up about 9pm and put pjs on with my eyes closed, got back in bed and didn't get up again until 7:30am Saturday. How's that for a Friday night?

The camp itself has been fun. S attended the first week and loved it. G stayed home with Will. Then S only made it to the first two days of the second week because she woke up with a stiff neck on Wednesday. She had fallen off the monkey bars Tuesday afternoon and that could have given her whiplash. She rested all day and that evening after I got home from camp I took her to the nearest emergency care clinic. They wanted her to get x-rays, so we then spent four hours at the hospital. In the end there was nothing wrong except the muscle spasm on the one side and she just needed to rest it out and use heat for a couple more days. By Saturday it was pretty much back to normal.

This past week I also had the stress of getting G day care or admittance to camp because Will starts his new job tomorrow!!! G was admitted to camp, so both girls will be starting back to camp with me this week. That means, more food to pack, more towels and swimsuits to dry... eh, but they'll love it. I expect G will have some tears this first week. I already told her counselors not to baby her at all because she'll try to get attention by being babyish and only to bring her to me as a last resort. I'm very curious to see how it goes.

This week should be an exciting week for campers because they are putting on a show for their parents. They have the dress rehearsal Wed. and then parents come for the big show on Thurs. The twelve groups are divided in half and each half performs their own show (though it's the same show). Mostly the kids just sing the songs and the counselors go on stage with them for direction and to say lines. Some older kids may get to say the lines for their show. Both my girls are in different groups, and I don't know how my schedule will be arranged. I'm supposed to help with the shows as well, so hopefully I can be over there for both of them. The other teachers and I have made the backdrop for the show. It has been painted faster than I expected. I'll just have to do the finishing touches tomorrow after camp because it'll need to be hung up Tuesday. Fortunately they have before and after care for the kids, so my girls will be there in the mornings and afternoons, at least for a little while. G's age group actually meets in my classroom in the morning, so that's nice for her.

Embarking on the third week of camp, I am determined to get to bed early all week. We have off camp Friday, so I want to have energy to do something fun with the girls like go to a lake or park.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Play-DOH


Something you may not think about until you have kids or teach kids, is that they need to be taught how to use Play-doh. Of course they can just start squishing and molding, but then they start breaking it apart and end up with lots of tiny little pieces. What do they do with these pieces? Well, they aren't necessary are they? So, they just push them on the floor. I've observed my youngest pull off pieces of Play-doh and flick them away as if they were trash. This method eventually led to the disappearance of many tubs of Play-doh. Now, to the kid's credit the Play-doh was quite old and crumbled apart too easily. So, we got them new Play-doh and then the teaching began. I've repeated it many times, "Put the little pieces back in the tub or it will all be gone!" I've taught them the "cookie monster clean up" approach (that's what they called it at my preschool when you use a ball to dab up all the little pieces). They're probably tired of hearing, "That's not trash!"

Another reason they didn't know how to use Play-doh without wasting it, is I rarely let them use it. It's too messy! When we moved here to my parent's house I said they could use it for the summer outside only. My parents have a nice canopy on the deck and a table under it, so the girls have been able to play with Play-doh a lot. They are no longer deprived.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

AllergyKids.com

I have no idea how I never found this site before, but it is wonderful. It has a lot of information and products, which I will be getting soon to help G when she goes to school. I saw the founder, Robyn O'Brien on the Today Show a few weeks ago. I just got her book "The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick-and What We Can Do About It." The one thing that has been frustrating for us is that our children do not have a risk of anaphylaxis (that we know). So, some doctors, teachers, or other people don't want to consider them allergic. The other terms used to define people who have less life-threatening allergies are "food sensitive" or "food intolerant." However, the oxidative stress that occurs from eating problem foods over a lifetime can lead to life-threatening problems such as cancer. This book helps demonstrate how serious allergies and food intolerances can be.

*Also, there is a lot of information for parents whose children do NOT have allergies (that they know about, as symptoms may not be recognized) about the health of our food in America. Things like Kraft Mac n' Cheese or Gold Fish seem like healthier alternatives, but read this book and you may think differently.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Revolutionary Road Love

I'm not quite halfway through the book and I'm in love with it. It was originally published in 1961 and it's absolutely still applicable today. The characters are my age, married with kids and not quite sure what they want out of life. What they do know is their present existence is not what they expected (whose is?). They have ideas of what they may have missed out on, but are trying not to regret their decisions because of the positive aspects of those decisions (a spouse who has stuck with them, kids). The conversations they have, the ideas of where they fit into society, their philosophies on life and politics and humanity, the friends they have... it all translates to my existence today.

Richard Yates' character development through flashes of the past and realistic conversation is superb.

I am in love with Revolutionary Road.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Waiting for my kids

I'm back from a second weekend in a row in NC cleaning out our previous house. I'm back at my parents house and waiting for my in-laws to deliver our kids to us. I've missed them. I'm curious to see how much marker remains on S. Apparently G drew on her with maker, probably regular non-washable marker. I don't know if S was sleeping or stupidly just let her do it knowing G would be the one in trouble. G, having once drawn on her sleeping bag and her own legs with permanent marker, probably thought that since the marker was on her sister, S would be the one to be in trouble. That's my theory. Anyway, I'm not looking forward to their tiredness and expected whinniness. I'm also concerned important things, like S's reading log, will have been left at my in-laws. Oh they are HERE!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I did it my way

I resisted pizza. Just now. I did that. It was easier to do because it was pepperoni and I've never cared for that stuff. However, in my mind I could see myself just pulling them off to have a slice, or two or three! See why I resisted? If I give in and have crappy food, it turns into more of a binge. I don't feel too guilty afterwards or beat myself up about it. Usually I just think I'll have to be stronger next time. But then I'm not. Or as in today, I am! So, I rejoice and pat myself on the back. What helped was that when the pizza came into the house, I had already had a big salad less than two hours prior, so I wasn't very hungry. Also, I had planned on having goats cheese and crackers after playing outside with my youngest for a while. So, while my grandfather, husband and mother sat down and had pizza and left-over soup, I had a small cup of soup and my soft goats cheese. That CHEESE, though not raw, is my lifeline. I can't be vegan at this time. I won't say I'll never get there, but for now I'm eating cheese.

Goats cheese has been known to keep me from getting a big ole cheese burger! Yep, I used to be a sucker for fast food when I wanted food fast, like getting off work or running lots of errands around town. But after I made the change last July, I had my first craving for fast food about 3 months into it and instead swung into the local organic market not sure what I was going to get. What I came out with was soft goats cheese and flat spelt crackers. As the weather got colder and I craved more comfort food, raw cheddar style goats cheese became my solution. I took a few slices for lunch during student teaching and it worked. I felt satisfied! The other teachers may have thought I was weird, but whatever.

When watching my grandfather eat his pizza and drink his Coke, I wanted pizza so badly I even told myself: What's so bad about his condition? He gets to enjoy food and he IS 86! But I answered myself with: Yeah, that's ALL he enjoys. He doesn't take walks outdoors, doesn't visit new places, doesn't go swimming, doesn't go to the beach... none of the things I want to be able to do up until my last days. I don't want each meal to be the highlight of my day.

On another note, I took G out on her tricycle. Back in NC she pretty much only rode it in the driveway and hadn't gotten the hang of steering, yet. But today we went up and down sidewalks and out in cul de sacs and she finally got steering. She got going so fast she had a tumble, so she needs to work on control before moving onto the little bicycle with training wheels. I'm proud of her.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

More on my grandparents

When I was a child, the way my grandfather ate was comforting. It was predictable. It was the foods I loved. It included a lot of fresh fruit. And he appeared to be in good health. My grandmother was a different story. She died when I was 18 due to emphysema. She was in her early 70s. She had been a long term smoker and drinker, she was overweight, never went out, developed diabetes, never cut out the sugar. Not great last years. She wrote me a letter my first semester of college in which she stated, "Whoever called these the 'golden years' must have had rocks in their head!" What a life changing statement. The way she lived has REALLY affected me. This is the first time I've put that into words. I had no idea she drank until after she died and my mother told us. I remembered her smoking when I was young, but she successfully quite that when she got sick. I had a very close relationship with her. Being from Canada she grew up speaking French and helped me with my French homework through high school. Of course we'd get to talking about other things when I'd go over there and I found she had liberal tendencies. I was just developing my own outlook on life and politics, so I'd bounce ideas off her and then she'd share with me how her own views had changed through her life. I remember one conversation about homosexuality and she seemed completely tolerant. She said she knew of a gay man in her extended family who simply married and hid it, though unsuccessfully, and she thought it was terrible he felt he had to do that. It was the type of conversation I couldn't have with my mother at that age. I was very upset when she died and felt our adult relationship had really just begun. She never met my husband, though she saw our first picture taken together before a college dance. She said he was handsome. He looked like a man and I imagine it must have been interesting to her to think of me as being old enough to be with a man.

I'm muttering on now, but these are some of my last encounters with the woman who so impacted my opinions on health and good living. Obviously, I don't want to have the health problems my grandmother did. Neither does my mother, who also swore she'd never end up like her own mother: lonely and in complete poor health. And she won't. She's on a good path. She moved almost three years ago and has gotten involved in different things here and has new friends and new routines with these friends, works at two dental offices part time and has found a wonderful naturopath doctor.

Back to my grandfather. As I've said, he wants hot meals three times a day. He loves fresh berries with cream (not whipped from a can, the stuff in the carton) and probably sugar on top. He eats bread just about every meal, lots of toast with butter. Lots of sugar on his cereal. Meat at least twice a day. He has a cigar (some of it) every afternoon. He has tea and desert every night at 9pm on the dot. As a kid, I would ask my grandmother to go to the basement fridge and get some of my grandfather's chocolate. He always had a huge stash of chocolate bars... all sorts. My grandmother made pies and donuts from scratch often. She won awards at country fairs for her pies... that was in the early years of my grandfather's retirement (at which time they moved from New Jersey to MD to be near us) before she got very sick. Though my grandfather has made it to 86, and has no big health issues, except for cataract surgery in one eye, he has a difficult time getting around and is very stiff. He's on the usual arsenal of medications for cholesterol and blood pressure. He hasn't been able to garden for the last five years, something he really loved to do, because he can't bend down any longer. It happened quite suddenly to him at about 81. One autumn he's on his knees planting bulbs and the next he has to use a curtain rod to pick up the morning paper because he can't bend to reach it. If I'm going to keep on living for a decade or more after turning 80, I want to do it with flexibility and freedom of movement. So, now that I'm watching my grandfather live through the last years of his life I am again influenced to live a life of health NOW.

(This will tie back in, bare with me.) My sister found the PERFECT wedding dress. It's a Monique Lhulliere. You may have heard of her. She has designed gowns for tons of celebrities. She got a gown from an older collection for 1/4 of the original price. Very awesome. Also, it fits her PERFECTLY, except for needing to be hemmed. It's full ivory lace... so elegant. Anyway, having found the dress she's interested in getting a little sleeker in her body. She is a very healthy weight for her height and has a good BMI reading. But the dress is sexy and form fitting and so she'd just like to slim down a little bit. She got a Wii fit and has been doing that, but she knew she needed to change her diet some. I have, of course, been writing about and telling her about Natalia Rose's detox diet and finally she asked me to give her the short version. Her fiance took the book home to read, because my sis says she just doesn't have time to read it. I have her the basic info on combining meals and how foods digest and she took notes on what I said. Today she called excitedly to tell me about the food she got to begin eating more raw. When I first told her about raw vegan eating, she said she loved food too much to even consider changing her diet that way. Then she saw what it did for me and continues to do for me, when I follow it. So, she's giving it some effort. What helped convince her is my mother was given so much of the same information from her doctor and supported what I was telling my sister about detoxing to lose weight and stay healthy. I'm excited to have finally gotten another comrade. I hope I can meet some people who are living the raw lifestyle who haven't gotten cancer to force them to change.

Generations

Living in a multi generational house has its issues and we're all fresh on this journey. To recap, there's my grandfather, my parents, myself and my husband, our two little girls and my brother (some of the time since he works a lot and goes out to play when he's not working). We all share one bathroom, except my parents who have the master bedroom/bath. My brother has an unfinished bathroom in his basement suite, but, even when he gets around to finishing it, won't have a shower.

The first, most prominent issue we're having is food. My mother is the main cook/shopper. I've taken over dinners on days she works since I'm not working yet. When we're all working we'll be planning dinners much differently, I'm sure. For now, mom and I sit down and plan out what we're having and who is making what. The difficult thing is to make things that everyone might tolerate. First, we have to consider G's allergies. Everyone has their favorites and their preferences. My preference is for healthy and mostly vegetarian. My mom agrees and thus far we've made some excellent dinners. My grandfather eats a certain way, every day. He wants hot meals for all three meals each day. After the first week here I think he's gotten the clue that either my mother and/or I (depending on if she's working) need to be in the kitchen at 7:30 getting lunches prepared (she makes hers, I make S's for school) and getting breakfast for the girls. He has taken to eating a bowl of cereal first until we've cleared out. Then he makes his eggs and some meat product. One night I made bean minestrone (very tasty and vegan, though I'm not a big soup fan) but my grandfather doesn't eat beans, so he had a frozen dinner. Something that makes it difficult for my mother and I is that my grandfather wants crusty white bread, like french or Italian, EVERY night at dinner. That stuff isn't easy to resist! So, we made a deal that we'll just cut two slices and put them at his place then get him more if he wants. It was also bad to have out a bread basket because my girls wanted more than one slice and even with just one given, G pretty much just ate that bread for dinner a couple nights.

Yesterday we had grilled shrimp skewers, green salad, couscous and a broccoli salad. My sister and her fiance were eating with us (after we took our cat to her place to stay while we're living here at my parents) and she said to me "I feel like we're eating this way because you're here and they don't usually eat this way." She couldn't put her finger on what they most always eat, but it's been winter and that means a meat and potatoes kind of meal on Sundays, which is the day she usually visits for dinner. My mom started seeing a naturopathic doctor last year and the dr. told her to have some vegetarian dinners each week. So, really, though it may have changed some during the winter, she has followed that drs. order.

What I need to do is to stay out of the kitchen when other people are eating. I need to come up to my room and now that Will has brought up the computer that will be easier to do. Also, I need to get into another book, so I can come up and read instead of sitting down in the family room.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Not so angry, but definitely stressed

So, now that time has passed I'm much better. G went to bed by 8:30 last night and, though she stayed up playing quietly, she let her sister get to sleep before 8pm. For that I was thankful. Will gets in tomorrow. All will be good.

I went to a Teachers Fair for one of the counties here and so many of the schools had no upcoming openings, though tenured teachers have until mid July to say they're not coming back. I gave my resume out to whomever had a possible opening. What was annoying was that many of the schools did not have a sign on their table stating their openings or that they had no openings. Usually when they didn't and I asked they said they had no openings. So, I didn't ask if others were waiting in line and there was no sign. Then I overheard someone ask one elementary school and the guy said they had an art opening! WHY NOT POST IT?! Geeze! So, there are about 4-5 possible openings/interviews I could get from that county. I've seen other openings in the county in which I live... half part time and half full time. I really kind of need a full time if we're gonna get out into our own house this year, but I've said I'll take a part time, especially if it's more than half time, like 0.6 or more. It's weird how they do that. There is also the possibility of taking two schools at once to work full time. I'd be fine with that, too. Will is still skeptical I'll get a teaching position. He says that's his gut instinct. Well, I think he just needs to think that way so he's pleasantly surprised when I do. I need to think that I will get a position. My "worst case scenario" is getting only a part time position with no possibility for full time at that school. So, I hope my best case happens because I really need to support this family and that means providing medical/dental care. I'm really looking forward to having real insurance again.

I got my Prevacid refilled at the pharmacy here (still waiting to get approved for Medicaid) and the pharmacist asked "You don't have an insurance card?" Well, no, I would give you it if I did. It's going to take some effort to even get Prevacid through Medicaid as they have Rx steps to take and it starts with Prilosec OTC, for like two months! If I don't take Prevacid every night and at least every third morning (best every other morning) I get reflux and lose my voice. Simple as that. There's no alternative for me at this time. If I don't have a voice, I can't do my job well. I need to be able to speak so all my students can hear me! Also, if I'm having reflux at night, I don't sleep well (or at all) and then I can't do my job well because of not sleeping. Who knew reflux would be so life-altering?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

So angry! Vulgarity Warning

I am so fucking sick of my youngest kid right now. It's been two weeks of being home with her full time. Generally during the day everything's fine... generally. And I've enjoyed my time, playing games, watching her favorite shows with her, taking her to the park, the library etc. However, when it comes to bed time she's so aweful... I want to smack the shit out of her!!!! She's keeping her sister up. They were put to bed at six fucking thirty after I read them a book and I said they could look at books in bed. But no, she starts jumping on the bed and making noise and has been in and out of time outs for over an hour! Of course I tried spanking as well because time outs weren't making a difference. She only laughed at my stern face. WTF. I fucking hate spanking. Fuck. I don't think I've used that word on here... maybe a couple times, but FUCK!!!! I hate being here without my husband. Thank the LORD he is coming this Sat. I never, ever, ever EVER want to be a single parent. Still the noise continues and I still want to smack her FACE OFF!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ten Days Gone

Even though my bed is comfy and it's all mine...I miss my husband.

A Quick Post Regarding Poop

If you've read Middlesex you may remember the part about the Calliope's mother monitoring her children's movements. If you watch Oprah you may remember Dr. Oz telling us about healthy stool being in the shape of an S or a C. Since my youngest has digestive allergies and my oldest, like myself, struggles with constipation (I know you wanted to know that!) I also monitor my children's BMs. I wasn't sure about my youngest's stool. But now I am comforted from the info in Natalia Rose's new book Detox 4 Women, where she describes "cow plop!" It's actually a very healthy form of stool that just makes a soft pile in the toilet. Ha! So, now you know, too. Cow plop is good!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Relocation

I have been in MD for one week now. It's been a good week...a busy week. S started school yesterday. She handled it SO well. There were a few tears when I picked her up because I pulled up in the car (it was raining) rather than walking up to the door and she had been unsure as to where to wait for me. A teacher paired her with one of the safety patrol students, so she was taken care of. Right away from the classwork she brought home I could see the class was ahead of her NC class. No surprise. One thing they don't do here that I did like in NC is there is no teacher aid for each class and the students are simply released to find their parents. For preK and K teacher aids make sure students are picked up by the right person. But of course that does stop by first grade.

G is the one who is having the most issues. She is whining about everything, throwing tantrums, yelling and backtalking something fierce...even to my parents. She's going to bed decently. I've been reading and/or singing a few songs to them both once they're in bed. They go right out after that. Of course, she does have an ear infection so she may be more tired than usual. Tomorrow I'll be taking her to a play group get-together at an old high school friend's house. She'll be shy at first, but she'll have fun.

Truth be told, I am sleeping well... very well. Often Will wakes me up at night by coming to bed later, tossing and turning and sometimes snoring a little. The bed I'm sleeping on right now is super comfortable, more comfy than our bed, and sleeping alone I have no one to wake me up. I like the closeness of sharing a bed, but it's really not condusive to good sleep. I hope to get a king size in the future so it's easy to be close, but also easy to be far enough away that I'm not disturbed during my sleep.

I'm missing my husband. These short times apart always help our relationship. I guess the last time we were apart like this was when I had G and stayed in Baltimore while she was in the NICU for a month. I think I saw him every weekend though. So, now it's been a week and it's going to be almost another two before Will comes up here. The good thing is the weekend after he comes up he and I will go back to NC together to get our bed and the rest of our stuff as well as get his diplomas. He's not walking at graduation, but he can still pick up his diploma that Saturday. AND we can go to a graduation party a classmate is having and see some friends. Then the next weekend my inlaws can keep the girls and we can go into Baltimore with my sister or something like that. I'm looking forward to our reunion.

My grandfather is moving in with us this weekend. He had lived here before when my parents first moved here. He stayed about a year and has been living with his son and daughter-in-law for the last two. It didn't work out too well cuz his son drives a truck and isn't home much. So we'll have eight of us: one great-grandfather, two grandparents, one uncle, two parents and two kids. Yikes. Thank goodness we all have our own rooms! My brother has the best setup with the entire basement! He got a really nice carpet installed and a new couch and entertainment center, so it's practically a studio apartment. He's still working on renovating the bathroom though, which cannot have a shower so he'll continue to use the upstairs one.

I had another interview today with a Baltimore charter school. It's a halftime job for the first year because there will be so few students. I don't feel great about the interview, but it was okay. Teacher fairs are coming up so I need to get my head in the game. I never feel really prepared for interviews. So much info is swimming around in my head and I try to think about what they want to hear as well as my natural inclinations. It's difficult. At one point today I had the thought to just run out of there! Of course it was just a nervous reaction and I kept it together well. I just told myself, stop... you're smart, you can answer any question they throw at you! And I did, but I'll be glad when it's over and I have a position.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Moved

I'm here. In MD. I moved with the kids today. My husband is still finishing his last two weeks of undergrad, so I will be missing him. He'll be up as soon as he's done, though. Then he and I will go back to NC and clean up the house and finish packing whatever is left. We've gotten most of it done already and he'll be moving furniture to the storage room. Oh my sister is here, back from her huge ordeal of a trip to Ireland. I'm so glad to be close to family again. Though, being in my parent's house will inevitably soon become too close. Until then, I'm glad.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

Easter weekend is here. We are going to the Vigil tonight at 8pm. The girls will be tired, because 7 is their bedtime, but hopefully they'll just be more chill. We took them two years ago when G was still 1. She was ok. This past Christmas eve mass she fell asleep five minutes into it. I hope that happens again this evening. Only, I'll be tired, too! I'm tired now. But, I'll shower and get dinner and probably wake up more. Not having to go to mass tomorrow is nice, though it's an easy way to get the candy eating to cease. Now we'll just have to just say ENOUGH! We dyed eggs this morning, but I totally forgot to take pics. I just enjoyed the moment and now at 3.5 and 6 it was very relaxed and they were very capable.

Anyway, Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Too Good Not To Share...Again!


This is an old post I'm bringing back because I'm finally adding a picture and will be making these again next week for G's preschool Easter party.

Since G is allergic to dairy, I've found recipes to make my favorites in a way she can enjoy. I searched the Internet a while back and found this recipe. You can substitute whole wheat flour for the spelt, but spelt is soooo good. I also added something totally new this evening and it worked very well: finely shredded coconut! Yum!

Nondairy, No sugar, No egg, Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies:

2 1/3 cups spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup apple juice concentrate (up to 1 1/4 cups for more sweetness)
OR *substitute honey or agave or half of each up to 3/4 cup
(half of each works very well)
1/2 cup oil
OR *substitute applesauce
3/4 cup chocolate chips (but who measures!)

Optional: up to 3 tbsp ground flax seed OR about 1/4 to 1/3 cup finely shredded coconut (I wouldn't do both as that would be too much added dry ingredients)

Just mix all ing. together well and bake for 14 minutes at 350 degrees Makes 2-3 dozen depending on how you size them.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Regarding the dinner the other night

Having dinner at Will's poker buddy's house was okay. They were very nice and our kids played very well together and had fun, though G left with a bruise on each side of her head from collisions while running in the house.

The food? Well, I ate my salad I brought, mac n cheese, a crescent roll, and some french fries. And I've been on a carb kick since! Ah! I'm going to try to shake it this weekend with plenty of green juice and fruit smoothies. Then I'll go to the store and stock up on more veggies and fruits for the next week until I move.

Witnessing the SAD was pretty interesting. After watching her deep fry the french fries in oil then salt them and then heavily salt the water for the mac n' cheese and offer the kids white sliced bread for their hot dogs and hamburgers, I was thinking how so many Americans make ends meet by giving their kids plenty of food that is high in calories, but low in nutrients. No surprise, the kids were very skinny. Growing up in a rural, hick town I saw plenty of scrawny kids. Even at a young age I knew those kids with the sunken eyes were not eating healthily (and that includes school food). After dinner, one of the sons asked to open a new bag of chips and was allowed to sit at the table and eat a few. It was a Sams brand bag of French Onion chips. On the front of the bag in large lettering it read: ARTIFICIALLY FLAVORED. I thought, why is that on there as if it's being advertised. I look for "No Artificial Flavors." My goal in feeding my kids is to give them as little artificial coloring and flavoring as possible.

Oh, that reminds me. S was given a bag of cheese puffs at snack time from a classmate of hers. Because I told her teachers at the beginning of the year that she is allergic to cinnamon and possibly nuts, though we're not sure, they are very wary about allowing her to eat food I don't send. Apparently she asked her teacher if there was cinnamon in them and they told her there was only nutmeg. Well, she's reacted to nutmeg as well, so she waited until she got home to ask me. I began scanning the ingredients. I'm proud to say, after reading Chemical Free Kids I automatically recognize all the bad stuff right away. I immediately saw MSG, then two other forms of MSG, at least 3 artificial dyes and 6 forms of dairy. And that wasn't even half the ingredients. There was so much stuff in that tiny bag of cheese puffs I told her I wouldn't even allow a dog to eat them. Then I caught myself and said, look don't worry about your friends eating this kind of snack, but just know that I don't want you to have all the artificial ingredients that are in most snack foods. I told her that whenever a friend offers you cheese puffs or other packaged snack foods, just tell them your mother won't allow you to have them. I pray this doesn't backfire when she gets older. I'm not a Nazi about it, but I limit junk food. I'm looking forward to being able to provide better packaged food snacks for the kids when I make an income AND live in an area that provides such products. There are plenty of vegan, healthy sweets and snacks on the market, so my kids shouldn't feel deprived. I basically have to make cookies on a pretty regular basis so they have vegan sweets. Or I just give them a little bowl of chocolate chips.

Anyway, so I didn't consume meat at the dinner and was probably seen as a snob because they had bought steaks for the grown ups and made a ton of hamburgers and hot dogs (though they didn't have any buns). But, I'm proud to have abstained.

For further inspiration, I preorded Natalia Rose's new book "Detox for Women." It's out on the 7th and it's being sent to my parents house so it may be waiting for me when I arrive there on the 14th. I know my mom'll want to read it too. So we can get in gear together. Exciting!