Sunday, November 30, 2008

bad dreams, ranting, planning

I've been having bad school dreams for the past few days. You know, the kind where the principal is mad at me. The one where the kids come all eager and expectant but there are boxes all over the room and I have no clue what to teach them. The one where I can't find the students. This can only mean one thing ~ track break is over and I have to go back to work tomorrow. Those of you with jobs that only give you a few weeks of vacation a year are telling me to quit my nonsense whining right about now.

I get pretty used to staying home over track break. And this one has been a good one. I didn't get all the things done on my list, but I also decided not to beat myself up about that list. The list I make for myself if too long and totally unattainable. Most of the laundry is done. If you popped over unannounced right this minute I would not be embarrassed by the state of my kitchen/living area. I managed to harp on the kids long enough for the playroom and their bedrooms to be in a pretty clean state.

One huge reason I'm not looking forward to going to work tomorrow is because I have a meeting with some parents who are mad at me, plus the assistant principal, plus a whole lot of other people. This meeting was requested by the parents. Even the trouble-maker grandmother will be there. They are tweaked because I am not understanding with their devil child daughter and unreasonably expect her to follow the rules - just like everyone else. I know. How dare I? Sorry, you don't get to be mean to people, call people idiot and stupid, and push people in the lunch line on repeated days prior to the Halloween party and still get to participate! You don't get to poke people with the staples you find the floor (first day of school, people). You don't get to throw pencils at people. You don't get to copy off others at your table. They want her out of my class. To which I say ~ don't let the door hit you on the way out. Only, that won't happen because that's just now how it happens. The AP will talk them down and tell them that staying with me is the best thing - blah, blah, blah.

The thing I have to decide is how I will handle myself in the meeting. There are a few options here:
  1. Tell them how it is. Tell them how horrible their daughter is being. Tell them that spoiling her gets her nowhere. Tell them that unless they lay down the law at home she will continue to misbehave and continue to learn nothing in school.
  2. Be very passive. Let them vent. Let the AP handle the whole thing. Go on with my life.
No matter what, if this becomes a Bash Mrs. Robinson session I will for sure get up and leave. That much I've already decided. When I was a less experienced teacher I would have sat there and taken it. Now, I realize I don't have to be treated that way. I will leave.

Greg thinks that since they scheduled this meeting the last day of track break they will not remember to show up. That would be nice. I will magically not be available for another meeting until our upcoming parent/teacher conferences. Then they only get 20 minutes!

The kids are ready to go back to school. They miss their friends. They miss their teachers. Heather just finished her first full-fledged chapter book and cannot wait to tell her teacher about it.

So, in the spirit of organization, I conned Greg into going shopping at Target and the grocery store with me today. (Actually, he's been grocery shopping with me the last several times.) On the menu this week:
  • king ranch chicken
  • lasagna & caesar salad
  • homemade chicken noodle soup
  • chili (with Fritos & cheese, of course)
  • ham & scalloped potatoes
  • hamburgers & fries
We do not expect to be home on Tuesday evening since Wendy is being induced Monday evening. We'll get fast food.

In other news, I got the material cut out for Stephanie's drama club costume. Cutting out the pattern is the worst! Turns out I had to buy more fabric for whatever reason. It's possible I asked for the wrong amount when I bought it. I don't know. I'm also sewing with fabrics I've never used before - crepe backed satin & a tulle-like material. Wish me luck! The play is only in 11 days. The pressure is on!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

road trip

Last week Greg was off work for his vacation. Originally, we had planned to go on a trip. Then we bought a car and decided the trip wasn't the smartest idea. We were all really happy to be at home and just do as we please for the whole week. 

Tuesday rolled around and this strange blue cloud of funk descended on our household. Greg and I decided something needed to be done about it, so we planned a day trip for Wednesday. 

And we didn't go galavanting to a place where you might expect us to go. Nope. We went to a ghost town. We decided this would be a good way to:
  • get out of town
  • spend time together
  • let Greg practice photography
  • teach the kids about times gone by
  • do something different
  • eat lunch somewhere different
Turns out, we were right.

There was one mishap of the day, however. We were on the road for about 40 minutes when Greg stopped to take a picture of a cactus along the side of the road. It was then that he realized the battery for his camera was at home, still plugged into the wall. Thankful for the impulse to stop along the way, we headed back home for the battery. So we added a little more time to the day. Big deal. 

We were not allowed inside most of the buildings in the ghost town for safety reasons, but we did get to go in some of them. We probably weren't even allowed in these! The kids practiced their photography skills as well.

As we looked at all of the old buildings and ruins, I was amazed that this particular town used to have a population of 10,000 people at its height in about 1905. By 1910 there were very few people living here and it quickly became a ghost town. From the looks of it now, you'd never know that many people lived there. Apparently lots of houses were wood houses and the owners disassembled them to take the wood to wherever it was they were moving to next. 

It seems like a strange place to take two young girls, but they really had a good time. They asked lots of questions, made some speculations, and took it all in. 

We even went shopping! Huh? In a town nearby I convinced Greg to stop at an antique store. The shop was gross! There was more junk than antiques and the people smoked inside the shop. Ew! Oh, and the shop lady sitting behind the counter watching t.v. yelled at us as we were walking in because we almost accidentally let out her two dogs who were clamoring to scare the crap out of the kids. This was not helpful in getting Greg to stop at more antique shops in the future. Apparently I chose the store hastily because as we were on our way out of that little town I saw the place I should have picked to go in. Even the outside was kinda cute and it was also a flower shop. How did I know there would be two antique shops? Darn!

So next time you're looking for a way to get out of town for the day, but still spend very little money. Try a ghost town. 

Friday, November 28, 2008

her own beat

This morning Heather was going to the bathroom in my bathroom. At the exact same moment I started to say something to her she was singing:


So she didn't hear me.

H: What?! I was just singing to the beat of my pee.

There was nothing more to say.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

what's for dinner at their house?

You are totally wondering what's on the list the week, aren't you? Well, probably not, but just pretend you are and make me happy. Okay?

Some items are repeats because my list was long last week and I bailed on the list one night and made grilled cheese and canned soup. For them, not me. I'm no fan of a grilled cheese even though I can make a good one. I had leftovers. It's ok to deviate from the list, you know!
  • chinese chicken stew
  • spaghetti & meatballs
  • homemade pizza
  • tortilla soup
  • chicken quesadillas
  • hamburger helper (dance night)
What's for dinner at your house?

little artist

About a week ago, Heather showed me an art project that was printed on the construction paper tablet. It was a mosaic bird & pretty complicated. I told her it was a great idea, but let's start off with an easier picture.

I drew her a flower with lots of space, then showed her how to cut out the pieces & glue them with the spaces in between.

The rest is all her work. She was frustrated by this several times and told me she didn't know how to do it. The last time she said it, she was mostly done. Crazy kid! I told her if she finished it I'd put it on the blog.

Wonderful. Don't you think?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

they insisted

Stephanie and Heather insisted I take their picture next to the enormous Christmas soldier when we were at Costco last week. After I put my camera away, Heather tried to give him a kiss full on the lips!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

move over, super models

I am setting the fashion trends now. With the help of my own personal hair artists, that is. Don't try this at home. These are professionals, people.

The other night, Heather offered to play with my hair. Woohoo! I love it when someone plays with my hair. This is probably why I like the whole salon experience so much! But, I know that when one of the kids offers to play with my hair, this experience will last about 1.789 seconds before they say they are done. Apparently I was in for a treat, because Heather ran to get the bucket of barrettes. This do took more than 1.789 seconds.

The pensive hair artist is surveying her work and refusing help from her sister. Stephanie previously had no interest in my hair until Heather started creating her masterpiece. The mighty waters of jealousy and competition do run thick at times in our house. 

Here's the final product. You can see the artist smiling smugly in the background. Well done.

Not to be left out, when the 2,639th barrette was finally removed, Stephanie created her work of art. She did feel that I would need to balance this pink hairbrush on my head for the completed look. Alrighty then. 

Be cautioned, this is not an every day look. This particular look is reserved for the most special occasions. Mistakingly wearing this do to the office is the equivalent of wearing your prettiest taffeta bride's maid dress to mow the lawn. The general public will not be able to appreciate this look. It is better left to the fashion runway, charity dinners, or your best friend's wedding.

it's better with a plan

Most nights Greg calls me on his way home from work. I love this call. I like knowing he's on his way home and this is the first time we are really able to talk all day. In the morning he gets up with minimal time to spare. Not so much talking. Even when the call is brief, I look forward to it.

However, there is one question that always comes with the call. I dread this question because up until his call I have probably been focusing on work or something else, not the answer to this question ~ WHAT'S FOR DINNER? About 80% of the time, my answer is ~ I DON'T KNOW. Then I have to scramble to think about what I want to eat, what other people want to eat, what I want to make, what will be quick.

Each week at work I have to make a lesson plan for the next week. There have been weeks where the plans were sketchy at best. Those weeks are really some of the hardest weeks to teach. I don't have a goal and no real direction. I feel like I am floundering the whole time. Having a plan is better.

So it would make sense to have a plan for the meals, right? There have been weeks when I made a menu plan, but most weeks I don't. The menu plan focuses my shopping. The menu plan takes the pressure off of me when I am asked that question. I can say firmly what I will be cooking or give some specific options.

This week I made a plan. There are many bloggers who list their weekly meal plans. I like to look at those to get new ideas. So I am sharing my plan in case you need some fresh dinner ideas. For dinner this week we can choose from:
  • stew
  • spaghetti & meatballs
  • sour cream chicken enchiladas
  • sloppy joes
  • chinese chicken stew
  • chicken cordon bleu
  • beef skewers
We let the kids make a list of what they want for dinner and some of their choices have been included in the list.

What's on your menu plan this week?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the games they play

Last night Heather and Stephanie had a sleep over on the playroom floor. 

This morning they were busying themselves with video games and computer games. They alternately got along famously then became swift enemies. The tide of emotions changes in an instant with them. Mostly, this morning was getting along. Whew! I did hear a smack or two, though.

Very intense in her play, Heather barely noticed me with the camera.

Stephanie? Barely noticed me too.

They played this way for a while, then switched. 

A little while later I saw Heather sitting in Stephanie's lap while Stephanie helped her with a game on the computer.

off they go

Wish me luck!

I signed up to be in another craft boutique this fall. This one is at someone's house and is over the span of several days. In this one I don't have a table on my own, but all the items are grouped together according to theme. There is a fall section, baby section, Christmas section, etc. Yesterday I dropped my crafts off at her house. We'll see how this one goes. I will have to work at the boutique on Friday morning, so I will get a sense, maybe, of how well I'm doing at this one. I have been told that this boutique has been around for quite a few years and always does very well. 

dinner and the theater

Friday night the girls and I joined some other teachers and their daughters for dinner and the theater. 

First we went to Olive Garden. As always, Stephanie and Heather enjoyed themselves. Like their mother, they love to go out to eat. 

We saw a local production of Beauty and the Beast. It was amazing! The costumes were creative and detailed. It was a long show, but all the kids were well behaved and interested the whole time. Heather ended up laying in my lap for about 10 minutes toward the end, but then realized she was missing the show.

The cast came out to the lobby afterwards. The girls loved that! They got to sit on one of the "chairs" who was in the play. 

And, of course, they schmoozed a little with Belle and the Beast.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

i did it!

If you look at the side bar over to the right, you'll notice I've been keeping a list of all the books I've read this year so far. At the beginning of the year I set a goal to read at least two books a month ~ 24 for all of 2008. Two books? That's nothing, you say. Well, don't forget these things: being a wife, being a mom, teaching, crafting, cooking, cleaning, showering, sleeping, etc. Squeezing two books in a month is close to a miracle at times. But it turns out that I've accomplished my goal with a month and a half to spare! Woohoo!

I'm raising the bar for next year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

girls ~ don't let your man read this post

Or else you may be in grave danger of having to do what I did today. Choruses of "Well, if Andrea can do it...." will ring eternal through your house. Then you will resent my sweet self.

I mowed the yard ~ front and back.

I haven't mowed the yard since the summer of 2007 when Greg has his wrist surgeries and was not allowed to mow the yard. We only had a front yard then. Well, we had a back yard then too, but it was just dirt. 

What with the air show on Saturday and naps on Sunday, it didn't get done this weekend. Since Greg is King Fertilizer because his Queen requests a green lawn year-round, the grass grows quickly ~ even in November. I was feeling a little bad for Greg. He leaves for work in the middle of the night dark and comes home in the dark. I'm on track break. I offered to mow the yard. Apparently I had amnesia about what a pain in the rump this chore can be. I remembered today.

We are not supposed to just dump our grass clippings in the trash can. We are supposed to bag them. Greg doesn't bag them and I always give him a hard time. I tell him the trash man will get mad at him when he inhales a face full of grass when dumping our can. I tell him the trash man will get back at us one way or the other. I bagged the clippings that whole ding dang summer of 2007. In the heat. I wrestled with the trash bag and the grass catcher again and again. Now remember, since we uber fertilize, the bag needs to be emptied 1,700 times in the front yard alone.

Today I wrestled with that damn trash bag exactly two times before I just dumped the clippings straight in the trash can. Sorry, garbage man. 

When I mow the yard, I start out making nice, neat passes that are just about straight. I like the look of a nicely manicured lawn. Those guys who do this daily and get the light/dark stripe thing going in a lawn (how do they do that?) are spiffy in my opinion. But then, there comes the tree that I have to go around. Oh, and then there's that spot I missed while turning around. And, then I have to "vacuum" the grass because I spilled clippings while unhooking the grass catcher. Shoot. Now my lines are all wonky. 

I ran out of gas too. In the back yard. So I had to trudge that thing all the way back to the front to fill it with gas. I checked the gas before I started and thought I had enough to do it all. Not so much.

Let's talk about the swing set. I don't know how Greg mows around that thing. I couldn't even get near the slide! So the section between the slide and the brick? It's still a jungle. And the rest of the area around the swing set? Well, let's just say a seven-year-old attempting to give a high style haircut would've done a better job.

When I was all done I tried to use the leaf blower to get rid of all the grass on the driveway. Apparently when you don't empty the grass catcher enough, it just falls out everywhere on the way to the trash can. Last time I used the leaf blower, it took me 15 minutes to start the thing. This time, I read the instructions on the side first and it started almost right away. But I think I made a bigger mess with the leaf blower than was already there. Geez!

Mowing the yard is not my strength. It's not pretty, but it's mowed.

have you ever gotten lost?

I got lost once when I first moved here. I thought a road went all the way through to the other road I needed. It didn't. I had a map in the car. Thankfully, even better than that, I had the good sense not to stop and look at it at one in the morning, in the seedy part of town I ended up in. I spotted some very tall landmarks and drove toward them to find my way. Whew! Now I know my way around this place. Plus, I have Jane. 

I have nightmares where I am lost and cannot find my way home even though I know the area in my dream quite well. Unsettling.

But neither of those is what I am talking about. I'm talking about the internet. There are a few - ok maybe more like many - blogs I like to check daily. Very often these women will have links to other blogs or other projects. I follow the link, then find something else interesting. Then something else. Before  you know it, I'm lost. I find the coolest things to make. I peek into the lives of many neat women. 

This morning? I got lost.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

air show

Yesterday we took the kids to see an air show. I don't know who was more excited, them or me. I'd never been to one before and was ready for the action.

As soon as we got there I was awed and thrilled by the action in the air. It's a wonder I didn't crash into people as I walked with my head skyward and my chin on the ground. There was a helicopter demonstration. It went upside down! I didn't know they could do that. There were also parachuters and, of course, many, many planes.

Our favorites included the Raptor, the Oracle (a specially built stunt bi-plane), and the Thunderbirds.

It was unseasonably warm. We could have all worn shorts. It was lovely in the shade, though.

Don't adjust your screens, folks. That is a plane flying completely upside down across the length of the airfield.

As if flying upside down wasn't impressive enough, there was this tandem move. These two planes are the solo planes of the Thunderbirds. There are six total. Four fly in formation regularly and two solo. Of course, the solo planes join the other four from time to time. At one point the two solo planes came at each other, chicken fight style. At the last second they each turned sideways so their bellies were facing each other. I tell you what, all day there were many butt-cheek-clenching moments as I was sure the planes would crash or drop right out of the sky. I'm glad I'm not these pilots' mothers!

The show the Thunderbirds put on was awesome to say the least and very dramatic. They are the only planes that started off unmanned in full view. The pilots and the other members of the crew approached the planes with such choreographed grace and precision. The crew saluted the pilots just before the pilots put on some flight gear before climbing in the plane. Every, every, move was timed perfectly and moved in procession from the first plane to the last. All the while, dramatic music is playing and there is a speaker telling us about the history of the Thunderbirds and the Air Force and more. As the planes were given the orders to start their engines, chills ran up and down our spines. Then in pairs they moved from their parked positions to taxi to the edge of the runway. The crowd waved and the pilots waved back. There was a lump in my throat when I thought of all this signified. The history that goes with all these planes we saw. The hours of training and sacrifice that go into being a pilot, being a member of the service. The selfless way our soldiers risk their lives to save our own, or those of another country. The way we all felt a unexplained connection to these strangers whose skill and dedication we were about to see.

Then, of course, we were not disappointed by the show. It was amazing.

At the end of the day I told Greg that I wondered how many people enlisted in the services during the course of the day. Being in the service is soooo not for me and I was moved practically to enlistment. Not to worry. I'm far too much of a wuss for that! Plus I don't like people telling me what to do.

We toured a few of the planes. The kids loved to sit in all the places they were allowed to put their tushies and try it out. We went in an Apache helicopter and and several cargo planes.

They pretended to fly a rescue helicopter.

I even checked out a seat. I asked the kids if they thought this would be a comfortable seat to fly overseas. They said yes. Yeah, for about 5 minutes.

Here they are trying out their navigational skills.

It turned out to be a perfect day. I am grateful for everything this day represented for me. Time with my family, new experiences, and freedom.

Thank you, soldiers!

Friday, November 7, 2008

this is how it went

Greg likes to hear how we spent our track break days when he gets home. Here's how this day went....

This kids wanted cinnamon toast for breakfast. Cut it in triangles, please.

They ate their breakfast on the patio. Mind you, not at the table, but train-style in the grown-up chairs.

I finished baking the cookies that I started yesterday. I've been telling Greg that I'd make these cookies for weeks and weeks. I'm finally delivering.

This girls played out in the back, mastering their flips on the swing set. I shuddered, took pictures, then refused to watch anymore. 

Then they moved to the front yard and rode their bikes and scooters. There was some play with a rope and the crappy skates they have. I swear I need to pitch those skates when they aren't looking. They're worthless. Then there was some business with the rope and their bikes. It got tangled and I had to untangle the mess. I don't even really want to know what was going on. 

Then lunch was outside in the front yard. 

Apparently lunch was tiresome because I found them finishing their lunch laying down. I really thought Heather was going to fall asleep right there. But as soon as they were done they were up and running again. 

They were completely filthy when they came in. Black covered their hands, feet, and faces. They fought played and soaked in the tub for nearly an hour. 

I tidied up a little bit and arranged some of the fall decor. 

The television was on all morning and most of the afternoon. It was tuned to HGTV. I stopped here and there to pay more careful attention to a show. 

I did a little more sewing. I'm going to be in another craft show in two weeks and I only have about one more week to get some more stuff made. I'm pretty pleased with how this one turned out.

Right now, we're waiting for Greg to come home. The kids are supposed to be cleaning the playroom. What do you think? It looks like they are doing more playing than cleaning. This playroom is an absolute disaster. They emptied the toy box to hide in it. (I don't always ask why.) Evidently the toy box is where every small item in that exists in this house is kept because the floor was covered. I think they also emptied out some other bins too. 

Stephanie just announced to me that they cleaned up "part" of the playroom. 

Me: How about all the playroom? Would that kill you?

S: Yes.

Well, alright, then.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

first day

Today was the first day of my track break. I didn't accomplish anything that should have been accomplished (housework). 

Instead, I went back to bed after Greg left at the crack of dawn. Please don't tell him. He'll be so jealous!

I surfed the net finding tutorials for new projects.

I sewed one of those projects. Cute, eh?

I played War (cards) with Heather. She won. Then we tied. Dang.

I watched t.v. with Stephanie and Heather. 

I went to the dentist. No cavities. The dentist said I have rock hard teeth. I bet you say that to all the girls!

I made dinner (tacos, if you must know) at a reasonable hour.

I love track break!

Tomorrow? Maybe more of the same.

Oh! Funny story! Suzanne called to tell me that one of my students showed up to school today and was waiting outside my door when the other classes were coming in. As soon as she told me this, I knew who it was without her even saying! Oh my!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

thanks, but no thanks

Thanks for the extra hour of sleep this weekend. I did not use it for it's intended purpose, however. I didn't get an extra hour of sleep. I stayed up an hour extra and did not have to pay for my wayward self with extra sleepiness.

Now? I'd like to have the daylight back, please. I'm not interested in whether it's dark or light when I get up. I get up at 4:15 a.m. with Greg. Recently, I have been informed that he has to go to work half an hour earlier every day. So make that 3:45 a.m. It will always be dark when I wake up. Now it is way too dark way too early in the afternoon. I do not like this. I would not be a happy resident of Alaska in the winter. Give me Alaska in the summer, when it stays light forever! (Hi Randy and Esther!)

Give me the daylight back!

let's get political

Stephanie is in an extra class at school for gifted kids. In light of the upcoming elections, they worked on a puppet play mock debate, then had all of the intermediate grades vote in a mock election on the computer. 

They developed relevant questions and researched the candidates position on each question to put together their puppet play. Stephanie was the moderator.

Here we have the announcer, the moderator, and the two candidates. 

They put on the puppet show for their class, then helped the class vote online in the mock election. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

alice and the queen of hearts

Getting ready for trick-or-treat.

Stephanie picked Alice. She enjoyed being Alice so much for her drama club play, she wanted to do it again.

At first Heather wanted to be the king. Then she wanted to be a mummy. We suggested the Queen of Hearts and she was sold. We didn't have school on Halloween. I spent the entire day sewing her costume. This is the first year I made their costumes. Heather commented that this year her costume isn't itchy like the ones we bought in the past. They also asked if I'd make their costumes next year. We'll see. Maybe with an earlier start.

What a beautiful queen!

Such a precious Alice.

We took the kids trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. We noticed there weren't as many houses with their lights on as in the past. We also noticed not as many kiddos out either. I did run into more people I knew from school than ever this year. 

We returned home hot and tired. Normally, Halloween night is the night when the cold moves in. Not so tonight. It was nice, but ended up pretty warm with all the walking. Poor Heather had long sleeves! 

We let the kids gorge themselves and we all went to bed on a candy high.

P.S. Daddy fashioned the heart wand for Heather. :)