Thursday, December 31, 2009

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Only since living in Texas have I gone out on New Year's Eve. This year marks the third year (though not in a row) that I have gone out somewhere to celebrate New Year's Eve. This is the first year that Jamie will be able to go with me.

I've talked before on here about our good friends Jon, Julie and Spencer. Jon plays electric bass in a country/western band - Clint Taft and the Buck Wild Band. Sometimes, Spencer plays fiddle on some of their songs - mainly when the band is playing at a family-friendly place. Tonight, they are playing a New Year's Eve bash at Lubianski's Dance Hall & Feed Store in St. Hedwig, Tx. (Yes, Becca, I did say dance hall AND feed store. I guess it's a feed store in the front and a dance hall in the back. I asked if it was kind of like a mullet - you know, business up front and the party in the back... Yeah, yeah, I know, lame joke. But I still liked it!) Lubianski's has been a St. Hedwig, family-owned, family-friendly tradition since 1949. Another plus, it's smoke-free and kids under 12 get in free.

So, Jamie and I are going to go root for Spencer, have some fun, and have a good time with friends tonight. Oh, and our friend Michal (who also happens to be my boss' daughter) will be going with us, too. She loves country music, and she's a sweetheart (whom Jamie absolutely adores!), so we should have lots of fun while we're there. I doubt we'll stay until the ball drops and the doors close, but we'll have fun, anyway. Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Just a quick post to bring everyone up to date:

  • Had a wonderful dinner with friends and loved ones last Saturday to commemorate my graduation from college. Thanks David, Susan and Julie!
  • I'm off work all this week on vacation - yet I'm more frazzled and running around more than if I had been working all this time. I think next time I'll take vacation when Jamie will be at school during the day!
  • Jamie and Spencer were originally supposed to play a violin duet for tomorrow night's Christmas Eve service. Except nerves, misunderstanding about who is playing what part and general uneasiness means our violin duo has become a flute and two violin trio, with me playing the harmony part. We practiced today, and once I can run Jamie's violin to the shop to have the pegs repaired and the violin tuned, we should do nicely at the service. At least, I really hope we do. I haven't played my flute in front of an audience since 1994!
  • I have yet to do any of the things that made me decide I needed a week off work in the first place. The house is still a mess, the dogs still haven't been bathed/groomed, and the dishes and laundry are still piled up as far as the eye can see. [sigh]

That's it for now, folks. I'm sure there's lots of things I should have told you, but I don't remember them now. Hope everyone has a very merry Christmas!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Come One, Come All!

Well, those of you who live in and around San Antonio, anyway.

Please join the Churchill Baptist Choir on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. for the presentation of our Christmas musical, "Only Love." We will be repeating our performance on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 10:40 a.m. at the church.

For those of you who have been wondering where I've been and why I haven't been blogging, my brain cells have been occupied with school (exams and finals are fast approaching), work, and music. See, I'm singing a solo, and I'm a wee bit nervous about it (as in, somebody get me some Xanax, fast!) Jamie is also singing with the children's choir in one of the songs.

So, don't expect to see anything from me for the next two weeks. This week I'm all about the musical, and next week, I'm all about finishing up school. As in - DONE! Getting my degree! WOOT!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November Blahs

November is typically not a good month for me. The weather starts turning blah, which in turn makes me feel so very not cheerful. This month also brings the anniversary of my mother's death. Yes, it's been years, but it still hurts. November also brings Thanksgiving, with its reminders of all the people no longer with us on this earth whom I have loved - Mom, Jodi, Dad (yes, he annoyed the piss out of me and often hurt my feelings, but I still loved him), and Granny Goldey (true, we didn't see eye-to-eye, but she loved me in her own way).

This week has been really rough on me because of strays. I'm all emotional anyway (see above paragraph), but then, all the strays in San Antonio seem to have found me and are ripping my heart out by showing me the evils that man is capable of. If any of you have known me for a while, you know I've always been a bleeding heart for animals. Here lately, my heart has been bleeding a lot. There's the smart, beautiful (and literally starved) black lab young girl whom I have tried to help, only to have her jump out of my yard and take off. She was comfortable enough with me to try to climb into my lap (even though she weighs probably near what Jamie does) and lick me repeatedly. But she was antsy being confined to the yard and sailed over the fence. I've looked everywhere for her, but haven't seen her since Monday morning. I'm so worried about her!

No sooner had she taken off, when another black female dog of slightly smaller stature showed up at my house. She's starved too. Both little girls are so skinny their bones are easily visible. As in, their hip bones jut up so sharply that their skin looks like paper about to be ripped through. She has scars all over her body where someone has repeatedly whipped her with something - most likely rope or a belt. She won't come anywhere near me, and runs off if I speak or move toward her. She comes back gratefully though each morning for the bowl of kibble I lay out for her.

Then there's also the neighbor's Yorkie. He got out and came for a visit the other day, too. He's fed fairly decently and has another doggie to play with - but he's been starved as well, just starved for affection. He and his doggie friend will wait for hours, patiently by the fence, waiting for me to come out with my dogs. Then he and his buddy will wait for me to come over and pet them, crying until I do so. It rips my heart out, as well, so see such sociable dogs locked up in a yard all the time and no one from their house EVER comes out to pet them or play with them.

Of course, it doesn't help that all this comes on the heels of that poor kitty I talked about before. I tell you what, though. I'd love to get my hands on the people who were supposed to be taking care of these animals. I'm really hoping one day they will get a taste of their own medicine.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Update on Parenting Struggles

Jamie's demeanor and behavior were improved over the weekend (not perfect, mind you, but I don't expect perfection). On Saturday, he worked really hard on his room and helped me with several chores around the house: cleaning the living room (we're about halfway there), sorting/folding/putting away laundry (~3-4 loads), unloading the dishwasher for me, and doing a lot of fetching for me while I was cleaning. Yes, there were times I had to keep repeating myself, and yes, there were times we butted heads, but he was markedly improved.

Because he was so improved, I was wracking my brain to figure out what was different... and it hit me: SLEEP. He'd gotten 10 hours of sleep Friday night, and 9.5 hours of sleep Saturday night. On a typical school night, he delays, procrastinates, and downright fights going to bed. He'll find excuses to pop back up out of bed (have to pee, I'm thirsty, I'm hungry, etc.) The main problem is the medication he's on. It kills his appetite, so Jamie doesn't get hungry until between 8 and 9 p.m. That's when, ideally, he should be in bed getting ready to go to sleep. The best solution would be for him to not be on the medication at all. We tried that, though, and it didn't work. Oh, how it soooo did NOT work. So, the next best solution is to make him take the meds earlier so it will wear off earlier. Only problem is, that means he would have to get up earlier, which means he has to go to bed earlier... Which, if you've read the above, you know is going to be a struggle.

However, last night I put my foot down and got his butt in bed by 8:30. This gave him 30 minutes to dither around and pop up a few times to get a drink, get a snack, settle down, etc. He was out like a light by 9 p.m. I woke him up at 6:50. I did notice he didn't snarl at me nearly as badly as he normally does. I'm going to put his butt in bed by 8:30 all this week and see if that improves things.

I also had a long talk with him over the weekend about WHY his behavior has been unacceptable, and why he HAS to be a contributing member of the household. I made several things clear to him, such as the fact that I haven't allowed any of his friends to come over because the house is disgusting and because he's been generally nasty little boy (in both manner and hygiene). I told him that the house won't STOP being disgusting unless he gets off his butt and helps me out, and the friends still won't come over if the demeanor and hygiene don't improve. Furthermore, there will be no Christmas tree or decorations put up until the house is clean (that got his attention!) I reiterated the fact that my work schedule, our church activities, and his extracurricular stuff means I can't keep the house clean all by myself. I also told him that he hasn't gotten any real allowance in a long time because he hasn't been helping. If he wants money, he needs to get off his butt. He pointed out to me that he feels like when we get home I'm either too busy to really sit and listen to him, or I'm on the computer. Okay, I've been guilty of that, I admitted, so I'm going to make sure each night that he has my undivided attention for at least 30 minutes. Whether we use that time to read his book together, to take a walk (now that it's cool enough) or to play a game or whatever.

The school issue (for now) seems to be resolving itself. The threat of being kicked out of his clubs and the magnet program lit a fire under him, and he got all his work caught up. He even worked AHEAD on his reading assignments for this week! He's two assignments ahead, and I'm going to make sure he stays that way so he won't have anything looming over his head next week. They get the whole week off for Thanksgiving, and I'll be getting Wed-Fri off, so I want us to spend some quality time together. We're also going to be doing some cooking, baking and major scrubbing of the house.

I'll be sure to keep y'all informed on how things are going.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Parenting Struggles

Neither Jamie nor I are happy campers right now. In public, he's still the sweet, respectful kid, treating all elders with respect (for the most part). At church, I've been thanked on several occassions for bringing such a "jewel" to Sunday School/church/Wednesday night Bible study, etc. I am glad that he's behaving himself and being a (mostly) good kid and helper.

BUT - at home, OH! at home, he's defiant, obstinate, unhelpful, cantankerous, and every other unpleasant word I can think of! We go round and round on a daily basis about homework, chores, his tone of voice when he speaks to me, his bedtime, his eating. Basically, we argue about everything ALL THE TIME!!!! And I gotta tell ya, I'm sick of it. There are days when I don't even want to speak to him because I know it will just lead to an argument.

Don't get me wrong. I love Jamie. I wouldn't have done half the things I've done to make sure he's fed, clothed, and has a roof over his head if I didn't love him to pieces. I've taken jobs I've hated, I've done things I strenously did not like to do (don't worry, it was legal), I've compromised my principles on more than one occassion, just to make sure he's healthy and provided for. All to be treated like dog poo on his shoe on more than one occassion. What really irks me is that I can't tell him half the things I've done, because I don't want him to know. I don't want him to know the lengths I've gone to keep us from having to live in our car, the things I've done so he would have something to eat, the low paying, degrading jobs I've kept just to be sure I could (barely) afford his medications. I do and have done all those things - for him to act like a snot-nosed brat.

The most insidious thing about it is that he isn't that way all the time. He can go from one moment of absolute sweetness and helpfulness to complete and total sh!thead in 30 seconds flat. It's stunning how he can flip-flop back and forth. And when I call him out on it, I get his standard reply of "well, I'm sorry, but (insert half-brained excuse here)" said in a snotty voice. It drives me up a wall!

Is 11 the new age for parents to dread? When my older sister was little, my mom was warned to watch out for hormones and mulish behavior at 16; based on a popular movie several years ago, "Thirteen" was the age to watch out for. Is 11 the new start of the snot-nosed brat phase?

I'm going to pray about this.... a lot. All this arguing isn't doing either one of us any good. But I need it to stop, because I need him to help me out more around the house. And I need him to go to bed on time and eat when he's supposed to. I also need him to do his homework when he's supposed to. Luckily, he did get a big warning from one of his teachers yesterday. She reminded him that he CAN be kicked out of his clubs and even the magnet program if he doesn't shape up. He worked all night last night getting his homework caught up, and is supposed to turn everything in today. We'll see how that improves his grades.

I'm sorry for this long rant, but I had to pour it out. It felt like it was eating me from the inside. He isn't always horrible. He's still mostly a good kid. It's just that the snottiness is really getting to me. I'll just keep reminding myself that "this too shall pass." It has to, or it will kill me!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Pi$$ed Off My Uncle

I have an uncle who, despite my begging him not to, kept sending me hate-mongering chain e-mails. You know the ones - "Obama's making a new policy that will allow Spanish-speaking chickens to be served to our lily white school kids in the lunch rooms! Big shocker, we should call our congressmen to complain!" yada-yada-yada. Now, I love my family. BUT - I'm from the opposite end of the political spectrum from them. My brother and I were raised far away from the majority of our family members, and usually only saw them once or twice a year. We always got along okay, well, until we got old enough to form our own political ideas and began to object to what they were saying. I learned very quickly just to walk away from political conversations, otherwise they would try to convert me to their way of thinking, and couldn't fathom the idea that I would consider my own position to be right, and theirs wrong.

Anyway, my uncle recently sent me an e-mail decrying the idea that the U.S. Post Office was going to issue a "32-cent" stamp featuring a Muslim holiday, and went on to rant about all the horrible things that Muslims have done in the name of their faith to Americans. This rant constituted a big long rambling list of terrorist acts and "injustices" done by Muslims toward Americans. I can't remember them all, and seem to have deleted the original e-mail. Said e-mail went on to state we should boycott the Post Office, and write our congressmen, yadda-yadda-yadda.

I wrote the following response (well, as near as I can remember). "Thank you for thinking of me and wanting to share something with me that is important to you. However, I do not feel all Muslims should be blamed for the acts of some zealots whose actions are in no way condoned by the true Muslim faith. Furthermore, terrorist acts and mass murders have been committed in the name of other religions, as well. So-called Christians are some of the biggest offenders. Remember learning about the Crusades? How many were murdered with the claim that it was in the name of Christ? What about those supposed Christians who gun down and/or mutilate those who hold views that do not conform to that zealot's interpretation of Christianity? Do not blame an entire faith for the actions of a few nutjobs. Oh, and by the way, the current price of a postage stamp is 44 cents. Just how old is this e-mail you're recirculating? Mass/spam e-mails are a great way for viruses and spam lists to be generated. Please do not contribute to this practice."

Funnily enough, I haven't heard from my uncle since then. I think I ticked him off royally.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


The first item on my agenda this morning is to brag on my kid. Jamie made the A/B honor roll with six As and two B's (with the two B's being almost A's)! Yay Jamie! Yesterday was the 6th grade media magnet school awards assembly (which, unfortunately, I could not attend). Jamie won three awards! One for A/B honor roll, one for "Outstanding" student in his computer class and he also got "Student of the Month" out of his whole grade for the month of September! Yay, Jamie! Woot! I'm very very proud of him!

Second item is that on Sunday I started the process to officially became a member of the church I've been attending. We're heavily involved in AWANA, choir, Christmas program, children's ministries, etc., and I feel like it's a church home, so I approached the pastor about becoming a member. We're just waiting on confirmation from the church where I got baptized, so it isn't completely official yet, but it will be. Also, Jamie has started asking questions about baptism, so he will be talking more to the pastor about that. Again, yay Jamie!

NaNoWriMo isn't going very well for me. I've only written about 400 words, far far less than the 3,000 some odd I should have written by now. Finding the time to sit at the computer and write is very hard for me.

I'm really really really excited that in about a week, I'll be seeing some people whom I love dearly like family and haven't seen in quite a while (well, I saw one in January, but the other I haven't seen in longer), so I'm super duper excited about that. Can't wait to have them here!

Oh, and in a month and a about a week, I graduate!!!!!!!!! It's starting to sink in, folks. Guess now I have to start acting like an adult. :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

That's So Tacky, Yahoo!

I was reading an article today on how Patrick Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi, has been since Patrick's death. She addressed a conference of women and stated she's felt sadness on a "cellular level" and that the pain of his death made her pain watching him suffer from cancer feel like "an intellectual" exercise. I feel for the woman's pain; it's only been about a month since her husband of 34 years died. Then, I got mad. I noticed the sponsored links Yahoo! put up for this article. VERY TACKY, YAHOO! The powers that be should really screen their sponsored links better! See below for a screen shot of the article. I've circled (and arrowed) just how stinking tacky and insensitive a link it is.
If you can't read it, it's a link for a dating site called "" or something to that effect, and the tag line reads "Widows, find sexy singles near you!" WTF, Yahoo?!?!? This is so tasteless! You really need to find better screening software to choose which ads go on what stories. Very, very sick (and not in a good way)!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Better Days

I'm in a slightly better mood than I have been for the past couple of days. I'm still sad about the poor kitty, but realistically, being sad isn't really going to do anything about it. She's still dead, poor little thing. Reminds me of a story about Jamie. Shortly after Mom died, we went to church and out to lunch with Tooz, Ann, and David. Jamie was only about 2 or 3 at this time. We always went to The Plum Tree for oriental food (food to die for, it is so good!), and we always opened up our fortune cookies and read them aloud. Everyone opens up their fortune cookies and reads theirs, then Jamie "read" his aloud. He said his fortune was "Grandma is dead. She is still dead." And it was so sad, and so funny at the same time.

We overslept this morning, and missed Sunday School. I have a neighbor gentleman who is 92 years old, blind in one eye, and has osteoporosis so bad he can't stand up straight. Yesterday, he was out trying to weedeat his back yard because the grass was about 2 feet tall. I walked over with my weedeater to do it for him. He's a stubborn old cuss, and didn't want to let some "little chickie" do it for him. Eventually, I convinced him to let me "help" him do it, then got him to sit down on his back swing and rest while I "finished up" for him. I actually did the majority of it, but this way, it let him keep his pride. Of course, technically, I'm not supposed to be doing stuff like that because of how allergic I am to grass and my knees and back issues, but I couldn't in good conscience let that old man do such hard work. Anyway, this meant that last night I had to take some pretty strong painkillers and a strong antihistamine so I would be able to sleep. It's hard to sleep when your back is killing you and your head is so stuffed up from allergies that you can't breathe! So, these strong meds made me oversleep this morning.

But, we still managed to go for regular church service. When we got there, I saw one of the ladies I've become friendly with during Christmas Cantata rehearsals. We were talking and out of the blue she said, "You know, you really should come up into the choir loft and sing with us this morning." I was hesitant at first, but she explained that I could pick up the sheet music from the choir room before service, and it would be fine. So, I sang with the choir this morning, and have been told that I "better" be up there with them each Sunday. Knowing how much I love to sing, of course I didn't say no!

Jamie is feeling better and is up the street playing with his friend Remo. Remo goes to a different school than Jamie now, and both boys have so much going on that they only get to see each other about two Sunday afternoons a month. Here in a little while, Jamie's BB is picking him up so they can go grub around in the garden at Bill's house. Jamie treasures his time with Bill, and I treasure the peace and quiet! While they're gone, I'm going to be here at the house, doing homework and getting ready for Cantata rehearsal.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Not the Best Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday, and it wasn't the best one I've ever had, I have to say. First, Jamie is still sick, so there's all the worry about getting him feeling better (and all the whining and clingyness I have to deal with because he doesn't feel good), and then there's the fact that I still had to go to work. Then, when I get to work, I find out I'm going to have to stay late. I was originally told it would only be about 30 minutes. NOT! I worked 2.5 hours later than normal because we had a report that had to be turned in that day for a legal case. Grrrrr!

Then, when I got home, I had to help Jamie type up and submit via e-mail the school assignments that he didn't turn in when he was supposed to. This is the end of the grading period, so everything had to be in by today. If he had been well enough to go to school, he could have turned them in then, but I'm keeping him home again to allow him to completely get over the crud he has, as well as to not pick up more germs while he's still trying to fight off something else. Anyway, this kept me up until around midnight.

Then, this morning, I discovered that the poor, sweet kitten that I've been feeding at work and trying to find a home for had been hit by a car and killed. I couldn't take her home because 1) I'm severely allergic and so is Jamie, 2) our dogs would have eaten her alive. I tried taking her to a no-kill shelter, but they didn't have any room. The city pound is so overrun with strays that it euthanizes all unadopted animals after only 3 days, so I couldn't take her there! I had found a program that would have come and picked her up, but they couldn't come out to get her until next week. So now it is too late for that poor, sweet baby. She was not a baby-baby kitten, but wasn't full grown yet, either. She was very sweet and friendly, obviously domesticated. She just showed up one day about a month or so ago. Two weeks ago she disappeared, and I was hoping someone had taken her home. But I kept putting food and water out for her, just in case. Then this morning, she was hit right in front of my office building, right where I could see her laying in the road from my desk. I cried like a baby when I saw her!

Now I'm all head-achy and feeling discombobulated. I hope it's just from the crying, and not because I'm coming down with whatever Jamie has. When I get home tonight, I'm parking my butt on the couch and not moving unless I absolutely have to. Hopefully that will shake this tired, achy, sad feeling.

I'm sorry this is such a down post. And all those who sent me facebook birthday wishes, I haven't forgotten you, and I sincerely appreciate your wishing me a happy birthday. Love to all, and I promise to try to be in a better mood when I post next time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Here we go again. Jamie is sick - coughing (so hard he throws up sometimes), sneezing, achy all over, headache, and a slight fever. Could be a cold, could be flu. I kept him home today to monitor his symptoms, and also so that he wouldn't pick up any other germs due to a weakened immune system. If he does not improve, I'll take him to the doctor. But for now, I'm just pushing fluids and keeping an eye on things.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Odds 'N Ends

There's not a whole heck of a lot to report down here in Texas. We're just going day by day, doing what needs to be done. Here's some snatches of the happenings in these here parts:

  • Jamie's first orchestra concert of the year is next Thursday, October 29. This means that twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, all the orchestra kids have to be at school at 7:40 a.m. for rehearsals. Luckily, Julie (Spencer's mom) and I have split up the days so that we only have to get up early and take the boys once a week each. This helps greatly, because on my mornings, I wind up being a zombie all day!

  • Jamie is still doing pretty well in school. This is the last week of the first nine weeks, and he has six A's and two B's. The two B's just showed up today, so I'm hoping if he turns in some of the assignments that didn't make it from home to school, apparently, he can bring them back up a bit. I was really disappointed when I saw he no longer had straight A's, but then I shook myself mentally and reminded myself of what his grades were before he started middle school, and decided I shouldn't be disappointed at all. I also reminded myself that the B's are in the two classes he struggles the most with (English and Reading) and decided it was pretty durn stupid of me to feel disappointed that he's doing as well as he is. After this stern talking to, my overachieving tendencies have calmed down and vowed to stop trying to make my kid be just like me, when he isn't.

  • In talking with Jamie and his English and Reading teacher, it has been discovered that Jamie has had little to no instruction in sentence structure and spelling while in elementary school. He is not the only one. It seems almost all the kids in Jamie's grade are struggling with things that should have been basics in elementary school, but were barely skimmed due to certain national initiatives that stress math and reading comprehension skills but don't do squat about writing and spelling. So, the entire 6th grade team is revamping how they are approaching English and Reading lessons to include grammar, sentence structure and spelling lists. Jamie and I are going to be working at home with some practical applications, such as writing letters to family, sending e-mails, writing short stories, etc. If I know your physical and/or e-mail address, don't be surprised if you receive a letter/e-mail or short story from Jamie in the mail. I think that would be excellent practice for him to get used to applying grammar and using a dictionary to look up words.

  • In two days, I will chronologically be 33 years old. Mentally, I feel about 100.

  • Cantata practice is going well, and I'm having a lot of fun. While I'm in cantata rehearsals, Jamie plays in the teen room with some other kids, then goes to AWANA when it's time. He's almost finished his whole workbook, and consistently is praised by his teachers. We also attend Sunday School and church services (except for two times I had to miss - once because I had to work, and once because I had a migraine). We also now have started going to Wednesday night services and Bible Study when our homework loads allow.

  • Work is chugging right along. We're staying busy, and the load seems to be increasing. This is fairly normal for this time of year, and will continue to get busier until just before Christmas. My only problem lately has been staying motivated. I'm seriously brain dead, and can't wait until my upcoming vacation days. I'm taking off the entire week of Christmas, half of Jamie's spring break in March, and the entire week of July 4th. We don't have plans (or the funds) to travel much during those days, but instead are planning on doing local activities, cleaning house, and just generally spending some family time together. I'm sure movies and board games will factor in there some, too.

So, that's it. That's our "exciting" lives down here right now. Not a whole heck of a lot going on, but I'm thankful that we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, a job, and - most importantly - little to no drama right now!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Things I Do for My Kid

(10-16-2009: See update at end of post)

It's almost 11 PM on a school/work night. I have to get up at 5:45 AM so I can get ready for work early before I have to take J and the other kids in the carpool group to school for a 7:30 AM orchestra rehearsal . (I'm so thankful this is only in the couple of weeks leading up to concerts. I'd murder someone if I had to do this every stinking week!) I haven't been sleeping well in the last couple of weeks. Wake up in the middle of the night for no reason and simply cannot go back to sleep. This means I'm cranky and sleep deprived at ALL TIMES.

So, you ask, why are you still up at almost 11 PM on a school/work night when you know you have to get up early in the morning and already are not sleeping well?

Because at 10 minutes before 10, J came running to me and said, "Mom, I have to give a speech on Einstein tomorrow (he picked the topic) and I'm supposed to have a visual aid. So I made a timeline with a picture. But I was having trouble with the printer (I should note here that it's a cantankerous b-witch), so I didn't get it done. And I forgot to ask you about it before we went to church tonight. So I won't do it. It won't affect my grade.... too much. I just didn't want you to yell at me when you saw my grades." (I can see them online as soon as the teacher inputs them) .

Me: [Sigh] Did you save your timeline?
J: Yes, it's on my thumb drive.
Me: Gimme.
J: Huh?
Me: Give me your thumb drive so I can fix the printer issue and print it out for you while you hurry up and go to bed.
J: Huh?
Me: Okay, word of advice. When Mom is cranky, tired and in a generally bad mood, it is NOT a good idea to make her repeat herself when she offers to do something super-duper nice for you.
J: Huh?
J: Oh, right! Thanks!
Me: [muttering under her breath about ungrateful kids and sleep deprivation. Cackling evilly to herself at the thought of what he'll have to put up with one day when he has kid(s) of his own]
J: [runs up behind me and squeezes me around the middle in a big hug] Why do I get the feeling I owe you big-time for this?
Me: Because you do... And you will... FOREVER.

UPDATE: After all the crap I went through, staying up until way past I wanted to, HE DIDN'T EVEN USE THE HANDOUT! Class was rushed trying to get everyone' speech done, so he claimed he didn't have time to pass them out. I told him he darn good and well better hand them out today (10-16-09) in class and make sure his teacher gets one. I also said that he will never, ever get any help from me ever again when he tells me about a problem at the last minute. He has known about this speech and the requirements for three weeks. He could have told me at any time prior that he was having problems. But he didn't. He waited until the last minute. So, unless he comes to me with a problem at least two days in advance, he's not getting my help. Now, this statement will be modified in cases of true emergency - such as computer crashing at last minute, etc. etc. But for something that he had known for several days he was having trouble with, he will get no help. It's time he started figuring out consequences of waiting until the last minute. Then again, Momma is a major procrastinator, but it works for me. It isn't working for him.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


As I type this, I've had to lock down the doggy door to the back yard. As I was brewing my coffee, I noticed a very large skunk meandering back and forth between my yard and the one behind us. The weather turned very cool overnight, and I think the skunk mama has realized that winter is approaching. I was concerned at first at seeing a skunk during the day (immediately thinking "rabies!"), but I did some research online, and watched mama skunk. She wasn't acting weird or drunk. She was digging and foraging. So I realized the cold snap made her realize she needs to lay in some provisions for the winter. Skunks will come out during the day in the fall to stock up on supplies for winter (I did not know that before). The weather gurus and newspapers down here have noted that the late-coming moisture to our area plus cold air from the north mean our winter this year will be a bit colder and longer than it has been of late. Guess mama skunk gets the weather report down in her den, because she is certainly trying to prepare for it!

I survived the huge reports I've been working on all week. Partly this was due to the fact that my boss called one client and informed him that their report won't be ready until Monday. Only bad thing about that is that means I have to work on that report over the weekend. Luckily, I have all the same software and templates here at home, so all I have to do is grab the stuff off my desk at work and bring it home to work on it. Jamie won't be bored while I'm working on it because he's going with his BB today to hang out and do "guy stuff." After my report work is done, I'll do homework. This way, I can spend time with him when he gets home.

Cantata practice is going well. I'm really having fun and meeting new people. We work hard on the songs, but we laugh a lot, too. Some of the songs are so beautiful they move me to tears! There are some very talented people in the choir, too! We also have a few who "make a joyful noise unto the Lord" - but that "joyful noise" isn't necessarily always in tune! But that's okay. I'm just glad to be singing again.

Six weeks into the school year for Jamie, and he still has straight A's. I'm very proud of him! Every day he comes home and is full of all the "cool" things he did in school that day, and what he's learned. He's utilizing some of the things he's learned in his technology class to make me a birthday present on the computer. He won't let me sneak a peek yet, but I know - whatever it is - I will love it because my boy made it for me!

Well, that's all for now. I have things to do today - reports to work on, homework to do, house to clean, naps to take, etc. I'm also going to try to cook some things to freeze so we can eat them later this week .

Thursday, October 01, 2009

How This Single Mom Talked to Her Son About the Birds and the Bees

*This post is for my friends, and for all those single moms out there who are getting ready to have to talk about sex with their sons. I don't know anything about talking sex with little girls; I do know it was awfully hard to talk about it with my son, but necessary! When having the talk, just take a deep breath and dive right in. If you worry and wonder what to say, then you'll delay the talk. And by the time you get around to it, your son will have already heard a bunch of misinformation from friends and siblings of friends, or even get the wrong idea from TV. BE WARNED: THERE IS SOME VERY FRANK TALK IN THIS POST!!!!

A while back, I had "the talk" with my son. My son being my son, he asked questions, and things got a lot more specific than I was necessarily comfortable with, but I took a deep breath and talked about it anyway, because there's no one else to do it. At least, no one else I trust to tell him about "things" in an appropriate manner. When people discover I am a single mom, and put two and two together about where my son is on the "puberty" scale, they get a sympathetic yet horrified look on their faces, then ask - just how do you have "the talk." The answer is, quite frankly.

His middle school is getting ready to have a six-week long sexuality and maturity class. They've been talking about it at school, sending notes home for parents to sign giving permission for students to participate, etc. So, the other night, J asked me some more questions about sex. Again, not the favorite subject of this single mama to have with her pre-adolescent son, but I did it anyway. I talked frankly and openly with him because I want him to make the right decisions, and for him to have all of the facts.

This meant that I stressed to him that yes, sex feels really good when done right. But I also stressed that sex isn't just a physical thing, that it involves your emotions; when you have sex with someone that you don't really love, it can really mess with your head and your heart. I also stressed that there are many types of love (from friend-type love, to sisterly-love, to puppy love, to I wanna marry you and be with you forever love), and that - when you are a teenager with hormones raging and erections happening at the drop of the hat - you don't know what the right kind of love is; your body is raring and ready to go and thinks lust will do just fine. It won't. Once you have sex for the first time, you can never get your innocence back again. It changes how you see the whole world. This is something special that should be shared with the person you want to marry and spend the rest of your life with, not just any girl who hapens to be nearby when the urge strikes.

I also stressed that there are all kinds of consequences of having sex. At this point, he chimed in with "I know. You could make a baby." But it isn't just that. I explained in great detail how having sex before your mind and emotions are ready for that kind of shift in thinking can make you feel bad about yourself, or make you do stupid things to be with the girls that will let you have sex with them. I explained that his body may be waking up and starting to mature, but that his emotions haven't, and probably won't be until after the hormones have finished going crazy in his body. It's best, I said, to wait until the emotions and the physique are somewhat on the same level before having sex, so that you know how to handle it, both mentally and physically.

I also explained that if you have sex with just anybody, you could get a disease, and explained all the different kinds of diseases one can get from having sex - from diseases that can make you go crazy, to ones that put blisters all over your privates, to ones that kill you by killing off your immune system. I also mentioned that there are more ways to get diseases than just penis/vagina interactions. I mentioned that anytime a private part gets close enough to any other part of someone else's body that they touch, a disease can spread. And yes, he looked at me quizzically, so I had to explain a little bit more than I would have originally liked to.

I then told him that there are tests you can get taken at the doctor's office to make sure you don't have any of these diseases, and that - before anyone has sex - BOTH people need to have those tests done before they do anything so that they both know they are healthy and won't make each other sick. Even if both people say they have never had sex before, both need to be tested. The reason? Like "House" says, "EVERYBODY LIES." I explained how when he's young and hormones are going crazy, he may not remember to get that test done, and would need parental permission (I didn't mention that I wasn't 100% sure of this part) to have such a test done anyway, so it's best to just wait until you are a grown up and have found the woman you want to marry before requesting the tests. Then you get married, and then you can do what you've been wanting to do.

Of course, I also explained that - even if both people somehow manage to get the test done, even if birth control and/or a condom is used - there is still a chance that the girl could get pregnant. I asked J if he wanted to be trying to raise a baby when he is still a kid himself... Did he want to be changing diapers when he'd rather be changing clothes getting ready to go out with his friends?... Did he want to be spending what little bit of money he has on baby formula instead of on a new computer program he wants?... I explained that, while he was wonderful and I have loved every minute (okay, give me some parental license to stretch the truth here) of being his mother, if I had been a teenager, I couldn't have been a good mom to him.

Granted, this was a lot longer of a conversation than I wanted to have with him at this point in time on this subject, but I wanted to make sure he heard it from me, straight out, in an honest (mostly) and frank manner. The more questions he asked, the more details I gave. I was not trying to scare him out of having sex ever, but instead wanted to impress upon him that sex is not all sunshine and roses. There are real decisions to be made, and real consequences involved. Initially, it made me a bit uncomfortable, but the more I talked, the less I was thinking about how this conversation made me feel, and the more I concentrated on being able to give him the information in a way he could understand.

Some may criticize the fact that I had this conversation with an 11 year old. However, kids are starting younger and younger these days. There are now monitors posted in the bathrooms at the middle schools because they were catching kids having oral sex and actual intercourse in the bathrooms - and it isn't just here, it's EVERY WHERE! They have to separate the grade levels into separate bathrooms because of older kids holding down and forcing younger kids to touch their genitalia and worse. As much as I would love for my son to not know anything about or even think about sex until he goes to college, that is an unrealistic expectation. So I would rather he hear it from me than from a friend's older sibling (who may or may not give the proper information), or from some older kid putting his hands on J.

So, single moms, or married moms whose husbands are deployed or working in other countries or whatever, that's how I talked to my kid about sex. I hope this helps you in some way when it's your turn to have this talk with your kid(s).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ick....We're Sick..... AGAIN! (or is it "STILL!"?)

I can't breathe through my nose. My nostrils have whittled down to teeny, tiny little straws through which nothing will pass. Because I can't get oxygen to my poor brain, it's all befuddled. I can't do homework. The homework, specifically, that was due LAST NIGHT, but I was dealing with a kid with a 104+ degree fever. While we were trying to get over strep, we apparently picked up a flu-like illness. I'm monitoring the situation closely, because with his asthma and other health issues (like having barely any immune system, apparently) a case of the flu could go very wrong, very fast with Jamie. In fact, last night I was advised by the nurse hotline (his insurance requires insureds to call before seeking emergency medical care) to go ahead and take him to the ER. Yet, when I called the ER, they said they might be able to see him in 6-8 HOURS. Um, no. What other germs would he pick up in the meantime? He wasn't having difficulty breathing, just all the other symptoms of flu. I made the executive decision to stay at home with home, just dosing him the same way the hospital did LAST time he had that high of a fever. Sure enough, within half an hour, it had dropped to 101. I could live with that, and apparently, so could he. So we both went to bed. Today, his fever has been down around 101-102. Again, I can live with that. As long as I can go to bed soon. Please? I can't think. I don't care if I get a zero on this assignment. I don't have enough oxygen to be able to complete it, anyway.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Glad to Know I'm Not Alone...

I just read this piece by Peter McKay, entitled "I Won't Grow Up!" I'm very glad to know I'm not the only one who is aging backward (well, at least mentally).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Aerosmith seems so appropriate for how I feel today: spunky, funky and ready to kick a little a$$.  You see, last week, I had the crud from hades.  Strep throat supreme.  But, thanks to 3.5 days at home, super strong antibiotics and lots of rest, I’m feeling much, much better.  Usually I complain that I’d love some time at home to relax.  I’ve learned, however, that there’s a big difference between being home relaxing and being home sick.  I’m infinitely grateful to be back at work today; I couldn’t stand one more minute of being stuck inside the four walls of my seriously messy house, but not having the energy to do anything but lay in bed and chug sore throat spray.  I was ready to go bonkers being stuck in that house!  Now that I’m back in almost-100% condition, I’m thinking there’s some serious housework to be done.  I hate having a dirty house (unfortunately, that’s its normal condition due to time constraints and school/work obligations). 


Oh, and thanks to Suze! The ruffle scarf you sent me is awesome, and just happens to be one of my favorite colors.  It will also look gorgeous with my off-white pea coat, once the temperatures drop enough for me to wear it - high of 94 today; don’t think I’ll be wearing a scarf or coat just yet! ;-)


Well, I have a mountain of reports to tackle. Off I go!


P.S. Ann, is today your birthday, or is it really close to your birthday?  If so, happy birthday!  If not, a very merry unbirthday to you!


P.P.S.S. Mama Tooz, hope you continue to recover from your surgery.  I’ve been thinking of you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do You Remember Middle School?

I do. I remember it as a horrible place. I was teased and taunted mercilessly, humiliated numerous times a day (oh, but don't worry, I got my own back quite a bit. Heh heh heh). I also remember that - as a sixth grader, a lowly peon sixth grader - the only option for after school activities was the academic team or (at the end of the year) the sixth grade play. I've commented many times on how lucky my son is to be attending a magnet middle school program. But just in case you don't understand how lucky he is, let me give you the list of after-school programs he has signed up for this year:

Monday - Aviation. Club activities description: Flight simulation, aeronautical engineering principles, history of flight.

Tuesday - Science Olympiad. Club activities description: Competes against other schools in engineering projects, building aquifers/bridges, science experiments, etc.

Thursday - Robotics. Club activities description: Competes against other schools in robot challenges (design and build robots to carry-out predetermined tasks/abilities). Mainly uses Lego Mindstorms(TM) robots, but also some building of robots from scratch.

How stinkin' cool is THAT?!?! He also had many, many other choices. Unfortunately, clubs only meet on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, so he had to choose only three. On the one hand, this is too bad, because there were lots of things to choose from that he really wanted to do. On the other hand, this is good because it keeps the kids from piling on so many extracurricular activities that they get burned out.

The best thing about this school? Jamie is engaged and eager to go to class each day. No foot dragging, no complaints that he's bored. Every day he comes home excited and babbling about all the cool stuff they did that day (his words! School is cool!). This is quite a switch from the guy who was constantly bored or, when asked what he did that day, said "nothing". He's already started (without any prompting from me) a project that isn't due until the middle of next month! Is this my child? What have they done with my Jamie?

Another great thing about his school - not only are all the grades available for parents to check 24/7 online, but they send home progress reports at 3 week intervals. Students are expected to maintain a "76" or higher average in each class. At the first progress report, the student gets a warning if s/he is not up to that level. At the next progress report, if there has been a positive change in their average, as long as they continue to improve, they can stay in the program. BUT - if they don't improve or if they continue to struggle and don't have a "76" average by the time report cards come out, they are removed from the magnet program and placed into regular middle school classes. Lest you think this is harsh, the students have plenty of opportunity for help. All teachers offer tutoring, free of charge, before school and during lunch. Students only have to ask for help. However, if the student doesn't want to work for the privilege of staying in the program, they are gone. The key is the student's willingness to work for it.

And don't fear for Jamie's ability to stay in the program; I can gladly report that his progress report shows he has straight A's! It seems the school's integrated approach was what he was needing all along. I haven't posted on here exactly what his integrated approach projects are for each nine weeks, because I haven't figured out how to post the information (it's on the school's website) without revealing the school's name. No offense to any of my readers, but I know durn good and well that I don't personally know each and every person who happens to cruise by here. I don't want to reveal to the entire world where my son goes to school, and the integrated project sheets only happen to mention the school name about a hundred times - each. So, if I know you and you are interested in seeing what exactly is meant by the integrated projects I keep referring to, drop me an e-mail or a comment in my comment box, and I'll be glad to e-mail you a link to the pages (each project has it's own "wheel" to explain it. Each nine weeks is a new project. Each grade level does different projects). Forgive my paranoia, but I'd like to keep some anonymity!

UPDATE: I just noticed something when e-mailing the integrated project info to Becca. Next nine weeks, Jamie gets to build and race a solar-powered car! That's it! I want to go back to middle school!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Meme/Blog Quiz!

I was looking for a simple meme/blog quiz to post for today, and couldn't resist the "What Beatles Song Are You" quiz. I mean, c'mon, we're talking the Beatles here! If you take this quiz, please post the result either in my comments, or put it on your blog and let me know in my comments, and I will go look at it.

You Are "Yesterday"

You are reflective, nostalgic, and even a bit melancholy. You can't help but wish for better days.
You believe that sometimes you can't appreciate what you've got until it's gone. Life is bittersweet.

You are honest and humble. You can look at yourself objectively, even when it's difficult.
Every day you try a little bit harder to be a better person. It's the best you can do.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Odds N Ends

1) The church I go to has "GymJam" once a month for middle schoolers. Basically, for $6, parent(s) can drop of their child(ren) at the church gym for movies, fellowship, pizza and board games/sports, etc., while the parent(s) can go out to dinner, see a movie, or whatever, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Great! Fantastic! A night out for Momma! Jamie's best-friend's mom, Julie, and I are planning to make a "Girls Night" out of it. Except - well, there's nothing going on this weekend that I want to do, and no movies I particularly want to see. Well, except for "9", and Jamie and I are going to go see it together. While I find it annoying that there's nothing I really want to do this weekend that I can't usually do with Jamie in tow, it is nice that we'll get to have a girls night for once. I haven't been out anywhere without Jamie in close to a year, so some girl bonding will be nice. Plus, the church does this every month, so at least I know I'll be able to have some "me" time fairly regularly!

2) Speaking of church, practice for the Christmas cantata at church starts this Sunday, and I'll be singing in it. AWANA also starts on Sunday night, so Jamie will be getting active in that again. He also will be starting Wednesday night Bible Study at church. The class is made up of only 5th and 6th graders, and many of the friends he's made at church so far will be there. He's supposed to start this week (tonight) but I have way too much homework and house work to do (neither of us has a thing to wear tomorrow) for us to go tonight. So he'll just have to start a week late.

3) It's raining cats and dogs here. It's been so dry (we're in an exceptional drought) that I'm very thankful for the rain. We're supposed to get rain daily for the next week, and I'm so glad. Normally, I hate when it rains for days on end, but we need it so badly, all I can say now is "hallelujah!"

4) Speaking of dogs, Buddy is not happy with the rain situation, and stays huddled in the corner in the bathroom anytime it rains. Thunder and lightning send him into quivering, scared fits where he jumps up into your arms/lap and refuses to get down. His terror is so real that it makes me wonder if he's a Katrina rescue dog. He's about the right age (his age was guestimated by the shelter workers last year at approximately 4 years) and not much is known about his history, other than he belonged to an old lady who died before Dad got him, and prior to living with the old lady, she rescued him from a pound shortly after Katrina, from a place that had a lot of Katrina strays. This was the sketchy information the 2nd shelter was able to get from the old lady's family, who didn't know exactly where Buddy came from, just the little bit of info the lady told them. The lady lived alone and the family couldn't, for various reasons, take Buddy to live with any of them. If he did live through a hurricane and the horrible aftermath, I could certainly understand his terror of storms!

5) Ziggy, on the other hand, is not so much scared of the storms as he is adamant about avoiding getting wet, period. He loves to jump in the bathtub with Jamie, but heaven forbid he should be given a bath on his own or get rained on! If it is raining outside, I have to practically force him to go out to potty. Then, when he comes back in, he's impatient for me to come dry him off with a towel and will bark at me when he comes in, as though saying "Well, get over here and dry me off, woman!"

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What's in a Name?

Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Would it really? I've been undergoing a bit of name crisis lately. You see, my name is not my own. When I was a teenager, I did a little research and found that there were at least 27 people in the United States who had the same first and last name I do. Many of these people are my cousins. You see, I have a very, VERY large family. My father was one of 12 children, each of those children have had at least three children of their own (many have five or more). Each of those children have had children, and many of those children have had multiple children. I'm one of the youngest of the children of the original 12 children, so I have many second and third cousins who are the same age as me, if not older. Out of this whole group, my first name is a very popular choice. When e-mailing aunts, uncles or cousins, my signature line usually has to be followed by "daughter of Joe and Shirley" in order for them to know which one I am. (To be even more confusing, my mother was not the only Shirley to marry an (enter last name here) brother, so I can't just put "daughter of Shirley). All this name duplicity made things very confusing at family reunions.

I recently did another search, and discovered that there are way more than 27 people in the world now with my same first and last names. There are dozens who even share my middle initial. Of those dozens, there are a goodly amount who have the exact same name I do. This freaks me out. It's hard to feel one is an individual when there are people out there in cyberspace with your exact same name!

This whole "being one of many" thing is what led me to give my son the name I did. It is fairly unique (although I stole it from a high school classmate). When coupled with his middle name, which is also fairly unique (it's one of my favorite uncles' real first name, although he goes by his middle name), and when added to his last name, well, there isn't another one like him in the entire world. I like this. My son, however, does not. He has insisted on shortening it to "Jamie". He says he doesn't like his real first name because it's "too weird." I guess that just goes to show how much one's perception is affected by one's name. I have a very common first name, so I want my child(ren) to have unique names. (If I ever have a little girl, I'm going to name her Jonah). He has a unique name, and apparently would rather have a common one. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he grew up to have a child and name him "John" or "James." Not that there's anything wrong with those names, but they're just - well, fairly common.

*I apologise for this post being about a common subject. I have several things about which I'm all het up, but I won't post on these for many reasons. 1) This is not a political blog. This blog is my way of amusing myself while keeping those I love (or at least like) abreast of how our lives have been since we transplanted down to Texas. When I start talking politics, my blood pressure rises, I get angry, and then I am definitely NOT amused. 2) Life is too short to alienate people because what I happen to believe is not what you happen to believe. 3) What mother on earth doesn't enjoy talking about her kid? I'm no exception. I will find never ending ways to talk about my son. When talking politics, I usually get so angry I start to sputter. It's one thing to sputter at another in person. When writing, it's just annoying. So I refuse to do it. 4) Opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one. I don't need to add any more crap to the atmosphere by airing mine. So I stick to a safe subject, my kid, my life, and the occassional spooky story, sappy poem/short story, or amusing anecdote about a non-existent cat. Sorry if my lack of political punditing bores you.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Four Eyes!

Due to Jamie's ever-increasingly frequent headaches and not being able to see things I could (with my glasses on, of course), I decided an eye exam was in order. Sure enough, he needs glasses while at school, or while working on the computer/reading/knitting, etc. When he's just playing with his friends outside or during P.E., glasses are not necessary. Unfortunately, glasses are yet another item not covered by his insurance.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Feelin' Crafty

So, a while back I posted that the first five people to comment on that particular post would get a handmade, crafty something-or-other made by me (with possibly some help from my son). A whole TWO people replied that they would like to receive such bounty (thanks, Jessi and Suze!) So, I decided on what I'm going to make each of you, and got extra materials just in case I get some last-minute sign-ups. C'mon people! Don't you want some craftiness? If you do, go here and drop me a comment in the affirmative. (There's a teeny catch, but it isn't too painful, I promise!)

Oh, and Jessi and Suze? I need your addresses. Yes, I know you've given me yours before Suze, but that was several smartphones ago, so no telling where that data went! You can drop me an e-mail at jenn(dot)(my last name - and no it has not changed since high school)(at)gmail(dot)com.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pardon Me If I'm a Little Choked Up

Today was my boy's first day of the new school year, and his very first ever day of life as a MIDDLE SCHOOLER!!!! Ack!!!!!!!! How did that happen? A month ago he was in diapers, a week ago he started Kindergarten, and just yesterday he was starting fourth grade. When did he grow up into a great big middle school student? How did this happen when I wasn't looking?

This is what he looked like two weeks ago, or it least it seems like it was just two weeks ago.

And this is how he looked this morning, bright and shiny as a new penny in his 6th grade uniform. Yellow polo, khaki bottoms, belt, socks and sneakers. Only solid colors allowed (even the socks have to be solid colors, and match), no mismatched shoes, belt required.

I must admit I teared up a bit when he came out looking so grown up. Then I got misty-eyed again as we got to his school. Today being the first day of class, I had to take all his medications to school this morning. I decided I would just go ahead and take him to school since I'd be going there anyway. On the way to school, he asked if I could drop him off first before I parked so the other kids wouldn't see him being brought to school "like a little kid." Then I was told I wasn't allowed to hug him in front of the other kids. After that remark, he hopped out of the car and got ready to leave, taking big pieces of my heart with him. They were soon mended, though, when he opened the door again and popped his head in to say, "But you can hug and kiss on me all you want when we get home tonight." I immediately started to feel better, until he added, "Just so long as no one sees you doing it."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Knitterly Question

So, I'm browsing through my absolute favorite place in the world yesterday - a used bookstore - when I find an entire section devoted to knitting! Books on knitting basics, Debbie Bliss books on sweaters, ponchos and hats (oh, my!). All kinds of knitting goodies. I didn't buy anything, though, because I thought: But, I'm not very good yet. So I left there with no knitting books, but when I got home, I thought again: I'm an idiot. I should have bought some of those books anyway!

So my knitterly question is this: Should I practice knitting by making dishcloth after dishcloth, or scarves, or just swatching all the time? Or should I just pick a book of easy patterns and start already? I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to start slow. (Bet'cha didn't know that! wink, wink) If I'm going to do something, I just want to dive right in and do it already! So what do you think? Practice first, or just go ahead and start (and plan on lots of frogging?)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Freebies!

I gleefully stole this from Jessi, and am glad to post the same game/meme on my blog. The game goes thusly: The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me (either singly or with my son's help).

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations, so please read carefully:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
2. What I/we create will be just for you, with love.
3. It'll be done this year (2009).
4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It could be anything! It could be a short story or poem written just for you. It could be a painting, drawing or sculpture. It could be something knitted (good luck identifying anything either of us in this house tried to knit!) It could be baked goods, or something crafted. You don't know when you'll get it (other than it will happen sometime this year) or what it might be! It's for me to know and you to find out!
5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange or whimsical.
6. In return, all you need to do is post this text into a note of your own and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to your note.

Please note that my responding to your game/meme does NOT preclude you from entering mine. I'd be more than happy to swap goodies with any one of yous guys! If I entered yours, or even if I didn't, feel free to enter mine! (Wait, that sounds vaguely naughty, doesn't it?)

IMPORTANT: This offer is null and void if I do not see you post your own note to pay this forward. So, there you go: You have been tasked. First five... And... GO!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Patting Myself (and J) on the Back

First, I’ll let you know that Dru’ is driveable, but only for short distances at this point.  Hopefully, by tomorrow night everything will be peachy keen again.  Note to those with 2004 Chevy Aveos – if you have a plastic thermostat housing, it WILL bust, it is only a matter of time.  Go NOW and buy a metal version of the same part online (~$55) and put it on.  Another note:  if you do so, do NOT tighten one side all the way down before starting on the other bolt.  Do them both evenly, or your new part will break off at the bolt hole, and all your coolant will leak out again.  I found this out the hard way (no, I didn’t do it.  The person helping me did).  Also, do not use the old gasket (“O” ring).  Spend the $2 to get a new one.

This weekend, we spent a lot of time at home because we didn’t want to be driving the car everywhere until we’re sure everything is a-okay on the car.  Saturday, we did have to drive J to an appointment, but other than that, we stayed home and watched TV and played/read that day.  On Sunday, J and I got up early and rode our bikes up to J’s old elementary school and played on the playground.  We played for about an hour before it got too hot/bright to be outside.  Then we went home and played a couple games of checkers, and later played a few games of chess.  We also watched a cool show on the National Geographic Channel called “Drain the Oceans”.  Scientists have mapped parts of the ocean floor, then used CGI technology to create virtual replicas of the ocean floor.  NatGeo then broadcast what the ocean floor topography looks like sans water.  It was very cool!

What I’m patting J and myself on the back about is the amount of work we did on the house yesterday.  We had a lot of fun playing, but balanced it with work.  Previously, the entire hallway floor was covered in laundry that needed to be done.  No carpet was visible.  It was not pretty!  Yesterday, we sorted all the laundry, got it up off the floor, and did about 6 loads!  I’ve already done one load this morning before going to work.  Not only did we do the laundry, but then we hung it up/folded it and put it away!  This is a big deal for us.  Usually clean clothes land in a basket until we wear them, then they go back in the dirty clothes.  But yesterday, I was determined to get the house organized before school starts. We also did two loads of dishes in the dishwasher and unpacked two boxes of kitchen stuff.  This may not seem like much to organized people, but to me, this was a great start and a major accomplishment!  My goal is to have everything unpacked  and  put away before my school starts on Aug. 31.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Another Freaky Life Episode

When Jamie was a baby, like most parents, I kept a baby monitor in his room so I could hear him if he started crying, listen to him breathe as he slept, etc. etc. etc. As he got a bit older, it was common for me to hear him babble, and later to hear him turn his babbling into actual words and make all the other cutesy baby noises, laughter and silliness that warms a momma's heart to hear. By the time he started serious efforts at talking, we had moved out of my mom's house into an apartment of our own. I was still unpacking things, and hadn't started putting out any of the homey touches yet - figurines, candles, family pictures, etc.

One night, after I had put Jamie to bed, I heard him laughing and babbling excitedly in his crib. Then, he painstakingly formed two syllables - "Jo......deeeeee!" - with a happy little shriek and more laughter. The babbling and laughing continued, and I thought I must have imagined what he said, or that it was just coincidence. How could he know the name of my sister who died approximately 12 years before he was born? Furthermore, it wasn't like my mom and I sat around saying her name over and over in front of him. We really rarely talked about her - it was too sad for all of us - and certainly didn't make a habit of saying her name in front of a baby who wouldn't know who the heck she was, anyway. Just as I had convinced myself of this, he started laughing and babbling, and said "Jo.......deeeeee" again! I walked into his room, to find him standing up in his crib, looking fixedly at one spot in the room and babbling like he was trying to talk to someone! Again, I convinced myself it had to be coincidence and tried to put it out of my mind.

To take my mind off thinking about Jodi - she would have loved a little cuddly baby nephew to spoil - I decided to start putting out my homey things in the livingroom. I put out my candles and knick-knacks (up high where a curious baby couldn't reach, naturally), and hung some family photos on nails the previous tenants left in the walls of the short hallway leading from the livingroom back to the kitchen. Just as I finished that, Jamie started fussing and acting cranky in his room. I figured he was probably hungry because he hadn't eaten much earlier in the day -plus, he seemed like he was always hungry. I figured a warm bottle and some baby food would put him in the mood to finally go to sleep.

As I carried him in my arms down the hall toward the kitchen, Jamie suddenly let out a squeal and shrieked out "JO....DEE!" I turned to where he was looking, and almost dropped him; he was looking right at an 8 x 10 photo of my sister taken not too long before she died! That's when I knew that Jodi was not only watching over me, but over my son, as well.

Friday, August 07, 2009

John Hughes' Movies Were the Best

I just read the sad news that John Hughes, writer/producer and sometime director of some of my favorite movies of all time, is dead.  I LOVED his teen movies, and still love to watch them to this day.  My all-time favorite would have to be “The Breakfast Club,” followed closely behind by “Pretty in Pink” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.”  I also found “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” hilarious, once I got old enough that my mom would let me watch it (what with that “R” rating and all).  I think I may just have to have a John Hughes marathon this weekend in tribute – that is, if I can get my car running.  More updates on that later.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

R.I.P. Druscilla!

Okay, maybe I'm being a little melodramatic here. Druscilla isn't DEAD, maybe just in a coma. For those who don't know, Druscilla is the name of my car. Today, Dru' up and went kaput! I had to run some errands for work, so I swung by the house to pick up J and take him with me. He loves to get out of the house, I get work errands run, and everybody is happy. Just as we were pulling up to the office supply store and parking in a spot, I heard a big "BOOM!". At first, I thought someone had slammed a car door really hard and the sound echoed off the walls of the big box office supply store. But no, it was not so. The sound had come from my car, just as the smoke and steam we saw was rolling forth from under my hood!

Apparently, 2004 Chevrolet Aveos have a nasty habit of busting their thermostat housings, which results in the whole thing popping off, and all the coolant and water pouring out of the engine. Unfortunately, this is a part that can only be gotten from a GM dealership or ordering from some obscure parts website online. If I go to the GM dealership, they won't just let me buy the part. They have to be the ones to put it on (and charge me a gazillion dollars for parts and labor). I can get it relatively cheaply (>$30) from said obscure online parts store, but to get it here in anything less than 2 weeks would cost me double the cost of the actual part, just for the shipping. Unfortunately, these types of things only happen when I'm broke and desperately counting the days until payday or my student loans come through. So, for now, Dru' will just have to chill in the driveway (I got her towed here - TYJ for "roadside assistance" plans on the cell phone bill) until my school money comes in at the end of the month. In the mean time, I'll be catching the bus to work and praying Jamie doesn't have an asthma attack or other medical emergency in the middle of the night.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not (exactly) whining. More like I'm grousing about it, but subconsciously thankful that all appearances indicate it is something highly fixable. All indications are the engine was not ruined or needing replacement. If I can get one of the guys from work to install it for me, all told it should cost less than $100 to buy a new housing, install it and replace the coolant and water. But still, I'll be on pins and needles about J's health until Dru' is up and running again!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Uniform Crisis

It never fails.  Jamie left his cell phone charger at the old house. I have already turned in the keys, so bye-bye phone charger.  We turned the house upside down looking for it to no avail.  Monday night, I broke down and ordered him a new charger ($7 on eBay).  Last night, I realized I hadn’t seen his uniform shirts for this school year anywhere.  In fact, I haven’t seen them since we started moving from the old house to the new.  (I bought the shirts at the end of the school year when they were deeply discounted.)  So Jamie and I spent a large portion of the evening trying to find the shirts, again to no avail.  However, I did find another charger that fits his cell phone.  {sigh} Since it seems I find things only AFTER I’ve already purchased replacements, I went ahead and ordered three more of his uniform shirts.  I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything for him to have eight instead of five.  Being a boy, and a messy, klutzy kid at that, I figured at least one or two of them will have to be used as a dust rag due to stains/tears at some point in the year.  Still, I’m hoping that by purchasing more shirts, and looking for something else this evening, I will come across his missing shirts.  One funny note, though – I went ahead at the end of last year and bought his shirts for 7th grade, too, (each grade level wears a different colored solid polo) one size larger than he currently wears.  I figured since they were $3 a piece, it just made sense for me to buy them in advance.  Well, I can’t find his 6th grade polos anywhere – but the 7th grade ones were easily found and are currently waiting merrily in the top of his closet.  If you were five canary yellow polo shirts, where would you be hiding?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Things That Make You Go "EWWWW!"

I have a secret confession to make - I enjoy reading the tabloid-ish fodder to be found in Yahoo!'s OMG! section and some other gossipy web pages (NOT Perez Hilton, but Access Hollywood, etc). I don't enjoy tabloids themselves, but I love me some Internet gossip pages (go figure). Yesterday, I read something that was disturbing on soooo many levels - I hoped it wasn't true. Then I found references to it in several other news sources where both parties involved confirmed it was true. That's when I wanted to gag.

It's bad enough that Ryan O'Neal (aging ladies' man wannabe) chose to hit on a woman at Farrah Fawcett's funeral (hadn't they just announced plans to marry before she died?). Turns out, the "babe" he was hitting on was Tatum - his DAUGHTER! Can we all spew together? I feel unclean now. This is so wrong on sooo many different levels. Am I the only one who is seriously creeped out by this? Normally, I don't talk Hollywood-type gossip here on my blog. True, I will occassionally gush about upcoming movies and show what a fangirl I can be. But I generally leave stuff like this alone. But the above-described scenario was so disturbing and gag-inducing that I had to talk about it. How can a grown man not recognize his own daughter, and hit on her? How can a grown man hit on a woman young enough to BE his daughter at the supposed-love-of-his-life's FUNERAL?

And people wonder why I avoid the dating world like the plague.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Band/Song Meme (Stolen from Jessi)

I stole this from Jessi, who had previously posted this meme to her facebook page. I've been very lax on facebooking lately, so I hadn't seen it prior to Jessi posting it on her blog. I'm not ready to share my freakiest Guardian Angel story of all time yet (that's coming later this week), so I'll post this meme instead. Anyone who reads my blog, consider yourselves tagged - but you need to post a comment here so I know you've done it (my blogger feed doesn't always update as it should).

Here are the rules:

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions.
Pass it on to 15 people you like and include me.
You can't use the band I used.
Try not to repeat a song title. (It's a lot harder than you think...)

Pick your Artist
Concrete Blonde

Are you a male or female?
Little Sister

Describe yourself
I Don't Need a Hero

How do you feel
The Sky is a Poisonous Garden

Describe where you currently live
Cold Part of Town

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
Walking in London

Your favorite form of transportation
Mercedes Benz

Your best friend is

You and your friends are
Close to Home

What's the weather like

Favorite time of day

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called?
Your Haunted Head

What is life to you?
Dance Along the Edge

Your last relationship
Love is a Blind Ambition

Your fear
It'll Chew You Up and Spit You Out

What is the best advice you have to give
Beware of Darkness

Thought for the Day
God is a Bullet

How I would like to die
Simple Twist of Fate

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dental Dysphoria

I (thankfully) have health insurance through my job. Unfortunately, I don't have dental insurance. Luckily, I found a local technical school that offers a dental clinic at (drastically) reduced prices three days a week. The clinic is very small (two dental chairs for exams/cleanings, one x-ray station). Before you freak out, let me explain a bit. The technical school trains dental assistants. They have several licensed dentists on staff to assist in their training. The dentists see the patients, while the dental assistant students get to practice taking x-rays, assisting and such on live people, instead of mannequins or computers. Knowing it was an actual dentist who would be working on me eased my mind quite a bit, so I scheduled an appointment for yesterday (Wednesday).

I haven't been to the dentist in (gulp!) 6 years. I desperately needed a cleaning, and also had a cavity I noticed recently. I also have a "filling" that is actually what was originally a temporary solution for a broken tooth that needed a crown. The dentist in G-town used filling material to seal up the broken off area and build it up to look like an actual premolar. I was warned this would probably only last about a year and that I needed a crown. And this was six years ago! So I knew it would need to get checked out to see how sound the tooth was.

Yesterday, I arrived for my appointment five minutes early, because I knew I would have to fill out some papers. I was the first person to sign in, and the first appointment of the day. However, since I had to fill out paperwork, they let another person go in front of me. Then, the students couldn't figure out how to get the x-ray machine set up properly, so another person (who didn't need x-rays) got to go in front of me. 30 minutes after my appointment time, I finally got to go back to the x-ray station. I was being nice and patient; I could tell the girl was very new and was struggling with getting the x-ray films properly into the little doohickeys that a patient bites down on while they get the films. I didn't even bite her fingers when she tried to put the plastic thingie in my mouth the wrong way and almost sliced the soft tissue under my tongue with it. See? To me, that's being nice. Finally, another 40 minutes later, all my x-rays had been developed and all the improperly positioned ones were retaken. I was asked to wait back in the waiting area while the dentists finished up the current exams.

The "clinic" is basically just a big open room, where - if an impatient and nosy person (um.... "me") turns around - anyone can see what's being done to anyone else at any given time. Unfortunately, I happened to get impatient and nosy enough to look around just as the dentist stood up and used her own body weight as leverage to extract a bad tooth from another patient. And I got to see a whole lot of blood go dribbling out of his mouth. At this point, I was starting to rethink my desire to save money.

Just as I was getting ready to get up and pay for the x-rays and leave, they called my name. I could have still left - it was, after all, two hours past my original appointment time. But I was already there and I wanted the cavity taken care of. I was also anxious to see what condition the rest of my teeth were in. So, I went on back. I got a little concerned when the dental assistant couldn't figure out how to make the suction thingie work. Still, I told myself, she's a student so give her a chance. I REALLY got concerned when she managed to hit herself in the head with the overhead light. I reasoned that someone that clumsy had no business being anywhere NEAR the inside of my mouth. I anxiously asked her if she would be doing any of the cleaning, or if the dentist does all of that. When she replied that all she does is hand the dentist the tools and do suction, I felt MUCH better.

The dentist arrived, a nice woman who said she'd been practicing dentistry for about 15 years. This also made me feel better, but I was still a little stressed about how she had to extract the last patient's tooth. However, I was not there for a tooth extraction, and comforted myself with that thought. She looked at all my teeth and only found the one cavity. She also stated that my teeth were in excellent shape for someone who hadn't been to the dentist in as long as I had, and that the "temporary" tooth was just fine and didn't need to be replaced. The only bad thing was, my teeth were so sensitive that she couldn't do a normal cleaning with the little swirly brush thingie, she had to just use the scraper doohickie - and only after thoroughly numbing my gums. This sensitivity lead her to use a shot of novacaine on me before filling my cavity.

Keep in mind, though, that I was supposed to go back to work after my appointment. Do you know how hard it is to answer the phone when half your face feels like it is gone? I looked at myself in the mirror and I looked like Tw0-Face from "Batman." When I smiled, only the right side of my face did anything. The left side didn't move at all! When I talked, my words slurred and stumbled. This is the state I was in when I left my appointment - three full hours after I arrived.

On the way back to work, I almost got side-swiped by a teenager in a suped-up ride. I can only imagine what the cops would have thought was wrong with me if they had been called to the scene of an accident. I probably would have been arrested for DWI.

Luckily, no one called us for the hour I had to be at work yesterday afternoon. If they had, they would have had a very hard time understanding me. I, however, would have probably been highly entertained by my own efforts to make understood the words "scanning electron microscope" or "energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy" when slurred out of only half my mouth.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Sister Saves My Life - Years After She Died

When I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, I hated riding the bus to school. It was crowded, we had to wait outside early in the morning when it was freezing out, and it took forever to get to school (all grade levels rode the same bus, so we had to drop off the elementary kids, then the middle schoolers, then the high schoolers finally got to get off). Fortunately, I had an older brother who had an awesome car (metallic blue 1966 Ford Mustang), and my mother had told him he had to take me to school sometimes. She was smart enough not to insist on all the time - because nothing steals away the coolness of your hot wheels faster than having a tag-along little sister.

Anyway, one night, I made arrangements to ride to school with my brother the next morning. I had to stay up late working on a homework assignment, and riding with my brother meant an extra 45 minutes of sleep in the mornings. He agreed, and I stayed up late to finish my homework.

The next morning, my brother came in my room and snottily informed me that I was not riding to school with him, so I had better get my butt out the door and on the bus! Thoroughly confused (not to mention ticked off), I argued with him, asked him why I couldn't ride with him. His response was an adamant, "Because I don't want you to."

At this point, I could hear the bus coming down the hill getting near the stop. So I grabbed my toothbrush, threw on some clothes (didn't even have time to SHOWER, ugh!), and raced for the bus. I grumbled and glowered the whole ride, thoroughly working myself up into a state. I was determined that, as soon as I got to school, I was going to call Mom at work - she had already left for work when my brother and I had our argument - and tell on him! As we all know, tattling is the secret weapon of little sisters everywhere. But when I got to school and went to use the payphone in the attendance office, the line was way too long. I knew if I waited, I'd be late for homeroom. I also knew Mom would already be out delivering the mail by the time I got another opportunity to call. This just ratcheted my bad mood up to a whole new level. I spent all of homeroom glowering at everyone, muttering under my breath and being as miserable a human being as I could. After all, there's nothing worse for a teenage girl than having to go to school - not only not having a chance to shower - but not having a chance to put on make-up and/or fix her hair, either. It was a humiliating experience!

But when I got to first period, my attitude changed completely. My brother's homeroom teacher happened to be my first hour teacher. When she saw me, the first thing she asked me was "Where's your brother?" I was stunned! What did she mean, where's my brother? He should have been there. I'd seen him myself getting ready for school. What was going on? My anger at him began to turn to worry. I knew he wouldn't have skipped school that day. He had plans to meet up with friends and do something (I don't remember what, now) right after school, on school grounds. He wouldn't risk skipping school then being on school grounds later. He was smarter than that. Something had to be wrong!

My brother and I shared another teacher, so when I got to her class, the first thing I asked her was if my brother had been in class. She said no, as well. By this time, I was really freaking out. By the end of the day, I was frantic to know where he was and what had happened. Of course, this was all before cell-phones were affordable/popular (or smaller than the size of a breadbox), so I couldn't call him. I also couldn't reach my mom, because she was out on the mail route.

When I got home, I discovered what had happened. There was a real dipstick who lived on our road. One of those drivers who doesn't pay attention to anyone else, drives down the middle of narrow country roads just because she has a big vehicle and thinks she's entitled, you know the type. She crested the top of a blind hill and stopped in the middle of the road just over the apex. My brother was behind her, and - since she was right over the crest of the hill, in the middle of the road in a blind spot - he hit her square in the rear of the vehicle. This was a long hill, so my brother usually had a pretty good clip going by the time he reached the top of the hill. This day was no exception. He wound up totalling his car, his windshield shattered, his bottom teeth banged against the steering wheel,got partially flattened and shoved back in his mouth (the only thing that saved his teeth was the fact that he had braces), and - because he had long hair and dressed all in black - he got extensive questioning by the local law enforcement who responded. They thought he was on drugs and had caused the accident! (Fortunately, there was a neighbor who saw everything and set the record straight.)

Anyway, when I got home and ascertained he was in one piece, I asked him why on earth he wouldn't let me ride to school with him that morning. His reply? "Jodi told me not to." My sister had come to him in a dream the night before and told him under no circumstances was he to let me in the car with him that day. Jodi told him to say or do whatever it took to keep me out of the car that day, so that's why he was so mean to me about it. If she hadn't insisted, I might not be here to relate this story.

In the course of surveying the scene and looking over my brother's car, one of the state policemen made the comment that it was a good thing no one was riding with my brother at the time of the accident. The front passenger side seatbelt was defective, and would not have worked at all. If anyone had been sitting there, they would have gone clear into the windshield - causing either horrendous disfiguration or even death, according to the state trooper.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wow. That last post was something, wasn't it?

Sorry, guys.  Didn't realize just how much spewage I was spilling, but it felt good to rant a bit and get it off my chest.  Thank you for all the comments and encouragement.  And Jamie, you didn't tread on my feelings, you spoke truth.  It was something I obviously needed to hear.
Tonight, I am sitting at my computer waiting to go out to dinner with my Jamie, Spencer, Julie and Jon.  We've been planning for weeks to get together and just chit chat.  The more I get to know these people, the more blessed I am by knowing them.  They are smart, funny, compassionate, loving Christians, and I am lucky to know them.  After dinner, I think we're going to hit the used book store.  They like to read as much as I do, and I am hoping Spencer's love of reading is rubbing off on Jamie.
We worked for three hours on the old house today, and got a lot accomplished.  We might go back out there tonight after dinner, but more than likely it will be tomorrow after church.  We need to make some major progress, though, because I have to turn in the keys on Friday.  Yikes!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Absence From His Grave

One of my relatives has been sending me e-mails asking me to send pictures of Dad’s gravestone.  I’ll be happy to oblige, once I actually go visit his grave.  I keep meaning to go but just can’t bring myself to do it.  I’m still very angry with him for so many, many things: the way he treated his children, the way he treated my mother, DEFINITELY some of the things he did and said to my son.  Most of all, I’m angry with him for not going to get the tests he was told repeatedly to get! No fewer than four doctors stressed urgently he needed to get the mass in his neck looked at because it could be cancer.  Did he go? Nope.  He found excuses and blustered and fussed and failed to keep his appointments each time.  I’m also angry at him for leaving a huge mess behind for me and my brother to clean up.  Typical Dad, leave the sh!t for someone else to clean up.  I’m angry about the lies he told everyone, the times he wasn’t there, basically a lifetime of betrayals, in several different forms.  So I haven’t worked myself up to be able to go to his grave yet.  Not because I’m horrendously sad, like I was when Mom died.  More because I know I’ll wind up getting arrested if I start defacing a tombstone in a National Cemetery – even if it does belong to my father.  I’ve learned over the past several months that just because he’s dead doesn’t mean my anger went away.