Thursday, December 31, 2009

Heavy Equipment. How Lovely.

I wasn't going to post anything today, as I run the risk of overcompensating, by posting three times in one week, for the month that I completely ignored the blogosphere altogether. But my windows are vibrating. And I am incredibly annoyed by the vibrating windows. So I share my annoyance.

There is a crane in my neighbor's driveway across the street. Some monstrosity has been under construction over there for a few weeks now, and a few days ago I realized that it was a garage. Never mind that this neighbor already has a three stall garage attached to his house. Apparently, he felt the need to build an annex - an annex that will hold an additional 2-3 cars. And will have a roof that challenges that of the actual house for total height. Hence, the crane.

This is the third such monstrous additional garage to be built on my street in the past few years, and I must tell you that the sight of it makes me throw up in my mouth a little. It isn't enough that, for almost six years, I have been the only person on the street that doesn't drive an SUV or a van of some sort; and even when my car was on its last, sad legs and I had the opportunity to join the exclusive "keep up with the Jones" club that is my neighborhood, I chose an all-wheel-drive sedan. Or that I have watched incredulously from my living room window as each of my neighbors has, in turn, taken their newly acquired "toy cars" out for a drive on a warm, dry day. It wouldn't even matter now if I traded in my trusty car for a beastly SUV - which I will never do, do you hear me? Never! - because in order to keep up now, I would need to actually breed cars. And then I would need to waste tens of thousands of dollars building a second house, that I would pass off as a garage, next to my original house. But then, I guess I would be cool.

Sixth Grader is keenly aware of my disgust, but she totally doesn't get it. To her, this super sizing has become normal. Not that we have participated in it in any way ourselves, but it is all around us and so - to her - it is totally normal. I have plenty to say about how much that disturbs me, and I may even have some solutions up my sleeve...but that will all have to wait until the new year. The crane has folded up and gone now. My windows are no longer vibrating. I'm looking forward to an afternoon of snowtubing with Fourth Grader while simultaneously freezing my keester off, maybe taking some pictures of Sixth Grader and Boyfriend snowboarding, and then a peaceful and warm New Year's Eve celebration at home.

On to your own festivities, blogosphere. Stay safe.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And Now, I Mess With Your Heads

I decided to screw around with my blog template this morning. This is what I came up with. It's fetching, don't you think?

I picked a new blogger template called "jellyfish", mostly because it wasn't called something more boring like "minima" or "rounders". "Jellyfish" is at least interesting-ish. But, okay, I don't love it. It seems very wide to me. And I can't figure out how to make the font on my sidebar titles smaller. Currently, I find them frightening.

I'm certainly open to feedback...but unless you are going to include an offer to customize my blog for me, in a manner that is totally unique to me, at little or no cost, for the most part I'm basically going to keep things looking just like this for a while. Maybe it will grow on me.

That's all I have for today. I thought about bringing up some other stuff, but I don't want to spoil you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pardon Me While I Scream Inside My Head

Well, it's Monday now, and the beginning of the Tornadoes' week long break from school. They have multiplied, of course: presently, there are also two guest tornadoes on the premises. I hear them upstairs, beginning to stir. Any minute now they will be down here rooting through my kitchen in search of things to pour syrup on, sugar loading for the inevitable Dance Off that will surely consume them for most of the day.

So I thought I would just get the screaming done early today, perhaps a little ahead of schedule. That way I can enjoy my second cup of coffee.

I'm "working from home" today. Although I know I professed that it is cooler than it used to be, it's really...just so...painful. Within the next two hours, my eardrums are bound to be split in two. Both of their closets will be completely emptied out, and four tweens will have assembled a series of outfits so garish and crazy and loud that my corneas might actually split in two as well.

I will try to stay dutifully glued to my computer while this is all going on. I will pick at work projects that normally get neglected - things that I can't justify spending time on in my actual office, because I have to actually use that time running my business. I will close the door to this room and I will offer false threats of annihilation to those who dare enter and disturb me from my duties.

But it won't matter. Someone will spill something. There will be fights. I will be begged to judge multiple rounds of the Dance Off. And of course, they will get hungry again, and I will have to forcefully direct them toward the chinese food leftovers and away from opening twenty million new bags or boxes of things in the pantry.

And then there's the cat. Problem Child is unnaturally attached to me, so much so that she insists on always being able to physically touch me when I'm home. Right now she is standing on my leg, but she's spent the better part of the last hour sitting on the desk with one paw heavily on my arm and the other paw lightly on the cap lock button. She makes the task of replying to business emails that much more of an adventure: better check it again before hitting that "send" key, just to be sure she hasn't added some evil feline subtext to the matter.

Some version of this scenario is likely to play itself out every day this week, except for during those precious blocks of time that I get to drop the girls off at the gym for practice and try to think clearly again for a few hours. They really don't want to go to practice this week...but too bad! They could use the change of scenery. Plus, anyway, we're running out of syrup.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After

Christmas is over.

That pretty much sums it up. Depending on your inflection, that brief sentence can be a sentiment of relief or one of melancholy. Either way, the fact remains the same. It's the day after Christmas.

In all honesty, it was a challenging holiday season for me. Not in any kind of catastrophic way...and really, nothing of any special significance happened that would make this Christmas visibly difficult. But still, I struggled. I struggled to make it special, and at the same time I struggled to not make too big of a deal of it. It's a fine line.

I guess, more than anything, the past month has felt very much like an ending. An ending of what, you ask? I don't really know. But the feeling was unmistakable. It could have been the knowledge that this was, most likely, the last year that either of the Tornadoes will believe in Santa Claus - and considering that cynicism measures into the stratosphere in this day and age, I guess I'm lucky that Fourth Grader held on as long as she did. It could also be that Sixth Grader is acting so very much like a teenager already that I am practically a non-entity in her daily thoughts. This is more accurately what it is, actually. The idea of snuggling up in front of a fire together, playing games or reading or just talking, is so boring to her, as is the thought of baking cookies while listening to music, or curling up to watch a movie. I mean, why do any of that when there is so much texting to be done? And iCarly episodes to watch? And do we HAVE to listen to Christmas music? And can I go to my friend's house? WHY NOT?

The three of us have been a unit for a few years now, and it's been bittersweet. Somewhere between the pressure of needing to provide for them by myself and the desire to shelter them from feeling like they were different from their friends - let's face it, we live in a pretty homogeneous little town - I think we created a fair share of special memories of our own, moments that have been unique to our experience. Somewhere in my silly little brain, I got the idea that these would be the defining moments of their lives, and that they would continue to cling to me forever. Somewhere, I forgot to remember that no matter how hard I try, they are going to grow up anyway. And I hate that.

So I tried to be incredibly present with them this season. I was so incredibly present that at times, I think, I went a little Clark Griswold. And much like poor Clark, I'm afraid I didn't always keep much of a sense of humor about the whole thing as I should have. I tried so hard to be present that I forgot to capture the irony by writing about it.

And yeah, I'll say it: I was borderline ready to shut the blog down for good. I was thisclose. Fortunately, for my sanity, I was too busy being "present" to get around to turning on my laptop and following through. Good thing, because how else could I ever tell you about the three hour, $300+ grocery shopping trip I took last week in preparation of a Christmas dinner, only to find that when Christmas rolled around, nobody wanted to bother eating anything? Because you can't eat and text, or play Wii, at the same time, mom. And I wouldn't be able to tell you about the Christmas concert that the Tornadoes spent weeks preparing to perform for the family on Christmas Eve, and about the devastating, gasping, heaving sobs coming from Sixth Grader that morning when she realized she had left her sheet music at school and wouldn't be able to play without it. And how, while she was in the shower bawling her eyes out, I called Band Instructor to ask if we could borrow another copy of her music, and then cut short a planned visit with some friends by about a half hour so we could drive out to Band Instructor's house to get the music, and all Sixth Grader could say to me when I told her I called him was, "Oh. Okay." Not "thank you." Not "You rock so much harder than all the other moms in the world." Oh. Okay.

So today, this day after Christmas, I find myself wanting. Wanting my sense of humor back. I haven't lost it. I just tucked it away for a few weeks. It's probably downstairs in a box, waiting, with the rest of the stuff that I hid away down there to make room for the wreaths and the reindeer bath rugs. I'll probably leave the bath rugs out for a few more days. But I might as well go down there and get my sense of humor. What else am I going to do? Sixth Grader went snowboarding with her friends, and Fourth Grader has a friend over for the day.

Might as well laugh about it...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Kinder, Gentler Failing

Let's not leave anything to assumption: I am decidedly NOT participating in NaBloPoMo. And that should settle that guessing game once and for all.

The list of daily and nightly and everywhere-in-between obligations, that I have been racing around to meet lately is just too long to detail. And probably not that interesting. And detailing them might come off as whiny or attention-seeking anyway, and that is contrary to how I am actually feeling about all of these involvements, which is actually invigorated and satisfied. I can't say that there has ever been another time in my life when I have felt as invigorated and satisfied as I have been feeling these past few months. And if that is not the most boring, gag-inducing sentence I have ever written, then I don't know what is. So let's just skip all the regurgitation and jump ahead to last night's PTO meeting.

Last night's PTO meeting was riddled with all the usual PTO crap - the budget, the volunteer "opportunities", so on and so forth - but the highlight of the agenda was the introduction of the New Report Cards. Apparently, the teachers have been grueling over the development of New Report Cards for quite some time. As they (the report cards, not the teachers) are about to be piloted to the school for the first trimester, they (the teachers, not the report cards) thought that the PTO deserved a little preview.

The mention of the New Report Cards in the newsletter that came home ahead of time was enough to lock me in to attending this meeting. Because, what? New report cards? Why? Doesn't anyone believe in tradition anymore? Besides me? Anyway, I schlepped myself to the school library and sat through thirty minutes of mind-numbing discussion about...I can't even remember... with one eye trained on the library door awaiting Boyfriend, who was coming to pick up the Tornadoes and take them home. Just as the New Report Card presentation began, I saw Boyfriend's silhouette pass by. I know that at this point you think I have meandered far away from my story, but Boyfriend's appearance here is important. Okay, it isn't really. But he did look really handsome and distracted me momentarily from my purpose, which was to find out why yet another American institution was being tinkered with. Anyway. Back to the story.

The thing is, they've done away with the F. Because the F is demoralizing. Let me repeat that. They have taken away the grade that signifies a complete lack of effort, on the part of the student, to produce work that is adequate. Because it's demoralizing. This is what the teachers have been grueling over. To quote one of the presenting teachers: "Our job at this level of education is to create model students, not to judge."

Therefore, failure is hereby abolished. The new grading system involves A, B, C, P, and D. A, B, and C retain their traditional meanings, for the most part, except that C now simply means "working at grade level." And here I thought C meant "try a little harder, kid." P is new. P basically means that your kid is trying really hard, but it's just not happening. And okay, I get it. It makes sense to have a grade like this. IEPs, special education, so on and so forth. I get it. I'm down with the P. But what about the kid who just doesn't care? Who doesn't care and who makes no effort and who turns in sucky work, or no work at all, and is possibly a disruptive presence? This kid gets a D. Because? Anything lower would be demoralizing.

I'm not trying to judge here, I'm really not. But I kinda sorta do expect these teachers to judge. At least I expect them to judge the quality of the work being done in their classrooms. Why is everything for this generation of kids being watered down and turned into a big ol' hug? Why are we ELIMINATING failure? I don't know. Maybe it's me. But I couldn't help but walk away from that meeting feeling flabbergasted. And you know what else? A little demoralized.

Then I came home and actually gave my girls a big ol' hug, because in the scheme of things, that is where I come in. I count myself lucky to have kids who want to achieve and who do not have any additional learning hurdles to overcome. And unless something goes horribly wrong along the way, this new grading system isn't really going to be a direct issue for us. But I just don't get the whole elimination of failure/everyone gets a trophy/"don't worry be happy" attitude that is manifesting with and around the next generation.

Well, guess what? I am all through generating controversy for today.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NaBloPoMo, You Are a Cruel Suitor

Well here we are, back in the fated month of NaBloPoMo. Back where it all began. Two years ago this month, AficioNada was born - and if you don't recall, she was borne of spite: slightly impure, somewhat narcissistic spite, but, admittedly, spite nonetheless. Actually, wouldn't all forms of spite be narcissistic? I mean, otherwise, why bother?

Anyway, two years have passed and I'm still here, blogging. Well, semi-blogging. I'm not so much on the AficioNada upkeep these past few months. And I do find that bothersome, you know. Because truth be told, I've come to enjoy blogging. Not just the writing of one, but the reading of others. I have found and followed an inspiring -and often totally hilarious - list of other people's blogs over the past two years, gleaning the spark and motivation to keep my own writing going. Sadly, though, I find that when I do not come to the keyboard to write my own, I often fail to read others as well. And that is just shameful. I deserve a spanking.

So what do I make of the fact that I still sometimes let entire weeks go by without posting anything? What do I make of the realization that, if you neglect your blog, if you do not write it, they will not come? For one thing, I'm pretty sure at this point I'm talking to myself. For another, while I don't find it AT ALL weird and dorky that I am talking to myself while placing my innermost thoughts on the Internet for anyone walking by to read...see, that's just not a true statement at all, because I actually find it completely weird and dorky. What would help it to feel not so weird and dorky is if, once again, I embraced the whole blogging process and actually did all the things I have come to enjoy about blogging in the first place. Like reading yours and writing mine. And, hey: what better time to begin the embracing than NaBloPoMo?

It would be fairly outrageous of me to make any kind of a statement right now that implies I will actually participate in NaBloPoMo. You know, given my record . But it would be fairly symbolic if I at least gave it a little hug. So that is my goal for the remainder of November: to give NaBloPoMo a little lovin'. Just a small squeeze. We'll see what it leads to.

Life is certainly ripe for the writing right now: We are about to embark upon the new gymnastics meet season. Sixth Grader is serving me up a whole new batch of disturbing "I'm Growing Up Whether You Like It Or Not" material. Fourth Grader is becoming less cheeky and more pre-adolescent-y by the day. All kinds of changes are afoot. Before I sat down tonight to write this post, I thought of them as Reasons I Don't Have Time to Write. But now? They are Things I Will Talk To Myself About (...on the Internet...dorky...) Until I Am Once Again Worthy of Readers.

Let the dorkiness begin. Again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Could Be Worse. I Could Be a Condescending Late Night Talk Show Host.

There's a certain irony that occasionally pops up in the realities people create for themselves, or should I say in the pictures of themselves that they paint with very broad brushes. It's a bit of a stereotype, I suppose: the teacher with the high school dropout son or daughter, or the cop whose kids are always in trouble with the law. I had a doctor once who went to jail for stealing prescription painkillers. My ex-husband was the "son of a preacher man". And now he's my ex-husband, so how's that for an explanation of what it was like to live with him?

As for myself, I work in the world of dollars and cents. That's about as specific as I ever care to get here about what I do for a living, but my point is that I spend many hours a week concentrating my attention on the proper use of one's money. And admittedly, because I have seen a thousand ways to make mistakes with it, I can be a bit of a tightwad personally. I prefer to think of myself as "frugal", or a "saver". But these were not the words of choice used by the aforementioned ex. But anyway.

This is my long-winded way of setting you up for the story of how I spent a good part of my weekend arguing with Sixth Grader about financial decision-making. Sixth Grader wants an iPod Touch in the worst way. And because "Santa" spent many hours last year store-hopping in search of Sixth Grader's current 4th generation iPod in the highly coveted purple hue that she requested, I am insisting that she save up her own money for it.

Where does Sixth Grader get money? From me, of course. But I do make her earn it. She and her sister have a whole list of potential chores and a very workable system that I created last spring just for the purpose of teaching this valuable lesson. To date, Sixth Grader has earned and saved more than half of what she needs to get her upgrade. She's so close. And then the mall gets her. Or, at least, it tries very, very hard to get her. This is why we found ourselves once again in a tangled mess of tears and yelling on Saturday afternoon. I took the girls to the mall for the express purpose of making my twice-a-year pilgrimage for work clothes for myself (yes, I shop for myself twice a year. And that's two more times a year than I did for about a decade.) I felt pretty good about the fact that I was exhibiting the payoff of my financial restraint right in front of their eyes - that I wait for the store I love to have its semi-annual sale, and to send me my 20% off coupon, and then I score BIG - but Sixth Grader didn't see it at all. Because she immediately deserted me.

She came back an hour later, clearly stressed. She had seen about a million things that she couldn't live without. She had her money with her. She bought nothing, because she is saving for her iPod Touch. It was NOT FAIR, she said. I said something very sympathetic, I'm sure, but she started to cry anyway. WHY can't I just give her some money to spend in the mall, just this ONE TIME? Uh, because I already gave you all that money in your little wallet there, sweetie, I said. Go ahead and buy something if you really want it, I said. More crying. She'll NEVER have enough money for an iPod Touch. NEVER. I reminded her of the many ways that she can continue to earn the rest of what she needs as we made our way out of the mall. It took a while, because she dragged herself about ten feet behind me, stopping to stare mournfully into several stores. We eventually made it to the car, where she escalated her grief to a series of bold statements about how unfair and mean I am. Can't I just GIVE her the rest of the money NOW and she'll owe me?

Ha. That's a good one.

After a brief, heated exchange with her, I managed to extract my emotions from the situation and return to parent mode. In parent mode, I counseled her that she did indeed seem to have a problem on her hands, and that she will have to figure out a way to solve it, but that making it my problem is not a viable solution. I then conveyed the parable of the Girl Who Waited for the Semi-Annual Sale to her, seeing as she missed the live performance. And again, we revisited the chore list.

It's the tiniest bit possible that some of this lesson actually sank in with her. Because Sunday afternoon she did about $16 worth of chores, all unprovoked. And she didn't cry once.

My point is, I do worry a little that I might end up with financial train wrecks for grown children someday. Simply because, like I said in the beginning, irony happens. But I try to do what I can to teach now, without being "preachy" or, god forbid, "uncool". And yet, I find myself worrying less and less about the "uncool" part. I still don't want to be preachy. But uncool is starting to look pretty good to me. On many parenting issues, I find myself much more drawn to uncool. Who knew? You spend your whole adolescence and young adulthood trying to be cool, and then, as a parent, uncool is the new cool.

That's what I'm going to tell myself, anyway.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why Don't I Listen To Myself? Why?

Sixth Grader would be horrified if she knew that I was about to write this about her. But too bad. Because the thing is, Sixth Grader has been torturing me these last few weeks, and it is only right that I pay her back by making it public.

Oh, I don't really think that way. Not always. But this time? If for no other reason than to maybe invite a little empathy and support, I am going to tell you about how Sixth Grader has essentially been possessed by some kind of mean, moody, temper tantrum-prone aliens lately, and I'm a little fed up with it.

It started with the new school year. It didn't escape my attention that, over the course of the summer, Sixth Grader did not see a whole lot of her school friends. Such is the curse of the child-with-single-working-mom-and-child-is-still-too-young-to-stay-home-unsupervised. She was subjected to a lot of camp - much more than I wished for her, but that's how it goes. Not that she didn't have friends at camp, because she did. But not school friends. So school started again, and almost immediately, Sixth Grader became a girl obsessed. Obsessed with playdates. Obsessed with sleepovers. Obsessed with any and all kinds and forms of girl get-togethers, quality time with family be damned.

That's fine. Except that along with school starting, so did gymnastics team practice three times a night. And so did flute lessons, and subsequent practice demands from Band Instructor. Oh, and also: Sixth Grade - unlike Fifth Grade - involves homework. So. On top of all of those things, Sixth Grader wished to smush in as much of her social life as she felt she had been deprived of over the summer months. But really, what she wanted was to have her social life take prominence, and then MAYBE smush in some of those other things around IT.

To be honest, I am just so-so at the whole rule-enforcement thing. Call it an inherent desire to compensate for the insane strictness under which I was raised, but I'm just a tad reluctant to go all militant on my kids. But you know? It's just me. And I needed to rein the kid in. For her own good. And also, for my own good, as it was developing into this situation where every spare minute that I wasn't carting her and her sister around to some practice or lesson or fetching food for them, I was instead carting her around to this or that friend's house. ENOUGH. So what did I have to do?

I had to go just the slightest bit militant.

I created a playdate and sleepover "sabbatical." The "sabbatical" was to last one month, beginning several weeks ago. I then let the "sabbatical" slide for what I deemed a special occasion. (The special occasion being that I had made plans to go away with Boyfriend on a Saturday night and Grandma was in charge. Go ask Grandma.) Then, last weekend, I had to reinforce the "sabbatical".

To make a long and painful story slightly shorter, last weekend consisted of 48 hours of complete and total pain - both Sixth Grader's and mine. Fighting, arguing, begging, yelling, grounding, crying, apologizing, more begging, more grounding. For five days I have been carrying her cell phone around in my purse, ticking off the two week penalty until I can give it back to her. Who knew that grounding your child could cause a mother so much anguish? But the sabbatical - that was not intended as punishment. It was intended as a method of putting the brakes on something that was getting out of control. It was meant to return a sense of balance to her life.

And you know, for these past few days she has been much calmer. More polite. More herself. Did she learn something? Or has the hormonal cloud just passed? I don't know. But this afternoon I returned a call to a fellow mother who invited both of my girls to come over after school tomorrow, and I said "Sure." I'm no hard head. I can recognize progress.

This fellow mother just called me back to inform me that she will bring the girls home for me tomorrow. At nine o'clock. At night.

I sense a serious backslide coming....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Nuts

I'm no genius. But once in a while, I know what I'm talking about.

Take "room parent training" for instance. The "training session" was last night in the school library. Here's what I learned: room parents bake.

That's the job I signed up for. Baking. Definitely less than ten words. Oh, but not just random baking. Room parents bake what they are told to bake. Cupcakes for Halloween. Sugar cookies for Christmas. Our baking assignment for Valentine's Day has yet to be determined, but they will let us know. That's it. Baking.

Oh, and no nuts. It's the policy. There's a "no nuts" policy. They showed it to us. It's a very strict policy, actually. When they say "no nuts" they don't just mean resist tossing that handful of toxic peanuts into your cupcakes. They mean read labels, do not use any ingredients that have been prepared in the vicinity of a nut. Forget you even know what a nut is. Nuts do not exist for you. Nuts are not welcome here. Ever.

Do not even get me started.

So, this baking thing? This is going to be like, actual baking. Not from a mix, people. From a bag of flour, with other stuff thrown in. I'm not sure I can handle the pressure of being a room parent. On a positive note, though, there appeared to be some highly probable candidates for blogging about in that library last night. I can only hope for follow-up meetings, and a solid room parent turnout at the Halloween party. Serious potential indeed.

Off to work.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Of Course, There's a Meeting

So congratulate me. I'm a room parent. Whatever that means.

The "room parent coordinator" left me a message the other day that I have been "selected" to be Room Parent for Fourth Grader's class. I was really hoping for Sixth Grader's class, if only so I could have permission to show up in her classroom and bug her on occasion. But this will be fun, too.

Except I really don't have any idea what a Room Parent does.

Not to fear. The "room parent coordinator" informed me that there is a "training meeting" next Monday night for all us newbies. Are you serious, lady? I bet this is the kind of job description that can be summed up in ten words or less. But no, don't worry, I will work this meeting into my schedule somehow. The Tornadoes don't really need to eat dinner after gymnastics.

In other news, I am looking for a cure for this disease I seem to have. I don't know what the diseases's official name is, but the primary symptom is the inability to stop reading a book halfway through, even if it is god-awful. I am right in the middle of an absolute stinker. I have been picking at it for a good month now, having completed two other books in the meantime in an attempt to soften the experience. No matter how long I leave it, when I come still stinks. And yet I press on.

These are the glory days of my life.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Put That Out! (Isn't That What It Stands For??)

I am about to depart for my very first PTO meeting ever. Considering Sixth Grader the sixth grade...well I just never had time before, okay? Gawd, get off my back...

Speaking of Sixth Grader, I am happy to report that she is no longer "going out" with anyone. Even more happily, she did the dumping. So, let's see, the relationship began on Saturday night. Sixth Grader and her friend, A, spent a good portion of Sunday texting the boy - with a bit too generous of a helping of "love you"s in the mix, I might add - and then Monday at school she dumped him. Why? Because, apparently, A revealed that she liked said boy as well, and was a bit miffed about the whole thing. And Sixth Grader just didn't think it was worth it to upset her friend. Everyone together now: awwww. So hopefully that is the end of the eleven-year-old dating scene for the time being.

Other than that, we have spent a whole lot of energy this week just trying to get a handle on the madness that is our routine. The Tornadoes are at gymnastics practice tonight, which is the only reason I am free to see what this whole PTO thing is all about. And then I have to scoop them up, and I suppose I have to feed them something. Holy crap, I forgot I had to feed them something! I better go inventory the kitchen before I leave. Good chance they're having kitten kibble sandwiches...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Time To Move

Last September, I wrote a little post called "The Cheese Stands Alone." I'd link it for you, but apparently I do not know how to do that on an iMac. Why would it be any different than on a PC? Or perhaps I am really that much of a complete computer idiot that I cannot figure out how to do such a simple any case, "The Cheese..."was last year's Old Home Day post. This right here? This is this year's Old Home Day post. Feel free to go hunt down "The Cheese..." for a fun exercise in comparing and contrasting. I'll wait here.

Okay, so yesterday was Old Home Day. Given what an extraordinarily super fun time I had LAST year at Old Home Day, I wasn't much looking forward to it. However, since there was no way I was going to get out of taking the girls, I decided to head my boredom off at the pass and volunteer for something. True, standing at a bake sale table is not my idea of a good time. But at least there were people to talk to.

It turned out to be quite a shrewd move, actually, for two other reasons. First of all, it poured rain all the live long day. This did not slow the crowd at all - considering that a large majority of the crowd was wearing what I can only describe as "farm fashion", it's possible that they do not see coming in from the rain as a necessity of life - but luckily, it did mean that the bake sale was held under a tent. While I was absolutely freezing, at least I was dry. Second of all, manning the table gave me an ideal vantage point to spy on Sixth Grader and her friends, nestled up together at a picnic table and voluntarily arranged in boy-girl-boy-girl formation. Curious.

My shift was for two hours. Other than eyeballing those sixth graders, I spent most of my shift trying against all odds to avoid any contact with the cotton candy machine. I'm sure I came across as pretentious, but listen, nobody told me anything about any cotton candy machine. That crap is blue, people. And I was wearing a brand new white fall shirt. I sold the dickens out of those brownies and cookies - or at least tried to give the appearance that I had something to do with them flying off the table. Then my shift ended, by which time my Tornadoes had been swept away in a gaggle of girls to someone or another's house to dry off and hang out until the dreaded fireworks later that night, which meant that a certain yours truly did not have to go to them. Hello, boyfriend?

Boyfriend was much more sensible this year about the fact that we had a few stolen hours to ourselves. The cheese did not stand alone this year, blogosphere. The cheese was in very fine company.

But wait. The story doesn't end there. It can't end until I tell you the Big News. Remember that whole boy-girl formation I mentioned before? Well, it seems two of said boys-in-formation were vying for the attention of a certain girl. That girl being my daughter. (And no, by the way, these were not the same two boys of "hotter than the sun" infamy. Two other boys.) It also seems that these two boys accompanied the gaggle of girls to the fireworks. Which were ultimately cancelled, due to the fact that it was still raining. But this gave the two boys plenty of time to have a little tussle, so I hear, over my daughter. And the end result of this tussle, I am told, is that Sixth Grader made a selection, and upon coming home made her little sister inform me that she now has a boyfriend. They are "going out". Whatever that means when you are eleven years old and have no financial means or transportation and your parents get to monitor your phone calls and texting activity.

So basically my hair has gone stark white in a matter of two days - and that will be the last time that we attend Old Home Day. Clearly, it is nothing but trouble.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Butter Me

Because I. Am. Toast.

The pilot week of back to school has finally, painfully, come to a close. If it weren't for the part of me that is pathetically - but hopefully not in an overwhelming, annoying way - narcissistic, I would not even be able to summon the energy to recap this week. Much of it is a blur at this point anyway. Then again, I am writing this from the far side of several glasses of Sauvignon that might explain the blur...

What we had here this week was a preview, really. A true back to school week would involve Monday, which, if I take a quick look at my calendar, is actually going to be pretty much the worst of the days as far as buzzing around from one obligation to the next. We were spared the atrocity of Monday this week. But we still had Tuesday through Friday to contend with, which was no picnic.

Gymnastics is back. Oh, is it ever back. This year we have three hour practices times three nights per week. If this week is any indication of how well we are going to handle the practice schedule going forward, then I think I should go ahead and put up a Subway franchise right inside my car. Then, at least, while the Tornadoes are madly scarfing down their dinners in the back seat (because the idea of waiting another eleven minutes until we get home to put food in their mouths after three hours of gymnastics is just plain crazy talk), maybe I can make a few bucks on the other kids. Gymnasts are ravenous creatures, my friends. You'll want to keep a safe distance if you don't show up with food on hand.

Then there's homework. Have I ever told you that I hate homework? I never hated homework when it was actually MY homework, but their homework I can safely say: I hate it. No, Sixth Grader, I do not know the difference between a mean and a median. Well, I MIGHT have that information stored away somewhere, but seriously, I've been working all day, you know. Seriously, Fourth Grader, I cannot spell every three syllable word for you that you want to use in your writing journal. Well, I definitely CAN spell all those words, but I really just want to close up shop here. I love the idea of sitting at the table with the girls and helping them with their assignments, but oh, the reality is so much more taxing. Didn't I already pass all of these grades?

One of the highlights of the week turned out to be an activity I was not at all sure I was going to take to, and that was my first tennis lesson this morning. Yes, I am taking tennis lessons. Yes, I am completely overextended, and yet I have decided to learn from a starting point of ZERO how to play tennis. So there I was this morning, in my silly little tennis skirt, hoping I wouldn't be the only one to show up wearing a tennis skirt and not shorts and also that I wouldn't be the only beginner too reluctant to buy a racket yet and have to, therefore, borrow one from the tennis department. Not only was I the only one in both situations - I was the only one, period. Beginner class: party of me. Sweet! I spent my first lesson learning forehand and backhand, relishing the fact that I was going to basically get private instruction at a group rate, but also wondering, "Am I the only person alive who has never played tennis?"

Now, I have to say, I'm a little sore. And exhausted. And probably should get to bed, because tomorrow I get to work at the PTO bake sale at Old Home Day. And I KNOW you are jealous of that.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things I Will Need For the New School Year: A Bubble and a Shotgun

Yesterday was the second day of school, so naturally I needed to take Fourth Grader to see a doctor.

It seems she made it all of ninety minutes on that first day before making her way to the nurse's office. She loves to go to the nurse's office. Her excuse, on this first journey, was that she had a cough. So the nurse gave her a cough drop and sent her back to class, refraining from calling me to report the visit until the end of the school day. "I'm sure you were expecting to hear from me today," she said, and she was right. I think out of 180 days of school last year, the nurse called me on about 150 of them for one reason or another. The majority of those reasons were comical. Fourth Grader is remarkably germ resistant and rarely gets sick. Can't walk a straight line without smacking her head on something, but remarkably germ resistant.

The Day Two call was a little less jovial. The nurse's concern over Fourth Grader's cough had escalated. She grilled me - in a friendly way - about the length of time I had noticed this cough going on and had neglected to rush her to the ER to be thoroughly sanitized. FINE, I said. I'll take her to see the doctor.

So last night we went to After Hours care to have her looked at. The After Hours care doctor concluded that it was most likely a ragweed allergy. To my comment that the school nurse practically insisted that I drag Fourth Grader in to have this cough checked out, the doctor said "I'm sure she just wanted to confirm that it isn't Swine Flu." I have never met this doctor before in my life, but somehow we managed to then perfectly synchronize the rolling of our eyes.

On the way home from the doctor's office, Fourth Grader exclaimed "Oh shoot!" It had dawned on her that she was supposed to pass a message along to her sister after school and had forgotten to do so.

"It's from (insert sixth grade boy's name here). He wanted me to tell her that she's hotter than the sun."


"Oh?" I said.

"Yeah. And then (insert other sixth grade boy's name here) came over and said she's pretty much the hottest girl in school."


"What's wrong, mama? You seem upset."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And It Begins

So my laptop is still in the shop, and I have no real inkling of when I am going to get it back. I really miss my laptop.

Not that its absence has kept me away from the Internet. No. Much to the chagrin of Sixth Grader, I have spent the past few evenings basically hogging the brand spanking new iMac that I bought for the girls to share a few months ago. Admittedly, I have spent most of my Internet time on Facebook - I know, I know. I go through spurts. A week or two sometimes passes without so much as a glance, and then I become quite regimented about updating my "friends" on my doings. Except that I pay for my indifference, and that cost turns out to be the cumulative indifference of these same friends. Then I get a little cranky about being ignored, which eventually morphs into an attempt to woo my friends' attention back by generously sprinkling comments on their walls. Eventually they pay attention again, and I reach what can be reasonably considered equilibrium, and the whole cycle starts all over again. Just a big circle of feeling inadequate, that Facebook.

Anyway. School started today. The girls managed to get up on time, and get to the bus stop a full five minutes early. More than enough time for them to pose for a few pictures for me. Those eager, shiny faces with their summer-kissed smiles, and bright new first day of school clothes, and clean, bulging backpacks not yet scuffed or lousy with unruly papers and crumbling granola bars hastily half-eaten on the way up the driveway because they didn't get up on time and couldn't manage any actual breakfast. Yep, I got it all on record. Then I sent them off on the bus, rushed into the house to upload their pretty pictures to Facebook - seriously, I am in the throes of the obsession stage right now - and drove to the school for the big First Day Celebration.

First Day Celebration used to mean that the parents got to go into the kids' classrooms and help them settle in, stay for the pledge of allegiance, and then have coffee and donuts in the cafeteria. Now we are not allowed to enter the building. Now we basically gather around the front door of the school while our kids line up behind their new teachers, and we stand there while the principal plays Kool and the Gang on a boom box and announces each teacher's class, prompting them to begin marching into the building with their students looking really not as celebratory as the name would have you believe. Then we are dismissed. That's it. So I drove like a bat out of hell to get to the school in the opposite direction of my job to stand there for five minutes and watch kids walk into a building.

Now that they are home, I am riddled with papers to read and forms to fill out and decisions to make about how much I would like to volunteer this year. I'm thinking I would like to volunteer quite a bit more than I have in the past, so I have some choices to consider. Library assistant? Book Fair? Chaperone? I'm leaning toward Room Parent. Room Parent for Sixth Grader. Oh, she'll love that.

Seems she's also going to have to love homework, because it is, in fact, back in her life this year. According to her teacher's "Hi, I'm new here and I don't know why I chose sixth grade for my first year of teaching, holy crap there is going to be a lot of drama" letter, she can plan on 60 - 72 minutes per night. Per. Freaking. Night.

And Fourth Grader, now in the ranks of the upper grades, gets to enjoy book reports, science projects, the spelling bee, band, student council - um, I think it's time for a nice evening cocktail, don't you? Yes. I gotta go...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pimp My Virus

I've been thinking for a while now that I should dress up this here blog. You know, pick out a jazzy new layout -something snappy and cougarette-ish - that might wake things up around here and inspire me. In fact, I was pretty determined to accomplish this very task over the past few days. Since I was kicking around the house anyway, and spending a disproportionate amount of that time sitting at the computer, bouncing back and forth between "work" activity and "leisure" activity...why not make a selection and give it a whirl?

So I spent some time perusing. There's a lot of very weird choices out there. One or two templates kinda sorta caught my eye, but nothing has really wowed me so far. After several days of looking, I pushed the project aside again to spend some time with the Tornadoes, and with Boyfriend, over the weekend, only to find myself a bit weepy and blue once Boyfriend headed back to his own crib on Sunday night. I needed something to do. So I perused some more.

Right in the middle of my perusal, my computer decided it was time for a nap.

Then it woke up and told me it was infected. Many, many failed reboot attempts later, I had to agree with it.

It was not a good night.

So my laptop is now at the laptop hospital, being tended to by the Geek Squad, who gave me a recovery prognosis of five to seven days. Harumph.

And my blog looks the same as always. Double Harumph.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Farewell, Sweet Summer, We Hardly Knew Ye

My mother is on her away to my house right now, and I have no idea why. It could entirely be a simple parental visit - which I hope it is - but those don't happen very often. Something else usually has to be stirring for her to make the trek out here to the woods on a Saturday morning.

These woods, by the way, are already starting to close in on me. Summer has drawn to a wet, cold end, and it's only four short days now until that yellow bus comes flying down the road at seven in the morning. I think I am supposed to feel sad about this. I guess I do feel a little bit sad about it. I have done my best to cram as much family activity as possible into the summer months and to savor the Tornadoes as they are at this moment in time. I do feel a twinge of something blue about them each starting yet another new grade. All this growing up business I am seeing really does conjure up a mixed bag of emotions. True all of that, yes, and yet the thing that I am feeling the most over the past few days? A bit claustrophobic.

The fact of the matter is that a big, fat, monotonous hamster wheel is looming over my head right now. And I am not ready for it. In a practical sense I guess I am ready, but mentally I'm screaming a little bit in my head. Because once that school bus comes flying by, and the homework starts, and the gymnastics practice schedule kicks off, and the birthday parties start lining up, it's Bye Bye, breezy world with your convenient restaurants and fun things to do and Hello, cluttered house in the woods. Hello, cooking dinner every night. Hello, inflexible routine. Hello, collapsing in the laundry pile at nine o'clock at night. Ugh, I am already exhausted.

So these are the kinds of things rattling around in my head today, as I sit here waiting for my mother to arrive. And I am telling you, blogosphere, because these are things that I cannot tell my mother, or at least if I tell her I cannot expect that she will understand. Because I didn't grow up this way. Did you? My parents were not slaves to my extra curricular life, or my social calendar. And yet every parent that I know is staring down the same barrel of hands-on parenting insanity right now. And every one that I have spoken to this week has made it a point to mention that their own parents did not put themselves through this. Did they start handing out crazy pills in the maternity ward or something? Why do we do this to ourselves?

I forgot to mention that last night I somehow got roped into allowing both of the Tornadoes to have sleepover guests, and that those guests are still here. I think there is a game of hide and seek going on at the moment. That's my guess as to why my closet door has opened and closed about four billion times while I wrote this, anyway. I wonder, if I joined in and volunteered to hide, could I pay them not to seek me?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Well, it IS Wednesday

When I first started this blog, I had hoped to incorporate an occasional book review into the mix. I'm quite bookish, you know.

I'm also quite sporadic with my attention to the blogosphere...but I didn't really have to spell that out for you, did I? I feel like I am forever - and I mean every single time I sit down to actually write something here, and to peruse other people's blogs - trying to renew my commitment to blogging, and writing in general, and even to networking within the blogosphere to maybe possibly draw a few more readers my way. Seriously. I want to write more often. I just so often run out of minutes in the day, until the very tippity tip end of it, at which point I just want my book and a soft pillow. Because I'm bookish. You know?

So I read quite a lot, and I write not nearly enough, and I'll be damned if I can ever figure out a way to even those two facets of my life out while also juggling all the balls that represent the other ninety-five percent of my life. I think that's a pretty accurate number, but I was never very good at math. I was always more...well, I've made my point about that. Anyway, by the time I get around to writing something new, about a bazillion writeable moments have come and gone. And I find myself caught in a kind of mad frenzy, desperate to grab one or two of those moments and hurl them under my fingers onto the keyboard before they disappear from memory, and turn them into something readable. Sometimes it works. But I never get around to those book reviews.

So we're not going to call this next paragraph a "book review" exactly. It's more of a call to action of sorts. The action I am calling you to is reading a book. And the book is The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. If you are a woman, or a writer, or both, go read this book. If you have ever had a friend, or a group of friends, go read it. There are a hundred reasons why you should go read this book. What I'm saying is just pick one, and then go read it.

I'm not skilled at reviewing books, and I fear if I try to summarize the story or explain how exactly it affected me I am going to give it all away and you won't go read it on your own. All I can say is that I have not felt such a powerful sense of renewal to both my passion for writing and to my beloved friends in quite some time. But maybe that's just me. You'll have to see for yourselves. But that's only going to happen if you proceed immediately to your favorite book vendor, buy this book, and READ IT.

And then come back here and tell me what you thought, because I'd like to know if I'm getting overwrought in my advancing years. Plus, I may have written something new. I feel that's a good possibility. Really.

Now go!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Final Countdown

So we are down to the nubs of summer break - 1.5 weeks to go. As I have exhausted all known forms of available summer camp, just a wee bit short of the start of the school year, it looks like I'll be fielding the remainder of their time off personally while I attempt to "work from home".

"Working from home" was conceptually an option with my former employer, but it was kind of a joke. It's actually only a back-up possibility anyway, since I kind of need to be out in civilization in order to really do my job in a way that actually pays the bills. But it's a nice alternative if there's a snow day or someone is sick. Fortunately, my new employer does not require me to also be telepathic about whether tomorrow will bring a snow day or a sick child. Working at home under the former regime meant lugging a laptop and accompanying paraphernalia home the night before (provided I remembered to do that part), and then disconnecting my wireless router, rendering my personal computer useless, so I could plug the work computer directly in, which meant I could only "work" while sitting on my bed next to the modem kept under my nightstand, and you try dealing with cooped up children home from school for the day while parking yourself in bed in front of the slowest running computer ever.

Gee, I guess that really bothered me.

Anyway, my new employer actually realizes that we are in the 21st century, and makes it possible for me to work on my own computer through my own wireless router, and also to freely move about the cabin. See? I just did some work. Oops, where did I go? Just did a little more work. So. Much. Better.

So today the Tornadoes have friends over to play. It's working out swimmingly so far. They all decided to ride bikes up to The Rock - just a big ol' funny-shaped rock where they like to play house, deeming its various nooks and crannies as different rooms - and leaving me with some quiet time for now. I will use this quiet time to contemplate how I will fill the remaining nubs of summer break with them. Hmm.

School shopping? So very done, as evidenced by the bulging backpacks at the front door, full of more supplies than any child could possibly need. We have filled in what clothing gaps there were to fill in. I have repeatedly warned Sixth Grader not to be surprised if her new teacher accidentally calls her "Aeropostale" for the first month of school, since it appears that she will be advertising for them on a daily basis.

Swimming? Sounds like a great idea, but can't do it, due to the fact that Fourth Grader's eyebrow is currently glued shut. There was this birthday party, see, and Fourth Grader had an unfortunate encounter with a cabinet corner, thus splitting her head open directly on the right eyebrow. One not-so-quick Saturday afternoon trip to Urgent Care later, where my charming little girl "fitted out", as she will tell you herself, about the idea of getting a couple of stitches, resulted in the very patient Urgent Care doctor deciding to glue her wound shut instead. But no swimming for at least five days. Splendid.

We may be able to manage an amusement park trip, but I think it's mostly going to be a week at home. So I can maybe, you know. Work. From home. And possibly write a little bit, which I am really missing and wish that I could find the time to do again.

Alas, it appears the young ladies are returning from The Rock. I have promised dogs and burgers today, so I am off to woman the grill.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cell Phones and Saxophones

Yes, yes, I know. I've been back from Virginia for four days, and I'm just posting about it now. Actually? If I were to post about our trip to Virginia, it would read something like this:

It was really. Really. Hot.
We swam a lot.
And slept late every day. The end.

Here's a few more details: The drive, though long, was quite pleasant. Colonial Williamsburg is kind of a tourist trap. There are about a million pancake houses in the state of Virginia, but not a decent cup of coffee in sight. In fact, there didn't appear to be any coffee whatsoever, which might explain why I was able to sleep late every single day. Third Grader is tall enough for rollercoasters but refuses to ride one. ...Yep, that about covers it.

As lovely as vacation was - and, truly, it was lovely - a strange transformation overcame the Tornadoes on the twelve hour drive home. Somewhere around the halfway mark, the conversation turned from "What other snacks are left to eat?" to "When do we go back to school?" And from that point on, they talked incessantly about school. With excitement and vigor, they prattled on about how much they liked their new teachers, how many books they were going to read this year, what they might learn in math, and who they would sit with at lunch. It was like a spaceship came down and swapped out my summer lovin' girls for a couple of school loving pod people.

So my roundabout explanation for why it took me four days to get around to posting is that I have pretty much been in this twilight zone of school preparation since we got back, despite the fact that there are three full weeks of summer break left. We have sorted, straightened, handed down, or discarded our school wardrobes. We have completed all necessary shopping. At this very moment there are two fully loaded backpacks parked by the front door. And just a few hours ago, I caught Third Grader taking math tests on the Internet. For fun.

Two little tasks were left over at the end of the weekend. Third Grader - okay, it's time to suck it up: FOURTH Grader - has her heart set on playing the saxophone in band this year, which means a trip to the music store to establish the dreaded rental agreement. She would like me to not put this off too much longer. I believe she intends to teach herself how to play the damn thing before the first day of school. The other leftover task we completed tonight, for Fifth - okay, then, SIXTH Grader: the girl got a cell phone.

Oh, the controversy. I know. But there are many, many strings attached to this acquisition. Grades. Attitude. Full and spontaneous access to all call logs and text messages, granted without question to me at any time that I choose. The girl is so excited to have her phone, it's unreal.

So that's my story. And now I have to go pry a shiny phone out of a little girl's hands so she can go to sleep.

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's a Tree AND a Flower

By virtue of some miracle, I have made it to Friday night. Some weeks it's a sketchier feat than others. And this week was a killer.

But here I am, and the work week is behind me. Also drawn to a close is Third Grader's latest theatrical adventure - a student rendition of The Secret Garden, in which Third Grader played a groundskeeper, and also took a stab at a few duets. She informed me a few days ago that she had a good chance at performing a solo, as one of her duet partners had developed a strange rash inside her mouth and also on her hand. Hm.

"She told me," Third Grader casually shared, "that if she gets the rash on her foot next, she'll have hand foot and mouth disease. That's not a real thing, right?"

Oh, yes, Third Grader. It's a real thing. It's at least as real as the nasty cough that I heard escaping from the mouth of yet another acting student at pick up that day. And the little girl crying on Monday because her ear hurt? Possibly a real thing as well. Lots of real things floating around that acting camp this week. Tress not happy.

So I told my dear, healthy Third Grader - who is about to embark upon a very long car ride this weekend to enjoy our long awaited family vacation which is already paid for - that she might want to mention to her acting teacher that so-and-so has a little rash thing going on. She might also want to mention, I suggested, that if she, herself, develops a rash, or a cough, or some other nifty little contagious ailment as a result of other parents not being considerate enough to remove their sick children from the program, that her mother is going to FLIP OUT. actual suggestion was much more succinct and brief, but it definitely contained the words FLIP OUT. And she did, in fact, convey my message. And hand mouth and not-yet-foot girl was excused early that day, as well as ear ache girl. Third Grader picked up a new duet partner to replace hand mouth and not-yet-foot girl, so no solo. But also no disease so far. So vacation will carry on.

We are headed to balmy old Virginia on Sunday. Home of the dogwood (hence, the title...) Oh, and the baked ham. And hopefully something resembling summertime weather. I'm really excited to be going away with the girls for a few days, but I'm getting less and less excited about this massive drive on Sunday. My plan is leave before dawn and get a few hours in before they are fully conscious. That is, if I can wake up that early. I hope I can wake up that early. For the love of mileage, that's going to be a long day...

I'm planning to take my laptop with me, in the very longshot chance that I might want to write something while I'm away - but don't hold your breath, blogosphere. I believe I saw the words "dial up access" buried in the fine print of my Expedia hotel confirmation. Doesn't bode well. But one never knows, does one?

Since tomorrow is all about the packing, and since I probably need to cut tomorrow off at about 4 p.m. so I can front-load some sleep - and since that will never actually happen, not with two Tornadoes under foot - I think I best head off to bed now. Ta.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Post-Pig Roast Post

This is likely to be very short and...we'll just go with sweet, but probably more like "curt" or "rushed".

It's Wednesday - a good half a week after the marathon Saturday of attending barbecues, the most significant of which was the ol' Hogfest across the street. I was pretty angsty about the Hogfest. I think I mentioned that the other day. It's been a bit of an uncomfortable situation for me the past few years, as I have had to go without a date, and the atmosphere had been growing decreasingly family-friendly. This was in no way the fault of the hosts, but thanks to the influence of a certain former next door neighbor and his illustrious network of "friends" whom he invited along. To someone else's party, mind you. I'm pretty far out of the neighborhood loop these days - by my own design - but I had no idea what to expect this year, given that said next door neighbor no longer lives here, and I had not a clue in what condition he left his relationships with the other neighbors.

As it turns out, there has been some drama of an undetermined nature, and said former neighbor did not show at Hogfest. Nor did much of his network. Some did, But it appeared that these were the ones with some level of maturity.

And? Boyfriend accompanied me. Bonus!

And? Enhanced family-friendly atmosphere meant that the Tornadoes got to swim in the pool until ten o'clock at night. Double bonus!

So all in all, it was a pleasant weekend. And now we are counting down the days until we leave for our trip to Virginia. I have a bit to say about that, but don't really have the time right now as I desperately need to get Fifth Grader out the door to a flute lesson. If she ever gets out of the bathtub, that is.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Shmummer

This is the weekend that my neighbors across the street hold their annual Hogfest blowout. The fact that it's once again time for this day of neighborly debauchery can only mean one thing: it is, in fact, summertime.

Like many people, I have barely noticed the arrival of summer this year. Could be because it doesn't seem to want to stick around for more than two or three hours at a time, and those are usually midday on a Tuesday when I am getting ready to meet with a client in my office with lots of windows that do not open. Could also be because the days of summertime meaning something distinctly different than springtime, fall, or winter are now the property of a new generation - and that generation's teachers, who actually get time off in the summer and thus do not have to be racked with guilt over the measly five day trip to Virginia that they have planned with their children about a week from now. That would be me racked with guilt.

But back to the Hogfest. It is exactly what it sounds like: a giant pig is roasted on a spit while people, young and old, roam around my neighbor's property and bask in its fragrant demise. It sounds disgusting, and it is, but meanwhile there are bouncy houses and inflatable obstacle courses for the kids and a lovely inground swimming pool for whomever wishes to partake, plus beer and music. I have never been to any other pig roasts besides the one these neighbors hold, but I would guess that it is one of the swankier ones as pig roasts go.

The first few years we lived here, Hogfest was kind of fun. As time has worn on, and as my neighborhood has evolved from tight-knit community of friends to the Road of Tension and Infighting, the fun has worn off. So I am grateful that we have another summer outing to attend this afternoon which will take us out of the neighborhood until the evening, at which time we will make a neighborly appearance of an hour or two, tops, at Hogfest. Just enough to secure the friendly banter at the bus stop come September, not so much that I get sucked into any controversy.

Mainly, attending Hogfest (however briefly) might be the thing to convince my brain that summer is here and, in fact, half over already. Maybe I will actually care. Maybe I will start to get excited about our upcoming road trip. It's not like me to not be excited about a road trip. I mean, eleven plus hours of driving, each way, with two tweens in the backseat, and no one to share the driving? What's not to love? I should be jittery with anticipation! And two days of theme parks? Plus a day and a half of taking in the historical lessons of colonial times? With no adult companion to even out the experience for me? This is sounding more and more like a dream trip, isn't it? I don't know why I'm not more excited. Maybe I'm coming down with something.

Anyway, I can start looking forward to next summer already, as I am about to buy my tickets to BlogHer '10 in NYC. Miss S - who is currently at BlogHer '09 - called me in a super-caffeinated state to fill me in on the locale of next year's conference. And while I am no kind of relevant figure in the blogger universe...New York City? For a whole weekend, AND with Miss S? Oh, I am SO THERE.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Didn't You Get My Email?

It's Saturday afternoon, positively gorgeous and sunny outside, and I am here blogging.

There is something seriously wrong with me.

If it weren't for the fact that I have not written anything here, yet again, in nearly two weeks, then I would SO be outside enjoying the weather. That's not entirely true. For one thing, I'm still in my jammies. My hair still resembles the shape of my pillow, and I'm a little on the cranky side. It's called being a girl. Sometimes? I really, really hate it.

I had a reasonably poor night's sleep last night - a shame, you know, because I could have really used a fabulous one. The girls were, indeed, away at gymnastics camp all of last week. Yesterday was the day they were to be fetched back, which required me to drive the eleven hour round trip to some part of New York that was decidedly NOT New York City, by myself there and (...well, obviously) with the Tornadoes back. I was a little girl-cranky yesterday as well, so it was more like a twelve hour ride when you factor in the stops. I only stopped once on the way there, at a Super Stop & Shop, to eat my packed lunch in the car and then to purchase the Advil that I desperately needed to make it the rest of the way. While I was eating my lunch, I had the honor of witnessing a very nasty exchange between a skunk-haired woman and a small child. They were accompanied by a blonde lady, who could possibly have been the boy's mother, and who chose to ignore the spew of horrible words that Miss Skunk Hair spat at the poor boy in the back seat of the car while she waited for him to get out. She also chose to ignore the fact that the boy eventually exited the car by being yanked by the arm by Miss Skunk Hair. These things did not, however, escape my notice. I spent some time contemplating how I might approach Miss Skunk Hair to tell her how inappropriately she was behaving, and also took note of the license plate number in case, in my pre-Advil-dosed state, I might not state my opinion in quite the tone of warm concern that I practiced and things escalated to a brawl. Unfortunately, the happy family could not be found in the same aisle with the Advil. And since that is the only aisle I ventured down, it was ultimately a non event.

But I digress.

What I really wanted to complain about today was the fact that everyone on this planet, except me apparently, seems to communicate via email, and somehow I am the one who is in the wrong. It's not a very interesting story, actually, but it annoyed me just the same, so here it is. So after arriving at the camp yesterday, after watching the Tornadoes demonstrate some of their insane new skills, I went around with them to say their goodbyes to the coaches. At which point their coach from home reminded us of the "end of season bbq/banquet" on Sunday afternoon. At which point I couldn't help but think "Dear God, does this NEVER END?" but what I said out loud was "What can we bring?"

I got The Look. I got The Look and The Question. "Didn't you get my email?" This question is usually asked with great impatience. It is not okay to say No, I did not. It is not okay to say, you know what, I check my email about once every two weeks, because it requires effort and time that I do not have left over after working all day and trekking two Tornadoes around all of the rest of the time. It is not okay to say Why can't you just freaking TELL me what I need to bring since I'm STANDING RIGHT HERE? It's really not okay to say anything, because email is the thing now, and I am a bad, bad person for not loving it. Also, because I happen to have had a bit of a tense exchange with this exact same coach, via email, just last week, about another matter, and for a moment I wasn't sure if she was referring to some part of that exchange that I had maybe missed, and I don't think the Advil had completely kicked in by then, I found it best to say nothing.

So I finally checked my stupid email today. And it turns out we are to bring 10 hot dogs, 10 burgers, and their associated buns. That's just weird. I might not have wanted to say that out loud either, if I were her. Also, I have missed relaying to Third Grader that a particular friend of hers would like to get together two weeks ago, because I just saw the email from the child's mother today. Phone, people. Phone. The phone is your friend.

Anyway, I will wrap this up by sharing with you the myriad of ways that I amused myself last week while the Tornadoes were away. Let's see: lots of Boyfriend. Several of my favorite new drink, the Green Melon (vodka and melon puree) with Boyfriend; a three hour hike up Mount Monadnock with Boyfriend; the most amazing pedicure ever (alone) and a visit with my newly-single-again friend, D. And let's not forget work. Because I couldn't forget it, so neither can you.

That's all over with now. For the next few weeks, life is probably going to be mostly about work. Maybe something interesting will show up in my email in the meantime that I could share with you. Except I won't know it's there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm Just Not That Into Me

Hello, blogosphere. Believe it or not, here I am.

I'm having a hell of a time getting this blog back into action on a regular basis, but I've at least figured out the reason. The reason is that I am possibly the most boring human being on the planet. Seriously. I can prove it.

Let's take a look at Exhibit A: The routine. My day-to-day life over the past few weeks has fallen into a fairly predictable routine. Who am I kidding? I meant to say over the past few months. Let's call it a year. But the past few weeks are a pretty good example. Here's what it looks like:

  • Up at 5 a.m.-ish to run/work out
  • Wake up Tornadoes around 6:00. Enter the hellish vortex of getting them packed up and out the door to school. Or, right now, camp.
  • Go to work. Work.
  • Leave work 5 p.m.-ish. Collect Tornadoes. Enter the hellish vortex of getting them fed/bathed/whatever the hell else happens to be on the agenda of things-that-must-be-done before tomorrow, plus maybe fold a little laundry and wash a few dishes.
  • Go to bed. Alone. Sleep.

zzzzzz...oh, I forgot to mention that occasionally I am too tired to wake up at 5 a.m.-ish, so I skip the run and sleep until 6. This is called "variety". I try not to do it too often because I at least have the wherewithal to not want the running/working out to become the "variety" part of the equation. If I'm going to be the most boring human being on the planet, I'm at least going to be in shape.

I've left out all of the "fillers" that you already know about - the gymnastics practices, softball practices, meets, games, school functions - because they are all on a bit of a hiatus at the moment, this being summertime. It's kind of a shame. Because without them, frankly, I have no life to speak of.

Which brings me to Exhibit B, further proof that I am completely boring: I am jealous of my children, who get to go to camp every day and do super fun stuff. I actually feel pangs of jealousy. First, let's consider Third Grader. Third Grader is all about the acting this summer. She is currently in the middle of a two-week session at a local theater, and her performance is Thursday night. She spends our drives to and from camp practicing her lines and songs and working on her accent (it's a Western this session), and it thrills me. I want to go to theater camp! Then there's Fifth Grader, who is currently attending Adventure Camp. Yesterday she went hiking, today she went kayaking, and tomorrow she's going mountain biking. She spends our rides to camp in a state of happy anticipation and our rides home in a state of happy exhaustion. I want to go to Adventure Camp!

And while they are at camp, I am at work. Working. Don't get me wrong: I'm still loving the new workplace. (How much longer do I get to call it "the new workplace", do you think?) It's challenging and rewarding in many ways - so much so that I am currently in the middle of three different books, and two of them are work-related. And I don't mind that, because I love what I do and want to get even better at it. But I'm not much of a "one thing at a time" gal. Work is lovely, and it's nice to be able to pay for all these super fun camps. But Mama needs a little stimulation. A little fun. A little spice.

So here's the thing. Next week, the Tornadoes are going to the Camp of Camps: a week long, super-turbo gymnastics camp several hours away from home. They're pumped; I'm freaking out a little bit. Without my vicarious lives to live, I will have to find some other ways to amuse myself, and possibly not completely torment Boyfriend in the process with my Tornado-missing whininess. I am open to suggestions.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Silence Is Deafening

I got this letter in the mail a few weeks ago informing me that I shouldn't use my oven anymore. Apparently, there have been seventy-two incidents of ovens just like mine catching on fire from overheating wires. I generally get around to opening my mail once dinner is cooking. this letter made for a rather tense waiting game while the steak tips finished broiling. Of course, I could have taken the steak tips out and thrown them on the grill, but I didn't. I let the potentially combustible oven finish its job and then we ate our dinner uneventfully, like always. No fire.

It took me another several days to get around to calling the 800 number on the letter to schedule my "free repair service", but I did eventually call. And today is the day they are coming. Sometime today. Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. So I'm sitting here. Waiting.

"Free" is a relative term, you know. They may not charge me actual money to come out here into the middle of nowhere and fix my defective oven, but they are holding me captive. Can't go to work. Don't have access to work from home yet. No point in getting dressed for work yet, because I could be the last call of the day. Can't lay around in my pj's all day, either, because they might miraculously show up on the early side of that time window, and then I would be released back to my regularly scheduled life.

The girls are at school, so there's nobody here to scold or feed or drive places. Everyone else I know is at work already. House is pretty clean already, thanks to the genius of the "extra allowance" chore list I created for the Tornadoes last weekend. I know, it's highly controversial to pay your children to help around the house. They should do their share, blah blah know what? I don't want to do all the laundry myself, and they want to make a little money. It's a win win.

So there's not much to do while I wait but sit here and drink coffee, look at celebrity mug shots online, and get in touch with my inner hypochondriac. I have developed this little swollen gland under my chin. It doesn't exactly hurt, but I'm super aware of it. Probably because I have touched it about once every ninety seconds since Wednesday night when I first noticed it. I have already checked my symptoms on the Internet - I have only one symptom, this freaky little swollen gland - and it appears I may either have an infection of some sort, or the mumps, or something totally disastrous and unmentionable. Of course, my inner hypochondriac has focused exclusively on that last possibility. I am only an occasional hypochondriac, thank heavens. And while I know the sensible thing to do here is to just give my doctor a call and run it by him, I already know he's going to want me to come in. And I CAN'T come in. I'm waiting for my free service call.

Now, to distract myself from the vision of starring in my own medical emergency, I'm going to go read up on a little Hollywood gossip. And maybe call my doctor.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Softball and Big Girl Bikes

Since I last appeared in the blogosphere, that's pretty much the sum total of what has captured my attention. Whether I liked it or not.

We'll start with softball. I might be in love with softball. Well, love's a bit strong a term...but compared to listening to the same floor routine music seventy-two consecutive times, when it is applicable to your own child's efforts exactly once, softball is pretty much orgasmic. Don't get me wrong: a competition is a competition, and watching gymnastics meets definitely has its moments of intensity. But those moments typically consist of hoping you are not about to watch your daughter fall on her head and become paralyzed and then have to live with the guilt of allowing her to perform completely unnatural maneuvers off of a six inch wide beam set off the ground at the height of her tiny shoulders. In gymnastics, you cheer while you fear. And you pretty much don't really give a crap about watching anybody else's kid as this would merely take up energy you might need to help lift your daughter's stretcher into the ambulance. (Oh, I'm just kidding. I watch those other kids. AND I care.) (That is, unless your kid is up before mine, in which case I'm too busy internally hyperventilating to pay attention.)

Softball, on the other hand, is just a blast all the way around. Every batter, every pitcher, every play, every call by the umpire, it's all cause for rowdiness. (Although we, the parents, have been warned about rowdiness toward the umpire. Apparently, we're supposed to set an example.) It helps that Third Grader is on a successful team this year, with a coach who lives and breathes the game and a bunch of girls who really want to win AND have fun. And it's outdoors. And there's french fries. That's not really a good thing, but I'm enjoying them all the same. And I never, never fear that Third Grader is about to become paralyzed.

Which brings me to the next major attention sucker of the past week: the girls got new bikes. It was so, so overdue. It's embarrassing how overdue it was. Somehow I have allowed my daughters to continue riding their same Toys R Us-issue bicycles - Third Grader on the one that they both learned to ride on, Fifth Grader's barely a notch bigger than that - with the seats hoisted as high as they would go and the pedals practically falling off. I am truly ashamed. The worst part of it is that neither of them has ever said a word to me about it. It didn't really register with me as to how absurd the bike situation had become until I saw them coasting down the driveway earlier this spring and thought to myself, "Where did they get those little clown bikes?" It REALLY registered with me as I watched them tool around the parking lot at the bike shop, trying out appropriately-sized bicycles with multiple speeds and gears. "Holy crap, I suck" was about all I could think. So, many hundreds of dollars later, we brought home their beautiful new bicycles. And every night since we've gotten them, they both get giddy when we pull into the garage. They immediately have to take their bikes outside, even if it's for five minutes in drizzling rain, and then they are at peace.

It's now possible that there's a bicycle in my own future. I haven't been on one since junior high. People say picking anything back up is "like riding a bike"...does that apply to actually riding a bike, you think?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The School Year: An Assessment

So it's June now - the time of year when school winds down, wraps up, and then goes away for a few short months - and I am officially shoulder deep in the process of organizing the summer for the Tornadoes. Organizing the summer pretty much consists of signing them up for camp. Camp after camp after camp after camp.

At this point, I have things pretty well lined up for them. I've left a few weeks open in case they actually want to loll about with me, at least a little bit. Now that I have that beastly project under control, with just four weeks of school remaining (three really, since the last week is basically a wash), I can turn my attention to other matters. Other matters like considering just how well this waning school year has served us all. Was it successful? Did we learn what we needed to learn?

My overall evaluation of the year can be summed up in one word: Unimpressive. Not a stellar experience at all. The Tornadoes, personally and individually, can consider their careers as Third and Fifth Graders a rousing success. Really, best efforts made and noted by all...given what they had to work with, which was a real disappointment. It's like someone let all the air out of the whole faculty this year. The whole "no homework in the fifth grade" thing that I thought was such a sweet deal at first? What a freaking crappy idea that turned out to be. Do you know what happens when you tell a fifth grade girl that she is essentially not ever going to have homework, and then, on a rare occasion, you send her home with a math paper to complete? Fits of tears, people. Throwing of own bodies onto the floor. Not pretty, especially when actually doing the math paper ends up taking about six minutes. I'm not sure what the logic was behind this - if it was supposed to allow the kids to free their minds after school, or perhaps the teachers just didn't feel like grading homework this year - but it's a really, really bad idea.

And really, everything else that has bummed me out about the year can be traced back to one change, which was the replacement of the school librarian. Yep. The librarian. Forget the fact that we had a new principal this year. Please. This is the third principal in five years. It's the school where principals go right before they retire and open their own handyman businesses. The glue, the force behind the whole operation, was the librarian, people. She did EVERYTHING. And she left this year because, why? Because, I believe, they pushed her just a little too far. Because on top of running the sixth grade culture fair, on top of running Invention Convention, on top of directing the chorus, on top of leading reading enrichment, on top of keeping all of the parents actually informed on a weekly basis about what the *&(!@! was going on down at that school, and, oh yeah, also being the librarian, they wanted her to take on even more, and I'm just guessing here, probably without any appropriate and highly deserved pay increase.

And so what were we left with when she left us? An Invention Convention where my own Third Grader made the most fantastic invention ever (really, it was the marketing) and it didn't matter, because the whole thing was "unofficial" and "just for the experience"; a chorus that does a bang-up job of standing in a line and holding black folders, but failed to memorize their songs and, oh, to SING SO YOU COULD HEAR THEM. I'm pretty sure the whole Culture Fair thing didn't even happen - but I don't actually know, because without the librarian, there's no weekly newsletter, and without a weekly newsletter I have no *^%#$! clue what's going on. Which is why Fifth Grader missed out on the babysitting course. And also why Third Grader ended up spending five winter afternoons learning how to knit when she could have been learning how to snowboard, because nobody bothered to tell the parents that all the other sporting alternatives to snowboarding had been taken away this year in favor of things like compass reading and knitting. The good news: she now knits like a pro. The bad news: not planning on taking any family knitting vacations anytime soon.

I can see that I've gotten a little worked up. Sorry. It's just, you know, I am basically living in this itsy bitsy, commerce free, hole-in-the-woods town for one reason and one reason only, that being the historically exceptional quality of the hole-in-the-woods elementary school. You take that away from me and I'm just living unreasonably far away from a decent cup of coffee for no reason at all. Things need to improve. Pronto.

You know, all of this thinking about the quality of the school system got me thinking about something else. Once upon a time, I was twenty something, and kid less, and - I remember this part distinctly - exactly the kind of girl who rolled her eyes and left the room when she found herself listening to young mothers fervently discussing the quality of school systems. So, yeah. Sorry about the eye rolling.

And rock on, librarians!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

And The Band Played On

We have just returned home from Fifth Grader's Springtime Musical Spectacular. And it did not disappoint.

When I say that it did not disappoint, I don't mean that it was a night of awe-inspiring performances. What we had on our hands tonight was a riot of first- and second- year pupils of various musical instruments, with a mostly unvarying lack of control over said instruments. We had our standard program of secular musical selections that I have never heard of before - with goofy (and, I suspect, made up) song titles, like "Tyrannosaurus Rocks" - but which, if you close your eyes and strain your ears and maybe stand on just your left foot with your head upside down, sound a little like other, more familiar musical numbers, but off key and with irregular tempos. In other words, we had your standard public-school-music-program-quality spring concert.

What we did not have on tonight's program was a slew of pained adolescent grade-specific singing. The grade-specific singing is always the absolute worst part of these concerts, because...well, just think back to your own grade school music class days. Did you ever actually enjoy singing "Eating Goober Peas" on a stage in front of all of your classmates' parents? You did? I went to private school and we didn't even have a music program, so I'm not speaking from first-hand experience or anything. But I do remember attending a friend's concert, somewhere around the fourth grade, at her public school where I sat with her parents and listened to her class sing...well, "Eating Goober Peas". I don't so much remember it, actually, as bear the mental scar of the experience. So, kids singing on command and actually enjoying it - not so much.

As I said, we skipped that part tonight. The principal made an executive decision to showcase only the instrumental programs and the chorus this time based on the kids' total lack of enthusiasm for even opening their mouths and pretending to sing at the holiday concert a few months back. This was probably intended to teach a lesson to someone, and it did: skipping the part where the kids are supposed to sing, but really don't, takes about forty-five minutes off the program. Lesson learned.

A second lesson is that apparently, when you tell Band Instructor (oh, Band Instructor) that you have eliminated an entire swath of wasted time from the lineup, he takes this as his cue to throw in a few extra numbers for the band. You know what? That's fine with me. Let the man indulge. Are those new glasses he's wearing? He's doing a wonderful job.

If you need a third lesson, here it is. If you take your eyes of the entire fifth grade class for four months, when you next see them all together again? They look like ninth graders. Woah. There's a whole lot of growing up going on around here. Not so sure I like that.

Oh, it wasn't really all that bad. The band kids are actually all pretty enthusiastic and eager to please Band Instructor. I think even Fifth Grader has practiced more than usual lately in preparation for tonight. And the chorus? I could almost hear them! They might have sounded pretty good, to be honest. And they did a great job of holding those black folders. Maybe the song where they had to snap and clap, while holding their black folders, wasn't completely thought out. But hey. Lessons for next time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pathetic. Beyond Pathetic. What Comes After Beyond Pathetic?

I'm going to write this post under the assumption that I have let far, far too much time pass since the last one, and that nobody at all is even bothering to check my blog's vital signs anymore, because why bother? Just to come up empty again? Just to discover that the disappointing void of information on the life and times of moi, Fifth Grader, and Third Grader just continues on into the nothingness, with no signal that I might ever say another word about any of it, ever?

I don't blame you, blogosphere, if you have given up on me. Not one bit. I hope that you haven't, but hey. What can be done?

The truth of the matter is that plenty of stuff has happened over the past few weeks - would you like a summary? Let's see, there was Third Grader's acting performance at the end of April vacation. Certainly blogworthy. There's the whole past month of softball practices, softball games, and all things generally softball-related that have made available a whole array of possible posts. There was our three and a half hour drive to Lake George, New York a few weekends back for Gymnastics Regional Championships, plus ensuing hotel experiences in the company of an entire gymnastics team and its doting parents, plus the three and a half hour drive home at the end of the whole debacle. (The hour I spent poolside in deep conversation with Jane Fonda Wannabe herself would have been tasty material. Indeed.)

There was the day that Fifth Grader and her female classmates had to watch "The Movie". You know the one. Oh, and Mother's Day. Mother's Day would have been a great post. And then there's Miami. Yeah, I just got back from Miami. Yesterday, actually. Miami over Memorial Day weekend is a week's worth of posts, easy...and will I write extensively about Miami over Memorial Day weekend? Will I take the time to paint a detailed picture of a loving couple, trying to get away from it all for a few days in a sunny location, finding themselves unsuspectingly stuck in the middle of the annual South Beach Hip Hop Festival? Are you curious about how that went? Because I have stories...oh yes, I do. But will I tell them to you?

Honestly, I'm going to say I probably won't. Because let's face it: I spent seven months enthralling you with my parental observations during gymnastics meet season and then completely BLEW OFF the chance to post about Regionals.

All I can say is: if you happen to see my mojo lying around somewhere, please let me know. 'Cause I'd really, really like it back.

Miami is, of course, still fresh in my mind. It could happen. But it ain't happening tonight. This is all I can muster tonight - this laundry list of prime material that I have allowed to lay, wasted and unused, at my fingertips - before I bid you good night, blogosphere, so I can chase those girls into bed.

Monday, April 27, 2009

If I'm Posting, It Must Be Monday

I don't know what it is right now, but the only day of the week that I seem to have the mental capacity to write is Mondays. Probably has something to do with my deep, internal struggle to balance my business career self, as it returns to the office, with my artistically longing self, which seems to be getting completely lost in the shuffle.

Either that, or I'm getting enough sleep on the weekends and thus can form coherent thoughts again.

I don't know that I really did get all that much sleep this weekend, actually. But I had a damn good time. It was freakishly hot out. Fifth Grader accepted back-to-back birthday party invites on Saturday, leaving Third Grader and I to devise a plan of activity for ourselves. So mini golf it was! There's not much in the entertainment world that can compare to whacking golf balls through shrunken covered bridges and teeny, tiny barns while the scorching sun beats down on your ever-so-pale arms and neck. I got myself a most interesting looking patchy sunburn, and Third Grader's freckles joyfully resurfaced after a long winter hibernation. Love those freckles. On her. My own popped back up as well, but they are decidedly less cute now then they were at nine years old.

Anyway, once we wrapped up the back nine we headed indoors to the arcade for a bit. This is the part where my elfin little girl thought she would show me a thing or two. "Mama, how about this game?" she innocently asked as she sidled up to Dance Dance Revolution. I confess I tried to squirm my way out of her challenge, not really wanting to totally humiliate myself in front of whomever happened to be around. But she would have NONE of that. So? I whooped her little butt instead. That's right, little lady! Mama still knows where it's at! Mama's got some moves! Mama...totally lost Third Grader's interest when I didn't let her win.

After shuttling Fifth Grader from party #1 to party #2, we still weren't quite ready to cash it in, so we capped our Saturday with a little girl time. Pedicures, manicures, a little shopping, a little TGIFridays. We're a couple of wild ones, aren't we? Out on the town on a Saturday night until 9:30! Woo!

Sunday, also a scorcher, involved fetching Fifth Grader, taking Third Grader to softball practice, and watching Boyfriend paint my garage. Definitely not my idea of how to have a good time on a hot Sunday, that whole garage painting thing. And yet, words cannot describe the look of pride in his eyes at the sight of his completed project: a clean, clutter free, whitewalled garage with a painted floor. I'm positive that I did not sufficiently gush over his handiwork, and for that I must compensate. He also fixed my broken garage door, which did make me feel all gushy because I hate large broken things that I have no hope of fixing on my own. Plus I got a little excited this morning when I saw the painted garage with fresh, next day eyes. So I definitely owe Boyfriend some gushing.

Here we are now, back at Monday again. It's vacation week for the Tornadoes. Third Grader is perched on my bed at the moment, script in hand, trying to memorize her lines for this week's acting camp production. Fifth Grader just darted in to inform me she is going to practice her flute until DWTS starts. I think someone forgot to tell them they're on vacation. Personally, I would love to skip DWTS and go to bed. This is not likely to be allowed, so I will end here for now and go reserve my corner of the couch.