Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy 2008!

I'm totally losing steam, but what a great end to a great year. The family is gone (bad New England weather has forced an early retreat!), the house is fairly quiet (other than Dick Clark and the wii) and I'm ready to head off to bed.... but I know that's not happening anytime soon! I am heading up to my bedroom, where the girls are watching TV and getting ready to write out some New Year's Resolutions. I think they are thinking it's more of a wish list - and I think it's OK to dream a little!

Em ran out of the room screaming something about going to Africa this year and Kt definitely had stars in her eyes. I was leaning more towards suggesting they add something on their list about keeping their rooms clean, not missing the bus, actually landing dirty clothes IN the hamper... you know, stuff that would help me immensely! Instead, I have two girls who constantly are thinking outside of the house. I guess I should be thankful that their 2007 has opened up a whole new world for them - and it's exciting.

I'm not so big on New Year's Resolutions. I do love to dream, though. Here are my dreams for 2008:

1. Go on a cruise. (Did I mention "dream" here at all?)
2. Go somewhere tropical. (More dreaming=))
3. Make it to the gym at least 2 times a week, walk once a week in my neighborhood.
4. Be more consistent about quiet times.
5. Simplify even more - I'm just too over committed to things outside my home, need to be more committed to making a home.
6. Use my spa gift certificate T gave me last year for my birthday (which is in February)!
7. Go to Hungary this summer - make more solid CA connections there.
8. Be more prayerful.
9. Be a better friend to others.
10. Be a better wife.
11. Be a better mom.
12. Love my family unconditionally.

OK - so I'm reaching, dreaming, but I think some of these things can be done. I'd put grad school on there, but I have a feeling that's out for now. I really want to do that eventually, I just can't seem to make a solid decision on it.

13. Learn how to be more decisive.

P.S. I love you: I saw this movie yesterday. I loved it. I don't want to ruin the movie, but at one point in the movie the main character is reminded of the way she used to dream about what she would do with her life. I think that sometimes we become stagnant in our lives, forget how we used to think when we were so idealistic about life itself. Idealism might not be realistic, but it creates dreams in us that often can realistically be turned into reality. Sometimes we just need a good plan.

14. Come up with a good plan for my life. (Of course, God's got one of those for me.... need to give myself some freedom to explore what that is!)

I hope you all have a safe, healthy and happy New Year. Now that my blog is back to it's normal 2 visitors a day (LOL) I can start posting againg so I don't fall off the face of the blogdom! It was a nice break to have my blog seeing hundreds of visitors a day (12,500 in November and December alone!) without barely typing a word. Now I'm a lazy blogger!

15. Be more consistent about blogging. ;-)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Day Tragedy

My sister-in-law received some extremely sad news yesterday so we've been spending the past couple of days following a story unfolding in Florida. She was partly raised by a daycare provider who had a daughter her age. Apparently, this daycare provider and her husband were killed in an "accident" in Florida on Christmas day. The woman's parents were also in the car. The stepfather, driver, will likely survive, but his wife is in a coma.

Upon first reading about the "accident" a conclusion could be drawn that the man who rear-ended them going 70 miles an hour in a pick-up truck while they sat waiting for a red light must have been drunk. I mean, why else would anyone do something like that at a major intersection. Not only did he rearend the Tahoe, but after it spun around out in the middle of the intersection he hit it again! Accident?? Unlikely.

Today, these details were released about the man who caused this "accident":

Just a month ago, Belniak, 34, completed probation following a 17-month prison stint for a drug conviction. In 2003, he was pulled over in New Port Richey on a suspicion of drunken driving, and authorities found a gallon of GHB, known as the date-rape drug, in his Mustang. He pleaded no contest to trafficking the drug and was sentenced to two years in prison and a two-year suspension of his driver's license.

In 2002, he was arrested in Hernando County on a charge of DUI. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving, a misdemeanor, and paid a fine.

In addition he has numerous speeding tickets on his record: 75 mph in a 45 mph zone in 1990; 56 mph in a 30 mph zone in 1994; 91 mph in a 45 mph zone in 1995. His most recent ticket was in September.

In 1994, he struck a pedestrian on U.S. 19 near Fivay Road. The woman died but Belniak was not charged.


The clincher? It appears this man was driving with a valid license. I sure hope this is a major embarrassment for the state of Florida! I am completely dumbfounded that this man was driving legally after everything I've read above. If you ask me, this looks like homicide to me!

I ask today for your prayers for this family in Connecticut. The couple has three grown children who had to receive this news on Christmas day.

UPDATE: My sister-in-law just informed me that they shut off the life support for the grandmother, whose brain had swelled and apparently separated, left from right hemisphere. She has also passed. Please, again, remember this family in your prayers, and pray for justice for them.



Monday, December 24, 2007

An Ecclectic Birthday

I'll admit it, I love to brag about my kids! Who doesn't?? The truth is, though, that Kt just completely amazes me. Even if she weren't my own kid, she'd amaze me.

Yesterday she turned 10, and as part of a birthday gift to her I stayed away as much as I could from my computer. Thus my late entry for her birthday. We didn't do a party with friends, just a steak lunch with her best friend, presents cake and playing with all her new "toys". So, what does one get a 10 year old fashionista geek? Here's what she got (seriously!):

~ a skateboard from "Mom" (my mother) - this was the only thing she wanted
~ a LeapFrog Fly Fusion pen - she's been asking for this for a year
~ an electronic snap kit (from Uncle Doug)
~ a cute purse and bag from her best friend

She spent half of last night watching Fly fusion tutorials, too wet for the skateboard. Then she watched Hairspray with her friend. She spent a good part of the evening building things with her snap kit - with Uncle Doug's help. This morning, she got up and built a very loud radio, then on her own added a volume switch and is now feverishly trying to add a light. After her father just told her she couldn't do it, she did. She's now explaining resistors, jumper cables and ....???? to me.

What I really love about my daughter is that she is a jack of all trades, and a people person. She's a thinker, she's compassionate, she wants to save the world, especially children and she's got the brain to do it. It's a scary thought that your children are smarter and more able than you, but that's exactly how I feel about her. This year in particular, I've never had so many people tell me so many amazing things about her, mostly her teachers at school. Is it even possible for a child to be all that?

I am so thankful that God gifted us with her. Her impact on the world will be purposeful, original, fulfilling and amazing. I have no idea what it will be, but I'm so excited to find out - and scared! I know in my heart that God created her for a reason and that she's His. That he's entrusted her to us is completely overwhelming sometimes, but we're enjoying her, loving her and giving her some space to become.

Ten short years, and to think in another ten we might be close to setting her loose. I'm just not ready!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas has Begun!!

I love that Christmas vacation is long this year, but we are ready now!! All except for the fact that my sister, who is traveling up here today, is not having a very good trip. Their daughter just threw up in the car.... the jury is still out on them!!

Today began with my brother, T and Em heading out to Home Depot in search of a "screen" for the projector he brought. They brought home a huge sheet of something, rigged it up in the basement and hooked up the XBox and have been playing games all afternoon in our cold, unfinished basement.

I asked T a couple hours ago how it was and he mentioned it would be nice to have a couch. Miraculously, I found a free Pottery Barn couch on Craigslist that was still available, so T and my sister-in-law went to pick it up. It took a bit of manipulating to get into the basement, but they are now downstairs on a comfy couch (that is in really good shape, I might add) playing. I don't think we'll see them until the wii makes it's debut, and then they'll be back down there!

I have a cake to make for tomorrow - Kt's 10th birthday. It was 10 years ago that I was in the hospital going through labor.... long and drawn out labor. In fact, it was induced and started last night! and she wasn't born until early the morning of the 23rd. So, sometime in the middle of tonight is her 10 yr. mark. I can't believe I will have a 10 year old. 10. Even saying that it still doesn't really sink in. How can I be that old?

Once we do all our birthday fun tomorrow, Christmas can begin in earnest.... it's the most wonderful time of the year. I really do love it, and it's fun to be home for once, even though I also love traveling for Christmas. I just hope we can all be together!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Sign

This is either a sign of someone who has spent too much time in a public school or too much time working retail or in a public building.

I'm doing my laundry, which is located in our mudroom - where we come into the house from the garage. Just inside the door to the family, I have three laundry baskets arranged for easy sorting and this thought pops into my head:

"Is this a fire hazard?"

Enough said. I left them until I was done, then created an appropriate path in the event of a fire or the possibility that the fire marshall will pay an unexpected visit to my house, which I've never even heard of before!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Makin' a List, Checkin' it Twice, (Thrice and even four times....)


OK, so it's not a list of what I want, it's a list of what I have to do....

Clean up girl's rooms CHECK
Christmas letters - signed, sealed, delivered (sort of) CHECK
Make fudge - CHECK
make dinner - CHECK (Kt made tuna for us!)
make Hershey kiss cookies CHECK (Kt and Em)
make Cherry Chocolate Chip cookies
make brownies CHECK - (Kt is making these - she's such a big help!)
make meatballs CHECK (I'm off the hook, so I don't even need to do this at all - Yay!)
make Cranberry Orange bread (SCRATCH)
go to bed CHECK
put together platters - for T's work and school CHECK
Set up for teacher cookie break CHECK
FINISH CHRISTMAS SHOPPING - CHECK!!!
clean the rest of my house (this could take weeks!)
put together gifts for people at school
go to bed
go to work
go to bed
deliver Christmas gifts
get house ready for onslaught of relatives =)
get ready for Kt's birthday (Sunday!)
get ready for Christmas!!!!!!!!!

OK, so I have a way long way to go! I'm just happy I got the fudge made, even if it is the easiest thing on my list! ;-)

Merry Christmassing!

(Em has joined in the fun. Is it just me, or is my new phone not such as great a camera as my old one!?)

I also just received my last Christmas delivery, so I'm done (at least until I remember the one gift I forgot!)!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stationary Scam

OK - the Christmas letter is printed, folded, stuffed and ready for labels. We really do love each of you, but when you send out 70 letters and have a million other things to do, it's just impossible to write something to everyone. Maybe I'll do that next year!

I just have one big complaint - and it's about stationary. I picked out the stationary I wanted and picked up paper, envelopes and labels - ALL MATCHING. You would think that would mean the stationary company would print them in MATCHING quantities. NOPE! Instead, I bought 2 packs of 35 sheets of paper, 1 pack of 50 envelopes (I was not buying another 50 - sorry if yours doesn't match!) and 80 labels. Now, I ask you, does that make sense? Or are you thinking what I'm thinking, that stationary companies need to hire people who know at least grade school level math skills!

Elfed

OK, OK!!! I gave in, I elfed us. I'm fully aware that our faces are not on the correct bodies. I entered them in order but they just plopped our heads wherever they chose - totally random order I guess! Anyway, enjoy!

http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=1509960512

Desperately Seeking Tropical!

It is so cold and windy outside, I'm missing summer terribly! All night, the wind was roaring around our house. Poor Em was scared and couldn't fall asleep. Last night was also garbage night, so today I have everyone's garbage on my front lawn and remnants of my backyard neighbor's plastic bins they've left out shattered all over the place. I believe it hit our house and is now in a million plastic pieces! On my front porch was a neighbor's delivery bill. He lives quite a ways down another street. I'm wondering if the wind brought it or it blew out of the garbage truck! Whatever the case, no point in cleaning it all up until that wind dies down.

While others may be dreaming of a white Christmas, I'm dreaming of a Caribbean Island.... and white beach.... where my days are merry and BRIGHT! Not to mention all my Christmas dreams are soaked in sun!! (I can dream a little, can't I?)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Long-awaited Christmas Letter

No kidding, I printed two this evening and then ran out of ink. =( I guess the long-awaited Christmas "book" will be a bit delayed, I fear. Of course, we'll be out tomorrow night..... just not having much luck with this thing, am I?

27,000

Lately, I've missed my 1,000th visitors, they're just coming so fast! But I caught this one! My 27,000th visitor just stopped by from Camberly, Surrey, UK. Yup, you guessed it, still looking for Christmas card ideas. Which reminds me, I need to get to work or mine won't be out on time! YIKES!

Post Party Pandemonium

Last night, our girls planned and executed (with a little help from mom!) a neighborhood party for some of our girlfriends. It really turned out quite fun, and one couple even went out to dinner and shopping for the evening! Kt planned a scavenger hunt, two crafts, a game, coloring, read a book and pretty much ran the show. Em helped everyone make their pizzas, ice their cupcakes, and gave lengthy descriptions of our three movie choices, of which the girls all chose Ice Age Meltdown. All in all, it was a fun evening and a good lesson in serving our neighbors.

After everyone had left and we cleaned up a bit, I sent the girls up to get ready for bed. About 15 minutes later, I went up to see how they were doing. It's amazing to me what can happen in a quarter of an hour when left unattended!! I found Em trying put a new pillow case on her pillow, and when I asked why she was doing that, she replied dejectedly, "Because Kt sprayed it with detangler." I looked at Kt and said, "WHY did you do that?" To which Kt replied, "Because Em threw wet cottonballs covered in toothpaste into my room!" I turned to Em (managing to keep a straight face!), "WHY did you do that?"

I'm sure you can guess - she does not know what possessed her to do such a ridiculous thing as to create a supersonic spitball, mint flavored! My girls are getting smarter, quieter, and much more dangerous the older they get. It's exhausting, but fortunately it's not without it's great, laughable moments. How boring life would be without the creative minds of children. (Don't worry - there were consequences!;-))

Friday, December 14, 2007

Will Smith

My husband teases me a lot because, on occasion, I have felt moved to pray for different celebrities. It's really kind of strange, because I have enough regular things in my life to pray for beside people I don't even know!! In the past, I've prayed for Madonna, Britney Spears, Mel Gibson, and Tom Cruise. I have no connection to these people and I have no idea why I'm praying for them most of the time!!

Today I found this article about charitable giving and Will Smith. Living just outside of Baltimore, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are not old news by any stretch of the imagination. They are very generous, genuine people in many ways who have not forgotten where they came from. This article is a good example of just how true that is.

What I didn't know was that Will Smith was raised in a Baptist home, which makes it very disconcerting to me that somehow he has become entangled with Scientology. From reading the article, specifically the end, it would appear to me that Mr. Smith is sort of grappling with many issues rolled up into one - faith, tolerance, and a deep desire to make an indelible mark in the world. I think he wants it to be a mark that is positive, and has a ripple effect. I'm just not sure he has come to terms with why.

So, anyway.... I prayed this morning for him, and then I got my regular email from our friend, the Pastor Mike Sprague in New Orleans. He has an amazing ministry in New Orleans, which, by the way, is still desperately in need of help! He had a blurb in his letter about -- NO KIDDING -- praying for Will Smith. Now, I'm getting the eerie feeling in my stomach that something big spiritually is going on with this guy. Anyway, take a look at this video he attached. Pastor Sprague is the last guy who waves and yells to Will before the video cuts off to him accepting the honor of leaving his hand and footprints in Hollywood. Very interesting speech and BE SURE to check out what he wrote on his block of cement! Here's what Pastor Sprague wrote:

Oh yeah - Will Smith - you always wonder who you will bump into while you are in Hollywood, right? I got to say "hi" to Will, shake is hand, and get some pictures. Pray for him. In case you don't believe me, you can see for yourself (link above)

Yup, just very strange, I tell you. I'm actually feeling like it's a little creepy, but I'll go with it for now. And should you also feel led, join me! Oh, and I wonder if Will Smith had any idea what kind of a world changer he shook hands with that day! I think he would have been amazed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Season of Giving

Today I was just completely overwhelmed. I spent all morning at the Salvation Army office, which is completely stuffed with gifts for families in our county. Not only is it stuffed, but they have filled an armory across the county with gifts. It was overwhelming, the outpouring of giving this year. Just to try to imagine that it goes much farther than the SA, there are churches, like ours, giving tens of thousands of dollar, Toys for Tots which is collecting for children everywhere, many non-profits who are collecting for the season.

Today, a bus load of people from a company stopped by to drop off their first of three loads of gifts. The company adopted several Salvation Army families to buy gifts for and for the whole day the bussed their employees around to purchase the gifts. In fact, when I was done for the morning at the office, I ran a bunch of errands and took off from Walmart when I saw their bus pull up! It was busy enough already!=) What a great idea for that company - I was completely impressed!

After seeing all that people have given, I went shopping for a wii game that my mom is giving to Kt. She ordered it from buy.com back in November, was sent a notice that it had shipped just before Thanksgiving, but it never arrived. Fortunately, the company believes her (or deceived her!) and they are refunding her money. I looked at four stores and it was sold out. Talk about being unenamoured with the materialism that is so rampant at Christmas - and feeling like you are buying into it!! I came home feeling rather defeated and then found it on Amazon.com for $10 less than it was listed on there last night. Yahoo! Yup, totally guilty as charged. I'm a material girl! And I love to be the problem solver.

I just have to say, that for all the selfish, materialistic people I've seen, I have seen the most amazing outpouring of generosity in that as well. I am completely impressed by the wealth I see around me, not because it's so negative as it is being used as a vehicle of giving in such a big and abundant way. Thanks, folks in Howard County, for thinking of others this year.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

We are just getting hammered this month! Ice and snow are just not normal weekly occurances in December. Maybe we'll get one or two little snows, but this every single week sleet, snow, freezing rain... lasting days. It's really just depressing! Florida is on my radar - some sun and some warmth!

Prayer & Praise

My brother's office was apparently evacuated this morning in downtown New Haven. There was a three alarm fire, 5 businesses are a total loss. No word yet on whether that included my brother's architecture firm. Please keep them in your prayers!! I imagine for something like an architecture office - with all the thousands of dollars of equipment, not to mention all the blueprints and projects, it would be very difficult to recover from something like this.

UPDATE: I just talked to my brother, who is telling everyone he just had an adult version of a "snow day"! LOL Anyway, amazingly, it appears as though his office is intact. The crazy thing about that is that their building is only two building away from the Brass Monkey, where they believe the fire originated. The buffer? His building is surrounded by a parking garage, which they are assuming kept it from going up in flames. The office itself smells really bad, but they are also fortunate to have their power back on already. It will have to be declared structurally sound, but they are very, very lucky.

My brother mentioned that there is a restaurant on the same block, Vito's, that is frequented by the firemen, policemen and mayor, that they worked very, very hard to save. It is also intact. It's a good thing to befriend those kinds of public servants!;-)

His building is the one on the corner - second floor. Taken by his friend, Joe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seis Anos de Espanol

Of course, I can't type in Spanish - I have no idea where to find a tilde! Anyway, for the first time since my very last Spanish class my senior year of high school, I am finally using it this afternoon. I'm heading off to Brownies to teach a teeny tiny bit about Mexico! (I don't know where the accent marks are, either!) I originally signed up to do a "winter craft" with the girls and somehow that has ended up being Mexican Holidays, which incidentally are all Christian. I'm being extra careful, though, as one of the two Brownie leaders is actually Jewish. Hmmm.... anyway, hasta manana! (looks funny without that tilde!)

Monday, December 10, 2007

One Way to Lose Your Job!

My work sends out a monthly calendar of events at the pottery shop. At some point, Kt put her email on the list to receive this monthly news. Yes, my 9 year old has an email address under the condition that her parents can access it, which I do occasionally to delete inappropriate junk mail.

Last night I was doing just that when I noticed that she had replied to that monthly mailing from my work. I'm not sure why she did it, but here is exactly what she wrote:

"Can you take me off the list? I hear enough from my mom about how her day was all boring and stuff! :-)"


Wow. She's got a little bit of 'splainin' to do!! Not to mention a lesson in how to keep your parents employed!! She's right about one thing - I always tell her, with a big smile on my face, not to worry. My job is "boring" - because she thinks I spend 8 hours a week having fun, painting pottery. I've assured her it's not all fun, but I guess I just took it for granted that she would understand that "boring" only applied to her perception. Now she'll know! ;-)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Crazy!

I have that sitemeter thing on the bottom of my page that tracks visitors. Kind of fun. Here's a graph of the last month of visits.
Notice how, just a few weeks ago I was lucky to get 30 visits in one day. With the help a Creative Christmas letters link to a 2 year old post, I've had over 3500 visits just in the first 9 days of December. CRAZY!

I'm suspecting this will all settle down within the next week or so and I'll go back to being a blog in oblivion. I mean, Christmas is 2 weeks away and if you don't have your cards/letters out soon, well, you might as well call it a year! I must say, though, it was great fun!! I wonder if this will happen again next year??

Done!


Well, after a couple weeks of moaning, groaning, attempts to get some pictures.... we finally did it! The picture cards are ordered AND I wrote a letter. I'll warn you, it's a very long letter. No creative juice this year - I won't be linked to any "creative Christmas letter" site for this one. In fact, it's too long to post on a blog. I won't bore you with it (unless the public outcry to read it is just overburdening!). Instead, I will share with you just a hint of what I have to deal with when I call for a family photo shoot! Enjoy!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Well, I'm here. Not driving on treacherous roads, or enjoying a cold, New England Christmastime drive, but here at home while it sleets and freezes rain outside. I'm just glad that I didn't get to go based on something outside of my control rather than just not being able to pull it off myself. Em was a little upset this morning when I broke the news. She asked me slyly, "How about if we take all back roads to Connecticut??" I love her!

My mom called right after I loaded the girls on the school bus to tell me their weather had also changed. They are now expecting sleet and snow, so that about sealed the deal, even though I already knew I wasn't going. Driving around NYC is already bad on a Friday afternoon, but add in bad weather and you could be sitting on the road in that stuff for hours.

So, here I am. I made dinner for a new mom and dropped it off, put a dish of cookies from my cookie exchange last night together and dropped them off at school for those teachers, had a little lunch with Em to make up for not taking her on an adventure and now I'm home. It's very quiet, a little cold, and I'm just wondering what I can do to make better use of my time now that I'm not driving anywhere. It's kind of hard for me to switch gears sometimes. I think I might go do some laundry. Yay, how fun! hehe

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Conflicted

I am having the worst time trying to figure out whether or not to go to Connecticut. I have approval to take Emily out of school to go with me, but I have a bunch of things to do and now they are calling for a light wintry mix, am here and afternoon in CT. I don't like driving in a light wintry mix. I just don't know what to do.

To make matters worse, I have a Christmas party to attend tonight out in the country, where I've never been before, in the dark, by myself and all the roads are icing up as I type. In the directions it says that there is not enough parking, a long, dark driveway and just to park one after the other and we'll leave in reverse order. But if I am driving to CT in the morning, I want to leave early! I don't want to be waiting for everyone else to leave. UGH!

It's times like these when I think that it might be nice to have a glass of wine (or whine) with that!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Snow

I greatly dislike snow. This time, it's put a huge dent in my plans. I'm having reassess my trip to Connecticut based on the fact that I wasn't able to go anywhere today and I have more things to take care of than is feasible. I did get 8 dozen cookies baked, my bedroom semi-organized and forced myself to stay home. I can't remember the last time I spent a whole day at home alone - it was really weird!

Tomorrow, if my kids are home with me all day I'll be sunk. If they have a late open I'm semi-sunk. Chances are, one of those two things will happen. I'm not very happy about it, but there is nothing I can do about it. Before I leave for Connecticut if I go I have buy 20 rolls of wrapping paper, 20 tape dispensers, 150 bows and drop them off at church, go to work, make dinner for someone, go to my Christmas party/cookie exchange and figure out what I'm doing for the Brownie meeting I'm in charge of next week (waiting for guidance on that one). Add to that all the stuff I have to do next week - and we don't have anything done for Christmas cards or letters - NOTHING!!

Wake me up when winter's over - please!

Did I Find Someone I Like?

Honestly, I didn't now much about Mike Huckabee. After the recent report of him jumping ahead, I went ahead and did a little research. He's extremely conservative - even more than I am, I think! All in all, I think I like him. More than I like my other choices. Except Condi - now if we could just get her to run!

Brrrr!!

It's not only frigid outside, it's snowing!! Up north, we'd call it flurries. Down here we call it a disaster! There is a "dusting" on the roads and that means panic sets in, people do ridiculous driving maneuvers and lots of fender benders happen. Since the snow started after the wee hours of the morning, school is on as usual. The girls were a bit disappointed, but from the moment I opened my garage door until I stepped inside again, non-stop sirens.

When the bus driver pulled up, she said there were already 4 accidents on the one of the roads we are enclosed by. She said it's a mess out there, and that's enough for me to know that I'm not going ANYWHERE! It's not that I don't drive in the snow, it's just that I don't trust anyone who was born and raised here on these roads. My first snow day here, I was driving slalom in my little Volkswagon Cabriolet through cars that just decided they couldn't drive anymore in 1 inch of snow and stopped right on the road where the normal speed limit is 55! Crazy, I tell you!

So, I'll just be home today, baking 6 dozen cookies for my Christmas party tomorrow night, maybe another 6 dozen for the one Saturday, except that I would need more chocolate chips and I'm not going out to get them!! My best guess is that the girls will have early release from school. I'm basing this on the fact that the last time the schools didn't release early on a day like this the bus accidents were an issue. We had icing, multiple accidents, unhappy parents.... who are probably already calling the school! Anyway, I'm prepared to spend a fun afternoon decorating a Christmas tree with my girls should they come home early. What a treat!!

Happy Snow! I'm off to begin my season of hibernation!;-)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

22,000

So, I had my 22,000th blog visitor sometime today - from Colorado Springs, Colorado. One of those Christmas Letter tips people. I think my blogfest is coming to an end soon - I mean, shouldn't we all have our Christmas letters written and out soon? OK - I'll admit it. I don't even have one good idea in my head of what to write this year. It's TERRIBLE! Major writer's block. I guess my blog break, due to the increased volume of traffic easing my need to keep this blog alive while it has a life of it's own!, has fed my laziness in getting Christmas news up and running. It's time to Deck My Halls, or I'll be skipping Christmas altogether!

Extravagant Giving

I love Christmas. I love giving gifts. I hate people who think that Christmas is too commercial and we should just stop giving gifts and return to the "true" meaning of Christmas. Do you know why? Because the true meaning of Christmas is about the most extravagant gift ever given. I'm not talking about the gold, frankincense and myrrh. I'm talking about Jesus.

Thankfully, Jesus did not come from Santa. He came from God, or else everything I believe in would be a bunch of elfin magic!! Do we really ever grasp how amazing, precious, perfect and extravagant the gift of God's son was? Would we ever in a million years have thought to ask for something so outrageous as the Son of God, who would offer Himself a living sacrifice for our sins so that we might spend eternity with God in heaven? I'm not sure I would have had the guts to ask for something so audacious. So humbling. So ridiculous. And truthfully, I can't imagine Christmas without giving.

The act of giving for me is in part a remembrance that nothing I have has come without a price, including my salvation. When I give, it encourages me to put someone else ahead of my wants, my desires and think outside of myself. It brings me out of my little cozy cocoon and into the world of others, the world that Christ wants me to see. I think it's so important to teach my kids this same act of giving, of choosing to think about the person we are giving to and understanding that in our giving we need to have an attitude of gratitude, not pride.

I would just not enjoy Christmas as much without the aspect of giving it affords me. I'm not going all consumer mania or anything. We do Christmas on a budget and we set limits, but we are also quite thoughtful about what we choose to give. If unbelievers choose to participate in the gift giving at Christmas, how harmful can that be? If anything, it's a bridge to illustrating what a gift we have in the person of Christ. It's a connection that at some point might be made in their hearts. Exceeding abundant, beyond all that we could ask or even think. That's what the first gift of Christmas really was and is. And it's ours to share with His world.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Verdict

After much deliberation, we've decided on canceling tonight. I'm sending T to his dinner without me. We've canceled the babysitter (although she's going to take Em out for dinner) and the hotel and now I can return all those clothes I bought. Good thing I still have receipts! We're kind of unhappy about it, but that's life! It happens. Now if I could just convince my mom to retire and move in next door.... The girls are quite sad, as they've been very excited to have an overnight babysitter other than relatives. As for tomorrow (a play and then our neighborhood potluck), we'll just have to wait and see.

Derelict Tooth Fairy



We have one of these at our house!! She's not very reliable and apparently very forgetful. Em lost her very first tooth this morning (yup, we keep our baby teeth for a very long time!) and she went to get the tooth pillow from her sister. We have to use the tooth fairy pillow you hang on your door or the tooth fairy doesn't come! (She's so picky!) Anyway, Em brought to me a tooth the tooth fairy apparently left in the pillow from the days her big sister was losing teeth. (Eww, gross. I guess the tooth fairy enjoys handling those icky things about as much as I do!;-)) I hope Em's tooth fairy is a little better about all these things!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wasted Time

Tomorrow night is T's annual Christmas dinner dance for work. It's our first year with this company, so I have no idea what to expect other than we know it's at a really nice hotel in Baltimore and from what everyone says, it's really, really nice!! I've been excited about going (and spending a night in the city), but I have to admit, shopping for something to wear has been a TOTAL DRAG!! I'm convinced there isn't a single piece of clothing out there made for my body type.

Anyway, 2 weeks, one skirt and 20 blouses later, I still have no idea what I'm going to wear. We have a babysitter to stay with the girls all night, a room, and a full wardrobe to pack up and try on when I get there... We've been talking about this all week and the girls are thrilled to be having one of our favorite babysitters all to themselves for a whole night!!

BUT!

T is on his way to pick up Kt from a sleepover because, yup, you guessed it, she just threw up! I'm feeling like I might have just spent hours shopping for nothing. Literally hours. And she's the first victim... we all know how that stomach thing travels through a household. And our poor friends where it started. Here we go - welcome winter, welcome cold weather, welcome 20 outfits later!!!

Chaos

Somewhere in all the chaos that is my blog traffic, I hit the 20,000th visitor mark. Now if I could only get over that 350 visits a day hump! (To view the visits, scroll to the bottom and click on "sitemeter" in the little box.) Can you believe that? That's about 10 times my highest visits in one day before all this started... back when I used to get super excited about having over 20!! hehe... I hope everyone's still enjoying that old Christmas letter! (yup, still working out this years.... hope it's done before Santa arrives!)

I'm a Little Confused....

So, is she for more funding for HIV/AIDS?? or is she against it?? Who knows.

And don't even get me started on Rick Warren inviting politics into his church. Where is the IRS on this one??

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

There's A Chill

It's finally cold here. Of course, on my second day of recess duty! It's 38 with a high expected around 42. YIKES! On top of that, I seem to have somehow busted my toe. I can't fit it into any real shoes. So I'm either working with slippers on or some other kind of inappropriate shoe. What a pain! I had been hoping to make it water aerobics this morning, but there was no way. Maybe now I'll feel like putting up some Christmas decorations.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ridiculously Amazing

I mentioned before Thanksgiving that my sitemeter counter is insane. At this point today alone I have almost 300 views mostly from that Christmas letter tips site. It's very humbling to think that it's possible that about 2600 people have viewed my 2 year old Christmas letter this month. I'm also feeling like I should be able to come up with a better one for this year... but I have this sneaking suspicion that if everyone is using mine for ideas, I might not be able to come up with anything else that even compares. So far, I have this:

Merry Christmas!!

Seasonal Limbo

This is the strangest week. Really. I keep feeling like it should be December, Christmas, cold, snow... Instead, it's still November, warm, fall, leaves everywhere! Thanksgiving was just too early this year. I can't believe we have another whole week of November and then three whole weeks until Christmas. OK - back to reality!!;-)

Not My Favorite...

but probably me!



Which Winnie the Pooh Character Are You?

You are Rabbit. You are clever, intelligent, and level-headed. You have close, loyal friendships, but you have a bit of a short temper when the people around you act foolishly.
Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Tweens

Today at church (which was awesome, by the way!) we left via the Warehouse, where the high schoolers were just finishing up. My girls have been so happy to be included by some of our Hungary team when they go over there - it's quite fun. Today we were hunting for our Monday night babysitter to see if she was available tomorrow. The girls marched right into the worship room and the kids were just finishing up their last song. We sat down to listen to the announcements, which for high schoolers tend to be very upbeat and fun. Projected on the screen was a huge set of lips for the outreach Friday night Lip Sync contest. Kt leaned over to me as they were getting ready to premiere the skit team lip sync. She had a look of complete surprise and disgust and whispered loudly, "HUH??? Is that a KISSING contest???" I had a hard time containing my laughter. I think I have a 'tween!

If you're in high school and you live in Howard County, you should come! It's always awesome!! Dec 7. I promise, no kissing.... I think!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Uncle D minus XBox

My brother has spent most of his downtime either watching football or singing/airdrumming to my mom's laptop, all the while making fun of me and my laptop!!




I know the sound is bad, but maybe that's better! ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving!

The turkey's in the oven, the family is all relaxin', it's about 65 degrees outside (it'll be in the 40's by tonight - welcome to MD!), we have our menu all planned out, Kt set the table, Em is reading to my mom, our very traditional Thanksgiving is off to a great start!!

This year we have been so blessed to have a larger view of God's world, to have friends in all the far reaches of the earth, to have a healthy family, a job, a house, food.... and group of incredible high schoolers who are excited to serve this world. I am so excited to be home for this holiday and to have the chance to reserve a day for Thankfulness.

The only thing missing - Uncle D forgot his XBox! He's hiding in his room this morning.... with nothing to do! LOL

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Survived!

OK, I survived the dreaded conferences. I don't really want to post all about them. There was a lot of good and a little bad. I could brag, brag and brag with a little complaining in there, but I won't! We do have some decisions to make over the next quarter, so we'll see!

Phoebe also survived, it appears. She is much happier. We seem to have her fever under control with some puppy antibiotics, fluids and a trip to the vet - all very expensive and not in our Christmas budget, but again, we'll survive. I'm so thankful because I don't think this would have been a good time for Em to deal with losing a dog. Grandpa is going through chemo, school is tough... losing her puppy would have been serious. When it does happen, it will be bad but now was not the time!

My mom and brother are on their way here sometime tonight or tomorrow for Thanksgiving. It'll be nice having them - and change from the ordinary. We're expecting the weather to be nice tomorrow - 69 degrees! Then back down to 44 on Friday.... which means we'll probably all get sick! But, we'll survive!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Things....

I'm about to head up to bed... and here's what's going on. Our little puppy is very sick. Yesterday she was totally fine all day, and then boom! She's sick, and she can't seem to recover this time. At this point, she can't walk or hardly stand. We are thinking it's off to the vet tomorrow and may not be coming home this time. I'm worried how Em will be with this.... just one year ago we found out about her kidney issue, so that we've had her a whole year is a miracle in itself.

Tonight, our friend LB came over and put together a list of people who might be interested in supporting her on a YWAM DTS. The crazy thing... it's not tax deductible. She is extremely trustworthy, so that won't be an issue, but I just can't believe they run a program where people need to raise $5000 support but it's not tax-deductible. Anyway, God is going to have to provide a way for this to happen.

Finally, tomorrow, after I work out all my anxieties in Group Power, I have three conferences to attend. Luckily, we got the last one as our best... it's the first two I'm a bit apprehensive about. I have issues.... bottom line, I'm thinking I'll leave feeling like not much was accomplished, but at least I'll get to share my side.

I have a lot on my mind, those are just the top of my prayer list for this coming week. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving because I need to focus on the innumerable things in my life to be thankful for. It's really a peaceful holiday... with a little of Uncle D's Xbox! How fun is that?

Just For Fun

I just had to see what mine would say... and I seriously laughed out loud. I love the first sentence... they've got me nailed!
You Are 16% Democrat

If you have anything in common with the Democrat party, it's by sheer chance.
You're a staunch conservative, and nothing is going to change that!

Girl Scout Cookies vs. Boyscout Popcorn

I thought the price of GS cookies was getting a bit out of hand. In our county, they are $3.50/box and in our neighboring county, they will be $4.00/box this spring! Outrageous, I tell you. That was, until the Boyscout popcorn arrived. My daughter tells me she paid $10.00/can, and the cans are 10oz. That's $1.00/ounce and the can is really the size of an oversized pencil holder. Not even large enough to be a cookie jar! YIKES! In this competition, I'd have to side with the girls for having a much better value, just not as much non-profit business savvy, apparently!

Las Acacias

If there ever were a false prophet, I would guess Hugo Chavez fits that bill! Being a complete outsider looking in, that man has made some scary changes in Venezuela, continually makes errant remarks publicly about respected world leaders and constantly uses Biblical references to his countrymen in defending his move towards a communist nation. To me, it's quite frightening.

The Washington Post has an article this morning about the evangelical church in Caracas, namely one very large church, Las Acacias. This particular church has gained a reputation in Venezuela of being an "opposition" church due to the attendance of it's pastor at a vigil held for the hundreds of victims of the uprising in Caracas, where he stood on the platform use just days before by the opposition movement. This church has 5,000 members and is divided between government skeptics and supporters.

While the country is run by a man who claims to support all religions, including a rogue cult religion in the city, he has begun surveillance on Las Acacias' website and tapped all the phones used by staff at the church. No separation of church and state in THAT country! (I wonder to myself what Cindy Sheehan and Danny Glover think of him now?) The church has a plan for the day the government shuts their doors so that they can still support each other in the day when the evangelical church in Venezuela will be deemed an "opposition" church. It's just an eerie thought, really.

So, today, with this article fresh in my mind, I'll ask anyone out there who cares to please pray for this church and it's members, for the condition of the government in Venezuela and that God's will will prevail there. If Hugo Chavez really is the Christian he claims to be, may his heart be softened to be more like Christ and less about himself.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Life Free From Politics

Oh, to be a kid again... and not have to think about politics.

Conversation just overheard in my house:

Em (6 years old): Who's the president right now?

Kt (9 years old, showing her friend how to check money to see if it's real - reviewing presidents): George W. Bush!

Mir (9 years old, Kt's friend): (totally laughing) What???? Are you totally kidding? That's funny.

Em: So, who's the president now?

Me: George Bush.

Em: Really? Oh. (laughing as well now)

Is that so funny? I guess if you're 6 or 9, it doesn't matter much to you!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Merry Early Christmas to Me!


I just got a new cellphone! The best part about it - it was free!! Now, I have to learn how to use a new cell again... and I had not even mastered my old one. EEK! This one has video capabilities that I'm hoping to learn and a keyboard, for easier texting. Woohoo! The only stinky thing about it is that the ringtones are pretty lame. I guess they do that now so you have to buy the good ones. Fortunately, I'm not that picky.

Nothing better than an early FREE Christmas gift!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

On Account of You

I felt like reading about heaven today, since it's been on my mind lately. I was reading in 2 Peter, so here's a little fire and brimstone for everyone. Even if you aren't a believer, it's worth reading what the Bible says will be the end of the earth.... just in case it really is true! ;-)

8-9Don't overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change.

10But when the Day of God's Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.

11-13Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we'll hardly notice. We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness. (2Peter, The Message)

I can't wait for a new heaven, a new earth. And I'm thankful for a God who patiently waits, so that everyone has a chance to hear.

Dreaming of a Mouse

Our neighbors left yesterday for a week with a mouse... Mickey, that is! They are staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort, which was where I had really wanted to stay last February but they were completely sold out - by October! We ended up shortening our trip and spending one night at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.... ah, the memories!

If I could, I'd go to WDW at least once a year for a real vacation. Yes, I know, it's lots of running around, waiting in lines, overly expensive junk food... but there really is something magical about Disney World I think. I just want to get it all in before my kids grow up, and then I hope to someday repeat it all with grandchildren. That's a dream! Or that Disney cruise I have yet to try....

I think we might be "vacationing" with another Space team this summer, however. Not exactly the dream family vacation, but it's a lot of running around, waiting in lines (in airports), and overly expensive European food. It's also much more rewarding in many ways, and my kids are not complaining that they won't see Mickey. Instead, they are begging to return to their new friends they made last summer. I must say, we have a better relationship with our European friends than we do with the Mouse, even though we've known him much longer! =) But I can still dream!

Bragging Rights

Since it's my blog, I'm going to reserve the right to brag a bit - about my kids (despite my bad parenting!). Today another parent who went in for the GT math presentations today sent me this little story about Kt.

I sat in on Mr. M's math class today
and was so impressed with something Kt did. CM was VERY nervous to
do her presentation, but she did it...when she got back to her seat, Kt
initiated a high-five with her and you could see the smile across CM's
face. It really touched my heart that Kt would make that effort for
someone who was obviously very shy, insecure and nervous about it. Katie's
a great girl!

You know, it's really nice to hear little things like that from friends. I happen to think Kt is great as well, but one never knows what their children when out from under their watchful eyes. This year, I've been especially bombarded with similar stories about Kt, sometimes it's overwhelming. It's also food for thought when I think of her personality characteristics in terms of what God is preparing her (and me!) for in life. Sometimes I wish I was half as amazing as she is.

Now, I need to go stop her from scuffling with her sister over a silly rock - all in a day's work!

Anonymous Infamy

I just can't resist doing this. I'll assume that since this commenter left a comment anonymously that he/she knows it's totally fair game and extremely insulting. So, here I go!

quit bloggin' and start PARENTNG! I'm new to this stuff - I think I'll continue doing what I was doing before - listening to music and reading books! Why do people think what they have to think is so important!???

This was a comment I received from Washington state, I believe - at least that's what my sitemeter is telling me, in response to my post about the flawed first grade homework policy. First, allow me to point out that this particular commenter would not pass first grade "Capitalization and Punctuation" or "Spells accurately" in his learning behavior grade. On second glance, he/she would "pass", but get a "with help" grade. He/she didn't get any help, but somehow that description counts as a "grade" on a report card.

Secondly, what is the point of this comment?? This person reads one post of mine and presumes to know that I am not parenting my children? By the way, this is one of those people who came to my blog via the Christmas Letter Tips site, so I will conclude that he/she was not really interested in the homework policy one iota. If you want Christmas letter tips, read the sample and get out! I didn't ask to be linked to that site, they just linked me.

Thirdly, "new to this stuff" seems to me to be a pretty broad statement. Are you new to "bloggin'", new to parenting, new to reading blogs, new to making random comments on blogs, new to insulting people anonymously that you don't even know??? What exactly is new to you, whoever you are?

Finally, are you, Mr. Anonymous, inferring that bloggers do not read or listen to music?? Because if you are, you are new to the world! The blogging community is rife with extremely well-read, well-versed and educated people. They listen to, critique and review every genre of music. If you think retreating into your world of headphones and bookmarks will be richer than entering into a the thoughtful world of blogging, I'd venture to guess you're pretty closed minded. The whole point of a blog for many bloggers is to express their opinions about any variety of topics, including homework policies. And if I'm bloggin' while my kids are in school, that's not bad parenting in my opinion.... but you don't really care about that, do you? You only care about your opinion!

On this blog, if you had bothered to read past the 2 year old Christmas poem and homework policy, you would probably conclude that I like to post about lots of things, important and non-important. I like to have fun, I like to complain, I like to hash out what I see as injustices, I post about my children most often - because I'm so bad at parenting, huh? So you go ahead and return to your elusive world of listening to music and reading books, don't bother to share the wealth of information you find with the world on a blog and stop leaving uninformed anonymous comments that are insulting to people. It's just bad manners - and that's a message from a parenting mom!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Irresponsible Parenting?

So, on Em's report card yesterday she had one "3", which is the first grade equivalent to what we used to call an "F" - in "Complete's homework". Of course, I'm thinking this is a mistake. We have done every single homework assignment plus extra! She only gets math homework and any papers she did not complete, plus she brings home reading books which we always read. I was totally stumped.

I wrote her teacher this morning to ask if that grade was accurate and the response was this: Em had three late homework papers, 3 late papers = "3" for effort. Simply put. OK, there were exactly three times she took in her homework one day late. One day, she had for some unknown reason taken her entire school folder out of her backpack and I only noticed around 3:30 after I got home from work. One other time, I had taken her homework out to email her teacher a question about it. I didn't get a answer until the next morning and just inadvertantly left that homework by my computer waiting... just figured I'd send it in the following day. Finally, the last homework paper just never made it off the kitchen table and into the folder - end of story. It happens, all the assignments were turned in, so nothing is missing, just three late papers. What would you do??

My beef is this - she failed homework, yet we did it all. She has the same grade as a child who never did a single homework assignment, who maybe never passed in half their assignments but no one will ever know that for sure. It doesn't say on the report card "She just turned in three assignments a day late" - it's just says she failed. First grade! for crying out loud. What, exactly, is the message in this? As a parent, the message to me is that you needn't bother teaching your child that mistakes happen, and you can be forgiven if you forget. The message is "don't bother!" You won't get credit anyway!! I think this is absolutely ridiculous, ranking up there with no more birthday parties and "unlawful" absences (more on that another time!). I'm having a hard time figuring out how to handle the one failing grade on her report card because I just think it's ludicrous.

I might have to send t alone to the conferences so I don't end up in the sheriff's office!

Funny Ems

Em is really just a total hoot most of the time. Maybe it's her age, but she keeps me laughing. Yesterday, on our way home from dinner, we stopped to pick up more Mint Chocolate for Kt's GT math project. We've been tasting and comparing it for a week now and her project is finally due on Thursday. T suggested that she bring in some "samples" for the class to try, which was met with a resounding, "Don't you know the school rules, dad?????" from the girls - no food!! (silly rules!) Em sighed and said, "I LOVE zamples!" From now on, I'm voting for "zamples"!

This morning, Em came in to wake me up (as usual!) and ended up laying in bed with me just blabbering away, writing things on her whiteboard. At one point she said, shaking her head, squinching her eyes, "There is a boy, Everette, in my class and he can't spell SHENG! Can you believe it? He spells it with a "y" on the end!!" So, I awoke from my much needed slumber and said, "Well, can you spell Everette?" She just smiled and said, "No, of course not!" Now, don't we think spelling first names is more important than last? Not Em! ;-)

Blog Traffic

After my last post, I meandered over to my Sitemeter and received a most amazing surprise. My little blog, which typically sees around 12-30 visits a day, has jumped dramatically to the hundreds per day due to a link on a Christmas Letter Tips site. Oh, my, what have I done? Anyway, thanks guys over there! I actually have some traffic to speak of! =)

Report Card Day

I completely forgot, but today was report card day! Imagine what tomorrow will be like for those poor teachers during American Education Week - YIKES!!! The girls did really well, we are proud of them. There is room for each of them to work on something, so that's always good for a first quarter grade. We had a celebratory dinner at Bob Evans, which is the girl's favorite restaurant - go figure!?!

I think my kids are smarter than I was. It's a bit humbling. Or maybe school is just more academic. I just remember having more than one recess, lots of parties, making more crafty stuff. Now it's all work, 20 minutes of recess and grades after grades after grades. They have "assessments" instead of just "tests"! What is that about? Is it just because it's a better vocabulary word? Or do they think it sounds less ominous than test?? Whatever!

Next week, conferences. I suspect there will be few surprises, but there's always room for a eye-popping revelation. I'll have to be sure I take that blood pressure med before I head over there!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Question of the Day

So, does Bill Gates happen to have a 5-7 year old son? grandson??? Em asked me this morning if we could please install an elevator so she can get her toy stroller up and down the stairs. She cannot figure out why that is an impossibility.

Monday, November 12, 2007

American Education Week

So, they do this week (5 whole LONG days) here where parents are allowed to just "pop-in" and visit their child's class. It sounds fun, interesting, like a golden opportunity, but the truth is it's just a nuisance! First of all, kids just don't act the same with adults around, so getting anything accomplished is really challenging. It also isn't giving the parents a true sense of what goes on everyday at school. Secondly, it's just so unpredictable I'm not sure how a teacher even plans for this. I was on the volunteer list anyway today, so I know some classes had no visitors and others had three or four parents just milling around, not even minding their own business. If you're going to "observe", then just observe. Don't poke your nose in the lesson, read all the student's journals or ask lots of questions. Just sit in the back of the room quietly and observe! Finally, it's really unnerving for teachers. If it were one day or assigned times I probably wouldn't think much of it. Truthfully, 5 full open days of visitation is just outrageous. Let's be real - it's just not necessary!

Em's teacher this morning said to me (and she's a veteran teacher with years and years of experience), "All day I wonder to myself, 'Did I spell the word was wrong on the board??'" We both had a good laugh after that!

Politics

I'm so glad I didn't fall for a friend's short-sighted opinion of Martin O'Malley and vote for him. He's stacking up to be just the person I thought he was. Taxes are going up (including sales tax!) and he's fighting for slots. There goes our property value! Thanks, O'Malley. First for leaving a mess in Baltimore and now for moving it to Annapolis. ARG!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Our Children are Doomed!

We had some little neighborhood friends over today. Before I could stop her, Kt informed them they if they smelled microwave popcorn they would get lung cancer. The 4 and 6 year olds just looked at her quizzically and said, "OK." I informed their mom of the new information just in case it was ever repeated!

Their mom just sent me an email asking me if I was aware that if I touched the pink stuff in my basement (insulation, apparently) I will die. Hmmm.... there's a lot of talk about death among my children today. Very matter-of-factly. They must be doomed!

Bloglines

So, basically all day today Bloglines has been wiggin on me! For whatever reason, it keeps reposting my last post - about 100 times today - literally - and I've made NO CHANGES to that post!! Weird, I tell you. Now I'm going to see if it does the same thing to this post! =S

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Biblical Living Liberating

Here's an interesting WP article about a Jewish agnostic who lives in NYC. He decided to try one full year of literally living Biblically, meaning he tried to follow all the rules of the Bible. It's short, to the point and I'm sure there's more (in a book coming out or something!). Very interesting conclusion that "it was almost a lovely, paradoxically liberating feeling to have freedom from choice." Very interesting....

Clinton Goes Green?

Hahahahaha..... I have to laugh at this one, because I'm wondering if the media actually thinks we are shocked by the revelation that Hillary Clinton's campaign planted a green question at a rally. I mean, really, like we all weren't born yesterday. I'd venture a guess that she's not the only politician, red, blue or green, to have done this! Really, do we have anything that's actually newsworthy to report?

I like this editorial better. Especially the last line, but I'm also OK if he just ruins the whole thing for her, too. I just have no trust in either of these people.

Small Victory

I pulled out my "tight" jeans from last year and I didn't even need to suck that gut to get them on. They aren't falling off or anything, but they easily fit. Yahoo!!! One less thing I need to buy this year! LOL

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wise Beyond Her...er....?

This has been a long week. I worked three days (stop laughing!), Kt was sick, so I got to take her to work (told you to stop laughing!!), went on a rainy field trip to the farm, on and on. We decided to head to the mall tonight for dinner and tiny bit of shopping. Everything was fine until the girls got a bit frisky! Then we knew it was time to head home.

As we were pulling out, the negotiating began. The girls wanted to watch a movie when we got home AND play in their new "clubhouse" they've set up where we just cleaned out (and sold) all their Little Tikes toys. I asked which movie they wanted to see, because length was going to play a large roll in our decision. I'm guessing they were looking over all the old movies I was sorting down there, because Kt says, "How about that one about the kid alien?"

Without any hesitation, Em's exact words back to Kt were, "I don't think that would be appropriate for me!"

T looks at me and whispers, "What six year old uses the word appropriate?"

I whisper back to him, "What six year old can reply so quickly with an alternative to 'No way am I watching that crap!' AND use the word 'appropriate'?"

That one is a little pip. She is so much more capable, smart and quick than she ever lets on. It's always the little conversations we have with her when she shows her true ability. All other times it's a very calculated "playing dumb" routine.

This reminded me of how, when she was 4, I spent hours trying to teach her all her colors. I was dumbfounded that she couldn't name a single color correctly. Then, one day, she had a colorful bowl of cereal sitting in front of her (which we had not had before!) and she started telling me how amazing the cereal was, naming all the different colors..... then at the same time we looked at each other and she smiled, nodded her head and said, "Yup. I know all my colors now!" Just like that, she even read my mind. It wasn't until that moment that I realized, she had never gotten even one color right - she had been purposely getting them wrong that whole time!!

What am I going to do with this one?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why I Don't Have a "Real" Job

My husband is always mock begging me to get a "real" job so he doesn't have to work anymore. Haha, so funny! It's kind of a weird conversation, usually, but I do know it would be nice if I actually had a job that brought in a little more money. Or would it?

I'm just about to head into the new "substitute lunch/recess monitor" job and remembering our conversation last night. Kt came home with a sore throat - which has become extremely common for her. (Tonsilitis maybe??) Anyway, T took her in to have her throat checked out to make sure it wasn't strep, which she had three times last year. Before he took her, we were having a little conversation about what to do if she couldn't go to school. He had a complete cow!

In the past, he has mentioned that many people bring their kids to work with them when they are unable to make other arrangements, so I foolishly suggested this as an option. I was a bit leery of not showing up on one of two days I'd agreed to do this sub job, and taking your child to a sub job when they can't go to school is a little crazy. Anyway, I just asked if I could take her to his work for a bit and was met with, "You see, I'm going to lose my job because of all these jobs you have!!! I'm the one who makes all the money....." blah, blah, blah. So, now we know why I don't have a real job! And again, I wonder to myself, how do other people do this?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Weather

So, I'm checking the weather to see just how crazy I am to be subbing for recess duty tomorrow. Of course, it's supposed to be the one cold, WINDY (hate that!) day of the week. IN FACT, next week upper 60's. Can you believe that? You see, to me, that's cold! So imagine what windy 40's will feel like. I believe I'll need to invest in some long underwear with my first paycheck!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Halloween








Oh, I forgot to post some Halloween pics. Enjoy!! Dorothy and Sandra Dee.

More Fun with the Bd or Ed

I've always been of the belief that the worst place to spend a day is at the DMV. I'm beginning to doubt that, as tomorrow I will be visiting the fingerprinting office, then onto my newest and least pleasurable haunt, the Board of Education... Duh, duh, duh, duuuuuhhhhhh..... It's not enough that I was fingerprinted and background checked last year for another county, or that I have furnished my background checks from the State of Maryland and the (Federal, I tell you!) FBI - both completed in May. I must not only do this again, but this time, lucky me!, I get to pay for it myself.

If I'd never had this done, it probably wouldn't bother me. But it's a little insulting that they won't accept this seeing as it's less than a year old. Now, I know I'm a rowdy one! Hot chocolate on occasion, even have attended a total of 1 or 2 parties this year where alcohol may have been present - if it was, I likely chose the Ginger Ale instead. I've stolen a mint or two from a local restaurant candy dish, and I think I've even surpassed the speed limit when passing. All in all, it doesn't get much more boring than Moi! But who knows?? There could be a skeleton in my closet that they didn't find the first time around.... I mean, how thorough can these background checks be??? One never knows!

Truth be told, they'd find more interesting fodder on me at the local physician's office. Thank goodness that is off limits, thanks to HIPA! ;-) I wonder if my blood pressure pills are listed on the national registry of illegal substances not permitted in drug-free zones?? Or maybe those of us with gall(stones) should be limited to the fat free zone in the cafeteria... Oh, wait. They don't have those! Plenty of fat in the cafeteria, just no cupcakes in the classrooms! ;-) Or really, if those background checks are now including traffic camera pics, T may have done me in for good!

What I really won't enjoy, however, is the "30 minutes" of paperwork they have for me to fill out. I'm beginning to realize that this is likely just an estimate, depending on how likable you are, and I'm just not that. This chick at HR, she's just not my friend. I have a bad feeling about this one!! I mean, 30 minutes to fill out payroll papers to be a substitute cafeteria monitor? The last time I filled out a W-2, it took me all of 2 minutes. No, I'm in for it... and I've set aside the appropriate amount of time for this task - all afternoon!! On the bright side, I'll be pleasantly surprised if I have even a few minutes to myself tomorrow. I promise!

Granny's Take on the "New" Car

I have T's permission to try to duplicate the conversation he had with his mom this evening about our "new" car. I haven't mentioned much about it, mostly because I haven't been blogging much and it's a little more of a car than we've ever had. It's been slightly uncomfortable, but I'm getting used to it.

We picked up a used Acura MDX, based on the fact that it was almost the same price as the Highlander we were debating but had way more fun features, it has a lot more legroom in the third row and other owners we know are more than pleased with theirs. So, we did it and, needless to say, someone is not really that impressed with it.

T: So, what do you think?

Granny: So, this is used car? But is not big enough??

T: No, mom. It's big, and there's a third row of seats, so we can fit 7 passengers.

Granny: Oh. I see.

T: You can sit up front.

Granny (to me): You fit back there?? Are you sure??

Me: Yup, lots of room, I've done it before. Plus, you can have the seat heater!

Granny: OK.

(she hops in, we follow Grandpa, who refuses to ride in the "new" car)

T: Look, here's a map, and there's a DVD player for the girls. (Plenty of cheering from the peanut gallery over that!)

Me: And if you want, you can type in the name of a destination and it will tell you how to get there.

Granny: Oh. And once this car is old, all this stuff won't work anymore.

T: (chuckling) Um, yup. You're right! ;-)

Granny: All the, you know, Spanish people from South America drives this car.

T: What??

Granny: See, like that...

T: That's a Buick.

Granny: and there!

T: That's a Ford.... sedan.

Granny: Well, they all drive this car.

T: (laughing at this point) Really, mom? I wonder why you think that? Look, you can put your seat on low or high heat.

Granny: What??? I don't need that. Turn that thing off!!!



I was rolling on the floor in the backseat, which has more than enough leg room in it. Always fun with the Shengs, let me tell you!!

Craigslist Adventure

So, we've done quite well with our little Craigslist sale. It's interesting, and while a bit time-consuming, it seems a great alternative to holding a yard sale. The girls have chosen what they wanted to sell and we're giving them the money from most of the sales. We're going to do the 10-10-80 lesson with them (10%tithe, 10% save, 80% of their choosing....). We've talked about some Christmas shopping ideas, but Kt really wants to purchase something from one of our missions "catalogs", where you can purchase a well, or a cow or mosquito netting for children in Africa. I think we're onto something here! At least with Kt...

T and I have talked about the oddities of Craigslist. There are so many ways to list things, accept buyers, conduct business. Really, it all boils down to what you are comfortable with. I think being such an honest person, he has a difficult time dealing with people who say they are going to do something and then don't, which seems to be at the crux of Craigslisting sometimes. It's like everyone on CL is on siesta or something!! Really, though, we both couldn't be happier cleaning out some of that mess in our basement. We can actually walk down there now!

Tomorrow, I have about three women coming.. possibly... to look at some things, hopefully purchase them. While I'd love to think this brings us a little closer to finishing our basement, I'm guessing it just brings us closer to having a cleaner unfinished basement. And I'm OK with that. Cleaner is my operative word these days!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Princess at Heart



Which Disney Princess Are You?

You are Ariel. You are beautiful but impaired. At times you are naïve. Still, your innocence and good heart make you sought after and loved.
Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Friday, November 02, 2007

Requirements

What do you suppose the requirements are in our county to substitute as a lunch/recess monitor? Let me tell you... this job must be risky, or challenging, because it appears the requirements are many! In order to step foot in the lunch room as a substitute, you must have graduated from high school - furnishing that old, dusty high school diploma, provide a written application including 8 references they can call, have at least three of those references sent in a written reference, get fingerprinted, have background checks.... and chances are there are more, but they have not yet revealed them to me! Just when I'm thinking the process is complete, HR notifies our school secretary of all the things they haven't had me do yet. It's all a bit.... humorous? shocking? what's the word..... ludicrous?? Or should it really be relieving, knowing that the people who are paid in my children's school have jumped through all these same hoops. I'm choosing the later out of pure frustration!

Why, you ask, would I subject myself to this? Well, because I love our lunchroom aides and they asked me to do this for them. I've volunteered in the lunch room for years and this year nobody is on the sub list for them. Hmm.... is that any surprise??? Not really, but the truth is, it's a great gig for someone like me. Once in a while, make a few extra bucks, help out some friends and spend a little time with my kids. And I figured if I'm going to go through all this hassle, I might as well sign up to substitute teach while I'm at it!

As a teacher, these were jobs I completely swore off. I've never been interested in subbing, ever, anywhere! And here I am, being crazy. Of course, the real frustration is with the office of HR, which has already lost one of my reference forms, and has given me wrong information about the "status" of my application. Today, on my list of things to do (along with entertaining 4 4th graders and my 1st grader on their day off of school), is to have my college send transcripts. Yes, you need that to substitute teach! I'm having transcripts sent to me as well, because frankly, I don't trust this office!

Maybe it was the three blue crates, with papers sticking out of them every which way, containing, somewhere in the middle, the copies of my two references they had received! Hmmm... and when she handed those "confidential" references to me for viewing, well, I invisibly rolled my eyes in the back of my head. I promise you, she didn't see that! And the third that they couldn't find? That I know was sent to the exact same office because I provided stamped, addressed envelopes myself? Just a complete mystery... or is it?

I'm thankful that I will soon be qualified, National Honor Society sticker and all, to be a substitute lunchroom monitor! I will be certain to proudly list this prestigious position on all my further applications for employment, as it appears to be a highly skilled, much sought after job. Oh, and the college diploma, for whatever reason, would not suffice in place of that all-important high school diploma. Last I knew, you couldn't even get into college without a high school diploma! Crazy!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New Yorker at Heart?



What City Should You Live In?

You should live in New York City. America's largest city will ensure that you will blend into the crowd. You are the brooding type--introspective, creative, and eccentric--and NYC's cutting-edge, individualistic culture and ambience will appeal to you.
Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Never Simple

But I've never seen a quiz do this! LOL Thanks, kim!


Which Peanuts Character Are You?

You are part Charlie Brown. You are always optimistic and persistent, and everyone appreciates your simple sweetness. Sometimes, however, your anxieties get the best of you, and life's mysteries can confuse you.
You are part Schroeder. You are brilliant, ambitious, and brooding; you tackle tasks with extreme focus. People don't always interest you as much as other pursuits, though, so you can come off as aloof.
Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Should I Be When I Grow Up?



Which College Major Should You Be?

Your major should be Engineering. Logic is your friend. With enough work, you can find a solution to anything... Unless it involves dating or parties.
Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pointing Inward?

I've received many emails about this movie, The Golden Compass, and I have to admit - it's making more curious about the movie than anything else. Today Fox has a piece about the controversy surrounding it's release, and I did find it a little more enlightening than the emails, which amount to a desperate plea to not expose my children to atheism.

Among the things in the article today that disturb me is the implicit intention of the author of this trilogy to portray any and all religion as poison, which I'm really uncomfortable with. I might have been interested in a movie if there was not such an intentional purpose as that - if there were anything in the movie that might actually be meant for the purpose of enjoyment rather than to "unpoison" children who, frankly, I don't feel are poisoned to begin with. For someone to say that they loathe The Chronicles of Narnia because it teaches children Christian ethics is just completely wrong in my opinion! I don't think even the staunchest atheists would argue that teaching children not to lie, cheat or steal is a bad thing, am I wrong here??

Anyway, I'm kind of feeling like there's really no point now in even bothering to see these movies. If my children happen to see them at a friend's house someday, we'll talk about that. I'm not going to waste all my energy on convincing everyone I know that watching these movies would be the worst thing ever, I just have no desire to take part in a Christian hate fest. It's the same way I feel about Michael Moore movies - just created out of hatred, and I'm not interested!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

This About Sums it Up!




Your Interpersonal Intelligence Score: 59%



Your Interpersonal Intelligence is Average



You do well in most group settings, but you also need time to recharge.

So while you can work with people during the day, you may crave your alone time at night.

For you, it's all about balance!

Condi for President

I have been so nauseated by the possible presidential candidates. Really, I just want one good candidate, and I don't even care which party! Just ONE! T asked me tonight if I'm opposed to Hillary because I don't think a woman should be president, and the truth is I just don't like Hillary - at all! I'd vote for Condaleeza Rice in a heartbeat, so I don't think I'm opposed to a woman being president. T directed me to this blog post - I'm going to have to add this guy, Bob Roberts, to my blogroll. I'm with Bob - Run, Condi, Run!!!

Catch Up

I'm just catching up again... on everything! I had a very interesting weekend - still processing, as always. We started our beach weekend driving all night in rush hour in the rain. Four women who mostly know each other but not really - an eclectic group. I was the only non-morning person so I didn't get nearly enough sleep. I drove and only one person offered to help pay for gas. When we finally stopped for dinner after the Bay Bridge (took us 2 hours to get over it! - normally a 30 minute trip), one person on our trip who I know fairly well admitted at dinner that she was opposed to her daughter dating a person of a different race because of cultural differences. Where did that leave me? Hmmm.... very interesting weekend.

Now I'm home, and yes, indeed, after three weeks of waiting to hear from our out-of-town visitor that my husband offered to put up via email, T FINALLY called the guy Saturday and he is indeed arriving tomorrow evening. His email hasn't been working (I'd suggested this a week ago, but T still wouldn't call!). I would love to say that I'm a very hospitable person, but the truth is that it's not my gift. I'm completely stressed. My house is a mess, as usual, and the three members who stayed here believe they cleaned it - despite the fact that a two week old game of monopoly is still spread out all over the living room floor, all the towels in the clean bathroom are filthy, there are still girl scout cookies strewn all over the hearth, undelievered, our family room alcove is in shambles, there isn't a cleared spot on the dining room table, the mud room might as well be under mud, the laundry that I left because someone said it would be done is not even touched..... the list is longer, but I'll stop right there before the tears start flowing.

I'd love to go to my group power class tomorrow, seeing as lately it's the only class I ever make it to, but I have to clean, grocery shop, get a room ready for someone I don't even know and figure out what to make this person I don't know dinner tomorrow - of course, we have no details at all. I'm not even sure he's coming for dinner! I've spent a chunk of time cleaning up Em's bedroom - AGAIN!!!!! It's perpetually in a state of complete and utter chaos - and her teacher doesn't believe me that she's ADHD. She should have to live with her - one day should do it!

On the bright side, T made steak for dinner and that was nice. The kitchen looks semi-clean, which is good because sometimes when I leave for a weekend that's not the case! I have avoided Kt's room so I have nothing to report or complain about!! My car was lots of fun to drive, even if no one could agree EVER where to stop to eat - we brought along our resident food snob. I'm feeling much better after getting sick from eating at that seafood restaurant after hearing about how wrong it is to marry outside of your race on our trip to the beach and having to stop at a gas station that had - in the pitch black dark in pouring down rain - only a port-a-john for me to use. I have a little less than 24 hours to get my whole house in tip top shape. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hahaha!

Your Superpower Should Be Mind Reading

You are brilliant, insightful, and intuitive.
You understand people better than they would like to be understood.
Highly sensitive, you are good at putting together seemingly irrelevant details.
You figure out what's going on before anyone knows that anything is going on!

Why you would be a good superhero: You don't care what people think, and you'd do whatever needed to be done

Your biggest problem as a superhero: Feeling even more isolated than you do now