Saturday, March 31, 2007

Something Missing

I've been spending some time in "career counseling" with my mom, a teacher for over 20 years. While I love teaching, there are just many factors that are making it not such a viable option for me right now. First of all, I'm no longer certified and my 5.5 years of experience was over 10 years ago, so it's basically null and void. I'm just not sure about what I'm interested in doing anymore. Add to that list this:

Your Career Personality: Original, Devoted, and Service Oriented
Your Ideal Careers:
Art directorBook editorCollege professorComposerFilm directorGraphic designerNovelistStage actorPsychiatristWriter


Something is missing from this list! LOL!

Circle Diner


We decided on one of our favorite spots for dinner, Circle T. One of the things I've always loved about CT is the number of small, private restaurants as opposed to large chains. When I was a kid, we had to drive 1/2 and hour to a Pizza Hut, but we rarely did that as we had an ample number of totally awesome pizza places within 5 minutes of our house! None that you've ever heard of, but awesome none the less!


Here's a picture of Kt and my mom enjoying time together at the diner!

Shopping!

We made it safely up to New England yesterday. My allergies from all those blooming cherry blossoms trees got the best of me, though, so I'm just glad I was able to stay awake for that 6 hour trip! Driving through Newark, NJ at 6 pm is just totally miserable! That's why I settled for the McDonald's, especially when the sign under it said "Next food 30 miles" - YIKES!

Today is a warm 60 degrees, sunny and not quite as spring as MD. We are taking it easy, lots of shopping, lunch at Duchess and dinner we're not sure about yet. I am toying with the idea of taking both girls to see the movie Bridge to Terabithia. I've read mixed reviews about the movie and while I'm sure it will be perfect for Kt, I'm just not sure about Em. I'm leaning towards going, as my mom REALLY wants to see a movie. It's one of our regular activities when we're up here, so we just can't pass it up!

Right now, the girls are outside jumping rope barefoot in the grass. At some point, we'll need to hit the bathtub! Uncle D and Aunt J are up in NH, so one of our dinner options is pizza, which Aunt J isn't a huge fan of. She wouldn't be very happy if we waited to have that when she's home! LOL And then, there is the Christmas Tree Shop - we can't pass up a visit there!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Big Hair is Back?

Ok, so maybe my crazy hair cut lady wasn't so way off! Or maybe this is a joke!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Letters to God

Today was a hectic, busy day for me. I'm not nearly ready enough to work tomorrow morning and then head up to CT, but I just had to take a moment to record something that happened today out of the blue. Something that kind of left me speechless.

This morning I was tutoring at the girl's school. My first student is a third grader who I see for a mere 15 minutes and all we do is go over and over lists of sight words. It is literally the most monotonous, boring 15 minutes and there are times when this sweet girl can't hardly stand it anymore. Add to that the good possibility that she is somewhat ADHD (she can touch all 8 computers and still sit down before me in the time it takes me to walk from the door to our desk!) and really struggles with reading.

Today we went back to our corner to begin. We had 100 words to read today, three times! We've done this since the beginning of the year and we've grown fond of our own little routine. We are so attached to our routine that when they tried to find another parent to work with her on another day, she "fired" her! Today, we plowed through her words and then she completed her favorite part, which is to star all the words she was able to say correctly all three times. While she is starring, she will ramble on to me about any number of random things from the weather, to being sick, to how much she likes her pencil, etc...

Today, without even looking at me, she said, "My hand really hurts - I've been writing A LOT!" I agreed with her that third grade involves quite a bit of writing. She replied, "Are you Catholic?" I told her no, I was a protestant. She didn't say anything, so I asked her if she was Catholic, to which she replied, "Yes I am, and I have been writing a LOT of letters to God. Have you ever done that?" I was about to answer when she continued, "Every night I write Him letter about everything and I leave them all by my desk. He just 'takes them up'!" She said this with a sweeping motion up to heaven. I smiled and asked, "Does He read them?" She said, "Well, I guess He does because in the morning, they are just gone!"

I'd love to say that we sparked a more in depth conversation, but she quickly turned to her experience as an alter person for her first time and how she almost dropped the book. Then, as soon as that conversation started it ended with her quickly departing to join her class in media. She left me with a smile on my face. Letters to God at the age of 9 - I would LOVE to read those! Oh, to have faith like a child.

42

Need I say more? That is the temperature this morning after several days of 60's and 70's. Crawling back into bed sounds like a wonderful idea right about now!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Awakening


It happened today - the blossoming trees in our neighborhood began to come alive again. I guess the warmth mixed with just the right amount of drizzle created the perfect backdrop for them to awaken! Just as every year, we leave on Friday, right when things will begin to look amazing, for the north. I'm sort of wishing we could stay for a few days of cherry blossoms, but once again we will miss going downtown to see them. I am glad the spring has arrived! (Sorry for the camera phone pictures - I'm lucky to be alive after typing in all that info while driving. Don't tell!)

Knit Together

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself...
Colossians 2:1,2

My little bad hair day yesterday didn't happen for nothing. Truth be told, God rarely wastes any time giving me tangible examples in dealing with me. I'm extremely visual and He knows it!! My morning Colossians Bible study focused on the beginning of chapter two and my friend, who is the leader, brought in a beautiful piece of knitting. I was clearly focused on this thing for most of the study because, well, I'm visual, and it conjured up many images for me about life as a Christian.

Why are we, as Christians, called to be knit together in love? That was the question, and many answers spewed forth: we are commanded to love, God loved us first, love is what binds us together. Then we asked what is it we need to do to love? This one was a little more abstract, mostly in the sense that we had some really good tangible examples - phone calls, babysitting, making meals, notes of encouragement.... Yup, all good, all phenomenal to others outside of our closeknit group, but what about when it's hard to love? My friend made mention of one of the most important elements of love and I have to admit, it passed by pretty quickly because let's face it, it's hard. Her suggestion was forgiveness.

When I sit in small Bible study groups among my Christian friends I always have these nagging thoughts centered around what the world thinks of us. What is the image that we portray to the world, not only by the way we look when we are together or apart, but by our actions? As I sat yesterday in the seat of torture at the hair cuttery, this thought was not lost on me. The idea of forgiveness also came to mind! I'm not saying I'll go back for round two, but I was thinking that I don't want to be the stitch that is different, that doesn't love or forgive and just makes the rest of the work look like it was in vain!

There are so many ways we can interpret this idea of being knit together in love, but what it means for me is that I have an important part in the fabric that reflects the love of my Savior to His world. I have a responsibility to keep that stitch intact, to remain strong in my relationships within the body and in focus on our reason for existing. We could say it's our love that separates us from the world, but really it's how we act out of love that does. Having access to a body knit in love makes the burden lighter. It's what people see, sometimes their first image of the love of Christ. It's important.

As for forgiveness, one might suggest this idea is many times what causes those outside our closely knit tapestry of believers to step back when they encounter us. It's funny how we expect others to extend it to us, but we aren't always quick to practice it where other's iniquities are involved. How Christ so easily extends forgiveness to us is such a mystery to me, but I want to be able to do the same.

So, what was He trying to show me at Hair Cuttery? Maybe that one out-of-place stitch can destroy the purpose of something, but that would be pretty unlikely. Instead, it's more likely that He was showing me how important it can be to draw in one out-of-place stitch in an act of His love. It can turn that stitch into something beautiful. I saw that on her face when I handed her a tip in front of all the other watchful hair dressers. Their look of utter shock was not lost on me, and it certainly wasn't lost on Him! Practice love, practice forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One Smart American

But I'll be keeping it a secret while in Europe. Somehow, I just don't think they are interested in smart Americans!
You Are a Smart American

You know a lot about US history, and you're opinions are probably well informed.
Congratulations on bucking stereotypes. Now go show some foreigners how smart Americans can be.

Bad Hair


OK - I'll allow just this one picture of my hair 5 hours after the cut, after I spent all afternoon "taming" it down. T came home, took one look and in horror said, "Did you get your HAIR CUT?" I had to laugh, especially when I found out it was for real - he had not even read my blog post! Seriously, if it was 1982 I'd be set. T mentioned something about Duran Duran or Whitesnake.... Plans are being made right now to reunite with my usual stylist and we've both agreed it will be worth every single penny!

Haircut Gone Bad

I cannot bring myself to post a picture of myself. I've needed a haircut for some time now, but I couldn't decide whether or not to spend the $45 on one with someone I know is a really good stylist or go to the Hair Cuttery. My neighbor went to the Hair Cuttery and found someone she really likes who is also willing to take appointments, they were just on days of this week that I was not available. So, I decided just to give it a try.

When I first entered, it looked interesting. I'll leave it at that. There is a Hair Cuttery near my house, but it's very dark, always busy and there is quite an odd mixture of men and women who work there. This time, I decided to try the Hair Cuttery in a different part of the county that's a little more upscale, forgetting of course that people who live there would never be caught dead at a Hair Cuttery. Unless they are older, younger or have a stylist they actually like. She was totally booked.... for weeks!

I arrived and was instructed to put my own name in the system. Clearly, I was a newbie! Since there were three "stylists" and three customers getting cuts and three in the waiting room, I was thinking I'd be there for a while. Wrong! Soon after, some other odd looking characters arrived. I soon realized they actually worked there! I then became nervous - and rightly so. One of them, who was quite large, wiry gray hair and was wheezing from her last smoke stepped up to the computer screen. She squinted her eyes and read off a couple names, both of whom were waiting for a specific hair dresser. I should have known, but instead I sat there naively. Then, she called my name. I looked around - wasn't there anyone else who should have been before me? They all smiled and shook their heads - nope! I was the lucky customer.

We head over to this woman's chair, I'm still skeptical that this woman can actually be a hair dresser. Even the other hair dressers are watching her out of the corner of their eyes. She then asks me in her raspy, nicotine smelling voice, "What are we doing here today?" Of course, I was wondering the exact same thing. What in the world was I doing there?? That in mind, I begin to explain to her in very simple terms what I want - inch off the bottom, some long layers (which despite the fact that she "wasn't seein em" they were there!), some more bangs and shaping around the face. The last one - she gave me the most puzzled look. At that point, I should have high-tailed it out of there!

Instead, I allowed her to direct me to a sink. She proceeded to wash my hair, never actually looking at me but instead at all the people who were arriving. When she spotted one she knew, she said this to me, "Are you comfortable? Good, because I'm going to leave you here for a minute." She left me there, conditioner in my hair, so she could go chat with someone. She then returned to finish the job and I realized she looked exactly like Nanny McPhee in the beginning of that movie! Yikes! Of course, she was double her size.

Not to be completely rude or disgusted, I engaged in as much small talk as this woman would endure. Did I have kids? Yes, two in kindergarten and first grade. Did she? No. OK, Did I have a job? Not really. Would I like to buy the double sized double package of shampoo that she uses regularly? Not by a long shot, if it meant my hair would begin to look like hers! YIKES again! At this point, she informed me that she would be unable to cut my hair the way I'd requested, it would just look too "stringy". Instead, she took the one comb she owned and one pair of scissors and literally cut around the bottom of my hair. For real. No clips, no checking to see if both sides were even, no combing through to make sure she had not missed a long strand. Just chop, chop and I'm done.

She finished off by totally layering bangs I'd spent years growing out. She then sprayed something in my hair, blew it all dry with her one brush and did something I have not even done since I was in college - she used a curling iron on my bangs! After that, and mind you, my hair was looking seriously like I'd stuck a finger in a socket, she asked me if I wanted hair spray. I should have run, but instead I said, "Sure! I can't live without my hairspray!" She almost died (literally) laughing, and sprayed my hair sticking out horizontally on either side. Even running my fingers through it thousands of times once I was out of sight didn't help!

Now that I'm home (I mean, I wasn't going anywhere after that!), I should have hopped in the shower to see what I could salvage of my hair. Instead, I'm writing about it and laughing at the same time. I don't think I'll be returning to that Hair Cuttery - too many scary memories. I'm feeling like some things in life just are worth a little extra. Hair happens to be one of those things. I'm so glad it all grows back!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Go Bananas!

My mom sent me this email today about the benefits of Bananas (wish I knew the author!). She also wanted me to send this along to Kt's teacher's, who would not allow anything but orange slices and raisins as brain food. They should have gone along with my suggestion - go bananas!!

Subject: Bananas

A professor at CCNY for a physiological psych class told his class about bananas. He said the expression "going bananas" is from the effects of bananas on the brain. Read on:
> Never, put your banana in the refrigerator!!! This is interesting. After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way again. Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.
Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve y our mood and generally make you feel happier.
PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.
Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.
Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system. Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.
Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach. Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.
Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.
Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!
Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape! So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods a round So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"
PS: Bananas must be the reason monkeys are so happy all the time! I will add one here; want a quick shine on our shoes?? Take the INSIDE of the banana skin, and rub directly on the shoe...polish with dry cloth. Amazing fruit !

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Want These?


We listed these on Craigslist - sort of an experiment. Want them?

Just Call Me Crazy

I've always wanted to try this - just ask T!
You Should Try Bungee Jumping

Can you take the plunge?
The true test of an extreme sports junkie!

Shock to the System

I am a little cynical when it comes to stories like this one - "College students to pay more for birth control pills." For me, it really doesn't get anymore ironic than this! In a world where abstinence seems immoral, birth control pills the "norm", what are they expecting? This was my all time favorite quote in the article:

"It's a tremendous problem for our students because not every student has a platinum card," said Hugh Jessop, executive director of the health center at Indiana University.

There, he said, women are paying about $22 per month for prescriptions that cost $10 a few months ago. "Some of our students have two jobs, have children," Jessop said. "To increase this by 100 percent or more overnight, which is what happened, is a huge shock to them and to their system."

OK, let's just backtrack here for a minute... not every student has a platinum card - I will totally give him that. In fact, not every adult has a platinum card! However, if some of his students have two jobs AND children, could there be a bigger problem than making sure they have birth control pills? Maybe a little education about where babies come from, some money for childcare and financial aid for college. If someone is going to college, working two jobs and taking care of children they ought to know better! Just a thought!

If we really want to solve this problem, let's take it to the heart of the matter. What kind of responsibility are we teaching our children when we say it's just easier to put you on pills than it is to teach you that when you choose to act in a certain way, there may be consequences for your actions? Instead, we not only condone their actions as morally OK, we encourage it by asking the rest of society to fund it! More of my tax dollars for things I really don't intend to encourage.

I'm sorry for the poor college students who now need to ask mom and dad for more money for their birth control pills. One more call home each month, one more check in the mail for them. Unless we're talking about something mom and dad don't know about, and then are we even condoning that? Then I'm even more against it! Who wouldn't be?

Here's what you can use my tax money for: the college students who are diabetics, have ADHD, live in constant pain, have severe allergies and asthma, need glasses or hearing aides, or those who need medication in order to live. As for those who want birth control pills but can't afford them? Stop having premarital sex - it's as simple as that. It's not life-threatening. It's just common sense!


Do I Have To....?

I've been reading these cute little conversations one blogging friend has been having with her adorable toddler. They are cute, and I remember when we had cute little conversations. Now, we don't have those anymore! Instead, most of our conversations begin with "Do I have to....?" Many times they end with those very same words!

Tonight, my youngest did something she is not allowed to do. She asked my neighbor if she could have dinner at their house. She claims they agreed to this, and chances are she's correct. Truth be told, she prefers to eat with them. We could serve the exact same meal but it's always better at her friend's house. I remember this!

The sad thing is that tonight my older daughter has asked me THREE times if she can join them all for dinner! What, am I serving dog food here or something? Both of them have spent the day cleaning because they've avoided it for most of the winter. I'm guessing they just want out of the house. Anyway, they both know I'm not happy, but they continue to ask.

Here's MY conversation with my oldest daughter:

Her: Um, can I join A, M, A and Em for dinner at their house tonight? (for the third time!)
Me: No, you can have Pizzeria Uno with your father and I. He's on his way home with it now.
Her: (Really pathetic face) Do I have to have pizza?
Me: No, instead you can just stay in your room all night with no dinner at all. How about that?
Her: (Complete silence.)

I guess we're having pizza for dinner! Do I have to put up with this all day everyday? Nope!

Be Careful Who You Tease!

Back in early November, the day I left to fly to Savannah for the birth of my nephew, when I discovered while waiting at the airport that I really DID have strep throat (while I was chatting with a bunch of Army doctors returning home from duty in Afghanistan!), I began my day with a major mishap. I had driven down to work, which I had taken off because of having a fever for three days!, to drop off some items and on the way back home I hit a terrible bump. I'm still uncertain as to what I ran over, but I figured out shortly thereafter that I'd put a huge gash in one of my brand new tires and just before arriving home the tire let me know! I was stuck out on a major busy road only minutes from our house. Thankfully, I was fine and the car survived as well. It was the scoffing that followed that was harder to swallow than the actual event!

I had to call T because 1) I have no idea how to change a tire, and 2) I was way too sick to do anything else. I really had no business being out at all, having the worst sore throat of my life and all drugged up with Robitussin, Advil and Sucrets! It was cold out and I just needed to know whether I should call AAA and wait or if T might be able to help me. He listened to my story and rolled his eyes when he came out to "help" me. I had to agree, it wasn't the best spot to be in to change a tire, but when you get a flat do you really have the option of where it happens?

He sent me on my way, seeing as I would be absolutely no help and I guess he didn't want me hearing him swear about me up and down while he tried to figure out what to do. Honestly, I was too sick to really know what to do, plus I had to pack so I could fly down to Savannah after arguing with the receptionist at my doctor's office about how there was no way in the world that I had strep - what does she know? I kept in touch with T enough to know that he'd called AAA because he couldn't figure out how to change my tire, then while waiting figured it out but waited for the AAA to make sure it was safe. He assured me that the two of them had their share of scoffing at whatever it was this woman did to destroy her new tire - like it was some common male occurrence to have to rescue their tire popping mindless, helpless females. Again, I was just way too sick and tired to address the irony of it all....

Here we jump to this morning. T drove us last night down to Alexandria his way, which is basically right through DC. Everytime we go that way, I'm reminded that I don't because a woman and two children, obviously from the burbs breaking down down there spells certain demise. We hit every single pothole at full force on our journey both ways. Both of us, I know, wondering if we might make the trip back today to enjoy some nice weather and cherry blossoms. Instead, we woke to a flat tire!! Isn't it just ironic that it wouldn't be his driving or his choice of routes that caused this, it could only be a nail or something I might have run over this past week. This tire popping thing - such a double standard! We're off to go pick him up at the mall so he doesn't waste the entire gorgeous day!

UPDATE: Just returned from picking him up. He said to me, "While changing the tire, I found this piece of wood in the wheel well and a shard in the side of the nearly bald tire. We must have driven over a piece of wood and it took a chunk out of the tire a lot like the one you destroyed." Will it ever end? At least this time, I got to roll MY eyes!

Highs

I cannot wait for Tuesday - high of 78 degrees!! I'm not sure what the deal is, but that particular day is so far flanked in the 10 day forecast with days with a high in the upper 50's. Hmmm.... well, at least it's a taste of what is to come. To be totally honest, I miss New England springtime being here. Almost every year minus a couple we have not had a true spring here. It will be winter one day and summer the next, seriously! So, the prospect of having a real spring is kind of exciting.

Last night, we had dinner with some friends in Alexandria, VA. Our drive down was amazing, as we saw cherry blossoms in bloom everywhere. It always amazes me around here how we can drive just 30 minutes south and enter a springtime wonderland while our own home can still look as bleak as winter! Our route also took us slightly East of the Capital and the Washington Monument, both we could see encased in mist and slight fog on both trips. They were breathtaking. I think we both have the bug to go downtown - the girls ALWAYS have the bug to go to the "mall"!

Our friends have been here for about 3 years, and they are getting ready to head to the West Coast for the first time since he graduated from West Point. While it's been fun having them here, we've hardly seen them. Our short 45 minute trip house to house can easily be pushed to over an hour or so most days of the week with beltway traffic, so it has really hindered us from getting together much. Still, I will be sad to see them go.

Christy is a friend from childhood. We grew up in church together, our parents good friends. It's super funny to talk now about growing up, being raised alike with very similar backgrounds, knowing what our moms say to each other about various things and having a meal together like so many we've shared in the past. I really do wish they lived closer, because living in Maryland I've always craved having someone who really knows me and my family. I just don't have that here and I've never really and truly connected with anyone it seems. We spent a considerable amount of time last night, like we do each time we are together, recalling wonderful memories about growing up - it was really fun!!

So, that was a high in my weekend and now I'm just waiting for a high this Tuesday. What's wonderful is that Tuesday is now my most relaxing day, so a nice walk, some time of reflection and I'm sure I'll throw a bit of outdoor cleaning into the mix. I'm hoping the day of the week doesn't change for my 78 degrees, but I wouldn't argue if I had more than one!;-)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fastpass for Passports?

Well, it's done! We got together all our passport stuff and went off to our local Post Office this morning to take part in what they have advertised as a Passport Application "Open House". What a joke!! We arrived at 10am, which was the earliest we could coax our children out the door on a cold, rainy Saturday morning. When we arrived, we could tell there would be a wait by the standing room only packed mailbox room. Others who were waiting alerted us to the fact that we needed a number, so we took one (601) and soon after heard them call the number "69". Hmm... judging by the fact that T had to be at work at noon we were a little uncertain as to how long this might take!

Once in the tightly packed "waiting room" it became clear that this "open house" was nothing more than an advertisement to draw folks to the Post Office all at the same time..... not well planned out, no chairs or even a clean floor to sit on, no bathrooms available and for the poor people who actually collect their mail at this facility, no parking. Not only that, but for the first hour that we waited, they processed only 1 or 2 people at a time. One might expect that if they are advertising a special "open house" they would actually devote more than one or two postal workers to the undertaking.

It was our great fortune that many people just plain old gave up! They went through the 70's very slowly, but once they started calling the 80's and 90's, the numbers went whizzing by. We also benefitted from them FINALLY adding two more postal workers to the work crew, so they had 3-4 processing at the same time. When our number was finally called, we fortunately had everything we needed, a great postal worker and left at 11:55. T was a bit late for work, but we're done!

As our children complained, moaned and groaned for the two hours we waited, we had some good discussions about working as a team, not having it always be just about you, waiting in lines wherever we go being a fact of life and how sometimes there really is just nothing you can do about it. It was an extremely frustrating experience, especially when we tried to call another local post office to see if we could make an appointment and the listed phone number for that post office had been disconnected!! T and I wondered more than once if our waiting would be at all fruitful or if we'd have to pass on our number to get him to work on time. We joked about selling our number! In the end, we were pleasantly surprised, as the process was quite simple. Now, we'll see if those passports ever arrive!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Long Distance Grocery Shopping!

Looks like if I want clean dishes, I'll have to get my soap in another state! What do I think about this? Do they really think this will make a difference other than once again raising the cost of living around here? Thanks, Mr. O'Malley! Cha-ching!

Waiting

After my little diatribe about teaching my children how to wait patiently, I find myself quite annoyed once again by having to wait. I'm not really annoyed as much as sleep deprived. I spent a lot of time cleaning up my bedroom so this Verizon FIOS guy can come install our second FIOS line and truthfully, I'm more annoyed about why I'm waiting than that I'm waiting!

About a month ago, we had FIOS installed for a great deal - 3 boxes for the price of one. I went off to work, T was working from home and had a work weekend, so he kept our cable installed just in case we had issues with FIOS (because he didn't feel like going in to work to work!). When I got home, we had FIOS in our family room, but he told them just to leave the bedroom alone!!! Now, we are paying to have it installed in our bedroom!! OK, enough....

So, here I am in the "window" of time they gave me - 8 am to 12 noon, just like that furniture that was finally delivered at 12:15! I took the day off to spend it with my children who have no school today. Kt has ended up staying at a friend's house last night and going on a field trip all day today with Brownies. Em is downstairs watching The Jungle Book and I am waiting. I had to get up at 7:15 - on my day off - for this. I'm a little, uh, grouchy. Can you tell? At this point, I'm willing to purchase my Verizon VIP pass - right now!

UPDATE: The Verizon guy arrived at 9:37 and stayed for all of 15 minutes. Whatever little thing he had to do could not be done the last because???? I guess they just wanted to make more money! Such a racket!! We got to be outside for a bit, then lunch with T and now back home. It's raining and Em doesn't want to do anything. I guess a day of rest will do her some good, and me as well!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Modifying?

Maybe I'm just as scary as my husband thinks I am?
Your Dominant Thinking Style: Modifying

Super logical and rational, you consider every fact available to you.
You don't make rash decisions and are rarely moved by emotion.

You prefer what's known and proven - to the new and untested.
You tend to ground those around you and add stability.

Remote Controlling My Spending

Tonight we're having our little neighbors over for a "movie night" and they have chosen to watch Babe. We got off to a rough start, however, due to the increased number of remote controls in our house! I thought when we got FIOS that our remote control would be "universal" due to the fact that it is HUGE and has a command for just about every audio visual gadget imaginable. Boy was I wrong!

There I was, three little girls getting a little squirrelly around me while I was trying to figure out how to get the VCR to play onto the TV through our new receiver. I needed 4 remote controls, including the FIOS "all-in-one" remote control and a phone call to T, who was at gymnastics with Kt. It was entirely too frustrating and I almost lost my little girls to Polly Pocket in the process!

In looking back on this experience, and others in the recent past, I'm starting to think that the "universal" remote controls are actually a bizarre and twisted marketing ploy, almost like a secret treasure hunt. If you can figure out which company designed your particular "universal" remote, then it will universally work for all that company's products. The key is finding the correct components that it "speaks" to. It's all a little too Close Encounters for me!

My particular FIOS universal remote is owned by a company that I have not yet discovered. I do know what it's not: JVC, Samsung and Sony. Hmmm.... I still have to try Emerson, Sanyo and Pioneer!! Oh, wait, do I have Pioneer??? Now, I'm just totally confused! Apparently, so is my remote!

No Columnist Left Behind

With all the controversy surrounding NCLB, I'm not terribly surprised at this columnist's interpretation of the issue. What does surprise me is a statement like this:

The federal approach to No Child Left Behind is what you might expect from an administration whose response to a failing strategy in Iraq is to throw good bodies after maimed ones.

This article is supposed to be about the battle in Fairfax County between it's superintendent and the government over the issue of testing. It's a fair argument, one that desperately needs to be addressed because there realistically cannot be one standard applied to each and every child in the country. Non-English speaking children deserve better than to be pressured into learning English just to take a test.

I think this columnist really misses the point of NCLB, though. It's not really based on a "mirage" or designed so that every single child will go to college. It's designed to bring more attention to the inequality in education. In our county alone, one of the wealthiest in MD and one of the best educational systems, we have managed to bring the lower, less visible schools up to the standard required by the government. Instead of us continually watching monies being poured year after year into non-needy "Blue Ribbon" schools, we have seen the playing field evened out. More federal funds have been used to accomplish this equality and I think the students and their families are much better served by this change. Where would those schools have remained had NCLB never been enacted?

We have a long way to go in measuring successes of children, schools, teachers and administrators. I give the current administration kudos for sticking to their guns with this policy. At the same time, I applaud school administrators who stand up for their students against the government to point out some glaring inconsistencies with a program that is supposed to leave no child behind but instead reduces them to unsuccessful, unhappy failures. It's time for the system to bend, time for changes, but it will never happen with below the belt comments. Just MHO!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In Need of Fresh Air and Sunshine!

This is just pathetic. Spring can't come soon enough!!
You Are 61% Addicted to the Internet

In your opinion, life without the internet is hardly worth living.
Could be, but you probably need a bit more fresh air and sunshine to think clearly.

Medieval Times

I tutored today, and I'm not going to write about that - just way too infuriating! Instead, I'll write about something related (my student has a field trip) that always brings back floods of memories for me. The class trip is to Medieval Times.


Several years ago, my father was very excited that a Medieval Times was opening so close my house. His intention was to take our entire family as soon as it opened, as it had been for many years a highlight of his to attend a lunch and show with his history students. My dad was a history teacher/lover/major/fanatic. In fact, most of our family vacations centered around some historical landmark or battle. My parents even honeymooned in Plymouth, MA. If you don't know anything about Plymouth, shame on you!! I won't bore you with all the details I've learned about it from my beloved father.

When Medieval Times first opened in NJ, my father couldn't have been more excited. He meticulously devised plans each year to take his entire middle school team to this glorious production. As spring approached, that is all we would hear about right down to the movie selections they would be watching in the bus on the way to the show. (My father was media driven - have you gathered that already?) When they would return, my father would spend weeks talking about what a success the trip was, despite cranky bus driver, non-functional bus VCR's, rowdy middle schoolers or anything else that might have dissuaded other teachers from pursuing such a trip year after year. Not my dad. There was no way in the world that you could keep him from his Medieval Times trip.

It wasn't until after my father died that I truly realized the obsession it was for him. I think my mom had a clue, as she was forced to attend Medieval Time on their Las Vegas trip. Imagine her grief and despair when she had sent him out to secure "show" tickets only to have him return with tickets to a "show" he had seen numerous times. Eating greasy food with her hands while everyone pounded on the tables until her soda fell in her lap was definitely not her idea of a night out in Las Vegas! I guess that's why he knew enough to hide his coveted picture of himself and the teacher's on his team donning their Medieval Times crowns in his closet! Yup, yup, that's where I found it. Way in the back of his closet in an old leather bathroom bag along with some pictures of old girlfriends, a couple of my mom there was this picture.

It was totally an obsession for him and he was so excited to share it with all of us. Lucky for him, my mother had already chosen to babysit for us so she would not have endure another evening of revelry! Unfortunately, my father died before our Medieval Times opened. Once it did, my brother, his wife and T and I took up my mother's offer and witnessed for ourselves what my father so thoroughly enjoyed - a night in history. We enjoyed it, but marveled at my father's undying love for watching acted out "sport" his entire life. Once was enough for us, but true to his nature, he loved the show.

I think my dad was one of those people who would have fared quite well had he been born in an earlier generation. I've never met anyone who loved living out history as much as my father. It's too bad much of what he rambled on about - Greek gods, ancient Egypt, Israel, the Roman Empire, Babylonia - never really stuck in my memory in detail. Just glimpses here and there, enough to make me want to go see King Tut in Philadelphia, but not enough to know anything about him! Whenever I hear of something of historical significance, like a trip to see King Tut or Medieval Times, my mind is flooded with my dad and his huge grin whenever he spoke of such things. Now that is passion!

Men

Beth Moore is looking for you! If you feel like it, take the time to answer her survey questions for her. It looks fairly simple and I want to hear about her results. I wonder what T will say ('cause I'm going to make him take it!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Unnerving!

I received an eschoolnewsletter alert today about an incident that happened near my children's elementary school. Apparently, after watching the video, it's closer to the girl's school than I had originally thought, seeing as the victim went to their school for help!! About two weeks ago, a similar occurrence involving a parent from our school happened in the same area. I had sort of shrugged it off because it sounded strange, but now I'm a little nervous now. The truth is I've never been happier that the school playground is flanked by construction trailers, a chain link fence that is typically not there and a bunch of burly construction workers! This is also a wonderful reminder to continually pray for the safety of our children.

Unfortunately, we will have to rethink our afterschool outdoor activities with Girl Scouts. Just last week we walked the girls around the back of the building in the woods to collect trash. This week that is not sound so safe anymore. Predators around our children just gives me the chills - may he stay away from our neighborhood!

ADD Spontaneity

I had a moment yesterday. It was a bad, embarrassing one! Ever since finding out that passports may take longer than we had originally anticipated, I've been on a mission to get them done. This included, of course, the pictures!

I figured out over the weekend that I could get them done at AAA. The difficulty would be finding the time to have them taken. We usually have busy afterschool things. Yesterday, I mentioned to T that I thought it might be a good idea to run over after school with the girls to have this done, and he agreed. I called AAA and they were open until 6, so I took the girls right after school. We ran in, waited in line for 15 minutes while the cashier talked on the phone, then had our pictures done, waited for them and left.

I was so proud of myself! Of course, my picture looked lousy because I really hadn't planned on running out. It was a total whim, completely spontaneous moment. As we were getting in the car to go home, one of the girls asked me why we had to do that today. I replied, as I was getting in the car, that it was really the only day that worked. Tuesday is typically our free day, but somehow I'd been manipulated into allowing my girls to stay after school for a movie, so I needed to take them another day. I then started to list out for the girls why every other day we had something after school.......

Yup, including Mondays. It all of a sudden occurred to me that we'd missed something. I had that sinking feeling in the very depths of the pit of my stomach. We'd totally forgotten Kt's piano lesson!! Her teacher comes to our house at 4:30. I'd even made Kt practice Sunday evening while I listened and we'd talked about her lesson. Somehow, between me, Kt and T, none of us had even remembered we were skipping it!! How could I be so stupid? And there it was, exactly 5PM on the nose. We'd totally missed the entire thing.

Well, at least we have our passport photos!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Excitified!

That's what I am about this summer. We have decided to go to Hungary - unless God points us elsewhere - and take the girls with us. Am I crazy? Sure, but I'm all excited and terrified all at the same time. It has been a long time since I've been out of the country (11 years, to be exact) and I'm itching to get out, but I've never taken my girls that far away. We are all excited about the prospect of going, but the details totally terrify me. I am quickly realizing that this trip will take all of my known independences and change them to dependencies on God. I guess God knows that, and maybe that's why He is sending me! (OK - gotta go take my blood pressure meds! EEK!)

Waiting in Line a Waste of Time?

Six Flags is going to start offering VIP passes, which will include no wait for rides, free parking, snacks and food and a meeting with your choice of characters in private. The catch? The cost will be four times what you would ordinarily pay. In other words, money = very important person.

I must say, waiting in line with children can be a drag. Add to that the weather, bathroom issues, rude people trying to cut in front of you the entire way and feeling like you've just wasted an hour and it's just plain annoying. Of course, leave it to the entertainment world to, instead of creating a solution for those who wait in this incredibly boring long lines to just create an elite group of people who don't have to!

When we went to Disney World this past February, we were given "Dream Fastpasses" the first day, which allowed us to ride once the most popular rides without much of a wait. It was a little addictive. So much so that our next day, in the Magic Kingdom, we collected as many fastpasses as we could and bitterly complained when we had to wait in a long line for Pirates of the Caribbean. Essentially, what happened was that our "dream" passes created a family of whiners, complainers and spoiled rotten brats! I'm embarrassed to admit that we taught our children nothing from that experience other than we are better than waiting in line.

There's a lot of say about the characteristics waiting can teach us. Those virtues such as patience, kindness, joyfulness, self-control all play a part in our waiting experience. Lines are a great visual for us because we wait in them everywhere. The truth is that in life we have to wait for a lot of things, it's just not always in line. And in life, there is a rarely a VIP pass that can be bought so our wait is shorter. In life, money does not equal very important when we have to wait for test results, or a paycheck, our food at a restaurant, our prayer to be answered, our sickness to be healed or for traffic to move. We just aren't teaching our children anything by paying $200 instead of $50 so that they can be spoiled for a day. That's just my humble opinion!

Not Going There!

One of the things I love about Sitemeter is that you can find out how people get to your blog. It's funny (most of the time) to see what people search when they find my blog. Most of the time, it's something like a name or place, a hobby I have or some political issue that I've taken a stab at. Occasionally, there is a really bizarre search, like the one from last night. My husband got a kick out of this one and I almost didn't post about it, but it's just way too out there to not mention. And the crazy search was: "my husband sent me to the barn to be spanked by the stable boy"! Even more hysterical was my husband laughing hysterically when he discovered that I was the first post to come up in that search. Some people!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Unknown Country

Ever since we switched to FIOS, it appears that I live in an unknown country! At least according to Sitemeter. I don't know if that is something we are supposed to fix or not. It's just strange, but at least I know when it's just me or T visiting.

Speaking of FIOS, we have finally worked out the FIOS remote control issues, but since we've added a new receiver we've had some unrelated remote control woes. Our internet has been OK, but we often have to reboot the modem. I'm guessing we got the cheap hardware! As for the TV service, it's been great although we don't really utilize the extra channels like I thought we might. The On Demand service is nice, but we all wish they would have more selection. This past week, there were only 5 "new" movies, most of which had been on there since we got FIOS. We may just cancel that service and go back to renting!

I'm going to sign off for the evening and return to my unknown country.... it's a mystery where I am, really!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What to Do?

You Should Maybe Go to Grad School

Grad school may be the right choice for you, but you need to investigate further.
So put those studying skill to use, and pick a program that's perfect for you.
And make sure you're going for the right reasons - not just to avoid getting a job.


I attended an "Information Session" today at a local graduate school. It's not a cheap one, but it's extremely convenient. They have a satellite campus that is about 10 minutes from my house and programs that I could be interested in. The problem? I have no idea what I want to do, don't know if it's even worth it and have been out of the field of education long enough that it matters. I am uncertified (but certifiable in every way!;-)), undereducated, and now it appears that I'm more expensive than the average grad student. It's a little (no, extremely!) intimidating, but if they play their cards right this school could make a mint off me!

That quiz above did me no good. I "maybe" should go to grad school? That's what I've been thinking all along! How about just the basic "yes or no" for me?

Passports

We better apply for them, and fast! I have one that is expired, the girls have never gotten them. I guess if we are all going to Hungary in August we ought to get on this one!! It appears that the wait to get them is a bit long. Will we get them? or won't we? That is the question!

Where Have all the Field Trips Gone?

Today I found a little note in Em's school folder asking if there were any parents interested in attending the one and only kindergarten field trip in May. I'll assume they will be swamped with replies from parents, like myself, who are chomping at the bit to do anything at all with kindergarten. We've had almost not opportunities to volunteer in the classrooms, are given little information about anything that is happening on a daily basis and field trips? They are almost a thing of the past at our school. Why is that, I wonder?

When I was teaching in a private school, we actually planned and executed one field trip a month. This gave all parents ample opportunity to join us, expanded our horizons and utilized an area of the country that is prime field trip stomping ground. The DC area is a treasure trove of excellent educational trip opportunities. All the Smithsonean museums are free, the National Aquarium at Baltimore offers multiple programs at a cost of $1/MD student, National Monuments abound and if you are willing to put out a bit of $$, the opportunities are really endless. So why, with all these options right at the end of our bus routes, do teachers not take better advantage of these amazing sites?

I am asking this question honestly, because I really don't understand. I'm going to take a stab in the dark and suggest a few possibilities. One, maybe, that field trips are a pain in the neck to organize. We did it because we felt that they were an awesome opportunity for the children, not because we liked setting dates, collecting money, making millions of phone calls, getting a bus driver, dealing with parents who refuse to discipline their own children while chaperoning and being completely exhausted for a week after the trip! I have horror story after horror story about field trips, but I would still support them because I know they create experiences and memories for children that can never be duplicated in a classroom.

Secondly, maybe the county has just made the field trip thing a miserable blob of red tape. I know they have banned some in-school field trips, such as the ZooMobile, because of insurance risks. I also know from experience that many expensive field trip destinations are unwilling to work with schools when there are cancellations dues to inclement weather. Just this year, a middle school field trip to the Hippodrome happened to fall on our Valentine's Day storm, when the entire state shut down. The Hippodrome basically collected hundreds of dollars for a performance that was never watched. With policies like that, planning field trips becomes a costly and risky business! The county has also limited the teachers to specific bus companies, which can get very costly. It was a great benefit to us in our planning to be able to find competitive transportation costs that were willing to come down in price to get a job. Not so in our county!

Finally, maybe there just isn't enough interest, either by administrators or parents, to support trips. Kt has had only two field trips this year and I have not been "chosen" to chaperone either. This is Em's first and only field trip and I'm guessing there's a good chance I won't be "chosen" for this one either. I'd have to say that from my experience, parents are quite supportive of trips. I can only assume, then, that somewhere in the administration there has been a moratorium of sorts on trips. Maybe safety issues? Possibly cost? It's really too bad that we have come to a place in education where experience outside of school is not valued very highly or is viewed as unsafe for our children.

As a child, field trip days topped the list of favorite things at school. I can remember many of them, like our trip to see P.T. Barnum on Broadway, taking our unicycling/juggling/clowning show on the road to other elementary schools, going to Mill River to learn about the marsh and estuaries, and the boat trip we all took in 6th grade on the Long Island Sound. When I imagine what my own children could be doing around DC - free zoo, free history museums, free art museums - I'm just amazed unfortunately by what they are missing. Luckily, we take them to these things because we feel they are important. The number of kids around here who never step foot on the mall in DC is staggering, so field trips would definitely be warranted.

This trip in May for kindergarten is to a theater that is literally 5 minutes from the school to see The Ugly Duckling. Of course I would love to go, mostly so that I can engage my child in a meaningful conversation about what we've seen. If there was anything better than going on a field trip it was going on a field trip that your mom went on! I may just have a year with no chaperoning, then again I may just have a year where my children are my only students on our family field trips!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Snow Locked!

Tonight is Family Fun Night at the girl's school. There's a hoola hoop contest, DJ with dancing, games and lots of fun. We're going to have to pass, though, as the roads are getting really bad. There is sleet and snow and the light is dimming, only adding to hazardous conditions. What I love about the girl's school is that it truly is a neighborhood school. What I dislike about it is that it's not in our neighborhood. In fact, nothing is in our neighborhood!

There is one way in and out and that way dumps us onto a major thoroughfare. If we are going to anything, it's in a car and tonight, well, we're just not going anywhere. Em is sleeping over a neighbor's house - her very first sleepover - and Kt has a friend who arrived before things started to really get bad. We are in for the evening.

I just got an email from the girl's school the FFN is still on, the building is open and the DJ has arrived. It's kind of sad, because if we lived in the neighborhood, we could totally walk to it. Instead, we'll be watching movies on demand and having popcorn. We'll pray that next year FFN has some better weather!

Leap Frog reply

A few weeks ago, March 1 to be exact, I sent LeapFrog an email about the word "war" that came up in my daughter's word whammer. I questioned the appropriateness of that word for preschoolers, as I happen to think it's a concept that would be difficult for a three or four year old to grasp. Here's my response from LeapFrog:

Dear LeapFrog Customer,

Thank you for contacting LeapFrog support.

Thank you for taking the time to express to us your concerns regarding LeapFrog’s Word Whammer Fridge Phonics Set.

Several factors are taken into consideration when choosing words for the database of a particular product, including age range, state and national curriculum standards, and educational content references, such as The Children's Writer's Word Book. Please be assured that our including 'war' and 'gun' was based on these criteria, and was in no way intended to make a political statement about the concepts these words represent. This product was designed solely to teach letter names, letter sounds, and three-letter consonant-vowel-consonant words.

We understand that this issue is important to our consumers, and we are reviewing our word database to ensure that the learning experience we provide is enjoyable and appropriate.

We believe the learning experience offered is valuable; however, if you wish to return the LeapFrog product, we will kindly replace your Word Whammer Fridge Phonics Set for product of equal or lesser value, or provide a full refund for the product and postage costs incurred.

Again thanks for contacting LeapFrog support.
So, there you have it. They chose the words "gun" and "war" for their preschool product. Actually, gun doesn't necessarily strike me as strange, as kids know plenty about them. They see them enough on TV, use them in games and they are common toys. War just seems a little more difficult to explain, but whatever. If they think that is appropriate, then who am I to question the "experts"? I'm just a mom!

I Survived!

We lucked out today with rain, at least until now! No late opens or early dismissal, but the girls made it home in the nick of time. Our driveway is covered with a thick layer of sleet. The streets are still just wet, but there is so much sleet on the ground it looks like snow. I'm just thankful I didn't have a nightmare of a day to worry about.

Tonight is not going to happy just as planned. We are all skipping the Family Fun Night at school. Em has her first sleepover tonight at a friend/neighbor's house and Kt is having a friend spend the night here. We'll have to get up a bit early tomorrow, but other than that a quiet weekend is in store. How nice!

I'm exhausted, and I asked T to bring home Don Pablo's, but now I'm weighing the necessity of that given that we've gone from all rain to all sleet. Not so wise, I think. I'll see what he thinks. I'm sure everyone where he works (where they keep all televisions on Foxnews) will leave early today. Except him! Thankfully he works really closeby, so his commute will be a matter of minutes instead of a grueling half and hour on this sleeting day!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Bridge Project


This morning, Kt asked me if I was coming to see her bridge presentation. It was honestly the first I'd heard of parents coming in to see oral presentations!! We've been working on this project for a while now, but with our crazy past couple of weeks, it's been a little difficult. Kt did a fabulous job on her model. It was truly built by a third grader. Some of the other bridges I saw today were definitely made by, uh, older third graders? Anyway, Kt sort of contracted a case of stage fright today. It was a bit upsetting, a great learning experience and I'm glad I was there for her but am wondering if she's never invited me because of just that! I'll probably skip the next oral presentation despite her pleas for an audience.

Wacky Weather - Part ?

We have had the most wonderful week of weather in the 70's. I've been walking, we've gone to the park, pulled out our shorts and t-shirts and had extra recess. It's been dreamy. Apparently, this dream is coming to a screeching halt when we all wake up tomorrow to freezing rain and snow! YIKES! Not another snow day!?!?!

I'm not really handling this well. It's still in the 50's outside and I'm already slinking back into hibernation. I have stuff to do tomorrow! I can't be stuck inside again. Not to mention, it's Friday and my nightmare begins. I have to work, the girls have to go to school and T can't stay home... I'm getting a headache already just thinking about it! I guess this is why I'm not going to be teaching in a different county next year. I'll have a healthier heart for it!

First Disney Black Princess

CNN has the scoop here. Disney is working on a new animated movie, The Frog Princess, which will feature the first black princess, Maddy. She will be added to all the Disney Princess merchandising.... of course! I am glad they are finally doing this, I'm just not sure about that title. I can't wait to see the movie, though! I'm excited about it because my girls actually really love Mulan because they feel a connection to her and the history behind that story. I'm wondering if the Frog Princess is a story from Africa? or islands?? Oh, it's New Orleans. Hmm, I hope there is some cultural connection in there.

Today, March 21, some interesting reactions to the Disney news. I think everyone who has written in has valid comments. The title was a bit disturbing to me as well, and I had not even noticed the absence of a black prince! The only one I have a little trouble with is the issue with American girls wanting to be princesses. Let's face it - it's almost every little girl's dream to be a princess. Disney has capitalized on that fact but it's really up to parents how far they take that.

I guess my hope for this movie is that there is a message beyond just having a black princess to have one. Then again, it is a fairy tale, correct? I'm sure Disney will take all this feedback to heart, but in the end it will be what it is: an animated Disney feature created to bring in the money!

Chimney Chatter

I'm sitting here in my family room, which is generally pretty quiet but for the occasional airplane overhead. Today, though, I am hearing an owl that distinctly sounds like it is living in my chimney!?! Do owls nest in chimneys? Oddly enough, Kt pointed out to us a couple days ago that one of our pine trees (it actually belongs to our neighbor) is totally dead. It's gone from completely healthy to having almost no needles over the course of this winter. Could the owl be hunting out a new dead tree? Who knows? Very odd, though... So, as I'm writing, I am listening to, "Whoo, whoo, whoo" over and over again! (Maybe this owls likes chipmunks, in which case he can have the chimney!)

Inner Californian

Here's a funny one. It's actually funny because we had a friend who just went on a business trip to LA. She was dropping her daughter off here Saturday night, so we pulled out our LA map and told her where to go on her last day. She was flying into Long Beach, working at a golf course in Placentia and then flying out of LAX. My first instinct was to have her change her LAX flight. Then we decided to have her drive up the PCH through Rancho Palos Verdes up to LAX. On final thought, we sent her up the I-10 to Santa Monica to the pier and even encouraged her to take a detour through Beverly Hills and down Rodeo Drive. It was a tough choice.

All the time, I was remembering what our trip was like last summer and kept thinking that what appealed to me most was this tiny little island in Newport Beach, where my cousin lived, called Balboa Island. Our friend was going to be nowhere near there, and for someone who is traveling alone I wasn't sure she'd want to go out of her way and possibly get lost. I didn't even mention it to her! For those who don't know, Balboa Island is the most adorable teeny tiny island with these gorgeous homes on it. It gives you the feel of Cape Cod in California. It totally connected with my inner Yankee!

Yesterday I ran into my friend. She said that she did the Santa Monica thing, Rodeo Drive, ate at Bubba's... the whole 9 yards. Then she told me they were all telling her to go instead up the PCH, so next time she wanted to do that, but she admitted to me that her favorite part was when they took her to Newport Beach. I immediately jumped on that - asked about Balboa Island and she we shared a moment. She absolutely loved it, the little ferry, eating on the ocean, all the little shops. How fun!!

So, I figured I ought to take this quiz. I've never even been to San Diego. I'm guessing they didn't have a little blurb for Balboa Island, because that is where my inner Californian really is!
You Belong in San Diego

Laid back and friendly, you were meant to live most of your life on the beach.
You usually think everything is "all good"... except when the weather dips under 60F.
You stay classy - especially when you're in Tijuana!

Dig for a Day

One of my dreams as a child was to be an archaeologist. I love the idea of finding something important, discovering an ancient object or just trying to fit pieces of a puzzle together to determine what life was really like thousands of years ago. I'd never head of "excavation vacations" before today, but it sounds like a lot of fun. Of course, I'd love to do this in Jerusalem, but apparently they have them all over the world. What an awesome experience!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Love Green...

..and mint!

You Are Mint Green

Balanced and calm, you have mastered the philosophy of living well.
Your friends seek you out for support, and you are able to bring stability to chaotic situations.
You're very open and cheerful - and you feel like you have a lot of freedom in life.
Your future may hold any number of exciting things, and you're ready for all of them!

One Word

I got this funny email today from my mom's best friend. I was just thinking about her the other day because I don't really have a best friend. That has bugged me since the time I moved here. It's basically the one time/place in my life that I just can't seem to find the right best friend and it's honestly made me dislike this area even more! Anyway....

The email said, "Describe me in one word and reply. Then forward this email to all your friends." I sent back the word "hilarious" to her - because if you knew her, you would know this word for her is an understatement. You basically never stop laughing (and neither does she) when you are with her. Of course, after sending that word I was thinking that maybe I really didn't want to know what words my friends might use to describe me!!

Peace part 2

The rest of my peaceful day yesterday was, well, anything but peaceful! I ran over to school, had lunch with Em, checked on Kt, who looked awful (no more Benadryl before school!), ran home for a quick break, realized when I got home that I didn't have Kt's med card - T had it, ran to his work to get it, ran back to the girls school to pick up Kt, went to the dr, drove Kt back to school, went to get a prescription. Now, that took over an hour! I got home 10 minutes before the girls. You know, I honestly can say that I have no idea how I'd fit 8 hours of work in there. How do single working moms do this? I stand in awe!

Today there is real peace and quiet in my house and it's seriously eerie. It's very nice out, so I'm going to go for a quick walk, spend a little time with God, then I'm going to tackle one of my many large home projects... you know, clean up a bedroom (they all need some work right now - yes, even Em, whose room it seems I clean constantly!), work on that basement, kitchen.... Then tutoring today. That one... well, two months left! Then I'll be poor again! LOL It's not very lucrative, especially since he's always behind in paying me. I've been tutoring for a month without pay since Christmas.... oh well!

Well, since my peace is slowing slipping away, I should probably go enjoy it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Peace

Probably one of things about walking with Christ that I have thoroughly enjoyed is the feeling of peace when it ought not to exist! To have a moment with the Savior in the midst of chaos is such an appreciated gift to me.

Today has been a bit hectic. No one is dying (yet!), I've not pulled my hair out (yet!) nor is there any sweat dripping from my brow (yet!). It's just been a little wacky. T starts his first day at his new job, no email, no phone yet and apparently no computer! Kt has had her seasonal springtime rash/hives on her face since Sunday morning. Today was the worst, and it's now itchy. She also has her testing today, forgot her snack/lunch, so after I half-heartedly charged my dead cellphone, I ran that up to her on the way to being late for my first day at Connections Bible study. I also just got back from having lunch with Em, whose teacher emailed me yesterday asking why she has a stomach ache every single day.... probably because she isn't eating her lunch! I go back to school in about 30 minutes to pick up Kt for a doctor's appointment and will hopefully be home in time to get Em off the bus. Hectic, not life-threatening, just hectic.

I started this study today in Colossians. Because I was late, I wasn't the most talkative in the bunch, but I'm really glad I decided to do this short 6 week study. Everything we talked about today resonated with me in my hectic-ness. I need a little peace! or Shalom in the Home (those ads on TV keep cracking me up!). I'm home, taking a breather, thinking, praying and adding a little peace to my world before I move out again.

Monday, March 12, 2007

NYC

This is hysterical... especially the last sentence!
You Are 28% NYC

Okay, so maybe you've been to NYC. But you probably really live in Connecticut.

First Day

So, today is T's first day at his new job. He had to leave bright and early - something none of us are used to. That means I had to be up to get the girl off to school. I say "girl" because I insanely allowed my daughter to have not only a sleepover party for her best friend from North Dakota on Saturday night, but also for her friend to spend last night here. Note to self: totally not worth it!! Both of the girls are exhausted and her friend has sleepover issues. We've known about them, but just very tiring.

Long story short, I finally fell asleep around 3 am. Kt walked around from about 6pm until they went to bed on the verge of or in tears because of the 100+ movies we have in our house AND the movies on demand, her friend convinced her that the only movie she was "allowed" to watch was Atlantis - because, of course, we don't own it and it's too old to be on demand. We did not bow down to the request to rent it because there are literally hundreds of choices here! So, they did nothing but moped around and pouted. What a sight!! They are now downstairs watching Nanny McPhee, the movie they were both going to watch Saturday night until outvoted for CheetahGirls 2. I'm telling you, the choices last night were bountiful - don't feel sorry for them!

So, here I am, I have tons to do and Monday is one of my only free days to get things done around here. I misunderstood the plan for today. It being her friend's actual birthday, I thought the parents were taking the girls for the day so they could spend it together. Instead, I was informed on Friday that I would have the girls until around 3:30 today... which is a problem for me as 1) I can't even get them to get dressed, 2) I have to get a few things done whether they like it or not, and 3) I have to tutor today! While I'm not totally understanding all this, I'm sucking it up and letting it happen. It'll be over soon enough AND it will never be happening again!

My mom has brought up the opportunity for us to go to Savannah together for her spring break at the end of April. I really would love to do this, but with T's new job I'm not even sure it's possible. If he were still able to work from home, I'd have bought my tickets already. Now, I just don't see how I can pull it off. Who would put them on the bus? or be here at 4 when they get off?? All these changes and unknowns are just really difficult for me right now. I feel like I'm in some kind of vacuum, not knowing how to plan for anything.

I guess I better go ask the girls for the fourth time to get cleaned up and ready to go out. I'm so tired, I imagine I will not be the best host for a birthday. Of course, if they would just once tell me what they want to do, it might help!! Just call me Julie, cruise director. I'm off to swab the deck!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Commitment to Childhood Obesity?

Once again, the question arises as to how committed our schools are REALLY to childhood obesity. Instead of providing for children the physical education that is recommended, they are eliminating cupcakes for birthdays. Way to go, Maryland!

Lingustic Profile

I think I've done this one before, but the questions were all different.
Your Linguistic Profile:
40% Yankee
35% General American English
15% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

Is it Warmer or Isn't it?

An interesting article today about the evangelical stance on global warming. I have to admit, in my family we throw around the idea of global warming as a bit of joke and, for the most part, dismiss it as a natural occurrence that is actually repeating itself over hundreds of years, cyclical in nature. It's not that we don't believe there isn't warming happening, we just aren't buying all the hoopla that has been created surrounding it.

In this article, there appears to be a huge crack in the glacier of evangelical leadership on the issue of global warming vs. other "moral" issues paramount to our time, namely abortion and same-sex marriage. It's really a muck they have all gotten themselves into by attaching a religious sect to political issues and trying to come to some consensus about which is most important. My question to them is this: why not focus on making the "evangelicals" most interested in something we all agree on, like poverty and the need to abolish it?! Fighting among themselves? Well, that isn't going to solve any of these issues.

I'll admit it - I'm pretty conservative when it comes to issues, but I also feel like my views on those issues have developed as I've developed a relationship with Christ. While I might not buy into global warming, I will admit that we can all make efforts to improve the way we treat and view earth, over which we have been given the charge by God Himself to be stewards. Educating others on ways to be a better steward does not go against my moral standards one little bit!

Even if the global warming rhetoric is not being picked up on my radar, the concern over energy efficient air protecting necessary changes resonates with me. Of course, they are just as important to me as my belief that embryonic stem cell research should never happen under any circumstance, and certainly not paid for by my tax dollars. Why? Because the sanctity of life, in my opinion, is completely at stake and I'd protect that with as much or more vengeance as the earth. I can't seem to come to any understanding of how people can be so set on saving the earth yet so obtuse about saving life. I want to do both and what's the point in saving the earth if we so little value human life?

OK - off my soapbox and back to wondering when global warming will arrive here, because I'm cold!

Sleepover Recovery


I never made it to church today - not feeling so great. T had to pray in church, so I'm not happy that I missed it. I guess I'll have to listen to it on tape, which is not my favorite activity.

Here's a picture of my sister-in-law with her new car. My mom sent it - yay for her!! We'll call her techi-mom today. I hear they are enjoying it, especially now that they are past the initial 1200 miles and can drive it over 55 miles an hour.

We had a nice visit last night with friends who are visiting from their new home in Bismark, ND. It's been a rough year in many ways for them. They've seen a lot, traveled a lot but are all missing the East Coast, friends and family. It sounds like the schools there, which are ranked 4th in the country!, are much more laid back, family oriented and less pressurized. The trade-off? Frigid cold weather!

It's super nice to see them, especially for Kt, whose best friend is in the family. She's getting a day off school tomorrow and two sleepovers in a row. Last night we had the four best friends here for the night, tonight it's Kt's best friend, whose birthday is tomorrow. I guess I have the girls for the day. What to do? Right now, I'm just hoping I feel better!

So, what would it take for our schools to be more family friendly?? They have every Wednesday evening off - no sports, no after-school activities - because it's Family night. This family takes their children out of school often on Fridays and have been told that the school will work with their schedule. When asked how many missed Fridays would become a problem for the school, the reply was, "I don't know. Maybe 20?" Hello! That is about 5 months of every Friday!! Almost enough to make me move, but not really! LOL I hate cold weather!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I'm both...

You Are An Intro-Extrovert!

Sometimes you're social - sometimes you're shy
You've got a bit of an Introvert / Extrovert split going on
You enjoy all sorts of situations. Parties, small groups, and alone time.
Too much of one, and you'll long for the other. You need varity!
Chances are, you've got both serious and fun friends - and they don't get along.

Silence

I must be getting old, because I realized today, after returning home to "music" blaring at an unreasonable volume through my entire house, that I prefer silence. I don't mind background music, but I really can't get anything done with constant banging. I must be getting old.

The real truth is that I can't even think or hold a conversation when it's that noisy. I don't know if this is related to my hearing loss or the good possibility that I have a tinge of ADD. When I am bombarded with too much noise, especially when it's all on top of each other, I pretty much tune out and enter a sort of zone out mode. I notice this most when I'm working with those preschoolers and we are outside or in the gym. It's very difficult for me to hear anyone calling me when so much is going on around me.

So, if I see you in a large group that is very noisy, such as at church, in a grocery store, at the park, and you try to yell to me, don't be surprised if I act like I can't hear you. I can't! If you want me to help out in some way, ask me to do something that can be done in solitude, at my house (when my husband isn't home "listening" to his loud, pounding music) or with only a couple people. It probably has little to do with my age, as I can remember preferring small, quiet groups my whole life. But I'll just blame my distaste for ridiculously loud music on the fact that my tastes are a little more refined now. Sorry T!