Monday, June 30, 2008

Birthday Girl!

Baby girl, aka "Frack," is nine today. Nine going on twenty-six, that is. She's gorgeous, if I do say so myself, with a wonderful sense of fashion (don't know where that comes from, since I am the least fashionable woman I know this side of frumpy) and a goofy sense of humor. She truly is the kind of sunshine that mamas and daddies sing about making them happy when skies are grey.

So we have best buddy sleepover going and dinner by request (pork roast, parmesan risotto, and broccoli casserole), and sometime this week we'll do pedicures and go see Kit, the American girl, figure out the Great Depression. Only one more year in single digits! I can't believe she's that old. Yikes. Guess I came by all this grey hair naturally!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Classy Dame: Emma Thompson


I so want to be Emma Thompson. She's clever, funny, opinionated, and she knows how to steal a show. She's an Oscar-winning writer (Sense and Sensibility) and an Oscar-winning actress (Howards End). Plus, I don't think I can imagine anyone else doing proper justice to Professor Trelawney. My heroine!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

As God Is My Witness, I'll Never Garage Sale Again

I'm not a complete Philistine. I know that garage sales are a Great American tradition. Some people plan their whole weekends around which garage sales are where and what they hope to find while browsing.

My sister decided a month ago that the two of us, our mom, and her MIL would combine for a multi-family, colossal garage sale. So far, so good. I'm in purge mode. Purge resulting in cash in my hand sounded pretty good. So we've been stockpiling things in the garage for the upcoming garage sale, imagining dollar signs floating upwards like they do in cartoons. We have some high quality stuff, too--coffee makers, stuff from Williams-Sonoma, nice clothing (from a smoke-free home!). My MIL kicks in some things from her recent move, too.

Lately, Florida weather has been acting like real summer weather--hot and humid all day, le déluge sometime in the afternoon. But this weekend was supposed to break the pattern and be lovely and sunny. Wrong! We're planning to set up yesterday afternoon, and Noah's flood arrives. It rains for two solid hours, then clears up justlikethat. Beautiful, clear starry skies. We're up late setting up tables and labeling and pricing. Still got those dollar signs floating.

Oh, how wrong I was!

This morning, the sprinklers had hosed a good portion of what we set out, so we started the day wiping down half of everything--and there was a lot of everything--and fending off rude early birds who don't understand that we meant 8 a.m. Eastern standard time. Folks come by. They browse. They leave. They aren't buying! Meanwhile, it's Tennessee Williams weather (hot as hell and humid to match) and cloudy. This does not bode well. Plus, everyone's snippy and cranky because they were up late last night.

We get four or so decent hours of sale before we have to haul out the visqueen and cover everything up again because it starts freakin' pouring. To add insult to injury, after all that work last night, plus getting up at o-dark-thirty this morning to set up, my take of the pitiful total is about $51. I could make better money than that working at Target!

So that's it for me. No more garage sales. Tomorrow, I'm packing up my stuff and taking it to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. And that will be my policy from now on. You can bet the dramatically clutched dollar bill in my raised hand (while the camera sweeps back on the sunset vista to the strains of dramatic theme music) on that one.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Operation Adult Bedroom

It's not what you think.

DH and I are taking advantage of the fact that both kids are at camp for the next four days to launch Operation Adult Bedroom. And no, it doesn't mean that we're installing a trapeze or a mirrored ceiling. Although...

Seriously though, if your bedroom in your house with young children is anything like mine, amidst all the adult trappings are an avalanche of books and toys suitable for the under-teen set. Like Barbara Kingsolver sharing my bedside table with Judy Moody, or stepping on those infernal Airsoft gun BB's in the middle of the night. Or realizing that yet again, my towel is missing because the kids decided to take a shower in our standup shower instead of in their own perfectly clean bathroom. *sigh*

Operation Adult Bedroom means that we clear out the kids' junk, repaint the walls, rearrange the furniture a little, sew some, fluff, and then put up the CAUTION tape. I love my children and I'm enjoying them while they are still young enough to think I help spin the world (in previews of coming attractions, Frick is morphing into surly, grunting teenage boy, while Frack is getting way ahead of herself with the "Mama, you're embarrassing me!" when we're out in public). I love that they like to hang out on my bed and read, or talk, but sometimes, I'd like some sleep--or perhaps other activities--with the reason I have children in the first place.

So off we go to Lowe's today to buy paint for the bathroom that never got completed when we moved in, paint for the armoire (can't keep it the same color we're making the walls), new knobs and hardware for the armoire, closet organizers, and etc. And then we help DH's mom hang pictures all afternoon, so no real work today, alas. But tomorrow, we're making the HGTV folks proud. I swear. Right after we finish watching this movie from Netflix...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hack 'n Slash

Gettin' tough with the bad haircolor. Most of it's gone now, thanks to a major haircut. Let's just say the nape of my neck is seeing daylight for the first time in yeeeeeeeears. Short on the neck, longer in the front, a little more height on the crown. We'll see how the curls react with less weight on them. I've got about an inch or so of old, tired medium golden brown here and there, but by the end of the summer, I'll have my own color all over: dark, dark brown, and startling white. Can't decide if it makes me look more original or just older, but it's definitely more authentically me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ten Things That Annoy You About Work

This should be cathartic, since we finished school last week. Here we go:
  1. The Living Dead. Teachers who can't remember why they chose teaching as a career need to pick up stakes and find another homestead.
  2. Whining. The lengths to which kids will go to excuse their missing work are incredible.
  3. Stuck on Stupid. Policies and people who don't use actual logic or observation as their basis for advancement.
  4. God's Gifts to Education. Or so they think. You know, the teachers who have contempt for everyone's class but their own, or the administrators who are convinced they have the one silver bullet that will change education as we know it, and they're determined to fire it straight through your hardworkin' heart.
  5. Know-it-alls. Could apply to the students on occasion, but usually applies to folks outside our school who know nothing about it, but can pontificate about it at length. These people are usually rude and condescending and wouldn't last ten minutes inside a real classroom, yet they seem to know exactly what I'm doing wrong and what I ought to be doing instead. Problem exacerbated by large amounts of money.
  6. Paperwork. Teaching would be so much easier if we weren't buried under the avalanche of forms, reports, and data we're supposed to be keeping track of. When the paper becomes more important than the pupils, we have a problem.
  7. Grading. Separate from the paperwork, this is the bane of my school existence. I hate to grade papers. It's tedious. It makes me sleepy. And at the end of it all, it tells me exactly what I knew already. Alas.
  8. In-School Suspension. Not because we don't need it, but because when a kid gets ISS, I get interrupted every damn day for that kid's missing work. In essence, I have to stop teaching the kids who didn't get in trouble to scramble up work for the kid who can't stay out of trouble. This is backwards. Make ISS the most unpleasant bog on campus, and kids will work harder to stay out of it!!
  9. Paychecks. They're too small. I double-dog dare anyone who has a beef with what public schoolteachers are paid to come do my job for two weeks. After that, we'll have a substantive discussion about how many hours teachers really work and whether the current remuneration schedule is adequate. To be nice, I won't even get on my high horse about how most training is conducted after school hours on the teacher's dime (the total opposite of the corporate world), or why teachers never get to "expense" anything.
  10. Politics. This could be the subject of several rants, but I'll be nice today. In short, schools are not your political footballs. Do not subject teachers and students to your short-sighted agendas to make points for your club against the other club. You just make more headaches for the teachers who are already working too hard for too little, and the kids are the ones who pay the price. If politicians really, really respected public education, they'd do two things: 1) Spend a great deal of time in actual schools doing substantive research and work, and 2) Listen to teachers who are currently in actual classrooms, not education "experts" and consultants who are paid very handsomely to reinforce the prejudices you already have.
Whew!! I feel better already. Happy summer, everyone!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ten Ways the World Has Changed Since You've Been in School

  1. iPods. We thought cassette tapes were the bomb. Now we can make mixes of anything and download yoga podcasts.
  2. Yoga. When I was in school, only weird triple-jointed people did yoga (or so we thought). Good thing we learned more about it, huh?
  3. DVDs. Skipping ahead to the good parts (like when Mr. Darcy emerges from the bath all wet and yummy) is so much easier!!
  4. Viable minority and female candidates for President (one of whom will be the Democratic nominee, thank you very much). This is actually darned exciting.
  5. Fall of the Iron Curtain. I actually had to take "Americanism vs. Communism" to graduate from high school. My kids today have no idea what it was like to be afraid of the Russkies, and they don't know much about the Soviet Union, either. Makes teaching Animal Farm that much harder.
  6. Global Warming. We never thought about it, and we certainly weren't worried about good gas mileage. I drove a nine-passenger Chevrolet wagon and didn't fret about how much it took to fill it up. Now, I'd have to sell plasma to afford to drive that tank.
  7. Harry Potter. A young reader phenomenom like "Pottermania" has been long overdue.
  8. 24-hour cable. I remember when they played the National Anthem on TV stations at midnight, then everything went to test patterns or static until 6 am. My students can't fathom this.
  9. Wal-Mart. It's taking over the civilized world, and that is not a good thing. Last summer, my husband was with a good friend of ours in Canada. They were driving up the northernmost highway in Northern Ontario on their way to Hudson Bay, going through a podunk, dying town, population about one hundred people--and it had a freakin' Wal-Mart. Gadzooks.
  10. Marriage and children. The toughest job I've ever loved.

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