30 November 2008

First Snow

This is what Frank and I awoke to this morning; both children virtually screaming with excitement, "It's snowing! It's snowing! It's almost Christmas! Can we go outside? Can we? Can we build a snowman? Get up! It's snowing!"

Flynn added, "It's almost God's birthday!"

29 November 2008

13 Years Or So And Counting

This morning at my mother-in-law's home my daughter responded with the following when asked what she'd like for breakfast, "One of these," as she pointed to a chocolate covered graham cracker, "with whip cream on top."

Me: Uh, no, try again. No cookies for breakfast.

Flynn: That's NOT a cookie. Cookies are round.

Me: Cookies can be pretty much any shape. I know Oma will let you have cookies with whip cream for breakfast, but I'm not Oma. No cookies.

(There was no getting by me on this one; Oma had left at 5 a.m. for Branson, Missouri of all places.)

She looked at me, put her hands on her little hips and replied with anger in her voice, "When I'm a grown up, I'm going to live all. by. my. self."

Me: OK, then you can have cookies for breakfast any time you want.

Flynn: Yeah, that's what I was thinking.

26 November 2008

Giving Thanks

Even though I'm feeling under the weather (curse those 6th graders and their coughing), I'm feeling decidedly thankful for the following:

1. My husband and children. I honestly have no idea what my life would be like without them, but I'm certain it wouldn't be nearly as full of love and laughter.

2. That even after 6 and a half years of his being gone, I can still hear my Dad's voice in my head. I can still hear his laugh and I pray to God that I never forget it.

3. That, almost 3 years after his death, I can still hear my father-in-law's cheery "Hallo, everybody!" when I cross the threshold of my mother-in-law's house. Even as cancer was ravaging his body, he was in terrible, almost inconceivable pain and confined to the couch, he would still call out to us as we entered the house. I miss him almost as much as I miss my own dad.

4. I am eternally grateful for my family, those related by blood or marriage and those people to whom I'm close enough to consider family. To have them in my life makes everything better and brighter.

5. My friends. Those of you I know in and outside the realm of the Internet have been there to commiserate with me, lift my spirits, make me laugh, offer advice, inspire me creatively. Thank you. You are each a treasure to me.

6. Books and magazines.

7. Great music.

8. Coffee and tea.

9. Excellent chocolate.

10. My sister-in-law's baking. I will consume many, many more calories than normal over the next few days due mainly in part to Karin's cheesecake.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

24 November 2008

Back On The Job

I submitted my substitute teacher application at my children's school way back in August at the beginning of the school year.

Until today I'd been in the school in a professional capacity for a whopping grand total of a little over an hour.

This morning I rose earlier than I normally do - well before Frank (and the sun) was up in order to shower, make myself presentable, prepare 3 lunches instead of 2, have breakfast and my requisite 2 cups of coffee, get the children up, dressed, fed and out the door before 7:30. I wanted to be a little early to school so I could go over any sub plans the teacher I was filling in for left.

I was with sixth graders today, an age group I have not spent this much time with since I was part of it (a very long time ago). All in all, the day went well in spite of the fact that I had to teach two sections of math (pre-algebra no less). The kids and I muddled our way through some basic equations. I hope I didn't confuse them too much. I'm thankful that over lunch the 8th grade English teacher confided that she, too, has an uneasy relationship with numbers.

My homeroom group consisted of 28 11-year-olds. 28 mostly very talkative and highly charged 11-year-olds. They. never. shut. up. Even when they were supposed to be quiet, some of them were muttering. The kids were, on the whole, very good and helped me with their daily routine. Most of them have siblings that are in either Evan's or Flynn's classes. And I learned something else today: 11-year-old boys cannot keep their collective bottoms in their chairs to save their lives. I don't mind kids getting up and sitting down, but the constant fidgeting was something I found wearing and it was compounded by the fact that they did not have P.E. today.

But I'm a veteran mom and a veteran teacher. I've been there, done that.

And it felt sooooooo good to be in the classroom again.

23 November 2008

The Decision

This was what Flynn wore to the Daddy-Daughter Dance on Friday. She was so excited to have dress shoes that had a little heel on them and she kept wanting to put stuff in her little purse, even though I told her all she really needed was a lip balm (her lips are really dry). I let her wear a little bit of lip stain and a very,very light eye shadow which thrilled her to no end.

She and her Daddy had a fun time at the dance. It is the highlight of Flynn's social calendar and she cannot wait for next year's dance.

This is what I finally decided on wearing to the Jr. League's Festival of Trees Gala: a dress from Old Navy (that I bought Friday afternoon), purple faux-suede shoes from Payless (purchased Saturday morning and they hurt like hell after a few hours of wearing - that's what I get for choosing style over comfort).

Frank and I had a good time chatting with some of his co-workers, we heard an incredibly moving speech from Amy, mom of the adorable Larkin and a sustaining member of Junior League. Her speech almost made me want to join JL it was that inspiring. Dinner was ok - no great shakes (hotel catering has failed to wow me on numerous occasions, this one included) and dessert was underwhelming (a pass-around plate of petit fours & cut up defrosted eclairs) but the company was excellent (Leeanthro, your shoes looked so comfortable and stylish). Frank and I will most likely attend next year and I'll try to remember not to stress out about what to wear.

After the disappointing dessert, Frank said he could go for a slice of cake and wondered if any place was open (it was 10:30). We headed downtown and ended up at Cafe Kopi. They were bereft of cake, but did have cookies and other dessert-type stuffs; I had a couple really yummy coconut macaroons and Frank had an apricot bar then we headed for home so I could take off my shoes.

All in all a good night in spite of my being hobbled by my shoes.

21 November 2008

Pretty Friday Music

A dear friend introduced me to The Bird and The Bee a while back and I've fallen in love with their music. I love Inara George's voice - so pretty. The band describes their music as "A futuristic 1960's American film set in Brazil" and I think that's spot on. This song, Again and Again, from their self-titled album has been floating through my brain for a couple of days and I'm fairly certain you'll find it fluttering through your head, too.

Except for maybe Freak, who will find this too slow for her tastes.

20 November 2008

Good Idea/Bad Idea

Good Idea: Going to the gym.
Bad Idea: Not listening to my body when it said, "Please stop that. You're hurting me."

Good Idea: Continuing the search for something to wear to Saturday night's shindig.
Bad Idea: Walking into Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe. I've never been in either store before and am unlikely to return. Nobody working there greeted me or even acknowledged my presence. I have no idea what Forever 21's sizing is: I tried on a little black dress in a small, which was too tight across the back, so I tried a medium, which was too big. I guess I wear a "smedium". I did find a cute top I could wear to a New Year's party but, again, the sizing was wonky. The same goes for Charlotte Russe. Plus, I think I'm way beyond their demographic. The music, though a nice selection of modern Christmas tunes, was way too loud and hurt my ears. Banana Republic didn't help either as they don't carry petite-sized clothing in their Market Place store. I bought nothing. Looks like I'll resort to my closet and see what I can come up with.

Good Idea: Grocery shopping.
Bad Idea: Grocery shopping when I haven't had lunch.

Good Idea: Just saying "no" to the donut and choosing Emerald's Cocoa Roast almonds.
Bad Idea: Inhaling approximately 3/4 of the container in the car. Those things are crazy addictive.

17 November 2008

My American Girl

A month or so ago I mentioned to Flynn that I thought she'd look very cute with her hair cut short. I told her a chin-length bob would look great on her.

She looked at me like I'd just killed the cat.


Saturday night as she's putting her toothbrush in her mouth, Flynn says, "I want a haircut. I want to look like Kit.*"

* For those of you not in the know, Kit is Kit Kittredge an American Girl doll, and Flynn's favorite.

"Really?" came my surprised reply.

"Yes! Let's do it before I go to school!"

"Um, ok."

Yesterday afternoon we drove over to JC Penney's with my mom to get Flynn a new 'do. Here she is waiting her turn.I gasped audibly as the first 10-inch lock of hair hit the ground. Flynn, as always, watched her stylist like a hawk making sure the haircut went exactly as she wanted. Flynn's so little that her stylist had her stand up so she could get the cut just right (I still had to trim a little when we got home). Then she styled Flynn's new hairdo just right.

Here's Flynn posing with the picture of Kit she brought to show the stylist.
Doesn't she look cute? Flynn LOVES her new haircut and so do I.

Though it did give me pause when one of the first things out of her mouth after "I look just like Kit!" was, "When I get to school K is going to look at me and say 'You look good.'" K is a boy in her class who is in love with her (as are all the boys in her class, but she likes K the best).

15 November 2008

They're Gettin' Progressive Down At The Mall

I'm on a mission to find something to wear to the Jr. League Gala next Saturday so I went to the mall this morning. I failed to find anything interesting or Gala-ish, but did score a button-down shirt, a skirt and a couple of cardigans.

As I was exiting Macy's, I momentarily stopped dead in my tracks because I heard this song over the PA: Why by 80's group The Communards, a band I loved way back in the day (I played the cassette tape I had of this this album until it fell apart and I still have my vinyl copies of extended dance mixes and singles).

I haven't heard this song in ages and certainly never heard it outside my house or circle of friends. It makes me wonder if the person in charge of putting together the music for the mall was being a tad subversive since The Communards were openly gay.

I must have looked quite the idiot as I quietly sung along to this song and tried-not-to-dance-walk my way through the mall with a goofy smile on my face . Other shoppers did give me a wide berth.

14 November 2008

The First Degree

Last night Evan received his first degree black belt.

This is something he's been working towards for a little over three years and required not only the commitment to attending classes two times a week, but in order to pass his test he needed to know his entire form (all 48 moves), half of a past form (23 moves), 2 self-defense moves, create and choreograph a demo set to music (he chose a dance mix of the Star Wars theme and performed it with his friend J, a classmate and fellow black belt), break 2 boards (they're plastic and graduate in difficulty according to a child's age), remember and perform forms for 2 weapons, AND write a one page paper on what he learned on the way to becoming a black belt.

Oh yeah, and keep up with his regular school work.

But Evan rose to the occasion and kicked ass, if I may say so. I think I was more nervous than he was - my hands were shaking during his musical form.He showed off his flying side kicks and broke his boards on the first try. He was so fast, I didn't even get a picture of him breaking the board with a flying side kick. Thankfully, another mom took pictures and is going to e-mail them to me.

Here's my boy with his brand spanking new black belt and his friend. His instructor liked their routine so much she wants them to polish it and perform it in front of their class at school. Evan and J are stoked.

On a side note, as a reward for sticking with Tae Kwondo when there were times he wanted to quit and for earning his black belt, Frank and I gave Evan a Nintendo DS (he's been saving his money to buy one for two years, I think). He was very surprised at first when he saw the box then he started jumping up and down.

And now I can't tell which makes him happier; the black belt or the gaming system.

12 November 2008

Another Theology Question

Before settling down to sleep last night Flynn asked how many days until Christmas. When I told her she exclaimed, "45 days until God's birthday!" Then she ruefully added, "How many will He be?"

As in, how old is God.

I told her I didn't know the answer and that was a good question to ask one of our parish priests next time they came to her classroom.

I wonder what his reply will be and if our priests will start cringing every time my children want to ask them a question. Evan still hasn't gotten an answer regarding his query.

(I happen to like these questions. I want my kids to be able to inquire and educate themselves, even if those questions may seem weird or silly. It shows me that Evan and Flynn are using their brains and not just following blindly; that they are creative thinkers. I don't want that individualism quashed. I encourage it.)

My Black Belt Boy

10 November 2008

Last Night

How to sing like a 5-year-old:

1. Expand your song repertoire of Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers to include old standards like "Take Me Out To The Ball Game".

2. Sing the following lyrics:
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the ball game
'Cause it's 1,2,3 strike you're out
At the old ball game!

3. If at all possible, stand on the second floor landing in your house to sing. It offers better acoustics.

4. Sing as loud as you can. This is important.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 over and over and over.

Before my son drifted off to sleep last night, he looked at me and asked, "Mom, is there a cure for the plague?" then without skipping a beat made an "OK" sign with his fingers, put them up to his eye and asked, "Can you see my fingers?"

Yeah, I don't know where that came from either.

My husband and I take turns getting the kids to sleep. Sunday is traditionally his day to take Flynn to bed. We sit with our children until they fall asleep (don't judge and don't tell me we made a bad parenting choice - it works for us so back off).

Flynn fell asleep pretty quickly and I saw Frank leave her room (Evan and I were reading an Eoin Colfer book). Not too many minutes later, Flynn came in and somewhat demanded "Where's Daddy?" I escorted her back across the hall and told her Daddy was in the shower. As we entered her room she gestured to the spot on her bed where Frank had been sitting and said, "See? No Daddy! I was not all the way asleep when he left my room." She was kind of p.o.'d that her father dared leave her awake but settled down and was soon fast asleep.

I'll just say that watching Death Proof has confirmed my belief that Quentin Tarantino is one strange bird who would probably benefit from some therapy.

Frank's review? "Well, that was disturbing."

And I think it was about an hour too long but Kurt Russell does a good creepy.

07 November 2008

"La La La Can Only Take You So Far"

Sarah posted this today and I thought I, too, would share this kooky amazingly cool song by The Bedroom Philosopher. It made me smile and I hope it makes you smile as well. Please enjoy.

05 November 2008

I Don't Have The Words

Words are evading me right now. I'm a jumble of giddy excitement.

Yesterday the people of this country made history; history we can be proud of.

My friend Denise forwarded me the following message from Michael Moore, so I'm going to reproduce it here:


Who among us is not at a loss for words? Tears pour out. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. A stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair.

In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity: Barack Obama, a good man, a black man, said he would bring change to Washington, and the majority of the country liked that idea. The racists were present throughout the campaign and in the voting booth. But they are no longer the majority, and we will see their flame of hate fizzle out in our lifetime.

There was another important "first" last night. Never before in our history has an avowed anti-war candidate been elected president during a time of war. I hope President-elect Obama remembers that as he considers expanding the war in Afghanistan. The faith we now have will be lost if he forgets the main issue on which he beat his fellow Dems in the primaries and then a great war hero in the general election: The people of America are tired of war. Sick and tired. And their voice was loud and clear yesterday.

It's been an inexcusable 44 years since a Democrat running for president has received even just 51% of the vote. That's because most Americans haven't really liked the Democrats. They see them as rarely having the guts to get the job done or stand up for the working people they say they support. Well, here's their chance. It has been handed to them, via the voting public, in the form of a man who is not a party hack, not a set-for-life Beltway bureaucrat. Will he now become one of them, or will he force them to be more like him? We pray for the latter.

But today we celebrate this triumph of decency over personal attack, of peace over war, of intelligence over a belief that Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs just 6,000 years ago. What will it be like to have a smart president? Science, banished for eight years, will return. Imagine supporting our country's greatest minds as they seek to cure illness, discover new forms of energy, and work to save the planet. I know, pinch me.

We may, just possibly, also see a time of refreshing openness, enlightenment and creativity. The arts and the artists will not be seen as the enemy. Perhaps art will be explored in order to discover the greater truths. When FDR was ushered in with his landslide in 1932, what followed was Frank Capra and Preston Sturgis, Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck, Dorothea Lange and Orson Welles. All week long I have been inundated with media asking me, "gee, Mike, what will you do now that Bush is gone?" Are they kidding? What will it be like to work and create in an environment that nurtures and supports film and the arts, science and invention, and the freedom to be whatever you want to be? Watch a thousand flowers bloom! We've entered a new era, and if I could sum up our collective first thought of this new era, it is this: Anything Is Possible.

An African American has been elected President of the United States! Anything is possible! We can wrestle our economy out of the hands of the reckless rich and return it to the people. Anything is possible! Every citizen can be guaranteed health care. Anything is possible! We can stop melting the polar ice caps. Anything is possible! Those who have committed war crimes will be brought to justice. Anything is possible.

We really don't have much time. There is big work to do. But this is the week for all of us to revel in this great moment. Be humble about it. Do not treat the Republicans in your life the way they have treated you the past eight years. Show them the grace and goodness that Barack Obama exuded throughout the campaign. Though called every name in the book, he refused to lower himself to the gutter and sling the mud back. Can we follow his example? I know, it will be hard.

I want to thank everyone who gave of their time and resources to make this victory happen. It's been a long road, and huge damage has been done to this great country, not to mention to many of you who have lost your jobs, gone bankrupt from medical bills, or suffered through a loved one being shipped off to Iraq. We will now work to repair this damage, and it won't be easy.

But what a way to start! Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States. Wow. Seriously, wow.