Thursday, September 28

Unchained Melody

Yesterday brought a new, unprecedented thrill to our household. Little Chic flew off the bus lugging not only her backpack, but her new viola. She has been looking forward to joining the orchestra, one of the privileges of fourth grade, ever since last year when she had her orientation at the "big school" i.e., the building that houses 4th-6th grades. We've never quite figured out the fascination with the viola, rather than the violin, but she's never swayed! We paid the bargain price of $50 for a school year's worth of lessons, including the viola rental and yesterday, she officially became part of the orchestra.

Tall PTA Friend saw Little Chic during her first lesson and observed that Little Chic was quite enthralled, wide-eyed, soaking it all in. In fact, school pictures occurred on the same day, and Little Chic had to briefly leave the lesson to have her picture taken, and she was not happy to be interrupted.

The second she got into the house, the case was on the floor, opened and she began playing for oh, let's just say, the next SIX HOURS. It was actually impressive. Orchestra Conductor only had about 15 minutes left once the instruments were distributed, to actually show how to hold the instrument, use the bow and such, but Little Chic was using all four strings playing scales all the way up after about half an hour. I was prepared to have blood running out my ears from all the screeching, but I have to admit, there wasn't too much of that. It looks like she might actually be good on this instrument. She has been dying to play something, anything since she was wee tiny and we've been through a myriad of recorders, harmonicas, even a miniature guitar--she's even been yearning for a piano. So this will work out well. This viola is much smaller than a piano, the lessons are cheap and it has kept her totally busy for the last two afternoons. I'm not thinking her 30 minutes of practice will be much of a problem. Yet.

Wednesday, September 27

Grrrrrr......Yaaaaaay

GRRRRRRR......
I finish kickboxing class at 11am. I say "I'll run by the school to see if they need extra help for School Picture Day". I think "They are probably done with their morning shift and they'll be heading to lunch and I can go with them." I park my van, go inside and see Little Chic eating lunch in the cafeteria. I chat with her and her buds for few minutes, telling several that "No, they can't come over today, but maybe over the weekend." I then go peer behind the stage curtain to see if the photographer is still snapping away. He's not. No PTA moms are anywhere to be seen. They must've finished up and already left for lunch. I decide to run into the office to check the PTA mailbox for any more submissions of volunteer forms. I see an envelope that needs to be forwarded to a teacher, so I write a note on the envelope, pop it in her mailbox and prepare to leave.

I CAN'T FIND MY KEYS. I didn't carry anything else in with me, so I am quite sure I would have felt empty-handed going into the building - so they must be inside the school somewhere. I look around and they are nowhere to be found. I dash back to the cafeteria in case I've left them on Little Chic's table and she dumps them in the garbage with her trash. Little Chic and buds are still in the cafeteria, all thrilled to see me again. Amid hugs from thronging children, I am peering under the table, in various lunchboxes and on trays, finding no sign of the lost keys.

I flit back to the office, figuring I set them on the counter or the table and just didn't see them the first time I looked. I scour the flat surfaces, mention it to the secretary, describing the house key that is painted to look like an American flag. She says she'll keep her eye open for it. I run back to the cafeteria, sure that now that it will be empty of 4th graders and the keys will be easy to spot. Sure enough, there are no fourth graders sitting at the tables; now it's the fifth graders. I plow through the crowd of happy campers all flagging me down, waving wildly, shouting "Hi, Brainy Boy's mom!!" I spot a lunchroom monitor, explain the dilemma, to which she assures me if they were in the cafeteria at all, they will now be in the gigantic trash can. I run into the custodian who promises he'll keep an eye out for them too.

I begin to doubt myself and I go out to the van. There are no keys in the ignition and none sitting within view. The only doubt is that I looked at a particular piece of paper right before exiting the van, and that piece of paper is now sitting in my passenger seat, and could possibly be hiding the keys - but it doesn't look like it. In desperation, I try PTA Friend Mom's key and clicker since she has the same make/model van as mine. No dice.

I begin to weigh my options--I could call Hero Guy from work to come get me. Not my first choice. I could stay for a couple of hours, help with school pictures, and hope they show up as the day goes along. I'm so agitated now, that I'd be miserable. Option 3 came along unexpectedly. As I was going out to the van to peer in the windows for a second time, another PTA Friend Mom who lives just down the street from me, was pulling out. I flagged her down, tried her key/clicker (she also has the same van) and asked her for a ride home. Luckily I leave a door open for the kids every day just in case they sometime beat me home, so I had a way in. I get inside, call Hero Guy to tell him he'll have to drive me to school later tonight to unlock the van and see if my keys are inside. He can't talk right now, so explanation is averted.

YAAAAAY.....
I'm home 15 minutes and school secretary calls me. She was coming out of the copier room and glanced behind the huge plant that sits on the table by the mailboxes. She sees a set of keys shoved behind the plant and one of them is painted like AMERICAN FLAG!!!

I knew I wasn't crazy--and now I get to explain the whole thing to Hero Guy with the happy ending already written. He'll need to drive me down to school which he won't mind since I won't have to pay $100 for another key with a chip in it and $100 for that clicker that I just can't live without.

Monday, September 25

New Horizons

I did a weird thing today. I put my application in at my kids' school district to be a substitute for support personnel (things like teacher's aide, cafeteria worker, office staff, health office). I've been increasingly stir-crazy in my 10-year stretch as a medical transcriptionist working out of my home, and the lack of interaction when I actually work as much as I should, is taking a toll on me. It's strange because I actually really need my own space at times, but all-in-all, I am a people person.

I've actually considered my transcription job a dream come true, an answer to prayer, a blessing that I was handed by God. When Brainy Boy was tiny, I was still working at my 50-60 hour a week career, dragging home exhausted and feeling like I wasn't doing a great job at anything. I wasn't able to continue putting insane hours into my work but I was gone from home to much to be Mom as much as I wanted. After months of begging God for an answer, He literally dropped an at-home transcription job into my lap. It's been a blessing ever since. I've always been thankful to be able to sit down and work whenever fit my schedule best and sick days have never been a problem. I've also been acutely aware of the scores of women who relate that they would love to have a job like mine, and I've never lost sight of the advantage I have.

I'm finding though, that after 10 years of looking at the same screen with the same earphones plugged in, the tedium is causing me to lose momentum. I'm finding every little excuse to hop up and change the laundry over, answer every phone call that comes in, recheck my email (again), see who is on instant messaging - anything to add a little variety. So I'm thinking it might be time for a change of scenery. I figure that if I'm a substitute, I can take a few days here and there, try out a few different assignment options and see how it goes. For now, I'm keeping my transcription job, and frankly after handing in the papers this morning, I began to have my doubts. I came right home after working out and sat down and typed till the kids got home. I kept noting how I made twice the money in half the time that I would in an outside "no brainer" job, which is all I'm really looking for at this point. I even considered applying for a part-time bank teller position (which I think I would totally love except for the getting held up at gunpoint thing that happened to my sister), but the schedule wouldn't coordinate with the school calendar quite as nicely.

So we'll see how this goes. I'm not sure what I think yet, but who knows - by the time they verify that I am not a serial killer and get my fingerprints on file at the FBI, I just might have pecked what is left of my fingers down to nubbins, maybe I can just direct traffic as a crosswalk guard or something.

Saturday, September 23

Book Tagged

I'm cooperating with my Sis (well, truthfully I've been slacking in the blog responsibilities lately as I have not even had my rear in my computer seat, which is bad for several reasons, namely my transcription income). But anyway, here's what it is...

1. Grab the nearest book. Don't think, just the nearest book...
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your Blog (Please include the book and author) along with these instructions.
5. DonÂ’t you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
6. Tag five people. (Anyone who wants to do it!)

This one was laying open on my dresser, as it is the current selection for Little Chic's and my Mother/Daughter Book Club. Unfortunately, we were supposed to have had the meeting last week at my house, but we've been slacking in the book club department as well. It seems that no one in the club had finished the book. I'm beginning to ask myself just what we are succeeding in these days since it's not blogging or reading! Anyway, back to the task at hand...

Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink
"The stiffness and queerness vanished like magic with the comfort of hot mush and milk - even if one did have to stand up to eat it. But the second day was worse than the first. People were restless and undecided"

One INTERESTING TIDBIT about this book---when I was pregnant with Little Chic and we were going through the grueling task of selecting names, I had an aunt who tried very hard to convince me to name my little precious "Caroline Augusta". Said aunt is known for choosing unusual names for her own children and she currently has a teenager named "Martha". I could not for the life of me figure out where the name "Augusta" came from, and how it in any way matched with "Caroline". Fast forward to last month when I reached Chapter 2 of this book with Little Chic, and the first line stated "How do you do, Caroline Augusta?" Now I gotta get a hold of my aunt and confirm that the name must have been inspired from a favorite childhood book. If not, well then, that's just weird.

One IRRITATING TIDBIT about this book---I was not able to find a picture of the actual book cover that we are reading--only this more current version. For some reason, that really irked me. Probably because I was searching at 1:04 am while waiting for Hero Guy to get back from a car accident.

Thursday, September 21

One of THOSE Parents

The day started out well today. Actually all of our days have been starting out well, if I do say so myself. In no way do I proclaim to be a 'morning person' so it is with fear and trepidation that we begin the school year each fall. However this year, I've been in fine form, actually leaving the house showered and properly dressed when I drive the kids to school. Admittedly this is strange, because for the five years prior, let's just say it's a good thing my van windows are a bit tinted from the outside, and I drive fast. Morning drop-off time has not has not featured my best look. But I digress.

The day started out with each of us calm, collected and following our morning routines. As Little Chic came into the bathroom for me to help her with her 'part' (as in hair) I noticed that she had on a royal blue shirt with a navy blue skort. Even now I can't explain why I made note of it. That is one battle that I thought I had long given up with her - if the clothes fit and are clean, she gets to mix and match in whatever way suits her. But in my feeblemindedness, I suggested she change either the shirt or the skirt since those two shades of blue really didn't go together. I was surprised that she didn't protest and she even asked me to help her pick out a new shirt. As I finished getting my own self ready, I completely forgot that I had clothes selection duty. When I came down to usher everybody to the car, I realized that Little Chic had gotten sick of waiting for my help and had chosen the switch herself. She changed the whole outfit. She had on her favorite tank top with coordinating shorts that barely qualify as the right size anymore. And today the high was 65.

I'm almost ashamed to admit this--I told her to go get a jacket. I let my kid go to school in mid-summer clothes in mid-autumn weather with a jacket that probably never saw her skin all day. I can hear the teachers now. "You know that Mrs. O. She's a bang-up PTA mom, but I would've never guessed she'd be one of those parents. You know, the ones who let their kids come to school all winter without a proper coat and hat. The ones who send their precious jewels out in the elements without socks or gloves. You know, those people." The embarrassing part is that it was kind of liberating not getting all in a huff about the inappropriate attire and getting to school on time rather than rushing around to force another quick-change. And she seemed to survive. At least she came home with a big grin on her face. And there was no way she'd ever admit she was chilly.


Wednesday, September 20

Crazy Dazy

As of today school has been back in session a full two weeks, and I have to admit, I'm a bit disillusioned. I had visions of blasting through the house getting absolutely everything caught up, making us rich by putting in hours of transcription- but the days are passing and I'm barely able to keep up with even my blogging--imagine that!

I look back over my calendar and I find there is just too much black space and not enough white. I think that six or seven hours of daily "empty" time seems like the jackpot it's a combination of me thinking I have more than adequate time to get the necessities done and everybody else figuring I have nothing better to do than to sign up to help them with their projects. Now I readily admit that I volunteer for many such activities like going into the classroom for various events, working on PTA plans, coordinating some things at church--all very worthwhile time investments. But other things like exercising, the quick lunch with the girls afterward, the running to the bank or store--all those time eaters, just seem throw the rest of the plan into chaos!

I'm gonna have to get myself on a stricter time schedule and reestablish my routine from last year. I suppose it takes a couple of weeks of winging it to realize why the schedule I used to follow works a lot better. Frankly, the bottom line is that having an agenda is not nearly as interesting as bee-bopping around taking things as they come. It doesn't allow for much procrastination and kind of forces me getting down to business even when I don't really want to. But I'm a list-making, schedule-following, planner type of girl and eventually the free-form drives me sort of nuts - which is where I'm at right now.

So starting tomorrow, I'm getting back on track--well, after our MOMs group meeting, that is. And maybe just one more quick lunch with the girls for good measure !!

Monday, September 18

Chickadee is 9!!

Today is the day that our little girl, whom Hero Guy calls "Chickadee", is turning 9. It's weird to think that nine years ago ended our experience of being expectant parents. There's just not much that compares to waiting for a baby--whether through natural channels or adoption. It's that strange combination of being so excited you can hardly stand it, but also being apprehensive, hoping the baby will be healthy, hoping you'll know how to do everything you're supposed to take care of; and then the day comes and your life changes forever, whether the baby is your first or your last. Little Chic is our youngest, but as I tell her, she's the oldest sister. And she's nine today. She's been reminding us that it's been coming since September first. She's been singing Happy Birthday to herself since Friday. She asked Hero Guy, Brainy Boy and me "What's tomorrow?" about a million times yesterday. She drove Brainy Boy crazy by quizzing him on just exactly how much input he had into the present he was giving her. She counts it a real insult if the gift wasn't personally hand-chosen by the giver as she wouldn't dream of giving something she hadn't selected herself.

This morning started by her decking out in her favorite pieces from several ensembles (thus the mismatch) and coloring her hair with blue stripes using her Clairol hair gadget, putting in her new kitty earrings she got to open at breakfast, and dashing to school in excitement. I met her at lunch with her very favorite Subway sandwich (plain ham & cheese) and brownies for her class. Tonight we oppened some presents and then went to TGI Friday's for dinner just so she could get their Oreo Madness dessert, which they no longer have. We ran around to a couple of stores to use up some birthday money, and got home with enough time to spare to unpack some of the new loot.

The reason Little Chic is so concerned about making the birthday such a production isn't because she is self-absorbed. It is that she absolutely loves to celebrate anything. It's one of the qualities that I love best about her. She works her little heart out whenever it is Mother's Day, Father's Day, somebody else's birthday, and she wholeheartedly puts her all into making somebody else feel special. So when it's her turn, she just figures that is what people do. It's been a good lesson for Hero Guy and me in validating one another and communicating our appreciation because somebody in the household will notice if we don't.

Some of my favorite things about this little "gal pal" of mine are:
--She is one of the most unselfish children I've ever met. Other people's feelings are of utmost importance to her. She'll often deny herself to give somebody else something that they want (even her brother!)
--She wakes up chirpy in the mornings (she got this from her dad).
--She sings almost constantly.
--She is a very hard worker. She roams around the house looking for things that need to be done, and she is the first one to volunteer to help Hero Guy or me with any task even without pay!
--She is very athletic and loves competition of any kind from sports games to board games.
--She's a "club" kind of girl. She'll join anything that requires membership from the soccer team to Brownie Scouts to a book club, even though she doesn't really like to read all that much. She just likes to belong.
--She loves her brother and adores her dad. Even when they aren't as attentive as she'd like, she follows them around just to be close by.

She's definintely the joy-giver of the family. She wears her heart on her sleeve and can go from happy as a lark one minute to the depths of despair the next. The good thing is, it doesn't take much to bring her back to the top again. I guess that's what little girls are made of - at least mine is.

Saturday, September 16

Whoa, Betsy

I am amazed as I look back over my week this week--No wonder I'm pooped. I can barely see the white space on my calendar due to a lack of restraint on my part from waaay overscheduling myself. For instance, I kickboxed twice, skipped a PTA meeting to make it to a Sunday School meeting on the same night, took the kids to Wednesday night church, had breakfast with a friend before running to a Children's Council meeting, made a presentation to the church Leadership Team, skipped kickboxing once to cook a pasta lunch for Little Chic's fourth grade class in honor of author Tomie dePaola's birthday since her class had finished reading Strega Nonna, went to soccer practice and did some birthday shopping for Little Chic. To end the week, here's what we did today.... After picking up Brainy Boy's friend at 7am from a sleepover (and he'll be sleeping over with us tonight) Played landing strip to a tiny butterfly
Won the soccer game 3 to 1 with an awesome save by Little Chic as Goal Keeper

Got Little Chic's nails done in preparation of her Monday birthday complete with butterfly airbrush design
Rather than be a smart cookie and order pizza out, Yours Truly cooked a pot roast dinner which will actually pay off tomorrow--we'll be having leftovers after church. Because I'm singing and I'll be out of steam by the time I get home, I'm sure.

Here's to a boring, uneventful week coming up!

Fan Club

Looking for something to read? Try this book just out, written by the dad of my church's Youth Pastor. It's a bio about Gene Moore, Tara Beth's granddad. As the book says, "He was a baseball prodigy. At the age of fifteen, Gene Moore was a boy, playing like a man, in a game where men, play like boys. Headed for baseball stardom with the Brooklyn Dodgers, his destiny was interrupted by Pearl Harbor. His life... and maybe our national pastime...would be forever altered."

I went and bought my copy yesterday since it was the day of release and I'm gonna hand it over early when Mr. Moore comes for his book signing at Barnes & Noble. I'm sort of a groupie like that. The sales guy at B&N was laughing when he told me the author's daughter had been in earlier that day and insisted that he buy it right away and read it. I thought I'd help her a little with her marketing efforts.

Thursday, September 14

Better You than Me

I just have to post an update. This family will not be getting a pig. I took my two offspring to see the little darling after school, and I was so excited as I pulled in the driveway in anticipation of seeing them want to pet the pig, want to hold the pig, want to carry the pig, want to own the pig. I am clueless as to why the first time I visited this little guy he had no smell. But today... well it was just indescribable-in the worst possible way you can imagine. This adorable little black piglet with the cutest pointed ears was having a case of the runs, which apparently is completely normal for pigs. The mess had just been cleaned up by Next-Door-Neighbor Friend and you couldn't see it anymore, but it was still there, in fumes. My kids would barely go near the crate and I thought Little Chic was going to throw up. After encouraging each of them to take a big breath and hold it, I finally coerced them each into giving it a quick pet. I had planned to come back later with the camera, getting lots of priceless photos of each of my kids holding this little creature, making over his sweetness and blowing up the prints to adorn their bedroom walls. We will not be doing a photo op. And I doubt we will be going back to visit him again except for one last time. That would be to undo all the hard work I did convincing Hero Guy that we really need one of our own. I'll be proving to him that in no way, shape or form will we be having that smell in our yard even if he promises to do all the work himself. I will be getting any and all pork products from the same tidy place that I've been getting them all along--the grocery store.

Wednesday, September 13

Who is This Woman? And Why is She Saying She's Me?

I'm scaring myself. I actually put my fall decorations up yesterday. Instead of blogging. And while I still have a cold. Scary, I know. First of all, I love decorations, but hate decorating, so how in the world do I even have decorations for that season? I usually tell myself that I'll put up fall stuff right after the kids start school, but I'm never really anxious for fall and so I generally put off any type of autumn look until at least the week of Thanksgiving. Then it's so late in the season I can just skip it and go right to the Christmas tree and I don't have to put a bunch of stuff away that's only been out for two months.

I would have taken a better photo to give the full effect of the whole room rather than just a snippet of what I did, but I was trying to "hide" the extra loveseat that is now sitting by the fireplace waiting for Hero Guy to help me haul it to the Unfinished Basement. I was on such a roll that I would have attempted to get it downstairs myself but I was sure I'd take out the door jambs and then there'd be yet another odd job to add to the list, so I refrained. You want to know how there is an "extra" love seat? While I was at it, I moved furniture too! You have no idea how amazing that is for me--I curb my boredom in other ways than moving furniture; once its there, it stays-for years. Actually it was a little self-serving because that thing would win an ugly contest and it's in terrible. I was going to send it to the same place I sent the stereo but Hero Guy still hasn't recovered from that discovery. Brainy Boy and Little Chic thought they'd walked into the wrong house after school, but Little Chic was perturbed that we're relocating her favorite TV-watching couch.

Oh, and no one needs to mention that decorating the feet of a coyote is a little like hanging a wreath on deer antlers--I fully realize that. But, hey, MY mantle has slowly gotten taken over by dead wildlife, so I pretty it up in protest. It hasn't changed anything, but it drives Hero Guy nuts!

Monday, September 11

Three Things

It's bonus time, people. In my cold-induced stupor I wrote this post before I realized it really wouldn't do to post the 9/11 topic tomorrow, so rather than make you wait, I'm giving you a double-dose today.

Three things I SAW today:
1) A kindergartener and his dad anxiously waiting at the bus stop (which for some reason they thought was in the parking lot of the drive through car wash where I was vacuuming my car). The bus never came.
2) Myself in the mirror at kickboxing class, attempting to work out while having a head cold (NOT a pretty sight)
3) 30 pictures of various deer wandering in the woods, captured by Hero Guy's very new digital game camera that he mounted on a tree (not sure why we needed pictures to prove that upstate NY has deer in the woods)

Three things I HEARD today:
1) That a kindergartener in some town fell asleep on the bus ride home after school and she was discovered still sleeping by the girls ball team that had an out-of-town game that evening.
2) That the girls in my kickboxing class no longer want to go to lunch after every single workout. It has something to do with wanting to keep their weight down, but I thought that's what the kickboxing was for. Hmph!
3) That Brainy Boy really can't stand tacos, and he has just been eating them whenever I've fixed them because that's all there is to eat.

Three things I DID today:
1) vacuumed my bedroom ceiling and walls (I had no idea this needed to be done, but apparently some people are extremely dusty and it sticks to the texture of the paint).
2) Windexed and hand-wiped my entire bathroom floor because Hero Guy has an affinity for hairspray that doesn't seem to dissolve with normal floor-mopping technique.
3) Fell asleep in a Sudafed fog after supper and woke up in the dark at 8pm. All the occupants of the house were being especially considerate to let me nap because it meant undisputed extra TV time for them.

Now these last three won't be done again for a verrrry long time!

Day of Change

It was five years ago that Hero Guy made his first out-of-town rescue trip. He headed to NYC on around Day 14 post- 9/11 and ran rescue calls for the city while they were saving their own. He was able to see firsthand the aftermath of the tragedy, experiencing the sights of Ground Zero, the abandoned cars in parking garages, the various buildings in disarray. He spent the night on USS Comfort and headed back home a changed person. Since that time, he has been on various rescue missions as far away as New Oleans with Hurricane Katrina though most are rescues he makes at home. No matter where the place, no matter who the person, coming to people in their most needy hour is his joy and privilege. He always has loved his rescue hobby of putting out fires, running out to a heart attack in the middle of the night, but since September 11, 2001 it has been his passion. It's a pretty neat thing to know your calling.

Sunday, September 10

Pig Envy

Last weekend, Hero Guy worked as a medic at a local farm festival. During the daytime, I got a phone call from an extremely excited person blabbering on about the possibility of owning a piglet. Listening closely, I realized the fast-talking frenzy was coming from Hero Guy. Apparently the festival was holding an auction as one of the events and piglets were among the prized items for sale. Since they were small and young, they were going for quite the bargain.

Now being the animal lover that I am, I immediately envisioned having a little Wilbur of my own, training his pink cuteness to use a litter box, and running down to our brand new PetSmart to buy a dashing collar with matching leash. I even peered at the calendar making a mental note to call for a vet appointment for his first checkup. Imagine my horror when Hero Guy described the pig run he would erect in the back yard, explained how we could bring him into the garage during the particularly bitter winter we are bound to have, and how full our freezer would be once we, uummm...."send him away".

I began to rant that #1-we only buy bacon when we go camping, #2-I only cook pork chops once a week at most and #3-he might as well just plan on adding the dog and cat to his evil plans of harming our very beloved pets. He just didn't seem to follow the problem of nurturing and caring for a little creature, seeing it grow from a little baby to a sweet, affectionate PET and then sacrificing it to feed our family!! As a result, he decided against the bid, and I've been a little regretful ever since.

Now tonight, I get a cheerful email from Next-door Neighbor-friend who announces she has just acquired an adorable little black piglet that they have dubbed "Bacon". Apparently she doesn't share my disdain at consuming the very animal that falls alseep in your lap while you rub it's belly! I'm going to see it tomorrow and I'm formulating a plan on how I can contrive to have one of my very own. I'm pretty sure I can erode Hero Guy's determination to feed us with it, and we have a very convenient unfinished basement in which I can keep this little guy until he is housebroken. Who knew THAT would come in so handy?!

Saturday, September 9

Hah Bumbug

I have always been a die-hard summer gal; the hotter and stickier the weather, the more I like it. But living in the way north for the last 18 years, I somehow let myself get drawn into the anticipation of the changing of the seasons. I never did see the big deal about watching the glorious warm weather fade, about no longer seeing the green grass and flowers, of not being able to dress closer to what nature intended. I just can't understand the thrill of having to dress in layers (who wants to look fatter, anyway?) of seeing all types of naked trees (just like people, they look much more attractive when they are dressed) and decorating in orange and brown (I never have met anyone whose favorite colors were one of those two--well, except for Brainy Boy who loves brown because it reminds him of chocolate, but I digress).

But not wanting to spread my party-poopiness to the world, I use the colder weather as an excuse to get some new clothes. I make as many trips as I can justify to the Cider Mill for donuts and cider and then I take advantage of exercising outside without sweating to death. Although I do end up getting into the spirit of things, I have my limits.

I got a bit worried when this tree in my front yard began turning yellow in August, but I was able to ignore it. However when I returned home after getting groceries today, I could not overlook the fallen leaves that had detached themselves during the brief rainstorm we had. This means that we have leaves falling in the summer. And that is just not right. I'm proclaiming that I'm not ready for fall, and I will be dragging my feet until September 23 when the calendar pronounces the end of my beloved summer. After all, in these parts of the woods, we are lucky if we get 4 to 6 weeks of true summer weather in the best of years.

I do realize that many in the world just adore autumn. No offense, but I'm not one of them because in case you didn't know, it means winter is coming. And for a heat lover in the north, that's bad. In protest, I'm wearing a sleeveless dress with sandals to dinner tonight. Look, Ma, no sweater. So there!

Thursday, September 7

Metamorphosis

I had a new experience yesterday evening--I 'hatched' my first chrysalis. Each year in school my kids have had a caterpillar that they observed turning to a cocoon and then into a butterfly, but I've never seen it myself. On August 22, a friend gave the kids & me an active chrysalis and told us to watch for it to change, first into black and then emerge shortly after. We've watched and waited for days, and Super-creative Teacher Friend who gave it reported that all of theirs had hatched. Ours hadn't even begun to change. I began to think it was a 'dud' and that somehow I'd killed it as I often do to any plants that are in my care. But alas, yesterday at lunchtime I realized the cocoon had turned from a bright green to a dark color with Monarch patterns showing through. I shot off an email to S-C Teacher Friend to ask how many days it would take to come out--I had forgotten the schedule in my despair over its presumed death. I sent Little Chic out to see the black cocoon and she informed me that there was an empty cocoon with a hatched butterfly sitting beside it. Apparently the timeframe once hatching begins is brief. I went to move the twig out of the temporary home I'd made (a mason jar) to make it easier for Johnny/Katie (doubly-dubbed for male/female by Little Chic) to eventually fly off. It seems that newly hatched butterflies are very friendly because he crawled right onto my hand and didn't want to move anywhere else. I coaxed him to the back post of a rocking chair and we checked on him a few more times. After a couple of hours of wing-drying, he was gone. Little Chic is desperately worried that he won't be able to make his migration trip to Mexico in time for winter. They do fly 1,000 to 3,000 miles after all. Anyway, come spring, we'll hopefully see him back and get to meet some of the children.

Wednesday, September 6

We Survived

The morning started a bit differently than I anticipated with me hitting the snooze button at least three times, causing a little rush getting ready for the first day of school. The excuse was valid--Hero Guy was out on a rescue squad call until midnight and I didn't get to sleep until he got home and told me all about it. I was quite proud of myself for putting things in high gear without inciting panic among the troops, and we delivered our two at the front door of the school in record time. Due to a 4-mile ride to school that takes 40 minutes via bus, Nice Mom drives the kids each day. They think I'm Mean Mom because I won't also pick them up, but I figure 20 minutes home is a good character-builder and I can't get them home much quicker because of traffic anyway.

We took our sweet smiling son into his classroom as he proudly invited us in and showed us around. We had to slink back to our daughter's classroom quietly because it just won't do for an almost nine-year-old to have her parents spying on her in class.

From then on the day got tougher for me. Fourth and Fifth grades just aren't what they used to be. I had to meet 10 other mourning (*ahem* celebrating) moms for breakfast as the other patrons looked on and chuckled at our gleeful faces. Then I dragged myself down to the nail shop to get that manicure I always get on the first day of school (actually usually it's a pedicure, but decided to switch it up). I completely ignored the fact that today is Anti-Procrastination Day (according to our local radio station) and dragged my feet until I could put off my transcription no longer. It turned out quite well, actually since Hero Guy came home unexpectedly due to a mid-day motor vehicle accident/car fire/diabetic coma that he had to treat (all the same passenger/patient) and he needed to change into fresh clothes. Without even trying, I looked as if I had been typing my fingers off all morning! He didn't ask, I didn't tell.

Once kid-return time came, I waited at the end of the driveway for about a half-hour so as not to miss that first-day-off-the-bus picture. The bus run always takes significantly longer the first day as they try to get everybody to the right houses and such. Luckily they both emerged in fine spirits, seemingly happy with the day, the teachers, the classmates. If only that will continue on into next week and the next and then the next.

Tuesday, September 5

School's Eve

Every year I determine to make the last free day before school one of fun, laughter, family bonding, adoring my children...well, you get the picture. For some reason, though, in full overachiever style, I always agree to help put on the Back To School luncheon for our school's teachers and staff. For two years, I was heavily involved, coordinating with the other Co-Prez of the PTA. This year, I took a more backseat role, just picking some of the food, helping set up and clean up afterward.

The problem is that the wee ones have to come along and spend half their day letting mom get her volunteer jollies. Little Chic goes right along with the bustle since she is dreaming of the day that she gets in high school and can be old enough to get a job at Subway. Fixing food and setting tables is right down her alley. Brainy Boy, on the other hand, suffers through, lollygags around the playground, says "Hi" to some of his old teachers and chats with any other unfortunate drag-alongs that have mothers helping out as well.

Once we get home it seems the day is only half gone, but I'm pooped, the kids are ready to vegge out and somehow evening comes and the school year starts again all too quickly. As ready as it seems we all are to have our schedules in regular function again, its a little sad thinking that at 8am tomorrow, it'll be just me, HyperDog and MonsterPaw holding down the fort.

I'll cheer myself up by going to that Back To School breakfast that all the moms are sneaking to. I'm sure I'll manage.

Monday, September 4

Happy Lazy Day

Today we did not labor. We initially had great plans of getting some things done but for us in the way north, school starts in two days so we caved. We slept in, we sort of pretended to bustle around the house moving things from place to place to look like something, anything was getting accomplished and we did what I call "piddling" (not the sort of piddle that puppies do on the floor when they come to their new home).

About halfway through the day I convinced Hero Guy that we really should go to the miniature golf place that Little Chic has been begging to visit all summer. It's not that she loves mini-golf because she actually is quite competitive and hates not coming in first place. For for some reason though, she loves the gigantic pink elephant at hole #14 complete with its nose squirting water that then runs under its belly like it is peeing. I knew with the end of summer coming, the putt-putt places up our way will be closing soon. So it seemed fitting on this ending day of the summer season to crush our children in a battle of scores. In fine O-family fashion, Hero Guy did not take mercy and was gleeful as he pronounced himself the winner. He did console the rest of us with ice cream cones (although the cappucino crunch was not nearly as satisfying as my last treat).

On a completely unrelated note, I thought it was really sad that the Crocodile Hunter died today, although I'm sure he took uncalculated risks a few too many times. Since there is a "tempter of fate" living in our own household, my heart goes out to his wife and kiddos.

One last tidbit I'm sure you won't want to live without: The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in 1882 in New York City and it is a creation of the labor movement dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Too bad it doesn't warrant a day off school for us--we haven't started yet.

Sunday, September 3

Germanchökolätekäke®

WARNING!!!! Unless you want to gain pounds overnight, do not tell your hubby that you need a little "alone time" and you've decided to run to the Christian bookstore to select the music for your next solo at church since you will be singing on September 17 in the 11am service. Because in the back of your head you will be remembering that advertisement you saw for the new Coldstone Creamery shop that is just across from the community college, and that is not too far from the bookstore. And the reason for the sudden need for alone time is that you don't want to bring the wee ones along who will cause you to settle for the "Like It" size rather than the "Love It" size that you really want. And after you get on the road and realize you forgot the $1 off coupon included in the ad, you will say "O well, I'll just use it next time I go." And when you get there and the line is stretching out onto the sidewalk, you will say "It's my night out, so I have plenty of time to wait." And as you eat it, you will tell yourself that it really is as good as you remember from the last time you had it, and that it won't make one bit of difference on the scale. And you will also tell yourself that it will be easy to stay away from eating too much of it, because after all, the shop is, like, 20 miles from home, so you can't just run over there any old time you want. And when you look up the website to get the luscious picture for this post, you will conveniently ignore the helpful tab labeled "Nutrition Information".

And you will suddenly remember that you need something else at the Christian bookstore.

Friday, September 1

Driving in Car(t)s with Kids

I imagine your household has the same setup as mine in the grocery arena...for the most part, you have one family member assigned to do the grocery shopping. In my experience it just works better that way. Whoever does the most cooking knows what they need, and they run to the store, be it once a week or several times, and gather the same general ingredients based on the family's preferences. So, in our household, the grocery/cooking person is usually me. When the "non-assigned" person (like Hero Guy) gets the groceries for some reason (I'm sick or otherwise occupied) they come home with all sorts of unusual products that looked really great on the TV commercial or sitting on the store shelf. Although he will have succeeded in spending the entire grocery budget, we have no real food. We'll have a couple of new varieties of cookies, chips, maybe even some health food item that looks like the weight loss miracle, but we'll have nothing to cook for dinner.

During this summer, I'm finding the same thing happens when I take Brainy Boy to the grocery store. During the school year, I generally grocery shop while the kids are in school, but summer presents another problem. It does give me a chance to talk about budgeting, healthy choices and other mom-type wisdom we want our kids to learn but the cart just ends up much fuller than usual. Today, in my usual grocery shopping style, we hit Walmart where we selected everything but our produce (because theirs is terrible in our neck of the woods). Since it is a Super Walmart, as long as Brainy Boy and Little Chic stay together, I'll let them browse the toy aisle together and then come find me in groceries when they are done. Following Walmart, we made the trek to a regular grocery store where the real magic happens.

Not only does it have great produce, but you can do your very own self-checkout. Little Chic begs me to let her go because she loves to do the scanning, the code look-ups on things without a bar code and bag the groceries. It is even more fun to insert the money or swipe the Visa Check Card through the machine when you are ready to pay. Little Chic is well-versed in all aspects of fruit/veggie selection and she works the scanner as well as the checkout girls so I decided with Brainy Boy there today, I'd have him take a more active part than hanging over the side of the cart with GameBoy in hand.

It did accomplish my mission of teaching him some lessons about selecting bananas, pears and apples, but it also complicated things a bit due to his penchant for tasting anything unusual. As we were selecting carrots, he spied the mushroom display. Not only did they have prepacked mushrooms, but they also had bulk ones that were unwrapped. After oohing and aaahing about each variety, he said what we really wanted was to bring home some truffles (those would be the really expensive mushrooms that look like dried dog doo). We settled for some baby Portobellos and went on down the aisle. As we were getting our pears, he got distracted over by the coconuts. He lamented the fact that he had never been able to taste a coconut and really, really wanted to try one. I described how in Florida, we had coconuts all the time, how I loved them and the puppy dog look in his eyes was too much--we stuck that in the cart too. Right next to the coconut was a pomegranate, which my kids had once after reading a part in the Bible about someone eating a pomegranate. Today, Brainy Boy remembered just how much he liked that pomegranate, and could we please have another one? In that went as well.

We were just about done with our five-minute-turned-half-hour shopping trip when we rounded the corner, and wah-lah. Can you imagine? We found these teeny-tiny, miniature clusters of grapes called Munchkins. It didn't matter that we already had regular grapes in our cart--the ones my kids usually turn up their noses at. These were, well, just scrumptious looking. They both assured me that they would definitely gobble a bunch of grapes if they were miniature. Each grape is about the size of a Tic-Tac.

So home we came and so far, we've sampled everything but the pomegranate and it was all just as delicious as predicted. The best thrill was getting to smash the shell of the coconut with a real live hammer. It is fun to have company on the usually mundane shopping trip, but it will be much quicker and less expensive once I'm flying solo in another week.