Saturday, November 28, 2009

another sick day . . .

so today . . . there will be no blog. i am pretty sick. in addition to the cough that never ends, i have also had a temperature and headache all day. most of my day was spent on the couch or in the recliner. i suspect tomorrow will be more of the same, so i am fairly sure there will be no blog on sunday either. because when you spend your day on the couch or in the recliner, not much happens to write about. maybe monday . . .

and before you all leave comments saying things like "well, if you had spent yesterday sleeping and taking care of yourself instead of running around shopping, you would probably feel fine today!" just know that i have already heard it. but i felt much better yesterday, which is why i was able to run around shopping.

don't worry about me--i am just sick. i will get better. at least now i have a few new symptoms which might help the doctor come to a correct diagnosis and know how to help me get better.

until then, i will just lay here in the house with two dogs sucked up against me (or on me) drinking water and resting . . .

Friday, November 27, 2009

apparently . . .

so today . . . was apparently "black friday." i say apparently, because we used to just call it "the day after thanksgiving," but it seems as though now it has it's own special name. i have heard more than one explanation of the origin of this term, but to us it simply means "get up well before daylight, and shop until you can't see straight."

this tradition started for us many years ago when my mom and i began collecting hallmark ornaments like they were solid gold bars. we both loved christmas ornaments, but those tiny hunks of colorful plastic were expensive--unless you waited until the day after christmas. in those early years of post-thanksgiving collecting, we would get up shortly before dawn (because the stores opened at 7:00--don't we wish for those days again?) drop diandra off at my grandma's house so that she could have a fun day, and then spend the day zooming from one hallmark store to another in search of those special ornaments that we needed to continue our collections.

then socks entered the picture. when we lived in southern oregon, there was a department store that started putting all their socks on sale for 50% off for the first few hours they were open. socks are expensive. so my mom and i would get up early (because the stores opened at 7:00 and we had to drive 20 minutes to get to one,) wake up diandra (because she was now old enough to go along,) and buy enough socks to last everyone for the next year. then we would eat breakfast at mcdonald's and move on to the hallmark stores.

slowly we started to realize that while we still needed socks, we had about all the ornaments our trees could hold. that seemed to coincide with diandra entering her high school years, which meant a good portion of the day was now spent in dressing rooms while she tried to find the perfect pair of jeans--giving the term "black friday" a whole new meaning! so now we had to get up earlier, because the stores were starting to open at 6:00 a.m. we would go get socks, and then only enter the hallmark stores at the mall, because the mall is apparently where the perfect jeans were always hiding out!

the first year we were in socal, my mom and dad came down for thanksgiving. as we looked through the ads, my mom kept mentioning that it was time for a new computer. fortunately for us, best buy had great deals on computers that year. unfortunately we decided we needed to be there at least by 5:00 a.m. in order to have a chance at one. so we got up earlier than ever, bundled up (because even in socal, it is cold at 5:00 in the morning!) and navigated the dark and nearly empty streets to best buy . . .

. . . where we realized that the streets were nearly empty, because apparently everyone else had rolled out of bed earlier than us and were already parked in the best buy parking lot and standing in line. in the dark. and cold. as we discussed whether or not to stay in line and possibly freeze to death, or lose our place and go to the car and crank up the heat, the topic turned to wondering if we would even be close enough to the front of the line to get a computer. pros and cons were weighed, and then a miracle happened! a store employee started down the line handing out "golden tickets" for the hot items. the store knew just how many computers they had, and so apparently to avoid a stampede they were handing out tickets to those who were already standing in line. we watched that stack of tickets dwindle as it neared us and had already decided to go to walmart if we didn't get one. we waited and watched, and were ultimately rewarded by being handed the very last ticket for a computer! we put that computer in the car, and then we proceeded to mcdonald's and the mall.

the last few years my mom and dad have not made it down for thanksgiving, but diandra and i still get up early and hit the cold and dark streets. this morning was no exception. last night we went through the ads and made our lists--although there wasn't much on them this year--the ads were somewhat disappointing. we decided not to go to kohls, which opened at 4 a.m. (and is a nightmare!!) but instead to start at target which opened at a more reasonable 5 a.m. we got one of the last remaining parking spaces and arrived at the doors just as the store was opening.

and that was apparently our last bit of luck for the day . . .

the coveted item at target was already just an empty space on the shelf when we got there. and the lines were too long to stand in to buy a few dvds. so we went back to the car and drove to the next destination on our list--office depot. it is just across the street from target, so it was a short drive.

"are you sure this is where office depot is?" diandra asked me.

"yes," i said. i have been to office depot many times, but it is kind of tucked back in a corner next to babies "r" us, so it is hard to see from the street. diandra seemed unsure.

"i don't see any cars," my darling daughter said.

"well, i guess that means we are the first ones here. yay!"

that is not what it meant. what it meant was that office depot had apparently closed it's store at that location, and the next nearest store was several miles away.

ok, apparently we needed a new plan. so we headed to one of the malls.

once we got there, our luck started to turn around. well, except we still had to stand in some lines, but none of them were too long. (actually, there were some pretty long lines, but diandra refused to stand in any.) so we went to jc penney and bought some shoes, then we went to the gap and bought some jeans (those elusive, perfect jeans apparently live at at the gap,) and then took a break--complete with diet coke. we hit another store, and then stopped for pretzel bites. we took our bags back to the car, detoured to the bathrooms (for the fourth or fifth time--hey, those sodas apparently work their way through pretty quickly when you are walking around!) and moved on down the mall to another target.

our coveted item was still represented by an empty shelf. of course by now it was 10:30, so we were not surprised. we were starting to drag--we had been up and moving since 4:30, you know. so we called rollie to see if he wanted to meet us for lunch, because we hadn't eaten in almost an hour . . .

we refueled with rollie at subway and then went to the cerritos mall. apparently to look at bull dog pups, which diandra is dreaming will show up under our christmas tree. while i can say with some certainty that a bull dog will never live at our house (unless a stray shows up--you know how i am a sucker for strays . . . and no, diandra, don't get any ideas! i would know if you planted a "stray,") nothing with four furry feet and a cute face will be joining our household this year. but i guess a girl can dream . . .

at which point rollie called to say our dvd player had chosen today to "give up the ghost, and were we anyplace where we could pick up another one . . . " we were at the mall--not the cheapest place to buy electronics. but i was starting to lose diandra--sometimes you have to know when to call it a day. (perhaps those should be the words on my tombstone. it seems like i say them a lot . . . ) so i took her home where she could check "take a nap" off her list, and braved walmart. apparently i didn't have to be all that brave . . .

by 2:00 this afternoon, walmart wasn't the zoo it had been earlier in the day. the lines were short. the sales people knew what they had and what they didn't have. and people were moving about in a normal manner instead of at warp speed.

i quickly picked up a dvd player and paid. i knew if i didn't get home and throw myself down for a nap soon, i might spontaneously combust. i walked out into the california sunshine, put the top down on my car, and cranked the stereo up. i could barely keep my eyes open. my wallet was empty. my trunk was full. my body ached.

and yet, i smiled. you can't help but smile when you are cruising around in warm sunshine on the day after thanksgiving, listening to the beach boys sing christmas songs, with a trunk full of stuff that was at least 50% off!

apparently for us, black friday is one of our favorite days of the year! even if we have to get up at 4:30 in the morning . . .

Thursday, November 26, 2009


so today . . . between eating bar-be-que chips and molasses cookies, i've been thinking about being thankful. i was going to post a top ten list of things that make me thankful. that was my plan. but sometimes my blogs don't go according to my plan. sometimes i sit down and write so today . . . and something totally different comes out. that's what happened today.

lately, i've been having a tough time. i've been sick. work has been frustrating. my band has been in turmoil. my stuff is disorganized. i feel gloomy. and yet, even with all that, my life is so much better than many others. this fact has smacked me in the face more than once lately.

our church has a food bank. it started out pretty small and mostly helped people in our congregation for whom money was tight. and then it grew. now on any given sunday, food is given out to probably 50-60 people--many of whom are homeless. and lately, some of those homeless people have started coming to church and attending small group bible studies. it is really cool to see the more affluent members of our church having real conversations with people who live in the park or under the freeway overpass.

this has made me very aware of how much i have. a few weeks ago i met richard. he had just been to the food bank, and in addition to his two bags of food, he was also given a blanket. he was so excited--because even though it is still nearly 80 degrees in the daytime, it gets cold at night. he couldn't wait to show me his new blanket, and tell me how much he appreciated getting it! last week i had a conversation with richard on my way out of the parking lot. i was driving my cute car and the top was down, because it was a nice day. as i approached him, i slowed down, took off my sunglasses so he could see it was me, and said hi. i felt somewhat conspicuous in my car, but i didn't want to just drive by and act like i hadn't seen him. when i waved, he smiled, said hi, and then added, "nice car!" so we talked about it for a while, and then i went off to lunch. i left richard waiting in the shade of a tree, with his bicycle, for his turn to go into the food bank.

i have so much, and yet there are always things that call to me from the other side of the cash register. and it is ok to buy something new--even if i don't necessarily need it. (which is good, because my plan for tomorrow is shopping.) but in the midst of it all, i want to remember to be thankful--not only for all the things that i already have, but also for that frustrating job that provides me with income, for a body that is healthy enough to work (even when it isn't completely well,) for a church that lets me "rock out" during worship on sunday mornings and makes homeless people feel like they belong, for friends who read my blog for a laugh but "feel my pain" when life isn't funny, and for a family who loves me whether i cook a thanksgiving turkey or not.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

twas the night before thanksgiving

so today . . . i went to the grocery store in preparation for thanksgiving day.

yes, i know thanksgiving is tomorrow. and yes, i also know that there is no way a frozen turkey of any size will thaw in time to be cooked for dinner tomorrow. but that is ok, because we aren't having turkey for thanksgiving dinner. i'm not quite sure what we are going to have . . .

. . . because i'm not cooking. usually i do. while i don't cook a lot in my normal life, thanksgiving dinner is the exception. traditionally my mom and dad have come to our house for the long weekend, but now that we live 1000 miles away, it is a pretty long drive for a four day weekend.

and so now our thanksgivings are not always the traditional kind.

the first time i broke tradition was a few years ago when rollie and diandra were out of town. i had to fend off several dinner invitations from people who were horrified that i would be alone, but i was kind of excited about it. the night before thanksgiving, i went to the grocery store and picked out the foods that sounded good to me, because i certainly was not going to cook a huge dinner just for myself! and then i spent thanksgiving day in front of the tv watching christmas movies. my holiday dinner consisted of canned chili with fritos and shredded cheese, and a box of ding dongs for dessert. i made my christmas list from the ads, and went shopping ridiculously early on black friday. by myself. (i couldn't quite break all the traditions . . . )

that was the year i realized that the earth wouldn't stop spinning if i didn't bake a turkey on the fourth thursday of november.

then there was our first diandra-less holiday. technically i guess it was my second diandra-less holiday, but it was the first one rollie and i had shared. so we decided we would make a new tradition. we realized diandra was all grown up now, and there might be years when she wouldn't be with us at thanksgiving, so we needed a plan. my plan was that i wouldn't cook and clean up all that food for just the two of us. we decided our new plan would be to eat out for thanksgiving dinner. at about 2:00 we got in the car and headed to sizzler. it was closed. ok, maybe olive garden. it was closed. i was worried that i was beginning to see a pattern here. red lobster was closed. the outback steak house was closed. black angus was open, but booked solid with reservations.

reservations. that would have been a good idea . . .

we drove on. hometown buffet was closed. subway was closed. (you can see our standards lowered in direct proportion to our hunger.) burger king was closed. i was beginning to think we were going to have a repeat of the canned chili with fritos dinner--only i didn't have any fritos or ding dongs, and the grocery stores were closed too. i did have tuna fish. and bread . . .

and then we saw it . . . a place to eat with the lights on! we eagerly turned into the empty parking lot, and went inside and placed our order. as we sat at the table eating our sourdough jacks (yes people, we were at jack in the box!) i couldn't help but smile. were we rebels or what!

this year is going to be another tradition-breaking thanksgiving. i've been sick, and while i usually kind of enjoy cooking on thanksgiving, this year it just isn't going to happen. my plan was to call around and see what restaurants were going to be open, and possibly make a reservation. but that didn't happen either. so we have a new plan for thanksgiving this year. it is called eating snack food all day long and then driving around to see if we can find a place to eat dinner (knowing we can always end up at jack in the box.) that is why i had to go to the store tonight, because we don't really keep snack food in the house any more--except for nuts.

i went to the grocery store with a list in my head--chips for me, cookies and crackers for diandra, apples and bananas for rollie (although that doesn't really enter into the spirit of snack food, since it is good for you--so i bought him cookies too,) and soda pop for all. lest you think that is all we will eat, i also bought lettuce in case we had a craving for salad (uh huh--that's going to happen) and yogurt.

the grocery store on the night before thanksgiving is a surprisingly busy place. i noticed three kinds of people there--the "on a mission" people who are racing madly around the store, tossing items into their cart, because they have to get home and bake pumpkin pies and make jello salads, and figure out how to thaw a 25 pound turkey in time to bake it in 12 hours. then there are the "shell-shocked" ones who wander aimlessly through the aisles unable to put anything in their carts. they don't know what they need or where to find it. they have 15 people coming to their house for dinner the next day, and they have no idea what to serve. except for turkey, which they don't know they have to thaw first . . . and then there are the "whatever" people, who know that tomorrow is thanksgiving, but dinner is NOT at their house. they just have to bring the soda or rolls or whipped cream for the pie that someone else will bake.

and then there was me, buying snack food--no turkey, no pumpkin pie, no vegetables or rolls. people were probably thinking, "does she even know what tomorrow is?!?!?!"

but that's ok, because i do know what tomorrow is. and it isn't about the food. really. it is thanksgiving--a day to be thankful for all the wonderful things we have in our lives--even if a home-cooked turkey dinner isn't one of them.

Monday, November 23, 2009

some days . . .

so today . . . i have no blog for you. i tried. it was just one of those days . . .

but as scarlett would say, "tomorrow is another day!"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

sick leave

so today . . . i am on sick leave. i've actually been on sick leave since friday. you may not have noticed, especially if you are one of those people who are not on your computer much over the weekend. i did blog on friday, because my dogs made me laugh. but it wasn't as good as it could have been, because i didn't post any pictures. i took a couple of cute pictures that i could have used, but i took them with my phone. and to use them, i would have had to sync my phone with my computer, and then search through all the phone picture files to find the one i wanted in order to post it. i know this doesn't sound that hard, but you don't know how many pictures i have in my phone and how unorganized they are. and remember, i am sick. and by the time i posted that blog (well after midnight, when i should have already been fast asleep,) it just took too much effort . . .

being on sick leave doesn't really expose me to much to blog about. i pretty much stay on the couch with my computer and the tivo remote. and you know how my brain usually clicks along and never stops thinking? well, when i am on sick leave my brain goes silent. thinking about things other than "is it time to take my medicine?" or "where are the tissues?" takes too much effort.

effort?? to think?!?!? puh-lease, you are probably saying. but it is true. do you think all these amusing thoughts just pop into my head? well, sometimes they do, but many times i have to think about what i want to say, find just the right words, maybe take a picture or two . . . it can be exhausting. especially when all one's mental energy is focused on breathing in such a way so as not to irritate one's throat into a coughing fit.

rollie thinks i should extend my sick leave into next week. it is a short week at school, because of the thanksgiving holiday. he thinks i should take advantage of that and stay home and rest. he thinks i am pushing myself and that is not helping me get better. he may be right. but i think it is a short week, so i should just go to work. i think when my paycheck comes, we will be glad i did. unless, as he says, i get sicker and miss more work.

it is a dilemma.

i will probably go to work tomorrow and see how it goes. rollie thinks i never listen to him. he thinks why should he even bother to tell me what he thinks, because i am just going to do what i want to do anyway. he is wrong. and sometimes also right. because i do listen to him. always. i just don't always agree with him. he is always trying to help me. but sometimes, even though i have listened to him, i don't take his advice. i probably should, because i have found that he is usually right. which can be so annoying . . .

so tomorrow i will go to work, and hope that i get better--or at least that i don't get any worse.

because, if i do, i may have to stay home.

and black friday is coming . . .

Saturday, November 21, 2009

sleeping in~

so today . . . i planned to sleep in. i woke up at 6:42. a.m.

i've been kind of sick since the middle of september. i've been to see three different doctors. i've taken five different kinds of medications. i've kept warm. and still i cough. the one thing i haven't done is rest. so that was my plan for the weekend, and rollie decided i should start doing it today. he called me in sick last night, and then said, "tomorrow you are going to sleep."

so i did--at least, i tried.

at 6:42 this morning my brain started humming. i laid there thinking, "go back to sleep, go back to sleep, i wonder what time it is, no, wait, go back to sleep . . . " finally, just to shut my brain up, i looked at the clock.

let me just say that on a normal school day i set my alarm for 7:00 and am not able to pry my eyes open until usually 7:20 at which time i drag myself to the shower, throw myself under the water for 10 minutes, and then race around trying to dry my hair, dress myself, dust my face with makeup, grab something that can be eaten with one hand for breakfast, and fly out the door, hoping against hope that i will beat the time clock. and all the while this is going on, my brain is saying, "just a little bit more sleep . . . "

but today, when i could have slept until noon, my brain woke me up at 6:42 a.m.

determined to take advantage of this sick day, i snapped my eyes shut after their brief glance at the clock. i thought restful thoughts. i counted backwards from 100. i started to go to my happy place, and then i felt a dog start slowly creeping up toward my head. i knew what that meant--it meant that any moment milo was going to start licking my face. still trying to stay in the sleep zone, i decided that my best defense was a good offense, so i grabbed milo with the intent to pull him up next to me and nestle him in beside me, facing away from me but with all four feet in the air, allowing me to mindlessly pet his stomach, which i knew would put him right back to sleep. i'm sure this would have worked.

except it wasn't milo--it was mia. all 35 pounds of her.

it was impossible to nestle her medium sized body next to me in the recliner, and besides, mia wouldn't be caught dead laying on her back with all four feet in the air. however, she would apparently not mind climbing onto my prone body, putting one front paw on each side of my head, and licking me until i woke up. which is what she did when i briefly opened my eyes to see why i couldn't move milo . . .

just keep your eyes closed. she will stop in a minute, and you can go back to sleep. don't open your eyes. don't open your eyes. she's a dog. she can't tell you aren't really asleep . . .

without the encouragement of my open eyes, mia soon decided i was a lost cause and figured out her own way to snuggle in next to me. this sounds cute, but i knew that her real agenda was claiming me as her territory before milo showed his fat little face.

we settled in, and i started drifting off, and then mia woofed. it was a soft woof, but i knew something was about to happen. and sure enough, it wasn't long before milo was in my face. i kept my eyes closed, thinking that maybe he would wiggle in to a spot and we could all go back to sleep. which he did. so i started thinking sleepy thoughts once again and was headed toward unconsciousness . . .

and then one of the neighbors started revving the engine on their car. over and over and over again. mia, ever on alert, jumped up and started barking. so milo jumped up and started barking. and then they started barking at each other. and then the "fight" was on to determine who really owned mommy and the chair and the fuzzy blanket . . .

i got up and headed for the kitchen and some hot water for peppermint tea.

some days the odds are just against me . . .

Thursday, November 19, 2009

picture day . . . again

so today . . . i had to have my picture taken. again.

i hate having my picture taken. i am not very photogenic, and i can live with that if the picture is documenting something fun. but studio portraits kill me.

last week it was picture day at school. we have pictures taken in the fall and in the spring. the spring photographer is always the same, and for some reason he is able to take a decent picture of me--almost every time. but the fall pictures are like playing roulette--you just never know.

i always do my best to have a good picture. i style my hair and wear mascara, which i don't do on ordinary school days. i choose a solid top in a color that i hope will look nice. and then i try to sit up straight and smile on cue. but the truth is, it is a school picture and it is going to look like a school picture no matter what--note the hair bump on the right.(i do have to say here, that some of my favorite pictures of my mom and dad are their school pictures. they were both teachers, and i love to look at the sequence of pictures from the years they taught. it is so much fun to see the different clothing and hair styles.)

but today's ordeal was the fault of whoever decided that our church should have a pictorial directory. this meant everyone had to go in and have their picture taken. our turn was today. we were supposed to be there by 4:00, and i don't get off work until 3:30. when we scheduled the appointment, i didn't think it would be a problem--i would just wear the chosen outfit to work and then we would have plenty of time to get there.

and that is where the trouble began--choosing an outfit.

what to wear, what to wear . . .

i couldn't make a decision, so rollie finally told me what he was going to wear. that helped narrow my choices. to black. i knew i was going to have to wear black. it was the only solution, since he had decided to wear a burgundy shirt and black pants. i probably have 20 black tops and 6 or 7 black dresses, so it shouldn't have been hard to find something to wear. but it was.

i got up this morning still not knowing what to put on. i took my shower, towel-dried my hair, and looked in the closet. the clock was ticking . . . so i grabbed a black dress, threw it on over my head, and raced off to school--with damp hair and no makeup.

when i got to school i twisted my hair up and clipped it, hoping that it would dry into lovely waves--(hey, it could happen . . .) i decided the dress i was wearing was too casual for the photos and would need to be changed. i realized i would have less than half an hour to put on makeup, find a different outfit and straighten my hair--just in case it didn't dry into lovely waves. but all that could be accomplished in time, if i just knew what to wear . . . i mentally dressed myself several times during the day, but wasn't happy with any of the results.

i finally decided i was thinking about this way too much. really. it was just a picture for the church directory. so when i got home, i grabbed a different black dress, put makeup on (which takes me all of about 7 minutes,) fluffed my just slightly damp waves, grabbed rollie and took off for the church. we filled out paperwork, they called our names, and we went back to have our picture taken.

we stood where we were told to stand, smiled when we were told to smile, and then the photographer said, "ok, that's it. we are done."

it took me more time to put on my mascara than it took for him to shoot our pictures.

i couldn't believe it. i felt a little cheated. not that i wanted my picture taken, but i had put all that effort into getting ready . . .

i guess hope springs eternal. although, hope doesn't have to deal with my bangs . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the snow pea ruse*

*a trick, stratagem, or artifice.

so today
. . . i bamboozled my students into eating peas.

i am constantly amazed by what my little darlings will eat. they will eat broccoli, cucumbers, cooked tomatoes, and even spinach. they will eat cold corn. but they won't eat baby carrots unless they can smother them in ranch dressing. they will eat plain rice, fried noodles and any kind of pasta, but they don't like sandwiches.

or peas.

i gave up long ago on fighting food wars. if a child really, really doesn't want to eat something, there is nothing i can do to force them to eat it. and being something of a picky eater myself, i admit that i feel their pain. i have had a few close calls with international cuisine in the last few years that gives me empathy when a child says, "but i don't like that."

however, for some reason, today i decided that they were going to at least try some peas. i have had good results in the past with the "snow pea ruse."

we were having macaroni and cheese--a food that everyone likes. usually we get broccoli with it, or sometimes green beans (which i NEVER make them eat, because i don't like them either--at least not the way they "cook" them at school.) but today it was peas. as soon as i saw it, i activated the snow pea ruse.

"oooo, look!" i exclaimed. "snow peas."

"i don't like peas!" this was said by about half of my small class.

"oh, but these aren't regular ordinary peas. these are snow peas. we are sooo lucky!"

"but i don't like peas."

"you will like these. they are sweet, like sweet corn. remember when we had sweet corn last week? you guys liked that. snow peas are kind of the same--really sweet."

the pea haters were still looking skeptically at me, but i am the teacher--would i lie? ;)

as i started dishing up the mac & cheese and "snow peas," the kids who liked peas were saying, "yeah! give me lots and lots of peas!!" the pea haters were still saying no. so i just announced that today we were all going to try the very special snow peas, because they were so sweet that i just knew that everyone would love them. i encouraged them to mix the peas in with the mac & cheese because, i said, they were especially delicious with cheese sauce on them.

the pea haters were not thrilled. i just gave them a few peas, and continued to talk about how delicious they were. then i asked the pea lovers, "aren't they good?" and they all said, "yeah!!" of course, they like peas, snow or not.

(every time i put this operation into effect, i am surprised that no one asks me why they are called "snow peas." of course, kids here are somewhat unfamiliar with the cold, wet, white, fluffy stuff.)

now the pea haters were a little bit curious. the teacher said the special snow peas were good. some of their friends seemed to really like them. maybe they wouldn't be so bad. i could see the little wheels turning in their tiny heads. so i pushed my advantage. i found one pea hater who was mixing her peas around in the mac & cheese. "so," i said, "did you eat some snow peas? weren't they delicious??" she just looked at me and said, "uh huh." i moved on to the most notorious pea hater. "oh, you haven't tried yours yet. you'd better hurry or there might not be any left for seconds." he immediately loaded up his spoon and popped them into his mouth. "aren't those yummy?" i said, and he nodded, mouth full of "snow peas."

and then it was time for me to leave for my lunch hour. i don't know what happened after i left, but while i was there, every child was eating "snow peas." and at least pretending to like them.

some days, i rock!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

a top ten list

so today . . . i was once again reminded of the things we cope with, living here in southern california. and so i offer you my TOP 10 LIST OF CROSSES WE HAVE TO BEAR HERE IN THE SOUTHLAND . . .

#10. year round pedicures--whether you do them yourself or have them done, your toes have to be ready to poke out of the end of sandals all year round. even in december or january we can have sandal worthy weather. there is no time off for pretty toes.
#9. affordable fruit--it may require a trip to the korean grocery store, but we have delicious fruit here all year. in fact, the most delicious strawberries are grown less than a mile from our house!
#8. traffic--yes, there is traffic, but at least the roadways are built to handle it--except during rush hour. and if you use the traffic feature on your gps, you can avoid most of it most of the time.
#7. dearth of colorful fall leaves--most of our trees seem to hang onto their leaves until the new leaves push them off in the spring. and yet there are a few that reward us with beautiful fall foliage.
#6. winter roses--my rose bushes are still flowering and will continue to do so until the gardener prunes them in january.
#5. a governor who is also known as the terminator--at least in his former life. maybe not so much now that he has gone political.
#4. championship sports teams--yes, i think the lakers are the devil's spawn (go blazers!) but as rollie would say, "scoreboard, baby!" so in the interests of family harmony, let's just talk about our beloved angels . . .
#3. food from all over the world within a 20 minute drive--seriously. anything you want to eat, you can get it here--just ask your gps.
#2. disneyland--i don't think this one requires any explanation.

and the #1 cross we have to bear . . .
following doctor's orders about staying out of cool air when you drive a convertible. no wait. i did that. with the top DOWN. and no jacket. in the middle of november!!!!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

they walk among us . . . kind of.

so today . . . i laughed right out loud. apparently iman thinks she is one of us.

i was watching shopping tv this afternoon. well, maybe not really watching it--i was laying on the couch trying to take a nap. i used to be able to fall asleep almost instantly, but now it seems that i have a hard time napping--no matter how tired i am. i lay there, but my brain won't shut off! so i have found that if i have some sort of "white noise" in the background, it distracts my brain just enough so that i can sleep. shopping tv or sports (but not golf--it is too quiet) seem to work really well. unless iman is on shopping tv.

iman is a supermodel. she is married to sting, the rock star. she is tall and beautiful and has an exotic accent. i love to listen to her talk, so i thought that would be a soothing sound to fall asleep to. once again, i was wrong.

the advantage of white noise is that it distracts your brain, but isn't distinct enough that it catches your attention. today iman caught my attention. she was selling a rolling duffel bag that she had apparently designed. it was a nice looking duffel bag. it had compartments and wheels and a telescoping handle and decorative hardware. it came with a make-up bag, a shoe bag, a luggage tag, and a lock and key. after describing all it's physical features, they started discussing how much you could fit into this bag. they were saying it was adequate for up to 10 days worth of clothes. (the key words here were "up to.") iman was saying how she has traveled all over the world with that bag, and how she doesn't like to wait for her luggage, so she needs an adequate carry-on bag.

i'm sorry, but i just do not believe a supermodel can pack everything she needs for several days in a carry-on duffel bag. even if she is a mom.

she continued by listing all the things she had packed in that bag. she had two pairs of boots (one tall, one short) five or six pairs of shoes, three pairs of pants, three jackets, tshirts, jeans, plus all her toiletries and hair products. and then she said, "everything i needed for my two day trip out here!"

did she just say two day trip?!?!?! that's a lot of shoes for a two day trip. i am thinking if she were going to be gone for ten days, she would need several of these duffel bags. and more than one shoe bag.

i understand the shoe thing--i really do. every summer when diandra and i go to portland, shoes are an issue. we are usually only gone a week, but it seems like i think i need ten pairs of shoes! i always have to take some out of my bag before i leave. so i understand the need for shoes. but seven or eight pair for two days?!?! even i think that is excessive.

and then she says, "and it fits so easily in the overhead compartment of an airplane."

really? in coach? because i am pretty sure she is flying first class. and while i have never flown in first class, i am guessing that their luggage compartments might be somewhat bigger than in coach, where the rest of us sit. plus, she is six feet tall! she can reach the luggage compartments. there is no way an average woman could sling that thing up into those compartments unassisted. especially with all those heavy shoes in there.

but it was really nice looking.

iman is not one of us. she probably doesn't have to check her bank balance before she uses her debit card. she probably doesn't have to vacuum. she probably doesn't have to go to the grocery store every week. she can wear a caftan to take her kids to school and people think she looks elegant, not like she is wearing her pajamas. and she certainly doesn't travel all over the world in coach!

but i am tempted to buy her rolling duffel bag anyway. because it looks roomy, and it is a beautiful piece of luggage.

although, i am going to need more than one shoe bag.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

medical wisdom from bonanza reruns?

so today . . . it was back to urgent care for me.

are you getting tired of hearing about me being sick yet?!? i am sure getting tired of blogging about it. the problem is, when i am sick nothing else matters. really. i am the man in the family when it comes to being sick--i whine, i lay around, i want food brought to me, i want sympathy, i want everyone to know how miserable i feel so don't expect anything from me--just like most men.

thankfully, i am not married to a man like that. as i have mentioned before, when rollie is sick, he just stays in bed or his recliner with the tv remote and is happy if i open the door and throw food in a couple of times a day.

but i have been coughing for almost eight weeks! i went to the doctor's office about a month ago and to urgent care a couple of weeks ago. i don't think they are taking me very seriously. i have a cough.

today was different. i went to urgent care, expecting to spend the day there, but they called my name before i could even open my book. when the doctor came in, i noticed he was asian. (i only mention that he was asian, because when you read his words, you are going to get a picture in your head, and i want it to be accurate.) so i filled him in on what had been done before. he stopped me and said, "ok, but this is the most important question--have you been sleeping with a fan or an open window or air conditioning?"

no! i've been sleeping in the recliner, so i don't spend the night coughing! it is true that it is still close to 80 degrees most days even though it is the middle of november, but i am wondering about the relevance here.

"because," he continued, "that will make you cough. why is it suddenly making you cough when it never has before? i don't know. am i God? can i control the weather? no."

what? now i am beginning to wonder about kaiser's hiring policies.

"you don't believe me? just turn your air conditioning on in your car when you go home and point it at your face and see what happens. you will cough."

ok, um, can we possibly talk about medical reasons that i might be coughing?

"let me listen to you breathe."

finally. i know when he listens to me breathe, he will hear my wheeze and maybe i will even cough for him so he can hear for himself how awful it is. he listens, and then goes back to the computer.

"ok, i don't know what it sounded like before, because i was not the doctor you saw before, but now it does not sound good. i think maybe you waited too long to come in."

WHAT?!?!? did he not hear the part where i said i had already been in twice???

"my part is to give you medicine that will help. your part is to stay warm. from your waist up, stay warm. eat warm, drink warm, dress warm. from the waist down, i don't care. you can be naked. i don't care."

honestly? oh boy. i think this doctor has had way too much coffee today. is he even thinking about what he is saying?

"if you want to keep coughing, just go home and eat ice cream. you will see. you will cough."

this is a pretty safe prediction, since i have ALREADY BEEN COUGHING FOR 8 WEEKS!!!

then he continues. "i see you are already making a mistake."

how can i be making a mistake? i'm just sitting here, listening to him tell me to STAY WARM!! but my curiosity gets the better of me and i say, "what?"

and he replies, "your chest is exposed."

i can tell you without hesitation that my chest is not exposed!!! i look down and realize that i am wearing a scoop neck top. that must be what he is talking about. thankfully i am wearing a long scarf, so i wrap it around my neck a few more times and arrange it so that it covers me up. sheesh!

"ok," he says, "i have sent your prescriptions directly to the pharmacy. that is my part."

yes, i know.

"your part is to stay warm from the waist up. eat warm, drink warm, dress warm. stay out of the cool air. take hot showers."

ok, i think i've got it. stay warm.

i went to the pharmacy and left with a bagful of medicine. so for all his crazy talk, at least he seems to have given me adequate drugs. if this doesn't work, i don't know what will.

and it had better work, because if i have to go back and hear about his father watching bonanza reruns in which all the sick people were bundled up ("they knew--stay warm,") or the benefits of having a temperature ("warmth kills the germs--so stay warm,") i may just risk being sick a bit longer . . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

fun (to the third power)

so today . . . i went to the movies with rollie. and diandra.

going with either one alone is fine. we buy our tickets, get our sodas, find a seat, enjoy the movie, and go home. this is not what happens when i go with BOTH rollie and diandra. for some reason, the two of them together are like mentos and coke. seriously. i don't know what happens when they go without me, but when the three of us go i feel like i am in the vortex of a whirlpool, threatening to be flung into the swirling fray . . .

it always starts out innocuous enough. we get our tickets and sodas, and head into the theater. the trouble begins in choosing a seat. if the two of them sit together, they will not shut up during the movie. rollie will make comments to diandra and she will laugh and then he will laugh. while all this hilarity is going on, i cannot hear the movie. neither can the people around us. (this is one reason we usually go to the matinee--the theater isn't so crowded in the afternoon.) but, if i sit between them, the same thing happens except rollie leans over me to talk to her. plus they both make comments to me, which i am then expected to pass on down the line. you can see how it could be hard to follow a story with all this going on . . . it's like they are not really there to see the movie--they are there to entertain each other.

one time it was so bad, i had to get up and move. fortunately, we were the only three people in the theater that day. which is probably why they were so out of control . . .

today i sat in the middle. today we watched a movie diandra had already seen. this added a new dimension to the experience--diandra's premature giggles. i always knew when something funny was about to happen, because she would start giggling in anticipation before it happened. so there were very few surprises. and then there was the heartwarming ending. she leaned over to me and said, "it's ok. you can cry." of course, diandra cries when she sees the previews for movies. she cries whether the movie is happy or sad or animated. if the music swells, she has an almost pavlovian response to cry.

today i didn't cry. but i did laugh, more than once. and not just at the movie. because i have to admit, rollie and diandra are funny. and somehow they are even funnier when they are together. even when i sit between them . . .

Thursday, November 12, 2009

is there no end to facebook apps?

so today . . . i spent my lunch time in the school secretary's office.

no, i wasn't in trouble. no, i wasn't working. i was harvesting, planting, and baking.

yes, baking. i've recently started playing a couple of new facebook games, and one requires baking.

you may remember my farmtown addiction, the index finger exhaustion, and the heart-stopping horror of accidentally virtually buying a house. and then i added pet society, which finally resulted in my spending of real money for virtual stuff.

i like facebook games. there are hundreds of them, so i obviously can't play them all. but there is something satisfying about "inhabiting" a place over which you have almost total control. every day you can see progress. other people can't mess up your world. i find it very soothing . . . usually.

i recently tried fish world, which i didn't even bother to blog about because i was so terrible at it. my fish kept dying. i would just delete the game and be done with it, but my friends who play can get points for reviving my fish. so while i have to deal with conflicting emotions about purposefully letting my fish die, i figure that i am helping out my friends by ignoring my fish.

i tried owning a zoo, but quickly became disillusioned when i realized that i had no control over where anything was--it was all about accumulating points and buying stuff, but there was no creativity or interaction involved. just a lot of mindless mouse clicking . . .

my mother got me started on island paradise. it is pretty much like farmtown, except you are on an island instead of a farm. i really like this idea. there are coconut trees. i bought a lawn chair--just one, because did i mention that i am all alone on this island? sometimes jewels or pearls wash up on shore, and how can you not love that!!?! there is planting and harvesting to be done, but it is a small island, so it isn't very much work. and if i turn the sound on my computer, i hear ocean sounds. it is all very relaxing. it is my virtual "happy place."

and then, there is yoville. i "swore" (you see the quotation marks, because i would never swear--it is just a figure of speech) that i would never, ever play this game. first of all, the name annoys me. it is just too "trying to be cool." and the people's heads are too big for their tiny bodies. you can buy clothes (of course) for the tiny bodies, but you can barely see them. you can also buy hair styles for their big heads, which pretty much eliminates ever having a bad hair day--unless you buy bad hair. as you level up, you are awarded with dance moves and emotions. really. i have earned several now, but i have no idea what to do with them. and the way you earn money in this game is by baking. i think it is a nice change from growing things, and it does make me feel productive. but still, once you start the process, it is a commitment.

so, you may ask, then why do you play?

it's like this. i have a friend who asked me to play. at first, i just politely said no, and she said she admired my ability to resist. this friend is very, very nice. i think she must play dozens of these games, because i don't think she ever says no--she is too nice, and she wants to help everyone out. besides, you never know when a new game will be even more fun than the ones you already play. but i didn't think i had time for more games. so i said no. and i held firm. for a while.

which brings me to my time in the secretary's office. last night i foolishly baked 12 hour desserts. they needed to be taken out of the oven by my break time this morning, but i had no internet in my classroom today, so it required a trek down the hallway. i did not want to lose these desserts. yesterday i forgot about them, and they all burned up. it was kind of embarrassing--i can't even virtually cook?!? so there i sat, computer in my lap, clicking away . . .

i'm sure there are better things to do with my time, but sometimes when all you have is 15 minutes, it is nice to escape into a world where everything goes your way . . .

. . . especially when you spend your day surrounded by tiny people whose main goal seems to be to thwart you at every turn.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


so today . . . i need a diet soda. really. i NEED one.

i drink a lot of soda. i just like it. i know it isn't good for me, but i love it. it is my one vice. well, if you don't count 7-11 brownies.

lately i have decided i should cut down on the amount i drink. my doctor thinks it is a good idea. my husband thinks it is a good idea. but most importantly, my mother thinks it is a good idea.

i love my mom. she is great. she is always looking out for me. she doesn't nag or interfere, she just informs. when i started driving and was able to go places alone, she would refer me to newspaper articles (yes, in the days when we had to read newspapers, because there was no internet) about car jackings or abductions from shopping mall parking lots. her intent was not to scare me into staying home--i don't think--but just to make sure i knew there were dangers out there and i should be careful. and it worked. when i am out alone after dark, my eyes are constantly darting back and forth, in a surreptitious way, looking for the evil that might be lurking. i have even been know to call someone on my way to my car, in especially scary situations, just so that if i do get abducted at least someone will know and can call the police.

now i live 1000 miles away from my mom, but thankfully we have the internet. most nights you can find us both on facebook, chatting while we farm or play with our virtual pets. but she still sends me those cautionary articles through email. i can't tell you how many times i have received the one about the guy at the convenience store/gas station who runs up to your car with a $5 bill to get you to open your window . . . but it is a good thing she sends me these reminders, because after a while i tend to forget. and i do spend a lot of time in convenience store/gas station parking lots--i have to if i want brownies and diet lemon cokesi.

recently she told me about an article she had read online about the dangers of drinking too much soda. this came right on the heels of rollie deciding he would limit himself to one a day, for health reasons. so it got me to thinking that maybe i should cut back too . . .

this all occurred, coincidentally, on the weekend that we happened to run out of pepsi one. usually when this happens, i immediately run to the store for more. but this time i thought, no, let's not keep cans of soda around. maybe if it isn't in the house i will only drink it when we eat out (which is still quite often) and that will help me cut back.

it seemed like a good plan. and it was, until the soda i brought home from lunch was gone.

i thought that if i had to get into my car and drive some place to buy a soda, i would be less likely to do it, and so i would drink less. apparently that is not true.

it has been almost a week since i made this momentous decision about not keeping cans of soda in the house, and the people at jack-in-the-box are starting to ring up my order for a large diet soda before i even get to the cash register! seriously.

rollie is doing quite well with this new change. but then we all know that he is the disciplined one. diandra and i--well let's just say that we enable each other. i cannot tell you how many trips one or the other of us has made to the nearest fast food place to get sodas. whichever one of us is home will text the one who is out, saying something like, "i could really use a soda. could you pick one up for me on your way home?" and of course, whoever is going through the drive-thru at chick-fil-a is also going to get one for themselves. so i am not sure we are drinking any less soda. we are just paying more for it.

and thinking about it all the time. i am sitting here tonight, parched. i could drink water, but i don't like water. i wish i did. i was reading a new blog today where someone listed water as their favorite drink. i was so jealous!! all i want is a soda. i checked the refrigerator, twice, just in case one was stashed in there in the back, hidden accidentally. i looked in the garage, because sometimes i keep a 2 liter bottle out there for emergencies. i think i am starting to identify with people who have addictions.

this would be easier if it were cold here. then i could drink hot tea, or even hot water--which strangely, i like. but it was 80 degrees today! in november!! i'm sorry, but that is not hot drink weather. that is tall-frosty-glass-of-something-with-caffeine-splenda-and-bubbles-in-it-that-you-drink-through-a-straw weather.

tonight i have no soda. i do not feel up to making the trip out to get one. diandra would bring me one, but she will be home late. i guess i will just go to bed. i don't know what i will do tomorrow morning . . .

maybe it will be cold. if it isn't, i think a 12 pack of pepsi-one may find a new home.

Monday, November 9, 2009

cough syrup strikes again!

so today . . . i am sitting here staring at my blank computer screen wondering what to write.

the truth is, i was kind of spacey today. i took some cough medicine last night and suffered the effects of it today.

for some reason, over-the-counter medications seem to stay in my system a looooong time. i try to remember to take only half a dose, and to take the final one no later than 12 hours before i have to get up the next day. but last night, i forgot and took a full dose.

i slept really, really well.

but this morning, waking up was hard to do. i smacked the snooze several times--enough times that i apparently lost track. and then i just gave up. finally rollie dragged me up and headed me toward the bathroom. after washing my face and brushing my teeth, i was conscious enough to throw on clothes and race to work.

it is a good thing i only live a mile away from my school.

the first hour wasn't too bad. the second hour was ok. but by the third hour of the day, i just wanted a nap--really, really badly. i found myself sitting at my desk, staring out into space. i couldn't focus or concentrate on anything. i drank a soda, hoping that the caffeine would help. it didn't. i explained the difference between a sentence and a collection of words to my kindergarteners. we wrote words that start with the letter "v" on the board. we started learning about telling time. and all i wanted was for the clock to say 3:30 so i could go home.

and then it was lunch time. i was only half done with my work day, and i still needed a nap. really, really badly.

my kindergarteners, however, apparently did not need a nap. when i went to pick them up from rest time, they were all awake. wide awake. that has never happened before--usually some of them sleep. but not today.

i don't understand it. you should see nap time at school. i would kill for a nap, but those kids fight it like it is brussel sprouts! the kids have been busy all morning. many of them had to get up really early so their parents would have time to drop them off before they had to go to work. they have to be tired. they each get a cot to sleep on, with a pillow and soft, usually fuzzy blanket to snuggle up with. the teacher turns the lights off so the room is dim, and usually soft music is playing (although i have occasionally heard some rather loud, energetic music drifting down the hallway.) and yet they fight it like they will never wake up if they allow their little eyes to close. you cannot believe how many things a child can come up with to do while laying on a cot with just a blanket and a pillow--it is incredible. and no amount of talking will convince them to sleep. "the time will go by faster if you sleep." they have no concept of time! this is meaningless to them!! "you will feel so much better after you sleep." they think they will feel so much better if you just let them get up and play instead of wasting all this time laying around! "just close your eyes and lay really still and you will fall asleep . . . " this may be true, but it is never going to happen.

and then there is the mean teacher tactic "you are staying on that cot until you sleep, so you might as well go to sleep right now!!!" this is a lie. we all know it. when the clock hits 3:00, they are all going to get up whether they have slept or not. but for some reason some teachers seem compelled to give this one a try.

you cannot force a child to sleep. or coerce them. or convince them. or even bribe them. believe me, i know. i've tried . . . children seem genetically programmed to resist sleep.

i've heard cough syrup helps, although i do not think it is a good idea to give a perfectly healthy child a dose of cough syrup just to get them to sleep. but after today, i am pretty sure it would work. it certainly made me sleepy. and i am an adult!

some people think a child is an adult when they turn 18, or maybe 21. some people think it happens when they move out of their parent's home and start supporting themselves financially. some people don't think it really happens until they have children of their own. but i think they are all wrong.

i think the point at which a child turns into an adult is when they WANT to take a nap--without the benefit of cough syrup!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

as if being sick wasn't bad enough!

so today . . . i am trying to take a new medication for my cough--but it isn't easy . . .

i have issues with swallowing pills. when i was younger and had to take a pill, it was quite an ordeal. it took two teaspoons, the medication, water, and sugar. for some reason i just could not swallow a pill. so i had to crush each tablet in a teaspoon, then add sugar (to disguise the taste) and water (so it would flow down my throat) and it was still a problem. and no matter how much sugar i added, i could taste the bitterness of the pill. it was disgusting.

i couldn't figure out why pills would not go down my throat. my younger brother could swallow multiple pills at once. when i was a teenager, i decided that this was unacceptable. so i found the tiniest pill i could find--it was a decongestant and was a tablet about a quarter inch in diameter. i practiced until i could swallow those things. i would put the tiny pill in my mouth, fill my mouth with water, tilt my head back and shake it from side to side (which i apparently thought would move the pill to the back of my mouth,) and then swallow it all in one big gulp. nine times out of ten, after all that, the pill would still be in my mouth. dissolving. so i would spit it out and try again. (see, you were worried about all those pills i was swallowing, weren't you. the truth is, i wasn't actually swallowing very many . . . )

when i was in my early thirties, i discovered why this was such a difficult task for me. i was at the dentist one day and they were taking xrays and i was complaining about the pain. they shove those little cardboard squares into a person's mouth, and then say, "now bite down and don't move!" this always caused major discomfort in the roof of my mouth as the corner would press in. i would do my very best to "bite down," but it was nearly impossible because of the pain. then one day, my dentist heard me. he came in and said, "it shouldn't hurt to have xrays," and looked in my mouth. "oh," he said. "that explains it."

it seems that i have some sort of cartilage growth near the back of my throat. i knew it was there--i just didn't know it was unusual. but the dentist said that only a small percentage of the population has this big bump on the roof of their mouth. so i started looking in people's mouths whenever i got the chance. and it was true! i have only seen one other person who has this unusual condition! maybe i am just not looking in the right mouths, but clearly i am special.

i think this is why i have such a hard time swallowing pills. instead of the pill sliding along the roof of my mouth and down my throat, it slides along until it hits the bump, and then it falls onto my tongue which then presses up against the roof of my mouth when i swallow, trapping the pill. that explains how i can swallow all the water, but leave the pill in my mouth.

while it is comforting to know that there is a reason for my handicap, it doesn't help me when i have medication to take. i have developed a technique that works about 80% of the time, if the pill isn't too large. the trick is to get it to slide along just above my tongue and down my throat. but if it is too big and heavy, it won't get off my tongue, and i inadvertently trap it against the roof of my mouth when i swallow. yes, it is a curse.

so yesterday, there i was at target, looking for mucinex (which sounds so disgusting!! you would think they could have come up with a more appealing name . . . ) the doctor seems to think it will help my cough. but there were about twenty different formulations--expectorant with cough suppressant and nasal decongestant, expectorant with cough suppressant alone, or just expectorant. extra strength and regular strength (seriously?!?!? are you really going to choose regular strength when there is an extra strength available????) store brand and name brand. four hour or twelve hour (again, who is going to take a pill six times a day when they could take one only twice?!?) after perusing all the choices, i decided on expectorant with cough suppressant in the twelve hour formula--less pills to swallow. i paid and left the store.

when i got home and opened the package, there were 14 of the biggest pills i have ever seen. ever. and i have taken a lot of pills since i learned to swallow them. i just stared at those pills and thought, "there is no way those will go down my throat. i'm just going to die with this cough." and i popped two more delicious cough drops into my mouth.

i have been popping cough drops a couple of times a day for the last several weeks. they help temporarily, but nothing is curing whatever is causing my cough. i didn't see that i had a lot of options though, so i had another cough drop.

by 8:00 last night, i decided i needed to at least try to get one of the gigantic mucinex pills down. i wrestled one out of the security packaging (which is something a sick person should not have to do!) and got some water. i looked at the enormous thing and tried to psych myself up to swallow it. "come on," i said to myself, "you can do this! you have given birth--28 hours of labor--you can do anything!!!" i mentally went through the procedure, envisioning a successful ending. and rainbows and unicorns . . .

and then it was time--i couldn't put it off any longer. i popped that pill into my mouth, took a medium sized swig of water, relaxed my tongue and tipped my head back just a bit--and it went down! ha! i thought--those icky mucous monsters were about to be evicted from the comfortable home they had made in my lungs. i did it!

of course, it wasn't over. i have to get one down every 12 hours until . . . well, i'm not sure exactly how long i am supposed to take them. i just hope they work . . .

. . . because i am pretty sure if i have to swallow anything bigger, i will probably die.

Friday, November 6, 2009

the nerve of some bugs!

so today . . . a spider crawled on me. don't worry. i survived. i didn't even scream. at least, not out loud.

i was sitting on the couch, watching a little tv and playing on my computer. rollie had already gone to bed, and diandra was out at a high school football game (ah, the life of a youth pastor . . . ) and i was just sitting there, trying not to cough. i felt a tickle on my arm, glanced down, and there it was. a spider. on my arm. my BARE arm.

you know how moms and teachers always say, "oh don't worry. they are more afraid of you than you are of them . . . " it isn't true. trust me. i am absolutely certain that the spider on my arm was not even a tiny bit afraid of me--if he was, he would not have been strolling down my arm! and while i'm not sure i would say i was exactly afraid of it, i wasted not even one second trying to GET IT OFF OF ME!!!!!

diandra would have never survived the experience. for some reason, she has a seemingly irrational fear of any kind of spider. she will yell to me, "mom! there's a HUGE spider in my room!!" she says this with every expectation that i will come and kill it. and i usually do. but when i get there, and she shows me the spider, i realize that her definition of huge is not quite the same as mine. she seems to think that any spider visible to the naked eye is huge. to me, it isn't classified as huge unless it looks as though it is going to be yukky if i squish it.

i don't enjoy killing spiders. i know they are an important part of the bug food chain, and there is a part of me that wonders what evil creepy crawly things will overtake me if the spiders aren't there to eat them. so as long as they are not bothering anyone, i tend to leave them alone. but since diandra is so freaked out by them, i have learned to do my job as the mom and get rid of them.

my method isn't unique. i grab a big handful of toilet paper, hover over the offending arachnid, then quickly grab and squish. and then i flush it--just to be sure. i didn't know there was any other way to eliminate a spider. then one day i was out on the playground with my class, and one of the children found a spider. of course, everyone went to look, and i was all ready to give my speech about how the outdoors is where spiders live, and we should leave it alone so it could eat other bugs, and how it is important to respect all living things, blah, blah, blah. and then i saw the spider. it was a big black widow. i decided the speech could wait for another day, and sent someone inside to get the director. this looked like something that was in her job description, not mine.

a few minutes later, she came out with an aerosol can and sprayed that spider to death.

i had never thought of that. i didn't know you could kill a spider with a chemical weapon. i thought it had to be hand to hand combat.

i know i sound brave, but spiders are the only bugs i can work up my courage to kill. we also occasionally see crickets or cock roaches here in the lovely southwest--this is one of the downsides of our mild climate. i try to deal with the crickets myself by shooing them outside. i grab a magazine and sort of herd them toward the doggie door flap (which is probably how they get in.) this is not all that easy, as they seem incapable of jumping in a straight line. getting a cricket from point a (anyplace in the family room) to point b (outside) can be a nearly impossible task--especially since i am not willing to touch it. or have it touch me.

and then there are the cock roaches. thankfully i don't see too many of them, because that is the bug that freaks me out. talk about HUGE!! i'm not even sure how you can call a cock roach an insect. insects are tiny and cock roaches are not. i am sure they are really some sort of small animal disguised as an insect. i cannot even imagine stepping on one--i might never recover from that! so my method of dealing with cock roaches is to trap them and wait for rollie to come home and dispose of them. but they are hard to trap, because they are so FAST. and they seem to have special mind reading powers, so they know exactly when i am about to drop the big glass measuring cup over them, and they move. once i do trap them, they run around and around and around in circles at the edge of the cup. i can't stand it--i have to leave the room.

one time rollie came home and found one half in and half out of the cup. he asked me if i had dropped the measuring cup ON the cock roach. i said no. the only explanation i can come up with is that it managed to lift that big heavy glass cup just enough to start to get out. thankfully the escape attempt was not successful. and yet, just knowing it tried creeps me out. so now, i put something big and heavy on top of the glass cup--just to be sure.

once i found a cock roach on the dining room drapes. this was the first time i had seen one not scurrying around on the ground. i yelled for rollie (in much the same way that diandra yells for me when she sees a spider,) and he came to the rescue. that is the day i learned that COCK ROACHES CAN FLY!!! you do not want to hear the story behind that revelation. trust me. it involved much running about, hand flapping, screaming, and fear of death by gigantic flying bug.

thankfully, i survived. unlike the spider that chose my arm as his route from point a to point b.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

of traffic and photographers and a very special woman

so today . . . i went to the orange county smug mug meeting. it's for photographers. of which, i am not one . . .

but diandra is, so i went with her. if we go together, we can drive in the car pool lane, and since we need to travel on the 405 freeway at 5:30 p.m., it is much quicker if we can drive in the car pool lane. of course, we have to cross 5 lanes of traffic to get there from the on-ramp, but it is rush hour, so how fast could the traffic be flowing?

i was driving. we left the house and headed toward the 605 freeway, and diandra said, "you know how to get there, right?"

this was a reasonable assumption on her part. we had gone to the smug mug meeting together in august, and i had driven. of course, we had used her gps, so i hadn't really paid that much attention--i just went where it told me to go! i knew we started out on the 605 and then got onto the 405. the problem was, i didn't know exactly where to get OFF the 405. but i wasn't worried--i figured either diandra would know or we would recognize it when we saw it.

i was wrong.

diandra didn't know which exit to take, and i had no idea either. thankfully her amazing and awesome, sort of new cell phone has a gps in it. and thankfully she remembered the name of the place we were supposed to be. so thankfully we didn't have to depend on either one of our brains to get us there! but we did have to get across those five lanes of traffic . . .

when you live in a metropolitan area, you learn to deal with the traffic. i have never been intimidated by freeways. but then again, until moving here, i have never driven in twelve lanes of traffic going in two different directions. at night. during rush hour. and while i am not intimidated by it, it can be a little bit nerve-wracking at times. seriously, it is a miracle that i have not had an accident. rollie likes to say that when i get in my car, God sends angels on motorcycles to surround me. and i am pretty sure it is true . . .

anyway, we made it to the meeting in plenty of time, traffic and all. we got a good seat and settled in to listen to the presentation, made by jasmine star (who, as you know if you have been reading my blog for a while, we think is awesome!) i had been looking forward to hearing her speak. i pulled out my pen to take notes . . . and found it wouldn't write. at all.

i had just used that stupid pen a few days earlier and it worked perfectly fine! and now, when i needed it most, it was refusing to give up it's ink! now what? everyone around me was frantically scribbling on their paper (because jasmine talks FAST!) everyone, except me, because my pen decided to take the night off. i tried to take notes on my phone, but i couldn't keep up, typing on those teeny, tiny keys. so i finally just sat back and listened. and laughed. and realized that she wasn't really giving out information anyway. she was talking about being the kind of person who cares about the people they come in contact with.

it was interesting. here we were at a meeting for photographers, listening to one of the premier wedding photographers speak, and she wasn't talking about camera settings or rad actions or marketing or equipment. she was talking about developing relationships with people. she wasn't discussing how to set up formal shots or how to pace the day of a shoot or how to manage your business. she was talking about helping people and making them feel comfortable and doing things seemingly unrelated to photography--just because you care.

it was interesting, because that is not the way most people think about developing their photography business. it was interesting, because it wasn't about how to get ahead or be the best photographer. and it was interesting, because we have seen up close and personal, that jasmine practices what she preaches.

a year ago, she did a photo shoot for diandra. it was an amazing succession of circumstances that led up to that meeting, and it was a life-changing experience for diandra. and not just because jasmine took some beautiful pictures of her, but because jasmine cared. the photos were lovely, and we would have appreciated them even if jasmine had just been friendly and skilled at what she does. but she was more than that--without even knowing what diandra was going through, she was able to make her laugh, and remember that she was beautiful and smart and funny and wonderful. jasmine made her feel like she was someone worth knowing.i look back now, and i know that day was a turning point for diandra. i can see it happening in her eyes and in her expressions when i look at those photos. and i know that the interaction between two people who had never met before was more valuable than either of them could have known at the time.

people are important. it is so easy to get all caught up in the details of life that we forget that. it is easy to get so busy and tired and focused on our tasks, that even if we remember it, we don't have the energy to do anything about it. it takes energy to care about someone--energy and time, both of which can sometimes be in short supply. but i am thankful for the people in our lives who take the time to care. because you just never know when the few minutes you spend with someone today might be a turning point for them.

much of what is good in diandra's life right now can be traced back to that day, on the beach, talking to an incredible woman behind a camera.
one person really can make a difference.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

sometimes ignorance is NOT bliss--sometimes it is just the lack of knowledge.

so today . . . something funny happened in my classroom, and i have no idea what it was.

after my kids "nap" (and i use quotes, because the kindergarteners don't really nap. they put their heads down on their tables and wish it was time to play. sometimes they do fall asleep, but before long i have to wake them up, so it isn't really long enough to be called a nap. and yet, we do . . . ) i let them play for a little while before we dive back into our work. i do this, because if they have slept, they need a little transition time before their brains are fully functioning again. and i need a little transition time before i am ready to deal with social studies or art.

as i looked around the room, i saw that two children were playing on the floor with legos, and three were at a table playing with little rubbery dinosaurs. and then i heard the laughter. not just giggling, but the full-on, laugh-out-loud kind. it was coming from the table.

(to my knowledge, the dinosaurs aren't that funny. in fact, what usually happens when the dinosaurs are out is something like this--
"i want the red ones."
"no! i'm playing with them."
"but i WANT them!!!"
"no! i had them first!"
"TEEEAAAACHERRRRR! he won't share the dinosaurs!!!"
and then we have the discussion about how sharing doesn't mean you get what you want when you want it--sharing means taking a turn.)

so i was curious, because while they get the giggles sometimes, i can usually hear it coming. as the five-year-old conversation swirls in the background of my brain, i will hear the beginnings of a joke or the smile in a voice that tells me mild hilarity is right around the corner. but that didn't happen today.

because they were speaking in chinese.

i don't speak chinese, so it was a little hard to catch the punchline. and the students aren't really supposed to speak chinese at school (because most of them speak chinese at home, so school is where they are supposed to be working on their english skills) but they were laughing so hard! so i tuned into the conversation. and even though i couldn't understand a word they were saying, i could tell they were laughing about words--i think they were making puns! in chinese!!

i am constantly amazed at the language skills of people who have only been alive for four or five years. they can't even tie their own shoe laces, but they are fluent in two languages! not only that, but they can apparently be funny in two languages! you have to really understand a language to be able to pull off a play on words. of course, chinese is the language they were born to speak, but they are also able to be funny in english.

the difference is, i understand it when they are funny in english.

Monday, November 2, 2009

they were meant to be party shoes

so today . . . i wore my new shoes to school. it proved to be a bad decision.

but first, a disclaimer--if you are a guy reading this, it is going to make absolutely no sense to you. you do not have shoe issues. you either wear your athletic shoes or your work shoes. and you wear the athletic shoes with your jeans and the work shoes with your slacks. you do not have to make a shoe decision every day--only on casual fridays, when you have to decide if you want to wear your work shoes or your athletic shoes with your jeans . . .

i have a lot of shoes. i rarely make the decision of what to wear based upon the clothing i have. i choose either shoes or jewelry first, and then go from there. but we are having very weird weather right now, so i have to consider the clothing. today it was at least 85!! i know this, because i went to chick-fil-a for lunch, and i drove with the top down. and i found myself praying for a red light so i could take my lightweight sweater off, because i was starting to sweat. and i hate to sweat. so it is really hard to get dressed in the morning (especially when your brain doesn't fully function until 10:00.) what to wear, what to wear . . .

since it is november, i can't wear my summer clothes--it is just wrong! and yet it is over 80 degrees, so winter clothes are wrong too! my solution is layers, but they have to be lightweight layers that aren't summery. and tights. because even though it is hot, it is almost thanksgiving!!! today i went with a short-sleeved black jersey dress with turquoise accessories and a black & turquoise sweater. (and i know none of you cares at all what i was wearing, but it explains the shoes, which is what the blog is really about--i'm just not there yet.) this is the first time i have worn this outfit in the "fall," so i added black tights, and put on my black patent leather and suede skechers. i was comfortable, and ready to walk out the door. until i caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

oh no no no no no.

the dress was too long to wear with tights and flat shoes--it made my cute skechers look like orthopedic nurse shoes. only in black.

ok, well there wasn't time to change my clothes, so i thought i would just change my shoes. i went to my closet and was faced with two black choices--ugg boots or sandals. and the clock was ticking . . .

i bought a new pair of shoes about a month ago. i knew fall was coming, and i needed a black pair of heels i could wear with tights. i thought i had found just what i was looking for at payless shoes, but i am kind of picky about my shoes being comfortable. usually i wear them at home a few times to be sure before i wear them out, and i hadn't had time to test the new shoes yet. but they felt comfortable when i put them on. and they were so cute. and they worked with the clothes i was wearing. so i decided to live dangerously--i slipped my feet into them and bolted for the door . . . even though a little voice in my head was saying, "wear the skechers . . . "

i should learn to listen to that little voice.

everything was fine, until i had been at school for about half an hour and realized that it might be my turn to do music today. these were definitely NOT shoes to do music in! i scrambled around and managed to dodge that bullet, but by lunch time my toes were starting to murmur a bit. i ignored them and went to lunch at chick-fil-a. this required walking to my car, in and out of the restaurant, and then from my car back into the school--all on very unforgiving pavement. my toes were starting to speak a bit more loudly. since i had an hour for lunch today, apparently i should have spent 15 minutes of that time at home, changing my shoes. but i had no idea how bad things were going to get . . .

during my prep time, i just took the shoes off. i try to avoid walking on the floor at school without shoes, or touching it with my hands, because you just never know . . . but today i didn't care. the tile in the workroom felt cool to my newly freed feet, and the half hour i spent there went by way too quickly. against their protests, i stuffed my toes back into the beautiful black shoes and finished out the afternoon.

and then, i realized i had to go to the grocery store. and not just any grocery store. costco.

i debated going home first, but i am already almost halfway to costco from school, so i decided to once again ignore my uncomfortable feet and just go.

i got a good parking space, grabbed a cart, and started down my list only to discover that the aisles had been rearranged! i don't know why stores do that!! how are you supposed to find anything! my feet and legs were starting to protest pretty loudly, so i started to sort of stretch out the muscles. as it turns out, not a good idea. the muscles started to cramp up. i envisioned myself writhing on the floor of costco--the cool concrete floor--and being unable to walk. someone would have to call 9-1-1. and i wouldn't be able to drive home, because i wouldn't be able to depress the clutch!

no no no no no. this could not happen.

i very s-l-o-w-l-y started relaxing the muscles, and managed to begin moving forward. i still had nothing in my cart. but i had made it to costco and survived threatening muscle cramps, so my tired feet and my new shoes and i walked up and down almost every aisle in costco until we had completed the shopping list, and then tried to get to the car without hobbling.

i just wanted to go home and dunk my feet and legs in hot water. but i still needed to go to one more grocery store. i almost skipped it, worried that i really would be unable to walk, but it is right by costco. so i parked the car, stood up tall, and walked in . . .

. . . only to discover that this store, too, had been rearranged.

i confess, i almost took my shoes off. the cool tiles were beckoning to me . . .

but i moved forward, got my groceries, and was finally on my way home. and noticed it was a beautiful evening. i drove home in the dwindling light, under the full moon, with the top down and the stereo playing, thinking about how much i love living where i live.

diandra heard me pull into the garage and came out to help carry in the groceries. needless to say, i remained shoeless. i said hi to rollie, put away the groceries, and then heard these words:

"so, are you ready to go get something to eat?"

i looked at my shoes, and seriously considered my answer . . .