Thursday, January 28, 2010

i feel like a thundercloud

so today . . . i am feeling whiny and annoyed and not very likable. this makes it difficult to write an entertaining and amusing blog.

some people can probably set aside how they really feel and get into the persona they need, so that they can blog in the voice people are used to hearing. i have found that i am not so successful at that. so while something almost humorous did happen today, and i have been saving up cute kid stories, i just can't do them justice in this frame of mind. i could write them, but they wouldn't have the amusing tone that i like to use. and i hate to waste good stories!

so i am going to bed now, even though it is only 9:20! and with a good night's sleep (i hope!) and only a half day of work tomorrow and no rain in the forecast, i am hopeful that my sunny disposition will return. and with it, my blogging . . .

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

psychic kindergarteners???

so today . . . there were apparently supernatural powers at work in my classroom . . .

i am still playing catch up from being gone on friday. we are in that time of year when the curriculum gets very busy. so even though i stretched their little brains a bit yesterday, we had to press on today. and today's new concept was--dun, dun, duuuunnnn--"the missing addend."

i hate teaching this. i think it is the dumbest thing to try to teach to five year olds! they have just started adding and are up to sums of 5, and then suddenly we ask them to figure out what you have to add to a given number to get a certain sum? really??

in the past, i have explained this word for word out of the curriculum teaching guide. i have explained it using my own words. i have explained it using math manipulatives and felt cut-outs and cookies. real ones. we have practiced using the pictures provided on their worksheets (which, btw, if you have to give them pictures to help them figure it out, maybe it is too hard for them!!!!!) and have even resorted to having them use their fingers. every year about half the kids figure out how to get the right answer, a few more will get really good at copying the right answer from whoever is sitting next to them, and some kids will try really, really hard and still not have a clue . . .

i would just skip it if i could, but it keeps showing up on their math papers, so their parents kind of expect me to teach it. although why kindergarteners need to know 2 + ? = 5 is beyond me.

but today was the day. and it was a busy one, so i only had about 10 minutes to introduce them to this "important" concept. i got out some math manipulatives and sat down at their table. i handed out the math papers and explained what we were going to learn. before i could even get my manipulatives arranged, edward had his fingers out and was saying the right answer to the first problem. ok, well, that was nice, but i was skeptical. and i was right--it was beginner's luck. so i plowed on through the rest of the lesson, with one eye on the clock. because recess was fast approaching . . .

as we practiced, two of the kids were starting to get it and one was probably thinking about lunch! but i could tell that edward really wanted to give me the right answer! he was working hard each time i gave them a new problem, but he was just enough slower than the others that he could never be the one to give the answer. he was getting a little bit frustrated, and we were running out of time. finally, i told them we were on the last problem. i gave it to them and waited, watching edward and hoping he would be the one to get it this time. they were all working it out in their own way, and when one of the other kids said the right answer first, edward just looked at him.

then he looked at me, shook his head, and said, "he just read my mind!"


Monday, January 25, 2010

when five year olds start thinking . . .

so today . . . i had a speechless moment at school.

i am not usually speechless. i can almost always think of something to say. but today, for just a moment, my mouth opened, but no words came out.

i missed school on friday, and through a set of unfortunate circumstances, the sub for my class didn't make it. so friday's lessons didn't get taught--the result being, i had a lot to teach today.

we started off with some handwriting, just to sort of put some structure into our morning. then i went to the board and taught the "two vowel rule"--you know, "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking . . . " we have spent the last several months working with short vowel sounds, but today we added the long vowel sounds to our repertoire--well, sort of added. i introduced it, and they seemed to understand it, but i have every confidence that tomorrow at least half of them will be going "huh?" when we review . . .

that was friday's phonics lesson. but i had to teach it today, because tomorrow it will be incorporated into their seat work. and i also had to squeeze in today's phonics lesson--the sight word "I." and i had to do it fast, because it was almost time for recess. their eyes were already beginning to glaze over, but usually this is a fairly easy lesson--usually they have already figured this out on their own by looking at books. so i wrote the word on the board, explained how sometimes "I" is a word and not just a part of a word, and how you can tell the difference, and that it is a rule-breaker, and so on.

and they just looked at me blankly. so i used it in some sentences, and they started to catch on a bit. then i got the brilliant idea to stand straight and tall with my arms stiffly at my sides so that i looked like the letter "I" and use that as a visual. and that is where the trouble began . . .

. . . because you see, they immediately noticed that while i was straight and tall, i did not have anything across the top or the bottom of my straight, tall body like the letter did. so i tried to use one arm to go across the top of my head and sort of crossed one leg at the knee like the bottom of the upper case I. but that wasn't good enough, because the bottom of my other leg was sticking out past the crossed leg like a flamingo . . .

and then one little boy excitedly raised his hand and said, "if you cut off your head," (making chopping motions with his hand,) "then you would look like a lower case i."

"yeah," another little boy said, "and your floating head could be the dot."

"AND," said a little girl, "you would have to be like this," (and she knelt down on the floor) "so that you would be shorter than the upper case I."

what do you say to that? who even thinks of stuff like that?!? i just stood there, straight and tall, with my head firmly attached, my brain thinking of and eliminating several responses.

"time for recess!" is what finally came out of my mouth.

sigh. tomorrow is another day . . .

Saturday, January 23, 2010

don't even get me started on pho!

so today . . . i ate two new things. i can't say it was a totally positive experience.

i am not an adventurous eater. i know what i like, and that is what i choose to eat. we are surrounded by restaurants filled with exotic and unusual foods, but i choose to have my dinner at jack in the box. or sizzler. and on those rare occasions when, through no fault of my own, i find myself in a new restaurant, i always order the chicken. i figure you can't go wrong with chicken, as long as you ask for the sauce on the side . . .

today we went to rubio's for lunch. ( i know, big surprise.) i usually order one of the three things that i like there, but today i happened to look at the specials. actually, i noticed the specials a few days ago and saw that they had a salmon taco. i really like salmon, but i have this pact with my nephew about fish tacos . . .

troy and i have an agreement. we made this pact almost 10 years ago when we were visiting southern california and noticed that some restaurants put fish in their tacos. we discussed how many, many ways it was wrong to put fish in a taco, and agreed that we would never let one pass our lips. (it was much easier to keep this pact when i lived in oregon, where they put real meat in their tacos!)

i don't know about troy, but i have honored our agreement--even when surrounded by fish taco eaters. but today i was just not in the mood for any of the other items on the menu, so i decided to try the salmon taco special. i had no idea what it would be like, so it was a simple order--"i'll have a salmon taco." this is quite a contrast to my usual order--"i'll have a baja grill burrito, with chicken, no fresca sauce, sour cream on the side, and a whole wheat tortilla." next time (if i ever order the salmon taco again,) i will know what to add and what to take off. but the first time is always a gamble . . .

so it came. with a side salad. usually i like side salads, because they tend to be mostly iceberg lettuce which is my favorite lettuce! but not this one. this side salad had fresca sauce (which i do not like) and black beans (which i like, but not on a salad!) so i quickly set the salad aside and moved on to the salmon taco. i could not see the salmon. i opened up the shell, and there was a nice strip of grilled salmon, but it was buried under a mountain of chopped up green vegetables. i couldn't recognize any of the vegetables except the onions, and i am not a fan of onions. so i scraped it all off and just ate the salmon. which worked out really well, because without the tortilla it wasn't a taco, so i didn't break the pact. but while the salmon was good, it was not much of a meal without all the other stuff.

so by dinner time, i was hungry. which was good, because we had a dinner to go to. it was one of those situations where the menu has been pre-selected and you just eat what they bring you. this is usually a nightmare for me, because what usually happens is that the person choosing the food tries to pick something that will be special (meaning different) and you know how i feel about that!

when we got to the restaurant, there were a selection of beverages. which was good. (sometimes at this sort of dinner, all you get is water or coffee.) we sat down at our table, and soon our server came and removed all the salad dressings. ok. it is never a good sign when there isn't any salad dressing on the table. that means we are getting some kind of specialty salad, which usually means full of stuff that i will not like! my ideal side salad is made up of lots of iceberg lettuce with some shredded carrots and maybe a broccoli floret. with ranch dressing, but our server had just whisked the ranch dressing away . . .

the salads came. i looked at them and knew i had to make a decision. i could see lettuce, walnuts, golden raisins, craisins, and something else green that was chopped into little pieces, and it was all covered with some kind of shiny, clear dressing. i was pretty sure i wasn't going to like it. but i didn't know what we were having for dinner yet, and what if i didn't like that?!? i couldn't just sit there all evening and not eat!

so i had to eat it. the question was, should i just eat the parts i knew i liked (the lettuce and walnuts) and try to pick out all the other stuff? or should i just try to choke it all down?

and then, for some reason i thought about diandra.

diandra is a pretty picky eater too--probably because she was raised eating by my standards. but several months ago she told me about going to a mexican restaurant with some friends, and they ordered a bunch of food. and when it came, she looked at it and realized that there was a lot in it that she didn't like. but she decided to try it anyway, without picking it all apart. and she was surprised to find that even though she didn't like the individual foods, when they were all put together, it tasted really good!

so i decided to just eat the salad the way it was. the first few bites were a little hard to get down, but once i got used to the unusual flavor, it wasn't that bad! i was really surprised! so i ate several bites and was feeling pretty good about my personal growth, and then i bit into something gooshy and slimy. i almost gagged. i had no idea what it was!! when i had looked at the salad, i didn't see anything gooshy in it. suddenly all these thoughts started going through my head--could it be a snail? a slimy mushroom?? neither of those things made any sense--this was a kind of sweetly flavored salad. but whatever it was, i knew i didn't want it in my mouth!

so there i was. what to do, what to do. there was too much food in my mouth to just swallow it. we had cloth napkins, so i couldn't really spit it out. but i also really didn't want to chew it anymore either. i started frantically (yet surreptitiously) looking around at other people's salads and digging through my own to try to see what could possibly be squishing about in my mouth.

and then i saw it. in my salad bowl. a mandarin orange.

the mind is a funny thing. i like mandarin oranges, but i have to be prepared for them. finding one in my mouth, out of context, and not knowing what it was, was not a pleasant experience for me. all the emergency lights and sirens in my brain were going off. "eject! eject!" was the message i was getting. thankfully i was able to override what was going on in my brain, and finally swallow what turned out to be the last bite of my salad.

maybe i should just stick to jack in the box. at least when i order a sourdough jack, i know what i'm eating--as long as rollie remembers to order it with no tomato or ketchup and light mayo . . .

Friday, January 22, 2010

storm watch. 2010. day 5.

so today . . . is supposed to be the last day of this big storm. thank goodness!!

i'm tired of my umbrella. i'm tired of my "ugg" boots. i'm tired of mia quivering in my lap. i'm tired of rollie snapping the furry end of the tie on my hood at me (even though he has only done it twice.) i'm tired of the rain . . .

all i want to do is sleep--curl up in front of the fire with my book and my blanket and sleep. which i could do tomorrow, but tomorrow the sun is supposed to shine . . .

i will be glad for our sunshine's return home, but if only it had waited one more day . . . i would have loved to have a lazy, cozy day on the couch watching the storm.

this is purely selfish. i know there are couples planning to get married, people with disneyland tickets to use, and vendors with stuff to sell at the orange county swap meet--all of whom would like tomorrow to be a lovely, sunny day. and luckily for them, it is supposed to be nice.

but curling up in front of the fire with my book and my blanket is not quite the same when the sun is shining.

perhaps i should start working on a new plan . . .

Thursday, January 21, 2010

storm watch. 2010. day 4

so today . . . i didn't see much rain. that doesn't mean it wasn't raining--i just missed it.

i had opportunities, my timing was just off. it was dry on my way to work--well, when i say dry, i mean it wasn't currently raining. although, the streets were wet. i think it must have rained in the night, but once i am asleep it takes a LOT to wake me up. rollie can wake up and turn on talk radio--i am oblivious. diandra can come home late and set the house alarm--i don't hear it. milo can walk across my chest to get to rollie--ok, i am kind of aware of his 16 pound body pretending like i am the ground beneath his feet, but i don't really wake up. so rain at night? doesn't faze me.

about 11:00 i started thinking about lunch. and i thought i might like a soda with my lunch today. and i thought i might like to go get it without risking drowning, so timing was going to be important. the only problem was, i had just two times from which to choose--my 15 minute break at 11:45 or my lunch half hour at 1:00. and since the rain has not been following the schedule i have laid out for it the last couple of days, i wasn't sure which would be the better choice.

and then i remembered--accuweather!

accuweather is an app that rollie showed me early this week. i had downloaded it to my phone, but hadn't used it yet. so i tapped my fingers on the screen of my cool new phone, and a radar picture popped up. cerritos was marked on the map with an X, which was very helpful as i could see where the rain was. but it kept moving! at first the worst of it was headed toward san diego, and i thought a soda might be in my future . . . but then when i looked half an hour later, it had moved back up into our area.

clearly i needed more information. and guess what? accuweather has LOTS of information. in addition to the real time radar map, it also shows the current temperature, what direction the wind is blowing and how hard, and also the humidity. then it takes those factors into consideration to give a "real feel" temperature. it has a daily forecast for the next two weeks, AND it also lists the weather conditions for each hour of the day.

that is the feature that i consulted in making my decision about a soda run. according to accuweather, it was going to be raining in the 11:00 and 12:00 hours. but at 1:00, it just showed a cloud with lightning! i decided that was my best bet. i was so excited about this information, that i texted rollie about my decision. his reply? "i can see how you would rather die from a lightning strike than drown--quicker. :) btw, i think that symbol means lightning storms, i.e. harder rain."

shoot! i hadn't thought of that. but he was probably right, as lightning is usually accompanied by rain in the winter time. so i decided to stay in where it was warm and just drink tea at lunch. who knew accuweather could also assist in encouraging healthy eating?

i noticed there was one button i hadn't yet pushed. it was on the lower right hand corner of the screen and was marked with three stars. i had ignored it for quite a while, because i just figured it was some kind of rating scale. but as i continued to play with the app, my curiosity got the better of me, and i pushed it.

and started laughing.

onto my screen popped a fairly extensive list of activities that were rated according to the weather conditions. for instance, today the rating for barbequing, beach going, biking, golf, hiking, kite flying, lawn mowing, outdoor concerts, stargazing, tennis, and travel was poor. it's a good thing i had an app to tell me that. otherwise i might just have decided to get out my kite after school . . . it was also poor for the flu and arthritis. however, it was fair for asthma, colds, and sinus. good to know, considering my doctor thinks i suffer from two out of three of those conditions. could the weather today be rated excellent for anything, you ask? oh yes it could--grass growing, migraines, mosquitoes (i am assuming that means excellent because there aren't any!) and uv exposure! no sunscreen needed today!!

i am in love with this app. i showed it to ms. martha, and she immediately downloaded it onto her iphone. i know that it is entertaining today because we are actually having some weather. when this storm system passes and we go back to living in the land of eternal sunshine, it isn't going to be nearly as interesting.

and yet, i am glad to know that i can always look to accuweather to see if i should get out the mosquito repellant . . .

***note to mom--download this app if you do not already have it. i think you will love it too :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

storm watch. 2010. day 3.

so today . . . at 3:45 p.m. the rain ceased to be entertaining.

the day once again started out dry. i even checked with rollie about the forecast, because while my phone said it would only get up to 58 degrees today, it said nothing about rain. he assured me that the rain was coming . . .

i've come to hate the look of a cloudy, gray sky. and my closet full of dry weather clothes.

when i am at school, i am oblivious to the weather. my classroom is in the basement with narrow windows at ceiling height, and all we can see is the top of the building next door. we have heat and air conditioning and nice bright lights, so our temperature and visibility are unaffected by the weather. until we go up to the gym for recess, we have no idea of what is going on outside. which usually doesn't matter, because usually the sun is shining! but today when we went upstairs for playtime in the gym, i noticed that although the sky was cloudy and gray, there was still no rain.

so on my 15 minute break, i made an uneventful (this time) dash to 7-11 for emergency supplies (you know what i am talking about!) i noticed that one part of the sky was significantly darker than the rest. oh good, i thought to myself, maybe the storm is going past us today. yeah, well, i believed that little fairy tale until i realized that the dark part of the sky was to the west of us, and that crazy jet stream is traveling east.

now that i had supplies, i was able to stay inside during my lunch break. my plan had been a nice lunch with my book at chick-fil-a, since i had a whole hour today. but after seeing that sky, i could just imagine myself having to dash back to my car in the flooded parking lot with pouring rain drenching me and then spending the rest of the afternoon cold and wet. no thank you!

i fully expected the rain to be over by the time i left for home. that is what happened on monday. that is what happened yesterday. and our weather is nothing if not predictable. in fact, we rarely see the rain, because it almost always rains at night here. i don't know why, it just does . . .

so i put on my coat, picked up my handbag and computer bag and umbrella, and headed for the door. i could see that it was raining, so i adjusted my bags so that they were both on my shoulder and would be protected under the umbrella. i put my hood up. (don't ask why, i have no idea. i had an umbrella, but it just seemed like the thing to do.) i pushed open the door and started up the outside stairs. when i got to the top of the stairs, i stopped. i couldn't believe my eyes. the wind was blowing, and rain was coming down in sheets! you could see walls of it moving across the parking lot. this was more rain than i had seen since the day it rained something like 15 inches in one day when we lived at the coast. and that was ten years ago!!

i stood there for a few minutes trying to decide what to do. then i realized that even though i was kind of protected by the building, i was still getting wet! ok, make a dash for it, i thought. so i did--over the flooded grass and through the really flooded parking lot. i decided against opening the trunk in favor of trying to stuff my bags into the car, over the driver's seat, and into the passenger seat--yeah, that is why i usually use the trunk! i opened the door ready to fling my bags in . . . and discovered a major design flaw with my perfect little roadster--when sheets of rain are blowing across the roof and you open the door, the water falls in a stream straight down into the driver's seat! uh huh . . .

i didn't know what to do. i just stood there and watched my bucket seat fill up with rain water. should i put my bags in? but i would have to put them in the wet driver's seat first before i could bend down and lift them over the emergency brake into the other seat. and i couldn't bend down, because i was holding my umbrella (for all the good THAT was doing) and it was stuck between the roof of the car and the car door. should i just get in and try to pull them in after me? sit in that puddle?!?!?! are you kidding me?!?! maybe i should just open the trunk after all. but then all my eco-friendly cloth shopping bags would get wet. oh, and btw, THE PUDDLE IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT WAS NOT GETTING ANY SMALLER! i needed to do something!!

so i slammed the door closed and ran back into the school building.

you might think this was counterproductive. after all, i was already at the car. i was already about as wet as i could get. and now i had just doubled the amount of times i was going to have to slosh across the flooded parking lot. and maybe you would be right. but all i could think was my car is filling up with water and i don't know how to make it stop!!

so it was time to regroup. i needed a plan b. first things first--i walked down the hall and told ms. martha what had happened. i needed some sympathy and understanding, and i needed it fast! and then i started looking for the paper towels. because i figured that with all the rain around our school in the basement, real, dry, cotton towels were going to be scarce. but it was my lucky day (really?!?!?) because one was located.

ok, both bags on my shoulder, hood up, soda dumped (oh yes, i forgot to mention that i also had a soda in my hand before . . . ) umbrella in position, and towel in hand. i was ready to give it another try.

i went out the door and up the stairs. i peeked out into the parking lot. ok, good. the rain seemed to have slowed just a bit, and the wind had died down, so at least the rain was vertical now instead of horizontal. my feet and pants were already wet, so i took the shortest route to my car, even though i didn't have my water wings handy. i opened the car door, and without the wind blowing the water across my roof, the rain followed the little gutter around the door and down the side. yes!! ok, now just maneuver the bags in, and . . . then the wind blew, gustily!! the water coursed across the roof and down into the seat, and right INTO my handbag and computer bag!! i frantically tried to fling them across into the other seat, but the handles caught on the emergency brake. i couldn't reach far enough in to free them without letting go of the umbrella. and if i let go of the umbrella it would blow away. and, oh yeah, now there was more water in the driver's seat!! AAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!

i collapsed the umbrella, threw it onto the floor, put the towel in the driver's seat, threw myself into the car, and slammed the door shut! and the rain continued!

ok, well at least i was in the car. i was soaked, as was my seat, my carpet, and both the inside and outside of my bags, but we were all safe now. i hoped. all i had to do was get home and into the garage.

i started home, and knew i was in trouble when i saw the cars coming toward me on the road. great fountains of water were spraying high into the air. that is fine if you are driving an suv (rollie) or a jeep (diandra) but if you are driving a mazda mx-5 . . .

great! i survived the sinus rinsing only to drown on my way home from work . . .

i only live a mile from school, and i did not know if i was going to make it home. there was water across the road, but there was no where else to go. so i pretended my car was chitty chitty bang bang and plowed on through. i was afraid that if i stopped, my car might stall. (of course, i have no idea how a car works, so i don't know if that was a real danger or not.) i was trying to figure out how deep the water was, when i saw some high school kids running across the street. and the water was almost up to their knees! i turned into our neighborhood and couldn't see the road. it was completely flooded. the water was up over the sidewalks. i aimed my little car for the center of the road and tried to make it home without hydroplaning. i wasn't completely sure that my car was going to respond when i slowed down to turn into our driveway. but it did. and i coasted into lovely dryness.

i'm thinking maybe i should spend day 4 of storm watch 2010 in bed. warm and dry. with a book . . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

storm watch. 2010. day 2.

so today . . . it rained some more. really, really, really hard. and there was thunder and lightning too!

but it didn't start out that way. when i looked out the window this morning, it was mostly cloudy, but it was those smooth, high, white clouds with a tiny bit of blue peeking through. hmm. maybe that dumb jet stream had settled back into it's normal path and was sending the rain to washington or oregon where it belonged!

but just in case, a shoe decision had to be made. they were still predicting rain, which kind of affects footwear choices. i looked in my closet. bad news. my closet is filled with shoes--suede shoes, canvas shoes, open toe shoes, high heeled shoes--none of which were going to keep my feet toasty warm and dry. the best thing i could come up with were my black "ugg" boots. (notice the quotation marks--because real ugg boots are just slightly beyond my budget. but my boots are made from real suede, and i thought if cows can wear it in the rain . . . )

AND it was cold enough for the new sweater i got for christmas to finally see the light of day. it is big and soft and cozy, and i felt like i was wearing a snuggie all day--except i didn't trip over it!

when i got to school, i could see through my tiny little windows near the ceiling--yeah, my classroom is in a basement--that as the morning wore on, it was getting darker outside. and then, about noon, the rain began . . . gigantic drops were flung from the sky! the ground was soon flooded! the storm drains couldn't keep up! there was thunder. there was lightning. there was even a tornado warning!! i was thinking, where are we? kansas?!?!?!

since it is tuesday, rollie brought me lunch. he even braved the storm and went into an actual restaurant for food (well, panda express) instead of going through a drive-through. and then he parked in the closest parking space to the door of my school. he texted me, "wow. thunder. lightning. heavy rain. feels like oregon. be sure to wear something on your head when you come." thank goodness i had the sense to wear my big, puffy coat with the hood--even though (gasp!) it didn't match my outfit. i raced from the school to the car, which probably took all of 10 seconds, and i was drenched! we sat in the car munching our orange chicken and watching everyone else slosh through the flood to get to their cars. we listened to the rain pound the roof, and watched for lightning. and then, we noticed that we couldn't hear the rain on the roof anymore, even though it was still raining. and then it stopped.

the clouds dissipated, the puddles drained, and the sun fought to shine. all in the half hour i call my lunch time . . .

i walked back into the school without my coat, collected my students and finished out the afternoon.

at the end of my day, when i took my kids over to the other building for chinese and spanish classes, i saw joshua--remember? from last year? and he said to me, "i love the rain." so we talked about the rain for a few minutes. and then i said, "do you know who does not like the rain? milo!" and i told him the story about how yesterday i had to go out into the backyard with my umbrella and stand out there with milo until he would finally poop. and how milo didn't want to be out there in the rain, but i made him stay out there, because i knew he had to go to the bathroom.

joshua just looked at me for a minute. and then he said, "don't you have a toilet in your house?"

i guess he had forgotten that milo is a dog . . .

Monday, January 18, 2010

storm watch. 2010. day 1.

*disclaimer* we are supposed to have very wet weather for the next two weeks. and having spent a large portion of my life in the pacific northwest, i find a lot of humor in this situation. however, the reality is that many people whose homes were spared during fire season, will now lose them due to mudslides. this is not funny at all. so when i mock the socal response to rain, i am speaking of my little corner of the world, where the ground is flat and covered in concrete--NOT the areas where people are standing in the pouring rain, filling bags with sand, and stacking them as their only hope to save their homes . . .

so today . . . it rained. i knew it was coming, so i was prepared. well, partly--my gas tank was full--which meant i wouldn't have to battle the elements to keep my car on the road. and i was finally going to get to wear my warm sweater . . .

i had to go to work today, even though it was a holiday. rollie and diandra both had the day off, so i was not totally thrilled to be leaving the house before 8:00 this morning. but by 9:00 we only had 7 children between the three pre-k/kindergarten classes. hmmm, i thought. perhaps someone was going to get to go home early. and maybe that someone could be me!

by 10:30 more children had arrived--i guess the rain didn't keep them all home, it just slowed them down--but we were still well under our teacher/student ratio. hope gleamed brightly in my "oh, i want to go home early" brain.

and then there was chocolate cake!! yes, even on this cold and rainy day there was a birthday. and the best part is, it wasn't one of my students!

(i hate birthdays in my classroom, but that is a topic for another day . . . )

AND there was macaroni and cheese for lunch! with peas!! could there be a better lunch on a rainy day?!?! i think not! but as it turned out, i missed out on lunch . . . BECAUSE I GOT TO GO HOME EARLY! yes, yes, yes!!

it was like a snow day (except i had to get up and to go work for four hours.) rollie was home too, so we ate our lunch and watched the rain pour! we watched a movie. i stood in the rain in the backyard for several minutes (while rollie laughed from inside) until milo finally did his doggie business--he did NOT want to go outside! (i was going to have rollie take a picture for the blog, but he would have had to open the patio door, and then milo would have raced back into the house, mission UNaccomplished. so this photo will have to do, to prove that i am not making all this weather stuff up . . . ) and then the rain slowed down and finally stopped.

that changed my plan for the afternoon. my plan for my bonus afternoon off was to take a nap. but after experiencing the pouring, blowing rain today, i decided that maybe i should go out and get supplies during the eye of the storm. so i refilled our water jugs, and then went to costco.

apparently everybody else had the same idea that i had, because the costco parking lot was packed! i filled my cart with food and then stood in the shortest check-out line--which of course was also the slowest check-out line.

while i was standing in line, i noticed the people around me. and their shoes. i was wearing my snow boots--not the most fashionable choice, but i did not want to have wet, cold feet. several other people had made similar decisions. usually i am surrounded by fancy footwear, but not today. there were still those holding on to style whose boots had high heels, but i feared for their safety on the wet, slippery floors and sidewalks. and then there were the young men. they were not giving up their sneakers, but you know how they wear their pants! so they were all walking around with jeans that were wet clear up to the knee, but hey! they looked cool, i guess . . .

so now we have food and water and full tanks of gas. i think we are well prepared for whatever weather comes our way. which is good, because it sounds like today was just the tip of the iceberg. we have a whole series of storms just waiting to pummel us! it is going to get messy, people . . .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

wait! is this winter?

so today . . . it is raining.

not just the mist that usually sends southern californians into a frenzy, but real, steady, noisy oregon-like rain. in fact, last night rollie heard on the news that they are predicting 18-24 INCHES of rainfall before the week is over! that is more rain that we usually get in a year!!

this rain is interfering with life, the way i live it. i couldn't put the top down on my car when i went to church this morning. i had to wear a real coat--one that is constructed for warmth instead of fashion--not suede or cloth or a sweater. i had to drag an umbrella around with me. (however, in deference to my oregon roots, i didn't open it for the "california rain." but when the oregon rain showed up, i was glad i had it!) i had to drive more slowly. but worst of all, when we went out to eat dinner, we had to eat inside the restaurant rather than at one of the outdoor tables.

so prepare yourselves--i foresee rainy blogs this week . . .

Saturday, January 16, 2010

the never-ending battle!

so today . . . i decided to clean out my closet. again.

the last two houses we lived in had large, walk-in closets. and i managed to keep them pretty full. but in oregon, you need a lot of clothes because it really does get cold and wet in the winter. and when you have big closets, you have lots of room for clothes.

when you have lots of clothes, you need a system in order to find what you need. my system is this--put the same types of clothing together, and then arrange each group into rainbow color order. i don't remember coming up with that system--i just thought that's what everybody did.

until the day i mentioned it to the other teachers at school . . .

you would think i had just confessed to being a clown in my free time! they looked at me in disbelief. and they laughed. and then they mocked me mercilessly. i tried to get them to explain to me how they found what they were looking for in their closets without rainbow color order. they couldn't really explain it, but their clothes usually matched, so they must have had some sort of system . . . it just apparently had nothing to do with color.

then came the day i couldn't find my orange blouse. i loved that blouse. it was an unusual color and was so soft. i looked and looked and looked, but it was not where it belonged. could i have taken it on a trip and left it somewhere? was it in a stack of clothes in the sewing room waiting to have a button replaced? would diandra have borrowed it? it didn't seem like the type of thing she would wear, but it had to be somewhere?!?! and yet it remained inexplicably absent.

until we moved. and as i was packing the clothing from the closet, i found the orange blouse, nestled in among the red blouses . . . when i told this story at school, they couldn't understand how i couldn't see the orange blouse when it was right there! but it wasn't where it belonged! it was out of rainbow color order. i didn't look for it with the red blouses--i looked between the red ones and the yellow ones--where the orange should be!

it is a good thing i was moving, because the laughing and mocking were getting a little out of control . . .

here in southern california you can wear summer weight clothes most of the year--you just have to add a sweater and tights for the few days in the winter where it dips below 60 degrees. which is a good thing, because the closets are small. when we moved into our current house, i went into the bedroom, looked at the closet, and thought, "houston, we have a problem!" there was one double-sized closet that i had to share! i looked in that closet and knew that there was no way our clothes were going to fit. so rollie went off to home depot to look for a solution. he came back with extra clothing rods and some hooks and chains, and proceeded to add a second rod for hanging clothes. that helped, but it seems like it is still a constant battle to balance the amount of clothing i have with the amount of closet space that is available to me.

this is the reason that i have to clean out my closet every few months. it isn't that i buy that many new clothes--it's just that i had so many to start with. my goal is to get all my clothes into one closet. what i really need to do is be more ruthless with the winter clothes, since i rarely need them. and yet, i love sweaters and jackets! even if i hardly ever get to wear them, i always think, "yes, but what if we have a cold day . . . " and then it seems the colors i like come in slightly different shades--so i have 3 brown jackets, 2 olive ones, 3 red sweaters, and i am not even going to tell you how many black sweaters and jackets i have . . . and that isn't even counting the heavier jackets and coats. really.

i should probably clean out the coat closet next . . .

but today i made progress. i let go of a little more. i think it is starting to get easier. which is a good thing, because the garage is looming . . . and winter clothing should be going on sale any day now :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

"put down your computer and slowly walk away . . . "

so today . . . i have nothing to write about.

last week when i spent the evening reading other people's blogs, i found one that gave tips on blog writing. i read it, because you just never know . . . but much of what was written didn't really apply to me. i don't write my blog to appeal to the masses. in fact, if you don't know me, you might not be interested at all in what i have to say. but there was one thing that has stuck in my mind--if you are going to blog you have to get out and do things, or you will find that you have nothing to write about.

i am finding this to be true. i mean, i can sit here and think up a top ten list, or i can always blog about the weather or my dogs. but as i write more and more blogs, it gets more difficult to come up with "something from nothing" on those days when i have pretty much just gone to work and then come home. and since i have been sick, i really haven't been out doing anything that didn't have to be done . . .

so, i may not blog every day any more. i will still try to write most days, but the pressure of coming up with something really good every day is starting to affect the "fun" factor of my blogging. and also, the quality of the blogs. i think if i write a little less frequently, you will have to read fewer blogs like this one--which aren't all that entertaining.

and as i start to feel better (i hope) i will also try to get out there and do more things--besides go to the doctor or the grocery store--which should also make for better blogs!

i want to keep blogging for a long time, so i think i need to pace myself. we will see what happens . . .

Thursday, January 14, 2010

another day, another doctor visit

so today . . . i went to see the pulmonary doctor again. she just wanted to check back and see how my pneumonia was progressing . . .

my appointment was at 11:30. i thought. until i got a call from kaiser yesterday to remind me of my appointment which said, "and check in by 11:30." hmmmm--ok, apparently my appointment is NOT at 11:30, because they always like us to check in early. i guess they don't mind if i have to wait for my appointment--they just don't want to have to wait on me! but since i didn't know the exact time of my appointment, and since traffic is always unpredictable, i just decided to plan for 11:30.

that meant leaving school at 11:00, which meant i had half an hour to get my kindergarteners started on their work, start the pre-k kids on their art project (which involved black paint,) do two reading groups, and hope the pre-k kids painted fast so i could clean up the art project before i left. oh yeah, and pray i escaped without any black paint on my white sweater or taupe skirt . . .

i left at 11:00, paint-free, and hit the 91 freeway. the traffic was moving really well today, which was good. until i realized that i was not 100% exactly sure just which exit to take. i had only been to the new office twice, and both times i was really sick and rollie was driving. i thought i knew how to get there, because in my mind i could see where to go once i got off the freeway. but where to get off the freeway . . . i was pretty sure i would know it when i saw it.

and i did. and it was one of those loopy round exits which are awesomely fun to take in my zippy little car :)

i didn't have to wait long to see the doctor. i love my pulmonary doctor! she is young, asian, and new to kaiser. and today she had on brown pants with a pink pinstripe, a pink sweater, brown socks with pink flowers on them and black mary jane style doc martens. i describe her clothing here to illustrate just how young and cute she is! and she wears glasses. i just love her!! i wish she could be my primary care physician . . .

we had quite a conversation about the whole nasal rinsing thing. because as it turns out, she got sinusitis shortly after i saw her last--i'm sure she didn't catch it from me, because by the time i saw her i had pneumonia. anyway, that is my story . . .

it was very funny, because her husband is an ear, nose, and throat doctor, and she was telling me how terrible she had felt and how every day they were trying to decide what to do to make her feel better. and i thought, "yeah, now you know what i was talking about!" a book can teach you only so much about patient suffering . . .

and then she sent the nurse in with two syringes to vaccinate me against the flu AND the swine flu. i protested, but she said as sick as i had been, i needed to have them. then she left, and the nurse said, "i am going to give you one shot in each arm. that way, if you have a reaction, we will know which shot caused it."

IF I HAVE A REACTION?!?!?! ok, let's just wait one minute here . . . OW!

and then it was too late . . . i was vaccinated.

i came home with a bag full of steroid sprays and inhalers. and instructions to call if i have chills or breathing issues or pain. now i am really starting to wonder about those shots!

the good news is, the pnuemonia seems to be pretty much gone. the bad news is, i may have asthma. i can't seem to catch a break here.

but thankfully, it was a beautiful day and i could drive home with the top down. i know it is a small thing, but some days it is what puts the smile on my face . . . that, and staying ahead of that red porsche . . . :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

what goes around . . .

so today . . . i had to eat my words. i hate it when that happens.

today was a busy day. i woke up feeling yukky--i don't know yet it if i am having allergy issues or if a bug is trying to get me again, but i really, really didn't want to get out of bed.

i made it to work and crashed behind my desk. i am fortunate that most of the kids i deal with at school are pretty well behaved and responsive to my words. most of the time. this morning they did a good job of keeping busy without much intervention from me. which is good, because i didn't have much intervention in me. in fact, we started reading groups today, but just barely . . . because i was sitting there thinking, "i can't do reading groups today. i just can't--i'm just too much of a vegetable." so i had to have a conversation with myself summoning up the energy to grab the basket of books, relocate across the room, and listen to kids read. yeah, i know--it sounds exhausting doesn't it?!?

the afternoon went well, and then i had a couple of parent conferences.

i usually enjoy parent conferences. and today was no exception. i talked with parents about their darling dumplings for over an hour. i was animated. i was wise. i was understanding. i was amazing, considering i just wanted to put my head down on the table and sleep . . .

but the conferences took longer than i had planned, so i had to go straight to the church for band rehearsal without stopping at home. thankfully, my music notebook was in the trunk of my car. and then i pulled into the church parking lot and realized that my church keys were still at home, sitting on the keyboard . . .

not good. not good at all. here's why . . .

last week was the first full band rehearsal we had had since thanksgiving--mostly because i had been sick, but then we also had a couple of weeks off. so i was kind of excited to be back. i got there early and got everything set up, and then waited for the rest of the band to show up. and waited and waited and waited. and as i was waiting, a series of text messages came to my phone explaining why each one was going to be late . . .

finally everyone got there, but then we lost one. the guitar player got to rehearsal and realized he didn't have his guitar.

are you kidding me?!?!?! what did he think he was going to do??? i mean, he was coming to rehearsal with the sole purpose of playing the guitar, but he didn't bring it??!?!?!

teenage boys--sometimes they make me laugh right out loud, but sometimes they make me want to bang my head against the wall . . .

finally he made it back with the guitar and was able to rehearse with us--for about 10 minutes.

which brings me back to today. i knew as i sat there in my car, keyless, that i was going to have to endure some payback. i could just imagine it . . . "what?!? you forgot your keys???? where did you think we were going to rehearse?? i mean, you were coming for rehearsal and you didn't bring the keys that would let us into the building?!?!?!"

yeah, it wasn't going to be pretty . . .

i had a few minutes before anyone showed up, so i rummaged through my purse again thinking maybe i had just missed the keys the first time. of course, i hadn't. and then the boys drove up . . . 15 minutes early! this was an unprecedented action--they were there early AND they had their guitars. shoot! the one time i was hoping for tardiness, there they were. early. and prepared.

i was toast.

i got out of my car, collected my stuff and headed for the sidewalk where they were unloading their equipment. my strategy was simple--go on the offensive. "you are never going to believe what i did," i started. and then told my story. their faces registered mock looks of horror, and i had to endure a few words of ridicule, and then it was over.

as much as i would like to throttle them some days, really they are nice kids. considering they are teenagers. and boys . . .

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

what's next?!? purple ketchup to dip your gold french fries into???

so today . . . no blog.

i'm having sinus issues and trying not to get sick again. that means more rest. so even though under normal circumstances i might start a blog at 10:25, tonight i'm not--i'm going to bed instead. it doesn't mean i don't love you--it just means i ran out of time. i don't know where the evening went! so i will just leave you with this . . .

on tuesdays rollie works at home writing his sermon, so he always brings me lunch. i only have half an hour for lunch, but it takes him about an hour and a half to make it happen--he has to go get the lunch from somewhere, bring it and eat with me, and then clean up and head back home. i really, really, really appreciate this. not only the food, but the time and effort too.

until today.

today, i had to drink my soda out of this cup:
i have come to terms with living in lakerland. they are on the news. they are on the tv in the man room. i have to endure their gold and purple flags flying off of cars during may and june. and i have learned to cope with all of that pretty well.

but on my drink cup?!?!

i commented on this unfortunate situation at lunch today, and rollie kindly said that next time he could bring me a small soda instead (which does not apparently sport laker propaganda.)

i don't know . . . maybe i can just ignore it. how long can they have these cups anyway?? basketball season only has six more months to go . . .

Monday, January 11, 2010

so much for "flee from temptation!"

so today . . . target failed me. and yet, also did not.

i want to dye my duvet cover. it started out kind of a nice taupe color, but then i spilled something on it that wouldn't come out. so i bleached it. but that turned it a kind of golden color. which was ok, but it wasn't even--it was splotchy. so now i am going to attempt to dye it dark green, which i hope will be pretty and also even out the splotchiness. if not, i guess i will have to buy a new one. so, win-win!

but the dye package says to add a cup of salt, and i don't have a cup of salt. i went to the grocery store after work without a list, because i only needed a few things and thought i could remember them all. i got everything on my list, and even a few extra things. and i was thinking about blogging my grocery shopping trip, because as i looked into my cart i realized that it looked much different than it would have a few years ago. it had apples and cucumbers and carrots and tiny tomatoes and whole grain bagels instead of potato chips and frozen pizzas and devil donuts. and i was thinking i could make a blog out of that, but then i realized it wasn't really funny--just interesting. and maybe not even interesting to anyone but me . . .

i drove home, took the groceries into the house, and went back out to the garage to dust and spot clean my car--because that is how i keep it looking all sleek and shiny--and that is when i saw the duvet cover by the washing machine and realized that i had forgotten to get salt!

i guess i needed a list.

about that time rollie called to see if i wanted to meet him for dinner, which of course i did, and on the way home i saw target looming in the distance.

i have a sort of love/hate relationship with target. i love it because there is such a variety of stuff--i can always find something that i "need." which is where the hate part comes in. because no matter what i go in to target to get, i almost always come out with something else too. it is nearly impossible for me to stick to my list in target! there is temptation everywhere--there are shoes and tops and sweaters and snacks and burt's bee chap sticks (oh shoot! i was going to get that while i was there today too! i have got to start keeping these lists in my phone!!) and hair clips and handbags and soft blankets and cds and dvds and magazines and all sorts of stuff that you can buy for $1!

i detoured into the parking lot and entered the store. i went to the food area to get the salt, only to find that target doesn't carry salt! this was a problem, because i was now in enemy territory and both of my hands were empty. so i took the only route i could--through the clothes and past the sales racks . . .

my brain had already conceded that i was going to exit through the check out line with something in my hand. it was now just a question of what. i had thought that it was going to be a container of salt. was it my fault that there was no salt? no. but i had made the extra stop and hated to waste the trip. and as i perused the sale racks i was rewarded--a light weight cardigan sweater printed in blues and greens in my size and on sale for only $6.98! how could i resist?

apparently i couldn't, because it now resides in my dresser drawer--with the 15 other light weight cardigan sweaters in various colors that i own. but that is a blog for another day . . .

Saturday, January 9, 2010

the office is open!

so today . . . diandra and i went to staples for office supplies.

we love office supplies, but really haven't had much need for them until now. but now, we have an office, and it needed supplies. so we made a list and off we went . . .

we walked in the door and diandra said, "should we get a basket or a cart?"

our first big decision--basket or cart? the real question was how much stuff are we going to walk out of here with? before i could answer her, she said, "i think we need a cart!"

normally when i go shopping with a list, i focus on finding the items i came for and getting them into my cart and out the door in the shortest possible time. but we were at staples. that was not going to be the way it went down. we were going to go up and down every aisle, just in case we saw something we "needed" that wasn't on the list.

and it didn't take long. right away we found markers in a myriad of colors. and they had purple! so into the cart they we saw these cool boxes. we stood there for about 10 minutes trying to think of something that we could use them for. i mean, they were called 'really useful boxes' so you would think that we should get several. but in the end we decided that as cool as they were, we really didn't need them. i guess they weren't as useful as you might think. it made us sad, but we left without them.

we weren't sad for long though, because just a short distance down the first aisle, diandra found bins full of different kinds of paper clips. and the best part was that it cost $5.99 for however many you could fit into a container. we stood there a looong time while diandra picked out the purple, turquoise and brown clips and then arranged and rearranged them until the container was packed tight!
as the "business manager" i was starting to get a little worried. we had only gone down one aisle and we already had several things in our cart--and none of them were on our list! so we started having this conversation . . .

diandra: "oh, look at this! isn't it cool?"
me: "yes it is."
diandra: "and look! it comes in purple!"
me: "yes, but what would we use it for?"
diandra: "well, i don't know, but look how cool it is. i'll bet we could find a use for it."
me: "yes, but do we really need it? today?"
(you will notice that i was saying yes a lot, but really i meant no.)
and usually she would say, "i suppose not." and put it down. although there were a couple of times . . .

we had this conversation more than once . . .

but we did get file folders and hanging folders and cds and cd labels and a cool "design it yourself" notebook and padded mailing envelopes and a mileage book and two staplers and dividers, not to mention the markers and paper clips. oh, and of course, post it notes.

finally i said, "maybe we should add up how much all this is going to cost. that way we can make better choices. because clearly we cannot just buy everything that we see that would be cool to have!--staples is way too full of cool office supplies!!" so we stopped, and diandra started adding stuff up in her head. this is her "don't bother me, i am doing math in my head" face.
we made a few adjustments in our choices and then made our way to the cash register. even while we were standing in line, she was saying, "do you think we need some of these?"
by then i just shook my head . . .

as hard as it may be to believe, we got out of there $30 under budget. clearly i showed my value as a business manager--even though diandra probably thought i was just trying to ruin her fun . . .

but the fun was just beginning!

we got home and started unpackaging the office supplies and putting them away. the post it notes and markers and glue sticks and stapler and the assortment of paper clips went into the desk drawer.
the file folders got labels and were organized into the filing cabinet (notice we got purple!)
and soon diandra was able to sit down at the big desk and get her paperwork organized.
this was a very exciting day for us. our office has been a 'work in progress' for a long time. and it still is . . . we have plans to paint and redecorate a bit, and we need to get some technology installed. but finally we have a space that is usable and dedicated to diandra ann photography.

and just in time too! it is exciting to see how her calendar for 2010 is already filling up. we are going to have to be more organized this year in order to keep track of everything. we decided it would be helpful if we had a weekly calendar where we could post appointments and shoots. we found this dry erase weekly calendar that will be just perfect . . .
. . . if we can just figure out how to hang it on the wall without using those foam sticky things . . .

Friday, January 8, 2010

what i learned from surfing the blogosphere

so today . . . i've spent quite a bit of time reading new blogs. and i've decided my blog can stand up to most of what is out there--even though only ten of you read it regularly :)

it all started when i clicked on a blog link in a list of the tweets of a blogger i follow. i read a few entries of the new blog, and decided to become a follower. (the advantage for me to being a follower is that when a blogger i follow posts a new blog, i get a notification. this saves me the time of checking blogs several times every day, only to be disappointed when nothing new has posted--which is why i try to write something every day--i don't want you to be disappointed!) then a link on the new blog caught my eye, i clicked, and there i was on another new blog. i read a few entries, and before you know it--lather, rinse, repeat--an hour had gone by and i had visited several blogs . . .

i got a little bit inspired by the different looks of the new blogs and decided to check into revising the look of MY blog by myself. i was going to pay someone to make it all cool-looking, but then i missed five weeks of work! so i thought maybe i could do a little revamping on my own. i clicked on a site, which led to more blogs, and--lather, rinse, repeat--another hour was lost forever. and i STILL can't figure out how to redo my site.

but in the process, i found a company that will print my blog into a book--for a fee, of course. so i did the math to see approximately what it would cost to print last year's blogs, and found it was going to cost about $125! for one book!! so that won't be happening anytime soon. but for a much smaller fee, they will convert my blog to a pdf file. i think this might be a good thing, except i am not really sure what that is. i mean, i know what a pdf file is (kind of,) but i don't know exactly what it would do to my blog.

even though i spent my evening clicking from one site to another, i think it was time well spent. i am never going to make any money from my blog--not enough people read it to make it profitable--but i still want it to be good. and i learned a few things as i was navigating the blogosphere:

1--blogging is becoming an industry. it is amazing to me how many businesses have popped up that are connected with blogging. there are communities you can join to gain more exposure for your blog--complete with a yearly convention! there are advertisers who will pay a small fee if you allow them to post their ads on your blog. there are people with real computer skills who will custom design the look of your blog. and then there is that site that will print your blogs into a book. if you are clever enough to figure out how to do it, there is money to be made.
2--most of the people who read blogs, also write them. i find this interesting. it is kind of like if bakers only baked treats for other bakers. i guess if you are a blogger, your perspective on blogs is somewhat different than if you are not--you understand what it takes to get a blog idea from your head onto the internet, so you can appreciate the efforts of others in a unique way. but it is also kind of like "preaching to the choir." while i am glad when anyone gives up a few minutes of their day to read what i have written, i kind of like that most of you don't blog. you just come to my blog to be entertained--not because i commented on your blog so you have to comment on mine. that makes it unique, and i like that!
3--most bloggers have a purpose to their writing. maybe they are marketing their business, or maybe they have a message they want people to hear, or maybe they want to connect with other people who have similar interests or life experiences. it is kind of fun to read 5 or 6 posts on a new blog and then see if you can figure out their purpose. my purpose is to tell a funny story that will make you laugh. i think i accomplish that most days--except for the days like yesterday when nice julie goes missing and cranky julie commandeers the computer.
4--most bloggers do not post every day. or even nearly every day. it takes a lot of time to blog. i don't just sit down, throw some words onto the computer screen, and press enter. it usually takes me at least two hours to write, read, edit, reread, edit, think of a title, post, read, edit, look for photos, add photos, reread, edit, get a snack, read and edit yet again, decide on labels, post, read, and maybe edit one or two more times before the final post. that is a chunk of time to invest every day, and everyone can't do it. actually, everyone doesn't do it. some people just write off the top of their heads. and that is ok--it just isn't how i do it. so if you check my blog for a new post, and there isn't one, i probably just had a busy evening and ran out of time.
5--there are a lot of people writing blogs. A LOT! mine is probably not the best, but it is certainly not the worst either.

after reading lots and lots of new blogs tonight, i am kind of proud of what i have accomplished. i've never thought of myself as a writer. i don't remember particularly enjoying writing when i was in school. but i can tell a story that will make people laugh. and apparently i can also do it in writing.

this makes me happy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

back into the real world

so today . . . i feel cranky.

i was going to continue the dog vs child controversy, but it just wasn't happening. i'm not funny today.

then i wrote a really cranky blog, knowing that i wouldn't post it, but thinking that maybe writing it would be cathartic.

it wasn't.

i wish everyone and everything in my life would dance to my tune--but they don't. so i have to adjust.

i am tired of adjusting. i'm tired of the stress. i'm tired of being nice.

i think maybe i am just tired.

maybe that is what happens when you dive back into the real world after being home sick for a month . . .

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a new feature debuts!

so today . . . i was going to write "doggie children vs human children--the controversy continues," in order to resurrect the wonderful relationship i have with my daughter (the human one, not the doggie one.) but now that is going to have to wait until tomorrow, because i want to highlight a new feature of my blog.

today i enjoyed reading the comments on my most recent blog. they made me laugh out loud. but the one that caught my immediate attention was albert's, when he said "blogspot needs to have a 'like' feature." and that got me to thinking . . .

i really enjoy reading your comments, and i kind of wish you all would comment more! but i understand the different reasons that you sometimes don't--you don't know what to say, you don't want other people commenting on your comments, you don't want your name and picture out there, you are in a hurry, you can't figure out how to do it . . .

BUT, if you could leave a reaction anonymously with just a click of your mouse, THEN would you do it? i hope so, because i have added a feature called "reactions" to my blog. you will find it at the end of each blog--even the old ones! so after you read the blog, you have three choices--loved it, hmmm . . . , or huh?

if you loved the blog or it made you laugh, just click on "loved it." if it made you think, click on "hmmm" (that's a thinking noise.) and if you just don't get it and you think i must live on another planet and your thought bubble says, "that's five minutes i will never get back," then click "huh?"

if everyone who reads will click on one of the choices, then i will know how many people are reading each day--which isn't really important, but it is fun to know. and if you want to explain your reaction, you can still comment. and i hope you will, because reading your comments is one of my favorite parts of the day!

i'm kind of excited about this. i am also interested in your feedback about the three reactions i chose--i would have liked to have more, but with my current layout there was only room for three. hopefully in the future i can add a couple more. so i am looking for input.

thanks albert, for the idea! now the rest of you--start clicking!! and check back tomorrow for the "making it up to diandra" blog . . . i guess i'd better go digitize some pictures . . . because she will notice if i posted more pics of the dogs than i do of her.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

doggie children vs human children--the controversy begins . . .

so today . . . i've been thinking about the difference between having dogs and having children.

we love our pups. we have had a dog for most of our married life. when we lost our last dog to cancer a few years ago, it was just before christmas--the middle of winter. and as anyone who has ever house-trained a dog knows, that is not the very best time for a puppy. so our plan was to wait until summer, when i would be out of school, to add another furry friend to our household . . .

. . . we had another dog by the end of january.i guess we are just dog people. we have had four dogs in the last 30 years, counting the two who currently call us mom and dad. our dogs are part of our family. they live in the house. they have their own access to the back yard. they get up on the furniture--in fact one is currently scrunched up against me. and they sleep with us. yes, they even root their way under the covers when it is cold. (this is why we have to have a king-sized bed!)i was reading a blog yesterday about a friend of ours who is currently in new zealand, and she is missing her darling dog, who had to stay home (i am guessing he is staying with "grandma and grandpa.") and it got me to thinking about the differences between having doggie children and human children. so, risking the wrath of my human daughter (who i really do love more than the furry children,) i am going to offer up a TOP TEN LIST OF WHY SOME PEOPLE PREFER DOGS TO CHILDREN.

10. you can leave them home alone while you go to work or the movies or the mall. have you priced babysitters lately?? sheesh!

9. you don't have to think about what to serve them for dinner. they don't need variety. in fact, my mom's vet said you should always feed your dog the same food. otherwise they can get finicky about what they will eat. maybe that is why kids are picky about their food. maybe if we just fed them peanut butter sandwiches for every meal, they would be happier.

8. you don't have to worry about where they are or what they are doing, because they can't go anywhere without you. i still remember the call i got from diandra at 10:30 p.m. on a friday night from the long beach town center when she was sixteen, "mom? don't panic, but the police are here . . . " yeah, tell a mother not to panic, followed by "but the police are here!" thankfully it turned out to be a funny story, but still . . .

7. no clothing budget. ok, having said that, i know that some of you do buy clothes for your dogs. maybe, just maybe some dogs in cold climates might need a sweater when they go for a walk, but they really don't need a whole wardrobe. and even if you are one of those people who feel the need to dress your dog up, at least they don't require a bigger size every year, and they don't have an opinion about whether you bought it at target or at nordstrom.

6. they don't argue with you. they may not always obey instantly, but at least you don't have to have a big, long discussion about why. when they hear you say "NO!" they know that you mean it.

5. they can't roll their eyes at you. if you have teenagers, this needs no explanation. if you don't have teenagers, just wait--soon this will be a regular part of your day . . .

4. they sleep 20 hours a day. and when they are not sleeping, they can keep themselves occupied--they don't have to be constantly entertained. if nothing else presents itself, they can at least chew on their feet . . . or their tail . . . or the other dog's ears . . . or your favorite shoes . . .3. they don't say embarassing things when you have company. when diandra was about three, someone from our church dropped by one evening--briefly. or so we thought. their "i just need to talk to you for a minute" visit grew into half an hour. diandra wanted a chocolate chip cookie, and i whispered to her that she could have one when the company left. a couple of minutes later, she walked over to the poor guy, looked straight into his eyes and said, "when are you going home?"

2. there are no "balloon payments" when they grow up. a car? college? a wedding? no! don't be silly!! they are dogs. they are happy with a milk bone.

and the number one reason why some people prefer dog children to human children . . .

1. they have tails to wag. and wag and wag and wag. how can you not smile when faced with that!

Monday, January 4, 2010

a moment of weakness . . .

so today . . . i ate cheesecake. apparently the devil can have my soul for a mere $1.

i try to eat in a healthy way. i really do. but i have a lot of years of habitual junk food eating fighting against me. if i have a choice between broccoli and a brownie, i don't even have to think about it--brownie, duh! but if i do take a minute to think about it, i choose the broccoli, because i know it is good for me in so many ways. and while the brownie tastes good, it wreaks havoc with my blood sugar, entices me to eat more, makes me think i can fly and then smashes me onto the sidewalk. plus, it limits my clothing choices.

i make good choices most of the time. i can say no to french fries, white bread, and rice. i can generally talk myself out of most sugary treats (unless it is christmas and i am at my mom's house and she has homemade o'henry bars and i have to eat them fast before diandra and rollie and my brother get them ALL!) usually, if i just stop and take a minute to THINK, i can dodge the sugar bullet.

unless the cheesecake is only $1 . . .

jack in the box has been having a promotion for the last month or so--buy food and get the cheesecake for $1. every time they offer this and i say no, the cashier looks at me like "are you insane!! it is only $1! and it is delicious!! get a piece--you won't even notice the difference in your total. it is almost free!!!!" but i just firmly say no, take my small soda cup and head to the beverage dispenser--away from temptation.

tonight we ate dinner at jack in the box. i was a bit groggy from my late afternoon nap. (yes, i took a nap! it was a long day back at school and i am still not 100% well and i had a headache--see how i am taking care of myself . . . ) i ordered first, headed to the soda pop machine and left rollie at the cash register to order and pay. and then i hear him say these words--"do you want a cheesecake?" and the word "yes" pops out of my mouth!

who is he?? the devil?!?!?!?! he should know better than to offer me cheesecake! am i made of stone?!?! i mean, i only have so much resistance, and i was weak from napping . . .

it's ok, i think. breathe. it is just a piece of cheesecake. and maybe rollie will eat some of it too. yes, that is a great idea. i can have a couple of bites and then he can eat the rest.

and then our food comes, and guess what? rollie ordered a piece too!!

i don't know what is happening here. the earth is tilting slightly off it's axis . . .

as usual, rollie finished eating before i did--everyone always finishes eating before me. i started in on the cheesecake, pointy end first. i took tiny little bites (maybe that is why everyone finishes eating before me) and smooshed them around in my mouth, savoring every taste. i ate about half. and then i ate a couple more bites. and then i said, "this was a bigger piece of cheesecake than i expected. i would have been happy with one half this size." and then i took several more bites. until it was gone.yeah, i am thinking that maybe i might not have been happy with one half the size--unless i got two . . .

Sunday, January 3, 2010

the agony of making a return . . .

so today . . . i went to the mall. i couldn't believe how many people were still out spending money! or maybe they weren't. maybe, like me, they were just returning something.

on black friday i bought a pair of boots. i needed new boots this year--both black and brown--because the ones i had were pretty much worn out. so i started looking for new ones in september. but boots are expensive! and i am kind of cheap when it comes to buying clothes. so i had a problem.

and then, on black friday, when j.c. penney was crammed with bargain shoppers, i found a pair of boots. they weren't exactly what i wanted, but they were marked way down so they fell into my price range, and i decided they would be ok. diandra was not impressed. she tried to talk me out of them. but there was only one pair in my size . . . so i bought them.

when i buy new shoes, if i spend more than $10 i feel the need to wear them around the house for a while to be sure they are going to meet my comfort standards. (unless they are skechers--i can wear skechers right out of the store, because i KNOW i am going to love them! they are just that wonderful!!) but as you may recall, i got sick after thanksgiving and didn't really feel like wearing new boots around the house. so they sat there in their box, staring at me, waiting for a chance to come out and convince me that they were perfect. as christmas neared, i thought i might like to take them to portland with me, so finally put them on. and they were not perfect. i tried them with socks. i tried them with tights. i tried them with those little footies. but no matter what, they were just a bit too tight. but not so tight that a half size larger wouldn't be too big. and while they looked nice with dresses, they looked kind of weird with jeans. so there i was, still bootless.

we went to portland for christmas, and on the day after christmas we hit the mall again. as usual, we started out at j.c. penney. i went straight to the shoe department in hopes of finding an ok pair of boots. with winter being half over, i had given up on finding the perfect pair. i was now willing to settle for reasonably comfortable and not terribly ugly.

i found a pair that conformed to my lower standards, but again, diandra was not impressed.

diandra is my fashion barometer. it is her job to make sure that i don't buy something that makes me look too old or too young. once in a while i overrule her and end up with a result that surprises her, but usually she has a pretty good eye for what will work for me. since we still had several stores to visit, i bowed to her judgment and started out of the shoe department. bootless.

and then we saw them. the perfect boots.

they were tall. they had slightly rounded toes and slightly chunky heels. they had hidden platform soles (which would add to my height--and intimidation factor.) the "leather" was distressed. they came in both black and brown. and they had my size. and they were almost 70% off. AND there is no sales tax in oregon. game, set, and match!

i bought them. both pair.

which brings us to my trip to the mall today. because now i had to return the boots i bought on black friday. and i hate to return stuff. which is unfortunate, because almost every time i buy something i think, "well, if i change my mind (or if it doesn't match or it doesn't fit) i can always return it." and then my trunk fills up with things that need to be returned. and then when i do finally make my way to the customer service desk, i seem to feel the need to explain in great detail why i have to return the item. or how even though i am returning this thing i purchased, i replaced it with something even better (or more expensive) from the same store. so really, it isn't costing them anything. or how i shop there all the time, so even if i am not buying something else today, i will surely buy something soon that will make up for my return . . .

which is all a wasted effort, because the people at the customer service desk don't really care--as long as i have my receipt.

but since i do kind of feel this obligation, i always think it is better if instead of just returning something, i exchange it. so i spent a few minutes wandering around j.c. penney trying to find something else to buy. there was no shortage of stuff i would have liked to have, but i really didn't need any of it. and i sure didn't want to have to make another trip to return something else. so i finally just got in line and waited my turn.

and waited and waited. because apparently the guy who worked at customer service was in the bathroom or something. while the line behind me grew, with irritated customers.

when he finally returned to his cash register, he was a bit flustered. there was a long line of angry people waiting for their turn to make his life miserable. i was the first, although i had no interest in making him miserable--i just wanted to return the less-than-perfect boots (which, btw, i had replaced by buying two pairs of boots, also from j.c. penney. so i was on pretty solid ground, i thought.) i had my return story all ready to go. but he was in a hurry (probably expecting me to complain) and didn't seem open to a conversation. before i knew it, he had returned my money and was beckoning to the next person. i told him to have a nice day and walked away in a bit of a daze. it had all happened so fast. he didn't look at me like he thought i was trying to cheat the store. he didn't question me as to why i was returning something. he didn't inspect every inch of it looking for telltale evidence that it had been worn. he didn't even act like maybe i should think before i made a purchase. he just rang it up, handed me my money, and moved on.

so i am blogging about it. because really, this time i had such a good return story that somebody should hear about it! lucky you!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

but where do i find the update for my brain?

so today . . . i think i am a little bit afraid of my new phone.

i got a new phone for christmas--a palm pre. it is an awesome phone! i think. i'm not completely sure, because i haven't mastered much yet--except text messaging . . .

when we first moved to southern california eight years ago, we had cell phones--regular ordinary cell phones. we used them to make phone calls--mostly to keep track of where we all were! and then doug (the worship pastor at our new church) introduced rollie to the world of "personal digital assistants" made by palm. initially rollie couldn't see the need for an electronic device that he thought was basically a calendar. and then doug uttered those fateful words, "why don't you use mine for a few days . . . " thus opening pandora's box . . .

it wasn't long before rollie had a palm pda. then i got one. then rollie got a newer one and diandra got his old one. then my mom got one. and then my dad (of course, he only plays solitaire on his!) and that was good. until sprint introduced the palm treo smart phone.

the treo was a brilliant idea--instead of carrying two devices, everything was contained into one handy package. rollie got one, then he got a new one and i got his old one, and soon one trickled down to diandra. and then i decided rollie's newest phone was just too cool and i couldn't wait for the hand me down, so i got a new one for my birthday. and then diandra's stopped working and she got a new one because of her insurance. so then we all had brand new treos. and that was good.

the treo was an almost perfect phone. i loved it! i had added several programs and games--some that i thought i couldn't live without. and then last spring palm introduced the pre. it was so sleek! and it had apps. and by fall, everyone in my family had one--except me.

you should have heard the conversations that happened in my head. every time i would see rollie or diandra doing something cool with their phones, i would remind myself how much i loved my treo and how i loved all the games i had and how i had my grocery list in it . . . and then i would see diandra listening to pandora or rollie checking his email, and i would have to raise the volume on that voice in my head . . .

and then it was christmas, and when i opened my christmas present, and there it was in all it's sleek and shiny glory--a pre for me! now we all had a palm pre. and again, that was good! it didn't take me too long to get my contacts and calendar and memos transferred. then the text messages started flying. i was so excited!

but then the phone rang. and rang and rang and rang. because no one had shown me how to answer a phone call.

actually, i don't get that many phone calls. mostly i text and play games on my phone. but if the phone does ring, it is probably a good idea to know how to answer it.

i've had my new phone for a couple of weeks now. and i love it--maybe even more than my treo. it is slim enough to fit in the back pocket of my jeans. it has a big, clear screen and a 3 megapixel camera with a flash! i can text like crazy, check my email, access facebook, read diandra's blog, play yahtzee, and take pictures. i have downloaded several apps--most of which i have no idea how to use. which is what worries me. my brain had finally caught up with all the stuff my treo could do, but now i am starting all over again. i love new technology, but i hate when it is smarter than i am. i wish there was a way to sync my brain with my new phone, so that i would immediately understand it all.

but at least now i know what to do when it rings . . .