Wednesday, June 30, 2010

maybe she is safe, unless she is with me

so today . . . i got bonus ice cream. for free!

actually all the ice cream was free, because diandra bought it for me. she wanted to go to el pollo loco for dinner--and when i say dinner, i really just mean food. her plan was to go get food and bring it home and eat it while doing whatever else she was doing. i said i would go along, but she would have to get me ice cream. because, you know, el pollo loco has the absolute best soft-serve ice cream on the planet! she agreed, and off we went.

we had javier's car, because diandra's jeep is a "security free zone." (that means she can't lock anything inside, since the doors come off and the windows and roof are basically plastic.) and she needed to be able to lock up her purse and phone a few days ago when she went to visit one of her teens who is spending some time in a secured facility (no, they are not all perfect all the time, but she loves them anyway.) she had been unable to return the car and get her jeep, because javier's mom and dad were out of town, and they had her keys. so there we were, on our way to el pollo loco in javi's car.

he drives a pretty nice honda and takes good care of it, so it was a nice ride. (i thought it was an especially nice ride since hauling my body up into diandra's jeep is like taking an exercise class!) we got to el pollo loco, went through the drive through, and ordered our food.

or at least, we tried to order our food. i usually get an ice cream cone, but i ask for it in a cup. i like it that way, because i can eat it slowly and add the necessary dark chocolate m&ms. but apparently not too many people ask for it that way, and my usual cashiers had the night off. when we tried to take possession of our food, the girl at the window started to hand me an ice cream cone--dipped in chocolate! this was almost completely wrong. we explained again that we wanted the ice cream in a dish, but she just kept trying to give me the now beginning to drip ice cream cone. finally she understood us (we thought) after we said, "no chocolate" several times, but before she went to get me some plain ice cream, she asked if we wanted the chocolate dipped one. for free. "otherwise i'll just have to throw it away," she said.

ok, well it wasn't what i ordered, but i've never been one to turn down free ice cream. even if it is dipped in chocolate.

she put the new naked ice cream in a cup for me, but there i was, in javi's car, holding a melting chocolate dipped cone. while diandra was driving, and i was trying to slurp up drips before they hit any surfaces in javi's car, i was reminded of a conversation we had a few days ago . . .

diandra and i were in my car on our way somewhere, and i was telling her about what happened to me when i went to buy and mail my dad's father's day card. and as i spun my tale, she kept laughing. and then she said, "how do these things happen to you? stuff like that never happens to me!" i didn't agree. i'll bet stuff like that happens to her all the time--she just moves too fast to notice. but a few days later i went to the post office with her. there was no line. the postal worker just took her money for postage and we left--no big conversations, no up-selling, we just mailed her package and left. so, i thought to myself, maybe stuff doesn't happen to her.

but that was several days ago. today when we were driving home in javi's car with dripping ice cream and 50 cent sour cream (i didn't tell you about that!) i decided that stuff does happen to her--but maybe only when she is with ME.

Monday, June 28, 2010

sharing? or just showing . . .

so today . . . was my last day of substituting at summer camp. i say last day, because it is the last day i have agreed to, and i do not plan to set foot over there ever again! but i've learned never to say never, so we will see what the rest of the summer brings. (although, after the last couple of days, i'm pretty sure the rest of the summer brings no more summer camp for me . . .)

in celebration of my last day of subbing, i am going to finally post the story from last friday. i think.

since it was friday, the kids were apparently allowed to bring a toy to school--you know, for "sharing time." really, if you are going to let kids bring a toy from home at least be honest enough to call it what it is--"show and tell." because that is what is going to happen. kids do not bring a toy from home to share it. they bring it to show everyone else what cool stuff they have, and no one else had better even think about touching it. other children are only allowed to look at it longingly. on rare occasions a child will agree to trade their most precious possession for temporary custody of someone else's most precious possession, but even that exchange usually ends badly . . .

i've often wondered why teachers even do this--i find that it brings nothing but problems into my classroom. i know that "sharing time" can be used to develop language and social skills, but it seems that those goals are rarely accomplished, because it takes a chunk of time out of the day to do sharing time right. here's what typically happens instead--kids bring a toy from home, kids play with their toy, kids do not want to share their toy with the other kids--they just want to taunt the other kids with what they've got, whining ensues, tattling runs rampant, teachers have to take the toys away. everyone is unhappy.

there is a good way to incorporate sharing into a learning environment, but i just don't have time to do it--especially on fridays. so in my class, they are not allowed to bring toys from home. not ever. and after we get past one or two fridays of me sending home the toys they insist on bringing, it isn't a big deal anymore. they leave their toys at home, and we have a good day at school.

call me mean if you want to--i can take it. all i know is, i have a lot less problems on fridays than anyone else . . .

but today i was subbing. that means that i wasn't really in charge. i was there to implement someone else's plan and follow someone else's rules. and those rules apparently allow kids to bring a toy to school on fridays. and for school age kids, that means they bring their nintendo ds. but not everyone brought their nintendo ds today. so the result was that the kids who had theirs played the games, while the kids who didn't have theirs watched. because if a nintendo ds is in the room, no one is going to pick up a book or put legos together--at least not on planet earth. on a normal school day this would make me crazy, but hey, it is summer. i was just glad they were quiet and occupied so that i could play on my computer . . .

joshua did not bring his nintendo ds, so he came over to see what i was doing. i tried to load my facebook farm to show him, because i thought he would be interested to see how it had progressed since he was in my class. but the internet connection was giving me grief and wouldn't load the whole farm. while he was standing there, he said, "i have a nintendo ds, but i didn't bring it today." i made non-commital interested sounds, because while i was listening to him, i was really trying to get my farm to load! he continued, "yeah, and i have a wii and a playstation too." (he might have meant playstation 2, i'm not really sure . . . )
"wow," i said, "that is a lot of electronic games."
"what do you have?" he asked.
"i don't have any of those things."
i paused and then said, "maybe you should give me one of yours."
"i can't," he said. "i need them all."
"but you can only play one at a time!"
i reasoned.
"yes but i need my nintendo ds for when i go places," he said.
"ok, well what about the wii? i don't have one of those."
"no," he replied, "i need the wii for exercise." yes, because who would ever think to go outside and run around!
"then how about the playstation. you don't really need both a wii and a playstation,"
i reasoned.
"yes i do," he said.

apparently that one needed no explanation.

one of the older girls overheard this conversation and then she said, "you don't have a wii? what do you have?"
"well," i said, "i have a phone that has games--that's kind of like a nintendo. and i have my teeny tiny computer . . . "
she was not impressed. "then what do you do when you get home from school?"

oh, just let me tell you . . . "some days i go to the grocery store and some days i do laundry and sometimes i have vacuuming and dusting and picking up to do and errands to run and i have two dogs who need to be walked and sometimes i do computer stuff or read or listen to my ipod or watch tv."

i think i was sort of expecting her to be impressed by all the things an adult woman has to do--kind of like "enjoy your youth. someday you will be all grown up and have no time to play!"

but all she said was, "oh, you have an ipod . . . "

so i guess i am not hopeless. after all, i have an ipod.

when i finally got to come home, i felt sort of cranky. it had been a long morning of whiny, restless kids.

and then the doorbell rang . . .

rollie had been expecting a package, and as luck would have it, today was the day it arrived. normally this would have made me feel even more cranky--i like the packages that come to the house to be for me. but as it turns out, this one was!

"here," he said, "i got you something to enjoy this summer."

i thought i recognized the box. it was from amazon. it looked suspiciously like the box that came for rollie at christmas. but i have been fooled by boxes before. so before getting too excited, i opened it up.

and there, in all it's electronic glory, was a kindle. for me.

so today i took it to school with me. because i am the teacher-- i can take my toys to school on any day i want to.

and i don't have to share either :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

cleaning trumps blogging. this time.

so today . . . i am going to post the blog i started writing on friday.

i should have written it early in the day, when it happened and was fresh in my mind. but i didn't. i didn't even start writing it until 11:56 p.m. and i was really, really tired. it's ok, i thought, i'll just finish it in the morning and post it then. no one will probably even check for a blog until later in the day.

but that didn't happen . . .

. . . because saturday morning i woke up with a mission. it was time to start cleaning. i didn't get everything done, but i cleaned some parts of my house thoroughly. with a toothbrush. and the vacuum magically came to life. and the laundry ended up folded and put away on the same day as it was washed and dried.

i'm not kidding you. and no, the world isn't coming to an end, so don't panic.

when i sat down saturday night to do computer stuff, it was late. again. of course. but still i tried to finish up the blog. and then i had issues saving and posting it. so i finally gave up and went to bed.

that's ok, i thought. probably no one reads my blog on the weekend anyway. everyone is busy. so i will just finish it up sunday afternoon, and they will all read it on monday, and everything will be fine.

but that didn't happen either . . .

. . . because this morning i got up and went to church as i usually do. then i came home from church and took a nap. i was tired from all that cleaning, i guess.

so now here it is 8:00 on sunday night, and i still haven't finished friday's blog. i thought it was a pretty cute story too. (here's a hint--joshua was involved!) but i have a few things i have to finish up before i can go to bed, and i have to get up early tomorrow so i can go back and substitute for ONE MORE DAY!!!

but that's ok. because on monday, when you look to see if i have written a new blog, you are going to find this. it isn't the cute story about joshua, but don't worry--that one is coming.

just not today. i am still having some issues with it. some stories refuse to let me write them!! but don't worry. i will smack it into submission in the next couple of days . . .

Thursday, June 24, 2010

back to school--and it's still june!

so today . . . i am sitting here, wishing i had engaged my brain last week when i was asked to substitute this week. because if i had, i am sure i would have said no . . .

friday was my last day of teaching my class for the summer. i had a busy weekend, and then got up early and went in to sub on monday morning. it was fine.

and then i spent the next three days on summer vacation.

usually the beginning of my summer vacation is busy. i start out doing all the stuff around the house that i don't have time to do during the school year. this year there is a lot to do, because i was sick so much last year. so i have been scrubbing bathroom fixtures with a pumice stone, organizing and putting away my school stuff, and vacuuming nooks and crannies that i don't always take the time to do.

but most importantly, i have been staying up really late :)

yes, that is what i do in the summer. i stay up late. whether i am working on a project, or watching tv, or reading a book, i almost always see midnight come and go. which has been the case the last three days.

but last week, while i was still teaching, i was asked to substitute monday and friday of this week, and next monday. it seemed like a good idea at the time--it would help out my friends at school, and although i would have to get up early, i would be home before 2:00 each day. so i thought it wouldn't be that big of a deal.

i was wrong.

monday wasn't too bad. but now that i have had three days off, the thought of getting up early and going in tomorrow is not very appealing. i want to stay up late tonight. i want to keep working on my projects. i want to VACUUM!

i just want to stay home.

but they are expecting me at school. the early birds will be all alone if i stay in bed. twelve kindergarteners will run amok if there is not someone there to corral them. i have to go. just two more days.

and then i will be done. really. finally.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

the angels garden gnomes, part 2

so today . . . i slept in, because you know, i was up really late last night blogging. when i finally got up, i wandered down the hall to the man room where rollie was working, and said, "did you see the angels garden gnome?" because i was still kind of excited about it. "yes," he said. "i can't believe you guys opened it!"

wait a minute. what? why wasn't he pleasantly surprised by this unexpected gift?

while i was having this conversation with rollie, diandra was at work talking with doug, our associate pastor . . . "hey doug--did you have a garden gnome on your front porch this morning?"
"um, no . . . "
"are you sure? did you look in the bushes? because that's where ours was." but he said no, he was pretty sure there was no garden gnome lurking in their bushes this morning . . .

in the mean time, i was trying to figure out why rollie was acting like i had opened his mail. "it wasn't addressed to you," i said. "it was addressed to m***** or current resident. we thought it was probably some kind of promotional thing."

"no," he said. "that was from the game javi and i went to. it was garden gnome night, but something happened and the gnomes didn't get there in time for the game. so they gave us cards to fill out. and then they said they would mail them to us."

oh. ok. but you see, he hadn't mentioned that to me.

"it was really funny," he continued, "because the crowd booed."

they booed? angels fans?!?! i find this hard to believe.

"yes," he said. "they had all these promotional video clips to show on the big screen starring the gnomes, but none of us had any. so every time a gnome video would play, the crowd would boo."

group bonding at it's finest!

diandra came to lunch with us and told us that doug didn't get a gnome. she was still under the impression that possibly gnomes had been delivered to everyone in orange county. so we filled her in on rollie's part of the story, and then rollie said, "javi should be getting one too." her face lit up as she envisioned a gnome of her own . . .

. . . because javi is in texas doing army stuff right now, and i am pretty sure he did not have his gnome delivered there. diandra immediately texted his dad to find out if his gnome had arrived. two minutes later, her phone rang. it was javi's dad. diandra didn't say too much, but the expressions on her face said it all. i was pretty sure the gnome had been delivered, but something terrible had happened to it. their conversation went something like this--

diandra said, "javi should be getting a package from the angels."
his dad replied, "well, i got a package from the angels."
"you did?" she said. "was it a garden gnome?"
"yes, but it was addressed to me. i think it was from kaiser."

javi and his dad have the same last name, so perhaps his dad saw that and thought, "oh, for me!" and kaiser had sponsored the give away, so it did have their name on it . . .

diandra continued. "well, kaiser sponsored the event, but it was from the angels. javi signed up for one when he went to the angels game with my dad a few weeks ago."
"oh," javi's dad said, "well a funny thing happened..."

i was pretty sure that whatever followed was not going to be funny. but i confess that when we finally heard it, it did make us laugh. he said, "after i opened it up, i put the gnome on the mantle. but it wasn't too heavy, and so it fell off. i tried to catch it, but i didn't make it in time." this is the point in the conversation where diandra's face couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry! she knew the gnome had probably met with an unfortunate end, and yet she kept picturing javi's dad diving across the room, matrix style, arms outstretched, trying to catch the gnome.

"but don't worry," he said. "sam (javi's brother) is digging it out of the garbage!"

her poor face couldn't settle on an emotion, because if the gnome was in the garbage, perhaps it should just be left to rest in peace. but she was also picturing sam trying to retrieve it. from the garbage can.

"it isn't too bad," javi's dad said, "the tip of it's hat broke off, that's all."

i don't know--this may be one of those situations where you had to be there, but diandra and i have been laughing about the garden gnome situation since last night! it's mysterious appearance on our doorstep--well, technically in our bushes--started it. then we opened it and put in on our mantle, which is exactly what javi's dad did! while our gnome didn't make a run for it like his did, we thought it was pretty funny that both of us put our gnomes on the mantle instead of in the garden where they clearly belong.

we thought it was so funny that diandra called javi to fill him in. he was sleeping--he had just arrived at ft. bliss last night after a two day convoy from wherever he was before that, so he was pretty tired. we heard her telling him the whole story, and we were laughing. and when she finished the story, he said, "so the gnome got there?"

clearly he was focusing on the wrong thing!

diandra and i both love the gnome but are also a little creeped out by him. diandra swears that his eyes follow you. we think he might have mysterious magical mind controlling powers, since both gnomes got put on the mantle. she is going to rescue the damaged gnome from javi's dad, and we are going to take him on adventures this summer, kind of like flat stanley. so you haven't heard the last of the angels garden gnome. he will be back . . .

. . . we can't help it. it is those blasted mysterious magical mind controlling powers . . .

Monday, June 21, 2010

sooooo tired. oh look, a gnome . . .

so today . . . was technically my first day of summer vacation. i say technically, because i actually went in to work this morning.

last week was jam-packed with end of the year activities. monday was totally dedicated to graduation practice, complete with tiny little pink, blue, or purple graduation gowns and hats (yes, i am rolling my eyes.) tuesday was a total loss, because the kids were all excited about graduation that night. wednesday was field trip day, and thursday and friday were busy days of cleaning and closing down the classroom. so by friday, i was pretty tired.

and then it was the weekend. i would have liked to spend it recuperating from my week, but that was not the way it went down. friday night was movie night at the church, saturday was consumed by diandra's birthday activities, and sunday was church and then father's day activities. it was a lot of fun, but by sunday night, i was totalled! if a mac truck had rolled over me, it would have been an improvement.

and THEN, today i had to get up even earlier than usual, because in a weak moment i had said i would substitute for summer camp, which meant getting to school by 7:30 this morning!! after working harder than i had planned to for almost six hours, i came home and drove diandra (who is kind of sick today,) to the post office and then the ups store.

after that, my plan was to take a nap, but it never happened.

and here it is 11:00 at night, and i am still awake. and blogging. which is proof that it is actually my summer vacation, even though i got up early and went to work. i figure i can sleep until lunch time tomorrow, if necessary . . .

rollie had the sense to go to bed a couple of hours ago. i am still up, because even though i am too tired to go to bed, diandra and i are watching tv and doing computer stuff, and i am wishing for barbeque lay's potato chips. we decided to take a short break so that diandra could move her car into the driveway--thus thwarting the parking police--and i could go to the kitchen in search of salty snack food.

i know there are no potato chips in the kitchen, but i went to look anyway. i thought nuts might be an ok alternative, but i know we don't have any nuts either, and yet still i opened the nut container to look. (i am thinking it might be time for a trip to costco.) as it turns out, it was my lucky day! i found two almonds . . .

when diandra came back into the house, she had a package. we looove packages at our house. in fact, i have decided that is why i buy stuff from shopping tv--just so i can get packages in the mail! however, i figured this package was for rollie, because the return address said angels baseball. but as diandra pointed out, it was addressed to occupant. we decided that meant US! so we opened it. and this is what we saw peeking out of the end of the mailer . . ."a garden gnome?" diandra said. well, that is what it said on the box top, but it seemed too good to be true. we pulled the box all the way out of the package, and it sure looked like the angels had sent us one of their garden gnomes.i noticed the date on the box was from a few weeks ago. in fact, now that i think about it, we had tickets for that game but were unable to attend. so perhaps not too many people went to angels stadium on garden gnome night. i don't know why--a garden gnome seems much more useful than some of the stuff they give away . . . but did they really send out garden gnomes to everyone in orange county? or were we just one of the lucky few?

we opened the box, and there he was--the coveted angels garden gnome! diandra picked him up and looked him over. she handed him to me, and said, "i'll bet you could get high from sniffing him." (did i mention how late it is and how tired we are and that she is kind of sick today?!?) so of course, i had to sniff him. let's just say that i am fairly certain he is made from some sort of petroleum product, because he does have a distinct odor--which will hopefully dissipate now that we have released him from his box . . .and i know he looks a little scary, but that is what happens when a flash goes off inches from a person's (or gnome's) eyes. we decided it was good we had opened the package, because we were way more excited about this little guy than rollie would have been. i am sure that in a few years he is going to be valuable, because we are keeping him inside. i'll bet lots of garden gnome recipients will put their gnomes right out into their gardens--where they will fade and crack and eventually end up in the trash. but not us. we will treasure him right along with the rest of our sports memoribilia.

which has nothing to do with my extreme tiredness, except it gave me something to blog about, which is why it is now after midnight and i am still not asleep!

blast the angels and their garden gnomes . . .

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the card is in the mail . . .

so today . . . is father's day.

i have a dad--a pretty great dad, actually--but he lives far, far away. so taking him to lunch, or even giving him a big father's day hug, are not options for me. i have to find other ways to remind him that i love him. usually my solution is sending a card. this may sound like the easy way out to you, but trust me, anything involving cards and the post office has disaster written all over it for me . . .

first, i have to choose a card. and no matter what store i go to, the greeting card section is like a mine field--especially for father's day. i avoid the funny cards as a matter of principle. they all sound like they were written by immature college-aged boys whose wallets are empty! they are awful!! and anything with a lawn mower or caricature dad on it should just be set on fire . . .

but the more serious cards are not a lot better. they sound like they were written by adult women with self-esteem issues. and they are beautiful--too beautiful for a man! i mean really, what man is going to look at an aqua-colored card with foil scroll work across the front and think, "wow! that really says DAD! i love aqua-colored foil scroll work!!" what ever happened to stripes? the colors brown and blue? (and no, aqua does not count as blue!) or even green? they could at least choose manly colors . . .

so there i stood at target, in front of the father's day cards. my dad is awesome, and i wanted to get the perfect card for him. i read card after card after card after card. i finally even started picking up the ones with girlyish fronts, hoping that at least the words would be good. but they weren't. finally, in frustration, i said, "where are all the cards with FISH on them?!?!?" the young mom standing to my right looked at me, and said, "here's one." and then she quickly rolled her stroller some distance away . . .

perhaps i looked a little desperate. it was the tuesday before father's day.

i said, "thank you" to her retreating back and looked at the card. the front was kind of a 3-d picture of a big fish. i knew my dad would like that. now if only the words inside weren't terrible . . . i opened it, read it, and laughed. yes, this was the one!

i bought the card and put it in my purse with every intention of mailing it right away so it would arrive at his house before father's day. but i had to rush home, change my clothes, and go right back to school for graduation. i soon realized his card was not going to get mailed on tuesday.

but that was ok. if i mailed it wednesday, he would still get it in time. i put it in my school bag so that i could write in it the next day and take it to the post office. (you see, this is part of the reason i never get anything mailed on time. nothing i need to mail only takes one stamp, so i never have the right postage. that means i have to go to the post office, get out of the car, stand in line, and get the proper postage before anything can be sent. which would be no big deal, except i seem to have some sort of mental disconnect between getting something ready to mail and actually mailing it. i had four packages to send to my aunt last fall. i got them all ready to go, put them in my trunk, and promptly forgot about them. i finally mailed them two weeks ago . . . ) at least, that was my plan. but in my "planning" i forgot that wednesday was my class field trip to adventure city. so, i did not sit at my desk on wednesday. i did not take anything out of my school bag. and i did not make it to the post office.

then, wednesday night after slurping down a big soda (because my day at the amusement park had been relatively soda-free,) my brain started working again, and i realized that it was now going to be thursday before i could mail my dad's card.

on thursday i went to the post office immediately after school was out. i knew that barring some sort of postal miracle, my dad's card would be late. he would probably not be completely surprised by this, since my cards are usually late. but still, i always hope it will somehow make it on time.

i went into the post office and witnessed my first postal miracle--there was no line! not one body was in front of me! so i stepped up to the counter with my fish card that required extra postage, and the postal worker said, "you can mail this for 66 cents. OR you could mail it priority mail--that would ensure that it would arrive tomorrow. would you like to do that?"

i'll bet she had been saying that all day to everyone who brought in a card. there she stood, implying that my card was going to be LATE! i just looked at her. ok, i thought, i'll bite. "and how much would it be to send it overnight." it couldn't be that much, could it? it was just a card. "$18.95," she answered.

$18.95?!?!?! are you kidding me?!?!?! i could have gotten a real gift for that--well, sort of . . . but $18.95 just to make sure my card arrives on time?!?! no, i don't think so. i said, "no, i think i will just mail it first class." "ok," she said regretfully, knowing that i must be the black sheep of my family, "it will be 66 cents then. and do you need anything else? stamps? boxes??"

she was so helpful. no wonder it takes so long for the lines to move at the post office.

i took out my wallet to extract the $10 i knew i had left over after paying to get all my kids into adventure city--it was all the cash i had left. and, as my luck would have it, i had left it in the small bag that i had taken to adventure city. it was not in my purse--the purse i was currently holding.

i couldn't believe it! all i needed was 66 cents to get my dad his father's day card only a day late, and now it was looking like it might be TWO days late. i was going to be the black sheep--a position, btw, with which i am not at ALL familiar!

the postal worker watched me digging through my great big handbag. (you know, the one diandra bought me for mother's day? it is beautiful and i love it, but it has so much space in it that sometimes i can't find anything!) she just kept looking at me. to fill the silence i said, "i know i had $10 in here . . . " she just looked at me. the silence grew. finally i said, "maybe i will have to buy some stamps after all, because i may have to use my debit card."

"oh, that's ok. you can pay for your postage with your debit card," she said. put 66 CENTS on my debit card?!?!?! oh no, i don't think so. and what happened to all that up-selling she was doing! but she wasn't finished. "yes, you could. or you could just get cash back. we don't charge a fee for that. in fact, lots of people come in here at lunch time and buy a stamp just so they can get cash for their lunch."

that stopped me in my tracks. because i have been at this post office at lunch time. i know what the lines are like then. and let me tell you, if a person only has an hour for lunch, they do not have time to come to the post office to get lunch money!! besides that, where are you planning to get lunch that won't take a debit card? every place takes debit cards!

finally i managed to find 66 cents in change. i paid her and sent my dad's card on it's merry way. a day late.

but my dad won't care. in fact, he isn't even home today--he is visiting my brother. so hopefully my card will beat him home, and be waiting for him when he gets there. he will never know that it was a day late.

. . . unless my mom tells him to read my blog . . .happy father's day dad! you are the best! i love you!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

a birthday blog for diandra

so today . . . is diandra's birthday. she is 25 years old. i was going to do a whole retrospective of the last quarter century of her life--with photos and everything. i thought i would choose one significant event from each year and tell about it.

do you know how long that blog would be? and do you have any idea how long it would take me to write it? and rewrite it? and edit it? and upload photos? and accidentally erase the photos? and upload them again? trust me--i should have started this very important blog at least three months ago . . .

but i didn't.

so instead, i am going to list 25 of my favorite things about her. i will try to be brief, but you know how i love to hear myself write . . .

1. she has the best hair! she gets that from her dad.
2. she has beautiful hazel eyes! those come from my side of the family :)3. she is a loyal friend. she does not give up on relationships easily, but she has learned that there are times when people will take advantage of that. and yet, she will still risk it, because she values loyalty.
4. she has a quirky sense of humor. i blame her father. but . . .
5. . . her laugh is infectious. if she is laughing at something, you will laugh too. you won't be able to help yourself.6. she is the most compassionate person i know. she has an amazing empathy for people--even people she doesn't know!
7. she is independent. which can be frustrating at times for her mother, but thankfully . . .
8. . . she is also smart! so at least her independence usually has positive results.
9. she laughs at her dad's jokes--and sometimes that is no small task.10. she is resilient. she is not a quitter. when life tried to crush her, she managed to survive. and finally, to flourish.
11. she loves the teens in her youth group. she sees the good in each one of them. she expects them to try to be their best--and sometimes they do. she is there for them when no one else in their lives is. she makes a difference.
12. she has a beautiful smile. (we thank dr. hodges for that!) when she is really happy it lights up her whole face. and we have been seeing that real smile a lot more often lately.13. she likes girly things. there was a time (middle school) when all she would wear were white t-shirts and jeans. i despaired! but she has finally embraced her inner girly girl.
14. she is a leader, not a follower. she can follow, but she shouldn't--she should be in charge, because she is a good leader.
15. she has taken her interest in photography and turned it into a business. for most of us, our job is mostly a paycheck. but diandra has two jobs that she loves!
16. she is generous. when she was small she always wanted to put money in the salvation army buckets, so we did--and still do. she feeds her teens. she gives money to homeless people--and not just spare change. sometimes when we are shopping, she will just take whatever i have decided to get right out of my hands and pay for it.
17. she loves God, and cares about those who don't.
18. she is artistic. she likes to make things. when she was little, she loved to draw and make things out of those tiny round plastic beads. then we got into rubber stamping and scrapbooking, and her latest interest is painting.
19. she cannot hear any kind of music that has a beat without head dancing. but if she is in a field, all alone, her whole body might decide to get involved.20. she is creative. and innovative. she can think outside the box. but still come up with ideas that are workable.
21. she has three holes in her ears. we allowed her to get the first one when her age got into "double digits," and the second one was part of her 16th birthday celebration. the third one is new and was a decision she made all on her own. you know, because she is independent . . .
22. she loves to have fun. she wants to be out with people, doing things. a couple of years ago some of her friends were riding their bikes every week. so diandra bought a bike and went along--not knowing that they were going to ride all the way to the beach! and back again!! yeah, walking was a bit of a challenge the next day . . .
23. she is strong. she is not a pushover. she knows what is important to her, and she is willing to stand up for those things.
24. she is not afraid to try new things. this has not always been true, but today she ate sweet potato fries! and a couple of years ago, she stepped in front of the camera as a model for a group photography shoot.
25. she is just fun to hang out with. no matter what is happening, if diandra is there, it is going to be more fun!

my daughter is amazing. i take some of the credit for that. so does her dad. but she is more than the sum of all these parts. she is our joy, and we are so proud of the person she has become.

diandra, it was worth every minute of that 28 hours of labor it took to bring you into this world! i love you forever, i love you for always! (you know the rest.)

happy birthday.

Friday, June 18, 2010

a perfect day for a field trip

so today . . . schooooool's out. for. sumMER! (that's a song, in case you don't know . . . )

yes, today was my last official day of school for this year. i am going to be helping out a couple of days with the summer program next week, but my duties as kindergarten/pre-k teacher are over for this year.

it has been a busy week. i am exhausted.

and yet, i blog.

i just wanted to share a few photos of our field trip to adventure city yesterday. we had a nearly perfect day. the weather was awesome. there were only four large groups there, instead of the usual 20-25, so there were no lines for anything. the kids were really good. and we had a wonderful day together!

i didn't know how the kids were going to do with the rides. i have a couple that i thought would probably spend a large part of the day standing in line saying, "i don't think i want to do that." so we started off slowly with the small ferris wheel-like ride and then went to the airplanes. i almost lost one there but after convincimg her to give it a try, they couldn't get the the next ride fast enough! they were fearless!!

i like the balloons, so we rode those a few times.
i taught the kids how to ride with their hands in the air to enhance their riding enhanced it all right! their little bodies were sliding all over the place and they laughed and laughed.because our resident professional photographer was unable to come with us today, i had to do all the picture taking. as we were sitting in the balloons, i realized that meant i was not going to be in any of the pictures. so i handed my camera to the girls and said, "take a picture of us!" and so they did.because there were so few large groups today, there were NO LINES! in fact, the roller coaster operator just kept letting the roller coaster go around and around and around. a normal ride is two times around the track, but one time he let it continue 8 or 10 times!! after the fourth time i looked at him (because i was not riding that thing! the kids love it, but it is too herky-jerky for me!!) and he said, "hey, there is no line. as long as none of them look sick, i'm just going to let it keep going!"i could not believe they were able to take it! but every time they came around, they were laughing even harder . . . and let me just say, it was HARD to get a picture, it went by so fast!!

finally i made the kids stop for lunch. usually we arrive at the park around 10:15 and by 10:45 the kids are starting to ask about lunch. because, you know, for a field trip the moms pack all sorts of delicious food for them. but this year i couldn't get them to stop to eat. finally at 12:45 i just said, "it is lunch time--let's go eat." when we were done, one little girl said to me, "you need to drink some water. you didn't drink any!" i always tell the kids to bring water, because i know it will be warm and they will need to hydrate. but i had an unfinished soda from breakfast (i know, but graduation was the night before and i needed the energy,) so i had finished that. i just looked at her. and then i said, "what? are you my mother?!?" without even batting an eye, she just looked straight at me, handed me my water bottle, and said, "drink this!"

i love her! she is going to be a great mom someday!

when we finished and went back into the park, they immediately wanted to go to drop zone. i thought that might be a bad idea, in light of what we had just consumed. so i made them ride the carousel. yes, i know it wasn't very exciting after the morning we had, but it is always a good photo op . . .we ended the day at drop zone. by this time most of the groups had left, so the operator just let us ride and ride and ride . . .
i know i whine about my job. there are times when i get very frustrated by some of the things i cope with. but i am very lucky to get to spend my days with tiny little humans who, at the end of the day, just want to have fun. and today we did. we had tons of it! i am really going to miss them . . .

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

an explosion = ?

so today . . . i thought we were having another earthquake, but we weren't.

i guess no matter where you live, there are unique cultural things. (i'm sorry. i know "things" is not the very best word to use there. but i am soooo tired--you know, graduation last night and then all day at adventure city with my kindergarteners today. i'm exhausted! i wasn't even going to blog, since it is wednesday, but then i heard the explosions and had to blog . . . but, i cannot promise that my choice of vocabulary is going to be up to my normal standards.)

when we first moved to california, i was not convinced it was going to be a place i wanted to live. i thought it was going to be one big traffic jam with air so smoggy you could see it and gangs on every corner. thankfully, that is not what it turned out to be, but that was my initial expectation. i hadn't been here very long, when one night i heard a sharp explosion. "GUNSHOTS!!" was my initial thought. as luck would have it, i was home alone. i ran around the house, closing windows, making sure the doors were locked and setting the alarm--which should be the normal state of things, but i didn't know that yet. i just knew there was going to be a gang confrontation right outside our front door and we were all going to die, just because we had moved to california. (well, we weren't all going to die. i was home alone. but clearly i wasn't thinking all that rationally.)

the next day i looked in the news, but there was no mention of the hail of gunfire i had heard. hmmm, i thought. maybe it is so common place that they don't even report shootouts here! but there were no shell casings in the street either, which as anyone who watches tv knows, are a byproduct of a shootout. i asked someone about it a few days later, and they said, "oh, that was probably just the fireworks from the high school graduation."

what? fireworks at the high school graduation? i guess that could be what it was . . .

the next summer, in the middle of june, i heard the explosions again. "GUNSHOTS!" i yelled. i had to yell, because we had company visiting and i didn't want anyone to be hit by a stray bullet. i was thinking we should all hit the deck and maybe someone should call 9-1-1. then rollie reminded me about the fireworks. i peeked out an upstairs window and noticed that all the neighbors were standing around looking at the sky. and then the sky lit up with a burst of fireworks . . . followed by a boom that sounded suspiciously like a gunshot to me.

the next summer, when i heard the big BOOM, i am sorry to say i still thought gunshot. but i quickly remembered the fireworks, and instead of throwing myself on the floor, i ran outside with the rest of the neighbors to enjoy the show.

i now know that the likelihood that i will hear gunshots in my neighborhood is virtually non-existent. so every june when i hear the explosions, i remember that it is time for my own personal fireworks show.

that is, until today.

because a couple of days ago we had an earthquake. it was small. it only lasted a few seconds, and i barely felt the movement. but it began with a loud BOOM. i've only felt one other earthquake here in socal, and that was the one on easter sunday. i don't remember a boom with that one, but the movement lasted for a couple of minutes. I don't want the probability of an earthquake to dictate my choices, and yet, there are times when i think about it. occasionally when i go to bed i will think, "what if there is an earthquake tonight?" and then i put my laptop in the trunk of my car and my handbag right by my bed . . .

. . . just in case, because you never know.

of course, since i don't do this every night, odds are that when we do have an earthquake, it is going to hit on a night when nothing is where it belongs, which will make it hard to find stuff in the rubble . . . (you see how my mind works? i mean, i don't sit around worrying about this stuff, but sometimes i have 'disaster' thoughts. i blame all those disaster movies that were popular during the formative years of my youth--especially "the poseidon adventure.") but i digress . . .

so tonight i was sitting here on the couch, sorting all the photos i took at adventure city today, when i heard a loud BOOM. and this time, i didn't think gunshot. but i also didn't think fireworks. this time i thought EARTHQUAKE!!!

i sat very still. i watched the dogs (which wasn't really all that helpful, because they seem to be totally unaffected by earthquakes--they just keep on sleeping.) i heard another BOOM and then another one. then i thought gunshots. (i see this as an improvement. at least my mind doesn't immediately go to violence.) then mia came running into the room, her body on alert. and that's when i knew. it had to be fireworks.

because my highly strung "guard" dog will sleep right through an earthquake, she quivers and shakes in fear when it rains, but she is all about defending the house when she hears . . . fireworks.

after i heard a few more BOOMS, and the crackling that follows a fireworks explosion, i went out to enjoy the show . . . and quickly noticed that the car alarm was going off on a car across the street. the force of the explosion had apparently set it off. no one came running out to check on it, and after about five minutes it stopped.

good to know. apparently car alarms do not continue indefinitely. and now that i know that, my criminally inclined mind is formulating a plan . . .

so the good news is, i have progressed. i have grown. gunshots are not my first option when i hear an explosion in the middle of june. i no longer think the evils of southern california culture are out to get me. i have adjusted and even embraced much of this culture. i defend it to my rain-soaked friends up north. in fact, i hope i never have to live anywhere else!

but the bad news is "the big one" is still out there. somewhere. it is just waiting to catch me off guard.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

timing is everything!

so today . . . i was schooled! out maneuvered! intellectually smacked down!

by a cute little five year old girl. in curls. and twinkle toes . . .

i finally wore my twinkle toe sneakers to school yesterday. yes, out of the house. i did not make this move recklessly. oh no i did not . . . i actually went back to the store a fifth time and bought another pair of shoes a half size larger. i brought them home. i tried them out. they flopped. i tried them with different kinds of socks. they still flopped. i tried the smaller shoes. they didn't flop, but they were a little snug. after much testing, i came to the conclusion that there was no way i could make the larger pair work. if i wanted these incredibly cute shoes, i was just going to have to keep the smaller ones and hope they stretched out a bit.

so the decision was made. to seal the deal, i wore them to school yesterday and returned the larger pair to the store during my lunch hour. i wore them all day. by the time i got home, i was ready to take them off and let my toes wiggle free! but it was ok--the shoes looked too cute for words, and my feet survived.

today, two little girls wore their twinkle toe sneakers to school. when i saw the first pair, it had laces, and i thought, "wow! why didn't they put laces on the adult shoes? why did they have to make them slip ons?" then the second little girl came in, curls bouncing (yes, here it comes . . . ) "look at my shoes, teacher!" she said. "i have twinkle toes too!" her mother came in behind her, shaking her head. "she said she HAD to wear those shoes today. she has never worn them before, but today she HAD to wear them, because ms. julie had twinkle toes on yesterday."

i am pretty sure the mom did not think i had really worn twinkle toes yesterday. i am pretty sure she thought no one over the age of eight would wear them! i am pretty sure of this because of the way she looked at me when i assured her that yes, i had worn twinkle toe sneakers to school yesterday.

pretty soon i heard that same little girl say, "i am going to ask my mom to get me some shoelaces for these shoes--sparkly ones!" and my adult mind said, "that is a crazy idea! she doesn't need shoelaces. those are slip on shoes! what will she do with shoe laces?!?"

and that's when it hit me! shoe laces! duh!!

because even though the style of my shoes were designed to be slip-ons, they had holes for shoe laces. i could have bought sparkly shoe laces, laced those bigger shoes up, tied them tightly, and they wouldn't have flopped on my feet! they would have been perfect!!

it was a brilliant idea--conceived by a five year old girl who wanted just a little more bling in her life. really, a girl after my own heart. and without even thinking about it, she had solved the problem that had puzzled me for days!! DAYS, i tell you!!! shoelaces. why didn't i think of that. it was just the solution i needed . . .

. . . IF i still had the larger sized shoes. and IF i hadn't already worn the smaller ones all day yesterday. if only i had procrastinated just one or two more days . . .

sometimes i think the cosmos is mocking me . . .

Monday, June 14, 2010

a baseball cap

so today . . . is the first day of my last week of school for this year.

i cannot even tell you how ready i am for summer vacation! because our school also provides daycare services, it is open all year. i am the only teacher on staff who gets the summers off--yes, i am special. the other day the kids were questioning me as to why i don't work in the summer. i told them it is so i don't get grouchy. i said if i had to work through the summer, i might be mean teacher ms. julie all the time instead of just once in a while. they smiled and said, "nuh uh!"

but it is true.

i honestly don't know how all the other teachers do it! i don't know how they come to school day after day after day and deal with a whole classroom full of other people's children with only a two week vacation! i need a beginning and an end to my school year, and a weekend is not enough! i get cranky just thinking about it!!

so in celebration of my upcoming summer vacation, i thought it would be fun to post funny kid stories all week. the only problem is, i don't have a funny kid story for today! we spent most of today in dress rehearsal for our graduation program. you know how i feel about preschool and kindergarten graduation, and yet still i am forced to participate every year. so the day of dress rehearsal is one of my least favorite days--let's just say i have the expression of a teen-aged girl most of the day. seriously, my eyes get tired of rolling . . .

but, lucky for you, i still have a few blogs from my days on myspace that i haven't shared yet. this one is from last year. it was originally posted on monday, december 15, 2008.

i am sharing a classroom with another teacher this year, which has it's challenges. one of those is that i can hear her when she is teaching (i'm sure she can hear me too.) sometimes the things i hear from the other side of the divider make me laugh out loud!

a few days ago she was teaching a lesson to her four year olds, and part of it required the children to identify some pictures. there was a picture of a baseball cap, but try as she might, she could not get anyone to say the word "cap." they just kept saying "hat," even though she had repeatedly said, "well, it is a hat, but it is a special kind of hat and has it's own name." most of our children speak a different language at home, so it is completely possible that they have never heard the word cap. finally, in desperation, she said, (in a somewhat commanding voice) "this is called a what!?!?" hoping they would say "a cap." one little girl, looking puzzled, said, "i didn't know that was called a what!!!"

dealing with language issues is one of the things i find both frustrating and fascinating about my current job. most of the children in my classroom speak mandarin chinese, tagalog, korean, vietnamese, or spanish at home. it always sort of jolts me when they speak to me in english and their parents in another language at the same time! i am stunned at their ability to process and think in two different languages at once. i occasionally have to correct their vocabulary or grammar, but they have amazing skills for bilingual five year olds!

one day i was talking to a parent, and he gave me some valuable information. he said that in mandarin, they do not have words for she or her--it is always he or his regardless of whether they are referring to a girl or a boy. this explains a lot to me. now instead of just correcting their vocabulary, i teach them the words she and her and when to use them. there are also no chinese words for turning something on or off--they say open or closed. so they don't turn the lights on, they open them. they don't turn the lights off, they close them. i no longer find it odd to hear someone say, "open the lights!" and yet, i have to be aware of it so i can teach them on and off.

but for this year, i am pretty much done teaching. we have graduation tomorrow night, our end of the year field trip on wednesday, and classroom clean-up for summer on thursday and friday. it is going to be a busy week. so now, i am going to "close" my brain and go to bed, because it isn't summer vacation yet. and i need to keep mean teacher ms. julie at bay for four more days . . .

Saturday, June 12, 2010

and so begins my life of crime . . .

*disclaimer--while i would not call myself an environmentalist, i am not opposed to taking care of our planet. today i am just venting frustration at how it will inconvenience me. so please find the humor in my discomfort rather than being indignant at my attitude.

so today
. . . i've been thinking about this whole illegal plastic bag thing . . .

in case you haven't heard, the california legislature has banned plastic grocery bags. you know, those plastic grocery bags that we all use to put our shoes and laundry in when we travel, and collect our empty soda cans in to take to recycling, and to line our small wastebaskets, and most importantly, to pick up doggie bombs? yes, well, we will no longer have access to those bags.

ironically the language in the legislation actually bans "single use plastic bags." for me, a sandwich bag is single use. a large garbage bag is single use. even plastic wrap is single use. the one type of plastic bag which is definitely NOT single use is the plastic grocery bag. we keep them in our kitchen, in both bathrooms, in the trunk of the car, and with our luggage. i even keep a bunch of them at school for those occasional bathroom accidents that preschoolers are prone to have. and i cannot leave the house to walk milo without one of those bags. because while mia is too busy walking to stop for anything, milo's walk is not complete until he has proven to the neighborhood that his digestive system is working just fine!

apparently california legislators do not have to deal with their household garbage or doggie poop. because for those of us who do, those plastic grocery bags are essential and definitely multi-purpose. but we are going to have to learn to function without them. instead, we are being encouraged to buy reusable cloth bags for our groceries.

i don't really have a problem with the whole cloth shopping bag idea. in fact, the trunk of my car is home to three giant costco reusable bags, three small trader joe's bags, two red target bags, one green subway bag (which scores me a free cookie every time i use it!) and a bag i got at forever 21 with a colorful bird on it. i could probably use the bird bag at any store since there is no name or logo on it, but i always think of it as my forever 21 bag. clearly i am going to have to buy some stater bros bags, or getting my groceries home is going to be a challenge . . .

i know that technically i can use any of these bags in any store. i know this in my head. but if i were to walk into stater bros with my trader joe's bags, i would feel like i was cheating on trader joe's! after all, i bought those bags at trader joe's, and i'm sure it was their intent that i use them when i shop at trader joe's. i'm sure they want me to look at those bags in my trunk and think, "oh, i need to go to trader joe's to buy groceries today," NOT "oh, i'm glad i have these trader joe's bags to carry my groceries home from stater bros in." then again, maybe if i used my trader joe's bags at stater bros, other shoppers would see them and abandon their shopping carts and flock to trader joe's, but i kind of don't think so.

i can see this cloth bag thing is going to be an issue for my ocd tendencies. i am going to feel like i have to have the correct bags for each store. the trunk of my car is doomed to be filled with all these shopping bags, which is going to make actually bringing any groceries home in it a challenge. but i think the bigger challenge is going to be remembering to take the bags in with me . . .

i already have trouble with this. how many times have i found myself at the checkout line at costco thinking, "oh rats! i left my reusable bags in the trunk of my car again!!" which leaves the cashiers no choice but to put my eggs and cheese and broccoli in big cardboard boxes which won't fit in my trunk. so when i get to my car, i have to unload the boxes, then find a place to dispose of the boxes (because as i just said, they won't fit in my trunk!) and then take my groceries into the house one armload at a time. i could use the reusable costco bags i keep in the trunk to take the groceries into the house, except they are always underneath the unloaded groceries.

so, you may ask, what do you do if you live in california and you go to the grocery store and you forget to take your properly silk-screened cloth bags in with you?

well, you have two choices. you can either buy new cloth bags--which are usually fairly reasonably priced (but after i forget 20 times, it is going to add up--at $1.99 each,) or you can spend a minimum of five cents for each paper bag you use. that's right, we will be allowed to buy paper bags.

ok, so let's just think about this for a minute. we can't have plastic bags because they are bad for the environment (even though they are very useful around the house,) but we can buy all the paper bags we want (even though technically trees must die to produce those bags.) ok, just so we are clear--we are doing this for the environment . . .

lest you think our legislators are totally crazy, (i'll just insert a pause here so you can laugh hysterically,) the paper bags are required by law to be made from 60% recycled materials. i guess paper bags are environmentally friendly as long as you only have to kill enough trees to manufacture 40%. and i guess plastic bags are ok as long as you buy them from glad or hefty. and i guess the planet isn't in immediate danger, because this ban on plastic grocery bags does not go into effect until january 2012.

i figure that gives me a year and a half to stockpile them. let's see . . . if i double bag everything and only put an item or two in each one . . .

Friday, June 11, 2010

straight from delivery to recycling

so today . . . i realized that the plastic bag our new telephone directory was delivered in was more valuable than the telephone directory itself. i am not kidding.

there are sooooo many things wrong with this picture!

first of all, who even uses a telephone directory anymore? you have to KNOW how alphabetical order works in order to find anything. and even if you know your abc's (as anyone over the age of five should,) where does the name mcdonald's fit? does it go after the words that begin with mb and before the words that begin with md? (hey, we live in l.a.--trust me, it could happen!) or does it go at the very beginning of the m's? or would i find it right after the mac's? and if i'm using the yellow pages, would it be under restaurants? or fast food? or hamburgers? or shortcuts to a heart attack?? and if you are looking for psychiatrists, remember that the word starts with a silent p--don't go looking for it in the s's. unless you are looking for surgeons. but wouldn't they be listed with the doctors? you see??

and it is time-consuming. a lot of page flipping goes on to find what you are looking for. do you want doctors or physicians? cars or automobiles? dentists or masters of torture? lakers or devil's spawn--no wait, that was a different blog . . . and then, if you don't know exactly how to spell what you are looking for, there is even more page turning--is the correct spelling jewelery or jewelry? because if you are using the phone book, you had better know! it will not ask you did you mean jewelry? like google does.

we all have the technology in our pockets to find whatever we are looking for, and either order it to be delivered right to our house or find a map that tells us how to get to it. even elementary school kids have cell phones with internet access and are probably much more adept at using the apps than i am. all of this makes our need for an actual telephone directory kind of obsolete--unless you just want to show how strong you are by ripping it in half (which, according the the myth busters i just watched, is not all that hard. although, i haven't tried it yet.)

but what i really want to know is this--why is our telephone directory delivered in a plastic bag? when was the last time it rained here? ok, the ground was damp in the morning a couple of weeks ago, but that was the result of night time rain. when was the last time it rained during the day? hmmm?? and since the phone books are delivered during the daylight hours, the plastic bags seem a bit unnecessary--unless they are worried about fading or dust. it just seems to me that if the plastic bags are the environmental evil they are purported to be, putting one on every telephone book delivered to every household in the l.a. metropolitan area might not be the best idea.

especially since they are now illegal in the state of california . . .

Thursday, June 10, 2010

the natives are getting restless!

so today . . . was kind of a rough day at school.

i don't know what is going on. my precious, darling dumplings are turning into whiny, aggressive combatants. and i seem incapable of making it stop.

i think we all have a sort of cabin/spring fever. we have been practicing for graduation forever!! not only does it disrupt our routine, but it is a lot of sitting around waiting for our turn to rehearse. and we are still trapped in the gym for recess, because the construction on the new building is back under way. so everyone lives for playtime, but when it comes they just go berserk!

even the teachers are restless. we are out of curriculum. we are finishing up end of the year paperwork. we have taught our classes to sing and "dance" to a cute song for the graduation program. it is time to be done!

but we are not done. we still have a week to go . . .

another. whole. week.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

it's june

so today . . . i am home alone.

my house is very quiet. diandra is in texas visiting her cousin. and rollie is at a lakers party.

yes, you heard me. rollie is at a lakers party. i was invited, but i declined to attend. i can think of nothing i would hate more than spending the evening surrounded by people dressed in purple and gold, cheering on a team that is my evil nemesis.

june in los angeles is not my favorite time of the year. we have this weather phenomenon called "june gloom." our mornings are cloudy and a little bit damp--kind of like when you are at the beach. on most days the sun comes out around 11:00, so it does warm up, but not every day. i guess it is good, because without those morning clouds it would get pretty hot. but it means i have to wear a sweater on my way to school, and then drag it around with me all afternoon when it heats up. and then, find it again when i go out at night. it also means the top on the convertible goes up, then down, then up, then down.

june also means nba playoff games. this creates conflict in my usually happy home. rollie has converted to the lakers, while diandra and i maintain our status as the only trailblazer fans in the southland. during the playoffs, laker talk is everywhere--there is no escape. in the interests of peace and harmony, i have learned to tolerate it, but it makes me feel just a little bit cranky. unlike the laker car flags, which make me feel a LOT cranky. and when things don't go well for the lakers? oh boy oh boy! their fans get ugly!! (not rollie, of course. he is always cute!) so sometimes it is best to just hope they win fast and get this thing over with . . .

and my kindergarteners graduate in june. this means choosing a song, choreographing a song, practicing a song, thinking up costumes, memorizing a speech--all for a five minute performance. one of the teachers has been working on her costumes for about six weeks now. each one of her 14 students will be dressed like an animal or bug. i am sure they will be very cute, but it is going to be a nightmare to get all 14 of those excited, wiggly children into their costumes in time to get on stage for their performance. and i am pretty sure the worm is going to be dancing around the floor while the butterflies smack other kids in the face with their wings, and the fuzzy bears will probably be yanking on the octopus' legs and the elephant's trunk. in fact, i am pretty sure that between all of that, and the parent's jockeying for position with their multiple cameras, no one is even going to hear the song. and maybe that is ok. as rollie said, it isn't really a performance so much as it is a photo op for the parents.

then again, june does mark the beginning of my summer vacation. and diandra's birthday. so it isn't all bad. in fact, i think i will go have some ice cream to celebrate . . .

. . . of course, that means a trip to el pollo loco. which means i will have to find my sweater. and put the top up on the car. no wait, maybe if i wear the sweater it will be warm enough to leave the top down on the car.

ah, l.a. in june . . .

Monday, June 7, 2010

vacation: a time to try something new . . .

so today . . . we shaved rollie's head.

he's been thinking about it for a while. i think it was originally diandra's idea. i was not really on board, because while a shaved head looks good on some people, it looks equally not good on others. and how can a person tell which way it will go?

i felt the same way the first time he shaved off his moustache. it scared diandra (of course she was only two,) and i didn't like it at all. he quickly let it grow back and kept it in place on his face for the next 20 years. then, when he decided he wanted his hair short--really, really short--i didn't like that either. but when i got used the the short, short hair look, i found that i did like it. and now that the moustache has been gone for a while, i like that too.

he almost had a shaved head several months ago. it was time for a haircut, but i forgot to put the attachment on the shaver that regulates the length of the hair. i started at the back of his neck and went straight up to the crown of his head, and was horrified to see that i had just shaved a bald strip right up the back of his head!!! i just stopped and looked at it. i didn't know what i was going to do. he was laughing, but i was crying. it was terrible! and to make it even worse, this was on a saturday, and he had to get up and preach on sunday!! i tried to fix it by cutting the rest pretty short, and then sort of blending the edges of the shaved part in. and then i told him not to turn his back to the congregation on sunday . . . i must have done a good job of camouflage, because hardly anyone noticed. but i was still horrified.

rollie is on vacation this week. i still have to work, so he hasn't planned a lot of activity for this time. he will mostly be hanging out at home, reading, watching movies, napping . . . so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give shaved a chance. (you notice how i said shaved, not bald. because bald is what we are trying to avoid. apparently bald=bad, but shaved=good.) because if we shave his head this week and it looks terrible, it won't matter. he can just stay home or wear a hat if he goes out. and his hair grows very quickly, so if he decides he doesn't like the shaved look, he will have time to grow some fuzz on top before he really has to go back to work.

so it is done. and it doesn't look bad. but i'm not sure i really like it either. yet. it may be like the moustache and shorter hair, and after i get used to it, i will like it. it is just too early to tell. i was going to post a picture, but i am having issues emailing pics from my phone. so until i can get the pictures from my phone to my computer to my blog, you will just have to use your imaginations.

which may be a good thing. because i think once you have let your imaginations loose on the idea of rollie with a shaved head, a picture of the real thing will be a relief.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

but there were no singing frogs . . .

so today . . . i met a princess. a real-life princess.

when i met her, i didn't know she was a princess. she wasn't wearing a tiara or a ball gown. she wasn't gliding around singing. so how would i know?!? i just thought she was a very nice, very beautiful woman whose husband was a pastor. but later today, i learned that she was a real-life samoan princess. AND her husband (the pastor) is a real-life samoan chief!

rollie is the one who told me. he said they had an arranged marriage, because a chief can't just marry anyone. and even though he lives in california, he still has tribal responsibilities that require him to return to samoa for certain events and rituals. like getting married to a princess!

as you might expect, the chief is the ultimate authority in their culture. in any samoan gathering, he is set apart from everyone else (whether he likes it or not,) and is not allowed to do anything for himself. (i sort of think i might like to be a chief!) his people expect him to give them direction, and he is used to his directions being followed.

i was thinking how difficult it must be for a chief or a princess who comes to live in america where they don't have any special status. if you have been raised with the expectation that the people around you are going to say "how high?" when you say "jump," i think it would be hard to live in a place where people are much more likely to say "make me!"

you might think they would be somewhat arrogant, being samoan royalty and all. but they weren't. they were very nice people. did it make a difference to me when i found out who they really were? yes, a little bit. i found myself thinking about what they were, not just who they were. i was maybe just a little bit starstruck. after all, i had never met a real live princess before . . . or a chief!

that is one of the things i like about living in socal--the cultural diversity. i admit that sometimes it can be frustrating, but mostly i find it interesting. where else can you go to a day full of meetings, expecting to spend the day staring at a computer screen, and come away knowing a princess by name!

Friday, June 4, 2010

this weekend is not my own . . .

so today . . . i blogged early. surprised you, didn't i?

we are having our annual church meetings this weekend, and i am helping out in the sound booth. so i may or may not blog--it all depends on what happens. i anticipate that nothing will happen. i will sit in front of the computer, pressing buttons all day tomorrow, while my brain congeals. so really, don't expect a new blog until monday.

then again, it seems like every time i tell you i am not going to blog for one reason or another, interesting or funny stuff happens and i end up blogging anyway. in fact, i am thinking of enlisting this as a technique during those times when i am running out of blogging material--i'll just say i won't blog for a while, and voila! stuff will happen . . .

sometimes my life is just perverse that way . . .

what do i look like? wikipedia??

so today . . . one of my students asked me, "what color is lizard's pee?"

how do they think of these things? do they lie awake at night trying to think of questions i can't answer?? because it is not all that hard to stump me. but lizard pee?!?!?!

there they stood, looking at me expectantly, waiting for an answer.

"i don't know," i said. "i don't think i've ever seen a lizard go to the bathroom."

and then i realize how funny that sounds--because "go to the bathroom" is a polite euphemism for, you know, eliminating waste from the body.

i hate the word "pee."

"is it green?" one little dumpling asks.

how the heck do i know? but inquiring minds are waiting . . .

"i don't think it is green," i say. although the truth is, it could be rainbow colored for all the factual information i have in my head about lizard urine. "it is probably pretty clear, just like ours."

"oh," they say with sudden understanding, "then it is yellow."

"or peach," another one volunteers.

peach?!?!?! i don't think i even want to know . . .

"mine is clear," one little girl says. finally i see a way out. "clear is good," i say. "that means you are drinking enough water. our bodies need water to be healthy, so clear is good."

next question-- "what's for snack today?"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

plane ticket woes

so today . . . i am forced out of my comfort zone by the evil lakers.

diandra and i are going to go to portland in july to visit my parents. we have done this for the last few summers, and it is always so much fun! but it requires plane tickets to be purchased . . .

i haven't done a lot of traveling in my life. as a kid, most of our vacations were spent in the car traveling to the midwest to visit family. i have lots of good memories about those trips, but it meant days spent in the backseat of our car with my little brother.

you do the math.

as an adult, most of our vacations have been spent traveling to the portland area to visit my parents. thankfully we have always lived on the same coast, so the travel time was shorter, but it still meant many hours in the car. only now, i get to sit in the front seat!

so until recently i hadn't flown much. and when i did fly, rollie took care of all the arrangements, and i just followed him around with my carry-on bag trying to look inconspicuous. because for some reason, rollie always gets singled out in the security line. i don't know what it is. i think he must look a little bit sinister when we fly, because he is so tall and he is always on the lookout for suspicious characters . . . which probably makes him look a little suspicious!

but this time, it was up to me to get the plane tickets. i have been online for days now, checking out the prices, scared that they would go up before we could finalize our plans. which, of course they did--in a matter of hours, because i checked them today right before i came home from school! and then when i went to book them tonight, the price on the return flight had jumped $50!!! so i knew i needed to get those tickets NOW!

and why, you ask, was it up to me to get the tickets? why wasn't my wonderful, thoughtful husband taking care of that little task for me, as he usually does? five words . . .

game 1. lakers vs. celtics.

i'm sure rollie would have been happy to take care of this for me, but my time frame happened to fall during the first game of the nba championship series. he has been looking forward to this series since last fall. and really, if i had asked him, he would have done it anyway (he has tivo!) but i decided there was no reason i couldn't do it. i am a competent, capable adult. it isn't rocket science! it is just shopping . . . for something non-negotiable and non-returnable.

but there are so many decisions to make, and you know how i am about decisions! diandra has been easy to work with. she is flexible and keeps saying, "whatever you think." but that just makes it harder for me, because it leaves me with so many choices. and buying plane tickets isn't like shoe shopping--you can't really change your mind and exchange them. (speaking of which, i now have two pair of twinkle toes shoes at my house in two different sizes! the sales clerk finally said maybe it would be best to try them both at home and then return one pair. yes, a sales clerk actually said to bring one pair back. i think i wore her out with all my questions about, "but do you think it is better for them to be a little tight? should i be wearing socks? will they stretch out?" i am pretty sure she just wanted me to go away . . . ) so i played around with different flights and airports--because i am lucky enough to live within 45 minutes of four different airports--until i found what i thought was the best one. i put in all the information, i read all the fine print, but i just couldn't click on the button that said "purchase." i just couldn't do it. i wanted to check with someone, anyone, to make sure i had done it correctly. but it was late and rollie was already asleep, and i was pretty sure my mom was asleep, and diandra was awake of course, but she had already said, "whatever you decide will be fine!"

so finally i did it. i clicked on the purchase button. i bought plane tickets. all by myself.

of course, i only did it after reading all the fine print, which included the words "you may make one change to this itinerary or cancel and refund to original form of payment with no fee within 24 hours of purchase." ah ha! a loophole! admittedly it is a tiny loophole, but it was enough to make me feel like that if i get up tomorrow morning and realize i have made a terrible mistake, i can undo it.

because i need the security of knowing i can change my mind--even if it has to be in the next 24 hours!