Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions - Looking Back

So, Dear Readers, what are your thoughts about New Year's Resolutions? Do you make them? Do you keep them? Or are you one who either doesn't believe in resolutions, or see no reason to start one just because it's the start of a new year (after all, you can make a resolution anytime, right?)?

Here's a glance back at my 2007 Resolutions. Let's see how I've done, shall we?

1) Lose weight. Yep. I lost 20 pounds with Weight Watches in the spring before hitting a plateau in May. The good news? With the exception of two little pounds that I keep gaining and losing, I've maintained my weight loss. I'm happy considering I stopped counting WeightWatchers "points" in September.

2) Exercise at least 3 times a week (my target is actually 5 days, but I'm trying to ease into it). I didn't do so well with this one. I've started exercising but I can't say I do it three times a week.

3) Catch up on all the routine doctor's appointments I put off in 2006 (and 2005). I've been checked out, poked and prodded and given a clean bill of health.

4) Develop a plan of what I want to do when The Baby starts kindergarten in the fall (such as: do I want to work? part time or full time? or would I rather volunteer? take classes? do I turn my 2006 hobby into a little money-making enterprise?) Nope. I've never known what I want to be when I grow up. I don't know what made me think that I'd suddenly discover it when Son #3 headed off to school. I have done a little volunteering though - room mom duties mostly. I've made a list of classes I'd like to take, but I haven't actively pursued any yet.

Let's look back further to my 2006 resolutions:
" 1) lose weight - this has been on my list for the past 15 years
2) drink more water - this is from my 2005 list. I did really well for the first 4 months or so, but I didn't decrease the amount of Diet Coke. 44 oz of Diet Coke + 60 oz of water = a lotta time spent in the bathroom, so I ended up skipping the water.
3) drink less Diet Coke
4) pick a hobby and stick with it for the entire year "

I can honestly say that I've achieved all of my 2006 resolutions. Just not in 2006.

Stay tuned tomorrow (or the day after) for my 2008 resolutions.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I hope you all have a safe and Merry Christmas!


A little more holiday fun: http://gpsinformation.info/main/merryxmas.swf

Monday, December 24, 2007

Where is Santa Now?

My kids have been having a blast with this:

That's right, NORAD (the missile defense folks) is tracking Santa's whereabouts on this beautiful Christmas Eve.

Below the map is a link to Santa Cam videos on YouTube. Fun for the younger kids, but unlikely to fool the older ones.

We're getting ready to go to vigil mass this evening to celebrate Jesus' birthday. (With younger kids, I find they focus better in church on Christmas Eve since they don't yet have the distractions of all the presents and goodies that come on Christmas Day.) Later, we'll go to my sister-in-law's hours for hors d'ouvres. Afterwards, we'll come home, bake cookies for Santa, check the Norad site and if Santa's approaching the southern U.S., it's lights out for us! ;-)

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wii Exercise

Before I start, let me say, wow! I didn't realize what a slacker blogger I've become. My sincere apologies to the two people who still read my blog. I'll try to do better.

And so I begin:

You may recall that I joined a little fitness center a couple of months ago. I still so, but I've only been averaging twice a week because 1) I prefer to go in the mornings, and 2) with the impending holidays, my mornings have been pretty busy.

Anyway, I usually warm up for 10 or so minutes on the elliptical bike (which I hate) before hitting the weights (which I love). A cardio workout is very important though.

This past weekend I caught sight of Dear Hubby and Son #1 playing "boxing" on the Nintendo Wii. Both were working up a sweat and getting a bit winded, so I thought, hmmmmm...

Monday morning after Dear Hubby has gone to work and the kids are off at school, I thought I'd check it out. After selecting my profile (my Mii), I start the game. Controller in my right hand, nunchuk in my left. There are hints on how to protect my face, my body, how to dodge a hit, etc. So I'm bobbing and weaving, jabbing and punching. I'm getting into it. Then the fight starts. WHAT???? That wasn't a boxing match? I'm that pooped after the tutorial???

I manage to box a few couple of rounds - about 10 minutes total. I'll say this. It IS quite the cardio work out if you do it correctly (i.e. actually move your body). Today my shoulders, underarms (goodbye, 'bingo arms'!), and obliques are quite sore. Go figure.

That said, if my kids ever find out (hey, I'm level 425, whatever that means), they'll never let me live it down. However, my mother got the kids an extra nunchuk for Christmas so I'll be able to box another human being, rather than the computer-generated characters. Something tells me I'll get the snot beat out of me by a 5-year old - on the Wii, of course. He loves his mommy. Really, he does.

So, which sounds more impressive should anyone ask:

a) I spend my days playing video games on the Wii, or
b) What's wrong with my shoulder? Oh, it's nothing, really. Just a boxing injury. :-D

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

YouTube: MomSense by Anita Renfroe

Jules emailed a link to this video clip to me and I thought it was funny. The woman's name is Anita Renfroe, and she offers mom-advice to the tune of the William Tell Overture. Most moms will relate, I'm sure. I'm not sure how to link to the clip, but I'll try ....

Click this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxT5NwQUtVM

She also has her own website: http://www.anitarenfroe.com/index.htm
There's some funny stuff there, including more video clips (I like "DemoClip").

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Decisions, Decisions...

Dear Hubby is in Tampa, FL on business for the second time in three weeks. Each time, he's stayed Mon. thru Thurs. They offered him a promotion last week, which I expected they would. Professionally, it's good opportunity. Dear Hubby's department is highly specialized so there's not a lot of movement, so opportunities like this one do not come along often.

Still, we made a lot of sacrifices (for all the right reasons, in my opinion) when we decided to return to Louisiana in 1999. Are those reasons still valid today in 2007? That's the big question. The real estate market is more favorable in Florida right now (in terms of what a buyer can expect), and there's no state income tax. However, we'd be moving 10+ hours away from the very family that we moved to be nearer to in 1999.

Son #1, my ADHD, seizure prone, speech impaired, highly eccentric child is thriving here in La. right now. Doing well in school, well in Boy Scouts. Do I really want to rock the boat? But he's also highly-adaptive, so perhaps this would be a non-issue.

It's nice to have someone other than Mom and Dad cheer Son #2 on at the baseball park. It's nice for Son #3 (age 5) to have a 'date night' with his Aunt Mimi when he needs a change of scenery. I really didn't want to give all that up, although I want to be supportive of Dear Hubby's goals. Ultimately, he decided that there are things he wants to accomplish in his personal life that that he wouldn't be able to do if he accepted the promotion.

Keep us in our thoughts and prayers. Specifically that Dear Hubby can look forward (for every door closed, another one opens).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Best of Elle*Bee: Happy Thanksgiving

I'm repeating my post from last year because not much has changed. Here's what I wrote about Thanksgiving traditions:

Since moving back to the state in which Dear Hubby and I were born and raised, and where his family still resides, we’ve settled into our regular Thanksgiving tradition. It’s generally accepted that we will all gather at my father-in-law’s house. We always did with the exception of two years: his Sister #2 hosted one year, his Sister #4 hosted another year. Her house is largest of all the family’s but hers has an older oven and smaller than ours.

Still the drill is the same: Father-in-law will cook a turkey AND a ham. (Dear Hubby’s Brother #2 is allergic to poultry.) He also makes a casserole of some kind and a meat dressing. I never understood the concept of meat dressing, but whatever…

My mother would always make herbed bread dressing (aka embellished Stovetop Stuffing). This is my contribution to the festivities. I have also branched out into cornbread dressing with cranberries and walnuts because of my brother-in-law’s poultry allergy (my regular Stovetop Stuffing contains chicken stock). I don’t eat it though – not a fan of cornbread. Update 2007: I'm not in the mood to make cornbread stuffing so in addition to the aforementioned Stovetop and the below-mentioned green bean casserole, I'll make roasted, seasoned brussel sprouts. An acquired taste, I know....

I also make the traditional string bean casserole, complete with the Durkee’s fried onions on top. And I’ll buy an apple pie. I remember early on when Dear Hubby and were dating, I was initially mortified by his family’s Thanksgiving menu. Meat dressing? Pumpkin and mincemeat pies, but NO fruit pies? No black olives? (Okay, so that was a stretch. My mother used to set out a little dish of raw radishes and pitted black olives to snack on while the turkey was roasting, so I’ve come to associate black olives with Thanksgiving.)

My own personal tradition – after dishes have been loaded in the dishwasher and the football game’s on TV – I’ll write my Christmas cards. (For the record, I don't actually mail the cards until around Dec. 10th.)

This year, 2007, someone else is bringing a fruit pie. I have my olives, and my Christmas cards, so I'm all set!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * Fastforward to November 21, 2007 * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Again, we have so much to be thankful for this year. Continued health for our family. My losing 20 pounds via WeightWatchers and not having gained it back (ask me again when Thanksgiving is over!). An awesome family trip to Disney. An uneventful hurricane season, which formally ends on December 1, so perhaps I'm counting that blessing a little prematurely (but I don't think so). Good friends, great family. Well behaved (most of the time) kids who still seem to accept and practice our family values. It's been good.

Here's wishing all of you a very Happy, Safe Thanksgiving, and even more to be thankful for in 2008!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Failure to Thrive

(Background info: click here and here for more info about Son #1's condition....)

Most of us moms are at least vaguely familiar with the term: failure to thrive. Usually it brings to mind infants who are not growing as expected. I guess, technically, that would be Son #1. He was born in the 50th percentile for height and weight, but quickly dropped to the 10th percentile and then to the negative 10th percentile, which means that although he was still following the curve for "normal" development, he was not gaining weight/length at the rate of a "normal" baby.

Still. Failure to Thrive. Although it's been in the back of my brain, I've never seen them in print on a medical chart until today. My "baby", for the record, is 12 years 5 months old. I'll admit that it's distressing to learn that your child at any age isn't growing as expected. However, at this point (pre-teen years) his life is not in danger. I should point that out.

Son #1 was referred to an endocrinologist for testing in April. Blood work was okay (human growth hormone was at the low end of normal). Bone x-ray was a bit disturbing. Apparently the bigger the gap between "bone age" (indicated on the xray) and chronological age, the better. Son #1's gap wasn't much. :-(

Today's visit was slightly encouraging. Son #1 grew 3/4 an inch (more than he's grown in the past two years). I knew it would be good news, because I noticed that his size 8 Slim school pants were *finally* getting too short. (Did I mention that he's 12.5?).

The doctor wants to try an appetite stimulant. Periactin is the most popular. It's from the same family as Benedryl, though, and can make kids drowsy (altho' that would be a welcome change from Son #1 as long as the drowsiness didn't occur in school), and it can make them fidgety (Son #1 is on ADHD meds to make him less fidgety. Let's not cancel that out.)

Instead the doctor recommends a medicine called Megace which is used to stimulate appetite and prevent muscle loss in AIDS patients and cancer patients. The biggest risk to Son #1 is that it may delay puberty, which the endrocrinologist said may not be an altogether bad thing. The greater the amount of growth between now and the post-puberty growth spurt at which most boys peak, the better. The medicine is expensive - about $550 retail (my insurance copay is $100) but we figure it's worth a try. If we can encourage Son #1's appetite now and perhaps avoid the human growth hormone injections (to the tune of tens of thousands per year) in the future, it would be less invasive in the long run.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Can Richard Simmons Travel Incognito?


You know who he is, right? "Sweating to the Oldies?" "Deal a Meal?" Severely hyperactive, middle aged, extremely jovial fellow. (Seriously, Richard, I've never considered taking an illicit or narcotic drug in my life, but whatever you're on, I'll consider...)

I remember Richard Simmons from his appearance on General Hospital in 1979. Of course he was overshadowed by the whole Luke & Laura storyline. Still, he'll pop up on TV from time to time. I saw him not long ago on a rerun of one of my favorite shows, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (hosted by Drew Carey, starring Wayne Brady, Colin Mokrey, and Ryan Stiles).

One thing about Richard. He never changes. Wild hair. Exuberant energy (is exuberant a word? You know what I mean). Baggy tanktop. Short shorts (look away!!!!). Not unusual to find a sequin or two. (Richard, if you're reading: feel free to borrow any of this for you epitaph.)

I have to give the man props. He'll be 60 next year (yes, sixty!) and his energy puts me - and my ADHD son - to shame. Anyway, there is a point to this...

Dear Hubby was flying from Tampa to New Orleans, on Thursday afternoon and who does he encounter in the security check-in line. Yep. Richard Simmons. Not larger than life. I've heard the camera adds ten pounds and Dear Hubby said Richard looks trimmer in person than he does on TV (must be the baggy tank).

This day, Richard was wearing spandex shorts and a white t-shirt. He was his usual spunky self going through security. Dear Hubby was surprised that Richard Simmons wasn't flagged as a security risk. Once on the plane, Mr. Simmons made his services available to the airline service staff (stewards and stewardesses). He handed out peanuts to the passengers and went around and just was - well, being Richard.

Which brings me to this. If Richard Simmons is ever feeling tired, or cranky, can he just travel incognito? I don't think so. He is Richard. He is expected to be ON all the time. If Richard is feeling under the weather, how does he hide from the public. The answer: He doesn't. He is who he is. He's supposed to be perky and upbeat all the time. What pressure! The man has to be ON all the time. He is who he is. Love him or hate him, he is a character. He can make people laugh. Regardless of his lifestyle choices, he has a gift. One that he's willing to share with people regardless wherever he is.


I raise my glass to the "always on" Richard Simmons.

Friday, November 16, 2007

ARRRGGGG!

Interim reports came home yesterday. You know, those midway through the grading period reports that let you know how your child is doing so far.

Can someone please explain to me how a 12 year old, who cannot spell at all yet reads at a 12th grade level, is managing an A in spelling and a D in reading?!!!! I'm scratching my head. Son #1 generally tries very hard. He'll get a lot of excellent grades peppered with the occasional not-so-great grade, but it usually balances out beautifully. This D, however, stems from one low test score and two missed assignments (which is out of character for him).

On his last report card, he had 5 As and 2 Bs. On this interim, he has 6 As and 1 D (which he'd better pull up or he'll be having a very Blue Christmas!). It's hard to rejoice over a half-dozen As when there's that lone D staring me in the face. But should it be hard? Six As are pretty impressive. And, as it stands now, if he ended up with these grade on this report card, he'd still end up with a 3.57 average and therefore make honor roll. With a D. Mind boggling.

Needless to say, there's a conference in our future. I called today to request an appointment, but I also want the resource teacher who's responsible for my son's IEP (individualized education plan) to attend in case we need to make modifications.

Not be outdone by his big brother, Son #2 also brings home a disappointing interim. One A, 4 Bs and 1 C. This is down from his last report card grades of 4 As and 2 Bs. Sigh.... While he didn't get the lowest grade in our family, he dropped in every class but one. That's perhaps more distressing that Son #1 who went up in one class and way down in another.

Son #2 is a trickier nut to crack. He's very smart, and in general, things come very easily for him - although that appears to be ending. He just likes to rush through his work, not read the directions completely. He has a completely different work ethic. Take his weekly geography assignment, for example. The teacher hands it out on Wednesday and the kids have a week to do the worksheet, using their text books. An easy A, right? Practically a gift from the teacher. How do you mess that up? By getting Bs and Cs on the worksheet? Why, I asked? Because he couldn't find all the answers. They're not all in the book, he says - but I'm skeptical.

Let's say he's right, though. He has an entire week to find the answers. And we now have highspeed internet. Heck, a week is enough time to go to the local library and check out a couple of books. But no. He finds the answers he can, guesses at the rest and turns it in the day after receiving the assignment (basically he turns it in 6 days early). I'm putting an end to that now.

If it were an issue of his not being organized, we can take steps to improve that. If he was struggling with the content, we could work on that. But how do you "fix" someone's work ethic? (Really, I'm open to suggestions.)

And for the record, I'm not completely opposed to Cs or even Ds. I'm just opposed to them for these kids. It's one thing if a child is struggling with a subject. Heck, I was that kid (math). Sometimes Cs and even Ds are reason to celebrate (or at least breathe a sigh of relief). But neither of my sons are struggling to grasp the material being taught.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* UPDATE ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As I sat looking at the dates of Son #1's missed assignments, it occurred to me that they may have been handed out on an afternoon when Son #1 wasn't feeling well and spent 20 minutes in the nurse's office before returning to class. The teacher believes that was indeed the day, so she will allow Son #1 to make up both missed assignments and deduct 10 points, which I thought was generous. He should have been more proactive in asking, "what'd I miss?" She didn't sent the assignments home though on Friday so he'll get to work on them after the Thanksgiving break.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not For the Faint of Heart

If you're the squeamish sort - especially about dental stuff - hit the "back" button NOW!


Still with me? Okay. Sunday morning in church, Son #3 (age 5 1/2) whispers to me, "Mommy, I have boo boo on my lip." He was pointed to his gum, however. I gently pull is lower lip to take a look. At the very bottom - where the lip meets the gum - was a hole. Yes, a hole.


But not just any hole. This one had - are you ready for this? - part of a tooth root (yes, ROOT) protruding. I almost fainted on the spot. Broken bones, stitches, blood? I can handle it. Tooth-related stuff? Nuh uh.


Son #3 has this pesky baby tooth that's been slightly loose for almost a year now. It's the bottom front, on the left. The permanent tooth is growing in right behind it. At his last check up in May, our dentist, Dr. C said if the tooth doesn't fall out by this upcoming visit - scheduled for Nov. 29, he would probably pull it.


I left a message on the answering machine at my dentist. They open at 9:00 a.m. on Monday so of course I was on the phone calling them again at 9:02. I know, I know. Give the receptionist a chance, sheesh. But hello? Hole? Tooth root? Come right in, she said. So we go. Son #3 meanwhile is handling it fine. It's tender, but not too bothersome to him. (Plenty bothersome to me.)


The dentist and the hygienist take a look and start saying stuff like, "Wow, would you look at that?" "Oh my, that really is a root." and my favorite: "I've never seen that before." Not what a mom wants to hear.


Dr. C used a cotton swap to push on the root to confirm that, thankfully, it's the root of the loose baby tooth and not the permanent tooth. Apparently since the permanent tooth grew in behind, and not beneath, the root of the baby tooth never dissolved as they usually do.


Dr. C is a family dentist but doesn't specialize specifically in pediatrics, nor is his office equipped to do sutures so he referred me to another dentist, Dr. Jill. Dr. C was concerned that if he pulled the baby tooth and the gum split, he wouldn't be able to stitch the gum.


Luckily, Dr. Jill's office was able to fit us in. She was able to extract the tooth without splitting the gum. Son #3 was thrilled that the tooth fairy visited him last night. As for me, I'm thrilled that the 4 1/2 hour ordeal is over.


Are you ready for a picture? It's not a great shot, but to the left of the tape measure is Son #3's baby tooth. It looks like an icicle. See the point of the root? OUCH! And it measure about 1/2 an inch. For comparison, on the right of the tape measure is Son #2's same baby tooth.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Oh the Irony...

So now that I have a faster internet connection, and can blog faster - there is nothing going on this week. Go figure.

Seriously, I don't mind quiet and uneventful, but it does make for a boring blog post.

So I leave you with this silly/gross item that was sent to me via email:


DADDY'S GONNA EAT YOUR FINGERS
This one is for everyone who a) has kids, b) had kids, c) was a kid, d) knows a kid, e) is going to have kids.

I was packing for my business trip and my three year old daughter was having a wonderful time playing on the bed. At one point she said, "Daddy, look at this" and stuck out two of her fingers. Trying to keep her entertained, I reached out and stuck her tiny fingers in my mouth and said, "Daddy's gonna eat your fingers," pretending to eat them.

I went back to packing, looked up again and my daughter was standing on the bed staring at her fingers with a devastated look on her face. I said, "What's wrong, honey?"

She replied, "What happened to my booger?"

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Air Show






Last weekend, we attended that Air Show at the Belle Chasse Naval Station in Southeast Louisiana. It was an annual event, but because of increased costs associated with the war, funding has been decreased so this was the last regular air show. They plan to still hold one every 2 or so years.


The top photo is of the F18, the F22 (Raptor - a very impressive craft), and I forget the other.


Below is a photo of My Three Sons in front of a plane. See Son #3 hugging Son #2? That never happens so I'm glad I caught it on camera.




Below is Son #3 sitting in an airplane. Can you see that he's wearing an Air Force hat?





The boys in a WWII Jeep.




Jeep also sponsored a rock climbing wall, which the older two boys enjoyed. Son #2 didn't make it all the way to the top - the atomic wedgie from the safety harness did him in. However, not only did Son #1 reach the top, he did it on the toughest section (smaller hand- and foot-holds) and did it wearing Crocs no less!







Friday, November 02, 2007

Zipping Along on the Web

We've finally come into the 20th Century (notice I didn't say 21st?). This week, we finally ditched the dialup internet. Seriously. We were probably the only ones left on dialup so you'd think someone would pay *us* to upgrade. We've switched to DSL offered through our phone company.

Personally I didn't really mind dialup. Then again, I didn't know what I was missing. Dialup was okay for me, but now that I have three kids in school with all the ensuing research, homework, etc., it was time to move up.

It's nice to be able to talk on the phone while surfing the 'net and emailing. Perhaps now Son #2 will stop giving out my cell phone number to his friends. As in: "If you call my house and get a busy signal, it's because my mom is on the computer, so call me on her cell phone." The sad thing is he gets more calls on my cell phone than I do.

So this week, I learned how to install and set up a wireless modem, a wireless adapter, add filters on my phone lines, installed a new internet program, and broke up with my old Internet Service Provider (ISP).

I started on the internet years and years ago with MindSpring. They were bought out a few years later by Earthlink. I've been happy with them all these, what? 14 years, but when it came to upgrading to DSL, they couldn't touch the deal offered by my phone company. I now have a bundle, which includes unlimited free long distance on my landline phone, highspeed internet, and two phone features I didn't have before (call waiting and caller ID). For less than the cost of Earthlink's DSL. I still have to master this new-fangled call waiting. For all of my blossoming tech prowess, I still hung up on Dear Hubby when trying to switch back to another caller. Oops.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Especially since I wasn't able to export my saved emails to my new ISP because Earthlink will only allow you to save them in one format. Apparently not one of the 10 formats my new ISP accepts. I saved the ones I wanted to my harddrive as a text file and said "goodbye" to Earthlink (whom I've been with since before my kids' births). Sad? Nah, not really. There's something very liberating about starting fresh with a nice empty in-box and not the hundreds of archived emails that I "might" need someday.

Anyway, that's why I've been slow to blog this past week (that, and the 24 cupcakes and other Room-Mom tasks I performed for Son #3's kindergarten class). I think you'll find me posting more frequently. I know I'm looking forward to reading my favorite blogs quicker and more often.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Butterflies are Free...



I planted milkweed in my garden back in the spring in hope of attracting monarch butterflies. They often lay their eggs on milkweed plants and the caterpillars eat the leaves. This fall, in addition to monarch caterpillars, we also had these nasty black and orange bugs (Son #1 calls them Assasin Bugs - I don't know if he's just making that up). Anyway, these black and orange bugs would eat the tiny monarch caterpillars.

My neighbor loaned me a couple of plastic and mesh bug houses and gave me instructions on "rescuing" the caterpillars. Yeah, yeah...I know: let nature take its course, the survival of the fittest, yada yada. But monarch butterflies are sooooo pretty.

As soon as the caterpillars were large enough not to crawl through the mesh of their "vacation home", we'd capture a few and put them inside. We'd add fresh milkweed leaves several times a day.

After they grew fat and happy, their appetites dropped off and they climbed to the ceiling of the house, attached themselves and hung in a "j" shape for a while. The caterpillar then formed its chrysalis (a process that took only a few minutes). After 10 to 14 days, viola! Butterflies!

We released them into my garden where I also have a lantana plant (mature butterflies like those, too.)




Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ouch

We joined a modest fitness center earlier this month and I finally got around to going on Wednesday. Suffice it to say it's been way too long since I've exercised and I'm feeling it now.

I rode the recumbent bike for a bit to warm up, worked with weights, then rode the bike again to cool down. I was pretty pleased with myself for sticking it out for longer than five minutes, but I forgot to take into account that the fitness center is on the second floor of a gymnastics studio. No elevator. Trying to maneuver down the stairs on my now-jello legs was a workout in itself.

I'm supposed to go back tomorrow but I'm pretty sore. (I'll probably go, but I'll take it a little easier than I did yesterday.)

I'm no longer a Weight Watchers member. I hit a plateau before summer started (I had lost 18 lbs). I haven't gained any back since then, but I think I've lost all I can just by portion control and counting points. It's time to - gasp! - exercise! Ironically, I did lose two pounds since quitting WW three weeks ago. Go figure.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's Been a While...

Over a week since my last post (sorry!). It's been one of those busy-doing-not-much weeks. You moms know what I mean. Dear Hubby spent three nights in Cleveland on business which threw our usual routine off.

Then there was the Cub Scout Family Camp Out this past weekend. Dear Hubby is cubmaster so he was obligated to get there early. My cub scout, Son #2, didn't arrive until mid-morning Saturday because he had a baseball game. (His team won 9 to 3.) Oh and I had to go vote before the game. I arrived at the state park around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday with all three sons.

Since the state park is only two and a half miles from our house, I opted to sleep in my own bed. "Lights out" is at 9:00 p.m., which is simply too early for a night owl like myself. Considering that most people don't start waking until 6:00 a.m., those nine hours sleeping on the ground would just be too much for my aching back. I left the campground after the campfire so I didn't miss much - except for the whole sleeping on the ground thing.

Today I was "summoned" for jury duty but I wasn't selected. While I was sort of curious as to what it's all about (and I didn't want to be one of "those" people who would try to wheedle out of their civic duty), I *am* relieved. And a tad disappointed. All the trials this week were scheduled to be criminal cases, which might have been interesting. I do enjoy my Court TV.

However, had I been selected, it would've been a challenge to get all three kids off to school in the morning (did I mention that all three attend different schools?) and still make it to the courthouse on time. I had already lined up a relative to meet the kids' buses in the afternoon, but that's moot now.

So I have my week back. I'll spend it helping Son #1 with his science fair project, and doing room mom stuff for Son #3's kindergarten class (Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 29 - Nov. 2). I did just join a fitness center. It might be nice to actually go to that.

So, as I said. Busy doing not much.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her."

A friend sent me an email the other day. It was one of those fowarded to a friend of a friend of a friend deals. The message was nice enough - intended to be uplifting - but it wasn't particularly memorable until the final line, which I posted above.

Wow. If I had only learned that 25 or so years ago, I could've spared myself a lot of heartaches (not to mention headaches). I thought, if I had a daughter, this is something I would want to share with her. But I have three boys. I'm sure there's a lesson there for them as well. Perhaps it would be to seek the woman who isn't trying so desperately to seek attention.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

250th Post!


We live in Louisiana where our counties are called "parishes." This past weekend we went to our Parish Fair. We had a nice time. We went on a few rides - not many, though, because ride tickets were expensive (in my opinion). Sons #2 and #3 went on their first ferris wheel rides with Dear Hubby. I don't like heights so Son #1 and I walked around.

Sons #1 and #3 went with me on the spinning strawberry ride (similar to the tea cup ride at Disney). We get to control how fast we spin, which means we spun fastfastfast!

We also checked out the 4H exhibits. Below are some more photos.




Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ready for Parenthood?

My sister sent this to me in an email and I thought it was funny. And sadly, true. ;-)

MESS TEST
Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.

TOY TEST
Obtain a 55 gallon box of Legos (or you may substitute roofing tacks). Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream because this would wake a child at night.

GROCERY STORE TEST
Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you as you shop. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.

DRESSING TEST
Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus. Stuff into a small net bag making sure that all the arms stay inside.

FEEDING TEST
Obtain a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from the ceiling with a cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal into the mouth of the jug, while pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug on the floor.

NIGHT TEST
Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag and fill it with 8-12 pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 3:00p.m. begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00p.m. Lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10:00p.m.Get up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these too until 4:00a.m. Set alarm for 5:00a.m. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

INGENUITY TEST
Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and pot of paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take a toilet paper tube and turn it into an attractive Christmas candle. Use only scotch tape and a piece of foil. Last, take a milk carton, a ping-pong ball, and an empty box of Cocoa Puffs. Make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower.

AUTOMOBILE TEST
Forget the BMW and buy a station wagon. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a dime. Stick it into the cassette player. Take a family size package of chocolate chip cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There, perfect.

PHYSICAL TEST (Women)
Obtain a large bean bag chair and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for 9 months. Now remove 10 of the beans. And try not to notice your closet full of clothes. You won't be wearing them for a while.

PHYSICAL TEST (Men)
Go to the nearest drug store. Set your wallet on the counter. Ask the clerk to help himself. Now proceed to the nearest food store. Go to the head office and arrange for your paycheck to be directly deposited to the store. Purchase a newspaper. Go home and read it quietly for the last time.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT
Find a couple who already have a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet training and child's table manners. Suggest many ways
they can improve. Emphasize to them that they should never allow their children to run wild. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you will have all the answers.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Favorite Quotes

I don't really have much to post about today, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite quotes:

  • "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing." Thomas Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson has obviously never met my kids.)

  • "You are who you are when no one else is looking." Unknown.

  • "What lies behind up and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, here are just a few of my favorites. What are your favorite quotes? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Money Matters

Okay, so last week I blogged about Son #1 finding a $10 bill not once, but twice. He was able to reunite the first ten bucks with its rightful owner. No real chance of that with the second bill he found.

At his request I emailed his teacher to see if he received his $10 back from the other kid (click here if your memory needs refreshing). He replied that he had.

Son #1 and I will research a couple of local charities and I'll let him choose which one he wants to donate the money to, I'll match his contribution, and we'll hand-deliver it so he can see them in action.

A few days ago, I go to McDonald's drive-thru and order an unsweetened ice tea. As I pull out of the parking lot and stop at the red light, I started putting my change away. That's when I realized the McD's employee gave me a dollar too much change. Yes, I went back and returned it, but just in case this is karma's way of telling me it wants us to have more money, I'm going to buy a powerball ticket (kidding).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Life Expectancy

A friend sent me a link to this via email. It's one of those online life expectancy calculators. You answer a bunch of questions and it tells you how old you "really" are and how old you can expect to live.

Of course, it's a bunch of hooey. No one on this earth knows for sure when our time is up. But it was good for a giggle.

Here's the site: http://www.poodwaddle.com/realage.swf

And here's what it said about me:

Biological Age: 42

Real Age: 25.8

Average Life Expectancy: 75

My Life Expectancy: 90.2

It's been a long time since I was mistaken for 25 years old (probably about 20 years, actually). I must admit it was flattering even if it was by a computer program.

Then it goes on to tell me that my life expectancy is 18,000 more days. And to think I wasted this one grocery shopping!

Again, this link is meant for fun only.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Aliases

For some reason, Son #3 (he's 5) has never seemed satisfied with his name. I think it's a perfectly nice name (or I wouldn't have selected it) and it's one that has options (nicknames).

Nevertheless, he'll periodically come up with alternatives. At various times, he's requested that we call him....

1) Obi Wan Kenobi (kinda catchy, but doesn't go with our last name)
2) Chester (um, no)
3) Michael (okay, not bad since he dropped the "Jackson")

Now he wants to be called:

Ovento Burrito

what the heck????

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"OH NO! NOT AGAIN!!!"

That's a quote from Son #1 tonight. I teach his 7th grade CCD class (religion class). After class ended, we were waiting outside in the square (1) to make sure all of my students had been picked up by their parents, and (2) for Son #2 and my nephew to meet us so we could ride home together.

Son #1 was perched on the railings to the steps when he happened to glance down on the ground and find -- a ten dollar bill. Actually, it's *another* $10 bill if you've been following my previous two posts. His first words were, "What should I do, Mom? Turn it in to the office? Donate it?"

Since the likelihood of finding its owner is very slim, I told him I'd email the CCD coordinator letting her know we found some cash in case anyone mentioned to her that they've lost it. If we don't hear anything within a few weeks, then we'll have a decision to make. Do we consider it his lucky day? If he spends it at the upcoming church fair, will that count as a donation? Do we donate it to our church's "poor box" (benefitting the St. Vincent de Paul Society)? If so, how much? Is this karma's way of rewarding him for being so honest and generous earlier this week?

Or is it a test of some sort? Ironically, today's gospel reading and homily were about the parable of the steward who cheated his employer of money.

Luke 16:10-13

Jesus said to his disciples: “The person who is trustworthy in very small mattersis also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

A man who is trustworthy in the little things will be trustworthy in the big things.

Hmmmmm.....

But, really, what are the odds? Finding not one, but two $10 bills in a single week?

Incidentally, I think he's leaning towards donating all of it to charity. But he did muse, "I wonder if Mr. R (his teacher) ever got his $10 back from A. (the kid who initially claimed the first $10 as his own)?"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Honesty is its Own Reward

This is an update to my previous post. Son #1's teacher did indeed receive my email and got the three boys together to sort it all out. Here's the official story: A (the boy who claimed the money) is in the English as a Second Language program. When Son #1 asked A, "Did you lose this money?" A said he thought Son #1 was offering him the money (as in, do you want this money?). So naturally he said yes.

The teacher gave H (who actually lost the money) $10 from his own wallet. A now sees the misunderstanding and was to bring the money to the teacher today. The teacher sent Son #1 home with my money - I didn't have the heart to make Son #1 drain his piggy bank. He also emailed me a nice note about how impressed he was with Son #1's integrity.

So now I hope everyone is happy. Except perhap A who must have thought he was attending the friendliest school ever.

All's well that ends well.

[I let Son #1 keep the $10.]

Monday, September 17, 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Son #1 didn't have a wonderful day in school today. It started off well enough, but in 3rd Period Social Studies, he found a $10 bill on the floor between his seat and the one next to him. Son #1 is not the type to quietly pocket the money for himself. He asked the boy in the seat next to him - I'll call him A - if the money belonged to him and A said that it did. Son #1 did his good deed for the day, right?

Not quite. Later in the day, at lunch time, a boy in the same Social Studies class - I'll call this one H - asked Son #1 whether he found money. Why he waited so long to ask, I do not know. H sits in the seat directly in front of Son #1, so it very well may have been H's money and not A's.

Son #1 felt so badly that he was duped into giving the money to the wrong kid that he promised to bring ten dollars of his own money to school tomorrow and give it to H. That's the price of an innocent mistake in the 7th grade, apparently.

Here's the worst part: I feel compelled to give my son lessons on how to be cynical. For example, next time one finds money, one should conceal it in one's hand before asking, "Did you lose any money?" If the person says yes, then one should say, "Can you tell me how much? In what denomination?" If the person says "a 5 dollar bill" and you're holding a ten, then you know they're yanking your chain.

I'll admit that I'm much more suspicious than Son#1, which is why in general he views the world as a much better place than I do. How do I know the money was A's? How do I know it belongs to H?

For the record I considered sending a check, with a detailed note, so the parent would have to read the note and cash the check. A minor inconvenience for the boy, unfortunately, but hey, a bigger inconvenience for me. However, I decided against that because I don't whether the check would go the "right" person (i.e. was H the one who really lost the money) and I didn't want my bank account info out there, you know what I mean? (See? I really am a cynic at times.)

I ultimately emailed the teacher enlisting his help (I haven't heard back yet). Here's what I said (of course I used the real names):

Mr. [Teacher's Name],

I'm wondering whether you might be able to help Son #1 with a situation. Son #1 is in your 3rd period. He spotted a $10 bill on the floor in your classroom, in between his chair and A's. He knew it wasn't his (and it's not in nature to pocket the cash without attempting to find its owner) so he naturally asked A if it belonged to him. A said "yes" so Son #1 gave him the money.

At lunch, H asked Son #1 whether he found money. (H sits in front of Son #1). Son #1 replied that he had, but that A claimed the money as his own. Understand that Son #1 is a very generous-hearted individual and felt terribly that H was out of his $10 so Son #1 offered to give H his own money.

Son #1 and I discussed that perhaps a better tactic would have been to turn the money in to you and let you deal with it.

Obviously, Son #1 is very upset about the whole ordeal - probably more upset that he was lied to than he is over paying $10. Personally, I don't feel Son #1 should owe anyone money. It was, after all, an innocent mistake on his part. However, he is - as he put it - "a man of his word" and doesn't feel that H should be out of the money, either.

Before any more cash changes hands, would you please discuss the matter with the parties involved and see if in fact the money was H's (and if so, whether A will do the right thing)?

I'm sending Son #1 to school with a copy of this email and an envelope containing $10 with instructions to give to you. If the child who is missing the money cannot get it back from the person who has it, please send the envelope home with him.

I'm open to suggestions if you have any.

Thank you in advance,

I'm curious - how would you have handled it? Dear Hubby doesn't think Son #1 owes anyone money, and I agree, but I get "But I promised" from Son #1.

Who knew that raising an ethical child would cost me $10. ;-) (The money I'm sending is my own, not his.)



Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Great Quote

"For those who know me, no explanation is necessary;
for those who don't, none is possible."
  • It's been attributed to a couple of people, but I've seen it attributed most frequently to Yogi Berra. Frankly, it sums up how I'm feeling these days. ;-)

  • There's not a lot to report here. Kids are doing well in school although Son #3 complains every morning that he wants to stay home. He's in kindergarten, people! And he's only been at it for three weeks. He's simply not a morning person. I keep trying to adjust his bedtime so that he'll wake in a better mood, but really. It's not practical to put him to bed at 5 p.m. Ha ha!

  • We're finally getting some much needed rain, courtesy of Tropical Storm (briefly Hurricane) Humberto. I'm going to keep this short so I can dash off and check your blogs.

  • (For some reason, when I preview, there aren't any breaks between my paragraphs, despite my using the "hard return". I ended up using bullets just to get the space. Anyone have any ideas?)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Eyes Wide Open

No longer squinting through 5-year old glasses (two prescriptions ago). Today I made my third visit in just under two weeks to the optometrist. Both corneas are looking much, much better, he said. No more sign of dry eyes.

He gave me a sample pair of different contact lenses, Accuvue Oasys, made especially for folks with drier eyes, which I am now wearing and loving. The astigmatism in my right eye has gotten worse over the past couple of years, but it's doesn't seems to noticeably impact my vision unless I close one eye and look out the other. And, let's face it, why would I do that?

In order to correct the astigmatism, I'd need to switch to toric contact lenses, but those aren't recommended for dry eyes so the barely perceptible lack of 'crispness' in the vision in my right eye is a minor detail.

I also ordered a new pair of glasses with my updated prescription which I hope to only rarely wear. I go back in two weeks for a follow up. If the dry eye condition doesn't return, we'll place the order for my new contacts.

In the grand scheme of things, glasses versus contacts is not such a big drama...but I'm just not a glasses kind of gal.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Moving Forward...

I hope everyone had a nice Labor Day. My father-in-law barbecued, so that kept us entertained most of the day.

Not much is new here. My followup appointment yesterday with my optometrist was encouraging. As you may recall, I went last week for an eye exam and he said my corneas looked very "rough" - usually a sign of very dry eyes. That was news to me, but I followed his directions and used the better over-the-counter eye drops made for severe dry eyes (Systane, TheraTears) and wore glasses only. He said my right eye is almost completely healed and my left looks much better. He says to continue with the glasses/eye drops for a few more days and go back on Friday. Although he didn't come right out and say it, I'm cautiously optimistic that I may be able to return to wearing contact lenses (although hopefully a different brand). I don't do well with glasses.

I received my blood test results in the mail this afternoon. The doctor who performed my physical last week said she'd call if there was anything suspicious; otherwise, she'd send a letter. My total cholesterol is up a bit. It's still the high end of normal though. I've not been exercising like I should, but I do eat a low fat diet (thanks to Weight Watchers). The Prevacid seems to be working on my acid reflux. She gave me an 8 week supply of samples. If it's cleared up by then, then I don't need to go back for another year ... unless I get sick, of course.

I'm gearing up to teach 7th grade CCD (Catholic Religion Class) this year. I teach Son #1's class. We start this Sunday evening.

Son #3 has had an interesting year with the school bus. He started kindergarten on Aug. 20th. We learned four days prior to the start of the school year that Mr. Doug will no longer be the bus driver on this route since he'll now be driving for a different school/age group. Mr. Doug was Son #1's bus driver when we moved to this area in 2001. He drove Son #1 from 1st through 3rd grades, then Son #2 from kindergarten through 3rd grade. (Our elementary school only goes up to 3rd grade. Middle School is 4th - 6th grades.) We'd exchange pleasantries.

He was around when I would waddle to the bus stop when I was pregnant with Son #3, and then got to know Son #3 when we'd go together to meet his big brothers at the bus stop. Son #3 was very much looking forward to riding Mr. Doug's bus. But nope. Instead he got a different bus driver who didn't seem to have great control over the kids on her bus (she'd have to get out of her seat after every stop to get everyone situated). Son #3 said she "yelled a lot."

Last week, we receive a note that they'll be another bus serving our neighborhood instead, effective Tuesday. Well, yesterday - Day #1 for the new (our 3rd) bus - did not get off to a great start. The driver was trying to maneuver a turn and accidentally scratched a parked vehicle. Our neighborhood streets are narrow with ditches on the sides of many roads so I can see where it could be difficult. This occurred at the bus stop two blocks from ours so we got to watch and wait...and wait... Finally my neighbor had enough and decided to drive her kids to school. She had an extra booster seat in her van so Son #3 rode with her (he's friends with her kids).

To the bus driver's credit, she stayed on the bus with the kids and called the authorities, the school board's hot line, etc. per protocol. She did manage to get the kids home in the afternoon despite the pouring rain. Son #3 says she yells, too. One of my concerns is that although the bus is called "206" and has a sign taped to the window to that effect, the bus itself is painted with a different number.

This morning, things went better if you can call it that. I was appalled when the bus pulled up to our stop that there were at least 4 kindergartners (I can tell by the mandatory kindergarten tote bags) STANDING in the aisle by the first row of seats, right behind the driver. Standing. The bus was no where filled to capacity so Son #3 and the kids at his stop had to squeeze past the standing kids to get an available seat. I asked the bus driver why there were kids standing and she said she was "going to assign seats." Fine. But that still didn't answer my question. Did I mention that - not be an age-ist - that she's about 25 years old? If that. How much experience driving a bus - loaded with 5 to 8 year olds - can she have?

The answer? None, apparently. But she did have 7 weeks of training, the assistant principal explained to my neighbor when she called the school to express her concern.

I'm thinking that Son #3 is going to become a car rider. Oy vey!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rest In Peace, Precious Angel

Our beautiful, beloved retired greyhound, Echo (racing name: Echol's Guard), died today at the much-too-young age of 5 1/5. We're not sure what happened. He went out in the yard to do his business and stretch his legs. He had fresh full bowl of water. He tried to dig a hole under the gate but didn't make much progress. Greyhounds are very susceptible to extreme temperatures, which is why they must be an indoor dog and only allowed outside for short periods (as Echo was). It wasn't as hot as it had been recently. I don't know if perhaps the physical exertion of digging was too much, or something else was wrong. He's now buried in the backyard under the tree. We're heartbroken.


To read more about Echo, click here.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mother's birthday. I tried calling earlier (she lives a thousand miles away) and she wasn't home. Not surprising. I'm sure she was out having fun. Hope you had a great day, Mom!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Whew! I'm Glad That's Over (Part 1)

Okay, just to give you a hint of my state of mind the past week or so: Not Good. You know that "the baby" started kindergarten on Aug. 20 leaving me Home Alone...and bored. There's only so many times one can clean the bathroom before it gets boring (once, to be precise).

I've made a few missteps this past week. 1) I didn't factor in any fun little errands (a quick trip to Starbucks or the craft store, for example). It's odd because I had no problem going out and spending money when it was "Son #3 and me." Now that it's just me, I'm finding it very hard.

2) I thought it might be a good idea to work on a budget for our family so I checked out a few books from the library on the subject. Yawn.

3) I also realized that we've procrastinated long enough. It's time to think about estate planning (wills versus trusts, long term health care, etc.). Normally, I'm not afraid to confront my mortality in the list. However, it's been nearly 7 years since I've had a complete physical (ob/gyn visits not withstanding)...

4) I've decided to catch up on my long overdue routine medical checkups. Here's my general thought about healthcare: Ignorance is bliss. You go to the doctor, they'll find something wrong. You don't go, well, ignorance is bliss. Except what you don't know can kill you, so I'm trying to revise my thinking. (Note: this does not apply to Dear Hubby or kids. Mandatory checks ups for all.)

The combination of finances (which aren't bad, but nor are they where I want them to be), anxiety about putting off my physical, reading about estates, wills, probate, etc. is not a good one for my first weeks solo. It's left me in a rather maudlin mood in fact, convinced that they'll find Something Seriously Wrong, although I have no reason whatsoever to suspect that would be the case. I really should've eased into being a responsible adult. ha ha.

Why, oh why couldn't I have started off reading fluff, non-fiction books instead?

My physical today went well with my new doctor. I liked her a lot. She gets my sense of humor and didn't fuss at me for neglecting my health. My acid reflux has flared up in the past week. It's the first time in a couple of years. The doctor loaded me up with samples of Prevacid and if that doesn't clear it up in 8 weeks, then I'll go back so she can check out my upper GI. I optimistic the meds will do the trick though since it's not something that bothers me chronically (knock wood).

She also sent me for routine blood work. As I sat in the lab's waiting room, the nurse called four of us in at one time. She had two women sit on a bench, one man sit in one chair and me in the other chair. I didn't like the chair. It was too big. Once I sat far enough back for my back to reach the backrest, my feet wouldn't reach the floor. I felt like I was 6 years old. Then the two nurses start drawing blood from the man in the chair and one of the women on the bench. I'm thinking to myself, great, I hate needles. I'm a big baby. I look like a little kid in this oversized chair and if I cry it'll be in front of these other patients. Not that I've ever cried at routine blood tests before, but nevertheless.... Fortunately, I was the last to have blood drawn so the other patients had already left and the nurse moved me to the bench where I could sit with my feet actually touching the floor. I told her I'm not a fan of needles so she pulled out the smallest butterfly needle. Score! It was smooth sailing from there.

I have a couple of other routine tests scheduled over the next few weeks.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Time Flies....(NOT!)

I was surprised at how long it's been since I've blogged. It's not like I've been having a blast. Time flies when you're having fun, you know. It apparently sometimes flies when you're bored.

If I had to sum up what I've been doing with my days of "freedom" (since Son #3 started kindergarten), I'd have to say napping. And doing chores. And the occasional errand.

All's going well with the kids in school so far.

Today I went to the optometrist for a long overdue eye exam. It did not go well. The technician did my pre-screening and with my contacts lenses in. My vision with contacts was 20/25 in one eye and 20/40 in the other. I knew that I wasn't seeing as clearly out of one eye. I chalked it up to age.

The doctor came in (after I removed my contact lenses) and he had me look through the various lenses at the eye chart. He'd ask, "which is clearer? A?" then flip the lens "Or B?" The problem was, while one might be a teensy bit less fuzzy, none of them were clear.

In otherwords, he couldn't get my vision to 20/20 with the lens thing-y. He put this goop (lumescin, or something like that) on my eyes and looked at me through this fluorescent light scope. He asked whether my eyes are ever itchy or burning (they aren't).

He said my corneas were very rough, which he attributed to very dry eyes. News to me. Unless it's allergy season (when I'm congested and sneezy) or I'm in a smoky area (which is rare), I rarely use eyedrops at all.

He wants me to use Thera Tears 4 times a day for the next week, wear glasses only (ACK!) and go back next Tuesday morning. Hopefully there will be an improvement and we can continue with the exam. Other than roughness, my corneas looked fine (clear, not diseased or infected). I hope I'm not going to give up contacts permanently. I've been wearing soft contact lenses since they first came out nearly 30 years ago (since I was two - kidding!). I've never liked myself in glasses, so I'm hoping I won't have to give up the contacts permanently. We'll see...

Other than that, not much is new here. Tonight is Son #2's first baseball practice of the fall season, and tomorrow is Open House at his school. Perhaps I'll have more to say then.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

1st Day of Kindergarten

Yesterday was Son #3's first day of kindergarten. He had a really great day. Better than mine apparently. Here's a photo of him in his school uniform: navy blue polo (plain or with a school logo) and khaki shorts or pants (girls can also wear skirts or skorts). Kindergarteners are required to carry the school totebag, rather than a backpack. This is so the adults can spot the youngest students more easily.


No separation anxiety for my little guy. He climbed right on the bus, sat next to his cousin and didn't glance back.

After the bus pulled away, Dear Hubby went to work and PawPaw (who came to see Son #3 off) went home. I went back to the house to finish reading the newspaper and feel sorry for myself, when Son #2 calls from his school. They apparently changed the menu in the cafeteria and instead of chicken tenders, which Son #2 likes, they would be serving spaghetti, which Son #2 does not like. Would I please bring him a peanut butter sandwich before 11:15? See, I'm still needed. ;-)

I made his sandwich, attended morning Mass at church, dropped the lunch at the Son #2's school, and went to the department store. By the time I was finished there at 10:45, I was soooooo bored. I *really* have to get used to the quiet and to finishing my errands in 1/3 the usual time.

I then went to Barnes & Noble (Son #1 needed a thesaurus and there was a book I wanted to look at). I ordered an iced cafe mocha and just sat down in the cafe' section when my cell phone rang. I was my friend from California (bless you, Sandie, for calling at the perfect moment) so we shared a cup of coffee long distance. Sandie kept me amused for an hour and 45 minutes (bless you, Verizon, for free in-network calls).

That significantly shortened my pity-party. It was time to head home, do a couple of chores, check email and meet Son #2's bus. Son #1 arrived an hour later, and Son #3's bus arrived about 15 minutes later.

Son #3 enjoyed himself, except he didn't eat much of his sandwich - opting, instead, to fill up on the grapes I packed for him. He also didn't get a milk in the cafeteria because he "couldn't find" the milk money in his lunch bag. It was in the tiny zippered pocket exactly where I said it was. Oh well, he'll get the hang of it.

Son #2 also had a good day, as did Son #1, who was very excited about getting an A on his first Spanish quiz and his first spelling test.

Today is Day 2 of kindergarten, and Day 2 of my newfound 'freedom.' I went to morning Mass again, then took the minivan (which is named Steve, for those of you who do not know) for a car wash and oil change. Yesiree, I'm living the exciting life now! (yawn)


Thursday, August 16, 2007

But I'm Not Even *IN* School!

What a week it's shaping up to be! Not a bad one, mind you. Just busy. Son #2 is doing well in 5th grade. No big surprises. Of course, he's adjusting to a new teacher, but he's at the same school with the same friends as last year. We're just trying to get settled into the new routine and learn what the teacher expects. Open House at the school isn't for another week or so. I should have a better handle on things by then. Son #2 is a good student. Things tend to come easily for him so he doesn't necessarily put forth his best effort. We're working on developing a better work ethic, because let's face it, at some point things will stop coming so easily for him and he'll need a back up plan that doesn't include coasting on his good looks, manners and sense of humor.

Son #1 seems to be adapting well to Junior High. The big leagues. Changing classes for all courses. He hasn't been assigned a locker yet - that should happen next week once everyone's schedules are pretty much set (some "tweaking" of the schedules is still going on - not for my son, though).

Today is the first day that he'll have to change into gym clothes for Phys. Ed. class. I'm curious to see how that will work out. The school sells a gym uniform for $15, or they can wear a plain white t-shirt and plain navy gym shorts. We've opted for the latter so far. I'm not opposed to buying a gym uniform with the school logo on it, but right now a 5-pack of white Hanes t-shirts costs less than $5 at Walmart and I found 3 pair of navy shorts are Kmart for 4 each.
  • 3 gym uniforms + 2 extra shirts = $17
  • Not having to do laundry every night = Priceless

I'm a little worried about Spanish class. He does not have a text book. I know some schools are getting away from that, but Son #1 is not a great "auditory" learner. I hope they have books but perhaps haven't distributed them yet because the lockers haven't been assigned. In the meantime, he does have an excellent memory and that will help him with his vocabulary words.

He's also expected to do a science project this year, so we'll have to get online for some realistic ideas. Of course I'm not doing any of the work for him, but we do go through each notebook everyday - organization is a challenge for ADHD kids, and his organization skills are just emerging. It almost feels like I'm back in the 7th grade again, except I have clearer skin and finally outgrew the training bra, but I digress....

Then there's the paperwork. Lots of paperwork. Those of you have kids know what I mean. There are far fewer forms required to buy a house than it takes to get your kid settled in school. I have 3 kids, so that's 3 times the paperwork.

My kids are each at a different school which means I have to join 3 different PTAs. Don't count of seeing me at the meetings though. I don't have a lot of patience to sit through them - especially the reading of the previous meeting's minutes (Hellloooo? If I wanted to know what happened at the last meeting, I would have attended the last meeting. Sorry. That's me being snarky) and the budget stuff. As I mentioned in previous posts, I'm a "Slacker Mom" (I should make that one of the labels on my blog). I just can't participate in every fundraiser for 3 schools and two scouting organizations (cub scouts and boy scouts). I cannot bankrupt my in-law's, sorry.

Then there are the school fees. Lunch fee for the month, Supply fee to offset the photocopying expenses, PTA fee, Lab fee. Of course, each one requires a separate check.

Son #3 went for his kindergarten assessment on Tuesday so I picked up his packet and got a jump on that paperwork. His assessment went well. On the first day of school, the teacher will read a book - I forget the title - about a raccoon who goes to school but will miss his mom, so she kisses the palm of his hand. Momma Raccoon tells her son that if he gets lonely all he has to do is press his palm to his cheek and remember the love. I heard a similar story years before the book was published (1993) so my boys are very familiar with Mommy's Magic Kiss on their palm that cannot be washed off and will not wear away no matter what.

While Son #3 was in the class with the teacher for his testing, I sat in the hallway and completed my "assignment" - a construction paper cutout of my hand pasted on a larger piece of construction paper and a personal note. After reading the story on Monday, which will sound vaguely familiar to Son #3, the teacher will have the parents' "hands" in case the kids get lonely. Cute idea. The kids should be pleasantly surprised.

Meanwhile, I've been too busy to whine about how lonely I'll be on Monday... :-)

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Great First Day of School

First Day of School for Sons #1 and #2 was Friday, August 10th. Son #3 starts kindergarten on Monday, August 20th.

Despite almost missing the bus, Son #1 had a really good day at school. We were walking to the bus stop a block and a half away at least five minutes prior to the time recommended by the driver when the bus pulls up, picks up the kids and takes off. Darn. Fortunately, I knew the route and knew that we had a chance to race three blocks in the opposite direction and catch the very last stop, which Son #1 did - just in a nick of time. As Son #3 and I were walking back home, the bus driver stopped to let me know that he passes the first stop on the way out of the subdivision so that if we miss it the first time, he'll stop there a second time on the way out. Good to know.

Son #1 is 7th grade now. Junior High. The Big Leagues - changing clothes in gym class, changing classes, having a locker, etc.

As I mentioned in earlier posts Son #1 had trouble with this bully who has been in his class for the past three years. (Click here for a brief history, and here for our recent efforts to head off additional trouble.) This past Spring, Bully started smacking Son #1 in the back of the head several times a day and after three weeks, Son #1 finally has enough and strikes back. Yes, we've discussed dealing with problems as they arise...

Anyway, as I've blogged a couple of months ago, I learned that the Bully would have the identical school schedule as Son #1 ... all 7 classes. I also learned that Son #1 did not get his first choice of elective, Spanish. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive at the thought of his taking Spanish because of his speech impairment, but it'll be required in high school so I allowed him to request it. Truthfully, I wasn't disappointed to learn that he would take Agricultural Sciences instead. Son #1 has had all summer to get used to the idea of All Bully/No Spanish.

However, the principal - which whom I recently discussed my concerns about the Bully - really came through for us in more ways than one.

Son #1 got off the bus - so excited. Bully is in only *one* class (Social Studies) with Son #1. And Son #1 is indeed taking Spanish as an elective now. Ay Carumba! Had I known this earlier, I would've spend the summer working on the basics with him.

Son #2 also had a very good first day of school, but for Son #1 it was

The. Best. School. Day. Ever.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I was chatting via "comments" on my last post with Nadine, who is an author. Clearly I have issues with criticism. I also have equally huge issues with positive feedback. Go figure.

I completely agree with Nadine's statement about creating just for the joy of it. On the flip side, isn't art something that's best shared (generally speaking)?

Back when I was in college, I actually resorted to leaving some of my art projects at school - I conveniently managed to be absent - simply because I didn't want to see the grade/comments. Never picked them up. I must've done well enough on them because I got an A in the class.

Perhaps it's less an issue of whether or not I - an uber left-brainer - am capable of being creative and artistic (right-brain traits). Rather, perhaps I've spent so much time over the past 20 years nurturing my left side of the brain and neglected my artistic side. Let's face it, as a former secretary and manager, and as a mother of three, logic, reasoning and organization certainly comes it handy.

But even assuming that I do have a creative, artistic streak, how do I learn to embrace the subjective (art is, after all, highly subjective)? As a left brainer, I'm used to dealing with absolutes, black and white, right and wrong. The numbers either add up or they don't. The sentence is either grammatically correct or it isn't.

How does an author who has already received six rejection letters, muster the strength to send their manuscript to the seventh publisher on their list? I just hate, hate, hate putting myself out there. Even when I worked as a secretary, I hated performance evaluations. I knew I did a good - no, excellent - job, but sitting there across the table from my boss and listening to her say wonderful things about me? Ugh! I'd literally start feeling nauseous days before the review. Dreaded it worse than a trip to the dentist.

So what's the secret recipe to embracing feedback - all feedback? It certainly must include a healthy dose of self-esteem. Mix in an unwavering belief in one's own talent. Perhaps a pinch of "Aw, what does he know, anyway?" Hmmmm....what's missing? :-)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Can a Left Brained Person Be an Artist?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m wondering whether there’s a repressed artist inside of me. (If so, it must be very, very repressed – squashed, practically – since I scored “right brained” on only 2 questions versus 16 for "left brained".) Anyway, is this inner artist something to take seriously, or is it merely my neglected creative side acting up for attention?

So, am I artistic or creative? Hmmm. Tough one. (Setting aside the above-mentioned test results for a moments.)

I took Art in high school and college and did pretty well as I recall, with watercolor, and drawing in pencil and pen & ink. I look back at my college sketchbooks and some of the stuff looks okay, others are sort of amateurish. I’ve generally considered myself to be able to learn the skills, but clueless as to whether I have that “it” that makes one an artist. I haven’t attempted to draw in over 20 years.

Writing. That’s another interest. Can one be a writer without anything to say? That’s a dilemma now isn’t it? I admire folks, like Nadine, who have written a book. In school I earned A’s in composition and writing classes, but let’s face it. The emphasis was on sentence structure, grammar and presenting a persuasive argument. Again, learned skills, but are they necessarily the traits of an artist? (Or my left brain's natural ability to break things down into steps.)

I’d love to take a creative writing class at the community college. I think it would be fun now that it wouldn’t count for anything (i.e. part of my overall grade point average).

Ooh, then there’s jewelry design. I’ve taken classes in lampworking (glass bead making), actual jewelry making (forming precious metal, soldering, stone setting – loved it! But it was expensive and I haven’t been able to find classes locally). Lately, I’ve been playing around with beaded jewelry – you may have seen the photos on my blog before, but here are a few. I’ve never looked into selling anything at craft shows, consignment shops, etc.

About two years ago, I found a watercolor book/kit at Barnes & Noble. Step by step instructions, all materials included, etc. I have yet to put the brush to the paper though. I just can’t take that first step.

Ditto with scrapbooking. I’ve accumulated tons of the stuff (paper, scissors, stamps, die cuts, album, sheet protectors, etc.). I’ve even selected the photos, but again, I can’t just take the plunge.

I think my problem (just one???) is that I hate feedback of any kind. Compliments are just as painful to me as criticism. So perhaps that is what’s squashing the artist within. When it comes to my kids, I have all the answers: art is subjective so what’s pleasing to one person may not be appealing to another; art is a personal expression so it can’t be “wrong” (despite what Mrs. C, Son’s #1’s first grade teacher years ago, said), and so forth.

So how do artists not take criticism (or compliments) personally? Anyone? Bueller?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Right Brained, Left Brained or Scatter Brained?

You’ve heard it before: right brained people are artistic and creative and deal well with shapes, patterns, while left brained people are logical and tend to deal well with numbers and words. But what if you’re not sure which you are? Oh I get the general idea from various personality assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators and the like, that I am among other things:

* logical,
* detail oriented,
* analytical,
* more of an introvert, than an extrovert
* a collaborator, rather than a leader (Are you yawning yet? I am.)

However, I’m starting to wonder whether there’s a suppressed (repressed?) artist somewhere inside of me. I’ve been perusing a book called Doing Work You Love by Cheryl Gilman (I found it on the $2 table at Barnes & Noble three weeks ago). It’s actually pretty good, but sometimes a little new agey. (The section of consulting a psychic? Uh no, thanks. The section on interview techniques? Better.) So, has it helped me find the work I love? Not exactly, but it has helped me identify the work I hate, so that’s a start.

One of the exercises I liked involved prioritizing. Here’s how it works. First, start by numbering the paper 1 through 10. Next, write thing that’s important to you next to each number. Don’t worry about listing them in any kind of order. Write them as they come to you. Ranking them will come later.

Once you have the 10 things jotted down, compare #1 to #2. Put a check by whichever is more important. Next, compare #1 to #3, then #1 to #4, and so forth. After comparing #1 to #10, move on to #2, comparing it to #3 (remember, it’s not necessary to compare #2 to the one above it, because you already did then when you compared #1 to #2). Don’t forget the check marks. Compare #2 to #4, then #2 to #5, and continue on with the list. When you're finished, count up the check marks for each item.

It was interesting to see which things ended up with the most checkmarks. My final list – now ranked in order of importance – is:

1. Time for my family & friends (no surprise there)
2. Helping/Collaborating with others
3. Creativity
4. Flexibility (this tied with #3)
5. Slightly larger house (higher on the list than I would have thought)
6. Autonomy/not being stuck in one place all day long
7. Exercise more (ok, I just put it on the list because I thought it should be there, not because I necessarily wanted it to be there. Nevertheless, it ranked higher than I expected.)
8. Make decent $
9. Time for volunteering (this was tied with #8. I thought it would’ve ranked higher, actually)
10. Write

These items represent my motivators. It was a neat exercise. Try it if you bored sometime. The results might just surprise you.

By the way, if you're curious as to which side of your brain is dominant, here's a brief online quiz:

http://brain.web-us.com/brain/braindominance.htm

Friday, August 03, 2007

Job or Hobby?

With Son #3 (my baby) starting kindergarten on August 20, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I should do with my time when the boys are at school. The problem is I never figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Getting pregnant in mid-2001 allowed me to defer that decision for five and a half years, but here I am – older, not so much wiser – and I’m starting to feel anxious.

Money is tight – we do okay, but we do skimp. Part of me things it would be good to contribute to our family’s income. My ideal job would:

* Be meaningful and fulfilling
* Allow me to work from 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (so I can be home when the kids are)
* Flexible enough that I could take the day off occasionally to chaperone a field trip, volunteer in the classroom, etc.
* Pay me a nice chunk of cash (never mind that I’ve been unemployed for 5 yrs)
* Creative, not boring
* Allow me to be autonomous – in other words, not chained to the desk all day

Yep, I should keep dreaming.

My plan is to not jump into anything right away, primarily to be around while Sons #1 and #3 adjust to their new schools. Son #2 is returning to his same school, and should do just fine. I do hope to use some of alone time to take some little classes – not college courses (two degrees that I’m not using is probably an indication that higher education may not be the wisest investment. How does someone whose major has been pretty much “undecided” her entire life even get accepted into grad school? But I digress…)

Our local crafts store offers classes so my friend and I plan to take Beginning Knitting and Scrapbooking 101. I’m hyperactive – although at my age, I’m more fidgety – so it would be nice to do something with my hands. The classes are very inexpensive and probably only cover the most basic stuff, but it’s ideal for me who often gets bored and doesn’t finish what I start.

Oh, I also hope to take a stained glass class. That should be cool. My neighbor’s sister-in-law owns a stained glass making shop and last year for my birthday, my neighbor gave me a gift certificate for free lessons. I never took advantage of it because I was with Son #3 all day. However, I ran into the sister-in-law last month and she said there’s no expiration on the gift certificates. Yay.

I’d also love to take classes in painting (water color and acrylics), photography, and creative writing.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Gearing Up for Back to School...

As I’ve already mentioned, Sons #1 and #2 return to school on Friday, August 10th. In my opinion, that’s just too early. Even though they get out at the end of May, I think they should wait until at least the 3rd week of August to go back. Don’t even get me started about the fact that they start on a Friday. Sheesh!

Son #3 – the BABY – starts on Monday, August 20th. Now that’s a bit more like it. During the week prior, he and I will be invited to meet his teacher, visit his classroom, tour the school, etc. The teacher will also do an informal assessment of what Son #3 knows. He can count to 100. He can spell his nickname and visually recognize his full first and last name. Although, he still goofs when reciting the alphabet, he can identify every letter of the alphabet and in most cases, he can tell you what sound each letter makes (even those letters, such as G, C, the vowels, etc. that make more than one sound). He’s a pretty sharp cookie – our homeschooling has certainly paid off. I suspect that he may initially be a little ahead of the game academically, but that’s okay. That’ll give him time to focus on developing those much needed social skills. Ahem.

Son #1 is apprehensive. He’ll be starting Junior High (7th grade) at a new school. His social circle is very small and the few friends he hangs out with are going on to different schools. This arch nemesis (Son #1’s words), however, will not only attend the same school, but has the identical schedule. Yikes. To learn more about the arch nemesis – also known as The Bully (my words) – click here and here.

I called the school to set up a tour, hoping that might increase Son #1’s enthusiasm, and I ended up speaking with the principal about the situation between Son #1 and The Bully. She was going to look at their IEPs (Individualized Education Plan – they’re both in the Inclusion Program, hence the identical schedules) and see whether they can be separated for at least a few classes. No guarantees, but I appreciated it. I sent the principal a hand-written thank you note letting her know how much I appreciate her sensitivity to the situation. I can be a kiss up, can’t I? Anyway, the tour is Friday morning.

We’re all set for school. All of the supplies were bought and labeled weeks ago. I have all of their school uniforms in order. The only one who isn’t ready is ME. Especially come August. 20th and which point I’ll probably curl up into a fetal position and sob for two days.

What’s a stay-home mom to do when she has no one to stay home with?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

For John McElveen...


Hi everyone,

John recently posted a photo of a lizard on his blog so I thought I'd show him how we grow them in the New Orleans area.

After a Boy Scout trip last May, Son #1 and Dear Hubby had lunch in the French Quarter and took a walk around Jackson Square. Son #1 spotted this critter just walking around. Fortunately its owner was too far away. (Son #1 was hoping it was a "stray" and could bring it home. Uh no.)

Oddly enough, when Dear Hubby and I went to the French Quarter in January, I ran into the owner. He's hard to miss with the iguana draped over his shoulder.
John is having some medical tests tomorrow so keep him in your prayers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blogger Reflection Award



John McElveen awarded me with this honor. Me. My little blog. Awwwww, what a terrific compliment - one that I'm happy to "pay forward."



Here's how it works:

1. Copy these rules into your own post.
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.


Description/Definition:


"This award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy… of knowing them and being blessed by them."

And my selections are [drumroll please]:

1. Nadine. Her writing is very inspiring. What I love most is that she draws the most incredible analogies from the seemingly innocuous, everyday stuff. Who else would make such a wonderful connection between the new Transformers movie and how we are called to transform ourselves in God's love. Her posts are filled with powerful stuff. I have ADHD so it's often hard for me to just sit and reflect. Her blog regularly gives me a nice little "jumping off" point for my reflection.

2. Lala. I've been following her blog for about a year now. She writes from the heart about her day-to-day life, and although she's experienced some very difficult times, she's determined to live a Life Full of Grace (blog's tag line). Never preachy, just grateful.

3. BehavenPaPa. He is Lala's father. His blog details his many travels, which include the work he does for others in God's name. Very educational, extremely fascinating stuff. His earlier posts about Beijing and Romania are among my favorites, and although I may not have posted a comment on his blog recently, I do still read it often.

I'm going to stop at these three. I know the rules say to list 5, but if I wait until I have a chance to ponder the many, many blogs I read, I'll probably never get around to posting this (darn, ADHD!).

Anyway, check them out! Tell them Elle says "hello."