Thursday, December 27, 2007

Garbage Duty

I have a friend whose husband would get up every morning and take out the trash before he went to work. EVERY morning! She didn't even have to beg, plead, bargain, nag, nothing! He just did it. He'd wake up in the morning, shower, get dressed, take out the trash, and go to work. She divorced him. What the heck?! Isn't that what we're all looking for in a man? Someone who will take out the trash when it's needed.

Then I actually thought about it. What good, redeeming trait that Bill has would I be willing to give up in exchange for garbage duty? Hmm. That's a tough one. He's good with the kids, he cleans up the kitchen sometimes, he has a job, keeps a job, and goes to his job. Good looks, he thinks he's funny (which is funny in itself), he's pretty smart, and he cares about all of us. He listens pretty well and has gotten used to my fits of rage to the point where he doesn't rage back. He just stands back and takes it knowing that I will apologize as soon as I get back to a sane frame of mind. He finally took the hint (and hint, and hint, and hint) and has started buying me flowers, and enjoys it. Basically, I think putting up with me is all I can ask at this point because I don't think anyone else would...especially someone who takes out the trash.

So, I'll keep Bill and I'll keep taking out the trash (or nagging him to do it). I like him the way he is and I'm not willing to give anything up for it. As for my friend...her loss was actually her gain...he became a better part-time dad than he ever was at home, AND she found another man.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What was I waiting for?!

Hello!?! Digital cameras. I've been stuck in the dark ages with my 35mm thinking it was fun to get a surprise when the pictures were developed. Are you kidding me?! 3 trips to Costco to drop it off, pick it up, find out it's not there or I'm too early, and then back again. THEN all the lousy shots that were taken and didn't turn out right. Digital...instant gratification and you KNOW if the picture sucks and you need to take another. Oh, and did I mention I can send my order to Walgreens at any stinking hour of the day and then pick it up at my leisure?! What a delight. And you only have to print the ones you want or have the money for. WooHoo!

Tasha and Kyra each got a camera for Christmas. (thanks mom!) This was out of neccessity so I could keep my sanity. I think Tasha is a future photographer and wanted to use mine ALL the time. It's new though, and I'm not letting my 3 year old bounce around the house with it. Here's the camera (probably the most expensive) came with the capacity to hold 8 photos. Kyra's, a Kodac (yes, the camera people!), can hold 20. Tasha's, the super tough, built to withstand a toddler's dropping, kicking, throwing, and dunking comes with the memory to hold like 900 pictures. Fisher-Price is KING! (or QUEEN?!) Leave it to a toy company to realize what we really need in a product. Hmm, maybe those camera people just need you to purchase more stuff, like memory cards. Well, I got one of those in my stocking (thanks Babe for telling me to open that first!) and life is all better now! I guess I just need to learn to download now...I'm so spoiled.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

(music playing...)
(December 26th) oops, I never finished this post so I'll try here...

So I've been a bit of a Scrooge lately although I haven't had anything really against the whole thing. I've just been not wanting to do all the typical busy work. No baking, no Christmas lights, no tree, not really much decorating. I put up the nativity the night I brought it home from church (was that Dec 1st?). Then I put up another. I started writing replies to the Christmas cards I received but haven't even mailed them yet. I helped Tasha put up the Princess tree (yes, it's pink and purple and VERY girly) just to shut her up. How's that for spirited?! I just haven't been in the mood.

(Thursday, the 20th) Last night we went to see the Temple lights and had a decent time there. It was followed by a terrible car ride home. I think I actually told the kids they had to do everything together today to prove they loved each other. Yeah, right! Like I have the energy to make THAT happen.

(Friday, the 21st) So this morning I woke up with a different attitude. I was able to help Kyra with her room a little and tried to give a little service. That helped. AND I felt like I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. I ran a few errands and I came home to put up our little trio of trees. The twinkle lights are all aglow as I type. I knew it would be good but resisted for some reason.

(Saturday, the 22nd) A few more bits of service, good stuff that service.

(Sunday the 23rd) Church is always crazy the week of Christmas. Hate it and love it. Our Primary class did our Nativity play for Sharing time and then we included ALL the rest of the Jr. Primary class. I'm not sure which was the most adorable...the 4 wise men from the CTR 5 class, the 2 sheep and a cow dressed in their Sunday best dresses moo-ing and baa-ing from the sunbeam class, or little Justin on top of his teacher's shoulders to be the star shining over Bethlehem. After church I made tamales with my friend from high school. OK, I'm not a fan of the actual tamale, but I love to assemble, socialize, and eat the red chili meat in a HOMEMADE tortilla. YUM!

(Monday the 24th) Making tamales apparently brought out the cook in me and I went on a baking spree all morning and afternoon. BIG mistake, although it brought about some happy results. Greek cookies, yum. Caramel corn, big flop...I think I used baking powder instead of baking soda (sorry anyone who got some of this!). Cookie mix in a jar...hmmm, I went to deliver some of these and forgot the instructions, DUH! Anyway, by 3:30 I was pooped and had family coming over at 5pm.

(Christmas Day) OK, 2am and it really doesn't feel like Christmas now. There is NO WAY that you can have a migraine on Christmas day! Against all better healthy judgement I popped the magic pill (that would be Imitrex, the miracle migraine relief) and went back to bed...I think all the sugar in the baking really did me in. NO more sugar! (yeah, right)

Kyra was up for good around 6:30 and Bill was kind enough to entertain her until Tasha woke up around 8. Tasha really didn't get it for quite a while. For a moment I thought she was going to reject Christmas, presents, and Santa. Oh well, she got over it and loved running back and forth from the other room to deliver the gifts. She and Bill took a nap while Kyra and I went to see Enchanted. I love to see movies on Christmas day and haven't been in years. Thanks Babe! It was a really nice day...riding bikes, playing games, and taking pictures of kids taking pictures (that's a whole 'nother story!).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas...or...Happy Holidays?!

I don't know what Merry Christmas means anymore. Christians are all in an uproar because businesses won't put it on their signs and then they congratulate other companies that make the stand that they will use the saying. Are you kidding me? I think Merry Christmas has turned into more of a slogan than an actual greeting. Let's face it, in the retail world it is a slogan, and it means buy more stuff because that's the spirit of the season. So what do I care?! I care because people are just out to make a stink and I'm sick of it. What do Christians think Merry Christmas means anyway..."I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating Christ's birth"? Well, I don't think so and I have a little proof. (call me a cynic if you must)

First, the Christmas station on the radio. I decided to tune in to get the true spirit. I listened to it for an hour and after about 4-5 songs I started a list of what they were playing. Here it is: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas Darling, Sleigh Ride, Silver Bells, Carol of the Bells (instrumental), Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman (a jazzed up, funky guitar version), Merry Christmas Canon (instrumental), Joy To the World (instrumental). So there you have it. One song in an hour that has anything to do with Christ. Yeah, yeah, they all have to do with giving and sharing, and loving, and the "spirit" of Christmas. Later that day Kenny Rogers brought it all home though when he sang a classic version of Mary, Did you know? Thanks Kenny, I can always count on you.

Next we have Christmas movies. Santa Clause the Movie, The Santa Clause, Rudolf, Frosty,Charlie Brown Christmas...even the classics like Miracle on 32nd Street and It's a Wonderful Life. They all bring happy feelings and sometimes a hint that there is a God. It's a Wonderful Life has an angel, Linus tells us the true meaning of Christmas, but the new version of 32nd Street even took "Trust in God" out of the ending to prove there was a Santa Clause. The Nutcracker has nothing to do with Christ's birth but we love to see it every year.

How about books? The Christmas Jar is a wonderful story of giving but I'd have to reread it to see if the mention Jesus or religion at all, maybe they talk about faith. Here's a quote from A Christmas Carol (it happens to be playing in the background): "Christmas is...A time when men and women can do good to others." Scrooge refuses to say Merry Christmas back because he doesn't do good unto others. Right? My favorite story is The Night Without Darkness about the Nephite Christmas. Of course I don't read this to the kids until Christmas Eve.

Let's face it, if you want a story, show or religious offering at Christmastime you have to choose to do so. Yeah you can get it at church, but that's a given, just like any time of the year. I'm not saying that this is wrong. Frankly, I don't need the Christmas season to declare that I am a Christian. I think what most people mean when they say Merry Christmas is "have a great holiday season with your family and friends". So..."Have a great holiday" is what I choose to say during this holiday time of year. Unless, of course, I go to church with you and want you to remember Christ (hah!). I'm not chickening out, like Bill thinks, I'm just saying what I mean so that there is no confusion on the receiving end.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dear Santa,

Kyra will be joining the ranks of "Santa helpers" this year. She had purchased a gift for Tasha and then Tasha asked one of your Santa clones to get her it. So when your Tempe Santa reports in that Tasha Durrenberger would like a Hungry Hungry Hippo game don't worry about it, her sister is taking care of it. She is excited about being Santa and already wrapped Tasha's gift. I know in the years past you have always left them open but Kyra was excited to get going. I explained that Santa couldn't use the same paper that we did so she got out the craft stuff and drew a picture of Rudolf. She worried that she should disguise her handwriting but we assured her that a 3 year old would not see the similarity.

As for the rest of us, more games would be nice. Kyra said, "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas", so if you can find a Webkin Hippo that would be great. Bill could probably use something to take his mind of work and school, maybe a game of golf somewhere. I'd really like world peace, an end to global warming, and if you can take the calories out of chocolate that would be nice. If none of that works out then a good book would be appreciated.

Let us know if there is anything else we can do to help out down here. I know you've got a lot on your plate so whatever we can do to help, we will. There are no lights on the roof this year so landing should be a cinch, and the fireplace is covered so just use the front door. Do you still like the Greek cookies? Soy, regular, or organic milk?

Love, H

Sunday, December 16, 2007

30 minutes

That's how long it takes to get just about anywhere in the valley...IF the beginning and ending locations are close to a freeway, AND you don't have any crazy traffic. This is only true if you know where you are going. If you don't then it might take longer, like maybe a full hour. Let's say, for instance, that you go to 16440 NORTH 32nd street way in the heck out off the 51 and Bell road. THEN the address isn't there and there isn't a school anywhere to be seen. So you look at the scribbled note your mom wrote and see the "s". Mom? Do we need to go to 16440 SOUTH 32nd street? Well, ya, duh. That took 30 minutes. 51 to the I10 to the 202, off at 40th street, shoot down to 32nd and a half a mile north to the high school. Tasha took a nap, we were 10 minutes late but the show didn't start on time. Thanks mom for the Nutcracker experience, next time I get the directions.

Sugar High

What was I thinking buying a gigantic bag of brown sugar? Oh, I know. I was competing with the gigantic gallon of corn syrup Bill bought 2 years ago. Why all this brown sugar and corn syrup you ask? Well, we like to make caramel corn at Christmas time. It's cheap, it's easy, it's quick, and everyone can help. Plus, there's that really cool part when you add the baking powder and the sugary mix starts to explode out of the pan.

So we made 3 batches this evening and ran out of salt. Who runs out of salt?! Oh, that would be someone who has neglected their food storage from 8 years ago. The good thing is it took me 8 years to get through my year supply of salt. Hmm, guess I didn't calculate that one too well.

Two weeks ago we made 3 batches before running out of vanilla. What the heck? Who runs out of vanilla?! Not me. Maybe this caramel corn just isn't supposed to be made. We certainly don't need any of it in our house. Yum, but so bad for us.

So what should I do with all this brown sugar?! That's 12 cups that I've used and I can't really see a dent. Suggestions anyone? I have a yummy recipe for "Ice cream cone cookies" but you have to roll and cut. Bring your cutters and some flour and we'll have at it, I have no interest in doing that by myself!

SOOOOOOOOOOO, come one, come all to my house with a box, bag, or tin to fill with some caramel corn! I made it with fake butter so "glairegs" are welcome. :)

Satan in a Box

That is what I nicknamed our big screen TV. It was fun for a while but then it was just a big giant piece of noisy furniture. It started blaring obsenities at us if we weren't paying close enough attention to it. Blah, blah. Then it started to get those flickering lines occasionally. Then more often. Then the repair would cost $600, so fortunately Bill didn't feel it was worth the expense. THEN someone realized that it only flickered as it was warming up and after 20-30 minutes it would be OK. Not a good thing. That meant that people would leave it on so it wouldn't start to go crazy again. Whatever. Bill's dad gave us a TV that he didn't want (they thought 3 TV's and 2 people was a bit excessive) so Bill agreed to get rid of the big screen. Yippee for us! Satan is gone...or at least he's in a smaller package now and doesn't need to run for hours on end.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

HOV and the fast lane

So what is the proper driving etiquette on freeways that have an HOV lane and it's not HOV hours? You know what I'm talking about. It's the forbidden lane from 6-9am and 4-7pm but all other times it is fair game. Does it now become the fast lane and the fast lane is just another middle lane? I think this is confusing for some drivers, especially those that don't ever get to use the HOV lane. Personally, I usually have a kid with me so it's my lane. My sister-in-law would pretend she had a kid in the back if she REALLY needed to get somewhere and used that lane. She would turn back periodically and "yell" at the kids that were messing around back there. I think that's pretty funny, and it works if you have a van and the seats are up high so you can't really tell who is in there.

Anyway, It's confusing to drive during off hours. The slow drivers in the fast lane think you can pass them in the HOV lane. The fast drivers in the fast lane are scared to used the HOV lane. Then there are the slow drivers in the HOV lane because it is an HOV lane and they have lots of people in their car. They are entitled to be there, and dag-nab-it they are going to drive it. Sheesh, no wonder we have road rage and accidents.

Bless the internet, google, cell phones, and freeways...

In that order! Christmas shopping can be a struggle sometimes and sometimes not. I've never been good about getting ideas for people early on in the game. So, for me to be looking for something before the 15th is pretty much a miracle so I thought I'd be doing good. Well, not so much! That's where the Internet comes into play. I had no idea where or what kind of a certain item to get Kyra so I started browsing. Then I googled it and got even better ideas. Then they offer free shipping...oh wait, not on that item it's out of stock. But wait again, you can pick it up from the store nearest you. Oh, but wait, that store doesn't have one. Or the next nearest one, or the next...and the list goes on. But I'm really excited that I found the perfect item. There's no way I can go wrong with this baby. But how do I get it?! I have a friend coming from San Diego, they have one. I have a friend traveling to Albuquerque, they don't have one. Do I have the nerve to call the friend with toddler twins and ask her to haul it over here for me?! Not yet. One more try the next day. But wait...the Peoria store has one (or more?)! Yippee for me. But wait again...yesterday I traveled to a Costco on 19th Avenue because they were supposed to have something else that we needed. No such luck. So as I leave the house, headed to Peoria I get on my cell phone and call the Sears I'm headed to. It rings, and rings, and rings again. Three tries to the department before I get someone. She checks. No luck, but they have some up front, does she want me to check up there? Well, ya...please. She takes my name and number and I keep driving, expecting to get there before she calls back. But no, just a few minutes later and we have an affirmative that the item is not only in stock but the have several and they are already assembled! Woo Hoo! Now comes the getting there. Freeways. Hmmm. Did you know that it only takes 30 minutes to get to Peoria? Who knew?! That was a really slick hour of shopping and now we will have a happy girl. Well, several happy girls (I got one too, and Tasha's is already purchased but not assembled). Too bad I still have shopping to do. All that trouble and it was for a gift from grandpa. Since when does the mom have to do all the shopping?! Oh well, we love him and his desire to give us what we want and I know it isn't a check on Christmas morning. Boy are we going to have this year. Thanks Dad.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


People of all ages seem to make assumptions or generalizations on subjects and people. It seems like adults do all the assuming which tends to be negative. We say or think things like why people are broke, why other peoples children behave a certain way, and how things could have been better "if only...". But then there are kids who haven't learned to be cynics yet. They have to whole world to look up to and learn from. They are learning to cope and figure things out and try to find a place and make a statement. Here are some of the great things I've heard/seen come from kids lately:

"I love you three" in response to my "I love you two." I'm sure both my kids have used this one when they were in the learning to count stage.

"The freeway is loose today" came from my 9 year old. Well, why not? It's not bumper to bumper so it's loose. Now we joke about it all the time.

"Only girls go to preschool" came from Tasha's 4 year old friend Justin. I guess when the only kid you knows that goes to preschool is a girl, then that is true.

Friends when they meet just once. Tasha will go play at IKEA and talk about her friend. You can also convince her to go someplace because her "friends" will be there. She may or may not know someone, but if they are her age they are her friends. WOW! Could adults learn something from that!

Now here's one that relates to reading. Good generalization, bad assumption, and terribly difficult to overcome...I had a first grader that used the sound "w" every time he saw the letter "o". What?! I was so frustrated. Here I'm teaching him phonics, he knows that "o" has the sound in "hot", but insists on saying "w" every time he sees it. It took me a month or more to figure out why he was doing it. We were reading a book, he was sounding out most of the words and occasionally there would be a sight word he would just say. Hmmmm, one of those sight words was "one". DUH! He probably learned it in pre-school with all the numbers on the wall or with flash cards he did with someone. So gosh, there's no good solution to this one. We discussed the issue of "cheater words" again and it took a good month to fix but he got over it.

So what's your favorite (or least favorite) generalization?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Love New York!

The Big City! The Big Apple! Crazy traffic, drivers, shoppers...everything about it makes me ache to go there. Public transportation that is convenient, city lights, festive/traditional activities accessible to all. Time square, the Flat Iron building, SoHo, Uncle Nicks Greek restaurant, Manhattan Temple, Central Park, Washinging Heights and my Aunt Yota. Tiny pizza stores with no room to sit, stand, or buy and leave to eat your pizza huddled on the stairs to the NYCity Public Library. Even the dingy smell of the deisel fuel that looms in the air is appealing to me, aaahhh, the smells of NYCity! Car horns, sirens, bings and clunks of the subway, "yah, yah", aaahhh, the sounds of the city! The hustle and the bustle that isn't so crazy if you accept it, relax, and enjoy the experience.

I'm intrigued by any movie or book that takes place in or is about NY. I don't like them all but it draws my attention like nothing else, except maybe WWII. I'll put on "You've Got Mail" for background noise when I'm up late at night...I know right when to look up for the scenes of the city "...he loves the streets of New York almost as much as I do...".

Bless my sweet husband that lets me run away to NY! I know he does it partially because he has NO desire to be there. He suffered through a one day experience, once. That was enough for him, Billy, and his parents but Kyra and I went back...a couple of times! I've been as a tourist, visitor, and as a mock tour guide on a 3 day crazy pre-Christmas adventure. There is nothing like Christmas in NYCity! My favorite visit was a time with my mom. She came along for support, as one of my aunts was in the hospital. We staying in the Bronx, rented a car, and enjoyed all our time away from the hospital. We drove to Astoria to get a taste of Greek life, food, and got our nails done. I conquered NY City driving, and YES, was honked at, and did some honking of my own (I think, or was that my vision of greatness?!). We didn't do any of the touristy things, we just were.

So, to my sweet friend who is moving to NY and is not excited. I hope you read this and become excited! I've never lived there, but really feel like I could. You have a fabulous adventure ahead of you and I'll come stay with you anytime you'd like!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"Gag me!"

I actually used that expression the other day and I couldn't believe it. It came out without even knowing it and I was completely embarrassed. I didn't acknowledge that I said it, I just kept talking, hoping that nothing quite as ridiculous would come out again.

This evening I admitted my blunder to my husband and he laughed. Not quite hysterically, but pretty good. The hysterics didn't come until later and they were from me. Bill proceeded to spout off a list of 80's sayings beginning with the complete version of of gag me..."gag me with a spoon!" Here's what else we came up with...

Like, TOtally. (you TOtally agree with them)
What-ever. (emphasis on the E in ever.)
I'm soooooooo sure.
Like, OK. (usually sarcastic)
As if. (was that the 80's or just from Clueless?)
Barf me! (or Barf me out)
Bodacious. (That could refer to anything. Boys usually used it in reference to tatas.)
Don't have a cow! (I think we used that to the max! My friend was known to moo.)
Fer sure.
Gnarly and grody were good discriptive words for anything nasty.
Tubular (just an expression, I'm not sure what it means)
Grody to the max. (this doesn't even need explaining, does it?!)
Totally radical, dude. (another guy one, I think I hear Sean Penn saying it)

Well, now that I've got that out of my system hopefully I won't let any of them slip out again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bad Hair Month

I realize that it is only the 4th but it is and will be a bad hair month. Literally. I've been fighting with my hair since my last cut and it made me mad. Mad, hormonally challenged, emotional women should not be allowed near scissors. Especially in the morning when they are late getting their children to school. Especially a second day, when they are late again and their hair is wet. Especially when they tried calling 2 salons the night before and both were closed and there was not hope in sight at a real person helping them out.

It was a mess and I almost cried. Then I determined that I wouldn't get out at school and would head to the nearest Great Clips. That sort of worked except that nobody keeps hair books out so that you can show them what you want done. I can't ever explain what I hate and how I style it. So now the bangs are much shorter than I ever would have wanted just because the sides were angled funny. Whatever! I almost cried again. I know it's just hair so I only got to the teary eye stage.

So now I will take it out on my house and clean the heck out of it for as long and Tasha will let me. Maybe I'll put up the Christmas tree and the nativity and try to get the Christmas spirit. As for my me and my hair, we'll be the ones hiding under the Santa hat.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rainy Day Hike

Kyra's school hikes. They hike 3-5 times each year. The first all school hike is planned usually a month in advance and lasts all day. It's amazing to see 100 kids plus teachers and parents zooming up a desert hill. All right, there is no zooming (except for the 20 or so that have to prove a point or are avid hikers) but it is pretty great to see all that energy.

The first all school hike was this past Friday. Yes, Friday, November 30th, 2007. Check the weather report. We got more rain that day than we have all year. And we were hiking in it. That was crazy, but fun. All the kids were decked out in garbage bags. This is Phoenix, who has rain gear?! So we didn't win the "friendly to the environment" award that day, but I think the school makes up for it during the rest of the year.

We didn't get to play on the rocks because common sense made us leave early. And I'm sure it was record time getting back to the car. It only took 1 hour to hike out because it was raining on us the whole time. We didn't really get cold until it came to the car ride home. That was fine though because it gave us an excuse to stop at Starbucks for some Hot Cocoa. Try it with a little Amaretto syrup, yum!

The Wheels on the bus...

My baby rode the bus today! Yes, my baby is 3 1/2 but holy cow she's little! Ever since she started preschool she has been talking about riding the bus. Her friends ride the bus. Her friend even rides the bus when his mom has to come to school at the same time. I thought kids hated to ride the bus. When does that start, elemenatry school? Jr. High? High Schoo? Personally, I never rode the bus. My parents strategically picked a house within walking distance of every school I ever attended.

Back to Tasha. What made me think that this was OK? When Kyra was 5 I was terrified to send her to all day Kindergarten. But now there's Tasha and I don't think it is a big deal. Is it because she's my second? I'm less protective? She's more independent? I don't know but neither one of us looked back after she was on. As I was driving, I thought about driving by her school to watch her get off but then I knew that would be ridiculous. Silly me. She was soooo cute!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rhyming and reading

It is important for kids to learn to rhyme at an early age. It helps with everything related to reading and spelling with confidence. The traditional nursery rhymes, which are sometimes quite absurd, are really good for kids. If you don't like them, make up your own or find better ones. The point is, kids learn how to hear the text flow and hear the repetitive sounds in words even when the initial sound changes. Even a child with a learning disablily or speech impediment will soar if they are given a solid foundation to start with. Some of my kids with the most severe auditory processing difficulties excel when it comes to reading text because they know what a book should sound like. Many times they still have a hard time rhyming, but they can fill in the gaps or the words they can't sound out (the, what, who) because they know what kind of word should go there.

Here are 2 inspiring stories that illustrate why an actual book and story are important to reading developement:

1. A Braille story: A dedicated mother was trying to gain the tools to help her son. Her son was blind so she was trying to learn to read Braille. Of course, the initial books she got while her son was young were for her but she let him "read" them. One day when the family sat down to read a story her son was reaching out to find the book and feel the words! He was under 2. He understood where the story was coming from and wanted to read/feel along.

2. An ESL story: A principal and staff at a local school was determined to get their largely ESL, low-income population of elementary students to read. They held a parent meeting and asked all of the parents to read to or with their children every night. I believe the meeting was translated and the principal spoke. Weeks later one particular student was excelling and the teacher wanted to know how because there was nothing specifically that she had changed. They called the mother in for a conference. The mother thought she had done something wrong. Through a Spanish-English interpreter they discovered that the mother could not read. However, every night since the parent meeting she would sit down with her son and make up a story to a book (in Spanish). Now here son was an excellent reader (in English).

Yes, I realize that actual reading is not always taking place here but it is the "act" of reading that is important. It is the communication to your child that is important: here is a page with words on it, I will say them, and you will get something from it. Even the best TV show (and we love TV here) doesn't replace physically turning the pages of a book. Internet and games are great for supplementing. Books on tape are fabulous IF they are not replacing you. Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk on choosing between good, better and best. Different situations call for different things. A book on tape might be the best option for a long car ride, but good conversation might be the best idea too. Listening to a book on tape is better than watching TV, but reading to your child would be best.

But now back to rhyming...can't we all figure out words by associating them to words we already know? If I wrote the word "medge" you would know what that sounds like because you would think of the word "hedge". Have you ever read a rhyming book and had to go back because you mispronounced a word and found out what it was supposed to rhyme with? There's a line in a Madeline book that makes me crazy because nobody pronounces the word like the word they are trying to rhyme it with. It LOOKS like it should rhyme but it doesn't the way Americans pronounce it. It is great practice to let kids try to fill in the blank at the end of rhyming text. I would even accept made up words if they rhyme!

So my point is...just read! There is no right or wrong way to do. You have to just do it. You have to make your kids do it. I love to read a good book but sometimes I don't let my kids know that. Bill likes to read the sports section of the paper, and ESPN magazine. I should let him do that in front of the kids so they know he reads. Kyra didn't really like to read until I made her do it. The summer before third grade she had to read for an hour while I put Tasha down for a nap each day. Now, she can be reading 3 books at one time. She has read a couple of stories twice because she really liked them. Tasha likes to hear the same story over and over and over and over and over....again until she has it memorized. I'm pretty sure she can "read" about the first 10 pages of The Cat in the Hat to you. In fact, today she wanted to know why it was so dark out. I told her it might rain and that the sun was hiding behind the clouds. She said, "the sun is not sunny?" She is always talking about "down the wall in the hall". See, that's one kid that won't have problems with the "all" words. Thanks Seuss!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Boggle online

I'm addicted. I can't blog. I can't sleep. I can't watch TV. AND I can't see anymore. My eyes are so bugged out from staring at the screen that they really hurt. I just turned off the light to see it that helps. I have many people to blame for this addiction:

Brittany for saying she was addicted.
Jaylee for organizing a fabulous dinner.
April and her family for playing Scrabble.
Bill for not playing Scrabble with me.
Bill again for playing Boggle online and making it fun.
Bill again for going to bed.
My eyes have adjusted to the dark so maybe I'll go try again...

Oh, and I DID get all my Thanksgiving list accomplished! Including finding the china and using it. Yay for us. Fancy plates!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving To Do List:

Write down menu
Check recipes
Make shopping list
Find china or buy paper products
Find out turkey cooking time
Put turkey in the oven
Go shopping
Finish cleaning
Set table
Eat 5:00pm

Hmm, doesn't look too bad. Unless of course it's Thanksgiving day. YIKES! My mother would be proud.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Can a woman make more than her husband?

A discussion came up in Bill's Finance class this evening. One of the guys on his learning team mentioned that he would have a problem if his wife made more money than he did. At that point, EVERYONE in the class, including the teacher said he was an idiot. GO class! Did this guy grow up in the dark ages? Do we have to guess that his wife stays home? I'm sure she is barefoot and pregnant too.

I don't know, do men really need to make more money to fulfill their role in society? Traditionally they are the bread winners. In the Church, it is the man's duty to provide for the family. But what about all those valuable women out there that have something to contribute to the working world? Do we really have to go back to the ERA days? There was good and bad that came out of the ERA but there is no doubt that there should be equal pay for equal work.

Some dads are happy staying home and some moms are happy working. But it doesn't have to be black and white. If it works out for your family can't we have it all, or am I being selfish? I know that sacrifices are made when both parents work, or when one parent stays home. Finances differ and time with each other differs. I don't think there is a right or wrong way. I don't think that what is right for me is right for you. I don't even think that what is right for our family this year will be right for us next year. You do what you need to do. Personally, if I hadn't started tutoring when Kyra was 1 I would have gone crazy. I needed to use my skills on someone other than her.

But back to the wife making more money. Bill's teacher went as far as to tell the guy that it was an ego thing. (which he, of course, denied) I think he's right and I hope the guy survives in the real world beyond school. I am thankful every day that Bill is so dedicated to our family that he goes to his job every day. Sadly, I know there are men that don't, they can't support their families, and they choose to let other people take care of their loved ones. I could probably do pretty well if I worked full time. I can charge more per hour than Bill but I just don't have the energy to dig up the clients and work that much. Last summer Bill called me his "Sugar Mama" after we added up all the hours and billed it out. I guess he doesn't have an ego problem, he's man enough to take it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My mom is hard of hearing

Really. She is and she knows it. She wears hearing aids. She nods and smiles at you when she can't understand what you are saying and she has asked you to repeat yourself too many times. When I hug her, sometimes her "ears" squeak and it brings back memories of my grandfather who had the same problem. Aaah, the memories. When I was little my grandfather would come to visit us and my friends would sometimes make him crazy. I knew when that was because he would reach up to his ear and turn us off so he couldn't hear the squealing any more. That was funny. My mom can't turn me off yet so I just talk louder to her, but I don't whisper to her in church anymore because she just smiles and nods! This awareness has come slowly for me, over the years but my kids have always known it. Tasha seems to be acutely aware because this is the phone conversation I overheard her having with "Momo". OK, by conversation I mean Tasha was talking into her calculator which she pretends is her cell phone. She does this mostly in the van, just like her mom! So here is the one-sided conversation with breaks where she paused for Momo's response...

T: Hi Momo.
T: We are going to lunch with dad.
T: Yes, I have preschool after lunch.
T: Did you know I have moon earrings on?
T: No, moon earrings.
T: No Momo, moons.
T: You know, moon, like in the sky.
T: Yes, that's it.

I have no idea what she said after that because I was laughing so hard. Tasha caught wind of my laughter and had to end her phone call. She didn't think it was that funny. I suppose I wouldn't have either if it had been a real phone call. I love you mom!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

To range free, or not

WARNING: The article you are about to read is full of sarcasm...don't let it peck you on the butt!

So I'm having Thanksgiving at my house this year and I wanted to get a fresh range-free turkey. It seemed like a good idea and I know that Sunflower market had them advertised last year. Now I have second thoughts. I was talking with a friend this evening, confirming that a 15 pound bird should sufficiently feed 11 people, especially when 2 of them are vegetarians and kids could really care less. (Is the rule on turkey the same as other meat? Plan for 1/2 a pound per person?) Anyway, she said she bought the free range critter out of respect for an in-law who ate mostly organically. So we discussed this briefly when she said, "ya, he was a happy turkey before they killed him so we could eat him." Of course, we laughed hysterically at the thought of such an absurd statement. But really...maybe those caged babies aren't so bad. We put them out of their misery and now their spirits can roam free in turkey heaven. The free range birds will be discussing how they really miss Tom Jr. and hope he's doing OK, next year will really be a shock for him...while the caged ones are really roaming free. I know, I know, I'm making light of a animal rights and shouldn't. I'm sure when I run for office my opponents will find this blog and quote me word for word. I think I'll just let my mom buy the turkey and live in ignorant bliss.

Then comes the next question (because the turkey does come before the egg)...Have you tried to by eggs lately? How many labels CAN you have on a dozen eggs?! First are all the sizes: medium, large, extra large, jumbo. Then you have the colors: white,brown, speckled. Now the chicken: cage-free, free roaming, caged, surfing, driven crazy. And what kind of food the chicken ate: organic, non-organic, grain, non-grain, fattening, iron fortified. And don't forget the Omega 3 boost! Yikes! When did buying eggs get so difficult? And when did we decide to start labeling all our eggs and chickens? Maybe it was when we stopped labeling our children. Ironically, it was probably the granola parents who refuse to label their kids that want to know what the heck their chicken was doing and eating before it pooped out the egg that they are about to eat.

Seriously though, I LOVE my granola friends and even want to be one someday. I also wish that nobody started caging animals so they could make more money. I guess I just lost the meat industries vote! Happy Turkey day!

Is summer really over?!

My computer says that it is 66 degrees outside. I'm sitting by the open door with the fan blowing overhead. The breeze feels nice and I did get a chill a moment ago. Enough of a chill that I went and put socks on, well those ankle things that just keep your toes snugly warm. I still won't consider long sleeves and I'll probably never put away the capri pants. I was hot standing out at 2pm this afternoon, but chilly at 7pm. Is this what it's like in other parts of the country during, say, September?! WOW! What would that be like? Oh well, maybe I'll go make a cup of hot cocoa and top it with some whip cream that we bought for the pumpkin pie!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Clean again

I went to the Temple tonight and did Baptisms. I came out of there feeling really "clean". So here I am, fresh out of the water and non-corrupted. Don't tempt me and lure me to the other side. Stop talking of "fookies" and Grey's Anatomy. I've given it all up for the better good. Bill even tried to record Grey's for me and somehow the cable box was turned off! Hmmm, if that isn't some divine intervention, I don't know what is. So, all 2 of you that read my blog...I'm a goodie-goodie now, so BACK OFF!

Do I really hate poetry?

I was just talking to a mom at school who's daughter totally missed all the comprehension questions related to a poem. I immediately said, "I'm with her, I hate poetry". Then, of course, on the drive home I realized that I just wrote a poem last night. So do I really hate poetry, or do I just hate to analyze it? I think the answer has many points...

First there was Sr. year, High School Humanities course. HATED IT! I was always wrong! The teacher made me feel like an idiot and I never had the right answers. OK, I passed the class so obviously I knew something, but to this day that class and teacher still haunt me. Maybe that's when it started.

Next. Most of the time poetry has to rhyme. Haikus are fine, mostly because they are short and have a syllable restraint. They make it challenging to cram an idea into 5-7 beats, fun. I did write something in college that didn't really have a plan to it, but that was mostly because I was sick of writing papers. My professor "got it" and I felt better for being creative instead of the typical analysis of yet another child.

Finally, music is poetic so poetry should be musical. If there is no flow to it then it is really lame. If you have to think to hard to understand it, then it is lame. If there is not an underlying theme that is repeated then it is probably lame. If I say lame again, then I am really lame.
So I guess the bottom line is this:

Do not analyze
I do not hate poetry
Short, simple, concise!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An ode to Bill...

Twas the night before Thursday, Bill was asleep like a log
So was everyone else, except for the dog.
I had gotten home late from a meeting at school,
But that was OK, everything seemed cool.
Bill woke up early this morning, drove to work in the dark.
Just like every day, with a wag, not a bark.
He got off at 2, came home for a shower,
Then off to get Tasha with his dad super power!
After school and work, I called to say we'd be late.
Could he please start the dinner? Would he fall for the bait?
Tacos and beans and a bowl full of rice?!
How lucky am I? Someone give me some dice!
I ate a fabulous dinner , then rushed out the door.
I'd be late for the meeting, but heck, what's one more?
I was stuck at every light so of course I called home
Bill was washing the dishes, (and polishing the chrome?!)
I was gone for hours, chit-chatting with moms,
What would I find at home, Bill reading the Psalms?
The kitchen was clean, no dishes were out,
He'd cleaned out the sink, without even a pout.
What a fabulous day, it couldn't be beat!
If it happens more often, mom will be obsolete.
I don't know what I did on this day to deserve it,
But man do I hope there's a list to reserve it.
So for that wonderful man that I rag on too often,
Here's an ode to you...before you're in the coffin.
That was terrible to say but it was a funny rhyme
But I laugh at your jokes, well, most of the time!

Just call me "The Cleaning Lady"

Right up front here I'm going to admit that I paid someone to come clean my house about a month ago. Gast! What?! Good money...gone. YEP! And it felt great. The feeling lasted about a week until she was supposed to come again, but was out of town. Then the revelation hit and has been working for several weeks now...

I spent well over an hour Monday night picking up, doing dishes, clearing out the sink, doing laundry... all so someone else could clean my house on Tuesday. What?! An hour of prep work so someone else can spend 4 hours cleaning. No wonder I hate housework!

The following Monday I did the same prep work, it took less time, and I felt more ready this week. I wasn't sure if she was out of town or not, but I thought, "better safe than sorry". I had a miserable morning and was actually hoping that she wasn't there when I got home. She wasn't, and I took my frustrations out on the floors, bathrooms, and dust bunnies. WOW, did that feel great! Could cleaning actually be satisfying?! OK, I've had brief glimpses of that satisfactory feeling when I go from a clutter zone to spic-and-span for a party or vacation, but never on a regular weekday!

So I put it to the test...the next week I did the same thing. (I didn't have the money to pay anyone this week!) Tasha seems to be pretty satisfied with a morning of TV on Tuesday since it is not a regular occurrence. She also appreciates a warning that the floors are wet...and slippery! She took a major butt dive down the hall the day I neglected to isolate her to the living room! After the initial shock and bruise, she thought it was pretty funny and enjoyed reenacting it with great dramatics.

Then there was the problem...the reoccurring mess that I know I have asked people in this house to take care of time and time again (as "the mom"). That's when it occurred to are NOT the mom right now, you are "The Cleaning Lady". The CL doesn't know the slobs that live here and she can either hide the stuff or clean around it. A revelation worth all my sanity...not just for the moment, but to last until the 2-legged beasts arrive home with all their clutter. I can yell at them when they get home, "pick up that stuff, the cleaning lady was just here and I like the way the house looks!" without taking a personal hit to my hard work. After all, it wasn't me, it was that other lady.

Now comes the miracle...the CL was not going to be able to come this week and I knew it. It was going to be a busy Tuesday and Monday was a holiday. After the parade on Monday morning, and a bit of lolly-gagging around town, I broke the news to my family. "I don't have time to clean tomorrow so we're all going to have to do it today. It takes me about 3 hours, so we all will give it our best effort for an hour and a half." I got blank stares until I dished out assignments and everyone went to work. Tasha did her typical picking up in her room so we could vacuum and eventually ended up watching TV, which is fine because she's not fighting with anyone (Kyra) or trying to clean the toilet with a toothbrush or something (eeww). Kyra vacuumed and picked up her room better than it's ever been cleaned. Bill got the tile floors, my least favorite job. I did the rest. It took an hour! Miracle! So we tackled the junk zone in front of the fireplace and can now see the throw rug there. Bill rewarded the kids with a trip to the water/ice-cream store while I finished up by clearing off the island. What a happy day, and everyone contributed.

So then the true miracle happened...Bill and Kyra both agreed, "that wasn't so bad, we could do that every week." Well, I'm not holding my breath and the CL plans on coming next week, but it's nice to know that it can work in a pinch. The 2 legged beasts can be quite helpful and we all took a little pride in a clean house. Now I need to have a party!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Politics are impossible

You know, I want to be involved in politics, and I want to be an active citizen. I get all the election materials in the mail and try to read some of it. We also get 3 copies of the for me, one for Bill, and one for the tenants that lived in this house well over 10 years ago. I'm glad to know that they are actively voting!

So I'm reading the lastest information on the new "Permanent Early Voting List". OK, really I just skim over it and see the section with the election date information. This gives an alphabatized list on when elections will be held. I will list them, WORD FOR WORD below:

a) The second Tuesday in March.
b) The third Tuesday in May.
c) The ninth Tuesday before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
d) The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

I'm sorry...WHAT? Did you read "c"?! I reread it, and reread it. Then I tried the Spanish side:

c) El noveno martes antes del primer martes despues del primer lunes de noviembre.

Nope, it still doesn't make sense to me. The "ninth Tuesday"? Is anyone else confused here? I was pretty sure that we only had 4 Tuesdays in a month, maybe 5 on occasion. Is this a cruel joke to make me feel stupid? Is someone at the Elections Department having a little fun? Did they really get someone to translate that? Even if there really was a ninth Tuesday it certainly couldn't fall before the first Tuesday could it?

I feel like Charlie Brown here. (Possibly because "Snoopy come home" is playing in the background) "Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?" Better yet...can anyone explain to me what letter c is supposed to mean?!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Reading 102: 2VGW

"When 2 vowels go walking, the first one does the talking". Well, not really, but it sort of makes sense for some vowel combinations. First of all, "does the talking" means that the vowel will say its name. So when you see EA in a word it says "E", like in eat, neat, meat, team, cream. The problem is that it is misleading to think that it is true for all vowel combinations. Here are the only ones that I teach:

EE and EA say "E" (meet, meat)

OE and OA say "O" (toe, boat)

A-E, AI and AY say "A" (make, paid, play) *note: you won't see AE together in English words, they are usually separated by a consonant...see the "E rule".

So what about the other combinations? Think about it. I can't make the sounds here on the computer but I will give you examples.

AU and AW (taught, saw...the same as the short O sound like in not)

OO (has 2 different and boot...did you feel your lips get rounder for the second one?)

OI and OY (boil, boy)

OU and OW (ouch, how) I teach this one first

OW (snow and sometimes says the name "O")

Spelling can be tricky. You will see W's and Y's at the ends of words (cow, boy), U's and I's in the beginning or middle of the word (out/pout, oil/soil). Is this always true? Of course not, we're talking about English here. (clown, town...those n's at the end are a tip off to use the ow)

Friday, November 2, 2007

DTS: Decompression Traction System

It's the miracle cure for my migraine! I went to the chiropractor and he popped, twisted, drilled and massaged my neck and head. Yada, yada. He's done it all before. Then he decided to try the DTS machine. What the heck, I'm game. Just get rid of the pain. So I'm in a reclined position with my head in traction and my forehead strapped down for about 20 minutes. Bill makes fun of the nice red spot on my forehead but I don't care. The migraine is gone!!! Really. And it hasn't come back. Ironically, my allergies got dramatically worse that evening and I've been full of sinus snot all day. The trade off is worth it though, I'll deal with a sinus headache any day.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Candy, giggles and Mother Nature

There are 3 levels of Halloween candy gatherers that I am aware of. There are kids that are too embarrassed to even say "Trick or treat" and barely make it to get candy from people they know. There are kids that catch on to the idea of free candy, make the round and then delve into the stash to either devour it, or check out what they got. Then there are the kids (and adults at this point) that realize there is a bunch of free candy out there and are going to get as much of it that is humanly possible. Nothing at this point seems to be shameful. You can raid a room while it is empty, grab a fist full from a bowl, visit the same candy-givers 2, 3, or even 4 times, or steal the best candy from a little kid. What is it about Halloween that makes pilfering and plundering justified...maybe the costumes?!
So, my kids are at level 2 of the candy gathering. They get the idea, love the treats, and love to eat them. Their parents take the blame for not monitoring their intake, but what the heck, it's Halloween. When Kyra was 3 we witnessed her first sugar high. She actually ran in circles around the living room for half an hour, then she flopped. She repeated the scenario the next year. Her parents are slow learners. (Why does it sound less like it's my fault when I talk in the third person?!) Last night, we all had the giggles. Well, everyone but Bill. He was grouchy. I guess he didn't get to pilfer enough good chocolate from the girls.
The best costume of the year...a first grader at Kyra's school came dressed as "Mother Nature". She had on a beautiful long dress that she had carefully and skillfully attached flowers and leaves to. She also had a halo of flowers on her head. (I can't seem to come up with the actual word for that right now) She was simple yet elegant, not gaudy and very graceful. Kudos for creativity and beauty!

The Wonder Pets

"There's an animal in trouble. There's an animal in trouble! There's a puppy that has to go pee-pee." I kid you not, that was today's episode of The Wonder Pets. Lenny, Tuck, and Ming-Ming too went to help let a puppy outside so it could go pee-pee...or tinkle...because everybody goes. Yes, this is the insight that my 3 year old gets from 3 talking preschool pets that escape from their cages daily to go help animals in trouble. Personally, I think the cartooning is a little disturbing as well. It is somewhere between realistic drawings with movable parts and a freak show of distorted animals. You will be happy to know that by the end of the show, not only did they get the puppy out in time, but they all had to go. We heard a nice gush of water as they all synchronized their pee, and then they all let out a sigh of relief. "AAAAH!"

Be very jealous...or don't

I'm sitting cross legged on my bed typing on a LAPTOP right now! Yeah for us. Finally, after 2 years of classes for Bill at UofP, he is entering the 21st century. He has always been the only one (at least, that's what he tells me) that doesn't have one. So, as our old computer became outdated, we decided to invest in something that we both could use. It's a Dell, I've made several typing slips adjusting to a new keyboard, and we can't really get our office program to load. Hmmm.

For my part, a laptop mostly makes me feel great. I pretend that I'm Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail". How cool would that be?! I would own my own book store, live in NY city, and have Tom Hanks emailing me crazy lines from "The Godfather". OK, it sucks that she looses her store by the end of the movie, but she does get the guy! In my post-movie fantasy version, she also writes the book that she dreamed of writing...ahh, I really could be her!

On the other hand, don't be jealous because I've been in bed most of the day with a migraine! It's probably the 2nd worst I've had in my life and I couldn't drive the kids to school today. That sort of makes you feel like a big fat failure as a mom, but I did have plenty of time to think since I couldn't open one eye, sleep, or stand up without feeling dizzy. Coke and chocolate didn't help this time. Pressure points alleviated the pain for the moment. Homeopathic remedies seemed to help a bit. Finally, when Bill could drive me to chiropractor, I found some permanent least, I hope...It's been an hour now and I feel pretty good. So I think I'll keep bloggin' and get everything off my mind.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Email etiquette

So we've entered a whole new world where anyone can enter your home during all times of the day and night through your computer. They can do it anonymously, whether this is intentional or not, sometimes we don't know. We can hit the "reply all" button, change the subject, erase the content and create a whole new email. But what if some of the people that you replied to don't know who you are, or more specifically, what if their spam blocker alerts them to your presence? Now you become this crazy solicitor that is stalking them...because let's face it, there are crazy people out there that will do anything to get you to answer them or log on to their site.

So what happens when I send out an email to say, 20 people. One of those people hits the button and forwards something to all of the people I originally emailed. They don't know everyone on my list, and all my people don't know them. One of those people doesn't like what they were forwarded and responds. I feel bad because essentially the address came from me. Should I be responsible for keeping their anonymity? Can I do that? I don't think I have the computer skills for that.

Now what if you received something from someone you don't know? You can just delete it. You can open it. You can respond if you want. You can try to figure out who the heck sent you something. Maybe you don't care. Maybe you're sick of all the junk. Maybe you're in a really stinky mood and lash out. It's just like how you react to someone on the phone or a lousy sales person or customer. Unfortunately, I think we all kind of disconnect from what we say through email. It's like we're not really talking to a real person and can say things we'd never say in person. Or maybe we just say something in jest, but the other person doesn't get it because there was no "JK" ("just kidding" case it takes you forever to catch on to those savvy new acronyms, like it did me!).

I'm know I've been on both ends of this quandary and am trying to be better. It's easy to send out a mass email requesting help or info. It really gets the job done a lot quicker, you can do it at midnight if you want, and you don't have to wait for people to call you back. That's how I look at it. I've learned to hit the delete button quite well, especially when I get a lot of forwarded mail and am not in the mood to look at it. Heck, it's just like junk mail...if you're in the mood you might peruse it, if not, just toss it!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wag more, Bark less

I have seen that bumper sticker on several vehicles now. Don't you wish that people were a little more like dogs sometimes? Dogs are loyal and forgiving. Dogs don't hold a grudge. Dogs really respond to positive reinforcement, not just when they're in the mood. They are always there when you need them, and when you don't, they are fine just lying around. If you make a mistake they don't remind you of it.

Actually, I guess it really does depend on the dog. There are those dogs that just yap, yap, yap all day long. Or the dogs that have to have their nose into everything. We don't have either of those. They drive me crazy. Just like people that yap all the time drive me crazy. Especially when it is a mean yap. Keep it too yourself or go yap at someone else! It makes me sad that they don't have anything better to do than to stick their nose in my business and try to make my day miserable. Of course, then I come home and am greeted by a great big tail wag, or two, or three! (my dog, and the kids)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hop on Pop, or Mouth off to Mom

Maybe, if I pictured my girls a little more like this...

I would feel less like this...

I've been mad and grouchy at them all day because they were rotten this morning when I left them with my mom. Individually they do fine with her, together they are dreadful. Then I yell at them, they are disrespectful to me, and it goes round and round. What to do?!

Thou shalt not

Take the Lords name in vain...or something like that. Basically, don't say God unless you are talking to Him or about Him. Right? It's always bothered me when people overuse His name, but especially when it comes out of the mouths of children.

I was at a Halloween gathering my girls were invited to. The kids were on their second round of food and spotted some of the sweets that they had missed the first time. My friend's daughter spotted the Nutter-butters and asked who brought them. I told her that I had and she said, "thank God you brought these" as she bit into the cookie. I automatically replied that I didn't think God really had anything to do with it.

Later, her mom "thanked God" for something else that I couldn't really argue about. And who knows, maybe He did guide me to Safeway and put those scrumptious cookies on sale, 2 for 1.

Dear Construction Workers,

I remember back about 20 years (yikes, am I that old?!), my aunt, who was a Jr. High English teacher told me about a sign that she saw. It said, "Constrution Zone Ahead" and yes, it was misspelled. She commented that it was signs like that that gave construction workers a bad rap. Well, I'm here to tell you that it is more than misspelling! In fact, I'll forgive you any grammatical errors, punctuation, spelling issues, and even the sewer smell that permeates from the open streets while you are ripping open pipes...just PLEASE learn how to place cones so they cause the least amount of congested traffic.

I get that you have to merge traffic before the lane actually ends. I get that you need a lane free so that your big trucks can maneuver a ease. I get that you are trying to do your job. But do you really have to back up traffic 2 miles because you won't let people turn right? Do you really have to block off the yellow lane BEFORE cars can enter the left turn lane? I actually saw 3 cones stopping people from entering a lane at one point, and then given the go-ahead a mere 20 yards later.

Is there a class that you take? Can you get a raise for completing the class? How about national recognition for the least congested construction zone? No, probably not. I bet the power trip is much more satisfying. Hey, watch how I can ruin the days of hundreds of unsuspecting drivers in the valley. I bet I make 50 people late for work today. Wah, ha, ha (evil laugh)! The power!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kyra "volunteers whenever help is needed"

So I'm reading Kyra's report card this morning...confident reader, working on cursive, very good in math, well organized (whose child is she talking about?!), popular, excellent work ethic, very good artist...blah, blah, blah...and then her teacher writes, "she volunteers whenever help is needed". I actually teared at that line. I'm raising a child that can live in the real world, offer real help, and not sit around while everyone else does the work. I'm so proud! It's not that I don't care about the academics and other stuff, it's just that you never know what sinks in from home. This school is terrific and everything but I know they don't have a class on volunteering!

I love Kyra and I think she's terrific. I try to tell her that more than I criticize her. I do my fair of apologizing to her because I seem to be very adept at making all the mistakes and saying all those things that you shouldn't. Fortunately I don't do it more than, say, 3 or 4 times a day.

Yay for us, Kyra is helpful!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Reading 101: the E rule

"The 'E' at the end of a one syllable word is usually silent". I hate that rule. Although the 'e' usually doesn't really make a sound, it virtually always has a reason for being there. "Magic E" might be a better name for him. I don't know. I don't call him anything. (why is E a him?!) Here's what he does...

For beginning readers the E is usually making another vowel say it's name. Like in name, Pete, time, home, fume (AEIOU). Each time "the E jumps over the consonant, hits the vowel on the head and says, 'say your name in the alphabet!'" You won't see the E jump over for another E very often. They tend to stick together (feet, seem). On the other side, I don't know if you ever see AE together, the E always jumps over for that one (cake, tame). Sure, there are other ways to make a vowel say its name, or make the "vowel long" but that's another lesson for another day. Right now we're talking about that cool E at the end of a one syllable word.

Give and gave. In give the E doesn't make the I say it's name. In gave it does make the A say it's name. Why? No idea. What I do know is that "V doesn't like to be alone at the end of a word". You won't see it in English. That makes spelling easier, but reading harder.

Cheese and please. You don't need the E, the vowel sound is already long, right? Right. But what about that S? Isn't he supposed to say 'ssssssssss' like a snake? Yep. Often times if an S is followed by an E it will sound like a Z. So what about freeze? I don't know, someone went E happy.

Choice. E makes the C say SSSSSSS.
Dodge. E makes the G say JJJJJJJJ.

Of course there are "cheater" words out there. Hmmm, like there and where. They don't follow the rules. You know them, my favorite is "choir" (shouldn't that be spelled quire?). Kids love that. "Cheater". It means that the word is wrong, not them. In the lower grades many people call them sight words but that is often misleading. Cat and dog are not sight words, you can sound them out and they are phonetically correct. In my book (not an actually book), a sight word is something you can't sound out.

That's it for today. Magic E, Super E (for Justin), whatever you call him, he usually has a purpose.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

From Special Ed to breast milk

I recently met a mom in the parking lot at my daughters school and she proceeded to tell me about the great presentation she had gone to the week before. This man, Rick Lavoie, is a wiz in the world of Special Education and really knows how to reel in an audience because he is a master storyteller. Now this mom and I are not great friends in the respect that we hang out together all the time. We've never even done lunch. Conversations are limited to school functions, softball games, and birthday parties. OK, once we talked on the phone for an hour on a Saturday. But she gets me, and we end up talking about everything and nothing. So how did we end up talking about breast milk?! (niether one of us are lactating!)

This speaker was on an airplane once and was seated next to a man that asked him if he was in the education field (he was working on a presentation). Mr. Lavoie said yes and was asked if he had any kids. Yes, 3. The other man commented that he wished he had 3 kids. HAH, apparently the man had 6! What's the point of this recap?...if you are in education, people want to know if you have kids of your own. It makes you more credible.

Immediately my thoughts run back to the hospital after I had given birth to my second daughter. The nurse that was there to deliver Tasha was fantastic, recognized I pretty much knew what I was doing and left me alone. On the other hand, the night nurse gave me the run-around, poking, prodding, and checking off her list everything she was supposed to. Then came the lecture of how to get your child to latch on. She was maybe 18. Did she want to demonstrate?!

From there the converstation just went uphill. Reruns of soaking through padded bras, spraying extra milk out in the shower, and an excellent visual of a 2 week old infant in the lobby while mom is upstairs in her power suit on a job interview. The baby was with grandparents, not the receptionist! I know what you were thinking.

The other point of this posting is to warn people that any conversation I ever have with you is fair game unless you say otherwise. Amy suggested that the real title should be "from breastmilk to special ed". Good one!

Don't blame me for your incompetence

I'm tired of people taking their ignorance out on me, especially when I am the customer and they are the ones that are supposed to know things! Do I really need to explain your job to you?

Last week I stopped at a card shop because it had a post office in it and I needed to mail something. As we were leaving Tasha spotted a fuzzy poster that she wanted to buy for her friend because it was her birthday. Of course she wanted one as well and I was in a semi-generous, non-confrontational mood and it wasn't like it would break the bank. Then there were the overpriced, scented, matching princess pens that matched the poster. What the heck I thought, I'm only out 5 bucks. We make our purchase, go to the car, break out the pens so she can color on the way to the park, and I start the van. Then it comes..."mom, these pens aren't working". And they aren't, neither are the other pack we purchased for her friend. (that would have been a great gift!) Back into the store, check another pack, and another, and another. Is it possible that hanging these felt tipped markers with the tip up is a problem? So I ask to return them and she can't. What?! She doesn't know how to do a return and her boss is gone. Can I come back later? Fine. The next day I return and she starts to help me after summoning her boss. She proceeds to return the whole purchase when I question what she is doing. Shouldn't she just return the 2 packs of pens and credit my debit card? No, that's not how they do it on that register. Wait, didn't you say you didn't know how to do this? Whatever, just please credit me my money! (yes, there was a bit of frustration in my voice and I did walk away, but I did not even raise my voice) Meanwhile, her boss comes to help her and I study the 40 or 50 packs of pens that are still on display so another little girl can be disappointed...then I hear it...I hear her tell this man that the customer is getting all irate about it. Are you kidding me?! Me irate? I had to come back another day to make a return because you were too stupid to do it in the first place!

Then today I'm waiting for Tasha at the library and decide to check out the cafe upstairs. I peruse the menu quickly looking for the 4 non-coffee drinks (yes, it's actually labeled that way). I ask the girl if there are strawberries in the fruit smoothie. I'm thinking this place is in a library, it's like Costco and we don't have choices here, it's one kind of smoothie. She doesn't know what's in it and turns to the other lady to repeat my question. She tells her that they aren't fresh strawberries but that it's a strawberry concentrate. I confirm that there are strawberries, thank her and walk away. Then I hear the girl talking to the lady and say "whatever". Yes, it was in reference to me! How do I know? Because when I turn around and start walking back she has that, "oh crap, she heard me" look on her face. At this point I see the paper with the 4 or 5 smoothie variations posted at the end of the counter. I acknowledge that I didn't know that there were several flavors, I thought they had one smoothie, and that it does can't say "whatever" when your daughter is allergic to strawberries! Whatever...I walked away, went downstairs, and cried in the bathroom.

So why do I let these people get to me? Why can't I let it go? Why do I come up with evil plans to send everyone I know to the card shop to buy the pens and a poster, use them and then return both items because the pens don't work? Maybe because my husband is always complimenting or complaining about different stores' customer service. I don't know, maybe now I can let it go...

(by the way, it was The Cornerstone Card shop on 40th street in Phoenix, tell them the irate return lady sent you! HAH!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In Memory of...

Bill gave me a hard time about creating my blog. He said I was scared to do it because once I had a blog spot I wouldn't have anything good to write. AS IF!!! I've had thoughts racing through my head for the last few weeks, thinking, "if only I had a blog". So instead, I read what everyone else wrote on their blogs and comment. Honestly, it wasn't fear that held me back, just the need to make my first entry an honorable one. So here it, dedicated to the best Mother-In-Law any girl could ever have!

Last week I was sitting outside Barnes and Noble at the new Tempe Marketplace. If you've been you will know that they have one of those cool water squirt play places for your little ones. If you haven't, you might find out the way I did. Tasha and I had just stopped by the area to check it, get a smoothie and a shot of wheat grass from the juice place. She was happy and we decided to walk around to see what was there and open. When we got to the water place Tasha of course wanted to get her feet wet. Amazingly, she said it without a whine so I let her. She stripped off her shoes and socks and proceeded to tip-toe through the water spurts, covering the smaller ones with her foot then leaping off to avoid letting the water hit her. I took a picture with my phone and then attempted to send the shot to her dad with a message. I'm not great at texting so it took a while and when I looked up Tasha had become a little more courageous with the water. The bottom of her shorts had taken a few squirts, but she was still doing fine. I stopped her from play long enough to pose for a shot. After sending it I decided that I needed a different angle so I got up to realize that Tasha really was enjoying the water. Her (jean) shorts were now drenched all the way through to her underwear and the bottom of her shirt was drenching. How funny was that?! I guess we would not be going to the story time inside B and Noble at 11, would I?!

So what does this have to do with my mother-in-law?! She would have laughed at me, called me a terrible mother for letting my child get soaking wet, then congratulated me for letting her live in the moment. I loved that about her! I realized that the moment it happened last Wednesday and I teared up sitting there watching the granddaughter that she never really got to know. Oh, how I wish she was here to confirm what I already know...Tasha is just like her father. I'm sure that I never behaved in the stubborn way that Tasha does and Bill's mom would have stories to tell on Bill. Bill is the one that set his room on fire, not me!

It is simple times like those when I miss the people that have made it past this life on earth. Moments like watching my kids lick stuff off the counter when I miss my grandmother and wonder if she saw that. Rooting for the underdog in a World Series game when I miss my grandfather. Stupid tow-trucks and the winding road up to Payson that make me miss my father. But we were talking about Bill's are a few tidbits that I learned from her that make my life better:
1. Frame your favorite picture and put them in the bathroom, that's where you spend most of your down time!
2. Use a snapshot as a bookmark. (this is fun when you pick up the book months later and had forgotten about that picture)
3. Keep all your nail stuff together and mobile, then you can do them whenever and wherever.

Those are just some of the silly things that I observed from her life. She was a clever, patient, kind woman who was always up for a lunch date, shopping, or a little chit-chat. I know Bill misses her every day, especially since she would always listen attentively to him. The best thing is that if she were alive, I know she would read this. She finally figured out email, and once she got rid of dial-up she was good to go on the Internet. Here's to you Mom!