Friday, January 30, 2009

Rodencia, Part D'Oh!

Hooray, we have another mouse!

Hooray, mouse poops in my cabinet again!!

Hooray, I can wash everything in the bottom cabinets again!!!

Because I have no other purpose in life!!!!

This mouse is ballsy, I'll give it that. I've seen it twice, and the first time it literally almost ran over my hand as it fled the underneath of the stove on its way to under the dishwasher. Last night, Josie and I heard it under the stove, so I pulled out the drawer, and sure enough, there it was, a big gray mouse. Sasha Cat went under there lickety-split, and almost caught it, but then it ran down a hole where the power cord goes through and got away. I left the drawer out of the stove so the cat can sit under there, and put one of those spinning mouse traps under there as well, but it hasn't gone into it yet.

So, now I'm left with a dilemma: I know how the thing is getting into the kitchen. Do I block up the little space somehow, preventing it from using that route, but probably also preventing me from catching it, or do I leave it open for awhile in the hopes that I'll be able to catch it?

In the meantime, I bought some inexpensive hard plastic sheeting, the kind that you use to put in the ceiling over florescent lights, to separate the cabinets from the dishwasher so the mouse can't go under that and directly into the cabinets. I bought plastic containers for the dog treats and whatnot we keep under the sink. I think the cabinets will be safe from now on.

Also, I bought a dish drainer that folds up to be put away, because we only have an 18in dishwasher thanks to the kitchen layout, and I'll need to wash a lot of them by hand while the rest are in the dishwasher. Actually, I usually wash pots that way, anyway, so it's just as well I got one, but still. Sigh.

Me and my dishpan hands will be back soon to report on how I fare with the Shred workout video I broke down and bought on sale at Target yesterday. Enough of you have raved about it that I'm going to try. I have a feeling it's not going to be pretty, but at least it's quick, right?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nothing Interesting At ALL

Yet another snow day. I'm fairly sure tomorrow will be more of the same, because today was more ice than anything else, and I do believe it's now raining outside, which means the whole county should be a freakin' ice rink by morning. Technically, I'm supposed to be at a school board meeting right now, since I'm on the finance review committee as the requisite parental input person, but if it's not canceled, it ought to be, and I'm not skating my way over there to find out.

Josie is watching Zach and Cody right now on Disney. I haven't let her watch the silly show before, because I think it will rot her brain and also because I'm concerned that it will be inappropriate. I know I can't keep her watching little kid shows forever, and she does watch a LOT of Discovery channel. I know a lot of her friends probably watch this show, and I don't want her to be left out. I know what it's like to have no idea what people are talking about. But, I'm concerned that it's a little inappropriate, and God, it's SO STUPID. At least it seems to be for a younger crowd than, say, Drake and Josh, which I completely don't allow. But, ugh. Gross.

Anyway, I'm sure it will be another interesting day stuck in the house tomorrow. Whee!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Surprise Ending

This morning I finally managed to meet my friend, Amanda, at Panera for breakfast. She was appropriately apologetic for standing me up last week; apparently she was laid up with a high fever and vomiting, and couldn't even think straight, and just spaced it. OK, I'll let that one pass. Besides, with the luck I was having last week, I might have rubbed off on her and her viral nightmare might have turned into seething puss pox or something.

We spent some time talking about Mothers Of Preschoolers (MOPS), which I volunteer babysit for with the babies, and she used to sit on the board for, and about the woman who is supposed to be in charge of managing the event, S. S has made a lot of questionable decisions over the year, including announcing last week that she was just going to let a baby, which fell asleep in the stroller with a light blanket tossed over his face to keep the light out while she wheeled him up and down the hall to get him to go to sleep, just sleep in the nursery (which is connected to the room we watch the awake babies in) with the blanket still over his face. I had to force her to go back in there and take it off of him. Hello, NO!!!! Sigh. She has some challenges, including some that I believe are mental, so I hadn't said anything to the Children's Education Director, Cindy, before this, figuring that I was in the room anyway, so I'd just keep an eye on her. Amanda, after sharing some of the things she's seen happen, convinced me that I needed to go to Cindy and ask if this woman could be moved to a room with older children.

I stopped at the church on my way home, and talked to Cindy. I felt a little bad, but hell, it seems to be my year to turn people in about various things. Cindy said that she was glad I'd come in, and that she had been noticing problems as well, so from now on this woman is going to be in with the older children. In her next breath, she asked me if I'd like a job.


Apparently, she likes to have a certain number of people actually on staff so she has assured child-watchers, and then she uses volunteers in addition for larger events, like MOPS. She showed me the spreadsheet, which has several times on it where there are either classes or meetings at the church for which they'd like to offer childcare. None are longer than two hours, almost all are in the morning or early evening, and I can sign up for as much or as little as I want, either sticking just with MOPS or picking up a few other things as well. I have no idea how much I'll get paid, but since I'm doing it on a volunteer basis now, it doesn't really matter much. So, I have a ....well, I don't think it's really a *job*, more like a freelance babysitting gig. It's perfect. It'll totally work around any school volunteering I do, I can bring my kids in a pinch, and it'll at least pay for Josie's piano lessons, I imagine. Nice!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oh, No He Di'int!!!!!!

You all may remember my Black Cloud post from yesterday. Suffice it to say, after that, all hell broke loose.

Patrick's friend, Ryan, stopped by to play with Patrick, and the two of them trooped upstairs, with Baci in hot pursuit. I went out to the back porch with the DS to try and relax and improve my oh-so-stellar mood. Cue DH's call that he had to stay late at work.

Of course he did. It was practically a given, considering my day. In fact, I would go so far as to hazard a guess that it was actually the gigantic cloud of my karma for the day that had extended so far as to blanket his office in Black!

OK, whatever, I was half-expecting something like that. Back to the DS.

After a minute, I became aware that Baci was barking. Really, really barking. And crying. So I called upstairs to find out what was going on. I called Baci. Several times. More crying. No coming. FINE. I went upstairs.

Baci was locked, alone, in my bedroom. The boys were nowhere to be found.

By that, I mean NOWHERE. Not in the attic, the basement, any of the bedrooms, nothing. I searched the house for ten minutes. Nothing.

I ran downstairs to ask Josie, who was sitting on the couch near the front door, if the boys had gone by her. 'No, I didn't see them.' Remembering that her powers of observation are akin to USELESS, I went out the door.

They weren't in the yard.

I stomped up the street to Ryan's house. Sure enough, there they were, in Ryan's living room.

If, by some chance, you heard what sounded like an exploding pterydactyl yesterday afternoon around 4pm, IT WAS ME. I freely admit, I totally lost it. I let that boy have it (verbally) right there in that living room, with Ryan's dad informing Ryan that, 'See? That's what happens when you do something like this,' which was nice to hear. I dragged that boy home, screaming and crying, and told him that he'd better get up in his room, and I didn't want to see him or hear from him until I told him otherwise.

Cue the stomping and screaming, and eventual yelling 'I HATE you!'

Oh, no, he di'int. He DID NOT sneak out of the house at AGE SIX, and then yell that he HATED ME after I made him come home!!!!

I went up the stairs and opened his door, and asked him what he'd said. He actually REPEATED IT, to MY FACE, but in a much smaller, maybe-this-isn't-such-a-good-idea voice. Can you believe he actually SAID IT AGAIN?! (What an idiot. Rule one of hating your parents is NOT YELLING IT AT THEM AGAIN when they quietly ask you to REPEAT IT!) So, I picked up his skinny ass, told him that I didn't want people who hated me because I was upset that they had scared the living crap out of me to live in the house, and deposited him on the front porch. I told him to go and live with people he didn't hate. I closed the screen door, and stood just inside it while he FREAKED OUT (he could see me the entire time). I didn't let him back in until he said that he was sorry, which only took a minute, but I'm sure seemed like forever to him. And I don't feel one bit bad, either. It's not the first time he's said he hated one of us, and also not the first time he's left the house (although he hasn't done it in awhile, so he obviously forgot his last lesson about that), so I figured he needed a Memorable Reminder.

This morning at 8:50 I got a call from the mom who runs Josie's book group; she wanted to bawl me out because I hadn't brought Josie to the 8:30am book reading she was doing with the group of one of the 'harder' books. We had originally said that we would be there, but really, Josie's already halfway done the book, and didn't need to be gotten up at the crack of Saturday to go out and listen to someone read to her for four hours. Also, I had a headache from yesterday still, and didn't want to go. Man, was Ms. K pissed! She tried to lay it on really thick, like I was one of her 7th grade math students, saying that they had held up the whole group waiting, and Josie had the copy of the book they were going to use so they'd had to find another one, so we really needed to call, etc. Waah. I think what really happened was that probably several parents had felt the same way, and she was mad about *that*. I told her that I wasn't feeling well, and Josie didn't need or want to be read to, and we didn't know it was mandatory or that they had wanted her copy of the book, but that if it was such a problem I could make her get dressed and tell DH how to get her there. She backed off, and then she let it slip that she was actually on her way out to pick up another kid and could come here to get Josie if we wanted. So they weren't really waiting on us. HA! She knew she'd slipped, too, because she started trying to talk really fast to cover it up, but I interrupted her quietly and said, 'OK, Wednesday evening, then?', and she agreed, and I hung up. Some people internalise kids' activities waaayyy too much. Josie's already read almost all the books, and is way ahead of all the other kids in the club, so... seriously, it's not that big of a deal.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Seriously? SUCK.

OK, this suckiness is getting out of control.

This morning seemed like it was going to be fine. Patrick was actually half-dressed when I got up, and was an angel this morning. Josie was great too.

It all started when I actually walked out the door. I let Baci come with us, but made Tyler stay at home. He fell three times yesterday - twice while trying to get into the car, and once going down the stairs - and I no longer feel comfortable allowing him to jump up into the car. So, I felt like shit making him stay at home, because while his body isn't really able, his mind is ALL ABOUT going places. He looked SO betrayed, and it's killing me. DH and I talked about this last night, and I said that I think it may be time to talk to the vet about... you know. I'm so worried that he's going to hurt himself irreparably around the house, because getting him to the car and to the vet would be impossible to do without hurting him further (he's 65lbs), or God forbid, what if I wasn't here and he fell on the stairs. Plus, he's so unhappy being stuck at the house all the time, watching Baci get taken everywhere... I hate to do it while he still seems so perky in most ways still, but then again, I don't want to wait until he's really unhappy, either... and also, I kinda just want to get it over with. It's looming over me like... well, like the spectre of death. Ugh. Any opinions on that out there? When is too early to usher your pet into the Great Beyond? We waited until his brother 'told' us a few years back, and I will always kick myself, because by the time we were sure, the vet didn't have an opening until Monday, and he suffered for a whole weekend.

I digress. I allowed Baci to come with us, and after dropping off the kids, we came back home, only to have Baci gallop joyously off to greet the high schoolers who walk to the bus stop near the house. I (and several helpful students) spent a good fifteen minutes trying to catch him as he dashed all over the place to avoid us, dancing just close enough and then sprinting off. Meanwhile, cars, school busses, etc were all going by, and I was sure I was going to see him get hit. ARGH.

I dragged him back to the house and took off my infected-finger bandaid. I got out a mug to make hot salt water in, and somehow dropped it into the porcelain sink and broke it. Nice.

After soaking my finger for awhile, I read my email. There was an email from Josie's teacher, thanking me for coming yesterday, and telling me that there would be a slight change of schedule next week. Now, I appreciate that there's a change here, but to be honest, I feel her tone was a little too... effusive. She was being sarcastic, in a way that I could never prove, but still know to be true. Nice.

I hopped into the car to meet a friend for breakfast. We've been trying to do this for weeks now, and for one reason or other, haven't been able to. I waited at Panera for an hour. She didn't show up.

I gave up and went shopping. I got a bunch of stuff from Home Depot so I can plant my seeds, whenever they arrive, and a new shower corner tower thing that looks like it might keep the giant shampoo bottles from sliding off their shelves and slamming onto my toes. That would be nice. When I got home, there was an email from my friend saying that she hoped I hadn't gone to Panera (why wouldn't I have gone? I said I would go just yesterday!), because she has the flu, and that's why her husband brought their daughter to choir last night. Um, why didn't he tell me, then? Why didn't someone call me?! ARGH!!!!!!! I could have stayed home in my pjs all day!!! Sigh.

Finally, the coup de gras, this is a three-paycheck month for DH. Guess what? His windshield has a big ol' crack in it, and the electric bill for Dec was $350 (so much for the more expensive lights saving us some money, huh?).

It's a good thing I'm out of Starbucks liquour, because otherwise I'd be SO drunk right now.

(note: as I was finishing writing this, the HD radio I got for sponsoring NPR came while I was writing this, so maybe things are going to look up a little?!)

Sigh. So, anyhoo, there we are. Crap-a-docious. Crap-a-doodle-doo.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Usual, and Unusual, Craptastic

Well, the teacher and I just plain ignored each other. I *did* see a difference, though, and I think she pulled a little passive-aggression on me. Today, when the kids acted up and got too loud, instead of screaming at them (as Josie told me she had been doing before I got there), she made them all go up and sit on the front rug with her while she talked to them. Eventually, she let the girls go, but she made the boys stay with her. She knew I was waiting for T, to read with him. She kept him with her. Still, it was an improvement. Then, she ended reading time early. Argh.

Now, for the crap: Stephen, the boy up the road, told Josie that this is the anniversary of his mother's death. Unfortunately, I didn't know that until tonight, so when he asked this afternoon if he could read with me today, I told him no because he read with me last time. CRAP. How small do I feel? I want to run down the road and grab him and squeeze him. Sigh.

Now, for the truly terrible: my SIL told me this morning that one of the boys at her church, age 7, had a stroke this morning and it has destroyed his brain. She didn't know any more than that, but really, that's enough.

The one bright spot: Josie's friend's mom got home from a tour in Iraq yesterday, in one piece. Thank heavens.

getting it up

HA! How's THAT for a read-me title?!

Don't get all perverted on me, now. I'm talking about my courage, dander, and anything else that might help me cope with going into Josie's classroom in about an hour. This will be the first time I've seen her since (I assume) she got a copy of the letter I wrote to the superintendent's office. I *almost* don't care, but not quite. I do still have a shred of 'oh, SHIT!' in me. Mostly, I'm concerned that she's going to try to talk to me about it, but then she may assume that I don't know that she knows.

Also, in other news, darnit, I have a little cut on my middle finger (how appropriate) that has gotten infected. Crap! I guess I'll try soaking it in salt water and dousing it with vinegar for a day or so, and then if that doesn't work, it'll be off to a doctor for me. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hee hee

I don't have a lot to talk about today, and I've been meaning to put these links up for awhile now. There is a group of people somewhere that does skits for YouTube using Potter Puppet Pals, and they're hysterical. The kids actually found them first, and yes, we let them watch. They actually saw them at a friend's house first.

This first one is called 'Wizard Swears', and the second one is called The Mysterious Ticking Noise. I will warn you that the second one will stick in your head FOREVER, but it's still totally worth it.

Now go look at them and laugh, you Dementor Buggerers! SOUP! (you'll understand that last bit afterwards).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Taking A Deep Breath

OK, the Obamas just got back into their car after walking down the streets of DC for a few blocks. I have held my breath the entire time they were out. Thank heavens they got back in the car. I mean, I'm thrilled that he got out, but even more thrilled that he got back in.

That makes me think, really, about all the things that that family will be giving up in the next few years. There will be no playset on the White House lawn. There's no outdoor pool. I doubt they'll be going to Six Flags anytime soon. Biking through the streets of DC will probably be limited. The girls will not be taking their puppy for a walk around the block, or probably even be outside alone, ever. Wow.

I am so grateful to them. For their sacrifice, and for giving me the ability to feel proud of my leader again. I mean, I was a huge Clinton fan, but this... this is something entirely different. I have been ashamed to be American, to be honest, for the past several years, and in this one day, I feel redeemed, like there is a chance for us all to be a shining beacon again, and that I can be a part of that.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Popularity

In case last week wasn't enough, I now have more people to add to my 'Thinks Astarte Is An A-Hole' list! AND, get this - it's a published, popular author!!!! Oh, happy day!

I'm serious!

A few weeks ago, over at my other site, Literally Booked, I posted a review of a book called Cost, a novel about a family who is attempting to deal with a heroin-addicted family member. To paraphrase, I said it was too slow to get into the meaty stuff, and that the heroin-addicted boy didn't get his own voice in the story until approx. page 200, which was a little too late for my taste. Other than that, and a weird ending that seemed more like an afterthought, it was a good book, and I gave it three stars out of five.

Can I tell you how pissed the author is at me?!?! Oh, ho, she is MAD. Let me say, many people liked that book, and several prominent reviewers said it was very good. In case you don't want to click over, here's what she said:

Just to set the record straight on my book, Cost, which you trashed last month, here are a few facts: Jack is introduced in the first chapter. His drug problem is introduced early, and his heroin addiction is announced by Stephen on page 94.

As to the rest of your comments, you might be interested in reading reviews of the book by real critics in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, People, Down East magazine and many other publications.
All of these reviewers understood the book and what it was about.
It was an Editors' Choice at the New York Times, named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year at the Washington Post, one of the Twelve Best Books of the Year by the Wall Street Journal, and one of the Best Books of the Year at the Seattle Tribune and the Chicago Tribune."

I have to say, my first response to this post was to laugh. I mean, really?! WOW. How mad can one person be over a random book review by a regular person (whose opinion was echoed by several people over at, BTW), when they've had that much acclaim by so-called experts? I mean, that's like Patrick-mad when I tell him it's time to stop playing with his cousin and get ready to go home. I'm not sure if I should be pleased that my opinion is so concerning, or offended that she thinks the reason I didn't like her book was that I'm not intelligent enough to understand her genius because I'm not a paid critic. Anyway, I love that an author read my site, even if it WAS only to crap on me. She actually posted it in response to my recent post announcing the book for this month rather than my review of her book, so I copied it and gave it its own post so people could read it.

As I was giggling to myself, I heard from the living room the telltale sounds of Josie being a little #$%#@ to Patrick. This has been a real problem lately; she's apparently going through a real Queen Bee phase. Patrick, for his part, has been a bit of a pest, and was shortly in trouble with DH for having a too-tired tantrum. They both ended up in bed early, via route of a scolding, and DH got the benefit of 'I hate you all the time' from Patrick. Actually, that was kind of funny, because DH could see that he wanted to say something, and initially Patrick wouldn't say it because 'it would be mean to you', so how nice that he was concerned with DH's feelings even as he was contemplating the depths of his hatred. For my part, I only got The Look from Josie.

Also, I don't know how many of you would have seen this on the news, but both DH and I were trapped in terrible traffic today due to a massive pileup on Rt 70 in MD. I barely missed seeing it from the other side of the highway, thankfully, on my way to bring Brandon home, but apparently there was a FIFTY CAR pileup, including several eighteen-wheelers and box trucks, as well as an oil truck. They shut down Rt70 all day long after that, so everyone on their way home this afternoon had to take a dinky little side road. It took DH four hours to get home tonight.

Just to recap, I am on the shit list of my daughter's teacher, the teacher's union, my daughter, a nationally acclaimed author, and god knows who else. DH is on the poop list of everyone in the house but me (for the moment). Ah, it's nice to be popular. It's just like high school!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things - Grocery Edition

I have nothing fabulous to talk about, so here is the second edition of my favorites list - grocery stuff!

-- Hello, Starbucks is putting out liqueur! YUM! I put it in cocoa at night. I have to hold myself back from using it all damn day, actually. It. is. heaven. If Starbucks coffee is crack, this is crack for the burgeoning alcoholic in all of us.

-- Target's Archer Farms brand Apple Streusel Pancake and Waffle Mix. Holy crap, these are the best pancakes I've ever had, EVER. I make the trip to Target especially to get the mix, which is in the breakfast / baking aisle. I don't even usually put on the streusel topping, they're that good. Light, fluffy, and as easy to make as Bisquick, but a lot better tasting.

-- Caribou Coffee latte bars. They come in mocha, vanilla and caramel. I don't like caramel, but the mocha and vanilla are great.

-- Quaker True Delights bars. I bought Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut, and they're so good! There are also several chocolate varieties, I believe, but since I love coconut and already have mocha latte bars, I thought I'd give these a whirl. Plus, I had a $1 coupon.

-- Quaker Simple Harvest oatmeal. It's a lot more whole-grainy than the regular oatmeal, and has nice slices of pecans, almonds, and whatnot in it. It seems like a more grown-up version of packaged oatmeal, really, and it tastes better than the regular stuff. Plus, while it used to be more expensive, for some reason it's now the same price as the regular kinds, so... the maple pecan is a stronger flavor, while the vanilla, almond and honey is milder. Both are great.

-- Sabra hummus. This is the best hummus I've ever tasted. We have gotten the pine nut and the garlic versions, and YUM. It's creamy, very flavorful and there's just enough in the package that we have time to eat it all before it goes a little funny.

-- 8th Continent Vanilla Soymilk. I can't have a lot of regular milk, because it gives me mouth ulcers and stomach problems. Plus, I find cow milk to be gross. I put this in my cereal, coffee, and use it frequently in baking. It's mild, not grainy, and just sweet enough. I like the light better than the regular, because it's a little thinner, and I was used to drinking skim milk previously. Happily, you can almost always get a coupon for $.75 or $1 off a gallon, either from the containers themselves, the little coupon-spitting machines at the grocery store on the shelves, or in the papers.

-- St. Ives Elements facial products. I use the microderm abrasion and the warming scrub, and they actually *work*. My skin actually looks noticeably better after I've used them. They cost more, and as much of a stingy person as you know I am, I buy them whether I have a coupon or not. I like the abrasion one especially. It's just gritty enough, unlike some of the apricot scrubs I've had in the past which felt like they were stripping off my skin.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oh, Target, How I Have Wronged Thee

Dearest Target, you are not all bad in the sale department.

Today, Josie and I were there getting a few things before picking up Patrick's b-day cake at Cold Stone, and I found this:

A didj WITH a Star Wars game, and with special Star Wars detailing, which was apparently available only at Target for the holidays, although I never saw it in my life before today, when it was sitting there, all by its lonesome, on an endcap.

Guess how much it was.

Go on.

I'll give you a hint - it was less than they would have cost separately, which is about $120.

It was less than the special holiday gift-pack price of $90.

Give up?


We hadn't been planning on buying a didj, because we have an original Leapster that Josie got for her third birthday almost seven years ago that still works fine, and since all the new games work on both the L1 and L2 systems, we never saw the need to spend the hundred dollars for an L2. Also, Patrick loves his DS, and since we weren't sure how well the whole didj thing was going to take off, we didn't want to spend the $100 on that only to have the whole system be discontinued, either, although I did like how it was more educational and had the online component. I'll get almost anything at more than half-off, though, especially when the system is half off AND there's a free game involved! Plus, I took a look at the games available while I was there, and there seemed to be a decent selection, for it being a new system. Josie will be using it too, if she wants, of course, and I'm wondering if the online component will make it more interesting to her. Does anyone else have this thing?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Grocery Roundup Report: January 16th, and Apology

First off, I want to apologize profusely to everyone that somehow was omitted from my blogroll for the last week. I don't know WTF happened!!! I used auto-add from Google reader, and everyone should have been on there, but almost every other blog was gone!!! I was so frustrated by the time I was done messing with the new layout that I didn't go back and check that everything was perfect, and that's what I get. Sheesh!!

Anyhoo, this week's grocery roundup is a little disappointing. The coupons have been really, really scarce because of the holidays. For those of you who don't cut them, or get a paper, for some godforesaken reason, papers don't include coupon inserts on weeks where there's a holiday, so the last three weeks have been really touch and go - I think I've gotten one insert since before Christmas, so it was slim pickin's today when I went to get them out. I mostly had to rely on store sales this week, which weren't really stellar. This tells me that I need to get online and print out some coupons before I go again to build up my stockpiles.

The good news is, I haven't gone to the grocery store since Christmas Eve Day! It turned out that I had managed to stock up enough at sales in the last couple of months that I just really didn't need to go for anything other than milk, etc, in almost four weeks! Woohoo! AND, I'm hopeful that I'm in the same position after today's trip, because it was Meat Sale week - 20% off of all the meat you can stuff into the paper bag. So, once again I'm totally full-up on meat, and probably won't need to buy any more until the next sale like that.

Total Items Purchased: 153
Total Spent: $375.16
Coupons Used: 23
Coupon Savings: $19.55
Bonus (Doubled) Coupons: $4.50
Club Card Savings: $51.61
Total Saved: $75.66
Percent Saved: 16%
Gas points earned: $.80 per gallon off

I think this is the lowest percentage I've saved in the history of my keeping track. I think that the stores are definitely feeling the economic pinch, too, because most of their 'sales' are $.20 off or so. (Incidentally, I've noticed that Target's 'sales' stickers on the shelves at the stores are sometimes only a savings of - literally - pennies. They're just to trick us into *thinking* there's a sale, when really it's only $.05 off. I've seen that even on some 'clearance' stickers. Jerks.) I'm hoping that the lack of sale prices was more a factor of the big meat sale than anything else. Currently, they're making a big deal about holding a 'price freeze' for the next 90 days, guaranteeing that nothing will go up. If they think that's a replacement for a sale, um, IT'S NOT. Also, the store has stopped its double gas savings, and is back to $.10 off a gallon per $50 spent. Oh, well. That's still twice the other store in town.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Marginal Reprieve

I won't be going in to the school today after all, because it's canceled due to 'weather'. Can I tell you that there's not even an inch of snow on the ground?!?! WTF?!?!

On the one hand, I'm glad to not have to go in. Actually, now I won't be in there until next Thursday, since the schools are closed M-T next week. By then, she will definitely have read The Letter. On the other hand, one can only hope that maybe by then she will have quit, run away, been reassigned, fired, or simply imploded. On the other hand, I would kind of liked to have gotten it over with. Now I can look forward to seeing her for a whole week. Nothing like anticipation! Sometimes, though, I worry ideas so much that they simply stop bothering me, and maybe this is one of those kinds of ideas.

The kids are driving me bananas. Today was going to be cleaning day, since I knew I was going to have a lot of nervous energy to burn off, but now they're here dancing around me, throwing demands like hand grenades into my ideas. Sigh. For some godforsaken reason, Patrick cannot find ANY of his shoes, or his brand-new boots. ??? I have completely washed my hands of their footwear situations, so I told him it was up to him to find something suitable to wear outside. Since I just heard the back door slam, that means that he either a) found something appropriate or b) is wearing ziplock baggies over his socks.

Josie just informed me that she has been invited to go sledding with a friend. On WHAT?! I can see grass poking out of the snow! As it will get her out of my hair, she is more than welcome to go. At least this friend of hers is a little prissy less tomboyish about her appearance, so I can be fairly sure that the whole thing will stop cold if it ends up being more mudsliding than anything else.

Patrick's birthday was good. He liked his presents, and it was very low-key. Having it right after Christmas is kind of good in that way, since we're all kind of excited-out, including him. He chose Friendly's for dinner, and then we went to make his tricked-out car. The people that work there are *great* with kids, and the guy actually said that his younger brother is Patrick's same age (the guy was about 18). Josie said she's saving up her money and going there, too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

... We Now Interrupt This Broadcast

... For a Message From the Land of SCREWED.

You know that letter I wrote to the director of elementary education at the superintendent's office?

The DoE, Ms. B, called me just now. She wanted to thank me for writing such a detailed, thorough letter.

And to tell me that it's being passed on to other parties involved in the Process, which apparently is moving forward and there are Several Options Being Considered. I assume this means board members, union people, etc.

And also, that she is contractually obligated to give a copy to Ms. Teacher.

Oh, holy shit. You mean the four page letter where I basically said that she doesn't like children, purposefully ruins their fun during events, does not bother to attend school functions, screwed with my kid's grade, can't be trusted, and screams constantly? Where I said that she was rude to the children, and had created an intolerable situation in the classroom? Where I said that she makes kids cry? The one that I sent to not only her boss, but her boss' boss? The one that will probably follow her throughout her career, at least in this county, if not for the rest of her life?

Oh, shit.

I mean, it's all true, unfortunately, so she totally has been asking for this all year.

But, OH, SHIT. She doesn't have it yet, but she will shortly, which means when I go in there on Thursday (tomorrow!!), she will have read it. I know she knows that people have complained about her in the past, but I'm assuming that since mine is the 'lucky' letter being used as evidence in whatever's going on, no one else has gone to quite the length and depth that I did. Obviously, I knew it would get back to her that I've complained, but I didn't think she'd get a copy of it.

I'm still going in there tomorrow. T liked that book I bought for us to read, and he read an entire chapter (with help) to me yesterday, and then I read one to him. It was the most he's ever done. I was so excited, and he seemed genuinely excited that I had brought him a book. I'm not ditching him. So, in I will go. I might wear a mask, or do the army crawl, but I'm going in.

Patrick and The Big S-I-X

Today my little Beeb (short for beebee / baby) is six. My boy is SIX!

Oh, how did this happen?!? I don't remember anyone asking me, or signing any forms, or even remotely thinking that I would like a Larger Boy, Please. No, I was perfectly happy with my Baby Man. He was cuddly, and sweet, and funny. This newer model is, well, shall we say, Less So. This new model loves me, but is distinctly pushing me away. He needs me, but is determined to make his own decisions and go his own way. He does not want to hold my hand in the parking lot. He prefers his Daddy.

But, this new model does have upgrades. He plays games like a big kid, can almost ride a bike without training wheels, and reads like the wind. He is funny, and is developing a much more sophisticated understanding of humor (although fart jokes are still IT around here). He understands other children and cares about their feelings, and isn't afraid to point out when something is wrong or mean. The word 'Mine' has left his vocabulary; he is excited to share everything he has, and every child he meets on the street is invited to come over to play.

The best upgrade of all is his ability to write little notes to everyone. We all routinely get sticky notes with 'I love you' on them, and he makes signs to put on the front door to invite people in, 'especially my friend Beau who if you are him come in right now'.

Oh, I love you, my silly pickle.

This afternoon, I will bring homemade s'mores treats to school. I used individual Hershey bars, which are the exact size of 1/4 of a graham cracker, and marshmallow fluff for the inside, and then dipping chocolate to spread on top so I could sprinkle confetti on top:

Tonight, we will go out for dinner wherever he wants to go, and then to a place up here where kids can build their own remote control cars - kind of like build-a-bear for big kids. This weekend, family will come up for some cake, and his cousin will be staying with us until Monday. On Sunday, we're taking the two of them and two of his friends to the movies, and then on Monday we'll meet back up with my SIL and little niece at the indoor water part we were at a couple of weeks ago to trade back my nephew. It's going to be a great few days! We decided not to do a party this year, partly because we didn't do one for Josie (who chose to go to Hershey with her friend for the day instead), and partly because, seriously, ugh. We end up inviting all these kids, when really even at a party he'd spend most of his time with the two boys we're taking to the movies, anyway. Plus, where we live now, the selection of party places is really, really limited, and if you think I'm having a ton of 6yr old boys crammed into my house in JANUARY, well, you obviously need therapy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things - Games Edition

OK, enough with the bitching. It's time for a post about things I *like*!!! This will be the Game Edition.

Of course, I like all of YOU. And, since I know that there are some of you out there who don't comment, I'm putting this baby up:C'mon, you know you wanna.

I am also loving that the kids are old enough to play real games now. We got several new ones / add-ons for old ones at Christmas, including The Settlers of Catan, Risk 2210AD, Battleground: Crossbows and Catapults and several expansion packs, the China and Madagascar expansion packs for the Xeko card game (we already have Indonesia), Wizardology: The Game, and Classic Parcheesi. Both kids love games, and even Patrick is now able to sit and play games that take up to an hour to play.

Risk takes approximately forever, and this one is very cool because the map depicts the world's layout 200 years from now, with continental shifts, country reorganization, and places that have been re-organized by flood. In addition, there is a map for the moon, and you can colonize it with your Rocket Man and armies! While it's not a great thing for teaching geography, it's really cool, and to be honest, I hadn't expected the kids to want to play it, anyway. DH had wanted it for Christmas, so I bought it for him thinking we'd play together and at dinner parties and stuff. It's awesome that the kids want to play, too! The last two nights, we're played while we've eaten dinner.

Wizardology takes about an hour to play, too, and that's once you know what you're doing. The first game takes longer. It's SO fun!!! The kids love that, too, because you're playing to collect magical objects, and you can steal from other people, cast spells, and go in all different directions. That was for Josie, and I got it for a steal at Target over the summer - $12 compared to the $25 on Amazon. In fact, it's such a hit that Josie is getting Patrick the Pirateology game for his birthday, which is tomorrow, so the package better get here today, since I paid for express shipping on THURSDAY, but I digress.

Settlers of Catan is mine, and we haven't played it yet, but I've been ogling it for years at the game kiosk at the mall. I wasn't going to buy it for $50, but it went on supersaver sale on Amazon before Xmas for $15, and I believe it's still on sale now, so hello, it's mine!!! It's on schedule for tonight, since we've done Risk two nights in a row.

Xeko is very cool. It's a card game where the animals are competing for resources, and is much like Magic for kids, with educational benefits. Each card tells about the animal, where it's from, what it likes to eat, etc, plus any special powers that the game credits it with (+2 attack, etc).

The Classic Parcheesi was on Patrick's Christmas list, which surprised me, since the picture on the front didn't have Star Wars, any kind of sword, or a cartoon on the cover. The box and board are beautiful, and the playing pieces are old-Hindu-design-looking animals. They're really, really pretty, no reading is needed. Josie learned the hard way that blocking the path (by putting two pieces on the same spot) until everyone is lined up behind her is a BAD IDEA, since that means not only is everyone mad at you, but they're all within a dice roll of landing on you and sending you home!

Also for Christmas, to Patrick from Josie, was Guess Who? Star Wars Edition, where two players each have a board with little flip-down tabs that have the characters on it from SW. Each person gets to ask one question and then eliminate characters on their board based on the answer until only one is left, revealing the answer of which character the opponent picked. There are a few editions of this game out, so if your kid isn't into SW, you can use someone else, but personally I think this one is better, since you get to ask whether the person is an alien, or if they have green skin, or if they have Bun Hair. I'm just sayin'.

Another game we all love and play all the time is Zooreka. We've had it for a few years, and Patrick has been playing on his own (rather than as a team with DH or I) for over a year now. It's not complicated, although at first it looks like it is, so young kids need to be on a team for at least the first couple of games. In that one, you are building a zoo, so you have to collect food, shelter and some other card that I can't remember now, and once you get enough, you trade them in for an animal for your zoo. In the meantime, you roll dice, bet on what other people will roll and win cards based on whether you're right or not (this is easy - you put your marker on the picture of the food, shelter or other thing and if the special die comes up on your picture, you get a card). The animals are cool, too - naked mole rats, sharks, elephants, penguins, etc.

We also play card games a lot. Sleeping Queens is great (this is easy for anyone over 4, and there's no reading required), and so is The Scrambled States of America, which has the added benefit of also being educational, yet pretty simple to get the hang of (Joshua can play this, but he can read, which is helpful in this game - really, I think it's better for 6+). Castle Keep requires only that you be able to recognize colors and basic design; you have to build a castle, and the cards have to be touching something that is similar in shape (pointy, curved or straight walls) or color. Another favorite is There's a Moose In The House, which I'm going to need to replace since in our moves we've lost too many cards to play it anymore. This one requires no reading, and our kids find the concept of a moose appearing in a bed, standing in a kitchen with it's rear hanging out of the fridge, or sitting in the bathtub absolutely hysterical.

These games have really brought home to me the benefit of not having any more babies in the house, or at least in having kids that are old enough to play cool games. We are no longer stuck on Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Apple-O or whatever it's called, and other things that made my brain ooze out my ears. By the time we're bored with the games, winter will be over, and it will be time to go outside, anyway.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Forget the Gauntlet, Just Give Me A Spear!!!

This morning, I came downstairs to find Josie crying into her Cheerios. She didn't want to go to school any more because her teacher yells at them all the time, and she feels like her teacher hates them.

What could I say? I think she's right. So, we sat on the couch, and she sobbed and sobbed. There was nothing I could do, nothing I could say to make it better. I was pretty much in tears myself.

Luckily, today was also my day to be in Patrick's classroom, and his dear teacher noticed that I was fighting tears. I told her what had happened, and she shared with me that A) the principal has been trying to get Mrs. Teacher fired for a long time, and B)the union is fighting it, saying that the principal has it 'out for' Ms. Teacher, despite the volume of parent complaints. She advised me to go back down to the office and talk to her again.

So, I did, and barely restraining tears, I told her what had happened this morning, expressed my gratitude for what she had done so far, and asked if there was any more that could be done or anyone else I could talk to. She gave me the name and number of the Director of Elementary Education over at the superintendent's office. Later, Patrick's teacher gave me the woman's email.

I just finished writing a volume of my own. I wrote down *everything*: the recent book report issue, the not coming on the Parent Math Night (where the kids were supposed to teach the parents a math lesson they had learned - we had to crowd into the other fourth grade room because Mrs. Teacher was a no-show), the rudeness, the yelling, the hateful behavior towards the kids during holiday events, EVERYTHING. It was literally about four screens long. I ended it by saying that contracts, unions, or no, this situation is intolerable, and something needs to be changed. At the very least, the aide needs to be put back into the room.

I'm going to give every parent I know this woman's email address and phone number. I know that a lot of other parents have complained, and maybe upping it a notch will get more attention. I understand the need for unions in other jobs, like mining, but teacher is as close to a government job as you can get without actually being a ".gov", and there is no place for a union where kids are in the equation. I wonder if I can complain directly to the union? I wonder if they'll take a hit out on me? Are they based in Jersey?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Did It!

OK, here is what I've ended up with. Whaddya think? :)

Thanks for the encouragement and offers of help, everybody, but, in the words of all our kids, I Do It Messeffff!

I should probably work on growing out of that.


As some of you have noticed, I've been trying to change my blog a bit. However, I'm too mad to do it anymore at the moment. Blogspot has been throwing me error after error for the past half hour!!! So, I've put it back like it was, minus some things that it now says it can't read, even though I'm just uploading what was already here, and taking a breath. Maybe another day!

Except now what's here looks really crappy to me. BOO!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Title? We Don't Need No Stinking Title!

Get this: the kids are in bed, the dogs have both gone upstairs to lay on my bed, the cat is here being ... cattishly QUIET, and since we had the fireplace repair guy come and show us how to work our gas fireplace / do an inspection on it, I have a beautiful fire going. AND - DH is out for the evening at Man Poker. I have the Symphonic station playing on the TV. OH, and my new addiction is steaming ever-so-seductively by my side - coffee spiked with Starbucks Cream Liqueur. (There's a slight chance I may be becoming an alcoholic, because this is the best stuff ever invented.)

Today we took down the tree and put away the things that were largeish and bulkyish and I didn't put away during the week. It's funny how things all start to blend into the scenery, though, because there's a huge red and green basket in the living room full of Christmas toys (Charlie Brown and Rudolph characters, Little People Santa and sleigh with eight, etc), and there it still sits, even after I swept the entire house not once but Twice. Oh, well.

I took Josie to her competitive book club meeting this morning, and was again harrassed by one of the moms who runs the team to take out the kids on the team from class to work with them when I go into the school during the week. First of all, I already explained to her daughter, whom she had ask me first right after the first meeting, that I can't focus solely on kids on an outside-of-school club. Second, hello, I'm there mostly to help kids who need help. I mean, I do take other kids, and have been trying to rotate everyone through at some point, but really, children who are in a reading competition don't need EXTRA help that they have obviously been getting at home for years. Today when she called me out in front of everyone to ask me again to do it, I politely turned her down flat, and told her that there are kids who can't read and that I have to help them first, and she got kind of huffy, saying that she's a 7th grade math teacher and has kids who can't multiply. Well, then, good morning, she should see my point. Not to mention, there are only two kids on the team that are in Josie's class, anyway, and the other one is HER OWN KID, so.... sheesh!

Speaking of, I went to Borders today and chose 'Stink and the World's Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers', by Megan McDonald, to read with T. Stink is Judy Moody's little brother. Josie said that she's read the book, and it's a lot easier than regular books, but is still not embarrassingly so. I'm nervous to go in with it, because what if he thinks it sucks or that I'm a freak or something for getting it for him, but on the other hand, it will be so much more accessible for him. The words are a little larger, the lines more widely spaced, and the words are above Junie B. Jones but below Judy Moody. All in all, it looks a lot less intimidating than his current book, but is still about boy stuff. I hope he likes it.

I love that Josie has been part of this. She knows what I'm doing, and why, but understands completely that she's not to speak of more adult issues that I may discuss with her with anyone but me, and has always been able to keep that promise. I love that she thinks nothing of helping me find a book for a kid that she doesn't even really enjoy, but understands needs help. She's a great, great kid. (brag, brag, brag)

In response to requests, the pattern I used for the carseat buntings was Simplicity 3712. It lists for $15 on the site, but for heaven's sake get it at Joanne's at a sale!! I only paid $1 for it on Veteran's Day during their 10/$10 deal.

Last, but absolutely not least, I want to shout out to Devan for hooking up with my private charity challenge! She, too, has donated a flock of chicks to hungry people!!!! You rock, girl! Anyone else who steps up and gives to Heifer, post or send me an email if you want to be all Anon about it, and I'll add you to the Reader Donor Ticker I'm creating on the sidebar!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Coincidence? Providence? You Decide.

So, yesterday, after making the obligatory resolutions, I made my first donation to Heifer International, of one clutch of chicks, and decided that honeybees would be next week's project.

Today, in the mail, we got a letter from X, a company DH worked for two job changes ago. He hasn't been there for about five years now. They apparently just completed an ESOP (an acronym for some savings plan thingamajig) earnings audit. The letter included an earnings rectification check for $244.66.

Coincidence? Providence? Happily rectified financial error that was, for once, in our favor?

Heifer got their honeybees early.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Vindication and Crow, All In One Day

Ha HA!!! I got an email from the principal this afternoon that Josie's grade would be changed back to its original A. I was a little stressed when I went in this afternoon to volunteer, but Mrs. Teacher was her usual self, and actually even very politely said that there was a note for me in Josie's cubby. I have no idea what it says, since Josie didn't bring it home, but I assume it's in there somewhere, and I told her to be on the lookout for it tomorrow. If it's not there, she's to tell Teacher that it's missing. Knowing you're in the right doesn't make facing someone you've gone over the head of to complain to that person's boss any easier, so I was more than a little relieved to get it over with today. Phew.

One thing that consistently shocks and dismays me is the horrible reading levels that some of these kids have achieved, a word which I use very loosely. There are several children in this fourth-grade class that can *barely* read, and a few who I would say cannot read at all. I know that they are taken for special services reading classes, but really, truly, I feel that they should have been held back. I mean, they're at the age of book reports, more complex thoughts and words, and they will most certainly be left behind completely whether they stay behind a grade or continue on to fifth grade next year. It hurts my heart to listen to them struggle, and know that there's so little that I can do to help them. One encouraging thing is that one boy in particular has recently taken a liking to reading to me, even though he barely reads in a whisper and needs help with almost every word, so I try to take him every time, because if he has even a glimmer of enjoyment out of it, there's hope that he at least hasn't given up. His biggest problem is that his choice of books is way too hard, and he needs someone to help him find books that are about what he's interested in but are easier to read, because he's not going to learn to read by starting with books that are at the level he *should* be at rather than one with words that he can sound out more easily. I think maybe he's embarrassed to choose books at his level, which is really probably around K, but it's what he needs. If I were friends with his teacher, I'd make a suggestion, but... maybe I'll pick up a book about baseball when I'm out next time, if I can find one that seems good but isn't babyish-looking. I could leave it on his desk when they're at their special one morning, so it wouldn't be a big deal or seem like I'm giving him a gift or anything. If anyone has any ideas or names for interesting beginning sports books, let me know.


Now we will move onto the Crow portion of our afternoon: Kathy has called to thank me, and I didn't know it. She left a message on my cell phone, which had been dead for days, unbeknownst to me, in my jacket pocket. I hadn't needed my heavy coat in several days, and I've been at home most of the time anyway, so I hadn't really thought about it at all until it was cold enough today that I needed to wear it, and put my hands in the pocket. I plugged it in when I got into the car, and there were TEN messages on it, mostly from my one friend who calls me incessantly and leaves volumes in each message, like she's having a conversation with herself on my phone, but one was from Kathy, saying that she had called to say thank-you, and that one of the nurses at her doctor's office wanted to know where I had gotten the pattern for them. Hee-haw, hee-haw, I'm a jackass. In my defense, I don't know why she didn't call the house when she didn't hear back from me, and it's not uncommon to not be thanked for things, but in this particular case, I'm the dumbass. BUT, I'm happy to be the dumbass, in this situation, so there you have it. I'm a happy idiot.

The Obligatory Resolutions

OK, OK, since it's the beginning of the year, it is time to Resolve. Also, I'm seeing a lot of other people doing it, and it *does* seem like a good way to keep myself honest, by putting my sad little resolutions online.

So, without further ado, here they are:

1. I will be in control of myself this year.
This means financially, foodically, and any other way that I've been just kind of throwing up my hands and going with the flow. I want to be aware of what I'm doing, and hold myself accountable. If I want to be someone I'm proud of being, I have to live purposefully. I'm not committing to starve myself, physically or financially, just to think before I act.

2. I will put my money where my mouth, and heart, is.
I will no longer stifle that feeling of guilt that I have when I buy unnecessary things, the one that tells me that others need food and clothes and yet here I am buying yet another pair of shoes. I am going to give to charity weekly. When I was a teenager, I made a resolution that I would put money in every jar I saw that asked for it at a store, and I did it, whether it was a nickel or a dollar, I gave what I had. Somewhere, I lost that. I am going to get it back, but more than that, I'm going to do what I know I should be; giving to others who need it. In that spirit, today I made my first gift to Heifer International, of a clutch of chicks. It made me happier than shoes ever could. I chose chicks because I remember reading in Little House on the Prairie about how excited and proud their family was to have chickens, and how much it helped them. Next time I will give honeybees, to help with crops and also to help save the honeybee population. I don't know what I've been waiting for, other than that concern that 'what if I give this and then I don't have enough left over for myself?' Selfish. No more.

3. Walk the dog more often.
I have gotten SO LAZY. I play with Baci a lot, but he really needs to go on more walks, like at least every day. It helps his behavior so much, and I know I'm being a better pet owner. Plus, it will help me resolve some of my FAT ASS issues. (Tyler doesn't need more walking - I feel bad, but I rarely take him on walks anymore. He just gets so tired, and I'm afraid he's going to get hurt. So, he goes in the car, but that's about it for his outings these days, poor old man.)

4. Make a better marriage.
Our marraige is fine. Really, it is. But, do I really want to live the rest of my life with 'fine', when I know that if I put more effort in, it could probably be even better? It's easy to let it slide, but if anything happened to DH, I don't want to look back and know that I could have been a better wife.

I think that's about it. I think, really, they all come under one heading - Doing What I Know Is Right. If I can manage to do that, then this will be a stellar year indeed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting the Last Word

I did end up talking to Josie's principal yesterday when I went over to get the kids. I was running way early, and was the first person in the pick-up line, so I figured I'd pop in and see if I could at least make an appointment for Thursday, when I would be in the school next. The secretary, who goes to our church and we are very friendly with, told me that the principal was in the cafeteria, and I should go and talk to her because she would more than likely talk to me right away. Sure enough, when I went into the cafeteria, she was talking to a table of students; when she finished, I asked her if she had a minute, and she said, 'absolutely', and we went into her office.

I have to stop here and say that I am very grateful that she is the principal at this school. Despite a few oddities (making everyone stand in the pouring rain that night), she obviously cares about the students and makes an effort to know all their names. Even better, I know when I walk through the door into her office, she will be respectful to me as well as to her employees, neither treating me as an intruder / accuser that should be deflected or 'selling out' her staff. I know that she has to be tired of people going in there to complain about Mrs. Teacher, but still, she never shows it, and I respect that.

Once we got into her office, I told her what had been going on, and how I was upset not only with the event itself, but also with the possibility that this is the reason that I've heard complaints from other parents that the kids' grades are going down. After I finished laying the whole thing out on the table, she said very seriously that she agreed completely that this was an inappropriate punishment, and that she would take care of it. She asked that I send her an email so she could have it in writing, and also that if I had any other concerns, that I should write an additional letter with them in it.

To me, this sounds very much like she's looking for documentation to put in Mrs. Teacher's file, and that she knows that there are other problems that she would like someone to document for her. I hope so, because if this woman still has a job at this school next year, I will be sorely disappointed. There, I said it. I want her to get fired.

I wrote the email when I got home, and I'll put my favorite part here:

"I attempted to address this problem with Ms. Teacher by returning the paper to her with her comment circled and a comment if my own saying, 'This is ridiculous - work is work, and behavior is behavior. If she needs to be punished, then punish her, but her work stands.' I received no response. Josie told me that she looked at the paper, said, 'Oh', and that was all. Perhaps I could have been more polite, but to be honest, I have never received or witnessed politeness in that classroom, and so am not as inclined to be kind as I once was. The lack of response I received only bolsters that opinion."

The very first thing the next morning, I got an email from the principal saying, 'Thank you. I will address this with Mrs. Teacher.' WHOOT!

I haven't heard anything from anyone since yesterday morning, when this email arrived. I 'm scheduled to go into the classroom tomorrow afternoon, and am wondering what's going to happen. I mean, the last time I complained, it wasn't specifically about her, but rather than she needed some help in there, which, if she had known about it, could have been construed as a helpful comment, really. This time, I have complained specifically about her actions, and also basically called her rude, in writing, to her boss. She will know that my email will be in her file. I will probably have been the cause of her getting chewed out. So... will she confront me? Will she actually *speak* to me? I can't imagine that she would have a conversation about this in front of the children, especially since it makes her look like an ass. Will I just feel daggers being thrown from her eyes? And how will I feel? I'm having a surprising lack of writer's remorse. Usually, I would be feeling petrified to face this person, but you know what? Bring it on. If she actually tries to get into this with me tomorrow, so be it. At least now she knows that if she tries to fuck with my kid, I have no qualms about making a stink, so she hadn't better even think about it.

So, who's going to have the last word? I think I would have to say ME.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Quickie, and Adorable Photo

As expected, I heard nada from Josie's teacher about my comment on the unfair de-grading of Josie's book report. I was going to go into the principal's office today when I went to Josie's classroom for independent reading, as usual, but for some freak reason they're doing an early dismissal. I mean, there's a winter weather advisory until tomorrow morning, but hello, it's not even *raining* yet, never mind icing or snowing. Um, WHAT?! So, I'll talk to the principal on Thursday afternoon. It makes me think of that old saying, 'I used to walk uphill both ways to get to school...' because, really, we DID go unless the bus couldn't make it, and if you couldn't make it yourself, then you didn't come. Believe me, busses can make it through just about ANYTHING. When I was in college, we could literally stand still and slide down the hill to classes, and my eyelashes froze together more than once from the wind making them water. My hair froze on my head if I didn't blow-dry it, which I rarely did. But, heaven forbid, my children might get WET. Sheesh.

In other news, I got an email from my mother-in-law this morning that she helped Kathy take the twins to their doctor appointment yesterday morning, and took this picture:

There they are, in their buntings!!!! Hooray!!! BUT - see that red ribbon next to the top carseat? Yeah, that's one of the ribbons I had bundled the seat and blanket pairs in inside the box. That tells me that they were, in fact, not opened until yesterday, when my MIL was there to shame her into it make it happen. At any rate, at least they're being used and the babies look so snuggly! The babies are so small, they had to fold the blankets in half! It makes me feel a lot better to see the girls tucked into them. :)


As I'm catching up on reading everyone's blogs, I'm so happy to see what wonderful holidays everyone has had!!! I love hearing about what other people do to celebrate, what gifts have been given and received, and of course, what foods have been eaten! We had a New Year's party here ourselves, just a small thing with two of our favorite couples and their kids, who are close friends with our kids, and the adults played games and talked while the kids did something that translated into a LOT of banging upstairs (whatever - at least they weren't bothering us!). At midnight, the kids let off pop-streamer things that shot little pieces of paper all over the place, which they thought was the HEIGHT of perfection (holy crap, turns out I could have saved a LOT of money on Christmas gifts and just bought some noisemakers!), and poor Baci thought were just Terrifying. The big oaf was PETRIFIED! He hid in the dining room, tail between his legs, shaking, until I noticed that he wasn't around and went to find him. Poor baby!!! Some hunting dog he would have been!!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm Baaaa-aaak!

Wow, I haven't been here in what feels like forever! I can't wait to read all of your blogs to see what you've been up to! We were really busy this past week, and the kids got a lot of great games for Christmas, so we literally spent the entire week either going somewhere fun or playing games. It was nice, and the kids got along well (I asked Santa for better-behaved children, but I didn't think he'd actually BRING THEM!!!! Thanks, Santa!!! I will never doubt you again!), and things were mellow for the first holiday I can remember.

I have heard not word one from my SIL Kathy about those carseat buntings. DH dropped those and a $50 B&N gift card for our college-age niece off last week, and for all I know, they threw them straight in the trash. Kathy didn't open the box while DH was there, because she had a sleeping baby on her chest (actually, she and her husband didn't even answer the door when he knocked, so he walked right in rather than wait), and the box could still be sitting on the floor. Also, at 18, our niece is too old to not say thank-you herself. I am not one to expect thank-you cards from people in general, but if you've gotten a gift and haven't seen or talked to the person, a call or card or email is in order. I will never, repeat, NEVER go to any trouble for them again. Period. From now on, they will be getting notes saying, '$X has been donated in your name to Heifer International, thank you for your support.' At least that way, I will feel like my money and time have been spent wisely. I'm not kidding. The babies will get presents from us because they're children. Actually, I feel better already knowing that I have a solution.

This morning I was going through Josie's backpack (I know, bad mom, I should have done that, oh, 12 days ago) and noticed that 1) her grades went down again, probably pre-holiday excitement, and 2) that her teacher knocked her down a full letter grade on her oral presentation for her book report because she talked to someone during someone else's report. There was a total of 17 points, and she took away two for talking, which knocked her from an A to a low B. WHAT?!?! I was *pissed*! So, I wrote: 'This is ridiculous. Her work is her work, and deserves the grade she earns. If she needs to be punished, then punish her.' I may regret having written this tomorrow, when I have to see her in person. Or, NOT. I do not believe in taking away from someone's earned grades, allowance, or priviledges because of other behavior. Things can be denied in the future, but not taken away from the past. You cannot negate the past. If that was the case, the school should be allowed to dock Mrs. Teacher's pay by the cost of the aide she needs in order to manage the classroom, since she's not enough of a professional to do it herself. (I didn't say that part. But I wanted to.) If that happens again, I will go straight to the principal's office. In fact, I may anyway, depending on the response I get, since it affects her grades.

I made a decision over break - I allowed Josie to quit the violin. She really wasn't enjoying the lessons, because the entire group had to be at the same point in order to move forward, and she's already about a semester ahead of everyone else because she can read music and picks up things pretty quickly. He wasn't even letting them use the bow, for heaven's sake - they had to pluck a the strings, which didn't sound like music at all, and for a child who is used to making actual music, it was maddening. So, since she's already doing piano and will soon be adding the organ, and it was taking away from classroom time anyway, I let her quit, and am saving myself the aggravation of having to nag her to practice, not to mention the $35 a month. I have never had to nag her to play the piano (in fact, I sometimes have to ask her to stop), so I figured, she really doesn't like it, and there's no point in forcing the issue. My SIL Jen has a flute somewhere, and I told Josie that next year she can maybe do that, if she wants.

Patrick's 6th birthday is on the 14th. SIX. That, my friends, is the end of little kid-dom. He is a Big Kid. Holy crapola. I told him that I'll take him and some of his friends to the movies, and for his present we'll take him to a place here in town that lets you build remote-control cars from the ground up using little 'bays' in the store and a choice of bodies, tires, sounds, and extras like flashing lights, tow hitches, etc. Having his birthday so close to Xmas is tough because he doesn't really have time to think of other things that he wants, so I'm going to tell people to get him gift cards if they can't think of anything else. He loves to shop, and we can save it for later on when he sees something he would really like. Maybe one to Game Stop, so he can get a few used games for his DS or something.

Finally, here are a few Patrick quotes for the past week:

On opening a Children's Place box under the tree:
"WHAT?!?! You got me CLOTHES?? FOR CHRISTMAS?!?! What are you, CRAZY?!"

On taking Children's Musinex:
"That. Tasted. Like. LEAVES." (this leaves me wondering, how many leaves has the boy eaten?)