Thursday, October 21, 2010


I am SO stressed out. I have a million things to do for school, my home life schedule is crazy now, and on top of it all, my mother is coming tomorrow through Monday. PLUS, we just found out that sometime soon DH is going to have to go to NE for two weeks. Holy shit.

Being in the school is awesome, though! I love being in the classroom, and the kids totally accept me as Someone. I've definitely seen Some Shit, though, and it's only been four days. I'm in the closest thing to am inner-city school that we have around here, and there's a lot of poverty, a surprising amount of homelessness, and all the stuff that goes along with it. On the one hand, it's hard seeing it all, but on the other, I love being in the middle of it, knowing that the time I'm with these kids could really make a difference in their lives. So, it's all good from that aspect.

The only stressful thing so far is all the requirements I have raining down on me from my university. We have to be evaluated six ways to Sunday, and we have to turn in lesson plans for everything we teach, whether we're the ones making up the lesson or not, in the school-approved software format, meaning I'm going to have to take everything I touch and re-do it in this awful format that no one in the real world uses. On top of all that, my mentor teacher has been doing these lessons long enough that she doesn't USE the lesson plans anymore, she just goes with what she knows, so if she can't find the actual copy of the lesson, I'm going to totally have to re-create the wheel every time I do anything. Since I'm taking over one subject a week, each week I'll have to re-create five lessons (after the first week, we don't have to put it in that format anymore, but we still have to turn them in, so I'm going to have to have SOMETHING to turn in, although I'll be able to use an easier format) each week. Plus the work my classes are still assigning. Plus actually doing the teaching, plus running the study group for my community service project one before-school morning a week. Yeah. Holy crap.

So, I have ton of work to do, and my mother is going to be here all weekend. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle that, really. I honest-to-God don't have time to have a houseguest, even one that I'd actually enjoy, never mind one I don't want to be here. She hasn't even gotten here yet, and she's whined every time she's called to whoever answers the phone about how she 'feels bad' that DH has to drive all over creation to get her, and she knows how busy we are, etc. If she feels so damn bad, why is she still coming?! She invites herself here every spring and fall, parks herself on the couch, and does nothing but wait to have someone tell her to do something. I wanted to tell her to just stay home, if she feels so bad, because I'm not going to lie and tell her that we're thrilled that she's coming, but I bit my tongue. I'm so stressed out, though, that if she pulls that crap while she's actually here (which is almost guaranteed), I'm not sure I'm going to be able to hold it together. So, stay tuned, there may be fireworks a-comin'.

Off to do my TWO assignments for my hateful literacy instruction class. All the other classes have stopped giving us regular weekly busywork, but not her. On top of everything else, we still have to watch online videos and answer questions that are just like the ones that come in the back of those useless textbooks (How did you know that the students were engaged in the lesson? Explain.) from when we were kids. They're easy, but time-consuming!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I just got home from my last student session for the semester! I am officially through with sitting through boring powerpoints and dealing with egomaniac math professors! I'm FREE!!

I had an exam today in my science instruction class, which seemed really easy so I'm not worried about it (plus she adds a bunch of extra credit to the scores to give us credit for all the busywork junk we do in the classroom, so I already have about 7 points added onto a 50-point exam, nice). I barely studied for it, because I was so burned out after nailing myself to the wall over the second math exam. I spent all last weekend and a chunk of Monday staring at my endless stack of flashcards with math facts and theories.

BUT, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT, because I got 267 points out of 270!!! Woohoo!!! If that's not the top score in the class, it's close enough that I don't care. PLUS, that totally makes up for how badly I did on the first exam (213/270), and along with the one other grade we've gotten back (professional journal article reviews, almost everyone got 80/80, total cheesecake assignment) I'm up to a 90. YES!!! My 4.0 may be salvaged after all!!! As long as I get any kind of A at all on the rest of the assignments, which are a case study, a math center, and a lesson plan, I'm still in line to keep The Number. I'm not really worried about getting As on those, because projects are a lot easier to do well on for me than exams and we have to go over what we're doing with our classroom mentor teacher, anyway, so it's not like I can totally bomb.

As of today, I get to start doing the fun stuff! Lesson plans and centers and actual child interaction, oh, my!!! I haven't had time to even think about those until now. :) I can't wait!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back Again

Hello there! I haven't been here in quite awhile! I've been so swamped with things to do that I can barely even look at my computer unless it's to do schoolwork lately. I've wanted to come back, but just couldn't. With our new schedules, I get up at 5:30 to get everyone ready and off to school, and by the time I finish reading with Josie at 9:30 or 10, I'm ready to fall into bed. DH and I generally meet in our room when I'm done, and don't even come back downstairs anymore.

My school is going pretty well. I have As in all my classes except math instruction, which is like hell on earth. The professor, S, had us buy a book that isn't a textbook at all, but rather a collection of math activities that we could conceivably use in a classroom one day, but which has no bearing on the material we're supposed to learn in class. He spends about six hours a session vomiting math garbage on us, while we furiously write down everything he says. The problem with this is if we miss a class, or he stumbles or misspeaks, we have almost no recourse because there's no book to look things up in, and whenever he feels like it, he renames a method after himself!!! I'm not kidding - so far we have the S method for factoring, two that he's named after his wife (the J methods), the S method for solving story problems, and so on. This makes things even worse because if we're confused after we get home, we can't look it up online, either! Also, his exams are the kind that are made to purposefully trick you, for instance if we don't have a definition written exactly the way he thinks he said it in class, it's wrong and we get points off for every word he changes. We've had one exam so far, and most of the class got Cs or below. In grad school, a C is pretty much like failing. I got a 79, which almost made me even more mad than if I'd gotten something lower, because it was so close to a B. We have another exam on Tuesday, and I've been furiously studying, but I'm not sure how much difference it will make, because I studied like mad for the last one, too and it didn't do me (or most other people) any good.

Really, the best news is that after this week, I'll be back to student teaching! I can't wait to get out of my classes and into the school again. I have to do a community service project, so once a week for the rest of the semester (or year, if it goes well) I will be holding an after-school story and activity time for first and second graders. I'm a little nervous about whether I'll get enough children to make it a real success, but we'll see what happens; if there aren't enough, I might open it up to other grades as well, although that would be challenging. My mentor teacher said that the principal and VPs had a really good opinion of me, which makes me feel happy and confident about going back.

Josie just got her first middle school report card, and she got a special certificate with it because she got all As in her merit classes! She's doing better this year than she ever has, and has almost perfect averages in four classes. I love that the teachers at the school she's at send weekly emails with the scoring updates for all her work, so there are no surprises, and if she's missed something when she's sick we immediately. She's been sick a few days, I suppose because of the new mix of kids is introducing new germs for her to fight off. The other big news for her is that we let her get contacts on Friday. She's been wanting them for a long time, and I decided to let her get them because she can't wear her glasses during karate, and I know from experience that that stinks. We were planning on not having her wear the contacts to school, but the acclimation schedule that the eye doctor gave her really means that we have to let her wear them there while she's getting used to them, and while I was nervous at that idea at first, she's taken to them like a fish to water! She has no problem getting them in and out, and the solution they gave her cleans them for her, so there's no scrubbing or anything. They're two-month disposables, but the pair she has right now is a free trial pair; we'll go back on Friday to get her actual prescription (I don't understand how that works, that they gave her some approximation or something? she can see fine with them now, so I don't know what they're going to do) and buy a supply to have on hand. I was shocked at how much less expensive they are now than when I wore them in my 20s - $15 a box! That's less expensive than glasses, for heaven's sake! We still got her a new pair of glasses, because her prescription changed, but hopefully we'll be able to use them more as a backup and not get them updated every year anymore.

Patrick is liking his new school a lot. He goes to aftercare, which is working out nicely - they go on field trips once every couple of weeks! He's going to be in beforecare once I start student teaching, but only for a short time, like 15 minutes or so, because I'm technically supposed to be at my school at the same time as when he can be dropped off now. My mentor teacher said that I don't have to worry about it, but I don't want to be The Intern Who Was Always Late. I'd rather be The One Who's Always Around when it comes time to apply for jobs, you know? :) The curriculum in his magnet program is great, and he seems to be really challenged now. They have palm pilots (which they call little computers) for each student, and they use them a lot at their seats, and he has spelling words like stingray and jealous.

Dh finally got hired at a new company, and starts next week, on the same day I start student teaching. He got a raise, but best of all will be able to work from home a few days a week. This will cut down on the rushed feeling a *lot* because he'll be able to pick up Patrick right after school on karate days, or at least that's the plan.

That's all the basic news. Next time (tomorrow, hopefully) I'll talk about the upset that's been going on surrounding my IL's 50th anniversary planning. I think it's OK now, but who knows.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dear School Non-Information Professionals

Dear Patrick's New School Secretary,

When I called the other day to find out when back to school night is, you informed me that I hadn't gotten a letter with 'important information' because his old school hadn't sent you all of his paperwork yet. Hmm. Number One, I kind of think that the fact that you're missing paperwork on my boy IS important information all on its own, don't you?? You maybe could have called me about that. Second, he's registered there, he's got a teacher, he's been doing summer homework - I would say he's already a student there; why on earth do you need some piece of paper from his old school to trigger your sending me this VIP info? Is it super-secret, all-forms-filled-out-only information? Do I need a secret decoder ring to read it? Don't worry - I definitely didn't spend last night awake worrying that somehow my boy wasn't registered ANYWHERE anymore. Also, I like how you're secure enough in your job that you could take off the Friday before school starts, and leave someone who knows NOTHING about your job sitting at your desk to greet me when I come in, as directed, to fill in whatever presidential paperwork needs to be done. It's good that in this economy, you're able to say, screw it, all the parents dealing with last-minute Important Paperwork can just take a number. When your startled replacement finally finished stemmering repeatedly that she had no idea what she was doing, and actually LOOKED, she found the list of kids in magnet, and found my boy's file, and from what we could figure out, it looked like you had been missing the HEALTH FORM from his old school, which is now in there (the check mark on the file list was in a different color than the other items). You needed a HEALTH FORM in order to send me the first day of school info?! I hope you were out today so you could take a prioritization class, or maybe seeing some sort of mental health professional yourself.

Thanks for the wasted gas,
Why Do I Bother

Dear School Transportation Department,

One of my goals today was to find out about Josie's bus schedule. I looked online, but the local paper had the information link wrong, and when I finally got to the school site, the school had a list of thirty bus numbers to wade through with no identifying information/searchable content. Yes, I could have clicked on every single link, but if the first one was any indication, each bus has several routes it runs, and it was tremendously confusing. So, I called the phone number you helpfully provided on the website. When you answered, you asked if I had looked online, and I explained my dilemma. You then asked if I had driven over to the school and looked. I replied, 'No; I suppose I could drive over there rather than asking you on the phone right now.' Your answer: 'That would be good, because we're busy.' Wha??? Let me get this straight: you gave me your number so I could call you, and then get told to get in my car and drive across town, rather than simply looking in your computer and answering my question? By the time we went through all that, you could have probably looked it up twice over! What do we pay you for, again? You should talk to the school secretary (see above) - she may have information on a prioritization class for you. But only if you've sent her the correct forms.

Again With the Wasted Gas,

Monday, August 9, 2010


DH has been looking for a new job for awhile now. It's not that his current job is in danger, at the moment, but that they're total asshats. Three times they've promised him bonuses of varying sizes, from the $10k one that turned out to be $500 (which they then bumped up to $1k because his manager threw a fit), and two other ones that never appeared at all. It's not just him, either - everyone is treated the same, and as a result, people are leaving in droves. On his project alone, two people left the other week, one is in final negotiations with a company, and DH and another guy are looking. The only one who is planning on staying is the guy who was only hired about six months ago, because you're kind of stuck for at least a year.

So far, DH has had three serious bites from companies. One fell through, and I was kind of happy about that, because I just wasn't getting good vibes, but two others have been strong. He's had two interviews with one, and three with the other. The second with #1 and the third with #2 were both last week, and both with senior VP-type people. Since then, silence.

On the one hand, it's not bad, because at least it's not a No. But on the other, WTF?! It's been a week. Hauling someone in for interview after interview, I think, increases your responsibility to them, because they've repeatedly taken time off to come over there, aka used vacation time to see you rather than family. I think that deserves at least SOME kind of follow-up, especially when the entire time you've spent with the interviewee has been with everyone saying how impressive the person is and how much everyone has said they like him.

More, though, I think my frustration is broader than just this scenario. No one seems to feel beholden to anyone anymore; there's no common sense of dignity. When I'm out shopping and say have to pass by where someone is looking, I always say 'pardon me' as I pass by, but 90% of the time, the person doesn't acknowledge me at all. Very frequently, someone passing in front of me will stop RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME to look at what I was looking at without saying a word, like I'm not even there! Cashiers wait on the person behind me before I even finish signing the receipt. Even at my church, there are people who do exactly what they feel like doing, regardless of how they make other people feel, or allow their children to be incredibly rude (what is it with people speaking for their children all the time? When I say 'hi, that's a nice dress' to a 6yo child, I want the child to say hello back, not the mom to answer for them or start making conversation with me to cover up for the fact that they haven't taught their kid basic manners!). Companies think it's OK to screw over anyone they want, and outright lie to employees.

I know this is nothing new, really, but most times I can grit my teeth and do my best to ignore all the taking-advantage-of. Maybe it's the heat finally getting to me, like the last straw.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Unicorn Poop

First, let me say, I am DONE with school for THREE WEEKS! Hooray!!! I got all A's this semester, and I'm thrilled and all, but woohoo!!! Time off!


We finally had to break down and buy the dogs hypoallergenic food. Delilah is trying to get another ear infection - this would be her fourth - and the vet said if she got another one we should try her on a different food, because recurrent ear infections can be a sign of a food allergy. Great. You all know that there are no normal dog foods that have no grains in them, right? We had to go to the pet store, not the grocery store, and not only that, but we had to go to That Aisle of the store. The aisle where dollar signs drip from the shelves like chow from a torn bag. Crap-a-doodle.

It turns out that all the foods are about the same price once you get to that echelon of pet food - approximately $50 for a 25lb bag. Oh. Mah. GAWD. We go through about 20lbs of chow a week between the two dogs, and there's no way we can feed them different things. Dog food just became its own line item on my imaginary budget.

We settled on Blue Buffalo brand, which I believe is made out of golden geese, the loch ness monster, and little brown pebble things that I think are unicorn poops. At this point, the dogs may be getting better nutrition than we are. It's certainly more magically delicious.

To make it worse, there was a peppy sales person who was actually FROM the Blue Buffalo company stalking the aisle, and I swear she's related to that woman on the Progressive Insurance company, you know, that crazy bump-haired woman in white? She stalked us with wide-eyed sincerity, and even loaded the bag we eventually bought into our cart. It was weird and annoying. I mean, it was bad enough that we're spending our life savings on dog food without a perky woman practically taking it out of our wallets right then and there.

However, I do have to say that after eating their first meal of the Blessed Chow, both dogs are running around the house like they've just eaten rocket fuel. Unicorn turds are tasty, apparently. Also, it's supposed to make them poop less because there are no fillers in it at all. Less dog logs sounds good to me - do you have any idea how much 170 (combined) pounds of dog can serve out? They're like log cabins for moles.

If these new platinum crunchies cure Delilah's ear infections, the money will be worth it, and probably financially come out in the wash, if you figure in what we were spending on vet visits and medicines, not to mention that she still runs and hides when she sees me come into the bedroom at night because I've had to put so many drops in her ears at bedtime. If it doesn't, we'll be meeting you back in the regular dog food aisle, where my debit card doesn't burst into flames upon entry.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


As of today, I finished the work for my fourth class! Hooray!

When I step back, one thing I find interesting about this program is that it doesn't necessarily practice what it preaches. For one thing, we get very little feedback on our work, if any at all. I know that's partly due to the accelerated time frame; the longest we've spent with any one professor is eight sessions (which was still 32 hours). Still, I could count on one hand the number of things I've submitted that have been returned to me, and of those, every one was a minor in-class assessment. In one class, ironically one of the longer ones, we got NOTHING back. Zero. Zilch. The professor, who was great, even took our addresses so he could send us back our journals with comments. They've never arrived, and it's been over a month. I see that I got an A in the class, so I assume that I was on the right track, but I'm a person who really values that input. Work that we do online might as well have been thrown into an abyss, for all I know. I hate that! I know, as a grad student, I shouldn't need a lot of hand holding, but for heaven's sake, not one returned project? Even our 40min presentations went ungraded! Surely there was something that could have used improvement, some area where I was on the money, and a few extra things I could be thinking about for next time? The program stresses 'give feedback to your students, be interactive with your students, don't just talk at them all the time'. The time we spent with my last professor, all we did was sit in our seats and get information crammed down our throats as fast as she could say it, from 5-9:30, with a seven minute break each night to gasp for air (literally, 7 minutes, I don't know what that was about). I just saw that the soon-to-be-replaced program director (who still appears to be teaching one of our courses in the fall, unfortunately - she's the one who was completely unresponsive about all of my admissions paperwork being messed up) will be using straight-out testing based on chapters in a book on instructing math. We have been told countless times in the last two months NOT to evaluate students based solely on standard tests, but apparently that's what we're going to be subjected to - rote learning and regurgitation. Interesting. On the one hand, we're grad students, adults (some much younger than others), and we should be able to force ourselves to learn without as much light and magic as we'll use with our elementary students, but on the other, if brain-based-learning research has shown that people remember concepts much more clearly when they're connected to meaningful discourse and emotional reactions, *and* at the grad level we should be more than capable of higher thinking, shouldn't these professors be modeling what we should be doing ourselves instead of providing a catalog of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do?

Also, I heard a lovely gem from the diversity professor the other night. She told us that on her first job, the principal walked into the staff room on the first day and commented that she loved walking into a room of lovely teachers, and because of that she didn't hire ugly women. The prof said that they all just looked around the room at each other, not knowing what to say. THEN she told us that this person is still a principal in our county! So, on top of everything else, bad job market, tightening budgets, schools closing or being consolidated, NOW I have to be pretty?! I'm sorry, people, but I am not pretty. I can be occasionally cute, and charming, but pretty is not on my list. I've had two kids, I'm pushing 40, and my ass isn't getting any smaller. Nope. Plus, and I know she's right about this, men get hired for teaching positions almost before they apply, because there's such a shortage of male figures in schools. I can't pull that one off, either, due to a serious (thankful) shortage in the penis department. So... I'm going to be teaching myself hypnosis to use in job interviews. It'll be my ace in the less-attractive, decidedly penis-less hole.

My one good piece of news is that the people at the board of ed know who I am, through almost no action of my own. Last year, when I wasn't getting many calls to sub, I talked a few times to Melanie, the woman in charge of the system, and she was really nice. The other day, I called in to RSVP for the annual sub training, and out of the blue she said, 'I didn't know you were getting your MAT - the woman in charge of clearances came down yesterday to check who was on my list as already having one, and I saw your name!' I was really excited. She remembered me! That has to be a good thing, right?

Also in the good department - after this coming week, I get most of the month of August off!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Not-so-Straight Poop

Yea and verily, there was much rejoicing at my house this morning, for there is no break in my pipe!!!! The city got here at around 7:30 this morning to scope out the sewer (again, amazingly prompt and courteous service, I have never experienced such anything like it) with their cameras, and came all the way into our yard up to our back stoop. All they found was that there's some nastiness caked onto the pipes in at least one spot, and that our main line looks like a bunch of macaroni noodles strung together. There are enough bends and turns in that thing to make a poop slalom, but other than that we're fine. Eventually, we will probably want to have it taken up and replaced with a straighter line, but that's WAAAAAY down the road for us financially. The city suggested that we have a special cleaning treatment that uses basically a water-blaster come through and scour our line, which I had done this afternoon, and he said that when he was finished, he went out to the city sewer line and listened, and he could hear his water line emptying into the city's pipe. He said that although our line will probably need to be replaced eventually because there is one "belly" in it where water collects, we should be fine for a long time. For the moment, we'll be keeping it to using tp that's extremely biodegradable (which I'm not thrilled about as far as my behind is concerned, but if it's going to save me a few grand, I'll suffer) and not flushing ANYTHING, EVER. No "toilet-friendly" butt wipes (which he said were the worst thing ever invented as far as your pipes, BTW), no tampons, no nothing.

There's a little voice in my head that's still worried that this hasn't really done it, that somehow something will still be wrong, in that way that things can still mysteriously be broken even when by all rights they should be perfect, like when you go to the doctor and they pronounce you physically well, and say it's all in your head. I guess I'm concerned that my pipe could still have some kind of neurosis, especially after yesterday's horrible scare. The roto-rooter guy today also told me that unless something's changed, the city is responsible for anything under the road, which directly contradicts what the city guy told my plumber yesterday, so I don't know where all that would have really wound up had we had to go that far, but I don't want to even think about it. I *am* a little annoyed that I have to pay the guy who was here yesterday a pile of money when all he did was scrape and scope over and over again and ended up making no contribution whatsoever to the actual fix, but he was a nice guy, and I'm assuming the main problem is that he'd never seen bendy pipes, so he assumed it was water that was making everything so dark rather than the twisting angles. He wasn't trying to screw me, or else he wouldn't have told me to call the city at all. He did leave a lot of his stuff here, though, in anticipation of needing to come back later on in the week, so I guess I'll be seeing him again soon and we can figure out what I owe him then. Sigh. Still, we spent way less than we would have had we gone ahead and relined the pipes, and certainly thousands less than the worst-case scenario, so I'm still grateful. Funny how you can feel relieved that something was, in the end, "only" about $1k to fix.

So, we have a crooked, but well-cleaned, geriatric poop chute. Owning an old house is a lot like being old yourself - you find yourself openly discussing the grossest things with other people like it was everyday polite conversation. Think of me as Grandma Astarte, sharing my personal woes with you during Thanksgiving dinner - it's gross at the time, but the info might just come in handy someday.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Scared, but Not Crapless

Well, the pipe liner guy (who clears out pipes, and then inserts stuff inside them that hardens into a pipe liner, effectively a new pipe) was here all day, and we are no better off than we were before he got here. In fact, the water is more backed up than it was when I got up this morning. He said that it will trickle down through the main line, that it got filled with water when he ran the pipe cleaner machine because he ran water down while he was cleaning the pipe in hopes it would rinse away the block when he came to it. Since he didn't manage to clear what's blocked, or even find the main blockage, all the water he ran down there has to trickle out into the city pipe past whatever is beyond what he's found.

At one point during the day, he said that we should call the city, because he was starting to think that it wasn't in our pipe at all, but in the city sewer somehow, so I did, and - the only bright point of my day - they were here in TEN MINUTES. It was astonishing, and I'm so grateful that they came right away. They flushed out the city pipe from the manhole area near our house, and said that tomorrow they'll be back to use a camera and see if they can see what's going on on their end, in case it *is* them, and they'll be able to see into our line as well.

Here's the scary part - the guy painted a line from our pipe into the middle of the street, where it connects to the city pipe. He said that if, for some reason, our pipe under the road has to be dug up, we have to pay for it. I don't know how much money that means, but I'm guessing it's a LOT, like $10-15k. I'm terrified. That would only happen if the pipe under there is smashed up so badly that the liner guy can't get the liner through it *at all*. Still, the fact that it's an option scares the bejesus out of me, it really does. We don't have that kind of money, and even to put it on credit would probably strain our finances to the breaking point. I literally don't know what we'd do. I still have ten months of grad school where I will be unable to bring in money, plus even if I'm fortunate enough to get hired to a job right away, my pay won't start coming in until the school year starts, so we're over a year away from me bringing in a paycheck. Technically, I can max out my student loans and get the money from that, but if I don't get a job right away, it'll only delay the problem while building interest.

The liner guy said that the next step for him will be to hear what the city scoping guys say tomorrow, and if they don't find anything on their end, he'll bring in a guy that does cleaning with some kind of jet, like the city uses, that should dislodge anything in its path and completely clear out anything in a way that the spinner thing can't.

The thing is, if the street-dig ends up being our only option, why is it that the city can take ten feet of our property for public works - take our entire HOME if it's in the way, like they did with our last house, and force us out - but if we have a problem in a pipe that's under a city street, WE have to pay for it, even if the pipe isn't on our property, because it connects to our house? Why is it always this way? And why is it that things always seem to go from bad to worse? Please, please, can't we catch a break (and I don't mean one in our pipe), just this one time?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Playing Hookey

How can you tell when a child was homesick?

She comes home with presents for her BROTHER! And then gives him huge HUGS! :) Ah, it warmed the heart. Funny thing was, he wasn't anywhere near as excited to see her, which made me laugh a little since it's usually him that's hugging her and not getting much of a reaction, not the other way around. She was so sweet, though, and brought him a t-shirt and some shark teeth. Also, she only bought presents for him, which I thought was interesting. I didn't want her to buy things for me, obviously, but I thought it was funny that the only person she got stuff for was the one who annoys her the most. :)

She had a great time, and since she was supposed to get home a lot later than she actually did (she was home by 9:30 versus the after-midnight we had been told to expect), I had already told my SIL Kathy that it would only be DH and Patrick at my niece's 20th birthday party yesterday afternoon. I figured, why ruin a good thing?! We still didn't go. I felt a tad bit guilty, but really, it saved me a loooooooong afternoon with people (ie her parents) who make me so nervous that I end up sick to my stomach, and it's not like my niece cared who was there; DH said that all her friends were there so she didn't hang out with the family, anyway. She didn't even open the presents before people needed to get going! Honestly, I keep thinking that at some point, the girl might develop some manners, but it's not looking too likely. Last year, for the first time, we didn't get her anything at all other than a card that we sent down, because there wasn't a family get-together and we have never once gotten any appreciation for anything we've ever bought for her. This year, since there was a party, we had to bring something, but I lucked out because last week Office Max was having a promotion where if you spent $100 in printer supplies, you got a $25 iTunes gift card free, so I did, and that's what she got. We needed new ink in every color, anyway, so I just bought two combo packs so I'll have more on hand rather than going to the store again next time. Done, and done.

So, while DH and Patrick were off at the Event, Josie and I stayed home, snuggled on the couch, and watched To Kill A Mockingbird, and then we made homemade mac and cheese. It was lovely. No nutty relatives, no stress, and no bugs, just me and my girl and our various furry pets. It was lovely. I have missed only *maybe* one other family event in the last thirteen years, and frankly, it may be time to start missing a few more.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Most Embarrassing Thing EVER

So. Today I have been kicking ass and not even taking the time to ask any names. Josie is away, and Patrick has day camp this week (Lego Robot Modeling Camp, where they use computer software to design robots and then use Legos to build said bots! How cool is THAT?!), so I am on my own for the first time in over a month. Does that translate into a spa day for mommy? Where I kick off my sandals, grab the organic cheese poofs, and watch a marathon of House Hunters International?

Duh. It means I'm cleaning the house like a madwoman. Hello.

The first thing I did was, of course, call Roto-Rooter, who said they'd be out between 11-2, and the main line repair guy, who said he'd be here on Thursday. Check and double-check. Since then, I've vacuumed the entire house, dusted the whole main level, cleaned the organ and reorganized the sun porch area, organized the cleaning and pet shelves in the pantry, etc etc etc. The RR guy showed up at noon, just after I finished vacuuming, so I got to listen to the drain gurgling and belching for over an hour as I did the other stuff, periodically running over to the sink to make sure nothing had actually erupted out of it. Thank God, nothing did, because I would have FREAKED.

Anyway, the guy came around front and knocked on the door when he was done, and I went out on the front porch to talk to him. He was very nice, and quietly told me that he had cleared out the clog, and there had been a LOT of tampons in there that he got out.

Hear that cracking sound? That's me, falling through the front porch because it caught on fire due to the fact that I was in FLAMES OF MORTIFICATION. I'm standing on my porch, listening to a stranger discuss how he fished my used tampons out of our sewer line. Oh. My. God. Have I mentioned that I'm actually dead right now, and am writing because I came back to life as a HORRIFIED ZOMBIE?

I tried to maintain my composure. I apologized for how awful that must have been, cleared my throat about fifteen times, and asked him if he would like some ice water or some tea in what was probably a very squeaky voice. He said that he had Gatorade in the car, but I'm sure what he was thinking was, 'Are you kidding me? I just fished your Red Tide Canoes out of your drain! I never want to see you again!'

I can't say I blame him.

He also said that our pipe doesn't appear to be broken, but it does look like it has a sagging spot. I don't know what that will mean for the guy who's coming on Thursday, but I'm hoping it doesn't mean that we'll have to have the yard dug up and the whole pipe replaced rather than relined. Cross your fingers that we're OK on that front.

Also, send brains. That's what we zombies eat, right? And my own brain has probably exploded.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Money Down the Drain

It's baa-aaack. That noise in our sinks every time we flush a toilet. Oh, no.

In case you don't remember, about a year ago, we had a similar sound, which led within weeks to sewage backing up into the downstairs shower. Back then, we went through American Home Shield, who referred a plumbing outfit to us that first said that we had a root problem in the main line, which AHS doesn't cover, and then amended their opinion to say that it was a problem with a collapsed pipe (our house is old, so we have clay pipes) in the foundation, for which they wanted to charge us the exact same amount. Now, digging up the back yard and laying new pipe doesn't seem to me to be at the same level as simply fixing a pipe that was supposedly busted less than a foot down in the foundation, but by this time we were over a barrel because we couldn't use any of the bathrooms, so we had to pay them to get us back to functional.

Of course, a year later, here we are again, because obviously it *was* roots, but they blew those out with the initial scope and it's taken a year or so for them to grow back; they basically did the least amount of work possible to get us working again and then drove off down the road, probably laughing. Since then, we've amended our coverage with AHS, covering only electrical, because our 100yo home has ancient wiring, plaster walls and I'm sure lead paint. We pay $15/mo, which works for me, and basically know that we'll only go through them if there's a major horror show emergency, like a life insurance policy you hope you never have to use.

Anyhow, the other week the gurgling began again, and a friend referred me to a plumber, who very kindly referred me to someone else who he thought would be able to help me more, a guy who does main-line re-surfacing (it's basically a balloon thing they put in your old pipe, inflate, and allow to dry into a new pipe) that's impermeable to roots, etc, and best of all, your yard doesn't get dug up. THAT guy, Matt, was relocating his business and so was tied up for a week, so he suggested that we call Roto-Rooter to blow out anything in the line, which would buy at least a few weeks, and then call him back to schedule the re-do. Well, after Roto-Rooter came, things were working so well, we crossed our fingers that we might get another year out of things, at which time maybe I would be working and we'd have more money, so I didn't call Matt back.

Of course, it's a holiday weekend, and last night, literally as we were on our way out the door to the fireworks, the downstairs toilet flushed, gave a mighty belch, and everything that had just gone down came floating back up. It finally went back down, and a few hours later when I tried to flush it (empty, obviously) it worked OK, but we haven't used it since, and are trying not to use water-return things in the house today - the dishwasher, washing machine, showers - in an effort to limp through until I can call RR back tomorrow. We're still in the 30-day window when they'll come back out for free, thankfully. Then, my next call will be to Matt, to see when he can get out here and fix our main line pipe.

On the one hand, I'm glad it will be done, because I've had a feeling that the plumbers from last year screwed up in not replacing the line. It will be nice to get it over with and know that it's not on the table anymore.

On the other, I'm so sick of things coming up like this all the time. It never fails. I had a surplus from my student loans, about $3k, that I put towards credit card debt. We're so close to being paid off. (Yes, I'm using loan surplus money to pay off debt, because we're allowed to take some out for living expenses, and I figure our credit debt is less than a year living on-campus, and it's trading "bad debt" for permanent-low-fixed-rate good debt that I can claim on my taxes. It's fair, especially considering a bunch of what's on my card is the cost of the community college classes from last year, which I got no aid for.) OK, so $3k I used to pay off some debt. Guess what a new main line costs? About $3k. Yes, yes, I see the glass half-full side, but I'm TIRED of that side. This has happened every time I've gotten any money from anywhere, my entire life. Tax returns year after year have gone to car problems, house problems, Josie's spacer/retainer. Every year. The closer we get to paying things off, the more aggressive the cosmos seems to be in throwing things at us. This is two years in a row of massive plumbing expense. Why can't I just once have a windfall without an emergency situation coming up? We've tried so hard for YEARS to get out of debt that we've had since we got married, and every time I see light at the end of the tunnel something happens and we get screwed back to where we were, if not a little further down. I swear, if I didn't know better, I'd think there were gnomes working for credit card companies following us around and vandalizing our lives.

Sigh. Cross your fingers that nothing explodes out of my downstairs bathroom before I can call someone in to start the repair process. Again.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Missing One

Josie is finishing up a week of karate day camp today. She's worked really hard on her kata, and is testing for three stripes today. Ordinarily, such an achievement would lead to our taking her out to dinner or at least for an ice cream, but today when we pick her up, we'll be taking her straight to her friend H's house, along with a suitcase, instead. She's been invited to go with H (who is an only child other than a few grown step-siblings) and her family to Myrtle Beach, SC, for the next week. They're leaving at around 3am tomorrow in hopes of getting past DC and well into VA before the real traffic of the weekend begins. I'm not sure how long it will take them to get there, but I imagine it will be until evening.

This isn't the first time we've let her go away with another family - when she was 7 we let her to go Disney with her best friend's family for a week because her friend was, again, the only young child, and we knew we weren't going to be able to afford to go anytime soon, if ever. We're also completely comfortable with the family she's going away with - H is a very nice, polite child and her parents are extremely involved, and if anything H is overprotected, so I'm not worried about their ability to care for Josie for a week. Plus, Josie is a smart girl, and isn't a source of trouble for anyone no matter who she's with, so I'm confident to let her be with other families.

Still, now that the moment's here, I'm freaking out a little. I know things will probably be fine, and she will stay safe, and there's nothing for me to worry about. That's the rational me. The irrational me has been trying very hard not to think about car pileups and middle-of-the-night phone calls and kidnappings and drownings. I know this all links back to my nephew's death. Before Ryan died so suddenly, and in such a freak-accident way, I wasn't really a person who imagined the nearly-unimaginable, but now that the unimaginable has happened I find myself frightened of the smallest things where the kids are concerned. It took me a long time after he died to feel comfortable with them out of my sight overnight. I was basically OK last year when she went with a friend's family to a local commercial camping ground for a week, because there was almost no driving, and it was close enough that I could get there easily if anything happened. MB, though, is a long ways away if anything should happen, and a very long drive on a holiday weekend when thousands of other people will be traveling as well.

Still, in with the good air and out with the bad air. I know I need to let her do things, and she's so fearless. I don't want to pass on my worries to her. She's getting older, and I want to encourage her sense of freedom and adventure, both because I think it's good for her and because deep down, I hope giving her more room will cause her to rebel less violently later. I was so constricted as a child, and I want something completely different for her. Even if I will miss her beyond words (especially after barely seeing her this week because of camp), and might need to practice my deep breathing with a paper bag. She's so amazing, and I want to let her fly.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Babies

Just over two weeks ago, we adopted two 8wk-old babies:

Meet Clover...

...and Jax

We were looking at the humane society website, and their process is always so long and difficult, at least in this area, that I decided to look in the paper as well, and as luck would have it, a woman had listed kittens, free to good home, and a phone number. I called, and we went over that evening. Her neighbor had found a litter abandoned in her barn, no mother in sight, when the kittens were about two weeks old. The woman had taken them in, and had bottle fed them until they were ready for real food. They're just adorable, and we decided to take them both! We didn't want to tell the kids they had to pick one, because the fighting would have started as to which one we should take, and besides, since they're littermates, and opposite sexes, we're pretty sure they won't have a problem with each other when they get bigger, especially since they will both be losing their card-carrying gender identities shortly.

Jax thinks he's a dog. He even eats cheese poofs!

Of course, being random kittens, they were a mess - ear mites, kitten lice (thank GOD lice don't wander inter-species, because EEWWWW) and the usual worms, but they're clear of the big problems (feline HIV and leukemia) that they could have inherited from their mother, which I didn't even think about at the time. PHEW.

Yes, this is Clover climbing over Baci's paws to eat his new bone right under his face.

We brought them home and made their home base Josie's room, so they could start small, and slowly allowed them to roam the house. We put up the giant baby gate across the bottom of the stairs so the dogs have to stay down here unless we're with them, and the kittens can come and go as they please. Soon we'll move their dishes and box out of Josie's room, but for the moment it's the best place to keep them, because we can shut them in there when we're gone, or at night, and know that they have everything they need in a place where the dogs can't visit the Kitty Box Buffet. It's their favorite restaurant. Blecch.

Hey, I can get this water back later, right?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

More, Please

I finished my first two classes for grad school this past week. I can't believe they're done already; the month went by so fast. It seems crazy that we could do an entire course in a month, but because we meet for 4hrs at a time, 4wksx8hrs=32 hrs, which is the regular number of hours a course would meet in an entire semester. My next class, intro to special ed, is only three days long, but it's a 1-credit class, and we'll still get in 12hrs of instruction. I don't understand why we're only spending one credit on special ed, when every single class has children with special needs in it, and I wish there was at least one entire full-length course on it, but I suppose that we will probably address special needs instruction through our other courses as well, so maybe the one-credit class will focus on classroom issues and identification, IEPs, and working with parents and leave the rest to the other courses. We had the professor who designed the MAT program as an instructor this past session, and he's a genius, so I guess I should trust his judgment, and wait and see.

One thing I love about being back in school again is rediscovering the feeling that I am a capable individual, that I'm good at something. In the nine years that I've been at home with the kids (OMG, I can't believe it's been that long), I'd gotten so used to not doing anything unique or special (yes, raising children is special, you know what I mean), and not getting noticed for anything other than 'the house looks nice' or 'your children are so smart!' that I forgot that *I'M* smart, too. It feels amazing to actually DO something with my mind, and have someone tell me that what I did was really great, or good job, excellent point, you're really talented at this. Getting that first A on a quiz was like handing a former addict a hit off a mirror - MORE, please. NOW. It was like in The Wizard of Oz, when the color comes on. I'm colorful again! It's not that I think that staying at home with the kids has been not worth my while, or that I'm not going to miss being available to them at all times, just in case, because I'm kind of stressed out about that. It's about my rediscovering my own personality that I've had to shut down in many ways over the past almost-decade, the one that is competitive and project-driven and feedback-oriented. The only feedback I've gotten in years is about laundry and whether the house smells nice, and I learned to get satisfaction from that, but none of that is anything to do with who I am inside. Everyone cleans house, goes to the grocery store, does all the mundane things of everyday life; it doesn't take anything extra to do those things. I've gotten really comfortable in those roles, so much so that I was letting my brain slide into nowhere without even realizing it.

It's not that I think everyone would or is this way, and I mean no disrespect for people who are happy and feel completely fulfilled at home, because it's a great choice *if you choose it*. I never actually chose to stay at home; I was laid off when I was pregnant, and then we couldn't afford daycare for two if I went back, and I had hated what I was doing, anyway, so I stayed at home. I was in grad school when I was laid off, and had to stop 3/4 of the way to an MBA. So, I accepted where we were, and watched DH get *his* grad degree with envious eyes because he didn't even want to go back to school, while all my work slipped away. We realized that my staying at home would be an immeasurable gift to the kids, and so I did it, and I have loved being with them. They have taught me so much, and given me so much, more than I have given them. But, now that they need less of me, I can take those parts of me back, dust them off, and remember how they used to fit into the puzzle that is Me. The greedy part of me is ready for more.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

People Who Steal From Kids SUCK

Josie's bike, the one we got her for her birthday last month, was stolen from our garage sometime after midnight on Friday morning. SUCK. It was her first big-person bike, a 26in sky blue Schwinn 18spd mountain bike. She'd only had it for about five weeks.

We've never had anything stolen like that before, and it totally pisses me off. It also freaks me out just a little. Our garage is detached, and because we're on a corner, it's behind the house but still faces onto the main road. Still, someone walked past our cars (and presumably at least looked in them, too - we usually leave them unlocked as well because there's nothing in them worth stealing), looked around in our garage, and wheeled her bike out down our driveway and into the street. Nothing else was taken - her old bike, her brother's Ben 10 bike, my bike, all the tools, etc were all still there. WTF? Not that I wanted anything else to get ripped off, it's just that really? They stole a young girl's bike? That makes me even *more* mad, because at least if they'd taken mine, *'I* would be the one annoyed, and my baby wouldn't be upset. Yes, we had been leaving the garage door open, and have for almost the whole time we've lived here, because the track is bent a little and the kids can't open and shut it themselves, so it's a pain, but now I guess we'll have to keep is shut, since there's a little thief that's moved in. >:(

I finally decided to call the police, not because I think they're going to find it but because I just wanted them to know it had happened, in case there ends up being a rash of that kind of thing happening so they'll see a pattern. They guy who came out was really nice, gave me his name and number and told me to call in a couple of weeks to see if it ends up in the lost-and-found (we don't have the VIN# on it, so they won't be able to ID it and call us). DH took Josie around the neighborhood to look for it, too, to see if maybe someone had dumped it somewhere, but no. I imagine it's either several blocks away in the alley near some kid's house or, more likely, at a pawn shop so some idiot could get money for booze.

Thankfully, July is a 3-paycheck month, so we'll have some extra money. Josie has camp this coming week, and then is going to SC with a friend's family literally right after camp on Friday, so by the time she gets home we'll have gotten her a new one. Argh. There goes another $160. I know that's not a huge amount of money, but it's still a lot, and not what I was planning on spending money on. When we were at her house today (we had a family thing this afternoon, ugh), my MIL tried to get me to take some bike she'd saved from when my now-20yo niece was Josie's age. Like I'm going to give the kid a ten year old used road bike that's been in a basement for who knows how long as a replacement for a brand-new mountain bike birthday present?! She had actually tried to get me to take it to give to her as the gift in the first place, too. What is she thinking?

So, when DH gets paid next week, that will be me, heading over to Target to pick up another bike so when Josie comes home, she will have her freedom back again. She had been riding all over creation on that thing, and aside from the exercise, I think it was just good for her confidence and sense of self. That's work more than any bike. I just wish if someone was going to take it that they'd waited until she was away, and then I could have replaced it with her none the wiser. The look on her face when she realized it was gone... sigh.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Been Awhile

Hey there! It's been a loooong time since I was here!!! With all the health stuff that was going on, and school starting, the last month has gone by almost without my noticing. The breathing thing seems to be under control now, with daily prevacid controlling the vocal chord swelling and allergy meds controlling the everything else swelling, the fifth grade graduation project over and the shock and stress of starting grad school over.

I LOVE grad school. LOVE IT. I've never been in a class where not only is everyone smart, but also is genuinely into being there. Always in undergrad, and even in grad classes I've taken before for business programs, there have always been people there who really aren't interested in being there, they're there because they have to be for one reason or another. My first class is over already (an entire semester crammed into three weeks, for cripes sake), and the second class will finish up this Thursday. Then I'll be off until the 5th. Woosh!

I've been practicing lately with leaving Josie alone, since she'll be by herself for 2hrs a day once I start student teaching, and it's fine. She's not nervous or weirded out, it's just me. It feels SO WEIRD to say, 'bye baby, be good, stay indoors, we'll be back soon' and walk off with Patrick to run errands. It's also nice, though. There's no bickering in the car, they get sorely-needed time apart, and I get alone time with Patrick that I've never been able to have before, time that Josie and I had for years before he was born. He's a fun kid, especially when his sister isn't around, because there's no one for him to annoy, so I don't end up annoyed with him for being annoying. Actually, we're going to be having a lot of alone-together time coming up, too, because next week Josie will be at day camp every day, and on Friday rather than bringing her home, she's going to a friend's house straight from camp because she's been invited to go with them to SC on vacation for a week and they want to leave at 3am on Sat. So she'll be completely gone for another whole week. It will be weird, even though she's gone away with friends before.

I'm trying really hard to practice letting her go a little, in the cosmic sense. She's starting middle school, and I want to give her space to feel her growth, not surround her so completely that she's going to have a massive rebellion just to get air. It's hard. I had to read a book for my last class on parenting, so I chose 'How To Hug A Porcupine', which is about tweenage parenting, and I also just finished 'Ophelia's Mom', which is by the mother of the girl who wrote 'Ophelia Speaks' (which I'm just getting ready to read), about mom reactions and coping to their teenage daughter's behaviors and rebellions. They were both very interesting (I'll post reviews on poor, neglected Literally Booked in awhile), and one idea I got from them is to allow her to keep her period stuff private for awhile. So, this week when I was at the store, I stood in the pad and tampon aisle, trying to figure out what to get for her to keep in her room so, if she doesn't want to tell me right away when she gets her period, she doesn't have to. We've already talked all about it, she knows all the mechanics she needs to know, and I know it's coming soon, so rather than have her use my stuff, which is probably too big, or feel like she wants to hide doing the toilet paper thing, she can have her own supply in her room for when she needs it. I finally found these tiny little tampons (I can't believe there were actually 18 in that little box, they must come out like salt from a shaker) and smaller winged pads. When I got home, I gave them to her and explained that I hoped she'd want to tell me when The Time comes, but if she doesn't want to, I will respect her privacy, and she can just wait until she needs more or is comfortable telling me. I think it worked, because that was two days ago, and last night for the first time *she* actually approached *me* with a question, rather than me going to her with information. That's a big step for a girl who used to cringe, and sometimes cry, at every thought of growing up.

I do feel weird, though, even at the thought of someone else having pads in the house. I mean, that's *my* department. Hers is supposed to be band-aids.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Our cat, Sasha, got hit by a car last night at about 9:30. Dh heard it happen; I was upstairs reading to Josie, and Patrick was already in his room for the night, playing his ds before going to sleep. He dealt with moving her from the road into a box in the garage before coming upstairs carrying her collar to tell us. I still can hardly believe it. Her bowls are sitting in their places on the radiator, her kitty tower is waiting to be perched on near the door. Her brush still has her fur in it. How can this be? My sweet kitty, who purred constantly, even when I was trimming her nails, and who put up with all manner of indignities from young children and dogs? Who made us laugh every day, climbed up to listen to Josie play the piano, and slept under the blankets with her every night? How can she never be coming back?

An hour or so after that happened, we realized that Baci was bleeding on Josie's bed. The dogs had gotten out of the yard earlier in the day, and we thought he had had an altercation with the dog who snapped at him before down the road; we now think what actually happened was that he somehow fell onto their tiny metal garden border fence, which is about 12in high and has pointy tops. There's a puncture wound on his side about the size and depth of my pinkie finger to the first joint. So, 90min after our cat was killed, I was off to the ER vet with Baci. He hadn't been bleeding earlier; his fur, which is really thick, just looked a little roughed up like last time and he carried on like usual, so we hadn't noticed anything, but once he jumped in and out of the car on the vet trip, it started to really bleed. The poor thing was ready to come home an hour later, completely doped and disoriented on morphine, and still with an open wound, since you can't close a puncture. When we got home, he practically fell out of the car, and once in the yard he seemed to not know where he was or even, for a moment, who I was. It took me a few minutes of quiet talking to get him to let me take his collar and guide him into the house, where he just melted to the floor about five feet inside the door. I let him lay there for awhile, and then we moved his dog bed into the living room and coaxed him onto it. I "slept" on the couch last night next to him, where I assume I will be sleeping for the next week since he's not supposed to go upstairs and I don't want to leave him alone with himself.

Delilah is completely freaked out. She knows things are all wrong around here, and can smell the blood on Baci. Sigh. It's like he's walking around with an open bullet wound.

The kids are OK. They both cried pretty hard last night, and that was pretty much it for them. Kids are amazing. DH and I aren't so great. I am a mess, actually. I was doing OK until I had to bring Sasha's body to the vet for cremation, and the new woman there was completely insensitive and cold. I've never seen her before, and hope I never do again. She acted like I was making a dog chow delivery rather than bringing our poor sweet kitty meow in in a box. *That* totally made me lose my stuffing for the next hour. I hated having to leave her there, and even more with that awful woman. I don't care that it's Memorial Day weekend, and she didn't want to be at work. I care that a member of my family died, and she was asking me questions like a telemarketer. "Name? First name? Are you a patient here? You're not in the computer. Oh, yeah, sorry, I spelled your name wrong. $35. Sign here." Bitch. You're in the wroooong line of work.

We will, of course, recover. We've already talked about adopting another cat in a few weeks when we're all ready, Baci is healed, and school is out. It's not that I'm tossing Sasha's memory aside, but rather that we love her so much, and loved having her in our lives, that now there's a huge awful sad space, and the only thing that is making me feel at all better is the idea that maybe we can have something happy to look forward to instead of this emptiness.

We will never find another cat who has your appreciation for fine music.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Taking a Breath... and Sighing

The ENT doctor said that my throat is clear - no lumps or visible issues that would indicate anything unusual. He told me that I have reflux that's messing with my throat and causing the muscle spasms and swelling feelings, and that it may take a few weeks to see any changes, but that I was right to start taking the Prevacid when I did. Normally, it's a 14-day course, but he said to take three straight, and come back to see him. I may need to be on it long-term depending on how I respond, and what happens when I eventually stop taking it after the third course. He also told me something I didn't know before - we actually have *two* sets of tonsils, the one we all know about and another on the back of our tongue. They can get inflamed and spasm in reaction to severe allergies, which I apparently also have. So, I'm also on two allergy meds, and when I feel like things are really swelling, I take a hit off of my kids' inhalers that they don't use to relax the muscles try and zen my way out of it. I still wake up at night feeling like I'm choking, but it's more brief, and since it doesn't scare me anymore, I'm able to go back to a fitful sleep fairly quickly. That goes on for a couple of hours, and then I'm OK again. I wish it would just go away, but I guess I have to be patient for awhile more. In the meantime, no coffee, nothing yummy-spicy, no chocolate.

In other news, surprise! The college messed up my practicum placement. No way, right? What are the odds? I mean, they've only messed up every single other thing so far. There are three schools the thirty or so of us can be placed in, one with a teacher day starting at 7am, another at 8, and the third at 8:30. On the form, I said that I really wanted the 8am one, which is right down the road from where Patrick will be in the fall, because it starts and ends at the same time, minimizing his time in before and after care, and thus limiting the time Josie will be alone after school. Guess which one they put me at? I was told, no problem, sure, we'll put that down for you. Got the confirmation the other day, and guess where they put me? THE 7AM ONE. The only one I said I couldn't do, period! If I was there, I would have to wake Patrick at 5:45 so we could leave at 6:20, at which time I would wake up Josie before walking out the door. She would have to get ready and leave by herself every day, and Patrick would be in beforecare for 90min. Then, Josie would still be alone when she got off the bus in the afternoon around 2:30. Um, noooo.

So, I called, and was told, gee, they didn't know what happened, they remembered telling me that, and now it's too late to move me to the school I had requested because everyone had gotten their placements at the same time I did. !!!!!!!!! They finally moved me to the third school, the one that starts at 8:30 for teachers, because they had someone drop out, which is what I was going to have to do if they hadn't been able to move me. Now no one will be in before care, I'll be able to see Josie off to the bus, and have plenty of time to get to the school after dropping Patrick off, even though it's nowhere near where he is. He'll be in after care for an hour and a half or so, and Josie will be alone for about two hours after school, but I think we can make it work. I start classes on Monday, and it hardly seems real. I've tried to contact the teachers I've been assigned to, but the grade 2 teacher I'll be working with in the fall hasn't responded, and the email I sent to the grade 4 teacher I'll be with in the spring came back as undeliverable. I'm not entirely sure what to do about that, since it's not like teachers have a direct line to call at the school. I guess I can leave a note in the main office for them? My classes start on Monday night, four hours a night M-Th through the beginning of August, so I suppose I can ask for suggestions then.

In the meantime, I should call and make sure my financial aid made it through OK. With the track record I've seen so far (and I'm not the only person to have problems, I found out at the orientation a couple of weeks ago), I'm almost afraid to ask.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Breathing is Overrated, or Why I've Been Away

I haven't been around much lately. I was just too exhausted, scared and short of breath to do anything. Plus, I'm tired of myself being this way.

It all started a few weeks ago, when I had that fb debacle, and I began having what I thought were panic attacks at night. I would wake up gasping for air, my heart racing, feeling like I was choking. My throat felt like it was closing off, and I had muscle spasms in my throat and tongue that were like massive cramps for days. I stopped eating, because I felt like I was going to choke, and also because being so freaked out totally took my hunger away. To make a long story short, I went in to my doctor, who I really like, who said that I needed to take some Xanex, and that I should take allergy meds because I have junk in my throat which could be pairing up with sleep apnea or something. I took one right after, and the second at bedtime, only to wake up gasping again, but this time also was completely confused and disoriented, which was even more scary. I felt like I couldn't wake up.

The next day, my heart rate went to 120 at rest, which, paired with the continuing feeling that my throat was swelling or there was something stuck in it, sent me right over the edge into near-constant panic. So, I took another Xanex. A few hours later, I was covered in hives. Turns out the rapid heart rate and dizziness were an allergic reaction, not a panic attack. Enter Benadryl, which also made me disoriented when I woke up in the middle of the night, but at least I know I'm not allergic to it, and the next day my heart began to calm down, and the hives began to go away.

It's been over a week since then, and I've started eating again, only because I was getting really shaky and weak, so I've been forcing myself to take bites and swallow them with a lot of water, because my throat is so dry it's hard for me to get it down. The sleeping problems have continued, and I wake up several times a night, feeling like my throat is swollen, but it's gone on for so long that I no longer have panic about it, just a sense of resignation that OK, I've jerked awake again, watch TV for a little while and try again.

I did some online investigating, and saw some seriously scary shit that this all could be, but what I think it might really be is something to do with reflux. I saw that there's a kind that can cause all of these things I've been feeling, including swelling of the vocal chords that results in a 'lump-in-the-throat' feeling. So, over the weekend I started taking a course of Prevacid, just to be on the safe side, figuring that it can't hurt, and it's what doctors use when this condition happens (although I read that usually a doctor will put you on a double-dose to get rid of more severe cases). I have actually felt a little better since I started taking it, and I have an appointment with an ENT tomorrow morning first thing. I have noticed that I have had some reflux in the past few months, but have never had heartburn, so I didn't think anything of it. Turns out, you don't always get heartburn. My throat has been sore, though, and I can see that it's red when I look.

As you can tell, I'm kind of praying that this is what's going on. I really don't think that it's panic, just that my initial stress over just everything in life kicked off whatever's going on with me. I don't feel terribly stressed, just exhausted from not sleeping. I was supposed to go on Patrick's field trip tomorrow, but had to back out due to my dr appt; to be honest, I wouldn't have had the stamina to do it, anyway. The lack of sleep has made me barely able to do a regular shopping trip. Josie has a school camp field trip tomorrow through Fri, and DH was supposed to be staying there with them as a full-time chaperone, but he called the school today and told her teacher what's been going on, and that he's concerned about my being alone at night, particularly if the doctor starts me on a new med, since I've been having allergic reactions to the last two new prescriptions I've been put on. So, he'll go for the day, and come home to sleep, just in case. I started crying when he called and told me. I feel like such a wussy invalid, and I hate that I feel like I'm screwing up everyone's lives. Josie doesn't mind that he's not sleeping over (he'd be in the boy's bunk, anyway), but I still feel like crap about it. I could cry now telling you about it. I guess it's the over-exhaustion. Anyway, cross your fingers that I have reflux. That, I can deal with.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Moving On

Things are slowly improving around here.

Patrick got into the magnet school he applied to!!!!! I was told that there were 90 kids that applied for it this year, and while kids in any grade (1-4) can try to get in for the next year, I'm thinking that most of them were in 1st or 2nd grade, since if you're thinking about putting your kid in a magnet program, I would think it would be right away or not at all. There will be about 25 kids in his class, plus the smattering of kids who were admitted to fill spaces of kids who have left the other grades' classes throughout the year, so I think it's probably less than 40 kids who got actually got in. We're so proud!

This means that he will definitely be in before- and aftercare, so I need to call the school and find out whether they offer it there (most schools do), and how much it is, etc. He doesn't mind the idea at all, particularly since I found out that one of the schools available for me to student teach at is less than 10 minutes away, meaning he'll only be in both for about a half hour each. If I get into that school, it will also minimize the amount of time that Josie spends here alone after school, to maybe an hour and a half or so. I wish it was less, and I'm still not thrilled by the idea, but we have neighbors who will be aware that she's here and available to help her if she needs it. I'll still be able to see her off in the morning to the bus, and we're going to get her a cell phone that she can use to text me when she gets home or if she goes to a friend's house that I'll be able to feel vibrate in my pocket to know she's safe. The bus stop is right across the street from the house, so once she crosses the street she'll be inside with the dogs and safe.

Josie's hardly going to be here at all this summer. She's got karate camp for a week, another camp that both kids are going to the last week of their vacation because I'll be working in a classroom to prepare for the students (!!), and then she's been invited to go away with two different friends for a week apiece on their family vacations! Phew! Patrick just has two weeks of camp, one of which *I* want to go to! It's a robot-building camp, where they use computer modeling to design them and legos to build them! How awesome is THAT?! He told me the other day that he wants to be an inventor when he grows up. :)

With all this stuff going on, I am finally pushing things off of my plate. I quit the PTA the other night, because with both kids leaving the school I can't be VP there anymore, so once I'm done with 5th grade graduation, I'm free of that. I told the committees I'm on at church that I'll see them in the fall, and the choir, too, since I'll be in school at night. I took my last final at the community college yesterday. Other than the graduation project, I'm free until the 24th. I'm not going to work, or volunteer, or even show up at just about anything at all. I'm going to organize the house, read a few books, and spend extra time just hanging out with the kids.

Who wouldn't want to hang out with these two??

Friday, April 30, 2010

No News Is No News

I still haven't heard anything from the girl's mother, and at this point, I have to think I'm not going to. I'm teaching the kids' class today, and I hope it goes well. I had strong thoughts of canceling the job in the middle of the night, but decided against it. DH convinced me that it would be good to go through with it, because the fact that I will treat all the children the same, just as usual, will help to move everyone beyond this whole mess. I hope that's true. I'm not looking forward to going in there, though. Who knows what has been said about me to other people who work there (did I mention that the woman's a para at the school?), but whatever. Hopefully anyone who has heard anything will be adult. I'm bringing a book and hanging out at my desk during their lunch, anyway, just for my own nerves' sake.

In other news, some kids have gotten letters about being accepted to the magnet programs they've applied to. Patrick hasn't gotten one, but I know they're coming out in waves, because one friend received theirs for one school last Saturday, another for a different school on Tuesday. Part of me hopes he gets in, because I know it will be so fun for him, and I hate for him to be rejected, but a little part of me won't mind if he doesn't, because that will remove a lot of transportation and childcare issues for me. The magnet school is several towns over, so there's no public transit for him, and I'll have to leave the house a lot earlier in the morning to get him there and then me to school.

I feel so much guilt about the idea of going back to work, it's ridiculous. I'm so nervous about how it will affect our family. I know millions of people do it, and I myself used to work, but it's been a long time, and it's a huge change for everyone. I don't think it's wrong for both parents to work, it's just not the choice we've made since I was pregnant with Patrick. Josie will be alone after school for awhile, he'll be in before and after care... it just seems like a lot. I know a lot of you do exactly that, though, and it's working out fine.

I went to the orientation for my grad school program last night, and it's *intense*. We get little breaks here and there, which is nice and also more than I expected, but WOW. The classes over the summer are 5-9pm M-Th, and during the school year we're either student teaching all day or in school ourselves from 8:30-3:30. There was a woman there who's in the program now, and she said that keeping up in the summer isn't that bad, but during the school year when you're working all day and having a ton of projects to do was very difficult. I knew it would be hard, but having it described that way was intimidating, I have to admit. I couldn't help but think about all the time I'm going to miss with my kids during all of this.

Sigh. Focus. I just need to get through today, and then my final next week. One foot in front of the other, right?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Off The Wagon

Well, I haven't heard back from the woman I emailed the apology to. I'm not sure if that means I never will, or if she's mulling, or if she put it in the trash without even reading it. I'm trying to console myself with the fact that I've done what I can to make her feel better, and the rest is up to her. There's nothing more I can do.

The problem is, while I did feel somewhat better after writing the email, and a little bit more today, I always feel like I've run over a bag full of puppies when this kind of thing happens. I hate making other people upset, and I turn it over and over and over in my mind, which makes me feel worse and worse until I am almost physically ill. In the past few days, I have worried about this situation until I almost can't breathe. Welcome to OCD, the so-focused-you-can't-function condition.

As a result, I have broken down, and gone back on my medication. I had been doing pretty well without it, talking myself down from whatever I was worrying about at the moment. Lately, though, with the stress of planning the school's fifth grade graduation events, my own schoolwork and approaching finals, and realizing that I have to work on and teach Sunday school for the next two weeks, in addition to the regular schedules, has been pushing my coping to the limit. Add in the grad school financial aid process, kids with friend problems and now this debacle, and that's more than I can handle.

I didn't want to go back on medication, and I gained a lot of weight last time I took Z, but maybe if I try really hard and am very careful, I won't gain more. I think that what I'm learning is that yes, I might be able to handle ordinary things, but when something sudden and upsetting happens, I can't do it on my own, and because it *is* sudden, I will have to deal with it on my own even if I do break down and start to take something because it probably won't build up in my system fast enough to deal with the situation even if I take one right then. Granted, I feel better for having taken my Z last night, but I probably won't be at 'cruising altitude' for a week or so. I'm going to keep taking it, at least for the foreseeable future. I think I was really near a nervous breakdown the other day, and it's because the obsessively constant worrying my OCD demands prevents me from being able to keep things like this in perspective. Even though I know I'm being irrational, that knowledge doesn't seem to help. Maybe this tiny white pill will.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

OK, OK...

OK, OK - you guys got me, I apparently messed up. I'm glad you all have been honest with me, rather than gloss over it. I'm embarrassed. The chances that I was too close in to this one to see that I was making a mistake are pretty high. Even though we aren't coffee-and-tea friends, I do enjoy knowing her as a fellow parent, and I was awake a lot last night thinking about this. I went back and forth all night, between feeling that I hadn't done wrong by posting about my own kid, but that on the other hand I had upset someone without meaning to and that was wrong.

So, this morning I wrote and apologized. I explained that when Josie came to me in tears, it brought back all my fears of my kids having the same problems that I had had, and since I was on fb already, I reached out for advice and support from friends. I told her that I was upset at some of the comments that people had left and had followed up their comments with another of my own saying thanks, but the girl wasn't a bad kid, she had good parents, and that I was sad that their friendship wasn't doing well, before deleting the whole mess after long enough that anyone who had posted would have seen it. I said that I was sorry that I hadn't emailed her first, but that ironically I hadn't wanted to upset her with another email, and that I hadn't been thinking about her being on fb as well (which is, ok, a small lie, but I really hadn't been thinking about her seeing the comments from other people, so I let myself get away with it) or I would have called people rather than throwing out a net to look for support. I said that I wasn't trying to be malicious or unfriendly, and I certainly hadn't been looking for anyone else to be so. I closed by reiterating that I was sorry she was upset.

That's the best I can do, really. At least I can go forward now knowing that. I'm not perfect, and I hate it when I mess up. Hopefully she will accept my apology and we can move forward. If we never hook up on fb again, I'm fine with that, but I would at least like to be able to run into her and not feel like there's something I could have done to make it better. We probably won't see each other much after the next month, anyway, since the school year will be over and middle school isn't like elementary school - if you don't make an effort to see other kids' parents, you don't. I just want to be able to hold my head up and know I've done the best I can.

She won't see my email for awhile because she's at work until 1, so I won't know anything until at least this afternoon, if she responds at all.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Considering the Options

DH and I are talking about adopting.

I've always wanted to either foster or adopt, or both, both because I think it's a great thing to do and because, that could have been me. Once my father left, I had no family other than my mother, and if that guidance counselor had believed me when I told her what was going on at my house when I was in third grade, social services would have been at our door in no time. In retrospect, I'm glad I was able to stay, because at least I was able to go to college and move on with my life, whereas had I been put in The System, who knows where I'd be now.

Anyway, I browse the foster care photo listings occasionally, just thinking about it, and last week I came across a girl who looks a lot like Josie, just a few years older. I couldn't stop thinking about her. I thought about her for three days before I got up the nerve to say anything to DH, and even then, I thought, really, that he was going to tell me I'm nuts, bring me to my senses, and on we'd go.

He didn't.

We were sitting at Uno's, and I blurted out, 'what would you think about adopting?', and without hesitation, he said that it sounded like a great idea to him. I could have cried. Josie was with us (Patrick was in the bathroom), and as I told DH what I'd seen, she started listening; after a minute she started almost bouncing in her seat, asked if we were thinking about adopting her a sister, and could they share a room! By this time, Patrick had come back (he tends to dawdle in bathrooms, so he'd been gone for awhile), and Josie told him what we'd been talking about. He looked at us, smiled, and said that that sounded nice. I was so proud of them both; neither one had any qualms whatsoever. Since then, I've talked to them individually about what exactly that would mean, with the sharing of their parents, and the conversion of the finished attic from a playroom into a bedroom, and they're both still really into it.

I talked to social services yesterday, and they're sending us out a packet of into on what we have to do. MD requires anyone adopting a child that's not an infant to take a 9 week class, one evening a week, on whatever it is they want us to know. I can't imagine what on earth will take 27hrs to teach us, but I suppose it's for people who don't already have children as well, so maybe that's part of it, as well as making sure people are really committed and not just looking for a check (foster parents get a monthly check from the govt). I'm sure it will be full of good info, though. Once we're done with that, we will be cleared to foster and adopt any available child we choose.

Since the next class doesn't start until fall, that will give us time to convert the playroom into a bedroom, and put the new carpet squares down in the basement, which will let us move everything from the attic that needs to be moved somewhere else down there. There really isn't a lot up there other than toys, so it won't be too hard. It'll make a really cool room, actually; I had been thinking about letting Josie use it when she was older, but this will work out fine, too. Also, my evening grad classes will be over in August, so there will be no conflict there.

It looks like the earliest we'll be able to think about having someone new in the house is after Thanksgiving, and maybe not until after the new year, since while it would probably be nice to allow a child to have a Christmas with us, depending on the scheduling it probably wouldn't be the most stable environment to bring a new child into, with how crazy everyone's schedules get around Xmas. We'll have to see. For now, all we know for sure is that in the next year, we're probably going to be adding a new older girl to the family.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ugh. Just, UGH.

Over the past week or so, Patrick's behavior has been in a steady decline from the realm of Regular Boy Stuff into the area of I'd Rather Not Appear With Him In Public. Usually it's kids who don't want to be seen with their parents, I think, not the other way around, but sadly, this is where we have been.

We hit rock bottom the other day at piano lesson. Josie and Patrick have the same teacher, and their lessons follow each other, with Patrick going first. Based on his sullen mood over the past few days, I knew it probably wasn't going to be the greatest lesson, but it turned out that I was WAY overestimating his good-behavior potential. He did everything from averting his eyes constantly, purposefully ignoring the teacher, banging on the keys too hard more than once and having to be told to stop, and, the piece de resistance, when the teacher put his hand on Patrick's shoulder to get his attention because he was rudely staring at the piano bench, Patrick (I am ashamed to even type this), did that thing that kids do when they're being bratty; he slouched and slid away like the teacher was putting a crap crown on his head. I could have DIED, I was so angry and embarrassed. For the record, the teacher was really polite about it and dealt with it well, but internally I was EXPLODING.

I usually try not to interfere when the kids are being instructed by someone else, but I couldn't take it and scolded him right after he did that little action. The piano teacher then ended the lesson - ten minutes earlier than usual - and I told Patrick that he should put down his things and follow me out to the front stoop as Josie took her place at the piano. He knew he was in for it, obviously, but he had no idea what he was really in for.

I reamed that boy a new orifice. Usually I try to go for the more placid approach, ask what has happened to him that day, etc, but this time, while I did maintain a regular level of voice, I took that boy up one side and down the other, with a little in between for good measure. I told him that I didn't know what his problem was, but that if he ever acted that way again he would never touch another musical instrument, never mind have lessons, and that he should be ashamed and humiliated at his own behavior, treating an old man like that in his own home when all he was doing was being kind. I said that I was horrified to see that he thought it was appropriate to treat someone that way, and that as a result, he will no longer own a DS or be watching Pokemon, because until I can see that he can treat real people well, in person, there will be no interacting with electronic people. He can only use the Wii if he's playing with someone else. Obviously, I made him apologize once Josie's lesson was over, too.

He's had behavior problems before when he's played his DS too much, so this punishment ends up being an appropriate one. I'm a firm believer in trying to make a punishment fit the crime, and this is as close as I can get. I took away the Pokemon show because I think it's feeding into his overly-dramatic tendencies; both the japanamation and the obviously formulaic boy cartoon style provide examples of constant over-the-top actions and reactions, and they're rubbing off on him. He's really into it, and I'm sorry to take something he likes away from him, but maybe I'll be able to compromise and let him read the books instead.

I know that all of this is mostly my fault. I was falling down on the parenting job, letting him play his ds too much and spend too much time with these character he likes but yet can't interact with. It's not like he sat around the house all day playing, more that he'd wake up early in the morning and probably play for hours before I would see him doing it, realize it had been too long, and tell him to do something else, added in with car trips, etc. I understand the desire to do that, because I love to use my ds, too (yes, I have one, so there), and sometimes will play for hours, but as an adult I can walk away and still be nice to people afterward. I feel bad that it was probably my inattention to detail that allowed him to travel that bratty path to begin with. Sigh.

However, since being told that he can't have it back until he can prove that he can be nice to real people again, he hasn't asked for it once, and in fact yesterday sprang out of the car to go and play with the little girl (who is 4) and her baby brother in their yard across the street! Josie goes over there routinely - she likes to be a little mommy - but usually Patrick isn't that into it. He's been really into reading a new book that I gave him, one that Josie and I just finished reading together at bedtime about two weeks ago.

When these things happen, though, I worry. His teacher had that ADD-insinuating a few months ago, and he could very well have inherited OCD/depression from me. Any of those things could induce the behavior we see rear its ugly head in him. He's my only boy, and I have no siblings or cousins, so I have nothing to measure him by. I see his friends, but that's not the same. Do your boys act like this from time to time, or am I maybe seeing the blossom of something that needs to be carefully watched??

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Action, Reaction, and Resolution (sort of)

I want to thank all of you for your comments about the hate club problem. It really made a difference in what I did; Stimey in particular opened my eyes. My nephew, too, will probably be the butt of something like this someday, and won't be able to easily tell anyone, either. Thank you all for helping me to realize that it was absolutely my job to say something. I've told Josie before that watching something bad happening and not doing something is almost as bad as doing it yourself, and there I was, not doing anything. I guess I was muddled by the fact of not actually *seeing* it myself, but it's the same thing in the end. Also thanks to Marie for the book suggestions - I have Queen Bee because I read it years and years ago when it first came out, out of curiosity, but I should definitely read it again NOW, and the others as well.

I ended up discussing the incident with someone who works at the school, another substitute who was the Josie's class's student teacher last semester and who was subbing for Josie's teacher that day. The principal was busy, and the other fifth grade teacher was as well, so since I knew this woman and am reasonably friendly with her, it was an easier option, anyway. Astonishingly, she was shocked that E would do such a thing, and I think almost didn't believe it! She said, 'What? But she's so little and sweet and quiet!' I just looked at her and said that sometimes that's exactly who it is. The astonishing part is, this isn't the first time that E has done something like this, and I can't believe she's missed it all this time. She also said that they've had a really hard time with bullying in 5th grade this year. I think, though, that fifth grade is often this way, and she just hasn't been around older children, and in a school, long enough to know it.

Anyway, she said that she'd talk to the other fifth grade teacher about it, but I wasn't sure what would happen, given her shock and disbelief. I found out yesterday, though, from a friend who also works there, that my friend saw E, two other girls, and K, who was the object of one of the clubs, leaving the guidance office after lunch, which is about an hour after I spoke to a teacher, and yesterday when the regular teacher returned to the classroom, the grade split into boys and girls, with each half going with one of the teachers (there's a man and a woman teaching that grade) to have a discussion about bullying and what had happened. I am SO PLEASED that it was handled so swiftly and without any room for doubt as to the school's opinion on the matter. The girls were dressed down within the hour, and all 50 kids were spoken to within 24. I call that impressive.

Also, I am so, so happy to say that Josie, who at that point didn't know that I had said anything, told me yesterday that she herself reported the incident to her regular teacher as soon as the teacher returned from her time off yesterday morning. I am so proud of her! It's not easy to face up to that kind of thing, especially when the next 'target' could easily have been her in retribution. She's always been a brave girl, but I am SO proud of her. I did tell her yesterday that I had spoken to the sub, because I wanted to be honest with her and for her know that I felt strongly about standing up for people. I said that I hoped she didn't mind, and that anytime she wants to tell me something and doesn't want me to say anything, she can tell me and I will respect that (within reason), but that I hadn't thought she would mind in this case. She wasn't upset, although I think she was a little disappointed that the whole in-school resolving of the event wasn't due to her own reporting of it, as she had thought it was. Both DH and I made a big fuss over her about doing the right thing, though, so she seemed to feel pretty good regardless.

The only depressing part is that K has gone right back to being friends with E, AGAIN. Why do some girls (and I guess boys, too, but it seems to be mostly girls) go back time and time again in these circumstances to what basically amounts to more punishment!? Josie asked me this, and I told her that the only reason I could think of was that K is buying into the idea that E *is* better and cooler than everyone else, and thinks that by being near her, K will be cooler, too. It's so sad. K has real friends, but she's insistent that she WILL be part of this group who really doesn't want her there. Sure, they skipped along out of the guidance department together, but this isn't like when little kindergarteners say they hate each other over some incident with the jumprope. This was calculated hurtfulness, and while obviously I hope that E has learned a lesson, to be honest, I doubt that after a twenty-minute group-hug free-love meeting in the guidance department she's magically ready to accept K as her new BFF. It's not like she didn't KNOW what she was doing was hurtful and wrong, for heaven's sake; it's a personality thing, and her desire to be Queen Bee isn't going to change just because some touchy-feely grownup announced that it was wrong and hurtful, kumbyah. In fact, I think she did K a huge disservice by not telling her in no uncertain terms that she should NOT be friends with E until E has proven that she deserves it. Allowing her to go trotting out of there all happy and trusting that things are fine was just ludicrous. Sigh.