Sunday, October 25, 2009

These I Submit To You.....

I had to take the cat to the vet for shots. Sasha doesn't like crates, but does well on a leash in the car (comparatively speaking), if you call perching on the center console and loudly crying in my ear 'well'. At the vet, she refused to sit on the table, but insisted on leaping onto a stool and pillowing herself all over it. She growled at the vet. Many times. (But, since she never scratches or bites, whatev.) On the way home,

Me: I'm going to run into Sheetz (a convenience store pronounced as, Grab Food Here Now And Get The Shee-eets later) for a drink. My throat hurts.

Her: MEEROW!! (translation: I'm going to pee in your car.)

Me: Be right back!

Her: MEEE-ROOOOW! (translation: Let me move to the back cloth seat.)

Me: I'm back!!!

Her: ..... (hiding under the passenger seat

Me: What's that smell? Hmmm..... (looking in back seat) WTF?!?!?!?! @#$%#$%!!!!!!!!!!!

Her: *glare* Mrrrrrrr. (I told you, dumbass.)



Me, working on take-home bio midterm after spending half the afternoon at the grocery store while DH and the kids were at the movies: Can you put the chicken in the oven?

DH: Sure. It's in this bag, right (holding up Perdue Chicken-In-A-Bag).

Me: Thanks!


Me: Huh, that chicken sure smells strong already. You put it in a roasting pan, right?

DH: (insulted) Yeah, of course I did!


Us: *running to kitchen and flinging open oven*

Me: You put the chicken on a COOKIE SHEET?!?!?!?!?!!!

Fire Alarm: Beep! Beep! Beep! Who let the man cook??? BEEP! BEEP!!! He who once tried to bake cookies on COOLING RACKS (BEEP!!!) because thought they were cooking racks?! (BEEP!) Dumbass!!!!! BEEP!!! (are you seeing a trend here? I am.)

Stove: Uh, I'm covered in molten chicken juice and plastic, here..... hello........

Me: Peeing with laughter, and taking photos.


Me, still working on bio exam: What's that smell?

DH: No answer.

Me (going into kitchen): What're you WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!

Stove: Um, I'm on fire here......

DH: Don't worry, the flames that are making the oven look like a fireplace are totally normal when you run the cleaning mode. Right?

Me: ?!?!?!?!!?!NO?!?!?!?!?!?!

Kids: Whoa! Cool!!!

Stove: Help me, I'm melting!!!!!!

End Scene

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Christmas in October

Today's task was to prepare a Christmas package for Mirriam, our sponsor child in Zimbabwe.

Last year, the orphanage sponsored by our church didn't get their gifts on time, so this year we're sending them even earlier. The package will go out on Monday, in hopes that it will reach them by 12/24.

There are many rules about what we can and cannot send, or say in our letters. We can't send anything of value, so I can't pack Mirriam a pretty bracelet or necklace, because the customs agents will take it. We can't send the children any money, because the officials will take it. Last year, the inflation rate there reached 231 million percent, meaning prices doubled every 24 hours, and the government stopped releasing year-on-year data at that time. Since then, some small stabilization has occurred, but the desperation and corruption is still so severe that officials will still stoop to stealing gifts, money and food from the children it is addressed to. If we mention anything remotely political in the letters we send, the entire package would be destroyed, and the orphanage could be put in danger.

That limits our abillity to send any real presents to the individual children we sponsor pretty severely. We can each only send an envelope so the package won't be too large. This time, I packed a musical card with letters from Josie and I, photos, slim headbands, stickers, nail decals, and a few other flat things. The school will also receive money to purchase things that the children would like, but are too large to ship.

I would like to be able to write to her more often, so she knows that we really do care about her, rather than just seeing her as some charity project. The things that I can't say to her in these letters, that we know how hard it is for them, that we want to help them have better lives, that we know how unfair and suffocating and frightening their government is, make me feel that my letters are silly bits of fluff. It doesn't seem enough to wish this child, who watched her mother die as they fled fighting in theri village, a merry holiday. It is hard to tell her about is and our lives without simultaneously, unintentionally flaunting our gross prosperity.

Sometimes I wonder what will happen when she is grown and too old for the orphanage. Will we still hear from her? Would she want to leave Zimbabwe? Our church does mission trips every year to the children's village, which is in a compound with other similar schools. I hope to be able to go when our children are older, and meet Mirriam. What would I do if she told me that she wanted to come here? Would that even be possible?

I don't have any unrealistic expectations of swooping in and being a savior to this girl and her sister. I know that if such a thing ever did happen, it would be a very difficult time of transition for everyone, and may be downright impossible. I do know, though, that when she is grown, if she wants to come to university here, there would be no way I could tell her, this girl whose photos and letters are on my refrigerator, that I would not do my best to help.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

...and this is why none of my problems matter

I just got home from the store with Josie. We were buying a sympathy card for one her her classmates. The girl's father died from complications of pneumonia and swine flu after two weeks in the hospital. She was in school today, and will be going on the big 5th grade field trip tomorrow to DC, and then to her father's wake tomorrow night. She's 10, and has three brothers and sisters.

They don't even make sympathy cards for children. All the words are big and flowery, and don't mean anything to a child, or make any sense coming from one. We picked the simplest, plainest one we could find, about her being in our thoughts and the love of friends surround her in her time of sorrow, or something like that. I'm not positive what it said exactly because I was trying so hard not to cry, and I couldn't read all the words.

I don't know this girl, and Josie's close to her, but I thought it was important that she do *something*. DH nixed the idea of taking her to the wake; since I grew up with my grandmother, I went to lots and lots of wakes and funeral services, so it seemed natural to me that we would go to show support for her classmate, but he thought it would be too much. So, we went to the hugely inappropriate card section to look for words, when really there are none.

I can only imagine how stricken and devastated those children feel, not to mention their mother, suddenly a widow with four grieving children. The idea of not being here to see my kids grow up, and imagining them trying to cope after losing DH or I, makes me want to grab them and burrow deep into the blankets of our bed, where we would be safe, and warm, and blissfully, perfectly together.

So tomorrow night, send out special thoughts and love for A and her family, at the wake. I know how horrible and surreal it was to see my nephew in a coffin. I can't begin to imagine children seeing their father in one.

Hello? Is This the Party To Whom I'm Speaking?

I am totally pissed off. Last Friday I got a voicemail from V, the graduate advisor at the main campus of the college I'm applying to for the MAT program, saying that she needed to talk to me about my requirements. I've been calling her back ever since. Nothing.

Yesterday, I got a letter in the mail from her outlining my supposed requirements, both those that have been met and what I still need to do. It's totally messed up. It lists my science requirements as being met, even though I haven't finished biology or even registered for my third required science yet. It shows trig as completed, and then lists my 'methods of soc teaching' class with question marks next to it as a possible third math class that they would need to approve. What on earth would be math-y about teaching sociology??? That was my undergrad TA position for a race relations class!!! It then goes on to list that I need prove that I've met writing ability requirements, and that I have to take PRAXIS I, the teaching exam, even though my SAT score was 1250, which places me out of that requirement. Her rationale for that gem was that my undergrad GPA was 2.74, (I know, I know, horrible, but my last two years of school I got all A's and B's - once I got into seminars where it was more important to think and WRITE than regurgitate boring crap into tiny bubbles on tests) and they want you to take it if your GPA was between 2.5 - 2.74. Lucky me, .01 and it wouldn't have mattered.

First of all, I emailed the local grad advisor, K, over a month ago with the info from my previous grad program to show that I took GRADUATE LEVEL STATISTICS and can, in fact, write my way out of a paper bag because I've only written, oh, A MILLION research papers. I had my own freakin' column in the college newspaper!

Second, I guess I can take PRAXIS if they insist, but it's expensive, time consuming, and frankly a pain in my ass. I'd lose an entire day of work and/or studying because it's not offered anywhere nearby (the closest places are 90min away), and I'd have to find someone to take my kids after school in case I couldn't get back in time.

What I want to know is, why is it that only my previous undergrad work will count towards my GPA? My GPA from my previous grad work was 3.8, and as long as I continue in even remotely the same fashion I have been this semester, I should get above a 3.5 in these classes as well. Why doesn't that count? Are they *really* only interested in things I've done before the age of 23? And if so, why the hell do they care if I've taken these four classes I'll need before I can start with them???

I was BOILING mad by the time I'd finished reading that damn letter. I sent off an email to her, which took me an hour to write because I couldn't swear in it, with a forward of the one I'd sent the local advisor, and asked all the above questions, but a lot more politely. I mean, I've done a lot of things sice I was 23, and really, the grades that brought my GPA down were from when I was 18-19, when I wasn't even old enough to buy my own martinis! AAAAHHHHHHH!

Then, last night, I got to talking to some of the other students in my bio class who are also applying to FU (hahahaha, I just realized that those are the actual initials of the school!!!! HAHAHA! OK, really FSU, but still.) I was both relieved and dismayed that they are having similar problems with the satellite and main campus advising offices not communicating.

Like it's not hard enough getting all these classes we don't even like out of the way; having to battle with these incompetent boobs and submit the same information over and over again is totally uncalled for. If they're not going to be efficient or reliable at all, what's the point of having a local outpost? It was enough yesterday to make me think that maybe I should just substitute for a few years and really think this through more, before I just fall over from stress and exhaustion. If she writes back (IF she writes back) and says that I'll have to take another math and a writing course (which there was some nonsense on for form saying that you're not allowed to fill that requirement at a cc, WTF) on top of the trig, bio, meteorology and psych that I'm already taking, plus the PRAXIS, I don't know what I'll decide, because that's just plain ridiculous.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The shopping went fine. As usual, once I was actually prepared, nothing at all happened. We went to Penny's, which has an excellent plus-kids section, picked out three pairs of jeans and four or five new shirts and got out in less than an hour. While we were in the dressing room, I casually mentioned that she looked really pretty in one of the shirts she picked out, and then asked her, 'you know that, though, right?', to which she smiled and said 'yes'. Then I said, 'because you were a little upset at the doctor's office last week, and I was wondering how you're doing with that?'

She - get this - looked at me like I was a complete headcase and said, 'Huh? No, I wasn't.' She meant it, too, I could tell. Hello, anticlimactic; you could practically hear the air squeaky-leaking out of my brain bubble. Of course, since I was prepared, nothing came of it, and my little mental speech I had ready to go went to waste. I'm sure when I least expect it, she's going to come home and demand plastic surgery.

Today was spent at home, paying bills, preparing white chicken chilli in the crockpot and apple muffins, and doing the ever-present trig. This afternoon, I went over to the kids' school to be with them during their walk-a-thon, one of the PTA fundraisers, where the kids do a few laps around the school (at a half-mile a loop) to raise money.

Before I went, I had to personally run some payments over to a couple of doctor's offices. I have tried everything to get these places to send me a receipt when I send checks in the mail, including a pre-addressed and stamped envelope with the check, with a little note on the bill to please send a receipt so we can submit it to our HCRA, which is really picky and demands one rather than using a cancelled check, or just the bill.

I have never once received one in the mail.

What are they doing with my envelopes and postage? Sending their own bills places? Or looking at it and saying, 'pfft! this lady's crazy if she thinks I'm going to do my JOB and all!' and throwing the whole thing out? Piss me off! It's not like it's only $5, either; I had a hospital copay and the remainder of what the insurance didn't cover for DH's last surgery to take care of. So, I drove around town for half a hour like the frickin Billpayer Bunny. Argh.

Now the kids are at karate with DH, and I'm supposed to be working on the take-home bio test, which is actually a redo of the debacle we took the week before last that most people failed (not me, but I got an 80, way lower than usual). She won't let us look at our original test, so we can't just write down the ones we got right and fix those that were wrong; we have to redo the whole thing. If I don't do it, I could keep the original score, but that seems like a waste of a sure A. Oh, AND we have another group presentation to do, this time with FOUR people to a group, on two kinds of cancer. Once again, this has nothing to do with the actual class, she just wants us to relate more to biology in real world. Hello, I have had kids, and created my own BIOSPHERE. I think I understand. Thank you.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shopping for Self

Thank you all so, so much for all your comments and encouragements over my 'weighty' post! Everyone offered up so much encouragement, be it book titles, strategies, or simply just support, and I am so grateful. Those of you who said that you were 'no help' are dead wrong: even just concerned words of caring are really, really helpful, because as Josie and I start down this path of, god help me, Tweenage Discovery, I'm going to need all the support I can get! Most of our IRL friends' children are younger, and those who have kids the same age have boys, so we're kind of bobbing along on this river on our own.

AND, your comments are all just in time, too, because today Josie and I are going (cringe) clothes shopping. Those of you with eyes will have seen that girls' clothing has gotten pretty slutty clingy and stretchy over the past year or so. Do the people who design these clothes have daughters?! Or are they just pedophiles still adolescent boys, hoping to see an outline of something? Because that's certainly what a lot of these clothes look like. Not only are these clothes inappropriate, but they also serve to perpetuate the 'what should I look like' worries at an even earlier age. I find the shirts particularly puzzling, since most of them are about a yard long, and four inches wide until you stretch them out with whatever budding attributes these girls may have. Why do clothing designers want our young girls' bodies displayed so intimately in public?

I digress.

Because Josie is short, many jeans drag on the ground on her. I could cut them off, but most jeans have designs on the legs now, and cutting the legs means cutting close to or through an embellishment. Thankfully, many stores have started carrying 'plus sizes' (there's a fun term for girls to get used to at an eary age) in girls' departments, so shopping for my short, sturdy girl isn't as hard as it used to be. Shirts, however, are a problem, since there aren't lengths to choose from, which means they, and their necklines, plunge south. Gulp.

I have a feeling that in the dressing rooms today, with the lovely lighting and multi-angled mirrors that make even the best of us want to jump off of a bridge (or into a pint of B&J), the topic of body sizes and scales will come up. I'm going to try and let her do a lot of the talking, or at least bring out what it is that she's got floating around in her head (so I don't give her even more ideas), and then talk about how important it is that she *is* different. Besides perhaps being heavier than some of the other children, she is also smarter, more musically talented, and able to do a ton of pushups. None of her friends is exactly like one of the others, or even remotely physically the same as the other girls, and none are as good as she is at what she does. Not to mention, none of them has her killer eyes and dimples.

The most important thing, though, will be impressing upon her she cannot let others tell her who or what she is. We all have doubts and insecurities. Her biggest job is to define her own self, and her opinions are more important than anyone else's, even mine or DH's. Some people will pander to her, and others will try to pull her down, and she can choose to walk away from them, or carry them, unquestioning, with her always.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weighty Issues

I took the kids to the doctor, and it's just a nasty cold. Patrick also has a sinus infection, and they both are back on an inhaler until the horrible hacking cough goes away completely. Josie is a day behind Patrick, so she stayed home again today, but he went back to school this morning and was fine. The albuterol throws him for a loop emotionally, though; he's hyper, and very teary.

The sight of the two of them laying on the couch yesterday, sniffling, coughing and blowing just tore my heart. The poor things looked so pathetic!

We ran into a snag at the doctor's office, though. As usual, the kids had to hop on the scale before going into the exam room. Patrick got on and off, and Josie got on. She saw her weight, and said, 'Oh.' and got off. This had never happened before; always she would jump off exclaiming in delight at how big she was getting. Not this time. She went dead silent, and I could tell something was upsetting her.

We went into the office to wait, and I wanted to say *something* without being too leading, so I just said, 'Wow, Pea, you're finally as big as the dog!' She was quiet, and I asked her what was going on. She said, 'None of my friends weigh that much.'

Oh, no. Here we go.

You have all seen photos of Josie, and she's perfectly perfect for who she is. She will never be skinny, but she's certainly not obese either. I didn't know what to tell her about that, so I just replied, 'Oh. Is that bad?'

'It seems like a lot. Even my friends who are taller than me weigh less than that.'

To be honest, it had seemed like a lot to me, too, but not for the reason she was saying; the last time I remember her weight, it was 20lbs less. I think it may have been weighing heavy, because I think I would notice if she was suddenly 20lbs heavier. I decided that I would tell her to hop on the one at home if she mentioned it again, but she didn't, so I didn't either.

I don't want to make a big deal out of this and make her think about it more, if she's let it go for now, but I also don't want her to be wandering around with a nagging voice in her head that she's fat, either. I think the whole thing came up because her friends have been talking about how C, a girl in their circle, still needs a booster seat because she's so small (their whole family is tiny), so I think all the girls were talking about weight this past week.

Do I bring it up on my own to try and replace whatever negativity she may be feeling with something more positive, or ride it out and wait for another comment, hoping that nothing said is nothing thought?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


The good news: my mother *isn't* coming this weekend!!!!!

The bad news: she's not coming because both kids are hacking and sweaty.

Patrick has had a fever for two days, and started really barking last night. Josie, who only had a headache yesterday afternoon, started coughing deeply last night, too. Sigh. It's 9:30am now, and Patrick is still asleep in my bed; I have a feeling he must not have slept much last night, because he never sleeps past 8 or so. We have an appointment at the doctor at 11:15, just in case it's bronchitis. Josie's had that before, but I made the mistake of not taking her in for awhile, because she didn't have a fever, and the doctor we had then shamed me so much (and then blamed her subsqeuent asthma on me) over it that now I'm utterly paranoid. No one has thrown up yet, thank goodness, but you never know. I feel not 100% myself, actually, but I think I have just allergies, because there's junk runnning down the back of my throat all the time (you're welcome!).

I spent the last two days in a K class, and am shocked at the things that children are making up now. When I was little, it was a huge lie to say that someone shoved you on the playground. Now there are kids making thing up like having a sibling in the hospital, or one sibling actually having killed another one! WTF?! What are these kids watching on TV that they are thinking this stuff up?? I find this absolutely *SHOCKING*, and really, really disturbing. The thing is, the kids whispering these things to me are quiet, sweet children, not ones who act up or misbehave. I asked other teachers about these stories, and was told that they have made up similar things before. !!!!?????!!!!!

I am also surprised at the number of special needs kids in schools now; not physically-differently-abled, but those with emotionally/psychologically/educationally special needs. I don't know if the number of children needing alternative/additional assistance has actually changed since I was in school, or if it's merely a reflection of the mainstreaming environment that schools have now. Maybe the number hasn't changed, and it's just that these children would have been in a special ed classroom full time twenty years ago.

Regardless, one of my favorite things is seeing the typical kids interact with the less-typical children. Whereas when I was a child I saw a lot of teasing and otherizing behavior, I only once seen any children picking on or being cruel to the special needs kids in their classrooms, and that was only last year, in Josie's 4th grade class, where the entire environment was toxic. In fact, what I have seen over the last few years is an incredible change from what I remember; the typical kids, at least in our kids' schools, have almost adopted the most severely challenged children. Never when I was a child would I have seen the typical children seeking out the challenged children on the playground at recess. I don't know if this is a reflection of the environment at our school in particular, or a wider sweep of the country's schools, but I *love* it, and it only makes me want to be there more.

I've started getting feedback about my substituting, and I'm so excited! One teacher told me to get ready, because people have been "raving", and I'm going to be getting a lot of calls! OMG! About ME?!?!?! When in life do you ever hear things like that??? Certainly when I was in an office, it was all about cutting people down so you could step on their heads on the way up your own ladder. It is such a relief to be in a place where being nice is actually considered a positive thing, and not a weakness. All along, I thought it was *me*, and it seems to be turning out that no, really, it *was* just the office environment and what it turns people into. HA!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ow! My Thungue!

OK, who gave me dairy?! Becauthe someone gave me dairy. I'm looking at you, new Tharbucks employee.

I know this becauthe I have a volcano-thized sore on my poor, poor thongue. It is thoe huge it hurth to even talk. It'th right in the middle of the top, tho it rubs if I eat. I have to really work to not let mythelf rub it along my lip all the time. I think if the athronauts looked out their window, they could thee it from the spathe station.



Little Delilah dog has massive yeast infections in both ears. I noticed awhile ago that her ears were always dirty, but last week, they started seeming wet all the time, and they started to stink the other day. I mean, STINK. So, $90 later, we have a special ear wash to use every other day and ear drops I have to put in each ear twice a day for two weeks, and then once a day for another week.


My mother is cursing us with her presence next weekend. More on that later.


My bio exam I spent every spare minute studying for for two days ended up being open-book. That really pissed me off. Also, 50% were trick questions, so much so that I wrote a few sentences justifying several answers because more than one could have been correct depending on how you interpreted them (ie, how to things diffuse? a) from high concentration to low, evenly, or b) high to low, unevenly; the answer is BOTH, unevenly at first, and then ending up evenly). Pisser.


Patrick and Josie both had friends over today after school. It was a half day, so Patrick's friend has been here seven hours now (Josie's friend had to leave at 6). This was longer than I had inteded for S to be here, but they get along well and he's sweet, so I don't mind. (His mom is the one who lets him call at 4 and 5 asking if he can come over at least twice a week.) While they were playing outside, another boy stopped by, and when I wasn't listening, apparently let off such a string of foul language that JOSIE told him he had to go home! Patrick and S came inside after that, and Patrick nonchalantly told me that this D had said, 'oh, the f word, the s word, the d word, and other ones, too'. I don't know which disturbs me more, that the boy said those things, or that all the other kids were so not-shocked. Holly firecracker carp.