Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

We had a fairly quiet Thanksgiving this year. No company for dinner. Lots of cooking assistance from my family. A couple of boys who decided setting the table was the greatest gift their mother could give them. Kids in pajamas all day.
Board games. A girl who really wanted her mother's input on To Kill a Mockingbird.
A visit from Checkered's very sweet Dallas sister. But the part that brought me to tears was the prayer my youngest boy offered thanking the Lord for all our blessings and asking the Lord to keep His hand on our family.
My children pronounced it the best Thanksgiving ever and I might be inclined to agree.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Week of Thanksgiving:

I intended this week to list the things for which I'm thankful, but my lists ended after just two days. After a brief interlude to catch up with some friends, to get the Christmas decorations out, to do just a little more homework, to play a few rounds of Uno, to share a non-Weight Watchers beverage or two with my husband, to cook with my kids, to wipe a tear or 140 away when my youngest child made a gorgeous prayer, I composed my final list for the week.

It will seem shallow, but this list is about the inanimate things for which I am grateful. But life without them? Not so wonderful.

indoor plumbing
asthma meds
freezers and microwaves
washers and dryers
natural geographical beauty
great books
the Internet

Hope your week-end brings you happiness ~

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Week of Thanksgiving: People in my Children's Lives

Continuing the theme of thankfulness, today's post is focused on the people in my children's lives.

For doctors who really listen and hear what I don't say sometimes,

For Sunday school teachers and children's pastors who really want my children to know Christ,

For neighbors who give them extra special candy during trick-or-treating,

For other parents whose eyes are big enough to watch out for my children,

For other parents whose hearts are big enough to cheer on my children even when their own children might not have done as well that day,

For volunteer coaches who don't have to be there at all, but are,

For cousins, including a busy senior girl, who took time to be a Flat Stanley writing partner,

For teachers who want to make school and life just a little happier,

For teachers who are unwilling to let my children settle for less,

For all the people who pray for my children by name on a regular basis,

For these, just a few of the Lord's gifts to me, I am most thankful .

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Week of Thanksgiving: People in my Life

I do love how so many bloggers have spent the entire month giving thanks. It has been lovely to read about how so many of you recognize the many blessings in your lives. This week I will join you a public acknowledgement of some of the many things for which I am thankful. I'll limit the lists to 10 items a day. Maybe.

Today's theme? People in my life.

  • Parents who have the kindest hearts and are healthy and able to travel.
  • Sisters who understand who I am and love me.
  • Checkered's sister who always finds a way to encourage.
  • Friends who smile when they see me.
  • Neighbors who listen to my dog bark and would rather pet her than call animal control.
  • A church family who miss me when I'm not there.
  • A cousin who would gladly open her door and home to me any time.
  • Checkered's extended family who call me their own.
  • A husband who always shows me great kindness and children who enjoy talking to me.
  • Blogging friends who faithfully stop by to visit even when I get so busy I don't return the favor.

For these, just a few of the Lord's gifts to me, I am most thankful.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fragments: Readers, Forgive Me

I've come to think of Mrs. 4444 as a priest. All I have to do is type, "Friday Fragments," and the confession begins.

Friday Fragments?
Sometimes I keep my car so hot during a drive in the winter that I'm afraid my body will steam when I get out into the cold air. How would I explain that one??

During the 80's, I may have -once or twice- worn knee highs under a longer skirt.

Last night when it was time for the Cub Scouts to choose an adult to get a pie in the face, I took a long restroom break.

I rarely answer my phone.

My children are being clothed out of the clean laundry which has been sitting in a basket in the hallway for more than a week now.

My children have put their dirty laundry into that basket, so I really don't know if they're wearing clean or dirty clothes.

Sometimes, if the jeans have no apparent food stains on them, I might take a quick sniff of the seat of the pants. No offensive odor=another day's wear.

My child had several Hostess 100 calorie 3 packs of cupcakes for dinner the other night. I figured that the 15 grams of fiber would compensate for a complete lack of nutrients.

Do opera singers ever sing normally --like when they sing "Happy birthday" with their families?

I told my teacher that I am enjoying the class I'm taking, but then I realized the class isn't nearly as close to be finished as I thought it was. That detracted considerably from my enjoyment factor.

I loved my Christmas powerpoint that I sent out last year and don't think I can top it this year. Then again, would yet another reference to Tim Hortons be overkill? Not that I featured a Tim Hortons sign in my Christmas card or anything...

I looked at my blog stats today for the first time in a very long while. Wouldn't it be nice if they actually told me something?

Have a lovely week-end!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Logic Defied

Overheard on Monday morning:
7 year old speaking to 12 year old brother ~
"Hey! I don't have underwear.
Do you have some I can borrow?"
Overheard on Monday night:
7 year old speaking to 12 year old brother ~

"Why did you touch my spoon?
You put your germs on it! Now I can't eat."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So Good at Judging the Neighbors

There is a family a few blocks away who have spent the last decade living in a multi-generational household. Grandpa and grandma own the small house, and when grandma got ill and son-in-law [SIL] lost his job, SIL, daughter and their four kids moved in.

It was to be temporary. But life has crazy turns. Grandma's health stabilized, but SIL never found work. Daughter occasionally found a seasonal job, but soon learned that she was jeopardizing her government assistance by working. SIL has a skilled trade, but has refused all work - even the small $100 cash jobs neighbors have asked him to do. At times while living with grandpa and grandma, SIL's own children broke the very appliances he is trained to fix. He never offered to fix them and allowed grandpa to do the honors.

The tensions built and SIL and his family have found another relative who has agreed to let them move in rent-free. But they didn't want their kids to change schools, so SIL and wife drive the kids back to grandpa and grandma's house every day. Unfortunately, SIL's car died and grandpa and grandma have given their own car to SIL and family.

All grandpa and grandma's generosity is on behalf of their grandsons. They don't want their grandchildren to suffer.

I don't think I would have been so accommodating. Then again, could I turn away the chance to provide for my own grandchildren? I just don't know.

What about you?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How Much Easier It Would Be

My friend, my dear friend, lives about a mile away. If the houses were leveled, all traffic stopped, and all people silenced, she could (if I had the wind at my back) hear me yelling to her from my house.

I love her. Really, truly love her.

And we didn't call or visit one time this summer. Work schedules could be blamed, but neither of us worked this summer. We're out of excuses why. It just didn't happen.

She was buying potatoes last week and how do I know that, you ask?

I was buying potatoes, too.

We shrieked. We hugged. We cautioned each other about germs. We played produce aisle catch-up, and then, with multiple promises to call, we parted.

I miss her even though I can't help but think if she would just blog or Facebook, it would be so much easier than hollerin' across the mile that divides us.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

FF: Random is as Random Does

I've scraped frost off my windshield three times now this season, and I'm tired of it. However, I have yet to tire of Friday Fragments hosted by Mrs. 4444.
Friday Fragments?

Yesterday morning at school time it was 29 degrees. My middle-schooler had wet hair and wore no coat. While I know that those factors alone won't make him sick, I also know that they won't make him any smarter.

This week is Scouting for Food in our area. If you get a bag, please consider donating canned foods.

My friend thinks she and I need a shot of testosterone. I couldn't agree more.

The neighborhood watch sign? The one with the criminal hidden in a hooded jacket? My youngest child just realized it is NOT a picture of a cat. "Beware of neighborhood cats!!"

I almost bought some furniture I really don't NEED,and spent money we really don't HAVE just so I could get the "free" television being offered with the package. I'm a salesman's dream come true.

A student was shamefully working me this week by complimenting the essay topics I assign. While he waxed poetically, another student reprimanded him for kissing up to me. Being mature, I told the second student to sit down and hush lest we violate the free speech rights of the first student.

We are still weight watching. Checkered has lost enough, I declare. His clothing is baggy and his skin doesn't look healthy to me. Stop it right now, Checkered! His weight lost is double mine.


P.S. I ate a Krispy Kreme donut yesterday. It was worth 7,297,011 WW points and worth EVERY.SINGLE.POINT.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dreams to Worry About

My girl and I have been watching "Say Yes to the Dress." She watches it because she has been planning her wedding for the last decade, give or take a year, and she is trying to pick out her dress. While she may be only 14, her taste is 30 and a graduate of medical school. Why settle for a $4,000 dress when there's a similar one for $8,000? I watch the show because it is my duty to frequently remind her that the $4,000 dress fee could really be put toward a down payment on a house. Of course, it could also feed our family of 60,000 6 for 4 or 5 days (if we don't buy any meat.)

My daughter is a little gray on her post-high school plans and she is a little fuzzy on her post-16th birthday employment. She's even a bit hazy on my plan that she will mow the lawn next summer. But say, "Pricilla of Boston" or "Vera Wang" and her eyes light up (they don't really smoke; I was just trying to use a cliche'.)

We sit there, night after night, while she says, "I love that dress," and I reply, "But how long will it take YOU to save that much money? Is it worth it? Maybe we should finally go to Disney World instead?"

She has yet to own up to having a boyfriend (we're okay with no boyfriend) or even a first kiss (we're even better with no kisses) and she is hurt that all the boys notice her friends, but don't seem to notice her so much (that hurt makes me a little sad; Checkered is surprisingly OKAY with it.)

I know there are so many joys, so many heartbreaks, so many dreams still ahead of her. And when those joys, those heartbreaks, and those dreams get a little more real, it will probably be her girlfriends who hear about them first.

So tonight, she and I will be cuddled up on my bed: I'll be annoyed because she ate something crumbly in there, and she'll laugh every single time she realizes that she has again forgotten to fast-forward through the commercials. She will find the perfect $10,000 dress for herself and I'll remind her that her dad has become an expert at sewing on Scout badges. There's no telling what he could whip-up by the time she's grown.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Whatever happened to asking for a Matchbox car?

My children have finally turned in their Christmas wish lists. Let's just say that the LEGO company should give me some kind of ginormous kick-back. Well, it's either that or sell the house.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

There WAS a Reason for Yesterday's Rerun

I stand corrected. Oh, yes I do. This week-end, for the first time since our first child began school in 2000, we received a "just because" note from a teacher.

When I went to the mailbox on Saturday and saw the post card from the middle school, I thought:
"Over-due library book?"
"Mom-to-mom resale?"
"School tax increase?"
to which the answers were:
It was a note from our son's language arts and social studies teacher.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Flag,
Your son has been chosen as Student of the Month in my classroom. He is such a great person to have in class - always prepared and has such a positive attitidue! What a great role model he is.
His teacher
I'll stand corrected any day. Thank-you, teacher, for taking the extra time to send that note.

Monday, November 9, 2009

There IS a Reason for This ReRun

One of my favorite things is caller i.d. Now, I don't like it when someone I'm calling has it and answers the phone, "Hi Caution!" I do, however, like it when I have it and you-know-who calls. Enough there. I also don't like it when I see these in my phone display....

"Neighborhood Elementary School calling..."
"Neighborhood Middle School calling..."

They call me a lot. It's not to hire me or to ask my advice on grammar. They do call to tell me:

my child thinks he's going to throw up,
my child thinks he's going to faint,
my child feels "shaky"
my child missed the bus,
my child made a mistake in judgment.

Here was last week's call,

Teacher: Your child is missing an assignment and final grades are due at 3:00.
Caution: I will look for it here.
Teacher: It's worth 100 points. I don't know what to do.
Caution: Okay, that would devastate her grade. We'll find it. I promise!
Teacher: Let me know if you find it. This is a serious problem. Did I mention that final grades are due at 3:00??!!

When the call ended, I felt so bubbly and joyous I almost couldn't contain it all.

The house was searched. Nothing. The backpack was searched. Nothing. The "No name paper' box in the classroom was searched. Nothing.

My child was in a panic. I was in a panic. There was ample yelling and crying and blaming. It was a lovely mother/daughter bonding time. All my child knew was that she had turned the assignment in one month previously. Then again, she's thought that before.

I sent an email to the teacher saying the paper was not here, but that my child said it had been submitted.

One very long day later came the return email,

"Sorry to panic you. The assignment was found here. She did quite well."

I am tired of not being happy when I look at caller i.d. and see that a school is calling.

So here's my solution to that problem. I think that every teacher should be required to call each student's parents once a year to say,

"Your child is nice."
"Your child has worked really hard this week and deserves some ice cream."
" I'm glad your child is in my class this year."

I know the teachers will say they don't have the time, but here's another suggestion. You know how my kids watch lots of movies during school? (One every two weeks - even on days that are sunny and 70 degrees???) Don't stop watching them. Instead, when you push that play button on the dvd player, pick up the phone and starting dialing. When I answer with trepidation in my voice, say,

"No, he's not sick, injured, in trouble or missing something. What he does happen to be is one great kid."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Fragments: I am THE Queen

I was minding my very own business the other day (which is something I'm not wont to do often) when I received an email from our mutual friend, Jill of the quilted pictures. In that same tome, she christened me Queen of Trivia. Hmmm. I don't know. Do I really like trivia that much? She referenced my blog and its submissions of trivia, but I really don't think that makes me the queen because of the approximate 12 million blogs out there in 2008, many contained trivia.

It wasn't trivia that won me that Starbucks card over at Nancy's blog. Whatever it was, I'm a happy, happy soul. You need to go over there and meet her darling boys!

Maybe good fortune was really smiling on me because I not only won that gift card, but I escaped near death when a slew of cans fell out of a kitchen cabinet. There has been a rise in insurance claims involving kitchen accidents in the last couple of years. I may not have gotten hurt, but the cans did cut in half my son's cell phone charger wire to the tune of a $26 replacement.

On Monday, I was greeted by an enthusiastic yet muddled student who has spent the first half of the semester questioning my course structure, the assignments, the worthiness of English to be taught at a community college, how writing essays would help her as a plumber, and so on. But this day, she was loving English. The essays finally made sense. She had conquered her personal version of Writer's Block and was actively engaged in liking me and my class. I assured her that while 30% of college freshmen drop out, 50% of all college enrollees never graduate, so her fourth attempt at passing English was exemplary.

At some time during that lovely exchange, my son's school called to say he really couldn't breathe. Our family scale is 1-10 for asthma. One means he could run all day without trouble while 10 means we need to see the doctor today. When the secretary, who clearly thinks my son is a bit of an actor, put him on the phone, he whispered, "I'm 5.5." It was enough for me to leave work and pick him up. After all, the number of pediatric asthma deaths has declined since 1999, but the number of doctor visits to treat asthma has more than doubled in that same time-frame.

On that same note, we are going to see the ENT next week to determine if afore-mentioned child needs another set of ear tubes. One pediatrician said yes; one said no. We shall let the ENT decide. Doesn't it boggle your mind that 700,000 kids get ear tubes each year?

I should have been an ear tube doctor or maybe an orthodontist. The husband\wife team charged with improving my daughter's smile, work three days per week and see their final patient at 3:00. The first appointments start about 9. Consider these facts and then cry at the career choice you did make:

- private practice average income = $420k, based on a survey by the American Association of Orthodontists
- average # days worked: 4
- average # hours worked per week: 32
- average malpractice insurance : <$5,000 per year - only 2-3 years of residency after dental school, no fellowships required or even available

Those numbers make me cry (I don't know whether they were emotional tears or reflex tears) but I do know that when I was done, I remembered that I forgot to thank our hostess this week, Mrs. 4444. I don't think she earns $420k a year, but I suspect that what she does as a special education teacher is of far more value than straightening smiles.

Friday Fragments?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Perfect Thursday Dinner

Mediterranean Chicken (can't find the source now)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch strips
1 1/3 cups orzo pasta, uncooked
1 1/2 cups zucchini, chopped (I used canned)
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can fat free chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat
Add chicken and stir-fry until browned
Stir in chicken broth, orzo, and garlic
Heat until boiling; reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid absorbed (8 mins)
Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to boil
Cover and simmer, stirring once, about 5 mins

WW points per serving: 7

This recipe was delicious. I had no rosemary, so I experimented with other spices. I also had to add a little more water for the orzo to soften.
This recipe was eaten and given the thumbs up by 4 of the 6 people living here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday's Meme: Time's A Wastin'

I've been asked to share with you my favorite ways to waste time on the Internet thus causing you to waste time reading my list. Consider this list fiction since I am all about never wasting time. Is there an "Amen" out there....anyone?

1. Blogging. Enough said.
2. I'm not saying, of course, that YOUR blogs waste my time because they don't.
3. If enough time hasn't been eaten up, there is always Facebook, which I love so much I could marry it.
4. Who doesn't enjoy knowing I was playing Christmas music yesterday or that my long, long lost college friend was picking up candy wrappers in her car?
5. So I guess #4 was wrong because that is surely not wasting time.
6. If I'm desperate enough, I might stop by Twitter. I'm sorry, Lucy, but I just don't feel the Twitter love.
7. Sending endless emails to my children's teachers.
8. Checking the email every five minutes to see if they've responded yet.
9. Searching for dinner ideas by WW point value.
10. Trying to find a cheap exercise bench since Checkered won't drive me to Woody's house to buy her Bowflex.
11. Googling my name.

What do YOU do to waste time on the Internet?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Washington: Make Me a Millionaire!

Road construction is the fifth Michigan season. Sometimes it's affectionately referred to as "Orange barrel season," and how we so enjoy it - not. The most local project for us has been a multi-year widening of the road our boys' schools are on. That means that four plus times a day for the last many school years, I've been blessed enough to sit in construction traffic. Last week, the section in front of their schools finally opened and we all sobbed in joy as we viewed the five wide-open traffic lanes.

The only reason I share that with you is because just north of that construction area is an intersection - a narrow, dangerous, complete congestion of roadway. The original plan was that the road widening would go through that intersection, but it stopped just before it and resumed after it. The authorities cited lack of funds for buying out the viable businesses which surround that intersection (even as they found minimal funds to reduce homeowners' front yards to 6-foot grass strips.)

Among the businesses there are a party store (known as a liquor store in other worlds), a shack which masquerades as a hardware store, and an empty carry-out restaurant. Ironically enough, the restaurant was purchased last year by a new owner and has set idle while local gossip says that he purchased it knowing the road expansion was coming and that he would make a tidy profit off the purchase of his land -- even though he never managed to open his new restaurant. Ironic, I said? Yes, since the construction stopped when his land was deemed too valuable for the county and state to afford to purchase it.

I smiled when I heard that. Gluttony never wins. Then, last week, officials announced that there are Washington funds available and that those funds would be coming to a local intersection and closed restaurant near me.

You'll have to excuse me now while I go locate and purchase corner property with a shack on it and wait for Washington to make me an offer I can't refuse.