Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year

It is a New Year indeed. And as I packed up all of the Christmas decor, in preparation of the turning of the calendar, I could not help but surmise that chances are getting more and more likely that by next New Year, I could be cradling a six month old. I try not to shiver when I say that.
As my husband and I lay in bed this morning, we began to chat about where everything would GO. Like as in the Christmas decor I just packed up, and the boxing arena we so carefully put together. Or the clothes I have in the spare closet, and the boxes full of camping gear we have artfully accumulated with very little cash. I don't think either of us are quite ready yet to say goodbye to these "things", and my husband and I talked about how difficult it would be to take a tiny new baby camping. It will be at least 2010 before we get out the tent again.
Everyone tells me, the money and space will just exist when we need it and not to worry. But the list of necessities makes my stomach flutter. We have not even purchased our fold out bed yet- which is really the only option we can think of for overnight guests... namely my Mother who, if and when I do deliver this child, we will so desperately need.
Or the SUV my husband insists I have, even though to me it sounds extraneous. Because I drive like crap and Winter here can be difficult without four wheel drive.
I am not worried per say. I know babies can be raised without all the financial extras and turn out just fine. I know that millions of folks have babies without four wheel drive, and my Mom can surely sleep on the couch or blow up mattress. But these are the things that will bring us peace when we bring a baby into this world.
I have my 13 week ultrasound on January 5th. And because of the holidays and Doctor schedules, not only will I have ONE ultrasound, I will have TWO. One with my "regular" doctor, and then another with my "specialist", and no matter how hard I tried to schedule them at least a week apart, or even a few days, neither of them would budge. So...sigh.... it's TWO in ONE day.
Either way, I guess this means I will be "doubly" confident as we enter into our 14th week of the safety or our baby. As we bring in the New Year this evening, I will have a lot to think about. Including many what ifs and maybes. But it's all good. I am sure my biggest concern will end up being that I don't split out of my pants.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Perfect Day

I had a great time yesterday. Maybe it was the gifts in abundance that graced my feet, ready to be opened. Maybe it was the tradition we have in our family of opening the gifts slowly and thoughtfully one by one from youngest to oldest. Most likely it was the relaxing and enjoyable time I got to spend with my generous and loving family.
As my husband and I approached my brother's house, I clapped my hands and gleefully exclamined, " I can't WAIT to see everyone today!". And while as soon as I said it I felt slightly like a four year old, it was completely true. I knew there would be a fire roaring, music playing joyfully in the background. A plethura of decadent food choices. Presents beyond any sort of humbleness, and of course, the pleasant and laugh filled cadence of my family socializing together.
I had chosen gifts for my neices and nephews carefully. I anticipated the excitement they would have in opening ALL of thier gifts, but it gives me such pleasure in watching them be happy about something I personally have chosen. I desperately don't want to be like Aunt Jenny from the Brady Bunch.
It was a scream to watch the four oldest children sit together at thier own table, dining on thier own Christmas day feasts. Nary an egg was eaten as I saw them walk gingerly to the kitchen for more chocolate chip cookies, than to me, seemed humanly possible. And while thier table conversations were short lived on any one subject, they did seem to create "stocking" banter for at least one solid minute.
My favorite moment of all was when my five year old nephew gave my husband a gift all on his own. Granted, it is a plastic eagle head, but my husband actually loved it. Like as in put it out the second we got home last night. He stood behind his Mom as Billy unwrapped it, and I actually saw him hold his breath. And the whole thing was just so sweet I wanted to cry. Because he demonstrated not only his love, but his incredible thoughtfulness and sincerity.
In addition, my family, being mostly some form or other of type "A's"- which is where I sometimes fail them all, has it all down to a very enjoyable science. Arrive, eat a traditional egg casserole breakfast ( and who knew that my self-proclaimed "horrible cook" SIL would turn into a baking afficionado overnight and produce such spectactularness as a pumpkin roll and sticky buns? DELICIOUS. Both. ) Open gifts. Take a break. Open more gifts. Take another break. Stop. Eat again. Relax.
Towards the latter part of the day, I noticed my husband was nowhere to be found. And come to think of it, my niece and brother were also MIA. I found them in the back family room, rocking out to Rock Band. And who would have thought? My husband found a new talent in drumming, my brother the guitar, and my niece... a vocalist? Let me just say now, there is NO ONE in our family, aside from my mother, that can carry even the slightest of tunes. Finding a willing participant to play lead singer, and undoubtedly making a complete ass out of themselves is hard to come by in my family. But the desire to play Rock Band seemed to have an interesting affect, overshadowing any thoughts of ass-making or self-esteem issues. Many a family member, some of whom I have not heard so much as hum, were doing thier best to belt it out for the love of the game. Amazing what technology can do.
After almost twelve hours of celebrating together, which even surprised myself, the little ones needed to go to bed, as did we. My husband warmed up the car and loaded in all the gifts ( being pregnant does have some advantages) and after saying goodbye no less than three times, we slowly drove away, not wanting the perfect day to fade away.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Life in General

Last year, when I was pregnant, and before the miscarriage, my cravings were met with an ambitious and chesire like grin. As a woman who was born with a constant weight battle, I finally got my free for all. That is until it was all said and done and I was big as a house and had to join weight watchers to lose it all. So THIS time, I have apporached pregnancy with much more caution. And when my friend Sonja gave me her Gabrielle Reese Pregnancy Work-out DVD, I accepted with unbridled delight.
Yesterday was the first time I got the chance to tune in. And because our DVD player is a piece of crap, and it skips, I ended up accidently holding positions for much longer than I should have. Not realizing that I would be holding it forever unless I manually fast-forwarded it. As a result, my arms are killing me. Today I will tuck the DVD remote in my sports bra for when I realize ten minutes have passed and my leg is shaking in pain.
While on the subject of pregnancy, I must say, I understand weird things happen. I have decided to have a blase approach and do my best to not give in to to whims of exhaustion, aches and pains and of course, feelings of vomitous disgustous. And even as my skin transforms into ailen like patches here and there, I am accepting. But seriously, when I awoke in pain last night due to a searing shot in my ear, I admit, I can longer conceal my gross out. The pimple on my EAR? has given me the creeps. I dont' GET pimples on my ear. I didn't even really think my ear had pores. I know it's just the beginning. But YUCK.
In other news, I am conflicted over the in-law Christmas Eve party. When I asked what I could bring I did not get a response. My husband then went to bat for me and demanded I be told what to bring. My husband then told me, "Bring whatever you want". Huh?
My family is organization station. I am not used to such a vast wonderland of food creation possibilties. While some would flourish in these conditions, I feel like it is a set up.
I nearly created a fight with my husband, demanding he tell me a dessert he would eat. His casual tone irritated me as I explained, " I want at least ONE PERSON to EAT WHAT I MAKE". OH! okay, he says, make apple cobbler then. And if things follow tradition as I suspect they may, he will be full from dinner and see me coming with the "dessert", and look like a deer in headlights with Twilight Zone squawks in the back ground. "NO!" he will think, "I am FULL, I don't WANT THAT! My wife will be so pissed if I don't eat it and tell her it's good. Fake smile fake smile, I would LOVE a piece honey! It looks delicious!" and I will smile and hand him his plate.
When it's time to leave I will look at my slaved over pathetic dessert and see the one chunk cut out of it. My MIL will try to usher me out the door with it, but I will refuse. "NO! YOU keep it, really!" and I will walk out to the car empty handed and be irritated that I didn't just "get an assignment that would have been eaten" when I initially asked. It is an effort in futility.
Overall, Christmas vacation is off to a good start. Today I am going on a girl's day to the movies and then out to a bar. I am slightly concerned about the bar, as one lady doesn't drink and me and the other girl are pregnant. I am not sure why we are even going there. However, it will be good to get out of the house with the girl's, even if we can only pretend to sip on cocktails.

Present Problems

My friend Rachel just got married at the end of November. And like most brides, I am sure she is still on that gift-getting high that only can happen when you literally get to sign up for a wish list beyond wish lists and watch it all roll in over the course of a year as you skip along from one shower to the next and then on to the big day.
Needless to say, I have had a difficult time picking out a Chirstmas gift for her.
I might also add, it would not be SO so difficult if I wasn't knee deep in budget land and could spend whatever I wanted on the perfect gift, but life being what it is prevents that.
After mulling it over and checking out her bridal registries for "gifts NOT purchased", I opted for a lower grade, and might I add, much more affordable, yet nice, throw, that would compliment thier new bedroom.
And as I trimmed my own tree and happened across a very beautiful, yet sentimental ornament that commemorated my own very first Christmas with MY betrothed, nearly bringing me to tears, decided I would throw in a very first Christmas ornament for them as well.
Done deal.
And since the new bride just traipsed off to Hawaii to honymoon, and I didn't get the chance to deliver my perfect, yet affordable gift, it sat in waiting for thier return.
So it does not surprise me, after talking to her sister, that not only did the bride purchase such a throw for her new husband as a Christmas present, she herself had already purchased and GIVEN a much NICER very first Christmas ornament to her sister.
SO suddenly my gift fell flat. I stood in the return line at Target yesterday, considering what I would get her now, but nothing came to mind.
I have perused the internet for ideas and unless I want to spend sixty bucks- which is almost double my budget, there is little to be found. I considered Omaha steaks, as they both love to eat and cook, however the gift card I would purchase would not cover the costs of the perfect set of four steaks, not even the on-sale lowest grade cheapies. Somehow that does not strike me as a "nice" gift.
I have until January 3 to make a decision. If all else fails, they will receive a gift card to a local restuarant, but being that she is my best friend, I was hoping to think of something a little more... thoughtful.
In any case, she will hear this story when I give her whatever it is I give her so she will know that my FIRST time around I was right on the money.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Kung Pao Chicken?

I have been too busy to blog. But... alas! The children ushered in thier last day of school in bed, as I did not have more than two students per class on our snow-filled day. So the party organizing was for naught. The class I was taking three nights a week for the month of December is finally over. The presents are bought and wrapped, and Billy and I spent the better part of our day running errands and filling in all of the last minute details. I collasped into bed last night, exhausted, ready for my own "break" to begin, only to be struck with my recurring insomnia problem and awoke, wide-eyed at the strike of two. A. M. There were surprisingly a great many Christmas specials on at that late hour, so despite my bodies resistance to rest, the holidays were being enjoyed.
And because I still have much to do today, I have not much time to write. I will leave you with this question...
What in the world is Lisa Kudrow doing in a Nintendo DS commercial making Kung Pao chicken? The first time I saw I waited with bated breath for the punch line, and when I didn't hear one, I figured I didn't pay close enough attention. After seeing it at least ten more times since, I have come to the frightening conclusion that she is as serious about that chicken making as a child making a Santa list.
Hollywood must be a very difficult place to be.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stick of What?


So, um, yeah, about that being pregnant stuff. Things have begun to take on new odors lately. I am not particularly sick. Nor especially tired. I am considering myself lucky. And aside from my amazing snout, and an incredible aversion to my favorite food of all time, hummus, things are running smoothly.

So back to that snout thing.

Last night, a friend of ours came with us to try out a new church, Harvest. As we were walking in, he popped a stick of gum in his mouth. After we sat down, he offered a stick to Billy, who sat between us. Because I was running to the bathroom and taking my coat off, I hadn't noticed. Once settled, and as the service began, Billy leaned over and asked me if I also would like a stick. But as he talked, an overwhelming bathroom smell came over me.

"NO!" I said. "I mean, no thank you." And then I started to giggle. "What?" Billy whispered. "Nothing! I will tell you later!".

After church, we went to dinner. Wherein our friend ordered a glass of red wine. And even though it was sitting ample distance from me, the scent wafting out of the glass seemed to be making a beeline for my nose, and henceforth making me want to seriously gag. I was very thankful when my entree showed up, crowding the smell space and therefore overpowering the wine scent, putting me back at ease.

As we were leaving the restaurant, a stick of the before mentioned gum fell out of Billy's coat pocket. The friend said, "OH! Lori! Your gum! Bill, you never gave it to her?" I just stood there and stared blankly at "my" gum, now laying in it's foil wrapper on the restuarant floor. Sighing, Billy picked it up and shoved it back in his pocket, mumbling, "She didn't want it."

When we got home, Billy asked me what the deal with the gum was. "OH!" I said. "It smelled like a urinal cake". "What?" he asked. A urinal cake. That gum wreaked of urinal cake and almost sent me running to the ladies. So no. I don't want that stick of gum, not then and especially not after being on the floor.

All thing considered, I can't complain.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Announcement

I have an announcement to make. Drum roll please...... I am pregnant. That's right. I am. It was a surprise to say the least. But according to my doctor- there is a baby in the making.
It all started when I woke several times in the night to aching boulders on my chest. The first night I shrugged it off as being a bad case of PMS. After the third night, at 2 am, I rifled through my bathroom drawers until finding a First Response test. I don't think I have ever seen a line number two show up so quickly. I sat on the couch for the next four hours- like a deer in headlights. When I heard my husband rolling around in the bed, showing his first signs of morning life, I ran to him and gave him my news. He thought the test was wrong.
After getting some medical verification and the onslaught of initial "You are 35 or over" appointments, it started to become slightly real.
I will spare all of the gory details, but two very significant events have since occurred, already marking this as a pregnancy to never forget.
The first was a rather horrid trip to get a date identifying ultrasound. Being that this was not planned, there had been some confusion as to "dates" and what not. Below is a copy and pasted e-mail I sent to my Mother, post-trauma describing the "experience".
The girl was a trainee from a local community college. Very nice, obviously very green. She took her time but also wouldn't let Billy in. She did the tummy ultrasound first, then had me pee so she could do the internal. It took her forever. She forgot to adjsut the stirrups so after 30 min. my legs started to shake. I asked her if it was almost over... she said yeah- so i decided to tough it out. She couldn't find my ovaries- since it took her so long my bladder was filling up again. Eventually- her supervisor Alex came in. He bitched her out for taking too long and said the reason she was having trouble was because it was on the wrong setting. He then took over. He was very gruff with the girl, explaining what she did wrong. I kept winking at her and giving her sympathetic looks. She told me I could ask my questions now... so I asked him if I would walk out of there today knowing if the baby was alive or not. He then started in on this long-winded story ( they placed the screen so I could not see anything) and said my dr. would call me in 2/3 days... I was like.. 2 or 3 DAYS? he interrupted me and yelled, "LET ME FINISH". I then was annyoed because here I am, laying there with my legs up, exhausted and worried. I snapped. I said, "You know what, I am losing my patience here, I just want to know what I am going to find out today." He mumbled a sorry and carried on with his arrogance. A few minutes later the ."trainee told him my husband was waiting outside. His response? "How special." I almost started crying. I was now laying there for over 45 minutes- no knowledge yet, vulnerable, and upset. Billy came in then and he did nothing to cover my crotch from the door- which had the ultrasound machine in it- so Billy walks in to see me like that and the guy made no eye contact with him. I was so embarrased.
The guy did nothing to make sure I was comfortable in any way. He took any specialness out of the situation and made me so upset. He waited until the very last minute to show me the screen and by then I was so pissed I just wanted out of there. It was terrible.
I went home and wrote a letter immediately to the hospital. They usually are so awesome there. Anyway- it was nothing like it was supposed to be. The good news is that I am six weeks along and the heart was beating. Oh yeah- the tech also said, "Well, you CAN see the heart beating but you wouldn't have last week, you are barely pregnant at six weeks"... and that was my " information".


The hopsital sent me an apology letter and a prescription for the infection I recieved from the 30 minutes of mutilation. Thanks. At any rate, I then recieved a report from the doctor suggesting there was something "wrong" with my uterus. Uh. Gross? I hate that word anyway- and now it's getting tossed around constantly. Not to mention, in case you haven't seen Baby Mama- the number one comedy of the year, it's the same "issue" Tina Fey had. So now I am infected, scared, and devasted. As well as feeling like my whole pregnancy is now a complete joke.

After a visit to the specialist some good news was eventually confirmed. The shape of my..ugh..sorry...UTERUS... is not going to be too much of an issue here after all. Some. But not major. I have heard the words "stitches"... "bed rest"... and "C-section" tossed around quite a bit. Trying to pretend that is not happening.
Either way I suppose I am around 9 weeks. Early to be talking about it, but in case you don't know this about me, I am not one to keep it to myself. Because regardless of what happens, I will want to talk about it, write about it, and garner support. So it's all for the best to just reveal.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back in the Swing

As the holiday transformed itself overnight from cornocopias to Christmas trees, and the temperatures dropped from 30 to eight, and the first of the sticky snowfalls decorated our lawns, I have found myself intensely... busy. Between night classes and medical concerns and appointments and preparing our home for the Winter, I could say that life has been passing me by, a task in going through the motions, one moment to the next.

Until today, that is. I have one final doctor appointment today at 10:30. The news so far has been nothing but promising and with each passing appointment ( FOUR in the last week), my confidence has catapulted itself almost to the point of "no worries at all". Thank God. And since the appointment is at 10:30, I decided, as a gift to myself, to spend the afternoon NOT going back to work, but instead, perusing the shopping mall to tackle my Christmas lists.

I have chosen an outdoor mall. Probably not ideal for eight degree weather, but the sparse crowds mixed with my "plan", not to mention it's proximity to my doctor, should make the outing fruitful. I am planning on wearing TWO pairs of pants, three shirts and a stocking cap. I have already googled the layout of the mall and pairing it with my Christmas lists have managed to come up with a plan of attack, complete with coffee breaks, bathroom breaks, and pit stops at the car to unload. Did I mention I will not DON the extra thick gear until AFTER my appointment? I would not want to risk an "I weigh a lot melt down" so have even decided to "pack a bag" to carry INTO the doctor's office and will not gear up until after the dreaded weigh in. Thinking ahead my friends, just thinking ahead.

Overall, I am finally feeling at peace. When December 1 rolled around, just a few short days ago, my life felt up in the air. I resigned myself to avoiding all things Christmas and wasn't even bothered by the Thanksgiving decor still covering the nooks and crannies of my house. But with each passing appointment, and the good news began to warm my soul and soften my hardened and scared heart, I began to hear myself humming jingle bells softly to myself. Last night, at 9:30, while driving home from my night class, I heard myself belting out at top long, along with the radio, Joy to the World. I knew the tides had finally turned.

Tomorrow, when my husband will be gone for several hours on an outing with a friend, I plan to transform our Fall leaf laden home into a Winter wonderland, fake tree and all. When my husband gets home, I envision sipping cocoa and listening quietly to my Bing Crosby Christmas CD while the twinkling lights of the tress illuminate the background. In reality, we will order a pizza while my husband watches UFC, and drinks a beer and I read books about psyhcogical torment. But still, it will be "normal" which is what I am really going for.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankful for What?

Over the last year or so, since the miscarriage, my husband and I have worked hard to "get a life". Meaning, since we opted to not have children, we have created and built a lifestyle that blends us, our interests, and fulfills what did seem like a very empty house. As a result of our "project", I always have something to say or offer up. Have you seen THIS movie? Have you been to THAT restaurant? Have you ever been hunting? Do you like painting/reading/redecorating on a budget... ETC.?
We have done a good job in filling in the blanks and have become satisified with our lifestyle.
But a few weeks ago, there was some news from the female doctor about some "stuff". This "stuff" is very serious and out of left field. We have been coping and processing. We have been going to the doctor and I have three more appointments next week. It is slightly consuming and I am having a difficult time of not letting it get to me. It's hard to "forget about something for a while" when a large chunk of your free time is spent sitting in a waiting room. Flipping through crappy old health magazines and trying not to stare at the other patients waiting, equally as confused and thrown off.
I wish I could publish blogs about it, but at this point, I think I better keep it hush hush, at least until Wednesday, when I am going to see a specialist. I will know more. And I won't feel as if I am being too negative, or too hopeful. If I keep it hush hush, I feel I can stay removed from the truth, which is trying it's very best to upset my equilibrium. And while I have been writing about the experiences, I am keeping them to myself. I don't want certain people to read about it before I can talk about it with them in person. They may be offended, or unnecessarily upset.
It has occurred to me lately how precious our lives are. It dawned on me that until we got the news a few weeks ago, my husband and I were very happy, yet didn't stop to realize it. Life was good. Our jobs as a teacher and a public works employee, while not lucrative, are stable in the rocky economy. Our home is slowly but surely getting upgraded and fixed up to our liking. Our goals and dreams have just enough crossover to keep us connected yet just enough distance to give us space to grow as individuals. We have hit a pleasant rhythm in our marriage and life is good.
And perhaps it still is. We are both ultimately fine. But this recent "diagnosis" could change everything. Maybe for the better in the end, but also maybe for the worse. I am praying that God continue to show me that not only does everything happen for a reason, but that it happen in a way that I understand what that reason is. And sooner rather than later. I feel He has His hand in this. I am doing my best to not worry and fret about the future.
Since it's all very female and new and precarious, my husband and I are still working on making peace with it, therefore it's not the kind of thing we are ready to tell people in everyday conversation, particularly a holiday. When asked, lately, what I have been up to, I have found myself speechless for the first time in a long time. I think in my head, "You don't really want to know what I have been up to." and then hear myself say out loud out of desperation, "OH! Nothing! Really, not much at all," but really my life has been consumed and if I opened the floodgates I don't think I could stop talking about it.
In the meantime I am thankful I have my job and my supportive family and all of the other distractions that are keeping me from over thinking the possibilities and quite frankly, going nuts.
I know in the end everything will be okay. Our lives will realign and we will eventually barely remember this chapter in time. But for now, we are living it. Trying to be strong and mature and stable. Taking things one day at a time and waiting for the next appointment for more clarification.
*** Update: Everything is going to be fine!! Yeah!! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!***

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After



I hate to say this for the risk of sounding bitter, but I am thankful that Thanksgiving is over. The food I fretted over making turned out fine, and in the end, I needn't have made half of it. In fact, one whole "ladie's" salad, as I like to call it, sits in the refrigerator crisper, unmade.


I was to make two salads, one special request being the age old "Seven-Layer" by my father, stacked fattily in my never before used Pampered Chef Truffle bowl, and then the "ladie's" salad, that I have refined over the years, including but not limited to: Blue cheese, strawberries, walnuts and red onion. I made the Seven Layer number the night before, as per the directions. The other was bought and bagged and waiting patiently until about five minutes prior to Turkey time, where it would be thrown together masterfully in my brother's kitchen in all it's crispy freshness. But there was no room for it on the table. Or the buffet. As I looked over the vast expanse of casserole this and casserole that, I began to question it's humble place among the mix, and even more so, it's necessity.


I whispered to my mother in an aside, "Do you really think we need another salad?". Her quick no left me hollering for my husband to run the ingredients back to the car, where it could refrigerate peacefully in the coolness of our Turkey Day November.


And judging by the huge amounts of leftovers distributed between 16 people, I believe it was a good call.


And when the feasting had ended, and the women began an efficient assembly line of dish washing and food packaging, and the men retreated to the living room, disaster ensued. Black gooey water began to seep out from beneath the sink. Husband's names were yelled and suddenly there was an odd role reversal. The women found themselves sitting in the living room, pouring another glass of wine, and settling in nervously. The men frantically began busting out tools and flashlights and taking off the dress shirts.


Eventually, as the minutes ticked by on the clock, I reminded my husband we had another Thanksgiving to get to, and I was holding the desserts hostage. Mid-project, we had to bolt. I still don't know how it ended, and judging by the looks of my sister-in-laws face, calling back later would not be appreciated.


We pulled into the MIL's at the perfect time, missing the dinner clean up and just in time for the coffee brewing. I whipped out my two desserts, one pumpkin pie and the other pumpkin cheesecake and hoped that they had not stuffed themselves to the point of no dessert. I questioned weather or not the cheesecake would have any takers, but in the end, should have reversed my concern.


In the land of pie-making, of which I am new, it is difficult to get a single pie crust. They came in "two's". Not wanting to waste it, I made two pumpkin pies instead of the one intended. Having an extra, we had previously made a quick stop to the police station to drop one off, so the cops on call would not feel unappreciated between domestic violence house calls and DUI's. Leaving me my precious "good one" for the MIL's.


And when I began the task of asking who wanted what, everyone wanted the cheesecake. EVERY one. As I sliced through the cheesecake time after time, I hearded myself pushing the pumpkin. "Sure you don't want a little slice of pumkpin, too?". But no. I am not all that great at sales.


So the cheesecake was devoured and the pumpkin sat. Sliced and ready but whole. Not a single slice missing. The MIL packaged it back up and sent it back home with me. And now it sits on the counter and I am wondering if we should take IT to the police station as well.


So in the end, I should have made the ONE salad and the ONE dessert. I will make a mental note for next year.


And today I need to hydrate beyond capacity and walk a million miles and nibble on lettuce leaves because tomorrow is the big wedding and the dress I spent WAY too much money on in is hanging in my closet and mocking me for yesterday's gluttoney. Stupid tight dress. What was I thinking?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

TV Situation


My parents are coming in for a visit today. I see them frequently, but rarely in my own home. Since both of my brothers live in the area, and have much larger homes which are much more accommodating, and kids to boot, we often find ourselves meeting up over at thier houses.

But today my parents have decided to make a special trip to visit us in our own stomping grounds. And I am excited. Well to see them, but also because they are bringing us a 43 inch flat screen TV. They bought themselves some kind of gigantic plasma and have no use for the 43 incher now. But we do. We really do.

There will initially be some furniture mayhem. The buffet our current TV sits on is way too high for a TV of this... girth ( that reminds of "the door is way to heavy sir"- I loved Bender-sigh! ). Speaking of which, it is also extremely heavy. Which means that when we do move it, what we find under it should be interesting if not embarrassing. Because I have never, as far as I can recall, cleaned under there. And I will be following them around with a broom and a dustpan, even though I am not supposed to "get in the way" of such a manly project.

Let's not forget that there will be two men, the combo being my husband and my father, that will be strong-arming my furniture. And while I have been reassured that a furniture "plan" is not in order, as a female, I know it most cetainly, IS.

If I leave the furniture placement up to the soul decision of the men, I am sure the aesthetics will leave me flustered, confused and unhappy. Whatever scraps of furniture they will happlessly "take" from somewhere else in my house to create the perfect viewing height will discombobulate some other "arrangement" that took me, most likely, several trips to Target to create.

And let's NOT forget the gigantic buffet that we currently use as a "TV stand". Where in the hell am I going to put it? I have a feeling if I don't have a "plan" I will be climbing over this thing every time I walk in the door. And I will reach my breaking point much sooner than my husband and will try to heave and hoe it myself, scratching up the floor and ruining the lay of the carpet. And I don't know if I have the patience to wait for the help of my husband if this might take as long as it has taken him to hang my wall art ( going on two years). No offense. I get it, it's all about priority. But you see, I need a plan. And fast! I gotta' strike while the iron is HOT!

So in my head, deliberately unbeknownst to the "men" a plan has formulated. It will require much more moving than they are bargaining for. They will be irritated at my requests. But at the end of the day, all will be well, and while my happy hubby plops himself on the couch to get a load of his new tube, I will pleasantly organize my new "arrangements", dusting and humming and taking a step back to see how it looks, and diving in to move this little thing and that little thing until all is right again.

It's going to be a long day before we get there, but it will be worth it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Forging Into the Nineties

When we moved into our condo, it was a flurry of chaos. We signed the week of our wedding and moved in two weeks later. In the process, we hired cleaning ladies to scrub it down, purchased replacement carpet for the bedrooms, and enlisted the help of the family to paint every square inch of wall.
I had always looked forward to owning my own place so I could look over paint chips tirelessly and create a vision that would awe my guests into asking." what color IS this? I LOVE it!"
Not so much.
We had three things against us. Time, money and the kitchen tile.
The tile in our kitchen is blue. Yes, blue. And since you can see the kitchen from the living room/dining room, we had what we call a decorator's dilemma on our hands. I priced out tile immediately. And then after seeing the totals began to swiftly work with the blue. That's right, easy does it, match the blue.
So we ended up with khaki paint. In our living room. It's like swimming in cesspool of bad eighties pants. Our couches just mere slabs of brown boat shoe. I tried to lighten things up with some oranges and greens, throw pillows- candles- art work, you name it. But it's still khaki. And I can no longer stand it.
So I have decided to do some painting. And after perusing a varity of web sites, like Benjamin Moore, Restoration Hardware, and Pottery Barn for ideas and color schemes, I find I am stuck with painting only one wall burnt orange.
And now I realize what I was up against when I was forced to make my original rash and hurried decision. That flippin BLUE TILE. It's ruining everything.
In the larger scheme of things, it's not so bad. It's paint color on the wall. But with the housing market crashing around us, I have begun to accept the fact that we are going to be residents of this hear blue-kitchen-tiled, one-bedroom, two-bath, one-boxing-arena condo for a long time. And I want to make it ours in a way that really reflects our tastes. Soooo isn't going to happen.
And based on our budget and some other "stuff" going on, tile on the kitchen floor is of low..low... LOW priority. So burnt orange it is people. Burnt orange straight from the mid-nineties. Right here in my very own living room.
At least it won't be so boring.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Hunting We Will Go

I woke up at 3 am. It was a mixture of anxiety and some other stuff, which will be addressed in another post. The departure time was scheduled for NO-LATER-THAN-7:30-NO-MATTER-WHAT. We laid out most of our gear the night before. Billy asked no less than four times if I had long underwear. The response volume increasing with each respective asking. 1. "Yep, sure do!" 2. "Yep." 3. "YES, I said that already." 4. "YES, I ALREADY TOLD YOU THAT ABOUT TEN TIMES!" In his defense, I actually don't have long underwear but I did have a plan. Which is really what he was asking anyway.

After climbing into so many layers of clothes I could barely move my arms, we loaded up the car. We needed to hit an ATM, and then the requisite-before-any-hour-or-more-long-drive stop at Dunkin Donuts. Which is literally across the street from our house. And I had to pee already. And then mid-stream I remembered we didn't bring the cooler. So now we neeeded to head back home again.

With the cooler in tow and steaming cups of joe and cash in our pockets we finally headed out. At 7:45.

After the hour long drive, wherein I asked my husband to be patient with me if I missed, we pulled into the sparse lot. The sounds of dogs and shotguns amid the rows of corn and marshy fields set the stage for our adventure.

The check in lodge was about as inviting as they come. With coffee on, two roaring fireplaces, free donuts, and ample sitting room. A myriad of men stood anxiously around joking quietly, as only men do at 8 am before a hunt. They eyed me cautiously. Wondering if I would be hunting as well.

Our guide, Alberto, saddled with his dog, called out to us. It was time. We zipped up our coats and grabbed our guns. We adorned ourselves with Day-Glo orange and loaded our pockets with shells. I was getting nervous.

Before we entered the field Billy starting asking Alberto some standard questions while the Brittany Spaniel ran circles around us. Alberto explained we would walk on either side of him and when the dog found a pheasant to flush he would tell us, since the dog was not a pointer. In other words, he told us to keep ourselves at the ready, safety's off and guns cocked and loaded. This was the big time!

We set out and it was easy going. While nervous, I felt safe. The ground we traversed was mowed and the dog, guide and Billy were easy to hear and see. Alberto then stopped in his tracks. "He found something... he found something... get ready!" We stopped and waited. A bird flew out and Billy and I shot at the same time. Feathers spewed into the air and the bird in flight landed like a rock on the ground. The dog ran and got it and brought it back to Alberto. Alberto stuffed the dead bird into his vest pocket.

We set out again after catching our breath and placing how it felt to shoot the bird down. Which I must say was good. Really good. The dog took off and we began to creep along again. Before Alberto could warn us, the dog came running back with a bird in his mouth. "Oops", said Alberto regarding his over-eager hound, " I will throw it up so you can shoot it."

He tossed it in my direction and as it flew off I aimed slowly and pulled the trigger. Bam! I got it. I really got it! Again the dog retrieved the bird and brought it back to the guide. Not sure if you could really call that hunting. But it sure felt like it.

As we progressed along, the terrain became much more difficult, we climbed through marshes, forests, trees, and six foot tall grass. The ground was hilly, rocky, and uneven. The guns became heavy as we pulled our thick, wet and mud-laden shoes out of the ground and over thick branches. It was exhasting.


The guide, sensing my weariness, offered to carry my gun for me. Not wanting to be a wimpy girl, I declined. After a couple of hours of this, and with increasingly longer and more frequent breaks, we decided to call it a day. We ended up with five birds in total. Billy taking claim to the majority.

We headed back to the lodge for some warming free beer while our guide cleaned and packaged our birds for us. After paying, we tiredly headed back to the car, feeling strong, successful, and hungry.

When we got home, all previous thoughts of cooking fresh pheasant immediately withered in comparison to my need for a bath and a nap. So in the freezer they sit, waiting for some time spent on recipes.com and a stomach that feels up for it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quitting. Again.


SO. I guess you could say quitting smoking is going really well. Since I am up at at 4:30 in the morning and have been for at least TWO hours. I want a cigarette so bad right now that if there was a half one in my garbage can you can bet I would be digging. I would dump that trash bag upside down in my kitchen, find the butt, light it and enjoy it while sitting atop the mound of garbage on the floor. So yeah, quitting smoking is going fabulously.

I keep trying to "think positive", but seriously, it's harder than it sounds. The arguments in my head are reminiscent of the back talk I used to give my mother.

Me: Just HAVE one already!

Me: No! I really need to quit.

Me: WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL? Hello? Hel-LOOOO? Who cares?

Me: Loser

Me: I HATE YOU. I am so leaving this house and marching over to the gas station and buying some RIGHT now. Becuase there is NOTHING on TV and I have already eaten dinner. So I am BORED. And I need a cigarette.

Me: This blows.

Yep. That is how mature and intellectual my thoughts have been today. Not feeling the pride so much right now. See a stop smoking commercial on TV? Flip it off. Watch my husband watch TV? Glare. Look down at my idle hands? Feel rage. Stand up. Sigh. Walk out. To... nowhere to go walk back INTO the living room. Sit back down.

This is going to be a long week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank a Vet


I woke up today after sleeping in, feeling like it's a Sunday. We don't have school today in honor of Veteran's Day. To commemorate, I am drinking Pumpkin Spice cream with my coffee. No, just kidding. In honor, I had a guest speaker talk to my class yesterday.

He is currently a security guard in our high school after serving time in Iraq.

He was very open and honest about his experience. He let the kids ask him virtually anything. And aside from some sophomoric, yet interesting questions, about where he went poo, what he ate, and how he drank, there were some insightful questions as well.

He told three stories I will share with you:

1. He and some of the other troops were in Baghdad and made a trip to McDonald's. There were some females soldiers in the bunch, and being American, the guys pushed the girls to the front to order first. While standing at the counter, the Iraqi gentlemen behind the register looked past the women and asked the men what the ladies wanted. Ultimately, they flat our refused to wait on the women first. Tensions mounted, but eventually, the guys ordered for the girls. One of the girl's in my class said she would have punched him. He reminded her she would have then most likely faced an untimely death. It was enlightening to watch the students' faces as their minds met with the information and let it absorb.

2. According to him, he was privy to information about the weapons of mass destruction. He said they were found, and he was a part of that. He then went on to stress the cover up came when George Bush gave Iraq 72 hours to remove the weapons from the country. He said there soon followed a caravan of semi-trailers and trucks that moved the weapons Northeast over the border to Syria. While patrolling the caravan, a fellow soldier pulled over one of the vehicles for an inspection. After discovering a large amount of weapons, the soldier asked our speaker if he should shoot the driver, confiscate the weapons, or let it pass. Because of the orders of the President, our speaker found it difficult to say to his comrade, let it pass. But he did, and off it went, along with the hundreds of other vehicles taking the weapons to safety. He stressed concern for the imminent removal of troops and feels strongly that as soon as the troops are withdrawn, the weapons will make thier way back. I hope he is mistaken.

3. Since he has come back, he told us that many of his army friends are suffering from PTSD. He told us it is very real and that there is little help available for these people. Most prevalently, they suffer from flashbacks, anger, and nightmares. All of which lead to an unsettling life. When asked about support, he mentioned that most of the people he knows don't even bother with doctors or the like, anymore, but have created networks of people that meet in groups to talk about thier experiences. He told us he has yet to suffer from such things, but mentioned, "It could happen to me tomorrow or in five years down the road". How awful it must be to see so many of your friends suffer and feel as if your turn may be inevitable.

I understand the scope of opinion and sides and controversies. I could go back in our history and try to make plausible the necessity of war. I could pull instances from the Bible to suggest it is inevitable, even. But I won't. Today I will focus on thanking those that have done what they feel is right, and have risked thier life to do so. I will appreciate that I can go the grocery store all by myself. I will appreciate that there is order in my world and that it is not acceptable for the police to pull me over and force me to pay a ransom, or worse, for no reason. Ultimately, I will appreciate that others are suffering on my behalf and that I sleep well at night due to thier own personal sacrifice.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Re-cap

Friday was a whirl of activous opportunous. What should we do, what should we DO? The Union social was going at a local bar. Another guy wanted to maybe meet us at his "local", meaning paneled walls, Hamms posters, and a yellow tile floor, or, there was always home. After maybe twenty or so questioning texts and "who's going" e-mails, the fun got blown out of our sails and Billy and I opted to meet at home. Where he promptly fell asleep on the couch and I perused through the new US Weekly and sucked down a beer. Or so.
With a fresh start on our Saturday, we headed out to the gun range, stopping to pick up a friend of Billy's on the way. The front of the shop was filled with a wide variety of guns and gun gadgets. Second amendment posters and army knives. I felt uncomfortable in my baby blue Cub's hat and New Balance tennis shoes, but quickly got over it when I spied several other females in similar attire. We paid upfront for our stall rentals and paper targets and were ushered to the waiting area, which was comprised of a picnic table and an old soda machine. From which I purchased a 75 cent Diet Coke. When some stalls opened and our ears and eyes were fully covered, off we went to assemble and shoot.
Billy had me go first, so he could provide the proper tutelage. I thought I did okay on the targets, but the thrill of shooting was, as usual, more exhilerating than my ability mattered. Billy then went, and I was more than impressed. He kept getting Bullseyes and I felt a mixture of pride and jealousy. More than that, I was impressed with his manor. Confident, safe, and methodical. He would never hurry to forego safety.
While he continued to shoot with his friend I became bored, so went back to the waiting area to read. I was stared at once or twice but ignored the questioning looks, I didn't care what they thought, my book was too good. Who wouldn't want to read about elective mutism anyway?
As we left, a trio of odd balls came in that made Larry, Larry and Darryl look refined. I kept trying to hide my face behind Billy's shoulder just enough so my stares wouldn't be caught. But the combination of military regalia and loud over-talking about gun details and the oddly thick and dirty coke bottle glasses, mixed with ill fitting clothes made me feel hincky. We left quickly but overall had a great time.
Saturday night we had two parties. TWO PARTIES! We stopped by my friend's bi-annual chocolate and cheese party. The beatiful open fire place home and the Frank Sinatra and the chocolatey martinis made it hard to not get comfortable and have a great time. Besides, they were my friends, so of COURSE I was having fun. And right as the party was climaxing we made our exit to get on to the next party. A 25th birthday party at.... Dave and Busters.
It was a bust alright.
The crowd was mixed between gangsta teen, upset five year olds, and twenty-somethings on the prowl. The loud noises and flashing lights could have given anyone a seizure. And while I really did want to play enough Ski ball to win a gigantic stuffed pink panda, I could see the anxiety in my husband's face mounting. And as soon as he ordered a beer he said, "This isn't really my kind of place". Like I didn't know that the second we walked in the door. We stayed long enough to order the birthday boy his 40 ounce beer and for my husband to finish his normal-sized one and we bolted.
It's too bad we didn't hit the parties in reverse, but the ages of the party hosts would have made that nearly impossible, unless we wanted to pre-party with the twenty-somethings and then later helped clean up the empty chocolate mousse cups while Frank began to skip on the CD player.
After such a rough night ( we were home by eleven ) we had to sleep in. So by eight AM things began to finally yawn awake around here. I convinced my husband to watch Failure to Lauch with me ( thank God at least Matthew M. was in it ) and downed a pot of coffee with the new Cinnamon Bun cream ( which is good, but really, I was just hurrying through to get to my fresh bottle of the delicious and seasonal Pumpkin Spice).
By mid-day we were eating at my MIL's, which is great because not only is the food delicious ( she's a native Greek! ) this also means I didn't have to cook. We made our Thanksgiving plans and somehow I wound up with the pumpkin pies. Not that I don't think I can do it, or mind, really, but I have made so few in my life that I question my ability to make the perfect pie as the meal pinnacle for all the in-laws. The PRESSURE! If you think I am not getting at least three frozen back-ups you are nuts.
With time on our hands we headed to Wal-mart to pick up our hunting licenses for the big hunt next weekend. The man waiting on us, or actually as it turned out, the man we were waiting on, was an immigrant from South Africa. I was fascinated. He told us he lived in a mansion with a company car ( thanks to Hewlett Packard), two swimming pools and two and half acres. We didn't get to what sort of house he has here but he did say he moved here because of the crime, well that and his Grandson and feels compelled to remind his daughter of this frequently. He also told us that he and his wife, even after forty-two years of marriage will start out on a beatuiful day and for no reason get into a fight. Forty-two years!! He said, with exasperation and surprise. He made the experience a great one.
So end over end, the weekend went. A good mixture of activity and now it's Sunday night and I know I will be restless when I try to sleep tonight, because it's Sunday night and that is what happens when I try to capture the relaxed feeling I have had all weekend, but find my thoughts slipping into those of work.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Guffman Is So Not Coming.

Growing up in a small town in the seventies, before the internet, was to me, isolating. I dreamed of Michael Jackson's limo breaking down on the edge of our town. I envisioned him "going for a ride" through our town and noticing me. Pulling over to ask me questions about this quiet place. And then... drum roll, really looking at me. And deciding I was so beautiful that I would need to join him for the rest of his tour. Which of course would lead to my appearance in some videos, then tv shows, and ultimately, the movies. Fame. Wealth. The works.
In reality, I have never liked the stage. I have opted to be somewhat of a loner. I am as vain as I can stand and I could barely accept the attention I received at my wedding, which was all of thirty people. So this dream career as a movie star is really outside my comfort zone. Except for the wealth part. And really, I don't want to be RICH rich, just rich enough to not be in any debt.
Fame is different. Because, really, there are thousands of ways you can BE famous. I think being a famous writer would result in some kind of neurosis. All those NPR interviews. Thick stressing of silly words, "I DO, I DO, feel so DEEPLY of the CHARACTER'S connection to cake BATTER, as the metaphor for LIFE is so SO conslusive!". No thanks.
Fame for sports would be okay, I suppose. But then you would always be... dirty. It's a respectable kind of fame. It takes hard work and dedication. But then what would be the point if you only ever wore yoga pants or tennis skirts? To me, part of the "trade-off" to fame is the wardrobe and the red carpet and the jewels and all that sparkly pink stuff. So famous athlete would never do.
Fame for TV or Movies is just too lonely. Those Hollywood types, even the ones that are just in the "inspiring to be" stage, seem to be so driven and self-motivated, that they can hardly stand to be truly supportive of each other without stepping into a private bathroom and bitching out thier manager for not letting THEM know about the once availabe-but-now-filled role the "friend" got. And then let's not even get INTO the 'ole career is on the decline business. The celebrity has-been reality shows. Because if you are like me when one of those shows is on you sit around and say to yourself, who IS that? And WHY are they doing this awful show?
I don't even let myself consider famous singer or dancer. Those talents are as far away from me as Jupiter. I sing like a tone-deaf man and I dance, well.... I dance like a small town white girl who forgot her rhythm "back at the barn". If you think Elaine is bad, you should see me after four beers and some Euro-tech comes pounding in. Clear the floor ladies and gentlemen, or you MAY get hurt. And oh yeah, my lack of talent has NEVER stopped me from busting down a groove. When people stare I give them my personal catch phrase, " Dancing is a celebration of life, not a competition". And then I give them one of my signature hip-twirl moves, arms above my head, and knees knocked and cocked at an angle only a pretzel maker could have envisioned.
The bottom line is, I don't really think I am cut out for fame. Fortune, maybe, but fame, no way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

'Tis the Season!

As the recipes in newspapers start to involve all things pumpkin and turkey, as the leaves turn shades of brown and fall off the trees, and as the clock rolls back and the afternoons get increasingly darker, I, my friends, get excited. Very VERY excited.

And it's not the Fall weather, or the suggestion of imminent snow, or the switch to a warmer and cozier and fat-hiding wardrobe as much as it is "The Christmas List".

In my family, the siblings draw names. And because there are many busy working Mom's and a hint of type A personality, the "LISTS" are due by Thanksgiving. And you must submit a list because it's a rule in our family. Or you will be forced to receive something "OFF-list"... and that leads to a cluster-fudge of receipts and returns and frowns on the happiest day of the year, as you enviously leer at the person next you smiling and enjoying a gift they actually wanted.

I am not sure HOW the due date came to be, exactly, although I am guessing it has something to do with a barrage of friendly-with-a-hint-of-impatience e-mail reminders sent out by, well, you know who you are.

And so with one eye on the calendar, I have stepped up the perusal of random shopping sites. Carefully saving my list of possibilities under my Favorites until I decide I officially want it. Where it is then cautiously copied and pasted onto my "List".

And I have found something glorious. Truly glorious. The Staxx ring. SO cute. SO wearable. SO diverse! And you can buy all sorts of parts and kits and colors.

And I can't wait to see the others' lists either. To see what has been pumping up THEIR jam lately.

WHOO-HOOO!

I am so darn excited today I can almost trick myself into forgetting that I have to attend parent-teacher conferences later. Within 24 four short hours the election will be done. DONE. I cannot wait. I must admit that I am dying to see what happens in grant park tonight- as the votes roll in and no less than 500,000 calm, cool, and collected folks hang idly at the Obama headquarters under circus tents. Bring on the riot gear. Win or lose, I predict it will be total chaos.
Being a special education US History teacher during an election has not made any of this easier. Kids spouting off at the mouth in an UN-educated fashion mimicking parents.
Kids trying to understand the issues and really only caring about the drinking age and abortion rights. Neither of which have any real bearing on my presidential choice.
Kids arguing the merits of having a first black president and what that will mean.
Don't get me wrong, as I recognize my roll is to educate. And I really do try to lead discussions that are thought provoking and two-sided and unbiased.
But it will be pure bliss when I step into my little ballot booth and punch in those choices which are completley mine. Without explanation.
Because sometimes regardless of my efforts, students come from where they come from and no amount of class discussion or eye-opening video or enthusiastic mock election can change attitudes instilled in children since they were born.
During the last election I actually had one of my students say, "Our governemnt sucks, my uncle had to weight EIGHT YEARS to get his section 8."
Yep. Shore did! He did say that! My response? "It only take four to get a degree, so that seemed like a collossal waste of time!"
Either way, I cannot wait to get back to my regular scheduled programming. Because even the SNL skits are starting to get boring.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Sad Goodbye

I awoke on Tuesday at 2:30 AM filled with anxiety, tension, and stress. I could't fall back to sleep. Reading, watching TV, and surfing the internet didn't seem to bring any peace to my restless self and so gave up. Wednesday was therefore, exhausting.
Wednesday night was similar to Tuesday. And my husband asked me what seemed to be stressing me out. I didn't know. Couldn't put my finger on it.
Thursday after school I was meeting my friend Sonja and her five week old baby at a Dunkin Donuts a few suburbs away, and then joining forces with her to make the trek to go and visit our friend on hospice.
We had heard a variety of teary-eyed reports about what to expect. But nothing can prepare you or prevent you from your feelings of seeing your friend laying in a bed, so sick and so... barely there.
She was lucid and intermittently joined into the casual conversations, generally led by her husband, who has seemed to master the art of comforting those who walk into his home to well wish his wife he so obviously deeply loves. Cards and pictures and flowers covered the room, dripped from the walls and were stuffed onto the dresser.
On several ocassions he would ask her if she remembered some detail of an experience they had shared. A type of fish they ate. A name of a resort. An actor in a movie. And each time my friend would smile and give him the answer he sought. I almost cried every time as I wondered what he would do, or how he would remember these details later, when she was gone. How frustrated he might be to not be able to bounce those tiny, seemingly unimportant bits of trivia off of her. But we all know, these things are important. They are the ties that bind us into our relationships. The experiences of creating memories that we share just between ourselves.
When it was time to go, I hesitated. She looked at me and smiled and said, "Have a good school year and take care." And how do you respond to that?
I took her shrunken hand in mine and kissed her and told her to stay comfortable and that I loved her. She loves me too. I had to quickly walk out. I didn't want her family see me shed a tear. I felt like they would think I had no idea what it was like to be them.
When I got back into my own car, I tried to follow my horrible mapquest directions to Jen's house. I had pre-planned a trip to see my niece and nephew, knowing it would cheer me after such a painful goodbye.
And my distress and darkness of the night and bad directions and no GPS system left me in a tangled mess. I was incredibly lost. In every way. When I finally got to the house it was past the kids' bedtimes. I disrupted the evening and got the kids' all riled up.
Eventually I sat with my brother and Jen and had a beer. Finally having a chance to let the evening absorb.
And now I am still not sleeping any better.

Catherine Who?

Earlier in the week, my friend Catherine, via e-mail, had requested some advice about applying to work at a school, of which used to be my employer. I responded with some clarifying questions. So, on Wednesday, when she called, I was not in the least surprised. However, Billy and I were about to embark on an "early voting" adventure and we arranged for a phone call later.

As a side note, the "early voting" fell flat as we walked up to the second floor of city hall, only to find about 300 soccer Moms, toddlers in tote, snaking past the temporary guard rails, out the doors, and winding around the entire second floor. Guestimated wait-time? Hour and a half, minimum. We turned around and walked out. Instead we went to the grocery store.

Time escaped me and before I knew it I needed to make dinner. I texted Catherine to ask if we could push our phone call back until after the dinner hour. No problem, she was going to work out right now anyway.

After dinner was eaten, dishes were cleared, and I was tackling a few other random house chores, my phone rang. Must be Catherine! I ran to get it and missed. I looked at the caller ID to double check and realized the school social worker was calling me. Now, the school social worker and I are friends. I really like her. But we rarely call each other. We text often, but really, unless I am lost on the way to meet her at the police station, due to some kind of assinine student thingy, we don't call. We stick to the texting.

And then, in a moment of pure genius, it dawned on me: I had been texting the school social worker, also named Catherine, not my friend, earlier in the evening. When I double checked my texts I realized the poor social worker must be very worried about me, as the texts to her read like this:

Lori: Can I call you after 6:30 so we can talk?

Social work Catherine: Sure, I am going to work out now, but I will be home by then.

Lori: Okay, good, because I don't want to put this off.

Social work Catherine: No problem Lori.

When I realized my mistake was two-fold, A) My friend who needed advice was most likely feeling very blown off and B) The school social worker was freaking about what could be so wrong, I couldn't figure out who to call first.

After calling both girls and letting them in on my mistake, it crossed my mind that it is so typical of me to take an opportunity to help someone out and in the end upset two girls. Sigh.

It has taken me a good 35 years to realize that I do not have an eye for detail. And that maybe I should stick with the old fashioned wall mounted phone. I seemed to get into a lot less trouble that way.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beer Drama

On Sunday, my husband went to the liquor store to pick up a six pack of his favorite beer before heading to his Mom's house. They didn't have a six pack, so he bought a twelver. He probably drank one or two and left the rest there.
Later that night, I met him at our friend's house. He asked me to stop at a different place to pick up a six pack of his favorite beer before heading over. They didn't have a six pack, so I bought a twelver. We each drank one or two and again, left the rest there.

And then yesterday, after work, even though we had bought collectively a case of his favorite beer over the weekend, we still had none at home, so he stopped to get a twelver.

He handed the cashier his debit card. Declined. Impossible he said. To the non- English speaking cashier. He asked him to please punch in the numbers. Declined.

He handed the cashier his credit card. Declined. Impossible he said.

The owner came out and saw what was happening. HE then explained the "system" was down.

By now, my husband was on a mission. He emptied his pockets of cash and coin and then realized, embarrassed, that he only had enough cash for a six-pack of his favorite beer. So he returned the twelver to the cooler. And got out a six pack.

He said he felt like some kind of addict, going through all that to "get his beer".

I enjoyed one with him to celebrate his efforts. I mean two. As did he.

If you are a mathematical genius, you will figure that now we have two beers in our refrigerator.

Which is not how we roll around here.

So today, after school, I will stop at the liquor store to pick up a twelver, after stopping at the ATM to get out cash.

Now I am starting to feel like some sort of addict.

What is with all of the beer issues?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Teacher-Parent Conferences

Does it mean I am a terrible teacher if I admit I am much more concerned about what I will wear for Parent-Teacher Conferences ( and yes- I have been conditioned to capitalize it) than I do about my actual conversations with parents?
Is it even worse to admit that this particular night, in which I am ambushed by parental concern, are two of the worst of my school year?
It is a rather odd meeting of the minds anyway. Half the time you come in with pre-conceived ideas. And I too, come in with pre-coneived ideas, about what you are like. What you are going to say. How you are going to defend or offend your child.
And the last time I met with parents I had a horrible experience. Truly horrible. It's definitely time to think about hiring a babysitter for your little ones. Just saying. And really, while I don't expect you to shower and primp, I do expect your general person to be in decent smelling order. You should probably keep one eye on the clock, because ten minutes really is a short time, and NO... I don't want to shop with you OR have coffee with you or UGH.... have dinner by your place some night to "talk further". Oh- yeah- and go ahead and brush your teeth for me. That is a plus. And in case anyone has found me at my NEW school, let's just say this all happened at my old school. Because voicing my opinion on that isn't really worth losing my job. Need I not remind you that as a teacher, my soul DOES belong to the state, first and foremost.
And now that I am ranting, I need to bring up that having a label means that there is something about you that is outstanding. Some say special. Regardless.
And changing the name of what the state has labeled you every few years so you don't get too comfortable with the term is an effort in futility. Because if you are super duper small and used to be a midget, and then you were a dwarf, and now you a little person, you are still really short. And really, changing the name of that doesn't make you taller. Or give you the right to stare down the offender who used LAST years term, like "midget"- as if they just threatened to jab you with a weapon and toss you into an alley. It's not like that.
So if you come to my table, I mean if you DID come to my table in the past, I will speak( I mean spoke) openly and honestly. No sugar coating. I call it like I see it. Sorry if it hurts. I don't mean to hurt you. Really. But I am over the lolly-gagging around what your child is and is not.
And for the record. IF your child is thinking about becoming a professional football player, I suggest he go ahead and go out for the team and get suited up or call a family roundtable about "other" career options. Because at five two and 90 pounds, I was thinking more like dressage jocky. Just saying.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Huntress in the Making

Something happened yesterday that could be life changing. I got my Christmas present early beacause there was a super sale at Dick's.
I got a 12 gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun. I also threw in a camo tee and some "outdoor" pants. So I could be fully outfitted for our upcoming Pheasant hunting adventure. And when I got home last night I tried my entire hunting outfit on out of excitement. And my husband was so proud he took a picture.
And I think I look like a real huntress. Except for the fact that you cannot see in this picture that I would never shoot a deer. Or a pig or a cow. Or put a worm on a hook. Or clean a pheasant even. Heck, I still gag when I cut up chicken breasts from a store bought styrofome package.
Philosophically speaking, my husband firmly believes we should only hunt animals that will starve or get hit by cars unless we help with the population control. In addition, he thinks we should not hunt things we will not eat. And logically I can agree he's right. But that does not convince me to want to partake for the same reasons. Because admittedly, I believe I should hunt all rodents that simply bother me, like rats, geese, raccoons, skunks and possums.
I think he is a little scared I will get arrested for a felony for shooting "willy nilly" at pesky varmints in our yard. Or in our house. Because yesterday when we found a beetle on the wall I asked him for the 12 gauge. He smiled at me in a scared way. A very scared way.
And I must admit I have a some desire to be very Hillbilly about the whole thing.

Facebook Warning

So there is a certain someone out there ( you will recognize yourself ) that only told me a half-truth, so to speak.
She told me to join Facebook. Becuase it's fun. And addicting. Which I suppose it just might be. IF you are given all of the early warning labels. Sound warning horn here. Enter strobes.
I didn't know it would be like contacting everyone I went to high school with, then college with, then worked a myriad of jobs with, and then went to church with in one foul swoop. Like a high school reunion on crack.
And while I can see that once the early onslaught of "friend contacts" calms down it could be fun. But I couldn't sleep last night. I tossed and turned and awoke violently several times from dreams that included people I haven't talked to in years. For a reason. Except for one lovely dream which didn't have certain people per say, but encompassed the overall... feeling..if you will. That was the one that entailed me pulling handful after handful of dirty hair out of my clogged bathtub drain.
Now don't get me wrong. The people who have contacted me thus far, have made me smile. Remembering all of the fun times we shared or their quirky personality or even a confidance. Some people you love dearly but time and distance and circumstance causes a seperation.
But others, well others, you simply manage to extract from your every day communication because you would just rather not be burdened.
And quite frankly some of those relationships ended because I straight up said so for valid reasons and I needed to "weed my garden" of just that... the weeds. Life is too short to spend it with people who don't appreciate us fully, or even partially, no?
Maybe I should just write under my information "section" that if you have had the same problem for ten-plus years and have done nothing about it OR you have never heard yourself say you are sorry, please don't contact me to be your friend. Because seeing your face everyday, even in a thumbnail, makes me nauseous.
Chances are these people feel the same way about me and will not even attempt to contact me... but I DO have my pointer finger at the ready- to deny! the friend contact if necassary with one little push of the key.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Something Has Come Up

As a teacher of high school emotionally disabled students, you run across a lot of... odd stuff. And I wouldn't dare to make or poke fun at them to the world because I would seem crass and uncaring. But I do to thier faces. Because it often times helps us all cope with... the weird stuff.
For example, one of my students has Pica. Which means he will eat just about anything. Like tacks, or staples or his plastic binder. Loan him a pen? Forget about it. Give him paper? It's gone. He gives a whole new meaning to the saying "I ate my homework". Oh wait... that's dog.
But I love this kid, and we joke about his eating of "stuff" and we laugh together, because what else are you suppsed to do? And when we played a trick on the other students and had him jump up and down and had the teaching aide shake a box of paper clips so it seemed like all the metal was jangling in his tummy, it went down in history as one of our favorite moments in all of time. Because he can't control the Pica and so he must learn to laugh about it. Or else he will become a murderer just because he can't quit sucking on his Algebra book.
At any rate, one thing about most high school boys that is universal is the onset of puberty. And all of the "things" that "grow" from it.
And in my classroom I have had my fair share of what some guys refer to as the NRB ( No Reason Boner ) and believe me when I say I do my best to turn a blind eye.
But at the moment I have a student that tends to be... "going through puberty without control" and it's making me feel a little on the hinky side. Becuase I can tell a kid he needs to shower when he really stinks. I can tell a girl that her shirt reveals too much boob fat and needs to cover herself. I can even tell the pica eater to "stay away from my paper clips"... but I dont' dare confront the boy with the... risen appendage... with anything.
So this boy keeps "getting himself into this situation" and then standing in the middle of the room by the half-wall room divider. Hiding "certain parts" of his body. Which is inappropriate- as in CLASS IS STARTING. And I am GIVING A LESSON. But I just can't say it. Because I don't really know what it's like. And frankly, I don't want to know anything more about it.
I asked my husband about it and he informed that this is sorta normal at certain ages. And the wearing of baggy pants might help. And that I should leave him alone.
But when your classroom is all about structure and then the Boner Boy is over against the half-wall rubbing it out, what is the female teacher to do... when already the boy is ostracized for a myriad of other eccentricities. Because honestly, at this point in the game, if you made it into my classroom? You are most likely already on the "outside", if you will. So the "group" confrontation would be beyond humiliation. And there sure as hell ain't going to be no "private confrontation" between me and a boy and his... grody thingy.
So I am hoping this phase passes by sooner rather than later.

Babies to Min Pins?

First of all, I hate leaving a depressing blog standing alone. Because then the five or six people who read it might think that I am laying in a human puddle heap on my bed, sobbing and sad. When actually the reverse is true... I lay in a human bawling puddle in my bed BEFORE I think to blog and then the cathartic transition occurs and I am... better.


That being said, I have had a busy week. At least in my world "busy", which means my computer sucked and I committed to going to the high school play and I had dinner with friends ( which is a whole OTHER blog-worthy story) and some other super duper boring crap.


But some people around here have made a decision.


And somewhere between the corn-maze, wherein my husband decided at the petting zoo we should seriously consider raising Pygmy Goats, and the Miscarriage, where I seriously considered raising a child.. ( I can joke about this people... I am the who missed carrying my child!) we opted for a "tweener".


Which is the phase between goat and human. Dog. Miniature Pinscher Dog. A little tiny yapper that needs adorable sweaters and can hunt prey. The breed sounds like a perfect combo between my husband and myself. Oh yeah, and our condo association. Because that is starting to qualify as the third party in our family making decisions.


Which is weird, because I can have a baby... which could grow to be 150 plus pounds, but I can't have a dog that grows past what, 22 pounds?


At any rate- for anyone that thinks they have a "better dog idea", please don't. We have done our research. We have taken at least five "which dog suits you best" quizzes and this adorable little bee-yatch is what is going to happen. And we are most likely going to be getting just that. A bitch. Man, nothing like using an appropriate swear. Because when you talk to dog breeders they throw the "B-word" around like a gyno saying the Va-j-j word. And I know I should grow up, but seriously? I always stifle a giggle like a girl hearing her papa fart in church.


Anyway- it's Miniature Pinscher around here folks. Come June, I will actually be busy because me and the "Pin" are going shopping.

PS- after the "husband" reviewed my blog- he clarified the dog would be a "dude-dog honey, and you are NOT taking him shopping"...
I say we will see.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Silver Linings


I should have known this morning when I dropped my plastic laptop onto my hard wooden floor that it wasn't going to be my most favorite of days. It is what I would end up calling a day of second chances.

Becuase luckily the laptop is still under waurantee, so aside from my hard drive crashing, it's completely replaceable. And is nothing like the other news I would ingest later in the day. From a borrowed computer. And humbled my frustration.

Because my friend. She is dying. Of cancer. And I am sick. But I have a second chance. She was sent home from the hospital to die in some weeks time.

I am going to compose a letter to her tonight. I am not sure what it is I am going to say. Or what it would be I would want to hear if I were her. But it is definitely time to pour my heart out to her. To say everything I wouldn't want to regret not saying.

There are not too many opportunities for us to do that.

And while I don't mean to minimize or compare the two in any way, I do know that we should take silver linings when we can get them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Corn What?

Sunday I awoke to a beautiful crisp Fall day. The agenda was empty and the energy level was high. Before I could hear myself think right I asked ( begged) my husband if he would take me to a corn maze. That's right- a corn maze.
Growing up in a corn-town, it was every adolescent's rite of passage to rise before dawn, garn a garbage bag and old tennis shoes, board a bus with a cooler full of Gatorade, and head out to the fields to pick and pull the tassels off the top of the wet, sharp-edged corn stalks.

It was brutal work and paid slightly more than minumum wage. The "season" would last from 1-5 weeks and your schedule was unpredictable. But at the end of the summer, you and all of your friends walked away with a few hundred bucks in the bank, some serious corn-leaf scars, and a knowledge of corn that would leave you recieving odd stares anytime you dropped a "corn fact".

So a few years back when the corn-maze concept began to sweep the midwest, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to garner the interest of my fellow city folk to actually drive the one hour from the Chicago with me to explore any such thing.

Therefore, it has been one of my secret burning desires. To go to a corn-maze. I never said I was hard to please OR exciting...

So off we went, with our maps and coffees and high expectations.

There were actually THREE mazes to go through. One being a pirate, the other two McCain and Obama. As we neared the entrance to the first one, the pirate, I could feel my heart start to race. I retied my shoes. I hiked up my jeans. I took a deep breath. We waited in line for our turn and were asked if we would like the one dollar map.
"Why, yes!! " I exclaimed with reckless abandon. "Umm, Billy, do you have a dollar? Will you give her a dollar?"

We set off.... looking at our map directing us to the first of ten "clue posts".

Maybe right around now I would look around myself and realize that most of the patrons were under the age of 10. But no.

Within about ten feet we found the first "clue post"...

Hmm, that was easy.

The cleverly written clue, while cute and "pirate-y", was basic. Something like...
"Ahoy my friend, take a right to get to the end".

I looked at the ground.

The correct "paths" were thick slabs of matted down mud.

The incorrect "paths" were freshly plowed field.

Hmmm. I think we follow the slabs of matted mud. Don't you honey?

Things were fairly anti-climactic from there. We sort of race-walked the rest of the way through. When we neared the first finish, I asked Billy if we should try the other two. His response, " I think we have seen enough, don't you? "

I had to admit, we had.

Not that the corn-maze wasn't great fun and nice date with my husband on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It's just that I think it was actually more fun to detassle the corn than walk on a path through it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Need an Intervention*

Will someone PLEASE come over here NOW and place a padlocked chain on the refrigerator? Or at least black ball me from all of the local eateries? Please? 'Cause there is some kind of eatin' frenzy goin' on over here and I am afraid I am in the eye of that there storm!
It all started last night with the "big night out"... DAMN those mini crab cakes! They got my sugar and fat free palate all stirred up with emotion. And then today when I woke up and weighed myself I saw that the scale was reading one of the lowest numbers I have, I mean HAD, seen in a long time.
And excitedly, to stay on course, I followed one of the Weight Watcher commandments and ate a sandwich before going to the bridal shower at Maggiano's today- so I would feel satiated and not overeat. Ha ha... satiated my ass! Apparently this person has never been to a bridal shower at Maggiano's.
The bread came. I skipped the butter. Score one for lean me!
The chopped salad came, along with the spinach one, and fried calamari and the bruschetta. I loaded on the salad and bruschetta- and blew off the fried stuff. Scores are tied.
THEN came the lasagna, the cream sauce pasta, some... what was the healthy thing I blew off again? Oh yeah- somewhere among the pasta there lingered some fish. But I feasted heavily on the pasta-particularly the lasagna. Hmmm, let's check the score now... oh yeah...? How about I am down. WAY down.
So by the time the cheesecake came and landed squarely in front of my plate, I knew it was a complete blow out. Bite after delicious bite it went down. Gulp. I couldn't even see straight it was so good. I was like a crack addict, knocking the other well-dressed ladies aside and spilling waters to get dibs on some seconds.
As I lumbered to my car I thought may pants my explode right off of me. Leaving decayed shreds of black cotton schrapnel on windshields everywhere. This walk, while precarious, and thankfully incident free, would be what is henceforth refererred to as my exercise for the day.
Then there were the goody bags. And believe it or not, the smell emanating from the bag tantalized me so much that I actually opened it, because by now I am a complete sugar whore. And I managed to devour an entire coconut brownie on the car ride home.... even though my poor tummy was screaming for my sweat pants, a break, and a couch.
And in the truest of Lori fashion, I decided to say screw it... and ordered up some deep dish sausage pizza for dinner. Oh - and a side salad. To keep it lean and healthy. If that isn't the joke of the frickin day. I mean what kind of facade is that? A SIDE salad?
Did I hear someone mutter the words "addictive personality"? Just be thankful that your fingers were nowhere NEAR my mouth today.

*To spare myself any further humiliation, there will not be any pictures in this post.

Big Night Out

I wondered how last night would turn out all week. My husband and I hadn't been to a bar in the city in over a year. To prepare for my big night out I hit up Target for a cute shirt ( note to self: Don't go to Target to get "going out" clothes, better to save it for teacher clothes and underwear). I also ate a husband encouraged sandwich, so as not to get loopy after one beer. I stroked on the eyeliner thickly, like a four year olds' crayon. I busted out my hoop earrings that are large enough to hula in.


And when we got there I felt a little bad for the host. We were celebrating his wife's 40th birthday and the guest list didn't seem to be matching up with the attendees. But the food was delicious ( how can you NOT like mini fried crab cakes that you dip into a Mayonnaise sauce? ).


We ordered our beers and quickly fell in line with the beer drinking cadence around us.


We found ourselves socializing with another couple for the majority of our time. They were nice enough. The woman had a buzz cut. I kept staring at it when we talked. I had to stop myself many times from asking her how she felt about her hair cut. Because I went through a phase where I wanted to look like Sinead O'Conner but never had the cojones to go beyond a trim. And I kept thinking about the time when I was in church with my mother and I had on jeans that "had a long rise" and when I sat the bulge in the crotch suggested I was sporting a penis in there. And I began to panic and kept whispering to my Mom that "These jeans make me look like a boy!!"... in that completley horrific way that only adolescent teenage girls do.


I digress.


The conversation rolled into the "What actor would play you?" variety. My husband said ,"That guy from the Sopranos". And I have to admit he's pretty spot on. I hoped no one would ask me, because I have no idea who I would say. My mind seems to get trapped somewhere between who I would want to be like versus who is actually a likeness of me... Because I would say Fergie but the people would be thinking Kirstie Alley.... And the words Fat Actress come to mind. Which by the way, the season is readily available on DVD at my local library. Seriously. ?? ( I mean is it just me or is this kind of thing not exactly a bedrock of literature?).
Anyway, a good time was had by all. Uneventful, but pleasant. We left at 10:30 ( I know what you are thinkging! Party animals!! ) as the beer bus rolled up to take off the others to a night of Salsa dancing and who knows what at Excaliber ( umm... NIGHTMARE...). I am sure by now that most of them are laying in bed right now dying for a glass of water and a cheeseburger, and trying to recall the details.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dear Mr.Baseball God Guy

I am seriously beginning to think that baseball season is delaying the onset of a Fall around here. Not global warming. Baseball. When is this season OVER already? The droning voice. The grody mouthpieces they sling in and out of the mouth with the tongue. The painstaking batting rituals. I can't take it anymore. And maybe, coming from Chicago and all, I am soooo over it since neither of our teams made it to the play-offs or whatever the heck they are called. I know- ultimately it's the World Series 750 or something or other. But I want football to start.
And after spending the weekend in the Wisconsin Northwoods, I am feeling pretty tough. (Well, sort of tough. Not exactly tough enough to sport my Bear's t-shirt deep in Packer land. I took it off after I brushed my teeth but before I walked outside.) And those baseball guys are just lame to me now.
But anyway- I like what football season means. Chili. Sunday papers. Cozy sweatshirts and oddly enough.. baseball hats with football logos. Jeans and relaxing Sunday afternoons.
Here in the midwest, I have always lived under the assumption that school was "off" for the summer so the kids could help on the farm. And you could plant AND harvest the crops in the interim of the school break. Meaning when school started back up, it was cool out. Or at least not HOT.
But not now!
There are still 70 plus degree days. I am scouring my closet for short sleeved Fall shades of summer style shirts. I am staring out the window dreaming of the beach while finishing up the first quarter of school, and it's October! I am unable to wear any Bear's clothes because they are dark and long-sleeved and it's hot. There are no cozy Football Sundays because we have our sliding doors open and I hear the airplanes. There is no chili because I would still rather be eating ice cream.
So please, Mr. Baseball God. Make it end soon. Leave me and my Fall weather and my coolish football season alone.
Thanks very much.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Crock of What?



I think since I have been married I have really had the chance to hone my culinary skills. I tackle, one by one, meats and sides I didn't think possible from the likes of my clumsy mits... orange roughy to venison. Cole slaw to roasted Greek potatoes. Things usually turn out, well, ummm fair to "middlin"- as in I am not the best chef but I can crank out a meal you can eat.


And now that the late Fall weather is starting to turn I decided to try my hand at an Old Fashion Guinness Stew. It's a crock pot "situtation"- so I went ahead and cut the three pound grody to the max hunk of beef gut on Sunday- as well as the potatoes, carrots, and onion. I then, as the recipe called, lightly browned the beef for two hours.


On Monday night, I added the potatoes and carrots and what not- and let her simmer.... for hours. And it wasn't done. We had frozzen pizza.


On Tuesday night- I let her simmer again. For hours. STILL not done. Back in the fridge she went. How about some fish?


On Wednesday night... I came home before my salon appointment and let her simmer again. For hours. And when I came home, it was cooked enough to be eaten. But I was so annoyed at the ordeal I didn't even want any. Instead I ladled up a big fat bowl for my husband- who almost immediately asked, "What kind of MEAT is this?". Oh NO you didn't. You LIKE it my man- because that is about five pounds of food that I have been slaving over for the last FOUR days and you have to like it... pretty please... like it? PLEASE like IT.


"It's just stew meat, do you like it?"


"I dont' know."


And then within thirty minutes he was puking up my Old Fashion Guinness Stew in the bathroom.


And I didn't have the heart to throw it all out last night. Or aplogize to my husband. I almost took it to my students. But then thought better of the possible food poisoning accusations and the ensuing lawsuit.


So my creation sits. Dismally, in a huge crock pot on the bottom shelf of my fridge.


Maybe I will take it to the farm this weekend and feed it to the pigs.